Mark Watches ‘Avatar’: S01E09 – The Waterbending Scroll

In the ninth episode of the first season of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang becomes panicked about Avatar Roku’s message regarding Sozin’s Comet and asks Katara to help him learn waterbending. HIJINKS ENSUE. If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to watch Avatar.

I’m glad that this episode essentially continues on from the end of the last one, because one big, gigantic problem is distracting my attention: How the hell is Aang going to learn three types of bending by summer time???? I know that Aang is already fairly skilled at water bending, but he has to perfect these skills before he is to face Fire Lord Ozai.

This is also the first episode that seems to explicitly address what may continue to be an ongoing conflict in the story: Sokka and Katara are not the Avatar and thus must deal with their friend learning these powers while they do….other stuff? I didn’t want to say nothing because “The Waterbending Scroll” proves that the two companions of Aang do have something to do. (Companions. LOL WHAT IS THIS, DOCTOR WHO.)

I’m also greatly satisfied that the writers don’t ignore exactly how uncomfortable this situation is, even if it’s wrapped up rather quickly. The story opens with Aang’s frightened anxiety about the task set before him, which seems impossible. Even though I know that Aang is a talented bender, I can’t ignore that this does feel very impossible. How is he going to get accelerated training and, more importantly, is that training going to work? When Aang vocalizes these concerns, Katara is quick to offer what she can at this moment: to teach Aang what she knows about water bending.

My hope, initially, is that we were going to get a bunch of whimsical scenes where the two of them taught each other through waterbending, but I think I overestimated the reality of the situation. It’s great that we get a very specific breakdown of different water bending moves, getting to see how they work, but it became incredibly obvious that Aang’s natural talent was…well, a lot more pronounced than I anticipated. (In hindsight, I shouldn’t have been surprised, considering what Aang did in “The Avatar Returns.”)

I really don’t blame Katara for feeling frustrated, and I know that I’ve felt the exact same sort of jealousy quite a few times in my life. I remember when I started skateboarding and everyone around me seemed to learn more tricks when I could barely kickflip. Or….here’s a good one: I’ve been playing guitar for ten years and I met someone last year who’s been playing for a year and they’re honestly like fifty times better than I am. HOW. I AM FULL OF ANGER AND RAGE AND IT IS IRRATIONAL AND I DON’T CARE. But some people really do have a natural talent, and part of being, like….A MATURE PERSON…is realizing that people who are naturally good at something does not inherently mean that you are awful at that thing, too, or that you can’t ever get better either.

Still, the tension here between Katara and Aang only seems to get worse. Katara’s anger grows as Aang’s sense of humor also exponentially ruins the situation. Aang, very much in the character we know at this point, is oblivious to how his actions and his unique existence can affect other people.

While all this is happening, “The Waterbending Scroll” continues the pattern of the show to have dual storylines that eventually converge by the episode’s end when we learn Uncle Iroh’s desperate need at that moment: To stop in a small port to find a White Lotus chip. I’m now convinced that Uncle Iroh operates under the distinct pleasure of trolling his nephew. I don’t think it’s entirely done out of some sick joy, as I think it’s Iroh’s way of trying to teach Zuko to calm down, to appreciate the small moments, and to learn some patience. Again, I am still entirely enamored with the concept that I care about the two characters who are after the main heroes, but it is what it is. What makes them so interesting is that the way in which they clash not only provides humor for me as the audience, but it highlights the faults of Zuko. (I don’t mean to stan this hard for Uncle Iroh, but, aside from that moment where he fell asleep in his little hot tub, the dude is literally perfect and I aspire to be him when I am older. Yes, I am making this claim just nine episodes into the show and you can’t take it away from me.)

I don’t think that the rest of the show is going to follow these familiar tropes or archetypes much further, so there’s a part of me that wants to see if Prince Zuko does eventually listen to his uncle. I have this really awesome image in my head of Zuko defecting to Aang’s side to fight against Fire Lord Ozai, but that’s just wishful thinking on my part. I just want them all to bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone will eat and be happy….

Back on track. The two stories very quickly reveal how they’ll collide when Aang’s overzealous water bending washes away all of their supplies, so the trio head to the exact same port to buy more. Despite how humorous it is that Aang very quickly wastes money by buying the cutest bull whistle of all time, I do think it’s important to point out the obvious subtext here: Aang is still a child, basically, and he’s not exactly prepared to handle the more intense responsibilities that come with being the Avatar. For now, we can watch him cope with the fear and the inevitable anxiety that creeps up on him by using humor. That’s how I personally cope a lot of the time, though I tend towards self-deprecation, but the point is still the same. Sometimes, Katara and Sokka exist as a foil to Aang’s “younger” side, and I’m happy to see that Aang is willing to defer to them when he needs to.

Now that I’ve over-intellectualized a children’s show beyond all comprehension (HEY, THIS IS WHAT I DO), I really just want to state the obvious: A great bulk of this episode is SILLY AS HELL. There are no negative qualifications attached to that, because this show has already proved to us that it has the capacity to be adventurous, exciting, tense, and humorous, all at the same time. As the trio are temporarily entranced by the wares being sold by the pirates in the port, Katara finds a valuable treasure among the other oddities: a scroll detailing advanced water bending techniques.

Yes, it’s convenient, and yes, it is going to provide a method for Aang to learn advanced water bending just after learning that he has a limited amount of time to master all four elements. Guess who doesn’t care. THIS GUY. Sometimes, I like when shows don’t extend small plot points because then it clears the way for MORE AWESOME TO HAPPEN. And in this case? It’s the trio fighting pirates. Who even knew that there were pirates in this world??? I suppose it makes sense, given that most of what we’ve seen is that this alternate “earth” is largely covered by water. (I’m just speaking out loud on this one, but don’t answer it: do the other Nations/Tribes/etc have giant war ships like the Fire Nation does? Will there eventually be a giant BATTLE SHIP game? Don’t answer that. Well, obviously there won’t be a giant recreation of Battle Ship, but YOU GET THE POINT.)

The trio begins their escape from the pirates, who seem really agitated that they stopped in their shop, and I couldn’t understand why they were so upset. I guessed that, in the space it took them to walk away from the ship, Zuko and Iroh had shown up and figured out the Avatar was just there. I expected the two of them to show themselves, but then the chase began and….no Fire Nation? I AM CONFUSED.

But that’s ok, because RETURN OF CABBAGE MAN. I would absolutely love it if he now became like The Snail in Adventure Time or the Observers in Fringe and made a cameo in every episode. Why do silly things like this give me so much joy? Anyway, Cabbage Man DESERVES HIS VINDICATION and I hope he is rewarded for his efforts by the end of the series, earning a spot in Cabbage Heaven for his unique ability to Set Up His Cart In The Path of The Avatar.

Again, in hindsight, HOW WAS IT NOT PAINFULLY OBVIOUS TO ME THAT KATARA HAD STOLEN THE SCROLL? I watched this episode again and there’s a look of pure fear on her face when the pirates call after them upon leaving the ship, and it’s totally an admission of guilt, but I somehow missed it the first time around. Sokka and Aang are split morally on Katara’s actions. Sokka is convinced that she’s no better than the pirates for theft, but Aang is quick to assure her that what is done is done, and they might as well learn from her theft rather than scorn her for it.

Unfortunately, this also backfires on Katara. (Maybe that’s a subtle commentary on her actions? I don’t know, it’s possible, but that’s just my overactive brain at work.) Aang and Katara start off trying to learn a move known as the Water Whip. (Is that the canon term for it or just the nickname? ONE of you can answer that.) First time: WHIPPED IN THE FACE. Second time: MOMO IS A VICTIM. Third time: Well, there isn’t quite a third time, as the roles reverse and Aang is the one teaching Katara how to do that specific move correctly. And after having stolen the scroll and embarrassed herself even further, she simply snaps. Oh boy, does she ever snap.

Most stories like this involve the character stomping off in a huff and then the two involved in the conflict come together by the end to work out their differences or apologize to one another.

NOPE. NOT AVATAR. Immediately focusing on Aang’s face, which is milliseconds away from a downpour of waterworks (GIF PLEASE), Katara apologizes then and there. Which I did not expect at all because that never happens. It never does! It’s always prolonged for at least a bulk of the story, and here, that moment of frustration and embarrassment lasts maybe ten seconds. I love that Katara recognizes she has let her irrational frustration take control of her, and she apologizes profusely to him, even handing over the scroll so that she doesn’t let it get the best of her.

No, really, when does this happen??? In terms of immediacy, I was completely flabbergasted by how quickly Katara genuinely apologizes to Aang. Maybe because the intended audience for this show is younger than usually, so the show has to be more direct, but I have to say…that is some fascinating writing. IN A GOOD WAY. So many conflicts could be solved by people setting aside their pride and just apologizing when they’ve hurt someone and meaning that apology, too. Oh god, if I ever have children (LOL NOT HAPPENING), I would love for them to watch a show like this. So far, at least, since I have no idea if it will devolve into puppy kicking and bullying and telling kids that Nickelback are the greatest rock band on the planet. And those are not values I want my children to have instilled in them!

Katara….oh, Katara. That night, her curiosity and her desire to improve her own talents gets the best of her, as she sneaks away to practice her water bending, using the scroll she promised to Aang. Katara, that’s not how apologies work! Also, you are in the middle of nowhere and your friends are asleep. MAYBE YOU SHOULDN’T YELL AND SCREAM AT THE WATER. Just a thought!

The collision course between Iroh, Zuko, the pirates, and our trio comes into fruition because of Katara’s actions, unfortunately, as they hear her loudly practicing her water bending. The pattern for most of these episodes has been the same so far: Aang and his friends run to a new place, they learn new things, and Zuko catches up to them, and loses them. That still happens here, to a degree, but the story gets a slight twist: there’s a third party. And really, that third party makes everything wonderful, because when does adding pirates to your story equate to a drop in quality? NEVER, THAT’S RIGHT.

As the trio get captured, it’s Sokka who, once again, surprises everyone. He makes a fine choice here to point out an interesting idea to the pirates: They are holding the Avatar and surely, as traders who understand the value of objects, the Avatar is worth more than a water bending scroll. It’s actually a ridiculously brilliant plan on Sokka’s part. Being turned over to the Fire Nation is a far worse fate than being in the hands of a bunch of pirates who (appear to) have no allegiance to anyone. I don’t know why Aang is trying to shush Sokka during this because this plan has all the smarts.

