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The Battle of Zaofu

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Iroh and Earth Kingdom children Admit mistakes when they occur and seek to restore honor.

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This article is about the episode of The Legend of Korra. For the eponymous battle, see Fall of Zaofu.

"The Battle of Zaofu" is the sixth episode of Book Four: Balance of The Legend of Korra and the 45th of the overall series. It was released online on and through the Nick app on November 7, 2014, and aired on Nicktoons Network on December 5, 2014.


Suyin tries to take out Kuvira in the night, though her plan fails and she and her twin sons are taken prisoner. Kuvira announces to Zaofu what Suyin has done and tells its remaining leaders to step forward and surrender. Korra, Jinora, and Opal walk out to stop Kuvira, who has her entire army ready to invade the metal city. Kuvira and Korra have a brief standoff, after which Korra deduces there is no other option than to fight. Kuvira proposes a one-on-one duel, in which she has the upper hand until Korra enters the Avatar State. However, plagued by her Avatar apparition once again, Korra is unable to finish her attack, enabling Kuvira to defeat her. Before the metalbender can finish Korra off, Opal and Jinora intervene, saving the Avatar, and they flee Zaofu. Baatar and Huan are subsequently arrested as they refuse to acknowledge Kuvira as their leader. Meanwhile, Bolin and Varrick are forced to continue working on weaponizing the spirit vine energy, though Varrick secretly turns the stasis tube into a bomb, destroying his research and enabling Bolin and himself to escape. However, Baatar Jr., having closely observed Varrick in his work, is confident he can replicate the project with the help of Zhu Li.


Suyin, Wei, and Wing discovered

Suyin, Wei, and Wing's plan had been anticipated by Kuvira and a trap had been set up.

Night has fallen over Kuvira's camp. A guard makes his way around the perimeter, but is gagged and bound by Suyin. She and the twins pull themselves up on a branch, giving them a good view over the camp. Wing asks his mother whether this is a good idea, and she answers that most of the army has been forced to come there and that taking out Kuvira will devoid those troops of a reason to fight. They sneak into the camp, skillfully dodging patrolling mecha suits and searchlights. Suyin uses seismic sense to confirm that Kuvira is indeed asleep in her tent and they burrow their way in. However, they discover that it is Zhu Li sleeping in Kuvira's bed and the tent folds away around them, revealing that they walked straight into a trap. Kuvira steps forward and tells Suyin that she has always been a coward, capturing her and her sons.

Inside the domes, Jinora urges Korra to stop Suyin, but Opal says that Korra should be helping her mother. Korra objects to them both, saying that they have no idea where Suyin is, and that charging into Kuvira's camp will only make things worse. They are interrupted by Kuvira, who plugged into the Zaofu speaker system, and announces to the city what Suyin has done. She gives the remaining leaders of Zaofu one last chance, to offer the unconditional surrender of the city at dawn. Opal urges Korra again to do something and declared that they had to break out her mother and brothers, but Jinora sternly reminds her that she should not resort to violence as she had sworn an oath of nonaggression upon becoming an airbender. Opal flat-out says she does not care and that she has to save her family. Korra urges her to remain calm and agrees with Jinora, pointing out that Kuvira merely defended herself. Hearing this, Opal snaps at the Avatar, refuting the claim by pointing out that Kuvira plans to attack Zaofu, and expresses her incredulity at Korra's refusal to fight back. Meelo and Ikki join them, awoken by Kuvira's message. Korra decides to go to Kuvira the next morning, taking Opal and Jinora with her. Meelo and Ikki will stay with Baatar and Huan, who agree to escort them back to Tenzin in case things go wrong.

In Kuvira's train, Varrick and Bolin are in prison together. Varrick is having a nightmare about a lack of luxuries and Zhu Li to take care of said lack before startling awake, screaming Zhu Li's name. As he takes in his surroundings, however, he sits up and dejectedly notes that his assistant really is gone. Baatar Jr. and two soldiers come to collect him to continue his work on the spirit vine project. Varrick reminisces about always being greeted in the morning by Zhu Li with a hot cup of tea, though is told that he would receive the beverage when he starts working. He subsequently points out that he is only productive for fifteen minutes a day, usually in the afternoon from 3:45 until 4pm, a comment that causes him to be roughly slammed against the wall. Bolin wakes up due to the commotion and asked what was going on, though is told by Baatar Jr. to resume sleeping, as he would need his energy for his time in the reeducation camp. Varrick complains that he cannot work without an assistant, declaring himself to be helpless without Zhu Li, upon which Baatar Jr. assigns one of the soldiers. However, he spooks the guard by retelling how the experiment created an uncontrollable blast of energy last time they tried it, pointing out that the man may lose his hands. As such, Baatar Jr. appoints Bolin to assist, although the earthbender is not pleased with that development, stating he values his hands.

