|"Stop groveling as if this is the worst day of your life. This ... is a good day. I'm going to give you all the opportunity to rehabilitate yourselves, and become productive members of your nation. Right now, you're lost, but pledge your loyalty to me, and I'll give you a new purpose in your lives."|
|— Kuvira forcing some bandits to join her.|
"After All These Years" is the first episode of Book Four: Balance of The Legend of Korra and the 40th of the overall series. It was released on Nick.com and through the Nick app on October 3, 2014, and aired on Nicktoons on November 28, 2014.
In the three years since the insurrection of the Red Lotus, Republic City has adapted to the spirits living in the metropolis, accepting them as a part of the city. Asami Sato's Future Industries has modernized Central City Station, and the great-nephew of the late Hou-Ting, Prince Wu, is being groomed to hold the still-vacant throne of the Earth Kingdom, with Mako serving as his bodyguard. Kuvira and Baatar Jr., along with their supporters, have traveled the Earth Kingdom in an attempt to reunite it under her militaristic rule. Kai and Opal stop a robbery in the State of Yi, but they are unable to restore the town's supply lines, leaving the reluctant governor no choice but to agree to Kuvira's terms, and he signs over the control of the state to her. Korra, who was set to reunite with Team Avatar in Republic City, has instead been traveling alone for the past six months, hiding her identity as the Avatar.
With the remodeling of Central City Station done, President Raiko holds a public ceremony for the grand reopening. In his speech, he thanks Asami Sato and Future Industries for updating the rail system and establishing a connection between the United Republic of Nations and the Earth Kingdom more closely than ever before. In light of her accomplishment, the Sato heiress is given the honors of cutting the ribbon.
Afterward, Asami answers some questions from the press, though her conversation is cut short when Prince Wu approaches her. Using his royal status, he tries to flirt with her, though Asami dismisses his advances. Although undeterred by the swift rejection, the prince's continuous efforts are halted when Mako joins the conversation, telling Wu that President Raiko wants to discuss the Earth Kingdom throne with him. As the prince retreats, Asami asks him how he can stand being the royal's bodyguard. Mako replies that he reminds himself that once Wu is crowned king, he will become a detective again, though adds jokingly that he also smashes his head into a wall for an hour to relieve the stress. Changing the topic, Asami notes how good it is to see him again and inquires about Bolin. Mako admits that, while he has not talked to his brother for a while, he knows that Bolin will be in Republic City to attend Wu's coronation a few days later. He also adds that Lin Beifong has mentioned that Korra will arrive that evening, much to the elation of Asami.
Standing with Lin and Raiko, Tenzin informs Wu that the United Forces will escort him to Ba Sing Se after his coronation. The prince wonders whether the Earth Kingdom is really safe enough for him to return, recalling the death of his great-aunt, Queen Hou-Ting, three years prior. Raiko tries to appease the royal's concerns by telling him that Kuvira has "pretty much" stabilized the nation, which Tenzin clarifies as being a situation in which the roving bandits are "mostly" dispersed. Finally, Lin states that the chances of him being assassinated are "almost zero", though none of their words succeed in calming the unnerved prince.
Meanwhile, in a village in the State of Yi, a group of bandits robs a woman's shop. As they make their getaway in a jeep, Kai and Opal arrived to the village in time to witness their escape from atop Lefty and jump down to pursue them. Soaring past them, Kai topples their jeep by blasting its hood with a strong air current, flinging the bandits into the air. After Opal uses airbending to break their fall, the duo ties them up, and Kai declares the village safe again now that they have arrived. The governor emerges to greet them though is quickly distressed to learn that the two teenagers are all the help the Air Nation could send to aid him.
On a train passing rapidly through the Earth Kingdom, Bolin informs Baatar Jr., Varrick, Zhu Li, and Kuvira that two more states have agreed to join their cause, bringing them to ninety percent of their goal. Although Zhu Li hands out tea to celebrate on Varrick's orders, they all digress to drink when Kuvira, who is metalbending a map showing the territories under her control, announces that she will not celebrate until the country is entirely united. The train suddenly lurches to a stop, and a sergeant reports that the tracks are obstructed rocks, which he assumes to be the work of bandits. Noting that troops have been deployed to handle the situation, Kuvira orders their retreat, deciding to handle the situation herself. She exits the train through its roof and watches as a horde of bandits descends the cliffs on either side of the tracks. The battle that follows is brief and one-sided: Kuvira easily evades or deflects the rocks thrown at her, and when her opponents come within striking distance, she launches thin metal strips at them, covering their eyes and binding their limbs. After subduing all of her attackers and metalbending them to the train tracks by their restraints, Kuvira uncovers their eyes and berates the earthbenders for causing chaos where she is attempting to restore order. When a female bandit starts to apologize, Kuvira silences her by covering her mouth momentarily with a metal strip to prevent the woman from interrupting her. When a male bandit begs for mercy, she orders them to stop groveling over their predicament and offers them the opportunity to rehabilitate themselves and serve as productive members of the Earth Kingdom. Should they pledge their loyalty to her, she vows to give them a new purpose in life; should they refuse, she notes that they can remain stuck to the tracks, waiting for someone to rescue them before the next train passes by. Much to Kuvira's satisfaction, the prisoners unanimously choose to join her cause and pledge their loyalty to her.
