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|"This land belongs to the people of the Earth Empire and it's time to take it back. Republic City will be ours!"|
|— Kuvira announcing her plan to conquer the United Republic to her soldiers.|
"Kuvira's Gambit" is the eleventh episode of Book Four: Balance of The Legend of Korra and the 50th of the overall series. It was released on Nick.com and through the Nick app on December 12, 2014, and aired on Nicktoons Network on December 19, 2014.
Kuvira announces to her followers the plan to reclaim the United Republic of Nations, telling them it rightfully belongs to the Earth Empire, and after that, she talks with Baatar Jr. about their wedding and love. Bolin, the Beifongs, and Zhu Li reach Republic City, where the latter alerts Team Avatar and President Raiko of their attack plans; they thus move to prepare the city from Kuvira's attack, evacuating citizens and mobilizing the United Forces. Zhu Li tries to make up with Varrick, but leaves disgusted when he still treats her as an assistant. When Team Avatar goes to ambush Kuvira's spirit energy cannon, they discover it is mounted on a giant mecha suit controlled by Kuvira and barely escape attack. Team Avatar races back to tell Republic City of the imminent threat, but Kuvira arrives mere hours later. After seeing Kuvira show how powerful her weapon can be, Raiko surrenders. As Baatar Jr. is on the way to discuss the terms of the surrender, Korra, Kai, and Tenzin's family kidnap him in order to get him to reveal how to defeat her superweapon. After Korra and Suyin unsuccessfully try to convince him, Korra threatens to never let him see Kuvira again, which causes him to break. Baatar Jr. radios Kuvira and asks her to back away from the United Republic. She appears to oblige over the radio, but actually tracks the signal and promptly fires her cannon at Team Avatar's location, destroying the facility.
In Zaofu, Kuvira makes a speech to her soldiers, reminding them of their victories together over the past three years and emphasizing their power and apparent invincibility—not even the Avatar was able to stop them. She announces to the soldiers that their quest to truly reunite the Earth Empire is not yet complete, as they still need to reclaim the United Republic of Nations, believing the land to have been stolen from the Earth Empire by Avatar Aang and Fire Lord Zuko following the Hundred Year War. The soldiers salute Kuvira, chanting "All hail the Great Uniter!". Out of the soldiers' view, she talks to Baatar Jr., asking him if he is prepared to show the world the true strength their army possesses. He replies that he is, and as they express their love and talk about their future wedding, they take each other's hands and embrace.
At City Hall in Republic City, President Raiko, Korra, Wu, Mako, and Tenzin are sitting around a table. When Korra inquires about the status of the evacuation of the city, Wu answers that only eighteen families had been evacuated—far short of the millions of Republic City citizens. Mako explains that due to the evacuation being voluntary, many citizens did not feel like the threat to the city was serious enough and decided to stay. Bolin abruptly interrupts the meeting, bringing a newly freed Suyin and Lin with him, much to the Avatar's surprise. Korra apologizes for her failure at Zaofu and hugs Suyin, asking how she and the rest of her family escaped. Bolin explains that he, Opal, and Lin had rescued them, but that in the process, they had a "way too close" encounter with Kuvira's spirit energy cannon. Tenzin asks if she was going to use it against Republic City and Zhu Li enters, answering that she had found out that Kuvira would attack in two weeks. Bolin explains to the group that Zhu Li never truly switched sides and that she was always against Kuvira's plans. The former assistant adds that she was never truly loyal to Kuvira and that although she had tried to use her position to sabotage the weapon, it failed. Lin postulates that due to the spirit cannon's size, Kuvira will come by rail in order to transport the weapon. Korra suggests cutting the rail lines leading into the city as a deterrent. Raiko agrees, ordering Mako to announce to the city over the radio that the evacuation order is now mandatory. Korra assures Raiko that they will not let Kuvira take the city.
At a factory in Republic City, Varrick addresses the workers who are working to build the hummingbird mecha suits he and Asami had invented. Bolin enters the room and asks Varrick if he could talk to him. He informs him that he had gone to Zaofu and saved the Beifong family, as well as Zhu Li, who enters, much to Varrick's shock. Zhu Li apologizes for her past actions and expresses her feelings toward him. Varrick forgives her, but instead of reciprocating her feelings, orders Zhu Li to man the assembly line, angering the former assistant. She angrily tells Varrick that she is no longer his assistant and that he should treat her as his equal before leaving.
In Republic City's communications room, Mako attempts to inform the city of the now-mandatory evacuation. However, his over-technical delivery causes a panic and the phone lines begin to clog with confused citizens' calls. Prince Wu takes charge and gives a heartfelt speech, saying he understands the people's fear. He refers to his former inability to use the bathroom alone due to fear and states that if they all succumb to fear, they will lose. Wu also refers to all the citizens as "winners" and instructs them to gather their family members and neighbors and calmly evacuate. Upon finishing his speech, the citizens cease their calls. Lin and Mako are impressed with Wu's actions, with the former stating that Wu might actually make a good king after all.
