|"You've lost faith in me, too, haven't you? No one thinks I'm capable of anything anymore."|
|— Korra to Tenzin.|
"Beyond the Wilds" is the ninth episode of Book Four: Balance of The Legend of Korra and the 48th of the overall series. It was released on Nick.com and through the Nick app on November 28, 2014, and aired on Nicktoons on December 12, 2014.
As a group of tourists led by Ryu wanders through Republic City's Spirit Wilds, they are suddenly attacked and captured by the vines. Jinora, Korra, and Opal investigate their disappearance; Korra reads the vines' energy and discovers that Kuvira is harvesting vines from the Foggy Swamp. While Jinora continues her search in the Wilds, Korra and Opal leave to inform President Raiko about the situation. Arriving at City Hall, they interrupt the world leaders as they debate which course of action to take against Kuvira. Varrick and Bolin arrive moments later as well and deliver the same message as Korra and Opal. A decision is made to strengthen the United Republic's borders, and Opal and Lin, apart from the others, decide to rescue their family in Zaofu by themselves. Meanwhile, Jinora is attacked by the vines as well but warns Korra by using her spirit projection, leading Korra and Mako to enter the Spirit Wilds in search of her. They find the unconscious captives and realize their souls are trapped in the Spirit World. Korra tries to meditate into the Spirit World, but she again finds herself incapacitated by visions of Zaheer. Korra decides to confront him in his prison. Deeming Kuvira's usurpation of power contrary to his intentions, the airbender opts to help her come to terms with her trauma and guides her into the Spirit World, where she successfully reconnects with Raava and retrieves the souls of Jinora, Ryu, and the captured tourists. Asami and Varrick are tasked with finding a defense against Kuvira's super weapon, and Bolin, trying to reconcile with Opal, chooses to join her and Lin on their secret mission to rescue their family.
In Republic City, Ryu prepares to guide a group of tourists into the Spirit Wilds. Among the tourists are his parents; his mother proudly declares how happy she is that he is an airbender, and that he is doing "important Air Nation stuff", while his father is less than impressed. Annoyed and embarrassed by both his parents, Ryu begins his tour. Inside the wilds, Ryu tells the tourists about the vines being the result of Korra's battle with UnaVaatu, but the tourists seem to be rather dim about it; Ryu is slightly annoyed by the questions one particularly dim tourist poses to him. When the tourist points out that a vine is moving toward them, Ryu is unsure of how to address the issue; the tourist decides to poke it with a stick, despite Ryu pointing out the stupidity of such an act, and the vine suddenly wraps around him and lifts him in the air. Ryu tries and fails to free him, and, as more vines begin to accost them, the rest of the group is quickly taken as well; Ryu is the last man to be dragged away.
On Air Temple Island, Korra is playing with Naga when Opal walks up to her. The airbender expresses frustration that no one, besides her, seems to care that her family has been imprisoned; Korra tries to reassure her that they do care, and that they will get them back safely, but they are interrupted by Jinora, who urgently tells them that she has felt a weird surge of energy coming from the city's Spirit Wilds and that something is wrong. The three immediately go to the city to investigate; Opal doubts Jinora, but Jinora is absolutely certain of what she has felt. Korra also has her doubts, but decides to feel the energy of the vines; the vines show her that Kuvira's army is cutting up the banyan-grove tree. After Korra relays this information to Jinora and Opal, the latter proposes that telling President Raiko may help him convince the other world leaders to take action against Kuvira. She and Korra leave to find Raiko, while Jinora continues searching for Ryu.
At City Hall, President Raiko is meeting with Chief Lin Beifong, Fire Lord Izumi, Tenzin, and Earth King Wu, discussing what they should do about Kuvira. Wu offers several far-fetched suggestions, none of which are taken seriously by the other world leaders. Raiko opines that preemptive action against her forces is needed, but Tenzin disagrees, stating that Kuvira has shown no aggression against the Republic itself. Lin sides with Raiko, claiming that she can no be trusted after refusing to turn over power. Korra and Opal burst into the meeting unannounced. Korra is surprised to realize they are having a meeting, and even more surprised that she was not invited to it, while Wu was. Tenzin tries to explain their reasoning, but they are interrupted again, this time by Bolin and Varrick. Raiko, offended by their presence, orders the guards to remove them, but they desperately explain that they have defected from Kuvira's army and have "top-secret" information about her super weapon. Korra guesses that it makes use of spirit vines, surprising Varrick; she explains her vision, leading Raiko to worry that Kuvira might use the weapon against Republic City. He again presses for a preemptive strike; not only does Tenzin oppose this, but so does Fire Lord Izumi, much to Raiko's surprise; the former refuses to allow his airbenders to be part of an unprovoked attack, while the latter wishes to keep the Fire Nation from fighting another "nonsense war". Raiko reluctantly agrees, and he and Izumi compromise on fortifying the borders of the United Republic together. Opal leaves the building and Bolin follows her, trying to apologize; Opal, while glad that Bolin is okay, tells him it is too late for a simple apology. Lin comes out as well, interrupting the conversation, and takes Opal aside. The chief tells the airbender about Raiko's decision, and informing her that they will have to save their family by themselves. Opal wants to seek outside help, bu Lin refuses as it is an unsanctioned and dangerous mission into enemy territory. Meanwhile, Korra and Mako approach Bolin and greet him. They all hug, and a happy Bolin apologizes for his 'idiotic' involvement with Kuvira. Korra sadly puts the blame on herself, telling him that losing to Kuvira in the Battle of Zaofu has led the world leaders to doubt her ability. Mako tries to cheer her up by pointing out that her friends are still there for her, before turning to Bolin and saying that they know he just did what he thought was right. Touched by his brother's words, Bolin instigates another group hug.