In Republic City, Prince Wu and Mako walk through the Republic City Four Elements hotel. Mako asks Wu why they are leaving the hotel so early, considering their dinner at Air Temple Island is only later that evening, and the prince is only getting a haircut. The royal excitedly corrects the firebender, gushing about the luxurious spa treatment that will take at least four hours. As they near the exit, Wu's ramblings only come to a halt when he notices a crowd outside and immediately assumes that they are fans of his in town for his coronation. Despite Mako's warning that they may not be there to support him, Wu proudly struts out onto the red carpet and poses for the people, even letting his picture be taken with two female fans. However, Mako notices several people clad in green among the crowd stalking toward Wu. Realizing the potential danger, he scoops the prince up and places him inside the waiting Satomobile, urging the chauffeur to drive while the protesters hurl strawberry pies at them. When Wu asks what happened, Mako tells him that he suspects Kuvira supporters were hiding in the crowd.
The prince notices that his abdomen is covered in a red substance and assumes that he has been severely wounded, and begins to writhe in pain. Mako dismisses the royal's panic, telling him that he was hit by a strawberry pie, which the prince confirms by tasting it. Grateful, Wu praises Mako for having saved him, stating that he would be lost without his bodyguard, but abruptly interrupts himself. Believing to be allergic to strawberries, he dramatically falls to his hands and knees on floor of the Satomobile while clutching his throat with one hand, lamenting he is having trouble breathing. An annoyed Mako comments that Wu is allergic to bee stings, not strawberries, causing the prince to straighten up immediately and merrily mention his frequent tendency to confuse the two.
In Yi, Kai and Opal spot an approaching train and return to the village, hoping it is carrying food and supplies. Much to their surprise, Earth Empire soldiers disembark from the train. Seeing Bolin among them, Opal deduces that Kuvira and her brother, Baatar Jr., must be there as well, musing that it does not bode well. Nevertheless, Kai happily calls for Bolin, running up to him to hug him tightly. Noticing his friend's new, tidy hairstyle, Kai remarks it makes Bolin "look like a stiff", but Bolin counters by noting that Kuvira thought it made him look "intelligent and professional". Approaching Bolin from behind, Opal ruffles his hair, stating that he should not believe every Kuvira says. Happy to see it is Opal behind him, the couple embraces each other warmly, as they missed each other. Baatar Jr. and Kuvira step off the train, and Opal's attitude immediately turns cold upon seeing her brother. While Bolin immediately fixes his hair, she snaps at Baatar Jr. for pretending to care about their mother, reminding him that Suyin has not not forgiven him for betraying her. When Kuvira tries to defuse the situation by stating that they have not come to bicker with her, but rather to aid the town, Opal briskly tells the metalbender that she has heard of how Kuvira "helps" the towns she visits, namely by conquering them. Kuvira defends herself by denouncing the rumors as "pretty nasty" and maintaining that her actions are giving people a brighter future. The conversation switches topic when Kuvira refers to Baatar Jr. as "her fiancé", much to Opal's shock. Recognizing the heated situation between her and the Beifong family when she and Baatar Jr. left Zaofu three years prior, she asks Opal to forgive and forget. Their conversation is interrupted by the governor of Yi, however, who asks Kuvira why she has come to the town. Promptly assuming a professional demeanor, she requests a private audience with him.
Now alone in her train, Kuvira asks the governor if he has had time to rethink her offer, which she deems to be generous. When the governor opposes the idea that it is generous, noting that she intends to take everything, she points out that the bandits outnumber his people and out-supply his state, making it only a matter of time until Yi will fall. By signing her deal, she will save the lives of the people of Yi as well as keep the governor in his position under her supervision, something that she also deems to be generous. The governor refuses once more and accuses her of only wanting access to Yi's ore reserves. Despite the fact that she is known as the "Great Uniter", he merely sees her as the destroyer of everything. An irate Kuvira reprimands him for his pride, noting that it will not defend against the bandits raiding the state nor feed his people. Despite the intimidation, the governor refuses to yield and orders her to leave his state
As he angrily exits the train, Kuvira follows behind him and orders her troops to board the train. When Kai asks what happened, Kuvira explains that she was unable to make a deal with the governor. Kai asks if they are really going to leave, upon which Kuvira hands him the unsigned contract. She tells him that she and her army will be stationed at the state border for a day, only to return and aid Yi if he can convince the governor to comply.
