Montages a la Budget
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
“Never let the truth get in the way of a good story, kid!”
Remembrances tries to be to The Legend of Korra what The Ember Island Players was to Avatar: The Last Airbender. But it’s not. Bryan Konietzko, who co-created the show, even wrote an entire post on his blog to explain the circumstances during which this episode had to have been made (http://bryankonietzko.tumblr.com/post/103173899927/a-few-preemptive-words-about-episode-408). The team was faced with a slashed budget from Nickelodeon (screw you, Nick) and had to pick one of two strategies: either lay off crew or make an episode that largely uses recycled material. The Korra team decided on the second option. The effort is clearly demonstrated here, but you can’t escape the feeling that this is the weakest episode of Korra to ever air. It’s not bad and even an average episode of this show is better than a lot of material that is out there, but one can’t escape the sense that despite the best of efforts from the team, only the Varrick material truly sticks out as admirable. It’s truly unfortunate that this episode has to exist and especially at this juncture, when there are only five episodes remain in the entire series. This was a disappointing installment, a bit assuaged by the knowledge of how it came to be. It is honestly astounding the show managed to do what it could and it is truly hats off to the creative team that they were able to salvage this episode from the horrifying treatment from Nickelodeon. I have no doubt that the next five episodes will be this show at its finest.
Brought to you by the fine newscaster Shiro Shinobi, the episode begins with Mako and Wu. Mako is trying to get Wu into fighting shape, which might be the epitome of something being easier said than done. Wu is naturally a terrible fighter, so bad in fact that his catchphrase is “Wu Down”. From that point on, Mako’s story is relatively rudimentary and basically everything we’ve already seen. The best line to come out of this sequence is surprisingly from Wu, who notes that Mako is so afraid of disappointing anyone that he ends up disappointing everyone. It’s a succinct character note, made all the more stronger because it comes from such an unexpected source. A bit weaker (surprisingly so, I must note) is the segment with Korra and Asami that nevertheless also manages to make amidst a poignant point in between all of the scattered narrative. Korra has so far always managed to focus on the negative, the terrible consequences of her actions. As the Avatar, she has a certain responsibility whether or not the world truly needs her and yes, that involves self-inspection and understanding her flaws. Yet as Asami reminds her, there were positive consequences to each of Korra’s actions as the Avatar as well. She can’t defeat Asami by just concentrating on the negatives, as was displayed quite openly on the Zaofu battlefield.
The best portion of this episode that reminded me the most of the Ember Island Play was with Varrick, Bolin, and the refugees from last week. Traveling slowly by boat can become lonely and in the absence of wi-fi, they have a nice little fireside story chat. Varrick is bored out of his mind and to liven the mood, he invents an entire mover where Bolin becomes the hero. It’s a fun sequence to wrap the episode up, with Bolin basically performing a ton of super impressive feats that have the ladies swarming all over him. He even takes the giant spirit form that Korra took at the end of Book 2. To cap it all off, he even turns into a giant dragon and saves Avatar Korra from the depths of the Spirit World. What’s not to love, even if the ending cut is so jarring?
Great Moments Not Mentioned Above (Mostly Varrick quotes because Varrick):
+I did like the mini avatars narrating on the screen
+“So then you smooched her real good?”
+Tenzin reminding Korra that there always will be conflicts
+Zaheer: “Glad I caught you at home.” Vaatu: “Uh-huh. Very funny. Like I leave this stupid tree.”
+Varrick calling Vaatu a kite
+“Does anyone else feel like throwing themselves overboard?.”
+“Talk about a ticking clock!”
+“…Juji shoots his laser eyes at Unalaq…”
+Jinora as The Queen of the Fairies
+Varrick as a studio executive: “It’s your true story, but we’ll capitalize on the audience of the Nuktuk franchise!”
+“I wasn’t singing, you were not levitating, and Asami is just a friend thank you very much.”
+“But it turns out the airbender recruits are a sorry lot, so Bolin brings them to a secret mountaintop training facility where he teaches them the ancient art of dodging fruit and balancing on sticks!”
+“Opal realizes how much she loves Bolin, and forgives him for whatever stuff he was talking about earlier, which will probably not be in the final cut of the mover anyway.”
+“With her help, Bolin turns Unavaatu into magic dust, and sprays him into the sky. And that’s where the stars come from.”
+And how does the mover end?
F*** you, Nickelodeon. The treatment that you have provided your most critically acclaimed show is appalling. That is all.
Written By: Joshua Hamilton, Katie Mattila, Tim Hedrick
Directed By: Michael Dante DiMartino
Animated By: Studio Mir
Image Courtesy: Geek Binge