Korra, Opal, and Jinora negotiate

Representing Zaofu, Korra, Opal, and Jinora walk out to negotiate with Kuvira.

Back at Zaofu, Korra, Opal and Jinora approach Kuvira, who is standing in front of her army. Suyin, Wing and Wei are imprisoned in metal cases and put on display for the representatives of Zaofu. Opal demands their immediate release, but Kuvira refuses, reminding her that they tried to take her out during their truce. Wei disagrees, but Kuvira ignores him. Opal asks about Bolin, and Kuvira blatantly lies to her by saying that he is working on an important project, and is fully on board with her plans. She gives them one last opportunity to turn over Zaofu, but Korra refuses, and says that Kuvira is giving her no other choice than to fight her. Jinora is worried that Korra is not ready, but she assures the airbender that she has a lot of built-up rage. Opal warns Korra not to mess around and just go into the Avatar State, but she says she will only use that as a last resort. As the fight starts, Kuvira evades Korra's attacks and quickly manages to land some blows of her own, knocking down the Avatar to the approval of her soldiers.

Varrick with remote control

Varrick threatens to blow up the train with everyone on it.

Varrick has recommenced his work on the spirit vine project, closely supervised by Baatar Jr., though Varrick deems Bolin to not be as good an assistant as Zhu Li was, since he needed to be explained what was meant by "the thing". When Baatar Jr. orders Varrick to walk him through every step of the project, the eccentric inventor pushes the second-in-command back and starts telling that he had envisioned using the spirit vine energy as a source of clean, unlimited energy, rather than a weapon of mass destruction, something Bolin readily agrees with and requests to make that instead. Baatar Jr. denounces the notion, however, noting that it was their responsibility as scientists to push the boundaries of the possible once a discovery was made. Varrick jabs at him, however, that he would not know anything about scientific discoveries as he could not even "discover a wolfbat if it was building a nest in [his] butt", much to Bolin's amusement. When Baatar Jr. calls the inventor "pathetic" and corrects him on the fact that wolfbats did not build nests, Varrick sarcastically comments that he was bested due to that remark. Varrick goes on a little rant about how Baatar Jr. would never know what it felt like to "give birth to genius only to have it kidnapped and raised by fools", but is cut short when Baatar Jr. threatens to order the guards to roughly force him to continue his work.

Korra hallucinates over Kuvira

When Korra is about to crush Kuvira while in the Avatar State, she sees herself again and snaps out of the state.

At Zaofu, Korra is gradually losing more and more ground to Kuvira, who continues taunting the Avatar.

Back at the train, as Varrick fires up the machine, a constant beep is heard and Baatar Jr. inquires about its origin. Varrick reveals that it is the five-minute timer of the spirit vine bomb that will blow up anyone and everything within range when it detonates. Baatar Jr. attempts to arrest Varrick, though the latter pulls a remote detonator out of his pocket, saying he will blow up the train immediately if anyone drags him away from the bomb.

At Zaofu, Suyin urges Korra to go into the Avatar State, which she ultimately does. She instantly gains the upper hand over Kuvira and raises herself in the air on an air spout, lifting a giant boulder. When Kuvira turns to face her again, however, the Avatar sees herself in the Avatar State in place of the metalbender. Shocked, she exits the Avatar State and falls to the ground. Kuvira mocks her for being weak, traps her in an earth prison, and prepares six sharpened metal bands from her uniform to finish her off. Before she can execute her attack, Jinora and Opal intervene, blasting her away. As Kuvira recovers, she orders her troops to attack, since the two airbenders broke the terms of their agreement. The airbenders create a tornado trying to hold the army back, while Jinora uses her spiritual projection to call for back up, in the form of Meelo and Ikki. Those two are with Huan, who approves of Ikki's childlike painting, but reprimands Meelo for his extremely lifelike self-portrait. Jinora's spirit appears, and asks them for help. Meelo wastes no time, kicks down his easel, excited that he has something to do.

Baatar Jr. witnesses the explosion

Baatar Jr. witnesses in shock that Varrick followed up on his threat to blow up himself, Bolin, and the spirit vine research.

