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Recap / The Legend Of Korra S 3 E 11 The Ultimatum

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Grandmas: Asking awkward questions since time began.
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While Ba Sing Se erupts in chaos, Mako and Bolin commandeer an airship and set course for the Si Wong Desert to find Korra and Asami, and deliver Zaheer's ultimatum. While flying over the Lower Ring, they stop to take their family with them, saving them from the flames that are consuming the city. They eventually track their friends down to the Misty Palms Oasis, where they reunite and relay Zaheer's message: Korra gives herself to the Red Lotus in exchange for the survival of the Air Nation. In an attempt to warn Tenzin of the Red Lotus' approach of the Northern Air Temple, Team Avatar heads back to Zaofu to use their radio transmitter and prepare for takeoff toward the temple. The warning comes too late, however, and the Red Lotus manages to capture all the temple's inhabitants. Tenzin, Kya, and Bumi try to fight off Zaheer, Ming-Hua, and Ghazan respectively, but are eventually overpowered. Although Kai nearly sacrifices himself to help the airbenders reach the bison stables and escape, P'Li manages to corner them all.

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Tropes:

  • Adult Fear:
    • For Suyin. Knowing your teenage (and only) daughter is in a faraway place that's being attacked by a madman is a really unpleasant idea.
    • Zuko was just about to leave for the Fire Nation for the same reason. Zaheer is after the world's leaders, so he feels he must go back to protect his daughter, who is the Fire Lord.
    • Tenzin has his family, siblings, and students all in one place when the Red Lotus come.
    • Mako and Bolin's grandmother refusing to leave her beloved home even though staying risks being burned alive, and despite the frantic urgings of the family that won't leave her to that fate.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Mako and Bolin's grandmother's interactions with Korra and Asami are hilariously embarrassing for Mako.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Zaheer plans to attack the Northern Air Temple unless Korra gives herself up.
  • Advertisement:
  • Badass Boast: Zaheer tells Tenzin that he doesn't have a choice in being bait for Korra.
    Tenzin: Yes, I do. *airbends them into the wall*
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Tenzin states he'll fight to his last breath. The Red Lotus are then shown mercilessly beating him as the camera pans behind a wall.
  • The Bus Came Back: Iroh makes another appearance in the Spirit World, and gives Korra some more advice.
  • By the Hair: Ghazan getting his hair pulled is now the image for the page.
  • Call-Back:
    • Korra recalls how she found Zaheer in the Spirit World in "The Stakeout", and believes he might be there again.
    • Meelo mentions the herd of baby bison they found back in "Original Airbenders". Since Kai befriended them in that episode, one shows up to take him to safety.
    • One that harkens back to "The Crossroads of Destiny" from the original show: Kai being shot down in front of Jinora is eerily reminiscent of Aang being shot down in front of Katara.
  • Character Development: Kai has developed into someone willing to make a Heroic Sacrifice in order to allow the others to get away.
  • Cliffhanger: The airbenders' escape attempt is thwarted when P'Li scares off the bison, Kya and Bumi are injured after falling off a cliff, and Tenzin is last seen being beaten within an inch of his life. The only one to escape is Kai, by virtue of being believed dead by the Red Lotus after P'Li shot him down.
  • Combat Parkour: The Avatar series' first airbender vs airbender fight, and it's awesome.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Bumi bites Ghazan and pulls on his hair.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Tenzin easily beats Zaheer, deflecting or dodging all of his attacks and knocking him around with relative ease. Unfortunately, the rest of the Red Lotus intervenes and overwhelms him.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Meelo quickly distracts Bolin from the urgency of the radio call by mentioning that they discovered a herd of sky bison with babies.
  • Death from Above: P'Li plus an airship makes her a one woman AC-130.
  • Decapitated Army: The death of the Earth Queen almost immediately has all of Ba Sing Se collapsing into chaos and destruction, with the police, military and even the Dai Li seemingly rendered completely ineffective. Apparently there was no general, chief of police or other competent authority figure who could rally some of the troops and put down the riots.
  • Defiant to the End: Tenzin, twice, while facing down the Red Lotus.
    Tenzin: I will never let you get to Korra.
    Zaheer: Unfortunately, you don't have a choice.
    Tenzin: Yes, I do.

