By Josh Axelrod
Book Four’s conflicts kicked into high gear on this week’s “Legend of Korra.” The first episode established Kuvira as a potential troublemaker, and the second showed us a weakened Korra who somehow found her way to Toph Beifong (!!!) for guidance. This week, we got to see both storylines establish what the main problems going forward will be for Team Avatar.
It’s Prince Wu’s coronation day, which excites exactly one person in Republic City. Spoiler alert, it’s Prince Wu. I was glad to hear President Reiko acknowledge that Wu would be a terrible Earth King and that he is sending a council of trusted advisors to help him lead the Earth Kingdom out of the hole Zaheer dug. Reiko was never a bad guy; he just didn’t know how to deal with the avatar stealing his thunder. I’m a fan of cooperative and rational Reiko.
Meanwhile, Toph was trying to diagnose exactly what was wrong with Korra. She pretty quickly realized that Korra’s problems were more mental than physical, just like Katara did. Of course, Korra insisted she just needed to be whipped back into shape by one of the most powerful benders ever. To which Toph said, “I forgot how much I missed destroying the avatar!”
Back in Republic City, everyone was arriving for Wu’s coronation. Mako and Bolin had a touching reunion, Varrick instructed Zhu Li to steal the hotel’s tiny soaps and, most importantly, Kuvira bumped Wu from his presidential suite to a junior one. The woman has a habit of getting what she wants.
So does Toph, and what she wants is to kick some avatar butt. Korra spent a solid chunk of this episode getting out-bended by an old blind swamp hermit, which doesn’t bode well for the future of the avatar. But then came the revelation that Toph could sense chunks of metal poison still left in Korra’s body. Which begs the question: Could Korra really not sense that her body was still full of metal? In which case, she might really be the worst avatar ever.
Wu’s coronation finally took place, though it was a much smaller ceremony than the flamboyant prince was expecting. It also got hijacked by Kuvira, who announced she had no intention as stepping down as the unofficial uniter of the Earth Kingdom. In fact, all the territories under her rule are going to stay that way under a new title: Earth Empire.
This naturally sent shockwaves through Republic City, but most interestingly ignited a conflict between Mako and Bolin. Bolin had his doubts about Kuvira the conqueror, but she convinced him her talk of empires was just tough rhetoric and that she was only interested in helping the Earth Kingdom rebuild. Mako sees Kuvira as more of a dictator than a benevolent ruler and let Bolin know that he doesn’t approve of her methods one bit. Bolin reminded Mako that he was serving an annoying prick of a prince who couldn’t lead to save his life, and the brothers left angry at each other’s ideological beliefs.
The most important fallout from all this was Su’s reaction, who approached Kuvira on behalf of Republic City’s leaders to deliver a message: Stand down and give the Earth Kingdom back. Kuvira obviously didn’t budge, and argued that Lin had no room to talk considering she hid in Zaofu while Kuvira was trying to reunite the Earth Kingdom. She also issued a not-so-veiled threat that she was coming for Zaofu next. I predict a Beifong sister versus Kuvira duel in the near future.
We also got to see Prince Wu have a complete mental breakdown, which just reminded us that he was way too immature to lead anyone in anything, let alone a whole nation. Mako finally gave Wu the harsh talk he needed to hear, and to his credit Wu agreed that he was unfit to lead.
Back at the swamp, Toph did everything in her power to get the metal out of Korra, but the avatar just couldn’t relax enough to let her do it. Toph had a reasonable theory about this: Korra is afraid of returning to full strength and having to be the avatar again. Toph was willing to let her hang around her swamp until she was ready to get over whatever mental block was causing her to think this way. She’s probably going to need some spirit help to get over her issues.
Finally, we saw Tenzin send Meelo, Ikki and Jinora to find Korra. Expect some physical comedy in the swamp in the near future. We also got to see Varrick working with a spirit tree to further some technological innovation that could “change everything.” Phew, that’s a lot for one 22-minute episode of television. Book Four is certainly keeping itself busy with subplots on subplots. Hopefully it doesn’t get bogged down by them.