makorra contrast

anonymous asked:

to be honest i was so surprised when I heard asami say that she can't handle losing korra and her dad in the same day. i mean yeah, we all know that, but to hear her actually say it is still surprising. that's really just like a confession to me. it's like saying all the crap she's been through in the past few years, which let's be honest is like a lot of crap, is nowhere as terrifying as korra dying

It certainly was the perfect response to Korra’s attempted apology. Because keep in mind, Asami felt like she lost Korra once…at first just by distance; but then Korra literally vanished and no one knew where she was, Asami included. So in way, you’d think Korra would need to say sorry. That was just straight up running away.

By Asami saying Korra didn’t need to apologize for anything because she was there, now was Asami’s way of explaining why she snapped at Korra: she was hurt. Her “I’m just happy you’re here now” implicitly said that. It wasn’t Korra offering advice on Hiroshi that was bothering her…it was that Korra could have left her in the first place. But then following that up with “I couldn’t handle losing you,” was demonstrating that Asami had clearly forgiven her, because Korra being in her life was always what mattered. Asami had felt rejected, and also felt scared for Korra when she was “missing.” So while I think that maybe Korra’s apology was merited, it makes sense that Asami doesn’t. And she’s also a very forgiving person in general.

I can’t say I was surprised to hear Asami say it (though very glad), because her S3 “if you want to talk…or anything” felt almost like a love confession to me anyway. But this was definitely a confession with less room for interpretation, at least as far as Korra was concerned. At the end of S3, Korra was in no state to be reading in between the lines. Here, Asami put it rather bluntly. But the difference was also about emotional states. When Korra was the one hurting, Asami said “I’m here for you.” When it was reversed, Asami said, “I need you” (paraphrasing). Both are demonstrations of love, but just in different contexts.

That scene was great, because it them reassuring each other. That kind of reciprocal emotional support is rare, and obviously what both need. I should probably just end this musings session here, before contrasting to Makorra, lol, but I think you see where I’m going.

This is one really strong couple.

anonymous asked:

Ikkin talk to me about how Zaheer helped Korra, my jaw dropped at that scene and also the makorra, tell me how in this episode the makorra contrasts makorra in the past, I think this is my second favorite episode in Book 4 so far.

(I kind of feel like this would be better off as two separate asks, since there’s significant meta possibilities for both of them.  XD;

For now, I’m going to avoid the shipping request, though feel free to make a separate ask for that.  The Zaheer half is plenty to talk about in a single post)

I’m kind of surprised that I haven’t seen anyone approach the Zaheer-and-Korra scene from a mental health perspective yet.  I guess it could be out there, but no one I follow reblogged anything of the sort, so I guess my Google Fu will have to suffice.

The thing with that, of course, is that I kind of have to rely on what’s readily available, and most of what’s readily available about PTSD treatments seems to be very general descriptions.  =P

…then again, it’s not like the show could go into details anyway.  There just isn’t enough time to be fully realistic about things like this; all the show can do is represent the general concepts.

I think it does that quite well, though, starting from the framing of Korra’s issues as an inability to find meaning in her suffering: “I am trying to understand why this happened to me.  Nothing makes any sense.”

Korra’s confrontation with Zaheer continues that, drawing a bit from some of the forms of therapy for and theories about the resolution of PTSD.

The first of these is Cognitive Processing Therapy, which involves “addressing ways of thinking that might keep you ‘stuck’ and get in the way of your recovery from symptoms of PTSD and other problems” (1).  It’s meant to help people think about trauma in a different way so they can make sense of what happened and learn to cope with it (2). 

Zaheer’s way of doing this is blunt and forceful, but it shades every interaction he has with Korra (even before she convinces him to help her get into the Spirit World).

He’s being a real jerk here, of course — he’s basically triggering her on purpose — but the point is to shatter her unhelpful illusion that seeing him in chains would make her fear go away.  Every part of his action is a statement, including the chain holding him back, and what he’s saying is that her fear is not affected by her conscious knowledge that he can’t really hurt her.

Once she accepts that she’s still afraid, he’s more direct about telling her that the way she’s acting is getting in her way of her recovery:

She seems to accept what he said, too; her anger at him quickly shifts to despair at ever being able to recover.  But he rejects that, too:

Korra had been assuming that she’d never be the same in the sense that she’d never get better.  But Zaheer reframes that to say, “Of course you’re not the same, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use the resources you have to become something better.”

