Beyond the Wilds, Episode 9 of the fourth season of The Legend of Korra, is an episode packed full of plot development.

While the overall plot of the episode is a self-contained story about rampaging spirit vines, through this episode we are shown the fate of Korra’s former foe Zaheer, begin to resolve the divide between Bolin and Opal, and watch Korra continue to grapple with her psychological issues. Spoilers ahoy!

I was very impressed by how this episode managed to tie this all up in a neat package without suffering from pacing issues from rushing through so many points. What’s more is the mature attitudes taken both by the characters and by the show’s staff in this episode. While I expected them to portray Zaheer as something of a cackling villain now that he’s imprisoned and defeated, his portrayal was very much in character, bearing no real grudge towards Korra and even helping her through spiritual guidance. In addition, the council’s decision to take a defensive position until Kuvira’s forces present a direct threat was a realistic choice, and all of the council member’s votes were in line with their characterization; even Zuko’s daughter Izumi, who we’ve heard and seen almost nothing of until now, has clearly explained and reasonable motives for her choices.

Perhaps most impressive, however, is how Korra’s psychological problems are dealt with. Instead of opting for a magic fix to her trauma that might be present in another show, Korra comes to accept that there isn’t a light switch that she can flip to make herself better, and that the things that affect her might never go away forever. She accepts what has happened to her, and who she is as a result. While she may have re-connected with Rava and regained some degree of her power, the fact that the show chose to acknowledge that psychological problems aren’t something that disappear through some magic ritual is worthy of praise.

Beyond the Wilds is maybe one of my favorite episodes of The Legend of Korra. Though not the flashiest or most action-packed, it’s a fantastically constructed episode, and illustrative of how the show strives to be more than your average children’s cartoon filled with black-and-white ideals and instant solutions to all problems. Episodes like this are why the Avatar series has a little more to it than similar shows.

SCORE: 9/10

-Edward (Left Knee of A7)

Andrewhabara Avatar

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