Mark Watches ‘Avatar’: S01E16 – The Deserter

In the sixteenth episode of the first season of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang convinces his friends to stop in a Fire Nation city in the hopes to get a better look at fire bending. When the three of them are caught, they receive help from an unlikely ally who knows one of the very few Fire Nation citizens who has deserted their people. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Avatar.

Man, this show is SO FASCINATING. Generally, whatever story that Avatar tackles each week is largely wrapped up by the time the final credits roll, with maybe a few unanswered questions. It’s serial in nature, but it’s not as intensive as most forms of storytelling in this style.

Now, I’m not saying that “The Deserter” completely breaks that mold, but here is my first huge chance to see how very little I know about this story. I’m so far from where this plot is eventually going to end up, and I realized that by the end of this episode. Aang has so much to learn and to do, and we’re not even at the North Pole yet. On top of that, the show is slowly revealing how interconnected this all is as well, and I imagine that we’re going to see a lot more of this in the next couple seasons.

(Also, holy shit, I’m almost done season one already. And most of you have said that seasons two and three are better this this? COLOR ME EXCITED.)

“The Deserter” opens with a good idea completely tarnished by a REALLY, REALLY POOR DECISION. I’d forgotten that the Avatar was supposed to learn the elements in a very specific order, which is why Aang was heading up to the North Pole in the first place. (Jeong Jeong would later remind me of this fact.) So, at heart, I think Aang’s idea is actually fairly genius: He is going to have to learn to fire bend at some point, so why not take a peak at some fire bending in the process? The Fire Days festival gives them a fantastic context to disguise themselves, but it’s at this point that the “good idea” diverges from such a thing right into “poor execution.”

There’s a brief bit of awkwardness about the festival that I’m glad the writers didn’t stray from showing, reminding the three that they are technically in “hostile” territory. That puppet play they watch is actually kind of disturbing, since Fire Lord Ozai is presented as a victorious hero for fighting against the Earth Kingdom bender. It’s a small detail, sure, but it’s a visual cue about how dangerous this side excursion is for the three of them, how they’ve now entered into a social culture where the three of them will be reviled specifically because they’re not fire benders. OMG DISCRIMINATION. But seriously! That’s a pretty power visual idea plopped right in front of them.

And despite that, Aang….oh, Aang. I love you. Your zest for knowledge is truly gorgeous and that’s why it made me laugh that you just had to get involved. It was already bad enough that the three of them walked straight up to the front of the stage, and it was even worse that Katara got chosen by the performer, and then…AANG, IT WAS A PERFORMANCE. THE DRAGON WASN’T REALLY GOING TO HURT KATARA. (Unless I interpreted that scene wrong? I mean, even the performer made that comment about being upstaged.)

I laughed, though; I don’t think the scene was written to be SUPER TENSE or anything, and it was more about the humorous lack of restraint on Aang’s part. I said before that I feel that Aang is the perfect balance between Katara and Sokka in terms of his personality. He’s got these depressing streaks of cynicism, but then he’s full of this boyish, excitable joy and hope that take over his actions. That’s what happens here: his desire to get involved simply overpowers the fact that HEY YOU SHOULD PROBABLY STAY IN DISGUISE.

It’s kind of cute. It is! He just loves helping people, even if he inherently kind of isn’t helping. This leads to a fun chase scene where, yet again, Team Avatar decide to follow A TOTAL STRANGER. I mean, this is going to be a bad idea one day, right? But it’s not this time, as the mysterious cloaked figure is rather good with his little bombs, and they escape out into the forest.

That’s when this episode deals with a very awkward reality quite beautifully: time. The timetable of what needs to occur by the end of this show was established in “Winter Solstice Part II: Avatar Roku.” Aang has just half a year or so to master all of the elements (something that is supposed to take years!) and face Fire Lord Ozai before Sozan’s Comet crashes into earth. So, two difficult facts are about to collide with each other: Aang has an incredibly limited schedule in which he must master the elements, and that process takes a much longer time than Aang has. This conflict is then elaborated further as Aang and Jeong Jeong clash constantly for the bulk of the story. Aang wants to rush through his training, eager to begin fire bending. Jeong Jeong wants to do the training right, taking the time to teach Aang to respect the discipline of the art.

And who’s right in the situation? It’s hard to really choose either side, when you think about it, and I’m glad the story largely straddles the line instead of just firmly telling us where to land. It’s true that Aang absolutely needs to learn some patience, but if the Avatar Roku has to show up to tell you to finally teach someone fire bending MAYBE YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG, TOO.

The training scenes generally follow a fairly familiar archetype of the wild master and the impatient young apprentice, but the writers make this seem so different because…well, Aang sort of has to be impatient. He really doesn’t have much time to learn fire bending and, to him, the control exercises to seem like a waste of time. So where does the balance come in? How do you rationalize your own technique and the reality of the situation?

Jeong Jeong decides to provide Aang with some context that we understand a bit better than Aang does at the time. He is not wasting Aang’s time just for the hell of it. He makes a point that out of all four of the elements, fire is the only element that inherently causes destruction if not controlled. How is one supposed to fire bend properly without that understanding of control? And then, in one swift moment, the writers tie the two parallel plots together in a horrifying way: Jeong Jeong’s former student, who also did not understand the importance of control and patience, is ADMIRAL ZHAO. Oh my god, could you imagine the knowledge that your work produced that man? Well, to be fair, I don’t believe that it should have been Jeong Jeong’s responsibility to make sure that Zhao didn’t become a FIERY BIGOT. But he feels the guilt of not being able to do more, and he sees that same impatience in Aang. Perhaps he’s acting so strictly with Aang because he doesn’t want to repeat the same thing.

That difficult tension builds when Aang decides to part from the task that Jeong Jeong has assigned him, eager to begin fire bending. It’s a difficult lesson in patience, but Aang needed to learn to calm his excitement. After trying to imitate a trick the performer did during the Fire Days festival, he burns Katara. HOW DARE YOU.

Of course, my first question was WAIT, DOES THAT MEAN SHE CANNOT BEND? I didn’t quite understand the logistics of how bending worked. I know that we saw in “The Great Divide” that a broken arm can render a person bend-less. (Yeah, how exactly would you refer to such a thing?) But we see that she still can, to an extent. OH AND SHE CAN HEAL HERSELF. Whoa, what the hell? Until this point, I’d just assumed we’d seen all four powers that could come from bending, so now I’m more curious than ever: WHAT OTHER POWERS COULD COME FROM BENDING? Will Aang be able to combine powers at some point? What happens if you combine AIR and EARTH. I mean…this is some Captain Planet type shit going on here. THIS IS SO EXCITING. I mean, I get that the healing is explicitly tied to the water bending, but is there something else as yet undiscovered?

And then it’s all made just a tad bit depressing when Jeong Jeong admits that he’d rather be a water bender. Oh god, the heartbreak. He’s acutely aware of the sheer power that his bending holds and the proclivity it has for harm, and it’s yet another context provided to us so that we can understand why this man acts this way. I believe I’ve mentioned it before, but it stands to be repeated: Avatar has done a fantastic job with most of the characters it has provided us with to help us understand them, even if we don’t necessarily agree with them. There’s a reason and a motivation for Jeong Jeong’s behavior, and I think it’s a sign of good characterization when we can comprehend why this person is acting a certain way. Of course, within the narrative of the show, Aang is not the one to understand this until he harms Katara, realizing that Jeong Jeong’s insistence on patience was based in good intentions.

Ok, putting aside Aang’s dramatic reaction (I’M NEVER WATER BENDING AGAIN! :: writes in LiveJournal :: ), I think we just witnessed yet another step towards Aang’s growing maturity. It takes a mature person to stop and accept that perhaps someone else’s technique or style or words are coming from a place of experience and wisdom, and it’s even harder to let your guard down and try something new. Again, it’s heavy-handed, but the visual metaphor of having Admiral Zhao fight Aang (past student vs. current student) is to show that adults can be immature when younger people are not. Even beyond that, the subtext to the FANTASTIC fight between Zhao and Aang is RIDICULOUSLY DENSE for a show like this. It’s a battle of students. It’s a battle of maturity. It’s a battle of technique. It’s a battle of good versus evil. It’s a battle of patience. It’s a battle of foresight. IT’S A BATTLE OF WITS. There are so many ways you could read that scene….ugh, my little analytical heart is going to BURST AT THE SEAMS. This is why I do this stuff! I want to pull apart these story lines and see what narratives we are being fed and see what things from the world they have sown into the fabric of it all. AND I REALLY LIKE WHAT I AM SEEING HERE, Y’ALL. Ugh, all of you who recommended me this show know me so well.

On top of all of this, “The Deserter” has possibly my favorite ending of any Avatar episode so far. Aang succeeds in getting Zhao to sink his own ships, and then Jeong Jeong FLAT OUT DISAPPEARS. No nice, tied-up narrative, no goodbye, no cute message or lesson at the end. Just GONE. Not only does this leave a wonderful chance for him to return, but it harks back to what I opened this review with: There is so much more of this world that I have to discover. I am just getting pieces at a time, and I’m glad we’re not given everything here. I want more. And I want to keep coming back for me.

That’s some fine storytelling.


