I killed Chin the Conqueror. A horrible tyrant, Chin was expanding his army to all corners of the continent. When they came to the neck of the peninsula where we lived, he demanded our immediate surrender. I warned him that I would not sit passively while he took our home. But he did not back down. On that day, we split from the mainland.
Avatar Day // Battle of Zaofu Parallels
Note: These are the superficial parallels between the events of Kyoshi’s final encounter with Chin the Great and Korra’s first encounter with Kuvira, the Great Uniter. Both are situationally similar, as Kuvira and Chin are both conquerors, but Kuvira is not Chin, just as Korra is not Kyoshi. Kyoshi is not at all hesitant to use the Avatar State to defeat her enemy, where Korra opts to use it as a last resort only. Similarly, Kyoshi kills Chin without hesitation, while Korra in her final encounter with Kuvira actively chooses not to do this. Kuvira and Kyoshi, however, are hugely similar in their willingness to go to extremes and in their motives. To make this clear, I left the last parallel from Kyoshi’s testimony for the end.
In many ways, Kuvira and Kyoshi are also two sides of the same coin, just as Korra and Kuvira are.
Who are your favorite minor characters from all the four nations?
Hama. What a powerful character this was for
someone we only got to see in one episode! We get to see her rise and fall,
from a powerful and dignified waterbending master, to a corrupted and hateful
old crone who tortures her own tribeswoman in order to “teach” her. She
invented her own technique and is a deadly force to be reckoned with. Hama also
gave more depth to the Southern Water Tribe, presenting a dark side to
waterbending that had been hitherto unknown, as well as harkening back to a
time when the tribe was strong and waterbenders were numerous. Both her
strength and her hatred left a permanent mark on Katara—and a reminder for us
that water is everywhere.
Avatar Kyoshi. This Avatar literally left some big shoes
to fill, as she is the longest-lived of any known Avatar and cemented a legacy that
is still carried on in her island and her warriors. She saved her people by
breaking off a piece of the mainland Earth Kingdom, a tectonic (and titanic)
feat that was as awe-inspiring as it was deadly.
One of the things that I
like about how she is remembered and presented is that she is a tough lady who does not deride femininity. Her technique, for example, is about using an opponent’s force against them, a skill tailored for female use. Toph, while a tremendous earthbender, prefers her part being played by a big, strong man, teases Aang about his delicate footsteps
and “feminine side”, and takes a long time to appreciate the value of doing chores and being a team mom. Kyoshi has big feet AND wears makeup, fights in a dress
with fans AND stops tyranny in its tracks, and doesn’t disparage traditionally female attributes while showing off her strength.
Like most earthbenders,
Kyoshi doesn’t beat around the bush with regards to her business; when Aang
tries to tell her that she didn’t really kill Chin the Conqueror, Kyoshi replies:
Personally, I don’t
really see the difference. But I assure you, I would have done whatever it took to stop Chin.
I would have taken that
advice to heart, Aang. Just sayin’.
Piandao. Just because you’re a nonbender doesn’t
mean you are any less a member of your nation, and Master
Piandao exemplifies this at a time when firebending is the most prized ability in the Fire Nation. Piandao is coveted as a teacher
and easily could have gotten filthy rich on war profits, considering how highly
militarized the Fire Nation becomes during the war. Instead, he will only accept
students that can be taught, not only how to fight, but how to achieve their
potential as human beings. He prizes humility in an era of arrogance and
combines the artistry of the sword with the strokes of calligraphy. He encourages
creativity and bravery, as we can see in Sokka’s training. As a White Lotus
member, he is instrumental in freeing Ba Sing Se from the Fire Nation’s yoke,
and is a role model for personal as well as professional achievement.
Guru Pathik. Yes, technically he is not an airbender,
but this guru embodies all of the best qualities of the Air Nomads:
friendliness toward living things, a carefree nature, sense of humor, and a
high level of spirituality. Monk Gyatso would have been a more conventional
choice, but I’m putting Guru Pathik first, not only because we see more of him,
but because through him we learn about the tenets of interconnectedness and
enlightenment that underpin the Avatar world.
