One Last Look at Legend of Korra

Well the series finale of Legend of Korra aired last week so let’s talk about the whole series. While I’ve spent a good amount of time talking about the first two seasons when they first aired, I’ve said very little about the last two seasons. Now that it’s all over, I’m going to look at the series as a whole as well as season four. There’s a lot to cover so let’s not waste any time and jump into it.

In case it wasn’t obvious, spoilers, all the spoilers.

First, quick recap of each season and my thoughts as it progressed. Season one was rough, it had to break in a new story, not be overshadowed by its predecessor and had do it in 12 episodes. It wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a fun enough ride. Season two did what a lot of fans wanted in focusing on the spirit world, in the worst possible way. I wrote the show off with the season finale and only went back to watch the rest of it on the word of peoples’ opinions who I trust in these matters. Season three did a good job of salvaging the show and had lot of elements that made Last Airbender such a strong show. Season four was much the same.

That being said, the show had a number of flaws that it never did fix. The biggest one was how it was stuck in the shadow of Last Airbender. While the comparisons were going to happen, I’m referring to the fact that the characters, especially the main four, just weren’t as strong. The flashbacks to Aang in S1 hammered this home. It was something that would be continued in later seasons with quick uses of Iroh and Zuko. Toph was actually used in a manner where she got to be a part of the story, be herself and logically exit the story. While I liked most of the characters, they never got a chance to just be. Filler is important because of the character and world building. Speaking of characters, LoK very much wanted to be an ensemble show and could never pull it off well. In particular, I never really felt like Korra, Mako, Bolin and Asami were any sort of gang. The closest we ever got was the sequence of them hunting Equalists in season one. By season three the damage had been done but it was a good attempt to salvage it nonetheless. Either it meant focusing on plots that just weren’t very good or it contributed to poor pacing. The writers never really figured out how to make everything fit into 12 episodes seasons. The result is a feeling of being rushed.

I think that at its core, this was the main problem with LoK. The first seasons was written as a one shot, with no guarantee that they would get a second season. As a result, the ending of season 1, while being emotionally charged, was also very rushed in order to fix the setting. This quick fix was partially ignored in season two and from there it all went downhill. If the writers had been able to leave things unresolved, then it’s not inconceivable to think of a world in which the beginning of season two looks a lot like season four’s. Korra, as a character wasn’t allowed to be impacted by her experiences until season four. The fact that the show did focus on the trauma that Korra had gone through in a respectful manner also speaks to one of the show’s high points. Its ability and willingness to handle serious topics in a serious manner.

While I’m talking about things I wasn’t a fan of, the villains were very underwhelming. Amon and the Equalists weren’t wrong about bender oppression and the main characters are made accessories to that oppression. Unalaq made absolutely no sense. Zhahir was a Darwinian Anarchist who made a certain amount of sense until he was tied back to Unalaq. Kuvira was the Earthbender version of Sozin/Ozai. The last two were also right in that the Earth Kingdom was a rotting, reactionary, oppressive structure that had to go. Again, there just wasn’t enough time for them to really grow.

Now, these criticisms don’t mean the show is bad, just that it had its problems and as much as I wanted it to, it’s just not on the same level as Last Airbender.  That being said, let’s move onto season four itself.

Bearing in mind what I said earlier, I enjoyed season four and thought it was really strong. The worst thing I can say that’s specific to it is that the clip episode was a pale imitation of Ember Island Players. Kuvira was a good villain, the story and emotional beats were what you expected, but they were all good. While I only half expected for the show to turn into a mecha series, I’m not really surprised. I’m just disappointed that all, or at least, most of this stuff should’ve been there since season two.

Now let’s talk about the last five minutes of the ending. First, Korrasami is canon, I can’t conceive of any other interpretation based upon the text. Not only was that scene romantically coded, but their interactions throughout the season when death isn’t imminent only make sense in a romantic context. Their reunion and the restaurant scene stand out in particular. I can’t say if I would have had the same reaction if I had watched the show as it aired/hadn’t had the ending spoiled, but the main hurdle in not reading the scene that way is heteronormativity. Which, in a word is homophobic. Second, they’re bi, saying otherwise is biphobic. Third, while the text itself is very clear about this, it also has authorial intent. All in all this is a good thing, and hopefully it’s a precursor to more queer characters and relationships.

Legend of Korra was fun. It’s strange to think that a universe that has been on the air for the better part of the past decade is finished. I’d recommend it to fans of Last Airbender with the caveat of just outright skipping season 2 sans the first avatar two parter though. Till next time

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Are Video Games Art and why does it matter?

The idea that video games are more than just an entertainment medium, that they make us experience something and have cultural value is a fairly complicated question. I’ll be breaking down the issues surrounding this and how it relates to nerddom as a whole. Let’s jump into it.