  • Ok, I couldn’t find a way to intertwine this into the review and I’m also kind of afraid that everyone will either think I am: a) reading too much into this, or b) NOT AT ALL AN ORIGINAL THINKER AND WE HAVE ALL CLEARLY THOUGHT OF THIS BEFORE YOU, but it must be said: Did anyone else get a slight Heart of Darkness vibe to this episode? You know, self-exiled genius living out in the woods who everyone treats as a god and they’re kind of angry and wild? Look, Heart of Darkness is one of my favorite books and it’s sort of like LOST and The X-Files for me, where I just assume anything similar is A CLEAR REFERENCE TO SUCH A THING because I am obsessed with these stories/shows and THAT IS MY ONLY FRAME OF REFERENCE. So yes.
  • “What are you doing here? I did not tell you to stop!” “I’ve been breathing for hours!” “You want to stop breathing?!?!?” FLAWLESS REPLY.
  • Few things are more beautiful than Aang trolling Zhao.
  • “What would a boy know about destiny? If a fish lives its whole life in this river, does he know the river’s destiny? No! Only that it runs on and on out of his control! He may follow where it flows, but he cannot see the end. He cannot imagine the ocean.” HOLY SHIT BEST LINE EVER. Wow. WOW!
  • Sokka + Sokka’s obsession with eating = true love.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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541 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Avatar’: S01E16 – The Deserter

  1. And most of you have said that seasons two and three are better this this? COLOR ME EXCITED.
    You SHOULD be excited! Season two is amazing.

    Jeong Jeong’s former student, who also did not understand the importance of control and patience, is ADMIRAL ZHAO. Oh my god, could you imagine the knowledge that your work produced that man?
    I'm listening to the HP audiobooks, and I just passed the part where Ollivander was so dismayed that he'd sold Voldemort's wand!

    I mean, I get that the healing is explicitly tied to the water bending, but is there something else as yet undiscovered?
    Well, Sokka heartbends; he just doesn't know it.

  2. Avit says:

    I don't think it was really a discrimination thing. Many Fire Nation citizens aren't firebenders; they're mundanes. Now, being a bender of a different element is quite another matter — bending the elements is a power, and the world is at war, so they would be considered hostile warriors(-potential).

    • shyfully says:

      Well, I think there is a discrimination thing- look at all the uses of savages, both in this episode and some earlier ones- but it's not about being non-firebender, it's about being non-Fire Nation.

      • monkeybutter says:

        Yeah, Zhao referred to fire as the superior element in his rally speech in "The Blue Spirit." Even though there are non-benders in every society in the Avatar world, their cultures revolve around the individual bending elements, so you can't really separate the two. The Fire Nation is better because it has firebenders.

    • Avit says:

      Not to say that there isn't a possibility of discrimination against non-benders, and in previous episodes we've seen that there's a whole propagandizing "superior element" discourse going on. I think I am possibly being nitpicky over phrasing here… oops.

      By-the-by, general question: are references to AT:LoK and publicly revealed info about it considered off-limits?

      • Dragonsong12 says:

        "By-the-by, general question: are references to AT:LoK and publicly revealed info about it considered off-limits?"

        I would imagine yes, at least until we've finished the series. Better safe than sorry, at any rate. 🙂

  3. Dragonsong12 says:

    I don't have much to add to your analysis of this one, it's pretty well spot on. Chey was so goofy leading up to it though, I really expected a different sort of excentric from Jeong Jeong – more like Bumi. I'm VERY pleased with the direction they took him though.

    I'm sure the user who posts excepts from the art book will get to this (that book is so awesome, THANK YOU FOR DOING THAT!) but Jeong Jeong's design was apparently based on the head animator in Korea, because they thought he looked like a Bond villain and he needed a character. haha!

  4. echinodermata says:

    "Oh my god, could you imagine the knowledge that your work produced that man?"
    I have no idea why, but I keep returning to Stargate SG-1 for some reason. I haven't even watched an episode of it in a while, but it still keeps popping up in my mind. So that line just reminded me of Oma.

    It makes me happy to see a wanted poster for the Blue Spirit. Oh Zuko, you get yourself into so much trouble.

    I think it's pretty awesome that we basically get to see Fire Nation propaganda with the puppet show, even if it's a really short bit. Still, it makes sense that they would start young and embed those messages in children's entertainment. I remember watching this episode the first time and thinking that I bet the Fire Nation has a creepy pledge of allegiance type thing they make children recite every day. (Not that pledges are necessarily creepy, but some are definitely worse than others. I bet Ozai's would be horribly gross.)

    <img src=""&gt;
    I have to say I enjoy the firebending exhibition. I'm glad that we get to see firebending as something to celebrate for once. Sure, it's a war, but that doesn't mean firebending=evil. So it was nice to actually see a firebender using his bending for such benevolent purposes. Basically, I don't want Iroh to be the only firebender we see to use bending for fun purposes; better we see there's more to the Fire Nation and its residents than all the soldiers we constantly see. So I'm glad we got the exhibition. But it's pretty silly for Aang to think it wasn't part of the act.

    And then oh look it's the guy from the wanted poster. Who apparently serves the other wanted poster guy. The speech Jeong gives is interesting, but I'm more curious about seeing Roku again. Aang's impatience is understandable, especially since there's a deadline to defeating the Fire Nation, but I do wish he would more easily accept that others may know better than him. Then again, the heavyhandedness by which he learns his lesson isn't really any better for me. I do appreciate Sokka's defensiveness over his sister, however. That feels realistic to me, even and perhaps especially given their sibling relationship is somewhat antagonistic.

    And then we learn that Katara can heal, which is fascinating. I also think Jeong's interest in waterbending makes him a very intriguing character. And a sad one, too. He has such resentment and anger over something within itself. I can't imagine what it'd be like to be a such a great bender, but to not want the ability.

    I'm not sure if it's been stated earlier, but I caught during this episode that yes, the firebenders actually explicitly make fire, which confirms what we see and what was assumed. Since it appears to be that earth- and water-benders must rely on a pre-existing source to bend, it's interesting that the firebenders don't. I wish the show would better address how bending works, and what exactly airbenders rely on. Do they make air, or do they just move it around? Just to give it more balance, I'd like to think they can make air: that way, air- and fire-bending work similarly, and given that Aang, an airbender, fights the firebenders, I like the symmetry. Plus, this episode is basically all about 'look how firebending is not in Aang's nature.' I think making a parallel explanation for air and fire better allows for a contrast between the two, and as such fits the narrative of the show nicely. (Also, that leaves room for comparing water and earth, which is nice because water is fluid and earth is solid. Good stuff.) Anyway, that's my headcanon.

    In conclusion, Zhao can fuck off. Too bad he can't really seem to die in a fire.

    • Avit says:

      Actually — whyever not? Zuko got a pretty scar from his father's attack. Since Agni Kai are duels to the death, usually (unless I've misremembered?), that implies firebending can finish a firebender off.

      I'm actually a bit curious about the mechanics of that. We often see firebenders deflect fire attacks, apparently with their bare hands, without suffering consequences; what keeps a deflect from turning into a Zuko-esque disaster?

      • Dragonsong12 says:

        I think it's mostly a question of preparedness and skill. When Zuko got burned he was young, unwilling to fight, and can't firebend out of his eye anyway, haha! So he took that hit. But a trained firebender can probably deflect most – though not all – attacks if he or she is able to fight back.

      • echinodermata says:

        Well, Zhao walked right through the wall of fire – that's mostly what I was going off of. And Iroh took a huge lighting bolt to the body. So it seems like bending passes on some big immunity to these sorts of things.

        So he could potentially be killed by fire, but I think he'd have to be previously incapacitated, and that it'd need to be a helluva fire. Jeong's supposed to be one of the best benders ever, and Zhao was unharmed by his fire, you know?

        • monkeybutter says:

          I think they're only protected so far as they can manipulate the element. So it would take a lot to take out a master, but in Jeong Jeong's case, he wasn't trying to harm Zhao, he was trying to set up a defensive perimeter to intimidate he and his men. That Zhao was able to penetrate it so easily is a good example of how firebending is more suited to offense; benders of other elements could have extinguished it just as easily.

          • Avit says:

            That's an interesting insight and immediately prompts some spoilery further questions on my part. Damn.

          • canadadian says:

            Also, if you notice, when Zhao walks into the fire wall, he puts his hands up and parts the fire, so presumably this is a pre-taught firebending move. (If anyone has a gif, it would be very helpful to illustrate my point). I like to think of it like blocks in karate (and yes, I am a green-belt stripe in Chito-Ryu karate and jujitsu, so I know what I'm talking about). If you're getting punched, you can dodge it (Aang's M.O.), block it straight on (as we have seen firebenders do before, Zhao and Zuko especially), or parry it (i.e. divert the force, as Zhao was doing when he parted the fire).
            In conclusion, Appa should be included in all Where's Waldo books to stand above Waldo so that the arrow is always pointing at him.

        • notemily says:

          Iroh didn't just "take" the lightning though, he redirected it. It didn't just hit him. It was a conscious effort on his part to redirect the energy. I think if a firebender was just sitting there and got hit by lightning, they'd die or at least be badly hurt. But Iroh saw it coming and was able to manipulate it.

      • rainbowsinside says:

        I see bending as an extension of that person's fighting. It's the same as throwing a punch. If you deflect it or defend against it, you aren't hurt. But if you fail to do that, you'll probably end up injured.

      • FlameRaven says:

        I actually don't think an Agni Kai is a dual to the death– as far as I understand it, it's an honor duel, and honestly, with a war on for 100 years, the Fire Nation could hardly afford the number of dead firebenders if someone died during every Agni Kai. We've never seen any indication that the loser of an Agni Kai would die, either.

        Zuko got burned, but that was more deliberate dickery on the part of Ozai than anything– although it's never stated, my personal headcanon is that Ozai would probably have had to actually HOLD HIS HAND ON ZUKO'S FACE to burn him so badly and in such a controlled pattern (squint a little and Zuko's scar does look a bit like a handprint, adjusted for adult hand+kid-sized face). I don't think a simple fire strike would have caused such extensive damage.

