New season of “Legend of Korra” gets off to mysterious start

Brian Sherman, Staff Reporter

“Legend of Korra,” the sequel series to the original “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” is back. After “Legend of Korra: Book Three” ended a couple of months ago, “Legend of Korra: Book Four, confirmed by the show’s creators to be the last season, premiered last Friday on Nickelodeon’s website.

I’ll warn you now; this review contains spoilers. But with only the first episode under its belt, the new season isn’t giving away too much right now.
Taking place three years after the events of Book Three, this episode marks the first time in either “The Last Airbender” or “Legend of Korra” that there’s been a timeskip. The season premiere episode, “After All These Years,” jumps right into action after the three-year skip, showing what all the main characters are up to, as well as their various changes in appearance, but only mentioning a few events that occurred during the timeskip. Because of the time needed for each character’s background, this episode is highly expositional, with only one action sequence to show off the skills of the potential villain of the season.

A majority of the episode is devoted to Kuvira, voiced by Zelda Williams, who had a minor role as the captain of the guard in the metallic city of Zaofu in the last season. Despite having only a few lines, she still had an awkward moment in the last episodes where the camera stayed on her for just a bit too long, which seemed odd at the time, but retrospectively, it served to highlight her character for this season. Now she’s back, in a much larger role, and appears older and drastically different than her appearance in the last season.

This time around, Kuvira is known as the “Great Uniter” and now has the command of her own personal army. Her army’s allegiance isn’t known yet (it’s mentioned that they aren’t affiliated with Zaofu), though its goal appears to be reuniting the Earth Kingdom, state by state, to rebuild in the wake of the turmoil caused by the Earth Queen’s assassination in Book Three. The villain’s motives this time around seem to be unclear. While Kuvira is doing something inherently noble, not everyone seems to trust her. When she attempts to diplomatically annex another state in this episode, she’s met with opposition from the state’s governor, who claims she’s only after the valuable minerals in his land. In addition, Opal, one of the members of the newly refounded Air Nation, doesn’t trust Kuvira and disapproves of Bolin, her Earthbending boyfriend, joining Kuvira’s ranks, despite Bolin protesting that he’s doing it to help people.

While the airbenders are doing what they can to protect the Earth Kingdom people from bandits, even their new flying suits can’t help the fact that they are spread thin. Opal and Kai both arrive to help some Earth Kingdom citizens, but some well-equipped bandits stop them from bringing in food to the starving people. This forces the governor, his people starving, penniless and their lives threatened by bandits, to give in and swear his loyalty to Kuvira. When he does, she is only shown helping his people by giving them supplies, yet the governor still eyes her with distrust even as he says the words “I pledge my loyalty to you, Great Uniter.”

Despite her questionably altruistic support of the Earth Kingdom stated under her protection, Kuvira is shown to be cold, ruthless and quite skilled as well. When a gang of bandits stops her army’s train, she takes them down one by one, bending metal projectiles to incapacitate and bind the bandits and magnetizes them to the tracks. She then offers them a choice: join her or be run over by her train.

There are definitely big questions hanging over this season already in regard to Kuvira. Why has her personality changed and what are her goals? Whom does she support? Why is she leading the fight against the bandits and not considered a threat?

Of course, there’s an even bigger question that has been speculated since the end of Book Three: what happened to Korra? After being broken down so badly at the end of last season, fans were dying to know if and how she would recover and where was she going next, with her duties as the Avatar being somewhat taken over by the new airbenders.

Rather than getting any explanation in the episode, we learn that she has been missing for some time and tricking people into thinking she was either in Republic City or the Southern Water Tribe. It’s revealed at the very end of the episode that Korra has been in hiding, participating in underground earthbending fights under a different identity, shrugging off claims that she looks like the Avatar.

There are a lot of answers to be had, but other than seeing Korra at the end of the episode, there just wasn’t a lot going on after all these years in “After All These Years”. Viewers caught up with some old characters and learned what state the world is in, so hopefully the next episode will deliver some memorable moments for the final season of Legend of Korra. Even with a slow start, this could be the season that brings the biggest change to the world of Avatar.