The Legend of Korra drew to a close last weekend with a series finale chock-full of drama, suspense, sacrifice and last-ditch heroics. And then, when the dust had settled, something truly wonderful happened.
Hey! Spoilers for the end of The Legend of Korra follow.
Of all the things that happened during the final half-hour of The Legend of Korra, one thing stands apart: That final shot of Korra and Asami holding hands, heading off together to the Spirit World, clearly in love. Did that really just happen? Was it intentional? According to the show's creators, it was indeed intentional, and the pairing of Korra and Asami was something they'd been working on for a while now.
Our friends over at io9 have already written a really good recap of the finale, breaking down the action as Korra and team Avatar took on Kuvira and her Earth Nation army and battled to save Republic City. It was a good finale, and while I kinda thought it rushed through some character stuff w/r/t Kuvira and her similarities to Korra, it still felt like a fitting finale to a show that started weak but got much better as it went.
And then, after the good guys had well and truly won, Korra and Asami, two women who had been friends for years, headed off to the spirit world together. And so came the final shot:
All around the Internet, the heads of the many fans who had been shipping Korra and Asami — known collectively as "Korrasami" — exploded.
That final shot sure didn't seem very ambiguous to me, but lacking a kiss (like the one that ended Avatar: The Last Avatar), plenty of people were more than happy to say that the romantic connection between Korra and Asami wasn't "confirmed." Maybe they're just friends! You know, friends who like to... hold hands... and gaze into each others' eyes... or something.
Today, the show's co-creators Mike DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko posted a pair of separate blog posts that confirm: Yes, Korra and Asami are in love. Yes, it was on purpose. And in Konietzko's words, "You can celebrate it, embrace it, accept it, get over it, or whatever you feel the need to do, but there is no denying it."
Our intention with the last scene was to make it as clear as possible that yes, Korra and Asami have romantic feelings for each other. The moment where they enter the spirit portal symbolizes their evolution from being friends to being a couple. Many news outlets, bloggers, and fans picked up on this and didn't find it ambiguous. For the most part, it seems like the point of the scene was understood and additional commentary wasn't really needed from Bryan or me. But in case people were still questioning what happened in the last scene, I wanted to make a clear verbal statement to complement the show's visual one. I get that not everyone will be happy with the way that the show ended. Rarely does a series finale of any show satisfy that show's fans, so I've been pleasantly surprised with the positive articles and posts I've seen about Korra's finale.
I've already read some heartwarming and incredible posts about how this moment means so much for the LGBT community. Once again, the incredible outpouring of support for the show humbles me. As Tenzin says, "Life is one big bumpy ride." And if, by Korra and Asami being a couple, we are able to help smooth out that ride even a tiny bit for some people, I'm proud to do my part, however small it might be.
And here's Konietzko:
We approached the network and while they were supportive there was a limit to how far we could go with it, as just about every article I read accurately deduced. It was originally written in the script over a year ago that Korra and Asami held hands as they walked into the spirit portal. We went back and forth on it in the storyboards, but later in the retake process I staged a revision where they turned towards each other, clasping both hands in a reverential manner, in a direct reference to Varrick and Zhu Li's nuptial pose from a few minutes prior. We asked Jeremy Zuckerman to make the music tender and romantic, and he fulfilled the assignment with a sublime score. I think the entire last two-minute sequence with Korra and Asami turned out beautiful, and again, it is a resolution of which I am very proud. I love how their relationship arc took its time, through kindness and caring. If it seems out of the blue to you, I think a second viewing of the last two seasons would show that perhaps you were looking at it only through a hetero lens.
Was it a slam-dunk victory for queer representation? I think it falls short of that, but hopefully it is a somewhat significant inching forward. It has been encouraging how well the media and the bulk of the fans have embraced it. Sadly and unsurprisingly, there are also plenty of people who have lashed out with homophobic vitriol and nonsense. It has been my experience that by and large this kind of mindset is a result of a lack of exposure to people whose lives and struggles are different from one's own, and due to a deficiency in empathy — — the latter being a key theme in Book 4. (Despite what you might have heard, bisexual people are real!) I have held plenty of stupid notions throughout my life that were planted there in any number of ways, or even grown out of my own ignorance and flawed personality. Yet through getting to know people from all walks of life, listening to the stories of their experiences, and employing some empathy to try to imagine what it might be like to walk in their shoes, I have been able to shed many hurtful mindsets. I still have a long way to go, and I still have a lot to learn. It is a humbling process and hard work, but nothing on the scale of what anyone who has been marginalized has experienced. It is a worthwhile, lifelong endeavour to try to understand where people are coming from.
Both writers' posts are worth reading in their entirety, as both offer an unusual insight into their writing process and indicate how much thought the whole Korra team put into the characters and the world that so many of us fell in love with.