        As for deflecting the fire, I thought it was obvious enough that firebenders can control fire beyond what they actually create. So If someone throws a wall of fire at you, you can either dodge, or control that fire and divert it away from you. Just like anything else, though, sometimes things catch you off-guard and you don't have time to react.

        • jeno says:

          "my personal headcanon is that Ozai would probably have had to actually HOLD HIS HAND ON ZUKO'S FACE to burn him so badly and in such a controlled pattern (squint a little and Zuko's scar does look a bit like a handprint, adjusted for adult hand+kid-sized face)."

          …oh my god. That never occurred to me. And it's possible – we didn't see the burning, just the reaction shot from the spectators.

        • tigerpetals says:

          I pretty much assumed it would be like this. I mean he was looming over his upturned face.

    • kaleidoscoptics says:

      "In conclusion, Zhao can fuck off. Too bad he can't really seem to die in a fire. "

      Maybe the earth will swallow him up instead.

      • Tauriel_ says:

        Or he'll drown. That would be a nice symmetry to it – firebender defeated by water.

    • barnswallowkate says:

      It makes me happy to see a wanted poster for the Blue Spirit.

      Oh god I want one!

    • Erica says:

      I thought it was really cool they showed the puppet show, too. I remember when I was a kid, I wondered why the Germans didn't kick out Hitler since it was so obvious what a dangerous lunatic he was. I wasn't until I was older that I understood the concept of propaganda that would have painted him as a great man. I was glad they put this in a kids' show, to kind of give them an instance of why the Fire Lord is still in power if he and his forefathers have been fighting a war for a hundred years.

    • tigerpetals says:

      I have thoughts on the making of air but they are spoilery, even when vaguely phrased.

    • notemily says:

      I always saw it as earth and air being opposites, since one is solid and the other is kind of the absence of solidity, while fire and water are opposites since they can't both exist in one place. But YMMV.

  5. Jenny_M says:

    Katara switching Sokka and Aang's masks cracks me up every time. Poor Sokka!

    I wish I had a more insightful comment, but that is seriously giggle-making for me every time I see it.

  6. Violets are Blue says:

    The ending of this episode always felt a little rushed for me. While I appreciate Jeong Jeong being a badass, him shoving them out to him disappearing almost seemed like they had no idea how to get from Aang being angsty to fighting Zhao.


    • Avit says:

      That could be most tragically mistaken for Katara/movie!Ong 😛

    • alexamarie0813 says:

      please tell me bumi is on that list.
      katumi… butara… kabumi… yeah, kabumi sounds good.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      I vote for Katara having her own harem of powerful old benders – Bumi, Iroh, Ozai, Jeong Jeong… XD

      • tigerpetals says:

        I would like to mention that the last time this joke was made I went to look for Katara/Ozai fanfic. And found it. Not that this should be a surprise.

        • Tauriel_ says:

          What, seriously? OMG… XD This must be the silliest fandom ever.

          EDIT: Oooh, and I've just got this wild idea for a fanart – Katara surrounded by her harem of powerful bending slave boys (Bumi, Iroh, Ozai, Jeong Jeong, and a couple others whose names are spoilerish), all fanning her or giving her a massage, or bringing her fruits… XD

  7. Doodle says:

    You are exactly right about the Heart of Darkness thing! I have the Avatar art book too, and on the page for this episode they specifically said that they based the idea off of Heart of Darkness. Go Mark!

  8. FlameRaven says:

    Until this point, I’d just assumed we’d seen all four powers that could come from bending, so now I’m more curious than ever: WHAT OTHER POWERS COULD COME FROM BENDING?

    Only possible reply: you are so unprepared. Although I have to qualify here: Healing is just another technique of waterbending, not a new thing entirely. Given that fire=destruction, the water=healing connection is a pretty natural continuation.

    And yes, seasons two and three are better– season one is by no means bad, but the show has found its voice and definitely only continues to develop that for the rest of its run. And no, they never stop throwing new things at us. Seriously. You will get to the end of season three and STILL not be prepared, this show is that good at its storytelling.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      Yeah, I actually had to go back and re-edit it because I watched the episode a second time and Jeong Jeong specifically states that healing is tied to waterbending intrinsically. But yes! quite exciting!

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Also, seasons 2 and 3 move closer to the serialised format, which I understand Mark likes… 🙂

    • sakiexcel says:

      [i]And yes, seasons two and three are better– season one is by no means bad, but the show has found its voice and definitely only continues to develop that for the rest of its run. And no, they never stop throwing new things at us. Seriously. You will get to the end of season three and STILL not be prepared, this show is that good at its storytelling. [/i]

      Oh my God yes. The way I see it is, it [i]just keeps getting better and better.[/i]

  9. @redbeardjim says:

    I thought the fact that she has healing powers to be really cool! And it makes me sad that she didn’t know before.

    I read a fic once that explored that aspect of things more deeply, that water-healing is part of her heritage but she didn't even know it was possible, and the effect it had on her. Powerful stuff.

    • echinodermata says:

      It seems like Katara previously learned a lot of waterbending moves through sheer force of will, and not through someone teaching her. So yeah, this sort of holy crap new power is so great for her, while still making a lot of sense in canon.

  10. @redbeardjim says:

    I can't remember if the creators mentioned it in a commentary or something, but yeah, it's a pretty explicit Heart of Darkness reference.

  11. kartikeya200 says:

    Random observation: I love Jeong Jeong's little smile right before he vanishes. He also seems to have slightly different movements when he firebends. More circular? It seems less direct.

    Also, this episode has a lot of wanted posters. Guess what? Those wanted posters are accurate Chinese calligraphy. (I forgot to scan the art book versions of these, will append soon!)

    <img src=""&gt;

    Fire Nation colonial village. The idea was that the Fire Nation modified existing Earth Nation architecture, hence the contrasting roof styles between the temple and its surrounding buildings.

    <img src=""&gt;

    The character of Jeong Jeong was based on the president of DR Movie, one of the South Korean animation studios that worked on the series. We always enjoyed going to dinner with him. We thought he looked like a Bond villain, so we wanted to include him in the show.

    • kartikeya200 says:

      <img src=""&gt;

      For the Fire Festival, we wanted to show the Fire Nation had a rich cultural heritage and wasn't solely a militaristic society.

      <img src=""&gt;

      <img src=""&gt;

      <img src=""&gt;

      For her storyboard work in this episode (which she also directed), Lauren MacMullan won an Annie Award in 2005 for storyboarding in an Animated Television Production.

      • DuskQ says:

        I particularly like that Jeong Jeong sits under tree and it becomes more pronounced when Roku appears. I think it represent enlightenment and wisdom. Even when everything else disappears around them, the tree remains.

    • kartikeya200 says:

      <img src=""&gt;

      FIRE DAY FESTIVAL TODAY! — Featuring traditional Fire Nation food, Fire Nation cultural exhibits, jugglers, magicians, Firebending masters, puppet shows, and plenty of FIRE to make you feel like you are back home in the Fire Nation!

      <img src=""&gt;

      Wanted: The Avatar. This fugitive knows Airbending, can create whirlwinds, and flees like the wind. Hunters, be extremely cautious!

      <img src=""&gt;

      Wanted, by order of the Fire Lord: the so-called Blue Spirit. He is a thief, guilty of stealing the Avatar from the Fire Nation. He wears a traditional Earth Kingdom opera mask. His true identity is unknown, but disregard the rumors that he is a ghost. If you locate the Blue Spirit and attempt to apprehend him, you are advised to enlist as many forces as you can gather for the task.

      • echinodermata says:

        huh, it's kinda weird that first poster has the writing left to right. Not sure if that really fits in with the Avatar world, honestly.

        • Avit says:

          Well, I don't recall reading anything Chinese that was right-to-left when horizontally arranged. Dunno if that was just a WESTERN INFLUENCE!!!! thing though, my history is fail.

          • echinodermata says:

            there are plenty of IRL signs in Chinese that are horizontal and read right to left.

            • Avit says:


              Come to think of it, my dad's name in his high school yearbook was written horizontally right-to-left. I thought it was pretty weird at the time. Maybe there are era/region variations at work.

              • echinodermata says:

                I should specify – usually, when it's only one line long, and horizontal, it may be written right to left. But if it's a block of text and written horizontally, then I think it's usually left to right.

                But the horizontal blocks are basically adopting Western conventions, I think, so the point is that while the top line of that poster doesn't really bug me, the block of horizontal text just seems out of place in the Avatar world. I think it should be vertical.

                • Avit says:

                  Ah, that's very sensical. Thank you.

                • @redbeardjim says:

                  They may have gone with horizontal instead of vertical just because it fit better into the space that way. *shrug*

                  • echinodermata says:

                    I guess the issue for me becomes whether or not a world without a convention of writing horizontally for blocks of text would use that method for purposes of adding text to an image, or if the writing would override what "shape" images people would draw, as in the case of the wanted posters. Why couldn't the poster in question just be landscape oriented, you know? Seems like the easier way to fit the text on the poster. And I'm pretty sure the water-bending scroll was landscape.

      • kaleidoscoptics says:

        Ooh, and it's in traditional form! These are really awesome; thanks for posting all the art stuff!

      • notemily says:

        I love the look on Aang's face on his poster.

    • kartikeya200 says:

      <img src=""&gt;

      Wanted, by order of the Fire Lord: Jeong Jeong, former Admiral in the Fire Armada. He is a deserter, traitor, and coward. He is 61 years old, with white hair. Although he has taken the most wretched path of pacifism, he is a master Firebender and should be approached with extreme caution.