As the soldiers board the train, Opal pleads with Bolin to not abandon the people of Yi, but he insists he powerless to help now that the governor wants them gone. Upset, Opal pushes him away when he tries to hug her goodbye. She bitterly tells him to leave and turns her back on him while he sadly boards the train. While the train pulls away, Kai notes that they may not need the army's help, as they can fly to the nearby towns with Lefty and gather supplies themselves, an idea Opal readily agrees with.
As they finish loading supplies on Lefty's back a while later, the farmer helping them apologizes for not being able to give more. Opal quickly puts him at ease, assuring him that every contribution, regardless the size, helps and that the combined supplies will be enough to sustain the townspeople until reinforcements arrive. The two airbenders bow in gratitude before taking to the skies on Lefty.
On their journey back, Kai asks Opal about her relationship with Bolin. Opal admits that the long distance is challenging, and that she cannot stand him working with Kuvira. As Kai suggests that Bolin seemingly has found his calling, considering he loves to help people. Although Opal concedes to that point, she notes that Bolin has changed, and she fears they are growing apart. Moving on to a happier subject, she asks how Kai and Jinora's relationship is working, but before Kai can elaborate beyond that they are doing fine, they are attacked in midair by a biplane piloted by bandits, who fire a grappling gun at the net covering the supplies on Lefty's back. As one of the bandits ziplines down the cable to sever the cords tying the supplies down, Kai tries to blast him off the flying bison, but the bandit is still hooked to the cable, preventing him from falling. The two engage in a fight, during which Kai's wingsuit, without his realizing it, is sliced by the man's blade. As the biplane lifts all the supplies off Lefty and flies away, the young airbender jumps after them though is unable to catch them, plummeting toward the ground. Unable to balance himself due to sliced wingsuit, he starts to spiral out of control. Noticing Kai's peril, Opal launches herself after him and grabs him, using her own wingsuit to create a stable lifting surface and enabling them both to land safely to Lefty.
Returning to Yi, Opal explains to a desperate governor that the food has been stolen. A dejected Kai pulls out Kuvira's contract and tells him it may be time to make a tough call. Reluctantly, the governor agrees and signs the paper. Handing it back to Kai, he bitterly tells him to tell Kuvira to save his people. When Kai tries to cheer him up by telling him he made the right decision, the governor wonders if he ever really had a choice.
At night on Air Temple Island, Tenzin and his family have dinner with Asami, Prince Wu, Lin Beifong, Mako, and the presidential couple. The young airbenders are excited about the prospect of reuniting with Korra. While Jinora tends to Pabu, Meelo announces that he is sure Korra will not recognize him when she arrives. When Ikki asks why that will be, he states confidently that he has become a man since she last saw him. Striking several poses he hopes look intimidating, he fails to impress his sister, who sarcastically notes that he is "completely unrecognizable".
Meanwhile, Lin and Mako stand away from the rest of the group, as Wu expounds his spa experience to Raiko and Buttercup. Mako admits to his Chief of Police that he cannot wait for the royal's coronation, longing to return to his detective work. Much to his shock, however, an apologetic Lin tells him that he will be relocated to Ba Sing Se as the prince personally requested him to be his bodyguard indefinitely. She tried to stop it from happening, but it was beyond her power since he is being used by Raiko as a political pawn. When an Air Acolyte notifies the gathered group of the arrival of a ship from the Southern Water Tribe, the congregation happily leaves to welcome Korra.
In Yi, Kuvira's army occupies the village and distributes food to the hungry citizens. They even allowing a number of jubilant children to play on their mecha suits. Kuvira publicly declares Yi to be under her army's full protection, a statement that is met with enthusiastic cheering from the citizens. Turning to the governor, she demands that he pledge his loyalty to her, lest he lose his position. Glaring at her with a deep bitterness, he complies and proclaims his loyalty. As Kuvira's banner unfurls over the village gate, Bolin, handing out supplies to the throng of people around him, spots Opal in the crowd and smiles happily. However, she sadly turns her gaze away from him and disappears into the crowd, leaving a saddened Bolin to continue handing out supplies.
