Mark Watches ‘Avatar’: S01E13 – The Blue Spirit

In the thirteenth episode of the first season of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang heads off to a nearby mountain to find an herbalist who can hopefully help the dreadfully sick (and hilariously delusional) Sokka. Aang is captured by the Fire Nation, where a strange masked fighter works to help the Avatar escape. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Avatar.

In grounding this show in a bit of reality, the writers still find ways to keep this plot adventurous and fantastical. “The Blue Spirit” opens precisely with this sort of realism: Sokka is sick from exposure during the storm in the previous episode. I like that. Yes, it’s a way for the writers to re-focus the story almost entirely on Aang, but it’s a also a nice nod to the fact that there are other factors that this trio has to take care of on their journey to the north pole.

In addition to that, we also get a glimpse of the inner politics of the Fire Nation. I’ve commented before that this show does a great job with blurring the lines between the two camps, so much so that I don’t even really believe there are two sides anymore. I’m simultaneously cheering for Aang and Zuko at the same time, there are people in this world who side with neither people, and aside from a small handful of characters in the Fire Nation, there really aren’t people I feel like I could grow to dislike. (Do I need to talk about my astral plane love affair with Uncle Iroh? I will if I have to.)

Commander Zhao’s promotion provides him with another method with which he can capture the Avatar. As I was watching this episode, and as I do most times I’m watching something, I look for things I can pick up on, parallels I want to talk about, character changes that deserve a comment, and other things of the sort. I though the Yu Yan archers were a neat idea, but would they actually be a match for someone who’s a pretty good Airbender? (The answer is yes, but that’s not the point.) The first real thought that I believed most of this review would deal with is the fact that things, yet again, seemed to be heading down a familiar path: Fire Nation comes up with a new way to capture the Avatar. They try. They fail. Cycle starts over again.

“The Blue Spirit” is the first significant time that the episode starts off that way, but suddenly veers way off to the right and takes us down a completely unsuspected path. The first inkling we get of that is right after Zhao is promoted, and we pan up to discover that someone in a blue mask has been listening to his conversation with another Fire Nation general. (Also, seriously, that mask in the dark made me jump a little. WHY AM I CREEPED OUT SO EASILY.)

So, that’s the Blue Spirit, I assumed. But who was he working for? And why?

Back in Camp Avatar, as Sokka is telling us tales of Appa’s jokes and his magical Earthbending abilities, Aang decides that it’s time for him to head to a local herbalist at the top of nearby mountain to find something to bring his friends back to good health, setting in to motion his eventual capture.

That capture is not at all a typical bit of plotting, though, and I began to appreciate the further parallels between Zuko and Aang that are drawn throughout this story, especially since so many of them are understated in the narrative. Prince Zuko is becoming frustrated and hopeless about his quest to capture the Avatar, giving us one of the sadder moments we’ve seen for him. There’s something vast and spacious about his vacant fear spreading out on the deck of the ship as he confesses (seemingly unintentionally) to Iroh that he may soon have to come to terms with the fact that he might actually lose his father, his respect, his honor, and his country. The fact that he entertains this idea at all is gut-wrenching to me because Prince Zuko’s determination seemed so ironclad throughout the show so far.

We’ve seen Aang doubt himself quite a bit, with “The Storm” providing the largest slice of it so far. In that sense, “The Blue Spirit” is kind of a wonderful emotional companion to the last episode, because even though Prince Zuko’s screentime is so reduced, I’d say this story is mostly about him.

Really, though, that’s sort of all that I want to talk about, and I can’t be arsed to slog through a play-by-play analysis of what essentially amounts to a chase-scene-into-a-capture-into-another-chase-scene kind of story. (FOR THE RECORD, THESE CHASE SCENES, ESPECIALLY THE FINAL ESCAPE, ARE TRULY SPECTACULAR. I WILL COMMENT ON THIS LATER.) I need to talk about Things. There are these Things I Need To Talk About and This Is My Blog.

I was entertained by “The Blue Spirit.” Nothing about what I’m going to say invalidates that concept. I was enjoying the episode and the spectacular choreography of the fight scenes, in particular when Aang was trying to avoid the Yu Yan. I was pretty stoked once it was clear the Blue Spirit was coming after Aang to rescue him. It was even more satisfying to watch how well the two of them worked together, despite that, to Aang, this person was an absolute stranger. (Side tangent: What were those amazing ladder things that the Fire Nation had??? I rewound that scene TWICE just to be flabbergasted by how fantastic those things were. THEY ARE BRILLIANT DEVICES.)

I knew something was going to be different about this episode when the Blue Spirit and Aang did not clear the final wall, falling painfully to the ground by Zhao and a handful of soldiers. Zhao orders his troops to stop firing, to prevent the Avatar from dying. Without hesitation, the Blue Spirit brings his two swords to crisscross over Aang’s neck and suddenly THIS DOES NOT MAKE SENSE AT ALL. Surely it’s just a bluff, right? But the speed with which this masked person brought those swords up…it was as if losing the Avatar right then and there would have meant virtually nothing to him. Either the Avatar comes with him or it comes with no one. CHILLS. FOR REAL.

But Zhao is not done with this intruder, despite letting Aang leaved with the Blue Spirit. As a Yu Yan archer draws back their bow, I figured Aang would show off his bad ass skills and block the arrow. Except NOPE. NOT AT ALL. In the blink of an eye, the arrow nails the Blue Spirit directly in the mask, knocking the figure to the ground. For just a moment, Aang looks down and IS THAT THE FAMILIAR SCAR WE’VE ALL COME TO ASSOCIATE WITH ONE CHARACTER YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME

I love plot twists because most days, as pedantic and complicated and ridiculous as my brain is, I am a simple man. That’s not to say this is a simple twist, as it suddenly opens up a GIGANTIC WAVE OF COMPLEX THEORIZING AND CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, but seriously: BRILLIANT EXECUTION. I did not see that coming for a second at all. In fact, going back over the few appearances of Prince Zuko in “The Blue Spirit,” it actually doesn’t feel totally obvious in hindsight. His dejection expressed towards Uncle Iroh is genuine. In terms of the timeline, there are no hints or visual cues that Prince Zuko is slipping away to track Aang. In short: completely unprepared.

Once Aang brings up that dust cloud and is able to pull off the Blue Spirit’s mask, the scene is written with a brilliantly silent sadness, as Aang’s tries to comprehend the very idea that Prince Zuko would save him from his own Fire Nation. That shock turns into conflict: Does Aang leave the guy behind? Does he leave him to suffer at the hands of his own people? God, I seriously love the tortured look on his face at this point in the story, and I love it even more that he willingly chooses to take Aang with him.

Of everything that could have happened when Aang and Zuko were alone and Zuko finally woke up from being knocked out cold, I have to commend the writers for not only avoiding the obvious, but for choosing to go a much more poetic route than I anticipated:

“Before the war started, I used to always visit my friend Kuzon. The two of us, we’d get in and out of so much trouble. He was one of the best friends I ever had….And he was from the Fire Nation, just like you. If we knew each other back then, do you think we could’ve been friends, too?”

Aang puts the situation in terms he understands: there’s no mention of wars or nations fighting against kingdoms. He just wants to be friends. Seriously, one of the best moments of this show so far, and yet another totally and completely unfair thing that makes me wish there was like TEAM AVATAR or something and Zuko could just join and everyone could be cute friends and stuff? Ok, yeah, that would ruin like half the fun of the tension between the two, but a boy can dream.

I think maybe a small portion of me just wants Prince Zuko to find something to make him feel satisfied. The final shot of Zuko and Iroh on board their Fire Nation ship is, again, a surprisingly understated moment for Avatar. This show is most certainly an action show, full of adventure and fighting, and energetic fighting. That’s why this quiet moment, paralleling Aang’s own earlier, is a great chance for this story to slow down and reflect on the intricate emotional turmoil that Aang and Zuko are going through.

Bless this show.