    Zaheer: Give it up. It's over.
    Tenzin: As long as I'm breathing, it's not over.
  • Determinator: Tenzin refuses to stop fighting the Red Lotus as long as he has a breath left in his body.
  • Disney Death: Kai is thrown off a cliff, but gets his foot caught in a plant and manages to escape with the aid of a baby bison.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Bolin decides to fly the airship with no prior experience. He promptly plows it into the ground, scaring everyone, until he figures out how to get it to pitch up. Mako's landing likewise could use some work, as he nearly runs down Zuko's dragon, though he at least proves to be a better pilot than Bolin.
  • Fights Like a Normal: Bumi hasn't learned how to attack with airbending, so when he fights Ghazan he just uses it to move around better then tries to grapple him.
  • Flashed-Badge Hijack: When stealing the airship, Mako tries to get the looters to disperse by invoking his police credentials in Republic City. The looters ignore him. Bolin instead tells them that they can find gold in the palace, which works.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The camera moves behind a pillar as Tenzin is beat down by the Red Lotus.
  • Guile Hero: Bolin gets the ship by telling the people looting it where the Earth Queen's gold is. They run off, leaving the ship to Mako and Bolin.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • When the airbenders are pinned down by P'Li, Kai takes off on a glider to draw her fire so everyone else can get to safety on the sky bison. He ended up getting shot down and P'Li's shots scared the bison off, but he survived and was able to escape.
    • Tenzin, Bumi, and Kya stay behind to fight the Red Lotus while the airbenders escape and get beaten in the process.
  • Hope Spot:
    • For a moment it looks like Kya has beaten Ming-Hua by throwing her off a cliff, but one almost immediately notices the water Kya hit her with is suddenly moving in a very unnatural way...
    • It seemed that the airbenders would get to the sky bison on time.
  • Hostage for MacGuffin: The Red Lotus threaten to wipe out the new Air Nation to get Korra to surrender herself.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    Bolin: Some people just have no respect for other people's property. Now let's steal this airship!
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: Kya manages to knock Ming-Hua over the ledge of the temple, only for Ming-Hua to rise back up with six water whips instead of her usual two. The fight quickly goes downhill for Kya after that.
  • Instant Expert: Deconstructed during Zaheer and Tenzin's fight. While Zaheer has a lot of talent, Tenzin is a genuine master and has decades of practice on him. He was about to win their fight before Zaheer's buddies joined in.
  • Karmic Jackpot: Downplayed. The only reason Kai escapes was that he was shot down while trying to buy time for the other airbenders. He was pretty lucky with that fall though. He also got woken up (and quite possibly saved), by one of the baby air bison he helped rescue earlier in the season.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: The Red Lotus continues beating on Tenzin after he's too exhausted to fight back, and the camera shifts away before they finish.
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!": Bolin is speechless in front of Zuko.
  • Little "No":
    • Kya's response to Ming-Hua rising up with multiple water limbs.
    • Jinora whispers this when she sees Kai get knocked out the sky by one of P'Li's combustion blasts.
  • Mook Chivalry: Averted. When Tenzin seems to be winning against Zaheer, the rest of the Red Lotus joins in to shift the odds back in their favor, having won their respective fights already.
  • Mook–Face Turn: Some of the Royal Guards defect and join the looters.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: As if she weren't terrifying enough, Ming-Hua reveals she can craft multiple water limbs.
  • Never Say "Die":
    • Played straight in regards to Hou-Ting; the closest anyone comes to saying she's dead is Mako and Bolin's grandmother hoping that she "rest[s] in peace".
    • It's averted by Kya and Bumi, who muse out loud about the possibility of dying when hanging from a ledge and about to be shot by P'Li.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The Red Lotus subject Tenzin to this.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You: Kai is shot out of the sky by P'Li and falls into the cloud cover around the temple, only to wake up later hanging by his ankle from a tree branch without a scratch on him. By comparison, Kya and Bumi fall a much shorter distance and have their fall broken by crashing through several tree branches, yet are too injured to move at all once they hit the ground.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Tenzin is rightfully worried when he sees the Red Lotus arriving at the temple.
    • Kya's reaction to Ming-Hua's Multi-Armed and Dangerous. Her "no" sounds like she has just come to the conclusion that she is fighting a monster of a waterbender who she has no chance of beating on her own, who wasn't even fighting seriously until she pulled out this move.
