The Earth Queen
Written By: Tim Hedrick
Directed By: Ian Graham
Storyboard By: Young Ki Yoon, Christopher Palmer, Steve Ahn
Animation By: Studio Mir
[Previously on "The Legend of Korra" sequence, including clips from Rebirth]
Shiro Shinobi: The Air Nation has its first recruit. Team Avatar's search for new airbenders in the Earth Kingdom led them to Kai, an orphan with a shady past. Meanwhile, Lord Zuko is hot on the trail of three escaped criminals who pose a great threat to the Avatar. Unaware of the danger to her, Korra continues her mission to find more airbenders. Next stop, the walled city of Ba Sing Se.
(Episode opens up to one of the plains in the Earth Kingdom. Camera pans up slightly to the airship sailing through the air with Oogi letting out a grunt as it flies above the ship. Scene cuts to Asami, Jinora, Pabu, and Naga on the ship's deck.)
Jinora: Light on your feet, Uncle Bumi. (Bumi enters the screen punching the air) Remember, you want to be quick and evasive.
Bumi: Don't worry about me, little lady. (camera pans out to reveal Bumi attempting to spar with Kai as he darts around the deck on the balls of his feet) I've been in a scrap or two, you know. (stops moving) Oh, you're just a youngster, (fake punches) so I'm going to go easy on you. (cut to a frontal shot of Kai as he runs towards the camera and drops himself down on the ground, shooting out one leg and airbending at Bumi) Wouldn't want to hurt a kid-
(Angle changes back to a side view shot of the two as Kai's airbending knocks Bumi back to a flight of stairs leading to the deck)
Jinora: (scrubs her face with the palm of her hand) Uncle Bumi, (walks to her uncle) you've got to work on your stance changes. (she and Kai help lift Bumi off the floor) Kai, that was just... really good. (Bumi slides his arm out of Kai's grasp and massages his jaw)
Kai: (rubs the back of his head) Thanks, Jinora. You're a great teacher.
(Cut to a close up of Jinora as she blushes and walks off with her uncle in hand. Switch to a frontal shot of Bumi as he realizes something is up and he lets go of Jinora and begins to pat all around his military coat.)
Bumi: Hmm. (opens his coat and looks down) Did I drop my wallet?
(Jinora laughs and Kai walks out from behind Bumi, fanning himself with Bumi's wallet.)
Bumi: Give me that, (cut to an aerial view of the deck and camera quickly pans back to reveal Tenzin and Korra looking at the scene from another deck above) you little thief! (Kai runs away laughing and Bumi chases the boy)
Korra: It's so exciting to be on a diplomatic mission to Ba Sing Se. (turns to Tenzin) What's the Earth Queen like?
Tenzin: I've never met her, but I've heard she can be quite... Demanding. (Korra looks concerned)
(Bolin excitedly runs up to the deck's railings beside Korra.)
Bolin: This is it, Mako! We made it! This is where Dad grew up! (waves Mako over) Come here, look! Look!
Mako: (walks up to his brother) Okay, calm down. I'm looking.
(Soothing, hopeful music plays as the scenery changes to the fields outside the walled city. The airship is slowly making its way towards the walls. Cut to Korra who looks excited.)
Korra: I wonder how many airbenders are down there.
(Cut to the front of the ship looking at the wall as the Sun's glare obscures the camera's view. When the airship finally manages to pass over the wall, the music abruptly changes to a depressing tone. The Lower Ring is dirty and crowded with shacks and apartments and we can see smoke streaming out of the chimneys. Cut to a close up of a beggar on the ground as the airship passes by overhead. Switch to a view of a group of citizens lining up to collect water from a polluted stream.)
Korra: (off-screen) Ugh. (cut to Mako, Bolin, and Korra as they reel back in disgust) The Lower Ring looks terrible.
(Bolin claps a hand over his nose and looks like he's about to puke. Mako pulls his scarf over his nose.)
Bolin: (his voice is muffled) Yeah, I can smell it from here. No wonder Dad left.
(Switch to a scenic shot of the airship sailing past the Lower Ring. Scene changes to a portion of the Middle Ring looking up at the sky as the airship finally passes over this portion of the city where lots of people are mingling about.)
Bolin: (off screen but it is presumed he is shouting from the deck) Hello, Middle Ring!
(Camera changes to an overhead view of the ship passing by the beautifully manicured gardens of the Middle Ring. View abruptly cuts to the airship and Oogi flying over the golden roof tops of the palace grounds. It passes by what is assumed to be a docking spot for airships and camera switches angles to focus on the main palace that shines and sparkles with gold. Cut to Kai and Jinora looking very enthusiastic at the sight while Bumi appears to be bored in the background.)
Kai: Wow. Now, this is more like it.
(Cut to the ground as an Earth Kingdom guard uses flags to guide the ship into a landing spot, creating a small gust of air as it lands. View changes to a propeller of the airship as it slows its revolution. Cut to Team Avatar walking down a ramp to meet someone who is already stationed at the bottom to receive them.)
Gun: Avatar Korra, Master Tenzin, (bows with his hands hidden under his robes) it is a pleasure to welcome you and your party (stands up) to the Upper Ring of Ba Sing Se. I'm Grand Secretariat Gun.
Korra: (switch to a profile shot of Korra as she clasps her hands and bows) Thank you.
