- This article is about the episode. For the political position, see earth monarch. For the titular character, see Hou-Ting.
|"You make me do your dirty work extorting your own citizens for your stupid palaces and topiaries, and then you just want to send me away?! We're not going anywhere until we find some airbenders! We know there are some here!"|
|— Korra to the Earth Queen.|
"The Earth Queen" is the third episode of Book Three: Change of The Legend of Korra and the 29th of the overall series. It aired on Nickelodeon along with "A Breath of Fresh Air" and "Rebirth" on June 27, 2014.
Team Avatar arrives in Ba Sing Se. While Korra has an audience with the Earth Queen, the others notice that Kai has gone missing, prompting Mako and Bolin to go look for him. They track him down, but he manages to shake them in the monorail, which takes the brothers to the Lower Ring, where they eventually run into their family from their father's side. Meanwhile, Korra and Asami set course for a small village to collect its taxes as a favor to the Queen. After bringing her the money, the Queen brushes off Korra's request for help in tracking down the airbenders, leaving the Avatar to storm out of the palace. In the city, Kai is arrested by the Dai Li and conscripted into the Queen's first airbending regiment.
While aboard the Future Industries airship, Jinora, Asami, and Naga watch a friendly airbending spar between Bumi and Kai, with the intention of teaching the two new airbenders the stances associated with the art form. Jinora reminds Bumi to remain quick and evasive, but he reassures his niece that his experience in fighting will guarantee an easy victory, even going so far as to minimize Kai as a threat by referring to him as a youngster. Before he could finish his statement, Kai knocks Bumi off balance by sending an air swipe in between his feet, prompting Jinora to remind Bumi to work on his stance and compliment Kai on his form. Shortly after, Bumi realizes that Kai has taken his wallet and attempts to retrieve it to no avail, much to Jinora's amusement.
While watching the training from the balcony, Korra expresses her excitement over traveling to Ba Sing Se in search of airbenders and asks Tenzin what the Earth Queen is like. Tenzin reveals that he does not personally know the Earth Queen but has heard of her demanding disposition.
Upon approaching the walls of Ba Sing Se, Bolin runs to the balcony and calls Mako over to take a look at the view, excitedly declaring that it was where their dad had grown up. As the airship passes over the Lower Ring, Korra, Mako, and Bolin recoil in disgust at its pollution and state of disrepair, with the young Avatar remarking how terrible it looks and Bolin adding his understanding as to why his dad left the city. Passing the Lower Ring, Bolin excitedly greets the people of the Middle Ring, before the airship passes over the second set of walls within the city and enters the Upper Ring of the city.
As the zeppelin docks at the Earth Kingdom Royal Palace, Korra and her party are greeted by Grand Secretariat Gun, who is quick to instruct the members of Team Avatar as to how they should conduct themselves around the Earth Queen. Kai notices a citizen of the Upper Ring laden with jewels and sneaks away from the rest of the group as they are led to their quarters.
Gun escorts Korra to the Earth Queen, Hou-Ting, who is overseeing a garden expansion on the palace grounds from a balcony. Hou-Ting frigidly addresses Korra, whom she suspects of being in her palace for a favor, and scorns her as well as her own father for ceding Earth Kingdom territory to create the United Republic of Nations, whose legitimacy as an independent state she refuses to recognize. The Earth Queen proceeds to list a number of problems that have manifested in her nation, from roving bands of barbarians in the countryside to her subjects' refusal to pay taxes. Korra attempts to reason with the queen but is unable to do so as Hou-Ting begins to yell at her servants.
Back at Team Avatar's quarters, Jinora notices Kai's absence, prompting Mako and Bolin to search for him under Tenzin's request. In the palace, Korra appeals to Hou-Ting for help in recruiting newly discovered airbenders in Ba Sing Se, but she refuses to even consider providing her assistance until the Avatar has completed a favor of her choosing. After Korra reluctantly agrees, Earth Queen Hou-Ting instructs her to retrieve a tax shipment from a vault located in a town just outside the city walls, two of which have already been stolen by a band of the aforementioned barbarians.
