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The Legend of Korra Newbie Recap: “Battle of Zaofu”

Legend of Korra screencap

I have been spelling “Zaofu” wrong this whole time. That hurts, man.

“Battle of Zaofu” starts off with a bang as Su, Thing One, and Thing Two sneak into Kuvira’s camp at night to assassinate her. Oh, I’m sorry, “deal with,” but we know what’s up. The fact that Su went along with her sons makes perfect sense—Su knows Kuvira, knows her fighting style, and wouldn’t want her kids to do something this dangerous without her there—but it still cracks me the hell up. Take Your Kid to Work Day: ASSASSINATING WORLD LEADERS. Just another Wednesday in the Beifong family!

Unfortunately, Su knowing Kuvira’s psyche means Kuvira knows Su’s, too, so she’s anticipated the attack and set up Zhu Li as a decoy. Or:

Admiral Ackbar says it's a trap

Back in the city proper, Jinora and Opal are arguing with Korra about whether she should stop Su before, in Jinora’s words, Su “does something terrible.” TOO LATE. Kuvira announces over the PA system that some punk assholes came for her in the night, so she captured them. If Zaofu pledges allegiance to her, the rest of the city will avoid her wrath. Opal tries to convince Korra to rain down fiery hell on Kuvira and rescue her mother and brothers, but neither Korra nor Jinora are on the same page as her; Jinora reminds Opal that airbenders are supposed to be big ol’ hippies, and Korra points out that, errrrrr, teeeechnically Su did try to assassinate Kuvira, though. What does Opal expect Kuvira to do? Slap her on the ass football-style and send her on her way?

Opal is shocked and appalled.

Opal: I can’t believe you’re refusing to fight!

Asami, Mako, Bolin, Tenzin, everyone Korra has ever known in her entire life [off in the distance]: YEAH, WE KNOW.

Instead of going in with guns a’blazing, Korra meets with Kuvira (and her army) the next morning to talk things out like adults instead of human-shaped murderballs. It … doesn’t go well.

Kuvira (rightly) points out that Su tried to assassinate her during peace negotiations, FFS, and she can’t exactly let that slide, to which either Thing One or Thing Two (rightly) responds that peace negotiations aren’t really peaceful when one party has an army parked outside the other’s front doorstep in the first place, Kuvira. The conversation with Korra goes something like this:

Korra: I, Korra, possess a newfound respect for diplomacy and understand that both sides have valid points. Surely, the matter of who gets the city can be decided through reasoned conversation and mutual respect, not violence.

Kuvira: I’ll fight you for it.

Korra: fucKING DONE.

Ohhhhhh, Korra. DUELS. DON’T. END. WELL.

Hamilton gif: duels dont end well

Besides which, I’m pretty sure that single combat is only a sliiiightly more sensible way to come to a major political decision than rock paper scissors. But you do you, girl. This peacenik stuff has gone on long enough.

meanwhile, in the b-plot animated still

Varrick and Bolin are both imprisoned on Kuvira’s train following last episode’s escape attempt. Bolin’s supposed to be shipped out to a reeducation camp, but Varrick convinces Bataar Jr. to let Bolin be his new assistant, instead. Bataar Jr.:

Titanic gif: you're so stupid rose

It’s clear—but not to Bataar Jr. or Bolin, who are A Dumb—that Varrick is planning some spirit vine shit. That shit turns out to be a bomb that will blow the entire train up, because Varrick is feeling very WOE IS ME LIFE HAS NO MEANING after Zhu Li’s defection. Bataar Jr. and the rest of his troops leave Varrick’s half of the train and uncouple it from the rest, so it looks like Varrick’s escape plan was successful until he tells Bolin that, whoops, no, this is a suicide bomb situation. You OK with that, buddy? Bolin tells Varrick that, no, he is not OK with that thank you very much, and gets them off the train right before it explodes.

Something weird happened this episode. Varrick went from narcissistic dipshit supergenius to narcissistic dipshit supergenius who took a level in badass, and God save me from the depths of hell, but it’s kind of working for me. There are some moments that are Good Moments.

Legend of Korra Varrick screencap

Like. I find Varrick attractive now, and I’m not sure what to do with that information. I think I’m going to ignore it. I do want The Continued Adventures of Varrick and Bolin, Merry Bros, though.

Back to the fight, which is less a “fight” and more “Korra getting her ass kicked by Kuvira because she’s not exactly back in whoop-ass shape yet.” Korra goes to Defcon 1, aka Avatar State, but still takes a beating, because just when she’s about to KO Kuvira she hallucinates that Kuvira is the Korraganger from a few episodes ago. By the by, I fucking love that Kuvira knew full well that Korra would be able to go into the pretty-much-unbeatable Avatar state and still challenged her to a fight. It’s ballsy as fuck but not at all thought out. Truly, Kuvira is Korra’s doppelganger in many ways.

Kuvira traps Korra and orders her troops to march on Zaofu. I can see her conversation with the other world leaders now: “Look, I don’t know why you’re getting all bent out of shape about this. I Roshambo’d for it, fair and square.”

gif: not how this works

Opal and Jinora, little badasses, whip up a tornado to shield Korra and Zaofu long enough for Jinora to send a spirit text message to Ikki and Meelo to the tune of “RESCUE PLZ NOW [scared cat emoji] [horse emoji].” Korra, Opal, Jinora, Meelo and Ikki escape on their flying bison but are forced to leave an iron lung-bound Su, Thing One, and Thing Two behind in Kuvira’s clutches. Kuvira and her army march into the city and demand fealty from its citizens; Su’s son Skrillex and her husband Bataar Sr. refuse and are carted off to prison, but not before the latter employs a very dad-ly “I”m not mad, I’m disappointed” against Bataar Jr. We end the episode with Bataar Jr., who believes Varrick and Bolin are dead, telling Kuvira that he’s pretttty sure he knows how to make the spirit vine WMD himself. It can’t be that hard, right? All he needs is an assistant …

Zhu Li Legend of Korra screencap

DO THE THING, ZHU LI.

BETRAYYYYY HIIIIIMMMMMMMM.

 MVP Screencap:

Legend of Korra slapping screencap

Rebecca has newbie recapped Avatar and Battlestar Galactica for The Mary Sue before. She photoshopped The Rock’s head on a dolphin once. You can find her at Film Journal International, Pajiba, or on Twitter.

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