      <img src=""&gt;

      Wanted, by order of the Fire Lord: Chey, former Captain in the Fire Nation Army. He is a deserter, traitor, and coward. He is 30 years old and skilled with explosives. Be warned that he is mentally unstable.

      • rainbowsinside says:

        I love the descriptions of what these say! It's another look into how Fire Nation propaganda works. I especially love the "most wretched path of pacifism". What a great detail. Thanks again for posting all these!

        • Elexus Calcearius says:

          What it definitely reminds me of is the wording of Chinese communist propoganda. Even though I get the sense that Fire Nation society is barely communist in execution, the terminology sounds very much the same.

          • Tauriel_ says:

            Actually, the closest real life analogy to the Fire Nation régime would be fascism, IMHO…

            • Elexus Calcearius says:

              I agree with that, it’s just that the actually wording of the propaganda sounds more in line with communist stuff than fascist.

              • Tauriel_ says:

                Not really; I'm from a post-communist country, so I know what the commie propaganda was like… 😉

    • Lileh says:

      Jeong Jeong's movements are circular [or at least different] because he uses firebending defensively rather than offensively like everyone else.

      • Classtoise says:

        Yeah. He uses it less for "Fire blasts" and more for defense. I'd love to see him vs Zhao directly to see the conflicting styles.

  12. kaleidoscoptics says:

    Can we say anvilcilious? Wow. I know I shouldn't really criticize a kid's show for being heavy-handed, and this show generally does do it better than most, but it felt so repetitive here. We get it, Admiral Zhao is destructive and undisciplined and a terrible, terrible person. Impatience makes you into a ruthless monster. Although I really did like Aang tricking Zhao into destroying his ships. Talk about hoisting someone by their own petard.

    I'm not saying I disliked the episode. It did have a lot of good stuff. I mentioned the other day about how great it is from a story-telling standpoint that Aang’s actions really have consequences, and that’s even more true here. Aang messed up, big time. He doesn’t have the patience or concentration he needs, and thinks he can speed along his training. It ends up hurting Katara badly and making him lose his chance. But at the same time not all is lost: he clearly learned something from the old master, and Katara learned a healing skill.
    I really hope that we see that old firebender guy again. Maybe near the end of the series, since apparently Aang has to learn the other Bending types first.

    One of the most fascinating things to me was the Fire Nation festival. I love fiction where they bring in different and even conflicting perceptions. To most of the characters we've seen so far, the Fire Nation is downright evil. Pretty much the only other Fire Nation people we've seen are from the military and end up supporting that view (except Iroh, who just wants tea and music). But here you get to see how they see themselves. Ozai isn't a tyrant, but a hero. There are normal people just going about their lives, not hell-bent on the destruction of other civilizations.

    One thing that confuses me about this whole system, though: Water and Earthbenders, and presumably Airbenders, use whatever they have around them to bend. Katara has her little flask, and the Earthbenders who were on that rig couldn’t do anything. But Firebenders can make fire out of thin air. How does that work? If this is spoilery don’t answer it; it’s just something that sort of has been bothering me.

    • @redbeardjim says:

      Iroh talked about it briefly in episode 1: "Strength in firebending comes from the breath, not the muscles." Firebenders evidently use the energy within themselves, turning it into fire as they strike.

      At least, that's how it works in the show…. *glares at Shyamalan*

      • kaleidoscoptics says:

        Okay, that makes a little more sense. I guess if they went around talking about chi it would sound too much like DBZ. Thanks!

    • Dragonsong12 says:

      I don't think it's specifically mentioned in-show, so I don't think it counts as a spoiler, but I think firebenders are manipulating their chi to create fire.

      Regarless of how it works, though, think of the alternative *shudder* (Disclaimer: I was actually really interested when the movie gave that limitation because I thought it'd translate into the firebenders being much craftier and better tacticians…nope. Shyamalan's just lazy.)

    • alexamarie0813 says:

      in the first episode, iroh said that firebending comes from "the breath." so i guess they just convert their energy into fire and shoot it out of their fists. LIKE A BOSS.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Yeah, Firebenders are the only benders who can actually create their element.

      • echinodermata says:

        Canonically; I don't think the means of airbending is ever explained. And why would it, really – there's no lack of air anywhere, so it's not something that really needs to come up.

        • Avit says:

          Avatar: IN SPACE

          wait not that one, you know what I mean

          • mkjcaylor says:

            If airbenders could create air, they COULD theoretically go into space. So that's a thought.

            • Avit says:

              Oh my god if the franchise lasts long enough and Bryke have enough quality inspiration between 'em, space exploration under the rules of the Avatar world would be brilliant.

              Or, you know, fic.

              • Elexus Calcearius says:

                I'm just going to settle for a DW crossover, so the Doc can take them up there.

            • echinodermata says:

              I've always wondered if earthbenders could bend on the moon.

          • kaleidoscoptics says:

            It sort of begs the question: can airbenders create a vacuum? Because that would be awesome.

            • Avit says:

              Well, that was one hypothesis for how Gyatso killed the Fire Nation soldiers around him, right?

            • echinodermata says:

              ack, there could be some rogue airbender that kills people by suffocation.

            • alexamarie0813 says:

              wow, that's a great question. i'm sure it's possible though, right?
              i bet that airbenders can just suck the air out of an opponent's lungs and kill them, but since they're so non-confrontational, i doubt they would…. omg *the possibilities*

              • Elexus Calcearius says:

                *is tempted to write fic*

                • jeno says:

                  I've been tempted to write that fic for years. After all, the Airbenders were nomads, right? It's not impossible that a few managed to escape the temple massacres. Hell, it's even likely. There might be Airbender descendants in a few scattered Earth Kingdom communities. Airbenders who weren't raised on the ideals of pacifism… Though I imagine if an Airbender did pop up after the massacres, even in an Earthbender community, they'd be less than willing to advertise themselves.

            • Tauriel_ says:

              Theoretically, I think it should be possible. Katara was able to pull the water out of Aang's lungs in "The Warriors of Kyoshi"; I'm sure that by a similar principle, Aang should be able to pull air from an enclosed space.

      • rainbowsinside says:

        You could also think of it in terms that fire is an element that is easily created by normal humans every day. The other elements, not so much.

    • echinodermata says:

      But Firebenders can make fire out of thin air. How does that work? If this is spoilery don’t answer it; it’s just something that sort of has been bothering me.

      To my knowledge, there's no canon answer. So it continues to bother me, too.

      Also, I agree that while this is still a rather likeable episode, it could be more subtle.

      • licoricepencil says:

        I kind of explained it to myself with a ~high schooler's~ science education, so forgive me if I am a bit off in how it works IRL.

        In the show's rules, fire is created from chi, a kind of spiritual energy. In real life, fire is a reaction, and it gives off heat energy. So for me, firebenders get their fire by manipulating their own energy into heat energy.

        It makes sense for me. ^^;

        • echinodermata says:

          I've had a similar discussion before, and my issue with that is that moving water and earth and air around is adding kinetic energy, just as making fire is adding heat (which is energy). Fire comes from the body? Okay, but why doesn't the other bending come from the body, then? Why can't the waterbenders be manipulating their life-energy to create kinetic energy?

          So the whole "fire is created from chi" thing has never sat well for me since that seems like either an explanation for all or none of the bending abilities. And if it's an explanation for all of them, that still doesn't explain why fire is made but the other elements are moved.

          (Also, I get stuck on the fact that the word for air and chi/life-energy are written with the same Chinese character, so every time I watch the credits and see that Chinese character intro, I think air=chi/qi a lot more than I think fire=qi.)

  13. chichichimaera says:

    I believe I heard someone say that there was also meant to be some inspiration from Apocalypse Now in the river camp set-up as well.

  14. monkeybutter says:

    Isn't it great loving a show and knowing that it's going to blow your mind even more as you go on?

    I really like this episode for the insight into Fire Nation culture, because it's difficult for the trio to get a glimpse of that particular society outside of the war. They aren't all warriors, but they sure don't like the Avatar, and love the Fire Lord. The propaganda Punch and Judy show was particularly great. I also loved Jeong Jeong, who has adopted an anti-violence and anti-fire view because of what he's seen. I agree, both his resistance and Aang's eager carelessness are wrong, and there is good to by found in firebending. You just have to master control, which as we've seen isn't Aang's strong suit.

    This episode is a great explanation of why there's an order to learning bending styles, as well as why Monk Gyatso was hesitant about setting Aang on the path to being the Avatar. Mastering the elements means a lot more than going through the physical motions; it requires spiritual and personal maturity. Aang has a lot of work to do, and I like to think that Roku was trying to teach him that lesson via Jeong Jeong.

    Oh, and it was hilarious seeing Zhao be defeated by yet another child. How did he become an admiral? Exemplary dickishness = promotion.

    I don't think you're imagining a similarity between this episode and Heart of Darkness, and while you aren't the first person I've seen mention it, I'm glad you did!

    • kaleidoscoptics says:

      "I like to think that Roku was trying to teach him that lesson via Jeong Jeong. "

      Ooh, interesting thought. It makes sense. I'd been wondering why a previous Avatar would want his successor to do it wrong.

      • monkeybutter says:

        Roku works in ~mysterious ways~ I think setting fire to the tree wasn't solely meant to intimidate Jeong Jeong, but to foreshadow Aang losing control over the fire from the burning leaf. Jeong Jeong might not have understood that, but I think Roku real intention was for Aang to realize that even though there's a deadline, he has to be patient and learn things in order. Genius former life!