Korra doubts that’s possible, since her experience has left her feeling limited by external forces.  Zaheer’s response is to reframe the trauma itself into proof that she has no limits:

What an amazing way to understand what Korra went through!  She’s been associating that event with weakness and helplessness and failure all this time, when the very fact of her survival shows that she’s capable of doing the impossible. 

Korra’s actions after being poisoned demonstrated near-unimaginable strength.  She endured minute after agonizing minute of the poison’s effects trying to stave off the Avatar State, and fought for even longer after it triggered.  But she couldn’t see any of that; all she could see was how close she came to dying.  Zaheer has to tell her how much power that must have taken for her to even consider what that means.

Even after Korra starts re-experiencing what happened to her, Zaheer continues to challenge her beliefs.  She doesn’t believe she can let her flashback play out; he insists that she can.  She believes she has no control; he reminds her that she has a choice in how she responds to her experience.

The flashback sequence reflects a supplementary treatment and a theoretical understanding of how PTSD works, too.

Interestingly enough, meditation is considered to be a complementary treatment for PTSD because of its ability to help with relaxation and stress reduction (3).  Prolonged Exposure Therapy uses breathing exercises to help people relax (2), but one can imagine that Zaheer might have seen meditation as providing the same benefits.

The other thing to note in the above gif is that Zaheer asks Korra to focus on his voice — the very voice that she hears in her nightmares! — and thereby creates a direct contradiction in her perception.  The voice she associated with torture and death is the one offering her comfort and encouragement.

And that, I think, reflects the idea that fear associations are either broken down or replaced by the incorporation of incompatible information.

The first theory of how exposure therapy works, the Emotional Processing Theory, posits that confronting a feared stimulus activates a “fear structure” including ideas about the stimulus, its meaning, and how to respond to it.  According to the theory, when that structure is activated in a context where some of its elements are incorrect, a new structure is developed to take it into account and replaces the old one.  Another model, the Inhibitory Learning Model, rejects the idea that old associations are removed, and says instead that the old meanings still exist even after contradictory evidence is provided, but new meanings are created that compete with the old ones (4).

Either way, it seems like Zaheer’s acting to show Korra that her memory is a different thing from her initial experience, and that she’s in no real danger from either it or him.  That the memory transforms into the Spirit World at the end is a way to make that separation final.

In general, it seems like the writers put a lot of thought into making this scene reflect the process of healing from trauma, even if the end result is a permanent end to the flashbacks.  It seems pretty impressive to me!

Sources: [1] [2] [3] [4]

Gifs by Makos-Lightningrod: [1] [2] [3]

anonymous asked:

I've seen some talk on the forums that Kataang was more important to the plot that Makorra is. Do you agree with that? I tend to think that it's equally important to the plot at best and that Makorra seems like a little more serious and mature romance that Kataang was at the time of The Last Airbender.

I’m guessing that this was in the context of whether Korra and Mako would kiss at the end of the finale, right?

Because the thing is, I think Kataang and Makorra are important in different ways, but the ways in which they differ makes the end-on-a-kiss much more appropriate in A:tLA than it was in LoK.

Kataang, I think, was meant to mirror Aang’s main arc of growing up.  It was built into the mythic structure of its show as a whole in a way that Makorra isn’t, even if it didn’t get addressed directly quite as often.  That’s probably why they chose to end on a kiss there – it represents Aang having succeeded in the coming-of-age aspects of his stories and matured into the sort of person who’s ready for romance.

Makorra, in contrast, is more about character dynamics than thematic or mythical concerns.  I mean, it does reflect those concerns in some ways – if they get back together, it’ll be another instance of the destruction-and-new-growth cycle that exists everywhere in LoK – but it’s not really the primary mirror the way Kataang was, and it’s not the arc that most needs to be resolved, either.

It’s hard to say because we don’t have Book 4 yet, but my guess is that Makorra will end up with comparatively more screentime over the show’s run than Kataang did, but it will be a secondary or even tertiary concern in the conclusion rather than the image we’re left with just before the final credits roll.

Here’s something I don’t think has been discussed that much in regards to Legend of Korra – tonally, it has strong tendencies towards the bittersweet.

I’m just going to focus on the Book 2 finale, because a) that’s the place where you’d most expect the tone to shift to something more unconditionally happy if it were going to do that and b) analyzing the entire show would take more time that I’d be willing to put into what’s meant to be a quick piece of meta.  So, let’s take a look at Korra’s expressions after the world has been saved, and consider what they show us:

This is her expression immediately after using spiritbending to destroy Unavaatu.

