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Headscratchers / The Legend of Korra - Book Four

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Headscratchers pertaining to Book 4 of The Legend of Korra. Return to the index for more.

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     Zhu Li is overworked. 
  • After Varrick starts working for Kuvira, why is Zhu Li still stuck doing grunt work instead of having grunts for that? Doesn't Kuvira think Zhu Li has more important things to do than carry Varrick's luggage and stuff?
    • It may be that Kuvira simply didn't realize that Varrick would be that much of an oblivious jerk (and inefficient).
    • Zhu Li is Varrick's personal assistant, and Varrick is an eccentric with specific needs. What else would Zhu Li be doing?
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    Why doesn't Korra use her second season finale powers in the fourth season finale? 
  • In the second season finale, we learn that by meditating and accessing the energy of universe Korra can turn into a powerful blue giant. Now, this power would've awfully handy in the fourth season finale, where a powerful giant robot threatens Republic City. So why does Korra not turn into a blue giant again to fight it? Okay, maybe the blue giant power was a one-off thing, but it was never explicitly stated that it was... So Korra should've at least tried to see whether it works again.
    • Harmonic Convergence amplifies spiritual energy. In Ep. 4 of Season 3, Jinora uses her spirit projection technique, and says that it isn't as powerful as it was during Harmonic Convergence. My impression was that the Kaiju Korra was similarly amplified - were she to attempt it under normal circumstances, she would probably just end up with a regular-sized blue Korra spirit.
    • You could argue that that's what she did when she deflected the Colossus' last energy blast.

     Unalaq had a point? 
  • When Toph is talking about Korra's past battles, she mentions that all three of the previous Big Bads including Kuvira actually had a point in their actions but took them to such extremes that they became villains because of it. While I can concur with her feelings about Amon, Zaheer, and Kuvira being well-intentioned extremists, I'm having a harder time with the idea that Unalaq had a point. I mean, yes, at the end of season 2, Korra decides to keep the spirit portals open and allow humanity and the spirits to co-exist side-by-side, but come on. Unalaq was a cartoon super-villain who set up and betrayed his elder brother to exile, not to mention Zaheer and the other Red Lotus just so he could grab power for himself. He was also the Avatar world's equivalent of a devil-worshipper; if he'd had his way, then Vaatu would have emerged triumphant from Harmonic Convergence and humanity would have been lucky to last another century, and certainly not another ten thousand years. I can buy Toph's idea that Amon, Zaheer, and Kuvira all had or have admirable goals that were ruined by their extremism, but it's a much harder pill to swallow with Unalaq because he actually tried to help Vaatu destroy humanity.
    • Unalaq's point was to allow the spirits and humanity to co-exist. A point is a point, even when it's smothered in MWAHAHAHAHAHA!
    • Right, but wasn't it repeatedly stated that if Vaatu had won Harmonic Convergence, which was what Unalaq was hoping for, then humanity would have been destroyed in the ensuing age of darkness? That seems at odds with his stated goal of co-existence between the two groups.
    • We can presume that Unalaq's intentions before and after direct contact with Vaatu were somewhat different.
    • I just assumed that Unalaq's motives became corrupted by Vaatu. The Unalaq we see in the beginning of Season 2, while a bit off his rocker, still had something of a point and only wanted humans to coexist with spirits. The Unalaq we see at the very end was no longer Unalaq, but Vaatu's puppet as it were, and Vaatu's the one who wanted to usher in the 10,000 years of darkness.
    • One of Unalaq's goals was to allow spirits and humans to coexist and respect each other, just like Noatak's was to fight for the rights of nonbenders and Zaheer's was to remove corrupt rulers from power. All of them went in the extreme wrong direction because they thought it would achieve this goal - debending innocent people, allowing Vaatu to replace Raava and create a Dark Avatar, and doing away with all of the world's leaders, regardless of their moral compass - but all of them had a point to what they were doing.

