This was probably the most anticipated episode since fans knew that Toph would be appearing this season! Kuvira’s march to Zaofu and Korra’s arrival to broker a peaceful exchange set the stage for a highly anticipated battle between the two. At the time the outcome of the fight would be debatable but the only thing we did know was that it wasn’t going to be an easy one after seeing Kuvira in action during the first episode.
“Battle of Zaofu” starts with a horribly planned sneak attack by Su to catch Kuvira off guard. Only it results in the capture of her and her assault team because Kuvira was several steps ahead of them. This also throws away any type of leverage Korra had as it was established they were going to work towards a peaceful solution even though Kuvira’s methods have been less than honorable. Most of this is made more difficult with Opal pleading for Korra to go on the offensive since her mother has been captured. Some may see this as being a bit forced but you have to remember that Opal has seen Kuvira’s methods for uniting the Earth Kingdom first hand and doesn’t want her home to suffer the same fate.
At times I remember Avatar Ang being annoyingly resistant to fight whereas with Korra she’s annoyingly aggressive at times which makes it easier for her enemies to just goad her into combat. It also makes things a bit predictable. So even though she’s only recently recovered from her ordeal in the swamp this is exactly what happens here. Kuvira plays her like a first day student and the outcome was quite evident from the start of the battle. As usual it’s a beautifully choreographed display between the two but Korra is clearly embarrassed throughout the entire fight. Proving that Kuvira isn’t just a great Earth Bender but a cold and calculating individual that is a complete, smart fighter. The animators even threw in some shades of Bruce Lee and Donnie Yen during their match as Kuvira evaded Korra’s attacks with a smile and a little bounce in her step. What was a surprise during the fight was the appearance of the “Spirit Korra” that leads us to believe that there are still some internal issues going on with her that also helped to tip the fight in her opponent’s favor. Since this was triggered by her entering the Avatar State it may not be something she can rely on to defeat Kuvira when they meet again.
I have to admit that this is also another episode in which Varrick has really stepped up as it’s been quite some time since I enjoyed the character. Sure he still provides some of the lighter moments alongside Bolin but he did have some of the best lines this episode and even a big moment. What was pretty impressive is that Bolin seemed to be the manic one while Varrick was surprisingly calm and effective throughout. The animators also do an excellent job at making sure the body language pulls off just as much of the comedy during their sequence than the performances from P. J. Byrne (Bolin) and John Michael Higgins (Varrick). We also see that he can be capable without Zhu Li around though one can argue that Bolin filled that role ever since she defected (maybe) to Kuvira’s side. However with Batar saying that he can replicate the spirit vine weapon that Varrick sabotaged this episode it seems like their sacrifice was in vain.
Let’s also understand that no episode is truly complete without an appearance from Meelo and just waiting for him to say or do something memorable. Well this episode does not disappoint as he provides a couple of comedic moments that help to lighten the tone of story. Especially when he rides in with Opal and Ikki to help Korra escape. I still say that we need at least one episode that focuses solely on the little Airbender.
This was another great episode that establishes quite a few things while setting the stage for something much larger further down the road. Kuvira is a very smart adversary that has given the world the persona she wants them to see while maintaining her darker motives outside of the public eye. She’s won the hearts and minds of most while discrediting her opponents and now that she’s publicly humiliated the Avatar her popularity seems like it will be cemented. How this will play out is still anyone’s guess as it seems as if the odds are stacked against our heroes and we have yet to see any intervention from the Fire Nation or Water Tribes regarding this matter. Though that may be for political reasons since Kuvira’s quest seems to only focus on the Earth Kingdom but if she is able to replicate Varrick’s device will she be content with just ruling her homeland? If not let’s hope we get to see Zuko in action soon on behalf of the Fire Nation!
Let us know what you thought of the latest episode of Legend of Korra!