(Bolin enters the screen with Pabu squeaking on his shoulder and Naga follows after him.)
Bolin: (inhales deeply) Ahh, (Gun looks alarmed) it's got that (Naga begins to sniff around) Upper Ring smell.
Gun: (walks towards Bolin) Oh, no. The Queen hates animals. (switch to a frontal shot of Bolin with Naga and Oogi behind him) We've got to get them out of sight.
Bolin: (rubs his head and turns back to the beasts) Well, I can just (puts his hands out and Pabu crawls onto them) stash Pabu in my shirt. (angles his head to Naga and Oogi) These two are gonna be a little tougher.
(Switch back to a side view shot of everyone as Gun walks forward.)
Gun: Come with me, hurry. I'll take you to your quarters.
(Cut to a beautiful lotus pond with fish swimming in it.)
Gun: (off-screen) Now, when you meet the Queen, (camera pans up to reveal the party walking on a bridge over the pond) make sure you bow low enough. That's very important. (we can see some construction going on in the background) And don't look her in the eye, she can't stand that. (switch to a frontal shot of Gun with Korra and the others behind her. Korra looks a little bored about the rules) If any food is served, don't eat before she eats. Oh, actually, I have to taste her food first, then she eats, then you can eat. Better yet, just don't eat.
Korra: Seems like an awful lot of rules.
Gun: (lowers his head dejectedly) Oh, you have no idea, (Cut to Kai with his arms behind his head as a rich lady walks by. He glances at her for a split second before looking forward.) and I'm the one who gets in trouble when people don't follow them. So please, (Kai does a double take and looks at the richly dressed woman again) please, (music chimes and the camera switches to a shot of the woman's back as she walks away ) for my sake, just try not to upset Her Majesty.
(Camera focuses on the money pouch strapped on the small of her back and it pans to the various valuables adorned by the woman. Cut back to Kai as he sneaks off. Scene changes to a three storey apartment in the Upper Ring and camera zooms out quickly as Team Avatar admire their temporary lodgings.)
Gun: (gestures his arms out in a 'ta-da' motion) Here we are.
Bolin: Ooh, very swanky.
(Cut to the inside of the apartment as everyone streams into the living room area on the first floor.)
Gun: Now, go in and make yourselves comfortable... (points sternly to Bolin)
Bolin: (surprised) Hey!
Gun: And keep those animals out of sight in the backyard! (puts his hands back into his robes again) Avatar Korra, if you'd follow me, (turns and heads out of the door) we don't want to keep (Korra follows) Her Majesty waiting.
(Cut to an aerial view of the palace and camera slowly focuses on a building still in construction. Cut to the back view of the Earth Queen standing at the balcony, overseeing the work.)
Gun: (off-screen) Your Majesty, (cut to a frontal view of the Queen but her face can't be seen yet) may I present Avatar Korra.
(Camera pulls backwards to finally reveal the Queen's face. She appears to be in her fiftys or sixties and looks rather stern.)
Queen Hou-Ting: You're ruining (thrusts both arms out from her sleeves, revealing herself to be wearing ornamental golden finger nails on her last two fingers which is reminiscent of Empress Dowager Cixi in the real world) the koi pond! It's completely overshadowed (she raises her right hand in shaking anger) by the topiaries! (points sternly to the work on the ground off-screen) Guards, take that buffoon away (scene changes to the ground that has two swan-like topiaries in front of the pond as two Dai Li agents proceed to take the gardener man by his arms while a woman, presumably his colleague, looks on helplessly) and get me someone who knows what they're doing! You! (the woman takes a step backwards in fear) Rip everything out and start over!
(The woman gets into a bending stance and earthbends the ground in a full 180 degrees in front of her. The ground that once had the topiaries is now bare, barren earth. Cut back to the Queen who doesn't look amused.)
Queen Hou-Ting: I am surrounded by idiots. (she looks to the side and turns around to face Korra) So, I finally get a visit from the Avatar. Let me guess, you want something.
Korra: (awkwardly takes a step forward) Well, actually, Your Majesty, I was hoping you could-
Queen Hou-Ting: (interrupts) I hardly think you're in a position to ask me for favors after everything the last Avatar did to the Earth Kingdom. (turns away from Korra slightly) He and Fire Lord Zuko took advantage of my father's weakness, and stole our lands to make their own little empire. (returns her attention to Korra) The United Republic is Earth Kingdom territory.
Korra: Well, I- I'm not sure what I can do about that.
Queen Hou-Ting: Not that you care, (Korra is surprised by the Queen's rudeness) but what's left of my kingdom is falling to ruin. Roving bands of barbarians are raiding villages in the countryside, and now, some of my subjects are refusing to pay their taxes. (looks back at the construction)
Korra: I'm very sorry for your troubles, but actually-
Queen Hou-Ting: (interrupts Korra again) That topiary is supposed to be an eel-swan, not a turtle-duck!
(Cut to a frontal shot of Korra who gives the Queen a "Really?" expression while Gun raises his sleeves up in front of his face and cowers. Scene changes to the living room area inside of Team Avatar's apartment. Tenzin is seated while Jinora, Asami, and Mako are standing while Bolin is on the second floor looking down to the first floor.)
Jinora: Hey, has anyone seen Kai?
Tenzin: (stands up and looks around) Kai?
Bolin: (calls out as he walks down the stairs) Kai! Little bro?
