This episode is the trigger that sets the plot in motion. After two episodes of set up, I think it’s reasonable, considering that they, once again, only have 13 or 14 20-minute episodes to work with. Of course, none of what happens during this episode is particularly surprising. As a result, The Coronation starts out a little slower than the other episodes. However, it’s far from being bad. I mean, we’re talking about Legend of Korra here.
The episode starts as Prince Wu raves at a most perplexed Mako about earthbender dames and badger moles. Prince Wu is, of course, more than thrilled by the perspective of being king, especially since he thinks that it mostly involves doing what he wants. Adorable, right? We’re all waiting for life to slap him right in his pimpered face so hard that his hair will fall flat. While Prince Wu demonstrates his royal dancing skills to an unimpressed guard, President Raiko and Tenzin arrive to discuss Earth kingdom politics, namely Prince Wu’s ascension and Kuvira’s growing power, and Korra. I agree with Tenzin in that conversation: I really wish Korra were there. Not that I don’t like her struggling with the loss of her Avatar spirit, but because President Raiko is playing Korra in the first part of season 2 and I don’t like it one bit. Does he really think that Kuvira will step down when asked to? Come on, anyone rocking the same eyebrows as her obviously doesn’t care about your plans, dude. If Korra were around, she could at least try to watersmack some sense into the president.
Back in the swamp, Korra begs Toph to help her getting back into shape. Korra still thinks the world needs the Avatar and Toph is here to bluntly reveal the truth to her: the world is a tough place and bad people will always be there to make it tougher. Still, Toph agrees to help Korra, mostly because she enjoys the idea of a sparring partner. Oh, do I love old Toph. Young Toph was always the hot-head of the Avatar gang but despite speaking some harsh truths here and there, she was never really the dispenser of wisdom. Old Toph is an old, cranky, tough (see what I did there?) woman who sees clearly through the world’s bullshit. This seems like such a natural evolution of the character that I can just ask for more.
In Republic City, Kuvira and her men arrive, including Bolin, who immediately comes face to face with his former girlfriend, Eska. Remember Eska, from the Northern Water Tribe? If you don’t, just remember that she is close to Mei, personality-wise. Except that where Mei was a goth chick (a very, very cute one), Eska is more of a not-so-hidden baby dominatrix, an intimidating, « I make my twin brother sleep in the bath tub for no reason » girl that is mostly there to deliver sweet, dark punchlines. Which she does. Of course, everybody is there for the coronation. Mako shows up with Prince Wu in no time and savours his reunion with his little brother. Other reunions don’t go so well, like the one between Bataar Jr and Su Yin. The best, though, is to see Prince Wu’s first meeting with Kuvira, him being condescending and offering to get her a better suite, and her calmly replying that she already took his. In our world, we call that a reality check. And we’re in for more. Later, the royal cabinet joins prince Wu in the hall, 10 minutes before his coronation, to tell him that there will be no grandiose ceremony, no spectacle, and not even a crown. That makes sense, given that the kingdom was pretty much left simmering in chaos and anarchy until Kuvira was sent to pacify it, but Prince Wu doesn’t see it that way. Spoiled kids rarely do.
Meanwhile, Korra and Toph begin their sparring duel. Toph beats the crap out of Korra without a surprise. Her attitude is not without reminding us of the days when she was Aang’s earthbending master, and the action scene is pretty awesome, because let’s face it, Toph IS the best earthbender who has ever lived. Battered and covered in mud, Korra asks Toph why she would forsake everything to live in a swamp. Toph answers that she is more connected to the world through the vines running across the world. She doesn’t say that she also wanted people to leave her the hell alone, but really, she doesn’t need to. That’s Toph for you.