On the train, Baatar Jr. has evacuated all the cars in front of Varrick's lab and labels the inventor to be insane. Varrick brushes this off, saying that they knew that when they hired him. Bolin unhooks the cars, and the rest of the train slowly backs away from them. The lavabender lets out a relieved laugh, complimenting Varrick on his ploy that had Baatar Jr. fooled, and added that even he believed Varrick was truly intending to blow them up. Upon asking the inventor how they could shut the bomb down, Varrick tells him that he was not kidding: the bomb really is about to go off, and he cannot stop it. Shocked, Bolin frantically looks for a way to disarm the explosive and when that fails, for a way out. Spotting a hatch leading toward the train tracks, he walks up to Varrick, who poetically comes to terms with his imminent death. Bolin glares at the inventor, before slapping him in the face and telling him he hates him. Grabbing hold of Varrick, Bolin jumps out and sinks them into the ground with his bending, moments before the train explodes. Having watched the train explode from a telescope, Baatar Jr. was shocked to find that Varrick was indeed not bluffing and declares the inventor to be "crazier than a sewer pipe elephant rat", before ordering his men to start heading back to Zaofu. Meanwhile, Varrick and Bolin survived, and they emerge in the crater left by the bomb tumbling out, coughing and desperate for air. Varrick starts to laugh, ecstatic that Bolin finally "did the thing", bestowing him with a kiss on his forehead while Bolin glares at him and expressed his disbelief of how Zhu Li worked for Varrick for as long as she did.

The mecha suits are struggling with the strong headwind created by Opal and Jinora, but slowly manage to break through. At that point, Meelo and Ikki soon show up on Pepper. Opal and Jinora lift Korra onto the bison and they take off. Opal wants to go back to free her mother and brothers, but she is stopped by Jinora and Ikki. Suyin yells after that her daughter that they will be fine to which a tearful Opal says that she will be back and that she loves her. Kuvira watches Pepper fly away and claims her victory over the city of Zaofu.

Baatar Senior and Junior

Baatar Jr. orders his father and brother to be arrested after they refused to bow to Kuvira.

Inside, Kuvira gathers the citizens of Zaofu and declares that they will be dealt with as full citizens of the Earth Empire, so long as they bow to her. If not, they will be considered traitors, like Suyin and the twins. The entire city does, save for two: Baatar and Huan, much to the chagrin of Baatar Jr., who wants his father to bow to his rightful leader. A calm Baatar simply declares that he is disappointed in his son before he and Huan are taken away by orders of his son.

Later, in Suyin's garden, Baatar Jr. informs Kuvira of the death of Varrick and Bolin and that he is certain there is no way they survived. He also tells her he thinks he can replicate Varrick's work with the spirit vines, but only with an assistant. Turning to Zhu Li, Kuvira asks if she would like to help Baatar Jr. build the "most powerful weapon the world has ever seen". When Zhu Li answers it would be her honor to do so, accepts, Kuvira orders the dismantling of the domes of Zaofu.


Written by:

Directed by:


Also starring:

Production notes


Main article: Transcript:The Battle of Zaofu


Main article: Writing in the World of Avatar

Series continuity

  • Varrick recalls the time he was broken out of his prison cell by UnaVaatu in "Light in the Dark".
  • While playing with a piece of meteorite, Kuvira metalbends it into the shapes Suyin and Korra bent during the Avatar's metalbending lessons in "Old Wounds".

Character revelations

  • Suyin is capable of using seismic sense.
  • Despite having removed the mercury in her body, Korra still experiences hallucinations of herself in the Avatar State.
  • Varrick took an interest in spirit vines, intending to use them as a source of clean energy, after seeing them unleashed into Republic City by UnaVaatu.
  • It was revealed that Baatar Jr. hired Varrick.


  • During their battle, Kuvira attaches a piece of metal around Korra left wrist and right ankle to twist her around. However, as Korra falls to the ground, the strips are gone without having been removed. This happens every time when this move is used.
  • After Korra is knocked down by a rock to the stomach, she sends a fire stream at Kuvira with her left hand, the flames trailing behind it. When the shot moves to a back view of Korra, however, the flames are on her right side.


  • The banners adorning Zaofu following its fall to the Earth Empire read "May Kuvira live for ten thousand years" (古维拉万岁), a phrase often said in reference to the Emperor in ancient China.
  • Varrick stating that Zhu Li's name would become synonymous with "betrayal" is similar to how the names of Ephialtes, Quisling, and Judas became synonymous with "traitor" in many languages and cultures.
  • This is the second time seismic sense is used while wearing footwear, the first time was in "The Terror Within" by Lin.

Start a Discussion Discussions about The Battle of Zaofu

  • Korra is weak

    233 messages
    • More to the point, they needed an excuse to make her lose to pad out the plot.
    • Perhaps. I can see the season continuing if Kuvira as defeated in their first fight. After all, you just bring up the whole public support ...
  • Zuko Katara and Toph in Action

    14 messages
    • 8th Hero of Olympus wrote:Sadly, I think it's gonna be like Tenzin's battle with Zaheer---Toph will defeat Kuvira, but will ultimately be brou...
    • If they let Toph get defeated, I will lose so much faith in the show. Maybe idealism or dumb hope but Toph is a master, and a good chunk of ...

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