MD: Throughout Book Three, Korra had not used the Avatar state. Even when the metal poison threatens to kill her, Korra tries to fight off the Avatar state, knowing if Zaheer kills her while she’s in it, the Avatar cycle will end. Keeping the Avatar state out of play for the season was done to show how much Korra had come to respect her connection with Raava. She came to understand that the power was only meant for the most extreme circumstances. This is quite a huge shift from the beginning of Book Two, when Korra used the Avatar state to win an air-scooter race against Ikki.
BK: I never really get any enjoyment from torture scenes of any kind, in any medium. However, sometimes a story calls for it, and we have to do our jobs to make the scenes effective. The only thing that makes this sequence easier for me to swallow is knowing the Red Lotus underestimated Korra and that she will be walloping them shortly.
Key animation by Studio Reve.