[S4E3] The Coronation
0% Approval Rating: Wu was clearly despised in previous episodes but it's really driven home here when he barely gets some insincere clapping at his coronation. Kuvira on the other hand gets a round of applause when she announces her intention of taking rule of the Earth Kingdom for herself. Wu even admits if he were a citizen he wouldn't want someone like him as ruler of the Earth Kingdom.
Armor-Piercing Question: Despite being one of Kuvira's most vocal critics, Mako notes to Wu that at least she's been working hard for the last three years to to improve conditions in the Earth Kingdom, following it up by asking Wu, "What have you ever done for your people?"
Ascended Fridge Horror: Kuvira makes it very clear that Zaofu's days of autonomy are numbered now that she's running the Earth Empire.
Awesome Moment of Crowning: It's supposed to be one for Wu, who's rather disappointed that all the finery, including the actual crown, was looted from the palace. It instead ends up being one for Kuvira, who undercuts Wu during his coronation and declares the end of the Earth Kingdom monarchy and the beginning of her new Earth Empire.
Badass Boast: Kuvira's speech. An excerpt:Kuvira: I have created a new Earth Empire, and I will continue to lead it into the future myself, bringing about a new era of prosperity for my people.
Bait-and-Switch: Played for laughs with Eska and Desna. When it's believed they were mistakenly given a single room instead of a double, Eska confirms that the choice of room is intentional, as if they still think it's normal for sibling to share a bed even in their twenties. It's actually because Desna sleeps in the tub. UNTIL you notice Eska turn her head towards the camera right after she says that. Then it's clear she's telling the audience she was lying.
After an episode dedicated to Korra having emotional problems she needs to work through, Toph tells her that the real reason she's been having trouble is Su never removed all the metallic poison, setting up an easy way for Korra to return to top shape. Then it turns out Korra is holding the metal in herself subconsciously to have a reason to avoid going into danger again, meaning she will have to deal with her trauma after all.
Blatant Lies: Right after Kuvira tells Bolin her threat to crush all who oppose her was just tough political rhetoric, she makes it very clear to Suyin that she's going to go after Zaofu.
Both Sides Have a Point: Played with. While Wu is clearly unfit for the throne, Kuvira is clearly a relentless dictator. But Kuvira has improved life and stabilized the Earth Kingdom... by giving people essentially the choice of joining her or being left to bandits and starvation. In the end it drives Mako and Bolin apart, as Bolin only sees the good in Kuvira while Mako is more concerned about the bad. Though even Mako has to acknowledge she has done more for the Earth Kingdom than Wu ever did.
Break the Haughty: Prince Wu has the fact that he would be an awful king and doesn't deserve the throne slammed into him repeatedly this episode. He shrugs off Kuvira and Bolin's words, but when even Mako tells him so Wu finally admits it.
Brutal Honesty: Mako comes out and tells Prince Wu exactly how bad of a leader he would be.
Toph doesn't pull any punches with Korra, bluntly telling her that her continued problems are her own doing.
Butt-Monkey: Korra. She spends the entire episode getting beaten up on and verbally abused by Toph, and Toph enjoys every second of it.
Prince Wu, as well. He starts the day finding out the lavish ceremony he hoped for will instead be a modest one with no fanfare, and all the crown jewels were looted from the palace. Then the coronation gets usurped by Kuvira announcing her autonomy, he gets chased through Little Ba Sing Se, and ends up having a breakdown in a restaurant.
Call-Back: Korra is revealed to have trace amounts of the metallic poison from "Venom of the Red Lotus" in her system, impeding her recovery. The amount is too small for anyone but Toph to detect, though she insists Korra can find it if she lets herself.
Conflicting Loyalty: Bolin is torn between his brother and his loyalty to Kuvira, who he sees in a more positive light than Mako does.
Continuity Nod: There appears to be a stuffed Bosco at the Little Ba Sing Se restaurant.
Korra gets an elbow leech stuck to her while in the swamp just like Sokka did.
Kuvira is given the Kyoshi Medal of Freedom. Avatar Kyoshi saved the Earth Kingdom twice, first from Chin the Conqueror and then later from a peasant rebellion in Ba Sing Se that saw the monarchy as outdated and not representing their interests.
Cool Old Lady: Toph, who spends the day having fun beating up Korra before revealing the source of her problems.
Curb-Stomp Battle: Toph has some fun beating up Korra.
Don't Think, Feel: Toph berates Korra for thinking too much during their sparring matches.
Drill Sergeant Nasty: Like she was with Aang in the first series, Toph becomes this for Korra.
The Empire: Right when Wu is crowned, Kuvira usurps the coronation, declaring him unfit and that the Earth Kingdom is no more. In its place, she has created the Earth Empire, with her as the Executive Head.
Evil Is Petty: Before she ruins Wu's big day, Kuvira arranges to have him moved to a smaller room while she takes his suite.
Foreshadowing: When Wu talks with Kuvira she explains she arranged him to a smaller room and took his luxury suit, just to mess with him. She isn't even trying to hide that she has no intention of stepping down and handing the Earth Kingdom to him.
Friendly Local Chinatown: Little Ba Sing Se in Republic City, which is a three-tier shopping mall fashioned in the walled pattern of the actual Ba Sing Se.
