Joey Sack ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
This week’s episode of The Legend of Korra, “The Coronation,” shows that even greater change is coming to the Earth Kingdom (and perhaps to the Avatar as well), and serves as a great follow-up to the previous episode. As the title suggests, this episode focuses, in part, on the coronation of Prince Wu (Sunil Malhotra) as the new Earth King. The episode also cuts back to Korra (Janet Varney) in the Foggy Swamp training with Toph Beifong (Philece Sampler) to get back in fighting shape. In addition, we also see tension between some of the main characters, and some of the actions of others that will have repercussions for the rest of the world.
In Republic City, Prince Wu is getting ready to become the new Earth King, hoping for an extravagant coronation ceremony, much to the annoyance of Mako (David Faustino), who still doesn’t want to go with the Prince to Ba Sing Se. This great-nephew of the deceased Earth Queen seems to have inherited his predecessor’s desire for extravagance, but without any of the Earth Queen’s desire to control; in other words, he’s a spoiled brat, one who’s simply being put on the throne by the other world leaders to continue the legitimacy of the Earth Monarchy. Even President Raiko (Spencer Garrett) states that Wu won’t be handling any of the day-to-day operations of ruling the Earth Kingdom, instead delegating control to ministers and advisors. This was expected, given how full of himself Prince Wu has been portrayed, and given the fact that we’ve never seen him do anything king-like.
One thing that was wasted in this episode was a perfect opportunity to introduce fans to someone they’ve wanted to meet since the beginning of this show: Zuko’s daughter, the current Fire Lord. We see her at Wu’s coronation sitting next to her father, but she doesn’t have any lines. There was a moment earlier in the episode where President Raiko says, “You know royals. They love a ceremony.” Wouldn’t it have been perfect if Zuko and his daughter were to walk up to him at that moment with some witty retort lined up (or an awkward retort, since this is Zuko and his daughter we’re talking about)? This is a nitpick, to be sure, but after hearing about the new Fire Lord since the beginning of this show, it’s a bit of a shame that viewers weren’t allowed to learn more about her in this episode.
When Kuvira (Zelda Williams) and the rest of her entourage show up, they immediately create trouble by booting Wu from his suite in the Republic City Four Elements hotel, and it doesn’t help Wu’s big day when he learns that the only royal jewel that wasn’t stolen in the looting of the Royal Palace three years ago was an earring (or, royal brooch, as his advisor puts it), meaning that there’s no crown, no royal robes, and none of the extravagance that he was hoping for. And, as expected, Wu’s coronation as Earth King is ruined by Kuvira, who declares that she will not turn control of the Earth Kingdom over to the newly-crowned monarch, opting instead to continue her role as the nation’s leader, renaming it the Earth Empire. She does have a point in keeping control: anyone who’s laid eyes on Wu knows that he hasn’t done a kingly thing in his life, while she’s been working for three years to get the Earth Kingdom under control.
The political scene of Republic City is split two ways with the world leaders supporting Wu and much of the general populace supporting Kuvira. This causes tension between Mako and Bolin (P.J. Byrne), since they’re working on opposite sides, with Mako serving as Wu’s bodyguard and Bolin serving as an officer in Kuvira’s army. The idea of brothers fighting each other is reminiscent of stories that came out of the American Civil War; because some families had different views about who was in the right in that conflict, there were instances of brothers fighting against their brothers on the battlefield. It’s worrying that Bolin is still working for Kuvira, though it’s quite clear that if and when she starts to act more and more like a dictator, Bolin will probably turn against her. Mako, for the time being, is still working as Wu’s bodyguard, keeping him safe whenever he stirs up trouble with supporters of the Earth Empire. To be honest, Wu is one of the few problems with this episode and with this season; he’s, again, just a spoiled brat who wants the title of King but is completely unprepared to handle any of the responsibilities. Is it too much to ask for a royal that’s actually capable of being a ruler? And how much more of Wu’s spoiled personality do you think Mako can handle? Only time and the next couple of episodes will tell.
While all this is going on, Korra is training with Toph Beifong in order to rebuild her self-confidence and fighting abilities though if she wanted a teacher to boost her confidence, maybe she shouldn’t have chosen Toph. Even at the ripe old age of 86, Toph still manages to dodge every single one of Korra’s attacks and easily tosses the Avatar around the swamp. Fans will be ecstatic to learn that the previous episode did not deceive us: Toph Beifong is still Toph Beifong. Philece Sampler gives a great performance as the blind earthbending master, and through great voice acting and character animation, Toph acts and moves just like she did in the original series (“I never realized how much I missed tormenting the Avatar!”). She doesn’t really want to help Korra train, but in typical Toph fashion, she figures she can’t let the reincarnation of Twinkle Toes walk around losing to amateur fighters; plus, she winds up having a great time messing with Korra, so it’s a win-win for her.
One of the best moments in this episode comes when Korra and Toph are sparing and Toph is wiping the floor with the Avatar. Even with Toph kicking Korra’s butt, she manages to impart a little wisdom. Korra thinks that Toph is disconnected from the rest of the world since she lives in the middle of nowhere, but through the vines and roots of the swamp, which go around the whole world, Toph is more attached to the world than ever. Toph can “see” everything from Republic City to her daughters, Lin and Su. It’s a great reminder that out of all the earthbenders we’ve met in this franchise, Toph is the most firmly connected to the Earth. The whole plot with Korra and Toph is very reminiscent to Luke Skywalker training with Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back, right down to the swampy area and our main hero being trained by a little green master who shows the main hero that they’re not as good as they think they are.
In addition to helping Korra learn to fight again, Toph also helps Korra to realize two interconnected reasons why she’s not back to the way she was three years ago, one physical reason, one mental. But, again, in typical Toph Beifong fashion, she has neither the time nor the patience to help Korra get through her mental problems, and suggests that she figure it out for herself. Toph’s tough-love approach to teaching the Avatar is straight out of the original series, and it seems to be just what Korra needs to get her out of her funk; for years, people have been telling the Avatar not to worry so much, that she’ll get better with time; in Toph’s eyes, however, Korra has been slacking off, and the only way that’s going to get her back to her butt-kicking self is by facing her problems head-on, much like how Aang overcame his earthbending block back in Avatar. It will be interesting to see how the next episode plays out for Korra, especially given the end of this one and who is being sent to find her and bring her home. Korra has said on numerous occasions that she wants to get back in shape and be the Avatar again, but the memories of her battle with Zaheer, where she almost died because of her identity as the Avatar, continue to haunt her. Perhaps another run-in with that Avatar State Korra hallucination will help her snap out of it and get back to being the Avatar we all know and love.
“The Coronation” is a great episode in the continuing adventures of Avatar Korra and the world around her. There is so much set to happen in the rest of this season, you don’t want to miss it. The Legend of Korra premieres new episodes every Friday on nick.com and the Nick app.
Overall Episode Grade: B+/A-