|"When we dispatch you in the Avatar State, the cycle will end. So we lucky few, this band of brothers and sisters in anarchy, are witnessing the beginning of an era of true freedom."|
|— Zaheer explaining his plan to end the Avatar Cycle to Korra.|
"Venom of the Red Lotus" is the 13th and final episode of Book Three: Change of The Legend of Korra and the 39th of the overall series. It was released on Nick.com for online viewing along with "Enter the Void" as the second of a two-part season finale on August 22, 2014, and aired on Nicktoons alongside its counterpart on October 9, 2014.
After Zaheer has the poison administered to Korra, she enters the Avatar State and battles Zaheer, while Bolin and Mako duel Ghazan and Ming-Hua, ultimately killing the Red Lotus members. The captive members of the Air Nation escape, and use their abilities together to help Korra defeat and recapture Zaheer. However, the poison wreaks havoc on Korra; she is unable to move without a wheelchair, and falls into a state of depression. Jinora is anointed as an airbending master by Tenzin, who proclaims that, while Korra recovers, the Air Nation will return to its nomadic roots and serve as the world's ambassadors for peace and balance.
In the Air Nomad caves near the Northern Air Temple, a captured Korra threatens to kill the members of the Red Lotus after she escapes; Zaheer reminds her that she cannot escape, as her restraints are made of platinum. He goes on to explain that, once they poison her, Korra's body will enter the Avatar State on its own to try to keep her alive; when this happens, they intend to kill her, breaking the Avatar Cycle forever. He reiterates the goals of the order and states that Korra's death will usher the world into a new era of "true freedom". Nearby, unseen by anyone, Jinora's spiritual projection watches and listens to Zaheer's plan. Distraught, she returns to her body when Zaheer has finished his explanations.
Back in the chamber in which the airbenders are imprisoned, Opal asks Jinora whether she found a means of escaping, to which the latter replies that they will find a way to free themselves soon. Daw worriedly remarks that Bumi and Kya, severely injured in the battle and fall from the cliff, may not live much longer. Ikki asks if Korra will save them, seeking reassurance from her older sister, who states simply that they will have to escape by themselves.
Back in Korra's cell chamber, Zaheer orders a member of the Red Lotus to administer the poison. Using metalbending, the earthbender applies the metallic solution to Korra's arms and legs, forcibly diffusing the substance into the Avatar's body. Korra's eyes begin to glow instantly, prompting Ming-Hua to prepare her tendrils and Ghazan to form a pool of lava underneath Korra; however, the light in her eyes flickers out soon after, only to appear and then disappear again. This cycle happens several times; after a few moments, the lavabender expresses confusion over why Korra is erratically entering and exiting the Avatar State; Zaheer remarks that she is resisting going into the Avatar State, but that she cannot do so for long.
Aboard Oogi, the members of Team Avatar follow Kai and Lefty in an attempt to find the missing airbenders and Korra. Kai leads the group to a series of caves adorned by numerous statues of nomadic monks and nuns. Suyin reassures Tenzin and promises to find the missing airbenders, before heading into the cave with the others to search.
As the poison spreads through her body, Korra begins to see visions of past enemies: she watches in horror as Zaheer transforms into Amon, who reminds her that the world no longer needs the Avatar. Ghazan transforms into Unalaq, who reiterates Amon's belief and urges Korra to surrender. Ming-Hua transforms into Vaatu; the towering spirit taunts Korra, contrasting his replenished strength with her current weakness and demanding that the young Avatar surrender to the poison.
Back in the chamber where the airbenders are held, Ikki and Meelo begin a chorus of complaints from the captives, who begin demanding water. Frustrated, a sentry threatens to punish the airbenders in a similar fashion to Kya and Bumi until Pema pleads for refreshments, insisting that there are children among the captives as well as an infant. After convening with another guard, the man agrees and begins to hand over a water skin, only to be stunned by a gust of wind from Jinora. The blast causes the guard's keys to fly off, and Meelo uses airbending to toss them to Opal. Thinking he was called over only to be attacked, the guard leaves while complaining that his group does not get to witness the Avatar die. Opal immediately begins to pick the locks on her handcuffs, although she is discovered by one of the guards, who is abruptly subdued by Lin Beifong before he can try to stop Opal. As the rest of the rescue party emerges, a brief skirmish ensues, and the search party quickly defeats the Red Lotus guards.
