|"I'd like to make an announcement to the world: the Earth Kingdom is no more."|
|— Kuvira announcing her intention to reform the Earth Kingdom into a new Earth Empire.|
"The Coronation" is the third episode of Book Four: Balance of The Legend of Korra and the 42nd of the overall series. It was released online on Nick.com and through the Nick app on October 17, 2014, and aired on Nicktoons on November 28, 2014.
As Wu prepares for his coronation, Mako harbors his doubts about the prince's readiness for the duties of a king. At the coronation ceremony, downsized because most of the royal artifacts have been looted, Wu honors Kuvira with a medal, but she declares his authority illegitimate, claiming herself to be the head of the new Earth Empire and threatening to crush anyone who opposes her rule. Although he has been anointed king, Wu commands little to no respect among his people, which Mako brings to his attention. With a conflict imminent, Tenzin orders his three eldest children to search for Korra and bring her back to Republic City. Meanwhile, in the Foggy Swamp, Korra trains with Toph Beifong, who reveals that Korra's body still contains residual traces of mercury. Toph abandons her attempt to remove it after Korra subconsciously fought against her actions and asserts that Korra has accepted the poison as an excuse to avoid being the Avatar.
The day before his coronation, Wu and Mako travel to City Hall, where the royal excitedly details the schedule of the ceremony to his bodyguard; Wu hails the show, set to include singing earthbenders and dancing badgermoles, as the most "dynamite six-hour show" the firebender will have ever seen. Unfazed by Wu's enthusiasm, Mako asks the prince how much he has prepared to rule the Earth Kingdom. Wu waves off the question, assuring Mako that his ministers will deal with that, while the two of them "live the life" in the capital. As President Raiko joins their conversation and inquires how Wu is holding up, the prince runs off to scold a Metalbending Police Force officer for erecting bleachers where dancers will be performing the "Dance of the Badgermoles".
As Wu begins performing the moves of the dance, Mako asks the president if he feels comfortable leaving the Earth Kingdom in Wu's hands. The president assures him that more experienced people will handle the governing while Tenzin joins them. The three watch Wu's antics, and the airbender dryly notes that the prince seems to have quickly "become accustomed to the burdens of leadership". Replying that most royals like a ceremony, Raiko inquires if Tenzin has received any word on Korra's whereabouts, prompting the airbending master to report that they cannot locate her, even though airbenders all over the world are searching for her. Tenzin also expresses concern about Kuvira's growing military forces and her increasingly dictatorial methods. Raiko tries to reassure him by noting that she promised to step down after Wu's coronation the following day, so worrying about correcting her mistakes can wait until after that. As Mako voices his doubts about Kuvira's willingness to hand over power to Wu, Raiko assures him that the metalbender knew from the start that her position was only temporary and that he had her word that she would step down. An unconvinced Tenzin concludes that he would feel more comfortable if Korra were there.
At the Foggy Swamp, Korra asks Toph to help her get back into "Avatar fighting shape", as she believes she is currently unable to serve the world, which needs her. Toph promptly tells her to get over herself, assuring Korra the world does not need her at all. The Avatar becomes offended and brags that she has defeated several powerful villains during her time. Toph waves off the accomplishments as insignificant; she counters by pointing out that although she worked hard as Chief of Police of Republic City, crime did not disappear. Astonished, Korra concludes that the elders mean to tell her that everything she accomplished thus far as the Avatar had been pointless. As she comments that Toph is even grumpier than Lin, Toph declares proudly that she is the "original Beifong". Dispirited, Korra asks if all that means that Toph will not train her. The elder responds that she had planned to soak her feet in mud for a few weeks, but she also cannot stand seeing the Avatar "so pathetic and getting [her] butt kicked all the time" and thus agrees to help. As Korra excitedly surges forward to give the old woman a hug, she slams face-first into a slab of earth bent by Toph to block her advance; as Korra falls down, Toph tells her that if she wants to hug something, she can go find a tree as they are there to work.
Entering the Republic City Four Elements with the rest of Kuvira's delegation, Bolin expresses joy over being back in the city, though he is mortified to notice Eska is also staying at the hotel. The female Chief of the Northern Water Tribe approaches and congratulates him on having replaced her with a threatening-looking girlfriend, referring to Kuvira. Bolin corrects her, clarifying that the metalbender is his boss, though Eska sees no difference between the two. Cam shows up, apologizing to Desna and Eska, as he assumes they were mistakenly booked in the same room with one bed. Eska claims that it is no mistake and that her brother sleeps in the tub.