     How did Varrick know Amon is dead? 
  • In "Remembrances," when Varrick was talking about The Terror Square, he specified that Amon was a zombie which implies he knows that he died. Except nobody should knows about his death.
    • Varrick probably thought, "Hmm, that Amon isn't causing trouble anymore, therefore he must be dead!" Plus, he might have felt it'd make Amon even more creepier if he made him an undead monster.
    • My guess is that one of Varrick's ships came across the wreckage somehow, or that the wreckage washed up on a shore somewhere. It still should have been mentioned at some point, though.
    • The funnier alternative is that Varrick might have believed Amon was a zombie the entire time.
    • This is the vibe I got. Plus, he literally invented the propaganda movie for this universe. Methinks Varrick doesn't mind stretching the truth a little (or a lot, as the case may be).

     Why would/should Zaheer help Korra? 
  • The ending of the recent episode has left me very confused. Specifically, Korra goes to confront Zaheer and he decides to help her get through her spiritual block. Two things:
    (1) The trauma/block was inflicted by Zaheer himself, and it's not like he expressed remorse and was all, "Gee, sorry for doing that to you, let me help you get through it." Instead, it was more, "You need help, and I'm the only one you've got left, so let's walk you through the trauma I put you through three years ago." It just seemed very awkward and weird that the person who helps her to finally get over it is the person who put her in that situation in the first place! Wouldn't it have made more sense had it been Tenzin? Jinora? They have every reason to want Korra to get back to normal again, Zaheer doesn't. After all, he tried to kill her in the last season. Now here he is trying to help her, where did this come from? Why the change of heart?

    (2) What does Zaheer stand to gain from helping Korra? Whether Kuvira wins or not, Zaheer's still going to be rotting in his prison. Yeah, he was all about change and freedom from oppression (re: chaos) and Kuvira was probably the last thing he wanted, but what does he stand to gain? He should know that the moment Kuvira's kicked off, they'll install a new ruler, basically undoing everything Zaheer had done.
    • Storytelling-wise, it's about getting Korra to face her fear, and her mental block head-on. Talking to Tenzin or Jinora isn't going to be as direct of a confrontation as having her face what she's really afraid of is. She's obviously *tried* talking to people about it, but that only goes so far. And as for Zaheer helping her, it's not out-of-character or a change of heart, really. Despite all that he did, he was generally very affable and wise; he absolutely despises what Kuvira stands for, and it was never really anything personal against Korra anyway. She just happened to be the Avatar, which he believed needed to be gotten rid of. As he said, though they may have been enemies before, for the time being, their interests aligned. Neither of them agree with Kuvira's goals and ideals, so they both contribute in order to bring her down. It's not as if, should he ever escape from prison, he wouldn't likely go right back to doing what he was doing before, but from the perspective of someone who is as dedicated to his beliefs as he is, he's willing to look past his feelings about the Avatar, who at the moment isn't a *direct* threat to his idealism, in order to stop somebody who is. And, Zaheer is partially responsible for the rise of Kuvira, so it's entirely possible that he holds it as a personal screw-up of his that he would like to fix.
    • What does Zaheer gain? He gains another chance to fight what he considers tyranny from behind the bars. Keep in mind that Zaheer always considered himself selfless and altruistic in his actions. He gets to contribute to a fight against another dictator, and just maybe it could lead to more instability and someone else rising against the world leaders, again.
    • It's also a bit inaccurate to say that Zaheer is solely responsible for Korra's fear of him. Yes, his attempt on her life traumatized her, but as both Toph and Zaheer have pointed out, the biggest thing holding Korra back is herself. Blaming Zaheer for her trauma was just an excuse to justify why she wasn't at 100%.
    • Zaheer himself points out that nothing has really changed between him and Korra, but as far as the Kuvira situation is concerned, they both want the same thing: to see her driven from power. Zaheer purely for idealistic reasons (an absolute dictator like Kuvira is pretty much the antithesis of his entire belief system), Korra for ethical reasons. Zaheer knows he can't do anything chained up down there and he knows chances of escape are slim-to-none, so helping Korra is the most useful way for him to strike at Kuvira in some form.
    • It also helps that Zaheer truly doesn't have anything against Korra personally... he let go of all his personal desires to become floaty, remember? He tried to kill her only because she's the Avatar. He's perfectly willing to help her if that's the best way to take a step toward his goals at the moment.
    • But is Zaheer's speech about how Korra is keeping herself down — that everything she's suffered as a result of what he did to her is her fault, not his, and that she's wrong to blame him for it — supposed to be true or hypocritical? Is the story blaming Korra more than Zaheer by having her go to him for help like this? I find it very easy to believe he would want to stop Kuvira, but, in the process, should the story allow this character to do and say such things to the girl he tortured almost to death without clarifying he's being a hypocrite and has no right to blame his victim for how he's made her suffer?
    • That's not what he or the scene is saying. The scene is not saying it's Korra's fault that he harmed her. What it's saying is that all the physical, exterior reasons for Korra to not be in top shape are gone — she went through years of therapy, got the last of the poison out of her system, so by all rights, she should be back in prime condition, but she's not. Her problem at this point is a psychological one. That is what Zaheer is referring to — not that all that she suffered at his hands is her fault, but that by not confronting what happened, she's not letting herself deal with it and recover fully.
    • 1: I don't think others would've helped her get through what had happened unlike Zaheer could have. Namely, it's confronting your attacker and going face to face with Tenzin or the like wouldn't cut it. 2: Zaheer hated that he inevitably caused the Earth Empire for it flew right into the face of his beliefs. He doesn't need to have a political power play in hand to do what he wanted to do. The natural order is disorder after all.

