Note: I wrote this before I realized the clip show was a result of surprise budget cuts from Nickelodeon and was done to save the jobs of the awesome people who work on Korra.
This is essentially Korra’s Ember Island Players episode, an episode designed to reflect on everything that has happened in the past with the series finale impending. “Ember Island Players” did this with an amusing interpretation of the events that happened, performed by actors and actresses who may or may not have had much similarity to the actual characters, Aang, Katara, Zuko, and so on. It was an episode that engaged with the characters as spectators and also drove some emotional responses from them, which lead them to reflect on their own pasts. It was a recap episode that was essentially an original episode and was both poignant and hilarious at times.
“Remembrances,” instead of adapting a similar vein, opted for straight up flashbacks with the usage of animation that we had previously seen with a few minor alterations from time to time. The narration was new, but definitely not creative enough to sustain the amount of time that was dedicated to each flashback. This is the equivalent of a clip show, which perhaps was done to save money for use in the series finale (conjecture!).
Our first flashback series is with Mako…Mako going over what may amount to some of the weakest and frustrating aspects of Legend of Korra, the romance that surrounded him. Yes, in the last season of the Legend of Korra, with approximately five episodes left, we were given nearly half of the episode to suffer through the various romances of Mako propped up with chibi-like face designs of Mako, Prince Wu, Mako’s grandmother, and Mako’s cousin commenting. I literally stopped the episode to see how much time was being dedicated to this segment and that’s when my frustration probably peaked.
So what’s the point of Mako’s share? The point will have to be likely either a setup for Mako and Korra to return to each other by the end of the season or they’re going to kill Mako off and wanted to underline the emotional background between Mako and Korra. I can’t fathom any other purpose for such a large amount of time in the 8th episode dedicated to this topic. Korrasami shippers might claim it exists to show that Mako is over Korra for good, especially since we cut away to Asami and Korra.
In fact, Asami brings out a hot cup of tea to Korra, concerned that she might be cold. Mako is off with Wu, watching over him (by orders) while Asami is freely with Korra, watching out for her. Take that for what you will and some will definitely take it to magnificent heights. Korra’s flashbacks, however, go over her own thoughts on whether she’s made a positive or negative impact on the world. She’s overcome the poison in her body that physically held her back and now she’s finally talking about her underlying psychological fears, based on the events that happened between Book 1 and the present. Incidentally, Korra’s admissions to Asami on these fears also line up with her initial admission to Asami via letter that she was unable to enter the Avatar State. Asami has definitely become a trusted confidant with as much equal grounding as Tenzin, who Tenzins his way into the conversation out of nowhere. Seriously, cough or something next time, Tenzin! Asami is unrelentingly supportive and positive about Korra’s place in the world and the good that she’s done or has happened as a result of it.
Note, Asami’s own emotional closeness to Korra could also play up the fact that she might be die in the series finale, in the same way that many feared Tenzin would die in Book 3. Since he didn’t, I’m presuming that she won’t, but that’s out there on the fringe of possibilities.
Our final flashback is Varrick’s re-imagining of the past events with Bolin swirled up within them. This segment was definitely the most creative and the closest thing to a spiritual descendant of the Ember Island Players. It also tossed up the idea of what would have been a great episode, designed to do the same thing, but presented as a Varrick produced mover which updated the Ember Island Players idea to the modern age. If you didn’t have a grasp of the villains from the previous seasons after Korra’s flashback, you were given one more chance to catch up, albeit with some Varrick twists. This episode also setup the relationship between Bolin and Opal and signaled the expectation that it will be resolved in the series finale (unsurprising news – but it was accompanied with a quick cut back to the ship and Bolin crying in the corner off by himself over losing Opal – fantastic).
Notably absent from Varrick’s narrative of the story, which included many references to Varrick, was his trusty and loyal servant Zhu Li. Was this omission on purpose because Varrick was angry about her betrayal, though that would be against his development and longing for her built up in the last two episodes, or was it simply his own mind’s perception of his importance to the world, or at least Bolin’s story? I’m guessing it’s the latter.
I vent and there were nice touches layered throughout the episode, like Bolin’s corner weeping, and the comment about not over thinking movers. Erm. The fact that Mako’s grandfather had an eye for ladies might help explain why the family is so large. There will definitely be some fun screen shots of the Varrick episodes, be it Bolin’s face on the phoenix spirit or the phone conversation.