|"You think freedom is something that you can give or take on a whim ... To your people, freedom is just as essential as air. And without it, there is no life. There is only ... darkness."|
|— Zaheer to Hou-Ting as he asphyxiates her.|
"Long Live the Queen" is the tenth episode of Book Three: Change of The Legend of Korra and the series' 36th episode overall. It was released for online viewing on Nick.com on August 8, 2014, and it aired on Nicktoons on October 7, 2014.
On an airship traveling to Ba Sing Se, Korra and Asami manage to escape from their restraints and holding cell, but their attempt to hijack the vessel causes it to crash in the middle of the Si Wong Desert. From the crushed remains of the ship, Asami creates a makeshift sand-sailer, and with Korra's airbending, the two girls and airship crew escape the desert, as well as a monstrous creature pursuing them. In Ba Sing Se, Mako and Bolin are imprisoned while the Red Lotus bargains with Earth Queen Hou-Ting. Upon discovering that the Earth Queen's forces have lost custody of Korra, however, Zaheer kills the queen and orders Ghazan to tear down the city's inner walls. He then releases Mako and Bolin, instructing them to take a message from him to Korra. With the death of the Earth Queen, the Earth Kingdom is plunged into chaos.
Leaving Fort Bosco, the Earth Queen's soldiers take Asami and a straitjacketed Korra aboard an airship, intending to bring them to Ba Sing Se. Korra tries to persuade the soldiers to let her go, warning them that the Red Lotus poses an active threat to her, but the captain deems her to be insane and ignores her talk of the Spirit World and terrorists. As the airship takes off, Korra, still in her straitjacket and muzzle, is chained to the wall in a room by a guard, Arik. He moves to chain Asami to the floor, but she persuades him to chain her to a railing on the wall instead; deciding that as long as she is tied up, he need not worry. After denying a request from Korra for water to drink, Arik adds that he will not be bringing her any fire or earth either; he briefly muses on how they might deny her air and still keep her alive, deciding in the end that it cannot be helped. He tell them that their compartments will not be opened until they reach Ba Sing Se. As he leaves the room, Asami and Korra wonder how Mako and Bolin are faring.
At that moment, the Red Lotus are driving to Ba Sing Se with Mako and Bolin, their prisoners, in the back. Mako insists to his captors that he and his brother cannot be used as effective leverage against Korra, and although Ming-Hua tells him to be silent, the firebender persists, asking why they want Korra. After Ghazan casually brushes off the question, saying all they need to know is that the world will change for the better, Bolin wonders aloud as to what being in prison for thirteen years was like and imagines it must have been boring. The lavabender explains that he spent his time renaming the constellations and enjoying rain, while Ming-Hua reveals that she imagined the minutiae of her guards' personal lives. Deciding to give Ming-Hua's method a try, Bolin looks at Ghazan and makes three quick guesses about him: that Ghazan was raised by an older sister, his mustache grew in at the age of ten, and that he and Ming-Hua have "an unspoken attraction". After receiving a dirty look from the waterbender, an amused Ghazan tells Bolin that he got two of his three guesses correct. Annoyed by his brother's behavior, Mako tells him to stop befriending the "bad guys." Zaheer interrupts them, stating that they are nearing Ba Sing Se, and tells Ghazan to gag the brothers.
On the airship, Korra is struggling in her prison and claims that they must escape before reaching the Earth Queen. Asami assures Korra that she has a plan to free them, explaining to the Avatar that this particular airship was built by Cabbage Corp. As such, she asserts that the quality of its design and construction are pathetic compared to that of Future Industries airships and proves her claim by pushing herself off the wall, leveraging her weight against the railing and dislodging it from the wall with ease. Now free to move around, Asami checks Korra's restraints and realizes that she cannot undo the locks on Korra's restraints without the keys. Using the railing to pry open a floor panel, she tells Korra to call for help only after five minutes have passed.
