The best developed and most interesting characters are not the main Krew. Korra has a story, has depth, but it’s being stifled with the writing. Mako could have been a fantastic character, except his character purpose has been written up as “love interest” instead of interesting character who is also a love interest. Why? He has a great story! His parents were killed by a firebender when he was 8 years old, and he himself is a firebender. He’s been struggling to raise his younger brother on the streets, worked with gangs, and is a probender. He’s done a lot of morally ambiguous things before, so why is this not featuring in the storyline? He started dating Asami because they had something in common - probending - and they could talk together about it. Where is that? Where is the implication that his girlfriend no longer has a home or money - or dealing with her losing her own mother, and now father? Bolin is not like Sokka - he has not had moments of brilliance or development or anything really, other than comedic relief. Bolin had to deal with much of what Mako did, but when he tries to do something, it gets shown as “Silly Bolin!”
Poor Asami! Asami, who is shafted most of all. Here’s a smart, pretty, well trained martial artist who loves to race cars. She’s wealthy, but she understands not everyone is because she didn’t start off that way. She lost her mother to a bender, and yet she still finds it within herself to be a big fan of bending as a sport, to date a firebender. Even Katara had more rage about this - and can we guess Asami started to learn to defend herself after her mother died? She starts dating a boy who likes her, who shares something in common with her, and he spends his time flirting (and kissing!) another girl. How awkward and terrible - because it’s obvious Asami wants to be friends with Korra, and wants to get along with her. But her boyfriend is a jerk, everyone assumes she’s evil because she’s pretty, and her jealousy as framed as intervening and irrationaleven though her boyfriend kissed another girl and continues to flirt with her.
I have nothing wrong with shipping, or even these love triangles themselves, what I find wrong is the way the characters are being handled to portray them. It sucks.
And then suddenly Amon becomes the most interesting, most compelling character, and you realize the best characters are all adults - Amon, Tarlok, Lin - what a disappointment. Hire some writers guys.
I really feel like in hindsight, all of the episodes being done by one writing team was probably a mistake. I really feel like under someone else, the Krew could have popped more.
I’m feeling that a lot of these problems are yes, coming from the one writing team, but also the shorter seasons and the fact the show is currently scheduled for only two seasons. Watching it, I’m getting the general first season vibe—wherein the writers have ideas and know the emotions and characters they want to develop, but don’t know how to execute it properly—but I have to agree with one criticism that I’m seeing: that the show feels rushed. The pacing is off—mostly in terms of character relationships.
To be honest, the ‘shipping’ episodes were a bit painful to me. I enjoyed them, but it felt like the episodes were aired out of order. I get that yes, attraction can be immediate, but from what I’m getting from the characters, these relationships are not short, fun hook-ups. They’re fairly serious, and the people involved in the relationships are (mostly) mature and looking to make something lasting. But they just feel rushed. Mako and Asami? Mako and Korra? Too rushed. The relationships make sense, once you think about them, but in screen time, very few moments are actually used to explain their relationships. The Bolin and Korra date-outing was the only ‘shipping’ thing I found to be explored in any deep way, and in that sense, canonically believable.
And poor Asami and Bolin—one of the best things about the Gaang and the original series was the depth of development of Katara, Sokka, Zuko, and later Toph. Then, on top of the main characters, we got side episodes with Jet, the Air Temple where Aang found non-benders that were part of the Air Nomad culture, the Kyoshi warriors—just everybody got awesome development, a lot of the time in only twenty-something minutes of one episode. But I’m not getting any of that in LoK. The adults are developed, and that’s where I’m seeing a lot of the great interactions, which I love, but I want to see Korra and Asami and Mako and Bolin be a core group—or at least show why they aren’t. Korra’s been apparently training her entire life in a locked compound! Let’s talk about that and her inherent social awkwardness! Asami’s been betrayed and has betrayed her own father! Let’s talk about family issues and how that might affect her relationships with people close to her! Bolin’s never had a lot of responsibility because his older brother is trying to take care of him! Let’s talk about that sibling relationship and how Bolin feels after being kidnapped and how he’s going to react to how deep this group is into the political and social turmoil going on in Republic city!
So what do I want? Krew development! When do I want it? Nine episodes ago! But I’ll take it now too.