No one needs me to summarize the hilarious battle that takes place. I was worried that things might seem repetitive if the show kept following the same patterns, but adding the pirates allowed the final scenes of “The Waterbending Scroll” to be pure entertainment. Despite that I do spend most of my days analyzing things to death, I can honestly appreciate that something is simply entertaining and enjoyable to watch, that it doesn’t need a deeper meaning beyond, “THIS MAKES ME LAUGH,” or “THAT WAS REALLY COOL.” This whole site is terribly pedantic, which is the point, but it was almost relieving that I could watch the trio steal the pirates’ ship, then the pirates steal Zuko’s ship, and I didn’t have to search for a deep, philosophical meaning to it all.

This shit is just FUN. And I’m so glad that, at a base level, Avatar: The Last Airbender simply entertains me. I hope I don’t ever lose sight of that.


  • “It’s so good to have an understanding nephew.” Look at Iroh during this scene, he literally has troll face on. Bless his heart.
  • My god, Aang’s bartering scene is so fantastic and silly. I guess that goes with the whole point of this review: This episode was a lot of fun. And that is perfectly okay.
  • “Aye, we be castin’ off now!” LOL AANG IS A PIRATE BIGOT.
  • I should go steal something and tell the police that it’s “high-risk trading” and see if I can get away with it.
  • “Well, let’s see. You’ve pretty much mastered airbending and that only took you…112 years? I’m sure you can master three more elements by next summer.”
  • “I hope that lemur of yours has nine lives!” OK, I DON’T GET THIS LINE. Does the pirate mean to infer that the lemur should be more cat-like despite that Momo can basically fly? Or is he being literal, as in, “Your lemur should possess the ability to nearly-die nine times,” which DOES NOT MAKE SENSE because then that makes it really inconvenient for the pirates? OK WHY AM I THINKING SO HARD ABOUT THIS.
  • Seriously, I would clean mud and bugs from Appa’s feet every day. EVERY. DAY.
  • “Aang, this is all my fault.” “No, Katara, it isn’t.” “Yeah, it kind of is.” LOVE YOU UNTIL THE END OF TIME, UNCLE IROH.
  • “Oh, I’m not good enough to kidnap?”
  • Really, though, the best part of the episode? The revelation that THERE IS A MUSIC NIGHT ON THE FIRE NATION SHIP. Can we please have one episode solely devoted to that. Please.


About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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381 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Avatar’: S01E09 – The Waterbending Scroll

  1. Bleeding hogmonkeys, this is one of my favorite episodes! I've seen it six or seven times, at least, because it's my go-to episode for converting people. I think it's a quintessential Avatar episode that has good comedy and good drama and it allows each member of the Gaang a moment to shine, even Appa and Momo.

  2. shyfully says:

    Another Katara-centric episode! I liked it. It isn’t the most mindblowing episode, especially coming off the awesome two parter, but I think it is a pretty good note to hit afterwards, anyway. We get to see various character strengthening their resolve to accomplish their goals. Also, I have only one gif of this episode, so instead I just have still images from this episode/a few earlier episodes that I talk about. Warning: this review is… long.

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    (Two reviews for the price of one! Arrrrr)

    So, first off I wanted to get a bit meta and talk about characters and desires. Firstly because this episode is a pretty good place to discuss that, but also because of the last review. In the review for Avatar Roku, you said, “Zhao and Zuko aren’t that much different at this point of the story. They’re both stubbornly concerned with their own pride, willing to do any destructive thing to get ahead.” Now, in some ways that is true and is a totally fair assessment of the characters right now. It just interested me since it was very different from how I perceived those two characters in my first watch through. So, then I started thinking about what separated them at this point and why that seemed to clear to me and I ended up wanting to talk about all the characters and their motivations.

    This is will be a bit long, so if you don’t want to read it and want to just skip to my views on this episode specifically, skip down to where it says THIS EPISODE FINALLY!!!!!!!

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    So, I subscribe to the line of thought that says that in a good story, each character should have a goal/desire and pursue it through the story, meeting obstacles, dealing with setbacks and unexpected events. More than that, though, I believe that for main characters, they should have a personal and impersonal desire. The impersonal desire is something that is more broadly important, it keeps the character alive, is for the greater cause, whatever. The personal desire is something that isn’t about keeping the character afloat in the world or anything else, but about keeping the character true to their core beliefs, a quest for happiness or personal fulfillment in some way. So, for instance, in Firefly, Mal’s impersonal desire to get enough money to keep Serenity working, himself alive and so on. His personal desire to stick it to the Alliance, not live within rules he doesn’t agree with. These desires are often at war with each other (as impersonal/personal desires often are, to make for interesting characters who aren’t too predictable.) Both desires are equally important to his personality and decisions, they just are separate.

    So, going to Zuko and Zhao, and why they are different, it comes down to their desires. I admit there desires are similar and we don’t know enough about either of the characters to know all the nuance, but they are different enough that it makes them very, very separate characters in my mind. Zuko’s impersonal desire is capture the Avatar and his personal desire is to restore his honor. Zhao’s impersonal desire is to help win the war and his personal desire is for glory. But, shy! Those sound so similar! True! And the two characters are set up as sort of mirrors to each other. They aren’t really the same, though. For one thing, glory and honor are not the same, especially in the way this show treats them. Zuko gives a very nice hint of that when he tells Katara in this episode, “Try to understand, I need to capture him to restore something I’ve lost: my honor.” Honor is something you have or you don’t. You can lose it, you can regain it. Everyone can have it, theoretically. Glory, on the other hand, you can always get more of. And, in any situation, there is only a set amount to be had. Without knowing what Zuko did to supposedly lose his honor, it’s hard to really say much about his motivations, but we at least know he is coming at this situation from a place of desperation and need. He needs to capture the Avatar, he has no other option. Zhao, on the other hand, would totally get sweet perks from capturing the Avatar, but he is coming at it from a much cushier position. He’s already well placed, Avatar or no.

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    (No need to be smug, Zhao)


    • shyfully says:

      Also, their impersonal and personal desires interact in very different ways. Zuko’s desires work together, they go hand in hand. Which, by the by, is why I find him a bit less interesting as characters go. Zhao’s desires, on the hand, while complementary, aren’t bound together. (At least… I don’t think so. We have never seen him get any kind of official order of capturing the Avatar. He was the first to find out from Zuko’s crew that Aang was back, sure, but then when we saw him again he was at the Fire Nation boundary in some leadership position, when they had no reason to think that Aang would be heading there. It seems like more of a pet project. I mean, it seems safe to say that any Fire Nation soldier would have orders to try to capture Aang if he came by, but it doesn’t seem like Zhao has any specific position related to that, as of the last episode we saw him in.) That difference, by the way, is why, unlike a lot of the fandom at the time, I wasn’t all that surprised that Zuko and Zhao didn’t team up, either in the Southern Air Temple or Avatar Roku. And that’s actually all on Zhao, While Zuko definitely doesn’t like the guy, there isn’t anything is his desire that is antithetical to having help, since it would only help his impersonal desire and most likely would not interfere with his personal one. It would, however, interfere with Zhao’s desire, since working with a partner would mean sharing a slice of the glory pie.

      Interestingly, you can also see a big way the honor vs glory thing plays out between them by looking how they treat others. Specifically, contrast Zhao’s treatment of the Fire Sages to Zuko’s treatment of the Water Tribe, the Kyoshi Islanders and, from this episode and most tellingly, the pirates and Katara. I mean, he is rude and violent and awful as all get out to them… right until Aang leaves, at which point he stops caring about whoever else was around and leaves, too. Even when they are specifically his enemies who had been attacking him, like the Kyoshi Warriors, or who had turned against him, like the pirates. Sure, he’ll fight them in the moment when they are specifically threatening his ability to find Aang, but after Aang is gone, that’s it. We don’t get a scene of him marching down and fighting the pirates afterward. His big revenge on them was… throwing a Pai Sho tile at one of them… by accident. I mean, admittedly the scene cuts off there, but I assume that if he did more, they’d show us. Meanwhile, Zhao, when dealing with 4 people who had done everything they could to help, arrests them all.

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      The reason for this, I think, is clear when you look at the opposite of glory and honor. Shame, I’d say, for both. But here is where it gets interesting. Since Zuko establishes in this episode that honor is something you either have or don’t and he does not have it… that means he is spending all his time shamed. All day, every day. Meanwhile, Zhao does not spend all his time having only shame. He doesn’t spend it all with glory, either- he mainly spends it in a neutral place where opportunities to grab glory come along, where, if he fails, he gets shame instead. Which, on paper, sounds like Zhao has it a lot better than Zuko, and in many ways he does. But, it also means that defeat is a much bigger thing for him. When Zuko fails to re-attain his honor, he doesn’t really lose anything. Well, he lost his boat in this episode and his ship has had damage, but that’s all physical stuff. Emotionally/spiritually speaking, he is no better or worse than he is before. Zhao, on the other hand, actually goes from neutral to shame, and since he always strikes me as the kind of guy who counts his chickens before they hatch, in his mind he probably goes straight from glory to shame. So that’s why Zuko can lose interest in Kyoshi or the pirates and just pop back up next episode, ready to try again, while Zhao feels the need to punish everyone around him. Losing might be embarrassing for Zuko, but it is humiliating for Zhao. (The one time we do see Zuko more concerned with and angry at someone who isn’t Aang, by the way, is actually when he deals with Zhao in episode 3 and that has a very good reason! Unlike people who stand in the way of him capturing Aang in the immediate instant, Zhao has the ability to capture Aang himself, thereby making it so that Zuko could never capture Aang, never complete either desire and will be stuck with shame forever. So, while specific individuals stand in the way of him capturing Aang/regaining honor in a specific moment, the only person so far who could stand in the way of him capturing Aang/regaining honor ever is Zhao. On Zhao’s end, though, everyone is always standing in the way of him getting glory, since it is not a one time thing. Sure, he can always gain more glory down the road in another circumstance, but he always wants all of it in every specific instance.)

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      • shyfully says:


        Anyway, the way all this relates to the actual episode at hand is that this episode deals a lot with the personal and impersonal desires of both Aang and Katara. Aang’s impersonal desire is to save the world, which means defeating the Fire Lord, which means mastering the four elements. Since mastering the elements is the only step he can really do at this point, that’s mostly what I mean when I talk about his impersonal desire. His personal desire is to have fun, make friends, have adventures, acclimate to the world after 100 years. Basically, be a happy kid. Up until the last episode, he mostly was concentrating on his personal desire, with the only real concession to the impersonal being that they were heading toward the North Pole. Since talking to Roku, however, he realizes, whoops, he has a time limit! Suddenly, his impersonal desire has been put on a bit of a fast track. So he starts off the episode freaking out about how behind he is.

