Mark Watches ‘Avatar’: S02E08 – The Chase

In the eighth episode of the second season of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Toph’s acceptance into Team Avatar sets up a stressful situation when a mysterious vehicle begins to relentlessly chase the group, causing all four characters to begin to attack one another out of exhausted frustration. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Avatar.

I think that out of all of the spectacular things that happened in “The Chase,” I was most impressed with the way that the writers dealt with Team Avatar taking on their first new addition in the series. Of course, we obviously would all like everyone to get along forever so that everything is rainbows and puppy dogs, but I found this episode all the more satisfying because it was such a difficult and frustrating experience.

For the most part, “The Chase” focuses on Toph and Katara dealing with each other, since they probably have the most disparate personalities out of the bunch. Thankfully, too, the episode also splits their annoyances with each other right down the middle, for the most part: Katara is pushy and mean, and Toph is stubborn and rude, and their actions force each other to realize their faults.

And yet, on top of all of this character growth (WHICH YOU ALL KNOW I LOVE DEARLY), we’ve got a plot that starts out fairly innocuously and transforms into OH MY GOD THIS IS CLEARLY THE GREATEST THING EVER. One step at a time, though!

Appa’s magnificent shedding coat opens “The Chase,” and is the start of the tiny aggressions that Toph and Katara act out against each other. It starts out innocently enough as Aang announces the arrival of spring (in a bit that looks magically like a scene out of Bambi or some Disney movie), which means that Appa’s coat begins to shed. I don’t think Katara lacks a sense of humor, but as the other three members of the group use Appa’s fur to make silly jokes, we see the first signs that maybe Katara’s expectations for Toph’s behavior, which are based entirely on the fact that she is a girl, are not quite what she wants. Plus, Toph’s joke about hairy armpits is just REALLY FUNNY, OK?

But that slight frustration begins to be magnified when they make camp that night and Toph decides she is going to do whatever it takes to be a solitary member of the group: she only carries her own stuff, she’ll make her own fire, eat her own food, and set up her own tent. (MADE UP OF ROCK, NO LESS. omg amazing.) It’s a physical manifestation of a desire she’s held for a long time. After being cooped up in her parents’ mansion, unable to do the slightest things to take care of herself, she is determined to never return to such a state again. She has to take this journey in a self-supporting way. That inherently clashes with Katara’s idea of what the group should be doing, and since she cannot conceive of Toph’s reasons for her solitude, it causes her to lash out at what she interprets as an intense selfishness.

That’s what is at the heart of a lot of this: The members of Team Avatar (Sokka excepted, since he is actually not at all involved in the absurdity of what happens here) have a conflict rooted in the inability of these people to simply understand one another, jumping at each other’s throats because of their perception of events, even if their perception is divorced from reality. Because both Katara and Toph (and later Aang) have a preconceived notion about how one is supposed to act within the group, neither one is willing to accept the ideas put forth by the other.

This is, of course, exacerbated by the main conflict of “The Chase.” Toph is awakened by a rumbling of the earth, knowing that someone is headed towards them, so with minimal sleep, the group decides it is best to leave their campsite. On the back of Appa, they see some sort of object in the distance, kicking up dirt as it rapidly plows towards them. Obviously, we recognize this as some sort of Fire Nation vehicle. (Unless that was not that obvious to everyone else? I don’t think we’ve seen any other kingdom with a vehicle that resembles that, so that’s where my assumption came from.) Why is it pursuing them? What do the people controlling it want?

Despite that, at first, this seems like an episode we’d seen before (Team Avatar runs away, they are chased, then they fight), there are so many things that separate us from a formula that could have been painfully familiar. By including the subplot between Katara and Toph, there’s an added subtext to the chasing: while the threat of violence and harm is very real, it is as much a mental attack as it is a physical one. I would not be surprised if Azula’s intention in this episode was to specifically wear down Team Avatar to a point where beating them and capturing Aang would be as simple as possible. The toll this chase takes on the group continues to grow worse and worse, too, and we see that when they make camp for a second time that night.

As both Katara and Toph are now entirely set in their own ways, the combination of this stubbornness with their lack of sleep contribute to a volatile atmosphere. Katara is even less patient with Toph’s insistence to do things alone, and Toph is less patient with Katara’s insistence to do things her way. The fight culminates in a slammed tent door, the nickname “Sugar Queen” (WILL LOL AT THIS FOREVER), Katara’s unbelievably awful comment about Toph being unable to see the stars, and Toph responding with a violent earth bend that sends her airborne.

Did anyone else scream at their TV at this point? There’s a slight bit of humor to the situation, surely, but this joking nature had started to rapidly slip away. These two could not only fail to get along, but it’s starting to affect Aang and Sokka too, who are no doubt just as exhausted as they are. The sleep deprivation, combined with the impending doom of the machine that’s chasing them, is not creating a loving, reasonable atmosphere.

And of course, it’s only a matter of time before Toph informs them all that the machine chasing them is back, yet again, somehow mysteriously finding them a second time. Climbing aboard an understandably exhausted Appa, they fly to a third location, one that will surely be hard to locate, while debating what could be chasing them. Atop a mountain cliff with a lone road leading to their camp site, Sokka does his best to imitate a caterpillar as he crawls to his sleeping spot while Katara thinks out loud about who might be in the machine, suggesting that it’s probably Zuko. Of course, we know that it’s the trio of Dangerous Ladies (OMG I LOVE THAT NAME) and that Zuko is following their tracks. (Well, not at the time. It’s revealed later on.) OH GOD ARE THEY ALL GOING TO MEET UP IN THIS EPISODE. This is the only thing I hoped for at this point in the story.

I started feeling tired myself when, for the third time, someone in camp (this time, Momo) realizes the machine is back. Again. AGAIN!!! Aang finally suggest that they just stop running and face their chasers. (“Always the optimist,” Sokka replies to him.) I had forgotten that Team Avatar didn’t actually know the identities of the Dangerous Ladies at this point, but I was rather excited to see what they’d do with Toph now added to their collective arsenal.

Oh, right. They would NEARLY GET BURNT ALIVE. Gosh, the Dangerous Ladies are SO FIERCELY TALENTED. And even though I have my own bias against Azula, I cannot deny how wonderfully impressive she is as a fighter. The truth is that she is a fantastic leader of that trio, and the way that the three of these girls mesh with each other is something I’ve honestly not seen before. I actually don’t think it was something the writers necessarily intended, and I’ll admit this is just my brain doing that thing where I read layers into things that probably aren’t there, but there’s a great contrast at work here. Much of “The Chase” is about how Team Avatar has to learn how to get along with such varying personalities working together, and yet we see how the Dangerous Ladies have even more distinct personalities, and they seem to have no problem getting along. To be fair, the three of them grew up together, so they’re obviously closer than Team Avatar, but this was a thought that rumbled through my head and I couldn’t ignore how neat that was.

The situation reaches its breaking point as the sun comes up and the entire group must face the reality that they’ve been up all night. (I adore Sokka’s horror-struck reaction to the very concept.) Appa’s had enough, and he plummets to the earth in a moment of sleep-filled exhaustion. Despite that they’ve put a lot of distance between themselves and the Dangerous Ladies, I think the entire group had realized at this point that they were stuck in this seemingly unending conflict, an almost Sisyphus-like struggle of repetition and absurdity. And that leads to the absolute breaking point.

Unless I am mistaken, this final fight starts when Katara can simply no longer resist making a comment slagging on Toph, and the fight breaks out into utter chaos, as both of them at first blame each other, and then Toph reveals the truth about how they keep being found: Appa has been leaving a trail of his own fur behind. Aang, unfortunately, decides to get involved at this point, choosing to ignore the fact that Toph is completely right about this, and he insults Toph so viciously that she gives up and leaves the group.

Instantly, Katara and Aang realize what a horrible mistake they’ve made, and while Toph will soon learn what she did wrong, I’m glad the writers put an emphasis on how mean and non-empathetic Katara and Aang were to Toph. (And I also liked that they acknowledged that for once, Sokka did not actually bring a conflict on to himself.)

While Aang, Katara, and Sokka work on their plan to misdirect the dangerous ladies and find Toph to apologize to, I want to focus on Toph’s UNBELIEVABLE TWIST OF FATE that happens after she leaves. Content on her own (though probably realizing what a task she has before her), Toph hears someone near by, earth bending and KNOCKING DOWN UNCLE IROH. As soon as this happened, I nearly peed myself with joy, as I hoped with every ounce of my heart that these people could all somehow converge by the episode’s end

The time that Iroh and Toph spend together is one of the more emotionally rewarding scenes in all of season two, as the two talk so openly about their predicaments. Iroh is quick to notice just how similar Toph’s journey of self-worth and individuality resembles that of Zuko’s and he vocalizes that to her. At the same time, Toph is completely shocked at Iroh’s story, of a family member respecting their loved ones’ journey to find themselves. This is not an experience that Toph is familiar with at all, since her family specifically restricted her own agency, believing that her disability defined her absolutely. I really love the way that these two people, one young and one old, are still able to teach each other a lesson that they need to learn. (ESPECIALLY SINCE IT IS TOPH AND IROH DRINKING TEA TOGETHER oh my god i could not ask for anything more perfect in this whole universe OH MY GOD.)

And this is when this episode takes a turn from, “Wow, this is rather good,” to, “JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL THIS IS AMAZING.” As Azula correctly guesses that Aang has tricked her into coming this way (and Mai and Ty Lee have already found Sokka and Katara), she confronts him in a scene that obviously references a western showdown. (She also does THE MOST HILARIOUS IMPRESSION OF ZUKO EVER in order to finally share with Aang who she is.) As it seems clear that the two of them will duel, Zuko pops out of fucking nowhere and immediately makes this scene both wondrous and completely awkward. What was once an old western showdown is now a three-way battle, with all three figures unsure of who to fight. The dynamic of this particular fight is unreal, as it’s both hard to follow as a viewer (in a good way) who is going to attack who, and it creates this bizarre sense of competition. For the briefest of moments, Aang and Zuko team up against Azula and my heart nearly explodes from joy. Right when Zuko is knocked away and Aang is cornered, KATARA AND SOKKA SHOW UP and this battle is now FOUR AGAINST AZULA. I begin to hyperventilate from ecstasy at just how amazing it is to see all of these people together, TOPH SHOWS UP. THEN IROH. THEN MY HEART WEEPS AS IT IS LITERALLY SIX PEOPLE AGAINST AZULA. I mean, this is certainly a testament to how spectacular of a fighter she is, but it’s also a sign of just how despised she is as well.

BUT SERIOUSLY. SIX AGAINST ONE. That stand-off, with all of the benders facing Azula as she decides who to attack first, is SIMPLE PERFECTION. Right as she chooses to attack Iroh, who was momentarily distracted by the sight of Toph standing with the Avatar, Zuko’s horrifed cry is almost like a rallying call, and, for the first time in the whole series, ALL FOUR ELEMENTS ARE USED AGAINST SOMEONE AT THE SAME TIME. (Thanks to SpectralBovine for pointing this out for me when we were watching it.)

I don’t know how Azula created that magical blue shield/explosion thing, but she disappears and Zuko rushes to the aid of his injured uncle. In just an instant, too, this episode goes from an emotional high to an extremely depressing depth, as Zuko’s visible pain at what just happened to Iroh causes him to lash out violently when Katara offers to heal his uncle. I was shocked by how quickly what I saw as a victorious moment becomes one of horrifying trauma.

AND THEN IT JUST ENDS. Oh christ, i cannot handle this at all.


  • “Sharing tea with a fascinating stranger is one of life’s true delights.” RIGHT. Also can we see more of Toph and Iroh hanging out over tea THANK YOU.
  • “What’s wrong with ponytails, ponytail?” “This is a warrior’s wolftail.” “Well, it certainly tells the other warriors that you’re fun and perky.” BLESS.
  • Seriously, I cannot stop gushing about Azula’s imitation of Zuko. Flawless, really.
  • TY LEE’S SCENE WITH THE WORD “CLUMPS.” My god, she is so full of joy.
  • ZUZU.
  • OK OH MY GOD, I HADN’T SAID ANYTHING YET, BUT SOKKA’S FIGHT WITH TY LEE WAS GLORIOUS. After managing to basically deactivate all of his limbs, he headbutts her. CAN’T STOP SOKKA NOW. ilu so much Avatar.


About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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411 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Avatar’: S02E08 – The Chase

  1. echinodermata says:

    LOVE Sokka and Aang fooling around with Appa's hair, and Katara being thankful for another girl in the group, only to have Toph be the most juvenille of them all. SHE JOKES ABOUT HAIRY ARMPITS! SUBVERTING GENDER ROLES FTW!
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    So female characters fighting with each other tends to be very uncomfortable for me to watch, although thankfully it's not about a guy. And then it escalates so that lots of people are pissed at each other. Which is good for the enemy (and I generally enjoy rooting for the enemy, so I don't know whether I want the gaang to stop fighting each other because it's annoying to watch, which would make them be more prepared to fight Azula, or if I should appreciate the bickering so that Azula's team gets to be even more awesome than usual with the ganng off their game).

    I rather like the idea behind this episode. It deals with a very stressful situation for the gaang, and includes logical hurdles like lack of sleep and people getting on each other's nerves, coupled with the natural problem of Appa shedding (and I empathize with the idea that it's impossible to get rid of a pet's hair, though Appa is of course more than a pet.). It's nice to see this fantasy universe grounded in some pretty universal themes of stress. Plus, highly competent villains, which is always appreciated.

