|"I didn't come to fight with Kuvira or destroy a cannon. I'm here to save my family."|
|— Toph to Lin, Bolin, and Opal.|
"Operation Beifong" is the 10th episode of Book Four: Balance of The Legend of Korra and the 49th of the overall series. It was released on Nick.com and through the Nick app on December 5, 2014, and aired on Nicktoons on December 19, 2014.
Opal, Bolin, and Lin travel to Zaofu with the intent of rescuing Suyin and her family. There, they unexpectedly meet Toph, who tells them the prisoners have been moved to a prison camp out of the city. Bolin knows where they are, and they decide to free them from their underground prison the following day. In the meantime, Baatar Jr., with Zhu Li's assistance, has been working on a cannon to harness and focus spirit energy. Zhu Li, however, has been working to sabotage the project and, upon Kuvira's arrival, removes a key component of the weapon, intending to blow it up. Her plans are discovered by Kuvira, however, who has Zhu Li placed in the path of the weapon. After a confrontation in the underground prison, Bolin, Lin, and Toph liberate the rest of the Beifongs. They return to the surface where Opal informs them of the camp's current situation, and Bolin and Opal rush to save Zhu Li on Juicy, while the rest of the family fights back Kuvira's army. Meanwhile, in Republic City, Raiko is dissatisfied with Varrick's reluctance to include spirit vine weapons in his plans. As a substitute, Korra opts to ask the spirits for help defending the city against Kuvira, but they refuse, not wishing to be used as pawns in the hands of humans.
In the mountains overlooking the city of Zaofu, Juicy lands, allowing Bolin, Opal, and Lin to dismount. Bolin is eager for action, both to save the Beifongs from Kuvira and to win back Opal's trust and affections. He dramatically vows to the unimpressed airbender that he will repair the damage their relationship has suffered, but, walking between the two, Lin pushes him aside and silences him, muttering that she is fed up with listening to his insistent talking.
They walk to the edge of the drop-off and look toward Zaofu, where Opal notes the absence of the metal domes which encased the city, wondering why Kuvira would have done that. Looking through a spyglass, Lin observes a battalion of troops stationed below. Seeing no other way to proceed, she decides their only option is to descend toward the city and obtain a closer look. Suddenly, Toph appears behind them, announcing that the action would be fruitless, as the prisoners have already been moved elsewhere. Lin stands up and looks at her mother in surprise, both addressing the other as "chief."
Opal, excited to see her maternal grandmother after so many years, runs up to hug her, while Toph, pleased to see her only granddaughter again, returns the hug and notes that Opal was only as high as her waist the last time they were together. Realizing that he is in the presence of Toph, Bolin hysterically jumps up and down in excitement. Noticing his behavior, Toph asks Bolin sarcastically if he has to urinate, much to Opal's amusement. Bolin excitedly introduces himself and starts rambling about how she is his hero and how he is dating Opal. Toph asks her family about Bolin's strange behavior, and Lin dismisses Bolin completely by labeling him as an actor.
Cutting to the chase, Lin asks how Toph knew about Suyin's situation. Toph explains that she was keeping watch over them via the vines from the swamp though by the time she had arrived in Zaofu, her family had already been taken to a nearby prison camp. Opal scornfully asks Bolin where that would be, and he informs the group of a nearby factory and reeducation facility. When Toph inquires as to how he knows this, Opal informs her that Bolin used to work for Kuvira. Peeved by the news, Toph asks Opal how she ended up dating "the kind of dipstick who works for Kuvira", and Bolin defends himself by emphasizing the past tense of his involvement. Adding to Toph's displeasure, Opal introduces her to her flying bison, Juicy, whom Toph claims to smell even worse than Appa did. Toph asks her granddaughter why she chose the "smelly thing", prompting her to reply that she did not chose, but instead Juicy chose her and she can not change that as "[she's] checked".
Meanwhile, in Republic City, President Raiko relays to Korra, Tenzin, Wu, Mako, Varrick and Asami the kind of measures already taken to safeguard the city against Kuvira's army and asks the latter two what they designed to aid the defensive efforts. Asami unfolds the blueprint she is holding, though before she can expand on its design, Varrick enthusiastically reveals the machine to be a flying mecha suit, which can take off vertically and fly in any direction. Unimpressed, Raiko asks how the spirit ray is incorporated into the design, to which Varrick bitterly retorts that the machine does not have one, reiterating his belief that the technology should not be used by anyone at all. Raiko, angrily slamming his hands on his desk, demands that Varrick and Asami create spirit weapons to use against Kuvira, since she will use such weapons against them. Avatar Korra supports Varrick's decision and informs the President that the harvesting of the spirit vines in the Foggy Swamp was what caused the Republic City vines to kidnap citizens in the first place. Raiko suggest that Korra, considering she is the bridge between the two worlds, harvests the vines herself. She refuses but offers to try convincing some of the spirits to at least help protect the city, and Raiko relents. With battle plans taking shape, Wu suggests that the citizens of Republic City be evacuated elsewhere, to keep them out of harm's way if a conflict would arise in the city, and Raiko orders him to coordinate with the police department on the operation. The president dismisses everyone, requesting daily updates on their assigned operations.