Funny Background Event: When Mako uses his firebending to blockade the Kuvira supporters chasing him and Wu, a random guy spends a moment to look at the fire, then goes right back to reading his book.
While Baatar Jr. is talking to Suyin, Kuvira is in the background signing what looks like autographs one handed. Just before the camera switches to closer, Wu rushes up and shoves her fans out of his way.
Henpecked Husband: Played for laughs. Eska believes Kuvira to be Bolin's new girlfriend. When Bolin clarifies that she's actually his boss, Eska fails to see the distinction.
Leonine Contract: Invoked by Varrick, who says Republic City won't object to Kuvira's Earth Empire because it needs the metal the Empire provides them with too much.
Magitek: Varrick is working on some kind of spirit-based technology using the spirit vines.
Mood Whiplash: Wu's reaction to Kuvira's coup is played for laughs for most of the episode, but when he throws kids around so he can sit on a replica of the throne it's clear he's having a very real breakdown that Mako has to talk him through.
Mustache Vandalism: In Little Ba Sing Se, one of Wu's portraits is vandalized in this fashion.
New Era Speech: Kuvira takes advantage of Prince Wu's coronation to give her New Era Speech. With the worlds leaders and press watching she declares the Earth Kingdom dissolved, the monarchy abolished, and the birth of the new Earth Empire.
"Not So Different" Remark: Bolin has this opinion of Kuvira and Korra, describing them both as aggressive but ultimately well-meaning. This causes Mako to pull quite a face.
Oh, Crap!: Tenzin and Raiko share concerned looks when Kuvira declares the Earth Empire.
Only Sane Man: Bolin is only person supporting Kuvira that brings up the point that the United Republic doesn't want Kuvira taking over the Earth Kingdom. She is able to talk him into believing it's for the best.
Out of Focus: Asami only has a brief, non-speaking cameo at the coronation (alongside Mako behind the other leaders).
Overly Narrow Superlative: Toph calls Korra the worst Avatar she has ever trained, then admits that the only other one was Aang.
Puppet King: When Mako questions Wu's fitness to rule the Earth Kingdom, President Raiko explains that he'll do little actual ruling, with the advisers selected for him by the international coalition handling the day-to-day affairs of the kingdom, essentially leaving the Earth Kingdom under the practical control of the United Republic. Wu himself is perfectly aware of this and doesn't care, being more concerned with the perks of the job rather than the responsibility. All of this is used as evidence by Kuvira for why she is a better ruler than he would ever be.
Retail Therapy: After Kuvira ruins Wu's coronation and Mako has a fight with Bolin about it, Wu takes him to the Little Ba Sing Se Shopping Mall.
She Is the King: Going by what Mako called Kuvira, the word Emperor, much like Fire Lord, is gender neutral in the Avatar universe.
Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Toph is firmly on the cynical end of the scale. After Korra tells her that she needs to get better because the world needs her back, Toph scoffs and tells her that the world doesn't need her, pulling on her own experiences as a cop by pointing out that no matter what happens there's always some new evil that will replace the previous one and that ultimately what she does won't change that much. Korra is pretty unimpressed with this advice.
Stumbling Upon the Lost Wizard: We see the results of Korra's inadvertent meet-up with the long-missing hero Toph, who uses her special powers and unparalleled knowledge of earthbending to bully Korra about her lack of tranquility and ignorance of metal-bending.
There Is Only One Bed: The hotel manager apologizes to Eska and Desna for putting them in a room with only one bed. Eska replies that it's not a mistake. Her brother sleeps in the tub. Then, she turns her head towards the camera, as if to say to the audience "Psst. No he doesn't."
Took a Level in Badass: A subtle example. While Toph was already very badass, her seismic sense has improved to such a degree that she can surf on mud when anything other than stable ground seriously impaired her vision in the previous series. She's also able to easily dodge Korra's airbending, when that easily knocked her out of the ring in her first appearance.
Tyrant Takes the Helm: Kuvira announces her overt takeover of the restored Earth Kingdom with a public speech at the coronation.
Villain Has a Point: Kuvira blames the Earth Kingdom monarchy for the failures of the past and why she won't hand power to Wu. Even Mako, Kuvira's most vocal critic this episode, can't deny that Wu isn't fit to rule the Earth Kingdom.
Villain with Good Publicity: Kuvira is more popular than Prince Wu despite her brutal methods, and in a foreign country no less. When she announces that she is effectively usurping the Earth Kingdom, there are far more cheers than boos.
Wham Line:Kuvira: Then you know what's coming for Zaofu.
Worf Had the Flu: It turns out Korra still has a bit of poison left in her system keeping her from 100%, but Toph can't pull it out because Korra's subconsciously keeping it there due to the linger fear from her trauma, which is also weakening her performance.
Worst. Whatever. Ever!: For Prince Wu, it was the "Worst Coronation Ever".
Toph also calls Korra the "Worst Avatar I ever trained".
You Didn't Ask: Toph only reveals the presence of the poison in Korra's body after spending an entire day beating her up, and only because Korra admits that she has no idea what's slowing her down. Until then, Toph just assumed Korra knew it was there.
Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Kuvira justifies taking over by citing Suyin's belief that monarchs like Wu are outdated. Su is clearly not happy to be part of Kuvira's speech.
[S4E3] The Coronation