  15. Violets are Blue says:


  16. sundaycoma says:

    So I have a question: there are a few comics floating around for the Airbender 'verse and I just so happened to procure one of these comics during this past week for Free Comic Book Day. One of the comics, I wanted to share with the site because it answers a couple of questions viewers may have had while watching the series — but that's not to say it's spoileriffic, per se.

    So my question is this: If I wanted to share, should I wait until after you've finished the whole series, Mark, or if the comic only pertains to the first season, should I just wait until you finish the first season?

  17. arctic_hare says:

    I really really enjoyed this episode. Jeong Jeong was such an interesting character to me, I felt really bad for him. Can't be easy knowing one of his students turned out like that – I liken it to how Obi Wan felt about Anakin turning to the Dark Side, because I'm a huge dork and love Star Wars. I think, like some others, that he has some serious self-hate going on and doesn't see the other side of fire, but then, I can't really blame him. Fire can be a scary destructive thing, and it's easy to forget sometimes that it provides good things too, and I would imagine even more so when you've had the experiences he's had, seeing the horrors of war and particularly how Zhao turned out. It's pretty sad that his life has embittered him against something that's such a big part of himself. Like I said, I really feel for the guy.

    I think there is, of course, a dark side to all the elements; none of them is purely good or bad, what matters is who is using them and how. This episode shows how out of control firebending can do so much harm, while waterbending can actively heal. But the reverse can be true too, fire can help and water can hurt. I'd love to see that flipside explored. The duality of each element is really interesting to me.

    Also interesting to me was seeing Fire Nation culture and the distorted views of the Fire Lord that the average citizens have. I'd bet money they have no idea that Ozai is actually a twisted abusive fuck who burned his son's face off for speaking up in defense of soldier's lives. Makes me wonder what they do get told, how things are spun. Which is a good thing to wonder: the show isn't presenting it as an entire nation of evil people. Just people.

    Other stuff: Aang trolling Zhao was fantastic. The fish hook story was hilarious, and I hope to never hear the whole thing, because the real story never lives up to your imagining of it. Some things are better left untold. Like the Noodle Incident! Lastly, I do hope Aang will change his mind, I understand being afraid to try again after he hurt Katara like that, but he needs to master it by the time the comet gets there. Big picture, Aang!

    • Tauriel_ says:

      At the risk of sounding totally repetitive: I agree with you 100%, arctic_hare. 🙂 Especially this bit:

      Also interesting to me was seeing Fire Nation culture and the distorted views of the Fire Lord that the average citizens have. I'd bet money they have no idea that Ozai is actually a twisted abusive fuck who burned his son's face off for speaking up in defense of soldier's lives. Makes me wonder what they do get told, how things are spun. Which is a good thing to wonder: the show isn't presenting it as an entire nation of evil people. Just people.

      Exactly. The Fire Nation is a very military nation, compared to the other ones, and even though not ALL Fire Nation citizens are in the military, there's bound to be a huge amount of propaganda, trying to portray the war as something good or at least justified. Just like in the real world.

      And I love Jeong Jeong, who is a true BAMF. It's nice to see one Firebender who is actually openly AGAINST the war waged by the Fire Nation.

    • rosalius says:

      I agree with this whole comment, and I just wanted to add on to your point about the public's image of Ozai. I think since the ship mate that Zuko argued with in "The Storm" thought that Zuko had been burned in a training accident, most citizens of the Fire Nation don't know it happened that way or might not even be aware that Prince Zuko's face is burned. I could definitely see the Fire Nation propaganda keeping all of that a secret.

      • arctic_hare says:

        Good point, yeah – if even some of the soldiers serving Zuko post-banishment have no idea about the circumstances around that, then certainly the general populace doesn't either.

        • FlameRaven says:

          I'm assuming that probably a good chunk of the Fire Nation nobility know– we definitely saw Zhao, Iroh, and that girl in attendance, and there seemed to be a reasonably large audience– I'm assuming it was mostly the generals/military elite who were in the meeting, maybe their relatives, and whatever nobles the Fire Nation court has. They would know, but those people would also be the ones with the least amount of contact with ordinary citizens/rank and file soldiers. Ozai either put some spin on it, or just didn't bother to mention it– most of the people who ran into him would probably assume a training accident.

    • Riel says:

      About Prince Zuko – maybe the common citizen thinks he's nothing but a brat, and the Fire Lord HAD to send him away because he's a disgrace?

      • arctic_hare says:

        Probably. I'd be very interested in learning what sort of fucked-up spin Ozai put on it for everyone in the nation to hear. I'd bet it doesn't resemble the truth a whole hell of a lot.

        • Tauriel_ says:

          Probably something along the lines that Zuko is a pathetic cowardly wimp who doesn't deserve to be the heir to the Fire Nation throne… unless he manages to capture and/or kill the Avatar…

    • __Jen__ says:

      Agreed with this whole comment (of course! :D), but I especially have to say that I love the Obi-Wan parallel. There were almost surely a lot of years of self-hate (and turning into a wild master in the wilderness) between the trilogies.

      Any trolling of Zhao is the best thing (aside from trolling of Zuko, obviously).

    • notemily says:

      You're watching this for the first time ! OMG so excite

  18. dreining says:

    I know another poster usually discusses the artbook, but I’ll just go ahead and answer Mark’s question: The artbook specifically mentions Heart of Darkness as the inspiration for this episode, so a thousand confetti dragons for you, Mark, for knowing that.

  19. cait0716 says:

    Watching Aang jump up on the stage to save Katara I was reminded of my reaction to Harry snooping in Snape's pensieve. Clearly Aang has better motivations, but it was the same feeling of "NO! What are you doing! Stop and think for a second!" I just wanted to grab him and give him a shake!

    I am so excited about Katara's healing ability. I can't wait to see how that plays out.

    Sokka's double fishhook injury is something my little brother would do. Just, sigh. ::shakes head::

    But what I actually want to talk about is Captain Planet. For years I thought that show was magical or something. I saw it at my grandmother's house. Every time I went to my grandmother's house I managed to catch a few episodes of Captain Planet. But, try as I might, I couldn't find it on my television at home. This confused me even further because we had cable and my grandmother only had an antenna. There was no way she had a channel we didn't have. So I decided that she must have a magical TV that showed this magical show. Then I grew up and found out that other people had also seen Captain Planet. And then I realized that it had been time differences playing tricks on me – my grandmother lived in Boston and we lived in Denver. At home I never woke up early enough to see it.

    • sakiexcel says:

      Clearly Aang has better motivations, but it was the same feeling of "NO! What are you doing! Stop and think for a second!" I just wanted to grab him and give him a shake!


  20. Megan says:

    You have no idea how badly I want to answer some of those rhetorical questions of yours, but I swear I will refrain! It only gets better from here, I promise 😀

  21. herpestidae says:

    Sokka gets much love from me in this episode (well, practically every episode, but this one in particular). He's seen Aang's power and ability, and that all just does not matter because YOU BURNED MY SISTER HOW DARE YOU.

    I also kind of liked the introspective into firebending. It's the only form of bending based on an external martial art, and it reflects that by focusing primarily on assault. Fire is alive in its own way. At the same time, I really don't see it as a burden. Image how easy it would make his life. Firewood? Matches? A stove? He don't need them. he can make all the tea and popcorn he wants, always have a hot bath. Firebending is definitely the most versatile of the bunch.

    • kaleidoscoptics says:

      Sokka is pretty awesome. Screw bending, he's got a boomerang and he's not afraid to use it. Especially if someone hurts his sister.

  22. qwopisinthemailbox says:


    i seriously wish i was a water bender. i think i'd be perfect for it.

  23. echinodermata says:

    General annoucement: stop answering Mark's questions. Please? If it will eventually be explained, don't bother explaining now.

  24. Matt Thermo says:

    A little piece of Avatar trivia for ya. Zhao’s voice actor is Jason Issacs, who also plays Lucious Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies.

  25. Dragonsong12 says:

    Eeeennnnngh….this seems a bit spoilery to me, as it's talking about things coming up in the show and Mark generally wants to go in completely cold. (And I feel so bad saying anything because I agree with you, but…yeah….)

  26. Avit says:

    they can start fires with their minds

    It sounds so cool when you phrase it like that.

  27. rosalius says:

    This is one of my favorite episodes. I think the idea of a bender who doesn't want to be a bender of their element is really fascinating. Jeong Jeong seems to have a lot of self-hatred, and it's so sad that he would really rather be a waterbender.

  28. Dragonsong12 says:

    I did not know this, and it's probably the best explination I've heard! Thank you!

  29. herpestidae says:

    Oh, why do I never catch my typos!?


  30. kaleidoscoptics says:

    That is a very cool perspective. The amount of research they put into this show is really impressive, so I wouldn't be surprised if that's one reason. Thanks!

  31. sldfkjsdhf says:

    We already have a review to this episode. Do you really feel the need to put one up too? It's kind of pointless…

    • Avit says:

      I enjoy seeing the views and reactions of the community. Especially in a fairly safe space.

    • shyfully says:

      Well you see, someone has taken my gif folders hostage and if I don't write an Avatar review every day, they'll delete them from the history of the internet!!!!!

      Nah, I don't need to. I just find it fun. 🙂

      • echinodermata says:

        Classy reply. I would have gone for a 'look at all the fucks I give' gif, personally. So kudos.

        • shyfully says:

          I'm more amused than anything. Oh no, I'm doing something unnecessary on the internet.