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    AND AZULA PROVES SHE TOTALLY DESERVES POWER FOR SHE IS SMART AND KNOWS A FALSE TRAIL WHEN SHE SEES IT. (And makes fun of Zuko, and I love making fun of Zuko too! This is why Azula is one of my favorites.) And then an awesome three-way battle, in which Azula of course shoots first.
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    Really awesome. And she severs a building and is just forever amazing. (Look, I love Iroh too, of course, but I really do love competent villains.)
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    And the end dynamic with the gaang pitying Zuko is very very interesting. But more importantly, noooooooooooooo Iroh! I love you Azula, but NOT ON. And I like Iroh more than Azula, so with great sadness, I have to say shaaaaaame on anyone who hurts Iroh. It will be very hard to forgive this.

    Oh, get up Iroh, please please. Fucking cliffhangers.

    But a really good episode.

    • monkeybutter says:

      I liked the moment of détente, too; it's yet another example of the Gaang's kindness and forgiving natures. Even if they don't like Zuko, they know Iroh is a good guy from the North Pole. If only Zuko were as susceptible to the lesson about accepting help as Toph is.

      • @Ahavah22 says:

        Zuko still can't accept help from others at this point. He wouldn't even had stayed for dinner with Lee's family if they didn't offer him work in exchange.

  2. So remember that time Azula held her own against BASICALLY EVERYONE IN THE CAST and she DESTROYED AN ENTIRE TOWN and she defended against a SIMULTANEOUS ATTACK OF ALL FOUR ELEMENTS and then escaped by EXPLODING?


    In other news, the Onion A.V. Club has begun reviewing Avatar! The reviews will be far less capslocky but just as interesting, I'm sure. And funny:

    (Some people may not realize that Japan is a different country than India, which I mention because… wait, I don’t want to talk about the movie yet.)

  3. arctic_hare says:

    I'm just going to title this review "Why I Love Toph" and list off all the things I adore about her in this episode. Okay? Okay.

    1) The hairy pits joke. BAHAHAHAHA.

    2) Being able to tell that something was coming and getting them out of there in time.

    3) Her nicknames for people.

    4) Earthbending Katara for that crack about not being able to see the stars. Katara, honey, NO. I love you most of the time, but that was WAY out of line. You deserved that smack.

    5) Figuring out that Appa's shedding is how Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee (<3 <3 <3 my lovely trio of dangerous ladies~ OT3~) keep finding them.

    6) BONDING WITH IROH <3 <3 <3 OMG BEST PART OF THE EPISODE Y/Y?! IT IS LIKE A DREAM COME TRUE TO SEE THEM GETTING SCREEN TIME TOGETHER AND BECOMING FRIENDS. <3 I LOVE YOU TWO SO MUCH. Seriously, so much love for that scene. I get all wibbly when Iroh talks about how even if Zuko doesn't want him around right now (because he's a silly, silly boy YES I KNOW HE NEEDS TIME ALONE TO FIGURE SHIT OUT, but it's hard to imagine not wanting Iroh around, but that's my bias cause I'd want to spend all day drinking tea and having fun with him), he'll be there if he needs him. And then Toph said that Zuko is very lucky even if he doesn't know it, and I'm all "YES EXACTLY, YOU ~SEE THE TRUTH~, TOPH." It's just the sweetest scene, in so many ways. <3

    7) Going back to the group because she listened to Iroh's wisdom. THEY ARE BOTH SO WISE AND SMART.

    8) Coming to help in the fight.

    9) Being sad about what happened to Iroh.

    10) Just being Toph. 😀 Really, she makes everything better.

    Other stuff –

    – I love how the bird and the butterfly happened to come around while Aang was explaining ~the beauty of spring~ to them.

    – Yay Sokka for trying to be the voice of reason when Katara and Aang were jerks to Toph.

    – "Wads of wet fur. How delightful." I love you, Mai. <3 Never change.

    – Ty Lee is so cute. <3

    – Poor Appa. 🙁 🙁 🙁

    – Hee, Aang's reaction to the "Zuzu" nickname.

    – Okay, I love Zuko, but I can't help laughing really hard when he runs through that doorway and plummets down to the ground.

    – I can't help but wonder what was going through Iroh's head when he figured out that the girl he just had tea with was traveling with the Avatar.


    – Okay, Zuko, we need to have a talk here. I'm glad to see you care so much about Iroh that you're upset over what just happened to him, and I am too. BUT KATARA CAN HELP HIM, AND YOU DON'T TURN DOWN OFFERS OF HELP. GAH.

    • Dragonsong12 says:

      "I'm just going to title this review "Why I Love Toph" and list off all the things I adore about her in this episode. Okay? Okay."


      Toph is amazing. Every episode she features in needs a "why Toph is awesome" list.

    • @maybegenius says:

      Okay, I love Zuko, but I can't help laughing really hard when he runs through that doorway and plummets down to the ground.

      Kills me every time. Also a subtle portrayal of personality between Azula and Zuko. She's more agile and cunning, able to think quickly and maneuver herself appropriately. He's just impulsiveness and fury and runs headlong over the edge. METAPHORS.

    • @MeagenImage says:

      Okay, I love Zuko, but I can't help laughing really hard when he runs through that doorway and plummets down to the ground.

      Story of Zuko's life y/y/y?

    • Stephalopolis says:

      Okay, Zuko, we need to have a talk here. I'm glad to see you care so much about Iroh that you're upset over what just happened to him, and I am too. BUT KATARA CAN HELP HIM, AND YOU DON'T TURN DOWN OFFERS OF HELP. GAH.
      Remember, Zuko comes from a pretty messed up family, no wonder he has trust issues. He's scared, he's hurt, so naturally he lashes out when he's offered help by "the enemy".

      Also, while I'm sure Zuko lashed out because like Tauriel_ said, he's scared, hurt, doesn't know what to do, and surrounded by his enemies….does Zuko know that Katara has the power to heal? Has that ability been used in front of him? It didn't seem like a highly known fact about water bending.

      • Tauriel_ says:

        She only said "I can help", not "I can heal him". And I agree, healing as a sub-skill of waterbending certainly doesn't seem like a widely-known fact – and certainly not to Zuko, who's been taught his entire life that fire is the superior element and other types of bending suck and aren't even worth learning about. Jeong Jeong knew about the waterbending healing, because he wasn't a typical firebender, he's lived away from the Fire Nation for a long time and it's possible that he's studied other types of bending and learned about the healing powers of certain waterbenders.

  4. thefireandthehearth says:

    So I'm probably the only one who'd noticed this, but Azula's voice is kind of distressing to me, though not in a bad way. Grey Delisle, her lovely voice actor, used almost the same voice for Azula as she did Jeanette/Therese Voerman, the Malkavian ladies from "Vampire: The Masquerade- Bloodlines". (This is possibly because I'm one of like ten people that played it.) So whenever I watch Azula, my brain interpters her voice as "flirtatiously murderous vampire with a split personality ". while I'm watching a kid's show wtc

    Anyway, to something that actually has to do with the episode! Character dynamics and relationships ahoy!- the interplay between Katara and Toph is interesting and surprisingly realistic. Sleep deprivation trying to get used to new people = RAWR I HATE YOU WHY AREN"T YOU DEAD YET. Neither of them were totally in the right or wrong in the arguements, though I am side-eyeing Katara sfm over the crack about how "it's too bad Toph can't see the stars". Out-of-line, imho, and she doesn't even apologize. Okay, I suppose tethercat principle is at work here, and Toph probably would brush off the apology, but still.

    The Dangerous Ladies continue to be awesome (and possibly vampires) and I love every interaction between Ty Lee and Mai. SO CUTE OH GOD. That whole fight scene in the deserted town is excellent. This show has excellent choreography, which I've always considered to be one of the big draws. (coming from someone who's been stuck on one for a month, fight scenes are hard). Then the show teases us with a "OH NOES, IROH IS DOWN AND KATARA WILL HAVE TO HEAL HIM" but Zuko is all "I AM HAVING NONE OF THAT" so they part ways. The face Zuko makes after he sees Iroh fall always makes me giggle, and I feel really bad about that.

    The ending's cute. Provided, you know, that you aren't worrying about the older man who just took a lightening bolt to the chest. Iroh noooooo

    • Manself says:

      I also find Azula’s voice unsettling, but only because Grey DeLisle voiced Vicky from Fairly Odd Parents.

    • Guest says:

      When I first watched this episode I thought Katara's crack about Toph not being able to see the stars was because Toph was in her rock tent and so the stars were blocked from her vision.


      • Stephanie says:

        Me too!!! When Mark was talking about howthat comment was way out of line I was thinking, “it’s not that big of a dea— ohhhh it’s because she’s blind”

      • linguisticisms says:

        For the same reason the rest of the cast forgets she's blind.

      • Dark Wolf says:

        Well, it's completely possible that's what Katara meant in the heat of the moment and would later be mortified at once she remembered Toph's blind. The timing was such that she said that immediately after Toph put up here earth tent, after all.

    • petite-dreamer says:

      Not sure if anyone else has mentioned this one in prior comments, but I found it interesting that DeLisle also voiced Kimiko in the series "Xiaolin Showdown", the Japanese daughter of a well-known toy tycoon who is also associated with the fire element. But whereas Kimiko is a sweet girl with a temper problem, Azula is a freakishly sadistic girl who is completely terrifying but never really gets angry, per se. So it's like Azula is Kimiko's evil twin, except older.

    • stephanienienie says:

      Grey DeLisle also voices Frankie from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. I kept hearing Azula through Frankie for a while.

      • majere616 says:

        That must have been…unsettling.

      • TheWelshPirate says:

        She also voiced Harley Quinn in the LEGO Batman video games, and she will be voicing Catwoman in the upcoming video game Batman: Arkham City. Purrrrrfection.

    • Michanna says:

      I love it when she shows up as random voices in Knights of the Old Republic. I was playing it again just after season 2 started airing and realizing that some of the humans wandering around the game were Azula never ceased to be entertaining.

  5. ABBryant says:

    Just want to point out something you wrote for "Boy in the Iceberg" Uncle Iroh. Yes, he does fit the wise elder archetype to a T at this point, but I don’t think that will last long. Also, calling it: HE’S THE FIRST TO DIE.

    Mark, thy preparedness is not up to snuff.

  6. HoneyBunny says:

    "Victory is boring." Mai for the win!

    I can't wait for you to finish Season 2 Mark. It is so awesome. It's hard to believe that it gets even more awesome. Seriously, not since Harry Potter have you ever been so unprepared. Poor Iroh! Poor Zuko! Boo Azula! Yay Team Avatar.

  7. Michelle says:

    Favorite episode! I 'ship Iroh/Toph YEAH I SAID IT.

  8. Dragonsong12 says:

    There is so much good about this episode, it's really hard to focus in on just one thing. Thinking back on it, so much happened, it feels like it should have been two or three episodes, but it didn't feel rushed at all HOW DO THEY DO THIS!

    For lack of better things to say, I'll just quote one of my favorite lines because I'm sure you noticed it too,
    "…you wouldn't even let me pour my own tea."
    "I poured your tea because I wanted to, and for no other reason. There is nothing wrong with letting the people who love you help you…not that I love you, I just met you."
    Hahaha! I want the Toph and Iroh show. SPINOFF!

  9. kaleidoscoptics says:

    So much happening! This is another one of those bigger on the inside episodes.

    First you have the theme of the kids getting tired and getting on each others’ nerves. Katara and Toph seem to get along like a house on fire right away. They’ve got such completely different interaction styles. Toph doesn’t like relying on others, so she doesn’t get the whole ‘set up camp together’ thing. Katara comes from a culture where cooperation is really important. But as they get more exhausted they say stupid things to each other. Seriously, a blind joke? Not cool, Katara. I’m pretty sure we’re supposed to see this as a low blow, rather than a funny joke. Hope so, at least. Then even Aang reaches his limit when Toph says something mean about Appa. It's true, but you do not talk bad about Appa. (Speaking of, how did she know they were tracking them by the fur? Did she notice it falling out when they were flying or something?)

    In any case, it leads to the best part of the episode, where Toph and Iroh just hang out for a while. I love when these kinds of scenes happen. 😀 They don’t know they’re on opposite sides yet. And in any case, Iroh wisdom over tea is a great thing to be gifted with.

    Azula’s plan and her basilisk lizards are pretty cool. Honestly, though, I just feel like we aren’t given as much with her to care about. We don’t really get an Azula B-plot like we did when Zuko was the main antagonist. Everyone else is gushing about her, and I get that she’s a scary, ruthless, villainess. I want to see Zuko kick her ass, but it’s not like “Oh, yay, Azula’s in this episode!” Maybe it takes time, idk. It almost reminds me of Pinky and the Brain. “What are we going to do today, Azula?” “The same thing we do every day: ruin Zuko’s life.”

    In any case, it's interesting to see how the two siblings are so different. During the fight scene, Zuko stumbles into a trap that Azula had deftly avoided just seconds before. "Born lucky" indeed. Then she has no qualms about attacking a family member to get herself out alive.

    The Final Showdown with everyone against Azula is really wonderfully done. Foreshadowing? Maybe? Please?

    • Pseudonymph says:

      "It almost reminds me of Pinky and the Brain. 'What are we going to do today, Azula?' 'The same thing we do every day: ruin Zuko’s life.'"

      Hahaha, this is hilarious. And it seems to sum up Azula's current raison d'être pretty well, I'd say.

      I think most people love Azula because she is just the consummate villain. She seems to be a far more competent and dangerous antagonist than Zuko or Zhao ever were. Her presence raises the stakes of every conflict. I think people are also fascinated by the hints we've been given about her past and how it shaped her personality and the way she interacts with people.

