When Team Avatar manages to recruit just one airbender throughout their Earth Kingdom travels, they decide to try their luck in the great city of Ba Sing Se. Interestingly enough, Ba Sing Se was where Mako and Bolin’s father grew up until he decided to leave the city and fulfill his own desires. Upon arriving in Ba Sing Se, Korra splits from the group and meets with the Earth Queen. Korra notifies the Earth Queen about her suspicion of airbenders lurking throughout the city and asks for guidance to go about searching for them. Unfortunately for Korra, the Earth Queen isn’t as willing to help unless Korra does a deed for her.
The Earth Queen asks Korra to stop a group of Barbarians from stealing a royal tax shipment. The Earth Queen explains that the Barbarians have been responsible for the theft of numerous royal tax shipments in the past – but they must be stopped this time around. Korra agrees to carry out the task and seeks the help of Asami to aid her throughout the quest. This mini subplot – brought about by the Earth Queen – results in some much-sought-after action from the duo of Korra and Asami. The pair made the Barbarians look like amateurs, and I almost felt bad for the Barbarians because it was obvious they had no idea they were getting into a fight with the Avatar.
After the Barbarians endured a heavy beat-down, they retreated and told Korra that she was fighting for the wrong side. The Barbarians explained that the Earth Queen was stealing money from the residents of Ba Sing Se. Korra remained un-phased by the accusation, suggesting that she partially believed them.
Back in Team Avatar’s Ba Sing Se apartment, Mako and Bolin notice that Kai – their newest airbender recruit – is missing. The brothers agree to go look for Kai and quickly find him conning a local Ba Sing Se resident. Mako and Bolin chase after Kai, but eventually fall for his trickery. The two brothers end up on a one-way train ride to the lower city – a poverty-filled sector of Ba Sing Se. While traversing through the lower city, Mako and Bolin have a run-in with a man and his son who turn out to be their uncle and cousin.
Mako and Bolin’s uncle take them back to his house so the two brothers can meet the rest of their family. Interestingly enough, Mako and Bolin’s family lives in the same complex Zuko and Uncle Iroh lived in during their stay in Ba Sing Se.
Mako and Bolin are introduced to their grandmother and the three have a heart-warming moment together when they gaze at a picture of Mako and Bolin (as babies) with their parents. The heart-warming moment amplifies itself when Mako gives his scarf to his grandmother.
Back at the Earth Queen’s palace, the Earth Queen thanks Korra for carrying out the quest but notifies her that the Dai Li was unable to locate any airbenders throughout the city. Korra becomes upset and re-assures the Earth Queen that there are airbenders in Ba Sing Se. The Earth Queen asks for Korra to be escorted out, but she angrily leaves out of her own will.
Meanwhile, Zuko and Tonraq make their episode debut when they confront Eska and Desna in the Northern Watertribe. They ask to see a prisoner being held in the vicinity – presumably the one Zaheer is attempting to break out. The four enter an elevator to make their way down to the prisoner’s cell. Zuko informs the group that the prisoner is a firebender who can create explosions through her mind.
“Ironically, I hired a guy with a similar ability to kill the Avatar myself once… Didn’t work.”
Gotta love awkward Zuko!
The prisoner is seen enclosed in cell surrounded by an icy fortress. Although her face isn’t revealed, she has a very Azula-esque feel to her – especially her voice.
In the lower city, Mako and Bolin continue conversing with their family. They eventually get a tip from their cousin that the Earth Queen is kidnapping airbenders and running experiments on them. The tip is confirmed when we see Kai taken captive by two Dai Li agents and enclosed in a room full of other airbenders.
“You now live to serve the Earth Queen.”
The re-introduction of Ba Sing Se was nostalgic moment, but it was hardly the nostalgia that was responsible for carrying this episode. Each individual subplot held its own and they culminated to create an episode that flourished at every angle. Witnessing the duo of Korra and Asami was as exciting as I could’ve imagined. Meeting Mako and Bolin’s family surely gave my heart a tug, and it was a moment that was reminiscent of so many throughout Avatar: The Last Airbender.
The introduction of Sparky-Sparky Boom Ma’m left much to be desired and the cliff hanger involving Kai, the Dai Li and the Earth Queen will make this Fourth of July weekend without Avatar difficult. The writers have seriously stepped up their game this season in ways I didn’t anticipate.
I’m hungry for more!