(Switch to a set of doors opening to reveal Bumi.)
Bumi: He's not over here.
(Camera quickly pans left to Asami and Mako.)
Asami: I don't think I've seen him since we landed.
Mako: I knew that kid was no good. He was just waiting for an opportunity to run away again.
Jinora: (walks up to Mako with her father) We have to find him.
Mako: What's the point? He obviously doesn't care about us.
Bolin: But he's my new little brother. He's probably lost and scared.
Tenzin: He is just a little boy, and he's our responsibility. Besides, he's the only airbender we've recruited so far. We can't lose him.
Mako: (frowns slightly) Fine. Bolin and I will find him.
(Cut back to the Earth Queen who looks enraged.)
Queen Hou-Ting: No! (view changes angles to Korra and Gun looking on at her outburst) To your left! Your other left! (turns to Korra) Do you have these problems with your servants?
Korra: I don't really have servants. (turns serious) But, Your Majesty, the reason for our visit is that we're trying to gather all of the new airbenders who are popping up in the Earth Kingdom, and we'd like your help finding the ones in Ba Sing Se.
Queen Hou-Ting: (skeptical) Airbenders in Ba Sing Se? Where did you hear that?
Korra: Before we left Republic City, we got some reports.
Queen Hou-Ting: Hmm. Well, before I even consider helping you, I'll need you to do something for me.
Korra: Oh. Of course. What is it?
Queen Hou-Ting: (looks out into the distance) I have a vault full of tax money sitting in a town South of here. Barbarians have stolen my past two shipments. (cut to a close up of the Queen who looks serious with Korra in the background listening to her) Go collect my money and bring it back here.
(The Queen shifts her eyes to the side towards the Avatar. Korra looks both reluctant and suspicious but she bows respectfully anyway.)
Korra: Yes, Your Majesty.
(Switch to a full frontal shot of the Queen with Korra and Gun behind her. Hou-Ting raises up her left arm and makes a shooing gesture. Gun panicks a bit and turns Korra around, attempting to show her out. Korra shoves Gun away and he trips, falling to his feet off-screen and one shoe comically flies. The Queen smiles.
Scene changes to a butterfly sitting on a lotus flower floating on a pond. Camera pans up to show the surroundings. Bolin walks up to the railing and looks down into the pond.)
Bolin: Kai! Did you go fishing? (switch to a shot of the pathway Bolin is on and Mako doesn't look amused by his brother's antics) You under the bridge?
(Cut to a close up of Mako as he looks to the side. Scene changes to small crowd around a pavilion. A gust of wind comes out of nowhere and blows a rich man's robes up and his hat flies upwards. Cut to a close up of the man's pants as he pushes it down to reveal him looking a little disheveled. View changes to the hat on the ground as a hand enters the screen to pick it up.)
Kai: Here, sir, let me help you. (he hands the man his hat and begins to pat the man down)
Rich Man: Oh, thank you, young man. (puts the hat on his head) What a strange sudden breeze.
Kai: Yeah, that was really weird.
(Kai finishes walking around the man and pockets a wad of notes into a pouch sitting on his back.)
Rich Man: Thanks for your help.
(The rich man walks off and camera returns back to Mako who is angry.)
Mako: Kai! (cut back to Kai who gives a nervous salute and he comically slides off-screen) Get back here!
(Cut back to the crowd as they look on in shock when Kai runs away. Traditional Chinese opera music with cymbals and drums begin to play as chase music.)
Bolin: (has anime-like sweatdrops on the side of his face) Kai, it's us! Mako and Bolin! Your new family!
(Bolin chases after them and view changes to a man pulling a rickshaw and he stops abruptly as Kai slides into screen and swiftly ducks into an alley. Mako follows after him closely. Cut to a street occupied by two carriages and Kai slides under one carriage to flee. Mako does parkour and runs up the side of a building, over the carriage. View switches to the front of the carriage where Kai is and he looks up at Mako. Kai quickly does a tuck and roll to avoid Mako's legs and the boy quickly darts into a dark alley. Camera pans across the onlookers who are in shock.)
Bolin: (off-screen) Excuse me, (everyone looks to Bolin and camera pans to the right as he tries to gingerly scoot past two carriages) pardon me. No, no, carry on. (Bolin starts running once he clears the obstacle)
(Scene changes to an aerial view of a train platform. Kai emerges from the staircase and heads towards a train. Mako and Bolin follow soon after. Cut to the inside of the train as Kai casts a glance behind and meanders through the crowd. He bumps into Mako and he gives a startled yelp with his hands in a surrender position. Cut to Mako with perspiration on his face.)
Mako: (sternly) What are you doing running around robbing people?
Kai: I was just practicing my airbending.
Mako: Yeah, right. (Mako lays a hand on Kai's shoulder and attempts to pull him away) Let's go. You're in big trouble.
(However, the firebender has actually laid a hand on Kai's outer coat and the boy bends down, allowing Mako to pull the fabric off him. Kai manages to swing his arms around, pulling the coat back to him as he lets out a gust of air, pushing the brothers backwards. The commuters are flabbergasted by the commotion. Kai smiles and puts on his coat as he exits the train. Cut to the outside of the train as Kai manages to leave it and the doors slide shut on Mako and Bolin, leaving them trapped on the carriage.)
