Things are getting tense in The Legend of Korra’s Book 4! Hit the jump for my recap and thoughts on episodes 4 & 5, then feel free to join in on the discussion in the comments!
Episode 4.04 – The Calling
Jinora, Ikki and Meelo head out to find Korra; Jinora hopes that as they close the distance between them, she’ll be able to get a spiritual read on the missing Avatar. They travel the Earth Kingdom, but their travels eventually lead them to a dead end. A search for food (after Meelo throws away their supplies so they can “hunt for their food”) leads to Ikki being captured by two of Kuvira’s soldiers. Thanks to information from her captors, Ikki comes to the conclusion that Korra might be in the giant swamp. Jinora and Meelo (who come to her rescue) are skeptical, but they head there, anyway.
Meanwhile, Toph and Korra continue Korra’s training — although Toph enjoys laying around too much for Korra’s liking. Korra wanders through the swamp and has flashbacks to her Book 1, 2 & 3 villains. Toph explains that the swamp can sense her unbalance, and it’s trying to teach her what she needs to know. The three villains were out of balance and took their ideologies too far, but maybe Korra can learn something from them: Amon wanted equality, Unalaq brought back the spirits, and Zaheer believed in freedom.
Toph takes Korra to the Banyan-grove tree, a callback to Avatar: The Last Airbender; this tree’s roots connect the entire swamp, and it’s a sacred, mystical place. Korra touches a root, and it connects her with Jinora. The kids reunite with Korra and ask her to stop Kuvira.
There’s one thing standing in her way: she has to bend the remnants of the metal poison out of her body. With Toph’s guidance, she successfully removes the last of the poison and goes into the Avatar State.
Episode 4.05 – Enemy at the Gates
Kuvira’s entire army converges on Zaofu; she tries to use Bolin to negotiate a surrender, but Suyin is wise to her schemes. Kuvira leaves her with one day to surrender before her army will advance. Bolin is upset and voices his concerns about their aggressive approach, but when Kuvira threatens him with time in a re-education camp, he backs down.
Meanwhile, Varrick is doing research on spirit vines, together with his loyal assistant, Zhu Li; he seems to be trying to build a battery that can harness spirit energy. The experiment backfires and shoots a massive laser out the back of the train car, nearly killing Zhu Li in the process. Varrick is worried about the consequences of something so powerful and wants to shut down the project, but Kuvira forces him to continue.
Bolin, Varrick and Zhu Li, now all wise to Kuvira’s instability, try to escape together in mecha tanks, but Kuvira’s soldiers, after a struggle, take them in. Kuvira orders that all three be taken away to re-education camps, but Zhu Li pledges her loyalty to Kuvira, saying that Varrick has mistreated her the entire time she served him. Bolin and a distraught Varrick are taken away.
Korra, meanwhile, speaks with Suyin, who explains that Kuvira was her prodigy before her ambitions got the better of her. The Avatar tries to speak to Kuvira on Suyin’s behalf to talk some sense into her, but Kuvira exploits her insecurities (“the world was descending into chaos while you were gone”) and sends her back to Suyin to renegotiate. When Korra goes to find Suyin, however, she finds out the leader is leading a small party into Kuvira’s camp to “put an end” to the threat.
Asami, meanwhile, visits her father in prison, intending to tell him to stop sending her letters (which she has never opened.) After some reflection, however, she returns to him and asks to play a game of pai sho, like old times.
- In an online Q&A, co-creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael DiMartino said that Vaatu is inside Korra, but too small to do anything, so he’s unlikely to pose a problem until the next Harmonic Convergence in 10,000 years. There goes my theory that the dark Avatar spirit was a manifestation of Vaatu — looks like it really was just an effect of the poison remnants!
- I cannot begin to express how happy I am that Asami’s relationship with her father is finally being addressed. I hope this plays into the bigger plot somehow. The co-creators mentioned that a theme of this season is forgiveness, and we’re certainly beginning to see that shine through with the Satos.
- I’ve warmed up quite a bit to Old Toph, as she showed some wisdom and character growth in these two episodes. My concern before was that she was Young Toph re-skinned as an old person, but now we’ve been shown that she has evolved over time. Her insight into Korra’s battles with her past enemies was especially insightful.
- ZHU LI. I’ve been waiting for her to show her claws (Varrick did name his battleship after her, after all), and I loved seeing her kick ass and then, supposedly, turn her back on Varrick. I genuinely thought, at first, that her betrayal of him was a ploy, but the more I think about it, the more I wonder if she truly did get fed up with Varrick constantly mistreating her. Or maybe something between the two — playing Kuvira, but also fed up with Varrick? It’ll be interesting to see how her story plays out.
- Kuvira is getting creepier and creepier, especially now that she’s mentioning re-education camps — rather reminiscent of the Dai Li in Avatar! Her manipulation of Bolin (through friendly promotions, then through threats) and Korra (by taking advantage of her vulnerable state) is masterful in that it’s adaptive. We’ve seen other villains approach Korra with strong-headed ideals and single-minded approaches, but Kuvira is quickly able to change her approach to apply the most pressure to her target. In that respect, she reminds me more of Book One’s Tarrlok than any of the main big bads. She is, however, not immune to manipulation herself (flattery seems to have a big impact on her). Will Korra have to outsmart her enemy this time instead of punching it away?
Episode 6 will be available online Friday, November 7th, 2014.
Have thoughts or theories of your own? Feel free to sound off in the comments below!