Back in the Spirit Wilds, Jinora finds a camera which one of the missing tourists dropped. Out of nowhere, the vines attack her as well, and, although she is able to avoid them for a few moments, they eventually take her. She uses her last few moments of consciousness to create a spiritual projection of herself, which appears abruptly in front of a shocked Korra and Mako and urges them to help her.
When they reach the entrance to the Spirit Wilds, Lin has already cordoned off the area. Korra tells Lin she wants to help; while Lin initially thinks it a bad idea, Korra manages to convince her, and she and Mako enter the Wilds to look for Jinora. The vines, as with the others, attack them, but Korra and Mako manage to dodge them with firebending and escape into a building, where they find a collection of green, glowing cocoons with people within them. Korra recognizes one of them as Jinora and tries to free them with spiritbending, but it fails; she then tries meditating into the Spirit World and freeing them from the other side. As she tries to meditate, however, she is accosted by a vision of Zaheer trying to kill her, and abandons the effort in terror. Mako, shocked by her reaction, asks her what happened, and Korra explains that Zaheer has been haunting her, preventing her from entering the Spirit World. They return to the police roadblock and find Tenzin has arrived; Korra tells him she wants to face Zaheer in person, and Tenzin sharply disagrees, believing Zaheer to be untrustworthy. Korra tries to convince him, but he persists, suggesting they call her father to lead an expedition to the Southern portal. Korra is saddened to see that Tenzin has lost faith in her, a claim the latter denies. Korra again insists that she confront Zaheer; this time, Tenzin relents, informing her that Zaheer's prison is located deep in the mountains outside the city. Korra thanks him for helping her and departs.
Back on Air Temple Island, Bolin searches the grounds for Pabu; eventually, the fire ferret descends from a tree and races to him. Bolin hugs him, saying that he missed him very much. The earthbender informs Pabu that Opal is mad at him, and asks for his help to win her back. Pabu responds by chittering excitedly, and Bolin concocts a plan.
Moments later, Opal is approached by Pabu, who has a pink ribbon around his neck. When Opal greets him, she notices the ribbon and finds a note attached to it. Opal reads the note and becomes panicked, running off immediately with guidance from Pabu. When she reaches Bolin, she finds him sitting down and pouring tea in a picnic setting, looking relieved that she has arrived. When Opal asks him what she is looking at, Bolin tells her that it is a picnic for both of them; he adds he also invited Pabu. Opal responds by pointing out that the note that Pabu brought her told her that he had broken both of his legs, and accuses him of lying to her. Bolin admits that he has, but persists anyway, saying that, since she has come, she can sit down with him, relax, eat some homemade steamed buns made by Pema, and watch Pabu do some "world famous" backflips. Opal replies with cold sarcasm, saying that steamed buns are her favorite, and that they will obviously make her forget that Bolin ever worked for Kuvira, who captured her family and, she surmises, is probably torturing them. As Bolin listens to her words, his guilt increasing, she continues, with more and more sarcasm and anger in her voice, stating that having a picnic is a great idea, as the two of them are "so in love". Apologizing to Pabu for his having to watch the confrontation, she leaves a saddened and guilt-ridden Bolin alone, and Pabu helps himself to a steamed bun.
In the president's office in City Hall, Raiko, Asami, and Varrick hold a meeting about Kuvira's super weapon. Varrick is happy to be welcomed back with open arms, but Raiko clarifies that his presence is only due to necessity. The president goes on to state his open dislike for the eccentric inventor, especially after his attempted kidnapping. Varrick flippantly retorts that he only "allegedly" attempted the kidnapping, a statement that angers Asami; she retorts that everything he does is "allegedly". She accuses him of taking control of Future Industries through his manipulation and bombing the Southern Water Tribe Cultural Center, but Varrick replies that he owns the building, and has the right to blow it up. Raiko interrupts their argument, asking both parties to put aside their differences and work together to find a defense against Kuvira's weapon. Varrick enthusiastically offers a hand to Asami, asking to be partners again, and Asami grudgingly takes it before putting it in a joint lock. As Varrick squirms in pain, she menacingly warns him to never again double-cross her, and he nods weakly in agreement.