        That’s when Katara comes into play. Katara doesn’t know a lot of waterbending, but she knows more than Aang, at least. So she offers to teach him. Her impersonal desire is helping Aang. Her personal desire is to learn waterbending herself. What she doesn’t realize is that by trying to teach Aang the bits of waterbending she’s figured out by herself, she’s actually setting those two desires against each other in a way. Whoops! It’s not that Aang being so fast at picking up waterbending truly interferes with her learning it herself, it interferes with her confidence in the idea that she can learn waterbending.

        I know a lot of people rag on Katara for being jealous that Aang picks up moves faster than she does. And yeah, it isn’t exactly her shining moment. But I can’t really fault her for it, since that would be so annoying. In Imprisoned, she said to Haru’s mother that bending is part of who she is. She’s had to work so hard for every move she knows, with no one to teach her, her brother totally not supporting her in her efforts, and again, not a single shred of guidance… and then Aang is this amazing natural at it. Ugh.

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        I don’t really think she is mad at Aang for being good, by the way. In the moment, maybe, but not underneath the surface. She clearly was horrified by what she said to him. I think what actually was going on was that she was feeling ashamed of herself for not being better. She was embarrassed by how she was coming across. Of course, Aang and her situations are entirely different. Aang has someone showing him the moves, first off, and secondly, he has already mastered an element! Sure, they aren’t the same, but I assume it gives him a bit of a leg up over the girl who literally has had to use the guess and check method to teach herself.

        <img src=>

        Because I haven’t gotten off-topic enough (and also, really, once you’ve decided to jump in you might as well do a cannon ball, in my mind), that whole subplot reminded me of a kid I used to tutor. See, this little girl was struggling in her math class, where they were learning how to multiply. She wasn’t the worst, but she did so well in every other subject that her parents were concerned and so put her in the school tutoring program. And I quickly found out the issue. For some reason that I have never, ever been able to figure out, this little girl’s math teacher hated her. He refused to teach her. He said she was a trouble maker and would specifically send her out of the room when he explained things to stand in the hall and then would humiliate her in front of the class when she got anything wrong. She was the kind of kid who hated to ask for help, so she basically decided to create her own multiplication system. And it sucked. I mean, it was amazing she came up with anything at all, but it was not a good system, as most systems created by 7 year olds tend to be.

        So that kind of reminds me of Katara. When you are trying to learn something and there is no one teaching you, it is just very, very unlikely you will be able to invent an amazing way to do it on your own. It has nothing to do with natural talent. It has to do with the fact that no one is teaching you! So yeah, I don’t think this episode gives any indication of whether Katara is a good waterbender or not. It just reinforces that she has never had a teacher. And though we have never seen a full blown water bender to compare, when you look at the moves Katara came up with and then look at the ones on the scroll… Katara’s movements, her physical movements, are so different from both the scroll and any bending we’ve seen. Her movements are a lot more basic. I thought that was a interesting detail. And, I really, really enjoyed when they cut from Katara and Aang getting ready to try to figure out waterbending with nary a master in sight to Zuko practicing firebending.

        <img src=>
        (Katara sees what you did there, writers)


        • shyfully says:

          The pirates were middle of the road, interest-wise. They were fine and all, and I like seeing third parties brought in, but they didn’t really get interesting until they turned on Zuko. I love a good three-way fight!

          I also greatly enjoyed Iroh in this episode and how frustrating he is to Zuko. He really should have known better than to show Zuko the lotus tile at the end… Save it for later, Iroh!

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          I also found the humor in this episode to be top notch. From Sokka being surprisingly okay with cleaning Appa’s toes, to Iroh buying everything in the market, to Zuko laughing at the pirates having their boat stolen only to realize they just stole his boat… top notch! Also, although I’m not sure it was meant to be funny, I laugh a bit at Zuko trying to get Katara to help him capture Aang. “Look, you don’t understand, it would really mean a lot to me if you helped me take your friend prisoner! I promise not to kill you or your brother! I’ll give you your necklace back!” and when she of course freaks about him having her necklace (understandably) and he’s all “Well, I didn’t steal it!!!” while surrounded by his pirate allies. Oh, that Zuko, such a smooth operator. It’s a wonder anyone can stand up to his charms! How does he do it?

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          And about Katara stealing the scroll… I dunno. I’m kind of like Aang, ambivalent on the matter. I mean, stealing isn’t good, but the pirates had stolen it first and it would actually be useful to Katara and Aang… I’m not sure what was up with Sokka about it. I mean, I get not liking it but he was really annoyed about it at first. I think he was just annoyed because Katara did it, honestly. The little sister effect combined with the bending effect.

          This episode has a lot of stuff. It’s quite funny without being too ridiculous, it moves a lot of plot’s forward, it deepens the characters of Katara and Aang quite a bit. Overall, though, it doesn’t stand out to me quite as much as I’d like. For one thing, the pirates feel a bit like wasted potential. They could have deepened the world, adding another faction (people neither for nor against the Fire Nation, just looking out for themselves) but nothing was really done with that. I feel like this episode was mainly moving pieces around, which isn’t a bad thing, but doesn’t make for a WOW! kind of episode. I enjoy rewatching it, but I wouldn’t rewatch it specifically unless I was running through all of season one or looking for a Katara focus. And, I think this episode suffers a bit from coming right after the Winter Solstice two parter. Those two episodes did a lot to deepen the mythology of the show and ended with upping the stakes, time limit-wise… but we’re not even halfway done with the season, so this episode had to move things back onto a slower momentum once more. Not horribly and there still is a definite shift in the character’s priorities, as I mentioned above, but it definitely is never quite as tense as the two parter.

          I’m out of my own words, so on to Quotes!

          Sokka: So, while you guys are playing in the water, I’m supposed to be hard at work picked the mud out of a giant bison’s feet?
          Aang: Mud and bugs!
          Sokka: Okay.

          Zuko: Lotus tile?
          Iroh: For my Pai Sho game. Most people think the lotus tile insignificant, but it is essential for the unusual strategy I employ.
          Zuko: You’ve changed our course for a stupid lotus tile?
          Iroh: See, you, like most people, underestimate its value.

          Aang: Aye, we be castin’ off now!

          Aang: I used to kind of look up to pirates, but those guys are terrible!

          Katara: Will you please shut your airhole?! Believe it or not, your infinite wisdom gets a little old sometimes! Why don’t we just throw the scroll away since you’re so naturally gifted!

          Zuko I’ll save your from the pirates.
          (Actually, that line does nothing for me. Since it got the huge shipping wars really going, though, I felt I should include it for posterity’s sake.)

          Katara: Aang, this is all my fault.
          Aang: No, Katara, it isn’t.
          Iroh: Yeah, it kind of is.

          (cont, I screwed up the way I broke this review down)

          • shyfully says:

            Iroh: Are you so busy fighting you cannot see your own ship has set sail?
            Zuko: We have no time for your proverbs, Uncle!
            Iroh: Its no proverb.
            Iroh: Maybe it should be a proverb.

            Iroh: Heh heh, Prince Zuko, you’re really going to get a kick out of this. The missing lotus tile was in my sleeve the whole time!

            Sokka: First, what did you learn?
            Katara: Stealing is wrong… unless it’s from pirates!

            And now I’ll stop, so that this review doesn’t take on a life of itself and decide to eat me, as creations generally do. Bye!

            <img src=""&gt;

            (As a note on the whole character desire thing, though, that’s part of the reason Iroh is so interesting to me. His impersonal desire is pretty clear, to help Zuko. But, his personal desire so far seems like… just having a good time. Heh.)

            • echinodermata says:

              But, shy! This whole site is terribly pedantic, which is the point!

              Long reviews are awesome. Your long reviews are awesome.

              "Oh, that Zuko, such a smooth operator. It’s a wonder anyone can stand up to his charms! How does he do it?"

              I love making fun of Zuko, I really do.

              (And I'm weirdly stuck on what an alternative multiplication system looks like)

              • shyfully says:

                This site and I are clearly made for each other!

                Making fun of Zuko is one of my favorite pastimes! Ever since he shouted, "I DON'T NEED ANY CALMING TEA!!!" I knew I'd enjoy making fun of him until the end of time.

                (It was really weird but also strangely impressive! Like, for multiplying nines, she had worked it out that that last digit went down by one while the first digit or clump of digits went up by one… so you know, 09 – 18 – 27 – 36 -45 and so on until 90 to 99, which she could work out without help, and then 108 – 117 – 126 and so on. It was impressive but it meant that she had to run through the whole list whenever she wanted to find a multiple of nine.)

                • Elexus Calcearius says:

                  Don't worry; making fun of Zuko should be a sport at the Olympics. Its good for the soul.

                • notemily says:

                  Any character who takes himself as seriously as Zuko does is rife for ridicule. Which is awesome. It's the same reason I love snarking on shows/movies that are supposed to be ~srs bzns~.

            • tethysdust says:

              That was a very interesting analysis of the characters and their motivations. Thanks for sharing 🙂

            • hpfish13 says:

              So regarding the "I'll save you from the pirates" line…..I definitely do not have I found online of Zuko and Katara with that quote underneath……I swear!

              • shyfully says:

                Haha, don't worry, this is a judgment-free zone! The line just didn't do anything for me, personally.

                • hpfish13 says:

                  Its funny, because I'm both a Zutara shipper and a Kataang shipper… Thankfully I never found myself submerged in the shipping wars, because I would just end up agreeing and disagreeing with everyone.

                  • echinodermata says:

                    "Its funny, because I'm both a Zutara shipper and a Kataang shipper."

                    You're like a unicorn in this fandom, aren't you?

                  • shyfully says:

                    It just amazed me how vicious the ship wars became so, so quickly. It was a bit weird, since although Aang has had a few moments where he is clearly crushing on Katara and, obviously, there was stuff in the scene with Zuko and Katara in this episode that got a few people thinking about them, but all the ships are really more anticipatory, at this point. Which is totally fine, but I'd think then there might be less flame wars, since no one really had a leg to stand on at this point.

                  • calimie says:

                    Hey, I'm here from 5 weeks later, but: ME TOO. I love both ships for different reasons, but equally.

            • Karen says:

              I love your long reviews! I wrote a lot of tl;dr reviews for Doctor Who back when Mark was watching that because that is a show I have a lot of ~thoughts~ and ~feelings~ on, but since I haven't seen Avatar as much, I haven't had a chance to really analyze it, so I LOVE reading your take on things.

              I think your analysis on the difference between Zuko and Zhao is spot on with the honor vs glory stuff. A+++ comments. Would read again.

