Mark Watches ‘Avatar’: S01E05 – The King of Omashu

In the fifth episode of the first season of Avatar, Katara and Sokka indulge Aang in a side journey to an Earth Kingdom city to ride mail chutes. REALLY. When the trio get caught, the kingdom’s strange leader makes Aang complete three deadly challenges–but what for? If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to watch Avatar.

I’m so happy to see an episode like “The King of Omashu” so early into the season, as the writers give us a great example of how the premise and medium of this show can be used for humor.

A note before I begin, since I wanted to acknowledge this before I continued on for the rest of the review, but I think a lot of this episode utilized a metric shit-ton of ableist slurs and ideas, most especially that CRAZY PEOPLE ARE VIOLENT!!!1!1! and CRAZY PEOPLE WILL HURT YOU!!!111!1! I do understand that the reveal at the end kind of erases the idea that this was meant to be an attack on people with mental illnesses, since Bumi was always just a strange and silly person, but it was a tad distracting to hear/see so much of this sort of stuff in a kid’s show.

I don’t know what my expectations are when it comes to popular media, as I know things don’t exist in a vacuum, so I don’t know if holding this show accountable really even matters anymore. I mean…it’s over? They can’t go back and fix things. I think that just saying, “Hey, this isn’t cool,” might mean that people don’t do it in the future, or that people won’t make these sort of equivocations when they’re writing their next story.

I commented recently on my Tumblra (WHICH YOU SHOULD ALL ADD ME ON TO READ A STREAM OF SILLY AND RAGE IF YOU’D LIKE) that I think we can all figure these things out for ourselves, that we should approach various media forms with a critical eye, but that ultimately, we have to decide for ourselves where to draw the line. I don’t like prescriptive activism that claims you cannot like x if you are an activist for y, because that leads us to a really weird, slippery slope of awful that I’d rather avoid. This show hasn’t done anything to make me dislike it as a whole, but I just wanted to say something before we moved on to what otherwise makes this one fantastically entertaining episode of television.

As I said in the opening, this episode features a tonal shift more completely away from the serious and adventurous storytelling we’ve seen so far, and it’s done rather flawlessly. I was impressed that it did not feel jarring at all to the story at large, and then we’re given this huge new piece to the greater mythology at the end. (I actually like that meta-parallel, that we had to make it through Bumi’s games in order to learn about Aang’s destiny.) It’s a chance to show that Aang is still a kid and that it’s perfectly acceptable for him to have fun.

Well, there’s a bit of a qualifier to that. It’s acceptable for him to have fun as long as he’s not destroying half of a village in the process. I was initially worried that this wouldn’t be addressed. I mean, he destroyed the cabbage seller’s food!!! THAT MADE ME SAD. Also, I really like cabbage, so I’m probably just predisposed to hate cabbage bigotry.

I know this is going to sound really ridiculous. I will acknowledge it upfront. Sometimes, I find it comical how easy it is for me to completely miss the obvious, to be tricked by narrative sleights of hand, especially ones as PAINFULLY OBVIOUS AS THE ONE HERE in “The King of Omashu.” Honestly, I have Google open and I’m looking at photos of Bumi from Aang’s flashback, contrasted with the king of Omashu…..

HOW THE FUCK DID I NOT IMMEDIATELY FIGURE THIS OUT????? As soon as Aang guessed the name of the king, I actually hung my head in shame. IT WAS RIGHT THERE THE WHOLE TIME. Seriously HOW. And I think that’s actually an interesting thing about my brain. If there’s a God and he/she/they made me this way, they chose a real fun way to go about it. They gave me utter domination and brilliance over certain things and then they just stopped. That point where they stopped? The ability to figure out plots. Despite that I can point out tropes and narrative devices quite easily, somehow I can’t guess plots. Did you know that M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village GENUINELY SURPRISED ME? Did you know that I am actually embarrassed to admit that? I actually pains me to tell the truth, but I am here to share my pain with all of you.

But let’s really just talk about what a good part of this episode is about: having fun. I think that the overall message of “The King of Omashu” is that you can be serious, but that it’s fine to take breaks to enjoy things that are silly and absurd. The two are not mutually exclusive at all! That is an entirely relevant message to myself, for the record, since sometimes I lose sight of having fun when I allow things to get too serious. I wasn’t exactly sure where Aang was going when we arrived in this specific earth Kingdom, but from the start, he seemed to be having a good time. The disguise scene will probably be one of my favorites once the series ends, adding a fantastic bit of silliness to what is, admittedly, a journey to the North Pole to learn Waterbending to then learn Earthbending to then learning Firebending to then destroying the Fire Nation. Or getting them to calm down? IDK GUYS. But if you think of it that way, there is a LOT for Aang to go through before he even can fight the Fire Nation in a proper battle. And this journey is going to be lengthy and difficult, and probably heartbreaking too.

I’m reading The Book Thief right now over on Mark Reads and I feel it’s the same thing happening here: I am going to appreciate the happy, silly moments, because I know AWFUL SHIT IS ON THE WAY. How awful? Of course, I am never prepared, but for me, it’s something I just do naturally. It doesn’t work for everyone, and I get that, but I appreciate the moments of calm or joy or ecstasy that I get because historically, they are few and far between for me.

That’s not what Aang is doing here, by the way, and I don’t want to project all over his character. It’s just nice to see that here in the episode, you know?

As the action moves inside the palace/castle/whatever this thing is, the trio captured by the guards after crashing into Cabbage Man, this episode immediately takes another turn for the weird: the king of Omashu does not punish them for what they’ve done. He invites them to a feast. A feast. And then, the greatest line so far in the entire series:

King: So tell me, young bald one. Where are you from?

Aang: I’m from…Kangaroo Island.

King: Kangaroo Island, eh? I hear that place is really hoppin’……


What follows after this is interesting because it became clear that the King had alternate plans for the trio, specifically Aang. After determining that he’s the actual Avatar, he sets forth a plan to have Aang complete three tasks in order to leave, sticking them all in a dungeon. Well, the nicest dungeon of all time, but a dungeon nonetheless. (Sidenote #1: So Aang cannot Earthbend and Firebend yet? Why can he Waterbend already though?) (Sidenote #2: I couldn’t help that my brain went straight to The Goblet of Fire. HARRY DID YA PUT YA NAME IN THA GOBLET OF FIYA?!?!?!?) To make matters more difficult

But even with the dangerous task of saving his crystal-encased friends, or facing the terrifying challenges ahead of him, Aang’s journey in “The King of Omashu” never forgets the humor of it all. That first “task” is GREAT. There was a part of me that hoped that that was going to end up the ACTUAL first task, just because that would have been so in-tune with Bumi. But that doesn’t make what the three tasks are any less great than they end up being. The first task, admittedly, is not all that funny, but it’s a great chance to force Aang to think out of the box, to imagine the possibilities that are not obvious. (That’s kind of a neat message, isn’t it?) Aang suffers at first, but he manages to do just what Bumi intended, getting the key to the king in time.

The second task…oh my god. At first, of course, it seems that merely getting the king’s flop-eared bunny (appropriately named Flopsy) involves fighting a ferocious monster but, yet again, there’s an angle of hilarity to it all: Flopsy is actually the monster itself. (Please, I don’t care how many times it’s posted in the comments, but when Flopsy spills over the side, belly to the sky….that is one of the greatest things ever and I want a GIF of it. Now.)

The final task isn’t so funny, but that’s because it’s the end reveal that makes it so. I mentioned that the specific medium that Avatar: The Last Airbender is made in allows the writers to be so much more creative than anything else, so the battle between the king and Aang is a fantastic chance to see what other interesting ways all of this bending can actually do. Even though we’ve seen the Earthbending practiced by the warriors of Kyoshi, here’s a chance to see how someone from the same nation does it completely differently. The King is just as creative as Aang, and actually more so for the majority of this little fight. It’s also here that I got the sense that the King suddenly became very serious about what he was doing. This was not just a battle but a legitimate test for him, for Aang. And I don’t mean that as a complaint that this seemed so obvious, because it’s not. It’s a slight shift in the direction of the tasks and it completely works.

