By Josh Axelrod
Well, looks like Kuvira has the upper hand for now. She has complete control of the Earth Kingdom, including Zaofu. How did we get to this point? A lot of useless negotiations, a failed assassination plot and a duel between Kuvira and Korra that went pretty badly for our still ailing avatar.
The previous episode ended with Su and her sons sneaking into Kuvira’s camp in order to end things once and for all. Predictably, it didn’t work and Su is captured. The next morning, she and her army issued a not-so-veiled threat to Zaofu: Either surrender or she’ll take the city by force.
The only thing standing between her and domination of the Earth Kingdom was Korra, Opal and Jinora. Opal wanted to attack in order to free her mother and brothers, while Korra still hoped there was a way to end things peacefully. Kuvira wasn’t willing to discuss nonviolent solutions anymore, so she and Korra struck a deal. The two would duel, and the winner would dictate the terms of Zaofu’s fate.
So as visually awesome as the duel was, I’m not sure I entirely buy how it went. Korra has gone up against some pretty powerful foes on this show. Unaloq was a ridiculously powerful waterbender, and the Red Lotus were all frighteningly strong in their own right. But she always managed to one-up them physically, one way or another.
Kuvira is probably physically closest to Amon, the Book One villain who wanted equality for benders and non-benders. Her fighting style boiled down to her expertly dodging all of Korra’s attacks until she found the perfect moment to strike with either metal or earthbending. Korra couldn’t even land a hit on her until she entered the avatar state.
And that’s my big problem with the fight. This isn’t Book One Korra; this is Book Four Korra that has beaten opponents much tougher than Kuvira. How could she not even come close to touching Kuvira with four elements at her disposal, more if you count her own metalbending skills? The fight was way too one-sided considering what we’ve seen Korra do in the past.
But I digress. Korra finally got a few blows in with the help of the avatar state. Right as she was about to drop a rock on Kuvira, she saw another vision of dark Korra. She dropped out of the avatar state, and Kuvira trapped her in rocks, ending the duel. Clearly something is still wrong with Korra, which might explain why Kuvira whipped her so convincingly. Hopefully she gets over whatever she’s still so hung up on quickly.
Opal and Jinora blasted Kuvira with air to stop her from hurting Korra more, which broke the terms of the duel and was more or less an act of war. Kuvira ordered her troops to attack, and Opal and Jinora retaliated by holding them off with a giant tornado. Jinora used her astral projection powers to call in the cavalry in the form of Meelo and Ikki, and the four airbenders got Korra to safety. Kuvira and her forces overran the city, and Su’s husband and emo son were taken into custody. Score one for Team Kuvira.
Elsewhere, there was an amusing subplot involving Bolin and Varrick. Bataar Jr. forced Varrick to continue work on the spirit vine experiments with Bolin as his assistant. Varrick, in probably the coolest moment he’s ever had, turned the spirit vines into a bomb that would explode either in five minutes or via remote. Even he wasn’t sure why he built a bomb with two detonation methods, but that’s neither here nor there.
Bolin and Varrick pretended to go down with the train, but Bolin saved them with some expert earthbending (“You did it, Bolin! you did the thing!”). These two are an entertaining pair, and it looks like they’ll be stuck together for a little bit longer. Hopefully they’ll go back to Republic City to get Tenzin, Reiko and whoever else is around to help get Kuvira out of Zaofu.
The episode ended with Bataar Jr. telling Kuvira that he could continue the spirit vine experiments with Zhu Li as his assistant. This is interesting for two reasons:
- Kuvira wants to make a giant death ray powered by spirit vines. Ru-roh.
- There’s still a chance Zhu Li is going to double cross Kuvira and Bataar Jr. We’ll see how that goes as Book Four continues to unfold.