The Legend of Korra "The Coronation" Review: Stepping Up

The Legend of Korra S04E03: "The Coronation"

Given how quickly things are moving, I feel like I'm having to constantly remind myself that we're only three episodes into Book 4.  I really hope the show doesn't intend to slow down, either. It helps that while Book 4 is growing out organically out of the events of Book 3, it's becoming increasingly clear that Book 3 was mostly concerned with laying the foundation for this story, and so there shouldn't be much reason to actually slow down too much now.

Which is great. I knocked Book 3 for not getting around to Zaheer's motivations quickly enough, and Book 4 is answering that knock by having Kuvira not only declare herself the ruler of a new Earth Empire but she also went and declared that she's coming for Su and Zaofu. Now that Kuvira doesn't have to bother with the pretense of intending to hand the former Earth Kingdom states back over to Wu and the ministers selected by Raiko, Tenzin, and the other world leaders, she's free to rule in earnest, and in the way that best suits her.

And what seems to suit her best is that she's the best one to rule since everyone else was dithering around for three years, trying to find a descendant of the Earth Kingdom's royal bloodline to prop up on a ruined throned.  "I stepped up. I provide stability and equality," she told Su. She managed to do what the other world leaders wanted through Wu's ascent to the throne (stability) and a form of what Zaheer intended after he assassinated the Earth Queen (equality). This is one of those situations where I do wish we didn't have the time skip and were privy to the events that led to the decision of Kuvira taking charge after Su passed on the opportunity. 

I can guess that the other world powers—particularly the Water Tribe and the Fire Nation—didn't want to send in their military forces, lest they look like an occupying force, and the Air Nomads lack the philosophical inclination to govern others, let alone the military might to corral an expanse of land as large as the Earth Kingdom. So it would leave Zaofu and its emphasis on technology and personal freedoms to be that shining city upon a hill, or at least someone from that city who believes deeply in Zaofu's basic ideology. Someone like Kuvira, apparently. But, again, I'm just guessing.

I am excited about Kuvira, though. I was interested in Zaheer, but his plans came too late in the season for me to feel completely invested. Unalaq went off too far into zealot villain territory for my tastes, and the character sort of collapsed in the back half of Book 2 once his plan snapped into focus. It's Amon that Kuvira reminds me of: Coldly rational, with a twisted logic used to justify actions and the ability to back up that logic with power. From a character design standpoint, I love Kuvira's androgynous appearance, which is something decidedly different for the entire Avatar franchise. Even the more rounded nature of Kuvira's uniform is different from many of the clothes you see on the show, which tends to favor lines over curves.


I appreciate that Book 4 continues to make both sides of this conflict look less than ideal, though. Kuvira comes off as a military despot with a messiah complex: She's clearly full of herself but the trains are going to run on time, dammit. Meanwhile, "The Coronation" played up more of Wu's spoiled, entitled, dandy of a brat attitude, and that those putting him in power were only doing it for the sake of stabilization, not because they legitimately thought Wu should be in charge of the world's largest nation (and no doubt Raiko was hoping to get a sweetheart deal on the Earth Kingdom's metals because of it).

Wu's foppish behavior felt like a little bit of overkill this week—Wu is clearly this season's comedic character—but in the same fashion that the show is keeping a quick pace with Kuvira's development, it afforded Wu the same opportunity. I thought we would have to wait forever for Mako to give Wu that talk he delivered, but instead we got now. I don't think Wu's going to turn over a new leaf next week and start become well-versed in matters of state, but he's at least somewhat aware that he may not be cut for the job.

I know, I know. I've been harping on and on about two new characters when I should be excited over Toph kicking Korra's butt all over the swamp ("And I'm an old lady!"). And I am hella excited. Along with Azula and Iroh, Toph was one of my favorite characters from Avatar: The Last Airbender, and so I was very pleased to see that she hasn't lost her edge, either in her old age or in appearing on a new show. She's still arrogant as hell, but deservedly so, and she's maintained her attitude regarding the value of learning through pain (she's in favor of it).

Last week, I spent nearly my entire review discussing Korra's mental state, so I was initially a little miffed when the show decided, "Eh, she still has poison in her body, and that's why she's all out of whack." It's as good a reason as any, but I liked my purely psychological reason a bit more (I'm arrogant too, okay?). However, as Toph so delightfully and indelicately pointed out, Korra may want that poison to stay, because she no longer feels worthy of being the Avatar. So the poison becomes a representation of her mental and emotional baggage, and it's baggage that, she ultimately has to deal with by herself. No one else can help her.

