If there’s anything I hate more than bad endings, it’s even worse fan ideas about what should’ve happened instead. Apparently, some people were hoping that Korra would not get her bending back and would either have to relearn the elements or accept that she’s not the avatar and learn humility. I don’t like the finale nor the bending refund, but this stupid development frustrates me even more.
First, I’ll focus on the idea that she should’ve learned the elements again, one that doesn’t fit at all into the story because Amon takes bending away forever, which was pretty much the reason the idea was terrifying to benders. He doesn’t restart your skills, he destroys any hope you’d have of learning them again. But I digress.
Why, pray tell, would she need to learn the elements AGAIN? She has spent all her life learning and being brilliant at bending. What would she gain by doing it all over again, except amusing the audience who can’t accept that the protagonist did cool stuff off screen?
That’s the biggest reason why the idea of her learning the elements again is utterly idiotic: she has nothing to gain by re-learning what she’s already learned and excels at. She has already earned her bending. Just because she didn’t earn it on screen doesn’t mean anything, the experience has obviously shaped her as a person and an avatar. She has to learn what she didn’t earn: the spiritual side of bending and complete herself as a person. From the start they established this as her goal, but I guess the audience can’t handle character growth that isn’t flashy and full of action. Her losing her bending would switch the focus from learning just the spiritual side to learning the physical side again, which she already KNOWS. This is like showing a painting, your life’s work, to someone who then shreds it to pieces because they didn’t watch you paint it. Would you be happy to go back to painting the same picture, especially if you still have to start painting another, even harder picture? Do you think Korra would? Do you think the season would end with an excited: “Alright! Let’s go learn the elements, ALL OVER AGAIN!”
But from a storytelling pov, here’s why the idea fails so hard: Establish the goal of learning the spiritual side of bending -> Conclude the plot with her losing bending. Does this look like a satisfying conclusion to you or a step back from where she was at the beginning?
Oh, also the fact that she did nothing to warrant losing bending. Losing something can be a great catalyst but this loss would not resolve any emotional struggle she’s been having, nor make her think differently. Sure, she would have to fight like an airbender from now on, but that’s not real character development, it’s a fictional mental set you’re expected to adapt with the element, rather than a way of learning through experience and consequences (which is what character development is about). Korra would have no choice but to start thinking like an airbender, rather than willingly make herself learn to adapt it to her existing personality. When Aang had to learn earthbending, he had to make himself stop running and stand his ground. His character development came from when he overcame this on his own, not from him learning earthbending (which is just part of the plot).
Get rid of your nostalgia and learn to see this series for what it is: A story about an already knowledgeable avatar with different issues to face, NOT a kid’s journey to learn the elements. We’ve already seen Aang learn the elements. Why do you want to focus so much on that again when we could focus on a new story, especially with only 14 episodes?
As for losing bending forever, what would she learn, what kind of character development would she have if she lost three elements she’s been learning to bend her whole life and which she loves bending and was left with one element that she doesn’t like at all? She knows airbending now and we’ve already seen her struggle with it. Why would we want to conclude this struggle by destroying all her skills and leaving her with only one that she finally got (meaning that it offers no further conflict or struggle to understand. Not that we need that, because the creators already addressed this)? I guess that would be a reward for finally unlocking airbending. It’d be too easy for her to be so powerful, let’s just take all the previous elements away so that the fights would be easier to write. Why would you even want this for a character who’s shown nothing but passion towards bending and respect towards non-benders?
As for people saying Korra is arrogant, no, she isn’t. She’s a little used to attention and she’s very confident, but it’s not like she doesn’t have a reason to be. It’s a normal, realistic dose of arrogance when you are the best (she’s the freakin’ avatar, a child prodigy). She gets frustrated when she’s not good at something, and who doesn’t, but she’s willing to learn. She studied probending and she studies airbending. Bad arrogance is when you make others feel bad by setting yourself above them or when you far overrate your abilities. Besides, „arrogance“ is only a small part of her personality and it’s never been shown as something problematic that had to be solved dramatically.
„But she would have to learn that she’s still worth something even without her bending!“ First of all, that would be really, REALLY cheesy. Second, avatar is a huge title and its strength comes from the unity of four elements, not to mention that it’s that unity which makes the avatar valuable across all four nations. Why would we ignore this huge important role so we could focus on her accepting herself as a nonbender/airbender, when that’s not what she is nor what her life is about. („lol see audience? You’re still special even if you don’t have superpowers! Don’t feel bad, we apologize for making characters more awesome than you!“) She IS the avatar! That’s part of her identity, it’s why we follow her rather than some random bender. We watch a movie about a boxer because that’s their life. We watch a movie about an intellectual because that’s their life. Why is it so bad to devote your life to something you love? Because the audience can’t relate to it? I don’t want to see Korra accept herself as a lesser person than she could be. I want her to strive to be the best at what she’s good at and use that for the good of society.
Maybe I should break your 9 fingers so you could learn to appreciate your pinky.