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The Stakeout

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Korra and Zaheer talk
"The Stakeout"

The Legend of Korra





Original air date
  • August 1, 2014 (online)
  • October 6, 2014 (television)
Written by

Michael Dante DiMartino

Directed by

Ian Graham


Studio Mir

Guest stars

Grey DeLisle-Griffin (Ming-Hua - intense woman), Maurice LaMarche (Aiwei - tavern owner), Peter Giles (Ghazan), Kristy Wu (P'Li), Andrea Romano (innkeeper), Matthew Willig (muscly man)

Production number


Episode guide

"The Terror Within"


"Long Live the Queen"

"The Stakeout" is the ninth episode of Book Three: Change of The Legend of Korra and the 35th of the overall series. It was released on for online viewing on August 1, 2014 and aired on Nicktoons on October 6, 2014.


Tracking Aiwei to the Misty Palms Oasis, Team Avatar conducts a stakeout to listen in on Aiwei during his meeting with Zaheer. Discovering the meeting is to actually take place in the Spirit World, however, Korra confronts the pair there and learns about the group that is pursuing her. In the physical world, Team Avatar is split up, and both sides are captured by different enemies.


In the Earth Kingdom, Naga leads Team Avatar to a desert village where they search for signs of Aiwei. They enter a tavern where Bolin notices a poster with his image, which he believes to be a promotional shot for his movers until Mako corrects him by stating that it and the three others depicting each team member are wanted posters. The firebender reads aloud the poster's declaration that they are wanted for crimes against the Earth Kingdom and deduces that it; the group's liberation of the Earth Queen's airbenders. Korra angrily remarks that the airbenders are not Hou-Ting's property and threatens the queen, before being stopped by Asami, who urges the group to leave after noticing several of the customers eyeing them suspiciously.

Meanwhile, at Suyin Beifong's estate, Lin approaches her sister and demands to know the whereabouts of Team Avatar, remarking that she has been ready to leave for half an hour. Suyin casually remarks that the Avatar is in the process of searching for Aiwei, much to Lin's frustration. Suyin urges her sister not to be overdramatic and insists that it is impossible for her to control Korra's every move, prompting Lin to storm off and angrily state that she can at least try.

Bolin and Mako in disguises

Bolin and Mako don yellow ponchos as disguises while they search the Misty Palms Oasis for Aiwei.

Team Avatar heads deeper into the Earth Kingdom where Naga manages to locate Aiwei's abandoned jeep behind a boulder in a vast rock quarry. Korra thanks the polar bear dog, but sheepishly admits that she forgot to bring treats as a reward, prompting Naga to turn around and slap her in the face with her tail. Mako decides to investigate the nearby Misty Palms Oasis with his brother while Korra and Asami wait by the jeep in order to minimize the risk of drawing too much attention. Bolin excitedly pulls out a pair of yellow ponchos for him and his brother to wear as disguises and begins launching into a description of their undercover identities. He narrates his story as a United Forces operative named Ting-Ting, but is interrupted by Mako who reroutes the former's focus on searching for Aiwei.

Upon entering the Misty Palms Oasis, Bolin and Mako approach a tavern owner and inquire about Aiwei. Although the tavern owner recalls encountering Aiwei the night before, he denies knowing where the man headed afterward, prompting the two brothers to search elsewhere.

Asami and Korra look at a map

Asami and Korra attempt to find Xai Bau's Grove on a map.

Back by the jeep, Asami asks Korra whether she is okay to which the latter expresses her frustration over not knowing what Zaheer and his group want from her. Asami expresses her uncertainty about the ordeal as well, but presents Korra with a note she found stashed away in the jeep requesting him to rendezvous at Xai Bau's Grove after sundown. After concluding that the grove is the location of Aiwei and Zaheer's meeting, the two begin to search for the grove on a map, but are interrupted by a number of bird-like spirits, which they hurriedly swat away.

Outside another tavern, Bolin notices two individuals eyeing him from a distance and tells Mako that they appear to be bounty hunters. Assuming that they have been discovered, Bolin and Mako flee and hide in an alley, where Bolin sees Aiwei, whom they follow to the Misty Palms Inn.

Mako returns to inform Korra and Asami of Aiwei's whereabouts, while the two reveal his plan to rendezvous with Zaheer at Xai Bau's Grove. Asami expresses her frustration over not being able to find the grove on the map, prompting Korra to suggest that they directly confront Aiwei for answers. Mako reasons with her and recommends a stakeout, which would allow the group to follow Aiwei to Zaheer.

Macao and Lily ask for autograph

Macao and Lily ask Bolin for an autograph, as they are huge fans of The Adventures of Nuktuk: Hero of the South.

