Mark Watches ‘Avatar’: S02E02 – The Cave of Two Lovers

In the second episode of the second season of Avatar, Team Avatar decide to follow a group of musical nomads through a shortcut to the kingdom of Omashu, where they are all tested at how far they’ll go to get out of trouble. Meanwhile, Uncle Iroh’s tea obsession forces him and Zuko to take refuge in disguise with Earth benders. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Avatar.

My reaction to this episode:


I think describing “The Cave of Two Lovers” as filler is a direct insult to the show’s good name. You sully Avatar’s honor. Not only has the show moved into what feels like a hyper-serialized narrative, but they can do episodes like this, where there are no “battles,” so-to-speak, and yet this entire story was so gripping and tense. As usual, it balances humor, terror, emotional resonance, and one HELL of a cliffhanger. WHICH WE WILL GET TO.

(Now I have in image in my head of the boxset of Avatar with a twisty mustache and a monocle and a top hat. What the HELL is going on in my brain.)

I’m going to straight up say one of the main reasons I adored this episode so much: So many narratives I see about the very specific archetype of wanderers/nomads/hippies that showed up here in “The Cave of Two Lovers” are generally criticized and made to look like ridiculous fools, and that sort of characterization makes me uncomfortable. And even beyond that, it’s just SO boring. We’ve seen it all a thousand times! What the writers do here (and do brilliantly, I might add) is to send this whimsical, almost loving light all over the Earth Kingdom nomads we meet. Yes, they can be foolish, and yes, they can make mistakes, and most certainly YES they can irritate Sokka to an early grave, but I never felt that they existed solely to be criticized or the butt of every joke. As someone who wants challenging stories, I really appreciated this a lot. The humor was largely situational or ironic, but never really in a way that actively harmed people in the episode.

(A slight bit of nerdery/stanning: Dee Bradley Baker is one of my favorite voice actors of all time, and I was so excited he started doing work on Adventure Time, yet apparently I’m such a bad fan I HAD NO IDEA HE WORKED ON A:TLA.)

But I have to say that, despite that this episode address some really serious themes about personal responsibility, guilt, and tolerance, it also full of so many moments that made me laugh. I lost count somewhere around the ten-minute mark in terms of things I saw that I needed a GIF of. It’s a testament to the writing that the humor is infused here and it never seems out of place, and the Earth Kingdom nomads are the perfect receptacle for this carefree turn of events. Because Team Avatar is comprised of such varied individuals, it’s also fascinating to see how the three of them react to the legend of the Cave of Two Lovers.

It’s not surprising that of all of them, Sokka was the least open about the possibility. Granted, while all five beings had to admit defeat after trying to navigate to Omashu on their own (in one of funniest sequences in the episode), even from the beginning, you could see the way they started to develop their own ideas about the tunnel and the very idea of it. Naturally, Sokka is the groups cynic, focusing on what is concrete and knowable. (Seriously, am i slowly realizing that i am sokka WHAT IS HAPPENING) Given the loss of Princess Yue at the end of the last season, it’s entirely sensible that at this point, he’s just done with the concept of love for a while. (I won’t lie. It would have been nice to have a slight acknowledgment of that, but such is life.)

Both Katara and Aang are much more partial to believing the story, with Katara behind it the most. Katara is the most comfortable with the concept of love, which does NOT mean that she is comfortable with what happens or what she does later. She simply believes it to be a real force, one she wants to pursue, but she’s a confused young woman at the same time. It’s awkward! I don’t think (unless I learn later that I’m wrong) that she’s ever had any personal experience with love aside from crushes, and by the episode’s end, that’s what we see from her. She’s still reluctant to go from idea to action.

Aang, on the other hand, reacts as any twelve-year-old boy might in the same situation: The concept is intriguing to him and makes him feel all funny inside, and he largely relies on being kind of immature about it. Because he’s twelve. When I was twelve, my romantic interests didn’t go further than wanting to play handball with someone I liked. It’s all a foreign concept to him in the most abstract way, and the very talk of physical acts of love cause him to blush.

The pattern hasn’t deviated much at this point in the show’s history, so this is another episode dealing with a parallel storyline about Zuko and Uncle Iroh. Though, to be fair, this story does not intersect at all with what’s happening over in Team Avatar, and even thematically, it’s a bit of a stretch to say they’re both parallels of one another. And that’s perfectly fine! It’s a fascinating dynamic anyway, and a chance for us to further explore how Zuko and Iroh interact with one another.

Now fugitives on the run from the Fire Nation, the two are forced to deal with a less-than-glamorous lifestyle scavenging the forests for food. While Zuko is off looking for sustenance, we watch as Iroh, oh-so-predictable and lovely Iroh, is mesmerized by the White Dragon bush, which makes a tea that is “so delicious it’s heartbreaking.” Now that’s my kind of tea. Or wait. Could it also be White Jade plant, which would kill him? (Seriously, someone had to have made a GIF of Iroh’s faces of dilemma.) When Zuko returns again with a tiny fish, he finds out that Iroh decided to drink the tea anyway, as he now bears a large rash all over his body. I love that despite failing at this decision, he still seriously considers taking a gamble with the bacui berries. Or…maybe they’re macahoni berries. WHO CARES. Iroh fears no thing that could potentially be delicious.

Seriously. My soul mate.

Faced with the oncoming fate of Iroh if he doesn’t get his rash tended to, the two weigh the consequences of getting help from the Earth Kingdom (certain death) versus turning themselves into Azula (imprisonment), rightly deciding that Azula is probably worse than most things. I mean that is a totally sensible and logical conclusion, Y/Y/Y/Y? But honestly, it’s what becomes of that decision that makes all the difference.

Zuko’s story has now become the most intriguing of the whole cast of main characters at this point, and this episode was the tipping point in terms of trying decide which of this marvelous character group I was most enamored with in terms of writing. When I first started Avatar, I wrongly got it in my head that Zuko would clearly be the main villain throughout the series, but by the time “The Storm” rolled around, I realized what a complete shock his development has been. Not only did we get so interesting developments to explain his past and his motivations, but in “The Cave of Two Lovers,” we see how his present is starting to haunt him as well.

Zuko and Iroh end up in an Earth Kingdom village, disguised as refugees on the run from the Fire Nation. Ok…wow, until I typed that out, I didn’t even realize that THAT IS NOT EVEN REALLY A FUCKING DISGUISE. Holy shit I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, YOU WONDERFUL SHOW. They take refuge with a young woman named Song, who is eager to help out other people on the run from the Fire Nation. And so sets up one hell of an uncomfortable and gorgeous bit of writing as Zuko is forced to keep his identity secret as he listens to how the Nation he is actively trying to win his respect back from has ruined these people’s lives.

I love it. I LOVE IT SO MUCH. I’ve always gotten the sense that Uncle Iroh is, at least on an internal level, completely against a lot of what the Fire Nation stands for, and that was largely confirmed by his attack on Zhao during “The Siege of the North, Part II.” He’s a happy fugitive, and he welcomes the chance to pursue what he’s always wanted to do. (Yes, that includes eating fatal plants and berries. BLESS HIS HEART.) Because of this, I was even more satisfied that the writers chose to focus on Zuko’s reactions during these scenes.

I don’t think that he changed all that much by the end of “The Cave of Two Lovers,” and you can see the disappointment in Iroh’s body language when he sees that his nephew has not learned the valuable lesson the universe just handed him. His parallel to Song seemed so obvious and I know that he saw it, too, how they both bore the scars of a nation of benders who’d gone out of control, how they both had no father figures, and how disappointment and pain were brought to them in remarkably similar ways.

And yet, Zuko can’t accept it. Not yet. I don’t think he’s ready to face the fact that his quest to earn his father’s respect and regain the throne is ultimately going to prove futile. He can’t quite give up that hope, as misguided as it is, because it’s what’s driving him to feel complete. Well, for the time being, that is. That completeness might be all that he has.