At Air Temple Island, Tenzin informs his family that Rohan is with the Air Acolytes on a boat ready to leave and asks why none of them have packed. Pema informs her husband that they have all decided to stay in order to help out. Tenzin is grateful for this and asks for his wife to assist Wu in evacuating the city and for his children to assist the other airbenders as lookouts to spot Kuvira's army.
Several montages reveal Wu and Pema instructing people at the train station, along with the United Forces and the metalbending police force standing guard over Republic City. Back at Air Temple Island, Raiko is less than pleased, having felt forced to abandon his office and to instead take shelter in the Air Temple. Lin counters Raiko's complaint, insisting that the location is ideal for him. At that moment, Team Avatar come up to the attic and announce their decision to try and stop Kuvira's super weapon, to Tenzin's worry but Raiko's agreement, who wishes her luck as Korra announces she is heading out tonight.
At an outpost not far from the city, two soldiers hear a disturbance. Using binoculars, they discover the noise was Kuvira's army, that has arrived a week earlier than predicted. Realizing this, one tells the other to alert the city but are stopped when they hear a louder noise. Upon looking again, they are shocked to see the silhouette of a massive human-like figure in the distance; it aims a weapon, a long metal barrel mounted on its right arm, right at them and fires. The ensuing blast of purple energy directly impacts the outpost, killing everyone within and obliterating the building, leaving it in a state of absolute ruin.
The next day, Team Avatar sets out on a flying bison in their attempt to sabotage Kuvira's super weapon; the plan falls apart when Bolin spots Kuvira's army marching through the mountains, the massive metal mecha with them. When asked by the others, who are panicking, if he knew about the creation of the mecha, Bolin, sarcastic even while terrified, replies that he did not. Meanwhile, Kuvira, in the cockpit of the massive machine, is alerted to the presence of a sky bison nearby. Realizing that the Avatar is nearby, she attempts to use the spirit cannon to kill her, firing two times at the bison. Both shots are near misses, and Team Avatar barely escapes. Kuvira decides not to pursue them, believing that her forces are unstoppable and will reach Republic City soon anyway.
Moments later, Korra arrives and meets with Tenzin and President Raiko. The duo is curious about her early return. Korra explains that the plan is useless, as Kuvira has mounted the spirit cannon on a giant mechanical suit, begun the march a week early, and is only hours from the city. Raiko orders Lin to inform General Iroh that attack is imminent, while Tenzin immediately orders his wife to find Wu to get the remaining citizens out of harm's way. Meanwhile, Korra heads out to the front lines, intending to assist Iroh.
As Raiko's army stands and watches Kuvira's army position in the battlefield, the giant mecha suit slowly makes its appearance, shocking the soldiers and Raiko. Raiko radios Kuvira and orders her to stand down. Kuvira replies that Raiko is in no position to make orders and is unaware of the power she possesses. As a demonstration, she uses her spirit cannon to destroy several warships before aiming the weapon at the United Forces infantry at the colossus' feet. General Iroh requests President Raiko's permission to engage while Kuvira gives him three seconds to decide between either ordering full-scale attack and risking tremendous casualties on his army and city or surrendering and saving the lives of hundreds of Iroh's men. Having no other choice, Raiko decides to surrender before his three seconds are up, and gives up Republic City.
Kuvira orders Raiko to give up his army to her and the Avatar, while she orders him to give her his location to settle the peace terms with Baatar Jr. Meanwhile, Korra refuses to surrender and heads back to the warehouse to find a way to stop Kuvira's occupation of Republic City. Korra arrives informing the team that Raiko has surrendered and it is up to them to stop Kuvira's crusade. Realizing the futility of trying to attack Kuvira's army and a giant mecha suit head-on, Asami suggests that they could cripple it instead. She asks Zhu Li if she knew any vital intel on Kuvira's giant mecha suit, but unfortunately Zhu Li never knew Kuvira was building it in the first place. Korra promptly realizes that Baatar Jr. is the one responsible for creating the giant mecha suit and resolves to capture him unnoticed. She takes Tenzin's family and Kai to assist her without telling Raiko of their designs. The plan goes smoothly and they manage to capture Baatar Jr. before they reach the Air Temple. Baatar Jr. is taken captive and transported to a Future Industries' factory, wherein Korra tries to force Baatar Jr. to break and tell information of any weakness in the giant mecha suit. She does this by going to the Avatar State and lifting him up with one hand, but Baatar Jr. does not fear Korra's threat knowing that she will not harm him.
Meanwhile, the airship with the Earth Empire delegation arrives at Air Temple Island, where they are awaited by Raiko and Lin. The soldiers are surprised, however, to learn that Baatar Jr. is nowhere to be found on the vessel. As the soldiers whisper among themselves, Lin and Raiko quickly lose their patience over the situation and demand to see Baatar Jr. and are surprised as well to be informed by the men that they do not know where their leader is.