Outside of the conference room, Mako compliments Wu on his evacuation idea, commenting that he starts to act like the king he would like to work for. Wu thanks Mako and reveals he did it all for the ladies, particularly Korra, immediately turning Mako's compliment to disapproval.
In Kuvira's army camp, Baatar Jr. orders his team to test the power core of the spirit energy cannon, making sure everything will be in order for the real demonstration the following day in Kuvira's presence. With the energy capsule in place, Zhu Li initializes phase one but soon reports on a problem with the condenser. She attempts to power the machine down but fails to override the system. Baatar Jr. orders everyone to evacuate, as the cannon is about to explode. Despite Zhu Li's warnings that they too should leave, he reaches into the machine and pulls out a part of its circuitry, effectively powering it down. Baatar Jr. notices that the channeling ring is cracked and alerts the rest of the team that the broken part caused the cannon to overload. Furious about the near-failure of their weapon, he yells that they will spend the remainder of their time taking apart the massive cannon to check everything.
While flying on Juicy, Bolin asks Lin and Toph how long it had been since they had last seen each other. Toph admits that it has been "a little while", though an angry Lin corrects her, clarifying that twenty years have passed. Toph is surprised that Lin came to save her sister, and Lin explains that she and Suyin managed to patch things up. Toph is glad they "can put all that behind us", causing Lin to mutter. They land at the factory, where Toph metalbends an opening in a wall, allowing the group to filter through before she seals the wall behind them. As they enter, they notice the large cannon; using her seismic sense, Toph notices an empty cavern several stories down. The seemingly empty room is heavily guarded; verifying the fact, Lin deduces that the prison must be suspended in midair, intended to prevent the Beifongs from using earthbending.
Unexpectedly, the room's main doors open, and Kuvira enters, accompanied by Baatar Jr. and Zhu Li; Bolin, Opal, Lin, and Toph quickly hide. Baatar Jr. expresses his surprise to see Kuvira; she explains her early visit by stating that she "just wanted to check in" and shows her approval of the weapon's development. Baatar Jr. adds that there have been several slight complications, but he assures her that the cannon will be ready tomorrow. Kuvira turns around and suspiciously glares at Zhu Li, asking her opinion on the cannon's readiness. Zhu Li tells her that small mistakes are common in machinery as large as the cannon; Kuvira asks Zhu Li if she is doing everything in her power to fix the mistakes, and is satisfied to receive an affirmative answer from Zhu Li. Still hidden nearby, Toph senses that Zhu Li is lying to Kuvira about her efforts and relays this information to the group, eliciting a thrilled reaction from Bolin. Kuvira orders Baatar Jr. to ensure that all her soldiers are present for the weapon test the next day. The group begins to think of ways to take out Kuvira when they have the change to destroy the cannon, as is could decimate Republic City. Toph wants to do neither, only coming along to help her family, noting the difficulty of the situation. Bolin decides that the group will sneak in during the weapons testing, earning a compliment from Opal.
Back in Republic City, Korra finds that her attempts to contact the spirits are meeting with little success; when she approaches them, they all vanish before her eyes. Korra begins to worry that the spirits are abandoning Republic City.
That evening, Bolin, Opal, Toph, and Lin sit around a rock table and eat noodles. Bolin asks Toph why he was unable to metalbend, and Toph, remarking that she once had a metalbending academy, insists that even "blockheads" can master metalbending with the right instruction. Lin angrily swirls her noodles, muttering sarcastically to herself that Toph is a "real sensitive instructor." Continuing, Bolin excitedly tells Toph that he did manage to learn lavabending, and Toph, recognizing the rareness of the ability, remarks with a smile that he may not be utterly talent-less after all. When Lin sarcastically mutters to herself a second time, saying that her mother is "real encouraging", Toph call her out, retorting that, while she is blind, she is not deaf.