But let’s move back to the actual titular cage at the heart of this episode. After agreeing that flying by Appa through Fire Nation country might not be the most “comfortable” option, they agree to allow Chong to guide them through the treacherous tunnel. Of course, the details of this journey are not as important to Chong, who leads a band of people who are much more interested in experiences versus destinations, which sets them up to clash with Sokka. Well…the way I’ve phrased that makes it sound like a mutual battle on the two halves. Oh no, that is not the case. This is all Sokka. He clashes with the nomads constantly, because their “appreciation” of the journey:

1) Put them in the tunnel/cave in the first place
2) Makes him hate being alive.

I mean….personally, I adore Chong’s songs a great deal, and not just because they’re humorous or ironic. But this is about Sokka, who very quickly tries to ignore the experience and the journey and focus solely on getting the hell out of that place.

Certainly this wasn’t going to be easy! A bizarre combination of torches, Appa’s foot, Appa’s claustrophobia, and WOLFBATS (no seriously what the fuck were those things) separates the two groups, so that Sokka and Momo are (predictably and wonderfully) stuck with the music-loving nomads, while Aang, Katara, and Appa are left to fend for themselves. Now I could spend thousands of words talking about why I adore the nomads and how entertaining it was to watch Sokka continually be irritated by all of the WONDERFUL things this group of people said, but I wanted to focus on the brain-melting story that was given to Aang and Katara.

We know that the two of them have ~feelings~ for each other, and I write that word like that because at this point, even I am confused as to what those feelings are. They’re both definitely best friends, with inklings of something more growing inside of them, and while “The Cave of Two Lovers” certainly helps, it doesn’t do a whole lot. Which is fine! We still have like FORTY EPISODES TO GO!

First, though, I just want to say that both the Romeo and Juliet-esque story of the Two Lovers/Omashu is paired with some GORGEOUS animation, and I’m so impressed by how well this show can try other techniques and pull them off so flawlessly. The art felt so natural, and it helped that the story felt timeless as well. Katara’s reading of the story on the tomb, however, gives her an idea: If love can save them, surely if she kisses Aang, that will help, right?

Oh, it is so youthfully awkward to watch as the two stand near each other in they dying fire light as the issue is plopped in between them and they contemplate the thought. And Aang, true to his nature as a young boy who has no idea what he’s doing, tells an embarrassed Katara that he can’t imagine them kissing either!

:: facepalm ::

But no, he meant that between kissing her and certain death, he would definitely kiss her.




Oh, Aang. Poor, poor Aang. I can see why people ship these two so hard, because they are endlessly adorable together. It’s a pretty neat way of representing that first crush you have, and the complicated, always-changing path that it takes you on. As a whole, “The Cave of Two Lovers” is unbearably entertaining and hilarious, but there are so many smaller details that give this a rich, nuanced look at the characters that make up this show.

Y’all, this shit is so good.


  • “How did you guys get out?” “Just like the legend says. We let love lead the way.” “Really? We let huge, ferocious beasts lead our way.” BEST LINE IN THE EPISODE.
  • oh. right. the ending.





About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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285 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Avatar’: S02E02 – The Cave of Two Lovers

  1. @IAmNidoking says:

    I believe that drawing style for the flashback was based on Ukiyo-E, the works of a famous Japanese artist. If you like that style, the PS2/Wii game Okami is done entirely in that style. ENTIRELY.

    • egao-gakari says:

      I'm not an expert on art, but Ukiyo-e is a genre, not limited to one specific artist. "Ukiyo-e" means "pictures of the floating world", and refers to woodblock prints often, though not always, erotic in nature. The form was popular in the Edo period, particularly between 1700-1850ish. Ukiyo-e was immensely influential on artists of the Arts and Crafts movement of the early 20th century, such as Eliza Gardener.

      Honestly, the art in the flashback scene reminds me more of sumi-e, "ink painting", an earlier Japanese art form (Muromachi period, 1300s) borrowed wholesale from China. Sumi-e is monochrome, painted only with black ink, but modern polychrome animation often uses it as inspiration. Being painted with a brush, rather than carved and stamped as woodblocks are, the style lends itself easily to the fluidity of animation.

      Where Japanese sumi-e developed from:

    • giishu says:

      Re-watching this episode did make me want to play Okami again. It's such a beautiful game! ♥


    1. HIPPIES! Okay, I was not initially a fan of this episode because I was like, "WHY ARE THERE HIPPIES," but after repeated viewings, they grew on me, and now I find them hilarious.
    2. <img src=""&gt;
    3. "Is this real or a legend?" "Oh, it's a real legend." Reminds me of Chey's "I serve a man. More than a man, really, he's a myth, but he's real, a living legend."
    5. "If the Earth Kingdom, discovers us, they’ll have us killed." "But if the Fire Nation discovers us, we’ll be turned over to Azula." "Earth Kingdom it is." AZULA: WORSE THAN DEATH.
    7. "I haven’t seen my father in many years." "Oh. Is he fighting in the war?"

    <img src=""&gt;
    "Yeah." AWKWARD.
    8. The story of Omashu!
    9. BADGER-MOLES! So the moon was the first Waterbender, and the badger-moles were the first Earthbenders. I love the mythology on this show.
    10. "I definitely wouldn’t wanna kiss you!" "No, no, I mean…if there was a choice between kissing you and dying…" "What? I’m saying I’d rather kiss you than die. That's a compliment." OH AANG.
    11. "How did you guys get out?" "Just like the legend says: we let love lead the way." "Really? We let huge ferocious beasts lead our way."
    13. "Nobody react to what I’m about to tell you. I think that kid might be the Avatar." And then Sokka LITERALLY FACEPALMS. Okay, maybe he literally foreheadpalms.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      "I haven’t seen my father in many years."
      "Oh. Is he fighting in the war?"
      "Technically, no. He's waging it, though."


    • kaleidoscoptics says:

      This show has such great quotes.

    • Shanon says:

      "Why's your forehead all red"
      "Nobody react to what I'm about to tell you. I think that kid might be the Avatar"

      That is my favorite part of the whole episode : )

  3. monkeybutter says:


    <img src=""&gt;

    • Saphling says:

      *dances to the song* *ignores weirded-out looks from coworkers*

    • alexamarie0813 says:

      this gif is my life.

    • kaleidoscoptics says:

      That song is going to be stuck in my head for the rest of the day now.

      ~Secret tunnelll~

    • kartikeya200 says:

      Every single song in this episode is a total earworm, but my friends and I are always randomly breaking out into renditions of Secret Tunnel.

      • Tauriel_ says:



    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      I sing this song whenever there's a secret tunnel in fiction. It comes up surprisingly often.

      • hpfish13 says:

        I was singing it for days after the secret tunnel sequence in The Hunger Games. Made the whole thing slightly less horrifying….

      • Steeple says:

        Combine this with the "how'd you get over there?" "Secret tunnels" from that one Jack Black movie for various offscreen teleportations (also common) and it's a pileup of memes.

    • Jay Gatsby says:

      My heart is officially melted into gooey gooey goop!

    • travelinghobbit says:

      Oh yeah! I remembered the other part of the song. "And DIE…."

      OMG, the love I have for the hippy singers is strong.

  4. Tauriel_ says:

    I DID make it into a GIF after all! XD Only in this episode it was much better opportunity. 😉

    <img src=""&gt;

  5. echinodermata says:

    I love that Katara is helping Aang learn how to waterbend. This entire beginning scene was just ridiculously cute.
    <img src=""&gt;
    And then the singing nomads appear! Love them so much. And they braid Appa's hair, and then Katara's. Seriously, I love them SO MUCH.
    <img src=""&gt;
    <img src=""&gt;(Source)
    Sokka's also pretty funny in this ep. And his practicality is appreciated. I love that he wants to make a map of the tunnels. That's my Sokka.

    And Iroh pondering over the potentially lethal tea flower is fantastic.
    <img src=""&gt;(source)
    ILU Iroh!