However, this still may be the best Korra-related storyline the show has offered up so far. The threat of losing her bending abilities to Amon comes in at a close second, but the weight of everything she's already accomplished, combined with the burden of what she's expected to accomplish in the future, give Korra's existential crisis far more meaning. It's as exciting for me as Kuvira's role in Book 4 is; I just hope there's not some deus ex machina nonsense hiding around the corner to make her all better without the necessary struggle.



LEAVES ON THE WIND

– Tenzin enlisting his kids to look for Korra is just the best. The best! And I love how Meelo looks so much like a cross between Tenzin and Aang.

– Oh, good. Varrick's experimenting with a spirit vine and technology. No way that'll go poorly.

– The look on Mako's face when Bolin suggested that Kuvira was "just like Korra" was probably the best expression I've ever seen him make.

– "You want to go hug something, go hug a tree."

– "Boss. Girlfriend. Same thing."


What did you think of "The Coronation"?


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Oct 20, 2014
Update the Episode guides please
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Oct 19, 2014
i think that Toph is lying to Korra about her having more metal in her body but then that wouldn't explain how she was able to bend stuff inside of her, it's confusing.
but i too didn't want the story to be that she still has metal, i wanted it to be about her pain but oh well what are you gonna do.
This is still the best season so far and we're only three episodes in.
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Oct 18, 2014
I think when the metal is removed Korra will still struggle. The metal in her body seems like the physical but not the psychological reason for her not being herself. OR the metal will be the metaphor for the psychological issues and Korra will remove it when she's ready mentally as Toph suggested.
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Oct 18, 2014
You forgot to mention what Toph said about the Avatar's presence in the world. She confirmed Korra's worst fears, that NO ONE actually needs her. The world will get on without the Avatar, and that pretty much everything Korra'' done has been for nothing, as Korra surmised. She was very upfront, straightforward and its the one question that Korra's been grappling with since season 1.

She's still a valued asset to the world, but some crises she wont be able to resolve,and she should be at peace with that. She's not the world's messiah or savior.
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Oct 19, 2014
Toph's saying that reminded me of The Matrix's Oracle telling Neo he was not "The One".
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Oct 18, 2014
Did I really forget, or did I purposefully forget it so someone could look smart/smug and say I forgot? We may never know.
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Oct 18, 2014
I hope they don't drag Korra's storyline with Toph on too long.
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Oct 19, 2014
i hope they do because Toph is the best thing ever !
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Oct 19, 2014
I hope that Toph reunites with her family, though.
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Oct 18, 2014
Young or old Toph is still the best character in the Avatar Universe
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Oct 19, 2014
Yup (Sorry Aang and Bolin)
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Oct 18, 2014
I'm wondering when the show is gonna make the comparison that Kuvira, although a badass beast of bender, is basically just like Sozin/Ozai. I wonder if Bolin were to make that comparison to her what her response would be.
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Oct 18, 2014
she is Merkel
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Oct 18, 2014
Worst.Avatar.Ever! LOL ;)
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Oct 18, 2014
Loved Meelo saying: 'You can count on one of us, I don't know about these two lady's.' Absolutely brilliant! That was my favorite moment of this episode. But I hope as many in here that the metal isn't the only reason why Korra is so weak.
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Oct 18, 2014
This is going to be the best season of the series. Outstanding episode!
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Oct 18, 2014
It's was good episode!.

So.. it's me.. or It looks like Tenzin is wearing under the robe the same wingsuit that the kids wear?.
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Oct 18, 2014
You perv!
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Oct 18, 2014
I was watching the episode today with headphones on, and my mom was sitting behind me looking at the video without sound. She thought Kuvira was male. I had never personally thought of her being androgynous since I know she's female. Still... great observation, Noel. My mom agrees with you at least! :)
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Oct 18, 2014
Is LOK's end game to transition the Earth Kingdom to democracy? What's the alternative, one of the two monsters? Democracy would take a lot of ground work though. I agree on the disappointment on Korra, hopefully next week will be juicy. The season is still missing a big theme or philosophy or supernatural element to create awe and take your breath away, maybe that will come later.
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Oct 17, 2014

I also liked Raiko throw in that line to Mako how they had their own hand picked advisors to run the actual Earth Kingdom for Wu. That one line right there showed why Kuvira is a dictator in making that the other side isn't much better. For one thing President of United Republic and other world leaders are hand picking advisors to run Earth Kingdom implies their making Wu a puppet leader, while they these advisor run the nation. On paper that sounds good, since Wu isn't right for the job, until you think how Raiko wants Earth Kingdom metal and helped pick the advisors for Wu. Advisor could easily have United Republic's best interest in mind over the actual citizens of the Earth Kingdom.