He teaches Aang, but doesn’t coddle him, and lets him know in no uncertain
terms what will happen if Aang interrupts his training. Aang has had masters of
air, water, earth, and fire, but Guru Pathik is the only one who helps Aang
master the Avatar State—the most powerful technique he has apart from
This is a strange little self-indulgent fic that probably doesn’t work in any logical canon continuity, but involves a conversation I’d really like to see between Korra and Kyoshi (…as well as a toy Kyoshi headcanon that flies in the face of all of fanon XD ).
You have all been warned.
* * *
“Kyoshi?” Korra asked, pulling out a chair next to Kyoshi at the long dark tea-table of the Avatar’s soul and taking a seat.
Kyoshi finished her tea and turned to face her younger counterpart. “Yes, Korra?”
“I’ve been confused lately about some of the things I’ve done, and Aang told me that you could help. You’re the only other Avatar either of us knows who’s taken a life… but I don’t know if it’s the same.”
“I’m not sure I understand,” Kyoshi said, but a slight twitch of her lips suggested otherwise.
Korra frowned. She’d hoped she wouldn’t have to explain herself. “What you did to Chin. What I did to my uncle.”
“Aang said the same thing, you know,” Kyoshi said, her placid mask unperturbed. “He was wrong.”
“I don’t think he was.”
Kyoshi raised an eyebrow. “Don’t tell me you’re turning into a pacifist on me. I’ve seen a lot of past Avatars grow soft waiting around here, but I didn’t think you would be one of them.”
“Like that would ever happen,” Korra said with a laugh, but her expression quickly turned serious. “You know what I would have done to Chin if it came down to it. I just don’t get why you act like you killed him. You weren’t trying to kill him. You couldn’t even see him by the time he fell, and it was his own fault for not moving. Why take the blame?”
Kyoshi put her empty cup of tea down and looked Korra straight in the eye. “He would not have died if I hadn’t separated the island. There is no difference, as far as I’m concerned.”
“But there is,” Korra insisted, and she felt her irritation bubble up as the conversation drew closer to its intended purpose. “Chin might have lost his life, but you never had to choose to take it, and you never had to live knowing that you chose to kill someone. How are you supposed to help me with that when you got lucky and took out your own greatest enemy by accident?”
“Do you think that made it easier?” Kyoshi asked, clenching her fists, and Korra’s eyes widened in surprise as she realized the truth. “I didn’t expect to kill him. I still hadn’t decided what to do with him when I moved the island, and when I came back he was dead. Was that justice? Maybe. But it was careless, and it wasn’t a path I had chosen, even if I might have chosen it anyway.”
“It’s not an easy choice to make,” Korra said quietly.
“I know,” said Kyoshi, “but I have to believe I would have chosen it anyway.”
Korra didn’t doubt that. “You would have, but it would have been harder than you think.”
“I suppose you would know.”
“Yes, I do." Korra looked down at the table. "And maybe it’s better that way." She paused. "Maybe it should be a difficult choice.”
Kyoshi nodded. “And no matter how terrible it is to choose, at least the choice is something you can defend.”
“I guess that’s one way to see it,” Korra said, looking back at her predecessor. “I know I did the right thing. I just wish I could have done it without seeing my uncle die.”
“There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. It seems quite healthy, actually. So, why do you need my advice?”
Korra sighed. “I hoped you could tell me something to make it easier. Everyone always says you’re the ruthless one, so I figured you knew something I didn’t.”
“Unfortunately, I don’t. And I don’t know where that reputation came from, either,” Kyoshi said, clearly holding back a laugh. “You’ll be the one giving advice in the future, I imagine. You’ve already helped me.”
“I have? How?”
“I’ve been trying to justify Chin’s death as inevitable for too long, and so I’ve never really thought about what actually happened. Maybe it wasn’t justice. Maybe I would have spared his life if he had survived. But, in the end, his death was out of my control, and I have to accept that.”
“Just like I have to accept that my uncle’s death was entirely within mine.”
Korra sighed. “It gets easier, right?”
“I don’t know,” Kyoshi said. “I’ve never tried. We’ll just have to find out together.”