              • shyfully says:

                Aw, thank you! I think that, unfortunately, there isn't quite as much Avatar meta and tl;dr out there because the fandom very quickly became polarized by shipping wars and so people didn't talk as much until the whole movie thing got people to unite against a common enemy, heh.

            • arctic_hare says:

              But I love your reviews! I can't do my wall o' text for a show I'm still in the middle of watching, so I want others to do them so I can read and enjoy, and I really enjoy yours! <3

            • MissDirect says:

              As regards Iroh's personal desire, I think what he truly wants is to be a good influence on Zuko so he becomes a better person than his father. Iroh obviously cares a ton about his nephew (and that sentiment is definitely returned), and I really want to say more here but I can't remember how much of Iroh's backstory is spoilerific at this point so I'll just leave it at that. My point is that during this exile thing Iroh is essentially the only father figure Zuko has, and trolling aside, I think his personal desire is to take that job very seriously–and that sometimes means making Prince Antsy Pants take a chill pill. Sometimes it means other things as well, but again, can't remember where the safe topics end and the spoilers begin.

              • tethysdust says:

                I agree with you. Also, based on the fact that they were concerned about Zuko, but not Iroh, being arrested when they went back in Fire Nation territory last episode, it doesn't seem like there's any reason Iroh couldn't go back home. He must care a lot for Zuko to voluntarily exile himself in order to look after him.

              • Hotaru_hime says:

                Pretty much all of Iroh's backstory is spoileriffic. We have to keep our fingers still for a long time yet.

            • __Jen__ says:

              This review is SO AWESOME! <3

              I love your analysis of Zuko and Zhao, and I totally agree with you and echinodermata- making fun of Zuko is the best!

              It is great to see Katara given more depth as a character. She responds realistically here, and sometimes that includes being flawed.
              I think what actually was going on was that she was feeling ashamed of herself for not being better.
              This is spot on, IMO.

              All around wonderful review, shy! 😀

            • bibliotrek says:

              I like to imagine that if Aang really were as old as his age, he'd be a lot like Iroh! Probably less sly/placid in his trolling of punk teenagers, though, and more cheeky/pie-throwing.

          • monkeybutter says:

            Oh, Sokka was definitely criticizing Katara because she's his little sister. But he also knows her well enough that he doesn't believe that she did it just for Aang. And it's totally okay for her to want to improve her bending, but he's keeping her honest. While the whole-stealing-from-pirates thing is morally ambiguous (it's not like they're going to return it to the original owner), I think the real problem with the theft was a pragmatic one, which Sokka would probably pick up on: pirates are dangerous, and by stealing the scroll, she attracted a lot of unwanted attention.

          • FlameRaven says:

            Fantastic analysis of Zhao and Zuko. I think you have some really solid insights. It was a fascinating read. 😀

            (Also, how awesome is it that a children's show prompts these kind of deep character discussions? And we are only 9 episodes in, we're not even at the meat of the season yet.)

            • shyfully says:

              Thank you! And yes, it's so awesome! I love how, even from the beginning, this show is so layered. I love analyzing it!

        • notemily says:

          Dude, I hope you got that math teacher reprimanded at least. That's just not doing his job.

      • tigerpetals says:

        In the landscape of my mind: Zhao is the glory monster. He is eating Aang. I'm not sure what Zuko is doing. Trying to pull him out?

        Also, I completely relate to that story about the girl. At school I did well at every subject except for math and phys ed. I didn't have a teacher who hated me, but I did have an elaborate way of trying to solve math problems everytime I didn't know what to do next. They system you describe later on sounds very much like something I would have invented during a test. .

      • notemily says:

        I love these comments.

  3. Will there eventually be a giant BATTLE SHIP game? Don’t answer that.
    Actually, Aang and Ozai sit down to an epic game of CONNECT FOUR.

  4. @sthomson06 says:

    Did I miss the fact that Aang knew waterbending before this episode? Because I did not get that impression at all, but I probably missed something…

    • Tauriel_ says:

      He didn't. The only waterbending he did (in the second episode) was when he was in the Avatar state (glowy eyes and tattoos), and he couldn't control it.

    • @sthomson06 says:

      At this point in the series we don't know WHAT he was trapped in or how he got there!

      Two of the things I love about Mark Watches are (1) we love the exact same things (Appa! Uncle Iroh!) and (2) we interpret some scenes very differently!

      • mkjcaylor says:

        I deleted my comment! I don't know if I can trust myself at this point to remember things in the right order, and it might have been spoilery. Sorry about that.

    • lastyearswishes says:

      He doesn't really know waterbending prior to this episode but he does waterbend when he's in the Avatar State in the episode Mark is referring to.

    • leenwitit says:

      As the Avatar, I believe Aang has the *ability* to bend all four elements, but he does not have the appropriate training to do so. He didn't *know* waterbending in the sense that to the best of our knowledge, he has never tried it when he was in control. But as soon as Katara gave him some tips on how to move water in general, he picked it up quickly. She had the disadvantage of not having anyone to teach her, so she probably didn't *know* waterbending for a while, despite having the ability to do so.

      • @sthomson06 says:

        I guess my point was that before this episode, he's not any more skilled at Water Bending than he is at Fire Bending or Earth Bending – I think it might have been an erroneous assumption on Mark's part from the episodes where he goes into the Avatar state?

        It's not really that important, except I think it highlights how quickly Aang picks up on Water Bending, and how frustrating that must be for someone like Katara who has been struggling just to like, put some water in a bucket, because she's been developing these techniques all by herself

  5. echinodermata says:

    I love Iroh's lack of interest in going on the offensive, and his love of the basic things in life that give people joy. He changes course for a missing tile! He likes bargains and music nights! He gets winded!
    <img src=""&gt;

    And always and forever, I am impressed by the level of detail that goes into this show, and the authenticity of its Asian influences.
    <img src=""&gt;
    Fyi, that first row is the move from the credits.

    Pirates! Reptile-birds! Cabbage guy!

    <img src=""&gt;
    I felt Katara's reaction to Aang's ease of waterbending was nice and realistic, and helps give Katara more characterization. And it's nice to finally see Katara in more than a support role to the plot. It's also nice to see Sokka being important to resolving the problem they get themselves in.

    Although I was loling at the three of them trying to budge a ship with physical strength alone. Also, that one pirate dude's "that's good" line during the fight on the ship made me laugh out loud – fantastic delivery.

    I will say Aang's ambivalence and laughter to Katara's stealing is a little weird though. But, given the meager possessions the crew has, and given they're supposed to save the world, the moral ambiguity of the message is appreciated, even if it seems a bit odd coming from a kid's show.
    However, the message about accepting that sometimes people may be better than you at things is an important one, and it's a good message to convey to kids and teens, and one that usually takes a backseat to the after-school specials of 'stealing is bad' and 'drugs are bad' and 'peer pressure is bad,' etc.

    • shyfully says:

      I loved the "That's good!" line SO MUCH. I like to invent a story behind it… like, those two pirates have been trying for ages to come up with the best way to throw people into sails or whatever and they think they may have finally found it! Or maybe the pirate who didn't say the line can be insecure about his fighting skills or is the newest member of the crew so the other one is trying to be nice to him? IDK it was such a hilarious line.

    • Also, that one pirate dude's "that's good" line during the fight on the ship made me laugh out loud – fantastic delivery.
      YES I LOVE THAT BIT SO MUCH. I kind of wanted to rewind and point it out to Mark.

    • __Jen__ says:

      However, the message about accepting that sometimes people may be better than you at things is an important one, and it's a good message to convey to kids and teens, and one that usually takes a backseat to the after-school specials of 'stealing is bad' and 'drugs are bad' and 'peer pressure is bad,' etc.

      I agree with this wholeheartedly. It is a tough lesson to learn, especially for children who are driven and hard on themselves which Katara seems to be.

  6. monkeybutter says:

    Honestly, the world would be a better place if everyone grew up to be Iroh. Look at this man

    <img src=""&gt;

    He is absolutely trolling his nephew! And I don't know what Zuko has to be mad about, he wouldn't have even known where Aang was if it weren't for Iroh's diversion. Secret genius uncle.

    I love this episode, too! It is lots of fun, because, duh, pirates. It's totally okay to just sit back and enjoy things.

    I really liked that this episode explored Katara's less mature side, and Sokka tried to be the moral compass of the group. Katara's sort of the team mom, but she's still a kid, and like you say, it's completely normal to be upset when someone shows you up at something you've worked hard at. Yay for character depth.

    You're thinking too hard about the Momo thing. They're threatening to kill him, nine lives, yada-yada. And don't you think that Momo behaves like a cat?

    • vermillioncity says:

      If you lipread Iroh's mouth in that gif… he genuinely looks like he's saying, 'I'M TROLLING! :D', ahaha.

  7. Dragonsong12 says:

    I don't have a lot to add except that PIRATES MAKE EVERYTHING BETTER!
    And I want one of those parrots.

    …also I never thought about it all my previous rewatches, but now I can't get the Iroh=troll out of my head. THANKS! (no, really! Thanks!)

    And don't feel bad, Mark, about the guitar thing. I'm the same way with my art. On the plus side, while it's always frustrating, sometimes coming across someone better can also be totally inspiring!

  8. @redbeardjim says:

    "So….what are curios, exactly?"
    "I'm not entirely sure….but I know we got 'em!"

    "Maybe it should be a proverb…"


  9. Tauriel_ says:

    I don’t mean to stan this hard for Uncle Iroh, but, aside from that moment where he fell asleep in his little hot tub, the dude is literally perfect and I aspire to be him when I am older.

    Yeah, get in line, Mark… 😛

  10. kartikeya200 says:

    There isn't much for today's episode, but the book seems to be making up for that with…I don't know, at least four pages for the next one? Anyway, PIRATES.

    <img src=""&gt;

    The pirate captain was inspired by one of Li Hong's concepts. The rest of the pirates were modeled after our friends and colleagues at JM Animation.

    <img src=""&gt;

    Pirate Barker Oh was designed to look like Seung Hyun Oh, our good friend who became the supervising director on season three. He was our noraebang (karaoke) buddy whenever we visited Seoul.