Relieved over seeing her daughter, Suyin rushes to hug Opal, but she is quickly pushed back by Bolin, who is also overjoyed to have found her. Once freed by Asami, Jinora rushes to hug Kai, whom she believed to have been killed by P'Li's combustion attack. Seeing Bumi and Kya's condition, Lin orders their immediate evacuation. Tonraq instructs the group to exit the caves while he searches for Korra, and Bolin and Mako volunteer to accompany him in his search, but Jinora interjects that searching the caves is unnecessary: she already knows exactly where the Avatar is.
Unable to resist the effects of the poison any longer, Korra finally sinks fully into the Avatar State. Zaheer immediately orders the other members of the Red Lotus to destroy her, but they quickly discover that they have seriously underestimated the power of the Avatar State: Ming-Hua hurls an icicle at her, but Korra melts it in mid-air with a fiery breath and retaliates by tearing the chain binding her right arm out of the wall, taking a chunk of rock out with it, and slamming it into Ming-Hua, stunning the waterbender. Ghazan launches a wave of lava at her but is forced to dive for cover when Korra sends it back at him with airbending. As she shatters her chains, Zaheer lures a fire-breathing Korra out of the caves. Witnessing Zaheer flying from the cave with Korra close behind, an alarmed Tonraq sets off to aid his daughter, while Bolin and Mako battle Ghazan and Ming-Hua.
After pursuing Zaheer, Korra unsuccessfully attempts to strike the airbender with a series of crushing earthbending attacks while propelling toward him. While he watches from a distance, Tenzin is reunited with his children and expresses relief over seeing his family safe. Shortly after, Tonraq appears and urges the others to help Korra, who continues to battle Zaheer among the nearby towers of stone.
Back in the caves, Ming-Hua defends herself from a series of Mako's firebending blasts; the two head deeper into the tunnels, while Bolin and Ghazan continue to battle each other with earthbending. Bolin exasperatedly asks his opponent why he is smiling, prompting Ghazan to respond by saying that he is simply recalling their previous battle, before conjuring a lava column and sending it toward Bolin. The latter, remarking that much has changed since their previous meeting, catches the lava, splitting it in two and hurling it back at Ghazan. Realizing that Bolin is also a lavabender, and that he used his ability to escape the lava-filled temple, Ghazan compliments Bolin, challenging him to use his ability to its fullest as he renews his attacks.
Outside of the caves, Zaheer continues to dodge Korra's attacks by maneuvering through the air; he eventually manages to strike Korra, who tumbles to the ground. Enraged, the Avatar sends a massive boulder toward Zaheer and attacks him with a series of amplified water whips, one of which she uses to freeze Zaheer's leg. As the airbender falls, Korra propels herself toward him and prepares to strike, but the poison causes her body to seize involuntarily, and she falls to the ground in pain.
From the ground, Kai suggests that he use Lefty to attack Zaheer, but Lin immediately dismisses the idea, noting that Zaheer is too powerful for him. Bumi inquires how Zaheer is able to fly, prompting Tenzin to respond that Zaheer has managed to unlock an airbending ability not seen for thousands of years. Inspired, Jinora also remarks that it has been a long time since a large number of airbenders have gathered in one place, stating that they possess considerable power themselves, not unlike Zaheer. Following her lead, the airbenders begin to gather in a circle and create a tornado, which expands as more airbenders join.