    Wolfbat yay (yay for weird biology I mean)! But poor Appa!

    The story of the two lovers really interested me. Did you hear that? They learned earthbending from badger moles. THEY LEARNED EARTHBENDING FROM BADGER MOLES, AND BECAME THE FIRST EARTHBENDERS. And then the woman stopped a war by herself, and then made Omashu. And now Omashu gets a backstory! I really appreciated that entire scene. Plus, I thought the new drawing style for the story was fantastic.
    <img src=""&gt;(source)

    And now let's talk about Zuko. I thought his story in this episode was quite good. It seems like he still has a lot of resentment towards the Avatar, even if Aang now doesn't really have "value" to Zuko anymore. It was also really cool to see him talk to Song about the war, and specifically the Fire Nation. I thought the bit with the burns was really touching and well done.

    Back to the cave! Badgermoles! They get a song! Aang, Katara, and Appa get out through what amounts to cleverness and goodness, and Sokka and the rest get out by following the badgermoles. I pretty much love that resolution.

    "I think that kid might be the Avatar." Oh, singing nomads, I love you guys. And you too, Sokka. This is one of my favorite episodes, just cause I love the humor and the quotes and there's just so much fun in this episode. Well, except for one thing.


    In conclusion, ridiculous amounts of pretty:
    <img src=""&gt;

    • Openattheclose says:

      YES, Iroh pondering gif!

    • monkeybutter says:

      I loved the ink and watercolor, too. The background about the two lovers being the first earthbenders, and the tragedy and ensuing optimism behind the creation of Omashu are some of the many reasons why it's my favorite city.

    • arctic_hare says:

      LOVE. THESE. GIFS. <3 <3 <3 Especially Iroh pondering!

  6. Tauriel_ says:

    Writers/creators, please take note: MOAR HIPPIE DREADLOCKED APPA, PLZ!!!


  7. Karen says:

    Guuuuh. I really don't know what it is about Katara/Aang. Maybe it's because Aang is so young? Idk. All I know is that all of their romantic-ish scenes give me major second hand embarrassment.

    This episode is fun enough, but the thing that really makes me enjoy the episode is the Zuko and Iroh stuff. To me, it's just really enjoyable and interesting to see Zuko try to figure out his place in the world now that he's basically been completely abandoned by everyone except for Iroh. He doesn't fit anywhere anymore.

    • @sthomson06 says:

      For me, it's because I totally had a weird best friend/crush thing when I was 13 or 14 and it was MEGA EMBARASSING ALL THE TIME. The writing on this show is just toooo real sometimes.

      • Karen says:

        LOL. Yeah, maybe it is just repressed memories of me being super awkward with guys when I was that age. All I know is that definitely watched part of this episode from behind me hands where I was cowering in awkward horror.

    • Openattheclose says:

      For me, I think I've unfairly drawn a comparison to Harry/Hermione in my head and I can't get rid of it.

      Or I just can't get my Zutara goggles to come off.

      • nochenne says:

        It kind of reminds me of the early Luke/Leia relationship in Star Wars. You know, how innocent farmboy Luke had this earnest sort of puppy love for Leia, who seemed to think he was adorable but never gave the impression that she was seriously interested (except for that scene in Empire Strikes Back I'm trying to suppress from my memory)? And then we all know what happened…

        So yeah, I love the blushing and awkwardness we see here. It's cute. But I don't know how comfortable I would be with anything beyond that. Aang is twelve, for goodness' sake!

        • Tauriel_ says:

          Yep, Luke/Leia was the first thing I thought of when I saw these episodes with the hint of Katara/Aang "romance".

    • Depths_of_Sea says:

      Could be worse. Some children's programs have romances between elementary-age kids.

    • herpestidae says:

      I see this "Aang is too young" business on practically everything that has to do with ATLA shipping, in some way, shape or form. And I have to say that I don't really see where this is coming from, due to my own experiences. Kids grow up really fast these days. At least where I'm from, it can be assumed that a decent percentage of kids lose their virginity at age 10-12, because that's the age when the doctor first asked me if I was sexually active (and I get asked that every time. The answer is still "no").

      You can say he's too young if you want, all power to you, but some people just don't see it that way.

      • MichelleZB says:

        If a certain number of 10-year-olds are having sex (ew), Aang is not in that group. He doesn't seem like that kind of guy, and it wouldn't be appropriate to the story or his character to have him start having sex or something more serious like that.

        Which is why, while I'm okay finding his little puppylove scenes cute, speculation about his deep sexual or romantic feelings (which is part of some shipping discussions) certainly makes me uncomfortable given his age and maturity level.

  8. You sully Avatar’s honor.

  9. MissDirect says:

    Iroh/Tea is the ultimate OTP. And I basically love every single Iroh and Zuko storyline ever.

    I actually thing the badgermoles are awesome and really kind of adorable rather than ferocious. After the first time I watched this episode I was on painkillers after an operation and I had an Owl and the Pussycat-esque dream involving Appa and a badgermole. Appa singing "Secret Tunnel" in a hilariously undersized boat is probably one of the most ridiculous drug-induced images ever.

  10. Openattheclose says:

    Zuko’s story has now become the most intriguing of the whole cast of main characters at this point, and this episode was the tipping point in terms of trying decide which of this marvelous character group I was most enamored with in terms of writing.
    This is exactly how I started feeling around this episode, Mark. Which is not to say I don't love the other characters, because I do, but I started waiting for the episodes to just get to the Zuko parts already. I'm sure it doesn't hurt that I love Iroh as much as Rose Loves Drugs.


  11. Openattheclose says:

    Zuko’s story has now become the most intriguing of the whole cast of main characters at this point, and this episode was the tipping point in terms of trying decide which of this marvelous character group I was most enamored with in terms of writing.

    This is exactly how I started feeling around this episode, Mark. Which is not to say I don't love the other characters, because I do, but I started waiting for the episode to just get to the Zuko parts already. I'm sure it doesn't hurt that I love Iroh as much as Rose Loves Drugs.


  12. kaleidoscoptics says:

    This seriously has got to be one of the most fun filler episodes I’ve ever seen. I love the hippies. They braided Appa’s hair, and had ridiculous songs, and were just totally chill about everything. They’re the kind of wanderers I would love to just hang out with for a few days. You can tell that Aang kind of misses being with the Air Nomads and being able to just pick up and go see a giant centipede thing and rainbow falls.

    Best part has to be the art shift to that beautiful Chinese watercolor painting style during the story of the two lovers. Not to be punny, but it’s a very romantic and whimsical art style, which fits with the theme of the episode.

    There are so many things I love about this episode. First off the return of Sokka The Voice of Science. Of course he gets stuck with the hippies wandering through the tunnels. But then he solves the problem with SCIENCE—or giant earthbending badgers who are tamed by music. Same thing, really. “Really? We let huge ferocious beasts lead our way.” Never change, Sokka.

    The Aang/Katara plot was cute, too. It’s a bit cheesy, but for some reason I didn’t mind it too much. Who hasn't been in Aang's shoes, slipping and fumbling over everything you're trying to say to someone you have a crush on? And poor Katara. She's a romantic, but for her it's more of a head-in-the-clouds sort of idea of romance, so she's just completely oblivious to Aang. (Least, that's how it came off to me.)

    Not to mention: octopus form! It’s always a good episode when there are octopi involved.

    As for the B-plot. So much for my theory that Zuko would come to terms with his banishment. xD Maybe by the end of the season? He is made of rage and pride. For a moment you get the hint that Zuko might be having second thoughts and starting to feel some kind of connection with the girl, but then he’s a dick and steals their chocobo. In any case, I love Iroh’s love for tea. He has the most perfect expressions. Also “If we’re captured by the Fire Nation, we’ll be turned over to Azula.” [beat] “Earth Kingdom it is.”

    And then the cliffhanger of WHAT YOU BASTARDS.

    If the whole of the second season is this good I will be so fucking happy.

