We're feeling a bit bittersweet now that we've hit the penultimate week of The Legend of Korra, but things are certainly heating up in Republic City. But even as Kuvira's army is looking unbeatable, Kuvira herself makes a decision that could prove her undoing.
Now that Kuvira has united the Earth Empire, she has set her sights on a former Earth Nation territory: Republic City. After rallying the troops, Kuvira and Baatar Jr. have as about as lovey-dovey a moment as they ever have, pledging to get married once they have conquered Republic City. Man, I would hate to be that lady's wedding planner.
Meanwhile preparations are underway in Republic City, but they're not happening fast enough. Bolin and the Beifongs return with Zhu Li, who shares Kuvira's invasion plans. Bolin also brings her into Varrick's dragonfly hummingbird mecha suit workshop to make amends with her former employer. Zhu Li humbles herself far more than she needs to, telling Varrick that she's sorry and that she only said all of those nasty things in order to deceive Kuvira. Now here's where Varrick is supposed to tell Zhu Li that he realizes that there was some truth in the things she said and that, in her absence, he's grown to appreciate all the work she does. He might even say he's in love with her. But Varrick isn't one to stick to the script. Instead, he jovially accepts Zhu Li's apology and tells her to get back to work. Thankfully, Zhu Li doesn't take Varrick's flippancy quietly.
But there are bigger troubles to deal with than Zhu Li and Varrick's relationship. Giant mecha suit troubles. When Team Avatar goes to intercept Kuvira's Spirit weapon, they learn that not only is Kuvira attacking Republic City ahead of schedule; Baatar Jr. has constructed her an early wedding present: a 25-story mecha suit that operates through motherfrakking METALBENDING and has the death ray attached. It is my new favorite thing.
It's time for action. Mako takes to the radio to inform the citizens of the mandatory evacuation, but his anti-charisma makes the people even more panicked than they should be. Weirdly, it's Prince Wu, with his easy-breezy manner, who manages to calm everyone into an orderly fashion. We see some familiar faces in the radio address montage, like the vagabond Gommu and Tahno's crew.
For the record, I'm still not keen on Wu as king, although I could see him as a figurehead monarch with a democratically elected parliament behind him. I'd much rather he acknowledge his own limitations as a leader, although I think his ego is only getting a boost in these later episodes.
Oh, speaking of familiar faces, Korra is hanging out with General Iroh and the United Forces when Kuvira's giant mecha suit stomps toward Republic City. Mostly, though, he sweats while Kuvira's death ray blasts a warning shot across the city and gets furious when President Raiko agrees to surrender to Kuvira.
Dear Gene Yang, I know you are a very busy man, but could you write us some General Iroh comics? Please?
Korra, who is thinking with her brain a lot more than her fists these days, comes up with a rather clever plan: kidnap Baatar Jr. and convince him—by the carrot or the stick—to tell them how to dismantle Kuvira's robot suit. And Tenzin, who was just recently treating Korra with kid gloves, readily agrees to the plan, and even sheds his trademark cloak for a wing suit that shows off just how scrawny the Air Nation leader is.
Operation: Capture Baatar Jr. is successful, but operation Operation: Turn Baatar Jr. doesn't work out so well. Baatar Jr. may not want to see his sister dead, but he's not susceptible to maternal guilt at the moment. He also doesn't buy Korra's physical threat to his wellbeing; she just isn't that person anymore, and everyone knows it. What does shake Baatar Jr. is Korra's vow that if Kuvira takes Republic City, she will never let Baatar Jr. see Kuvira again. He relents, calling Kuvira and begging her to surrender.
Now here's the thing about this conversation: We know what Kuvira's choice will be. She's turned on the people she's loved (Su and family) and the people in her inner circle (Varrick, Bolin, Zhu Li). But somehow, it's worse watching this conversation, knowing that she will sacrifice Baatar Jr. for the sake of her goals. It's proof of just how far gone Kuvira is, and how, without a dramatic intervention, she will never truly be happy. She is almost an automaton of conquest at this point. And while she makes the decision to turn the death ray on Baatar Jr. (in the hopes of destroying the Avatar and the Beifongs in the process) without hesitation, it's obviously a decision that pains her.
But if Baatar Jr. survives, Kuvira may be in a great deal of trouble.
Next week is (sniff) our final week of The Legend of Korra, and there are still some big questions. Will Kuvira be redeemed? Will Korra and the Avatar line survive? And what will be the state of the Earth Nation when the hour-long finale ends?