(Cut to the inside of the train looking out at Kai through the glass windows on the door and the boy gives the brothers a cheeky wave. Camera pans back to the siblings as Mako turns his head towards Bolin.)
Mako: Your little brother, huh? (frowns)
Bolin: (nervously as sweat drops down his forehead) Yeah, just lovable little scamp, isn't he?
Mako: (both brothers return their gaze back to the platform) Reminds me of my little brother.
(View changes to an aerial shot of the train platform as the carriage slowly pulls out of the station)
Conductor: This is the express line to the Lower Ring. Next stop, Po Kong Station.
(Switch to a scenic view of the train on the rail line as it passes through the tunnel in the walls separating the Upper and Middle Ring. Camera fades as the train pulls up to Po Kong Station. Cut to a frontal shot of the train as it brakes harshly on a poorly kept station. Cut to the train doors as the brothers are pushed and shoved out by the passengers.)
Mako: All right, let's see if we can catch a train back to the Upper Ring.
(Camera angle changes to a train on the other side of the platform with a train guard standing watch. A woman walks up to him, presenting a ticket stub. He nods and the woman steps on board. The brothers attempt to follow after her but the guard raises his arm up to stop the brothers.)
Train Guard: Passports and tickets.
(Cut to a frontal shot of the brothers as they rummage through their pockets)
Bolin: We can pay, hold on. Where's my money? (the siblings widen their eyes and look at each other) No. Kai wouldn't- (there's an awkward silence before Bolin finally realizes his mistake) Aw, man!
Train Guard: All right, (he shoves the brothers away) beat it, you two, before things get ugly.
(Bolin stumbles backwards and Mako gets into a fighting stance before he looks off screen. Cut to two Dai Li agents who have seen the commotion and they glare at the brothers. Cut to a side view shot of Mako looking at the conductor with the Dai Li guards in the background. Without another word, the firebender walks off-screen.
Scene changes to outside the station as both boys keep walking forward. Mako looks serious while Bolin looks concerned. Cut to a shot of the run-down and dirty street with worn out shop signs.)
Bolin: (off screen) The bad news is, (camera slowly pans down to reveal the back of the brothers' heads) we're stuck here. The good news is, (Bolin claps a hand on Mako's shoulder) you can go the bathroom wherever you want.
(Mako looks at him with a blank stare and Bolin releases his hold on Mako, looking a little dejected. Cut to commercial break.)
(Episode returns to the bottom of an airship as it creates smoke and dust when it takes off from the palace grounds in the Upper Ring. Scene changes to the inside of the ship with Asami at the helm, steering the ship, while Korra stands near her.)
Asami: Are you sure we shouldn't have brought more people to collect the tax money?
Korra: There are royal guards waiting at the vault. I doubt anything will happen. I think Her Majesty just likes ordering me around.
(Location changes to a moving cart in the Lower Ring. When the wheels finally move off-screen, we see Mako slumped upright against a crate with one arm that he uses as a pillow and he has a banana peel on his head. Bolin on the other hand, is laying supine on the floor with newspapers over him as a blanket. The earthbender sits up as he wakes up, shaking the loose papers.)
Bolin: (makes sleepy noises and yawns) Man. Oh, I think (tries to stretch his shoulders) I slipped a disc sleeping here. It's been a while (reaches behind him and pulls out a can from his coat) since we spent the night on a trash pile. (Mako wakes up and wipes away the drool on his chin) It's about how I remembered.
(Mako stands up.)
Mako: I bet everyone's freaking out that we've been gone all night. (he flicks the banana peel off his head)
Bolin: (looks out of the alley) I'm worried about Kai. He's just a little kid out there on his own. He's probably really scared.
(Rich, royal music plays almost immediately and the scene changes to a hand waving a golden bell. Camera pans out to reveal Kai on a queen-sized bed that is in the middle of a raised pavilion in a room. A door on the left opens to reveal a waiter wheeling in a push cart. Cut to a close up of the cart and the metal lid is removed, revealed a spread of food on the plate.)
Waiter: Your breakfast, Master Fung.
(Cut to Kai on the bed as the tray is placed on his lap.)
Kai: (reaches into his money bag) Keep the change. (he flicks a gold coin to the waiter and the man walks away) I love Ba Sing Se. (Kai reclines back on the pillow and relaxes.)
(Scene changes to an overhead view of a neighborhood in the Lower Ring. Cut to Mako and Bolin walking along the street as the latter holds his stomach in hunger.)
Bolin: Whew, I'm getting hungry. (gasps as a fruit stall comes into view behind them) We might have to hustle up a little breakfast with the old (gestures his hand out to the fruits) fruit stand scam. Come on. (Mako is reluctant but Bolin grabs him by the arm and pulls him towards the stand. View changes from the stall looking out at the brothers. The fruits has numerous flies buzzing around and some of them are clearly rotten and moldy.) You remember how it goes. (does a shoving motion) I push you into the stand, (raises his voice a bit) you scream, (places a hand on his head dramatically) I pretend to faint.
Mako: I don't want any part of this. Besides, (gestures to the rotten products) look at this fruit. (cut to a close up of the rotten fruits on display) It's disgusting. We don't want to steal this.
(A teenager stands up from behind the stall and the camera pans up as he does so.)
Tu: Hey, (points to Mako) you trying to steal my fruit?
(Switch a full shot of the fruit stand and the brothers.)