    • arctic_hare says:

      I need more upvotes just for you calling it a chocobo. =D

      • monkeybutter says:

        Seriously, the most tragic thing about this episode is that it reminded me that science has failed to provide me with a chocobo. Been waiting most of my life, *sniff sniff*.

      • Tauriel_ says:

        Um, sorry, but what is a chocobo? (Sorry, English is not my first language…)

        • arctic_hare says:

          This is a chocobo!

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

          =D It's a rather large bird that one can indeed ride, from the Japanese video game series Final Fantasy. They are kind of the mascots of the series, recurring in pretty much all the games (and even having some spinoff titles of their own), despite the fact that most of the games are unrelated in terms of story and world.

          • Tauriel_ says:

            Ahhhhh, I get it now… 🙂 Thanks for the explanation.

            I don't play video games, and the only thing I know of Final Fantasy is a rather amazing collection of piano arrangements of FF VII and VIII music that I got from a friend as a present.

  13. Tauriel_ says:



  14. monkeybutter says:

    I love this episode, and you're dead-on that "filler" sullies it's honor. It's all about the journey! I love the hippies, the bending, the badger moles and wolf bats, the SINGING (yet another song that will never, ever get out of my head), Sokka being tortured…

    <img src=""&gt;

    I agree with the hippie stereotype thing: they avoided a cliche by making them so damn likeable, and most of the humor was centered on their effect on Sokka. I love Chong and Lily and Moku. It was nice to have a slight breather after all of the death and destruction in the past few episodes, and there was still plenty of action.

    As for Iroh and Zuko, that kid is still so frustrating, but it's completely believable that he hasn't reformed over night. The look on his face when he sees Song's burns is pretty important, though. He has a lot of guilt to deal with.

  15. monkeybutter says:

    I love this episode, and you're dead-on that "filler" sullies it's honor. It's all about the journey! I love the hippies, the bending, the badger moles and wolf bats, the SINGING (yet another song that will never, ever get out of my head), Sokka being tortured…

    <img src=""&gt;

    I agree with the hippie stereotype thing: they avoided a cliche by making them so damn likeable, and most of the humor was centered on their effect on Sokka. I love Chong and Lily and Moku. It was nice to have a slight breather after all of the death and destruction in the past few episodes, and there was still plenty of action.

    As for Iroh and Zuko, that kid is still so frustrating, but it's completely believable that he hasn't reformed over night. The look on his face when he sees Song's burns is pretty important, though. He has a lot of guilt to deal with.

    • sakiexcel says:

      Worse, though, is that Zuko has conflicting guilt. He's spent the past three years thinking that he's a failure, feeling ashamed, and trying to make up for his father's douchebaggery, and the fact that he never managed to capture Aang for more than five minutes makes him feel guilty because he thinks he's failing his father and his country. And now, with Song, he's seeing the other side of what his attempts at redemption have been doing to people.

      It's always pissed me off so much that Zuko steals the chocobo-thingy. Zuko they just fed you don't be an ass. But it makes so much sense; he doesn't want to acknowledge that he's wrong, his father is wrong, his country is wrong, and he doesn't want to take Song's side against his people.

      God I love this show madly, deeply, truly

  16. sundaycoma says:

    *has no times* but must drop in to say *am severely gratified by keysmash*

    MARK WATCH. MARK SMASH. It is the highlight sometimes of a day. 🙂


    Oh yeah, I remembered how the song went:

  17. kartikeya200 says:

    <img src=""&gt;

    There are so many little things I love about this episode (I know, it's such a surprise) but my absolute favorite is the actual Tale of Two Lovers sequence, ending with this image. It's so gorgeous, and my art-lover self really appreciates the watercolor-ish animation style.

    <img src=""&gt;

    Wrathful wolf-bat statues guard the entrance of the cave.

    <img src=""&gt;

    <img src=""&gt;

    The badger-mole was the original Earthbender.

  18. kartikeya200 says:

    <img src=""&gt;

    There are so many little things I love about this episode (I know, it's such a surprise) but my absolute favorite is the actual Tale of Two Lovers sequence, ending with this image. It's so gorgeous, and my art-lover self really appreciates the watercolor-ish animation style.

    <img src=""&gt;

    Wrathful wolf-bat statues guard the entrance of the cave.

    <img src=""&gt;

    <img src=""&gt;

    The badger-mole was the original Earthbender.

  19. kartikeya200 says:

    <img src=""&gt;

    Chong and Moku were our ancient-Asian version of hippies. When doing acting references of Chong for the animators, Bryan donned a large manila envelope for a hat and played his Irish bouzouki.

    <img src=""&gt;

    <img src=""&gt;

    <img src=""&gt;

    The evolution of a background design, from concept to completion.

    • doesntsparkle says:

      When doing acting references of Chong for the animators, Bryan donned a large manila envelope for a hat and played his Irish bouzouki.

      Please tell me there is video of this!

      • sakiexcel says:

        I have no idea, but that would be awesome. There are a bunch of videos all around the place of them doing animation references and being ridiculous; it's awesome.

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      I really love how they included art for even the less visually impressive or memorable scenes. It shows how much time went into everything.

  20. Depths_of_Sea says:

    If y'all will permit me to geek out over the soundtrack for a bit…

    AFHLAKFSJ "Cave of Two Lovers" hippie nomad songs! And the guzheng music that pipes in during the Oma/Shu story! Seriously hands-down THE PRETTIEST CUE EVER.

    And you might notice it comes in again when Aang and Katara are about to kiss. Like Sokka/Yue with the "Four Seasons" cue, Aang and Katara now have a romance leitmotif. I love this fact entirely too much.

    While I'm on the subject, HOW ADORABLE WERE THEY IN THIS EPISODE HUH? With hands-on demonstrations, and shiny eyes, and awkward kissing suggestions, and hugs, and blushes, and trusting in the power of love… Yeah. I ship them. They make it too easy.

  21. kartikeya200 says:

    And then the ending is like 'ohoho, were you enjoying yourself? Well SHIT JUST GOT REAL'.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      You can almost hear the writers cackling madly and rubbing their hands in the background… XD

  22. licoricepencil says:

    Oh wait! I remember the next part!

    AND DIE!</>

  23. Tauriel_ says:

    WOLFBATS (no seriously what the fuck were those things)

    Interesting factoid: Most of the animals in A:TLA are chimeras, i.e. hybrids of two different animals.

    So far we've seen:

    Turtle Seals
    Polar Seal Lions
    Ostrich Horses
    Platypus Bears
    Komodo Rhinos

  24. Openattheclose says:

    Just don't start thinking about the ATLA equivalent of Ron/Hermione.

    TBH, if Harry had been crushing on Hermione since the beginning, I might have been more accepting of the idea of H/Hr, but with Aang/Katara it still squicks me out. Harry Potter is also pretty much my favorite character in anything ever, so that could be why.

    • Karen says:

      Just don't start thinking about the ATLA equivalent of Ron/Hermione.

      Well, I wasn't BEFORE. BUT NOW I AM.






      • tigerpetals says:

        Yes it does. I have seen the fanfic.

        • H. Torrance Griffin says:

          I will note that this is neither the only nor the most popular sibling 'ship in the fandom and leave it at that.

          • ThreeBooks says:

            …I tried to think about which other sibling pairs were available. And now I am searching for brain bleach because ohgodohgodohgodohgod

            • Tauriel_ says:

              At the moment? Possible sibling pairs:


              Yep. Brain bleach required, especially for the last one… *shudder*

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Actually, I think I have a possible ATLA equivalent of Ron/Hermione, in the sense that one person is very sensible and mature, unlike the other, and they're always bickering.

      Only one of them hasn't appeared in the show yet, so I can't say what pairing it is. 😛

  25. HoneyBunny says:

    This is one of my favorite episodes of the entire series. I know it's silly, and it has singing hippies, but it is just too fun. I love Sokka's exasperation (he is my cartoon soul mate), and all the groovy music. And the side story with Zuko and Iroh: Lulz, jears, and tsk-tsk-tsking.