It makes a lot of sense that she would seem solemn and subdued given the circumstances, of course.  Unalaq was her uncle, even if he turned into a literal monster at the end, and I’m sure she would have preferred not to kill him.  But Korra does what she has to do, even as she makes sure to be as respectful about it as possible.

(I like this characterization of a hero who’s put into a situation where she has to kill, by the way.  The usual superhero/kids’ media tendency to imply that the hero killing is a tragic violation of their principles would seem wildly inappropriate for Korra, as would the usual realistic/deconstructionist tendency to have the hero freak out; the usual teen/adult action media tendency to treat villains’ lives as cheap would make things too tidy.  Korra’s reaction allows for Unalaq’s death to be unfortunate without being a stain on her soul, and that seems like a good tack to take under the circumstances)

This, on the other hand, is Korra’s expression immediately after she fuses with Raava.

What’s interesting is that this could have been a fully triumphant scene – the fusion itself is a wonderful moment of glory for both her and Raava – but instead, we’re shown a Korra who seems unsure.

“It’s over,” she says, and I think it’s possibly this moment where she realizes that she’s not going to get her connections to her past lives back.  She’s done everything she can, but she’s still lost something in the process, and so, even as a fully-realized Avatar once again, she can’t be truly happy about her victory.

Mako and Bolin try to cheer her up, and even succeed temporarily… but then she catches sight of her cousins and looks away as seen above before walking over to them.  She’s got more important things to do than celebrate…

…and those more important things involve apologizing to her cousins for their father’s death.

Much is made of the twins’ apparent callousness, but it’s important to note that Korra is clearly affected by what she had to do.  She seems to feel like she failed both her cousins and and Unalaq himself by her inability to save him, and it’s pretty obvious that that hits her hard here.

(This is a pretty interesting choice, too, because it works with the idea that there can be undesirable consequences to killing even in self-defense without going the obvious route of showing the family in mourning.  Eska and Desna’s feelings to their father were not at all positive when he died… but even so, they’re a couple of sixteen-year-olds saddled with the unpleasant task of telling their mother that their father was killed)

After that, Tenzin asks her about the other thing that she feels like she failed at – her connection to her past lives, which wasn’t restored when she fused with Raava again.  And, if you take a good look at her, it’s easy to see that she looks completely miserable.  She might have saved the world, but she certainly doesn’t look like someone who thinks she’s won.

This one is an interesting one, because it’s Korra’s big moment of choice.  You’d kind of expect her expression to be one of determination, or, at worst, confusion, but instead, she just looks sad.

Considering what’s come before, I’m actually inclined to wonder whether Korra’s decision might be born out of the feeling of loss that’s been weighing on her since she destroyed Unavaatu.  If she closes the portal now, everything effectively goes back to the way it was, just worse – she’s lost her connection to her past lives, her uncle’s dead at her own hands, and Republic City’s trashed because she couldn’t get there in time to stop him fast enough.  If she opens the portal, though, there’s a chance that something good can come out of all that pain, and she can honor her uncle’s memory in the process.

The Makorra break-up, in contrast, pretty much speaks for itself.  It’s still definitely a bittersweet sort of scene, though – it’s absolutely necessary for both characters’ sakes, but that doesn’t make it less sad.

And that brings us to Korra’s final speech.  It’s definitely more hopeful than a lot of the scenes I’ve talked about, but that final moment of glory is in contrast to a rather subdued presentation on Korra’s part.  She’s not the naive girl we saw at the press conference at the end of Welcome to Republic City anymore – she’s changing the world with her eyes fully open, recognizing that change might not come easy even as she believes that it’s possible.

As there was in Book 1, there’s something of a death-and-rebirth theme here… it’s just that this time, instead of Korra dying to herself and being reborn as something greater, it’s the world and the Avatar Spirit that suffer a death and undergo a rebirth, and the sort of change that comes out of that is more ambiguous.  There’s a lot of loss here, and a lot of uncertainty, but there’s hope, too.  It’s not really a common tone to take, I think.

On a side note, I think that tone shows up a lot in the music, too.  Korra’s own theme and the “cosmic” theme used in Jinora’s Light and during Raava’s death are both pretty bittersweet in their own ways, and a ton of the songs associated with the spirits are bittersweet in one way or another.  It definitely doesn’t feel like your usual action show, music-wise.

(Images from AvatarSpirit.Net)