|"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 on December 19, 2014.
Kuvira reveals to her army her intention to reclaim the United Republic of Nations, telling them it rightfully belongs to the Earth Empire; after the announcement, 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 Kuvira's imminent attack; the city rushes to prepare, evacuating citizens and mobilizing the United Forces. Zhu Li tries to reconcile with Varrick but is disgusted to find he still treats her as an assistant. Team Avatar attempts to ambush Kuvira's spirit energy cannon, and discovers it is mounted on the arm of a giant mecha suit controlled by Kuvira; they barely escape its attacks and race back to tell Republic City of the development, but Kuvira arrives mere hours later, and after a single show of force by Kuvira's weapon, Raiko surrenders the city to her. As Baatar Jr. is en route to discuss the terms of the surrender, Korra, Kai, and Tenzin's family kidnap him, taking him to a Future Industries warehouse, intending to force him to tell them how to defeat the weapon. After Korra and Suyin unsuccessfully try to persuade him to help them, Korra threatens to hide him from Kuvira for the rest of his life, and he gives in to their demands. Baatar Jr. radios Kuvira and asks her to retreat from the United Republic; while seeming to oblige over the radio, she traces the signal to the warehouse and, firing the weapon at it, destroys it.
In Zaofu, Kuvira gives an 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 the United Republic of Nations, which she believes was stolen from the Earth Empire by Avatar Aang and Fire Lord Zuko following the Hundred Year War, remains unconquered. 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 and empire, they take each other's hands and embrace.
At City Hall in Republic City, President Raiko, Korra, Wu, Mako, and Tenzin sit at a table, in the middle of a conference. Korra inquires about the status of the evacuation of the city, and Wu answers that only eighteen families have been evacuated — a tiny percentage of Republic City's millions of citizens. Mako explains that, due to the evacuation being voluntary, many citizens do not feel the threat to the city is serious enough, and have 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 rescued them, having a "way too close" encounter with Kuvira's spirit energy cannon in the process. Tenzin asks if she is planning to use it against Republic City, and Zhu Li enters, answering that she knows Kuvira will attack the city in two weeks. Bolin explains to the group that Zhu Li never truly switched sides; Zhu Li herself adds that she was never loyal to Kuvira, regretting that her attempts to sabotage the weapon failed. Lin postulates that due to the spirit cannon's size, Kuvira will come by rail in order to transport the weapon, and 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, in his typical fashion, Varrick addresses the workers assembling the hummingbird mecha suits he and Asami invented, noting that they have a timespan of two weeks to complete the work. Bolin enters the room and asks Varrick if he can talk to him for a moment. He informs Varrick that he went to Zaofu with Opal and saved the Beifong family; on cue, Zhu Li enters the room, to Varrick's shock. Going first, Zhu Li apologizes for her past actions and expresses her feelings toward him, as she only joined Kuvira to save him. Varrick forgives her, but instead of reciprocating her feelings, he orders Zhu Li to man the assembly line. Deeply angered by his callousness, she 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 sparks a panic, and the phone lines are overwhelmed by confused citizens' calls. Prince Wu quickly takes Mako's place and gives a speech of his own, saying he understands the fear the people are feeling, referring to his former fear of using the bathroom alone; he tells them that they will lose if they succumb to fear, asserting that the people of Republic City are "winners", and instructs them to gather their family members and neighbors and evacuate calmly. Upon finishing his speech, the citizens cease their calls; Lin and Mako are impressed by Wu's actions, with the former stating that Wu might be a good king after all.
At Air Temple Island, Tenzin informs his family that Rohan is leaving the island on a boat with the Air Acolytes, and asks why none of them have packed. Pema informs him that they have decided to stay and help him. Grateful, Tenzin embraces them, then asks Pema to aid Wu with the evacuation of the city, and his children to join the other airbenders, who are acting as lookouts to spot Kuvira's approaching army.
A series of montages show Wu and Pema directing 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, as he has been forced to abandon his office and take shelter in the Air Temple, but Lin insists that the location is ideal. At that moment, Team Avatar come up to the attic and announce their decision to try and stop Kuvira's super weapon; while Tenzin is worried by their decision. He notes that General Iroh is already on his way with his army to prevent an all-out war. Team Avatar wants to take out the weapon beforehand to even the playfield and Raiko agrees, wishing them luck.