     Why was bringing back the spirits a good thing? 
  • "Beginnings" shows that spirits were either indifferent or hostile to humans and they're so powerful humans could never defend against them if they turned hostile again. "Operation Beifong" shows that while they live alongside humans, they don't contribute to them in any way and won't defend them from attackers.
    • Because originally, spirits and humans lived side by side. However, thanks to Avatar Wan, the status quo was broken when he permanently separated both the spirit and human worlds. Bringing back the spirits is considered a good thing because it's one step closer to bringing the world back into balance and allow humans and spirits to coexist again. It was never about bringing concrete benefits to humans. Plus, at this point, humans have developed technology and bending techniques enough that they stand a good chance of defending themselves against spirits.
    • You're wrong on multiple levels. First off, the Spirit World and the Human World are naturally separated. They weren't together until Vaatu busted down the barriers and the spirits came in like an invasive species. Second, they lived "side-by-side" the way imperialists live side-by-side by conquered people forced onto reservations, where if they are found outside these reserved locations without the means to defend themselves, face death or horrible mutation at the hands of the imperialists. At the very least, Korra's idea to keep the Spirit Portals open should have been something she got from Raava, because historically, allowing the human and spirit worlds have only ever meant bad things for the humans.
    • Wan did befriend plenty of spirits in "Beginnings," and they were willing to help Korra during her recovery at the beginning of Book 4, so not all of them are completely unreasonable. They're not all that different from humans - if both sides are willing to respect each other, there's no reason why they can't get along be friends. (With a few exceptions, like Wan Shi Tong.) You do have a point with them refusing to help against Kuvira, but it doesn't seem all that different from characters like Raiko or Izumi refusing to help the southern Water Tribe or the Earth Kingdom - they sat back and did nothing until Unalaq/Kuvira was on their doorstep and it was too late.
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     Why does Kuvira attack Batar Jr at the end of "Kuvira's Gambit"? 
  • Korra's idea is good - hurting Batar Jr emotionally is much more effective than hurting him physically - but it doesn't actually place Kuvira in the dilemma that Korra is hoping for. Kuvira seems to just accept the premise that she must sacrifice either Batar Jr or her attempt to conquer Republic City, but the giant mech is such a game breaker that Kuvira can easily Take a Third Option. For example, she could have pointed the spirit weapon at Air Temple Island and said that she would trade Batar's safety for Raiko's. And if Korra decided that the life of one man wasn't worth surrending the city, Kuvira could have just started attacking the city itself. It's not clear how many people have moved out, but given the fact that Tenzin says that the evacuation is "on track" when Kuvira's arrival is thought to be a week a way, it's likely that there are still tons of people in the city when she shows up just hours later. If Kuvira had threatened to attack civilians, Korra would have had to stand down, and the fact that Kuvira doesn't even think of this is uncharacteristic given her brilliant manipulation in "The Battle of Zaofu". It's not that I don't accept the premise that Kuvira would have sacrificed Batar Jr if she had no other choice—putting her empire first does fit her characterization—but that fact that she doesn't even look for other options seems like a Villain Ball.
    • Batar explicitly said that the Avatar and "everyone" were with him. I believe Kuvira realised that this was her best chance to kill Korra and many of her allies (depending on how well-informed Kuvira is, she could have inferred that "everybody" included Team Avatar and/or Tenzin) in a single unexpected strike. Batar is expendable now that his superweapon has been completed, and Kuvira probably has other engineers who can copy or at least maintain it. In her mind, the opportunity was simply too good to pass up.
    • Some Fridge Brilliance, looking at her situation in a military light: she's lead her entire United Earth Empire army to Republic City, destroyed outposts and a section of their navy to threaten them into surrendering, or else they will take it by force. There is no possible way a leader like her can sweep all that away for the sake of one life, no matter how important they are or how strong their feelings/relationship is - she has her image to maintain.
    • Not to mention, simply blasting random civilians or President Raiko would hurt her public image as a firm but fair leader, especially since Raiko already surrendered the city.
    • One thing to keep in mind is the reason Kuvira and Batar were doing this are actually very different. Batar was actually entirely motivated by selfish reasons, he wanted to get out of the family's shadow and prove himself. Kuvira wanted to make the Earth Empire so strong it would never be threatened again. Naturally Batar's willing to throw away everything they've worked for to be with Kuivra because he never really cared about that to begin with, Kuivra was unwilling to do the same because for her the Earth Empire was more important. One was building a nation, the other throwing a rebellious temper tantrum.

