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Recap / The Legend Of Korra S 4 E 6 The Battle Of Zaofu

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Some people just always look cool.

Korra returns to her role as the Avatar, but is she really ready for action? Bolin and Varrick break from Kuvira's army.


  • Audience Surrogate: Once again, Meelo echoes the audience in his desire for some action.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Kuvira asserts to her troops that she would never ask them to do something she is unwilling to do herself, which she demonstrates by dueling Korra for control of Zaofu. Korra being far from 100%, this ends decisively in Kuvira's favor.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Kuvira's invasion of Zaofu is a success, the ruling Beifong family are all but imprisoned, Baatar Jr. has started working on the spirit weapon himself, and the Earth Empire has seen Kuvira beat the Avatar in single combat.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Varrick is instructed to continue his work on the spirit vine weapon. He proceeds to weaponize it in short order, then detonate it along with all the research and samples.
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  • Bilingual Bonus: There are banners up which read "May Kuvira live for 10,000 years", a phrase historically associated with the emperors of China.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Kuvira goads Korra into using the Avatar State before their fight even begins, if only because she overhears that Korra is reluctant to use it. This almost gets her crushed under a giant boulder..
  • Call-Back: Varrick recalls Unalaq's attack on Republic City and his escape from prison while explaining his idea for the vine technology.
  • Combat by Champion: Kuvira's solution after Su violates the peace talks is to have a one-on-one duel with Korra to decide the fate of Zaofu. Kuvira wins and tries to kill Korra, forcing Jinora and Opal to intervene. Kuvira claims this violated their agreement, so her army attacks anyway, taking the city with little resistance.
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  • Control Freak: When Kuvira claims that she is bringing equality to the Earth Empire, Opal retorts that she just wants control.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Varrick rigs the bomb with both a timer and a remote, just to cover his bases. That way, they can't disarm it or force him to leave without him detonating it, and the timer makes sure they can't just wait him out.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Kuvira handily beats Korra one-on-one, with Korra failing to land so much as a single hit using her normal abilities.
    • It's turned around on Kuvira when Korra goes into the Avatar State; Kuvira goes down in two shots of airbending and would have been crushed by a boulder had Dark Avatar Korra not caused Korra to lose her focus.
  • Decapitated Army: Su believes that Kuvira's army, its ranks filled mostly with unwilling conscripts, won't be a threat if they take Kuvira out. She doesn't get to test that theory.
  • Disappointed in You: Baatar says this to Baatar Jr. after his son demands that he obey and kneel to Kuvira.
  • Doomed Moral Victor: Baatar and Huan get nothing more than being arrested for refusing to kneel to Kuvira, but it sure does piss Jr. off.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Kuvira gets pummeled down fast after Korra enters the Avatar State.
  • Driven to Suicide: Varrick fully intended to die on the train, but luckily Bolin saves them.
  • Dying Declaration of Hate: When Bolin thinks Varrick and he are stuck on the train with a bomb, he lets Varrick know how he feels in case they don't make it.
    Bolin: I want you to know... I hate you.
  • Enemy Within: Dark Avatar Korra makes another appearance with her face appearing over Kuvira's right before Korra deals the coup de grâce.
  • Fantastic Nuke: Varrick rigs the spirit vines into a fairly impressive bomb. It obliterates the train and makes this big smoking crater.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: When Varrick indicates he's willing to go up in the spirit vine explosion, Bolin slaps him then saves them both.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Varrick fully intends to go up with the train to deny Kuvira the spirit vine technology. Bolin, on the other hand, would rather not and saves them both.
  • Idiot Ball: Kuvira's been shown to be ruthless, intelligent, and pragmatic in every aspect of her conquests this season. Her decision to fight the Avatar in a one-on-one duel, however, is uncharacteristically foolish. Putting aside the fact that she recognizes Korra is rusty, she boasts that even using the Avatar State won't help Korra, which is proven categorically false when Korra does just that and nearly wins in two moves. It's a Diabolus ex Machina that allows Kuvira to win, rather than any creative planning on her part.
  • Just Toying with Them: Kuvira's clearly just messing with Korra for most of the fight, which backfires when Korra is pushed into the Avatar State and nearly kills her. Fortunately for Kuvira, that backfired on Korra and Kuvira got the upper hand again, at which point she tried to end the fight immediately.