  • There will probably be more of these than usual. BUCKLE IN, WATCHERS.
  • Appa’s jokes….seriously. SERIOUSLY SO GOOD.
  • As strange as it was, I loved the tiny switch to Momo’s point-of-view, confirming what I believe to be true: animals can’t understand shit when we talk to them. Also, I’m gonna need a full list of all the items Momo brings Katara and Sokka. That shot with like a hundred things littered in the frame? Brilliant.
  • I want to sleep on Appa. 🙁
  • Ok, that’s like the…third time we’ve heard about Ba Sing Se? We know Uncle Iroh laid seige there before giving up, so now I’m curious: what is inside Ba Sing Se?
  • Uncle Iroh’s beautiful obsession with Pai Sho is perfection.
  • Speaking of the music….some truly hypnotizing work in this episode, particularly the theme used when we first see the giant fortress that Aang is imprisoned in.
  • “Take that, you rock!”
  • Um….where did the Blue Spirit get that bucket from? I’m not really a fan of nitpicking this sort of stuff, but that literally came out of nowhere.
  • I am really, truly enjoying this show. This is not really like much of anything I’ve ever watched, both in terms of the medium and the genre. I AM QUITE GLAD I PICKED THIS.


About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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211 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Avatar’: S01E13 – The Blue Spirit

  1. Depths_of_Sea says:

    Also, I’m gonna need a full list of all the items Momo brings Katara and Sokka. That shot with like a hundred things littered in the frame? Brilliant.
    <img alt="" src=""&gt;
    <img alt="" src=""&gt;
    Hmm, let's see… I count three fans, five scrolls, three tea pots, a broom, a few sacks, a knife, a sleeping mat, that crown, a crapload of of bowls and jars, a little round table with an apple on it, oh screw it, let's just assume Momo brought everything and the kitchen sink.

    Not lying, this is my favorite episode of Season One. The fights are great, the thematics are great, the plot twist is great… oh yeah, and the Blue Spirit's theme:

    I love this show's soundtrack so much.

    • mou issai says:

      Now I'm wondering what happened to all that stuff. Did they just leave it there or try to return it to whoever? I'm guessing the latter. Also I don't remember that tapestry being there the whole time so I'm going to assume that Momo pulled an amazing feat of flying lemur strength and brought it there.

    • sabra_n says:

      Some of that stuff looks heavy, too. Good lifting, Momo!

    • mkjcaylor says:

      A grate. Where? Did he get a grate?

  2. SpiderHyphenMan says:

    The one-two punch of "The Storm" and "The Blue Spirit" is what got me hooked on this show.

  3. barnswallowkate says:

    Despite the movie ruining this episode's big secret for me, I still liked it a lot & found the reveal really effective. I guess that tells you something about the quality of this episode, that even knowing the end didn't make it less fun. It may also tell you something about the quality of the movie, that despite it containing the same cool twist as the show, it wasn't all that interesting =P

    I loved the MomoCam scenes and I really want Zuko to stop being a Firebender and be BFFs with Aang instead. I am loving this show!

  4. echinodermata says:

    I like this episode better than The Storm. There, I said it. I just think it's spectacular, and does some great things with characters without an exposition dump. Plus, this ep is just utterly gorgeous.

    Oh look, a cat that's just a cat! No changes to biology. I love that that's a remarkable detail on this show, cause I love all those altered animals.

    Zhao and Aang finally get to meet. Pretty interesting. I think Zhao is an intriguing figure, even if he is pretty predictable. And he makes a speech! I love speeches.

    So, the Blue Spirit. It's pretty novel that someone is willing to help Aang escape, but is also willing to risk Aang's life to save his own. And then it turns out it's Zuko, and it makes total sense. While the last episode intrigued me about Zuko's character, this was the episode that really made me get interested in him. And it's nice that Aang wants to be friends with Zuko, basically. But of course, Zuko has to reject the possibility.

    It's also important to note that Zuko is taking some serious risks by freeing Aang. He's going into Fire Nation territory, with Zhao who hates him, and a very well trained army ready to take down any threats. Even disregarding firebending soldiers, there's some seriously fine bowmanship there.
    <img src=""&gt;
    <img src="">(Although this second gif just reminds me of that one MythBusters ep. Apparently arrows just do not fly straight enough for this to be possible.) Pretty cool that Zuko is that determined to do what he feels he has to do. For himself, and not for his nation.

    Anyway, here's some fanart. (Potential spoilers at the source links)
    <img src=""&gt;(Source)

    <img src=""&gt;(Source)

    And here's some pretty from the show:
    <img src=""&gt;
    <img src=""&gt;
    <img src=""&gt;
    <img src=""&gt;

    • monkeybutter says:

      Haha, I agree with your brave declaration. This episode is just so gorgeous and thrilling to watch, even on the 8 millionth viewing when you know it's Zuko saving the day. Iroh hustling at Pai Sho and music night are sprinkles on the top.

      Cat ladies have to have cats, no substitutions allowed!

    • Mez says:

      Actually, it *is* possible to do that with arrows. I grew up around archers, and I've seen it done. People tend to end up saving the split arrow with the other inside it, and mounting them on walls.

      • echinodermata says:

        But we're not talking perfect splits, are we? Right down the middle all the way to the tip?

        • Mez says:

          Yep. Right to the end.

          • echinodermata says:

            Okay, so I did some googling, and so I think the issue is that it's possible to do it with modern arrows, but not with period (read: wooden) arrows (the grain of the wood seems not to allow it). So we're both correct, I think? I expect the ATLA arrows to be wood, though.

    • __Jen__ says:

      Agreed on liking this episode better than The Storm.

    • mkjcaylor says:

      I also agree! I think this may be the episode that got me binge watching.

    • notemily says:

      I love that the "normal" cat is owned by the "insane" herbalist. I don't know what to think about Aang calling her insane and her agreeing, but I like that it's implied that no "normal" person would have an animal as weird as a "cat." Normal people have sky bison and bat lemurs, obviously.

  5. shyfully says:

    Watching Zuko and Aang interact with Aang not knowing that it’s Zuko is super hilarious. Just because… Zuko is so angry at all times, but he can’t talk but he can let himself be recognized, and then Aang is all immature and silly and you just know Zuko must be dying trying not to yell. Like when Aang wants to go after the frogs – “My friends need to suck on those frogs!” – you totally know that Zuko wants to yell “FORGET THE FROGS!!!!” as he would in most other situations, but he can’t! So he just has to grab Aang by the collar and drag him away. Hee.

    <img src=>

    And then, when they get to actually fighting together, they are awesome. I wish they could team up always! Because that fight scene amazed me. I do like that Aang had more of an edge in those fights than Zuko- since Zuko isn’t using his main weapon, firebending, it would be weird if he came across as more skilled. I did really like that Zuko was smart enough to threaten Aang’s life to get them out alive, though Aang certainly didn’t appreciate it. He probably should have known that Zhao wouldn’t give up that easily, though.

    <img src=>

    I love, love Aang in this episode. He’s seriously such a good kid, down to his core. II love that he saved Zuko, even though Zuko has always been his enemy and Aang didn’t get to hear Zuko’s backstory. And he doesn’t just save Zuko- he waits for him to wake up to make sure he is okay. And his talk about how he used to have friends in the Fire Nation and wondering whether, if Zuko had been born back then, they would have been friends is so sad. I wish you guys could be friends, too, Aang! And I think it was very interesting that Zuko waited and listened to all that before attacking. I’ve seen people argue that he was still coming to and wasn’t really clear yet, but I think he was actually listening. Of course, the whole point is moot because it isn’t 100 years ago and they can’t be friends. So, Zuko attacks and Aang leaves.

    Interesting thoughts about Zuko: it’s fascinating to see that he will actually act in a treasonous way against the Fire Nation. I mean, not for no reason, but still. Also, he turned away from the Fire Nation symbol at the end. I liked that little moment a lot. Also, the way they cut back and forth between Aang and Zuko lying down, angsting. Do you think the show might be telling us there is a parallel there? Hmmm, between these last two episodes, I can’t tell! I kid because I love.

    <img src=>

    I also liked that Lt. Jee and Zuko were working together well. And that Iroh had that statue from the pirates. And that there was music night! But we missed it 🙁 Also, there was another Ba Sing Se reference in Zhao’s speech.


    Sokka: You know what I love about Appa the most? His sense of humor!

    Aang: That’s how Sokka started yesterday. Now look at him, he thinks he’s an earthbender!
    Sokka: Tale that, you rock!

    Soldier: Says here that the Avatar can create tornadoes and run faster than the wind! Pretty amazing.
    Other Soldier: Eh, that’s just a bunch of Fire Lord propaganda! There’s no way that’s true.