Mako: No, I just said I don't want any of this rotten fruit.
Tu: (lays his hand on some apple-like fruits) Oh, (he presses down on the fruit and it gives way easily since it has most likely turned to mush from the decomposition) you too good for my fruit? This is the best fruit on the block.
Mako: (raises an eyebrow) So you want me to steal it?
Tu:(raises his left arm up with his biceps flexed) Just try it, buddy. (he kisses the bicep) Go ahead.
Bolin: I'm confused. Are we stealing the fruit or not?
Tu: I knew it, (Mako and Bolin turn away and attempt to flee) thieves!
(Tu leaps out from behind the stall, over the fruit, and tackles the brothers to the ground with one in each hand. They land at someone's feet and the camera pans up to reveal a middle aged man with a basket of fruit in his hands.)
Chow: What's going on here?
Tu: (shoves an elbow into Mako's back and presses his palm down on Bolin's back) Dad, these fruit thieves are insulting our fruit.
(Cut to Chow as he takes a step forward and frowns. His eyebrows then raise up and his expression softens.)
Chow: Bolin? Mako?
(Switch to the brothers on the ground.)
Mako: How do you know our names?
Bolin: Yeah, I mean, I'm famous, so I get that, but how do you know his name?
Chow: (off-screen) You look just like San. (Mako and Bolin react with surprise and we return back to a shot of Chow) Tu, you'll never believe who these guys are. They're your cousins, my brother San's kids.
(Cut to Tu, Bolin, and Mako. Tu is slackjawed and Mako and Bolin are in disbelief.
Scene changes to an overheard view of the Northern Water Tribe and it seems that the tribe has expanded to include the land above the icy cliffs that surround and protect the tribe below. Now, there are buildings right on top of the cliffs. Zuko's dragon flies into screen with Zuko and a man in blue on its back. Cut to the inside of the Northern Water Tribe throne room and footsteps are heard and shadows can be seen on the carpet. Zuko and Tonraq walk on screen towards Desna and Eska who are now the Chiefs of the tribe. Cut to the twins as they rest their heads on one arm, clearly looking bored. Their interest is piqued at the sight of the guests and they stand up.)
Desna: Lord Zuko, Uncle. This is a surprise.
Eska: (rolls eyes) Finally something interesting happens. Ruling the tribe is so tedious.
Lord Zuko: (cut to a close up of Zuko) Then you should enjoy this. (his expression turns serious) We need to check on a secret ice prison in the Western tundra.
(View changes to the twins who were initially bored but now their lips quirk up in small smiles.
Scene changes back to the Lower Ring in Ba Sing Se where people are walking up and down a staircase connecting one apartment complex to the next.)
Chow: (off-screen) Your father sent us a letter years ago with your names, (cut to Chow along with his son and nephews standing along a corridor in the complex) but that was the last we heard from him. Then we saw your pictures in the sports pages with your bending team, and Bolin, we love those Nuktuk movers. They're hilarious.
Bolin: (grits his teeth as he speaks) Yeah, they're not really comedies, but, uh-
Tu: Yeah, (crosses his arms irritably) I could probably be a pro-bender, or an actor, or something if I lived in a mansion in Republic City like you guys. You don't know what it's like here on the streets. (flexes his muscles) You gotta be tough.
Bolin: Oh, Mako and I grew up on the streets. We were homeless, then we were kind of in a gang, then we lived in a gym.
(Chow grabs them by the shoulders anyway and camera abruptly cuts to the inside of the apartment facing the doors which swing inwards to reveal Chow and the other three youths. Camera also rapidly pans backwards to reveal that there are a lot more people inside the apartment.)
Chow: Hey, everybody! Look who's here! San's kids, Mako and Bolin!
(Camera pans across the various relatives in the room.)
Uncle: No way.
Aunt: Come in.
(Mako and Bolin wave shyly and the family members stand up to greet them. A graying elderly woman walks towards the brothers.)
Yin: Is it true? (she clasps both hands together with hope) After all these years?
Chow: Boys, (walks to his mother and rests a hand on her back) this is your grandmother, Yin.
Yin: (happily) Oh, it is so wonderful to finally meet my long-lost grandchildren. (She rushes up to them to hug them both and they return the affection by embracing her as well. Yin pulls away and speaks) Where is San and your mother?
(Cut to the brothers as they are surprised and both look at each other with sadness.)
Bolin: Wait, you mean, (cut to Yin with the rest of the family behind her) you don't know?
(Yin's hopeful expression fades away. Sad music plays as the camera returns back to the brothers. They look downcast.)
Mako: I'm sorry. They were killed when we were little.
(Camera goes back to Yin again as everyone's expression changes to sadness. Yin looks down and tears well up in her eyes at the mention that her son and daughter-in-law are dead.
Scene changes to the airship parked on the ground in a barren town. Korra and Asami have disembarked and are heading towards a building to collect the tax money. Cut to a close up of Korra as suspicious music plays when she looks around. Cut to a view of a nearby buildings as the occupants scurry away with their children and close the windows and doors.)
Korra: I don't like the looks of this. Let's hurry up and get out of here.
(Cut to the inside of the building as an Earth Kingdom guard tugs and slides the door open to reveal the two teens.)
Earth Kingdom Guard: You here to pick up the tax shipment?
Korra: (gestures to the airship behind her) Go ahead and load it on the airship.