* * *
“So, why are you here?” Chin asked, grinning at the man in the cell across the hall from his. “Did the Avatar kill you, too?”
“Yes,” Unalaq admitted. “I’m not sure why my soul wasn’t destroyed, but I suppose I’m here to stay.”
Chin blinked. “Wait, since when can the Avatar destroy people’s souls?”
“Since this fool taught her how to do it,” Ozai said from the cell next to Unalaq’s.
“She killed you with your own technique? Hah! That’s embarrassing!”
“You’re one to talk,” Ozai said, grinning. “You died because you were too stubborn to move when the Avatar turned her town into an island. And, if I heard right, she blew all your clothes off before she did it.”
Chin blushed. “Laugh all you want. At least I didn’t earn my cell on a technicality. Your Avatar didn’t even think enough of you to kill you!”
“I suppose he thought sixty years wasn’t long enough to keep me locked up so he found a way to make it permanent.”
Unalaq turned away as the other two continued to bicker and sat down to meditate, convinced that he was by far the most fortunate person in the room.
I loved Book 4 of Korra but it had a huge flaw and that’s “where were Suki and the Kyoshi Warriors”
Like, Kyoshi famously killed Chin the Conqueror specifically for overthrowing the earth king and attempting to claim power in the Earth Kingdom for herself, and then established her own elite combat force to carry on her legacy… you’d think, when Kuvira was doing exactly the same thing, that the writers would be smart enough to put those warriors at the Avatar’s back
I'm really REALLY confused as to why you and Kylie hate the long awaited beautiful Korra comics so much??? Like I was expecting homophobic nations with how sexist the northern water tribe was. + you have FN's dictatorship (they poisoned their own people of that river town with that factory) & how dumb the EK was with Kuei not knowing about the war. & I don't understand why y'all are mad at Kya.
Huh. Well, this certainly a change of pace; directing this ask at me, as opposed to @lokgifsandmusings. Which is actually very thoughtful, to be honest. She’s got her hands full with her niece right now (literally) so yeah, I can field this one.
First thing’s first, we’re not mad at Kya. We’re frustrated at what she said, and thus the scripting of her. As in: We’re pissed at Mike for writing those words. Also, how could we be mad at Kya? She’s…not a real person. She’s a character who served as a mouthpiece for an exposition dump.
Second, this is a topic we covered very extensively two weeks ago, but I’m happy to go over it again now that Turf Wars is out in the wild for everyone and not just people near a LCS. Kylie and I have very strong opinions about Turf Wars, this is true. Something we have never denied is that we’ve been waiting just as long as everyone else. We wanted so, so badly to love these like most of the fandom can. I’m serious; we’re pretty bummed that we can’t.
As for why we can’t just sit back and enjoy them, well…there’s a reason we wrote over 10,000 words on that exact subject. It’s because we’re super enthusiastic about debating and that’s how our brains work. We cover the Northern Water Tribe’s depiction of protective paternalism, and also the Fire Nation wasn’t a dictatorship; it was a monarchy. It still is a monarchy, in fact. As for that village from The Painted Lady…buddy, the Fire Nation wasn’t purposefully poisoning an entire village of their own people. Neglect and supervillainy aren’t the same thing. It doesn’t make any sense if they’re trying to spread their culture to the world through violent imperialism and genocide! They want to keep their people happy—okay, I’ll stop.
We get into all of that, except for Kuei since…why does his ignorance have anything to do with anything? Those two things aren’t even remotely related.
Anyway, to boil it all down (because if I talk about the Gestapo imagery we’ll be here literally all day): Systemic and institutionalized homophobia doesn’t make sense in this universe. It can’t exist, because that means that system and institutionalized sexism exists on a global scale. And if that’s a thing, then that means the entire foundation of the Avatar canon is uprooted. No, seriously, I’m not even joking. At all. Here, I’ll quote two sections of the piece, which I’m putting under the cut because this is getting long.