In the Earth Kingdom Royal Palace, Gun informs the Earth Queen that the Avatar is in the custody of her forces and is being transported from a fort in the desert to the city by airship as they speak. The queen demands that Korra be brought to her immediately upon her arrival. Gun also informs her that there is a group of people who wish to speak with her, claiming to have captured friends of the Avatar. Hou-Ting reminds Gun that she does not negotiate with bounty hunters, he replies that he told them exactly that, but the group claimed, in addition, to have information concerning the location of her airbenders. As Zaheer's group, as well as Mako and Bolin, are brought before her, she tells the brothers that they will be thrown in prison. The queen then turns her attention to the Red Lotus, asking them if their story about the airbenders is a ruse. Zaheer counters by telling her that, rather than monetary payment, they want the Avatar as payment for their services. Angered, Hou-Ting asks them how they know she has the Avatar, and Zaheer replies that it is unimportant. What is important, he continues, is the secrecy of her actions; he states that if he was able to find out, others will know as well, and that if the other nations were to find out that she kidnapped Korra, the Earth Queen would find herself in an uncomfortable position and international incident. By allowing him to take Korra, Zaheer argues, the queen would avoid any such embarrassment, in addition to regaining custody of her airbenders without any problems. Curious, the monarch asks Zaheer what he plans to do with the Avatar.He claims that he has unfinished business with her and that she will not bother the queen again. The queen finds these terms agreeable and orders the Dai Li to throw Mako and Bolin in the dungeon, and Gun escorts the Red Lotus to a waiting room.
Having waited five minutes as Asami asked, Korra calls the guard for help. As he looks through the slot in the door and sees that Asami is gone, Asami knocks him out from behind, with a blow to the back of the neck. Taking the guard's keys, she quickly removes her own handcuffs, opens the door, and frees Korra from her restraints. On the bridge, Korra uses her metalbending to break down the door, knocking both the captain and the helmsman out with airbending. In the process, however, she destroys the airship's flimsy controls and radio. Despite Asami's best efforts to keep control, the airship careens downward and crashes heavily into a mountain of sand.
After climbing to the top of the ship to assess its condition, Korra asks Asami if she can get the ship in working order. Asami is not certain she can; the ship is badly damaged, and its front half is buried in the dune. While they talk, the crew, all uninjured, catches up to them. When Arik explains to the rest of the crew that Korra distracted him and Asami knocked him out, Korra replies that there are more important things to worry about than the Earth Queen's airbenders. The captain tells everyone not to worry; another ship is on its way to pick them up, but it will take a few hours to reach them. Asami says that they can get their own ship to fly again if they work together, but the captain assures her firmly that cooperation between the two parties is not going to happen. As Korra and Asami are prisoners, he still intends to transport them to the Earth Queen. Matching his resolve, Korra replies that she is the Avatar, and that picking a fight with her is unwise. However the captain does not waver.
Asami suddenly sees a sand dune move in the distance. While the captain discards it as a mirage, his theory is quickly disproved. As the hidden mass comes closer, the ship's engineer, Kong, tells them that since the return of the spirits, they have been haunting the desert. Korra sarcastically asks if she is to blame for that as well and asks the crew to make a choice: help her fix the airship, or wait for whatever is moving the sand to come for them. The crew unanimously decides to fix the ship, with even the captain reluctantly agreeing as well, and Korra immediately sets to work airbending the bow of the ship free of the sand.
Meanwhile, in the Earth Queen's jail, Mako's pleas for the guards to release him go unheard. The prisoner in the cell next to them asks if he could go with them and tells the brothers that he has been locked up for four years; while not seeing his large family for the first several months of his incarceration meant he could finally get some sleep, he now longs to see them again. Mako, ignoring his neighbor, devises an escape method which would require Bolin to metalbend the cell open. He tells Bolin he has total faith in his metalbending abilities; however, when their neighbor asks if he really can metalbend, Bolin tells him he cannot. Mako starts motivating the other prisoners to cheer for his brother, and Bolin finds the confidence to try, but much to everyone's disappointment, he fails.
In her jeep near the Misty Palms Oasis, Lin searches for signs of Korra and her friends. She finds the tracks left behind by their jeep and follows the tracks to their abandoned vehicle. As Lin investigates further, Naga appears behind it and roars at her, but after realizing who it is, the polar bear dog starts licking her instead. An equally excited Pabu jumps on her as well, and she quickly grabs him, putting him on Naga. Lin gives them both a snack to keep them occupied and contacts Tonraq to let him know she found the jeep but not Team Avatar. She asks him to meet her at the Misty Palms Oasis.