      I think we have to dig a little deeper to get at her motivations because, utterly unlike Zuko, she doesn't talk about them constantly (which is part of what makes her impression of him so hilarious).

      So, those are my reasons for liking Azula but I can see how she may have come across as one-note to others.

    • WhiteEyedCat says:

      I think that Azula just isn't a sympathetic character. As seen in Zuko Alone she had basically the same childhood as him, but she was talented and loved by her father and even when she was little had a horrible mean streak. In my opinion the point isn't to care about her, it's to fear her on behalf of the gaang.

      • jeno says:

        I kinda doubt she was loved by Ozai. Approved of, sure, as long as she was perfect, but I doubt she got the same kind of affection from Ozai as Zuko did from Ursa. (And if Zuko Alone is anything to go by, there's a good chance Azula didn't get that kind of affection from Ursa, either.)

        While Azula was horrible as a child, I really think the way her parents raised her made her worse.

  10. audzilla says:

    One of the things I really love about this episode – specifically Azula and company – is how SMART they are. Maybe it's growing up on cartoons (and watching plenty of crap as an adult) in which the badguy is a bumbling doofus and the heroes rarely have trouble outsmarting them – but Azula is not made of the same tropes. She's older than Aang and co, more experienced, has plenty of tactical training given her station in the fire nation – and they don't portray her as sloppy or without foresight just because she's a badguy. Their attempts at diversion don't work. The trio has a plan for whatevre Team Avatar throws at them. They are a REAL THREAT. I love that.

    All of my other Favorite Moments Ever have already been touched on by others, re: hairy pits and warrior's wolftail. And Sokka's headbutt! And man, Zuko's expression there at the end just breaks my heart! But man, this is when the show starts getting so good that I just want to start making a high-pitched noise and never stop.

    • Basically, Azula has read the Evil Overlord List.

      • audzilla says:

        Haha! Too true. I just love to hate her.

      • Tauriel_ says:

        Which makes her even more awesome and dangerous and badass.

      • Colin says:

        88. If a group of henchmen fail miserably at a task, I will not berate them for incompetence then send the same group out to try the task again.
        103. I will make it clear that I do know the meaning of the word "mercy"; I simply choose not to show them any.
        117. No matter how much I want revenge, I will never order an underling "Leave him. He's mine!"
        153. My Legions of Terror will be an equal-opportunity employer. Conversely, when it is prophesied that no man can defeat me, I will keep in mind the increasing number of non-traditional gender roles.

    • ShinSeifer says:

      I thought Azula was about Katara's age? so she's not even older than them (and younger than Sokka). This makes her even more fearsome, to see how she can put them under so much pressure.

      • audzilla says:

        Oh, maybe. That would make sense.

      • Tauriel_ says:

        According to Avatar Wiki, Azula is indeed 14, the same age as Katara.

        Zuko is the oldest of the "kids" so far, being 16, Sokka is 15, and both Toph and Aang are 12 (well, biological age in Aang's case).

        • shirtninjas says:

          Oh dang. I thought Azula was older than Zuko. Shows how much I know.

          • Tauriel_ says:

            Nope, she's younger. That's what makes things even worse – the fact that she's a prodigy and everything comes easy to her, "my father says she was born lucky; he says I was lucky to be born", etc. Poor Zuko.

  11. monkeybutter says:

    It starts out innocently enough as Aang announces the arrival of spring (in a bit that looks magically like a scene out of Bambi or some Disney movie)

    I love Sleeping Beauty Aang, too!

    <img src=""&gt;

    The character development in this episode is pretty fantastic. I'm glad that the writers decided to show how difficult it can be when the make-up of a group is changed, and people don't understand how to react to those changes. Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee work because they all know their places and there's a definite hierarchy, but within the Avatar group, it's more about shared responsibility, which can lead to conflict.

    The most important parts of the episode are all about Iroh, though. Yay, Iroh and Toph, tea-drinking friends forever~~ And, oh shit, nooooo not Iroh, Azula you are the worst person ever. I agree, she's really awful and really impressive. She's the perfect villain.

    And yeah, it has to be said that Sokka and Ty Lee's fight was pretty amazing. He finally figured out a way to defeat her! With his thick skull!

    <img src=""&gt;

    • TheWelshPirate says:

      LOL, yeah I always took it as Ty Lee doing a move where she hit a pressure point in the person's head and knocked them out, but Sokka's skull was too thick. At least, that's how I interpreted his "Nice try, but no." line.

  12. kartikeya200 says:

    Azula was so favored by her father that he always gave her the sleekest ships and the fastest tanks.

    I really like that this episode highlights the inevitable personality conflicts in Team Avatar. Of course Toph isn’t going to grok the idea of teamwork right off. She’s just lived her entire life without any friends and having her parents not let her do anything, whereas her secret life involved interacting with others in nothing but a confrontational manner. Of course ‘pulling her own weight’ is going to be super important to her, and she’s not going to understand why she’s expected to do things for other people.

  13. MissDirect says:

    I've always felt that his is one of those episodes that sneaks up on you with its awesomeness–you start out thinking it will essentially be filler and the whole idea of a chase-then-fight is, as Mark pointed out, fairly common particularly to the first season. But instead of being formulaic it gives you a bunch of character development as well as setting certain dynamics up for the rest of the season. Not to mention that the scene between Iroh and Toph is ridiculously dear to my heart. And most people may find this insignificant, but I really loved the moment of Aang deciding to stay and confront his pursuer. And this episode really makes me want to have Toph give ME a nickname, even if it's meant to be insulting…

  14. Tauriel_ says:

    <img src=""&gt;

    Oh, the times I've felt exactly like this… XD

  15. chichichimaera says:

    Toph you are the best. (Except for all the other characters who are also the best, MY GOD SHOW HOW SO GREAT?!) I love her rock-tent, drinking tea with Iroh, sliding the earth out from under people to get them out of her way… 😀

    Of course it makes sense that things aren’t going to be easy at first with a new member of the team along. It seems clear that they are having a communication breakdown, but then remember these folks are still basically kids. Of course they’re going to have a hard time seeing the other point of view!

    Oh Azula, oh Ty Lee, oh Mai. A trifecta of badassery, they really are so much more of a threat than the Gaang have faced so far. Zhao wasn’t really focused on them specifically, and Zuko has unfortunate Fail tendancies. Mai and Ty Lee take down Sokka and Katara easily until Appa takes them by surprise, and Azula holds off six enemies by herself! (I think the blue explosion technique she uses may be similar to the ball of fire trick Jeong-Jeong did back in The Deserter.)

    The amount of pain in Zuko’s voice after Iroh is hit by that fireball is just awful. 🙁 🙁

    But let us take our minds off the uncertain fate of Uncle Iroh with a few more Texts From The Fire Nation!

  16. tearbender says:

    Ozai has some Kyoshi sized shoes to fill if he wants to live up to his daughter so far.

    Not only does she wear down her enemies to the point of exhaustion, she isn't fooled by a false trail, she more than holds her own against Aang and Zuko (though I need a GIF of her face before she nearly falls while Aang waves cheerfully from his air ball) but she faces the Gaang plus Zuko and Iroh and takes out the most dangerous fighter amongst them before making an escape to put Severus Snape to shame.

    And she's 14.

    Shivering, but I'm also so freaking impressed.

    • H. Torrance Griffin says:

      The only reason I would not be trying to bump her ahead of Zuko in the Chain of Succession were they my kids and I were a monarch is because she is evil. Her competence level is just that impressive.

      • TheWelshPirate says:

        I think being evil would probably earn her more points in Ozai's eyes. Azula is a monster, but she's a monster who was lovingly sculpted by The Devil.

  17. hallowsnothorcruxes says:

    Iroh NOOO!!
    <img src=""&gt;

    But on a more positive note: Toph & Iroh drinking tea.
    <img src=""&gt;

  18. MocataJoy says:

    Up until this episode, I never would have believed that Katara was capable of such meanness. But this episode makes me want to pull my hair out every time I watch it because WHAT THE FUCK WHY IS SHE SO RIDICULOUSLY UNKIND TO TOPH?

    I'm sure there will be a lot of side taking with this episode…several of my friends who watch Avatar with me ascribe to "team Katara" here, believing that Katara "was just pointing out how selfish Toph was being" and that "Toph needs to respect Katara more, because Katara has been part of the group longer and knows more about what needs to be done."

    I can't help but completely and totally side with Toph though. In my opinion, Katara behaves in an inexcusable manner for most of this episode. How dare she accuse Toph of being selfish when Toph left behind EVERYTHING SHE HAD to help Aang learn earthbending (as she herself points out.) How dare Katara except Toph (someone who has had to look out soley for herself HER ENTIRE LIFE) to suddenly become a HUGE TEAM PLAYER and be comfortable helping out everyone around her all the time? I mean…of COURSE Toph just wants to "carry her own weight." That's what she's been doing her WHOLE LIFE. How can Katara not realize that? It was made so obvious in "The Blind Bandit." And that comment about Toph's BLINDNESS? "The stars sure are beautiful–too bad you can't see them Toph!" What a low blow! Good God…really Katara? Really?

    Of course Toph isn't completely blameless by any means. She DOES behave selfishly when she doesn't want to help set up camp, carry things off of Appa, etc. But that doesn't mean she should have been BULLIED FOR HER LONER ATTITUDE. It's pretty obvious why Toph is a loner. It should have been obvious to Katara, after seeing the way that Toph's parents treated her, and the secret life she had chosen to live as an underground fighter.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that this episode makes me SO ANGRY at Katara, I want to reach through the T.V. and punch her. And that makes me sad, because I really like Katara most of the time. But in this episode, she behaves like a bully. She tries to push Toph around, she is completely unmindfull of the background Toph comes from, and she even makes fun of her disability. I am not used to thinking of Katara as a bully, and so it makes me very sad.

    It's okay though, because Uncle Iroh healed every wound that Katara inflicted on my psyche. Toph got completely IROHED with kindness and I love it FOREVER. ^_^ Is there anything that man cannot make right?

    • Dragonsong12 says:

      Honestly? My take on this episode has always been one of mutual stubborness and not understanding (or caring to understand) on both sides, which simply escalates as both sides gets increasingly stressed and refuse to yeild resulting in poorly planned words shouted in anger.

      Katara grew up in an environment that required teamwork and working together. She simply doesn't understand anything else. It's less that she's upset at Toph for being selfish or anything and more that they're a group, they should work together, because that's what groups do and how they get things done.
      Whereas Toph has been hidden away and fussed over and taken care of for her entire life. For the first time she gets to "carry her own weight" and she wants to. She wants to prove to the world that she doesn't need them, that she can do it on her own.

    • Dragonsong12 says:

      Katara gets unreasonably upset because she sees Toph not pitching in, not helping the group survive. She's never really denying Toph's ability to stand on her own, she just wants them to gel as a unit. Toph in turn gets unreasonably upset because she doesn't fully grasp what Katara's asking, she interprets it as Katara trying to coddle her, the way she has been all her life, and she rejects that understandably, but it's not really what Katara was doing.

      …from then on, it's just that they're teenagers who are stressed out and tired and saying mean things.

    • Dragonsong12 says:

      Um…that was a lot of babbling, sorry. haha! I'm actually not a big Katara fan, lest you lump me in with "team Katara" there's some moments which have really drastically tainted my opinion of her and made her one of my least favorite characters*, but I thought this episode was pretty understandable and thought I'd share.
      …art is always up to interpreation though, that's what makes it awesome, so your view is valid as well.

      *it should also be noted that "least favorite" in Avatar would probably be "amazing!" anywhere else. …also, this is the first time I had to split up comments…I guess it's a good thing I can't really form coherent thoughts when I first read these posts.

      • MocataJoy says:

        I agree somewhat. Katara certainly comes from a small, tight knit community where everyone had to work together or they'd…you know…fucking freeze to death. So it is understandable, in that respect, that she would want Toph to work with the rest of the group. And besides, working together really IS the best way to go about doing things if you're traveling together in a group. So in that regard, Katara is right.

        However, I don't believe that excuses her, in the slightest, from the way she treats Toph. Katara has shown, thus far in the series, that she is capable of great insight. I therefore don't think she has the excuse of being ignorant of what she's doing or saying. She KNOWS that Toph comes from a horrible, controlling household. She knows that Toph has that "loner attitude." So even if Katara (understandably) doesn't want Toph to behave in that way, she should know better than to go about things the way she does.

        And besides, wanting someone to behave a certain way doesn't mean it's okay to try and force your beliefs about how things work onto someone else, the way Katara does with Toph here. Asking for help from Toph is okay. Saying "hey, I know you're used to having to do things on your own, but working together makes it easier for everyone to survive, so can you please set up the tent with Aang?" is perfectly okay. But implying that Toph should behave a certain way because she's a girl, calling her selfish, and making jokes about her disability is NOT COOL.

        • tigerpetals says:

          Just because she's insightful and kind and generous sometimes doesn't mean she has to always be that way. She just wasn't in this episode. I agree that her behavior is not cool here, but the only thing really bad about it is the joke about her disability. She woulodn't think to verbalize that in groups cooperation is important , because to her it really is something that just is, that people know about at an early age if not naturally. Then if she thinks like that, it's natural to assume that Toph is being selfish. I don't find this outrageous because it is completely normal and common for people to expect others to behave according to certain ways for reasons they will not say explicitly, and then attribute unexpected behavior to to innate flaws. From what I remember she was nice about it at first. At least Katara is a young teenager and realizes she is wrong and was under sleep deprivation. Adult people behave the way Katara does here with less calling out of the behavior and trying to fix it. .