Team Avatar enters the inn and Mako requests a room, but is immediately denied by the innkeeper, who reasons that a room had been trashed by the last teenagers accommodated. Shortly after, the two alleged bounty hunters appear, prompting the members of Team Avatar to prepare for a confrontation. However, the duo reveals that they are merely seeking out Bolin, as they are big fans of The Adventures of Nuktuk: Hero of the South. The two urge Bolin to sign autograph their mover poster and give the earthbender a handmade Nuktuk doll. Unaware that the group included a mover star, the innkeeper retracts her decision and offers Team Avatar any room. Mako insists on renting the room across from Aiwei's despite the innkeeper's warnings that it is too small to accommodate four guests.

Mako and Korra begin to watch Aiwei's room for any signs of activity, while Bolin and Asami play Pai Sho to pass the time. The latter two immediately begin to disagree about the nature of gameplay involved in Pai Sho, as Asami prefers a methodical approach while Bolin relies on chance. The two consult the rulebook and find that there are multiple ways to play the game, prompting Bolin to insist that Korra, as the Avatar, standardize the rules. Korra sarcastically promises to consult the issue after she restores the Air Nation and figures out the motives of the group who attempted to kidnap her. Mako asks Korra how she would act should they confront Zaheer to which the latter states that she would "make him talk". Mako remarks that the four criminals remained silent during their thirteen years of imprisonment and expresses his uncertainty over Korra being able to intimidate them with her bending. He suggests that the group spy on them instead, noting that Zaheer and Aiwei are more likely to talk freely if under the impression that they are not being watched. Bolin remarks that the plan bears similarity to the objective of Pai Sho, particularly in knowing one's opponents in order to defeat them. He proceeds to play numerous games of Pai Sho with Asami, the majority of which Asami wins, much to Bolin's frustration.

Misty Palms Inn room

Discovering that Aiwei meditated into the Spirit World, Korra goes after him in order to confront him and Zaheer.

After several hours, Bolin celebrates an endgame, which would allow him to win a game, but Pabu runs across the board and scatters the tiles before he can make the final move, much to his ire. Restless over waiting for Aiwei, Korra decides to confront him directly only to find him meditating in his room. She concludes that the spirits she and Asami encountered earlier were trying to tell them that Xai Bau's Grove could not be located on a map as it is located in the Spirit World. Korra decides to search for Aiwei in the spirit realm, while Mako and the others watch her body to ensure it remains safe.

In the Spirit World, Korra watches as Zaheer berates Aiwei for the group's failed kidnapping attempt in Zaofu. Aiwei assures the airbender that all incriminating evidence was burned in a fire, but Zaheer merely dismisses him as a loose end and hurls him into the Fog of Lost Souls. Zaheer returns to the grove, where he proceeds to confront Korra and ultimately resolves to answer all her questions, much to the Avatar's surprise. As she asks who Zaheer and his group are, he responds that they are members of the Red Lotus, a secret society dedicated to restoring freedom to the world. Founded by former White Lotus member Xai Bau, he states that the Red Lotus is a reflection of what the White Lotus was intended to be, admonishing the Order for losing its true purpose after the Hundred Year War by openly serving the Avatar and essentially becoming a group of glorified bodyguards who served "corrupt nations".

Zaheer tells Korra's location

Zaheer informs his friends about Korra's location and orders them to capture her.

Brushing off the explanation as a "great story", Korra notes that it does not explain why they tried to kidnap her as a child. Much to her shock, Zaheer reveals that it had been Unalaq's idea, though unbeknownst to the Avatar, he also contacts his companions in the physical realm about Korra's whereabouts. At their hideout, P'Li instructs Ghazan and Ming-Hua to go in search of the Avatar while she remains to safeguard Zaheer's body. Back in the grove, Zaheer recalls how he met Unalaq as a teenager after they both joined the society and how they learned about Raava and Vaatu as well as Avatar Wan's "foolish" decision to split them. Korra defends Wan by pointing out that he tried to restore balance, prompting Zaheer to reference the closing of the spirit portals, a decision with which Korra herself disagreed. Processing the new information, Korra concludes that the Red Lotus intended for her to open the portals and release Vaatu. Zaheer confirms her statement, adding that the order could also have taught her so much more, though Korra dismisses the notion as an attempt to brainwash her to heed their orders. Zaheer insists that all he wanted was to show the Avatar a better path for the world.

Back at the inn, Mako notices Ming-Hua and Ghazan searching the grounds and orders Asami to get Korra to safety while he and Bolin occupy the two benders. Ming-Hua notices Asami flee the inn on Naga and attempts to pursue the mount, but finds herself quickly under attack by Mako. Bolin attacks Ghazan with a series of earth columns, which the latter seamlessly melts into lava, forcing the two brothers to back away.

Zaheer reveals the Red Lotus mission

Zaheer reveals to Korra the intentions of the Red Lotus.