    Iroh: Is everything okay? It’s been almost an hour and you haven’t given the men an order.

    Aang: I’ve never hidden from you! Untie me and I’ll fight you right now!
    Zhao: Uh, no. Tell me, how does it feel to be the only airbender left? Do you miss your people? Oh, don’t worry. You won’t be killed like they were. See, if you die you’ll just be reborn the Fire Nation will have to begin its search for the Avatar all over again. So, I’ll keep you alive… but just barely.

    Aang: You know what the worst part about being born over a hundred years ago is? I miss all the friends I used to hang out with. Before the war started, I used to always visit my friend Kuzon. The two of us, we’d get in and out of so much trouble together. He was one of the best friends I ever had, and he was from the Fire Nation, just like you. If we knew each other back then, do you think we could have been friends too?

    Iroh: Where have you been, Prince Zuko? You missed music night! Lieutenant Jee sang a stirring love song.

    Sokka: Aang, how was your trip? Did you make any new friends?
    Aang: No, I don’t think I did.

    <img src=>

    Finally, I straight up adore the music in this episode. The Blue Spirit’s theme is awesome and then the Tsungi Horn song is so melancholy and wonderful. They really set the mood of the whole episode. I <3 the Track Team so much.

    • echinodermata says:

      "I think I almost like this episode slightly better than The Storm, if that is possible. It’s mellower, in a way, and I love the melancholy ending."
      MTE. The tone of this episode just hits so many of my buttons; plus, I still remember this being the episode that really made me care about Zuko, moreso than The Storm.

      "And I think it was very interesting that Zuko waited and listened to all that before attacking. I’ve seen people argue that he was still coming to and wasn’t really clear yet, but I think he was actually listening"

      Aw, I didn't realize that was a fan speculation. I love the way Zuko rejects Aang.

      • shyfully says:

        Yeah, the Storm is a great episode in terms of reveals and I love it and I couldn't wait for Mark to reach it, but this is the episode I'm more likely to rewatch. It's so gorgeous and sad and amazing.

        Aw, I didn't realize that was a fan speculation. I love the way Zuko rejects Aang.

        Well, it might just have been some of my friends at the time, I don't know how widespread that idea was? But I am firmly of the belief that he was listening and maybe thought about it for a second. But he has to reject Aang. 🙁

      • Avit says:

        Yep yep. So not alone.

    • monkeybutter says:

      And I think it was very interesting that Zuko waited and listened to all that before attacking. I’ve seen people argue that he was still coming to and wasn’t really clear yet, but I think he was actually listening.

      I love fan arguments.That pause before Zuko attacks is fantastic.

    • Depths_of_Sea says:

      Aang: I’ve never hidden from you! Untie me and I’ll fight you right now!
      Zhao: Uh, no. Tell me, how does it feel to be the only airbender left? Do you miss your people? Oh, don’t worry. You won’t be killed like they were. See, if you die you’ll just be reborn the Fire Nation will have to begin its search for the Avatar all over again. So, I’ll keep you alive… but just barely.

      Uggghhh, I wanted to punch Zhao for that. Yeah, his people are all dead WAY TO RUB IT IN DOUCHENOZZLE.

      • Tauriel_ says:

        Actually, it proves that Zhao is actually pretty smart. If he weren't, he'd simply have Aang killed – but he actually thinks things through and knows that Avatar is essentially immortal – he keeps reincarnating. Zhao is an evil bastard, but he's not an idiot. I love smart villains. 😀

        • Though given that the comet is coming the very next summer, and the next Avatar would still be just a baby at that point… Killing Aang doesn't seem like such a bad move. Especially given that he managed to escape. XD

          • Tauriel_ says:

            Well, the best tactic would be to capture Aang, hold him inside some impenetrable prison in the Fire Nation, wait for the comet, wipe out all the Water Tribe people, and THEN kill Aang. That way the Avatar would have nowhere to reincarnate (because Water comes after Air), and the cycle would be broken.

        • affableevil says:

          Well, I think it was a little stupid of Zhao not to realize that if the person holding Aang was knocked out, it'd be pretty easy for him to run away. But, on the whole, I find him a pretty intelligent villain. If immensely douchey.

      • Elexus Calcearius says:

        You know, I think Zhao is the type of guy that if your dog just died, he'd buy a whole bunch a dogs, come over to your place and be like; "Hey, like my hounds. They're so cool and alive. Hey, where's your dog?"

  6. Kaci says:

    Oh, man. This isn't one of my favorite episodes of the series, but it's so good that I'm almost ashamed of myself for not including it higher. But what's brilliant about it, I think, is that for me, it was better on a second watch. To watch it again, knowing it's Zuko, knowing that he's doing these things and why he's doing them, and then to get to that scene again, just the two of them, "Could we have been friends?" and immediately Zuko shoots fire at him and Aang just leaves without saying another word…ugh. Beautiful. Perfectly executed.

    This show is magic. I have no idea how anyone could watch it and not fall in love, and I don't want to know. The idea is too sad to even think about.

  7. hpfish13 says:

    Wait, no mention of "My friends need to suck on those frogs!"? Such a wonderful quote!

  8. mou issai says:

    I took notes to avoid schoolwork and also because the series is getting really good. My highlights:

    Splitting the arrows in half makes me think of Robin Hood: Men in Tights.

    "I love Appa's sense of humor."
    "Classic Appa."

    Hustling Iroh <3

    Zuko being known for consistently giving orders every hour.

    "Please go back to being frozen" and "My friends need to suck on those frogs!"

    "Lt. Jee sang a stirring love song."
    I want to hear that along with Iroh accompanying him on the tsungi horn.

    "Did you make any new friends?"
    "No I don't think I did."

    🙁 I wish you had.

  9. Dragonsong12 says:

    "(Do I need to talk about my astral plane love affair with Uncle Iroh? I will if I have to.)"

    Please do…*dreamy sigh*

    There's so much good about this episode for me. Again, as an art-person, I ADORE the animation. The fight coreography (I think I spelled that wrong…oh well) was just astounding. Who knew Zuko was so good with twin blades?
    – and this is another episode Shyamalan ruined as the movie's fight scene was just garbage. I don't blame the coreographers (I should look that up…) because they're actually quite good…BUT THEY SPECIALIZE IN BRAWLS! Get someone who knows martial arts for your martial arts movie, is it really that hard?!
    Guh! Rant over.

    I love the reveal at the end, still more shades of grey, WHICH I LOVE! Also, the sad sort of look on Zuko's face as he watches Aang leave. He's such a wonderfully complex character. (And he's not even my favorite, haha!)

    • echinodermata says:

      "The fight coreography (I think I spelled that wrong…oh well) was just astounding"

      Favorite bit is Aang using a stick like a helicopter propeller, and the Blue Spirit whacking away arrows with his knives. Just, genius and I love this ep so much.

      • Dragonsong12 says:

        YES! That teamwork and the way they just WORK together, without exchanging hardly any words or cues, they just do it!

        • sundaycoma says:

          I write X-Men fanfic and because of Avatar, I've completely learned to rewrite all my fight scenes. Cause that, just that exact thing, how they work together and just /know/ what needs to be done, it is my favorite thing of superpowered fighting. More of that from everything forever please.

    • Bill says:

      As for the movie's version of that scene, my friends and I were sitting in the theater when the arrow hit zuko in the face without the archer even able to see him. My friend almost yelled out loud "SNIPER ARROW!" but how the hell did he make that shot?

  10. monkeybutter says:

    I think the only thing preventing me from declaring that "The Storm" is my favorite episode of the season is "The Blue Spirit." You see Zuko's frustration, but you don't put it together with the Blue Spirit himself, making the ending truly shocking. Zuko is willing to do anything to prevent someone else from capturing the Avatar, even if that means risking his life to rescue Aang. The escape sequence? Brilliant. I love every single moment of it. The music is also flawless, from the chase by the Yu Yan archers, to Uncle Iroh's tsungi horn through out (WE MISSED A STIRRING LOVE SONG!). Beautiful.

    I loved the moment at the end, where Aang is trying his best to see the good in Zuko, because he knows that the Fire Nation isn't all bad, only be rebuffed.

    <img src=""&gt;

    That has to be frustrating, knowing that the enemy of your enemy still can't be your friend. Poor Aang.