          • tigerpetals says:

            Believing that a person should behave a certain way if they're a girl is normal. Girls and boys are raised differently to uphold those beliefs. This was obviously what happened to Katara, and even though she chafes against restrictions she still believes in things that a woman is supposed to do. She does the mending and the mothering. She is supposed to be the mature one of the group So it might strike her as unfair that she's obligated to follow certain rules of behavior and Toph isn't, that now she has to be the mother for all four of them instead of getting the help and solidarity she expected. It's not as if Toph was raised without gender restrictions. She did learn proper and mature behavior, and now wants to discard it, which is thnking about herself though it isn't selfish unless she goes overboard.

            • tigerpetals says:

              In short, I think it's unfair to Katara to expect her to react perfectly to Toph, especially when she reacts better than adults in real life. I think of it as an unfair gender expectation too, because she's been fulfilling the typical female character role of nurturing the others and now that she isn't it's suddenly outrageous. It's expecting her to be incredibly mature when it's human to break down and she already is much more mature than real adults.

              I'm not saying I'm all Team Katara here, but I'm definitely not Team Toph and she was not hugely wronged except for that crack about the stars.

              • tigerpetals says:

                I realize that you are identifying with Toph and disappointed that Katara isn't behaving the way you hoped, but Toph's reasons are not more understandable or sympathetic (though this part is more subjective) than Katara's, even with the latter pulling out a gender rule instead of relying on other arguments. I cannot see Katara's behavior being deeply outrageous even as someone who has been gender policed for not being feminine and who doesn't believe in that shit. I am also mainly reacting to the idea that Katara should know better because she has been insightful and considerate before. That really is unfair to expect from any female character, especially a young one, but you see complaints like this about female characters all the time when they don't react in a nurturing way. Then when she is being insightful, people think she's too perfect (not referring to you here).

            • MocataJoy says:

              It may be "normal" in the sense that people assume shit all the time based on nothing but gender, but that doesn't make it right and it doesn't make it cool to do to someone. I've been on the receiving end of such "expectations", and when I didn't fit them, I was often bullied by other girls around me. NOT COOL.

              Besides, remember in season one when Katara went to the North Pole and was FURIOUS when she was told that "in our tribe, it is forbidden for women to learn waterbending."? She didn't just say "oh, well, that's the culture. It's normal for men and women to have different roles." No. She felt completely insulted and wronged. Because she WAS being completely insulted and wronged. So for Katara, having gone through that whole experience, to turn around and have unfair expectations of Toph based on gender is terrible. She knows better by this point.

              And I do agree that Toph is not completely blameless. No one is really completely blameless, except Sokka, who largely stays out of everything. But I do feel that Katara is much much worse to Toph than Toph is to Katara. All Toph wants is to be left alone. Katara acts like a bully, trying to force Toph into doing things her way.

              • tigerpetals says:

                I didn't say it was right or cool, but it's not outrageous. I honestly think you are viewing the conflict as feminine female bully versus misunderstood abused tomboy, whereas that is not the case. Gender-policing is an afterthought to Katara. It was sexist of her to behave that way, but she isn't trying to enforce femininity on Toph or being against girls not doing what their culture expects them to. She just falls back on the sexism easily like everyone in the whole world. So does Toph. It is sexist to call Katara a Sugar Queen just for wanting cooperation and understanding. Those things aren't sugary or feminine, they're rational human decent things. I don't give either of them a pass on that.

                Rebelling against being restricted from following your potential because you're a girl is not the same thing as knowing better than to use a gender-policing against another girl. She does not know better. Women who want equal pay still think women ought to act and look certain ways and aren't aware it's sexist. Katara's way less obnoxious and hurtful than the women who enforce femininity in real life.

                • tigerpetals says:

                  If all Toph wants is to be left alone, all Katara wants is cooperation. Would you be calling her a bully if she acted angry and unreasonable without referencing gender? Toph wants to force Katara into doing things her way too. Toph wants to be part of the group but wants to enforce her self-conceived loner status at the same time, deciding when and how she will interact with the group as a whole with no consideration for what anyone else in the group wants. I have been in that position by the way, and have been thought of as stuckup and selfish for it. So if Katara not putting up with that makes her a bully, then so is Toph. I don't see either as behaving like bullies. This has nothing to do with Toph being a special loner and Katara being a feminine bully: it's a personality conflict, necessarily complicated by the presence of sexism.

                  • MocataJoy says:

                    I never meant to imply that Katara's acting like a bully is a completely reliant one what she says about gender. The worst thing she says to Toph (the comment about the stars) has nothing to do with gender at all. It has to do with Toph being disabled. So…yes. I do think Katara is being a bully, and if she hadn't made the sexist comment about Toph being a girl earlier, I'd still feel that way.

                    I do agree, though, that the characters in Avatar (literally every single solitary character) is flawed. None of them are perfect 100% of the time. That's a large part of what makes this show so insanely good. So even though I'm doing a lot of Katara hating here today, I completely understand that she has the ability to be great sometimes. It is annoying when female characters get hate because they aren't feminine enough, but then if they are badasses they are not "feminine" or "relate-able" enough. If they are helpful and nice all the time, then they are too "perfect", etc.

                    However, I still feel that what Katara says/does to Toph is much less understandable and much more vicious than what Toph says/does to Katara. Katara actually wants to force Toph to do things Toph doesn't want to do (carry things, be social, etc.) Whereas Toph just wants to do her own thing. That doesn't involve forcing Katara into doing things that make her uncomfortable. Also, the sexist comment is awful considering that Katara has had her own experiences with sexism and SHOULD know better, even if she doesn't. The disability comment…that's been covered. Awful. Calling Toph selfish when Toph left her home to come and help them–bad. All Toph really does (besides the "sugar queen" comment, which is admittedly bad) is wall herself up in stone huts. Katara is pretty consistently the aggressor here.

                • @Ahavah22 says:

                  " Women who want equal pay still think women ought to act and look certain ways and aren't aware it's sexist. Katara's way less obnoxious and hurtful than the women who enforce femininity in real life."

                  This. Women debate everything when it comes to gender roles, and I've seen otherwise kind ladies judge others, because, y'know, they're not a like.
                  Women who criticize other women because they: stay home with their kids instead of work/work instead of staying home with their kids, eat too much/eat too little, have no children/have too many children (uggh! Personal choice, people!), and don't even mention breastfeeding.

                  It's part of human nature to be critical of those who choose/act differently than you, regardless of gender, and often to the extent of hypocrisy. It comes out in political debates all the time (which is why politics are so annoying, and yet have so much comic potential!) 😛

        • Vikinhaw says:

          She KNOWS that Toph comes from a horrible, controlling household. She knows that Toph has that "loner attitude." So even if Katara (understandably) doesn't want Toph to behave in that way, she should know better than to go about things the way she does.

          I understand why Katara wanted Toph to help. It's necessary that Toph helps but the way Katara went about asking Toph to help was very very shitty (the blind insult was awful) and I really really wish that the writers had acknowledged it with more than just an apology.

          But her behaviour was totally in character given her background. More than being from a tight-knit community where everyone has to help, but that her family life is much more supportive and she has had quite alot of freedom. Having never experienced the abuse Toph had, Katara simply doesn't understand why Toph is doing what she's doing. I don't think she really gets Toph or what Toph had gone through or given up. I've found this to be very true of people IRL when it comes to talking about shit that happened in my life.

          This doesn't excuse Katara at all and actually kind of makes it worse but it's in character for her not to know better.

          • tigerpetals says:

            She doesn't but at the same time Toph doesn't get her background. Toph didn't give up more than Katara did by leaving her home, she just has unresolved problems with her family that Katara doesn't have to worry about with hers.

            • Vikinhaw says:

              I didn't mean to suggest that Toph has given up more. I wasn't trying to compare their situations in terms of how much they've given up, just in terms of their experience and how that might affect their understanding of each other views. You're right, Toph doesn't get Katara background or why Katara would insist that she help. Toph IS being unreasonable. I do have to say say though that 'unresolved problems' is too light a way of putting what her parents did. I mean they pretended she didn't exist. Given how her father acted before I don't think they're going to have a heart-felt tv reunion either. I usually don't comment on stuff to do with parents being awful to their children since it hits too close to home so my opinion on this is kinda bias.

    • Disclaimer: I haven't seen this episode for awhile, I'm commented based on my memory, so if I misattribute something let me know.

      My reaction to the Katara/Toph BATTLE OF THE CENTURY is that, INITIALLY, Katara is being completely reasonable in asking Toph to participate. IIRC, Toph responds to her very polite request to help by being acerbic and closed off. Katara attempts to explain her reasoning, and Toph either ignores her or insults her, can't remember quite which.

      Now, that being said, Katara certainly cannonballs into the Swimming Pool of Asshattery ™ immediately afterward. The stars comment, as has been eviscerated quite effectively already, is so far over the line it might go all the way around the world and cross it again, and Toph doesn't respond with anything nearly so hateful.

      Neither of them are innocent by any means. I just am of the opinion that Toph was the spark.

      And as far as Aang VS. Toph, if it was so obvious that the problem was Appa's fur, why didn't Toph point it out before, instead of throwing it in the Gaang's face like they were total morons? No one in this scenario is innocent of being passive aggressive, hateful, and just plain rude, except maybe Sokka.

      • shirtninjas says:

        Eh… Sokka's just brash sometimes. His opinion seems to be one of "Hey, for once I didn't cause the problem, I'm not involved in the problem, and I'm staying out of it." He shows this type of attitude many other times in the series, so I think it's perfectly in character.

        I can see where the characters are coming from on the being "sleep deprived" thing a little more, although it still strikes me as weird because it's been 1 NIGHT. Is there actually anyone their age who has never skipped a night of sleep? I think to some degree the characters are using that as an excuse for their behavior (to themselves, more than as an excuse to others. Which is fine sometimes… if it helps you admit you did something wrong so you can go make it right, whatever.)

        Katara's a jerk, Toph is a jerk (although a little more understandable one from our collective vantage point, which is also privileged: We better understand gender relations and acceptable dialogue AND we're viewers of the show, rather than characters in it. We can see everyone's point of view easier.) Aang isn't a jerk at first, but I got the sense that he lashed out at Toph because he was frustrated with both of them and Toph was the first easy target when she picked on Appa. PRO TIP: Don't pick on Appa in front of Aang.

        • @Ahavah22 says:

          Well, they not only lost a night of sleep, they were chased all night by a deadly, scary, something. Anyone would be on edge!

        • laleia says:

          Regarding the sleep thing — they're also pretty young, right? 10-12-ish? I know teens and others who stay up late on a regular basis, but the younger people are, the crankier and more unreasonable they get when they're sleepy.

      • MocataJoy says:

        I agree that Katara's wanting Toph to help out is reasonable. Everyone really should be helping out if they're all traveling together. But the way that Katara approaches things right off the bat is terrible. She comes to Toph and is careful to not directly ask Toph to help (she just drops hints that Toph should help) Toph then gets frustrated and says "I don't understand. What's the problem here??" and Katara says "nevermind." I feel that if Katara had just been more direct and explained herself better, things might not have escalated so much. But even though she knows that Toph was a loner, she has expectations that Toph will immediately mesh into the group and know what to do to help out. I feel that's really unfair.

        I have no idea why Toph didn't point out the Appa fur things earlier…it certainly seems like she knew about it for a while before she mentioned it…so yea. No idea. That would have been really nice to know earlier! Also, the comment that Toph makes about Sokka not being able to bend (she doesn't even COUNT him as part of the group when she says "three on three") is awful too. I laugh at it every time, don't get me wrong…but it's terrible.

        BTW: Swimming Pool of Asshattery = best thing ever.

        • If I'm remembering Katara as being more direct than she actually was, then I can agree with you, MocataJoy. What I remember is Katara saying "Hey Toph, can you do <this and such thing>, we all need to pitch in together," and Toph saying "I carry my own weight, *TENT*." If Katara didn't bother explaining to Toph what she meant, then yeah, that's pretty messed up.

          • @Ahavah22 says:

            But it's also the way many people act. You want someone to do something, but you're afraid that if you ask outright, *that* would be rude. So you hint, and hint, and hint, and if the other person doesn't read your mind, BOOM!!! Begin the Ultimate Showdown, because your *Passive* just got *Aggressive*!!!

            I'm passive-aggressive sometimes, and I often don't figure out what's wrong with my behavior until someone points it out–or until the ugly, shameful fallout of a fight. 🙁 I can relate with Katara on this one, because its hard to recognize one's character flaws–especially when you are in the middle of, um, flaw-ing! 😀

            I'm not giving her a pass, just pointing out how completely common her behavior is. Even going below the belt with so much MEAN!INTENT with words to someone you consider a friend is common. Neither Toph nor Katara, nor everyone else on the show is perfect, and that's why I love 'em.

            (Well, Iroh is basically perfect, but I bet that took years of character refinement. I want Iroh as my Sifu!!! And Therapist! Oh, I'll just adopt him as a granddad! <3)

    • Strabo says:

      "I can't help but completely and totally side with Toph though. I"

      Absolutely not. Everyone who was ever on a camping trip knows there are many, many things that have to be done, and it goes far faster if everyone does his or her part instead of everyone just doing their own thing. Add to it having to take care for a pack/riding animal every evening (and a 10 ton one too) and it is simply impossible for one member just "taking care of herself", because you just spent 8-10h riding Appa without putting up the 1-2h to take care for him.