Each Avatar’s Nationality reflects what they did during their reign. Fire is the element of power. Avatar Roku’s actions sparked a war in which one nation wanted power over the world. Earth is the Element of substance and stability, which Avatar Kyoshi brought to the Earth Kingdom when she killed Chin the Conqueror. Air is the element of freedom, which Aang brought to the people of the world when he ended the 100 year war. Water is the element of change, which Korra brought to the world by changing bender/nonbender interactions, reuniting spirits and man, and opening a new spirit portal.
Why Korra's decision to keep the portals open bugs me:
It’s not done with the consent of ANYONE except Tenzin - there’s no thought to the other nations and the general world
If the portals have to be closed/opened on particular days, Korra could have closed the portals, had a discussion with the world leaders, and the reopened them the next year.
Avatar Wan KNEW what the spirits are capable of - he even LIKED spirits - but he recognized they presented a serious threat to the human race so he closed the portals
In Avatar Wan’s day, the spirits had forced humanity into isolated small communities protected by lion turtles - the spirits had successfully invaded the world and claimed it from humanity. In Korra’s time, there are no lion turtles to provide safe heavens and the human population couldn’t fit on them anyways.
From how the worlds are set up and what background Beginnings gave us - it appears that the Spirit World belongs to the spirits and the Human World to the humans and other physical creatures. I think the divide is there for a reason - to each their own Spirits invading the human world and setting up shop is not okay, likewise humans invading the spirit world. Maybe the odd human or spirit is allowed to live in the other world, but that’s limited.
Spirits don’t play by human morals - and they don’t value human life (as seen in Beginnings). In folklore in our world, spirits often retaliate with significant and sometimes deadly violence for offences humans would see a minor (such as eating fruit from the wrong tree or trespassing without knowing they’re trespassing and without causing any harm). In the Avatar world, take Hei Bei which blamed an innocent village for harm to its forest, terrorized and abducted people from the village. It was only the Avatar who was able to do anything about this.
Korra is taking Unalaq’s word over Wan’s. Aside from the whole Vaatu problem, Unalaq never lived with spirits for the entirety of his life and he was able to consistently control them when he did encounter them. On the other hand, Wan lived with spirits and was mostly at their mercy until he gained bending. Even with bending, he still had trouble controlling/dealing with spirits.
Korra no longer has help from past Avatars who have dealt with spirits which remained on this side nor does she have help from Wan. Any research or knowledge on spirits has probably been lost over the centuries. Korra, and maybe Eska and Desna and Jinora, are the only people who know how to fight spirits (granted - that we’ve seen).
***If Air has spirit-bending as its secondary, then there are only four, potentially five, Airbenders in the whole world - and three of those are too young and untrained. That leaves one fully capable twelve-year-old and one semi-capable adult to deal with spirits. Adding in Korra means three people to handle all spirit problems - a preteen, a only partly skilled adult, and Korra. Maybe five if you can convince me Eska and Desna are altruistic enough to help out - which I highly doubt they are.
As for everyone else…good luck. They’re basically defenseless. The best they can do is ‘think good thoughts’ which is BS because negative emotions are part and parcel of life.
In my opinion, Korra’s decision to keep the portals open is thoughtless, reckless, and dangerous. The stated reason of it 'feeling right’ doesn’t work for me - Roku felt he was doing the right thing with Sozin, Kuruk didn’t bother confronting the Face Eater until it came after someone he loved, Kyoshi didn’t stop Chin the Conqueror until he went after her home. Avatars relying solely on their personal 'feelings’ have caused trouble. Somewhere along the line LOGIC and caring for people beyond their circle has to enter the equation.
However, Korra’s decision is not out of character. I hope seasons three and four do justice to the consequences of this decision. I hope the writers don’t gloss over the potential damage done by spirits and pretend it’s all hunky-dory except for, you know, one spirit which gives a few people nightmares and stops as soon as Korra says to stop. I hope Korra has to deal with victims of spirits and wrestle with her decision - consider if the hurt/deaths inflicted by the spirits are worth keeping the portals open. If Korra was unwilling to sacrifice Jinora to prevent Vaatu (the evilest of evil) from escaping, I think she be forced to understand she should be equally as unwilling to allow any stranger to be harmed by the spirits because of their presence in the world due to her choice.