    I also loved switching between the tense scenes with Aang, to the humorous scenes with Katara and Sokka (oh, that Appa). The balance between

    <img src=""&gt;
    <img src=""&gt;


    <img src=""&gt;
    <img src=""&gt;

    was perfect. "My friends need to suck on those frogs!" It was also a great way to show just how dependent the members of the team are, and that they need as many friends as they can get. As great as Momo and Appa are, they don't know how to come to the rescue, and they can't provide the kind of comfort that a trusted human friend can. I say this as an avid animal lover, who would be miserable without my pets. As you mention, they don't really comprehend what you're saying when they tilt they're heads like so

    <img src=""&gt;

    Perfect encapsulation of dog and cat behavior, right? But, hey, at least they try! Good work scavenging, Momo.

    • __Jen__ says:

      Awesome gifs and review!

      Sokka calling Katara "your highness" with complete sincerity cracks me up every time.

      • monkeybutter says:

        I know! I'm so glad that Sokka gets to be goofy and cynical, because I absolutely adore both sides of his personality.

        • Elexus Calcearius says:

          Sokka is a very strange character in that sense. He's the idiot but also the smart one. The goofy one who's also cynical. Its great to see those two polar opposites in one character, but not feeling like he has two 'modes' that he flips between.

    • Skulls, Candied says:


      …..But then we DO get to hear it!!! The background music near the end, whose (unofficial) title is Tsungi Horn, sounds like a melancholy song Uncle Iroh would play (not to mention he DID say he was buying the tsungi horn for music night)

  11. redheadedgirl says:

    I knew that as soon as it was confirmed that Zuko was the Blue Spirit that you would be like "WHAT I WAS NOT EXPECTING THIS"

  12. doesntsparkle says:

    This episode and The Storm made me an unapologetic Zuko fangirl.

  13. shyfully says:


    <img src=>

  14. jubilantia says:

    So, this was the first episode that I watched, enabled by the kids I was babysitting, and it got me SO. HOOKED.

    • doesntsparkle says:

      I'm really jealous of kids who get to grow up with this show, I don't remember watching anything this good when I was a kid.

  15. Violets are Blue says:

    Zuko is so desperate for his father's love, he is willing to steal from his own nation (even if it is an asshole like Zhao) to do so. That, my dear sir, is dedication and a determination that most people would never amount to. Don't worry, Zuko, we all accept you…although that may be a terrible punishment considering the amount of Zuko fans and what they wo0uld like to do to him. Shudder.

  16. Stephalopolis says:

    Once again, we miss music night. Did you see that thing Iroh was playing?? Beautiful!But at least even though we missed it, we missed it for a good reason. Aang wondering at the end if they could ever be friends is just so emotional and great. And poor poor Zuko, stressed out over wanting to please his father and gain back his honor, yet his one hope being taken away by a higher ranking official. While I love The Storm, I think I love The Blue Spirit even more for how subtle it plays, and the emotional strings you have to figure out and navigate.

  17. kartikeya200 says:

    <img src=""&gt;

    Because our initial pickup from Nickelodeon was only for thirteen episodes, there was a chance that the thirteenth episode would be our last. Mike and I knew we needed something really exciting, on the level of a series finale. Since Mike had created such a compelling antagonist for Zuko in Commander zhao, we thought, "If Zhao captured Aang, no one would be more motivated to rescue him than Zuko."

    <img src=""&gt;

    The idea for Zuko's disguise and the plot for "The Blue Spirit" came to us very quickly after that, but initially in the writers' room we thought of him as the Red Spirit. I researched scores of masks from various Asian cultures and filled up a sketchbook with concepts for what he could look like.

  18. kaleidoscoptics says:

    "there’s no mention of wars or nations fighting against kingdoms. He just wants to be friends. "

    This is absolutely perfect and I think it sums up Aang's character wonderfully.

    Otherwise. Holy. Shit. I did not expect the Blue Spirit to be Zuko AT ALL. Obviously he’s trying to keep anyone else from taking the Avatar, but at the same time he seems to feel conflicted at the end. I cannot waiiit to see where this goes. Possible grudging allies episodes later? The parallels between Zuko and Aang are still wonderful. I hope we see more of them interacting in the future, and not just fighting.

    I was slightly disappointed that they wrote Sokka and Katara out of the ep, but I can understand why they did it. The Momo bits were pretty funny, as was the herbalist and her cat.

    Dude, with this ep right after The Storm, I am so psyched about this series.

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      I'm really interested to see how new-comers took that twist. It was too long ago for me to remember my friends' and my reaction. I do know that in the movie version (*hisses*) it was so very obvious, it was painful.

      • kaleidoscoptics says:

        To be honest, I sort of saw the movie for the Rifftrax, but half of it was forgettable and the other half of the time my friends and I weren't really paying attention. (Pretty much all I remember is Aasif Mandvi looking incredibly out of place, one major plot point, and the idiotic way they adapted "Imprisoned.") So I had completely forgotten this part. It was a really great reveal, like suddenly everything clicked into place.

  19. echinodermata says:

    If Mark is gonna get an answer from the show eventually, don't explain it. So yeah, this still counts as a spoiler.

    • Matt Thermo says:

      Ok, gotcha. I guess if there’s any remote question in my mind as to whether or not it’s a spoiler, no matter how minor it may seem to me, I should just go with my gut and not post it. Lesson learned.

      Sorry Mark.

  20. Goldensage says:

    This is one of my favorite episodes of the show. It's just so fantastic.

    And the Blue Spirit (and his music) is badass and AWESOME.

    • jubilantia says:

      Yeah, the percussive stuff while they're escaping is pretty much the best thing ever.

  21. stefb says:

    Um, how badass is Zuko that he can infiltrate a Fire Nation fortress filled with both archers and firebenders without USING BENDING AT ALL?!

    This episode made Zuko a certified Ninja. With a capital 'N'. This episode also made me realize, that if Katara and Aang didn't have their bending…well, they'd pretty much be useless in a fight (Aang uses his airbending CONSTANTLY, I seriously believe he'd be crippled without it), and Zuko would still be able to kick ass.

    • hpfan04 says:

      So, so true!

      Zuko: Certified Ninja Bad Ass.

    • I agree with you re: Aang and Airbending. I think Katara could survive without it–she wouldn't be happy, or complete, and unless/until she learned a new method of fighting, she wouldn't be much use on that front, but she could live.

      Aang… I'm not sure Aang could handle not being able to Airbend, especially since so much airbending consists of doing things that would maim/kill a non-bender. If his bending was somehow taken away, I think Aang would manage to kill himself in short order if he doesn't have people around him almost constantly early on. He just depends on it so much and so many of the things he does without even thinking would be impossible and dangerous without that ability.

    • enigmaticagentscully says:

      I'm actually really glad we got some confirmation of Zuko as a BAMF. I feel like, since he's always failing in his task to capture Aang, he could easily become just another ineffective villain. But it's great to see that he's actually a more than competent fighter and strategist too.

  22. Bacon_Bomb says:

    <img src=""&gt;

    we just wanted to drop by and say we love your blog!

    • jubilantia says:


      Yay for more fans of Mark! He's pretty awesome, isn't he?

      • Tauriel_ says:



        • Lobster says:

          Come on now, do we really need to make fun of his name? It always pisses me off when people do this because M. Night screwed with the movie. Um, yes, he totally white-washed it (and it was the worst thing ever) but acting like you can't say his name is doing the exact same thing he did, in its way. Please respect everybody, even though he didn't. Please be the bigger person.

          /gets off soapbox

          • Tauriel_ says:

            Actually, I was sort of mimicking the whole ALL CAPS OUTRAGE and vitriol-throwing that surrounded the film. Hence the smiley at the end. I have no personal issue with Shyamalan, but he really did screw TLA in about every aspect.

            • Lobster says:

              Fair enough! I guess I can see that now that you've mentioned it. But I still just want to say that it's a hot button issue and even mockingly it falls into Dude Not Funny territory for me. It's hard to read tone over the internet, after all. I don't think I even noticed the smiley when I first posted. But to be honest, I would have still posted anyway. I mean, if any show teaches us to respect everyone, it's Avatar, you know? So it's like, we should try to extend that respect even to people who don't deserve it, or to people who make Godawful films. XD

    • echinodermata says:

      Seen this picture before, but every time it makes me hate the movie (that I haven't even yet seen) even more.