As Zhu Li, who is carrying Varrick's considerable load of luggage, catches up to him in the lobby, Varrick bemusedly laughs that President Raiko must have turned purple when Kuvira forced him to pardon the industrialist of his "alleged" crimes. When Zhu Li calls him an upstanding citizen, he readily agrees with her, before whispering to her to fill his extra bag with as many little, lavender-scented soaps as she can find.
As Mako and Wu also enter the lobby, the two brothers greet each other by trading a mock punch before sharing a hug. As Mako compliments Bolin about his position in Kuvira's forces, the earthbender admits that he is not used to seeing himself as important. Mako asks him what working for Kuvira is like, and Bolin excitedly relays that, while Kuvira can be tough, they are helping people across the Earth Kingdom, turning around the nation, and cites the improvement of their family's neighborhood in Ba Sing Se as an example. In return, Bolin asks about Mako's job and is surprised to learn that his brother has spent his time working for Wu, rather than fighting crime. He quickly changes the subject, asking if Mako has seen Korra yet, and is worried to learn that she has been missing for months.
As Suyin checks into the hotel, she is greeted by her eldest son. She acknowledges his presence by saying his name, but Baatar Jr. dryly corrects her, saying that he goes by "Baatar". He smugly notes that she must regret choosing not to go with them, after seeing all the good they have accomplished. Suyin responds that she does not know if she would call marching all over the Earth Kingdom and forcing people to bow to Kuvira "doing good". Baatar Jr. states that she will need to change her view of Kuvira soon, as she is now his fiancée and will soon be an "official" member of the family. Unfazed by the announcement, Suyin merely notes that she is pleased that Kuvira is stepping down the following day. Somewhat insulted, Baatar Jr. questions if she would rather be ruled by "that royal idiot", turning his attention to Wu, who is trying to chat up Kuvira by complimenting her beauty. When she ignores him, he says he will use his status as a long term, beloved guest to procure her an upgrade at the hotel. Kuvira promptly declines his offer, deeming his help unnecessary, as she already booked the Presidential Suite herself. Wu laughs it off as impossible, considering he is staying in that room, until Kuvira informs him that she had him moved to another room. Shocked, Wu grabs Cam by his collar and asks where his stuff is, to which the front desk clerk responds that he has been moved to a "very nice junior suite" on the seventh floor. Kuvira smugly tells Wu that he should remember that she always gets what she wants.
The following day, Mako and Wu wait in the hall of City Hall for the arrival of Gun and the rest of the royal cabinet. When they arrive, Wu is shocked to learn that the delegation consists of only three people, who inform him that most of his servants scattered and the royal artifacts looted from the palace after Hou-Ting's assassination; the only object they managed to safeguard is a single golden earring, which Gun dubs the "Royal Brooch" and will replace the stolen crown. The prince becomes angry upon realizing that his coronation will be much simpler than he had planned. They prompt him to try in the "brooch", but he leaves angered.
Korra faces Toph in a sparring match, during which she barrages the elderly woman with three airbending strikes and a water stream; Toph easily evades all of the attacks and knocks her down with a mud pillar. As Korra gathers her bearings, shooing off a frog squirrel that has jumped on her shoulder, Toph asks her to reflect on what she did wrong. Korra explains herself by saying "I was thinking", and Toph immediately interrupts her, declaring her thinking to be the issue. When Toph turns her back on the Avatar and orders her to try again, Korra subjects the elderly earthbender to another elemental barrage; again, Toph easily evades all the attacks and defeats Korra with a single countermove, launching her in the air with a mud pillar once again. While Korra gets back on her feet, Toph pulls a leech off her arm and berates her "pathetic" performance and declares her to be, by far, the worst of the two Avatars she ever worked with. Korra defends herself by pointing out that Toph is just enjoying having someone to beat up, an assessment with which the elderly woman agrees, noting that the resident swampbenders are too easily beaten. Changing the subject, Korra inquires why Toph has chosen to disconnect herself from the rest of the world. Toph, somewhat offended, promptly declares that she is more connected to the world than Korra has ever been: through the vines in the earth, she is able to see everything, including her own children. Korra tests the claim by slyly readying a water whip behind Toph's back but is knocked down with a blast of mud before she can execute her attack. Toph declares that, of the two of them, Korra is the one who is truly blind.