At an outpost in the mountains outside the city, two soldiers hear a noise. Peering through binoculars in the fading light, they discover the noise is Kuvira's army, which has arrived a week earlier than predicted. Realizing this, one orders the other to alert the city, but they stop when they hear another, louder noise. They look again and are horrified to see the silhouette of a massive human-like figure in the distance; it aims the weapon, its long metal barrel mounted on the machine's right arm, directly at them and fires it, releasing a beam of raw purple energy. It directly impacts the outpost, killing everyone within and reducing it to a smoldering ruin.
The next morning, Team Avatar takes off on a flying bison, planning to try sabotaging Kuvira's super weapon; when Bolin spots Kuvira's army marching through the mountains, along with the monstrous mecha, their hopes are shattered. Mako demands to know if he knew about the creation of the mecha, and Bolin, sarcastic even while terrified, retorts that he would have mentioned it. Meanwhile, Kuvira, in the cockpit of the massive machine, is alerted to the presence of the sky bison; realizing that the Avatar is nearby, she aims the spirit cannon to attempt to obliterate her. The only one present to have seen it fire before, Bolin immediately warns Korra to take evasive maneuvers: the cannon fires at the bison twice, missing both times by narrow margins. Team Avatar barely escapes, and Kuvira decides not to pursue them, confident that her forces are unstoppable and knowing she will reach Republic City soon.
When Korra returns to the city and meets with Tenzin and President Raiko, both ask her about her early return. Korra informs them of the spirit cannon, the giant mecha suit, and that Kuvira has nearly reached the city. Raiko orders Lin to inform General Iroh that attack is imminent, while Tenzin immediately orders his wife to find Wu and move the remaining citizens out of harm's way. Asami comes up with the plan to go to her factory in order to get some hummingbird suits. Meanwhile, Korra heads out to the front lines, intending to assist Iroh.
As Raiko's army stands watching Kuvira's army position on the battlefield, the giant mecha suit appears before them, shocking them all. Raiko radios Kuvira, ordering her to stand down, but Kuvira replies that Raiko is in no position to make orders, and is unaware of the power she possesses. To demonstrate, she uses her spirit cannon to destroy several warships in the bay before aiming the weapon at the United Forces infantry at the colossus' feet. Varrick notes that that is the reason that he did not want to build it. As General Iroh requests President Raiko's permission to engage, Kuvira gives him three seconds to decide between ordering full-scale attack, risking tremendous casualties on his army and city, or surrendering and saving the lives of hundreds of Iroh's men. Raiko chooses to surrender the city to Kuvira before his three seconds have elapsed. In the meantime, airbenders rescue the survivors from the warships.
Kuvira orders Raiko to turn his army and the Avatar over to her, and also orders him to give her his location, meaning to settle the terms of surrender with Baatar Jr. Meanwhile, Korra, refusing to surrender herself, escapes back to the warehouse, desperate to find a way to stop Kuvira's takeover. Korra informs the team of Raiko's surrender, and tells them stopping Kuvira's crusade has become their responsibility. 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, and asks Zhu Li if she knows any vital intel on the suit. Zhu Li, however, replies that she never knew Kuvira was building it in the first place. Korra realizes that Baatar Jr. is the one responsible for creating the giant mecha suit; she promptly resolves to capture him unnoticed. She recruits Tenzin, Bumi, Jinora, and Kai to assist her, not telling Raiko of their plans. Meelo asks to go too, but Korra apologetically explains that as stealth is needed, his flatulence is too random. He exclaims that he can be quiet, but then loudly farts and concedes the issue.
While Baatar Jr. is taking an airship as the Earth Empire delegation to meet Raiko at the Air Temple, following high above it from a flying bison, the airbenders use their wingsuits to follow Korra on her airbender staff down to a roof hatch. Korra metalbends off the lock and she and the brothers slip inside as Jinora and Kai stay outside as lookouts. Quickly sneaking through the corridors, Korra spots Baatar Jr. entering an office secured by key code and she metalbends the doors from automatically closing. He hears this, but Bumi and Tenzin rush in and take down Baatar Jr. before he can make too much noise; bound and gagged, Bumi secures him in a sack, which is airbent through the roof hatch to be caught by the teens. The brothers grasp the sack between them and the team glides away to a Future Industries' factory, completely unnoticed by the airship's crew. Once there, Korra tries to force Baatar Jr. to give them information regarding any weaknesses the giant mecha suit may have; she goes into the Avatar State and hoists him into the air with one hand, but Baatar Jr. calmly refuses, confident that she does not truly intend to harm him.