    • thefireandthehearth says:

      So adorable. Why weren't these kids Aang and his stunt doubles in the movies?

    • corporatecake says:


  23. arctic_hare says:


    I love love love this episode. I love the characterization for Zuko and for Aang, I love that moment when Aang talks about his Fire Nation friend, I love that it continues realistically from The Storm, I love Momo-vision, I love delirious Sokka, I LOVE IROH FOR EVER AND ALWAYS… phew. It's just so awesome all around. I'm really glad you picked this show too!

  24. Tauriel_ says:

    This is one of my favourite episodes. 🙂

    Zhao is particularly villain-licious here – I love the scene where he taunts the captured Aang. You can tell that Jason Isaacs enjoyed it. 😀 Plus, he has a point – if you want to stop the Avatar, then you must keep him permanently captive, otherwise if you kill him, he'd just reincarnate in the next nation (in Aang's case, that would be the Water Tribe, according to the Avatar Cycle).

    When I first watched this episode, I guessed fairly early that the Blue Spirit was really Zuko – there was something about his movements, plus the musical theme was a strong cue (the same melancholic horn). It was great seeing Zuko fight without his firebending, and you can see that he's pretty badass even without it. The whole rescue sequence was an AWESOME bit of action – I loved Aang using a spear with a broken tip as a makeshift staff, as well as creative use of the ladders as walking poles.

    The revelation of Zuko as the Blue Spirit was lovely drama, as well as Aang's insecurity whether help him or not. The scene where Zuko wakes up and Aang muses whether they could've been friends if there had been no war is quite touching, and you almost feel hopeful that maybe Zuko will change his mind. But no, he lashes out at Aang. *sigh* Zuko, you're an idiot and you deserve to be whacked over your head with a rubber chicken.

  25. hallowsnothorcruxes says:

    The ending scene between Aang and Zuko is one of my favourites. I think its an homage to Cowboy Bebop in which Roco asks Spike "If I had met you earlier in my lifetime, do you think that we would've been friends?"
    The Blue Spirit and The Storm seem to be emotional counterparts and both are fantastic episodes. I also love the sound of the Tsungi Horn espescially at the end of the episode when Zuko returns to the ship. So mesmerizing.

  26. MichelleZB says:

    I don't know. I kind of feel like this *is* a spoiler. I know it's really hard to tell sometimes, but…

  27. barnswallowkate says:

    I knowwwwwwwww. I'll regret it for the rest of my life. Although watching it before the show means I didn't fully appreciate the entire depth of its failure and suckage – I'm slowly figuring out exactly how bad it really was. At the time I thought it was bad but not the absolute worst movie I'd ever seen; now my retroactive hate is immense.

    • affableevil says:

      That really is what makes the movie so truly detestable: Anybody can take a mediocre or crappy show and make a crappy movie out of it. But they took this beautiful, astonishing show and made an incredibly awful mess out of it. 🙁

  28. MichelleZB says:

    I love this episode SO MUCH. I love the way Zuko looks as Aang flies away right at the end. He's pretty conflicted. Yes, he must be disappointed that Aang got away, etc. But it looks like he was also sort of thinking about what Aang said about being friends. What Aang said gave him pause.

    I doubt Zuko has many friends.

    I love how the writers of the show explore Zuko's conflicting emotions. He's written the way Draco fans imagine Draco feels… but Draco just doesn't have that same story, and wasn't written that way. Draco is just a small-time bullying douchebag, who sometimes feels afraid or sad like the rest of us, because he's human, but his story isn't one of self-discovery. It feels like Zuko has such a horrible past, so much pain, and some serious shit to figure out. What does it mean to regain your honour? It doesn't feel like he knows.

    I also really like the fight scenes with the Blue Spirit! Zuko doesn't use any firebending at all, just his swords and his agility, probably so the bending doesn't give him away. Very clever.

  29. stumpoman says:

    Mark, I told myself I would finally stick to watching these at the same time as you. Finished season 2 last night.

    • jeno says:

      I finished rewatching season one a couple nights ago and had to literally shove my laptop into a drawer to stop. ):

  30. barnswallowkate says:

    The pic of Aang chained up reminded me – how would they ever imprison airbenders? As long as they can breathe, they can bend. I wonder if part of the reason they were all killed was because that's the only way to neutralize them.

    • chichichimaera says:

      Well obviously Zhao's set-up seems to work pretty well – all Aang can do are breath attacks, and those don't seem to be very conducive to escape, just smacking people off walls… So as long as you stayed well back, it sseems to be possible to imprison them, just not prevent them from bending.

      Although I suppose the elders might have known some escape-worthy breath techniques than Aang doesn't.

  31. thefireandthehearth says:

    I think maybe a small portion of me just wants Prince Zuko to find something to make him feel satisfied.

    You have officially described my reaction to Zuko after "The Storm" and "The Blue Spirit". I'm not even really sure I was thinking of these characters in terms of "good guys" and "bad guys" (except Zhao and the Fire Lord were firmly in the "dickbags" camp). I just wanted Zuko to stop hunting Aang and be happy and them they'd all have cake and tea that Iroh made and no one would every be sad again. I'm softie.

    How badass are Aang and Zuko? Superbly badass. Aang, for not letting a damn thing come in between him and helping his friends, and for offering the hand of friendship to Zuko. And I'm fairly sure Aang meant it, too. On another show, this would be Aang trying to trick him, but nope! Aang's just that kind of guy. Zuko's also pretty awesome, considering that he ninja-ed (totally a word) into Zhao's encampment without using a bit of firebending. Must have taken a good bit of skill, considering that all the benders we've seen before rely heavily on their bending to fight. I still get a little sad at the way Zuko rebuffs Aang- I'm the hopeful type, and it really did look like he was considering Aang's words for a second.

    I cannot say this enough- I love the way this show treats kids. There's none of this talking down bullshit, there's (fairly) complex moral issues, and there's bittersweet endings. YES PLZ.

  32. Hotaru_hime says:

    I don't have much to say beyond the ending. When Aang mentions his Fire Nation friend Kuzan and looks at Zuko, he looks mournful. Aang knows nothing of Zuko beyond his pursuit and that he is Fire Nation… and Fire Nation killed his people. And still Aang is sad. It speaks volumes about him as a person and it is all good.
    Zuko, after Firebending Aang into retreat, looks after him and I felt that he was wondering too. Aang didn't have to rescue him. Aang could have left him to the Fire Nation and escaped. And Aang did not abandon his unconscious self after their escape. It's one of those moments that you see in a lot of shounen manga (Dragonball Z, Yu Yu Hakusho, Shaman King) where the enemy/rival has a turning point where they can become friends.
    But Zuko is a prince of the Fire Nation in search of his honor and Aang's destiny is to topple that nation's hold on the world.

  33. myshadow says:

    Zuko's mask kind of reminds me of the mask Ryoko has in Tenchi Muyo.

  34. Clueless says:

    I wish I could have been as unprepared as you were when Zukos reveal came about. Unfortuantely I was watching with ym dad and as soon as the blue spirit showed up, he was like "that's Zuko."
    "Nuh-uh" I said, "Why would Zuko not want Aang captured. You're waaaaay overthinking it. b'sides its a spirit dad." He smirked and said "wanna bet?"
    Little did I know..
    I love this episode, more than the last one really, because it showed amazing fighting scenes and incredible charactor development. Not that the other one sucked or anything, but Iwas like 9 at the time so I was easily distracted.

    • enigmaticagentscully says:

      Oooh my dad always does exactly the same thing! He's so annoyingly good at working out plot twists, I don't know how he gets any enjoyment from watching tv at all!

      It's a house rule that when we watch tv as a family, my dad isn't allowed to speak until it's over. 😛

      • lossthief says:

        My mom has a habit similar. She'll always come out with a prediction when we're watching a show or movie, but the problem is she'll do it with EVERYTHING. No matter if it's a movie that we've read the book for, or it's something very predictable.

      • Clueless says:

        Yeah, my family for the most part gets really annoyed when he does that so he doesn't spoil it anymore. Except when it's just me and my dad watching tv, we try to see who can figure ou the plot twists first. He almost always wins but the fews time I do get it right, it makes victory all the more sweeter.