Prince Wu’s coronation is a quiet, uncomfortable joke of a ceremony that happens under the stern eye of the other leaders of the world, including Zuko and a middle-aged woman who, I guess, is his daughter. Prince Wu does his best to keep his head high, smiling, thanking his people for loving him so much, and giving Kuvira the highest honour of the country, as a reward for her loyal services. I love that he tells her « Kuvira, rise ». I told you, that kid is just plain cute. Kuvira receives the medal quietly and asks permission to give a short speech. Permission granted, she walks up to the microphone. We know what’s next and it’s just so damn enjoyable. Kuvira calls monarchy archaic and accuses it of bringing the Earth Kingdom into chaos, before claiming solemnly that she created a new Earth Empire where Prince Wu’s blue blood has no value. This Earth Empire is hers. Kuvira’s speech is eloquent and actually makes a lot of sense. As far as antagonists’ motivation go, « I spent years working my butt off to put the pieces of this world together and I don’t want it to go to waste », is a pretty good one. You’ll also notice that it is not very different from what drives Korra at the moment. When your protagonist and antagonist want the same thing for different reason, you know you’re in for good stories and amazing conflict. But I digress. The crowd cheers. Bolin doesn’t know how to react but applauds politely. I would have liked to see the world leaders’ faces, but I’m guessing that will be for later.
Bolin shares his thoughts on Kuvira’s announcement with Varrick. Varick dismisses his doubts before walking away to work on some secret project involving spirit vines, and Kuvira convinces Bolin of her good intentions. After all, isn’t he as concerned by the future of the Earth Empire people as she is? Su Yin walks in, interrupting their conversation. Bolin leaves Su Yin and Kuvira alone. It turns out that Su Yin has come as the representative of the world leaders, whose reaction I would have liked to see more, by the way. This is not really the point of this dialogue, though. We’re here to see two different views on the same subject: Su Yin escaped the old tradition by building her own society while Kuvira chose to change the existing society to fit her ideals. Su Yin disapproves of Kuvira’s behaviour, arguing that she is just another tyrant that will destroy anything standing in her way. Kuvira answers by threathening the existence of Zao Fu.
In the junior suite, Mako prepares to leave Prince Wu’s service when Bolin knocks on the door. Mako steps out to talk to him. Bolin has come to discuss the ceremony with his brother and they end up arguing about it: Mako thinks Kuvira is just another dictator. Bolin thinks she’s done a lot of good and brings up a good point: does Mako think Prince Wu would be better? Of course, he doesn’t, but he also doesn’t know what would be better. Bolin leaves angry and Mako stays shaken.
Toph and Korra take a pause after the sparring. Korra doesn’t understand why she can’t get back to her former self. That’s when Toph makes an interesting reveal: she can feel that Korra is carrying tiny bits of the metal poison in her body. I don’t know if I fully buy it at that point, but why not. Let’s see where they go with it. There’s probably something deeper and better than this going on.
Prince Wu and Mako have some quality time at Little Ba Sing Se’s fashion mall. Prince Wu’s tries to stay flamboyant but loses it when he realizes that everybody around roots for Kuvira. He gets mad at the people, claiming that they have to root for their king. Yeah. It’s always a good idea to get mad at people when you’re one little spoiled brat with one bodyguard, right? It’s a real luck that Mako is too dutiful to let go of the prince right there and then. Instead, he leads him to safety while they’re chased by angry Kuvira supporters. They arrive at a restaurant called The Royal Palace, where Prince Wu has a little mental breakdown that leads him to chase a little boy away to be able to sit on a fake throne. That’s when Mako comes in for some tough love, asking the prince if, given all that Kuvira has done for the Earth Kingdom, he really thinks he deserves to rule. Prince Wu admits that he does not. However, they don’t have much time to further discuss the prince’s character arc and flee from their pursuers.
In the swamp, Toph is ready to bend the metal poison out of Korra’s body. The problem is: she can’t, because Korra can’t relax. She keeps having visions and squirming in pain. After a few unsuccessful attempts, Toph gives up, claiming that Korra doesn’t want the poison out so she won’t have to be the Avatar again. Tough. Also, probably true, despite the fact that Korra won’t admit it.
On Air Temple Island, Tenzin gives the very important mission to find Korra to Jinorra, Ikki, and Meelo. Sweet. Meanwhile, in Kuvira’s train, Varrick works on a new technology involving spirit vines. I don’t know what it is but I sure as hell am excited to find out.
Magic. Technology. Political intrigues. And they say kids’ shows suck.