    <img src=""&gt;

  11. Hotaru_hime says:

    The White Lotus chip being in Iroh's sleeve reminds me of that Little Lulu short, where her train ticket was in her sock the whole time! Haha, oh Little Lulu. Iroh himself is rather fascinating, as he is trying to temper Zuko the way you would temper steel into a sword. If his statement in the last episode is to be believed, Zuko's father, Fire Lord Ozai is not a pleasant man and probably has little care for his sixteen year old son if he has exiled him on a snipe quest (that now has a legitimate "snipe" but still).
    Pirates make almost everything better (I am on the ninja side in the war) and I wonder what need they would have of a Waterbending scroll when Katara is the only Waterbender in the Southern Water Tribe and I assume the Northern Water Tribe has a larger populace with proper Waterbending Masters. But I suppose it IS valuable to anyone who genuinely honors knowledge or wants to know the motions of Waterbending so they can act against it. *shrug*
    Poor Katara! She's been trying her whole life to learn how to Waterbend without a teacher and with the stress of living in a war and Aang, who has the bonus of 12 years of Airbending and being the Avatar surpasses her without much difficulty. I felt bad for her, but that was no excuse for giving away their position. But then, we all forget that they are kids, especially Aang, who has, until recently, never lived a life with the stresses and pressure of war, let alone knowing that it is his sole responsibility to restore balance in the war-torn world.
    Last, but not least, CABBAGE MAN! Gosh, where is his field of Cabbages anyway? He gets around.

    • Dragonsong12 says:

      I think the scroll is valuable simply because it is rare. So rich people in the Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation would want to have it simply to show off their wealth.

      I love you refering to Zuko's hunt for the Avatar as a "snipe quest" because that is probably the best way to describe it, haha! I may steal that.

  12. Tauriel_ says:

    Oh, and there are SO MANY points in your review, Mark, which I'm just BURNING to comment on, but can't, because SPOILERS. YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW FRUSTRATING IT IS.

    So I'll just resort to saying this: YOUR UNPREPAREDNESS KNOWS NO BOUNDS.

    • FlameRaven says:

      God, I know. This is worse than when he was reading the Hunger Games. I can't even comment most of the time because it boils down to "YOU WILL SEE LATER WHEN [SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER]" and YOU ARE SO UNPREPARED.

  13. Nikki says:

    Oh man, I LOVE Iroh so much! <3 He's especially amazing in this episode!

  14. Evil Midnight Lurker says:

    On watching — this being the first time I've seen most first-season episodes — it occurs to me that the entire wobbly edifice of Zutara Shipping is probably founded on their fifteen seconds of interaction in this one episode. 🙂

    • Hotaru_hime says:

      It might also have been when he was holding her necklace at the end of "Imprisoned" but yeah, that scene definitely strengthened the foundation.
      Though I kind of find it kind of squicky to ship characters who mostly have just hit puberty.

    • @sthomson06 says:

      I think I started heavily rooting for this pairing much later: I'll have to re-watch this episode for glimpses of an earlier spark (YES I AM SHAMELESS).

    • Kaybee42 says:

      I'm watching along with Mark, but that bit made me think "Oh god- I fancy Zuko!" He's like, what, 15? 16? And I'm18 almost 19. He's a cartoon! It would just never work out! But yeah that moment just made me love him.

      • xpanasonicyouthx says:

        It's ok, I still have a crush on Trent from Daria, so I support animated love.

      • xynnia says:

        Pffff, I've lost count of the number of animated characters I have the hots for. But I think it's safe to say they're more numerous than the real actors I have a crush on. SO WHAT.

    • thefireandthehearth says:

      Oh gods, should we introduce Mark to the wide and terrible world of ATLA shipping? Probably not, for his own sake. Never did I think I'd see a fandom rival Harry Potter in wank and ridiculousness.

      • Avit says:

        Clearly you have not been adjacent to animanga fen! I hear Bleach is pretty wanky.

        • thefireandthehearth says:

          I never really liked Bleach, so I wouldn't know. I do know that anime/manga shippers can be pretty intense, though. (OH JESUS FISH DIGIMON SHIPPING! THE ENDING OF THE SECOND SEASON! WHARGARRBL!)

          • Hotaru_hime says:

            Was Digimon shipping bad? I didn't even know there was a strong shipping aspect of the fandom!

            • thefireandthehearth says:

              Digimon shipping can beterrifying. I'm talking mostly about Adventure and 02- most of the scarier aspect began to die out around Tamers and Frontier.

              With Adventure, fanon had a couple fairly well established pairings, specifically Tai/Sora. It was fairly uncommon to see either of them paired with anyone else. And then 02 happened, and Sora started dating Matt/Yamato. That was around the time Digimon became it's hilariously poly-amorous shipping self that it is today. Then we have the ending of 02, and OH BOY did everyone, not only the shippers, snapped. It was like the Harry Potter epilogue, only times ten. Special mention goes to Miyako/Yolei's ultimate fate, which was being married to Ken and becoming a house-wife. Cue the cries of "She's a baby-popping bitch!", "She's an affront to feminism!", and my personal favorite "She's getting in the way of the slash!" Seriously, the season finale of 02 was complete base breaker with the shippers, not to mention everyone else.

              Tamers was when things started to die down, though there's still massive have for the pairing of Takato and Jeri/Juri. Some see Jeri/Juri as "OMG SO WEAK AND ANTI-FEMINISTIC" when compared to Rika/Ruki. Nevermind that Jeri/Juri watched her best friend get murdered before her eyes, was broken into tiny pieces, and still survived being mindraped by a fucking Eldritch Abomination, she wore a dress and cried! She's a terrible character! /sarcasm

              Fronteir wasn't too bad, but people tended to mock any ship that involved J.P./Junpei. Nope, if Zoe/Izumi was going to get shipped with anyone, it would be Takuya or Kouji/Koji! 'Cause, you know, "JP's fat and stupid and ugly and I hate him". Pay no mind to the fact that he's essentially a giant sweet teddy-bear who gets just as much character development as the rest of the group! Then again, Frontier is the red-haired step-child of the franchise, generally only loved by twincest or Power Rangers fans.

              Savers and Xros didn't have too scary of a shipping scene, but I'd pretty much left the fandom and Digimon by then.

              And now you know! A giant testement to my love of Digimon and it's terrifying fandom! Thank you, and I need to go take a walk away from memory lane.

              • Hotaru_hime says:

                I was a little upset with the finale of 02 because I wanted the T.K./Kari (Takeru/Hikari) pairing to exist beyond that, but only Yolei and Ken ended up together…
                Juri is incredibly strong, considering she managed to keep up a happy front when she was clearly going through a lot stuff in life. Poor thing. I still find it hard to believe that everyone was complaining about her behaviour. It's like people complaining about Harry in OotP.

              • myshadow says:

                I feel like one of the few people who actually enjoyed the 02 finale even though two of my ships didn't happen.

          • Avit says:

            I haven't watched it! …but the FW people talk of it in ~(ir)reverent tones~.

            Digimon had a heavy shipper scene? The more you know, huh.

        • affableevil says:

          Makes me think a little of Rurouni Kenshin fandom, of which I am an admittedly very much a latecomer. But from what I've seen, the a huge chunk of the fandom rolled with Kenshin/Kaoru, but there were people who really did not like Kaoru god why doesn't she just die already that bitch etc. Also, it looks like most alternate pairings are non-existant. And add in the fact that


          Kenshin had been married before and there's a lot of tragic backstory, and god forbid anyone should enjoy Kenshin's marriage with Tomoe and still want him to be happy with Kaoru OH NO SUCH BLASPHEMY YOU MUST PICK A SIDE. So…I just kind of read every pairing and gen fic and ignore the wankery as best I can.


          • arctic_hare says:

            Oh shit, I had forgotten about that aspect of RK fandom. I'm a latecomer too, but I was just as horrified by that crap. I guess I'm a BAD EVIL PERSON for loving the flashback chapters with Tomoe and also like him with Kaoru. Because a person can never move on from ANY loss of love, right?

            (which is also why I roll my eyes at Doctor Who fans who insist that Rose is the Doctor's ~one true love for all of time~ and act like he's not allowed to move past that.)

            • affableevil says:

              What's really unfair about it is that, in the manga at least (don't even TALK to me about the Reflections OVA urgh), it was very clear that Tomoe did approve of his relationship with Kaoru because she wanted him to be happy. Why is it that some parts of fandom want him to wallow in misery and never move on? I don't understand!

              A little unrelated, but I've heard that a new RK anime project has been green-lighted. I'm not sure if it's going to be the full series redone, or just finally animating the Jinchu arc. I wouldn't mind either, though I would like to see the whole thing redone a little closer to the manga (which I lurrrrve). Kaoru's character was particularly flanderized by the end 😡

      • Sue Deauxnim says:

        I don't know man, I think the Pokemon shipping fandom is like infamous for its viciousness.

        • dreining says:

          Oh, Pokemon fandom. You could literally pick 2 completely random characters from the anime (human, Pokemon, main character, even one-episode wonders) and the Pokemon fandom will already have a unique nickname for their relationship. It is both terrifying and impressive.

      • I have an Icon that says "Life After Harry Potter Is Avatar". In a flamey ship discussion, someone say another poster using it, and snarked that "If life after Harry Potter is Avatar, that explains the flame wars."

      • Elexus Calcearius says:

        I think we better forewarn him, if nothing else. We don't want him to accidentally spark another great 'Ginny Slut War', and see him be utterly baffled.

        • xpanasonicyouthx says:


          These comments are my forewarning. I think I'll amend tomorrow's review of "Jet" (;AKJS AS;LDKFJASDF;KADJSF A;DSKFJ) to add a note about it.

        • thefireandthehearth says:

          Ginny Slut War

          … what.

          *goes to check out corresponding review*

          *comes back*

          Two things: lol that was like being back in 2005 and I hope that doesn't happen here.

      • xynnia says:

        How about the massive Pirates of the Caribbean shipping war that took place mainly (I think) between the releases of the second and third films (but also between the first and second films to an extent) between 'Willabeth' and 'Sparrabeth' fans? That shipping war was ridiculous. I wrote a fanfic specifically to troll Sparrabeth fans, and their reaction was PRICELESS. I reread the reviews for that fic every so often and they never fail to make me laugh.

    • Candy says:

      Yeah, this is pretty much what started it all. Weird, huh?

    • H. Torrance Griffin says:

      Yup. Scary, is it not?

      Mark, on behalf of all A:tLA fandom I apologise.

  15. Moon_Shadow says:

    So, the critical question: did Iroh know where the tile was all the time (and just want to shop/hope it would cheer up Zuko) or did he genuinely think he'd lost it? Personally I think he just wanted to shop.

  16. Sophi says:

    "I'll save you from the pirates."

    And my dirty, dirty shipper mind fell over dead right there and I became a Zutara shipper for all time.

    • barnswallowkate says:

      RIGHT?? I was afraid it was weird to ship them because they're like 14 years old and 2-dimensional.

      • Elexus Calcearius says:

        I think I've been doing English revision too long. When you said "2-dimensional' I was like; "What? no! They're very fleshed out character with desires and motiva… Oh. Right. You mean in terms of being animated.Right."