     Where is Rohan? 
  • He should be a three-year-old now, yet he's not even mentioned throughout the season. What happened to him?
    • He's usually seen with Pema. He had three appearances in Book Four, albeit none with any lines. It is probable that, simply because they only have thirteen twenty-minute episodes in which to tell a certain story, they can't always focus on side characters such as Rohan, or other Book Four near-absentees such as Kya and Kai. In the grand scheme of things, Rohan just isn't a very important of a character in relation to the plot.

     Since he's from the Water Tribe, why did Varrick give Zhu Li a ring and not a betrothal necklace? 
  • Is the ring an Earth Kingdom/United Republic tradition, is the necklace a little too antiquated, or did the writers just forget?
    • The ring, made of jade, which seems to be a staple of Earth Kingdom fashion, does appear to be Earth Kingdom custom. Most seem to think it's deliberate to show that Varrick is respecting Zhu Li's culture and her as an equal.
    • Another explanation is that he no longer follows Water Tribe traditions and since he's been associating with the upper class for so long, he's absorbed their traditions of giving rings to their betrothed.
    • He's from the Southern Tribe that's a Northern Water Tribe tradition which is why Katara had no idea what it was until they explained it to her at the North Pole.

     Why does Kuvira imprison water and fire benders? 
  • I don't see what could motivate her to imprison Earth Empire citizens for no other reason then having a different heritage, also it doesn't seem to tie in with her overall goal of uniting the country.
    • Fascist S.O.P.: Isolate the other nationality/ethnicity because they're The Other. And banishing/deporting them would reveal her racism to the world. So secret prison camps it is. In other words: A Nazi by Any Other Name.
    • However this is largely excusable in her case since the Avatarverse clearly has Values Dissonance with real life. As far as we can tell there are extremely few benders in the "wrong" nations, there were none in the prior series. Republic City exists explicitly because the people living in the Fire Colonies weren't from the Fire Nation and shipping them "home" would be cruel so said Fire Lord Zuko and the Avatar. Since then the Earth Kingdom has fallen apart, even prior to the murder of the Earth Queen it's shown that she at best has nominal control and bandits run free in much of her territory. Given the both the world she lives in (again how many Earth or Fire Benders at the North and South Pole again?) and how far her country has fallen, one doesn't want to say her actions are justified. They are certainly easily understood.
    • Kuvira demands absolute obedience from everybody in uniting the Earth Kingdom and make it into a better, stronger Earth Empire. She imprisons anyone who questions or disobeys her, seeing it as a sign of weakness or betrayal to the cause. Given that the rest of the nations would not be happy about Kuvira's ambitions and that among them are the Two Water Tribes and the Fire Nation (plus the diverse United Republic demanding her to step and give authority to Prince Wu), it'll be easier to root out anyone not of Earth Kingdom's nationality and put them in camps to keep them from potentially resisting, rebelling, aiding the United Republic, or sabotaging the Earth Empire's progress. In that sense, it's less of the Nazi concentration camps and more of the US Japanese internment camps in the Second World War.

