There was a moment, the briefest of beautiful moments where I thought Mike and Bryan were going to do something that even I could not have predicted this week. Sadly this was not the case, but that does not mean that “Battle of Zaofu” was a disappointment in any way. Rather it was a success as it hit all of the right notes for an excellent Korra episode. This episode mis meant in many ways to be a peak action moment, everything was building towards the first showdown between Korra and Kuvira as well as the inevitable fall of Zaofu. This situation was only going to end in one way and luckily the build up and subsequent pay off of watching these events unfold were fantastic. You could easily see this as a storyline solely revolving around Korra and Kuvira’s face off, but luckily the writers decided to give one of the most beloved characters some much needed development. So let’s dive in.
If I didn’t know any better I would have just assumed that our hero is actual Kuvira by the simple fact that she has not ever really lost. Kuvira really is a master Pai Sho player as she is easily knew that Suyin would not be able to stop herself from attempting to take her out, as well as being able to goad Korra into a one on one fight. Kuvira much like Azula knows the exact right buttons to press to get the results she wants and she is easily one of the most compelling villains in the entire Avatar universe. Not only was she intellectually superior this week, but she is a physical force to boot. Her agile boxing style of earthbending really helped to draw a clear distinction between Korra and her. Even with Kuvira being so agile there was a clear rigidity and force to her techniques that the rusty Korra was lacking. We needed more of a pinpoint precision if Korra was to stand a chance against those Kuvira.
Now with Korra I expected her to lose, I however did not expect her to get her ass so thoroughly handed to her. I mean good god I know Korra looses a lot the villains in their first encounters, but she was so thoroughly out classed by Kuvira. Even more so I am kind of sad that Korra is still suffering from some sort of PTSD and can’t entirely control the Avatar State. I understand it from a reality and storytelling standpoint as you cannot just all of a sudden not suffer from PTSD, but that moment where Korra hallucinates herself onto Kuvira just felt like a cop out from actually having Kuvira be stronger than an out of practice Korra. Hell, I kind of wanted Kuvira to enter the Avatar State and just blow everyone’s mind as to how powerful she really is. Would it have made any sense, probably not, but it would have been an extremely interesting character twist.
Despite all of the amazing action and exciting revelations, the best material this week came from the mad scientist himself, Varrick. Say what you will about him being comic relief, Varrick was absolute gold this entire episode, watching the wheels turn in his head as he set his master plan into motion was magical. I had a general idea that Varrick would be building a bomb as an attempt to destroy or at least stall the spirit vine weapon, but the sheer intricacies of his entire plan made everything perfect. John Michael Higgins performance as Varrick was top notch but what really helped to push this material over the edge was having Bolin play the straight man to Varrick’s insane comedian. The fact that the two characters are so incredibly similar in tone made the humor of the situation so much more elevated. I mean I could generally figure out exactly what was being asked of Bolin, but the humor of “Do the Thing” relies heavily on the fact that Zhu Li and Varrick know each other so incredibly well. I also never thought for a minute that Varrick of all people could be intimidating, but damn that moment where he threatened Junior gave me chills.
Overall it was an extremely satisfying episode of Korra.
Final Grade B+
+Kuvira owning Korra
+Everything with Varrick
+Bolin the straight man
-Korra losing due to hallucination rather than being rusty
-Only one real outcome for the episode
-Meelo’s painting of him in a Napoleonic stance absolutely amazing.
-“I hate you, so much” I probably laughed harder than I should have but that was hilarious.
-Batar: “You’re insane!” Varrick: “You knew that when you hired me!” Varrick is now basically Bumi, a mad genius.