Encountering “Enemy At The Gates”   Leave a comment

Korra 405-1

“Enemy At The Gates” picks up where the last episode of Legend of Korra left off, with Kuvira’s army preparing to lay siege to Zaofu.  Suyin and company attempt to escape, and plans are made to contact the United Republic to gain assistance, but it may already be too late.  Kuvira and company are making their plans, but knowing that the eyes of the world are upon them, Kuvira announces that Bolin will be essential to “doing this right.”  Before I go any further, though?  I need to warn you about spoilers.

Spoiler

There we go.  I’m gonna be brief on a lot of things in this episode because I’ve come down with some sort of horrible illness, and have a lot of writing to get done (CURSE YOU, NANOWRIMO!).  I’ll try not to be too brief, though.  First thing’s first: that’s one of the most distracting armies I’ve ever seen.  There’s something… off about the blatant CGI of those robots and tanks that doesn’t quite mesh with the rest of the show’s artistic sensibilities.  It’s possible that this was done intentionally to help make them more unsettling (and Kuvira’s technology has often been shown through CGI anyway, so it’s not inconsistent) but for some reason it took me out of the show.  Let’s stop being out of the show, though, and go into a train.

Korra 405-2

Kuvira’s train to be exact.  Everyone’s favorite eccentric entrepreneur and inventor is busy performing the latest in a series of experiments on the spirit vines from Republic City.  As seen before, this project is one that Kuvira’s taken a special interest in, and Varrick and Zhu Li have been working diligently on it since then.  Varrick is needing to invent science on the fly, and has named a lot of the terms for measuring power after himself (and weight after Zhu Li, it seems.)  He believes that the vines (and possibly other spiritual constructs, if I can read into his thoughts on the matter a bit) are a form of unstable energy that can be tapped and stored in batteries.  Basically, anything the spirits make are just carefully delineated energy waiting to be used.  Unfortunately, his tests with the spirit vines go a little TOO well…

Korra 405-3

The spirit vine overloads the machinery and leads to an explosion on the moving train.  Zhu Li nearly falls to her death on the track beneath her, but Varrick is able to pull her up eventually.  It was a good moment for me, personally, because Varrick’s always been a little on the edge, someone who wants other people to prosper but not necessarily to the point that he’ll risk his own neck to do so.

Korra 405-4

Zhu Li seems a little stunned that Varrick saved her, and grateful, though it also hints at some possible romantic feelings that she may have (which would explain why she’s stuck around with Varrick so long (though she herself talks about that later in the episode… you’ll see…)).  Varrick ruins the moment by pointing out that if he hadn’t saved her, he’d be the one who had to clean up the mess from the explosion.

Kuvira shows up to check on the issue of the gigantic explosion from Varrick’s laboratory on her train, and Varrick says that he’s shutting the entire project down.  Kuvira says it’s a little atypical for him to worry about the dangers of experiments, and he agrees but says that he’s developing feelings for other people, even if he’s never met them before.  Kuvira puts a stop to that sort of nonsense by going all Vader on him (the metal built into everyone’s uniforms really makes that an easy trick to pull, I think.)  She threatens to drop him off the train, but Varrick hastily agrees to get back to work on the spirit vine project.

Korra 405-5

Meanwhile, we get a look into Asami’s day as she goes to see her father, still in prison after all his work with the Equalists back in Book One: Air.  He’s apparently been sending her mail all these years, but she’s officially returning them… unopened… and asking him to stop bothering her.  He agrees, but insists on saying a few things first.  He’s not proud of much of what he’s done in his life, but Asami is the one thing that he feels good about.  Asami can’t take it, though, and leaves.

Korra 405-6

Back to Kuvira’s train, she’s quickly going over a few things with Bolin.  She’s counting on him to be able to “talk some sense” into Suyin once they reach Zaofu.  Bolin is a little apprehensive, and thinks that the huge army at the gates “sends the wrong message”, but he’s willing to go along with it after Kuvira explains that it’s just about making a strong show of force.