      • Teresa says:

        I've been meaning to tell you, and now seems like an excellent time: I look forward to your comment-reviews almost as much as Mark's posts themselves. So don't let one killjoy discourage you!

        • shyfully says:

          Aw, don't worry and thanks so much! I really love having a place to tl;dr about Avatar. 🙂

      • Skulls, Candied says:


    • kaleidoscoptics says:

      Do you even go here?

    • Jaxx_zombie says:

      Your face is pointless

    • SpiderHyphenMan says:

      This is it. The worst comment. We found it gang. Good work.

  32. monkeybutter says:

    That's a great explanation, thanks for clearing that up!

  33. fantasylover120 says:

    The fire festival was one of my favorites in this ep. You get some insight to the culture of the Fire Nation and I appreciate that they're showing this side of the Fire Nation because really most of what we've seen has just been that they're war hungry. But this shows that they have a culture as well and hey not every fire bender is evil, you know? That thing with the puppet also kind of hits home that to the citizens of the Fire Nation, they aren't evil. They don't see themselves as the bad guy. Which brings up a whole set of questions for me such as are all fire benders in favor of the war? Why did they decide to go to war in the first place, etc. I just love layered shows like this. Favorite quote:
    "Yeah, because we always leave when there's trouble."-Sokka

  34. FlameRaven says:

    Excellent description.

    I want to make another comment, but it is a spoiler. Damn. ):

  35. Tauriel_ says:

    Oh yeah. Sokka the protective brother = AWESOME.

  36. FlameRaven says:

    Ugh, I don't want to spoil anything, but. Read up a bit more on Korra, I think you have misinterpreted what that series is actually going to be about.

  37. arctic_hare says:

    I think this is a bit spoilery, so I'm going to delete it. Feel free to repost the non-spoilery thoughts, however.

  38. enigmaticagentscully says:

    Sokka: Oh, well then thanks for all the first aid over the years! Like when I fell into the grease briar bramble and that time I had two fish hooks in my thumb!
    Aang: Two?
    Katara: He tried to get the first fish hook out with another fish hook.

    That whole exchange had me laughing so hard! It's the sort of thing you can totally imagine Sokka doing.

  39. Macy says:

    I really loved the ending to this episode as well. Jeong-Jeong is a freaking NINJA. I mean, he literally just disappeared!
    You're almost done with the first season!!! I can't wait to read you review of the last few episodes!!

  40. agatstone says:

    I love how, when Aang is taunting Zhao and says, that he thought Zhao was supossed to be better than Zuko. I think he hit a sore spot with that, since Zhao launches an extra strong atack after that line.

  41. Toph13139 says:

    OMG! I just love how you use the term "troll" in Avatar! I've never even thought of it until I started reading your reviews. Let me tell you something, Mark, I am part of an Avatar community called AvatarSpirit.Net (best forum, BTW. There's a link somewhere around), and we have a thread where we discuss your reviews. You're like a baby learning how to walk and it's so entertaining to see you taking those steps into awesomeness.

    Again, Iroh trolls Zuko, Aang trolls Zhao, Zhao trolls Zuko, the entire world is in a trolling plan against Zuko…

    XD It just makes me laugh so much, I don't know why. Also, as I'm reading your Twilight reviews right now (agree with you 145%) it's hilarious to see your two poles. The "I absolutely hate everything, this book, and this fucking author who can't write!" and the "Avatar-squeeee!" sides… LMAO!

  42. @redbeardjim says:

    Here you go. Warning to all, it's spoilery for pretty much the entire series.

  43. Pelleloguin says:

    I always figured that firebenders used their energy (spiritual or otherwise) to create their own flames. As for why they can, there's water just about everywhere, air IS everywhere and I doubt many earthbenders choose to be boat captions. So in order to keep the balance between bending strengths, firebenders can make their own fire. If they had to use premade fire, a waterbender could just splash it, an airbender could smother it, and an earthbender could drop some rocks on it. A firebender would almost always lose.

    That's also why it's so hard to master. They need to make it, so they need to be able to control it the moment it comes to life. As the show proves, if a firebender is upset, they can (sort of) reflexively bend. So, if a normal person throws their hands in the air when mad, a firebender who is not good at their ability may accidentally shoot some flames up too, and could burn themselves or another person in the process. While a firebender always has their element, if they cant focus, they are much more dangerous than any other bender. That keeps the balance.

    On an unrelated note, this show is great at showing that the Fire Nation is actually full of normal, usually friendly people. (for the most part) You cant dislike the entire population after watching this episode because you learn that they are raised that way from childhood. They really beleive that what they are doing needs to be done. It's sad, because as a viewer, you know how much this is hurting the world, but they don't.

  44. affableevil says:

    I don't have time for a full comment today 🙁

    But I am glad you took so well to Jeong Jeong, he's super badass and so ~complex~

    In conclusion, have a funny pic:

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    (For the record, I generally love touch feely bullcrap)

    • DuskQ says:

      Aang: "I already know how to squat and breathe and feel the sun. I wanna know how to shoot fire out of my fingertips!"

      DuskQ: "MEEEEE too."


    • Tauriel_ says:

      I fully approve of the touchy-feely bullcrap pic. XD (even though I, too, like it, if it's not too OTT)

  45. Jaxx_zombie says:

    Ok, putting aside Aang’s dramatic reaction (I’M NEVER WATER BENDING AGAIN! :: writes in LiveJournal :: )
    I hate being a person who corrects, since I dislike those type of people….. but…. you put water bending.

    *hits self for correcting*

    I will now go throw myself into the crack.

  46. Kaci says:

    My favorite part of this episode is that little puppet play we see at the festival–you touched on it in your review, but I just wanted to add that it shows how propaganda works, and how children become indoctrinated at young ages–the play paints the Fire Lord as someone to look up to–and so the children do. Teach 'em young and all that.

    Also, since you mentioned it in your review, imho, seasons 2 and 3 are so much better than S1, and that is saying a lot because s1 is awesome. Like, I remember liking season 1, but it wasn't until season 2 started to air that I went from "this is good," to "holy shit this is awesome, how is something this well-written on Nick?" So yes! I am excited for you to get to those seasons because they're even more amazing than 1!

  47. Hotaru_hime says:

    Oooh, I love this episode. It underscores Aang's immaturity perfectly. It also makes you kind of sad that Aang couldn't learn Firebending early because it would have been nice to have a primarily offensive element to use against enemies (especially when you've got Firebenders chasing after you).
    But I want to point out the correlation between the elements- Air enhances Fire. Water could enhance Earth (if you just look at them from a purely elemental point of view, Water and Earth are compatible, Air and Fire are compatible, Earth can suppress Fire and Fire can scorch Earth, etc.) but it's to a lesser degree than with Air and Fire. It's the only thing I wish we could see in the series- Aang learning to Airbend. We don't know the mechanics, the steps needed to mastery. We only know that Aang is an Airbending Master. I don't think Air requires the same amount of control as Fire as it isn't as destructive (harken back to Word of God saying Airbending is defensive) and Firebending comes easy to Aang, maybe even easier than Waterbending. However, Aang is young and doesn't have the necessary discipline; he wants to know now. If he had had more discipline and more of a solid than a carefree personality, then maybe the events of The Storm wouldn't have happened.
    I also want to point out the correlation between Aang and an earlier episode, where Iroh was drilling the basics into Zuko and Zuko was complaining. Discipline and basics are the difference between wielding fire and being consumed by it. In their haste to prove themselves and fulfill their duties, both Zuko and Aang only manage to sabotage themselves.
    Jeong Jeong's admission of wanting to be a Waterbender made me want to hug him SO HARD. Like, holy crap. He was clearly an accomplished person in the Fire Nation and he walked away from it. It makes you wonder about "former General" Iroh…
    Katara learning to heal!! KATARA LEARNED CURE!

  48. Elexus Calcearius says:

    I really love this episode. It may not be on my top favourites list, but I really do feel like it’s a strong episode. It’s such a wonderful thing of characterisaiton, plot and morality that it really feels like something important and impactful.

    The first thing that stands out it how important this is in establishing that not all the Fire Nation are evil, and just having the destructive element of fire doesn’t make you a naturally destructive person. We’ve already seen the occasional clue- for example, Zuko’s crew, Iroh’s especially, mostly seems like a bunch of well meaning guys who are soldiers, but like playing Pai Sho and music nights. Here we’re introduced to the Fire Nation village, and we get to see FN citizens as just people. They’re buying snacks, watching shows, wearing face masks, and just having fun. I particularly like the moment when the kids’ are watching that hand puppet play- it just points out that the entire nation will probably have been fed propaganda for a hundred years, its not like they’re taught to be evil in schools or anything.

    Jeong-Jeong of course is the logical extension of this; a Fire Bender who isn’t just awesome and likable, like Iroh, but shown to be definitely set against the Fire Nation. Its such a refreshing thing to show that no, the Fire Nation aren’t just mindless hoards of careless soldiers, and that there are at least a few Fire Benders who are actively fighting against them. Ironically, however, Jeong-Jeong almost seems to subscribe to the belief that “evil powers=evil people”. When I was younger, I thought Joeng-Joeng seemed really cool (I still do) because of his philosophical comments on destiny and fire being alive, but now that I’m older, I feel sorry for him. Maybe its because I’ve actually taken courses on philosophy, and I’m not as swayed by pseudo stuff, but also because he’s now so bitter and self loathing. How must it be to literally think that not only you, but all the people you were raised with, are destined to be evil because of something they can’t help? I also have to disagree with the philosophy since we’ve seen that there are some decent and at least nice Fire Benders out there, and you can’t forget that although fire burns, it also gives warmth and prepares food. It’s got a destructive side and a giving side, like all the elements- just like water can heal, as revealed in this episode, it can also drown.


