The Legend of Korra Episode Review: 4×01 “After All These Years”

Television

Welcome back, The Legend of Korra. It’s only been a month, but it truly felt like an eternity. Nick.com kicks off the final season of Korra with a premiere that takes a look at the characters, shifting politics, and relationships three years after the end of Book 3. With the title character intriguingly absent until the last minutes of the episode, “After All These Years” sets up what is sure to be a thrilling conclusion to the series.

One of my favorite thing about the Avatar franchise is its willingness to accept and explore change, and its unwillingness to magically erase established problems. That notion is perfectly clear in “After All These Years”. Three years after Zaheer sparked a revolution in the Earth Kingdom, towns are terrorized by roving gangs of bandits and the rest of the nations (or at least Republic City) are divided in how they think the situation should be handled. The resulting situation is fragile, and without Korra to mediate, things could go south very fast.

At the center of the Earth Kingdom conflict are Prince Wu, the heir to the throne, and Kuvira, leader of a movement to offer Earth Kingdom towns protection in exchange for control. While Wu is a brash, irresponsible man-child wholly unfit for ruling, Kuvira is a hard military leader with shady ulterior motives. Interestingly, Team Avatar seems to fall on both sides of the dividing line, with Mako and Asami being (unwillingly) associated with Wu, while Bolin is a direct subordinate of Kuvira.

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She wins followers with her ruthlessness and her strong eyebrow game.

The shaky political situation Team Avatar finds themselves in are already causing problems within their group, as established couple Bolin and Opal find themselves at odds with each other over their respective opinions. Bolin is working for Kuvira out of a desire to do good (as are most of her subordinates, it seems), but Opal mistrusts Kuvira for both personal and political reasons.

The Air Nation’s involvement seems to be in a third-party support capacity. Opal and Kai are a well-oiled machine in their maneuverings, and their diplomatic abilities in obtaining food for the town of Yai suggests that they’ve been doing this for the last three years. It’s wonderful to see the Air Nomads lending catch-free help to the broken Earth Kingdom, but Korra doesn’t shy away from the drawbacks of such an operation. Without the backup of a full-scale army, Opal and Kai are robbed in mid-air by bandits, leaving Yai no choice but to side with Kuvira.

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“Thanks for the food! We definitely won’t lose it five minutes from now!”

“After All These Years” does a fantastic job of setting up what looks to be a very complex plot, but it also looks into the lives of Team Avatar and their associates. Mako is an appointed bodyguard for Prince Wu, much to his annoyance. Asami is a successful business woman after backing the state-of-the-art Earth Kingdom railroad. Bolin, as mentioned before, is part of Kuvira’s army. Everyone looks a little older and more put together (mostly because of their professional careers), with the Air Temple children being most notably changed.

Which leaves Korra. Due to show up at the Prince’s coronation, Korra never arrives, much to the confusion of her friends and her father, who thought she was in Republic City. Korra, as it turns out, is getting her ass kicked in an Earth Kingdom cage fighting ring, making meager earnings from her participation. For Korra, it’s the exact kind of emotional rock bottom situation I would imagine her getting herself into, and it’ll be interesting to see how she got there. I hope she doesn’t spend too much time apart from her friends though. Korra’s always better with her friends beside her.

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If Sokka were here, he’d make some kind of “Rocky” joke.

Book 4 looks to be a fitting end for The Legend of Korra. I can’t wait to see how everything unfolds.

Images are copyright of Nickelodeon. 

 

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