The Legend of Korra 4.11: “Kuvira’s Gambit” Review

I Love You

A Television Review by Akash Singh


The Legend of Korra takes a propulsive rush throughout this episode, despite having relatively quiet moments throughout. It’s seemingly over as soon as it had begun, which is a little disappointing but one cannot dispute the sheer amount of storytelling that unfolds throughout the half hour. No doubt a bit sped up because of Nickelodeon’s horrible handling that led to a clip episode, Kuvira’s Gambit follows Kuvira’s attack on Republic City that leaves us with the mother of all Korra cliffhangers that promises plenty of tragedy to come. As the opening speech from Kuvira explains, the United Republic was formed on Earth Kingdom land and it is her resolution to capture Republic City as the crown jewel of her conquests. The world leaders can’t simply let that stand, but even Zhu Li’s warning isn’t enough for them. Kuvira, perhaps anticipating a potential betrayal from Zhu Li, gives the false warning of a two week attack. Republic City begins preparations – and Kuvira arrives in a week instead.

A good chunk of this episode is in montages that are no doubt the casualty of time constraints, but they largely work. Prince Wu begins the episode with a calm address to the public of Republic City and manages to save the city from a violent, chaotic exodus. It’s easily the smartest he’s ever been and you know, he didn’t even screw it up a couple minutes later. He and Pema together lead the efforts for evacuation and just in time. Korra and team go to sabotage Kuvira’s weapon, operating under the mindset that they had two weeks total to prepare for the assault and that the weapon as had been reported would be on the train tracks. Instead, we get a glimpse of Pacific Rim 2 Kuvira’s giant mech that serves as a robotic Death Star, towering over twenty-five stories. She’s ready for business and demands unconditional surrender. Just to demonstrate how powerful her new weapon truly is, she blasts a good chunk of ships in the bay, their smoldering remains a clear indication that she is not messing around.

A question that has been on my mind for a while when it comes to Kuvira is just how much is she willing to sacrifice for the sake of power. She’s never truly had to deal with the potential consequences of trading something for increased power but at the end of this episode, she answers that with a resounding blast. Some have speculated and logically so that the series wouldn’t end with an epic showdown between Korra and Kuvira and that they would reach some sort of settlement. After this episode, I truly doubt that is what is going to happen. Korra and company kidnap Bataar, Jr. in under two minutes of screen time, which is understandable considering how jam-packed this episode was. Korra’s physical exaggeration doesn’t cause Bataar, Jr. any alarm as he rightly assumes that Korra wouldn’t hurt him. But then Korra becomes downright the most chilling Avatar ever. “I will take away the one thing you care for the most,” she hisses in vehement menace. “I’m going to make it my life’s mission to never let you see the one you love again.” Bataar, Jr. has a choice to make. Does he want Kuvira and the Earth Empire or is he willing to risk all of that simply to add the United Republic to their holdings?

He chooses Kuvira and the Earth Empire, but Kuvira proves with a thunderous blast what she is willing to sacrifice for power and unity. She metal bends the giant mech towards the building where Bataar, Jr. is being held. BOOM! A furious, thundering explosion hits the building. Billowing clouds of smoke rises up into the air as Lin goes to check for survivors. It’s a horrifying cliffhanger with the understanding that not everyone is going to make it out alive. Power can truly be destabilizing and terrifying, quick to consume those who allow that hunger to overwhelm their psyches. At the beginning of the episode, Kuvira and Bataar, Jr. are contemplating a future together after their conquest is complete. They were going to rule together, bring unity and peace (or so he was foolish enough to think). But now, while there’s a future, it looks bleaker than ever before, going up in smoke and claiming an unknown number of victims in its path.

Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:

+I love how the show makes fun of itself with Bolin interrupting Reiko’s meeting once again

+Wu’s PSA has the crux of the horror of never being able to go to the bathroom

+Zhu Li demand of equal respect, did Varrick just get Zhu Li’d?

+The music was supremely phenomenal

+Flying mech suits montage

+“Or else what?”

+Suyin’s plea

+I want to see the flying mech suits in action, they look amazing

+Great direction from Colin Heck

+“I said it could be better!”

+“This is exactly why I didn’t want to build that weapon!”



Title: Kuvira’s Gambit

Written By: Joshua Hamilton

Directed By: Colin Heck

Animated By: Studio Mir

Image Courtesy: IGN


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