Can I just say how much I love fast paced story episodes. They are so much fun and manage to deliver in nearly every idea we want them to deliver on. Case in point, “Long Live the Queen,” a fast paced two plot story that manages to continue to build upon the now real threat the Red Lotus poses to not only our heroes, but also the world. It was a smart convention for the story to strand Korra and Asami in the middle of the desert as it really allowed our villains to have an episode to flourish in a way Unalaq and in some ways Amon were not able to. By having nearly a majority of the episode be dedicated to Zaheer’s adventure in Ba Sing Se we are able to watch how other people view our villains. We as viewers know that these are the “bad guys,” but what “Long Live the Queen” manages to do is show us the outside worlds perspective on Zaheer and his groups motivations. So let’s dive in.
In case we were all wondering why Nick wanted this show on the web and not airing on a Friday night we definitely got our answer. Although there was no implicit confirmation, Zaheer did in fact murder The Earth Queen in cold blood and started a revolution in Ba Sing Se. The sheer dark tone of the scene alone would be enough to warrant a parent to cover their child’s eyes maybe, but coupling that with the actual image of Zaheer pulling the air out of the queen’s lungs was terrifying. I have seen many people die in both animation and on TV but Zaheer rocketed to the top of my list for screwed up way to kill someone. What really manages to blow me away on a weekly basis is just how creative Zaheer is as a villain as he does not restrict himself to the grand scheme and evil machinations. The sheer fact that he was willing to call an audible when he discovered Korra’s airship had been downed in the desert shows that he will go with the flow as long as his objective is complete. I just have to commend Henry Rollins for his magnificent performance this week, Zaheer has been a shining star entire season but his entire monologue while was truly astounding.
The question is now that Ba Sing Se’s queen is dead, who Zaheer will target next? There are many different options, Raiko or Tonraq seem to be the most likely, but it would be in Zaheer’s nature to possibly go after Zuko’s daughter as we have not seen her and it would be who Korra least expects. Another question is what the aftermath of Zaheer’s revolution will lead to as Ba Sing Se is a rather important part of the universe so I would hope we actually get to see the ramifications rather than just hear about them on the radio.
The other big story of the episode was that Asami of all people got to have a dedicated story about her abilities and in turn saving Korra from dying in the desert. Yes, everyones favorite punchline of a character was not just useful, but in fact the only person who could solve all of the escalating problems that Korra and the airship crew faced in the desert. It is awesome that Asami is finally having her skills developed as for the majority of the series she has been the one who has suffered the most. Whether it be because her father betrayed her, Varrick tired to steal her company, or just the fact that she is a genius inventor who never seems to invent anything Asami has gotten the shaft more than anyone it seems. Finally, the writers decided to show that Asami is more than just helpful, she is resourceful and creative. Her understanding of what needed to be done in order for the group to survive. Her idea to create a sand sled out of airship parts shows that jet like Sokka she can innovate on a bad situation. I really hope this plays out more going into the last few episodes as Asami is a force when given a chance.
The only part of the episode that sadly fails to get any traction is the Mako and Bolin material. Over the course of this entire season they have been building Bolin up to be some sort of earthbending prodigy who is stronger than we have been led to believe. While that is all well and good it is getting frustrating that we are constantly reminded how great Bolin is every couple of minutes but he has not done anything useful on learned any new skills. If Bolin does indeed become a metalbender or even a lavabender it would not be all that surprising in juxtaposition to when Toph discovered metalbending in the original series. We knew Toph had untapped potential from the moment she was introduced, Bolin however has never been anything more than an above average earthbender who can make a quick joke. If Bolin is meant to surpass Toph or do something incredible he will have to first surpass Ghazan who at this moment is the biggest earthbending threat on the show. The question will come down to what can Bolin bend that will be strong enough to resist or fight back against lava. Whatever it is it needs to happen fast because I just can’t deal with being told Bolin is greater than the average earthbender anymore.
Overall it was a super strong episode in a season of pretty great episodes.
Final Grade A-
+Asami being super useful
+Zaheer killing the Earth Queen
+Ghazan tearing down the middle wall
-Bolin needs to learn his special skill fast
-I like how Ghazan and Bolin are slightly buddy buddy. Hopefully the end of the season won’t be the last we see of the Fearsome Four
-Mako keeps telling Bolin to metalbend yet he just melted the bars. You could have done that at any time Mako.
-I love Zuko is just chilling at Misty Palms. Five bucks he told them an enlightening story about the last time he was there.
-Fort Bosco. Bosco has a freakin fort named after him.