By Josh Axelrod
Well, that was a quick turnaround. Book Three of “Legend of Korra” ended slightly over a month ago, and yet we’re already on Book Four. Something screwy is clearly going on behind the scenes at Nickelodeon, but I’m not going to argue with more content from the best cartoon on TV (even if this its last season). And judging by the Book Four premiere, we’re in for another quality season.
Book Four kicks off three years after Korra’s epic fight with the Red Lotus left her drained and the Earth Kingdom in shambles. Team Avatar has dispersed, all doing their own things without an imminent threat like Zaheer or Unaloq to keep them busy. Republic City has found a bit of balance, with humans and spirits now living together in harmony.
The Earth Kingdom, on the other hand, still needs help recovering from the death of the Earth Queen and the chaos that ensued. Her great nephew, Prince Woo, is all set to take the throne. He’s like a more obnoxious version of Varrick without any of the charm. Putting him in charge of the Earth Kingdom seems like an awful idea, though having Mako as his permanent bodyguard should at least add a little more humor to the proceedings.
That might not be a problem for long though, because another faction is trying to unite the Earth Kingdom, albeit more through conquering it than bringing it together peacefully. Remember Kuvira, who was briefly introduced during that final showdown with the Red Lotus last season? Well, she and her metalbending forces have been getting Earth Kingdom governors to pledge their loyalty to her in exchange for protection from bandits.
Weirdly enough, Bolin (and Varrick…what?!) is helping her take over the Earth Kingdom. He appears to really think Kuvira is trying to help here, though there’s a sinister undercurrent to the way she’s strongarming the locals into swearing their loyalty to the “great uniter.” Bolin has never been the sharpest tool in the shed, but I feel like even he should know better to align himself with someone who seems destined to be Book Four’s main villain.
Even if he’s too dumb to see through Kuvira’s seemingly benevolent intentions, the strain his service to her is taking on his relationship with Opal should be enough to set him on the right path again. Opal and Kai have spent the last three years becoming master airbenders, and were sent to help the village that Kuvira was trying to crush under her thumb. Not only does Opal not trust Kuvira at all (and rightfully so), but Kuvira is apparently engaged to her brother, Bataar. Seriously Bolin, listen to your girlfriend. She’s smarter than you.
Kai and Opal try to set the village up with enough supplies to avoid Kuvira’s control, but a run-in with an aerial bandit (who appeared to be a non-bender, but one who could take care of himself) left them with nothing to help those poor people survive. They were forced to sign Kuvira’s contract, which they will most likely regret, big time.
Back in Republic City, the rest of Team Avatar gathered for Woo’s coronation. Tenzin and Lin haven’t changed much in three years, but it’s worth noting that all of Tenzin’s children have notably grown up, especially Ikki and Milo. Milo is still the goofball of all goofballs, but it looks like Ikki has calmed down a bit. Leave it to a Nickelodeon show to showcase literal character growth.
We were thrown a curveball at the end upon Tonraq’s arrival in Republic City. Team Avatar thought he was bringing Korra, and he thought he was going to meet up with this daugher, who left home for Republic City six months ago. Cut to a disheveled, clearly weakened Korra getting her ass-kicked at some underground earthbending fight.
She looks and sounds utterly defeated. It seems like Korra never fully recovered from that poison, both mentally and physically. I have no idea what she’s trying to accomplish with this new life. Maybe she doesn’t feel worthy of being the Avatar anymore?
Well, whatever it is, it looks like we have our two big conflicts this season: Kuvira’s domination of the Earth Kingdom and getting Korra back on her feet. And knowing how quickly conflicts escalate on this show, getting the Avatar up and running again can’t come soon enough.