    Secret tunnelllll, Secret tunnelllllll, Sec- Cret. Tunnellllllllll. Just love.

  26. alexamarie0813 says:

    this episode is just so silly and adorable. it's definitely one of my favorites <3
    (it also has to do with the fact that katara/aang is my otp. but. you know. that's another story).

  27. Karen says:

    Yeah. Him crushing on her is a bit cute if still incredibly secondhand embarrassment inducing, but the idea of anything real and romantic between them makes me cringe in horror.

    • arctic_hare says:

      Totally agreed.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Exactly! Aang and Katara having a childish crush on each other (especially on Aang's part) is kind of endearing and sweet, including the (very realistic and natural) awkwardness.

      But when people claim them to be a SERIOUS RELATIONSHIP FOR LIFE at this point, that's just cringeworthy.

      Plus (and please don't shoot me for this), Aang is quite a bit shorter than Katara, which just looks wrong… 😛

      • Hanibi says:

        Just my own working theory:

        It's the visual cue we are taught that the male is supposed to be the stronger one, while the female is supposed to be the weaker and dependent one. If the girl is older or taller, even if only a little, it triggers the assumption that she is stronger or in some position of authority over him. The only socially acceptable form their relationship can take is older sister/younger brother, or mother/son. Any suggestions of romance triggers suspicions of incest and pedophilia.

        I don't want to shoot you or anyone else, but I've long suspected it's a subconscious mental remnant of sexist expectations.

        (Hope I don't get shot for this, either.)

        • Depths_of_Sea says:

          It is a little bit of a sexist idea, which is why I've never fully bought into it. I don't think it's quite fair that the boy has to be the taller and older one and the girl has to be shorter and younger. Couples have all sorts of height/age and power dynamics in real life and it seems a bit narrow to say fictional couples should only be one type only.

          The Avatar kids seem to operate on a different maturity level than ours anyway. They're in a different culture and have had to grow up way earlier. Plus they're fighting a war and that seems way more "adult" to me than falling in love and demonstrating affection towards each other.

          I dunno. I just never found Avatar's romance particularly unusual or uncomfortable given the Avatar world's culture.

          • Elle says:

            This. Thank you for saying this. I've never had issue with Aang/Katara because it is a different universe and while they do have some of the typical behaviors of kids those ages, they also do have maturity that our cel-phone, technology, material possession obsessed kids of today don't have.

        • Tauriel_ says:

          I guess I should clarify that "height" thing: I am a very tall girl (I'm 179 cm, which is around 5'10"). I also have a pretty dominant personality, so I wouldn't want a husband who was shorter than me, because I'd worry that I might subconsciously look down on him – both literally and mentally. Which is not good – I want my relationship to be on an equal footing. I think a lot of men find tall women slightly intimidating – which is not helping my chances of finding a boyfriend… 🙁

          That said, my best friend is married and she's a tiny bit taller than her husband – and it works, they're a lovely couple. So it's not like I'm strictly pushing for an idea that "the man must be always taller than a woman!" – no, no, far from it. I guess it's a more of an aesthetic thing – when I see a couple in which the woman is much taller than the man, it looks (visually) slightly wrong to me (I guess it stems from the fact that in average, men ARE generally taller and physically stronger than women. That's simply how the human physiology is. Note that I said "IN AVERAGE"). Doesn't mean that they can't have a great relationship or that they're wrong for each other.

          I wish I were shorter… 🙁

          • MichelleZB says:

            I predict you will totally fall in love with a 5'5 man and love him forever and rue the day you posted this. 🙂

        • sakiexcel says:

          UPVOTING FOR EVER. This is exactly what I've been thinking, and ILU for pointing it out.

      • MichelleZB says:

        Don't mind the short thing because I come from a family with short men.

        BUT the fact that he's twelve leaves me to feel the same way about the relationship. This puppydog crush stuff is cute and entertaining enough. I enjoy it on the show. But taking any further while Aang is still the same age squicks me out.

        This is not because 12-year-olds can't feel serious emotions, but just because their romantic senses are still developing. And they're different than the romantic sensibilities of a 14-year-old girl, which Katara is–so the two are sort of on unequal footing right now, in my mind.

        If, years later, they decide dating is something they'd like to do, great. Or maybe they'd be interested in different people by then…

        • Elle says:

          If Katara was so much more romantically. Mature I might agree with you. But she isn't. She spent much of her tweens and teens with only very young children and her brother. There was no one for her to crush on or even think about in a romantic way. She, like Aang, is just developing her own romantic sensibilities. I see them very much on the same footing in that regard. They both have dealt with issues all ready – Jet using Katara's crush and her bending abilities to potentially hurt others and Aang (rather kindly and maturely) letting Meng know he wasn't interested in her and that he knew there was sure to be someone else who would totally fall for her.

          • MichelleZB says:

            I get what you're saying. But experience (or lack of it) isn't everything. In adolescence, you have a certain capacity for potential romance that changes as you age.

            Katara has that curve to her waist, her breasts, that indicate she's gone through puberty. And Aang, well… hasn't. That separates them in some way, even if just in a sort of biological way. In my mind at least.

            I'm not saying it'd separate them forever. Youth is cured by time. In a few years, this won't matter. But it kind of matters now, to me, in terms of feeling comfortable with the romance.

            • Steeple says:

              Please don't equate puberty with romantic maturity (for lack of a better word). I developed early but I was still a kid, even with the growing curves. Furthermore, if someone is late in developing, that does't mean they can't date.

  28. Evil Midnight Lurker says:


  29. Dragonsong12 says:

    "Sooka?" What the hell, self? That's what I get for typing too fast…

  30. @funksteena says:

    Zuko is so my favorite character to want to mother. Even more than Aang, who IS THE YOUNGEST AND ACTUAL CHILD, I just want to give Zuko a sammich and a hug. Which is also why I am endlessly in adoration of Iroh.

  31. Minish says:

    Huge ferocious beasts really are the ONLY way to travel.

  32. jubilantia says:

    Even if you're lost, you can't/ lose the love that's always in your heart- hmmmm

    Whenever I watch or read about this episode I get this song stuck in my head. So glorious! Not to mention- Big bad badgermoles, coming towards me, COME ON GUYS, HELP ME OUT!

    This episode makes me so ridiculously happy. Although, who called this episode filler? Let me at them. I don't think there really is filler in Avatar, except maaaaybe the Great Divide. But that one still amused me, so I don't know.

    Katara: Sokka, why is your forehead red?
    Chong: Okay, nobody react to what I'm about to say, but I think that kid might be the Avatar!
    Sokka: *FACEPALM*
    –&gt; This always makes me howl with laughter.

    Yeah, gorgeous animation in the story. And really cool background on the place that Bumi rules. It makes sense that he's such a great Earthbender if he is from the place where it started, which I never thought about until now.

    Cultural sidenote: Song and her grandmother are wearing hanboks, Korean traditional dresses.

    Man, Iroh really is the coolest person ever, fictional or non-fictional. Love him forever and ever.

    I, too, also really love the realism of Aang's age. Too many times, heroes are too smooth.

  33. affableevil says:

    Today instead of gifspam there will be a picspam, since this episode just provides so many opportunities.
    (I don't know how to do the fancy embedding from Deviantart, and I'm uncomfortable with uploading the artist's work to Tinypic, so the link will have to suffice. It is GORGEOUS).

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

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">
    (Supposedly, in the original cut of the failmovie, Zhao punched the fish to kill it. The fandom found this deeply hilarious.)
    (Booter Freak Gagstrip, one episode late :p)
    (Moar Booter and Movie Zhao)

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

    • affableevil says:

      Okay so this didn't end up having a whole lot of relevance to the episode. I love the nomads (and their catchy songs, I will never get the secret tunnel song out of my head argh)! They are just so much fun.

      "Secret love cave, let's go."

      Aang and Katara, being adorable and tween crushes d'awwww.

