Cool, contained logic faces off against festering, uninhibited emotion. It’s Kuvira and her army versus Korra with Jinora and Opal, two nomadic Airbenders, on her side. The stakes are uniformly, excruciatingly high as the two forces of power stand off against one another as Suyin’s life and the future of Zaofu hang in the balance.
Last week ended with Suyin taking two of her sons to infiltrate Kuvira’s camp to put an end to her totalitarian domination of the Earth Nation and, as predicted, it blows up in her face and her small rebellion is captured. Korra takes Opal and Jinora to head her off as they try to speak reason, but Kuvira believes she’s acting out of logic while Korra is acting out of her own feelings for Su. She tells Korra that the only way she can stop her army from taking Zaofu is to physically stop her. With no way out of it, Korra is forced to don her fighting stance and take Kuvira on, a formidable foe on a good day but even more dangerous as Korra is still in a weakened state.
Watching the two fight is both thrilling and exhausting, as we watch our hero face more and more damage as Kuvira suffers barely a scratch. Like most fight scenes on the show, this one is just as expertly choreographed as anything they’ve done in the past, but it’s Kuvira who’s landing the most offensive blows despite Korra using the entirety of her will to fend her off. Korra has an enormity of power at her disposal, but she’s lost the control while Kuvira is nothing but; nothing touches her, not the fire Korra throws her way nor the stress of the situation. Korra is finally forced into the Avatar state, something she’d been resisting, and she nearly has Kuvira when she sees a reflection of herself in the deranged, tortured Avatar state and loses her control, and falls. Luckily, the two Airbenders step in to save her before Kuvira can get a final hit in. They manage to escape, but Opal must suffer the knowledge that she’s left her mother and brothers under the control of the dictator.
It’s tough to see our hero loose so spectacularly, but, as I’ve said before, it will only make her triumphant return all the more satisfying. It seems that before Korra can fully return to the domineering force that she was three years ago, she’ll first have to realize her place in the world as an Avatar, and what that means for the world and herself beyond the title. Kuvira pointed out that the Avatar is an obsolete theory in her game, so where does she stand to the rest of the world if she’s been gone for so long? And what will she have to do to regain their respect?
Luckily, we get to see some of the good guys get a win after so many losses between this episode and the last with Bolin and Varrick. Varrick has become one of my favorite characters after this week’s episode after he took on Kuvira’s men with confidence and intelligence in a manner we’ve rarely seen from the character. He makes it so Bolin must accompany him on building the weapon for Kuvira and then instead, builds a bomb. They think he’s bluffing at first, but they end up believing him and are forced to escape via a detached train car. Once they’re left alone, Bolin confesses that he too believes it to be a bluff, or at least a bomb that they can stop from detonating, but Varrick tells him that he really wasn’t lying and that they’ll soon be blown up. Bolin isn’t having this, and helps the two escape in the nick of time, as Kuvira’s men looks on as the train explodes, believing the two to be dead.
This is an episode on par with season three. It’s easily the best of season four so far and it allows the stronger characters some fantastic moments. Now all we need is some more members of Team Avatar to join back up together.