Abruptly changing the topic, Bolin asks Toph who Lin's father is; Lin rounds on Bolin, staring daggers at him, but Toph calmly answers his question. She states that Lin's father was a man named Kanto with whom, despite him being a nice man, things just did not work out. Feeling Lin's angry, labored breathing, Toph challenges her to speak her mind and get over it. Lin angrily spits out that she blames her for forcing her to grow up without a father. Toph retorts that, while she forgave Lin for all her mistakes a long time ago and has already worked things out with Suyin, it was Lin who chose to hold on to the "family drama nonsense". Lin, upset over having her feelings be dismissed as nonsense, emphasizes that it was important to her to know her father but that Toph refused to talk about him at all until Bolin asked. She admits that she had initially wished to reconnect with her mother but now, after spending some time together again, remembers why they had ceased all contact in the first place. Saying that Toph infuriates her and does not even know why or cares, she concludes that she intends to never speak to Toph again after they rescued the rest of the family. With a sigh, Toph tells Lin to do what will make her happy.
In the morning, Kuvira and Baatar Jr. roll the cannon out of the factory. Opal, secretly keeping watch, tells the group via radio that the cannon is about to start and that Kuvira will test it by firing it at an empty town nearby. Toph, Lin, and Bolin earthbend a hole in the ground and infiltrate the prison where Suyin, Baatar, Huan, Wei, and Wing are kept inside a wooden cage suspended over an deep, empty pit by ropes and ties. Toph creates a double doorway entrance she can quickly close to camouflage the escape tunnel, and warns that the guards are on the other side of the door set in the far side of the pit. Hearing Toph's voice, Suyin turns around and notices the group, excitedly motioning for her husband to see. Lin says that she will, after being shot onto the cage, swing everyone, one by one, over the chasm with her cables where Bolin, since Toph will not be able to see them, will catch them. Toph and Bolin launch Lin onto the wooden cage and Toph hides the tunnel; the cage swings back and forth under the impact, causing Baatar and Huan to groan loudly. A guard, hearing the noise, opens the door and surveys the area; though he does not see anything at that moment, his suspicions are not allayed. Lin, meanwhile, uses her metalbending to cut an opening in the top of the cage and free her family.
Meanwhile, Kuvira congratulates her crew, saying that with the cannon, the Earth Empire will be the strongest nation in the world. Baatar Jr. starts the weapon, and, again, its alert system starts to beep. He opens the engine and sees that a part, the distributor pin, is gone; he mutters, confused, that he personally placed the pin inside the night before. Kuvira spins around and glares at Zhu Li, interrogating her. Zhu Li tells her she does not know anything about it, but Kuvira feels the distributor pin on Zhu Li; metalbending it out from within Zhu Li's uniform, Kuvira realizes she meant to betray her all along. Kuvira, infuriated by the lack of loyalty and double-cross, berates Zhu Li, but Zhu Li determinedly replies that Kuvira is a monster. Kuvira pushes Zhu Li down the steps and orders Baatar Jr. to take her to the targeted town and chain her down there, intending to destroy her with it.
Back at the prison, the younger Beifongs have been transferred over but Baatar worriedly clutches the side of the cage, crippled by his fear of heights. Suyin tries to calm him down, assuring him that Lin will not drop him and Bolin will catch him, but he insists on staying behind. Since that is not an option, Lin, apologizing, just grabs Baatar by the ankle with her metal cable and swings him across to Bolin. His continuous screaming alerts the guard, however, who sounds the alarm, alerting Kuvira of the break-out; Baatar Jr. asks Kuvira if they should stop the test, but Kuvira demands that they continue. Meanwhile, a mecha robot fires a large fire blast toward Lin and Suyin, who stand on top of the wooden cage; Lin quickly uses her cables to sever the two ropes closest to the guards that keep the prison suspended. Lin pushes Suyin down out of the line of fire, and they cling to the wooden cage as it swings toward Toph and Bolin. Suyin and Lin jump the gap into the tunnel before the cage smashes into the stone wall below.
While Suyin gives her mother a warm embrace, Bolin radios Opal that they have succeeded and are coming back up. Lin and Bolin earthbend the group out of the factory as Opal flies in to meet them. Opal notices her parents and hugs them excitedly, thanking Bolin for all of his help, and tells him that Zhu Li is trapped in the town being targeted by the weapon. Bolin, determined to save Zhu Li, takes off while Opal follows on Juicy. Suyin and Lin decide to attempt taking down both Kuvira and the cannon with Wei and Wing joining the assault effort, while Toph refuses to go and remains behind with Baatar and Huan. Trying to make small talk, Baatar refers to Toph as "Mother", but she reminds him she told him to never call her that.
Meanwhile, in the Spirit World, Korra travels to the Tree of Time, and asks the large group spirits gathered there for their assistance. A dragon eel spirit, speaking for all the spirits present, declines Korra's request, saying that "spirits should not be used as weapons to fight in a human war". Korra argues that Kuvira is using spirit energy, and that they should defend the new world together, as they both live in it, but the spirits do not change their minds and disappear, leaving Korra disappointed and alone.