(Four guards load up sacks of coins into a wheelbarrow. Cut to a view from behind Korra's and Asami's heads as the guards wheel the tax towards the airship. An explosion is heard and camera pans to the nearby cliffs as a red flare is seen shooting towards the sky. Cut back to the guards who have noticed the signal and they glance around worriedly. Camera returns back to Korra and Asami as they look concerned. The revving of motorcycle engines can be heard off-screen. Camera zooms out to behind the girls again as they look down the square. Cut to a wooden fence as various bikes jump over it. Some of the occupants are carrying dangerous weapons like spears and spiked maces. Cut to the front of the gang as they ride forward with a metal truck behind them. View changes to three of the guards fleeing. The remaining one holding onto the wheelbarrow hesitates for a while before dropping the handle and running away as well. Cut back to Korra and Asami as the latter puts on her electric glove.)
Asami: So much for our escorts.
(View changes to the back of the girls as we see the gang approaching them.)
Korra: Maybe we should've brought everybody else.
(Cut to commercial break.)
(Episode returns to the bikers laughing gleefully. Cut to Korra and Asami as they are surrounded by them. They circle around the girls for a while before braking harshly, sending clouds of dust up into the air. Cut to the back of a shirtless, muscular guy who has shaved most of his hair short but sports a very long lime green ponytail. He wears shoulder armor and elbow guards on his right arm.)
Gombo: Step away from the gold, (View changes to a frontal shot of the man who has his face painted white like a skull. He has a long, black beard too but the middle section of his beard is dyed lime green as well.) ladies, and you won't get hurt.
(Camera focuses on Korra and Asami as they look serious and stand their ground.)
Korra: (raises an arm up in a defensive posture) Sorry to disappoint you, but we're taking this gold back to Ba Sing Se.
(Cut to an aerial view of the confrontation as Gombo walks towards the ladies.)
Gombo: Aw, we love gals with spirit. Suit yourself.
(Cut to Gombo as he attempts to kick Korra's head but she ducks in time and cartwheels, sweeping the man of his feet. Korra then bends a trail of earth to the bikers and pops up two columns from the ground, sending the motorbikes flying into the air. View cuts to a biker trying to escape but is thrown into the air by the earthbending. Switch to a view of Korra with the gangsters in the air and she bends another trail of earth off-screen.
Switch to a view of a biker wielding a pipe approaching Asami and the heiress frowns before rushing forward. She leaps into the air and the frame rate slows down as she wraps her legs around the biker's torso. Frame rate returns to normal as she forcefully throws the biker of his seat and the motorbike gets flipped over from the force. Asami lands and stands in an attacking posture as another biker heads towards her. However, a wall of earth suddenly appears in front of him and the biker collides into it. Cut to Asami as she looks to Korra since the Avatar was the one who bended the wall.
View changes to a biker and his passenger and we cut to the biker's point of view as he heads towards a sack of gold and one of the bags is splayed open, spewing gold coins onto the ground. Camera angle changes to the fallen wheelbarrow as the passenger uses his spear and pierces through a gold sack, carrying it along with them. Korra stops them by bending a gust of air and knocks them away.
Cut to Asami running towards a pair of gangsters and the passenger swings his spear at Asami. The teen jumps up, over the spear and past their heads. Frame rate slows slightly as she extends her gloved hand out and touches the passenger's shoulder, electrocuting him. Frame rate returns to normal as the man screams and falls off the bike, dropping his spear. As Asami lands on the ground, she seizes possession of his spear. His companion in front swings his bike around to face Asami.
Cut to Korra dodging a couple of kicks and camera angle changes to a full view of Gombo swinging his legs around in an attempt to land a hit on Korra. The Avatar continues to bob and weave before kicking out a column of earth at him and he is knocked back. Switch to an aerial view of the scene as Gombo gets up and runs off. Cut to Gombo running up to the metal truck and jumping onto the side to grab on.)
Gombo: Retreat! Retreat!
(View changes to a lone biker who looks afraid and he revs his engine to turn away. Cut to Gombo and the rest of the gang inside the truck with the back doors splayed open.)
Gombo: (raises arms) You're on the wrong side of this fight, Avatar! (cut to a back view shot of the girls) That gold belongs to the people, not the Queen!
(View changes to a frontal shot of Korra who looks a sad and doubtful.)
Korra: Why do I get the feeling he's right?
(Location changes to the Western tundra in the Northern Water Tribe. A blizzard is currently ongoing and in the distance, we can see a shadow of the secret prison. Cut to the inside of the prison entrance with two White Lotus guards standing guard at each side of the entrance. The metal doors open outwards to reveal the twins, Tonraq, and Zuko.)
Eska: Why didn't anyone tell us (the guards proceed to stand at attention upon seeing them) we have a secret prison we could have been throwing people in?
(Cut to a close up of the siblings.)
Desna: (looking around) I'd like to put my tailor in here. He never gets my cuffs right. (he lifts his arms up and looks at his sleeves) They're so creasy.
(Cut to the elevator as guards stand at their positions. A cabin slides up into view and the doors open. Zuko's feet step into screen followed by the twins. View changes to a top view of the elevator shaft as the cabin descends and the cables holding the car moves.)
