The Legend of Korra: “Beyond the Wilds” Book 4 Chapter 9 Review

Book 4 of Korra got back on track this week as the Avatar confronted her fears head on in the face of Kuvira’s potential super weapon.

The spirits are angry at the start of Beyond the Wilds, attacking the stars of one of my favorite all-time Korra gags, the 22 year old airbender living in his parents’ basement and his mother. The comedy was pretty welcome, considering the rest of the episode was mostly character work to finally get Korra ready to fight Kuvira at her fullest potential.

Korra, Jinora, and Opal head into the wilds to investigate, which is when Korra taps into a spirit vine to see Kuvira’s troops destroying the Banyan Grove tree. But even this isn’t enough to unite the world leaders to attack Kuvira. In her first speaking role on the series, Zuko’s daughter, Fire Lord Izumi tells President Raiko that her nation has been in too many needless wars to justify fighting in one that hasn’t started yet. Regardless of Izumi’s role for the rest of the series, she was instantly likable here, acknowledging the faults of her people in the Hundred Year War and hoping to reestablish her nation as one of peace. She does agree, however, to fortify the defenses of the city. But, thus far, Kuvira has not acted outside the bounds of her role, making war against her very risky. Kuvira will have to bring the fight to Republic City if Team Avatar is to get any additional help in bringing her down. One of the best things about Korra is that it presents geopolitical reasons for nations’ actions that feel real to our world.

Lin and Opal don’t take this decision too well though. There is something rewarding about Lin saying “we have to save our family” to Opal. After her and Suyin’s conflicts in Book 3, they are still a family, and I’m excited for their secret mission next week.

Bolin was led to this mission as well. He and Varrick return to Republic City ready to warn everyone about Kuvira’s super weapon (“It’s like a regular weapon only it’s super!”). Afterwards, he spends the episode trying to win back Opal, who refuses until Bolin agrees to help them rescue Suyin and her family.

But the crux of Beyond the Wilds had Korra finally confronting her fears and trying to reconnect with the Spirit World. Once Jinora goes missing, Korra and Mako enter the wilds once more only to find all the missing people in spirit sac thingies that sort of looked like the pods from The Matrix. When Korra tries to enter the Spirit World to find their souls, she’s once again blocked by images of Zaheer. Korra decides it’s time to face her old enemy.

Once Tenzin agrees, Korra and Mako go to the prison, but the Avatar rightfully decides to go in alone. Zaheer floats in his cell, not letting his chains weigh him down. Though when he tries to scare Korra, they pull him back. It’s clear that this criminal is no longer a threat. In fact, he may just help the Avatar reconnect with her spiritual self. Zaheer has heard rumors of Kuvira’s takeover of the Earth Kingdom. This new threat stands for everything Zaheer didn’t. It’s absolutely believable that he would want Korra to stop her. As they meditate together, it becomes clear that it had to be Zaheer from the beginning that would pull Korra out of her funk. The fact that he’s in prison is living proof that Korra did in fact make it out of their fight alive. Only their conversation here would be enough to finally bring Korra back to fighting shape. As Zaheer clearly understands now, the powers of the Avatar are limitless, he was never going to be able to stop her. As he comforts her through a death she’s afraid of that never happened, we dissolve into the Spirit World.

Zaheer leaves Korra alone to save her friends. Raava glows in the Avatar’s stomach, and Korra suddenly feels whole again. Once finding Jinora and the others, Raava instructs Korra to energybend to save them. Considering how much energybending came in handing for Aang in his climactic duel with Fire Lord Ozai, you have to wonder how much this art will be integrated into Korra‘s finale.

So Korra saves everyone and it appears that the Avatar is finally back in business. With just four episodes left, Book 4 is likely about to get crazy, starting with the Beifong family mission next week. I can’t wait to see where it all leads. Grade: A-

By Matt Dougherty

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