This is what makes me love the end of this so much. The naming thing at the end did remind me a bit of Rumpelstiltskin but whatever. The important thing is that Bumi tested Aang and saw that his friend (strangely un-aged, and I’m glad he pointed this out) still possess the same wonder and imagination that made them friends so long ago. He tells him half of what he already knows, that he’ll need to learn Earthbending and Firebending. But then he shares something completely new: He needs to defeat the Fire Lord Ozai in order to bring harmony back to the nations. Which, of course, brings a new puzzle piece to my mind:



  • ROCK CANDY. Seriously, Bumi is the MASTER TROLL.
  • “Appa is a ten-ton flying bison. I’m sure he would figure something out.”
  • Aang is a vegetarian? omg my ~soul mate~
  • “They have buildings here that don’t melt!”
  • “But for now, the guards will show you to your chamber.” “My liege, do you mean the good chamber or the bad chamber?” “The newly refurbished chamber.” “Wait, um…which one are we talking about?” “The one that used to be the bad chamber, until the recent refurbishing, that is. Of course, we’ve been calling it the new chamber, but we really should number them. Uhhh, take them to the refurbished chamber that was once bad!” BRILLIANCE.
  • “You can’t keep us here, let us leave!” “Lettuce leaf???!!!!” Seriously, MORE PUNS ARE NEEDED AT ALL TIMES.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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375 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Avatar’: S01E05 – The King of Omashu

  1. FlameRaven says:

    Quick note: the Kyoshi warriors aren't earthbenders– they use something more like aikido. A good way to tell is this: if there aren't rocks or earth moving around, it's not earthbending. Much like Katara was the only waterbender in her tribe, not all Earth Kingdom residents are earthbenders.

    Cabbage Merchant! I love that guy. I'm glad that they acknowledged at least a little that these pranks were trashing several parts of the city.

    I don't know if I can say anything else besides You Are Not Prepared. >:D


    At times, I will randomly say, "Lettuce leaf?" because it is one of the most brilliant puns I have ever encountered.

    This leafy green comment brought to you by the letters Ào, mÇŽ,and ShÅ«.

  3. Anon says:

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news Mark, but Elisabeth Sladen passed away today R.I.P

  4. Anon says:

    “The universe has to move forward. Pain and loss, they define us as much as happiness or love. Whether it’s a world, or a relationship… Everything has its time. And everything ends.” Sarah Jane Smith

    • Anon says:

      "Goodbye, my Sarah Jane" The Tenth Doctor

    • echinodermata says:

      The first time I met Sarah Jane Smith was in School Reunion. I had seen no classic Who then, but I knew enough about the show to know the name SJS . Even though it was the first time meeting her for me, the sense of presence and importance she had was amazing. I fully bought that her return was something to be gleeful about, even if I knew that I didn't understand the true import of her character.

      Elisabeth Sladen made me immediately feel for a character I basically knew nothing about. And knowing her character more now than back when I first started Who, I'm so grateful I got to see more of her in new Who and in the Sarah Jane Adventures.

      To Lis.

  5. shyfully says:

    YOU GUYS I typed up this whole comment and it was glorious and then I forgot to save it! Sadness. Save your documents, kids.

    This episode always just strikes me as being so much fun. It’s almost completely silliness and I can see why some people probably don’t rate it too highly, since it does very little to advance the plot or deepen the characters… but I laugh so much that honestly, I don’t care. The humor in this episode pretty perfectly appealed to me and is just a great bit of lightheartedness to take my mind of things.

    Let’s go!

    <img src=>

    So, like I said, this episode just makes me laugh a lot. The entire sliding scene is so, so funny to me. There was a moment where I thought maybe it went on too long, but then, nope, it got super funny again. I especially loved when they went by the earth kingdom soldiers who were supposed to be prepared for everything. I think it’s funny how Aang was having so much fun while Katara and Sokka were terrified. As anyone who has been on a roller coaster with me can attest, I always think I will be like Aang but end up like Katara and Sokka. Whoops!

    Backing up, though, my amusement really started when they were trying to enter the city in disguise. Aang had waaaaay too much fun pretending to be an old man (and it is interesting how early in the episode he pretends to be a difficult to handle old man so as not to be taken as a threat… and then later gets in trouble by assuming a difficult to handle old man isn’t a threat!) and then Katara being able to remember that long and seemingly improvised surname off the bat like that made me giggle and then when the guard made Sokka carry the bag for Aang, I laughed and laughed. Poor Sokka! I laugh at his pain, though.

    <img src=>

    Now, King Bumi. KING BUMI. I LOVE HIM A LOT. He just… his sense of humor is so bad and everyone except him is so serious and he is a MAD GENIUS and I love him so much. Let us leave! Lettuce leaf? had me in stitches, I tell you what, because secretly my sense of humor is so bad, too. Also, I love that Aang and the others were totally willing to write him off for being a ~crazy old man~ and didn’t take him seriously and then the joke was on them.

    Also, rewatching this episode, you can see Bumi recognizing Aang. The first time around it seems like he just realizes Aang is an Airbender and therefore the Avatar, but second time around he is actually recognizing him. And then he tests him with meat since he knows Aang is a vegetarian. Also, second time around you can see that Flopsy gets more and more excited whenever Aang calls his name. D’awww, Flospy! I want a pet gorilla-goat!

    <img src=>

    I liked how this episode was all about learning to solve problems by looking at them in a different way. It’s not breaking new TV ground or anything, not even for kids TV, but it is still so much fun because we, the viewer, get to try to work around the problem along with the character. I have to admit, Bumi would have TOTALLY GOTTEN ME with the “point to your opponent” trick. I thought of it just as Aang was about to say it, and I thought he was being so clever when actually he was being tricked. He should have pointed to Sokka instead. Don’t assume things about opponents you’ve never faced before!

    <img src=>

    • shyfully says:

      Now, onto more serious business. It was nice to finally see some earthbending and a whole Earth Kingdom city. I really, really like how well matched the styles are for different bending elements. I love how direct and strong earthbending looks. The city was very cool, too. In terms of creating a city, I think earthbending is one of the more useful elements, perhaps explaining why the Earth Kingdom is the largest of the four nations, according to the opening map. It’s easy for them to move heavy things about, create buildings, fix damage. They don’t need doors! The other elements are SUPER COOL too, don’t get me wrong, I’m just saying that the earthbenders have a bit of an edge when it comes to creating/maintaining cities like Omashu.

      Also, we got to find out that Aang travelled a bit when he was younger. In the first episode he mentioned that he had friends in all the nations, so it makes sense, especially considering how remote the Air Temples are. But, it still was interesting to see. I liked getting to see him having connections in the past with kids his age. Bumi and Aang were pretty well matched in terms of personality. They both love to have fun!

      Also, the ruler of the Fire Nation’s name was revealed in this episode. Fire Lord Ozai. I find it fascinating that we went so long before learning his name even though as the ruler of the nation causing the war, he seems to be set up as the eventual primary antagonist. The final boss, so to speak. But, it is also fun not really knowing anything about him so far. There are so many possibilities.


      Katara: (terrified) Aang! Do something! Use your airbending!
      Aang: (excited) Yeah, great idea! That’ll make us go even faster!

      Aang: I’m from Kangaroo Island.
      Bumi: Oh, Kangaroo Island, huh? I hear that place is really hoppin’!
      Sokka: (breaks into laughter, stops) What? It was pretty funny.

      Aang: Okay, you caught me. I’m the Avatar, doing my Avatar thing, keeping the world safe. Everything checks out! (looks under the table) No firebenders here! So, good work everybody! Love each other, respect all life and don’t run with your spears.

      Katara: You can’t keep us here! Let us leave.
      Bumi: Lettuce leaf?

      Bumi: You thought I was a frail old man, but I’m the most powerful earthbender you’ll ever see!
      Aang: Can I fight the guy with the axe instead?
      Bumi: There are no take-backsies in my kingdom!

