I wouldn’t expect much of a review on this episode if I were you. What can one really say about clip/flashback episodes, where the whole purpose is to stall for time or indulge in some nostalgia to prepare for the big finale? Not to belabor all the many ways in which Last Airbender was a bit craftier than Legend of Korra, but its own nostalgia episode (“The Ember Island Players”) worked so well because it didn’t just summarize all that had happened up to that point. Instead, it analyzed all those events in a comedic way by letting the characters squirm at how outsiders perceived their lives.
“Remembrances” falls more in line with the traditional clip show, serving kind of like an extended “Previously on…” montage. Of them all, probably the least interesting to watch, sadly enough, is Korra’s recollection of all her past successes and failures. On the most basic level, it’s awkward to hear Korra and Asami recount to each other things they mostly experienced together, but neither makes for a very exciting storyteller or audience. It’s only when Tenzin cuts in that the clips take on meaning:
“It’s true; there will always be new conflicts and enemies to face. But the important thing is to learn from your enemies and better yourself over time, which you have.”
And he’s right. The Korra we know now is entirely different from the Korra we started with—which is good, because that earlier Korra was an annoying character to have to deal with. In many ways, her evolution has been the opposite of Aang’s, in that he had to learn to assert his strength when necessary, while Korra needed to better manage hers. Now we’ve come full circle because Korra’s debating whether she should use her power against Kuvira, something she’d never have hesitated to do in season one. This level of consideration is what makes her a protagonist worth supporting
While Mako’s memories of his life after meeting Korra is better viewing thanks to judgmental asides from his grandma, cousin, and Prince Wu, it also reminds us how much of his character was wasted on tedious love triangles. You can only hope this isn’t a sign of more relationship drama to come, but the regretfully inconclusive note Mako ends on doesn’t bode well. If there’s anything important to be gleaned from this segment of the episode, it’s how candid Mako and Wu’s own relationship has grown: “You’re so weak, ‘Wu down!‘ is your catchphrase!”
Least useful of all is Varrick’s grossly fictionalized tale of Bolin’s adventures on the show, in which he twists, inflates, and merges facts to produce something that has almost no bearing on reality at all. For all these reasons, this is probably the most entertaining and memorable part of the episode. The reality is Bolin’s experiences have mostly been inconsequential to the series, whether as third wheel to his brother and Korra, Eska’s fiancé, brief “mover” star, or whatever he was doing in season three. His only value has been to add color to an often bland show, so why not let Varrick make his life even more colorful? If nothing else, he gives us Amon, Zaheer, and Vaatu on conference call and douchily trying to keep Unalaq out: “Haha, very funny. I’m still on the line. So, about that evil plan to destroy Nuktuk… Hello? Anyone there? Guys!”
– I’m not ashamed to admit to being a little bit terrified to see Bolin’s face on Korra’s giant spirit body.
– The reason for the Hollywoodization of any true story is encapsulated in the following exchange between Bolin and the other captives. “Boooring! When does the singing start?”
“There wasn’t any singing!”
– For those who’ve been insisting on the Asami-Korra shipping for the last few episodes, all I’ll say is I think they have at least as much chemistry as Mako with anyone, so yeah.
Clip shows definitely have a low ceiling as far as quality goes, but this one scrapes the underside.