By Josh Axelrod
“Korra” has taken a different path with each of its villains. Amon almost escaped before being killed in Tarloq’s noble murder-suicide (that’s a weird sentence). Unaloq was just power-hungry and needed to be killed in order to stop his reign as the Dark Avatar. Zaheer did the most damage to Korra, yet he was kept alive and even helped Korra reconnect with the spirit world.
So where are we with Kuvira? I think we have to kill her. She’s as power-hungry as Unaloq and, like Zaheer, had one real connection (his was P’Li, hers is Bataar Jr.) that kept her somewhat sympathetic. Well, that connection was swiftly severed this episode. My verdict: Kuvira is officially irredeemable.
“Kuvira’s Gambit” began with Kuvira giving a very Hitler-esque speech to her army in Zaofu. She told them that her goal wasn’t just to unite the Earth Empire, but to take back the Earth Empire land that was used to create Republic City. Okay then.
This was followed by a cute moment between Kuvira and Bataar Jr. They re-expressed their love for each other and agreed to finally get married after they took Republic City. They hugged, and the camera closed in on Kuvira’s face in his arms. Her smile was smartly ambiguous. I couldn’t tell if I was looking at legitimate happiness or a smirk. Keep that in mind.
Back in Republic City, the evacuation wasn’t going well. Many families refused to leave because they didn’t realize there was an imminent threat. In the middle of a meeting with Tenzin, Reiko, Wu and Korra, Bolin and Su barged in to warn them of Kuvira’s planned attack in two weeks. Zhu Li was there too and used the opportunity to explain her role as a spy to Reiko, which everyone seemed to accept.
Speaking of Zhu Li, she was reunited with Varrick as he oversaw the construction of the flying mech suits. She told Varrick that she only said those nasty things about him to get into Kuvira’s good graces and sabotage the spirit weapon. Varrick accepted her apology immediately and started ordering her around again. Zhu Li yelled at him, saying they were equals now. Varrick was clearly confused, and Bolin was just amused that Varrick couldn’t see that Zhu Li clearly likes him.
Mako addressed the city via radio and gave them long, tedious directions about the evacuation. It led to many concerned and confused citizens calling and asking what the hell he was even saying. Wu, of all people, took Mako’s microphone and calmly explained to the city (using a bathroom metaphor of course) the need for an evacuation, and they complied. Ladies and gentlemen: Prince Wu, a man of the people.
Tenzin’s family decided to stay and help with the evacuation. This was a cool moment of strength from Pema, who never has anything to do. And Milo also had the chance to be adorable and vaguely funny, as always.
General Iroh moved his army into place to defend Republic City, and Reiko and Lin were moved to the safety of Air Temple Island. Korra hatched a plan to take out the spirit weapon with Bolin, Mako and Asami. Reiko and Tenzin both gave her their blessing pretty quickly. Deliberating this plan would’ve taken an entire episode back in Book One, so yay growth!
As Team Avatar traveled to Kuvira’s camp via flying bison, they saw Kuvira’s arming approaching Republic City a week early. More importantly, Kuvira was piloting a GIANT MECH WITH A SPIRIT CANNON ON ITS ARM. Kuvira shot at Team Avatar, but decided to let them return to Republic City out of arrogance. To be fair, I don’t blame her for being cocky.
Kuvira reached Republic City, with nothing but Iroh’s army standing in her way. She demonstrated her weapon’s power, taking out two ships. Reiko surrendered in an effort to avoid war, which frustrated Iroh. Iroh urged Korra to keep fighting, which she of course agreed with completely.
Team Avatar launched a plan to kidnap Bataar Jr., who might know how to defeat Kuvira’s creation. In what must’ve been the easiest kidnapping in the history of kidnapping, Korra and a few airbenders slipped into Bataar Jr.’s airship and took him to Asami’s factory to be interrogated.
Korrat threatened Bataar Jr. with the avatar state, but he correctly deduced that Korra wouldn’t physically hurt him. Su tried to reason with him, apologizing for whatever she did to hurt him and urging him to come home. Bataar Jr. told her that Republic City is their property and that Kuvira is his family now.
That’s when Korra got an idea. She told Bataar Jr. that she will make it her life goal to make sure he never sees the woman he loves again. It was a pretty badass moment for Korra, and I completely believed that she would follow through on that threat.
When Bataar Jr. didn’t show up to discuss the terms of surrender with Reiko, he radioed Kuvira in confusion. Bataar Jr. radioed her as well, telling her that Republic City isn’t worth giving up their love, and the fact they already had the Earth Empire was enough. Kuvira traced the location of the call, told Bataar Jr. he loved him and fired his spirit weapon on the factory, destroying the flying mech suits and probably killing off or severely injuring an important character or two.
Korra, Bolin, Mako, Asami, Tenzin, Reiko, Su and a few other characters were all hit with that weapon. Most importantly, so was Bataar Jr., hereby solidifying Kuvira as a heartless monster who just really, really wants Republic City. With only two episodes left, she’s now done enough damage to piss everyone in Republic City off enough that they’re not going to show any mercy when they inevitably cut her down to size.