  35. Kylie says:

    Has anyone informed you that Zhao is voiced by Jason Isaacs? Because he is.

    That's right, Mark. ZHAO IS LUCIUS MALFOY.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      You're a bit late with that revelation, we've already had a group fangasm about Jason Isaacs back when Mark reviewed "The Southern Air Temple", where Zhao appears first. 😉

      • Kylie says:

        Serves me right for not reading all the comments. D:

        • stefb says:

          We also had a fangasm that Ozai is Mark Hamill and the warden in the episode Haru is in is George Takei. Such an amazing voice cast.

          Oh, and let us not forget that the great Iroh is voiced by Academy Award Nominee Mako (not his full name, but what he's always referred to).

  36. ldwy says:

    Okay, our first glimpse of the Blue spirits head! Startled the BEJEEZUS out of me. I jumped. I'm jumpy like that. And then I was just wondering…who is he? What does he want? Is he on our side? Is it a girl?

    And then in was Zuko. Really good reveal, I didn't see it coming at all, but it makes sense.

  37. stefb says:

    They look like bamboo, don't they?

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Yeah, seems like bamboo, because they're flexible enough to bend 90 degrees up the wall.

  38. @redbeardjim says:

    Oh, and another neat touch? All the writing you see on the show is authentic Chinese calligraphy — they hired a consultant to make sure it said what they wanted it to say. So the poster of Aang that the Fire Nation is passing around actually says "Wanted: The Avatar. This fugitive knows Airbending, can create whirlwinds, and flees like the wind. Hunters, be extremely cautious!" The waterbending scroll had "Waterbending drill: first form" and "Single water whip" written on it. Etc.

  39. @sthomson06 says:

    Gosh, absolutely one of my favorite episodes of the series (ok wait, that would probably describe every episode). There is something about the Blue Spirit – the idea that the enemy-of-my-enemy is my friend (but only while our paths align) – the moment when those swords come up and we see how desparate the Spirit is…

    Basically, I love masks and disguises that reveal more than is intended. I love the trope of a masked enemy working briefly as a friend.

    This is the episode, I think, where I started to fall so terribly in cartoon-love with Prince Zuko.

  40. herpestidae says:

    The nameless mooks are awesome enough to run up walls. Truly this is a world of Badass.

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      I think there must be absolute badass molecules in the drinking supply. Some more isolated Earth Kingdom villages get sexy fine molecules, of course, and Haru is their champion.

  41. hallowsnothorcruxes says:

    All the fight scenes in ATLA are impressive but this one just takes the cake and I love the use of the broad swords by Zuko. He doesn't even firebend to get into the fortress.

    <img src=""/&gt;

  42. I just wanted to point this out before I read all the other comments: in Zhao's speech, he starts off with, "We are the sons and daughters of Fire!" (Emphasis mine). How easy would it have been to leave out "and daughters"? Instead, nope. Fire Nation military is apparently gender-integrated. Compare that to the apparent attitude of the Water Tribe (going by Sokka) that women aren't warriors, and even the bad nation/good nation lines start blurring.

    Just throwing that out there.

    • sabra_n says:

      Yet another reason why I simply adore the worldbuilding on this show. It's so thoughtful and detailed, with its different political systems and ways of dressing and waging war. "The Great Divide" aside, there is no "Planet of Hats" phenomenon here.

      And unlike a sad number of media products, when Avatar needs to fill a scene with mooks or extras, it doesn't make them all male by default and only female if there's a special reason for it. There are female Yu Yan Archers and village leaders and plain old folks going about their days because (craziness!) much as in reality, women make up half the population. 😛

      • *gasp* Women exist?! Noooooooo! Media has been lying to me my whole life! ;_;

        • Elexus Calcearius says:

          Don't worry. If you decide to go and live in the Avatar action figure universe, you can still live a nice little life without all those horrible women that this show keeps claiming can fight.

          • And I can have washed-out colors, and stilted dialogue, and nonsensical plots too! It's like Life Day!

            (For non-Star Wars geeks, Life Day was first mentioned in the Star Wars Holiday Special, a movie reportedly worse than even the monstrosity that was The Last Airbender.

            • kartikeya200 says:

              While it is very, very, very bad, I think Last Airbender might somehow be worse. Last Airbender is that bad. Like, the perfect storm of bad. The only way it could be worse is if the soundtrack didn't exist and they'd gone the Battlefield Earth route of filming the entire thing in dutch angles.

              …I'm giving Shyamalan ideas, I should stop.

              • Tauriel_ says:

                I think the Gold Medal of TLA Awfulness goes to making bending look boring. Seriously. You'd think that, with a film of that scale, at least the CGI would look good. But they even managed to make bending look slow and boring. I mean – twenty seconds of macarena in order to move a rock? Give me a break…

                I think TLA should be used in filmmaking schools as a prime example of things done completely wrong. The only thing good in that travesty of a film are the costumes and the art direction (some sets really were gorgeous), but that's pretty much it.

              • stefb says:

                NOTHING is worse than Troll 2.

                Although…in its defense, Troll 2 is very entertaining to watch despite its terribleness. But the fact that it wasn't supposed to be funny at all yet made me laugh probably the hardest in my life should say it all…

                "They're eating her!…And then they're going to eat me!…OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOOD!!!!"

                "Nilbog! It's goblin spelled backwards! This is their kingdom! "

                Oh, Troll 2….

                • Tauriel_ says:

                  I don't know Troll 2, but it is widely agreed that the Worst Film In History is Ed Wood's "Plan 9 From Outer Space". Even THAT is better than TLA, because it's funny as hell – it's so bad it's good, and it's hilarious to watch the numerous goofs, bad edits, wobbly sets (Classic Doctor Who has nothing on this!) and laughable dialogue. Whereas TLA is so bad it's bad. It's worse than bad, it's boring.

      • MichelleZB says:

        This is something I LOVE LOVE LOVE about this show. It's like… the Fire Nation? Okay, they're evil, but they're not sexist. Women serve in their armies. We find out more about other nation's attitudes to women a little later on, so I think this discussion is best left to later, but I can't wait to talk about it.

  43. Penquin47 says:

    Note: I have not seen A:tlA. If I happen to guess right, well, it's because I guessed well, not because I have advance knowledge. 'Kay?

    Up until this point, it seemed like Zuko had been thinking of the Avatar as not entirely human. Not that he didn't know that, but it's the difference between The Avatar who is 12 and A 12-Year-Old Kid who is the Avatar. Suddenly this quest to capture the Avatar and deliver him to his father isn't so simple anymore.

    I suspect that in a later season, Zuko will change his worldview and will turn against his father. He'll join Aang and friends – maybe he and Iroh will be the ones to teach Aang firebending so that he can finish mastering the elements? I like that the groundwork for that was laid here, but I'm also very glad that the conversion didn't happen here – it would have been too soon, too fast. Three (?) years of single-minded devotion to hunting the Avatar, with a few weeks of actual hope of finding him and bringing him in, can't be erased by one night of working together.

  44. riverdear says:

    The only thing I have to add – I was so touched the moment when Aang is being pursued by the archers in the swamp and he is more concerned about THE FROGS getting away than BEING HIT WITH A THOUSAND ARROWS. AANG YOUR PRIORITIES HONEY, IT'S CUTE BUT I'M WORRIED ABOUT YOU

  45. Jaxx_zombie says:

    Spoilers cause:

    Twilight to exist.



  46. Ryan Lohner says:

    Note that there has actually been foreshadowing for Zuko being the Blue Spirit, with those swords on the wall in his quarters.

    I actually completely thought the BS (man, does that sound dirty) would turn out to be Jet the first time I saw this one. Anyone else?

    • sealcalliope says:

      I was sure it was Zuko from the get go. Too many nods to how Zuko had nothing to do that night and to his growing desperation. Plus, you know, Jet wields such nasty weapons. If ever there was a case of good guy swords/bad guys swords, Jet is it. You don't use hook swords against people unless you seriously do not care about shredding them. Sort of highlights Zuko's better side that he uses plain broad swords as the Blue Spirit.

  47. enigmaticagentscully says:

    I totally agree with the review – I think the best thing about this episode is how understated it is. There's no big moral speech about The Power Of Friendship or War Tears Us Apart, just a quiet scene with Aang asking Zuko a simple question. Would they have been friends, had circumstances been different?
    He never really gets an answer, and he doesn't even tell Katara and Sokka, because he knows nothing has changed. It's just a really nice, reflective moment.

