Legend of Korra Book 4: "After All These Years" Review

The Legend of Korra, Book 4: Balance has premiered online.

Much has changed since Zaheer was defeated at the end of Book 3: Change; Air Nation has become a group of guardians in Korra's absence and the members of Team Avatar have become estranged.

The most interesting character in Book 4, Chapter 1: "After all These Years" is Kuvira, who was introduced in the finale of Change.

Once a soldier for the Metal Clan, Kuvira is now an ambitious general known as "The Great Uniter"--travelling the Earth Kingdom and having states swear fealty to her.

Kuvira, however, is different from past Avatar antagonists. She's a Caesar-like megalomaniac, but isn't portrayed in the same villainous fashion as Ozai, Amon, Unulaq, and Zaheer. She has a sense of humanity that the aforementioned baddies lack. Bolin contributes to this, as he travels the Earth Kingdom with her on a metal train.

The most naive member of Team Avatar, Bolin thinks that Kuvira has benign intentions. And, to the villain's credit, she helps a village of starving people.

But the aid was given after the village leader signed a contract--giving her control of the territory. The details of the deal are currently unknown.

Prince Wu, whose great aunt was assassinated by Zaheer in Book 3, has an issue with Kuvira. Mako is Wu's bodyguard, and his services will be necessary later in the season. There is a civil war brewing in the Earth Kingdom; Kuvira wants to wrench power from the monarch. This is seen when Wu, who lacks social skills, walks into a crowd of people booing him.

He sees this as approbation, and embraces his celebrity status. But things go awry when some of Kuvira's supporters show up and bombard him with strawberry pies.

While it's a goofy twist, it establishes conflict without making the first episode too solemn.

"After All These Years" waits until its last minutes to answer every fan's question: Where is Korra? Well, she was supposed to be in Republic City six months prior to the episode's events; her father is shocked when he discovers that Korra is not there despite letters he received confirming her arrival.

It turns out that Korra has gone off grid--fighting in earth bending cage matches in order to regain her strength. She loses the match that we see, and it is clear that the poison Zaheer gave her at the end of Change is still affecting her.

Like at the beginning of The Last Airbender, the Avatar has gone missing.

A premiere is seldom the gem of its season. "After All These Years" won't be remembered as a shining point in the series.

But it introduces characters and gets us caught up with the splintered Team Avatar while keeping exposition to a minimum. It serves its function within the greater story.

You can watch "After All These Years" here.