At Air Temple Island, Naga excitedly exits the ship to have her belly rubbed by Tenzin's children, while the airbending master greets Tonraq. When he tells Tonraq that they are all excited to see the Avatar again, the Chief of the South is confused and concerned by his words, as he was under the impression that his daughter was in the city; she had written letters to him that led him to believe she had been there for the past six months. Equally confused, Tenzin ensures him that his daughter is not with them, leaving everyone to wonder about Korra's whereabouts.
Somewhere in a warehouse, Korra, who has donned Earth Kingdom attire and cut her hair, duels an earthbender in a cage fight. Despite being pummeled by rocks and knocked back repeatedly, she challenges her opponent, increasing the intensity of the fight. After lashing out and evading several attacks, Korra is knocked down by a direct hit; unable to stand up and continue, her opponent is declared the winner. After the crowd has cleared out of the arena, Korra is sitting on the bleachers herself, unwrapping her wrist bandages. The ring announcer walks up to her and pays her for her "lackluster participation". Taking the money, Korra emotionlessly thanks him and grabs her bag. As she stands to leave, the man notes that she looks familiar, similar to "that Avatar girl". Korra briskly dismisses it, claiming she has heard that before. As she walks away, the ringmaster asks what happened to the Avatar, and Korra's answer is a dispassionate, "I wouldn't know."
- Written by:
- Directed by:
- Janet Varney - Korra
- David Faustino - Mako
- Seychelle Gabriel - Asami
- P. J. Byrne - Bolin
- John Michael Higgins
- Bandit Leader
- J. K. Simmons - Tenzin
- James Remar - Tonraq
- Zelda Williams - Kuvira
- Sunil Malhotra - Prince Wu
- Mindy Sterling
- Shop owner
- Skyler Brigmann - Kai
- Dee Bradley Baker
- Jeff Bennett
- Radio broadcaster
- Air Acolyte
- Also starring:
- Main article: Transcript:After All These Years
- Main article: Transcript:After All These Years (commentary)
- Main article: Writing in the World of Avatar
- The Republic City Park is renamed Avatar Korra Park.
- The monorail appears to be the maglev rail Varrick proposed in "The Metal Clan".
- Prince Wu is a great-nephew to the late Earth Queen Hou-Ting and next in line for the Earth Kingdom throne.
- Baatar Jr. and Kuvira are betrothed and the former is estranged from his family at Zaofu.
- Kuvira's official title is Interim President of the Earth Kingdom.
- Kai and Jinora are in a relationship.
- Bolin and Opal are in a relationship, though it is strained due to Bolin joining Kuvira, whose methods Opal does not approve of.
- Team Avatar disbanded after Korra left to recover.
- Korra has been traveling the Earth Kingdom on her own for the past six months.
- During Raiko's speech at the start, there is no arrow on Tenzin's right hand.
- During the conference that President Raiko held, Lin is not standing next to Prince Wu before his photo is taken by the journalists, but when several journalists take photos of him, she is standing next to him.
- When Kuvira bends the two states onto her map, the river and lake directly over those two states are green. In the next shot, they are blue again.
- Right after Kuvira blinds the last bandit with her metal plates and starts moving her arms in order to bind her opponents to each other, both of her hands become transparent in one of the animation frames.
- When Kuvira is talking to Opal and Bolin, the line that divides her belt in two is gone.
- When Kuvira is talking to the governor in her train cart, the two earthen pieces she placed on the map earlier are missing.
- When Opal is talking about her doubt about her relationship with Bolin to Kai, she seems to react before he responds.
- When Lin informs Mako of his permanent position as Wu's bodyguard, her elbow plate turns to a much darker shade for a single frame.
- After Kuvira leaves the jeep and prepares to proclaim the state as under her protection, the jeep is not visible near her.
- The logo on the floor during Korra's cage fight is the same one as that of Earth Rumble in "The Blind Bandit".
- This is the first episode in which Meelo is seen with hair.
- The earthbenders surfing on rocks during their attack on Kuvira's train is similar to how the Southern Water Tribe rebels began their attack in "Night of a Thousand Stars".
- This is Kai's last speaking role in the series.
- Kai's voice actor, Skyler Brigmann, had to redo all of his lines during the episode's post-production, as his voice had changed significantly since his initial recording.
- This is the only episode in the animated series to feature Commander Guan, the main antagonist of the Ruins of the Empire comic trilogy, though he had no speaking lines.
- This episode has one of the few instances in the franchise where non-classical instrumentation is used, that being the electric guitar, which plays during the moment of Meelo's self-aggrandizing. Composer Jeremy Zuckerman has been noted by Bryan Konietzko as "first and foremost" a metal guitarist.