      Aang: (sends huge air attack at Bumi, who blocks it)
      Bumi: Did someone leave the windows open? It feels a little drafty in here! Are you hoping I’ll catch a cold?

      Sokka: He’s an earthbender, right? Rocky! You know, because of all the rocks?
      Katara: We’re gonna keep trying, but that is a good backup.

      I’d write more, but see, I’m feeling a bit lazy.

      <img src=""&gt;


      (PS, I heard the news about Elisabeth Sladen. It's so sad, she was one of my favorite actresses.)


  6. Pratchett says:

    Preparation is null, so just secure yourself.

  7. I’m so happy to see an episode like “The King of Omashu” so early into the season, as the writers give us a great example of how the premise and medium of this show can be used for humor.
    Some of the writers come from Futurama, so you better believe they're good with humor.

    I mean, he destroyed the cabbage seller’s food!!! THAT MADE ME SAD. Also, I really like cabbage, so I’m probably just predisposed to hate cabbage bigotry.
    It wasn't on PURPOSE. Aang probably loves cabbage! He's a vegetarian! It's a vegetable!

    Ha ha ha I just did this too when I was looking at the pictures of them side-by-side. It's SO OBVIOUS. But I didn't figure it out watching the episode either.

    Did you know that M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village GENUINELY SURPRISED ME?
    I think it surprised me too! I think we have similar narrative blocks, and I, too, am kind of glad for it.

    I don't know. It's no "Lettuce leaf?"

    (Sidenote #1: So Aang cannot Earthbend and Firebend yet? Why can he Waterbend already though?)
    Is this a question you want answered?

    Well, he's the Fire Lord, Lord of Fire.

    “But for now, the guards will show you to your chamber.” “My liege, do you mean the good chamber or the bad chamber?” “The newly refurbished chamber.” “Wait, um…which one are we talking about?” “The one that used to be the bad chamber, until the recent refurbishing, that is. Of course, we’ve been calling it the new chamber, but we really should number them. Uhhh, take them to the refurbished chamber that was once bad!” BRILLIANCE.
    It's like something out of Monty Python, eh? So much hilarity in this show, you don't even know.

  8. Taryn says:

    MY CABBAGES! Oh, poor cabbage man <3 What a fun episode! I also kind of want a Flopsy…and an Appa, Momo, and every other awesome creature in this show.

    Just as a sidenote, the Kyoshi warriors are not earthbenders, they're just from Earth Kingdom and can kick major ass without actually being benders. Bumi is the first earthbender that we actually meet. 🙂

    • Taryn says:

      Okay technically the people at the front gate of Omashu are the first earthbenders we see, but you get the point!

    • ms_katonic says:

      Thank you for pointing this out, I'm glad I'm not the only one going "but the Kyoshi aren't Earthbenders!" We do this world a grave disservice by thinking that everyone can bend their national element and that every awesome character is by definition a bender. Not everyone is.

  9. monkeybutter says:

    I love Bumi so much. He's eccentric, brilliant, and surprise-buff Bumi at the end is hilarious. And he has the best pet after Appa and Momo. You and Aang should be ashamed of yourselves for not figuring it out! Come on, screwy-eyed and snorting laugh? I like that there's someone who remembers Aang and the airbenders; they're not completely lost to time, and it's great to have guidance about what Aang needs to do: defeat the Fire Lord.

    The mail delivery system in Omashu is amazing. The city is amazing. Look at it

    <img src=""&gt;

    It's like they took an Escher print and used earthbending to make sense of it. I love the architecture in this show! By the way, the Kyoshi warriors weren't earthbenders. At least I don't think they were.

  10. doesntsparkle says:

    Oh Mark, your compassion for the Cabbage Merchant warms my cold, cynical heart.

  11. SpiderHyphenMan says:

    Uh the Warriors of Kyoshi never earthbended. At least I don't think they did. I'm nearly positive that this episode is the first time Earthbending is seen outside of the "WATER. EARTH. FIRE. AIR" opening that plays at the start of every episode.

    • Bonzu says:

      Exactly. Kyoshi Island belongs to the Earth Kingdom, but has no earth benders. The Kyoshi Warriors are regular fighters.

      Bonzu Pippinpaddle-Opsokopolis the Third

      • kartikeya200 says:

        And regular fighters that don't even hesitate to go up against trained Firebenders. The Kyoshi Warriors are fierce.

  12. arctic_hare says:

    I LOVE BUMI HE IS THE BEST <3 <3 <3 Puns! Wackiness! Creativity! Trolling! I adored this episode just for him, seriously. And lol, don't feel bad, I was surprised too at the end! Also, I too love that Aang is a vegetarian! Mmmm, cabbage, I feel sorry for the poor cabbage guy. BASICALLY I HAD ALL YOUR REACTIONS WHILE WATCHING THIS, MARK. 😀

  13. echinodermata says:

    With regards to the ablism in this episode, I fully admit that I can be very blind to my privileges in this regard. I think the fact that Bumi is so likeable really helps for me. I can't remember how I felt the first time I watched the ep, but the King is so much Bumi to me now that it's really hard to acknowledge that he's supposed to be threatening until the reveal. As for whether the show should be held accountable for any offensive depictions of people, I think absolutely it should, and it doesn't matter that the show is over. I understand the sense of resignation, but I think it's always important to point these things out. The real test is how much this sort of narrative will be continued in the rest of the show. Which I know the answer to.

    Less serious business now.
    So I totally think Earthbending is my favorite of the four bending abilities. It just seems so much more practical than everything else to me. I mean, they can use solid rock as a gate! (And it makes me wonder things like does "earthbending" just mean ground-bending? Like, if someone were on the moon, could they bend the rock? If so, well, ground is probably more common than water and air in terms of potentially habitable space locations, as ice planets are probably too cold in general terms, and I've always imagined firebending requires oxygen. Then again, I don't know if airbenders make or simply manipulate air – if they can make air the way firebenders seem to make fire, then maybe that would be the better ability in space. These are the thoughts that plague me about this show.)

    I love that package-sending system in Omashu, and the fact that it doubles as a slide. It's a nice sense of design, and it's totally fun.

    Bumi is one of, if not my favorite minor character on this show. He throws feasts! He confuses his supporters/soldiers! He has tests! Ridiculous tests! He's snarky and funny and seems out to amuse himself even if no one else gets him. I mean, he names a giant beast Flopsy! Plus, he's an awesome earthbender. Some of the best BAMFs are the least expected ones. Dude encases his prisoners in rock candy; what's not to love?

    Finally, I love gifs and pics, and frequently like including them in my comments. Even when they don't necessarily support a point I'm trying to make. Sometimes, a random gif is good enough, you know?
    <img src=""&gt;(Source)

  14. ABBryant says:

    Wow, I never noticed the ableist stuf in this episode… I was always laughing at the puns.

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      Agreed. I hadn't rewatched this in a while, and I had somewhat forgotten they were there….unfortunately, I can understand how they found their way into the episode. From my experience, the concept of ableism is rather unknown, and it is amazing how ingrained that type of language in ingrained to be synonyms for 'ridiculous' or 'bad'.

  15. Kaci says:

    I love this episode so much. Bumi is a BAMF and I love the ability to mix in humor with the more serious elements.

    I also have a soft spot for the Cabbage Man. (Who doesn't?)

  16. Dragonsong12 says:


  17. hallowsnothorcruxes says:

    I love the balance of humour and seriousness in this series. ATLA is heavily influenced by animes and I think animes are great at moving through different genres in a single episode mixing silliness and tragedy effortlessly.
    Speaking of silliness, I just love Bumi.


    King Bumi is such an enjoyable side character. Kid-Bumi’s hair is the best. And his terrible puns. And his smartassery. LOVE HIM. Okay, I can’t actually think of many characters in the ATLA universe that I *don’t* love, but I’ll keep on lovin’ anyway.

    Though I totally take your point about all the "crazy" talk in this episode. After reading this blog and really delving into ablist language, it actually made me cringe this time around. Ugh. Sad 🙁 Not even amazing media can be perfect all the time, BOO.

