Kuvira launches an invasion on Republic City. Team Avatar must stop her army before it’s too late.
The Legend of Korra began in Republic City. During Book 1, it served as the show’s chief setting and we saw a metropolis of steel and Asian art deco through Korra’s eyes. It was a melting pot of possibilities and a symbol of the new order of the world after Aang’s time, with people of all nations living together and benefiting from significantly improved technology. The following Books expanded beyond its walls, but Republic City always made a prominent return. It’s the central hub, so to speak, a representation of the state of the world seventy years after Avatar: The Last Airbender. Republic City’s been threatened several times before up to this point, so the last two episodes of this series really have to count. The numerous cameos here were a nice touch, especially Tahno and his fangirls and Gommu the Hobo running off with a nearby cop when Wu tells the civilians to take any loved ones and flee. Nothing is more poetic than ending a show where it first started.
There is something inherently silly about a giant mecha suit towering over the city, but it’s a clever, unexpected way to house the super weapon. It’s also another demonstration of changing times. When Aang was still young, you could make an arguable case that Benders had martial prowess and clear physical advantages over Non-Benders. Korra Book 1 emphasized a dramatic change from that. Hiroshi Sato’s mech suits were more than a match for Benders there, and now here Kuvira has successfully converted spirit energy into a massive laser gun. Technology has caught up enough that those without bending can stand toe-to-toe with benders. And just as there are benders who use their given skills for their own selfish purposes, there are folks who will use technology for ugly means in addition to those would use it to better people’s lives. Kuvira’s weapon is a powerful statement of a different time with different ideals.
I knew Kuvira would leave Baater Jr. to die, but I don’t think for a second that she didn’t love him. It’s an extremely subtle detail in the moment, but you can hear the regret about the sacrifice in the tone of her voice and in the look on her face. She’s contemplating the decision in her head as Baater Jr. speaks. Yes, their love isn’t worth their losing Republic City, so she must sacrifice him and kill the Avatar in one fell swoop for the greater good. It’s all in the episode title: she’s gambling away an important piece of herself in order to win. A part of her will regret murdering her fiancée, but this shows how far Kuvira has fallen. Baater Jr. might see this as a final wake up call though. He’s so in love with her that the thought of dying under her hands could devastate him. Baater Jr. is hardly a character of worth and his parental issues are minimally dealt with in this season – at best, I get the idea that he felt he was living under the shadows of Suyin and Baater Sr. The show gives us enough to perceive that, but not much else. I appreciate the poetry behind his spite though. After years of struggle in regard to a distant mother, Suyin now deals with a similar fallout with her eldest child. Toph was so stubborn that she and her daughters didn’t patch up for decades, but Suyin apologizes to Baater Jr. for whatever mistakes she made that pushed her son to run away.
Zhu Li reunites with Varrick and pours her heart out. Varrick instantly forgives her and tries to resume his usual treatment of her, but Zhu Li has had enough of that and puts her foot down. It’s good of her to finally call him out, but I think Varrick’s relapse is a defense mechanism against denial rather than something done out of malice. He’s spent several episodes anguishing over Zhu Li’s supposed betrayal and has never expressed feelings unrelated to his personal ambitions. These new feelings of guilt bother him, so he puts up an act to shield himself from it. Time will tell if he’ll get over himself, but Varrick will be poorer for it if he doesn’t acknowledge Zhu Li’s feelings. You know it’s bad when Bolin slaps his face in embarrassment over this!
Look past Prince Wu’s incompetence and you’ll see a man of charisma. He’s full of himself, but confident. He’s spoiled, but affable. His extroversion and people skills allows him to calm Republic City’s civilians during a mandatory evacuation. His growth has been amazing in the short span of time he’s been onscreen, and situations like these prove he’s got the potential to be a good ruler. Personally, I think Mako should consider a permanent job as Wu’s guard, as the two really bring out the best in each other.
“Kuvira’s Gambit” is a fantastic build-up to the series finale. Nearly everyone Korra has allied with is ready to lend a hand in this war. It’s hard to say if the last two episodes will be able to top the epic game changers both Unavaatu and Zaheer presented, but fingers are crossed. Here’s hoping the last episodes will trump everything we’ve seen so far.