    On a completely different note, I can't believe I didn't realise it was Zuko the whole time! I felt like an idiot afterwards because I swear it was so obvious in hindsight. I mean, who else could it have been? But I was still totally shocked at the reveal.

    Also, like Mark, I am still waiting to see music night on the ship. WHY DO THEY KEEP TEASING US WITH THIS??

    I'm looking forward to seeing how this episode colours Aang and Zuko's interactions the next time they meet anyway. And I swear I've been SO GOOD this long weekend resisting the urge to watch more episodes! But now I can! WOOT!


    • Raye says:

      Mako (who played Uncle Iroh for the first two seasons, before passing away of throat cancer) was in the final stages of throat cancer during his time on the show, and specifically asked the producers NOT to have Uncle Iroh sing (the throat cancer made singing especially painful for him). So yeah. Music night scenes are few and far between. Sorry.

  48. Elexus Calcearius says:

    What I love about this episode is how closely it feels like a continuation of the last one, expanding on the themes that were brought up, but at the same time bringing back a lot of the humour and action that ‘The Storm’ had to forgo in order for all that characterisation. I feel that the placement of these two episodes really heightens their impact.

    We still get a sense of guilt from Aang, although it is not nearly as prominent, and I think what needs to be more obvious is happy, quirky out-look, even when his friends are sick, and he’s been captured. It’s so very Aang that he responds to an arrow barely missing him by saying someone dropped something. It’s incredibly naive, it really is…but at the same time I get the genuine sense that Aang really hopes these people don’t want to kill him or anything. The look on Aang’s face is incredibly intense when he’s been chained by Zhao, and I don’t blame him. We know he’s incredibly guilty for causing this whole war thing, he knows his friends are desperate for him to get back, oh, and Zhao pretty much said “we’ll torture you until you’re barely alive.” I do not blame Aang at all in this situation.

    I find that Aang’s quirky humour definiately offsets the episode- nothing like stilt walking escapes and frozen frogs to do that to an episode, although I think his immaturity showed quite clearly here. I wince when Aang keeps hammering about frozen frogs when the Blue Spirit frees him. Shut up, Aang, you’ll get yourself captured!

    Speaking of the blue spirit….

    Oooh, boy. I’m curious. I watched this episode so long ago I can’t remember my own reaction, and the movie made the reveal about as subtle as a flying mallet, but I definitely want to see how surprising people found the reveal.

    Whether or not you thought it predictable, or had your skull explode, looking it back it’s incredibly obvious. “My honour, my throne, I’m about to lose it all.” Zuko has demonstrated time and time and again how dedicated he is to the cause, and after the last episode, we now know why exactly he’s willing to do this. This isn’t just vanity and boasts, like in Zhao’s case. He thinks the only way to ever earn his father’s love and country’s acceptance, and rightful place as Fire Lord is to capture Aang

    Over the course of the season, Zuko has been portrayed in a sympathetic light; the audience has been made to side with Zuko, even before we knew his full backstory. And even though we know he isn’t “pure evil RAWR”, since he helped save his crew, spoke up for innocents, and chose saving his uncle over the Avatar, I also think that on a certain level one might be able to interpret his actions in this episode as evil. Why?

    From the Fire Nation perspective. Okay, yeah, they’ve been some pretty horrible stuff, no doubt about that, but most of the actual individuals- Lieutenant Jee seems like a fairly nice guy, as does the rest of the crew, and well, Iroh is just awesome. I’m not saying that they should be stripped of their responsibility, but we have to put this in context. They’ve been raised in a situation where they were probably saturated by propaganda, taught something about how the Fire Nation is bringing light to the world, how they are of ‘the superior element’. In their opinion, they are probably brave fighters acting in defence of their country.

    Zuko’s probably been taught the exact same thing. Yet this positional Fire Lord is basically betraying his country- allowing the Avatar to go free, for his own benefit- instead of being where he would be ‘safe’. From the viewers’ point of view, it’s great. Aang’s still free to kick genocidal butt and end the war. But at the same time, Zuko is going against a moral code that’s been instilled in him since he was little, for his own gain. Doesn’t that sound a little…evil to you?

    I just love the subtleties that a good act can be simultaneously bad, although also understandable and sympathetic in context. That’s a lot of nuance there, folks.

    Not that Aang gets any of that context. Poor guy, he must be so confused. He gets captured by the Fire Nation. Then he gets saved by a member of the Fire Nation, who, as far as he’s considered is Angry Mr. Burn Face who wants nothing but to kill him and hurt puppies. He assumes that Zuko might actually be good, since Aang knows that Fire Nation=/= evil. And then Zuko throws a fire ball at him. Talk about a confusing day. Also, the emotion that his voice actor manages to back into these lines really kills me.

    Sokka: Aang, did you make any new friends?
    Aang: No. I don’t think I did.

    That is defeat in audio form people. Respect it.

    (Note: I think Zuko stole the bucket from a random janitor off screen.)

    • Teresa says:

      I didn't think Zuko's intention was to let Aang go, but to capture Aang for himself. He still wants the Avatar captured for the Fire Nation, but by himself, not by Zhao. Acting against Zhao's interests, yes, but not necessarily against his nation's. Of course, in trying to take Aang for himself, he set off the chain of events that ended up with the Avatar out of Fire Nation custody again, but I'd call that rash and not thinking things through, and letting selfish motivations get mixed up with his concern for the Fire Nation's best interests — but evil is too strong a word, in my opinion.

      On a different subject, I agree with you completely on "No. I don't think I did." Such a simple line, and that kid just hit it out of the park. And broke my heart in the process.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Note: I think Zuko stole the bucket from a random janitor off screen.

      And I'll bet the said janitor didn't even notice that there was a fight going on (see: DW movie). 😛

  49. hungriestgame says:

    the best part about this show is that around this time you're thinking, "hmm, this is a really good show. that was a really good episode," but that is not the best episode. there are better episodes than this one. there are lots of episodes that are as good or better than the blue spirit. HOW I DON'T KNOW

  50. monkeybutter says:

    But Zuko can't stop being a Firebender – it's like asking Katara to stop being a Waterbender.

    I see what you did there. Seriously — silliest line EVER.

  51. corporatecake says:

    I love that this episode comes directly after The Storm. It leaves you even more conflicted feeling about Zuko and what the FUCK his purpose in the show is. Is he a villain? Is he an anti-hero? WHAT IS HE? I'd still call him an anti-villain, really, but that's just me.

    I always spoil myself so Blue Spirit!Zuko was not a surprise. 🙁

    Also, no mention of the wacky herbalist and her cat Megumi? I freaking love that lady.

  52. browncoat says:

    Sorry i advance, this is just a shameless plug for my brother. I'm proud of his mad skills and I like to share them when I can.

    [IMG ][/IMG]

    If anyone would like to color or add detail, FEEL FREE TO DO SO

  53. bookling says:

    So, this is my first time commenting on an Avatar post, because I hadn't seen it before and started watching it last week, planning to catch up with your reviews if I liked it.


    Now I am halfway through season two BECAUSE I HAVE FALLEN IN LOVE WITH THIS SHOW. I especially liked this episode because of the development Zuko gets. I was so shocked when it was revealed that he was the Blue Spirit, and it made me so much more interested in him! I loved the final scene, as well – Zuko really reminds me of Draco Malfoy. Sometimes you can tell he wants to do the right thing, but he's so desperate to prove himself that he'll do almost anything. That moment at the end, when he wakes up and hears Aang talking about being friends, and just shoots a jet of flame at him – he's so embarrassed that he had to be saved by Aang and got caught trying to help him. I just love how much there is to read into that scene.

    • echinodermata says:


      I feel like anyone who gives ATLA a chance ends up liking it. I had my doubts too when I first started watching, but I fell in love with it, so.

      "Zuko really reminds me of Draco Malfoy."
      Truly, you are not alone.

      • bookling says:

        I've felt left out recently because my work schedule changed and by the time I'd get to a Doctor Who S5 post, there would be 3 pages of comments and I'd feel like I had nothing to add. Plus I haven't read The Book Thief, and I wasn't watching Avatar. But now I've fixed that!

    • MichelleZB says:

      I always say that Zuko is what Draco should have been, but wasn't.