    I really enjoy this kind of "figure it out" storyline, especially paired with the “think outside the box” message. As a children’s/YA writer, it’s so fun to see kids exposed to these tropes and how it affects their outlook on life and media. SO MUCH FUN. I remember reading Nancy Drew and Madeline L’Engle and Roald Dahl as a kid and discovering all these plot twists and tropes for the first time. It’s amazing. There’s nothing quite like that “Oh. OH.” moment. It made me into a more savvy reader and taught me to watch storylines for those twists. Then I’d feel SO VERY SMART when I figured it out. I still have that habit. I’ll watch a show with my boyfriend and go, “Oooooh I see what they’re doing here. I can tell you what’s probably going to happen.” My boyfriend is always like, “DON’T. SHUT UP WITH YOUR LITERARY LEARNINGS.”

    Also, the city of Omashu is, like, ridiculous. So amazing and structured and BEAUTIFULLY drawn. I love seeing the various cities and temples and villages of this world. The way each culture is represented through their buildings is SO NEAT. I adore the stone and the triangle shapes and the entire sturdy, sound structure of it. And the colors. And the giant slide. How ingenious is that shit, seriously. HOW ARE THESE ANIMATORS SO GOOD AT VISUAL REPRESENTATION. Oh right, THEY’RE VISUAL ARTISTS. Also, Earthbending is amazing and so fitting to the medium. MOAR FIGHTS. Erm. I mean, MOAR COOL CHOREOGRAPHY IN THE FORM OF FIGHTS.

    Random thoughts from this episode!

    – Appa hair mustache, lolololol
    – Poor Cabbage Guy and the MALICIOUS DESTRUCTION of his cabbages.
    – I laugh at the cat with the mustache every time.
    – I couldn’t remember whether Aang was a vegetarian or a vegan, but HEE. LOVE IT. Not only is it neat to see all the different philosophies represented here, but it totally makes sense for his character. He’s a monk in an Asian-based culture. Of course he doesn’t eat meat.
    – I love the reveal of Bumi as not a frail old king but ONE TOTALLY RIPPED BADASS MOTHERFUCKER.
    – Sokka suggesting Rocky as the king’s name, lololol. “We’re gonna keep trying, but that’s a good backup.”
    – “First of all, it’s pretty fun messing with people.” Oh Bumi. NEVER CHANGE.

    Aaaaaand fin. For now.

  19. Hotaru_hime says:

    Now you've met the Cabbage Man. He and Foamy are the two characters I wanted to spoil you on, and you've seen them, so you are safe from spoilers on my part.
    I pretty much spent this episode going "LOOK AT THE KING, HE IS YOUR FRIEND BUMI. How many people have a face like that?!??!?!"
    Earthbending is very different from the other three. Air, Water, and Fire all have very fluid, almost dance-like moves, but Earthbending is solid and definitive.
    I would comment more, but I just found out that Elisabeth Sladen, our Sarah Jane Smith, has passed away from complications due to cancer and I'm trying really hard not to cry.

    • mkjcaylor says:

      Yes, I did that as well. Not to mention, in Aang's mind, he probably only recently saw Bumi. I suppose Bumi changed more to Aang then Aang did to Bumi, but the first time I saw the king I knew that's what they were implying.

  20. who_cares86 says:

    Can't bring myself to read any of this silly Avatar stuff right now.

    Shit just got terribly real and we were never prepared. RIP Elisabeth Sladen.

  21. bendemolena says:

    Did anyone else get a delightfully Pythonesque vibe from ‘bad chamber’ exchange? It just reminded me of THE COMFY CHAIR from the one Spanish Inquisition sketch.

  22. Violets are Blue says:

    Of course several other people have mentioned the Kyoshi warrior part. I'll just scuttle away.

    [BTW Mark, for the live-action movie, is it fair game or does it fall under the No Spoilers (TM) policy as well? Wanted to know before tomorrow.]

  23. kartikeya200 says:

    I am so, so very EXCITE that you are watching this series, because it is honestly probably my most favorite piece of animated television that the Western World has ever produced ever.

    So anyway, GUESS WHAT I HAVE? I have the art book, and it is fabulous. I seriously recommend anyone who both has the money and likes this show to get it, best 35$ I've ever spent (but if you're watching for the first time, obviously don't get it until you finish, it covers all three seasons and is very very spoilery. In fact, don't even look at the Amazon preview, at this early in the game the very first image that shows up is a spoiler).

    ANYWAY. Since I don't have a library of fan art, but I DO have a scanner, and most of the book organizes itself according to episode, how about some relevant images, y/y?

    Concept art for the waterfall cave.

    <img src=""&gt;

    King Bumi makes the best faces:

    <img src=""&gt;

    The comment next to this image talks about how the creators wanted the revealed Bumi to have this kind of weird, long limbed posture that the Evangelions in NGE have. Hence this image:

    <img src=""&gt;

    "Flopsie is a combination of a goat and a gorilla, which proved to be one of the more challenging hybrid animals to design."

    <img src=""&gt;

  24. @gladdecease says:

    I have little to say about this episode, though all of it is positive.

    Firstly, Bumi is ~fantastic~. His dialogue is hilarious and pun-ilicious, his character design is fun, and his out-of-the-box thinking is incredibly clever. And his presence makes me happy, that we know Aang isn't in a situation where everyone he ever knew is dead. Granted, almost everyone he ever knew is dead, but one of his friends still being alive makes things feel a lot better.

    Secondly I feel very strongly for the Cabbage Man. What did he ever do to deserve the Avatar knocking over his cart?

  25. barnswallowkate says:

    Hee now I am proud of myself for realizing the King was Bumi right away.

    During Bumi & Aang's fight there's a part where Bumi is stomping around to make big chunks of dirt rise up, and all I could think about was "KA KA KAW, KA KA KAW" "Has anyone in this family actually seen a chicken?" I wish I knew how to find Avatar GIFs without being spoiled so I could post that scene.

    The only reason I noticed all of the ableist language is because of the discussions you've had here, Mark, so pointing it out is definitely making a difference for some of your readers.

  26. __Jen__ says:

    Sidenote #2: I couldn’t help that my brain went straight to The Goblet of Fire. HARRY DID YA PUT YA NAME IN THA GOBLET OF FIYA?!?!?!?

    So this just brought me to the realization that Bumi= cracked out/fanon!Dumbledore in my head. This could not please me more!

    All in all, another great episode of world-building, lesson-learning and humor. 😀

  27. monkeybutter says:

    <img src=""&gt;

    Fat Momo is great. I hope they pulled him out; I'd feel sorry for the palace guard extraction team sent to deal with him!

  28. Jupiter Star says:

    I just can't get over the fact that Aang makes up the most RIDICULOUS name for his "disguise" and Katara just goes along with it perfectly without batting an eye. FABULOUS.

  29. Julia_Vaughn says:

    OH GOOD, I wasn't the only one laughing at Bumi's puns <3

  30. tethysdust says:

    I'm glad we got to see a city finally! One with such awesome architecture, too. With all those Earthbenders, it doesn't seem like they would in as bad a shape as Kiyoshi Island if Zuko followed them there (Also, Omashu looks far less flammable.). Luckily, that didn't happen anyway!

    Also, hooray for Earthbending! We haven't actually seen much bending so far (only Aang and Katara), and I think this episode was a great introduction to Earthbending. I particularly like that the creators clearly put thought into how the ability to control earth would shape a community. The Earthbenders aren't just random people who hang out and fight each other or something, they're an integral part of the functioning of their society.

    I did cringe about the ableism, so you can mark me down as another person who has become more sensitive to these issues as a result of MarkDoesStuff.

    Lastly, I don't typically like the "hero's friends are conveniently made immobile while he is subjected to a series of tournament-like challenges" plotlines (it happens surprisingly often in cartoons), but I think that ATLA did it pretty well. The humor and Bumi's quirkiness kept it entertaining.