Finishing cleaning the engine room, Korra and Kong make their way out of the ship, now freed from the dune and floating level, while Asami makes a few final adjustments to the rudder. Korra asks her if she thinks the ship will fly again, and even though Asami still has doubts, she is hopeful that it will work. She asks Kong to start the engines again, but as the engines are firing up, the group feels the sand beneath them begin to move. A sand shark large enough in size to easily dwarf the airship bursts through the sand and snaps the ship in half with its jaws. Terrified, the crew, Asami, and Korra run from the doomed ship as the monster lands, sending a large cloud of dust outward as it drags the large halves of the ship beneath the sand. As it vanishes, Korra comments that the beast is definitely not a spirit.
While Arik is worried by their lack of supplies, all of which were on the ship, the captain calmly tells him that their relief ship is still coming and that it will find them if they stay put for a few hours. Asami reminds them with concern that they might not have a few hours, and Korra asks the captain how far they are from the desert's edge. When the captain replies that it is too far to walk, Asami suggests that they try building a sand-sailer out of broken airship scraps. Korra thinks it is worth a shot, and the captain agrees.
As the Red Lotus is waiting for the Avatar's arrival in the Earth Queens antechamber, they see a Dai Li agent walking by at a brisk pace. Zaheer, becoming suspicious, decides to follow him. Aided by his airbending, he sneaks into the throne room unnoticed and listens in as the agent's informs the queen of the airship's crash and Korra's escape. Zaheer returns to his group, and the four of them craft a new plan: rather than pursuing Korra any further, they will force Korra to seek them out herself. Armed with this new idea, they walk into the throne room unannounced, angering Hou-Ting. Zaheer further infuriates her by telling her he knows the Avatar has escaped. When she gives them one final chance to tell her where the airbenders are, threatening to imprison them, Zaheer calmly remarks that was not the deal. The queen then orders the Dai Li to arrest them for their disrespect, and the Dai Li surrounds them. The fight that follows is very short, as it takes the four surrounded benders mere seconds to dispatch all the agents opposing them. A terrified Gun runs from the scene as Hou-Ting seeks shelter behind the throne. As Zaheer approaches her, the monarch steps forward, declaring that they would not dare to attack a queen. Jumping onto the throne's overlarge frame, Zaheer tells her he "[does] not believe in queens". He bends the air from her lungs and surrounds her head with it, slowly suffocating her as he talks to her about the nature of freedom. Allowing the air to diffuse into the throne room as the Earth Queen, gasping for air, reaches a shaking arm after it, Zaheer tells her that, without air or freedom, life cannot exist, and that, in the absence of life, "there is only darkness" as the Earth Queen dies.
Zaheer, Ming-Hua and P'Li then move to a broadcasting tower; the operator is upset by the unwelcome intruders at his post, but Zaheer calmly asks him how he might make an announcement to the entire city. When the operator mocks his request incredulously, Ming-Hua lifts him into the air, informing him that Zaheer has just killed the Earth Queen and threatens to kill him as well. Zaheer, who has no intention of harming the man, stops her and calmly repeats his question. The operator complies, and Zaheer speaks to the city, announcing to Ba Sing Se's residents that the Earth Queen has died at his hands. He assures them that he is not there to take the throne but rather to liberate the city back into the hands of the people. As he finishes his announcement, Ghazan, positioned near the wall separating the Lower and Middle Ring, uses lavabending to weaken it, bringing it down with a single move.
As citizens swarm into the Middle Ring, Mako tries to burn his way out of the prison cell. He tells Bolin that they have to break out of there, realizing that the Earth Queen's fall means that dealing with Korra is likely next on Zaheer's agenda. Hearing the airbender's name, their neighbor happily tells them that Zaheer is his hero, and Mako tells him unpleasantly to shut up. Mako tries to motivate Bolin into metalbending again. Still doubting his ability to do so, Bolin rises to his feet and tries once more. As the earthbender makes his move, every single cell door except their own flies open. For a moment, Bolin thinks he bent the doors open, but as Mako discards the notion, Zaheer steps in front of them. Both brothers try to attack him, but he effortlessly deflects their moves and hurls the brothers harshly against the back wall. The airbender says he plans to release them from their cell but wants to talk to them first; he has a message for Korra, which he wants the brothers to relay to her.