      Next to it, who long could Toph rely on her own food, fire, water and sleeping accomodations? A week? Then what? Does she forage her own food? While washing her clothes, make her campsite, collect fire wood, build the fire etc? Even if she could do all these things she would hold up the rest of the group, who do the same things at the same time because of sharing.

      Of course Katara could have brought up this issue a lot more subtle. But it is one of the few moments where Katara is genuinely angry with someone and like always she knows exactly how to hurt the person. If you anger Katara, she will say the meanest possible thing, because she's able to figure it out pretty quickly.

  19. Tauriel_ says:

    "I poured your tea because I wanted to, and for no other reason."

    I present to you Iroh, the perfect gentleman. <3 Thank you, Uncle Iroh, for pointing out that courtesy and chivalry does NOT mean you're belittling the other person or thinking them too weak. <3

    • Sam says:

      Except that's exactly what chivalry is: a code of conduct based around the understanding that certain groups are weak. What Iroh demonstrates here is that there's a difference between courtesy and chivalry.

      • affableevil says:

        Pretty much exactly this.

        Chivalry is about treating an entire group of people as if they are made of glass, and hiding it behind a veneer of politeness. Iroh is being kind without being chivalrous.

        • SporkyRat says:

          Chivalry is actually treating others of your rank with the utmost respect. Courtesy is treating those of lower rank like they're people.

          • affableevil says:

            As far as I've always understood it, chivalry was a strict code of rules for how an ideal knight would behave. Now, how much each knight individually adhered to this code varied greatly. But, at the heart of the values, there were many rules concerning how men should treat women. These rules were based strictly in gender, and as the rules have been applied to modern-day society that has remained.

            I don't doubt that "treating others of your rank with the utmost respect" (which, honestly, sounds rather classist and therefore not exactly something to be celebrated) was a part of a knight's code. But, as it's seen today, chivalry has become almost exclusively applying the more sexist parts of the code. It's specifically "Hold doors open for women because they are women." It's generally a lot more rare for a man to hold a door for another man, or pull his chair out for him – because they're being chivalrous, and not simply courteous. And that is based in gender.

            I feel like I'm not explaining this nearly as eloquently as I should be, so I will leave this link for anyone who wants to get a really good explanation of my stance on this:

      • Courtesy is kind of the opposite of chivalry, IMO.

        And I know which one I'd prefer.

    • SporkyRat says:

      I <3 you and all your ways.

  20. Kaci says:

    I can't even handle this episode. I just…the showdown! Ty Lee versus Sokka! THAT GUY WAS KIND OF CUTE. The differences between Katara and Toph–you touched on it in your interview, how Katara expects Toph to agree with her simply by virtue of Toph being a girl. It's subtle, but I love that it kind of points out how wrong this is–I see girls doing this all the time, shaming other girls for not conforming to traditional female expectations and stereotypes or for engaging in behavior that's traditionally thought of as "for boys." Although it's not explored that deeply here, I do believe it draws attention to that, and is part of why Katara is, for her half of the argument (because obviously Toph is just as responsible for the argument as a whole as Katara–but for Katara's half, is what I mean here) in the wrong.

    And furthering that point, in this episode, we have five principal female characters–Katara, Toph, Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee–and every single one of them has an entirely different personality, set of life experiences, and motivation for it. It's a little sad how happy I am about this, but the fact is, on children's TV (or on TV in general), it's still a wonderful and slightly surprising thing to see female characters given this much depth and range of personalities.

    • echinodermata says:

      Word. To all of it.

    • As I forwarded through the Previouslies for this episode—which basically showed the introductions of the Dangerous Ladies and Toph—I quipped, "Previously on Avatar, this show has a lot of awesome female characters."

      • Kaci says:

        It really does. In fact, there are five prominent female characters in this episode, compared to four males (Aang, Sokka, Iroh, and Zuko). While there's definitely an argument to be made against Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee for being the "bad guys" and thus disqualifying them from the "awesome" title, if one looks only at it from a writing perspective (and seriously, while I'm with Mark in that Azula triggers a lot of unhappy memories of childhood for me, and thus she's a little difficult for me to handle sometimes), there is absolutely no denying that the writing for all nine of these characters is indeed "awesome." How many times in children's TV history has that happened before? For there to be more "awesome" female characters in an episode than male? That's extremely rare and one of the many, many reasons why I love this show–their women, on the whole, tend to be better-written than the female characters on virtually any other show on television.

    • arctic_hare says:

      So much word to ALL OF THIS.

    • MocataJoy says:

      Absolutely true. And you're right, it is sad how rare this is. Growing up as a girl who was constantly shamed by other girls, most of my friends ended up being boys, and most of the heroes I looked up to (people like Superman and Captain Planet–YES, I SAID CAPTAIN PLANET!) were male. Conflicts between me and other girls around me always started off small–the way that Toph and Katara's conflict starts in this episode, but it always ended the same way. The other girl would accuse me of "acting like a boy" or "trying to be a boy" or even "thinking you're too good to be a girl" (yup, I actually heard this from a young, female friend) and we would cease to hang out. This is another example of Katara's bullying in this episode. It makes me sad.

      • Kaci says:

        I had the same thing happen to me, with other girls rejecting me and ending up with mostly male friends. The worst part of this kind of bullying is that it often (I know for sure it did in my case, but I can't speak for everyone, obviously) leads to the woman who was bullied for not being a "traditional woman" having a sort of deep-seated resentment for girls who are more "traditional" by their own choosing. I know that during my teen years, I would say disparaging things about and often to girls who were more "traditionally feminine" than I was. I would even say that my behavior against those women was sexist, and I deeply regret it. The problem with that kind of bullying is that it often helps perpetuate itself–the girls who were bullied try to separate themselves from "that kind of girl." Further resentment is created between them on both sides, and on and on it goes.

        Which is why, however subtly it was dealt with in this episode, I'm so grateful to Avatar for bringing it up.

        • Tauriel_ says:

          You know, I feel the same about a lot of things you just said. I'm a girl, but as a kid I preferred playing with cars and boys rather than dolls and girls; and according to one online test I apparently have a "male brain", because I'm very rational, logical, have good technical thinking, am good at orientation and can parallel-park. 😛 But at the same time I feel very much a woman – I like feminine clothes, I wear dresses and skirts quite a lot, I often wear makeup, and in a lot of things (especially things like cooking or courtship) I'm a pretty "traditional woman". So it's a kind of mixture of "gender roles" for me. But I sometimes tend to complain about bad female drivers that they're "driving like a girl" – which is wrong, I know…

          • hpfish13 says:

            This happened to me to slight degree. I've always liked a real mixture of things that are considered to be "traditionally masculine" and "traditionally feminine." I love both intense action movies and silly romantic comedies. I love getting dressed up, but most days I don't have the patience for makeup. I enjoy being active, but sometimes I really don't want to get sweaty or messy. As a result, I had a hard time fitting in with either boys or girls (too girly for one set, too tomboyish for the other). I've ended up basically having to split my personality in two and behave one way with one group and another way with the other. It kind of stinks, but I've learned to deal with it.

            • Tauriel_ says:

              Are you sure you're not my long-lost twin? XD You pretty much described me.

              Even at work (all of my colleagues are young people around my age), I realised I preferred hanging out with guys rather than girls (like going to lunch and stuff); and I enjoy more talking about computers, cars, football and ice hockey rather than shopping, clothes and cosmetics. Also I have strong dislike towards the typical "girls' office gossip".

              • MocataJoy says:

                Another reason I tend to avoid other girls. I was often on the butt end of all that "gossip" (which is just a code word for verbal abuse). I still have a strong fear that no matter what, if I have a female friend she will talk about me behind my back. SO WRONG ON SO MANY LEVELS, I KNOW. But again, it is the result of all the bullying I took as a kid from other girls. At least in Avatar, we don't see a whole lot of stereotypical female vs. female behavior…the type of gossiping and bullying that is so popular in shows that are marketed toward women (think reality T.V. especially. Ugh.)

                • Tauriel_ says:

                  Oh, I've never cared about being the subject of gossip. I've long since learned to ignore it. I come from a small town where everyone knows everyone, and a lot of people knew my parents so by extension a lot of people knew me. So I was brought up pretty much in the way "behave like this and this because otherwise WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY?" I hated that. I don't care what people who I don't know say about me. That's why I prefer living in an anonymity of a city – I have a group of friends and acquaintances whose opinion I value, and as for the rest, I don't care. I don't have to worry about strange people judging me.

          • You're a girl? All this time, I thought you were a guy, maybe because your username reminds me of Taurus -> bull -> male.

            And, of course, your "male brain." ;-}

            • Hyatt says:

              Heh, I assumed female, because the -iel ending is feminine in LotR elven names.

            • Tauriel_ says:

              LOL, yeah, a lot of people make that mistake, but my nickname actually doesn't come from Latin, but from one of Tolkien's elvish languages, Quenya – "taurë" means forest and "-iel" is a common ending for female names. So "Tauriel" means "forest maiden" or "daughter of the forest". Because I love nature and stuff… 🙂 I chose it years ago when I was living in Prague and used to hang out with the tolkienite community there.

              And yeah, my "male brain"… XD I guess I should put a picture to my name to make things easier. 😛

              • @Ahavah22 says:

                Your username is so cool!

                i wonder if "-iel" is a common ending for female names in Tolkien's elvish language because it is a common ending of Hebrew Biblical Angel's names, and Christianity associates angels with femininity? (Interesting note: in most Jewish interpretations Angels have no gender but take on a *male* form when they appear to humans–as in the story of Abraham greeting the angels).

                For example, the four named archangels are: Gavriel (Hebrew, meaning "Strength of G-d")=Gabriel (Anglicized), Micha-el (lit: "Who is like G-d?")=Michael, Uriel (lit: Light of G-d") and Refael (Healer of G-d)=Raphael

                "El" is used in Hebrew to connote G-d.

          • shirtninjas says:

            I don't think I know any men who are as good at parallel-parking as most of the women I know, oddly enough… I know I can't do it at ALL.

        • MocataJoy says:

          Absolutely true. The bullying I endured certainly made me wary of other girls…and by wary I mean I avoided contact with them on purpose. I stuck to hanging out with guys, whom I shared more interests with and whom I felt understood me better. And don't get me wrong, I've got a huge group of great male friends that I wouldn't trade for anything. But it does make me sad that, in a sense, the bullies won with me. I am too afraid to approach other girls now, and try to make friends with them, even though I'm in my mid-twenties now.

          Katara and Toph's reactions to one another in this episode make such perfect sense to me because I suppose I see myself as Toph, and Katara (at least in this episode) sort of embodies that disparaging, female bully. Which I hate. Because Katara is really not a bad person. She just behaves very badly in this episode.

        • thefireandthehearth says:

          That's part of what I love about ATLA. This is a show that says "If you're a girl, you don't need to like feminine things to be valid and awesome! And conversely, if you enjoy being feminine, you can be just as valid an awesome! Really, you can be a girl however you want!"

          We've Azula, who's this terrifyingly beautiful combination of femme fatale and war lord. We've got Ty Lee, all bubbly and pink, who's no less threatening a villain for it (seriously, if she came after me with those pokey things, I would faint). We've got Mai, who's more prone to laying back and snarking than fighting, but can throw a mean knife (which she hides in her excellent dress). We have Katara, who's very motherly, sweet, and dresses very femininely, but also stands up for herself and can hold her own in a fight. And we've got Toph, who's very tomboyish and stubborn.

          And all of them are amazing. This is why I convinced my niece to watch this show with me. I'm not sure if I'd call the ATLA ladies role models, but I want her to see that she can be whatever sort of person she wants to be.

          • MocataJoy says:

            I agree wholeheartedly. I wish the message that "you can be a girl however you want!" was expressed more often in more places. Most of the female on female bullying a lot of us are describing here relies on the idea that "you have to be a girl THIS WAY, and if you're not behaving THIS WAY, then you are not a real girl, or you want to be a boy, etc." (seriously, I can't even count how many times I was accused of "wanting to be a boy" even though I totally didn't want to be a boy at all! I just wanted to be MYSELF.) If more girls learned that "being a girl" isn't something you have to do in a particular way, it remove so much unfair pressure from the shoulders of young girls.

            And I would also like to point out that this show does a magnificent job of showing how awesome guys can be too. A lot of my awesome male friends are frustrated by male gender roles…the fact that they are called "wimpy" if they don't like sports of "gay" if they hang out with female friends. The unfairness of the patriarchy hurts them too, and I hate to watch them go through that bullshit. I love the diversity of male characters we have in this show…the way Aang is so childlike (well, hell, he IS a child…) and obsessed with his crush on Katara (boys can be romance-junkies too!) and how Sokka can be so overly masculine sometimes, but so traditionally "feminine" at others ("I'm so glad I got this bag, it matches the belt perfectly!") Avatar is just gender-awesome all the way around. You can be a girl however you want, you can be a guy however you want, and in the end, you can fight alongside (or against) people of the opposite gender and take them seriously. GOOD STUFF.

            • elusivebreath says:

              "You can be a girl however you want" should be a PSA or something lol. It makes me really sad to read about the girl/girl bullying, and to remember that I have both experienced it and dished it out. Now that I'm older, it seems so terrible and ridiculous the way women cut each other down, both in regards to feminity and other issues, yet I still see it every day.

            • thefireandthehearth says:

              You're completely right about how ATLA is great with both genders. What you said reminded me of the episode "The Fortuneteller", where Aang makes a necklace for Katara. Sokka teases (because, well, Sokka) and ask if Aang's going to give up being the Avatar to make jewelry. Aang rather nonchalantly replies "Well, why can't I do both?" Indeed, why can't he?

