“The Coronation” of the Earth King doesn’t go as planned while Korra trains in a swamp far, far away.
Many people are calling the last episode of Legend of Korra, “Korra Alone“, the best episode in the series (in some cases even out of ATLA). It’s a difficult act to follow, for sure, but “The Coronation” succeeds by balancing the scenes that people have been pumped for since the reveal at the end of the last episode with major advancements in the seasonal arc.
Kuvira makes her big move and upsets global politics while the world leaders ask, “Where is Korra?” The Avatar continues her journey to heal herself after her fight with Zaheer three years earlier, but gets more than she bargained for in an isolated swamp. It’s definitely one of the most action light episodes of the series, but it’s not likely anyone noticed thanks to captivating dialogue that is either hilarious or tense.
It’s an episode that doesn’t make a huge impact, but it doesn’t make a any missteps either, which is exactly what you need after something like “Korra Alone”.
Any further discussion requires a hefty spoiler tag, so if you haven’t watched the episode yet, spoilers ahead!! Episodes of Legend of Korra: Book Four are released on Nick’s website on Friday mornings, with both of the previous episodes available to view now. The first two seasons are available on Amazon, with Book Three on Vudu.
Also, a quick reminder that the Legend of Korra game from Platinum is scheduled to land next week for PS3, PS4, PC, XB360, and Xbox One.
Kuvira’s Earth Empire
In the review for the season premiere, I inaccurately called Kuvira a villain. As far as we had seen, her role was simply to secure the Earth Kingdom from bandits, though perhaps her tactics were questionable. The metalbender refused to help those that did not pledge loyalty to her, and one local leader pointed out this tactic was meant to secure the metal resources throughout the kingdom.
“The Coronation” actually clarifies a Kuvira’s role early in the episode: her temporary position was to clean up the Earth Kingdom, on the condition that she relinquish control once the Earth Prince, Wu, was crowned king. Wu is the perfect example of someone not fit to rule, concerning himself with dance routines for his coronation while trusting advisors to handle the leadership stuff. Most people, including his bodyguard Mako, aren’t confident that making him ruler is the best idea, especially Kuvira.
At Wu’s coronation, Kuvira makes her stand, claiming that the Earth Kingdom is now her Earth Empire. She states she will crush any who oppose her or enter her lands. Knowing she controls the metal supply the world needs, the world leaders, including President Raiko, Tenzin, and the current Firelord (Zuko’s daughter) won’t retaliate. Now “villain” is starting to look like it might be an appropriate title for Kuvira.
Still, when one of her people, Bolin, questions the declaration, Kuvira softens. Eloquently, she explains the need to use a firm hand to ensure the safety of the people of the Earth Empire. Perhaps this is just a way to keep Bolin under her command – a useful tactic if his friend, the Avatar, shows up – but regardless, her argument makes sense. Bolin is even able to defend her actions to his own brother, even if he has to quote Kuvira word for word.
So far though, “antagonist”, as opposed to “villain”, is really the best word to describe Kuvira: she may not be right, but she’s not wrong. Her actions would likely defend people that have been oppressed for over a century, and Bolin points out that the classism in place last season and even during Avatar: The Last Airbender is over. Unless Kuvira has some hidden, sinister plan, she’s really just opposing the established leaders with a different ideology.
That’s what’s most refreshing about Legend of Korra. Each season the antagonists become more and more realistic and complex. We’ve come from Firelord Ozai (“BURN IT ALL!”) to Zaheer (“We can only be balanced if we destroy the established systems.”) and now we have Kuvira, who may actually have a decent point. Of course, that’s what’s scary about some the evilest characters in fiction and most maniacal people in history: they’re so convincing.
In response to Kuvira’s moves, Tenzin sends his three eldest children to find Avatar Korra, who is currently training in a swamp…
“Looking? Found someone you have, eh?”
Sure, Korra and Toph training in the swamp isn’t exactly Luke and Yoda on Dagobah, but it’s close enough.
Korra has found the Blind Bandit herself, Toph Beifong, while searching for a way to get past her trauma and “get back into Avatar fighting shape.” Living in a swamp, the first metalbender and former Chief of Police for Republic City hasn’t lost her edge. How much she tears into Korra would be overkill, but it’s Toph, so it all actually makes perfect sense, especially since she’s been living in the swamp and hasn’t had anyone to insult.
Of course, Toph is untouchable when her and Korra practice, and while Toph’s advice isn’t as eloquent at Master Yoda’s, she still has plenty to teach the Avatar. Beyond “Stop thinking” and “Everything is connected,” Toph also points out that Korra still has some of the metal poison in her body from the Red Lotus. While her daughter, Suyin, may have not gotten it all, Toph is confident she can remove it – if Korra could just relax.
Seeing flashes of her near death at the hands of Zaheer, Korra can’t calm herself enough for Toph to remove the metal. Frustrated, Toph calls Korra out, claiming that maybe she is afraid of getting back in shape, afraid to get back into the fight and risk her life. It’s harsh, but who else besides Toph could have said that to the Avatar (besides everyone trying to kill her, I guess). Whether true or not, it looks like Korra has a bit more work and exploring to do before she can return to the global stage.
In regard to the return of Toph, she’s great. Rude, short-tempered, and creative with her insults, seeing her pick on Korra brings back memories of her training Aang. The biggest difference is that while she complains about having to help the Avatar, she seems more than willing, even excited, to do so. Character development! Hopefully we get to see her throw down with some baddies later on, because it looks like we won’t get much more of her and Korra in the swamp.
Wu and Varrick
Prince Wu, saddened from losing the Earth Kingdom, ends up bonding a bit with Mako, who is hurt by the confrontation with his brother. It looks like this duo will be stuck together for a while longer. Mako can’t seem to help himself from protecting the would-be-king, while the general public kinda hate Wu’s guts. I actually look forward to seeing what effect they have on each other.
The outlandish Varrick is making some moves in this episode, too. After we get some clarification for why he’s allowed in Republic City after attacking the president (way back in Book Two), Varrick grabs some of the spirit vines that have been growing in the city since Harmonic Convergence almost four years ago. Hooking the plant up to some machinery, Varrick claims, “This is going to change everything.” It’s a mystery with no real clues, but it must be heavy with significance, given that the episode closes on that moment.
Bottom Line: It’s hard to top an episode like last week’s “Korra Alone”, and “The Coronation” doesn’t even try. What it does do is offer some great scenes with Korra and Toph and reveals what’s at stake for the rest of the season.
Recommendation: It’s the Toph Beifong episode. People would (and should) watch this, even if the rest of it was nothing but Mako brooding.[rating=4]