    • monkeybutter says:

      HAHAHA, welcome to the club of doubters turned fans! Glad to see you again, I've missed your comments!

      Zuko really reminds me of Draco Malfoy. Sometimes you can tell he wants to do the right thing, but he's so desperate to prove himself that he'll do almost anything.

      "Zuko, you little shit" also has a nice ring to it.

      • bookling says:

        I've missed reading reviews and commenting! I was just out of the loop for a lot of stuff that Mark's been doing, but that's why I started watching Avatar. It's not so much that I doubted it would be good, but that it EXCEEDED MY EXPECTATIONS TENFOLD. I mean, nobody told me that I would end up loving all the characters on this show so much that I would be IN TEARS, which I was while watching an unnamed season two episode last night. And that's the SECOND TIME I've cried watching this show.

    • notemily says:

      I'M SO GLAD YOU'RE HERE. And I love your tumblr posts about Avatar.

  54. herpestidae says:

    More Booter-freak Pics. A lot of these are before her really awesome art skillz developed because I'm only posting up the ones that are completely spoiler-free. Images in reply to this post.

  55. alexamarie0813 says:

    this is such an awesome episode. definitely one of my favorites. my favorite part is the ~friendship~` moment between aang and zuko at the end, when aang tells him about kuzon (kuzan? kuzahn?). it's so simple and so powerful. when zuko shot fire at him, it literally broke my heart. -sniff- CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG DAMMIT.

  56. jeno says:

    So not only is Zuko a ninja (think about that for a moment), he's a ~VIGILANTE~ ninja.

    I love this show. :'D

  57. agrinningfool says:

    God, Mark.. watching you review Avatar is making me want to re-awaken the avatar RPG I ran for years before I closed it down. X.x

    • thefireandthehearth says:

      Doooo eeet.

      Okay, maybe that's just me missing the old Avatar RPG I ran before it imploded.

  58. bookgal12 says:

    I have been waiting for you to post this all day! I remember how when I first saw the blue spirit, I immediately thought of Zuko. Because, he would go to any length to capture the avatar even if that means saving the avatar. I also liked the focus on Aang. This showed another side of him and his desire for common ground with Zuko. His mentioning of someone named Kuzon made me curious, I need to look that up. I'm a total Iroh fan girl, so I am glad to see him featured with his quirky humor. I just wish they would stop emphasizing that side of him all the time :/.

  59. Pelleloguin says:

    I never saw Zuko coming. I thought the Blue Spirit was going to be an earthbender who just pops in, saves Aang and joins the team. After this episode, I had to remind myself that while this aired on Nick, it is not a standard Nick show and scenes don't go like this:
    "Hi guys! I'm a rebel earthbender who wants to join in because I'm awesome and you need a team!"
    The Gaang "Sure. We love teamwork and friendship!"

    They go like this:
    Aang: "Think we be friends if this was 100 years ago?"
    Zuko: *Flamepunch*
    And make you sad. Which in turn, makes you love the show more. Keep the reviews coming Mark!

  60. arctic_hare says:

    NO. No expectation spoilers. BAD.

  61. Thali says:

    Dude, no offense, but this counts as a spoiler.

  62. seacalliope says:

    One of the things I find so enjoyable about ATLA is that it actually writes its characters as children. Not in the sense of writing them as immature — although that happens at times — but fully utilizing their ages in the storytelling. So many cartoons just write the characters as mini-adults. It doesn’t mean anything to have adults harass or try to kill them. They’re just fighting a battle (or solving crime, or whatever), so what does it matter if the bad guy is an adult and the hero is a kid?

    In ATLA, it matters. It means something that Zhao would string a twelve year old boy up with the intention of holding him in prison FOREVER. It means something that Zhao is a dickbag to sixteen year old Zuko (his prince, who is theoretically on HIS SIDE), and that we have every reason to believe Zhao treated Zuko this way at the beginning of his banishment or even earlier.

    On the other side, it means something that this burden has fallen on children. The Fire Nation gives missions to children, and the rest of the nations are forced by circumstances to do similarly. Even the Air Nomads pressured young Aang before his time. It says a lot about their universe and the toll the war has taken that they do this. OTOH, it is also redemptive. Aang being twelve means there is an honesty and sincerity to his offer of friendship toward Zuko that I don’t think realistically be there if Aang were much older. Zuko’s story is all the more tragic because he is young, but if he were older (as in the stupid live action movie) it’d be harder to believe there’s hope for him.

    Basically, ATLA uses every tool they have at hand — animation, music, pop culture, mythology, and even the ages of the characters. And that’s why it ROCKS.

  63. Kelsey says:

    "There will probably be more of these than usual. BUCKLE IN, WATCHERS"

    MOAR REVIEWS?! YES. YES. YES. You just made my week, Mark.

  64. Elise says:

    You know how exciting it is to find out the Blue Spirit is Zuko? One re-watch, I watched the Avatar Extras pop up edition. When the Blue Spirit first shows up, THEY TELL YOU IT"S ZUKO STRAIGHT AWAY!!! NOOOO! What if someone was watching this for the first time! It would be RUINED FOREVER! Btw, never watch Avatar Extras. They are completely stupid, obtrusive and more obviously aimed for very young audiences. There are only like 2 interesting facts. In all three seasons.

    • Serena says:

      There is one really snarky extra though. I laughed when I saw it. Though most of the extra comments are kind of stupid or give away the plot.

    • Bundle says:

      I love the extras. They're snarky and funny, and if you've seen the eps already, they do no harm towards the plot, but they do add interesting facts and humor. More humor is ALWAYS a good thing in my book!

  65. Maggie says:



    I'm part of a fandom message board and someone posted this the other day, so of course I *RAN* over here to read what you have so far. I'm so glad your loving it!



  66. FurrySaint says:

    As far as the bucket, I did a double-take myself over that. He DID have it with him in that scene before he used it, it's just real hard to see. So he just picked it up from somewhere in the compound.

  67. P__ says:

    The music is utterly fantastic. Really, half the reason I am overly optimistic about the Legend of Korra being good is because they are using the original company for the soundtrack.

    • mkjcaylor says:

      I AM SAD.
      People kept mentioning the soundtrack and I started listening on Youtube and decided that I liked it so much I wanted to buy it.

      And it doesn't exist. There is no official soundtrack.

      • Tauriel_ says:

        Yeah, that's a really poor planning on Nickelodeon's part – the music in this series is gorgeous, I'm sure they'd get a huge profit from soundtrack sales…

    • Bacon_Bomb says:

      im going to say this is not spoilery because talking about the Legend of Korra would spoilery for EVERYONE, right? Can we mention this? Anyone disagree?

  68. HoneyBunny says:

    I'm usually not very observant, but I'm surprised that no one has mentioned that the mask was seen before in a previous episode. It was hanging on the wall in Zuko's room. I can't remember the exact episode, but I know I saw it before.

  69. Macy says:

    I just read all your Avatar reviews and I am grinning ear to ear. It's so much fun to see people's reactions to watching a masterpiece like Avatar: The Last Airbender for the first time. It's been nearly 5 years since I started watching this show (and nearly 3 years since it ended) and I STILL go back and watch it over and over again! I am such a huge fan, and I am sure you can see why! In just 13 episodes (or even less), it hooks you so hard, you get whiplash. And it's only going to get even more amazing from here! I can't wait to read more of your reviews!

  70. Ashley says:

    Idk, I guessed who the Blue Spirit was as soon as he started going after the guards in the hallway. Just the way he moved was a tip-off to me.

    However, I enjoyed the episode anyway. Sokka was funny, and poor Zuko, I had a thought that maybe he's going to start having qualms about capturing Aang, since he saved Zuko from being captured himself.

  71. notemily says:

    I was completely blown away by this episode's reveal because I thought the Blue Spirit was an Airbender. The way he deflects the guard's fire attack looks like he's Airbending instead of just putting the fire out or whatever it is he actually does. So I was really confused when it turned out to be Zuko, and my roommate had to explain to me that no, Zuko is not a secret Airbender. 😛

    I love the way Aang almost escapes the guards on what are basically LADDER STILTS. "Hand me the next one!" Badass.

    "Take that, you rock!" HOW DOES HE MAKE LINES LIKE THIS SO FUNNY. Serious kudos to Sokka's voice actor.

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