     Bolin the minister? 
  • In the final episode of the series Varrick and Zhu Li "do the the thing" and get hitched. Who conducts the ceremony? Is it wise and composed Tenzin, airbending master and leader of a fledgling society? How about the President of the United Republic? No. It's Bolin. I get that he and Varrick are friends, but where and when did Bolin of all people get the authority to marry people?
    • We don't actually know how marriage works here. It could be that the "minister" is more like a witness who makes a speech and sets the pace of the wedding than anything more official. On a less WMG-y note, it's not that hard to legally gain the authority to marry people in the real world, so maybe it's the same here. Finally, Bolin is an important friend to both Varrick and Zhu Li, and was largely responsible for reuniting them and getting their relationship off the ground. Sure, there are other options, but he makes sense as a personal choice.
    • Plus, Bolin's a damn good public speaker. Listen to that speech he delivered and his metaphor about love. That was poetic, he wasn't taught to speak like that either. It probably stems from the fact that he's one of the more emotionally driven characters, he says and acts what he feels more readily than most characters. Even before the wedding we see evidence that he's got a solid grasp on language: his narration of his letter to Korra and his speech to Opal about how he'd fix their relationship that got cut off by Lin. Say what you want about him, he's got a way with words.
    • Becoming a minister is actually often as easy as filling out some paperwork and paying a fee. Varrick doesn't know Tenzin very well and he once tried to kidnap the president, so... why not Bolin?
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     Where's the Red Lotus 
  • The Red Lotus is known to desire anarchy and the elimination of world leaders. In "The Coronation", the President of the United Republic, the previous and current Fire Lords, the chiefs of both Water Tribes, leader of the Air Nomads, Earth Prince, interim leader of the Earth Kingdom/Earth Empress, head of Republic City law enforcement, and the matriarch of Zaofu are all in the open, within fifty feet of each other. And they do not take advantage of this. Can we conclude the Red Lotus are simply not the threat we thought they were, do they have some long term plan, or was security really that good?
    • One would assume that, without Zaheer and his crew, they didn't have the firepower to strike at an event that would be crawling with security even without the Red Lotus' lingering threat.
    • Zaheer and his crew were some of the most powerful benders in the show, but they didn't just storm the castle and knock off whoever they wanted. They only took out the Earth Queen then and there because they needed to make a point and it no longer served them to humor her. They tried to kidnap Korra when she was a child and never once fought her fairly. Hell, at no point were they ever willing to pick a fair fight. Now just imagine how the grunts would behave.
    • Zaheer was planning to kill Raiko while in Republic City, capturing Korra simply took priority. The stated goal of the Red Lotus is the removal of all governments from the world and the deaths of world leaders. They had a golden opportunity to attack the leaders of literally every nation in the world in one place, an opportunity which will probably never present itself again, but none of their members tried. That's why I'm questioning how much of a threat they really are.
    • Where's Zaheer ever say he was planning to kill Raiko then, and besides, the leaders are gone. The Red Lotus didn't do anything over the course of the 13 years they were in prison, so apparently they're not going to do anything now, either. There are dozens of other considerations on when to attack besides, "When all the targets are in one place." Logistics, for instance. Getting past security. The Red Lotus can't just go anywhere and do anything, they have to manage their resources and time just like any other organization.
    • It's possible Kuvira wiped them out. Given Kuvira's methods, she did everything in her power to eliminate chaos and crime in the Earth Empire.