The fact that Earth Kingdom citizens cheering Kuvira on and want her as their leader shows how easily people can support and bring a tyrant/dictator in power. Obviously they didn't want another royal being in charge after the Earth Queen selfishly ruined the country and reduced them to poverty and the world leaders are picking the next leader when they did nothing about the Earth Queen tyranny is probably another point of resentment they have. Su is perfect. She has a point about not wanting to seize power, but at the same time her inaction caused someone like Kuvira to do it instead. It was someone who was less willing to give that power back. The conflict is definitely more gray than the original Fire Nation conquest or Unalaq's grab for power over the world (which is really the only reason he wanted to join Vaatu.)

The question is how is Korra going to handle this. She can easily fight Kuvira and she can beat her, but how does that fix the Earth Kingdom problem? Aang's battle with Ozai in a lot of ways was easier than his journey to restore the actual balance. The comics while varying in quality did a good job at showing how Aang struggled on what to do with the Fire Nation colonies. United Republic was the answer to that. I want to see how Korra fixes or tries to listen to Earth citizens themselves and make an alternative where they allowed to decide their own government.

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Oct 17, 2014


I love this season.
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Oct 19, 2014
LOL I effing love Toph
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Oct 17, 2014

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Oct 18, 2014
I rewound the episode just see that face again cuz it was so hilarious.
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Oct 18, 2014
I'm still not over this.
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Oct 17, 2014
Sylvester Stallone Re-Animated
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Oct 17, 2014
I really, really don't care about the prince who's name I don't even know, and yet he and his story occupied so much of this episode when the characters I do care about, namely those who have been around for longer than 60 minutes, are neglected. I get that the question of what kind of government should be installed in the Earth Kingdom is attempted to be raised. I just wish they'd have chosen a more interesting character to stand against Kuvira (who, also, seems pretty flat so far).

Toph's return was indeed awesome and she show aged her well. She seems just the right amount wiser and more spiritual while still retaining a lot of Airbender's Toph. However, the reason for her entering the story appears to simply be to reveal that a) every Metalbender other than Toph sucks at their job and b) the writers like to waste their time with their main character. Honestly, she still has metal in her blood? That just seems cheap and uninspired to me. They could've, like you said, pinned it on Korra's psyche, they could've refrained from removing the metal at the end of last season, saying only Toph could remove it, but a tiny remainder of metal? This makes me think it was two birds with one stone: give Korra something -- as apparently they don't know what else -- to do and at the same time have an incentive to weave Toph into the story.
I am trying to understand what they want to achieve, I am; they want to pick up on Korra's central struggle of reasoning the value of an Avatar in a technological, democratic world, which they have tried to do (unsatisfyingling in my opinion) before. But somewhere along the line they take a (imho) wrong turn and lose me. It feels like they have good thoughts for what they wanna achieve with the show, what they want to make it about, but they get lost in periphery.

Recently I've noticed that Aaron Ehasz, who was Head Writer on Airbender, is absent from Korra and maybe it's him and the position he occupied that make the difference. Maybe it was him who had the outlines, the plan, in his head. I know I'm just grasping at straws here but I'm just trying to understand. What I know for sure now is that Korra and I will never get each other fully. We'll just have to stay friends.
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Oct 17, 2014
I also hope the metal isn't the sole reason. Last week they suggested it was mental. To have the metal removed and have Korra 100% would be too easy of a fix and defeat the purpose. I did like that Toph tried to remove the metal had Korra flashback to Zaheer and freak out. Toph's words seemed spot on Korra being afraid to fail and get hurt. If the writers are wise they'll have the metal taken out, but the core of the problem is still Korra's mental state. Korra seems to want the metal to be the problem when it seems like Katara and Toph keep pointing out the problem is Korra herself. I doubt the metal is what broke the connection with Raava.
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Oct 18, 2014
I like that it is a mix of both. Because you don't see that often. The I am scared to get back to normal" is averaged. Tying it to the metal where subcobsiouly she held it back is new and interesting.

My thought is that Such may not suck as much as Korea subconsciously stop her from succeeding. So when Korea fixes herself (which will no doubt take most of the season -_-) then the metal comes out.
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Oct 17, 2014
Just awesome
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Oct 17, 2014
It was an excellent episode! I am loving this season and can't wait for next week!
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Oct 17, 2014
Interesting plot-forwarding episode. Not TOO exciting, other than watching Toph beat the snot out of Korra. Surprised that Bolin was so easily swayed by typical tyrant explanations of why THEIR brand of tyranny is acceptable while others aren't.
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Oct 17, 2014
It's easy to drink the kool-aid when you work with the dictator before they're a dictator. Seeing the good she did has colored his view of how things actually are.
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