At the warehouse, Suyin tries to talk some sense into Baatar Jr., apologizing for whatever she did that made him feel rejected, and asks him to come home, join his family, and stop the mayhem Kuvira is about to cause. Baatar Jr. strongly refuses to give in, however, coldly stating that Kuvira is now his only family; his mother is heartbroken by his defection. Hearing Baatar Jr.'s declaration, Korra realizes they had been approaching him in the wrong way. She approaches him again, admitting that he had been right to call her bluff of physically hurting him. However, she asserts that there is something she can do that would be more painful, namely taking away the one thing he cares for the most, Kuvira. Surprised, Baatar Jr. asks for an explanation, and Korra declares that if they are forced to flee the city, she will take him with her wherever she goes and dedicate the rest of her life into assuring he never sees Kuvira again. Shocked, Baatar Jr. protests to this, though Korra remains adamant. However, she offers him an out if he agrees to convince Kuvira to back off. She promises to let them keep the Earth Empire as long as the United Republic is left alone.
When an operator of Baatar Jr.'s airship alerts the others that Kuvira has radioed their ship, intending to talk to Baatar Jr., Raiko takes charges and demands to be given the radio. Annoyed, he asks Kuvira about the games that she is playing, as she had told him Baatar Jr. would come with the terms of his surrender though never showed up. Kuvira is surprised to learn that her partner has disappeared, demanding to know where he would be if not on the airship. At that moment, she receives a call from Baatar Jr., who tells her of his capture by the Avatar, who refuses to release him unless she backs down. As Kuvira learns that Korra is currently with Baatar Jr., she momentarily cuts off communication so Team Avatar cannot hear her order one of her soldiers to trace the source of the radio transmission. Baatar Jr. tries to convince Kuvira to abandon their conquest of Republic City as they would never be allowed to see each other again. Admitting that he refuses to live that way, he urges her to forget about the United Republic as they already have their empire and each other, and expresses his desire to return home and get married. At that moment, Kuvira is informed that Baatar Jr's position has been determined, and she turns the connection back on. Agreeing with Baatar Jr. that conquering Republic City is not worth sacrificing their future together, she declares her love for him.
While Korra unties Baatar Jr. and discusses once the agreement is settled, Baatar Jr. will be freed. However, Mako spots Kuvira's giant mecha suit aiming at their location and warns them. Baatar Jr. is shocked to learn this and does not believe Kuvira would do this to him. As the spirit energy cannon begins to build toward a discharge, Korra quickly tells everyone to evacuate immediately. Before they can leave the factory, the weapon fires, completely obliterating the Future Industries building.
Raiko sees the incident from Air Temple Island and is shocked. Lin charges one of her guards with the President's safety and sets out to check for any survivors. Taking a deep breath to ease her mind about her the loss of her fiancé, Kuvira focuses on conquering Republic City.
- Janet Varney - Korra
- David Faustino - Mako
- P.J. Byrne - Bolin
- Seychelle Gabriel - Asami
- J.K. Simmons - Tenzin
- Mindy Sterling - Beifong
- Logan Wells - Meelo
- Jeff Bennett
- Radio broadcaster
- John Michael Higgins - Varrick
- Stephanie Sheh - Zhu Li
- Anne Heche - Su
- Maria Bamford
- Zelda Williams - Kuvira
- Todd Haberkorn - Baatar Jr
- Spencer Garrett
- Sunil Malhotra
- Dante Basco - General Iroh
- Main article: Transcript:Kuvira's Gambit
- Main article: Writing in the World of Avatar
- Kuvira's intention to annex the United Republic of Nations into the Earth Empire with the rationale of it being originally Earth Kingdom territory is identical to Earth Queen Hou-Ting's reasoning to deny assistance to Avatar Korra in "The Earth Queen".
- Tahno, the White Falls Wolfbats, and their fangirls are seen for the first time since the Anti-bending Revolution.
- The female vendor that gave Korra directions to Air Temple Island in "Welcome to Republic City" is seen listening to Wu's speech over the radio.
- The officer that Gommu drags with him is the same one that forced Korra to run from the park in "Welcome to Republic City".
- Raiko mentions Bolin's habits of interrupting important meetings, as he did in "Beyond the Wilds".
- Wu mentions not being able to go to the bathroom alone, referencing "Reunion".
- The enormous mecha suit was fashioned from the metal taken from the domes previously protecting Zaofu, that were dismantled in "Operation Beifong".
- Kuvira and Baatar Jr. planned to get married after taking Republic City.
- When Tenzin asks if Kuvira is going to use her spirit energy cannon against Republic City, the collar of his wingsuit is red instead of yellow.
- Aang Memorial Island is missing from the first shot overlooking the arrival of the United Forces in Republic City.
- Although Opal is shown in the initial scenes where Baatar Jr. is being confronted by her family and Team Avatar, she is not seen again in the later ones.
- Before Team Avatar's initial altercation with Kuvira's giant mecha suit, it is followed by several Earth Empire airships. After her second shot attempt at Team Avatar, only Baatar Jr.'s airship remains.
- The scene where Baatar Jr. is captured was originally written to be much longer, but later cut down by Michael Dante DiMartino and Tim Hedrick.
- The liquid metal orbs inside the giant mecha suit are from Suyin's meteorite collection.
- Bryan Konietzko stated that Kuvira did love Baatar Jr. despite her actions.
- Bryan Konietzko ships Mako with the female radio operator from Republic City's communications room.