***Since Water can also spirit-bend in addition to Air, I can’t help but believe that all elements can. Maybe over the centuries, Earth & Fire forgot how. Which means that spirit-bending is not a secondary to Air. Air would still have an unknown secondary bending.
So you think Su should've just forgiven Kuvira for all the things she did and pain she caused?
No? I mean, this is a loaded, complex question with a lot of factors to consider, but—honestly, Kuvira does not deserve anyone’s forgiveness, let alone Su’s. Kuvira has committed atrocities on a massive scale, and those actions are unforgivable. Realistically, her surrender will not stop the ripple effects her actions set in motion either, and Wu’s decision to dissolve the monarchy and allow the states to become independent and democratic will probably exacerbate them: the Earth Empire did benefit the common people (that fit Kuvira’s definition of rightful Earth Empire citizens) with relief, resources, and security…and since it was the common people who suffered the most from the Fire Nation’s imperialistic/colonial occupation and aggression during the Hundred Year War, the monarchy’s oppression and inability/unwillingness to protect its citizens from bandits, and the sectarian conflict and chaos that erupted after the Red Lotus deposed the Earth Queen…a lot of people probably still revere The Great Uniter, because she was effective where the monarchy was negligent and incompetent, and even if her supporters feel betrayed by her surrender, that doesn’t mean someone can’t co-opt her right-wing ideology and methods (Kuviraism, or an even worse strain of it) and easily gain support—in fact, I can easily see that happening in some of the Earth Kingdom states during the elections, and if Korra, Wu, the United Republic, or any external force interferes with the “democratic process,” it could get ugly again.
What Kuvira deserves is to be punished, and she realizes that. I believe her apology to Su was genuine and that she did recognize that she has caused incalculable pain to countless people; I also believe Korra got through to her in the Spirit World and that their conversation can become the foundation for growth and healing in Kuvira later…but it’s important to recognize that she backs down not because she committed atrocities and caused multitudes of people pain. She was always well aware of that, but she was willing to accept the cost her actions had on other people as a “necessary evil” to unite her nation, “empower” it into the Earth Empire, and protect her people against any and all threats. No, she finally backs down because Korra defeats her and proves, through her amazing power as the Avatar, that there is someone infinitely better qualified than her to lead, and that there is a “better way” to bring peace (through balance) than her own methods that is still feasible, and it’s only at that point that she accepts responsibility for her actions and surrenders. Until then she always resorted to telling people, “If you had just surrendered to me I wouldn’t have had to do this,” as though the problem wasn’t Kuvira imposing her will on others through force but the people resisting her—because, of course, Kuvira believes she is right and that her actions are justified.
Because, hey, the people Kuvira did believe were better qualified than her for the job—Korra and Su—were either incapable or unwilling to do it after the confrontation with the Red Lotus. Kuvira doesn’t back down to either of them later because they, in her mind, were too weak to entrust with the Earth Kingdom. By accepting the responsibility in their place, Kuvira earned the right to bear it as the Earth Empire’s ruler by virtue of her three-year campaign and the hard decisions she made. And, honestly? If Kuvira’s methods had not been corrupted by her disregard for individual autonomy and freedom, I would have been 100% behind her refusal to cede power to Wu. Her distrust of the Avatar isn’t unfounded either, given that the problems in the Earth Kingdom persisted during Aang’s lifetime, that Aang supported and joined Zuko in taking colonized Earth Kingdom land away from the Earth Kingdom and using it to found the United Republic, that Roku allowed Sozin to keep the colonies with a stern warning instead of forcing him to relinquish them or deposing him, and that centuries before—during the time of Chin the Conqueror—Kyoshi’s response to Chin (himself a conqueror and “uniter”) was to literally separate the peninsula from the mainland and kill Chin instead of uniting or stabilizing the Earth Kingdom herself, as was her divine right as the Avatar. There has been a long history of abuse and neglect of the Earth Kingdom and its people by those who should have respected and cared for them, and Kuvira being cognizant of that reality arguably puts her in a good position to address the damage that’s been done to them. But the second she started coercing people and states to join her cause, interning other benders and dissenters, building a weapon of mass destruction, and so on…yeah, she lost any claim she had as a “rightful ruler.”
