By this point, we might as well give up on Kuvira turning into a well-rounded antagonist. The show has made a couple attempts, but with the Earth Kingdom fully united and Kuvira still setting her heart on taking Republic City as well, it’s clear the only thing driving her on now is megalomania. You can see that in the fact that she installs the spirit canon into a colossal mecha which she operates herself with her metalbending. That, in combination with the massive army flanking her, is enough to set anyone’s head spinning with power, and that may be the only human quality remaining in her.
The early moments of the episode make you think there might be more than that when Kuvira and Bataar happily discuss their future empire in each other’s arms, like newlyweds dreaming of their love nest. It’s strange to the point of uncomfortable to see Kuvira so content in Bataar’s embrace, but it’s true that he’s the only one who fully subscribes to and supports her vision. Even captured, surrounded by enemies, and with his mother pleading him to stop the madness, he can’t understand why they don’t see things the way he and Kuvira do. “It doesn’t have to cost any lives if you all just surrender!” he exclaims in exasperation.
This failure to engage with the other side’s point of view exposes Kuvira and Bataar’s one-dimensional motivations. In their defense, no one on the other side really articulates why what they’re doing is wrong. There are a lot of reasons—the unforeseeable consequences on the spirit world, Republic City’s right of sovereignty, the freedom to disagree with the establishment in general—but the show seems uninterested in socio-political debates, preferring to make Kuvira as unlikable as possible.
[Spoiler alert!] The final straw is when Kuvira decides to shoot them all down, fiancé included,* after he begs her to leave Republic City or risk never seeing him again. At first, she seems to share his limits on how far they’re willing to pursue their goals. She concedes, “This city isn’t worth sacrificing our life together,” and yet that’s exactly what she does. She probably plans to justify herself again by saying something like this isn’t about what she personally wants but what’s best for the Earth Kingdom, or some B.S. like that. I say what Varrick and Bolin’s been saying all along: she’s just crazy.
But enough about her; her fate has already been determined (by which I mean, her destiny is to go down like the douche she is). The most important thing for us going into the series finale is that all the characters get the out they deserve. The sad part is the show has done a better job positioning the smaller players for a fitting end than the main cast. Zhu Li refuses to be marginalized again after taking the boldest risks of them all and looks set to force Varrick into respecting her at last. Once Varrick gives that to her, he’ll have completed the evolution he’s undergone all season, becoming a character who can bring the laughs but has some thought to him, too. Even Prince Wu demonstrates enough insight in the way he finesses the citywide evacuation to potentially take Kuvira’s place once she’s disposed of.
Of Team Avatar, Mako and Asami have definitely suffered the most this season, being given virtually nothing to do except resolve some daddy issues and…whatever it is Mako’s been doing. Their idleness is especially noticeable next to Bolin, who’s had one moment of glory after another. For a character who started out as team clown, Bolin coming to the finish line as a fully-fledged hero, with a redemption story and stable relationship under his belt, is nothing short of a major triumph.
But even he has to take second place to Korra, who began this series as an insufferable hothead that frequently brought trouble upon herself. Now she’s calling shots you can actually get behind, using her judgment more often than her powers to tackle problems. Sometimes, however, the problem just requires power, and I’m looking forward to her taking advantage of her fully restored Avatar state to save the day. At least then we can get some good bending action going on, which this episode mostly lacks.
* I’m guessing someone in Suyin’s family will die. Probably not Bataar, because that’s not sad enough. I’m guessing one of the twins, since you know, what’s a spare for?
Takes a character you love to hate and kicks her up a few notches, so the finale can't come soon enough.