In Republic City the coronation begins with numerous dignitaries and world leaders in attendance, including Lord Zuko and his daughter, Fire Lord Izumi. Gun decorates Wu with the Royal Brooch and declares him "king of all the earth lands and Glorious Defender of Ba Sing Se". In his speech, he thanks his countrymen for having worked hard to restore him, their "beloved leader", to the throne. To express his gratitude, he calls forth Kuvira and awards her the Kyoshi Medal of Freedom, the highest honor in the Earth Kingdom, for her service to the kingdom. She asks to speak to the crowd, and Wu gives her the floor, begrudgingly noting that they had six hours to fill now that his lavish ceremony was stripped to the bare minimum. Kuvira starts off by noting that growing up in Zaofu with Suyin Beifong taught her that the idea of a hereditary monarchy is archaic, and that technology and innovation must be the core of a thriving nation. Blaming the "pathetic" rule by Earth Monarchs for the state of disarray in the Earth Kingdom, she declares that it has taken her three years to stabilize the nation, and that she will not allow it to descend into chaos once again. As such, Kuvira denounces Wu's authority and dissolves the Earth Kingdom, appointing herself as the leader of what she now calls the "Earth Empire", intending to bring about a new era of prosperity for her people. Warning the world leaders not to stand against her, she emphasizes her threat by tearing off and crushing the medal she has been given. As Kuvira receives a standing ovation from a cheering crowd, Wu slumps his head, muttering that it is the "worst coronation ever".
After the ceremony, Kuvira's delegation returns to the Presidential Suite. Sitting in the living area with Varrick, Bolin expresses his surprise about Kuvira's declaration, fearing it will turn the world leaders against them. Varrick brushes off the lavabender's worries, stating that there is nothing the other nations can do since the earth nation is under Kuvira's control and Republic City relies on the metal they are mining. The conversation is cut short when Zhu Li enters the room, presenting a spirit vine to the industrialist. Varrick inspects the vegetation and, approving it, orders for it to be taken to their lab and stabilized immediately. As Varrick leaves to conduct experiments, Bolin is approached by Kuvira, who comments on his worried expression. He admits that he has some misgivings about her ambush of the world leaders with her speech. Although he affirms his belief in the work they have done, he voices his doubts about the "empire" and Kuvira's aggressive pledge to crush every person who dares to oppose them. Kuvira assures him that her choice of words was nothing but tough rhetoric, intended to show people they are serious about their cause. Noting that conflict is the last thing she wants, she implores Bolin to stand by her. After a moment, he reaffirms his loyalty to her cause. When Suyin enters, declaring she and Kuvira need to talk, Bolin leaves the room at Kuvira's request.
Once they are alone, Suyin announces that she is there as the representative of the world leaders. Kuvira promptly declares Suyin's interest in world affairs as overdue, reciting the Zaofu matriarch's refusal to stabilize the Earth Kingdom after Hou-Ting's assassination. As Kuvira connects that passive attitude to a desire to hide in Zaofu while others deal with the consequences, Suyin counters that she did not want to seize power for herself, as Kuvira has done, and adds that Kuvira stepping down as leader of the Earth Empire is for the greater good. Kuvira rebuffs her statement, pointing out that she provides stability and equality in her nation. She reiterates her refusal to recognize Wu's reign, referring to him as the world leaders' "hand-picked dictator". When Suyin denounces Kuvira as "another tyrant", asserting that she knows what the latter has done to cities that refuse to surrender to her, Kuvira, unfazed, warns Suyin that the same fate will befall Zaofu if the matriarch will not follow her.