        • My thoughts exactly. Indignation followed shortly by facepalm as I realized the "two-dimensional" part was intended literally, not literarily. Glad I wasn't the only one.

    • Albion19 says:


      I just finished watching last week. I had no idea that the ship was/is so popular. Saying that I was really surprised that Zutara shippers seem to be regarded as the scientologists of the fandom lol.

      Love them, no shame!

      • __Jen__ says:

        Lol, this was my exact response to delving into the fandom after I marathoned through the show.

        • sundaycoma says:

          I mostly avoid being an active part of the fandom because too much of other things take up my time (That's right, Who, Harry Potter, and Marvelverse, I'm looking at you) but when I found out the Zutara shippers were akin to lepers, I was really surprised. The creators even acknowledge it! So… just sounds like Kataang shippers running the aslyum to me.

          Seriously. I'm Kataang but I definitely see where there's Zutara potential /and/ think it could be make for many interesting fanfics. 🙂 Interesting as in "absorbing and engaging", not code for "bad" btw.

    • Caraaaa says:

      I still kinda ship them. I think it's because I like the idea of fire and water coming together.

  17. the Water Whip. (Is that the canon term for it or just the nickname? ONE of you can answer that.)

    I may not have the whole answer because I don't know if it's the canonical A:TLA term, but the tai chi move is called Single Whip (dān biān). Waterbending looks to me, a Chen-style practitioner, like it's based on Yang-style tai chi — that Single Whip definitely is more Yang than Chen.

  18. Evil Midnight Lurker says:

    Damn. Replied wrong. WTB delete button.

    • echinodermata says:

      Sign up for intense debate, and you can delete your comments. And edit comments that haven't been replied to.

  19. MissDirect says:

    Iroh employs all the best unusual strategies, and everyone should aspire to be him when they grow up–not only would the world be a WAY happier place, but then everyone would have music night! Also, speaking of nephew trolling, was anyone besides me trolled by their dad/other parental figure all the time as a child? I like to think it gave me a better sense of humor as well as making me less gullible.

    • Coughdrop01 says:

      ALL THE TIME! It definitely gave me a better sense of humor but it also made me suspicious of everything. Sometimes when people tell me something extraordinary I won't believe them! haha

  20. Stephalopolis says:

    Pirates + Avatar = Best 24.5 minutes of my day.

  21. Karen says:

    Aaaand welcome to the moment when I started to ship Katara/Zuko.


    lol. I do love this episode for reasons other than the Zutara moment. Up until now, Katara has been pretty perfect, so it's good to see that she has flaws and they're completely understandable and believable flaws too. I'd get really annoyed if I were in her position too. I think that this episode has a lot of realistic conflict between all of the major characters, and then we get some pretty fun action bits towards the end. It's definitely one of the better rounded episodes.

    • Fuchsia says:

      This is my first time watching this show, but I've been shipping Katara and Zuko pretty much from the second episode or something. Whatever, I do what I want!

  22. Avit says:

    Water Whip is canon, I think.

  23. affableevil says:

    Okay, so

    I love this show dearly, and I want to comment but every time I try to come up with something meaningful to say, either someone else says it better or it's a spoiler or it just comes out sounding plain stupid. So I just don't comment a lot even though I want to okay DON'T MIND ME LURKING IN THE COMMENTS LIKE A LURKY LURKER

    What I'm trying to say is, I'm really, really glad that you're loving it. And I'll try to formulate comments with substance because I do desperately want to participate.

    • affableevil says:

      maybe i will start just posting my gif reactions to everything and make it like interpretive gif internet dance to express all my ~deep feelings~ about this show

      • thefireandthehearth says:

        Gif spams really are like the internet interpretive dance, aren't they? Many's the time that I've wished I could just post a gif in reaction to something that happens in the real world. Partially because I can be terribly ineloquent, and partially because I'm a horrid dancer.

        Anyone, a point! Gif reactions are amazing, and you should totally do some.

  24. thefireandthehearth says:

    Don't worry, Mark, I totally want to be Iroh too when I grow up. Drinking tea, playing board games, trolling my nephew… it's a good way to go.

    What I really love about this episodes is how much it shows off actual characterization. Too often in kid's show (lol I am not actually a kid's show bigot) the character's are simplified and one-note. It's as if the creators didn't think that kids could have diverse personalities and genuine flaws. Not with ATLA! Exemplified here is Katara, who's no a bland, cookie-cutter second female lead. She's implusive, bold, well-meaning, and compassionate, with all the problems and benefits that come with those traits. Also, in most other kid's shows, we'd have some moral about how stealing is wrong. Instead, we have a funny, light-hearted episode that involves fighting pirates and not being assholes to each other.

    In other news, I'm glad you're enjoying ATLA. ^^ Have an anachronistic picture.

    <img src=""/&gt;

  25. Kaci says:

    I love this episode for all the reasons you listed, and were I a man, I'd want to grow up to be Iroh, too. Actually, I want to be Iroh anyway. He's that awesome.

  26. fantasylover120 says:

    In order to stop myself from accidently spoiling anything I'm just going to leave off with a You Are Not Prepared and go on my way.
    Personally, I'm convinced in any world you could get pirates. Star Wars? Could happen. Doctor Who? Ditto. There'll always be someone in any civilization who will find pirating appealing for some reason or other.

    • Hyatt says:

      Doctor Who has pirates. Animated episode "The Infinite Quest", a Ten and Martha story (and yes, David Tennant and Freema Agyeman voice their characters). Fair warning, though, the animation is a bit… off. Mostly with regards to the people; backgrounds are fine, characters fall right into the Uncanny Valley.

      • Teresa says:

        And the classic series had pirates in "The Pirate Planet" (naturally) and "Enlightenment."

      • Elexus Calcearius says:

        It wasn't that…off. I mean, it was weird, and there's no way animation can do Tennat's eyebrows justice. For me, the digitally animated episode 'Dreamland' was way weirder.

        But yes, Doctor Who has had pirates. Now we just need ninjas!

  27. FlameRaven says:

    I can sympathize with the awkwardness when you've got someone very good and someone trying really hard but just not measuring up, although I've more often encountered it coming from the other side– specific example, in high school I worked at a games/comic shop, and a lot of the people there painted miniatures whenever business was slow. Having run out of comics to read, I picked it up as a hobby. Now, I'm an artist raised by an artist and painting all my life, and…it became really awkward when after a month or two of learning basic techniques, my stuff was turning out better than people who'd been painting for a couple decades. But knowledge is cumulative, so when you've already got a lot of related skill and knowledge, any related technique becomes more about learning the quirks of the current technique based off whatever you're already familiar with. In my case, like learning to paint a three-dimensional figurine instead of a canvas. (Which is actually easier, because you're just dealing with surfaces and not trying to make a 2D-surface LOOK 3D.)

    Which is kind of a long way to say that I think you're right. Aang is already an airbending master, so learning water is probably just applying that knowledge and trying to work out the quirks of using water instead of air. He's also the Avatar, having reincarnated and learned these elements hundreds of times, so the basic knowledge is probably floating around in his head somewhere. It's also to say that I think these situations are awkward not just for the person who is having trouble learning. I mean, if you're just really good at something, what do you do? You don't want to show off because the other person will feel bad, but a lot of times it's hard not to, because you're just doing things normally. But you can't really apologize because it's not your fault that your brain has clicked on this thing and it's going really well. So you get awkwardness for everyone instead.

  28. barnswallowkate says:

    I kind of hope we see hogmonkeys later because the animals so far amuse me. But I kind of don't because monkeys are evil and I'm not sure I like hogs either.

  29. Dragonsong12 says:

    Oh, and I have to add:

    "This shit is just FUN. And I’m so glad that, at a base level, Avatar: The Last Airbender simply entertains me. I hope I don’t ever lose sight of that."

    I hope you don't either, because I think this is a lesson that Aang imparts on us. Throughout everything, it is okay to have some fun.

  30. echinodermata says:

    "Immediately focusing on Aang’s face, which is milliseconds away from a downpour of waterworks (GIF PLEASE)"

    <img src=""&gt;
    <img src=""&gt;
    Hope this suits.

  31. monkeybutter says:

    He's more than just a guy with a boomerang!

  32. Anonymouse says:

    Oh Mark, you have no idea how not prepared you are…

    Katara. She tries so damn hard to be the Team Mom that I think everyone forgets now and then that she's only 14. And like every other 14 year old girl on the planet, she has a temper, she has jealousy issues, and she has an abundance of pride. When I was 14, I was still beating my brother over the head with the Nintendo controller. I like knowing that cartoon girls, at least in Avatar, are not exempt from that behaviour. Even after she apologizes for what she says to Aang (and Momo), the fact that she still steals the scroll that night to practice proves she's got a ways to go. After all, what teenage girl (or boy, or child, or adult…) learns the lesson completely the first time around?

    On the other hand, Sokka doesn't hesitate to call her on it, the same way he got called on his own personal flaws in "The Warriors of Kyoshi" or Katara calls him out for his sexism in the first episode. And while that is a common technique for creating conflict in childrens shows (get it done fast and easy) I have to credit Katara, and the shows writers, for immediate repentance on her part, and moving on to the main conflict of this episode.

    Other thoughts:
    -Oh Iroh, don't ever change! Seriously.
    – Iroh buying everything at the market, including things he will probably never use, totally reminds me of my grandparents (If anyone wants a box of bananas, they just bought thirty boxes)
    – and the shipping wars begin! Zutara forever (and let the downvoting begin)! <3

    • tethysdust says:

      I also thought Katara's response was pretty realistic for a 14-year-old girl who was just effortlessly shown up in the skill on which she bases her self-worth. In general, though, I don't think there's anything morally wrong with her practicing in the middle of the night. I mean, she just wanted to practice when no one would be around to tease her for failing. Furthermore, by practicing at night, she wasn't cutting into Aang's time with the scroll. Of course, when you know there are pirates and Firebenders after you, running off alone and yelling a lot is generally a bad idea. I guess I just mean, I think her error was her lack of caution, not her desire to practice secretly.

      • Anonymouse says:

        I think the moral wrongness of that action was that she had told Aang that it was HIS scroll (she gave it to him, because she recognized it was more important for him to have it) that she was using without permission, to feed her own pride. In all technicality, she was stealing the scroll, although with every intention of returning it. There's also a bit of morality issues in her risking their positions, and their lives, in order to practice and boost her own pride. In all fairness, Aang would have no objection to her borrowing the scroll, and there's no moral problems with her wanting to learn waterbending, but there's still a slight problem with her logic.

