|"I confess to everything. I refused to turn over emergency powers and took over the Earth Kingdom because I thought I knew what was best for everyone. I was wrong. And though I wasn't fully aware of everything going on in the re-education camps, I should have been. I wanted so badly to wield power and change the world, I didn't concern myself with the consequences. I wish I could forget the terrible things I've done ... the people I've hurt ... but I can't. I just hope that by taking full responsibility for what I've done, I can begin to heal some of the pain I've caused. So, I am entering a new plea -- guilty."|
Kuvira's true nature is revealed, and the Earth Kingdom will feel the consequences!
Thanks to Commander Guan and Doctor Sheng's brainwashing technology, all hope for a fair election in the Earth Kingdom is lost. Korra works with Toph, Su, and Kuvira to plan a means to rescue not just the brainwashed Mako, Bolin, and Asami, but everyone else caught up in Guan's plan! With the Earth Empire potentially on the rise again, Kuvira pulls another trick from her sleeve... but whose side is she truly on?
Korra, Kuvira, and the Beifong family arrive in Zaofu following the confrontation with Guan in Gaoling, bringing with them the brainwashed and captive Asami Sato. Suyin has Asami and Kuvira confined to her estate, a restriction she reveals she has subjected to Baatar Jr. too. After Asami is shown her room, Korra promised that they will help her. Baatar Jr. confronts Kuvira, who admits that she had never expected to see him again. Baatar Jr. remarks that she would not have if Korra and her friends had not saved him during her attempt to kill them. Kuvira tries to defend her actions by claiming that she was under a lot of pressure and that he would have done the same if he were in her position, but only succeeds in infuriating her former fiancée, who denies such a claim. He reminds Kuvira that he once loved her, before stating that she has not changed and walking away, ignoring Kuvira when she claims she needs his help. As Suyin has Kuvira shown to her quarters, Korra goes after Baatar Jr. and convinces him to listen to her, explaining that the future of the Earth Kingdom depends on it.
Back in Gaoling, Mayor Rhee is visited by the brainwashed King Wu, who requests that the state's gubernatorial election take place that day. When Rhee protests that the voters will not know to show up, Wu replies that the voters are already there, revealing a large crowd of Guan's supporters to be waiting outside. Rhee insists that he be given a few days to inform the other precincts about the change, but relents after Wu to furiously accuses him of defying his king.
As Korra, Kuvira and the Beifongs sit down to eat in Zaofu, Korra informs them that she has persuaded Baatar Jr. to work with Kuvira, but that he does not want to see her again once they are done, a term that Kuvira accedes to. Wei and Wing ask why the Metal Clan cannot simply attack Guan and his army, with Suyin explaining that the Earth Kingdom's democratic movement would be jeopardized if Zaofu was seen interfering with another state's election. Toph questions the continued existence of the democratic movement, now that Guan has brainwashed the majority of Gaoling's voters as well as Wu, with Kuvira adding that the latter will allow Guan to influence the entire Earth Kingdom. She remarks on the cleverness of such a plan, prompting Opal to ask if she regrets not using brainwashing to keep herself in power. Suyin puts a stop to the brewing argument and states that they must let the election play out, but Toph replies that she has effectively forfeited by fleeing Gaoling, meaning that Guan will almost certainly win. Baatar Jr. enters the room and claims otherwise, however, explaining that if he can figure out how to break Asami's brainwashing, the same procedure can be used to free the rest of Gaoling's citizens, after which Guan will lose his support. Kuvira voices her appreciation for his help, but Baatar Jr. states that they should get started, and he, Korra and Kuvira leave.
Later on in the day, Korra tries to reach out to Asami, but the other woman remains cold and hostile as a result of her brainwashing. With the help of Kuvira's memory and his own experiences working with Dr. Sheng, Baatar Jr. builds a near-perfect replica of the brainwashing machine and attempts to use it on Asami, but fails to free her mind due to not knowing the exact settings originally used to brainwash her. Kuvira suggests that he use an unaffected test subject, with Baatar Jr. agreeing that it could help him establish a baseline from which to make further adjustments. Korra volunteers herself, but Baatar Jr. refuses, explaining that the process could affect the test subject's memory and that he does not want to be responsible for damaging the Avatar's mind. Hearing this, Kuvira offers to be the test subject, much to the surprise of Korra and Baatar Jr. Suyin tries to dissuade Kuvira, but the former dictator replies that Guan and the remains of the Earth Empire are her mess to clear up, causing Baatar Jr. to wonder if Kuvira has changed more than he thought.
Baatar Jr. hooks Kuvira up to the machinery and activates it. The procedure causes Kuvira to recall another memory of her childhood, from after she was taken in by the Beifong's. In the memory, a young Kuvira demands to be allowed to play with a young Opal's dollhouse and destroys it with her metalbending when Opal refuses. Opal calls out for Suyin, who comes in and asks Kuvira why she destroyed the dollhouse, with Kuvira replying that she does not know. Suyin urges Kuvira to learn to control her violent impulses, lest she hurt someone in the family the same way she hurt her mother, but Kuvira replies that Suyin cannot tell her what to do, and storms off. Opal asks if Suyin will punish Kuvira, but Suyin explains that they have to give Kuvira some slack after everything that's happened to her. Opal refuses to accept Kuvira as her sister and remarks that no-one wanted her, including her biological parents, causing a sad look to appear on Kuvira's face.
As the memory ends, Kuvira learns that the test is over and that Baatar Jr. has gotten everything he needs from it. Asami is brought back in, and the brainwashing is successfully broken on her - though she retains no memory of what she did while under its effects. She and Korra share an emotional reunion, but the moment is interrupted when Wei, Wing and Opal come in and urge Suyin to turn on the radio, which is broadcasting the news of Guan's victory in the election.
Korra calls President Zhu Li Moon to explain what has happened and request backup for dealing with Guan, but Zhu Li insists on handling the situation carefully out of concern for what might happen if Wu is discovered to have been brainwashed by Guan. She informs Korra that with the Earth Empire in a position to return thanks to Guan's control of Wu, she plans to discuss a solution with Suyin and the other world leaders, and orders Korra to bring Kuvira back to Republic City, claiming she is now more of a hindrance than a help. Korra agrees, intending to leave Zaofu with Kuvira first thing in the morning, and Kuvira remarks to Baatar Jr. that he will get his wish to never see her again. After he tells her to have a safe trip back, Kuvira assures him that it broke her heart to sacrifice him for the Earth Empire and that she loved him as well. Baatar Jr. replies in turn that it was nice to work with her again, and leaves as a pair of Zaofu guards arrive to lead Kuvira away.
As Korra and Asami prepare to go to bed later that night, Asami struggles to deal with what happened to her and asks Korra if she did or said anything she would come to regret while under Guan's influence. Saddened, Korra assures Asami that whatever happened then does not matter now, since Asami was not in control of herself, and asks that they put the matter behind them. Asami agrees, and Korra leads her toward the room's bed, but the couple is interrupted when Suyin comes in. Korra and Asami assume she has been talking with Zhu Li, but Suyin informs them that Kuvira has attacked her guards and fled Zaofu in a stolen plane. Asami guesses that Kuvira has seized her opportunity to escape justice, but Korra doubts this after everything Kuvira has done to help the two of them, the news of which comes as a surprise to Asami. Remembering how Kuvira assaulted Guan when he refused to surrender during their first confrontation, Korra deduces that she has returned to Gaoling, rather than wait for the crisis to be solved diplomatically.
In Gaoling, Guan has Rhee dismissed from his position, claiming to no longer need him, before finding that Kuvira has sneaked into his office. Kuvira claims to want to rejoin the Earth Empire, citing Guan's earlier point at how others should not be able to reap the benefits of its accomplishments, and stating that his path is the only one left for her to follow, as she has lost everyone she considered family in her quest for power. She offers to join him under one condition. Guan becomes furious, thinking she will ask him to step down for her due to the risks and sacrifices he made. She asks Guan and Dr. Sheng to use their brainwashing technology to make her forget how she almost killed her mother, as well as her life with the Beifongs and her memories of those she has hurt, in spite of how this would put her under Guan's control. When Guan points this out, Kuvira replies that it would not be the first time she has surrendered and that he would have to brainwash her anyway to ensure he could trust her. She states that he will have her complete obedience, and she will have a guilt-free conscience.