Having retired to Wu's junior suite, Mako begins to pack his clothes, listening to Wu lament about losing his suite and throne. When the king apologizes for not being able to take Mako back to Ba Sing Se with him, believing it to have crushed Mako's spirits, the firebender urges him not to worry, earning him another compliment from the royal. Answering a knock at the door, Mako finds Bolin on the other side and, against Wu's order to dismiss the "Kuvira associate", steps outside of the room to talk; he shuts the door, leaving Wu to hover near the door and eavesdrop on the ensuing conversation. Mako tells Bolin that he cannot keep working for Kuvira, now that she is defying the wishes of the entire world. Bolin tries to explain that Mako has a wrong view of Kuvira, stating that the metalbender is truly helping all the poor people of the empire, which is for the best. Due to Mako's continuous skepticism, Bolin invites him to join their cause, so he could witness their operations first-hand, see how they are doing good and making history. Mako declines the offer, musing that they achieve their goals by crushing their opponents. Bolin waves the insult off, relaying Kuvira's explanation that it is merely tough rhetoric to emphasize that the Earth Empire is to be taken seriously. He defends Kuvira by drawing a parallel between the metalbender and Korra: they are both hard to deal with though passionate about their beliefs. Mako, annoyed by the comparison, plainly labels Kuvira as an oppressive and controlling dictator, prompting Bolin to retaliate by asking Mako if Wu will be a better leader than Kuvira. Although forced to agree with Bolin, Mako continues to refuse to join Kuvira, frustrating Bolin, who blames his brother for wasting his time as a "glorified butler". Irritated himself, Mako mock-apologizes for his unwillingness to work for a "glorious emperor in her military dictatorship". Storming off, Bolin yells that he will return to Kuvira's train to bring freedom wherever they go while Mako stays behind to "lick the king's boots". Reentering the room, Mako expresses his shock over his confrontation with Bolin. Wu apologizes to him and offers to cheer him up by taking him to the Little Ba Sing Se Fashion Mall, where he intends to treat his bodyguard to a smoothie, an offer Mako passively accepts.
Walking through the swamp with Toph, Korra dejectedly notes that practicing with the earthbender has been terrible. Toph laughs at the statement, noting that while it might be misery for Korra, she is having a great time, recalling how much she missed tormenting the Avatar. When an insulted Korra states that she has been tossed around like a rag doll by Toph for an entire day, Toph excitedly agrees with her assessment and compliments herself on retaining her abilities, despite her old age. Asking Korra to imagine how she would have been in her prime, Toph laughingly notes that she would have "destroyed" the Avatar. Disheartened by the comment, Korra states that she does not understand why she cannot recover her own abilities, noting that she is always a step slower, tentative, out of sync, and just cannot get back in the groove. With a hint of sarcasm, Toph mentions that carrying around metal in her body probably is not helping, and Korra, her attention caught by the comment, questions what she means. Annoyed, Toph informs her that she has little bits of metal poison lodged throughout her body, adding that she really is the "worst Avatar ever" since she is unable to feel metal in her own body. Stunned by the revelation, Korra mentions that she was under the impression that Suyin had removed every trace of the poison, to which Toph replies that her daughters never mastered the finer skills of metalbending. Relieved to finally know the reason for her weakness, Korra excitedly makes her way over to Toph and grabs her by the shoulders, declaring that she has to get it out of her system and asking Toph if she can do it for her. The very inference that she might not be physically able to remove the metal comes as an insult to Toph, who promptly shoves Korra to the ground.
Slurping their smoothies at the mall's lower ring, a disinterested Mako listens to Wu rambling about their shopping plans. The royal suddenly cuts himself short, spitting out his drink all over Mako, much to his surprise, and runs over to two females wearing T-shirts with Kuvira's face printed on the front. Offended, he asks them where they have purchased the item and is directed to a small shop selling Kuvira merchandise. Angered, he runs over to the vendor and his customers, yelling that such goods cannot be sold in the Little Ba Sing Se Fashion Mall, as he is the "Little King" there and they need to respect his position. Upon being booed by the crowd, he throws his smoothie at the customers, hitting one of them. Mako is alarmed by the angry crowd and drags Wu away. With the mob close behind them, he bends a wall of fire to block their pursuers' path and uses its cover to vanish into one of the mall's alleys.
The two seek refuge in the Upper Ring of the shopping mall, where they find a replica of the Earth Kingdom Royal Palace, which is in reality a restaurant. Wu excitedly runs inside, pushing people out of his way in his mad dash for the throne. He pulls the royal scepter out of the hands of a child sitting in the chair and snatches the royal robe away from the child's mother, yelling that while the young boy will have a birthday next year to celebrate, he will never have another coronation day. Donning the crown and other royal artifacts, the king sits down on the throne and bursts into tears, lamenting what he declares to be the worst day of his life. Hearing this, Mako briskly asks him if he truly wants to be king and says that it is not surprising the people favor Kuvira over him; even though she is a "power-crazed dictator", she has worked hard to better the Earth Kingdom's citizens, whereas Wu has not done anything of the sort. As Wu regains his composure, Mako apologizes for speaking out of line, though the king agrees with him, labeling himself "a joke who got what he deserved". They are forced to flee again, however, when Mako spots the angry Kuvira supporters.
