Joey Sack ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Great action, great character reunions, and great set up for future events abound in this episode of The Legend of Korra, “Reunion.” In this episode, three of the four members of Korra’s Team Avatar reunite after three years apart, and immediately must work together to save the heir to the Earth Kingdom throne. We also see our two favorite military deserters try to make their way back to Republic City to warn the world about the Earth Empire’s new potential superweapon. This episode serves as a great follow-up to the last episode while also setting up events to come this season.
After the events of last episode, Kuvira (Zelda Williams) now has the entire Earth Kingdom continent, excluding the United Republic, under Earth Empire control. Korra (Janet Varney) escapes Zaofu with the airbender kids and Opal, and her return to Republic City starts with a heartwarming reunion with her polar bear dog Naga (Dee Bradley Baker). After changing into what will be her main attire for the remainder of the season, Korra reunites with Asami Sato (Seychelle Gabriel) and Mako (David Faustino), the latter of whom bringing the newly crowned Earth King Wu (Sunil Malhotra) along. Throughout the episode, it’s great to see that Korra is not having any of Wu’s pretentiousness; it’s always enjoyable to see someone knock some sense into this would-be king who really needs sense knocked into him. As expected, it’s not as simple as “Hey Korra, how have you been?” when Team Avatar reunites; it’s been three years since they’ve seen each other, so it’s going to take some time for everything to click in the group again. Things get particularly awkward when Mako learns that Korra wrote to Asami and not to him or Bolin (P.J. Byrne), and when Korra questions Asami’s decision to try and reconnect with her father, Hiroshi (Daniel Dae Kim). It’s clear that they all want to just go right back to being friends again, but, again, it’s been three years. Even with the best of friends, three years is a long time to be apart.
When Wu goes to the bathroom, he’s captured by Earth Empire supporters who plan on taking him back to Kuvira. After a brief car chase, Team Avatar loses sight of Wu, but Korra, using the spirit vines that run all throughout Republic City, is able to sense where Wu is. It’s a nice touch to show the advantages of having spirits and spirit vines around when it comes to being the Avatar and keeping balance. It also shows that Korra is starting to become even more in touch with her spiritual abilities, as she is able to get a general sense of where someone is just by placing her hand on the ground and can get a precise location from touching a spirit vine. The fight scenes with Team Avatar don’t have a lot of action, but they’re still exciting as you feel the political implications of Earth Empire troops trying to kidnap the rightful ruler of the Earth Kingdom: when the world leaders learn of the actions of Kuvira’s supporters, they may see it as an act of war and begin planning a full-scale invasion of the Earth Empire. It has been confirmed that we’ll see and hear Zuko’s daughter, the current Fire Lord, speak at some point this season, so it’s quite possible that she and the other world leaders will be discussing their next course of action in the upcoming episodes. Could we be seeing the beginning of another worldwide military conflict? Only time and the next few episodes will tell.
While Korra, Mako, and Asami try to save Prince Wu from becoming cellmates with the Beifong family, Bolin and Varrick (John Michael Higgins) have escaped from Kuvira’s fiancé Baatar Jr. (Todd Haberkorn), and try to make their way on foot to Republic City to warn the world about the Earth Empire’s development of spirit vine weapons (which have more parallels to nuclear weapons in this episode, by the way). Along the way, they get captured by an escaped group of prisoners from one of the Earth Empire’s “reeducation camps;” these prisoners were captured and imprisoned solely because they were not of Earth Kingdom origin, with all of them being of Fire Nation or Water Tribe descent, showing more of the dark side of Kuvira’s ambitions to rule the former Earth Kingdom. These revelations about Kuvira’s rule also paint the Great Uniter as a more blatant parallel to Hitler and his persecution, imprisonment, and mass-execution of the Jews and other minority groups before and during World War II. It appears that Kuvira’s idea of a united Earth Empire calls for all of its citizens to be of Earth Kingdom descent, creating a bit of a callback to the Fire Nation’s beliefs during the Hundred Year War. Also, a quick side note: no spoilers, but the end of the episode indicates that Kuvira and her troops are all in for a world of hurt for what they plan on doing. This whole situation with Varrick, Bolin, and the bandits not only gives Bolin the chance to show off his still-impressive lavabending skills, but also gives Varrick the opportunity to prove that, even without Zhu Li (Stephanie Sheh) working as his assistant, he can still make weapons and devices in a pinch and isn’t quite so helpless on his own.
This episode, being right after such a tense event as the fall of Zaofu, the last state in the Earth Kingdom to be conquered by Kuvira’s army, isn’t quite as intense in terms of emotional stakes and the action that occurs, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely a filler episode. It’s completely normal for an episode to step back and take a break after what has essentially been the first act of the season; the second act is just getting started, and the audience and characters have to be eased into the rest of the story. Not everything can be the culmination of events, you need to set up the events first. And this episode does a great job setting up the next few episodes; all three main plots (Korra and Team Avatar in Republic City, Bolin and Varrick on the lam, and Kuvira’s continuing dominance of the Earth Empire) have things set up in this episode that will affect the rest of the season. With that said, though, we are a little over halfway through the final season of Korra, so some fans may prefer things to be a little more streamlined; on the other hand, most fans probably want to savor every moment they can get in this universe before the series ends, so an episode like this is definitely warranted.
“Reunion” moves a bit more slowly than the last episode of Korra, but that doesn’t stop Korra’s return to Republic City from having great character moments, some good action, and even some good comedic moments here and there. “Reunion” helps to establish the rest of the season as the action packed emotional thrill ride that the rest of the final season of this show will definitely be. New episodes of The Legend of Korra premiere every Friday on Nick.com and the Nick mobile app.
Overall Episode Grade: B+