The Legend of Korra Book 4: "Enemy at the Gates" Review

Empty Lighthouse is a reader-supported site. This article may contain affiliate links to Amazon and other sites. We earn a commission on purchases made through these links.

The plot thickens in Legend of Korra Book 4, Episode 5: Enemy at the Gates. It's the first time the direness of the Earth Empire situation is portrayed. And the writers of the show do it flawlessly.

The episode opens with a pirate-esque shot of Kuvira's army marching to Zaofu. The shot is the grandest we've seen in Balance and--for the first time--it shows the true scale of Kuvira's army.

We discover Kuvira's intentions as she mentions slave labor, reeducation camps, and maniacal super-weapons.

Kuvira's last stop in the Earth Kingdom, she needs Zaofu to submit in order to complete her Empire. But she doesn't want to use force.

She summons Bolin to act as a diplomat to reason with Suyin, as their relationship is strained. At the beginning of the episode, Bolin maintains his rosy image of Kuvira; she is a leader and a bringer of peace.

This, however, quickly changes when Bolin is allowed into Kuvira's inner circle. He sees Kuvira for how she is portrayed: power-hungry and calculating. Varrick realizes this too.

He and Bolin try to leave the Great Uniter's ranks. Their escape goes awry and--after an epic robot fight-- Kuvira captures them.

Bolin's progression in this episode is rapid yet well executed. And it shows that Kuvira isn't perfect; she thought her control over Bolin was absolute.

But her attempt at manipulation backfired and Bolin left her ranks. With a member of Team Avatar ordered to attend reeducation camp, the situation intensifies.

Korra's arc in Enemy at the Gates is also done well. In the last episode, Ikki, Jinora, and Meelo embarked on a quest to find her. Their endeavor was successful and Korra requests that they ride to Zaofu in order to see Kuvira.

But Korra has changed. Instead of springing into action, she decides to take a diplomatic approach. After all, Kuvira rescued her father at the end of Change, and Korra doesn't see her as an enemy.

When Kuvira and Korra meet, the dynamic is one of two disagreeing allies trying to find common ground. Korra sympathizes with Kuvira's struggle as a leader and understands that public figures have dissenters.

She had to suffer through public disapproval in Change.

Her approach to this situation is similar to how Aang would have handled it; Korra is calm and non-confrontational throughout the meeting.

Essentially, it's how the fight between Aang and Ozai would have gone at the end of The Last Airbender had the latter not been seething with "all the power in the world."

The episode ends with Korra returning to Suyin with the intent of requesting an armistice. Kuvira agrees that--during the ceasefire--she will not use force.

But before Korra can give Suyin the message, she finds that the leader of Zaofu left on a covert mission to assassinate Kuvira.

The last plotline of Enemy at the Gates is personal. And it deals with Asami and her estranged father.

It adds a splash of humanity to an episode riddled with threats of enslavement and assassination plots.

At the end of the episode, Asami and her father play a board game together; even though she hasn't forgiven him, she decides that her sadness caused by being away from him is greater than her anger at his past misdeeds.

Enemy at the Gates is the best episode of the season thus far. It opens with a bang by showing us how much power Kuvira has amassed and leaves us wanting more from the next installment.

You can watch Enemy at the Gates here.