Ming-Hua's duel with Mako takes the two ever deeper into the caves, though the ongoing battle takes its toll on Ming-Hua's water tendrils, which shrink with each fire blast she deflects. When she catches her foot on a protruding crystal, she falls backward, losing what little remains of her prosthesis in the process. Having caught her without water at last, Mako urges the waterbender to give up; unwilling to surrender, Ming-Hua jumps into a hole in the earth beneath them. Following her, Mako discovers that the chamber to which the passage leads is filled with water. Newly rearmed, the waterbender creates eight overlarge tentacles of water and moves to attack Mako, but he jumps away from her and, climbing above the level of the water, shoots a bolt of lightning into it. The lightning, conducted by the water tendrils attached to her body, electrocutes Ming-Hua, who falls with a scream and does not move.
As Ghazan begins to overwhelm Bolin, Mako joins the fight, and the two brothers force Ghazan back. Bolin urges the lavabender to surrender, but the latter states his intention to never again return to prison. Realizing that he is outnumbered, Ghazan turns the walls of the cave chamber into lava, and the resulting cave-in, which Bolin and Mako barely escape, kills Ghazan.
As the Avatar's physical power begins to wane under the effects of the poison, Zaheer begins to suffocate Korra, but he finds himself being dragged into the airbenders' vortex of wind. As he tries to fly out of the cyclone, Korra gathers her last strength and, using her platinum chains to ensnare him, pulls Zaheer down with her, slamming him with great force into the ground before collapsing. Lin and Suyin immediately trap Zaheer in a rock prison while Jinora and Tonraq rush to Korra's side. Tonraq begs her to hold on, but Korra, although she briefly seems to recognize him and weakly reaches up, slumps into apparent death.
Zaheer laughs in triumph, stating that the Red Lotus has won. Jinora interjects, noting that the poison is metallic. Catching on, Suyin realizes that the poison can be metalbent out of Korra's body and rushes to the Avatar's side. The matriarch, after a few moments, succeeds in pulling the mercury from Korra's body. Korra, her eyes momentarily flashing as she leaves the Avatar State, regains consciousness to the relief of all except Zaheer, who begins to rant angrily that, while he has lost, his ideals cannot be defeated. Bolin stuffs a sock in his mouth to silence him, which Opal calls "Classic Bolin".
Two weeks after the defeat of Zaheer, the group gathers on Air Temple Island to celebrate Jinora's mastery of airbending. In the women's dormitory, Asami prepares Korra for a formal appearance. The poison and her battle with Zaheer have left Korra an invalid; she requires the use of a wheelchair and has fallen into a state of depression. Asami reminds Korra that healing from her injuries will take time, assuring the Avatar that she will always be available if Korra needs her. She urges Korra to try and enjoy herself for Jinora's sake, and ushers her to the courtyard, where she is welcomed warmly by Lord Zuko, her parents, and Tenzin. President Raiko also officially welcomes the Avatar back to Republic City, thanking her for her efforts to defeat the Red Lotus. Korra merely drops her head in acknowledgement, and with Lin's earthbending to move them up the stairs, Korra heads to the temple with Ikki and Meelo.
As she departs, Raiko remarks that Korra looks visibly unwell, sparking Tonraq reply that the president would look the same if he had gone through her ordeal. Tenzin assures the others that she will heal with time, and while Raiko acknowledges the truth in Tenzin's words, he states that dealing with the dangers posed by the rising anarchy in the Earth Kingdom will be difficult to handle alone. Zuko agrees with the president, adding that while Zaheer has been imprisoned, the rest of the Red Lotus, their numbers unknown, are still free and in hiding. Raiko concludes that the world needs the Avatar now more than it ever has; he expresses concern over the prolonged lack of a figure to protect the world while Korra recovers. Listening to their words, Tenzin ponders the situation in silence.