Korra 405-7

The ride into Zaofu goes well, but the pleasantries end there.
Korra 405-8

Bolin tries to be a peacemaker, and to his credit he does as good a job as might be expected under the circumstances, but ultimately there’s no saving the diplomatic talk.  Su Yin is convinced that Kuvira has brainwashed her son, and Opal is angry with Bolin for siding with the Great Uniter in this kind of situation.  Bolin doesn’t want there to be “sides” in the issue, but he’s honestly the only person in the room who doesn’t think that sides are necessary.

After the talk ends, they Bolin asks Kuvira if there’s any truth to some of the horrible things that Su Yin is saying about the places that they leave.  Kuvira tells Bolin that now that he’s in the inner circle, he should be willing to accept some hard truths.  Bolin tries to say that he’s not “inner circle material”, but Kuvira threatens him into agreeing to go along with her.
Korra 405-9

Meanwhile, the Avatar has finally gotten to Zaofu.  She arrives, and speaks to Su Yin, who isn’t optimistic about the situation.
Korra 405-10

Su Yin reveals what’s been hinted at in previous episodes: Tenzin and the President of the Republic came to her, asking her to be a unifying force in the Earth Kingdom.  Su Yin felt that she’d be seen as a conqueror more than a unifier, and while Kuvira told her to reconsider it was a difficult thing for them to process.  Her stance that day created the divide between them that ultimately led to the current situation.
Korra 405-11

Back in Republic City, Asami is in a park, watching people.  Her gaze is captured by a father and son playing Pai Sho.  She considers some difficult things, and goes to see her father again.  He’s grateful to see her coming back, and she wants to try to reconnect with him.  She suggests that they play Pai Sho, and he’s more than happy to go along with that.
Korra 405-12

Meanwhile, Varrick is realizing that the doors out of his lab are locked, but it doesn’t stop Bolin from finding a hatch to get in.  They compare notes about how great their new boss is, and come tell each other, in no uncertain terms, that Kuvira is crazy.  They decide that they’ve gotta make a run for it, which leads to Varrick, Zhu Li and Bolin trying to escape in some automatons.
Korra 405-13

Varrick and Bolin get out of the camp proper, and have different opinion about how to continue.  Bolin wants to sneak around and reach Zaofu to tell everyone what he knows, but Varrick wants to run away go to another city to help out by letting people know about what’s happening.  While deciding what to do, they’re attacked by Kuvira’s forces, led by Baatar Jr., and an epic automaton fight ensues.

The automatons have apparently been upgraded a lot since the Equalists used them a few years earlier.  Bolin and Varrick really aren’t that good at controlling them, though.  Varrick continues to get in the way for most of the fight with his suit, while Bolin is able to extricate himself and get into his full earthbending/magmabending element.  (Ha!  See what I did there?  …you did and just don’t think it’s funny?  Aww…)

Zhu Li, meanwhile, proves herself to be a decent fighter in her automaton, and might have won the day for them all had Varrick not gotten in her way so much.  At the end of the fight, though, the fugitives from Kuvira’s army are apprehended, and the three are taken directly to Kuvira.  She declares them to be traitors, and says that Bolin and Zhu Li are to be sent to reeducation camps, while Varrick will be returned to his laboratory under close, armed supervision.  But then we get more talking from Zhu Li than we’ve ever gotten before.
Korra 405-14

Zhu Li begs Kuvira to not send her away, and pledges her loyalty.  She said that she stayed with Varrick for so long because she admired his mind and thought that it would eventually do great things with the world, but she’s now convinced that Varrick is an idiot who needs the kind of guidance that only Kuvira can bring.  Varrick is understandably insulted, but puts his foot in his mouth when trying to talk some sense into Zhu Li, prompting Zhu Li herself to tell Kuvira’s guards to “do the thing”, (“the thing” being carrying Varrick away.)  So we end the episode with Zhu Li being a traitor.

That’s the note the episode ends with, and while the episode itself isn’t one of my favorites from this season, I think it’s the best ending that we’ve gotten to an episode yet.  I’m legitimately not sure what to think about Zhu Li’s actions at the end.  Is she sincerely turning her back on Varrick?  Or is this just a ploy to put her in a position to help Varrick more?  I could honestly see the plot going either way.

We’ll find out before too long, I’m sure.  Five days until the next episode, guys.  Let’s see what’s in store for us.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: