Hey there, Korra Nation! As many of you know, The Legend of Korra Book 4: Balance aired its newest episode, “Operation Beifong” on December 5th. As promised, I’ve written a recap (which can be found on Black Girl Nerds) in case you haven’t checked it out yet, but now it’s time for a new post-cap!
By now, you guys know what a “post-cap” is. But in case you still don’t get it, it’s my make-believe term that by definition is part summation, part review, and tons of thoughts and feelings that one may have after watching an episode (and writing a full-blown recap). Got it? Good.
Now let’s dig into The Legend of Korra Book 4 Balance, Chapter 10, “Operation Beifong”:
Beifong Family Reunion. Kicking off the episode, Lin, Opal, and Bolin make their way just outside of Zaofu to scope out the area to see what’s going on. Luckily for them, Toph shows up telling the gang all that they need to know — the prisoners have been moved to another location outside the city. Toph and Lin have the weirdest hello in which they just say, “Hey Chief” to each other, while Opal hugs her grandmom (who knew Toph let people hug her willy-nilly?!). Bolin has a huge fanboy moment in meeting his idol, and Toph calls him a weirdo. Either way, Bolin tells them that he knows where Su is being held, and it’s revealed to Toph that Bo was once Kuvira’s employee. Toph is not pleased.
Team Avatar defends Republic City. Back in Republic City, President Raiko’s got the borders, security and check points in order, while Varrick and Asami have come up with flying robotic suits. Raiko asks about the suits ability to use spirit energy and Varrick says he’s not making another weapon with the energy — period. Raiko throws a fit, but Korra and Varrick put their foot down and say they won’t use the energy to defend themselves, even if Kuvira plans bomb them to bits. Korra says she’ll ask the spirits if they’ll help defend the city, and Prince Wu says there needs to be a plan in place to get all the citizens out of the city in the event of an attack. Raiko is stunned that Wu has said something remotely smart to say, and puts Wu in charge of working with the Republic City PD to device a plan. After everyone is dismissed, Mako pulls Wu to the side to commend him for stepping up as a leader, however, Mako’s praise is short-lived, as Wu reveals he mentioned the plan in hopes Korra going on a date with him because of his concern. Mako gives Wu a look of disappointment, but Wu tells Raiko that men do great things for the love of a woman.
Testing gone wrong. Excuse my excitement on that one… but yes. At the testing facility Baatar and Zhu Li are preparing for a weapons demonstration of a cannon harnessing spirit energy. Something goes wrong, and Zhu Li tells everyone it’s about to explode. Baatar, however, investigates under the hood and realizes that a cap was cracked. He shows it to Zhu Li and then tells everyone they’ll have to rebuild it perfectly as to avoid mishaps for the testing the next day. At the same time, Bolin, Opal, Toph and Lin (aka BOTL) make their way to the factory and on the fly over, Toph isn’t too bothered by not seeing Lin in 20 years, but it’s obvious Lin isn’t happy about it. Toph then tells Lin she’s shocked to see her sticking out her neck for Suyin, but Lin says she and Su resolved their issues. Toph says she’s glad the family problems are over, but Lin grumbles, insinuating her mama drama isn’t over yet. Anyway, BOTL arrive at the factory and sneak in. Toph and Lin do their foot-echo-location bending and see that Su & Co. are being suspended in a guarded cavern. BOTL then hide when Kuvira shows up at the factory to check on her cannon. Baatar and Zhu Li tell her they’ve been having problems, and Toph says that Zhu Li is lying about doing everything right to make the machine work. Bolin is happy about this. Zhu Li’s doing the thing!
The spirits abandon Korra. Korra tries to talk to the spirits in the Spirit Wilds, but they disappear. She realizes that the spirits are abandoning the city, and travels to the Spirit World to talk to them there. She asks for them to help protect Republic City, but the spirits aren’t having it. One spirit says that humans business isn’t spirit business, so they’re not going to help. Korra says that she opened the portal for spirits and humans to live together, and since Kuvira was wrong to harness energy from the vines, the spirits should be fighting back. The spirit, however, tells Korra that asking for direct intervention on their behalf is just as bad as taking their energy to fight other humans. They flat out tell Korra to figure out her problem on her own, and disappear from her sight.
Lin gets in her feelings. The night before the secret mission, Bolin gets to know Toph and tells her that he failed to learn metal bending from Suyin, but that he learned he’s a lava bender. Toph is impressed by his talent and Bolin calls it an honor to hear Toph say so. Lin catches an attitude and Toph checks Lin on her smart remarks. Bolin then asks Toph about Lin’s dad (with some MAJOR balls). Lin becomes irritated, but Toph nonchalantly mentions that his name was Kanto, and they didn’t get along after a while so things ended. Toph tells Lin she can sense she’s pissed, so Lin goes in on her mom about not growing up with her dad and being unable to express her feelings about it. Toph tells Lin that Lin likes to hold on to drama while she doesn’t have time for it. Lin tells her mom that after resolving her issue with Su, she thought about reaching out to Toph, but after being on this trip with her, she remembered that her mom doesn’t care about her feelings. As such, Lin tells her mom that after they rescue Su & Co., their relationship is over. Toph says fine.
Operation Beifong & Zhu Li the Spy! BOTL’s plan finally goes into action. Opal plays look out during Kuvira’s weapon testing while Bolin, Toph, and Lin go down into the cavern where Su & CO. are held. Everyone is almost out until Baatar Sr. makes noise and startles a guard. A robo soldier tries to thwart the escape plan, but they’re all able to get out of the cavern. Meanwhile on the surface, Baatar tests the cannon, but once again, something’s wrong. Kuvira brings her attention to Zhu Li, who she questions about the problem. Zhu Li denies knowing anything, but Kuvira bends the missing metal part from Zhu Li’s clothes. That’s when Zhu Li basically calls Kuvira a “monster” and says she’s been sabotaging the weapon, hoping it’ll blow up. Kuvira has the guards send Zhu Li to the target town so she can blow up during testing. Opal hears Zhu Li’s fate and tells her family about it when they all rendezvous outside the factory. Bolin says he has to save Zhu Li since she’s been a good guy all along, and he goes after her. Opal then goes after Bolin, and the twins want in on the action. Su and Lin decide to take down Kuvira and/or her cannon and go with the twins. Toph says she’s staying put because she did her part to breakout her family and stays out of sight with Baatar Sr. and Huan.
Kuvira has the cannon fired up, just as Baatar
Jr. realizes that Opal is there with Bolin. Thankfully, Su earth bends around the cannon and it shoots just above the town, creating a massive hole on the cliff face behind it. A ton of awesome bending ensues with Su going one-on-one with Kuvira on top of the cannon. Kuvira flings Su off the cannon, but the twins bring their mom to safety. The twins, Su and Lin hold off the guards, but Toph comes through in the end to take down Kuvira’s guards and tells Kuvira she gives metal benders a bad name. The gang fly off, and while recouping to a remote place in The Swamp (or a nearby forest), Toph and Lin resolve their issues: Toph admits to being a bad mom, but says she got two great daughters out it all. Toph heads back to her hole in The Swamp, saying that she’s too old to fight battles and is leaving the Kuvira problem to the young folk. Zhu Li tells Opal not to be upset with Bolin for working with Kuvira, since his heart was in the right place. After Opal says she’s no longer mad with Bolin and kisses him, Zhu Li tells the gang that she has to head back to Republic City to report that Kunvira’s going to attack in two weeks.
Thoughts & Theories: There are three parts of this episode that gave me all kinds of “life”: (1) Toph revealing who Baby Daddy #1 is (2) Korra being shaded by the spirits and (3) Zhu Li telling Kuvira to suck it.
As we all expected, OG Toph showed up to the Beifong Escape Party. However, I definitely didn’t expect to hear Toph reveal who her baby daddy was. Fans have been begging the creators to allude to something about Toph’s adult life, and we learned that she had two kids, out of wedlock with two different men. This only made viewers all the more curious as to what the hell Toph was doing (in all her feminist glory), and the writers never really seemed to think it important enough to drop into the show the past three seasons. And this little scene (to me) paralleled our anxiety over the issue and the writer’s cavalier “meh” attitude about it all. Like Bolin asked (like we have been asking for forever) and Toph threw a bone, saying it was just a guy she dated and broke up with later (again, the writers not thinking it too important to get into details). Lin’s blowup was basically my reaction — how the hell is Toph’s adult life not important?! But you know… there are more pressing issues afoot.
Moving on, the spirits were throwing that spiritual shade this episode. I think this might be the shadiest season yet. Kuvira throwing shade at Korra, Firelord Izumi throwing shade at President Raiko & Prince Wu, and now the spirits in the Spirit World basically told Korra:
The way they disappeared into the ether when Korra asked for help… Man, I felt bad for her. At the same time, they made a very good point: why should they join a war to help humans, when it’s humans harvesting their energy to start a war… against other humans? The only time the spirits have ever gotten involved is when the humans screwed with them (ie. cutting their forests, chopping their vines, killing their coy fish etc.). Other than that, the spirits just chill. And that’s the way they will remain. #KeepingItSwitzerland Korra would’ve known that, had she been connected to her past lives, but you know… bloop.
My other favorite part of the show was when Zhu Li did the thing and told off Kuvira. Homegirl was so fearless, I literally shouted an expletive at the computer screen. I mean, I knew Zhu Li had a pair, but my goodness. At first I wasn’t convinced that Zhu Li was heartless, but then I realized (after much trolling on Tumblr) that there is genuine love between Zhu Li and Varrick. The man named his yacht and energy measurements after her. She knows his thoughts without him saying a word. He was going to blow himself up on that train because she left, and Zhu Li risked being blown up to keep Varrick’s invention from falling into the wrong hands. Seriously, Zhurrick for-freaking-ever. One. True. Pairing.
Side note: again, how dark has this show gotten that Kuvira was willing to just blow up Zhu Li in the target town? She doesn’t play!
OH and last but not least — can we talk about the EPIC earth bending battle that was Beifongs vs. Kurvira?
Su and Lin’s tag team was everything, Suyin’s one-on-one with Kuvira was everything plus LIFE, and mommy Toph coming in at the end there to knock stuff down and do her infamous finger point?! Guys, I’m lucky I was able to stay alive to write this up.
And did you notice how Kuvira let them get away, right? She knew she couldn’t take on Toph on her BEST day and Su made her sweat. Kuvira know she’s putting in work when her hair comes out her tight bun. She knew the score. Beifongs: 1, Kuvira: Dust.
There was also this theme running where people were telling others to handle their BS on their own. First, the spirits told Korra, then Toph told the others that she was too old to be fighting and that the youngsters were going to have to do it by themselves. When Toph mentioned how Katara didn’t get involved in the Civil Wars (in Season 2), it was pretty damn clear that none of #OriginalTeamAvatar were going to show up for the Kuvira Take Down Party. Zuko’s probably going to help hide his daughter again, ’cause she doesn’t like getting involved with anything and her son, General Iroh II, is the only militant one in the family. Way to end the franchise, guys! #Sigh
Another subtle theme in this episode: the power of the lady flower. Wu mentioned that great men do great things for the affections of a woman and it was all over that episode: Bolin risked his life for Opal’s family to take him out of his relationship exile, Baatar
Jr. needed everything to be right to please his vicious wife-to-be, and Wu said something smart that was actually helpful to get Korra’s attention. I still don’t get why Wu would want to be with Korra after knowing that Mako was with her. Does a bro-code not exist in the Avatar universe?
Speculation time: As I already mentioned in the preceding post, I think “Kuvira’s Gambit” will be Kuvira telling Raiko to hand over Republic City, or she’ll blow it to bits and rebuild on its debris. What’s funny is that the former Earth Queen was also upset about Aang and Zuko carving out part of the Earth Empire (neé Kingdom) for the city, but Kuvira’s not calling herself a queen, so demanding the land back is somehow different. Whatever makes her sleep at night.
In the sneak peek for Friday’s episode, Kuvira makes the announcement that she wants to march on Republic City and sometime after Baatar tells her that he loves her. I don’t know how real Kuvira’s affections are for Junior and I think this upcoming episode will prove it. When Baatar saw Opal in the target town, he called off the cannon, which proves he’s not a total douche and loves his family. I hope next week’s episode will explore that. He’s got three more episodes to switch sides, so I’ll be watching for it.
What did you think of Legend of Korra Book 4 Balance, Chapter 10, “Operation Beifong”? Let’s talk about it in the comments or chat about it on Twitter.