As the cannon prepares to fire, Baatar Jr., looking through a spyglass, sees his little sister with Bolin in the targeted town. He shouts in desperation to stop the test, but the cannon fires anyway; a massive earthbending wall from Suyin shifts the cannon's balance, causing its aim to shift and miss the town. The beam instead impacts the mountain behind the town, completely boring through it and leaving a gaping, circular hole; Bolin and Opal, witnessing the beam's power up close, are horrified by the sight. Lin and Suyin, working together, attack Kuvira's army with the twins. Suyin, making her way toward Kuvira, leaps atop the cannon and engages Kuvira in single combat, both of them using metalbending; their attacks begin with simple manipulation of the metal strips on their armor, quickly escalate to Suyin hurling a locomotive freight car at Kuvira and Kuvira attacking Suyin with a sword made of the metal strips. Kuvira soon overpowers Suyin and throws her from the cannon deck; metalbender soldiers begin to surround Suyin, but Wing intervenes, using earthbending and metalbending to move him and Suyin to where Lin and Wei are. They find themselves surrounded again; the four of them earthbend a protective wall around themselves, but Kuvira's soldiers begin breaking through it.
Before they can capture the four, however, a massive earthquake ripples through the ground, a shockwave that incapacitates all of Kuvira's men and mecha robots while sparing the would-be prisoners: Toph has joined the fight, and finished it with a single earthbending attack. Baatar and Huan arrive with her, and Opal, Bolin, and Zhu Li return on Juicy, allowing the entire group to escape together. Before she goes, Toph points an accusing finger at Kuvira, shouting bitterly that she has ruined the reputations of metalbenders everywhere. Kuvira does not react, merely watching as Juicy flies away from her and her defeated soldiers.
In the forest, Lin and Suyin thank Toph for coming to rescue them. Lin apologizes to her mother for her behavior the night before, and Toph acknowledges that, while she was not a great mother, her daughters turned out great regardless. She says that if Lin can find some way not to hate her, then that is enough. They hug, reconciling their differences, but Bolin unintentionally ruins the moment by joining Lin and Toph's group hug, remarking how great it is to have family. An irritated Toph scoffs and extricates herself from his embrace, and Lin shoves him away from herself. Toph wishes the trio good luck, insulting Bolin by calling him a "gumflapper", while Opal asks Toph if she is coming back to Republic City with them. Toph laughs and assures them that her fighting days are over, and that, "at some point, you gotta leave it to the kids". Zhu Li thanks the group for rescuing her as well, and asks Opal not to hold Bolin's working for Kuvira against him, saying that his heart was in the right place. Opal smirks and playfully says that Bolin worked his way "out of the polar bear doghouse". She gives him a kiss on the cheek as a sign of forgiveness, and Bolin excitedly pumps his fists up and down in triumph.
The celebration is cut short, as Zhu Li then tells the group that they must return to Republic City in order to deliver a critical piece of information: Kuvira is planning to attack Republic City with her army in two weeks.
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- Main article: Writing in the World of Avatar
- Toph recalls lavabending being a rare ability. She first learned about this specialized bending technique in Toph Beifong's Metalbending Academy.
- The domes protecting Zaofu have been dismantled as per Kuvira's orders in "The Battle of Zaofu".
- Lin recalls her reconciliation with Suyin in "Old Wounds".
- Toph mentions opening the Beifong Metalbending Academy in The Promise.
- Bolin recalls learning to lavabend in "Enter the Void".
- Toph has a sore back from fighting Korra in "The Coronation".
- Opal's bison is named Juicy.
- Lin's father is named Kanto.
- Baatar is acrophobic.
- Toph and Lin have not seen each other for twenty years.
- Baatar refers to Toph as "mother", though the latter does not approve of him doing so.
- When the mecha suit shoots a stream of fire at Lin and Suyin, the wooden cage is fastened down on all eight corners. When Lin breaks two of them, however, the bottom four have disappeared, allowing the cage to swing.
- When Kuvira orders some of her men to hurry down toward the prison hold, the slips of her jacket are missing between her legs.
- When Suyin rips off a metal door and spins it during her fight with Kuvira, its handle and hinges have disappeared by the time she stops.
- This episode features three generations of the Beifong family.
- Opal tells Toph that a sky bison chooses its companion; the opposite occurred in Aang's time, as the Air Nomads were free to choose the sky bison they wanted.
- This episode is Opal's final speaking role in The Legend of Korra.