Geek Couples: Korra and Asami (Avatar: The Legend of Korra) - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Geek Couples: Korra and Asami (Avatar: The Legend of Korra)

Alexander Wallace is the Chosen One.
A non-insignificant portion of the first two seasons of The Legend of Korra were characterized by a game of romantic musical chairs shuffling about between Korra, Mako, Bo Lin, and Asami. In particular, the attempted pairing of Korra and Mako, a relationship that had so much labor and so much anguish poured into it, took up so much time that so many fans found to be plodding. When all of this was wrapped up at the beginning of season three, when the writers mercifully put it down for good, we breathed a sigh of relief.

Mako, like Katara before him, had to deal with the travails of being in a relationship with a messiah. Korra, like Aang, before her, was a messiah, with the ancient demand to keep the world in harmony thrust upon her, as is done to everyone in that line of reincarnation (an aside: both The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra both show in sordid detail how cruel the notion of a ‘chosen one’ is, if the story of Anakin Skywalker wasn’t enough for you). Through this ordeal, Korra suffers through so much, including what has been described as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
In some ways, the pairing was inevitable. The show spent so much time telling you in exquisite detail why Korra and Mako simply could never be together that way. Bo Lin was ultimately too peppy, too ebullient for her (no matter how much I thought that they were the chosen pairing in the first season).

Likewise, Asami couldn’t last long with Mako either; he was a character with a massive chip on his shoulder and poor ways of dealing with all of his myriad issues. She was also never going to settle for a blowhard and a lecher like Prince Wu, the sort of corrupt and venal aristocrat that presided over the dissolution of the Earth Kingdom. It is blatantly obvious to me that someone as classy, as refined, and as sharply intellectual as Asami would never accept being a glorified concubine for someone who would in all likelihood fiddle as Ba Sing Se burns (but he did have the realism to admit that there was, in fact, war in that city and in that kingdom).
The two, therefore, were almost fated by authorial fiat to end up together. Their arguments are always collected and mature, and they have serious respect for one another’s viewpoints. They may disagree heavily on whether Asami’s father is still trustworthy after all he has done (a very good example of how this show’s writing is at not wasting interesting characters), but they remain cool-headed with one another in a way that neither of them could with Mako.

The evidence for their pairing before that cathartic final shot (one that mirrors how couples are portrayed throughout the franchise, including the ending shot of The Last Airbender) is given by the writers winking and nudging at us, making us wonder if they dared to pull off something so bold. The hints are handholds and glances and the occasional ogle, combined with deep, heartfelt conversations about the things that really matter. It was something that Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko built up with trepidation, fearful of Nickelodeon’s response, but the studio gave them some approval up to a certain point, and the two did as much as they could as they fought society’s heteronormative standards.
But perhaps the biggest sign of Korra and Asami being so compatible is when the latter nurses the former for weeks after her battle with Zaheer. Asami serves as the ultimate caretaker, a role that Katara never quite performed for Aang. She is counselor and nurse and so many other myriad roles needed for someone in that sort of pain for so long, recuperating from such horrific trauma. In this regard, Asami has shown herself as being willing and able to love a messiah, with all that implies. She can accept the fact that her lover is burdened with something that she simply cannot comprehend, the weight of history, of destiny, and of a myriad past lives all calling upon Korra to save all living things. In this regard, she is the ideal wife of a savior.

To confirm as canon a same-sex couple in a children’s cartoon in 2014 was nothing less than daring. In terms of a social statement, it was deeply necessary (I will admit that I am a straight man and therefore not qualified to speak upon this in great detail). But it was not merely a good issue; it was magnificent storytelling. Korra and Asami grew ever closer together emotionally until such a point that there was no option. They felt made for each other, and by the end the writers knew a good thing when they saw it. All of us viewers have benefited from that great decision.

Alexander Wallace is an alternate historian, reader, and writer who moderates the Alternate History Online group on Facebook and the Alternate Timelines Forum on Proboards. He writes regularly for the Sea Lion Press blog and for NeverWas magazine, and also appears regularly on the Alternate History Show with Ben Kearns. He is a member of several alternate history fora under the name 'SpanishSpy.'

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