When the last four episodes of Avatar aired, the final conflict ensured only Aang’s group would play a part in ending the 100-year war. We saw them ally with a number of people over the three seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender and while they were vital in “Day of the Black Sun”, none of them were involved in the definitive battle at the end of the show. The story was always about Team Avatar and it logically ends with it. The Legend of Korra angles for something different. While a new Team Avatar does exist, they aren’t a tight-knit group in the same way that Aang and his friends were. This isn’t always to Korra’s detriment. Aang’s team was that way because they were constantly on the move and built genuine friendship as they fought to survive on their journey. Korra’s team is no less close, but they live in changing, innovative times that leads them to spread out and achieve specific goals. This allows the creators to focus on other people beyond the core four. The Legend of Korra is an ensemble show with dozens of characters getting their own spotlight. Korra’s party isn’t the only one attempting a take down of Kuvira’s giant mecha suit; nearly everyone they’ve meant and befriended are lending a hand. This is as much their fight as it is Korra’s.
Their first plan is to stop the giant mecha suit before it causes any lasting harm. To see Team Avatar, the Beifong sisters, and a squad of Airbenders take down a twenty-five story monstrosity is an intense experience. Everyone is giving it all they got and “Day of the Colossus” spares no expanses with the Bending. Lin, Suyin, and Bolin alone bend skyscrapers, dozens of Airbenders conjure a strong gust that knocks the mecha suit back; and even little Meelo strains whatever Airbending he has to lighten the fall for him and his father. Chillingly, none of this is enough to hinder Kuvira. Bolin’s lavabending – the most damaging, dangerous technique in the show – merely halts her suit’s progress. The giant mecha is an unstoppable machine; Republic City has never suffered as much damage as it did here. The biggest defining moment is when the spirit cannon cuts through a series of skyscrapers like they were tissue paper. “Operation Beifong” introduced the raw power it held before, but that was a simple test; to see it cause such devastation in the city is a shocking thing to witness. The crew is in over their heads and they retreat to recover and rethink their strategy.
Meanwhile Asami , Varrick, and Zhu Li are hard at work with their prototype Hummingbird mech suits. Their plan is to open a hole in the giant mecha suit so our heroes can infiltrate it and take apart from the inside. More time is needed to get them ready, so Varrick pulls out an old trick to further distract Kuvira and her army. Using whatever electrical scraps he can get his hands on, Varrick and Zhu Li create a city-wide rod, hoping to temporarily disable Kuvira’s mech. This is a pivotal moment for Varrick as he makes up for his dunderhead actions towards Zhu Li from the last episode. I imagined their reunion forced Varrick to relapse and treat her the same way he did previously in an effort to cover up his fears. Now time is short and with the realization that they might not live through this, Varrick tries to apologize with a pathetic analogy. He doesn’t get a chance before their plan falls through and for once, neither of them have a backup plan. It’s the final push Varrick needed to propose to Zhu Li and treat her with the respect she deserves. The risk they’re taking together is harmonic. The two have gotten into scuffles before, but now they’re doing it as equals.
Hiroshi’s return is a neat surprise. The possibility was always there, but I figured much of Asami’s interaction with her father ended in “Enemy At The Gates.” I’m actually glad they expanded on this subplot, because their time before lacked the heart it needed whereas “Day of the Colossus” captures the warm sincerity between the two. They share a father-daughter moment through shared engineering experience, setting up a brighter future for the two. Then the episode yanks it away when Hiroshi sacrifices his life to save Asami as Kuvira squished the Hummingbird mech they were in. Asami’s pained expression speaks a thousand words in just a few seconds and I’m very relieved they didn’t go for a cheesy “NO!” cry. She lost her father once in Book 1, it’s a shame she had to endure it a second time. Luckily, his actions gives Team Korra a second chance when he successfully cut a hole inside the giant mech.
While the chaos is going on above ground, Pema and Wu are handling the remaining citizens of Republic City below. With no train to save them, an unruly mob slowly starts to form. I appreciate Pema getting a minor bit of screentime, but it’s Wu who takes the spotlight. Yeah, the badger-moles came out of nowhere, but it’s just like Wu to absurdly but ingeniously lead the crowd to safety and his courage in the face of Kuvira’s army shows that he’s grown considerably.
Elsewhere, Baater Jr. realizes the role he’s played and atones. Suyin forgives him, but I’m glad the episode doesn’t dismiss the damage he’s caused. Just because Baater Jr. repented doesn’t mean he gets an easy ticket to forgiveness. The rest of the Beifong family likely won’t be as accepting and it’ll understandably take time for them to readjust.
As the penultimate episode, “Day of the Colossus” provides a massive amount of buildup to the last battle. The action is plentiful, but much of the tension comes during its quieter moments. Several scenes are devoted to Korra and friends trying to figure out the next step as time runs short, characters confess feelings they wouldn’t have otherwise and the Bending is as desperate as it is impressive. The episode even manages to squeeze in a couple of comedic spots, including a truly hilarious Meelo moment when he pulls the most epic troll face to Kuvira ever. The kid’s got guts.
I’ve cited the relative clumsiness of Korra’s rotating character arcs, but it’s all worth it in the end. The camaraderie they all shared before culminates at this point, and it was great watching everyone contribute in the final battle. “Day of the Colossus” is a heart-pounding episode that promises to deliver a fantastic conclusion.