              One of the main messages of ATLA seems to be "You can be awesome just by being yourself! Just… try not to be a genocidal monster or an asshole, kay? That hurts folk."

              • Tauriel_ says:

                Aang rather nonchalantly replies "Well, why can't I do both?" Indeed, why can't he?

                Exactly – can you imagine the success of such business? "Handmade by the Avatar" is a great way to market things. The sales would rocket. XD

      • t09yavorski says:

        Captain Planet!!!!!!
        My sister and I looooved Captain Planet.

        Also Superman, Batman, X-Men, Pokemon, Star Wars and my best friends through elementary school were all guys.

        My experiences were a bit different though as I was never told I was trying to be a boy. I had some girlfriends and I hung out with them at lunch and things but during recess I was with the boys playing tag or, once, rugby.

        But I was teased. All my guyfriends became my "boyfriend" which none of us were comfortable with. I still dont quite understand it but seems to be the opposite of the norm here, since I was a Tomboy being forced into the gender role expected of me against my will.

        • shirtninjas says:

          I find it really interesting to think about how the women's rights movement has respawned in our (?) generation a lot (by "our" I'm assuming you're around 20-30 based on your comment.) Women pushed against society a lot in the 70's, made some strides, then backed off a little, and a generation later, women raised being told that they could succeed (despite societal sexism still being prevalent) and being raised on awesome male role models in cartoons, movies, etc. are bringing it up again, saying "Well, hell, I was raised on it too and I liked it too!" Many women in our generation are showing less traditional types of femininity, unconcerned about liking things that were marketed towards boys in their childhood (I know many women who LOVE Captain Planet, Pokemon, Star Wars, X-Men, Batman… everything you named.) I love it. It's also why I love this show so much.

          • MocataJoy says:

            Captain Planet! He's a hero! He's gonna take pollution DOWN TO ZERO!!!!!

            Team Avatar reminds me so much of the Planeteers. Except Aang (with the power of air!!!) isn't from the soviet union.

            • t09yavorski says:

              I was listing the Planeteers last night (Earth!, Water!, Fire!, etc.) and my brother asked me, "what is he, an Earth bender?" Not only was I ashamed that he didnt know what I was talking about but I was also confused since he has never watched Avatar.

  21. Jay Gatsby says:

    I find Sokka's role in the show to be so fascinating and I often find myself trying to put myself into his place. While he often offers some means of comic relief, that role does not consume his identity. I feel the writers created him with the idea, "what if a normal guy just happened to tag along this magical journey?"

    I can't help but think of this question within "The Chase." While he doesn't play a prominent role in this episode, I wonder what his thoughts are through all of this. With the addition of Toph, I'm sure Sokka feels a bit out of place being the only non-bender. Toph emphasizes this point when confronting Azula, saying that Sokka can't really fight to the same level as a bender.

    I begin wondering the identity of Sokka within Team Avatar. And if I were Sokka, I'd question my own worth to the group as a whole.

    • @Ahavah22 says:

      That's a great point. I love Sokka, and I'm so glad the show didn't make him the comic relief character. He has all three dimensions to his character, just like all the other leads (and some of the secondary characters, too).

      Being a non-bender, he is the weakest fighter in Team Avatar by far, and that has to be very hard on him and his self esteem. His father is the leader of the Southern Tribes' warriors, and Sokka is constantly being upstaged by all the fighters in his group. And talking about male gender expectations, the fact that he encounters so many girls who can kick his butt probably still stings (yes, even after meeting Suki).

      Not to mention that he is the oldest kid on the Team!

      Sokka is so versatile and he grows in such incredible ways. He's a tactician; he's a capable fighter; he's a scientist; he cares deeply about his family, friends and even the animals that he wasn't all that excited about hanging out with at the start of the show; and he develops a *deep* sense of respect for women.

      Also, boomerang=awesome! 🙂

  22. Anne says:

    Confession: Azula scares me more than Voldemort. I mean, damn girl. There's something about teenage girls that's already pretty terrifying, but Azula goes well beyond the call of duty.


  23. monkeybutter says:

    Your comment reminded me that I loved the animation style in this episode. It's really expressive, and while Book 1 was good, the quality of the animation is one of the many reasons why Book 2 blows it out of the water.

    And excellent point about their personality differences!

  24. Moon_Shadow says:

    Iroh should adopt Toph and they should drink tea together every day, y/y?

  25. Patrick721 says:

    And once again, we see proof that Sokka is a chick magnet. And Ty Lee is adorable.

    And IROH AND TOPH JUST CHILLING AND DRINKING TEA YES THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER. God, can you imagine what it would have been like if some random bandits tried to attack them? Because such an event would be the most epic curbstomp of all time. I just fucking love this episode. Everything is perfect, even Ty Lee saying CLUMPS! And Sokka using his head. And EVERYTHING IS PERFECT, OK?

    Really, the only way to make the final battle in this episode even better and more western-y would be to include Clint Eastwood. Or at least some Ennio Morricone.

  26. Teaspoon Capacity says:

    This episode is amazing! What I love about Avatar is that it has completely credible and threatening villains. Azula doesn't take shit from anyone, and she can dish out more than enough lightening and fire to be considered badass. Ty Lee and Mai are awesome, especially because they have their own character and aren't simply just Azula's lackeys.

    ALSO, TOPH AND IROH IS WIN. I love their interaction, as two of the most badass characters come together, exchange life stories and wisdom, and generally cause TVs across the country to explode from their awesomeness.

  27. ComputerizedWoman says:

    This episode is love not only for all the stuff you said, but I can feel Toko (Zuko/Toph) being created as Toph and Iroh chat. (Iroph will make the earth imploded it is so awesome). I am a Toko fan so I love this episode for Iroh's comparison of Zuko and Toph.

  28. Depths_of_Sea says:

    And this is when this episode takes a turn from, “Wow, this is rather good,” to, “JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL THIS IS AMAZING.”

    Heee. A+ Carrie Underwood reference.

  29. Anne says:

    Katara has a tendency to say some very horrid things when she's mad or pissed off. This might be just my experience, but maybe it fits with her Team Mom status — sometimes mothers say the most hurtful things.

    • shoroko says:

      I agree with you, and I think it may be in part because she's probably more hurt by things than others would be/maybe she even should be, because of that "Team Mom" status. It's really been an expectation for Katara that she take care of those around her – even beyond what she must have gone through when she lost her mother, she's shown over the course of the show doing things like mending things for Sokka and being a huge source of guidance for Aang. It's pretty clear that if she fell out of this role, it could mess up the group pretty badly. So having all of that flung back in her face is going to hurt a lot – even if it seems like it shouldn't, as Toph never asked that of her in the first place.

      • audzilla says:

        I sort of feel the same way. And added to Katara's momliness is, of course, the fact that she's only a teenager – and who HASN'T said some awful things as a kid, that they'll look back on at 20, 25, 30 with shame?

        Not that I'm excusing it at all… or that I think it's ok for kids to think stuff like this is ok. But I do think it's terribly realistic for a teenager to resort to a low blow. Both here and whenever Zuko pitches a fit at his uncle in season 1.

  30. Megan says:

    Someone's probably posted this by now, but

    <img src=""&gt;

  31. FlameRaven says:

    I always thought that Azula's blue shield was the same "fire sphere" shield technique that we see Zuko use in 1-18 when his ship gets blown up by pirates. (Admittedly, you have to slow down the frames to really see it). In that scene, Zuko seemed to wrap flames around himself in a ball shape, using that to deflect the explosion on the ship. I think Azula does the same thing here: a quick firebending ball that absorbs and deflects the other attacks, and just uses the dust from the attack as a distraction while she escapes.

    • thefireandthehearth says:

      I think it's also similar to the technique we see Jeong Jeong use to escape Zhao's forces in "The Deserter"- big firebending VWOOSH-BANG, light, dust, flee.

  32. Pelleloguin says:

    This is in my top ten list of episodes with flying colors. I know Azula was keeping them awake to break them down mentally. And her plan worked more than well. The infighting was SO petty, mean, and so true to life that I'm having flashbacks to some nasty years in high school. I cringed at some of the lines.

    Well, I have only one other thought that shall not spoil so here ya go:

    *Cue happy fangirl squee* Iroh and Toph have tea and then team up with everyone to fight Azula! I think my brain just exploded with the sheer amount of awesome packed into this episode.

  33. tethysdust says:

    Such a good episode! We finally get to see how truly skilled Azula is, in addition to Ty Lee and Mai. I mean, seriously, the Gaang did not stand a chance against them in an even fight. They only cornered Azula because it was basically everyone in the cast against her. This does not bode well for the Gaang's ability to take down the Fire Nation. Maybe it will inspire them to train harder. Even besides her fighting skills, we've seen that Azula is actually a pretty intelligent villain as well.

    Also, I thought it was interesting that the two dangerous ladies didn't go help Azula. I think they still had their lizard creatures and Appa to follow, but for some reason they seem to have just opted to hang out.

    As for Katara, I'm not sure that she intended to mock Toph's disability. When I first heard it, I thought it was a reference to Toph's rocky tent and her isolation from the group. Just one of those things that just slips out, and then is suddenly way more horrible than it sounded in your head. Either way, not cool.

    • Megan says:

      In regards to Katara's comment –

      When I first saw this episode, I thought it was in reference to Toph being stubborn and not coming out of her rock-tent, too. It was only later I realized "Woah, that actually could've been interpreted another ruder way" and now I'm not sure which it was mean… Katara doesn't seem like someone who would be that nasty, but then we've almost never seen her antagonize someone so quickly as Toph, and she *was* really mad…

      • Avit says:

        Well, you know what they say about intent and magic! I didn't catch it in any of my three or four viewings either, but that doesn't make it any better.

        • tethysdust says:

          True… I agree that, in effect, it doesn't make it any better, and Katara definitely deserved that earth-bending smack. I do think it makes a difference in terms of how people see Katara's character, though.

          In one case, she's the sort of person who, while tired and cranky, says something carelessly without really thinking through how it's going to sound. In the other case, she's a deliberately cruel, ableist jerk. Either way, the comment will hurt Toph just the same, but Katara's intent with the statement does affect how I feel about her character.

  34. kartikeya200 says:

    Whoops, sorry! Thanks to whoever edited that.

  35. daigo says:

    Honestly I never got the impression that Katara and Aang were in the wrong in how they interacted with Toph. Here the Gaang is opening their arms wanting to welcome someone into their group, but instead of engaging with them she stands aloof from the rest. While I'm sure it's refreshing for Toph to assert her independence finally, at the same time she's also sending the message that she doesn't want to be a team player in a lot of ways. Sharing chores and food and sleeping areas isn't just a matter of getting shit done, it's about fostering a sense of community. As much as I love Toph, she was keeping everyone at arm's length until the end of the episode, and you can't blame Katara or Aang for getting upset about that.

    Besides, Aang was right. Even though Toph wants to pretend she can do things on her own, she still depends on the group for a lot of things: "You're not carrying your own weight, Appa's carrying your weight."

    • Sasanka says:

      Toph seemed to be doing all right with the boys, though – laughing at hairy armpits and whatnot. I get the sense that, as long as she taught Aang Earthbending like she promised to, Sokka and Aang would have accepted her as she was. (Aang only got involved after he jumped in to help Katara.)

      So, initially, they seemed to be fine with a "we're not friends, but we get the job done" arrangement. It was just Katara who didn't like it.

  36. hpfish13 says:

    Someone pointed this out on the spoiler blog (not a spoiler though), but I was always under the impression that Katara was saying Toph couldn't see the stars because she had enclosed herself in her rock tent, not because she was blind. Everyone else was sleeping outside under the open sky and she was not. I may be wrong, and Katara was just being completely awful, but that's how I saw it.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      That's how I saw it, too.

    • GeorgiaRemora says:

      Yeah. Team Avatar has a tendency to completely forget that Toph is blind. I guess I do to, because it never occurred to me that that line was a jab at Toph's blindness instead of a pointed "suggestion" for her to join the rest of them sleeping outside. Although now that it's been pointed out, I suppose it's more likely that Katara was just being horribly ableist. I don't know how I never put that together.

    • ShinSeifer says:

      It's interesting because, as a viewer, that was my first interpretation. Toph has her tent and so cannot see the stars. a split second later I realized "oh wait, she's BLIND! Katara, wtf!".
      But THEN I realized, it is easy in the first episodes she's in to actually forget that she IS blind, since most of the time is like she could really see. But it must be so for the characters also! I think Katara really meant her comment about the stars as "you're an egoistical shut in and so you cannot see the stars", and before she could realize what she had said, earthly revenge striked.
      I think it was an intentional move on the part of the writers to remind us that Toph is indeed blind, and making us feel bad for being on Katara's side.

      • @lizbee says:

        According to the commentary, that's exactly what it was. And they debated whether or not it was going too far, but decided it was an important part of Katara's characterisation, that being the feminine one doesn't make her sweet and kind, and sometimes she says cutting things that everyone regrets.

        • linguisticisms says:

          It may have been horribly ablest a thing for her to say, but I'm glad she did. It shows that girls don't have universally sweet natures just because they're girls (~sugar~&~spice~&~everything nice~) and are in fact capable of being RAGING ASSHOLES. Which Katara is being right here.

          Heh. Sugar Queen.

          • @Ahavah22 says:

            If someone sarcastically called me "Sugar Queen" I'd get so mad at them! I hated those types of jibes as a kid—they really hit some painful memories of being teased for being "too good," or "too religious". The implication is almost always that you're a bloody, stuck-up hypocrite, and that stings hard.

