The finale for “The Legend of Korra,” Book 2, “Spirits,” airs on Nickelodeon tonight at 8 p.m. (The closing episode is already online at Nick.com.) Speakeasy spoke to the creators of the animated fantasy series, Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, about the show and what’s in store for Book 3 “Change.” We ran part one of our chat yesterday. (OP: Which has already been posted and I took that image because the ones at the source have spoilers)
[Spoiler Alert! You should watch the finale, online or on TV, before reading this article.]
In our interview, Konietzko said that the inspiration for the name of the coming book, “Change,” had its roots in “Eastern philosophy.” Speakeasy searched through our copy of Stephen Mitchell‘s translation of Lao-tzu‘s “Tao Te Ching” on our iPad and came across a passage that may console “Korra” fans as they begin the wait for the next batch of episodes after tonight’s finale.
If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to.
Here’s part two of our interview with DiMartino and Konietzko.
I asked fans to tweet us some questions for you. This question was on the minds of a lot of viewers, and it comes from Mo @gamerMo. Mo asked “Will we ever learn what happened between Zuko and Team Avatar? Or about his mom?”
DiMartino: My stock answer now is that there are comic books published by Dark Horse where that storyline is now answered, so people can read the comics and find out now. In the comics the various stories are about Aang post the TV show.
There’s also continuing interest in whomever Korra is dating. Diane Pangilinan @twinklelydy asked “do u have any plans for developing Korra’s love life?”
Konietzko: It seems to me that people are uninterested in that. They get completely angry when we have fun with the teen romance stuff. I don’t know. I’m going to leave that alone.
It may seem a little weird that people would be interested in a cartoon character’s dating habits, but I think some fans do really care.
Konietzko: This is my new theory. Fans are more interested in imagining relationships between a myriad of pairings. But they’re profoundly disinterested in seeing any of those things manifest themselves on the show. So who knows, whatever. Mike and I as writers, we wrote it the way we found it to be entertaining, and that struck a chord with some, but maybe not with some others.
@korraspirit asks “How do you deal with critics who complain ‘Korra’ isn’t like ‘Airbender’?”
DiMartino: We wanted to evolve and do something a little different. I think it’s funny, because people in hindsight say things like “‘Last Airbender’ was the greatest animated series ever!” And it was awesome, I love it. But in another 5-8 years, people will say “‘Korra’ was awesome!” I think things get better with time.
Konietzko: While we were in the middle of “Avatar” we got a lot of volatile reaction from fans. They were very upset with the direction we were taking Zuko. While they were in the story, when it was unfolding, there were a lot of seemingly unhappy people. But like Mike said, years later, as we meet people and they continue to discover the series, new people find it and people that saw it get a deeper connection to it, all of that volatility seems to go away…To me it’s kind of like a band. They put out an album you love, and they put out another album and you might like that one more, you might like it the same, you might like it less. I’d rather it be a different album than just a rehashing of the first one.
Korra, left, battles Unalaq in the season finale of “The Legend of Korra.” Nickelodeon. 2013 Viacom, International, Inc. All Rights Reserved
One moment from Book 2 “Spirits” that really struck people is that Korra seems to be cut off from her past lives. Can you talk about that? Is it something you plan to explore more?
DiMartino: At the end of any season we try to come up with big dramatic sacrificial moments that are going to have a big effect on our characters. Especially Korra. We thought this would be a very powerful way to have her in a very dark place where she is really all alone now. She doesn’t have her past lives, she doesn’t have her Raava, she doesn’t have her Avatar spirit with her, and what is she gonna do when she’s faced with that? It also just seemed like Korra’s whole journey was on a spiritual path and finding out who she truly is and it seemed better that she can’t rely on the past Avatars because they’re not there anymore. It’s a chance for her to move forward and create her own future and destiny.
Where does the show go next beyond Book 2 and the in-the-works Book 3?