      Iroh. I love you. I LOVE YOU. Never stop being Iroh.

      And…Zuko being a buttface. And I mean that in the kindest, most affectionate way because I do like Zuko a lot. But he stole from Song after she and her mother took him in and fed him and connected with him. What a buttface.

    • echinodermata says:

      Zhao: voiced by Aasif Mandvi.

      (seriously, I can't look at those 2 TDS-themed pictures and not hear their voices.)

    • doesntsparkle says:

      In my opinion, Appa loves the hippies and wishes Aang would braid his hair.

    • Patrick721 says:

      I read that Daily Show .gif in their voices. It was amazing.

    • monkeybutter says:

      Okay, that Aasif Mandvi gif almost justifies the movie's existence.

    • Violets are Blue says:

      Oh dear, the Daily Show icon XD I read it in their voices too.

      AND JIM GAFFIGAN? My day is complete.

      Caliente pocket…

    • @magfrypie says:

      Another hilarious comic strip about Zhao's fish-punching by the incomparable Ruftoon:

  34. Pelleloguin says:

    This episode is where I realized that the writers must enjoy messing with their audience. Wolfbats. Dear heavens. Wolfbats.

    I really like the Iroh/Zuko story. He can see first hand how the Fire Nation has hurt others and we know it's causing Zuko some major inner conflict. One can only ponder how this will effect him later.

  35. monkeybutter says:

    LOL T. Rex is an old band, and Slash the guitarist, which is sooooo obvious now that he was the reference that I need to do a little Sokka facepalming.

  36. fantasylover120 says:

    Various thoughts on this ep:
    1) On rewatch, I like it a lot better whereas before I was just sort of meh about it. But that was because I had to wait a week in between eps at the time and was impatient to get to the main story.
    2) I adore the hippies and the many ways they got on Sokka's nerves (personally I say they got on his nerves on purpose in order to teach him valuable life lessons about patience)
    3) The songs were hysterical.
    4) Katara+Aang = me dying from the cute overload. This is a comliment.
    5) I adored the painting visuals they used to tell the story of how Omashu formed and I love that they came up with their own mythology for this world! Awesomeness!
    6) Ending reaction: OH CRAP.

  37. Michelle says:

    This episode is so adorable. I've re-watched it several times just for the cute.

  38. enigmaticagentscully says:

    Delectable tea? Or DEADLY POISON?
    And he takes the chance anyway. Oh Iroh. Why are you not in every show ever produced?

    I just…as much as I love the deep meaningful issues in Zuko's storyline, and the adorable fluff with Katara and Aang…Sokka with the singing nomads was just friggin' HILARIOUS. Oh jeez, I swear I must have been in just the right mood because I was laughing throughout pretty much all their scenes together!

    If the episodes we've had so far are any indication, season two is gonna be even better than the first! 😀

    Also, HOLY SHIT WTF OMG BBQ!!!!! WHAT A CLIFFHANGER! I am SO glad this isn't over a weekend! I hope Bumi is ok… :(:(:(

  39. Tauriel_ says:

    And look, another thing that Zuko and Sokka have in common (apart from being never happy and being obsessed with manly manliness): They're terrible fishermen.

    Sokka – the first line of the whole show is "It's not getting away from me this time" – which kind of implies that it DID get away from him all the times before that.
    Zuko – caught a tiny little fishy, just barely big enough to be stuck at the end of that stick.

    These two REALLY should start a club… XD

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      Sokka: Zuko, remember, we're not allowed to try to kill each other or hunt other members of the group until the session is over.
      Zuko: What! Who said I was going to hunt anybody?….*eyes Aang*
      Aang: I'm vegetarian. Why am I here again?

      • Tauriel_ says:

        Ah, but Aang is not a member of that club – he's always cheerful and is not obsessed with manly manliness! 😉

    • @Ahavah22 says:

      "Manly Manliness!!!" LOL! A MILLION UPVOTES FOR THAT!

  40. Tauriel_ says:

    Agreed 100% on Zuko.

  41. @kyaralove says:

    The best moment is when Appa finally gets out of the tunnel and flops on his back and sticks his tongue out. I wish I had a gif of it!

  42. tearbender says:

    Yeah, this isn't a bad episode by any means, but I had almost forgotten about it just because nearly everything afterwards is even more fantastic.

    "My nephew was named for his father, so we just call him Junior!" I love Iroh more each episode.

    Iroh: These people just showed you a great kindness!
    Zuko: They're about to show us a little more kindness.

    Yeah, I love him, but Zuko really sucks here. Dude, really? But at the same time I really appreciate how he's not magically turned into the guy who will always make the right decisions. I also like that it shows that even with a mentor as great as Iroh, preaching can only have so much of an effect. Still, since I couldn't reach through the screen and smack him upside the head, I was kinda hoping the ostrich horse would buck him off.

    The best moment is when Momo rushes to Appa to trade tales about their cave adventures. Please, I want them so badly. Why aren't they real? I promise I would be the best flying bison caretaker ever. I would braid flowers his mane and we would fly around the world doing good deeds all day.

    "Nobody react to what I'm about to tell you: I think that kid might be the Avatar." OK, sorry, that was the best part of the episode.

    • @Ahavah22 says:

      IIRC, Zuko told Song that Iroh's name was "Mushi," which means "bug" in Japanese…So Iroh got revenge!

      I never understood why Iroh didn't force Zuko to take the ostrich horse back; but obviously, it made their journey much easier. He could've tried to ask first, though (awkward as that would be, begging for charity is better than stealing).

      • TheWelshPirate says:

        I was wondering what the joke behind the name Mushi was. I thought it was just because it sounded like "mushy" as a sort of fat-joke. But will all the trolling Iroh does against his nephew, I can also see why Zuko would name him "bug".

  43. Megan says:

    I have all of those nomad songs downloaded to my iPod. LOVE.

  44. Megan says:

    Chong: Nobody react to what I'm about to tell you… I think that kid might be the Avatar!

    <img src=""&gt;


  45. Mauve_Avenger says:

    I like how even though I already knew about the story of Oma and Shu (spoiled by someone's reblog of the gifs and text below), it really didn't effect my enjoyment of this episode at all. Insert iregretnothing.gif here, because the post looked absolutely gorgeous. Let's see if this works…

    They met on top of the mountain that divided their two villages
    <img src=""&gt;
    The villages were enemies, so they could not be together.
    <img src=""&gt;
    But their love was strong, and they found a way.
    <img src=""&gt;
    The Two Lovers learned earthbending from the badger moles. They became the first earth benders.
    <img src=""&gt;
    They built elaborate tunnels so they could meet secretly. Anyone who followed them would be lost forever in the labyrinth.
    <img src=""&gt;
    But one day the man didn't come.
    <img src=""&gt;
    He died in the war between their two villages.
    <img src=""&gt;
    Devastated, the woman unleashed a terrible display of her earthbending power.
    <img src=""&gt;
    She could have destroyed them all.
    <img src=""&gt;
    Instead, she declared the war over.
    <img src=""&gt;
    Both villages helped her build a city where they would live in peace.
    <img src=""&gt;
    The woman’s name was Oma, and the man’s name was Shu. The great city was named Omashu as a monument tho their love.
    <img src=""&gt;
    Love is brightest in the dark…


    • Tauriel_ says:

      That classic-Japanese-style-watercolour animation is simply GORGEOUS. Thanks for posting it. 🙂

    • arctic_hare says:

      That is so beautiful, thank you for posting it. I love the art style for that segment so much.

  46. doesntsparkle says:

    That caught my eye too. No wonder he couldn't catch the Avatar, he spent too much time shaving his head.

  47. sabra_n says:

    It's interesting that rather than denying that there's a curse on the caves at all – something he probably would have done in S1 – Sokka instead chooses to try to work rationally within the bounds of the curse. The map idea was smart! Too bad earthbending ruined it. 😛

  48. sam says:

    iroh is lovely in every way.