First, I’ll personally answer the question of whether video games are art. If we determine something is art by the following criteria: 1. Causes the consumer to have an emotional experience 2. Is a product of and influences the culture in which it exists in 3. Is analyzed critically. Based on this criteria than video games can be art but are not intrinsically art. When I say ‘emotional experience’ I don’t mean the emotions that you feel when playing a game such as pride or joy or frustration, but rather the emotions that you feel when consuming other categories of art. The second point is indisputably true.  The third point is perhaps the most complicated of all, which I’ll get to into a minute. This should be noted as being a rather loose definition of art. The primary reason being that I’m not an academic and I’m not terribly keen on a definition of art that’s arbitrarily exclusionary given how amorphous any sort of definition is in this day and age. This criteria also reflects the things that I care about.

While I don’t have much investment in whether games are considered art or not, I am much more interested in games as a craft. This is a somewhat roundabout way of saying that game design and mechanics are lot more interesting to me nowadays. Although I do find discussing and analyzing games within a critical cultural framework to be fascinating as well, I don’t need the validation of others saying games are art to have that happen.

There are many qualifiers involved in game criticism. First, is the accessibility of academic game criticism on two fronts. First is the literal issues of accessibility in that getting a hold of books and articles is expensive if you’re not currently enrolled in a university. Second is that by drawing upon well established theoretical framework that’s hard to get through for a common reader (but that’s another discussion all together) The other major problem with game criticism is how it’s currently playing out. Meaningful criticism of games in the popular sphere is incredibly stunted. When figures such as Anita Sarkeesian or Leigh Alexander have their work categorically rejected because they’re women who are seen as attacking games instead of engaging with games in a critical manner and having discussion involving their work as a starting point or reference. This in turns means that support for them becomes tricky as their points don’t matter, defending them for what they represents matters.

With that in wind, why does this matter in the grand scheme of things? I see three main categories for being invested in this. First, there’s a legal aspect to understand. Treating video games as art in the same vein of movies is important in that it gives it certain legal protections. Second, there’s a matter of validation. This still new media form has only recently entered into a sense of acceptance in the zeitgeist and there’s still a fair amount of distrust. Now as I alluded to earlier, this legitimacy demands criticism that isn’t exactly welcome in some circles. Third, there are people who genuinely want video games to be an art form and push for it.

That’s all I got this week till next time.

 

December Solforge Draftcap

New month,new draftcap. While Imprisoned Herald came out a few weeks ago, I held off on doing a draftcap cause I figured I’d rather learn something about the format first. Anyway, let’s get to it.

Pack 1: Borean Windreaver is a perfectly fine vanilla creature, and its ability is very powerful. Frostang Maiden is okay. Onxyium Phantasm is clunky to begin with, the Allied ability is fairly relevant and the format is fast enough now that the utility strikes me as fairly small. War Merchant is solid. Sytgian Lotus is a good start to A/U Upgrade, which I’m not a fan of. Nexus Gunner is comparable to War Merchant, and I think Gunner is slightly better. I take Windreaver as it’s the best card by a good margin.

01

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 2: Glacial Crush is fine ‘sideboard’ card but there’s no compelling reason to take it here. Sparktail Manticore has impressed me, it’s good at picking stuff off and it levels fine, with it’s level 2 being particularly good. Featherfang is solid but only stands out if I want to lock in Uterra. Spiritsower Acolyte is meh, and only stands out if I want to lock in Nekrium. Cinder Mystic is about as good as it’s always been, which is to say fine. I opt for the Manticore, I don’t have a great preference for faction pairings.

02

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 3: Stouthide Stegadon is fine, sometimes you get to eat something for free. Anatomie and that whole cycle can be good but getting the critical mass of them for a payoff is really hard. Organ Harvester is a good answer to threats. Ice torrent is unplayable. I go for Organ Harvester, let’s see if i can’t make N/T Ambush happen.

03

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 4:  Seal of Kadras doesn’t do anything for two levels and I’m not in Alloyin so I can’t cheat the first two levels. Crag Walker is a good aggressive card and it’s low health isn’t that much of a drawback. Xithian Crusher is the closest thing to Stonefist Giant we have in draft at the moment, just less risk/reward tied to it. I take Crag Walker, I think it does more with less investment required.

04

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 5;  Perdition Guard is a big level 2 and bad other levels and ruthless wanderer needs a critical mas. I take Guard, I don’t want the Wanderer influencing real picks and cards like Guard have a purpose.

05

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 6: Catacomb Spider is a win-more card at best. Razzortooth Stalker needs to get one hit in and it becomes a threat. Ashuarian Flamesculptor is notable for being Consistent with some random upside at times. Seal of Kadras is still bad. Spiritfrost Shaman is solid vanilla creature that can give reach at times. Nargath Warrior is just unexciting. i take Stalker.

06

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 7: Staggershock is much like Anatomize but a lot more upside to it by virtue of just killing stuff. Xithain Rotfiend is a good underdrop/threat. Uranti Elementalist is a nice trick on a body. Nyrali Ambusher is fine. Firemane Steed has gone up for me, he’s annoying and then he gets huge. I take Rotfiend.