  • Kneel Before Zod: Kuvira forces the citizens of Zaofu to kneel to her, or be locked up as traitors like Su and her sons. Everyone save Baatar and Huan does so.
  • Never Say "Die": The closest they come to saying Su planned to assassinate Kuvira is that they were going to "take her out".
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Su's bungled assassination attempt gives Kuvira the excuse she needs to force Zaofu's surrender.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Invoked by Varrick, who makes sure that everything related to the spirit vine project, himself included, will be destroyed when he detonates the collected vine samples. It is then subverted, as Baatar Jr. has seen enough of his work to replicate it with Zhu Li's help, once they get more samples.
  • Percussive Maintenance: When trying to activate his spirit vine bomb, Varrick quite literally kick-starts it.
  • Pretext for War: Su's assassination attempt gives Kuvira an excuse to demand the unconditional surrender of Zaofu. Later on, when she tries to kill Korra and is stopped by Opal and Jinora, she deems their interference a violation of the duel and sends her entire force in to attack them.
  • Reality Ensues: The Korra vs Kuvira duel has two examples.
    • Korra may have just cured herself of mercury poisoning, but she's spent most of the last three years recovering from it, and hasn't had much chance to practice fighting during this time. As a result, Kuvira — who's spent the last three years fighting to stabilise the Earth Kingdom — easily kicks her ass.
    • Reality then ensues in the opposite direction. Flippantly goad a Physical Goddess to invoke her Super Mode during a duel, and she may end up doing just that, blasting you halfway across the field before crushing your prone form with a massive boulder.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Baatar Jr. tries to give one to Varrick, but Varrick ends up reversing it.
    Baatar Jr: And you of all people should realize that once a discovery is made, it is our responsibility as scientists to pursue it as far as we can, wherever it leads.
    Varrick: How would you know? You couldn't discover a wolf-bat if it was building a nest in your butt.
    Baatar Jr: You are pathetic. Wolf-bats don't build nests.
    Varrick: Ooh, you got me there Dr. Science.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Varrick blowing himself up would have been one, as Baatar Jr. is able to duplicate his work. Luckily Bolin was there.
  • Slipknot Ponytail: Kuvira's hair gets knocked loose after Korra uses the Avatar State and hits her with a couple of enhanced air blasts.
  • Taking You with Me: Varrick rigs the spirit vines into a bomb and threatens to blow up the train with Baatar Jr. and everyone else if they try to defuse it, giving them five minutes to evacuate. He also insists on keeping Bolin, so Bolin arranges an escape once they're the only ones left.
  • Tornado Move: Jinora and Opal generate a localized tornado to hold back Kuvira's army, buying enough time for Meelo and Ikki to arrive on Pepper and evacuate them.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Varrick declares that "Zhu Li" will forever be synonymous with "betrayal", and he'll have "Varrick'd" himself to death in the spirit vine explosion.
  • Villain Has a Point: Kuvira gets several.
    • She argues that Zaofu should share its wealth and technology with the rest of the Earth Empire, which is why she wants to conquer it. Opal counters that she just wants to control it like the rest of the Earth Empire.
    • She uses Su's failed assassination attempt in spite of the truce Korra brokered as validation to invade Zaofu by force. Even Korra puts Su at fault for this one, despite Kuvira's aggressive posturing.
    • Finally, when she tries to kill Korra at the end of their duel and is stopped by Jinora and Opal, she deems their rescue a violation of the duel and has her army attack. This one isn't as justified, since while Korra went for the kill first, Kuvira was still conscious. Kuvira knocked Korra out then tried to kill her.
  • Villainous Valor: Kuvira is unwilling to put her own army against the Avatar, and is willing to fight her without them, which is pretty damn brave.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Korra's still rusty and thus fares poorly against Kuvira, and her attempt to use the Avatar State is foiled when she hallucinates Dark Avatar Korra in Kuvira's place and is shocked out of it.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Just when Korra thinks she's ready to be the Avatar again, she gets painfully smacked down by Kuvira and her attempt to use the Avatar State is ruined by Dark Avatar Korra psyching her out.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: Regardless of the circumstances, it goes without saying that the season wasn't going to get rid of its Big Bad six episodes in. Likewise, the spirit vine tech was clearly going to persist beyond this episode.
  • You're Insane!: Baatar Jr. calls Varrick insane for making a spirit vine bomb in the train car that he's in.
    Varrick: You knew that when you hired me!

Alternative Title(s): The Legend Of Korra S 4 E 6 Battle Of Zaofu


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