Things I Love About LoK
Goal: Write 1 thought every day re: why I love The Legend of Korra until I finish rewatching the series.
#94: Wan’s death scene in “Beginnings Part 2.”
Book 2 is generally considered the most-hated season of LoK (at least based on my read of the ATLA Subreddit). For me personally, I do agree that it is the weakest in execution of the four LoK seasons (if only because it was so ambitious in scale). But honestly, when I think back to the scenes in the entire series that resonated with me the most on an emotional level, a bunch of them come from the second half of Book 2.
In particular, I think the scene where Wan dies at the end of “Beginnings Part 2″ is PERFECTION. It’s one of my favorites in all of LoK (even though none of LoK’s main characters is in it).
We see that Wan’s act in closing the spirit portals and separating the spirits and humans is a cataclysmic, world-changing event. He started a new age: the age of the avatar, thus ending the age of the Lion Turtles, who recede into the background. And then the humans emerge from their lion turtle cities and immediately descend into conflict:
Wan: Different groups of people must learn to live together. This is my mission- to use Raava’s Light Spirit to guide the world toward peace.
Wan attempts to use his avatar powers to keep the peace between the humans:
But ultimately he fails:
And he dies on the battlefield knowing that he failed:
Old Wan: I’m sorry, Raava. I failed to bring peace. Even with Vaatu locked away, darkness still surrounds humanity. There wasn’t enough time.
But he also dies knowing that the avatar spirit will live on and continue striving for balance in the world:
Raava: Don’t worry. We will be together for all of your lifetimes and we will never give up.
I love that Wan fails, and that the avatar cycle is essentially an eternal struggle to find peace and balance despite the “darkness” that surrounds humanity. I also love the idea that no avatar solves all of the world’s problems (because the world’s problems are too many, and too complex for one person to fix).
Rather, each avatar makes mistakes and leaves things unresolved for the next one. (Thus, we see that Roku failed to stop Sozin, which bled into Aang’s time. And Aang’s actions against Yakone led to Yakone breeding his sons for revenge, which bled into Korra’s time.) Like Raava and Vaatu, who could never destroy each other, but fought in a never-ending cycle, the avatar cannot vanquish all evil and darkness because of human nature.
But the avatar never gives up. And I just think that is incredibly moving and beautiful.