Returning to Toph's home, Korra lies down, and Toph tells her to relax in order for her to be able to successfully remove all the residual mercury. Despite Korra's insistence that she is relaxed, Toph comments that Korra's body is tense like a "twisted tree trunk". The Avatar snaps at the elderly woman to begin the extraction anyway. The moment Toph starts, however, Korra shoots up and grunts in pain, and Toph immediately berates her for not relaxing, ordering her to stop fighting her. Korra hotly denies the accusation, but when Toph tries again, Korra is plagued by another vision of Zaheer trying to asphyxiate her. Gasping in pain, she curls up again, and Toph abandons her attempt to remove the metal, declaring that Korra will have to do it herself, as she is apparently adamant about holding onto it. Perplexed, Korra asks why she would want to keep poison in her body but manages to only halfheartedly reject Toph's theory that she is using it as an excuse to forsake her duties as the Avatar out of fear for being injured again. As Toph walks away, unwilling to deal with any more of the Avatar's issues, Korra asks what she is supposed to do now, and the elderly earthbender defers to the spirit that brought her to the swamp in the first place, adding that if Korra's wish is to find a place where she can disappear, she came to the right swamp.
Tenzin returns to Air Temple Island, where he gathers his three eldest children in the meditation pavilion and tasks them with bringing Korra home, as the world will need its Avatar to face the conflict rising in the Earth Kingdom. He asks if he can trust them to find her, to which Meelo readily answers that he can be counted on, though adds that he is unsure about his sisters, earning him annoyed looks from Jinora and Ikki.
As Kuvira and her army leave Republic City on the train, Varrick and Zhu Li are busy conducting tests on a piece of spirit vine contained in a glass cylinder. Kuvira watches their progress, instructing Varrick that the development of this new technology is to be his number one priority. Looking at the capsule, the inventor declares excitedly that it is "going to change everything".
- Written by:
- Directed by:
- Also starring:
- John Michael Higgins
- Sunil Malhotra - Wu
- Anne Heche - Su
- Zelda Williams - Kuvira
- Spencer Garrett - Raiko
- Stephanie Sheh
- Zhu Li
- Philece Sampler - Toph
- Mitchell Whitfield - Gun
- Todd Haberkorn - Baatar Jr.
- Aubrey Plaza - Eska
- Logan Wells - Meelo
- Dee Bradley Baker - Bullfrog
- Main article: Writing in the World of Avatar
- Almost all of the royal ceremonial artifacts and other valuable objects belonging to the Earth Kingdom Royal Family were looted during the anarchy in Ba Sing Se.
- Eska remarking that there is no difference between being someone's boss or girlfriend references how she treated Bolin during their relationship.
- There is residual mercury remaining in Korra's body.
- Varrick was pardoned by President Raiko under pressure from Kuvira.
- During the coronation, when Wu is thanking everyone for the ceremony, Izumi, who is sitting in the background, is missing her crown.
- During her speech, Kuvira pulls the Kyoshi Medal of Freedom from around her neck, ripping its strap. However, when it drops on the floor, the strap is whole again.
- When Wu notices the two girls wearing Kuvira shirts in the mall, he spits his smoothie onto Mako's shirt, leaving a prominent stain. When Mako drags Wu away from the hostile Kuvira supporters, the stain is missing. It reappears in the next scene, only to disappear again when they reached the royal palace.
- When Toph prepares to remove the poison from Korra's body, the latter's shoes are on at first, but in the next shot of her, Korra is barefoot.
- A plastic version of Bosco is present in the Little Ba Sing Se Fashion Mall.
- During production of the episode, one of the crew's storyboard artists initially placed a framed photo of Sokka inside Toph's tree dwelling, though this would end up being removed after Bryan Konietzko questioned why Toph, being blind, would have or want a photo of someone.
- The scene in which an elbow leech clings to Korra recalls a similar scene in "The Swamp", where an elbow leech clings to Sokka when Team Avatar crashes into the Foggy Swamp.
- This is the first episode in which Izumi, Zuko's daughter, makes an appearance.
- The designs for the two female fans of Kuvira that Wu accosts at the mall are based on character designers Angela Mueller and Christie Tseng.
- The script for the episode featured the council meeting between Suyin and the world leaders, but was cut.
- The gag where Mako pulls away Wu, pressed against an alley wall, only for there to be a graffitied poster in the spot where the prince's head was was added during the storyboard phase of the episode's production.