Meanwhile, the airship arrives at Air Temple Island, where they are awaited by Raiko and Lin, and it is only now that the soldiers discover, to their unpleasant surprise, that Baatar Jr. is missing. As the soldiers whisper among themselves, Lin and Raiko quickly lose their patience and demand to see Baatar Jr.; they are just as surprised as the soldiers to learn that Baatar Jr.'s men do not know where their leader is.
At the warehouse, Suyin tries talking to Baatar Jr. He lets her know that she is mistaken if she thinks he will spill any secrets to her. Suyin responds that she know he wanted to make the world a better place, but this is "madness". He claims that is is madness to let others take what you have and to accept it, calling the United Republic Earth Kingdom property. Suyin goes further, asking how many lives will it cost before Kuvira is satisfied and Baatar Jr. responds that no one needs to die if they all surrender. She apologizes for whatever she has done to make him feel rejected, and asks him to rejoin his family and stop the damage Kuvira is causing. Baatar Jr. resolutely refuses to concede, however, coldly responding that Kuvira is now his only family; Suyin is heartbroken by his rebuttal. Hearing Baatar Jr.'s words, however, Korra realizes their tactics have been aimed in the wrong direction. She approaches him again, admitting that he was right to call her bluff on harming him, but she asserts that there is something she can do that would be more painful: removing from him the one thing he cares for 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 to ensuring he never sees Kuvira again. Shocked and horrified, Baatar Jr. denies that her assertion is true, but Korra insists that she is not lying, and offers him a way to avoid that fate altogether: he must agree to convince Kuvira to leave Republic City. She assures him that they will be allowed to keep their Earth Empire territory, so long as the United Republic is left in peace.
A radio operator on Baatar Jr.'s airship receives a message from Kuvira, who intends to talk to Baatar Jr., and takes the radio to where Lin and Raiko are waiting. When the soldiers are unsure what to do, Raiko, peeved by the unexpected delay, demands that they give him the radio. He asks Kuvira what game she is trying to play, assuring him Baatar Jr. would come with the terms of his surrender and telling her he was not on the airship she sent. Kuvira is surprised to learn that Baatar Jr. has disappeared, asking where he could be, if not on the airship. At that moment, a call from Baatar Jr. breaks into the transmission; he tells her of his capture by the Avatar, who is refusing to release him unless she backs down. Learning that Korra is with Baatar Jr., she briefly cuts off her microphone and orders one of her soldiers to trace the source of Baatar Jr.'s 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. Adamant that he cannot live that way, he urges her to forget about the United Republic; he tells her they already have their empire and each other, and expresses his desire to return home and get married. At that moment, Kuvira's radio operator informs her that Baatar Jr's position has been pinpointed; Kuvira reopens the connection and, concurring that taking Republic City is not worth sacrificing their future together, she tells Baatar Jr. she loves him.
Korra unties Baatar Jr., telling him that, once the agreement is settled, he will be freed; at that moment, Mako, glancing out a window, sees Kuvira's giant mecha suit swivel its torso around and raise its arm, training its weapon on the warehouse. Beginning to panic, he yells a warning to the others; the news shocks Baatar Jr., unable to believe Kuvira would willingly kill him. As the spirit energy cannon begins to charge, Korra yells at them all to evacuate immediately; the weapon fires before they can escape, destroying the Future Industries building.
From Air Temple Island, a horrified Raiko watches the attack as it happens. Lin charges one of her guards with the President's safety and leaves immediately to check for survivors. Taking a deep breath and easing her mind about what she has done, Kuvira returns her attention to the conquering of 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 Kuvira is giving her speech, she is shown from her soldiers' perspective, standing at the top of some stairs underneath a large building. The shot subsequently cuts to a close-up of Kuvira and some of her soldiers in an outpost, but when it returns to the shot of her from the soldiers' perspective as they hail her as the Great Uniter at the end of her speech, the roof of the building Kuvira is standing under is positioned closer to the soldiers than it was at the start of her speech.
- 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.
- During the evacuation montage, Earth Empire airships can be seen above the train station instead of the usual police airships.
- 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.