  • Out of the Frying Pan: Mako's and Bolin's situation is this. They got out of prison, only to find themselves in the crossfire of rioters and looters tearing Ba Sing Se into pieces.
  • Plot-Driven Breakdown: In order to give the Red Lotus enough time to reach the Northern Air Temple before anyone can warn the airbenders, the plot conspires to keep the characters away from a radio with a sufficiently powerful transmitter. Mako and Bolin hijack an airship which has had its radio stolen, Lin's portable radio does not have the necessary range once they meet up, Zaofu is the closest city with a proper transmitter, and finally no one answers at the temple until the Red Lotus is already on top of them.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Bolin notes that Korra is lost across hundreds of miles of desert, and it's going to take a while to find the wreckage.
    • The Krew can't immediately contact Tenzin and the other airbenders because their radio isn't powerful enough to reach the Air Temple, and they need to go to Zaofu to get a more powerful one.
    • Zaheer may be a natural airbender, but he's only been using it for a month at best. Tenzin, on the other hand, has two legs up on Zaheer: First, he's a master practitioner of an airbending style that has probably dozens (if not hundreds) of lifetimes' worth of refinement and optimization before he learned it. Second, Tenzin has squared off against an airbending opponent before; sparring with his father in his training.
  • Screw Your Ultimatum!: Tenzin lets the Red Lotus know exactly what he thinks of their plan with one move.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Kai's Heroic Sacrifice ultimately ends up saving only himself, and even then by accident. P'Li's attacks scare away the bison, making sure the airbenders have nowhere to run, while Kai gets shot down and is rescued by one of the baby bison. The only upside is that it leaves him as a potential Spanner in the Works, since the Red Lotus doesn't know he survived.
  • Shout-Out: The scene when Ming-Hua rises up with multiple water limbs just screams "Doc Ock".
  • Slasher Smile: Ming-Hua displays one after her I Am Not Left-Handed moment.
  • Super Cell Reception: Averted. It is pointed out that the jeep radio the group has does not have the range to reach the Northern Air Temple. They have to go to Zaofu for a stronger transmitter.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Bolin and Mako's grandmother refuses to leave her home, even as it is burning down around her. Bolin resorts to taking her by force.
  • Took a Level in Dumbass: Yin in this episode is a walking "Senile old person" joke, which was not at all evident in her previous appearances.
  • Understatement: According to Iroh, Zuko and Aang's relationship started off "a little rocky".
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: It's not shown exactly how long Bolin is on the radio with Meelo before Korra gets him to cooperate, so it's entirely possible that it was long enough that had he cooperated immediately, the airbenders could have had time to have a chance to escape. Meelo may very well have doomed his entire family by being a brat.
  • Watching Troy Burn: Mako, Bolin, and their family as they leave Ba Sing Se via airship.
  • Wham Episode: The Red Lotus attack the Air Temple and brutally beat Tenzin.
  • What Would X Do?: Korra asks Zuko what her predecessor, Aang, would do because they were best friends.
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • The look Zaheer gives Tenzin after Tenzin declares that as long as he's still breathing it's not over implies Zaheer thinks of him as this.
    • It may or may not involve any genuine respect, but Ming-Hua's extreme Slasher Smile indicates she at least very much enjoys Kya being an opponent worth going all-out against.
  • Who's on First?: Meelo engages Bolin with this briefly over the radio, to the latter's frustration.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Applies to the Red Lotus in general in this episode, with Zaheer's very real threat to kill every single one of the airbenders, but applies to P'Li in particular. For while she shows no pleasure in it, she also shows no hesitation firing directly on Kai when he tries to distract her from stopping the other airbenders from escaping, and would have likely killed him had he not airbended a shield to take the brunt of the blast (and what got through was still enough to knock him unconscious). She appears to treat opposition as simply opposition, regardless of who it comes from, and deals with it in the same way (blasting it until it either stops moving or retreats).
  • You Are Too Late: The call to the Northern Air Temple gets through right as the Red Lotus arrive.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Tenzin, Bumi, and Kya try to hold off the Red Lotus while the airbenders escape. It doesn't work and only Kai is able to escape.

 
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Tenzin and his kids demonstrate airbending for Avatar Korra / A duel between Tenzin and Zaheer

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