But in the case of Su…I think Su tries to take responsibility for Kuvira as best as she knows how, given the circumstances. Her insistence on assassinating Kuvira herself once she came for Zaofu and had her sights set on Republic City may have been Su doing just that—taking responsibility for an individual and problem she “created”, despite her personal feelings on killing a young woman she basically raised from childhood…whatever those may be. Fact is that if Su had not taken Kuvira in as a child, then Kuvira would never have been in the position to rise to power the way she did, because the foundation of Kuvira’s power and prestige is her connection to Su. It must have been horrifying for Su to have unwittingly given Kuvira all the tools she needed to become a tyrant: earthbending/metalbending mentorship and training—probably from Su personally…the upbringing, education, and the captain of the Zaofu guard position that shaped her ideology and earned her the respect and prestige to both 1) inspire Su’s own guards to follow her in defiance of Su’s orders, and 2) receive the world leaders’ trust and dispensation to unite the Earth Kingdom as their/Wu’s proxy…her son, Bataar Jr., who armed Kuvira with all the cutting edge tech that made their army so effective. Not that any of this justifies Su all but adopting an abandoned eight-year-old child and treating her as an outsider, especially considering that—as an abandoned child—Kuvira has a lot of issues with abandonment and needs love to feel secure and learn what love is, what it feels like, and how to give others her love…which I don’t think she does know at this point.
Did Su fail as an adoptive parent? Yeah. In my opinion she did, and I also believe Kuvira’s anger over Su’s refusal to step up and unite the Earth Kingdom/the awful way Su reacted when Kuvira and Bataar Jr. decided to do it themselves is valid. It’s understandable that Kuvira would both revere and resent the Beifong/Metal Clan exceptionalism for the way it saved her life…and the way Su hoards and contains the benefits within Zaofu instead of using it to benefit the rest of the much, much less fortunate Earth Kingdom—and it’s precisely because Kuvira was the abandoned child Su brought into Zaofu that Kuvira would perceive Su’s refusal to help the Earth Kingdom as an abandonment of their nation and their people.
Not that Kuvira’s backstory justifies the atrocities she perpetrated. It most certainly does not, and the fact that she is still held accountable for her actions is laudable. What I meant by that post, anon, was that I find it unacceptable that Su immediately forgave her biological son Bataar Jr.—who surrendered/asked for her forgiveness from a position of helplessness and had nowhere else to go—for his complete and utter complicity in Kuvira’s rise to power/all the atrocities they committed together and the way he went out of his way to treat his own mother and their family with cruelty and derision…yet refuses to show her “adopted daughter” Kuvira—who surrendered/apologized from a relative position of authority and power, given the loyalty of her army and the presence of her mecha suit troops ready to get her out of Korra’s custody and into safety—even an ounce of sympathy. It both 1) reveals a huge double standard of Su’s on a personal/familial level, which ties into how she failed Kuvira as a parent and a mentor, and 2) is plain unjust, given that Bataar Jr. is as responsible for the Earth Empire’s crimes and atrocities and mere existence as Kuvira is…yet he is implied to go home to Zaofu where his siblings will hate him for a few years because mommy is willing to forgive him and give him another chance…while Kuvira faces the punishment she rightly deserves and gets thrown in prison. And, honestly? If you ask me to weigh Kuvira’s “I committed these atrocities because I wanted to protect and empower my people” motivation against Bataar Jr.’s “I devoted myself to her and her cause not because I believed in it as much as she did but because I loved her” motivation, I am not exactly sure which I am most sympathetic toward, or which we should feel most sympathetic toward.
In any case…the finale illustrated that Su will prioritize her biological/”legitimate” family and her city-state over anything else…to the point where she would forgive and intercede on behalf of her biological son for the crimes he was responsible for but allow and in fact condemn her adopted daughter to her punishment. It’s not that Kuvira is deserving of her forgiveness and protection, but that Bataar Jr. isn’t either—and that, in light of the extraordinary compassion and understanding she shows her undeserving son, it’s pretty awful that the young woman she took in as an abandoned child and called her adopted daughter doesn’t get the same treatment.