Still skeptical about her uncle being a Red Lotus member, Korra asks Zaheer why Unalaq was not imprisoned if his story is true. When Zaheer reveals that Unalaq was not with them the night of the attempted abduction and covered up his involvement afterward, Korra notes that Unalaq betrayed both of them. Zaheer agrees, referencing how the Northern Chief allowed him and his friends to be imprisoned to pursue his own goals; while it had been part of the Red Lotus' plans to free Vaatu, they did not intend to create a Dark Avatar by merging with the spirit. Claiming the true mission of the Red Lotus to be the same as Korra's, he describes it as restoring balance to the world by bringing the spirits back and eliminating the existence of nations and governments, referencing Korra's experiences in dealing with a "moronic president" and a "tyrannical queen". While Korra admits that she does not necessarily agree with the decisions of certain political leaders, she asserts that eliminating them is not the answer either, prompting Zaheer to remind her how the Air Nomad's were nearly all wiped out because of the Fire Lord's desire for dominance and state that true freedom can only be achieved when oppressive governments are torn down. Korra remarks that Zaheer's plan will only plunge the world into chaos, to which he replies that it is the idea, as disorder itself is the natural order. Trying to further support his point, he asks if Korra knows who once said, "New growth cannot exist without first the destruction of the old" and surprises her when he reveals that it was Guru Laghima, an airbender.

Back at the inn, Ming-Hua pursues Mako while Bolin attempts to defend himself against Ghazan's attacks. Mako slices one of Ming-Hua's water tendrils and attempts to fire a blast, but is pinned against a wall and promptly slammed into a room. Meanwhile, Ghazan fires three lava projectiles toward Bolin, who jumps into a pool of water for safety. Ming-Hua tells Ghazan to pursue Asami as she is capable of handling the two, before using waterbending to trap Bolin in an orb of water and clutch Mako with an ice claw. Outside the Misty Palms Oasis, Asami is suddenly trapped in an earth prison, halting her escape.

Korra and Asami captured

Korra and Asami were restrained and captured by the Earth Queen's forces.

In the Spirit World, Zaheer claims that he is the one destined to destroy the whole world and plant seeds for a new world to flourish. Korra urges him to make a positive difference in the world as an airbender. Zaheer compliments Korra for being a wise woman, but states that change is inevitable and thus cannot be stopped even by the Avatar. Frustrated, Korra asks Zaheer what he plans to do with her if he does manage to capture her to which Zaheer ambiguously responds that she will know soon enough, remarking that the Red Lotus should have her by now before disappearing. Alarmed, Korra returns to the physical realm and finds herself restrained by a straitjacket and muzzled. She is captured along with Asami, who reveals that they were captured by the Earth Queen's forces, who intend to take them back to Ba Sing Se. Back at the Red Lotus' hideaway, Ghazan reveals to his leader how the Earth Queen's forces snatched the Avatar before he had a chance to do so. Zaheer orders him and Ming-Hua to load Bolin and Mako, who have been taken hostage, into their truck, as they are leaving for Ba Sing Se.


Written by:

Directed by:


Also starring:

Production notes


Main article: Transcript:The Stakeout


Main article: Writing in the World of Avatar

Series continuity

Character revelations

  • The members of Team Avatar are wanted in the Earth Kingdom.
  • Zaheer, P'Li, Ghazan, Ming-Hua, and Aiwei are revealed to be members of an organization called the Red Lotus, a splinter faction of the Order of the White Lotus.
  • Unalaq used to be a member of the Red Lotus, but betrayed them in 158 AG to pursue his aspirations of becoming the Dark Avatar.
  • The Red Lotus attempted to kidnap Korra when she was five in order to use her to open the spirit portals and release Vaatu.
  • Aiwei and Zaheer have the ability to meditate into the Spirit World.


  • This episode was originally scheduled to air on Nickelodeon on July 25, 2014, before the show was moved from the channel's lineup to digital release.
  • This is the first episode of the Avatar franchise to only be released digitally during the respective book's initial run.[1]
  • Korra's gesture toward the tavern patrons recalls a similar gesture made by Katara and Sokka to two teenagers in "The Blind Bandit".
  • Τhe man on the cover of the book Bolin found in a drawer at the Misty Palms Inn largely resembles Bruce Lee.
  • Korra's appearance while muzzled and restrained in a straitjacket resembles Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs.


  1. Trendacosta, Katharine (July 25, 2014). Creators of The Legend of Korra Explain the Show's Not-Cancellation. io9. Retrieved on July 26, 2014.

Start a Discussion Discussions about The Stakeout

  • Are they online now?

    4 messages
    • Wolf 91 wrote:the more you look at a computer the worse your eyesight can get.  Actually looking at all screens worsen your eyesight
    • An entirely digital release was planned for book 3, but then plans changed to air it, but with the low raitings, very little methods...
  • Pabu missing in later half

    • I observed that Pabu was missing in the later half of the episode. Where might he have been? The last time I saw Pabu was when he disrupted ...

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