        I'm not saying this because I want to bash Katara, I love her as a character and see a lot of myself in her, and her character would not be nearly as complete without these flaws. It's just what I think…

  33. Stephalopolis says:

    I can't really make any content filled posts, because as a huge Avatar fan/nerd, I'm afraid of spoiling you based off of my memory and lack of knowledge of what's been revealed/not been revealed. We're currently in the process of catching up so we can make worthwhile posts, but it'll be a bit longer (just finished Winter Solstice Pt. !)

    So instead, I made you this. Enjoy!

    <IMG border="'0'//" src=""&gt;

  34. herpestidae says:

    I continue my "not posting stuff about the show" habit, and instead hope to entertain you with Fanart and other things.

    Not Fanart, but deemed necessary:
    <img src="; width="560" height="420">

    These were drawn by booter-freak on deviantart, and are currently the ones that are total non-spoilers. I hope they resize properly.
    <img src="; width="615" height="700">

    <img src="; width="523" height="700">

    <img src="; width="523" height="700">

    <img src="; width="400" height="282">

    <img src="; width="425" height="414">

    <img src="; width="390" height="241">

    <img src="; width="400" height="336">

    <img src="; width="400" height="250">

    • hpfish13 says:

      Who did the "I'm a pretty girl" art? Because I think I've seen it before

      Also, these are awesome!

    • hallowsnothorcruxes says:

      This is an amazing post!

    • Sue Deauxnim says:

      Booter-Freak is like one of the best fanartists in the fandom, and I can't believe how much her artstyle has changed since the beginning of the series XD

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      Oh, Booter! These are a walk down memory lane. I can't wait until we can show her later stuff; her style has improved so much!

      (What was especially awesome was the Avatar finale poster she did for a Nick contest. She trolled them, so badly. In what way? Well, Sokka was riding a motorcycle and Katara was a cyborg, and that's just for starters.)

    • ThreeBooks says:

      LOL THE FIRST ONE. It's a bit frightening, really. Imagining Obama leaning down to his ear and whispering, "I'll save you from the pirates."

      …why did I just say that.

      • herpestidae says:

        I wanted to caption it "I'll save you from the terrorists" but I was unsure if that would be bad form.

        • ThreeBooks says:

          …Even worse, I imagine that in his voice D:

          (Do it. Do it do it do it. Then post it somewhere and say that 'I just found it, look how crazy people are.')

    • Shay_Guy says:

      Is… Is that Axe Cop?

    • NeeNee says:

      Is it wrong that I couldn't stop laughing with the toys joke? XD

  35. echinodermata says:

    "What was it with the Fire Nation wanted their servants to be nude?"

    Haha, that sounds like the beginning of a beautiful story to me.

    • Sophi says:

      My personal favourites are from Harry Potter and Ben 10. "Voldemort, just torture her for fuck sake!"

      I really wish I could use this one as a pick-up line. Sadly, I'm female. Any takers?– "Kevin said as he took the wallet and reached in to take out a condom, he always came prepared."

      • sundaycoma says:


        That require slightly more finesse but they do exist! (And they look like that tunnel they set up outside Elliot's home in ET when the government comes to take the alien… or maybe that's just me…)

        • Sophi says:



  36. shadeedge says:

    I like that Sokka, as well as his fighting abilities (which aren't incredible, but still useful) is also rapidly becoming the ideas man of the group.

  37. Anseflans says:

    Waait a minute…
    *Main protagonist + companions
    *Can live for a hundred years and not age a day
    *Can travel/fly through space (LOL APPA)
    *A whole lot of running


    • NeonProdigy says:


    • Elexus Calcearius says:


    • Shay_Guy says:

      No. There's a reason TV Tropes quarantined "[NAME] is a Time Lord" theories. I think there was probably a point where more than half the Wild Mass Guessing pages for individual movies/books/series had at least one. Doctor Who's page even had a joke "The Doctor is a Time Lord" theory, which started along the lines of "Yeah, I know, it sounds crazy, but just hear me out…"

      …Oh, God, they've got THEIR OWN NAMESPACE. Not only is the Avatar apparently a Time Lord, but so are Ben Linus, Jacob, the Man in Black, Daniel Faraday, Desmond (with a Chameleon Arch), and Walt. (Most are speculated to have the Island as their TARDIS, but there's also a theory that the Island is a Time Lord and Locke's its TARDIS.) River Tam is either a Time Lord whose Chameleon Arch screwed up (Simon being her companion), a humanoid TARDIS, or Jenny. With respect to Harry Potter, either the wizards will evolve into the Time Lords or the house-elfs are devolved from them (with Dobby being the Doctor). And the Doctor Who section lists not only the Doctor but also the Master, John Simm, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith (who's listed as Matt Smith (XI) on IMDb), the entire production staff, the police box (the Doctor being its TARDIS), Pete Tyler, and Wilf (because WILFRED MOTT=TIME LORD FTW).

      Fandom is scary.

      • Openattheclose says:

        The Island is a TARDIS is my head-canon, and Daniel Faraday would make the best Companion ever. The Room of Requirement is also totally a TARDIS.

      • echinodermata says:


        ("there's also a theory that the Island is a Time Lord and Locke's its TARDIS." – that's amazing.)

  38. alexamarie0813 says:

    can we just all take a moment to admire the pirtates' outfits? i mean, they're quite spiffy if i do say so myself.

  39. arctic_hare says:

    I LOVE YOUR LOVE OF IROH, MARK. FOR IT IS MY LOVE. 😀 I felt the same way about this episode, it's just a lot of FUN and Iroh is the BEST and I sympathize with Katara and PIRATES and and and AWESOME FUNNY TIEMZ. <3 <3 <3

  40. Jupiter Star says:

    Ohhh, Iroh and his Pai Sho ^_^. What ISN'T there to love about him and that game?

  41. Sue Deauxnim says:

    I've been lurking around your blog for a while now (since Harry Potter on Buzznet actually) and even though I'm thoroughly in love with Harry Potter and Hunger Games, Avatar is just awesome enough to make me come out and comment. I remember that this episode was one of the good funny ones for me. Not outstanding but squarely in my re-watchable episodes. Funny note is that one of the pirates is actually voiced by one of the creators of the show Bryan Konietzko and I could never stop laughing. I'm super excited that you're watching this because after a failed attempt to get someone to watch the show, your reviews just remind me of being in the fandom back when episodes were coming out weekly.

  42. Pelleloguin says:

    This was where I fell in love with Avatar, and by fell, I mean I jumped into the puddle and it was 40 feet deep and full of otter-penguins. I love how the serious issues, like Katara being jealous of Aang (I would have been too) are balanced by fun. (Pirates! I mean come on, PIRATES!) Once again, I want to answer you, Mark. But that would spoil the fun.
    So, here are my thoughts on Iroh: He's that happy old man content with life who just got a well earned vacation. But he's stuck with his sullen nephew, so he decided to enjoy his vacation even more by imparting wisdom and trolling him. Mostly trolling him.

  43. Kelsey says:

    All I can say (without spoilers) is MOAR REVIEWS PLZ. 4 posts per week is clearly NOT enough. Also, you are never ever prepared.

  44. Moon_Shadow says:

    Pai Sho was apparently invented for the show, and the rules aren't clear — the design looks to me like it's got some influence from chess, Mah Jong, and possibly Go, but it's evidently not much like any of them.

    • FlameRaven says:

      I think it has its most direct roots in Shoji ("Japanese chess") and Go, with the gridded board, but the pieces are definitely distinct from either, sort of a cross between Mah Jong and Go.

    • Avit says:

      Iunno, it looks a lot more like bizarro Chinese chess/xiang qi than mah jong.

  45. Elexus Calcearius says:

    I like this episode. It’s not particularly flashy, or memorable, but I think that it manages to be both funny and entertaining, while advancing the plot, and all in all is highly enjoyable.

    I like that Katara offered to teach Aang water-bending. Although a part of me wonders why they never bothered to do that before, I do like seeing the change from the first episode, where it was Katara asking Aang to teach her. I also do understand her frustration to a certain extent. I can imagine that she has, to a great extent, defined herself as being a water bender. She’s the only one in the entire North Pole, and much like how Sokka feels a strong connection to his ‘warrior’ persona, Katara feels water bending to be an important part of her. I do understand why Aang excels so quickly. He’s already mastered Air Bending, and I assume doing that involves very strict training of the body. You have to have the strength, stamina and flexibility to hold your body is certain ways, and this is where Katara falters, never having been training. That said, I get the sense it’s all just a game or a new toy for Aang, and that he could just forget about Water Bending and go do something else. Katara is more determined, and will continue working until things end up the way she wants. She’s talented- not so much as Aang- but also a hard worker, a potent combination.

    That being said, Aang did not deserve that rage. I understand Katara’s frustration, but Aang shouldn’t be blamed for his talent. Not to mention, Aang seems especially open to criticism; I think it’s part of his nature, but I also think that because he’s comes to have such a small group of friends, that he relies on their opinions all the more.

    Of course, I only dislike it in the sense of a person; in the sense of a character, her anger is welcomed, since every character needs flaws. I like how here we see a little less of the idealist Katara, and a bit more of the pragmatic Katara. She stole, because she knew it would help both her and Aang. Yes, stole, and even though it was from pirates, you can probably see moral ambiguity there. I personally aren’t that surprised to see protagonists on a show steal something and get away with it, but I confess that I didn’t know that the climate for most shows, or at least those aimed at children, was so starkly opposed to it.

    Now, another major thing to note in this episode; the scene which launched a thousand ships. Or, to be more accurate, the scene which launched one really big ship armed with a crew of thousands of Zutara shippers.

    To be completely honest….I don’t really see what appeals to Zutarans in this particular scene. Yes, it features Katara close to each other, in a way that could be considered sexual, but for me, it just comes off as creepy. Katara obviously doesn’t want to be there; this person has hunted her, taken her property, has imprisoned her, and I get the sense that all she’d really like to do is kick him in the nuts then freeze him in a block of ice. I really don’t blame her. Yeah, we the viewers have seen his sympathetic side, but she’s seen nothing of that. (Note: This does not mean that I’m against Zutara at all or completely, just when its based off this scene. In regards to anything else, “Spoilers, sweetie.”)

  46. @Siesiegirl says:

    "I don’t think it’s entirely done out of some sick joy, as I think it’s Iroh’s way of trying to teach Zuko to calm down, to appreciate the small moments, and to learn some patience."