Elsewhere, Korra, Asami, Suyin, Toph and Opal fly to Gaoling on the back of Juicy, where they find the stolen plane but no sign of Kuvira. Opal claims that Kuvira has once again betrayed Suyin after taking advantage of her goodwill, and accuses her mother of always giving Kuvira the benefit of the doubt when Suyin does not agree. Meanwhile, Kuvira is taken to Guan's camp, where she is restrained in a chair and hooked up to the brainwashing machine. Before Guan and Dr. Sheng can brainwash her, however, Kuvira - who is still able to move her hands - uses her metalbending to jam the other two brainwashing helmets on their heads, as well as free herself from the chair. She reveals that she plans to use the knowledge of the brainwashing machine that she picked up from Baatar Jr. to brainwash Guan and Dr. Sheng into surrendering and confessing their crimes, but is suddenly attacked by the still-brainwashed Mako and Bolin, who had been put on standby by Guan in anticipation of Kuvira's treachery.
Kuvira is forced to flee, whereupon she is spotted by the group on Juicy, who come to her aid; Korra subdues Mako and Bolin with airbending, the Beifongs deal with the rest of Guan's forces, and Asami electrocutes Dr. Sheng with her electrical glove in retaliation for her brainwashing. Guan tries to escape in a jeep but is intercepted by Kuvira and the two of them battle. Kuvira emerges the victor, and Guan verbally surrenders, but Kuvira states that it is too late for him to do so. Advancing on Guan while levitating blades of jagged metal, Kuvira vows to make sure he can never rise again, but Suyin stops her from killing him, explaining that it will not solve anything or bring her peace. Kuvira agrees, but nevertheless tells Guan that he has been beaten, and the Earth Empire has been stopped for good.
The next morning, Korra and Asami undo the brainwashing on Mako, Bolin and Wu, restoring them to their old selves, and begin doing the same for the rest of Gaoling's citizens. The newly reinstated Rhee thanks Korra for her help in stopping Guan, to which Korra replies that Kuvira deserves credit for taking matters into her own hands, though she makes clear that she will nevertheless take her back to Republic City. After hearing Rhee question if they should continue with the election after all that has happened, Wu gives another speech to the people of Republic City later on, where he admits that he was so eager for change that he pressed on with the Gaoling election despite objections. Henceforth, he will not force his will upon the people as Guan did, but allow the states of the Earth Kingdom to proceed with the elections at their own pace, and continue to rule throughout the Earth Kingdom's transition to democracy.
Kuvira's trial resumes with her return to Republic City, and Varrick is called upon to testify about her use of spirit vine weaponry, and his role in developing it. Kuvira cuts him off, prompting the judge to warn her not to intimidate the witness, but Kuvira replies that there is no need for Varrick to testify, as she intends to confess to everything. She admits that she had usurped Wu because she wrongly thought she knew what was best for the Earth Kingdom, that she should have known about Guan and Dr. Sheng's brainwashing experiments, and that she was so eager to wield power and change the world that she did not care for the consequences. Admitting that she cannot forget her crimes or the people she has hurt, she nevertheless expresses the hope that she can heal some of the pain she has caused by taking responsibility for what she has done, before entering a plea of guilty.
As Team Avatar meets in the courthouse corridors following the trial's conclusion, Bolin reveals that he intends to carry on as Zhu Li's assistant, explaining that while he does not consider politics his true calling, he is fine with an unexciting job after everything he has been through. Kuvira is then bought out, and Korra remarks that she really redeemed herself, before the rest of Team Avatar express their gratitude to her for helping them out, though Asami warns that it will take a very long time to forgive her father's death at Kuvira's hand. Suyin and the Beifongs then approach Kuvira, and Suyin apologizes for being a poor mentor and mother figure to Kuvira, believing that she could have guided the younger woman onto a more appropriate path. Kuvira replies that Suyin has no need to apologize; she took Kuvira in and supported her even when she was at her worst, and that Kuvira is the one who was in the wrong for not appreciating how good a mother Suyin was to her. With that, Suyin steps forward to hug Kuvira, signifying their reconciliation.
As they break apart, Kuvira admits that she wishes she and Suyin had more time to spend together, to which Suyin reveals that Zhu Li and the tribunal have agreed to release Kuvira into her custody, meaning that she will be allowed to serve her sentence while under house arrest in Zaofu as long as she does not attempt to escape, as thanks for her help in stopping Guan. When Kuvira asks how the rest of the Beifong's - in particular Baatar Jr. - feel about this, Opal admits that they were all skeptical when Suyin first proposed the idea, but they came around, and Baatar Jr. will likely do the same. She assures Kuvira that while she might not have been born a Beifong, she will always be part of the family, and they all leave together.
- Main article: Transcript:Ruins of the Empire Part Three
- The Legend of Korra: Ruins of the Empire Part Three. Penguin Random House. Retrieved on July 16, 2019.