Lord Zuko: (off-screen) We built this place secretly with your father (cut to a frontal view of everyone inside the lift) to hold a very special prisoner. She's a powerful firebender named P'li who can create explosions with her mind. Ironically, I hired a guy with a similar ability to kill the Avatar (Tonraq's eyes shift to the side towards Zuko and he raises an eyebrow) myself once. (there's a few seconds of silence before Zuko turns towards Tonraq with a defeated expression) Didn't work.
Eska: (speaks up) Don't feel bad. I tried to kill Korra (Tonraq look back at his niece with an unamused expression) after she ruined my wedding. It happens.
(The elevator comes to a stop and Tonraq turns serious.)
Tonraq: Let's just focus on keeping this woman in prison.
(The elevator doors slide open and light fills the cabin. Cut to an overhead shot of the main prison area as the older men step out. Camera pans up to reveal an empty chasm with a piece of land in the middle. Two White Lotus guards can be seen guarding the prison. Cut to an overhead view of the chasm as a metal bridge with the four guests extends outwards to the prison.)
Lord Zuko: The intense cold prevents her from firebending.
(View changes to frontal shot of the party. Fog comes out from their breaths when they speak)
Desna: There's certainly no way anyone's breaking out of here.
Lord Zuko: That's what we thought about the other three prisons.
(Cut to a back view of the four of them as they finally approach the cell.)
P'li: (shivers off-screen) Must be something exciting going on. (a shadow walks towards the cell door from within) No one interesting has visited me in thirteen years.
(Cut to Tonraq as he shoots the woman an icy look.)
Tonraq: Don't get used to it.
(View changes to the window in the cell door as it zooms in slowly.)
P'li: He's out, isn't he? Mmm, (she bends down and we can only see her mouth) I'm feeling warmer already.
(The camera zooms in some more, revealing her cheeks but before her face can be revealed, the scene changes back to Yin's apartment in Ba Sing Se where a spread of food is laid out on the table. Bolin gobbles up the food greedily. Camera pans up to reveal everyone seated with their legs crossed around the table.)
Bolin: This is so great. We've never had a family before. Now we've got... (he picks up his spoon and starts to count around the room) One, two, five, eleven... (camera zooms out to reveal more of their large extended family) A big family! Yeah!
(Cut to a close up of the brothers as Mako turns towards his uncle.)
Mako: So why did Dad leave Ba Sing Se?
(View changes to Chow and Yin.)
Chow: Oh, he always had big dreams. (Yin turns her head towards her son) He couldn't wait to get out and see the world. (he look to the side) Your grandfather thought (Yin turns her head back sadly) it was ridiculous. (view switches to the brothers as they listen intently) He wanted San to stay home and work the fruit stand, (camera returns back to Chow and his mother) but San was determined to leave (Yin continues to look really upset) and they had a huge fight. (Yin closes her eyes and turns her head away in shame and pain) And that was the last time they ever spoke. (he glances at his mother) Oh, um, sorry, Mom.
(Yin opens her eyes and looks at her grandchildren softly.)
Yin: Come with me.
(She pushes a hand on the ground to stand up. Cut to her back view as the rest of the family looks on.)
Yin: I have something to show you.
(Soft, sad music plays and view changes to a mother and daughter airing out their laundry on the railing in the corridor. Camera pans up to reveal two windows as Yin is seated on the futon with a small chest on her lap and the brothers walk up to her.)
Yin: This is the only letter (cut to the inside of the room and Yin has pulled out a letter in her hands) we ever got from San. It says he married a beautiful girl from the Fire Nation and had (she pats the futon as a gesture to ask them to sit down) two wonderful sons. (Mako and Bolin take her non-verbal cue and take a seat on each side of her. Cut to a frontal shot of the trio.) He sent this picture of you all on his birthday.
(Mako looks at the picture sadly and Bolin has surprise on his face. Cut to a sepia tone photo of the brothers' family. On the left, their father is seated on the chair smiling at the camera while a young Bolin is on his lap, fidgeting a bit as his eyes are not looking at the camera. The earthbender inherited his dad's bushy eyebrows. On the right, their beautiful mother and Mako are standing and the mother has her hands on Mako's shoulders. Both are smiling at the camera. The firebender inherited his mom's thin eyebrow shape.)
Bolin: (off-screen) Look, Mako. Dad's wearing your scarf.
Yin: (off-screen) I'm so sad that I never got to meet your mother, (view changes back to a frontal shot of the three of them and Yin looks at Mako fondly) but you have her eyes. (Mako gives a wistful smile while Bolin has tears welling up in his eyes) I know from looking (Yin turns and looks at Bolin) at you two (Bolin sniffles and wipes away the tears with his hand) that she must have been a wonderful bride for my boy.
(Camera changes angles to a close up of Mako looking at his grandmother sadly. Then he tugs a bit at his red scarf and glances at it with nostalgia. He then pulls it off his neck. Cut to a frontal view of the trio again.)
Mako: I'm sure they would want you to have this.
(He gently places the scarf on Yin's shoulders and his grandmother smiles. She looks at him for a short while before embracing her grandson. Bolin joins in the group hug with Yin sandwiched in the middle. Sweet, sad music continues to play. Camera angle changes to outside the window of the room as it slowly zooms out. The sun is setting, casting its golden glow on the apartment.
Cut to the inside of the badgermole throne room in the palace in Ba Sing Se. It looks like the interior has not changed at all since King Kuei's reign. Gun and Korra stand in front of the throne.)