  31. Patrick says:

    Clearly, all old people in Avatar are TOTAL FUCKING BADASSES AND AWESOME. Iroh and Bumi are proof of this.

  32. echinodermata says:

    Thanks for posting this. This is actually the thing that officially made me start crying.

    • Goldensage says:

      Same for me. I've only seen here in School Reunion and Death of the Doctor, but I'm crying right now.

    • psycicflower says:

      Same here. I kept repeating to myself don't cry, don't cry but then I got to Never meet your heroes’ wise people say. They weren’t thinking of Lis Sladen. and there was no chance of holding it in.

      • echinodermata says:

        that's exactly the line that did me in too.

        • Ashley says:

          SARAAHHHHHH!!!!!!! SAD DAY.

          I wasn't terribly broken up about Nicholas Courtney, but maybe because he was much older. She was only 63.

          Mark, you should watch her show, The Sarah Jane Adventures, at some point. I think they had filmed half of its series 5 when this happened. I guess they won't be able to do any more 🙁

  33. Karen says:

    This was the first episode of Avatar that I ever saw several years ago. I was on vacation in Cabo with my mom's side of the family, and my 9 year old cousin was REALLY into the show and had me watch this episode because it was on TV at the time. Anyway, I was 18 years old and too cool to be interested in anything my cousin was, so I didn't think much of it. LITTLE DID I KNOW THAT 4 YEARS LATER, I'D BE MARATHONING THE WHOLE SERIES.

    Anyway, this is a really fun episode. It advances the plot slightly (with the WHO IS LORD OZAI?) stuff and gives us a glimpse into Aang's past via his friendship with Bumi. But at the same time, it really is a fun little self-contained story that exists outside of the laregr Aang is the Avatar and is being hunted by Zuko story.

    Also, the writing for this episode is just really funny. Like this bit that you pointed out? “But for now, the guards will show you to your chamber.” “My liege, do you mean the good chamber or the bad chamber?” “The newly refurbished chamber.” “Wait, um…which one are we talking about?” “The one that used to be the bad chamber, until the recent refurbishing, that is. Of course, we’ve been calling it the new chamber, but we really should number them. Uhhh, take them to the refurbished chamber that was once bad!”

    ENDLESS LULZ. I love it.

    And off topic, I seriously can't believe that Lis Sladen is dead. I didn't know she was ill. This is terrible. RIP, Lis.

    <img src = ""&gt;

  34. sundaycoma says:

    I was so excited for you for this episode when I remembered it was here that Aang revealed he was a vegetarian. :3 I thought that might make you happy (although I did not pick up on any of the ablism you mentioned). Regarding that point for a quick second: even if the series is over, look at how many people you made rethink this episode with just that comment. Things should always be held accountable but that doesn't mean they can't be consumed as media and otherwise enjoyed. It's a lesson I've long had to come to terms, being a feminist and a lover of old-timey movies like Casablanca ("It's too hard, Rick, I'm going to need to think for me!" says Elsa, our female protagonist is ostensibly clever enough to help lead a resistance movement against the Nazis but not to make a mature, adult decision regarding her love life, hmm). Just because it's over doesn't meant we can't find these mistakes in our media and stop them from proliferating in usage in the future. 🙂

    Moving on.

    • sundaycoma says:

      My favorite scene is /definitely/ the one where the gAang crashes their cart in front of an entire assembly of Earthbending soldiers being told to "prepare for anything". In that screencap the show leaves on for just a few seconds, you can see that Sokka and Katara look completely terrified while Aang looks ecstatic. Also, Aang? Totally accidentally kicking Katara in the face, haha.
      Also, regarding not being able to foresee plot twists, I can sympathesize. While I was able to pick them out here and also in The Village (but just barely, in that case), I often have that experience where I'm the last one to the party. (My best friend Jen seriously scolded me for months about not having foreseen the ending to The Illusionist with Edward Norton) The way I look at it, I enjoy story-telling. I'm not one of those people who needs to rush ahead and figure out the mystery just for the satisfication of ruining the ending for myself. If I'm enjoying a story and there's a twist ending, there's no reason for me not to let it catch me offguard. That's the way the creators intended for me to enjoy it, right?

    • nanceoir says:

      Things should always be held accountable but that doesn't mean they can't be consumed as media and otherwise enjoyed. It's a lesson I've long had to come to terms, being a feminist and a lover of old-timey movies

      Yeah, I was just experiencing this sort of cognitive dissonance while rewatching Doris Day's Calamity Jane, which I adore, but it's so full of fail. My friends and I used to laugh at these thing, like, "Silly movie," but rewatching it, I was kind of making this face — o.O — more often than I had anticipated.

      Oh, classic Hollywood; you're so awesome but also kind of awful.

      • sundaycoma says:

        Oh, classic Hollywood. I've yet to see it for myself but I hear one prime example for this sort of experiences comes in the form of viewing Gone With the Wind for the first time. Apparently it's a doozy with all the submissive female characters and "insensitive" racial portrayals.

        The worst ones for me always come from rifling through Disney's back catalogue. I know, as a feminist, I'm supposed to have a whole host of problems with these movies anyway but somehow, these kinds of scenes always end up taking precedence for me — . And that was considered a positive portrayal for its time! (Given the lyrics aren't what's particularly offensive so much as the blatant stereotyping being relied on for characterization but still…)

  35. freeradicals says:

    "Did you know that M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village GENUINELY SURPRISED ME?"

    Haha. Me too. Even more embarrassing because I had part of the end spoiled for me.
    At first I thought that King Bumi was Aang's old friend, but then I figured it must be a coincidence, because why wouldn't Bumi recognize Aang and want to talk to him? *facepalm* This was a much more interesting reunion!

    "I think that the overall message of “The King of Omashu” is that you can be serious, but that it’s fine to take breaks to enjoy things that are silly and absurd."

    Yes, it is wonderful! I think they could have easily gone the route of making Aang wise beyond his years and humorless, it seems like that is how a lot of "chosen one" characters are portrayed, but I love that Aang acting his age and having a sense of humor is seen as a good thing.

  36. hpfan04 says:

    BUMI!!! <3 Everything he says makes me laugh.

    This episode has some of my favorite lines that my husband I quote to each other often. For instance, I can't see a head of cabbage without going "MY CABBAGES!!!"

    Also gold:

    "Lettuce leaf?"

    "There are no take-backsies in my kingdom."

    And of course: "How about Rocky. You know…because of all the rocks?"
    (Pause) "We're going to keep trying, but that is a good backup."

    I also cannot guess plots at all. But you know what, I kind of like that. My husband guesses plots in everything and is usually right about his guesses, so he's never surprised. But I LIKE being surprised. Sure, I probably could pick up hints and guess correctly how things will turn out if I really thought about it, but what fun would that be? I just like to enjoy the ride and then be thrilled at the end and gasp, "I never saw that one coming!" 🙂

  37. lastyearswishes says:

    "Did you know that M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village GENUINELY SURPRISED ME?"
    It surprised me to tbh. I actually LIKE that M. Night movie too so that's even more embarrassing lmao. His films totally went downhill after this one though (hence the uber suckage of The Last Airbender…I don't know if I will ever forgive him for ruining what could've been an awesome live-action movie. ESPECIALLY when he claims to have watched at least the first two seasons more than once.)

    LOL SORRY, I got a little carried away with my M. Night rant there~ I'll just….go now.


    • Pseudonymph says:

      I just wanted to say that when I read "my M. Night rant there" I thought you had written "my M. Nightmare" which I think would be a hilarious way to refer to the director and/or his movies.

  38. TropeGirl says:

    Do you know what's awesome? The way you can find the problematic parts of a story (here, the ableist issue), point them out so that people like me notice them, address them, and then move on to enjoy what's good without letting the bad weigh it down too much. I feel educated without feeling saddened, guilty, or defensive about a show I love. That's a real skill, and it's part of the reason I keep coming back for the things you read and watch.