    <img src=""&gt;

  49. hpfan04 says:

    LOVE this episode! It is one of my top faves of all time! I've had Secret Tunnel stuck in my head since I re-watched this episode yesterday. This episode also has some of the best quotes:

    Sokka: I hate to be the wet blanket, but since Katara is busy I guess it's up to me.

    Iroh: Delectable tea or deadly poison??

    Iroh: Zuko, remember that plant that I thought might be tea‌?
    Zuko: You didn’t!
    Iroh: I did…. And it wasn’t.

    Iroh: But where are we going to go? We are enemies of the Earth Kingdom and fugitives from the Fire Nation.
    Zuko: If the Earth Kingdom discovers us, they will have us killed.
    Iroh: But if the Fire Nation discovers us, we'll be turned over to Azula.
    (They nod)
    Zuko: Earth Kingdom it is.

    It makes me laugh every time that certain death by the Earth Kingdom is preferable to being in Azula's clutches. Because it is totally true, death probably is better than whatever Azula would plan to do with them.

    And I love the Fire Nation soldiers being wary of the cave and saying "It's too dangerous! Haven't you heard the song?" Totally validates the song and the legend, and that it's not just a crazy song Chong made up.

  50. Tauriel_ says:

    Zuko with super-short hair looks weird… 😛

  51. NopeJustMe says:

    It's weird, but my main reaction to this was when the fire nation caused a cave in at the entrance of the mountain. The only thing I could think of is 'how dare you destroy carvings and statues probably thousands of years old?! RAH!" …I get distracted by these things.

  52. tinybit92 says:

    This episode is so cute and funny on so many levels. Also, BADGERMOLES!

  53. Doodle says:

    i <3 Zuko! 😀

  54. Toph13139 says:

    You know what's the saddest part? We never get to know which are the next couple of lines Chong forgot…

    Two lovers
    Forbidden from one another
    A war divides their people
    And a mountain divides them apart…

    Built a part to be together…


  55. Elexus Calcearius says:

    Secret tunnel, secret tunnel,
    Through the mountain,
    Secret, secret, SECRET TUNNEL!

    Seriously, I love that song. It never fails to cheer me up.

    This is a really sweet episode, about hope and overcoming war. And love. I’m sure I don’t need to tell anyone how much this episode drove the shippers into a frenzy.

    I’m not particularly interested in shipping, though, so I’ll deal with everything else in the episode, which I think is an absolute delight. Firstly, the hippies are absolutely hilarious, especially compared to Sokka. Oh, good, poor Sokka. You can just see him slowly reaching the boiling point of frustration. I cannot imagine how it would not only be annoying to be separated from your sister and best friend, in a cave-in with limited food, water and light, and the only people you have with you are so undeniably thick. I pity him.

    Thankfully, Sokka did keep a cool head. I liked how he at least tried to get out of the caves systematically, even though if the system was broken because badger-moles could re-wire the cave systems. Giant, blind, earth-bending badger-moles which like music. It is things like this which make me love this show so much.
    Oh, and this line:
    Aang: We let love guide the way!
    Sokka: Really? We let terrifying, monstrous beasts guide our way.

    While deal with Sokka’s wonderful hilarity, though, we have two serious story lines being told at the same time, and they’re sweet. I really love the story of Oma and Shu. Yes, it’s a very typical Star-Crossed Lovers type thing, but I’m a sucker for it. I always enjoy when media presents a story within itself in a fairy-tale-esque way and the different animation is gorgeous.

    More importantly is definitely the time we spent with Zuko and Iroh. We can see that Zuko really is not taking his new found status very well. I think this is where we can see how much development Zuko has left if (and that’s a big if, spoilers) he changes sides. He is very entitled. As far as he is concerned, he is royalty, and he deserves to be treated as such. He doesn’t realise that there’s no real fundamental difference between someone born a peasant and someone born with a title. They are still equal and deserving of the same things. This is what I think enables him to steal from that Earth Kingdom family, even though they showed him kindness. As far as he’s concerned, there was never any doubt that they should help him. It’s what he deserves, doesn’t it?

    He’s getting there, though. He’s definitely getting there. He’s being forced to interact with the Earth Kingdom citizens as one of them, and he’s realising that they’ve suffered, because of his own nation. We know that Zuko does not like the thought of Fire Nation troops’ lives being wasted, and he’ll soon need to confront the question of what makes these people any different, besides nationality? Once he starts asking that, well, there will be hope.

    Speaking of hope, I like how that theme reappears in this episode again. I also think this will give Zuko a different point of perspective. The Avatar is a symbol of hope to him, and always has been, but only ever a personal one. Now he’ll need to consider what Aang means to the rest of the world, and I think that will be good for him.

    ….and DIIIEEE!

  56. MichelleZB says:

    This episode marks the introduction of a fourth member to the Gaang… Katara's midriff. Gentlemen, let's all remember she's only 14.

  57. MichelleZB says:

    Also, love to the episode (SECRET TUNELLLLLLLL!) and love to this review. I am really digging your season 2 reviews, Mark.

    All these episodes are SO EPIC that I basically am TOO EXCITE for you to watch the next one to be able to handle it. I check back on Mark Watches lots of times a day even though I rationally know that you won't post the next review until tomorrow. It's a problem.

  58. Emily says:

    I am personally quite fond of the fan-theory that Iroh drank poison ON PURPOSE because he was sick of living in the woods and knew that it was one of the only things that would compel Zuko to seek refuge within the surrounding villagers. He knew what plant it was the entire time.

    • kartikeya200 says:

      I subscribe to this theory. Or at least, I subscribe to the theory that Iroh was epic trolling Zuko again. I mean just listen to the way he says this line:

      Song: You must not be from around here. We know better than to touch the white jade, let alone make it into tea and…drink it.

      Iroh: Heheh OOPS. 😀

    • Tauriel_ says:

      That makes absolute sense! Cunning Iroh and his cunning trolling!

    • TheWelshPirate says:

      While this theory is highly amusing, it seems a bit extreme even for Iroh to POISON himself just to troll his nephew. I prefer Mark's assessment of the situation: Iroh fears no thing that could potentially be delicious.

  59. tigerpetals says:

    I haven't seen shyfully around lately. I think since last week on part 1 of Siege of the North. I can't see the profile to view her comments either. Unless I was mispelling her username.

    • Avit says:

      Apparently WordPress people have different profile URL models than ID-only people. /people/ instead of /profile/. Confirms her last known activity was SotN I. Maybe busy?

      • tigerpetals says:

        I hadn't realized she had a wordpress account instead. I was afraid she'd left the project for some reason.

  60. Classtoise says:

    "(Now I have in image in my head of the boxset of Avatar with a twisty mustache and a monocle and a top hat. What the HELL is going on in my brain.)"

    Your brain has apparently become very awesome.

  61. Colin says:

    It's so much fun to read your flailings over the same things I appreciated. Keep 'em coming!

    Second best line of the episode: "Secret tunnel, let's go."

  62. bookgal12 says:

    I watched this episode right after the Bones season finale which was a disapointment in the writing. But, all my hurt feelings about Bones were washed away when I watched the The Cave of Two Lovers. This episode does romance without it being cheezy or overdone which is done a lot in kid's shows. I love how it shows the different attitudes towards love portrayed by the different characters. We have the annoyed bitter Sokka who is still reeling from losing Yue, we have the Nomads who are laid back and enjoying the journey of Secret Tunnel (I will never get that song out of my head). Then we have Aang and Katara, both of whom are at different ends of the "love scale" as I'd like to put it. Katara is older, so she knows more about how love works but she isn't sure if she wants to act on it. When I was 14 i didn't have much notion of love either and I'm still working it out. Aang we have to remember is only 12 and still unsure what love is and how to deal with it. We see that Katara makes him blush but he isn't sure what to do with that. I thought the black-out kiss was so cute, when I first saw the episode I was like, (did they kiss? No way, oh my god they did! Yes!!).