Konietzko: We’ve announced both Books 3 and 4. And we’re pretty much done with writing on Book 4. So there’s a great deal of overlap in the production there. Book 4 is the end of the “Korra” series. So we’ve got 52 episodes planned. When all is said and done it will have taken I think about five years to make. Much like when “Avatar” ended, Mike and I need to just recharge the batteries and work on a couple of other things. We definitely don’t have another series planned, but I think this universe that we cracked open 11 years ago, I think it will always draw us back in, throughout the years, and I think it’s still an inspiring place for us to create and we have various other ideas, but we’re really busy just trying to get these episodes done and we’re not actively trying to figure out the next step in this world yet.
I talked to “Game of Thrones” author George R. R. Martin a couple years back and he told me that the readers really always want the next book out there quickly, and there’s constant pressure from fans wanting authors to complete a fantasy cycle. Do you guys feel the same sort of pressure?
Konietzko: Although it takes us a long time, it doesn’t take us quite as long as one of George’s books. He’s all alone. We have a whole team, people that help out. With Book 2 it’s not that we stopped working on it or took a break. We never stopped working on it. There were some unforeseen production difficulties, many of them, that we had to overcome and work through. Animation is incredibly difficult–much like doing a giant sweeping fantasy novel. We’re getting it out there as fast as we can….It’s very flattering to know that people have this hunger for the work that we’re creating. And then at the same time you wish they could appreciate how hard we’re working on it and how much time it takes. It’s funny because they released the finale a week early and one of the only comments I saw online was “Great, but when’s Book 3?”…But I get it. My wife says the same thing when “Game of Thrones” has its finale on HBO. Now she wants to know when the next season starts. I guess it’s the normal human response and we just have to shoulder it.
Do you feel your work is better appreciated through binge-watching or do you want people to watch week to week? Or are you agnostic about the way people watch?
Konietzko: I’ve given up thinking I know what’s best for the way the series should roll out. I just think TV is changing so much, the way people view it is changing. I think Mike and I are just happy when we can get it out there.
DiMartino: I can see how seeing a whole series at one time, like on Netflix, can have some benefit because you’re getting the whole story in a relatively short amount of time rather than have to wait a week between episodes. I do the same thing–if I discover a new series that has all its episodes online, I usually don’t wait a week between watching episodes if they’re all there. So I get it.
Konietzko: When ["House of Cards"] was announced and “Arrested Development” and they released the whole series on one day, for me, I kind of broke out in a cold sweat because as a TV producer, when we start airing the shows, we have to have enough in the can. We have to have enough finished so we can start putting them on the air in regularly spaced intervals. I know the fans sometimes will find out that an episode is done and they think we’re holding something back from them. We might have one episode done but we’ve got to finish the other twelve or something like that…we have to accrue enough episodes in order to start airing them. So when I see these series that just come out–and usually it’s live action because they have a much quicker production schedule–when they just dump a whole series online at once, I’m like “Oh man, this is just going to change everyone’s expectations.” Now they’re going to expect this, and it’s just kind of daunting…Our finale, we turned it in the day before it went online.
DiMartino: We’re working to the edge.
A few more questions from Twitter. @thebarkingdog asked “Will we see more of the Dark Avatar?”
DiMartino: Probably not. Korra pretty much defeats him, so.
Can you tell us what people might see in Book 3 without any spoilers?
DiMartino: No. Not really. People will get more Bumi. There’s a lot more Bumi in Book 3.
You said the name of Book 3 will be “Change.” Is there something about that word “change” that drew you to it?
Konietzko: It’s a big concept in Eastern philosophy. The idea of change, and this notion that nature is always changing and that’s the only constant, that sort of principle. So we were attracted to it for that reason, and as Mike described, it’s about dealing with the changes that happened in the world after Harmonic Convergence, so it seemed to fit.
The plural version is a great David Bowie song too, “Changes.” Will that work into the new season?
Konietzko: It will not.
You can read part one of our interview here: ‘Legend of Korra’ Creators Talk About Book 2 ‘Spirits’ Finale and Book 3 ‘Change’
Just want to see The Earth Queen