    Exactly. Iroh reminds me of the jester/fool archetype who uses humor to teach great truths and life lessons. His trolling has immunity because he's just this harmless old man, grown fat and lazy after what we are to assume was an illustrious career (the "once-great general" thing). Sometimes Zuko acknowledges Iroh's importance and worth, but then he'll backslide into dismissiveness again. That actually serves Iroh just fine, though, because it enables him to continue doing his thing without interference. If too many people started taking him too seriously it would be much harder for him to mentor Zuko (which Zuko desperately needs).

    On an unrelated note, Zhao makes me want to see Lucius Malfoy in muttonchops. 🙂

  47. Bacon_Bomb says:


    • dreining says:

      I resent this statement. *waves Zutara flag proudly, Zutara national anthem rising to a crescendo in the background*

    • ThreeBooks says:

      CAN WE TALK ABOUT HOW HILARIOUS PAIRING WARS GET? BECAUSE I'M UP FOR THAT. *waves Zuzoah and Motara flags while wearing the trolliest of faces*

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:


      Jesus if I ignite another shipping war, I'm going to go live in the desert forever.

      • arctic_hare says:

        Let's move to the South Pole and go penguin-sledding every day if that happens!

      • tehrevel says:

        I think this shipping war was being fought long before avatar was a twinkle in your innocent unsullied by weird fictional relationship drama eye.

    • FlameRaven says:

      How about we keep the shipping wars out of the comments? Because srsly, I had enough of that on the AtLA communities when the show was airing.

      Keep the crazy shipping wars in the Twilight fandom plzkthx.

    • Openattheclose says:

      I love Zutara <3

    • agrinningfool says:

      *blink* I didn
      t think it was.. getting much mention in the threads..? Why..?
      I'm sorry you think Zutara is a gross ship.

      • Bacon_Bomb says:

        its not that i think its eww gross but well actually yeah.. i just want AtLAB to be this pure thing that simply is what it is (awesome) and not have to think about this:

        <img src=""&gt;

        at all. Like, you know how when you have a rad dream about flying because you were a butterfly and you go and sip nectar from flowers and stuff? Why can't it just be that and not like, this dream where OMG UR GOING THRU DEEP CHANGES and mostly you TO TASTE LIFE'S NECTAR or something meta???

        Maybe that's just me. OH GOD WHAT DID I JUST WRITE?!

        • Openattheclose says:

          See, I think of Mark's forum as a pure thing, and when I'm here I don't want to have to think about wanky shipping wars. I don't want to see another Ginny slut-shaming war ever again.

        • dragonsong12 says:

          Oh man, you're getting so many downvotes, but I'm with you here. There's so much to this show and all the babbling about shipping is so petty and uneccessary. THERE'S SO MUCH MORE TO TALK ABOUT YOU GUYS THAN THE MUNDANE BABBLING OF WHO ENDS UP WITH WHO.

          …I have a feeling I'll be complaining about it again soon, too, but I'm with you.

          • affableevil says:

            It's not so much that Bacon is getting downvotes because they don't want to see shipping stuff – it's because Bacon is saying specifically that one pairing is GROSS and WRONG and we shouldn't see any of that pairing in particular. If they were just complaining about how everyone wants to shoehorn this awesome series into a show about who hooks up with who, I'd be in total agreement. There's a lot more to the show. It's just problematic when one pairing is singled out as everything that is wrong with the world. People are going to get defensive, try to defend it, shipwars and possible spoilers etc.

    • H. Torrance Griffin says:

      There are many chars who have more pairing potential w/ Zuko than Katara has, problem it further discussion brings spoilers.

  48. Elexus Calcearius says:

    "Um, is it cabbage man?"
    "You need to give his real name!"

    And the war is lost due to rudeness.

  49. Thennary Nak says:

    I remember listening to one of the episode commentaries by the creators one of them mentioned that he had used his cat as inspiration for Momo, which might explain that nine lives line.

  50. Candy says:

    Iroh is truly the best.

    And to be quite honest I think Aang totally deserved that rage, if for no other reason than that it smartened him up to how much of a show off he was coming across as.

  51. Meenalives says:

    And already the shipping discussions are starting! Basically, my view is that Kataang is cute as a kind of little kid crush, but taking it too seriously squicks me out a bit, given that Aang is 12 and Katara is used to thinking of herself as much older. I like Zutara in theory, but I also think there is absolutely no way it could work in the long run between those two for somewhat spoilery reasons related to social class and cultural differences. I'm also very new to this fandom so I'm hearing about most of the wars secondhand but I think both of those ships have some serious problems.

    • herpestidae says:

      We mostly rip on Zutara because of the Crackpot theories they came up with. There's a thing on youtube called "Zutara Evidence for the Intellectual Dummy" that outlines this. "Insane Troll Logic" doesn't even begin to describe most of that stuff. That series literally cites Zuko looking at Katara in episode 1 as proof. That is not hyperbole.

      • Meenalives says:

        Yeah. The thing is, I think there definitely is evidence for Zutara, and I can definitely imagine them having a fling, but if they decided they were each other's Eternal True Love, I can't imagine the results as anything but unbearably tragic (again, spoilers).

    • Hotaru_hime says:

      Imagine Zuko coming home with Katara going, "Hey, meet my Waterbending girlfriend!"
      Pretty sure the whole Nation would be in an uproar to destroy him.

    • notemily says:

      I think Zuko and Katara have great chemistry together, but that doesn't mean I ship them in canon. I don't ship Harry/Draco in canon either, but I do ship it. If that makes sense. Like, it could never happen in canon, but in an AU it could, and that's what fanfic is for.

  52. @magfrypie says:

    Totally expressing my love of this episode through the icons it inspired (thank you, othellia over at livejournal):

    Best troll ever.
    <img src=""&gt;

    I totally feel the same way about naturally talented people surpassing you in places you worked really hard! Katara appeals to our human natures, for sure.
    <img src=""&gt;

    And CABBAGEMAN!!!!
    <img src=""&gt;

    I love Zutara, but this is really, really true:
    <img src=""&gt;

    LOL Zuko.
    <img src=""&gt;

    And the best icon in the history of icons! I <3 Emperor's New Groove.
    <img src=""&gt;

  53. mou issai says:

    I'll save you from the pirates

    …And so the ~Zutara Capture Fic~ was born….Not that I know the term for that specific type of fic. Please stop judging me. ATLA was my first venture into fanfiction and I wouldn't have even been aware of fanfic if I wasn't following Mark Reads Harry Potter at the same time I finished this series and wanted MOAR.

    • FlameRaven says:

      It's okay. My first fandom was Pokemon. I'm pretty sure at the tender age of 11 or 12 I stumbled onto some Misty/Goldeen fanfic and my outlook on the internet has never been the same. DDD: I won't even get into the pokemorphs.

      Rule 34. ):

      (And yes, 99% of Zutara fics seem to be 'omg Katara is captured by Zuko… and then they make out.' I dunno.)

  54. xpanasonicyouthx says:


  55. @Nycteridae says:

    Water whip makes sense as a name, because waterbending is based off Tai Chi, and there's a Tai Chi move called Single Whip.

    I also love that they didn't get all preachy about the shoplifting. It's a cultural relic of Katara's tribe, and do you think pirates came by it honestly? I don't have a problem with her taking it, especially since she planned to use it to SAVE THE WORLD.

  56. bookgal12 says:

    I re-watched this episode and was blown away how awesome Iroh is even early on. Iroh will forever be one of my favorites :). Anyways, I really liked Katara's reaction to Aang because I could see a younger me react that way. We all talked about its because she jealous of Aang's natural ability with the water. I think it was good to see some conflict between the two of them because it shows that even if she does believe in Aang, Katara will still disagree or argue with him. As for the pairing of Zuuko and Katara, I have to admit I could see that working on some level. They are both older and more attentive of their budding sexuality. Overall, I thought this episode was good and it had a nice blend of funny hoaky humor like the cabbage man and jealously with Katara.

  57. Shay_Guy says:

    Avatar morality: SRE for LIOPS; steal from pirates!

    So. Zutara.

    Other people have talked about how this one scene singlehandedly launched the most popular ship in Avatar fandom. Since there are already several comment threads on that, it might be best to start a separate one, because that's not what I want to talk about.

    See, Zutara also seems to have produced a phenomenon that, as far as I know, is utterly unprecedented in the history of shipping. I have it on good authority that there are people on deviantART who ship Zutara, or at least draw fanart of it… without having the slightest idea who Zuko or Katara are. Or even that the two of them are from anything. It's just "there's this Japanese guy with fire powers and this Inuit girl with water powers and they have angry sex."

    No, I don't get it either.

    • Anonymouse says:

      O.o Really? That's….wow….

    • @liliaeth says:

      Why would anyone ship a pairing without knowing the source material, that just makes no sense whatsoever.

      • FlameRaven says:

        I don't know. I have seen an Ace Attorney fic where the author didn't know anything about the characters or setting and was basically just writing the story regardless. Oddly enough, it actually worked better for me as I wasn't terribly fond of the canon characters.

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      ….I had no idea that ship was so prevalent.

      I mean, seriously? XD

      • FlameRaven says:

        It's pretty much the #1 most popular pairing in AtLA fandom, with Katara/Aang slightly following. I don't know why, either.

  58. freeradicals says:

    And once again I am sitting on my hands to avoid spoilers.

    But on an unrelated note, I do appreciate that the main three "good" characters are shown to be immature from time to time. Things like selfishness and anger and other character flaws are wonderful because it provides realism and we get to watch the characters grow!

  59. enigmaticagentscully says:

    "Maybe it should be a proverb…"

    I lol'd. Iroh is the best part of this show so far y/y?


  60. sundaycoma says:

    I'm gonna be Gambit in my youth and Iroh in my elderly years!

    It has been my dream since I was a little girl!

  61. @UnaMorgan says:

    Okay, does anyone else (besides me and my friends) find it amusing that there is a PIRATES VS NINJAS fight in this episode?! I mean, come on!!

    *Bending – Authentic Martial Arts Fighting Style*
    Waterbending is Tai Chi
    Airbending is Ba Gua
    Earthbending is Hung Gar
    Firebending is Northern Shaolin Kung Fu

  62. PaulineParadise says:

    Just so you know; the person who is Zuko in the dutch A:TLA is also Ferb in the dutch Phineas and Ferb.

  63. Delia says:

    All the words in this show are in Chinese which is Bilingual Bonus to those who can read and understand them (like me!) which I really like. I translated like crazy on this forum I am on.

    Since I do learn tai chi, yes, there is a real move called the single water whip.

  64. Hey there! I just wanted to mention that I love all your posting way and that I’m going to follow this blog often from now on 😉 Keep writing!

  65. notemily says:

    So you can epically troll everyone, turn into a cat, and then go swimming in piles of money? Sounds good to me.

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