            I think Toph and Katara have very different communication styles. Toph is blunt, teasing and sarcastic, Katara usually tries to be tactful, but (again, an indication of passive-aggressive behavior) knows exactly what to say to really hurt some one when she gets mad.

            The difference is basic: Toph's primary objective is to be straightforward and funny, if you're offended it's your problem. Katara aims to hurt hard, but she doesn't strike unless she's pushed to her limit.

            i'm more of a Katara type. If I could go back to my childhood and unsay every horrible, below-the-belt insult I hurled at my sister (not because I meant those words, but because I wanted her to feel pain) I would. Heck, If I could just unsay every mean thing I've said in any argument just to get the upper hand, I would. Um, most of them, anyway. 😛

            But I've also had to learn that not everything said to me is meant to be painful, and that some people just like to tease and joke despite-or even because-they love you. Toph gives nicknames to people because it's funny. Aang doesn't mind one bit; Katara gets quite offended. Learning to deal with and balance your communication patterns against others, and learning how to avoid hurting others and when not to take insults seriously are all skills that take time to develop.

    • Amy says:

      O_O I have watched that episode FOUR times, and not once did it come to me that Katara's dig was anything to do with Toph's blindness. I assumed she was saying, "Too bad you're locked up in a little tent and aren't lying out here with the rest of us where you could look at the stars." NEVER occurred to me that she meant anything else.

      Toph is so new to the team, and they're so used to her abilities not hindering her, I still think this was the way Katara meant it. Of course, now that everyone here has pointed the double meaning out, Toph's rocksmack now looks like a wordless, "I couldn't see them ANYWAY, you @$#%&."

  37. RocketDarkness says:

    The best part about Katara's blind joke is it also references the fact that Toph is the only person with a tent up. I'm not even sure it was meant to be referencing the blindness initially, but that does make me laugh even harder because the joke is layered.

    And Toph's retribution is swift.

  38. MichelleZB says:

    I interpreted the motivations behind Toph and Katara's behaviour a little differently. I thought they had different expectations because of their upbringings, so they both thought the other was being rude.

    It isn't that Toph is trying to assert her independence. I think she doesn't offer to help because it literally doesn't occur to her that she's supposed to. She's led a privileged life so far, but also a lone one. She hasn't had any friends her own age, and she's never had to operate in a communal or interdependent atmosphere. She has the social skills of a very sheltered homeschooled kid.

    She thinks she's being considerate by "taking care of her own stuff". She's not making anyone pick up after her, in other words. It doesn't occur to her that Katara sees things differently…

    Katara grew up in a tribal atmosphere. Everything was communally shared and helping out was expected. She doesn't know how to ask Toph to help at first (she is instead passive-aggressive) because it doesn't occur to her that Toph isn't being rude by not helping. Toph just doesn't know.

    The idea that people wouldn't communally set up camp, communally make food, etc. is almost incomprehensible to Katara because of how she grew up.

    I see this as a culture clash more than anything.

    • Meenalives says:

      I was just about to say exactly the same thing. Katara is pretty much defined by helping others. In fact, that was the subject of her argument with Sokka in the very first scene of the entire show. I always side emotionally with Katara, despite her saying some fairly awful things, because Toph's attitude is just so frustrating (and I was a socially-awkward homeschooled child, though never a sheltered one).

    • ShinSeifer says:

      I really like this explaination. It highlights the fact that sometimes in this kind of arguments there is really no "right" side, and that one's concept of the "right" thing to do is a product of the environment, the culture, the upbringing… What was wrong was that both of them refused to see the other's point of view.

      I personally see Katara's pont, but I also know that in that situation I would probably be like Toph.
      I don't know, I guess it comes down to adaptability, and the ability to chose what' best on a given time or occasion, and considering the others' needs and points of view.

      • MichelleZB says:

        Or it's not even that they refused to see each other's point of view… it's that they literally *couldn't* see the other's point of view. I think they just didn't get it. They were both oblivious that there could be another way of doing things, and they each thought the other was being mean.

  39. @maybegenius says:

    I adore Ty Lee forever. BIG BATTLE followed by being smacked into the water by a giant bison, and she's just like, "Huh, whatevs, lived to fight another day. THAT GUY WAS CUTE, AMIRITE?"

    Character development is the very best. When it's combined with action and humor and excitement it is EVEN BETTER. When it's combined with Iroh and Toph it is the very best.

  40. WHATATWIST says:

    Water: Yue
    Earth: Suki
    Fire: Ty Lee

    Sokka's a lovebender.

  41. Tauriel_ says:

    Also: Sokka deflected Mai's darts with his boomerang AND his club! How badass is that? He might not be a bender, but he's definitely not useless in a fight (in your face, Toph!).

  42. @MeagenImage says:

    Toph's comment on Sokka not being a bender kind of highlights something: In addition to male privilege and class privilege, the Avatar universe definitely has "bender privilege" as well. The writers weren't just content with accurately depicting the social imbalances we're familiar with, but have also put some thought into what other imbalances might result from some people having magical powers while others don't, humans being human as they are.

  43. Stephalopolis says:

    A few quick thoughts-

    1.) I am slightly saddened by Toph's insulting of Sokka by not being a bender. I still love Toph, yes (it can probably be explained away by that's her sense of humor, the fake "insulting"), but poor Sokka. He's still just as worthy of the others, even though he can't bend.

    2.) Actually, this goes back to #1- In fact, in that final scene, I wouldn't say it was just all 4 elements that attacked Azula at once, but 5 "elements" since you had Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Physical (Sokka)

    3.) I loved that shot of the 6 of them surrounding Azula. Perfection. Why can't this be so? I demand puppies and rainbows!

    4.) HOW DARE YOU HURT/KILL/? IROH? Bad niece. Bad, Bad niece.

    5.) That fight scene, between Zuko, Azula, and Aang was perfection.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      He's still just as worthy of the others, even though he can't bend.

      No fucking kidding, he DEFLECTED Mai's darts with both his boomerang and his club! Those are pretty quick reflexes!

    • MichelleZB says:

      Though Sokka's usually more physics than physical… he's all about the brainy schemes.

  44. Emily says:

    Not that Azula's not an immensely powerful and dangerous fighter, but we should remember that she's the only one involved in the fight who's fully rested. She would find it significantly more difficult to fight Aang if he were not also fighting exhaustion, even without Zuko's help.

  45. ShinSeifer says:

    True fact: most of the stupidest, most insensitive things I've said or done, I said or did on sleep deprivation. I can really feel the tiredness in the characters throughout the episode and no doubt it was Azula's plan all along to wear them down like that. so I actually sympathyzed with all of the protagonists. What could have been a mere squabble turning into a ragey fight under the stress of the chase.
    At least the situation turned into one of the most beautiful and tender moments of the series and one of my favorite in book 2, the encounter of Toph and Iroh.

  46. @UnaMorgan says:

    Two things I'll point out before writing a longer review later:

    1) Toph and Katara are set up to be realistic, not necessarily perfect heroes. Unfortunately, when kids/siblings fight, they "go for the throat". So, yes, Katara's blind comment was below-the-belt mean, but that's what kids their age do in a more isolated setting. (I just find it ironic b/c Katara's the Group Mommy.) :-/ At least Toph gets Katara back by earth bending her into the air! XD

    2) Given the choice between attacking the Avatar – greatest enemy of the Fire Nation – or Zuko, AZULA ATTACKED HER BROTHER FIRST! What does that tell you about her personality!!

  47. djfinn says:

    Not to bring up HORRENDOUS memories, but the mongoose lizard things totally reminded me of the lizard mutts from Mockingjay.

    • Manself says:


    • Crookshanks says:

      After puzzling over where I had gotten such a vivid mental picture for those upon reading that passage, I re-watched this episode, and HOLY CHEESECAKES THAT'S WHERE HOW DID THIS GET ON A CHILDRENS CARTOON NIGHTMARES FOREVER.

  48. Hyatt says:

    When I first watched the episode, I was sooo hoping that the six of them lined up against Azula meant that they were about to join forces. But then Azula ruins it by attacking Iroh (OH NO YOU DIDN'T YOU'RE GOING TO PAY FOR THAT) and Zuko violently refuses help. Zuko, if Iroh dies from that wound, I am holding you 10% responsible for driving the Gaang away when they only wanted to help.

  49. enigmaticagentscully says:


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

    • enigmaticagentscully says:

      Yeah, sorry, the ending of this episode pretty much drove everything else from my mind. I am so scared I hope Iroh is ok…


    • audzilla says:

      I was like D: D: D: D: when Iroh got shot. But after several re-watches.. I kind of like it. Not that he got firebolted, of course, but that Azula, when outnumbered six to one, knew exactly who to strike at to cause the most (mental, emotional) chaos among the group, and who among the six was the biggest threat. Iroh was sort of the only thing keeping all six of them on the same side, and she knew that.

      <3 Iroh

  50. Matt_Thermo says:

    I'm pretty sure Azula's "Enemies and traitors all working together." line didn't help with Zuko's reaction either.

  51. enigmaticagentscully says:

    Actually, they did the whole 'sleep deprivation' thing very well in this episode, didn't they? I mean, I totally began to feel tired after a while…that's some good atmosphere there.

    In fact, it really reminded me of…AUGH SPOILERS OH NOES…can't…say…anything…

    *runs flailing from the room*

  52. tearbender says:

    I love that it looks as though the stolen ostrich horse just dumps Zuko's ass down before continuing on its way. Smart animal, getting the hell outta town before shit goes down.

    Unpopular opinion: I am really not feeling Mai. "Victory is boring?" I understand that she's supposed to be comic relief, but I fear that we're just going to be seeing the same joke over and over again. Everything bores her. Which, fine. I'm sure the Dangerous Ladies will get their character development on eventually. But right now I find it difficult to care about a character that doesn't bothered to care about anything herself.

    Azula's imitation of Zuko was fairly passable, making it just that more cruel and hilarious. She's terrifying and I love it. And I love that Aang just sits stony faced in reaction but can't help giggling at "Zuzu."

    • Nikki says:

      That is exactly my problem with Mai. Her constant boredom and complaints of being bored bore the hell out of ME. It's a shame, really, because she is a badass and could be pretty cool if she was less dull.

  53. Ryan Lohner says:

    Have you noticed yet how Zuko's hair is growing in realistically since he cut his topknot off? It must have been hell on the animators, but it's very cool to see.

  54. isoycrazy says:

    I love this episode as well. I would point out Sokka joined in on the attack as well

    The character building in this episode was some of the best of the series. And the bonds of friendship we see forged are wonderful. To borrow from Harry Potter, 'There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and [facing a crazy firebender] is one of them.'

    I also loved the fact Aang did not laugh at Azula's impression of him, though that could be from fatigue. I am not sure.

    • Matt_Thermo says:

      I always assumed that he was just off-put by her making a cruel joke (using her hand to imitate the scar) about her own brother. While Aang doesn't know how Zuko got the scar, I just don't see him laughing at someone making fun of someone else's disfigurement. Even if the person in question is an enemy.

  55. Moonie says:

    I'm not sure if anyone pointed this out yet, but Toph is played by the same girl who voiced Meng! (The little girl with the braids in The Fortuneteller.)

    • Matt_Thermo says:

      In the Artbook (which is something I really really recommend Mark buy, but not until the series is done of course. It's a cornucopia of spoilers) the creators mention how much they liked Meng's voice actress (Jesse Flowers), and that they were always trying to find another role for her to play. Once they decided to make Toph a girl, Jesse was immediately their first and only choice to voice her.

  56. Hotaru_hime says:

    Iroh + Toph better than Iroh + Zuko relationship yes?
    Anyway, I love that Azula and company relentlessly track the GAang, but I wonder at how those tanks can go over all that terrain… I mean, I know they switch to lizards, but I think Appa can cover more ground than they can and can easily fly over difficult terrain, but then what do I know?
    I do hate that Iroh was distracted by Toph's appearance with the GAang because if he wasn't can you imagine all six of them taking Azula down?!? I think if the GAang hadn't been so exhausted they could have defeated Azula then and there and then…!
    Well, we can always imagine.
    Poor Zuko. Sometimes you just want to pet him and tell him everything is going to be OK.

    • @Ahavah22 says:

      No, Iroh considers Zuko his son! Their relationship makes me want to cry!
      Toph needed a supportive granddad figure, and meeting Iroh was good for her. Iroh probably wants a new niece (y'know, someone who won't strike him with lightning?) So it works out perfectly! YAY! 🙂

  57. Jaxx_zombie says:

    Their lack of sleep reminds me of myself on a daily basis due to insomnia….. they now know my pain.

  58. Nadège says:

    Oh, haha, I love how you discovered the medium of anime 😀 I'm not gonna say all anime is fantastic, but it's still awesome! Maybe you should do a "mark watches…." about a real anime series (seeing as avatar is american)? My personal favourite remains Death Note, it also was the first anime I ever saw (apart from Pokémon and stuff ofcourse :p ). Which kinda says weird things about me, as I only began to watch it because of the title… :p

    • @Ahavah22 says:

      Oh, if Mark is going to watch an anime even on par with Avatar, it should be a grand fantasy! I think Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood are more similar to Avatar than Death Note, Naruto or Bleach (no offense to Shonen Jump fans. I love Naruto, myself!)

      Other good choices are Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit and The Twelve Kingdoms. Some people have recc'd Princess Tutu. I haven't seen the whole of that show, myself, but if you want to talk about subverting gender roles: BADASS. MALE. CHARACTER. DANCING. BALLET!!!!!

      What do you guys think of Durarara? I never finished that one, either, but it's starting on Adult Swim soon! (SO EXCITED!!!!) Is it Mark-worthy?