    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      On the comment of healing, I remember when I first watched this episode I was like; “Well, that sort of comes out of nowhere,” but I’ve come to like this addition with time. Firstly, it does add a bit more realism to the story. If the characters were able to get through all their battles unscathed, it would be a bit hard to believe, but now the characters are allowed to get injured, but heal fast enough not to have the story affected. It also makes sense in light of many eastern philosophies’ view on the element of water and the concept of chi; chi flows through your body (like water) so it makes sense that a bender moving it along the body’s chi lines could increase water’s healing affect, or at least as much sense as elemental powers ever could.
      While I love this episode as a whole, there are two scenes that stand out in particular. I love the point where Avatar Roku speaks through Aang. Firstly, it’s very visually impressive; I love how the background disappears, leaving only Roku, a tree and Jeong Jeong. It’s strangely chilling watching this man speak with the knowledge of his own life, and thousands of others. Especially when you contrast it with literally a second later, when Aang’s returned, obviously having no idea what just happened. I can’t help but think “These two are the same person?!? WTF.”

      I also love the scene where Aang sets the leaf on fire and burns Katara. It’s just so emotional, although I partly wish Katara would stop acting so absolutely betrayed, but then I guess if my friend was played with a flame thrower when my mom was burned alive, and scorched me with it, I might react the same way. Its Sokka’s reaction, though, that really gets me. I know that it’s a bit immature of him to knock Aang down, but it feels so natural. Yes, Sokka can sometimes be a sarcastic jerk who doesn’t always appreciate his sister, but if you hurt you, goddamn he’ll make you pay. It makes me think “awww, he really does love her.” Not to mention, I can imagine he was probably a little bit freaked out by the whole fire thing. Like Jeong Jeong, I think he’s been prejudiced to think fire=evil; I wonder if on some level he was afraid his friend Aang would change after gaining the ability? And then to see it partly confirmed right before your eyes…well, it makes his actions more understandable.

      It’s a big moment for Aang to, because I think it’s another instance where Aang’s immaturity causes him to get into trouble. This time, though, he realises how stupid and reckless he’s been, and takes steps to change and grow as a person…..unfortunately, he does it in the worst way possible. Yes, Aang, I understand you’re sorry, but you’re going to need to learn that fourth element eventually.

  49. kchano says:

    "That puppet play they watch is actually kind of disturbing, since Fire Lord Ozai is presented as a victorious hero for fighting against the Earth Kingdom bender."

    I remember when I saw this episode I also thought that puppet show was disturbing, but was a good way of slipping in the fact that it appears the citizens of the Fire Nation are being subjected to some pretty serious propaganda from a very early age, not just about their nation's leader, but their nation itself in terms of comparison to the other nations.

  50. Depths_of_Sea says:

    I don't have much to say this round. Nothing but love for this episode and getting to see FIRE NATION CULTURE omg.

    <img alt="" src="; />


  51. SpiderHyphenMan says:

    That moment where Sokka tackles Aang feels so goddamn real. It isn't done with SOKKA RUSHING AT AANG WITH ACTION LINES IN THE BACKGROUND. It's a genuine human moment, and the fact that these characters are animated does nothing to change how REAL they are.

  52. Patrick says:

    My question about this is, why the hell did Zhao have wooden boats?

    Also, love the Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now influence, because Apocalypse Now is an amazing movie. I'm kinda surprised that they didn't have Zhao say something about the smell of firebending in the morning. It would fit his character, after all.

    • Patrick says:

      And Mark, seasons 2 and 3 are indeed better. You have no idea how much your mind is going to be blown. No idea at all.

    • Violets are Blue says:

      My only explanation is that he doesn't have the little metal ships Zuko has or, if he does, he was unable to get them up to the river. We don't exactly know where this took place, whether it was close to the ocean or further inland. Zhao has been seen more inland recently and possibly couldn't get a hold of metal ships in time without the risk of losing the Avatar. He probably seized some local river boats for his conquest and those would likely be made of lumber since it is the most abundant resource around the village. Really bad planning on his part.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      I would assume that wooden boats (or part wooden, part metal boats) would have a smaller draught than fully metal boats, which would make them more suitable for sailing on rivers (Zhao DID explicitly say "river boats").

    • @lizbee says:

      We debated this in a rewatch comm I run on Dreamwidth (NOTE: SPOILER-FRIENDLY), and suggested that the wooden boats were older or temporary equipment that belonged to the Fire Nation town, rather than being part of his own weaponry.

  53. Mitch says:

    I'm just going to repost this from my Tumblr. If things in here look like spoilers they're completely coincidental, because I'm watching along with Mark.


    Since I started watching Avatar I’ve been concerned about the sociopolitical implications of the show’s history. Why did the Fire Nation attack? Surely it wasn’t random, because that’s not how entire societies function, so what was the impetus? Did the other elemental groups anger them in some way, or did they just have a really angry leader a hundred years ago, or what? It’s not yet been explained, though I hope it someday will be, because it’s actually extremely important. The Firebenders and other Fire Nation citizens at the festival were only having fun, not worried about the Avatar or hurting other people. They were juggling and setting off fireworks and taming pretend dragons, and only the soldiers chased Aang when he was revealed. So not all citizens of the Fire Nation are horrible, but we knew that already because Uncle Iroh exists and is amazing. (There’s something awful hinted in his past, but right now he’s awesome, so I’m sticking with that.)

    I’ve also been thinking about the potential for crossover between the various Bending techniques. Air can swoop water up, lift boulders, and disperse fire; water can douse fire, move earth, and presumably part water; earth can change the course of rivers, block air, and even, as lava, become fire itself. So can fire really only be destructive? I mean, it can be used as a simple heat source even in our world without Bending, as a way to comfort those who are sick or otherwise cold. It could heat water for Uncle Iroh’s soothing tea, bake earth into bricks, and of course it couldn’t even exist without air as a conductor. With all this in mind, I don’t think I believe Jeong Jeong when he talks about fire's nature.

    I know he’s a master, and I’m not in any way excusing any of Aang’s foolishness, but to say that fire can’t heal is just outright incorrect. It can warm, it can cook, it can do all sorts of things that water and air and earth couldn’t do if they weren’t heated. Yes, Firebending, if done carelessly or by bad people, can be evil, but so can Water- and Earth- and Airbending. With Waterbending you could create waves to drown villages. With Earthbending you could create and seal chasms to swallow people. With Airbending you could create tornadoes, hurricanes, even whirlpools to get rid of any number of your enemies. It’s down to the person, not the element zie uses.

    If this show really intends to portray fire as an inherently harmful element, I’m afraid I’m going to keep disagreeing with it, because everything – EVERYTHING – is a matter of perspective. Therefore, I’m kind of annoyed right now.

    (Hopefully followup comments will actually get emailed to me, and posting a comment won't somehow lock me out of the site for hours. *fingers crossed*)

    • lossthief says:

      I always took Jeong Jeong's speech about Fire to be more of his own personal demons coming through rather than the show's own philosophy on it. After all, Aang DOES have to learn Firebending at some point, and the whole point of the Avatar is to maintain balance. Jeong Jeong's stance struck me as more HIS ideals, rather than the creators, that HE is the one with the stigma against firebending and is pushing that onto Aang.

      • Mitch says:

        That definitely makes sense, and I hope that's the way it was meant, but it just seems awfully soapboxy that the two main discoveries of this episode were "Fire is destructive!" and "Water heals!" You know? I'm just not sure.

      • Tauriel_ says:


    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      On the question of 'why did they go to war'; well, why does anyone go to war? I think we can agree that in the real world, there's not country solely made up of angry people who want to fight- everyone everywhere who have kids who like to play, and entertainment and games and fun stuff.

      When a country goes to war, there's a lot of contributions to it, including political tension, economic growth, the opinions of the time, and the general feeling of a country's leader(s). Let's look at examples for the real world. When America went to war against Vietnam, it was because they were super violent, but because the opinions of the time had formed a society of hysteria against communism which is very difficult for people who didn't live through to comprehend. When Germany was prompted to go into WW2, a good deal of this was because of the many years they'd suffered after WW1- they were very much penialised, and most of the population, the Nazi government included, felt resentful. Add into that the Great Depression and ideology, it makes for war.

      We also have to keep in mind that the Fire Nation is very much based off Imperial Japan, both in location and culture. The culture thing might have explained some of the ways propaganda was used to make them think they were superior, and the sense that they could share their superiority with the world. From a more practical level, island nations are usually very short on supplies- they don't have a lot of coal/oil available, and farming areas are restricted. So its very plausible to believe that they went to war as a way of gaining more physical resources.

      • Mitch says:

        I really like the thought you put into this! It makes a lot of sense, and I hope some of it (or any stated reason, really) is eventually borne out in the show. I mean, even wanting to gain more physical resources is a REASON, as opposed to "…just because, OK?"

      • Tauriel_ says:

        Excellently reasoned! *applauds*

    • MichelleZB says:

      These are all really good thoughts! I can't say more without spoiling, but I enjoyed reading your reactions.

    • notemily says:

      I like your thoughts on the different elements and what they can do, especially since you haven't seen the show before. I do think any element can be used for both good and evil, both healing/helping and destruction. I will say more about this later.

  54. plaida says:

    The Heart of Darkness is your favorite book?

    I am so boggled by this, considering your reviews…

  55. Jay Gatsby says:

    I loved the fact that you felt a presence of "Heart of Darkness" in this episode! I'm an English major and I become horribly excited when someone makes a literary reference.