    • jubilantia says:

      Seconding that! Never in my wildest dreams did I think about that issue in connection with this show. That's true for Mark's other stuff too- I learned about not using words like "dumb" or "lame" here as well, although it is hard for me to switch when I didn't know that's where they came from in the first place.

      So I guess it's helping me figure out where to draw that line for myself, as well.

      • sundaycoma says:

        Same here for the "lame". I even brought it to my job where it helped stimulate a conversation amongst all my coworkers about its propiety or lack thereof. (For the record, I felt my eyes were totally opened by a Mark blog and I vowed to completely strike the word "lame" as a pejorative from my vocabulary forever. My assistant manager thought even bringing up an ablist claim against it was completely invalid seeing as how most people don't even come to associate the word's literal meaning with its slang usage anymore. I disagree. It's a source of friction).

  39. sundaycoma says:

    And yes, omfg, Earthbending. The first time I saw this episode, I instantly knew Earthbending was NOT going to be the element I wished I could bend. It's practical but it's martial arts style is so not my aesthetic. It's rather ugly, to my perspective, but I thought it was fascinating that it looked so much harder than the other bending practices. Earthbending looks like it could burn some serious calories but I always attributed that to the sheer force of will it must take to move something as implacable as solid freakin' rocks (whereas air, water, and fire are all things with slightly more mutable connotations). Also, I loved loved loved the anime stereotypes Aang was presented as his initial battle opponent choices. It made me laugh.

    • @Siesiegirl says:

      I agree, Earthbending seems eminently practical as the only discipline good at both offense and defense, but just watching it… meh. Really doesn't do it for me.

      • sundaycoma says:

        Firebending appeals most to me in its visual aesthetic. From the moment we saw the Agni Kai, I was essentially sold based off Zuko's form (not Zhao's). Pretty much throughout the entirety of the series, in fact, Zuko's firebending remains either my favorite or near the top of my favorite styles, visually. (It gets a little tossed up after season two :P)

        Man! Anything I want to say that replies directly to your comment is spoiler territory! Let's just say that while I consciously that Firebending is supposed to lack in defense, I've never instinctively thought of it as such. (Though that could be because, since the Fire Nation is our antagonist, Firebenders are usually mostly on the offensive anyway).

  40. Tauriel_ says:

    I've never thought Bumi was supposed to be "crazy", as in "mentally ill". He's, like Aang says, a "mad genius" – and a lot of real world geniuses were a bit on the wacky side. And anyway, his over-the-top-craziness always struck me as an act – at least partially. He was testing Aang and his companions, trying to put them off the scent with the "crazy king" act. He's actually very intelligent and cunning (it makes it easier for his enemies to underestimate him because they think he's just a crazy old man, while he's a very powerful Earthbender). And you could see at the end that he could act pretty normal, when he was being serious. And besides, he does seem to have kept his "inner child" alive. 🙂 Nevertheless, he's an awesome, BAMF character. And he does puns! 😀

    Also, as a few people already pointed out, the Kyoshi warriors are NOT Earthbenders. They're just non-bending warriors from the Earth Kingdom (just as Sokka is a non-bending warrior from the Water Tribe). 🙂

  41. xpanasonicyouthx says:

    I'm an asshole who doesn't read things!!!

  42. Jaxx_zombie says:




    SHUT IT!!!

  43. GrrSong says:

    Sigh. I fail. I started this with Mark, and I'm now 5 episodes into season 2. Thanks a lot, guys…

    In other news, I too was sorry to hear about Sarah-Jane. The Whoniverse will miss you!

  44. Quizzical says:

    i'm glad you mentioned your thoughts on the ableism here. it's such a difficult topic to navigate with kids. the use of the word 'crazy' is really hard to stop using, and even harder to stop them using. it reaches a point where it looks like all i'm doing is trying to stop them enjoying everything, ever!

    this episode sort of points out that the assumptions about bumi were wrong, so i suppose in a convoluted way it's saying that 'zany =/= violent'? *flaps hands in confusion*

    (poor cabbage guy!)

  45. anon says:

    That post on tumblr- Mark you are doing good things.

    I don't think I figured out the Bumi thing right away either. And I was surprised by The Village too. I watched that movie for my American Gothic class and it blew my mind. I was not prepared.

    I'm not usually able to figure out plots either. it's horrible watching something with someone who is good at that though. it's awful watching things with my sister because halfway through she'll say I bet this is going to happen. And then it does and it's ruined. One movie I really remember her ruining was The Prestige. How did she figure it out!?

    Also I feel like you, Sokka, and Bumi would really get along with your love of puns.

    • sundaycoma says:

      I think I had just encountered another movie or a short story previous to watching The Prestige and totally guessed it. However, I was genuinely blown away by The Others and a book my entire seventh grade class figured out before me which, clearly, continues to haunt me to this day. It was "I am the Cheese" by Robert Cormier. 🙁

  46. Elexus Calcearius says:

    You know what I realised when thinking about writing this post? This is the first episode we see earth bending in. It’s something I take complete for granted, but I realise that outside the title sequence, this is the first time new viewers will be seeing that form of bending. I’d just taken that for granted.

    Besides the introduction of earth bending, there’s on other thing which is notable in this episode; the introduction of Bumi. Personally, I was not at all surprised by the ‘twist’ that Aang’s friend from the flashback is actually the Earth King, even as a kid. What I did like about it was that it meant that Aang’s no longer alone. Sure, all his people are dead, and the majority of his friends probably are too, but he still has at least one person who knows him and remembers him. And unlike other shows, this guy isn’t going to go insane and try to use time travel to enslave the human race or anything. He genuinely wants to help Aang, and it’s probably a relief to the air bender to know that when he needs it, he has a teacher and a friend.

    Also; the fact that he’s an earth bender. I was surprised when it was revealed that Bumi could unleash a landslide on your face. I was thinking “Oh, clever Aang- thinking outside the box, and abusing the weakness in the king’s word- OHHHH, crap.” I love that they managed to blind side me in that respect, at least. It may be a tradition in martial arts stories that the older ones are usually the most talented, but who’d really expect an ancient and slightly eccentric king to be a master earth bender.

    ….which is another thing I feel I need to address. Bumi was roughly twelve in the flashback. That means that Bumi is physically 112 years old, roughly, and he can still run around arenas, flinging rocks with the best of them. In the Kyoshi review, some people in the comments pointed out that Kyoshi lived for approximately 300 years, and I still feel that long life is somewhat due to the Avatar’s magical powers of awesome. But I’m starting to wonder- are the humans in this universe just naturally longer lived?

    The main theme of this episode, I think, was that things aren’t always what they seem. Aang doesn’t seem like a 112 savoir of humanity. Bumi doesn’t look a wise Earth bending teacher. None of the challenges looked obvious at first glance; you had to think differently, and expect the unexpected, to complete them. For me, this is showing the theme that things may not always be how they first appear in the avatar universe.
    Another thing I love about this episode is we’re getting to see even more interacting between the gAang. It may just be me, but I find that Sokka’s personality seems far less abrasive now that he’s more used to Aang and had some of his prejudices challenged. They’re acting more and more like friends, and it’s a beautiful thing to see. I love seeing the natural progression in characters. There are some character, in a variety of fandoms, who are very much defined by their character development, but stories which manage to do it more subtly to a variety of characters are appreciated, too.

    Also, in a complete off topic: Elizabeth Sladen? What?! Rest in peace.

    • sundaycoma says:

      There are some interviews with the creative team floating around the web that suggest certain things regarding the longevity of certain characters but I'm not going to get too in depth for fear of spoiler-age. What I always assumed is that Kyoshi was not in fact the Earth Avatar before Roku but was one whole Avatar cycle ago and that Bumi is just really crazy old, with some licenses taken for his physical condition.

      Also: I know. I so often want to talk about the different styles of bending until I realize how little first-time viewers really know at this point. It's so hard because so much of my understanding of waterbending and firebending come from what we find out later. And we can't even share the clips of Sifu Kisu yet for spoileriffic clips in his videos but just listening to him describe the different martial arts practices behind each bending style (sometimes customized especially for specific characters, even!) just shows how much study and work they really put into this series!

