Understanding Korra’s Queer Ending

Understanding Korra’s Queer Ending

Nickelodeon’s The Legend of Korra, the follow-up to its popular series Avatar: The Last Airbender, wrapped up its fourth and final season on Friday, Dec. 19, ending with a surprise that still has fans reeling.

Taking place in a world where people called "benders" are able to control the elements, the anime-inspired series follows the exploits of a girl named Korra, who is the reincarnation of the previous show’s (male) protagonist and the world’s most powerful bender. Called the Avatar, Korra is different from other benders in that while they can only control one element each, she can control them all, thus, she's given special political and spiritual sway. Essentially a celebrity, the show follows Korra as she learns humility and empathy and is thus able to form real human bonds and connections that seemed difficult for her before. And while the finale featured mindbending special effects and giant robot battles, the final two minutes showcased a certain bond that is currently dominating online conversation.

Dubbed “Korrasami” by fans, the bond centers around Korra and the show’s other female lead, a wealthy young industrialist named Asami. Originally starting off at odds, both caught in a love triangle with the same man, the pair eventually saw a change as they each dated and then fell out of love with the man they had fought over. Both now single, the duo began hanging out, growing closer over their shared experience and serving as confidants for each other. While the show’s third season featured cute moments such as Asami teaching Korra how to drive and the duo going on a high-octane airship adventure, things really picked up in the fourth season, as Korra recovered from a poisoning that temporarily left her wheelchair-bound. Serving as Korra’s assistant and emotional support while she was in her chair, Asami grew close enough to Korra that when Korra was away at rehab, she wrote only to Asami, leaving the rest of her friends in the dark.

When Korra returned home physically fit, she and Asami began sharing frequent moments that would be difficult to describe as anything other than flirting. The duo spoke with each other like nobody else, and a particularly cute moment finds Korra blushing when Asami compliments her new haircut.

Korrasamiblush

In the final two minutes of the show’s finale, the tension between the characters finally comes to a head. After saving her city and speaking with her mentor about how much she has grown, Korra is joined by Asami just outside of the wedding reception for two other characters. Asami, having just lost her father, is comforted by Korra, mentioning her wish for a vacation. Immediately jumping on the idea, Korra suggests the two of them take a private trip, with Asami wanting to go to the Spirit World, a magical parallel dimension anchored to Earth by a portal in the heart of their city. The two gather supplies and meet at the spirit portal before holding hands and then longingly and reverently staring into each other’s eyes as a golden glow transports them to a natural paradise, after which "The End" appeared onscreen.

While many fans took this as confirmation that the two had become a couple, something a sizable portion of the fanbase had been rooting for as signs of it became more evident, others argued that Korra and Asami were just good friends. However, the show’s creators, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, each issued separate statements yesterday that firmly confirmed that Korra and Asami were indeed in love.

“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,” DiMartino stated on his blog.

“It was originally written in the script over a year ago that Korra and Asami held hands as they walked into the spirit portal,” Konietzko wrote on his own blog. “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.”

Writing about Nickelodeon’s support for the ending, he added: “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,” explaining why there wasn’t the kiss that many fans had hoped for.

“Was it a slam-dunk victory for queer representation?” Konietzko asked. “I think it falls short of that, but hopefully it is a somewhat significant inching forward.” Explaining his feeling, DiMartino concluded with “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 [Korra’s mentor] 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.”

Watch the finale on Nick’s website, and enjoy the final scene below:
 

From our Sponsors

READER COMMENTS ()