      • agrinningfool says:


        THIS. Excuse me, I'll be in my bunk.

      • With respect, no anime is on par with Avatar: The Last Airbender.

        • @Ahavah22 says:

          I'd agree, except anime is a medium, not a genre, so comparing one animated show in the U.S. that falls into a specific "Action/Adventure/Fantasy" genre with all the animated shows from Japan which can fall into every genre imaginable, is an unfair comparison

          Avatar: The Last Airbender and say, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (the hard science fiction police procedural aimed at adults) are two completely different types of shows. There are also family dramas, romcoms, historical fiction, biographies, sitcoms, soap operas, serialized mysteries, and every other type of show imaginable animated in Japan (and elsewhere). Apples, oranges, unfair comparisons and all that.

          Now, if you were to argue that no shonen (aimed primarily at boys) action/adventure/fantasies (such as Naruto, Bleach, Inuyasha, etc) are on par with Avatar, I'd agree with you.

          Except Fullmetal Alchemist comes pretty. damn. close. 😉

    • ShinSeifer says:

      Agreed! I already mentioned it in the Zuko Alone review, I would love to see Mark Watches Death Note, even in the far future. I'm of the opinion that Death Note in particular is an excellent gateway series for japanimation. first of all, it is quite serious and prone to over-analysis, which Mark loves. secondly, it doesn't play on many anime tropes that can often discourage the inexperienced western viewers (you know, cheesy fight scenes where everyone calls their attacks and the like).
      It is not the first anime series I've seen, by far, but I know many people that refused to see "japanese cartoons" before I or someone else made them watch Death Note.

      Stuff like Fullmetal Alchemist, which I adore, I think would be a little, I don't know… underwhelming, or at keast offputting, right after Avatar. So I don't think Mark should watch something too similar in scope and genre to Avatar… better to begin with a different genre.
      Stuff like Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is absolutely off limits. To appreciate that, one should first know the tropes it exaggerates! That would be a very poor choice for the first anime.

      • FlameRaven says:

        It's a nitpick, but I have to say it– it's anime, or Japanese animation. Not 'Japanimation.'

        • ShinSeifer says:

          Fair enough. I just liked how it sounded, even though I normally just say "anime", because "japanimation" doesn't even exist in my language

    • Nadège says:

      Omg, if Mark would watch Death Note, that would totally make my life! Even though I don't think my friends would be that happy about me going into fangirl modus again :p
      And to the person who said Naruto and Bleach are similar to Death Note, I don't think so at all, aren't they like totally different (nothing against Bleach and Naruto or anything, I absolutely love both).
      And I totally agree with ShinSeifer, Death Note would be a great gateway to anime!

      • FlameRaven says:

        They're very different. Naruto and Bleach both are in the shonen fight genre; something like 80% of the stories are fight scenes. (Haven't seen much of Naruto, but I saw a lot of Bleach before I gave up.) Death Note on the other hand is like 80% plot 10% philosophy and 10% fantasy. There are few if any fight scenes, and I think over half the text is just characters thinking.

  59. beeftony says:

    Yeah, I knew you were going to react this way to the scene with Toph and Iroh. Pure awesomeness, it is.

    I'm surprised you didn't mention how much of a wrench this throws into your theory that Zuko and Iroh will eventually join Team Avatar, since Zuko doesn't seem particularly open to the idea of even receiving help from Katara at the end there. Then again, we're not even halfway through the season.

    Oh, and Azula escaped the same way Jeong Jeong did: by using the Disappearing Fire technique. Only in this case she used the door, thereby exiting stage left (OMG I just got that).

  60. Patrick721 says:

    Because she would slap some sense into him. By hitting him with rocks. Because that's how earthbenders solve everything; hit the problem with rocks until it goes away.

  61. daigo says:

    Oh and a couple new terms:

    Azula + Mai + Ty Lee are often referred to as "Ozai's Angels."

    The tension where Azula, Aang, and Zuko stare each other down in the middle of the street before the three-way fight? Classic Mexican standoff. Apparently it was very difficult for the animators to coordinate that battle, but it was so worth it.

  62. bookgal12 says:

    I have been super busy and have not had time to watch/post comments. I am glad to be back on track! I like this episode a lot besides the scene between Toph and Iroh which warms my heart forever.
    <img src=""&gt;
    I want this to keep happening. I wish there was a tea drinking scene between Iroh and Team Avatar.

    Anyways, I also was glad that having Toph join the group wasn't done with a sensibility that everyone would get along and things would be dandy. Bringing new people into a group of friends is not easy and this episode emphasizes that conflict that can result from it.

    As for the duel at the end of the episode, it did remind me of the western duels of old and I really like how this show can use genres to their advantage. I was awestruck with the end where everyone came together to bend Azula into submission. The attack on Iroh made me so sad, I echoed Zuko's cry. This cliffhanger makes me really anxious about the coming episode.

  63. Geo says:

    Azula's blue fire shield thing is the same move Zuko used in the Waterbending Master to survive the bombing on his ship. She's stronger and more skilled, probably why she's able to generate such a big bang with the defensive move and get out.

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

    • agrinningfool says:

      I love how his hands are MITTENS.. cause that's animation folks. &gt;D *Former Art Student.. not ragging on the animation. IT IS AWESOME.*

  64. Lariren says:

    I love this episode. Hell I love this episode and the past two so so much! I do love how everyone converges in one place and how characters you never expect to interact do. Although the awesome embodied in Toph/Iroh means that they can only have tea or the world will explode.

    OMG I never realized until now how heartless Katara's comment was. I seriously always thought it was because of the tent but apparently I manage to forget she can't see (which might be a brilliant move of the show to illustrate how capable she is in the show that watchers forget she's different).

    Ty Lee! I love her here! Her and Mai! I also love Mai's nail polish. Azula's impersonation of her brother is priceless. I also love how the things she sets fire to then burn orange. Just something I like.

    I always wondered about Zuko's turning away of Katara's offer to help heal until I remembered he has no idea she can do that.

  65. Caterfree10 says:

    TEEHEE, this episode was one of the reasons I *KNEW* you'd love this season so much. <3 AND IT ONLY GETS BETTER. BUT I CAN'T ELABORATE BECAUSE SPOILERS. *FLAILS*

    Also, there's a door near where Azula was cornered by the Gaang + Iroh and Zuko which she used to escape during the element explosion. Or at least, that's the generally accepted theory and I'm fairly sure Word of God confirmed it in a later interview, though I can't remember off the top of my head. :V

    Proof from the ep:


  66. stefb says:

    Watch the very first scene where Zuko and Azula are fighting each other in the first episode this season, and then look at how much he's improved since then. It's not that he was a terrible fighter, but he let his temper and impulsiveness get the better of him because Azula just makes him so damn angry.

    I love, love, LOVE Ty Lee's excitement over 'clumps'. "CLUMPS! They're CLUMPS!"

    And a comment on 'Zuko Alone' that I forgot to mention: Ozai may be an asshole but damn DOES HE HAVE AN AWESOME GOATEE.

  67. @Ahavah22 says:

    Okay, everyone basically covered the awesomeness of this episode; but I still got a few things to say:

    1> Zuko Alone is one of my favorite eps in Season 2, but by the time I got to it the comments were overflowing! So I hope you don't mind if I point out a couple things here:
    —Freud would have a field day analyzing the Fire Nation Royal Family! Each parent favors the child of the opposite gender. Furthermore, Ozai is disappointed in, and I believe threatened by, his son. Why threatened? Well, think about how he gained the thrown and power…a lot of ambiguity there…and then a few years later he finds it necessary to nit pick Zuko, BURN HIM, AND THROW HIM OUT OF THE COUNTRY!!! Why isn't he threatened by his daughter? Well, first of all, she's younger, and therefore not a direct threat to his power. Secondly, she's a girl. The Fire Nation isn't sexist, but neither is America (IMHO) and neither of them have ever had a female head of state. On top of that she's very talented and obedient, and who knows? Maybe he sees a bit of himself mirrored in the sadistic side of her personality.

    Royal families are always so messed up and dysfunctional and I love it because they reflect my reality more than "happy TV families" on sitcoms and the like! (The dysfunctional part, not the "if-you-die-I'll-gain-ultimate-power" part. which, admit-ably, seems to fuel the dysfunction).

    —If no one pointed it out on Friday, I ,have to point it out here: Lee's family has the LEAST. KOSHER. OR. HALAL. FARM. EVER!!! Seriously, did they have to cross every animal with a pig?!

    On to "The Chase," which continues the Western Theme! "I'm a cowboy, on an ostrich-horse I ride, I'm wanted (wanted) Dead or Alive" ~Bon Jovi captures Zuko's situation so well!!!

    That fight is one of the most amazing things I've ever seen animated! I love how no one is reciting a soliloquy about his/her motives or wondering who they should fight based on gender, or even hesitating. They just fight! take note, action shows! 😀

    And how proud am I of Aang? Facing the problem head on instead of running away, as a conscious decision! He's so brave!!!

    Azula is so EVIL!

    i wish Ty Lee were my BFF, Mai my snark-buddy, and Uncle my Uncle!!!

    This episode rocks in every imaginable way, and you guys rock for giving it the love and serious discussion it deserves! 🙂

  68. Jay Gatsby says:

    I'd die to get the chance to see Toph and Zuko interact with each other!

    This is further proof of how brilliant the writing is. You really feel like each character has a personality, individual motives, goals, biases, and fears.

  69. The first time I watched the show, I remember saying, "Okay, THIS is my favorite fight scene!" every single episode. The Azula showdown is a PERFECT example.

    "SUGAR QUEEN?!?"

  70. Colin says:

    "Of course we could have gotten further if Toph didn't have such issues."

    Did anyone notice how Toph involuntarily shattered the earth under her hands when Katara blamed her for the whole mess? At the time, I thought, "If that had been Katara's head… I bet Toph wishes it was."

    Just how physically strong is Toph? Traditional Earthbending seems to emphasise strength than the other disciplines if the typical practitioner is anything to go by; airbenders are wiry, firebenders span the range from wiry to muscled, waterbenders are slim and earthbenders are almost always muscular.

  71. @amyalices says:

    Hell yes. I stand by my rec in the Suggestions post (Page 9, people!)

    I love that show deeply, and it's even available online.

  72. Classtoise says:

    I love how Iroh explains so succinctly why helping someone is not wrong, regardless of their physical abilities.
    He wasn't pouring her tea because he believed she couldn't. He was pouring her tea because he was being kind.

    Also, for people amazed at how good Azula is: Zuko is average at best, and Aang, Sokka, and Katara were going on no-sleep. She's a great strategist, but she cannot take Katara, Aang, Toph, AND Sokka at once in an enclosed space. She took out Iroh for a reason (he was a well-rested and powerful bender who could redirect her most dangerous attacks with ease).

  73. Macy says:

    I know she's totally evil and everything, BUT I FUCKING LOVE AZULA.

    Also, Toph and Iroh are, once again, the best characters ever.

  74. tearbender says:

    "Too bad you can't see them, Toph!"
    My very first OH NO YOU DIDN'T moment while watching the show. Thanks, Katara!

    I love this episode. And I love Katara AND Toph. Though admittedly I was steamed at Toph's attitude upon my first viewing. Because she was rude, there's no denying that, and I did want to gnash my teeth every time she said "I pull my own weight." Now I understand that she's still finding her place within the group and they're adjusting to her. Plus I think some of Katara's anger stems from disappointment- from the glimpse of her village we got in the first season, it seems like she and Sokka are the only teenagers still around. Just like being the sole adolescent male had an obvious affect on Sokka's behavior, and Katara has probably been even more isolated in that sense, and Toph not being what she expected in finally having another girl on the team.

    Which is part of why I just adore Katara to pieces. She's a real girl, one with very human strengths and flaws, and despite the temptation to thrust her completely into the often thankless matronly, "nagging," "sensible one" role in the group. She's capable of letting her temper and emotions get the best of her, resulting in the moment of cruelty we see in this episode. I like that this is a character I can get angry at, and not feel guilty about doing so, because I'm meant to. So often in fandom, there are characters where the writers obviously have mentally drawn halos or devil horns on their characters and lord help the fans who don't always see the same.

    Yet at the very end of the episode we see her willing to aid the guy's who's chased them around the world, kidnapped Aang and tied her to a tree because his uncle is hurt.

  75. @Ahavah22 says:

    Death Note, Naruto and Bleach all ran in the same manga (comics) magazine in Japan: Weekly Shonen Jump. Which also ran/still prints some other really great manga such as Dragon Ball and Bakuman (done by the same artist and writer team as Death Note).

    I see what y'all are saying though: since anime is a medium that can showcase a variety of genres, it would be cool if Mark watched an anime that is completely different from Avatar.

    Death Note is not only completely different, it has smart writing, but it's also quite flawed (one competent female character. Is that too much to ask for?!)

    I like the idea of Cowboy Bebop better, simply because it's completely original. It was not based on a manga or book series like most anime are. The writing is smart, the characters are quirky, and it has the most incredible soundtrack! YOKO KANNO IS A GENIUS AND BRILLIANT.

    • ShinSeifer says:

      I'm aware of the fact that all that manga are published in the same magazine, however they are only linked together by the fact they're aimed at the same demographics, i.e. Shonen, "young boys". But actually each one belongs to a different genre.
      I agree on the relative lack of good female characters in Death Note. I always assumed the author simply was not too confortable with female characters.
      And yes, on a close analysis, Cowboy Bebop may be an even better choice. In any case, Cowboy Bebop and Death Note are my favorite anime, so I will be absurdly happy whichever Mark would actually choose!

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