  47. hpfish13 says:

    I'm pretty sure about 3/4 of the time I ask people how my clothes look, I ask it like King Bumi.

  48. Patrick says:

    When people say that Bumi is crazy, they often forget to add "-awesome". And Mark, please watch faster, because I cannot wait for you to reach season two so we can talk about one of the best characters ever.

    • sundaycoma says:

      I knnoooowww~~! I initially planned on rewatching each episode so I could talk about strictly on what was in them without much influence from what I know comes later…

      But then I made my dad run me out to the local Best Buy so I could buy season two. 'Cause I could just not read/watch/think about Avatar without getting my dose of [spoiler]

  49. echinodermata says:

    I have some pure fanwank explanations for why I think airbenders should create air, not just move it, though. The basis of my explanation comes more later, and isn't at all supported by the text other than that I was running with something tangential.

    I do get what you mean by fire basically being energy that gets "converted," so your explanation makes sense. All the same, I kind of want to be all 'but isn't all bending about creating kinetic energy? And the energy must come somewhere; why not the body as well?' Plus, like I said, I have an alternate headcanon that your explanation screws up.

    • sundaycoma says:

      I suppose my whole interpretation of it could be coming from my background as a total X-Men geek because rereading it, I was strongly reminded of how Gambit's powers are supposed to work. (With a much more mystical basis, of course, than sci-fi). When it came down to the airbenders, I always figured the way they could "create" air was by manipulating the air inside their own lungs but never like the firebenders who "converted" their chi. (Or released atomic bonds within, oh say, playing cards perhaps).

      Regardless~~ it's magically awesome all the same~~ Also: completely adopting "headcanon" into personal lexicon. Completely snazzy term-phrasing-thing. 🙂

      • Emily says:

        I always assumed that firebenders need combustibles and oxygen to burn, like real fire, so all they would be creating is a spark, and then manipulating the results. Like airbenders, they depend on the flammable gasses and O2 present in the air around them.

        But I have no real basis for this particular theory.

        (Also, fire doesn't occur naturally all that often, so it wouldn't be fair if they couldn't create it magically. How much would it suck if firebenders had to sit there with flint and kindling until they got some fire made every time they wanted to bend.)

        • sundaycoma says:

          They could just all ask Roy Mustang to start mass-producing his gloves from Full-Metal Alchemist<3

  50. Elexus Calcearius says:

    We've all had it, don't worry. Days before this show's finale was released I dreamed I was Katara.

  51. Ayala says:

    "HOW THE FUCK DID I NOT IMMEDIATELY FIGURE THIS OUT????? As soon as Aang guessed the name of the king, I actually hung my head in shame."

    It's okay, Mark, I did the exact same thing. I am also really bad at plot twists. "The Village" surprised me, too. (My reaction to The Village: "WHOA HOLY SHIT NEVER SAW THAT COMING! ….Wait… *thinks about it*… Wait, what? Aw, that's a stupid ending!")

  52. Bill says:

    I think they were a part of the earth nation, but don't really have any benders. Sort of like on the border of the nation. Their clothing style is reminiscent of the earth style clothes worn in Omashu and other places in the earth nation but the atmosphere is very cold so that suggests that they are at least culturally earth nation but too far away to really be connected to it. At least that's my observation at this point in time.

    • @Chiparoo says:

      They may not be earth-benders themselves, but they are most definitely part of the earth kingdom. It's called Kyoshi island. Kyoshi was the previous incarnation of the avatar, and she was an earth-bender first!

  53. Bill says:

    He probably became king because he is a complete badass!

    • My own (non-spoilery) fanon is that the King of Omashu is decided in an Earthbending tournament of some kind. Because c'mon. That would be awesome.

      • Bill says:

        How the hell could someone get a ringout in that fight when they could rip the floor apart? Somehow I imagine a stone arena suspended above an active volcano. Why they would go to that trouble during a war is beyond me but it would be awesome!

      • Elexus Calcearius says:

        I personally like to think that Omashu has some type of democracy going on, most because I can't help but feel that however epic Bumi's bending is, that really doesn't mean you're capable of making laws.

        • True. And that would explain how Aang thought the King of Omashu would be a pushover.

          Though quite honestly, I have trouble picturing people electing Bumi (despite his extreme awesomeness). Even his own guards seem to have this air of, "…That's a stupid order. We're obeying, but we're side-eyeing REALLY FREAKING HARD."

          • Elexus Calcearius says:

            Maybe he had a really awesome PR guy? Or maybe he was like that 'silly party' that people who don't care/don't like any of the options vote for, and it turned out that the other options really sucked, so he won by default, and kept his position by sheer awesomeness.

            I mean, its Bumi; its just strange enough to happen.

        • Bill says:

          Well… Yeah… I guess you have a point there. But maybe they just respect him for being an awesome bender? That would make sense in a democracy more I guess though.

  54. Bill says:

    Wow, I seriously just figured out that ableism meant prejudice against the disabled. This is kind of a big fail for me because I knew someone with CP for a long time. I thought it meant like enabling or encouraging someone's prejudice.

  55. sundaycoma says:

    I feel like I just want to borrow the creative team's study notes. "Oh hey guys I have a big test on world-building coming up, I was wondering if you could give me your notes on compiling interesting back stories for side characters? Oh yeah, Bumi's would be fine, thaaaankkss~~"

  56. Minish says:

    King Bumi kept reminding me of Dr. Doofensmertz from Phineas and Ferb. Especially the "take them to the refurbished chamber that was once bad!" part.


    Sokka: I got it! He's an earthbender, right? "Rocky!"
    Katara: We're going to keep trying, but that's a good backup.

    GREATEST EXCHANGE EVER. The fact that Katara said it without even a hit of sarcasm was PERFECT.

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      Oh, yes, THAT exchange. I love that she doesn't even discount the suggestion. XD

    • Openattheclose says:

      I love how she says it. It was absolutely perfect, and my first of many laugh out loud moments when watching this show.

  57. @audzilla says:

    I can't believe you're watching this series one episode at a time and not plowing forward until you collapse from lack of sleep. You are a brave man and I salute you.

    (best series ever. <3 <3 <3 as a feminist, an art nerd, and a lover of good character development, it's really one of my favorites of all time.)

    Not posting anything else because I'm sooooo wanting to spoil.

  58. corporatecake says:

    I understand your need to talk about the ablism in this episode (or what may be perceived as such), because I think that this sort of stuff is important. However, I do respectfully disagree with you to an extent, Mark, and I think that perhaps that has something to do with how a viewer reacts to Bumi upon first meeting him. I know that the first time that I saw this episode, I 1) loved Bumi immediately, 2) thought that he was quite clearly not mentally ill or 'crazy,' but instead just very eccentric, and 3) never considered him to be a real threat. Though I didn't call the King being Aang's old friend Bumi, I did think from the beginning that he was someone who was trying to teach Aang something.

    If other people aren't getting that from this episode, then clearly the writers haven't done their job exactly right, which I think is kind of another issue to do with quality of writing and not with any -isms. I think that, with a show aimed at children especially, it's important to ask yourself what children are going to walk away from with it, and I think that, especially after the reveal, it's hard to think that kids are going to come away thinking, "Wow, crazy people want to hurt me and suck!" I agree there is an issue with use of words like "crazy," ridding those of our collective vocabulary is something that especially difficult, and while I won't give the writers a pass just because ablist words are extremely pervasive and most people aren't educated in ablism, I do think that their use is endemic of an issue that extends far beyond one episode of one TV show.

    Anyway! I admit that I absolutely love this episode. Why? BECAUSE I LOVE PUNS. And Bumi is one of my favourite minor characters on the show. I've kind of used up my brainpower on this ablism stuff, so that's really all I have to say regarding the episode itself. TILL NEXT TIME!