Outside Zaheer's prison, Mako asks Korra if she really is ready to face Zaheer, having not seen him in three years; she insists, and they continue onward. A White Lotus Sentry takes Korra and Mako down a lift to Zaheer's cell, located deep underground and specially designed to prevent his escape. Mako wants to come in with Korra, but she tells him this is something she needs to do alone. When she enters the cell, she finds Zaheer floating in midair, with long chains shackling his arms and legs. He tells Korra he has been expecting her, and wonders how desperate she must be to have visited him. Korra says she wants to look him in the eye and declare that he is not a threat, but the airbender, contorting his expression, suddenly lunges for her; only his chains keep him from actually attacking her. Utterly terrified, Korra stumbles away from Zaheer, who is mildly amused by her persistent fear. Korra, unnerved by her fear and thinking coming to his location was a mistake, turns to leave, but she stops when he informs her that he knows she has not been to the Spirit World in quite some time. Korra blames Zaheer for her weakness, claiming that he destroyed people's confidence in her, but he brushes the accusation aside, saying that she is holding onto her fear to comfort herself and use a crutch. She realizes, and tells Zaheer, that she may never be the same, a sentiment that Zaheer agrees with. He explains that they are both different than they were: he learned to fly and is bound in chains, and Korra, conversely, though she possesses vast power and the freedom to use it, chooses to hold herself down. When Korra declares that her powers have limits, Zaheer completely discards the thought, pointing out that she was able to fight off the lethal mercury poisoning, and asserts that her powers are limitless. Korra brushes off his remark by informing him of what his quest for chaos and freedom brought the world: he killed the Earth Queen, an awful and abusive leader, but that action only led to the rise of the "worst dictator the Earth Kingdom has ever seen", and sarcastically thanks him for his work.
Worried by the news of Kuvira, Zaheer informs Korra that the dictator's actions are against his intentions; finding himself momentarily allied with Korra, he offers to guide Korra into the Spirit World, but she refuses until Zaheer reminds her that, if she had any other options, she would not be visiting him. As they begin to meditate, Korra finds herself in the memory of Zaheer suffocating her. Korra begins to panic, but Zaheer instructs her to let it play out and accept what happened to her, rather than dwell on what could have been. She enters the massive air vortex and falls to the earth; when she hit the surface, she breaks through the ground and emerges in the Spirit World, across from her former enemy. Korra asks Zaheer if he knows where to find Jinora and the others and he claims he does not but she does, before returning to the physical world. Raava lights up inside Korra, surprising her; telling Raava she missed her, Korra asks where she was, and Raava replies that she was always within her. Korra asks Raava if she can help her find Jinora, and Raava transports her across the Spirit World to the missing tourists; their spirits are held captive within a large, green bubble. Korra thinks that she is powerless in the Spirit Realm, but Ravaa informs her that she is most powerful there and connected to all spiritual energy. With Raava's help, Korra frees them using energybending; as she does, their bodies are released from their cocoons in the physical world. Jinora leads the group out of the Wilds, where she tells Tenzin that it was Korra who saved them. Outside Zaheer's cell, Mako asks Korra if she will finally be able to forget Zaheer's attempt on her life; she replies that she will never forget it, but that she has finally accepted it, which has made her stronger.
Back on Air Temple Island, Lin and Opal are loading their luggage onto a sky bison when they are approached by Bolin. He says that he understands her anger toward him, and will do anything to try to win her back. He acknowledges that Opal might never forgive him, but continues that he will never stop trying, since he loves her. Touched, she thanks him for his heartfelt apology, and stops the earthbender from leaving in sadness, informing him that there is something he can do to win her back: joining her mission to save her family.
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- Izumi recalls the Fire Nation's history of participation in many wars.
- Korra recalls Zaheer killing Queen Hou-Ting in "Long Live the Queen" and her poisoning in "Venom of the Red Lotus".
- Korra recalls how the actions of the Red Lotus indirectly brought a more oppressive dictator, Kuvira, into power.
- Ryu attained a job as an Air Nation tour guide for the Spirit Wilds in Republic City.
- Varrick owns the Southern Water Tribe Cultural Center.
- Zaheer was moved to a new prison cell deep within the mountains surrounding Republic City.
- When Korra is talking to Zaheer on how he used to speak about chaos and freedom, her sleeves turn a brighter shade of blue when she turns away from him, but when she turns back, her sleeves revert to their normal color.
- When Zaheer turns away from Korra, the chains on his waist are not twisted as they should have been, considering the bond around his waist is formfitting.
- The way Korra and Zaheer face each other's spirits is similar to how Korra accessed her own Avatar memories in "Beginnings, Part 1".
- During the episode recap, the scene where Korra and Asami hug has slightly altered animation from the same scene in "Reunion".
- The tourist voiced by John Michael Higgins was jokingly named "Steve" in the episode's Blu-ray commentary by the creators; this was in response to fans that had questioned who the character was after noticing him in multiple episodes as a background extra since Book One.
- This is Jinora's last speaking role in the series.
- The entrance gate to the Spirit Wilds in Republic City resembles the torii found in Japanese Shinto shrines. They symbolize the boundary between the mundane and the sacred.