Gun: Your Majesty, (cut to a close up of the pair) the Avatar has returned with the tax payments.
(Camera changes to a close up of the queen who looks very relieved.)
Queen Hou-Ting: Finally. Secure it in the vault.
(View switches to a frontal view of Gun and Korra with the former speaking while bowing.)
Gun: It's being done as we speak.
Korra: So now, Your Majesty, if I could start meeting (Gun looks towards her with a shocked expression) some of the airbenders here in the city.
(Cut back to the Queen who is bored but attempts to look innocent.)
Queen Hou-Ting: (shifts her eyes around and places her hands together) The Dai Li thoroughly searched the city, but it seems your (gestures her hand towards Korra) reports were incorrect. There are no airbenders in Ba Sing Se. So you can gather your little band and (makes a shooing gesture with her hand) be on your way tomorrow.
(View changes to an area slightly behind the throne looking at Korra and Gun.)
Korra: You make me do your dirty work extorting your own citizens (cut to a close up of a visibly angry Korra) for your stupid palaces and topiaries, and then you just want to send me away? (cut to a close up of Hou-Ting with one hand on her chin, judging Korra quietly) We're not going anywhere until we find some airbenders! We know there are some here!
(Angle switches to a side view of the throne room.)
Queen Hou-Ting: (points to Korra) Get her out of my sight!
(Korra turns and walks away as Gun follows. She turns back suddenly to point at the Queen. Gun is startled and falls flat on his butt.)
Korra: This isn't over! I'm going to find the airbenders!
(The Avatar storms out loudly with her boots beating against the floor.
Location changes to the apartment complex at night and we can hear crickets chirping.)
Chow: (off-screen) You know, San would have been so proud of you guys. (cut to the inside of the apartment as Bolin continues to rapidly stuff his face with more food) Traveling the World with the Avatar, he would have loved that.
Mako: We actually need to get back to the Avatar in the Upper Ring.
(Cut to a close up of the brothers with Mako explaining the situation with a smile on his face.)
Mako: We're supposed to be helping her find airbenders (Bolin nods) in Ba Sing Se.
(Camera focuses on the rest of the family as they gasp and one child hides behind his father's shoulder. Cut to an aerial view of the room as there is silence and the brothers are confused.)
Bolin: What? (looks around worriedly) What happened?
(Cut back to Chow who relents and tells the tale.)
Chow: One of our neighbors started airbending about a week ago. A couple days later, two Dai Li agents come out of nowhere and snatch him up. (View returns back to the siblings. Mako takes the information seriously while Bolin is in disbelief.) No one's seen him since.
(Cut to Tu who is leaning against the wall and looking out of the window.)
Tu: They say the Earth Queen's locking (Yin looks at her grandson fiercely) all the airbenders up somewhere and using them for experiments.
Yin: Tu! (stands up) Don't talk (cut to a close up of Yin as she looks shocked) like that about Her Majesty. (She turns around and the camera pans to the side of a portrait of the Earth Queen hanging on the wall. Yin blows a kiss towards the picture and places her palms together to pray.) Long may she reign.
(View returns back to Mako and Bolin as they look a little weirded out.)
Mako: We have to get back to the Upper Ring and tell Korra.
(Mako stands up and Bolin grabs some more food in his hands.)
Bolin: I hope Kai is okay.
(Location changes to a random street as a rich man gets his robes blown up by a gust of wind coming from off camera. Cut to the man's point of view as his robes drift down to reveal Kai who picks up his fallen hat.)
Kai: Here sir, let me help you.
(Kai lifts the hat up with a smile. View changes to a dark alley as Kai walks into it, happily bouncing a sack of coins in his hand. Suspicious music plays. He stops in his tracks and his eyes widen. Cut to his point of view as there is a Dai Li agent waiting for him at the end of the alley. Cut back to Kai as sweat forms on his face and he looks behind. The camera pans to the side to reveal a second agent behind the boy. He turns around and looks atthe agent. Kai looks to the side for a few seconds before looking forward and sprinting off screen. Both agents earth bend their rock finger gloves at the boy. Cut to Kai jumping on a crate to reach the top of a fence and the rock hands grasp his wrists and pulls him away from the wood, making him sort of float in the air.)
Kai: Hey! What's going on? (he throws the sack of money to the ground) I didn't do anything! (cut to the bag of money crashing to the ground as the gold spills out) I'm with the Avatar!
(Location changes to a dark place with concrete. A door slides open to reveal the silhouettes of the Dai Li agents. They toss a shadow inside and Kai appears on screen soon after as he rolls and tumbles onto the floor. His clothes are gone and he now wears a prisoner's outfit. Cut to the Dai Li agents as the one who speaks looks at Kai harshly while the other one smiles.)
Dai Li Sergeant: Welcome to Her Majesty's army, (View changes to the back of the agents' heads looking into the prison cell. There are other people of various ages wearing the same outfit as Kai scattered throughout the cell.) First Airbending Regiment. From now on, (cut back to both of the agents) you live to fight (he begins to slide the door close) for the Earth Queen.
(Cut to Kai looking at the door in despair. The left side of his face is already in the dark but the right is still illuminated. As the door quickly shuts, the light disappears and his right pupil dilates in the dark from the change in lighting. The camera slowly zooms in as Kai is in shock.)
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