As the ceremony begins inside the temple, Tenzin remarks that it is a historic occasion, as the Air Nation is welcoming its first new airbending master in a generation. Tenzin recalls Jinora's unwavering hope in the face of adversity and Korra's involvement in saving the Air Nation, and urges the attendants to follow the Avatar's example of service and sacrifice. He announces that the Air Nation will reclaim its nomadic roots and roam the world as ambassadors of balance and peace, following in the Avatar's footsteps. Unveiling her new tattoos, he anoints Jinora as an airbending master; as the crowd applauds, Korra, unseen by those around her, sheds a single tear.
- Directed by:
- Also starring:
- Richard Riehle - Bumi
- Logan Wells - Meelo
- Darcy Rose Byrnes - Ikki
- Kiernan Shipka - Jinora
- Adrian LaTourelle - Unalaq
- Spencer Garrett - Raiko
- Jonathan Adams - Vaatu
- Bruce Davison - Lord Zuko
- Grey DeLisle-Griffin - Ming-Hua
- Peter Giles - Ghazan
- Maria Bamford - Pema
- Steve Blum:
- Alyson Stoner - Opal
- Jim Meskimen
- Main article: Transcript:Venom of the Red Lotus
- Main article: Transcript:Venom of the Red Lotus (commentary)
- While hallucinating, Korra sees visions of her previous opponents; Amon was the primary antagonist in Book One: Air, while Unalaq and Vaatu served as antagonists in Book Two: Spirits.
- During their battle, Ghazan recalls his previous duel with Bolin in "The Stakeout".
- Zaheer attempted to kill Korra with the same technique he used to kill Hou-Ting in "Long Live the Queen".
- President Raiko remarks that his last meeting with the Avatar did not "end on the best terms", referring to when he banished her from Republic City in "A Breath of Fresh Air".
- Lin's use of earthbending to lift a platform and scale a flight of stairs recalls a similar move her mother used to scale the flights of stairs outside of the Earth Kingdom Royal Palace in "The Earth King".
- Tenzin decides to anoint Jinora as an airbending master, an action he began to consider following the events of "Original Airbenders".
- Korra's outfit at Jinora's airbending master ceremony is similar to the one she wore to the party Tarrlok held in her honor in "The Voice in the Night".
- Despite his initial reservations, Ryu eventually became part of the Air Nation.
- After being slammed to the ground, Zaheer's clothes are not damaged, though when Lin and Suyin imprison him, they are.
- When Meelo jumps on Korra's lap, the white part of her cap is colored the same as her hair, something that also occurs when Tenzin vows to Korra that the Air Nation will follow in her footsteps in order to bring harmony to the world. Similarly, when Lin comforts Korra, the cap is colored entirely white, without the tribal pattern.
- When showing an overview of the temple's stairs, there is a platform halfway up. However, when Lin bends a slab of earth to lift Korra's wheelchair, the platform is absent.
- Zaheer's line, "we lucky few, this band of brothers and sisters of anarchy," is an allusion to the line, "we happy few, we band of brothers," from the St. Crispin's Day Speech from William Shakespeare's Henry V.
- The closeup shot of Korra's face as she hallucinates her fallen enemies telling her to "let go" originally had her irises visibly shaking; this was changed after Nickelodeon executives and members of the production crew found the moment too disturbing.
- Korra's battle with Zaheer recalls several elements from the battle at Wulong Forest, such as the fact that both conflicts occurred in the Earth Kingdom in a field of rock columns, portions of which were used in offensive maneuvers. Additionally, both combatants in each fight were capable of flying by using airbending, like Aang and Zaheer, or firebending, like Ozai and Korra.
- Kya attempted to heal Korra after she was poisoned, without much success.
- Series composer Jeremy Zuckerman wanted there not to be music during Korra and Asami's scene on Air Temple Island in order to reflect the "heavy quiet" of the tragedy and violence the former went through.
- The theme "Service and Sacrifice" that plays during Jinora's anointment ceremony uses elements of the theme "Jinora's Light", which played during "Light in the Dark" when Jinora saved Korra from Unalaq. Zuckerman was not initially aware of the connection between the two themes while composing "Service and Sacrifice".
- This is the 100th episode of the franchise.