I saw someone mention the idea of a four-episode LoK series finale, and it got me thinking.
For one thing, it’s highly unlikely that we’re going to see four episodes release at the same time, so there’s a bit of a question about what a four-episode finale would even entail.
A:tLA was a very different show than LoK, and the first two episodes in its four-episode finale were significantly less finale-like in some ways than LoK’s standard episode-before-the-finale blowout (ie. no finale-level fight scene!). The thing that links the separate parts into one whole is that every part of the finale builds directly towards a single conflict that only ends in the last episode.
For LoK Books 1 and 3, that’s only true of the last two episodes, but there’s a good argument to be made that Book 2 actually had a three-episode finale, since the goal of Harmonic Convergence is the same as Darkness Falls and Light in the Dark even if the form the conflict takes changes throughout. If Book 4 has a four-episode finale, then, that would mean the tenth episode would have to involve the heroes beginning preparations for the final conflict.
And that leads me to the next thing. One very important event has happened in every LoK season in the fourth episode from the end — the secondary threat is neutralized.
In Book 1’s ninth episode (of twelve), Tarrlok had his bending taken by Amon. In Book 2’s eleventh episode (of fourteen), Varrick was put in jail through the combined efforts of Mako and Bolin. In Book 3’s tenth episode (of thirteen), the Earth Queen was killed by Zaheer.
If the pattern holds, Book 4’s secondary threat should be resolved in the tenth episode… the very episode in which a four-episode finale would begin.
That led me to a very interesting thought — what if this time, the removal of the secondary threat immediately kicks off the final conflict? I’d been thinking that, due to the connections between Books 3 and 4, we’d see the return of the stability-chaos dichotomy in our villains, but I’d kind of assumed that we’d get a primary stability-aligned villain and a secondary chaos-aligned villain. But what if, instead, the removal of the stability-aligned villain simply leads to chaos, mirroring the situation in Ba Sing Se in Book 3 and giving Korra a chance to react this time around?
A four-episode finale could be great, because it would allow Korra to fight (and trash) an individual villain in a finale-level fight with a ton of time left to deal with the more diffuse, impossible-for-a-single-individual-to-handle threat that the apparent theme of the series would seem to require. That it would also create a Zuko-like arc of needing to feel what it’s like to get what one thought one wanted in order to recognize that it wasn’t worth it would be pretty awesome, too.