  59. shadeedge says:

    I think this episode is basically not just a message that making time for fun is important even when you have some important task, but a specific message for Aang. We know already that Aang is not particularly happy about being the Avatar; that, despite being a generally decent and generous person, someone willing to take on some responsibilities, he's not entirely sold on that one. Bumi's actions are showing him that not only can he perform whatever important tasks he must do as the Avatar whilst still being himself and having fun – that he doesn't have to be an entirely different person to fulfil that role – but also that Bumi himself, in his position of power and responsibility, is able to enjoy himself, and be himself. Bumi's become an authority figure, yet essentially he's still the same kid that Aang knew; he's trying to push aside Aang's fears in that regard.

  60. Pelleloguin says:

    Ah Mark you shall never be prepared for anything you watch/read within your blogs. But that's ok, we weren't prepared the first time around either. I looked at the flashbacks and decided that the King was Bumi's great grandson or something. How wrong I was. I facepalmed when I realized how obvious of a setup it was, but they did it so well!
    Also, "cabbage bigotry"…..I started to cry I laughed so hard after reading that line.

  61. I think I can say without spoilering that the word "crazy" is tossed around quite frequently throughout this entire series, unfortunately. I definitely noticed it and grimaced, but it didn't ruin the show for me– YMMV, of course. It is the only problematic part of the show I can think of, off the top of my head, but maybe I'll notice something new as Mark goes along.

    • FlameRaven says:

      Yeah… I'd thought of that. They do throw the word around a lot. I don't personally have any issues with it, but it could be a problem for some.

  62. sundaycoma says:

    Hey guys! My friend just sent me the link for a site officially petitioning Nickelodeon for the release of an Avatar: the Last Airbender soundtrack compilation! If anyone's interested, this one's for you:

  63. sundaycoma says:

    This may not seem like much but I believe it's a violation of the site's spoiler policy. You're probably going to want to ex-nay the name-drop and probably want to rethink the part addressing the four nations.

  64. FlameRaven says:

    The information on the airbenders is probably spoiler territory, even though it's creator-info and not anything mentioned in the show.

    Character names from later seasons are DEFINITELY spoilers. Please delete. :/

  65. Widestance says:

    3 whole paragraphs to whine about a cartoon making a silly character act weird?
    3 entire paragraphs dedicated to fighting a battle that's not only already over (you can't very well un-make the episode), but, as far as I know, has never been waged in the first place just seems…out of place.

    • PAWN1 says:

      The use of ableist language =/= making a silly character act weird. Mark acknowledged that Bumi's actions and storyline sort of relieved the issues, but that doesn't take away the fact that a character was treated as untrustworthy and his opinions insignificant because he was allegedly mad/crazy/the other problematic terms the characters tossed around in this episode. It wasn't Bumi's actions that Mark and others object to– it's the way he was treated in-universe (and therefore on the part of the writers) because of it.

      He also went on to say that he liked the character and the episode, so, really… what are YOU complaining about? Having to do a little extra reading?

      • Widestance says:

        But there was nothing negative about it. No one but Aang and his friends treat Bumi like he's weird. And that's because Sokka and Katara have never met anyone like him, and Aang is suspicious for good reason.

        No one treats him like he's untrustworthy, and he IS dangerously unhinged (he proves it numerous times). I agree we should fight stereotypes, but kicking up sand over a character acting a certain way as "offensive" is not helping anyone.

    • DuskQ says:

      Of all the good things he talked about in his review you would rather hone in on Mark's well made points and characterize it as "whining"? I think if you had a mental illness you might get tired of seeing people like you portrayed in a stereotype and not have made that comment. IF you disagree, as others have, make a point about why and move on. No one was talking about un-making a good episode but you.

  66. Jaxx_zombie says:

    Hey ya know that nice spoiler policy, well you need to read it!!!

  67. stefb says:

    So, Mark, is there any specific schedule for what shows you post on what days? Because I was literally checking the site every five minutes yesterday for another Avatar review only to be disappointed. Obviously I don't expect you to do each show every day, because that would be just silly. Is it a random schedule?

    • agrinningfool says:

      Mark usually will stick with a series all through Monday-Friday. However, since finishing the New Doctor Who, Mark plans on continuing to review some of the classic Doctor Who Serials. Not sure if they'll be a every week thing or every couple of weeks. You can pretty much expect one review per day, but it might not always be his 'main series' for that day. Sometimes he'll do two; an extra and his main series.

  68. MichelleZB says:

    There are two kinds of people in this world. One kind who, while watching this episode, finds the puns are the FUNNIEST THINGS OF ALL TIME. And some people who are like, groan.

    I am so glad that you, like I, laughed forever for "Kangaroo Island, eh? I heard that place is really hoppin'!" BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    Kyoshi Warriors don't Earthbend. They are fighters, like Sokka

  69. Sarah says:

    I think, as far as figuring out plots go, I had spent the past few years reading Harry Potter and watching LOST, so you’ll havento excuse me for being a paranoid child who tried to piece /everything/ together aha. :’D

  70. @MeagenImage says:

    My favourite line is "There are no take-backsies in *my* kingdom!"

    When I have a kingdom, take-backsies will definitely not be allowed there, either.

  71. sundaycoma says:

    I follow the manga more than I watch the show. For some reason, Roy Mustang's English dub just sounds… off to me. And so, as he's my favorite character, it ends up that I haven't really seen very much of it. :/


  72. ladysugarquill says:

    Um, it's not a case of just different logic. Bumi did trap them in a dungeon and put one of them through dangerous situations while threatening the other two. That *was* dangerous.

    • PAWN1 says:


      • PAWN1 says:

        (Of course, I actually don't consider Bumi dangerous– in the end, he's shown to be an ally of the heroes, but Widestance's rudely stated "dangerously unhinged" comment actually does not do anything to help their point, because, uh, yeah– that's a harmful stereotype!)
        Also, way to ignore the points about the use of ableist language and Bumi being dismissed due to being "crazy" before he also "proved" himself dangerous.

      • PAWN1 says:

        Ugh, okay, I'm getting too worked up about this, so final words: really, the problem is not with whether or not the issue of mental health was handled well in this episode. (Or rather, that is an issue, but it's not why I decided to comment to the thread.) It's that Widestance decided that no one should even discuss the issue, when for some people it could very well be an important topic of conversation. Sie is free to find the episode non-offensive, but claiming that no one else should find it otherwise, or that it's not even worth talking or having feelings about– that is what I have a problem with here. Ableism is a real issue that involves real people, and dismissing people's concerns just because you don't share them is privileged and rude. If sie doesn't want to involve hirself in the discussion, that's fine, but smacking down Mark's comments on the issue as pointless whining was unneccessary. Sie has a mouse, if sie doesn't want to read it, sie can scroll past it.

  73. ladysugarquill says:

    Yay, Cabbage Man!

    That freeze frame in the middle of the slide scene: LOL

    I have Google open and I’m looking at photos of Bumi from Aang’s flashback, contrasted with the king of Omashu…..

    Because we're thinking as Aang. We hear about Aang's friend, we see a kid, and we don't realiza that kid must be more than 100 now.

    Also, there reviews are sorely lacking in fanart. So here:

    <img src=""&gt;

    • Bundle says:

      That fanart meter chart is made of WIN! "Unspeakable acts towards cabbages!" LOL!

      Man, I love this show's sense of humor, so so much!

  74. Bundle says:

    I don't understand why Mark is confused as to why Aang didn't age. If someone's cryogenically frozen, they wouldn't age, so why would someone frozen in ice age? *shrugs* it always made sense to me.

  75. notemily says:

    That "Lettuce leaf??" bit always slays me. I LOVE PUNS FOR NO REASON.

    • notemily says:

      Also, I had no idea about the Bumi reveal either, and neither did the two people I showed ATLA to. I think it's just really well-done.

  76. notemily says:

    thumbs up for "lettuce leaf."

  77. Was nota massive fan of Banco or Fonts but I can see why they get the nod. The rest of the l ist is perfect. Wonderful yr, great l ist.

  78. Th is entire factor can be a joke. No matter how the design neighborhood feels about these redesigns, their affect is measured by results, not opinions. Ca notwe talk about th is shit responsibly?

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