Back in the desert, Arik puts the final touches on the improvised sand-sailer, and Asami remarks that it should be able to do the job. As the sand shark steadily approaches the sailer from behind, Korra tells everyone to board the craft and airbends into the sail, propelling the sailer forward. The shark jumps from the sand and lunges at the sailer several times, but is unable to reach them, and disappears back into the ground. As the crew looks back, Arik cheers that they have lost the beast, but suddenly the sand shark attacks again from directly beneath them. As the sailer falls deep into the shark's mouth, Korra firebends into the back of the shark's throat. The blast incapacitates the creature, which falls away from them, motionless, allowing the crew to escape from it.
Arriving at the Misty Palms Oasis, they pull to a stop at the dock, at which point the sailer falls apart. Some sandbenders watch them arrive from a sand-sailer of their own, and Asami asks them if they would like to buy the "slightly-used" craft. As the crew disembarks the sailer, the captain thanks Asami for her engineering work, remarking that she has a good head on her shoulders. Korra apologizes for stranding the crew in the desert and putting them in a precarious situation. The captain accepts her apology and shakes her hand, assuring her that her conflict with the Earth Queen is above his pay grade. As the captain turns his attention to the crew again, Arik points to Druk, who is tied to a nearby tree, and wonders if the dragon is real, believing that exposure might be causing him to hallucinate. The captain glances at the dragon, dismisses it, and goes with the crew to get drinks.
Meanwhile, Naga smothers Korra, clearly excited to see her owner again. Korra laughs and embraces her pet. Making their way to a tavern Korra and Asami find Tonraq, Lin, and Lord Zuko gathered around a table in the corner. Tonraq is relieved to see Korra and warmly embraces his daughter. He also reintroduces the Avatar to Lord Zuko, who states that he met her when she was very young and that it is nice to see her again. Lin interrupts and sarcastically thanks Korra for abandoning her to pursue Aiwei. Korra apologizes and wonders how she was able to find them, to which the chief replies simply that she is a detective. Just as Tonraq asks his daughter if she knows about the Earth Queen, the music on the radio broadcast is interrupted by an announcer, who summarizes the day's events: the Earth Queen's death has hurled the city of Ba Sing Se into chaos, with rioters and looters swarming the palace. Angrily telling the others that it was the work of the Red Lotus, Korra informs her father of the group, warning him that the conflict has only just begun.
- Janet Varney - Korra
- David Faustino - Mako
- Seychelle Gabriel - Asami
- P. J. Byrne - Bolin
- Henry Rollins - Zaheer
- James Remar - Tonraq
- Mindy Sterling - Beifong
- Jeff Bennett:
- Jayne Taini - Queen Hou-Ting
- Dee Bradley Baker:
- Mitchell Whitfield:
- Grey DeLisle-Griffin - Ming-Hua
- Peter Giles - Ghazan
- Kristy Wu - P'Li
- Bruce Davison:
- Lord Zuko
- Keythe Farley:
- David Kaufman - Arik
- Gregg Binkley - Kong
- Main article: Transcript:Long Live the Queen
- Cabbage Corp, which was closed in "The Aftermath", later reopened and sold their products to the Earth Kingdom military.
- This is the second time Ba Sing Se fell, the first time being at the hands of Azula in "The Crossroads of Destiny".
- Lin Beifong sarcastically thanked Korra for ditching her back in Zaofu in "The Terror Within".
- Although Asami tells Korra that she cannot free her because she lacks the keys, Korra is only held to the cart by straps, while the keys are only necessary to free the cart itself.
- When listening to Zaheer on the radio, Chow's hair is dark brown instead of its usual gray.
- When Korra meets up with Tonraq at the end of the episode, his trademark necklace is visible. While introducing Korra to Lord Zuko, the necklace disappears. After the introduction, the necklace reappears.
- This episode was leaked on August 7, 2014, making it the fifth episode to be leaked from Book Three: Change.
- The person who leaked the episode did so under the name "Zaheer for the people" on his Tumblr page. His message to the fandom was the same as the message Zaheer makes to the citizens of Ba Sing Se in this episode. He did, however, change some words, like "The Earth Queen" to "Nickelodeon".
- This is the first known instance of an airbender killing someone outside the scope of self-defense.
- Keval (August 7, 2014). The Legend of Korra Season 3, Episode 10 'Long Live the Earth Queen' Leaked. ATLOKO. Retrieved on August 8, 2014.