     Korra Asking The Spirits for help makes her like Kuvira? 
  • How does Korra asking for help from the spirits make her not so different from Kuvira. In fact, she was practically begging to them. Unlike Kuvira, she is not forcing people to her will and using spiritual energy as weapons of mass destruction. Something that would cause great harm to humans and spirits alike. They also seem to forget that if Korra and her friends had failed, what was to stop Kuvira from harvesting more of the spirit vines and vaporizing them. Were the spirits just going to sit on the their asses and do nothing? Be a bitch on the sidelines? Korra too had a point about some of the spirits helping Vatuu/Unalaq (Wan Shi Tong comes to mind). Yeah, most of them was by Vatuu's corruption, but Tong actually chose to screw over humanity despite the fact the spirit world would be just as messed up as well. For all show's talks about honoring The Spirits, and them being wise and intellectual, they sure are hypocritical, arrogant, and stupid.

     Bolin, Varrick, and the Escaped Prisoners 
  • If Bolin and Varrick "died" in the train explosion, why would they have wanted posters? You don't put out wanted posters for dead people. Kuvira and Baatar Jr. even have a short conversation about their deaths.
    • They may have been savvy enough to relese the wanted posters just in case the two managed to survive.
    • The better question should be why would Varrick and Bolin be foolish enough to go through a checkpoint without different uniforms as better disguises? Even Varrick knew that if they show their faces, they're dead, which is just what they did.

     Why did Zhu-li even keep that pin? 
  • When Zhu-li removed the pin on that cannon offscreen, why exactly did she keep it on her, instead of throwing it off somewhere where no one would ever find it? Not like she has any use for it herself, and she could've staved Kuvira's plans off even further by just disposing of it altogether, instead of "hiding" it in her clothes where she managed to find it rather easily.
    • We don't know how she got a hold of it in the first place. She may have only taken it out a moment before the test and didn't get an opportunity to ditch it, or at least ditch it somewhere it couldn't be quickly found and reinserted. She may have also been banking on the weapon exploding, taking Kuvira and herself along with it, so what happens to the pin or herself wasn't really considered.

     Why'd they split up? 
  • Once they're inside the Colossus, why does the group split off to complete three different tasks, when completing any one of them alone could've ensured their victory? If Kuvira gets taken out, no one else will be able to pilot the Colossus. If the Colussus gets shut down or the spirit cannon is disabled, Kuvira loses her main muscle, and will pretty much be forced to surrender to the United Forces. Their chances for victory could've been helped along by someone going with Korra to help fight Kuvira.
    • They split up because all of those things needed to be done at once. If you don't disable the spirit cannon Kuvira can still threaten to use it on the president, the Air Benders or Varric and Zhu Li no matter how many people you throw at her. Disabling the Colossus will give Kuvira and her guards a chance to escape and then her army will attack anyway, leading to a large loss of life fighting them off. And the more people you throw at Kuvira the more targets she has and the more restrained Korra has to be with her own attacks to not hit her allies. Kuvira has already shown she can fight Suyin and win, Lin won't fair much better and Mako and Bolin won't be able to protect themselves from her metal bending at all. Even with all of those accomplished at once Kuvira still wasn't willing to give up until Korra made it clear that even her spirit weapon was useless against her now.

     Varrick's feelings 
  • Varrick's proposal was an incredibly touching and sweet way of acknowledging Zhu Li as his equal, but it raises certain questions as to how he really felt about her...I'm assuming his feelings were genuine, given the seriousness of the relationship they've entered into, but how long did he have them? Did he always love Zhu Li, and his shouting orders that only she understood was his own way of expressing it? Or did he realize he only felt that way about her once she had seemingly left him and joined Kuvira? While he did make a (badly-phrased) attempt to apologize to her for how he had taken her for granted, we never saw any indication that he truly felt that way about her...

     Suyin's innocent? 
  • While Kuvira ain't a saint but she is absolutely justified in retaliating against her former mentor especially that she did try to kidnap her or assassinate her with or without Korra. I'm surprised Korra didn't call out Suyin instead. How is she innocent?
    • Who said she is? Her actions were against Kuvira, and Kuvira captured Suyin and Suyin's city. There were already consequences and such to Suyin's actions.

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