The Legend of Korra: “The Ultimatum” Book 3 Chapter 11 Review

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The defining chapter of Book 3 was just absolutely nuts. It was simply all-around one of the best episodes of the series.

But let’s start from the beginning, as difficult as it is to ignore the end of the episode.

The Queen is dead. Ba Sing Se is in chaos. Suddenly, Zaheer, a villain that previously seemed tame compared with Amon and Unalaq, has just gotten a very big victory. Mako and Bolin’s escape had some fun moments, Bolin’s nosedive into the ground on an airship being particularly hilarious. One nice tie-in was the brothers saving their extended family, Grandma Yin also providing a lot of early comedy.

They track Korra down at the Misty Palms Oasis, where everyone is reunited. Yin mistakes Asami for the Avatar and does a lot of cute grandma things like grabbing both Asami and Korra’s hands and asking Mako why he’s not dating either of them. But then, Mako reveals Zaheer’s message to Korra: he’s going after the Air Nation, promising to wipe them out unless Korra hands herself over. Team Avatar heads back to Zaofu to get a transmission out to Tenzin.

Korra goes looking for Zaheer in the Spirit World, but she finds a familiar face instead. Iroh makes another brief appearance to council the Avatar in her time of need. You have to love how the creators knew they made most of their adult characters too unstable to be this show’s Iroh, so they found a way to just reincorporate him as the voice of reason. Bold, but effective. Korra yearns for the Avatar connection she lost when fighting Unalaq and Vaatu, but Iroh advises that she talk to Zuko, as he was a great friend of Avatar Aang (after he explains their rocky start, of course).

Zuko then advises that Aang’s biggest dream was to rebuild the Air Nation, but that the Avatar must still be the Avatar. There’s probably a ton of foreshadowing in here on whether Korra will hand herself over to Zaheer and the end of the season in general.

A transmission finally gets through to Tenzin, but it’s too late. Just as Korra warns him, Zaheer’s airship shows up.

The ensuing battle is made up of some of the best bending on both The Legend of Korra and Avatar: The Last Airbender. Things seem grim for the Air Nation. The Red Lotus rounds everybody up. But Tenzin isn’t about to just sit there and let this happen. He air blasts Zaheer, Ming-Hua, and Ghazan against the wall, giving the rest of the airbenders time to escape. Then it’s Aang’s three children vs. their captors while the others dodge aerial attacks from P’Li.

In the first ever airbender vs. airbender fight, Tenzin takes on Zaheer in a duel that spans the entire Northern Air Temple. It’s the best bending battle of the season, giving Tenzin a whole lot of awesome things to do. In a smart move, most of the battle seems to be going Tenzin’s way, he being a master airbender and Zaheer airbending a lot more like Korra does. I’ve seen a lot of fans complain about how great an airbender Zaheer is, but when you look at this fight, he’s not nearly as calm or as clever with the element as Tenzin is. He holds his own of course, but had the fight remained one on one, Tenzin would likely have defeated him.

Meanwhile, Kya is taking on Ming-Hua. Unlike her brother, Kya is clearly outmatched. But she still holds her own, even when Ming-Hua appears to be the strongest waterbender we’ve ever seen. I mean come on, the visual of her rising up with six, massive water arms after Kya threw her off a ledge was actually horrifying. You know a show has built a great villain when at first you think her power is really cool, but you end up being truly scared of her.

Bumi is the weakest in his fight with Ghazan, fighting in the way he can, pulling hair and biting. But at least Bumi got the great moment of saving Kya from falling and then getting to let go when P’Li fires another shot at them. They seem hurt, but they’ll come back to fight the Red Lotus I’m sure.

P’Li proves to be a problem as the airbenders make their escape. Kai decides to be brave and flies on his glider to distract her. But she manages to hit him with a blast just as the airbenders escape. Dark day for the Air Nation, huh? Well, it’s about to get worse.

With Kya and Bumi subdued, Tenzin is left all alone to take on the entire Red Lotus. They’re just too much for him. It’s one of the most difficult scenes to watch of the whole series. Backed against a wall, Tenzin refuses to give up. We don’t get to see the end result.

The final shot of the episode gave us some much needed hope (because, Jesus Christ…). Kai awakens to a young sky bison licking his face. He’s alive and manages to escape.

Does anyone else need a drink? This was a tough episode. The stakes are at an emotional peak right now. With just two episodes left, Book 3 appears to be going out just as emotional and strong as its predecessors. Grade: A

By Matt Dougherty

 

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