07

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 8: Nyrali Symbiote is good with pump or just in fighting creatures that fail the vanilla test. Spider and Seal are still bad. Ambusher is a good underdrop. Ambusher is the pick.

08

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 9: Misery Demon is not what I had in mind when I said N/T Ambush, the small body doesn’t make up for the life drain. Thundergale Invoker is gimmicky. Portal Shade is fine on the vanilla test and it can generate additional value? Done, pick it easy.

09

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 10: Xithian Host is bad, I don’t have anything that cares about Abominations to justify it. Shaman is solid and an easy pick.

10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 111: I would be rather happy with a second Stalker. Violent outburst seems terrible outside of a way to get in those last few points of damage. Staggershock is the same as before. Uranit Icemage isn’t consistent enough in draft to pay off. Cinder Mystic is the same as before. Ashuarian Brawler is a good underdrop/aggressive card. I take Stalker, I feel like my underdrops are shored up enough that I can afford to not Brawler at the moment.

11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 12: Wallbreaker yeti is good at 1 and 2 on its own but the level 3 really wants to hit a Defender. Talin Stampede doesn’t do much. Elementalist is the same. Firelit Hunter is what I had in mind when I said N/T Ambush. Grave Geist is as solid as always. I take Hunter for more potential upside.

12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 13: Conflagrate is pure value and I don’t have any spells yet. Steed is fine but I want ways to interact with my opponent outside of playing creatures. Gloomspire Wurm is bad as is Seal.

13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 14: I don’t want a second Guard so it’s either Glacial Crush or Tremorcharge. Half of my creatures at the moment are Tempys so I opt for Temorcharge.

14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 15: Firemane Steed is a card, Gloomspire Wurm isn’t. Take the Steed.

15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 16: Group Meal impacts multiple lanes and mucks up combat math in my favor. Runestorm Primoridal is the worst Consistent creature by a good margin. Second Manticore is fairly tempting. Uranti Warstoker doesn’t do anything when it’s the only Yeti and doesn’t do much in general. Ice Torrent is bad and Tarsian Pact doesn’t do much. Group Meal is my pick.

16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 17: Calamity Fiend makes up for his less than stellar body by messing up someone else’s. Cloudcleaver Titan is comparable to Stalker. I don’t want a 2nd Harvester. Zombie Titan is solid. I still don’t want Warstoker. I take Fiend.

17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 18: i’m not the biggest fan of Death Current. Wallbreaker is a good as a sideboard card against Defenders. I don’t want a 2nd Steed. Ossuary Spirit gets massive at level 3 but there are other things I want to be doing. I take Yeti.

18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 19: Yeti Warcaller and Ghastly Renewal don’t do anything. Fell Strider is a legit good card and easy pick.

19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 20: 2nd Crag Walker easy.

20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 21: Renewal still doesn’t do enough.  I wouldn’t object to a 2nd Ambusher. Nyrali Ooze is fine, it blocks twice. Tarsian pact is not what this deck wants. Legion Titan can be good but you’re probably winning those games already. Ebonbound Warlord is very strong and I rarely pass any of the -bound cards, so easy pick here.

21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 22: Dirge Banshee comboes with Windreaver but with only one way to move it I’m not the most excited about it. Borean Stormweaver is good, he gets massive and has a relevant ability. Kadras Colossus is forgettable. Instigator is an aggressive body. I take Stormweaver.

22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 23: Cinderbound Barbarian gets the pick. Chant of Dragonwatch can be good but not as good as Barbarian.

23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 24: I like Infernal Visage when I have other creatures that care about being in the side lanes already. Grave Geist is a good addition to the deck.

24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 25: misery Demon can act as reach, so I take it.

25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 26: Spiritleash is hard to get value out of in this deck. Umbruk Lasher doesn’t need it’s Allied trigger to be good and is a fine addition to the deck.

26

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 27: Duskspire Zombie isn’t what this deck wants at all. Seal of Tarsus and Spiritcleave are pretty close and I go for Seal since it’s more flexible.

27

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 28: I like Embrace more than Chant because I don’t want the games to go long enough where Chant shines.

28

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 29: Spiritcleave does more than give me another means of marginal reach like Sparkbrand Asir does.

29

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 30: Cinder Mystic is just the better card,so easy last pick.

30

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Round 1 was against a nekirum/uterra deck  who had answers for my Stalkers. i put up a good fight but scooped at the beginning of PL4. 0-1

Round 2 was against an Alloyin/Tempys deck that was able to level Iron Maiden and i couldn’t kill them fast enough. Game ened at hte end of pL 3. 0-2

Round 3 was against an Uterra/Alloyin deck that could never catch up to me. Game ended in PL3. 1-2.

Round 4 was against an Uterra/Tempys deck that didn’t much of anything.

Till next time