    I honestly forgot about the side-story of Iroh and Zuko because so much of my attention was bent on the akward romance of Katara and Aang. But, I was glad to see it, we get to see Zuko actually have to interact with girl who isn't Katara or Azula so it puts him in an awkward place. I thought the decision to have Song have a burn was perfect, because even though she's the enemy she imparts something towards Zuko that he didn't have before which is…understanding. I thought the scene of them on the patio was breath-taking even though it was short.

    • bookgal12 says:

      I feel like a newbie asking this, but how do i put images into the comments?

      • you do:

        <*img src=*"PUT URL OF IMAGE HERE!"><*/*img*>

        take out the asteriks, i don't know if this'll show up correctly :'D

        • stefb says:

          Would gifs be the same process or is there another way to put them up? And would I have to download them…what if there's a separate url for the gif alone? There's a gif I'm dying to use lol

          • nope, not a separate process of anything. 🙂

            and what do you mean? in general, it's considered INTERNET POLITE to download and upload and image yourself, so that you're not using up another persons like… idk, stuff. : |

            • stefb says:

              If it helps, I would source where I got the gif? It's just the thought of making my own GIVES ME NERVOUS TREMORS BECAUSE I AM SO VERY HOPELESS AT TECHNOLOGY–despite how much I would love to make my own…maybe I'll ~try~ one day and see how it goes or if I'll just Fail.

  63. Elle says:

    Romantically however she really isn't all that much older, though. She's, IMO, pretty immature in that area because of the circumstances with the war and her not having boys around except for her brother and children. I have never thought of Katara being so much above Aang in romantic maturity because while he might have his age working against him, she's had factors as well working against her.

    I can totally see what you are saying, Karen. 🙂 I guess I've known a few folks even far older than Katara in my time who have been so mature in some areas and can handle a lot, but couldn't navigate romance even with a map. Their maturity in that area was certainly not as high.

  64. Macy says:

    Mark. MARK.

  65. Amira says:

    Oh how I adore this episode.

    Just a warning, Mark – you will sing that secret tunnel song at random moments because it is now stuck in your head. FOREVER! LOL. 😀

    The nomads, Song, Sokka, the Omashu story is just all so entertaining. This episode is just all kinds of cute, awkward, frustrating, and exasperating at the same time. Iroh drinking the tea, Zuko seeing someone else who has been scarred was well done.

    But Aang and Katara – just all cute and awkward and you are kind of torn between wanting to laugh and just wanting to hug Aang and tell him it's okay, we have all had those awkward and "what's wrong with me" moments.

    I gotta say I watch Avatar more for the Gaang and Aang than Zuko. LOL, I think I'm a rare breed in that, but I just get more from them. But I love Iroh. I would totally sit and drink poison berry tea with Iroh. LOL. 😀

  66. Tauriel_ says:

    I'm totally with you on this, Karen. Call me old fashioned or prudish, but the idea of kids under 14 having active sex life feels very wrong to me. They just can't have the emotional maturity for it! They're still developing – physically, mentally and emotionally!

    • notemily says:

      People develop mentally and emotionally until well into their twenties. At what age is it acceptable to be sexual?

    • sakiexcel says:

      Most cultures don't separate adults and children into such distinctive groups, so worldwide, there are a lot of cultures where it's considered healthy for them to experiment with a lot of different people. Among the Muria, for example, who are said to have some of the most satisfying sex lives as adults because of their experiences as children. People start learning about sex around the age of 12 from their peers (talking, watching others, experimenting, and having sex themselves), but they don't form any lasting romantic attachments. It's a way for them to learn about sex before having a long-lasting relationship.

      In our culture (speaking as someone from the US; I don't want to make assumptions as to where anyone else comes from) a lot of people try to keep children ignorant of sex – which rarely works. There's no way for people to learn about sex as they grow up (aside from sex education in schools, which is largely useless); they're expected to understand things instinctively and have a ~magical fairytale romance.~

      …Which is not at all related to ATLA, really, but there's definitely nothing sexual in Aang and Katara's relationship here. It's all blushing and crushing and saying ridiculous things on accident. That said, remember that they are in a different culture. Remember the healing teacher at the North Pole who thought Katara was getting married? Their society sees them as being a good deal more mature than we do – and of course they are more mature, considering everything they have to cope with.

  67. Tauriel_ says:


    • xpanasonicyouthx says:


      FYI, mentioning the Legend of Korra is no longer a spoiler because about four THOUSAND of you have done it because….I don't know. Ugh.

  68. Bonzu says:

    In some way, this episode is sooo meta. People are discussing whether this is (just) a filler episode, but the episode itself said it: It's not only about the destination (getting the story done), but also about experiencing the small unimportant things. There are no filler episodes in Avatar!

    (Except "The Great Divide")

  69. Tess says:

    This may be an unpopular opinion — but Mark killed the down-votes, so here goes:

    Momo and Appa are two of my favorite characters. I think the show actually treats them as characters, and not just as comic relief or woobies. They RESPOND to the things that happen to them, and they have opinions and feelings about what happens. They are as much a part of Team Avatar as any of the others. Momo, often overlooked as one of the team, frequently jumps on the heads of powerful enemies to fight. They both attempt to help with the goals of the team, though they aren't always equipped to do so.

    And this episode, we finally get to see what those of us who friend-ship them have known all along — Momo and Appa are best friends forever. I love the way that the moment they are back together, Momo rushes over to tell Appa (with much excited hand waving for emphasis) everything that happened while they were apart, and Appa roars appreciatively at the good parts.

    Love this show. Love Appa and Momo.

    • thewhiteknight says:

      How is this an unpopular opinion!? I totally agree with you!!

      • Tess says:

        I guess I was just assuming it's unpopular because I don't see a lot of Momo love in the comments. He gets overlooked as a team member a lot.

    • notemily says:

      I love that moment too! Momo is so cute when he's waving his hands (paws?) around to tell the story. And I also love how Appa rolls over and is like "OMG SKY, I HAVE MISSED YOU." They really do have personalities.

  70. notemily says:

    I don't know why people are jumping from "Aang and Katara like each other" to "Aang and Katara are totally having teh sex." Maybe that's because of fanfic, but to me, it makes total sense, because I've had crushes on guys since I was FIVE years old. My first kiss was at twelve years old. But I didn't immediately start having sex just because I liked dudes. I wanted romance when I was a kid, not sex. And I think that's a perfectly normal thing, for kids that age to like each other and want to kiss. Happens all the time. I don't want to read about Aang and Katara having sex, but I have no problem with their in-canon romance so far. It's cute and awkward, the way crushes are at that age.

  71. ldwy says:

    Agree agree agree with pretty much all.

    I love these stories.

    But also, I love the creatures in this wold so much!! Giant Badger Moles, sooooo cool. The wolf bats? So creepy. APPA I STILL LOVE YOU THE MOST DON'T WORRY YOU'RE THE BEST. And Momo and Appa converse? Naturally.

  72. TheWelshPirate says:

    I want to hear more of the "Traveling Girl" song the nomads are singing when they first bump in to the GAang.

    "Don't fall in love with the Traveling Girl
    She'll leave you broken, broken-hearted…"

  73. lwdagreat says:

    I know. I feel there was a lot of intense method acting involved with the group.

    • TheWelshPirate says:

      I love seeing cosplayer who really get their characters and mimic all the little quirks. If you're a Batman fan, I suggest checking out Gotham Public Works. Not only was the group started when their Joker and Harley met at a convention, but the two ended up getting married in real life!

  74. ABBryant says:

    Oh, it is so youthfully awkward to watch as the two stand near each other in they dying fire light as the issue is plopped in between them and they contemplate the thought. And Aang, true to his nature as a young boy who has no idea what he’s doing, tells an embarrassed Katara that he can’t imagine them kissing either!

    :: facepalm ::

    But no, he meant that between kissing her and certain death, he would definitely kiss her.

    :: FACEPALM ::



    Mark, why's your forehead all red?

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