Bolin and Mako search for Kai in the Upper Ring and find him using his airbending to rob unsuspecting residents. Having been discovered, Kai hurriedly flees the scene with the two brothers following close behind. The duo eventually encounters Kai in a monorail cart at which point Mako corners Kai and grabs him by the collar. Kai, however, easily escapes his grasp, sends the two brothers back with an air blast, and slips out of the cart just before the doors close, leaving them stranded in the cart on the way to the Lower Ring. Mako and Bolin attempt to catch a train back to the Upper Ring but find themselves unable to do so after realizing that Kai has stolen their money. Without a means to purchase tickets, the brothers decide to sleep in the streets until they find a way back to the Upper Ring.
Back at the palace, Korra and Asami decide to take the airship and retrieve the tax shipment without Mako and Bolin. Asami expresses concern about the fact that they were unaccompanied, but Korra reassures her by stating that royal guards stationed at the vault will keep them protected.
In the Lower Ring, Bolin expresses concern about Kai's condition, unaware that he used the money he collected to rent a servant and a luxurious home in the Upper Ring. The two brothers walk by a fruit stand, and Bolin attempts to coerce Mako to help him with the "fruit stand scam" they used to execute in the past. The firebender refuses to take part and expresses his disgust at the state of the fruit on display, prompting a wary Tu to appear from behind the stand. He interrogates the brothers and attempts to intimidate them, eventually tackling the two to the ground after concluding that they are planning to steal his fruit. Tu's father, Chow, appears shortly after and recognizes Mako and Bolin as his brother's children, much to their surprise.
Zuko and Tonraq visit Desna and Eska at the Northern Water Tribe and ask the siblings to accompany them to a secret ice prison in the western tundras of the North Pole. Both agree at once, declaring that ruling the tribe has left them exceedingly bored and eager for something interesting to happen.
In the Lower Ring, Mako and Bolin meet their father's family, including their grandmother, Yin, who is particularly elated to meet her grandchildren. She promptly inquires about her son and daughter-in-law but is disheartened to hear from Mako that the two were killed while he and Bolin were still young.
Korra and Asami arrive to collect the tax shipment but become immediately wary of their surroundings after noticing residents fleeing indoors. As the guards bring the shipment out to load in the airship, they are attacked by a group of barbarians on motorcycles, prompting their guards to flee. The leader instructs Korra and Asami to leave the shipment but the two refuse, causing a fight to erupt in which Korra and Asami quickly take the upper hand. The leader, Gombo, calls his men to retreat, telling Korra that she is fighting for the wrong side before fleeing the scene. Watching them go, Korra discloses to Asami that she suspects Gombo to be correct.
Back in the tundras of the Northern Water Tribe, the twins are surprised that there was a secret prison that they did not know about. Zuko tells Desna and Eska of how he built the secret ice prison along with Tonraq and Unalaq in order to contain P'Li, a firebender who can use combustion to create explosions with her mind. He recalls, with a sense of irony, his hiring of Combustion Man, who was capable of the same technique, in a failed attempt to kill the previous Avatar, Aang. Eska responds by recalling the time she attempted to kill Korra for ruining her wedding with Bolin. They arrive at the cell, much to P'Li's amusement, who concludes that Zaheer must have escaped to prompt the arrival of visitors.
Bolin is grateful that he and his brother now have a huge family. Mako inquires as to why his father left Ba Sing Se and discovers that his father aspired to achieve things greater than working the fruit stand. However, his goals of leaving conflicted with his father's wishes, resulting in tensions between the two which caused Mako and Bolin's father to sever all communication with his family, save for a single letter he sent during his birthday. Yin brings Mako and Bolin to a room and shows them the letter, which includes a photo of them as children along with their mother and father. Yin remarks that Mako has his mother's eyes, prompting Mako to give her the scarf that used to belong to his father, claiming that his father would have wanted her to have it.