  56. Quaero says:

    Hey Mark, just in case.

    The first season finale aired as a one-hour special, and should be watched in one sitting.

    • Bonzu says:

      No! I want Mark to watch the first episode and then have to wait for three days. This will be his punishment for not posting a review earlier.

      No, just kidding. Just should also know that season 2 aired as the famous avatar-marathon, with all episodes being shown on one day.

  57. daigo says:

    ^^^What Quaero said. Don't tease yourself by watching one episode at a time. Think of it as akin to the 2-hour Dr. Who Christmas specials. Watch 'em in one sitting. 🙂

  58. beeftony says:

    If the "Avatar Extras" are to be believed, this episode was specifically written as a reference to Heart of Darkness.

  59. Caitlin P says:


    • Tauriel_ says:

      Technically, it could – the main character (the Avatar) keeps reincarnating. Virtually the same thing as Doctor Who! You can always have new adventures with a new main character, who's still essentially the same character inside, albeit with a different personality.

    • FlameRaven says:

      Well… at least they're making the new series? 's called Legend of Korra, and it's supposed to start airing sometime in 2012 I believe. I

  60. herpestidae says:

    I'm not really one for sight gags, but what got me was that she took the angry mask off a smiling Aang and the smiling mask off angry Sokka. It was just so… I can't exactly describe why, but it was just funny on the most basic level.

  61. tigerpetals says:

    While all the elements have destructive potential, fire is the riskiest. You can put a bowl of water on a table, and if it spills you have a stain. A bowl of dirt? A bowl of dirt. One candle falls over and it could start a BONFIRE OF BODIES. Not that I don't get the point about balance.

    • Avit says:

      It all comes down to fire being a process, not a substance. But the movers and shakers of the cultures that decided on these four as the basic elements of nature weren't thinking about that, so now we fantasists are stuck with the consequences of their ill-thought-out mythologizing.

      /shakes first

  62. bookgal12 says:

    I am so glad to see this review is up! I really liked this episode because Aang has his first brush with fire bending. Even though I respect Katara and Sokka's viewpoint not to go the festival, I would go with Aang on this one. He has to learn fire-bending to defeat Ozai and he might as well get as much done as he can. Aang's impatience with Jeong Jeong has EVERYTHING to do with his mastering of all four elements by summer's end. If you had that kind of pressure on you, you would be in a hurry too. I am forever falling in love with these old men characters that Avatar keeps bringing into focus, why? Probably because their backstory is so deep and riveting. The burning of Katara is the focal point in this episode besides the brief battle with Zhao. By burning Katara, Aang for the first time hurts someone by bending and its someone who he cares about. Sokka reacted perfectly to this damage done, he was angry and didn't let the fact that Aang is the avatar stop him. I am still amazed that this show was aimed towards children, because of the vast amount of character depth and feeling.

  63. Teaspoon Capacity says:

    I love how Zhao was hoisted by his own petard. Excellent job, Aang, you expert troller. 🙂

    Also, I love how we got a glimpse of Fire Nation culture. Firebending doesn't have to be evil. Though naturally destructive, it's nice to know that fire can be used to make people happy. I know that after watching the seasons through several times, it was great to see how these various ideas of Firebending clashed with one another.

  64. MichelleZB says:

    Yes. I wanted to make two important points to you, Mark. Great review BTW.

    1) As people have already said, the last two episodes of this season aired together and you might want to watch them together.

    2) More importantly, I don't know if you were planning on watching the movie after this season. DON'T. There are spoilers for season 2 and 3 in the movie–it's totally not worth it to spoil yourself for such a crappy viewing experience! In fact, you're so busy with your watching schedule, I'd say that you don't really need to watch the movie at all. But at least, if you're going to watch it, watch it after all 3 seasons of the cartoon to avoid spoilers.

  65. Anonymouse says:

    Not a lot of people have touched on this, but from a martial arts perspective, Jeong Jeong's teaching was actually the best method, especially with a student like Aang. A few people have commented that they see Aang's side, but Jeong Jeong actually makes some very good points…

    There's a reason the primary focus of many martial arts is dicipline and respect. In Tae Kwon Do, the first thing they teach (at least in the style I learned, other people may have had different experiences) were the "tenets" of TKD, in other words, the rules about the attitude you have to have when using TKD. The attitudes carry over into most other martial arts as well, it's part of what makes them different from general self defense. The second thing you're taught in a typical martial arts education is the basics. From white belt to black belt, everyone has to know and regularily practise the basics, such as breathing. Control comes from knowing both these things, attitudes and basics, and is a main part of mastering any martial art. My cousin has a black stripe in Tae Kwon Do (one level below black belt), and to this day can't hit hard, because the club where he trained didn't allow touch sparring until red belt, they were trained to physically stop themselves three inches from the opponents face, until they reached a higher level. That's just how important control is. These are especially difficult and important for students who are a) young b)impatient c) impulsive or d) some combination of a,b, and c…. such as Aang.

    As an example, a couple weeks ago I got to watch a black belt at my karate club grade for his next black belt. Part of the exam requires the gradee to fight with various opponents. This particular guy lost A LOT of points on his exam for nearly knocking out a brown belt by kneeing him in the groin, because he HAD NO CONTROL. It's important y'all.

    Also, the part where he's yelling at Aang to make his stance wider makes me laugh, because it's true. YOUR STANCE WILL NEVER BE WIDE ENOUGH. Every sensei and instructor you ever meet will tell you so immediately. Many of them without looking. And that has been my super boring martial arts lecture, on to other stuff…

    Sokka. You warm the cockles of my heart, whatever cockles are (if someone knows, please share). I think it's wonderful to see the big brother "protector" relationship popping up. Sokka is a protective warrior type naturally, we see it with Aang, Katara, and other characters who shall remain nameless for Mark's own protection, but it's especially prominent when Katara's been threatened. I love seeing these relationships on tv, because that's how many of us older siblings feel in real life… Your Mileage May Vary of course.

    Also, as far as the whole Avatar Roku thing goes, I also figured that his purpose in showing up there was not to serve his own purposes, but to assist Aang in achieving his immediate goal. In my mind, it works like the Avatar state, in situations where his emotional state is extremely heightened, he unconsciously recalls the memory of his past lives to help him.That's just my personal fanon, but it works for me… Does that make any sense?

    • Teresa says:

      I'm fascinated by the show's drawing on real-life martial arts, so I enjoy a lecture on the subject! My sister and nephew practice Tae Kwon Do, and my sister has talked about how her school very much emphasizes those tenets, so I think their experience is similar to yours. And just because of what my sister has said, I found myself on Jeong Jeong's side in this episode.

      Myself, I've been learning Tai Chi Chuan since November, and then I watched Avatar for the first time in the spring, and I loved spotting the Tai Chi influence in Waterbending. Though it took me to "The Waterbending Scroll" to realize the influence had to be a direct one — when I saw the illustration of the Single Water Whip: "Hey I know how to do that!" Only, without the, you know, moving water around. 🙂 I was trying to keep spoiling myself to a minimum, but at that point, I had to sneak onto Wikipedia to confirm that Waterbending was indeed inspired by Tai Chi.

      Back to this episode: As for Roku's role in pushing Jeong Jeong to teach Aang before he's ready, I could go with your explanation, or what others have said, that perhaps Roku knew Aang needed to learn patience the hard way. Either works for me. Of course, I get the reality that it is going to be very difficult for Aang to find a Firebender willing to teach him. When I watched this episode, I did think Jeong Jeong, instead of just flatly refusing to deal with Aang, could have told Aang to come back, make some kind of arrangements to find each other again, after he had learned the other elements. It might have lessened Aang's "This is my one and only opportunity!" urgency.

  66. H. Torrance Griffin says:

    One possible point about Roku butting in. It may not have been 'I say do it' so much as 'You're right, but he'll have to learn the hard way.'

  67. Classtoise says:

    Ahaha, yeah. I love how Sokka is so many things. The Funny Guy, the Smart Guy, the Oaf, the Badass Normal, the HeartThrob, and a few more that become apparent later in the series. It tells you a lot about a shows writers when a character is so many clashing personalities and they all FIT (he's the "smart guy" and "the idiot", sometimes at the same time!)

  68. stefb says:

    The whole time I watched this episode, I kept willing Aang to just listen to Jeong Jeong. He's like the Mr. Miyagi of Avatar with his training.


  69. The Welsh Pirate says:

    "I don't know why, but I thought you'd be better than Zuko!"

    Damn. You need some Aloe Vera for that BURN, Zhao? I also love the part near the beginning when Katara switches Aang and Sokka's masks. Best visual joke EVAH.

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  71. ldwy says:

    I'm late and behind, but I'm catching up.
    I really liked this episode. I had forgotten that there's supposed to be an order to the way the avatar learns bending (Does the avatar always start with the kind of bending associated with his nation? Or should fire always be the last learned, because of it's nature?). But the explanation that Jeong Jeong offers, that fire is the only one that can do damage when you're not controlling the bending, makes perfect sense. And his understanding of his burden of control, and wish that he had some other gift, was beautiful and really helped us understand him. He actually seems like just the kind of firebending master Aang will need. I hope his disappearance will allow for his later return.

    The battle between Aang and Zhao was great. Fun, beautiful, funny, and clever. And really highlighted the differences between them that will make all the difference.

    I too am intrigued by Katara's new healing ability. It doesn't feel out of left field simply because water as a healing, cleansing thing is sort of true. So it makes sense. I also wonder if the Avatar, once he's mastered all the elements, will be able to combine them in some way.

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