Gun escorts Korra to the palace and announces that Korra has returned with the tax shipment. Having fulfilled her part of the deal, Korra inquires once more about any airbenders in Ba Sing Se. The Earth Queen claims that the Dai Li have searched the city but were unable to find any airbenders, declaring that Korra and the rest of her team may leave the city at their leisure. Angered by her manipulation, Korra launches into a tirade, criticizing Hou-Ting for extorting her own subjects to sustain her own lavish lifestyle. She does not believe the Earth Queen's claims and states her intention to stay until she finds airbenders. Upset at the Avatar's defiance, Hou-Ting orders her to leave, which Korra does, though not before assuring the queen that she is far from finished.
Tu's father exclaims how proud his brother would have been with Mako and Bolin, considering that they are assisting the Avatar in her travels. Mako expresses their need to return to the Upper Ring to help Korra in her search of airbenders in Ba Sing Se. Upon mentioning them, the family members gasp and reveal how Dai Li agents have apprehended airbenders in the city for the Earth Queen, supposedly for use in experiments. Yin reprimands Tu for speaking negatively about the Queen, before blowing a respectful kiss to a portrait of her. Mako and Bolin decide to return to the Upper Ring to inform Korra, with Bolin once again wondering where Kai might be.
In the streets of the Upper Ring, Kai robs another resident. Taking off into an alley, he is surprised to find himself cornered by several Dai Li agents. They attack him using earthbending, capture him, and throw him into an underground cell containing other airbenders, after which he is told by the Dai Li sergeant that he is now a member of the Earth Queen's army.
- Written by:
- Directed by:
- Also starring:
- Main article: Transcript:The Earth Queen
- Main article: Writing in the World of Avatar
- Earth Queen Hou-Ting recalls Avatar Aang and Zuko's involvement in the annexation of Earth Kingdom land. The two worked with Earth King Kuei, Hou-Ting's father, during the Harmony Restoration Movement to deal with Fire Nation colonies following the end of the Hundred Year War. It was revealed in "Welcome to Republic City" that the colonies were eventually transformed into the United Republic of Nations.
- Chow references Bolin's role in Varrick's movers, The Adventures of Nuktuk: Hero of the South. These movers were filmed to raise awareness about the Northern occupation of the Southern Water Tribe in "The Sting".
- Bolin and Mako recall the time they spent as part of the Triple Threat Triad, which was explored in Republic City Hustle.
- Zuko recounts the time when he hired Combustion Man to kill Avatar Aang in "The Headband". Combustion Man was previously referenced in "Out of the Past" by Sokka, during a flashback.
- Eska recalls the time she and Desna pursued Korra on her way to the Fire Nation in "Peacekeepers".
- Intense cold was previously used to detain firebenders in "The Boiling Rock, Part 1".
- Mako and Bolin's paternal family resides in Ba Sing Se.
- Hou-Ting is Kuei's daughter.
- Desna and Eska have replaced their father as co-chiefs of the Northern Water Tribe.
- Periodically, Asami's eyes change from green to clear.
- When the camera cuts close to Hou-Ting after Korra greets her in the throne room, the white lines running next to the light green at the center of her outfit are missing.
- When Hou-Ting tells Korra that the Dai Li thoroughly searched the city for airbenders without success, her breasts are larger than in the first close shot of her.
- This episode was first reported by IGN under an early name, "Meet the Family".
- This episode was leaked on June 8, 2014, by Nickelodeon's Mexican site, Mundonick.
- The hotel in which Kai stays looks similar to Team Avatar's home when they were in the capital.
- The shot of the people getting water at a central point looks similar to the place where Katara and Jet met in "Lake Laogai".
- This is the first time Tonraq has visited the Northern Water Tribe since his banishment.
- Yin and her family live in the same building in which Zuko and Iroh resided during the latter part of Book Two: Earth of Avatar: The Last Airbender. This was not deliberate, however; the crew simply found it easier to reuse existing designs.
- Goldman, Eric (June 20, 2014). Exclusive The Legend of Korra: Book Three Premiere Date Announcement and Clip. IGN. Retrieved on June 20, 2014.
- Bryan Konietzko on the DVD commentary for "The Ultimatum".