Mark Watches ‘Avatar’: S02E10 – The Library

In the tenth episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender, the group takes time to give themselves a bit of personal fun by granting each member a “mini-vacation.” On Katara’s “vacation,” Sokka learns of a place that might grant him information he needs to help defeat the Fire Nation. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Avatar.

There seriously is no stopping from here on out, is there?

What started out was one of the sillier episodes I’d seen so far quickly became HEAD-MELTINGLY RIDICULOUS and then ended on THE WORST CLIFFHANGER YET. And now I’m getting the feeling that I really should just strap myself in at this point, because there’s no possible way all of this is going to be resolved quickly and in a way to allow us to take a break from the chaos.

I suppose that’s sort of the point of what happens here in “The Library.” Team Avatar has largely been in GO GO GO GO GO mode for an absurd length of time, only stopping to rest. The timeline that remains before Sozin’s Comet arrives is shortening rapidly, so it’s completely understandable that they really haven’t had time to take pause. Given recent events, it’s also entirely understandable that these kids deserve even the slightest break from the reality of the war with the Fire Nation. I’m assuming the “trip” that opens the episode is Aang’s choice, as he takes them to a location where groundhogs respond obediently to notes that Aang plays on his flute. (Side note: Are these groundhogs the first truly “normal” creature we’ve seen so far? They’re not a hybrid like I’m used to.)

For all of Katara’s practicality, I was impressed that it was Sokka’s insistence that they stop monkeying around and try to find “intelligence” on the Fire Nation. And he certainly brings up a good point: once Aang masters all four elements, what exactly are they supposed to do after that? How can they defeat Fire Lord Ozai if no one knows where he lives?

As they promise to search for Sokka’s “intelligence” after they’ve done their little vacations, Katara uses Aang’s map to find the place she wants to go for her trip. She chooses the Misty Palms Oasis and I am still a bit shocked that everyone forgets that Aang’s past happened 100 YEARS AGO. So when he says he’s been somewhere, that was precisely a century earlier. It’s because of this that they discover that Misty Palms is hardly the oasis that the name promises. Still, it proves not to be a complete bust, since through a complete accident Team Avatar comes into contact with Professor Zei, an anthropologist at Ba Sing Sei University. (There’s that city again. When are we finally going to see what’s inside of it?) Professor Zei is a man consumed with the quest for expanding his horizons, a seeker of knowledge in all its forms, genuinely interested in the world around him. Naturally, meeting the only remaining air bender excites him to no end, and he prances around Aang, treating him like a rare specimen in a lab instead of…well, Aang.

It’s a good thing he’s so good-natured, as I imagine his form of interest could have gotten irritating, but the man has such innocent intentions that he proves to be utterly harmless. It’s refreshing to meet someone who shares a curiosity and respect of the world like Uncle Iroh does, yet doesn’t resemble that man at all. Being an anthropologist, he applies an academic approach to the way he assimilates information from the world into his brain, almost like he’s got a catalogue in his mind.

It’s this specific catalogue that Sokka is interested in, as he questions Professor Zei as to whether he knows much about the Fire Nation or possesses a map of some sort. Zei doesn’t, but he does have a map of all of his expeditions out in the desert to find the Knowledge Spirit’s library, which is possibly the best bet to learn more information about the Fire Nation itself. It’s Sokka’s best opportunity and, in a moment that feels like it was lifted right out of an after school specially, he dramatically declares that his vacation spot will be the library.

Wise choice, my friend.

Professor Zei continues to be overly excited by everything, though I can’t blame his reaction to seeing Appa, as I’m sure I’d be far, far worse. This was also our first introduction to sand benders! I’d never even considered that this was a type of bending that could actually happen, but sand is part of the earth, so it totally makes sense. A group of sand benders is standing around Appa, clearly interested in him, but Professor Zei shoos them off. (OMG FORESHADOWING THAT I DIDN’T EVEN CATCH.)

As the journey in the air to locate the library of the Knowledge Spirit continues to stretch on and on, it’s clear exactly why Professor Zei could never find it. The desert expanse seems to stretch on forever, and with no clear landmarks, how are you supposed to know where you are? Sokka, however, is the first to spot something in that desert that’s not a sand dune: a small tower jutting out of the ground. When they head over to it and it seems about as nondescript and pointless as possible, they watch, mystified, as a fox literally scales the vertical wall of the tower and waltzes right into a window while carrying a scroll in its mouth. Surely, this must be the handsome foxes Professor Zei spoke of earlier, no?

The group splits up at this point. Aang keeps his promise to Appa and doesn’t make him come underground again, and Toph remains outside because books hold little interest to her, since she cannot read them. I didn’t initially get why the writers were splitting them up, but…ok, I’ll get to that.

Inside the massive, gorgeous structure that is the library, it’s not long before the Knowledge Spirit, named Wan Shi Tong, appears before Team Avatar. At first, I nearly peed myself because I thought that was Koh again, but Wan Shi Tong appears in the form of a giant owl. The writers introduce a really fascinating moral quandary here: Wan Shi Tong is resistant towards letting these four peruse the library because, time and time again, humans have shown that they will use knowledge to harm or oppress other humans, and Wan Shi Tong initially refuses to let them stay. (AND HOW FUCKING AMAZING IS IT THAT THEY CONFIRM THAT ADMIRAL ZHAO WENT TO THIS LIBRARY TO LEARN ABOUT THE WATER AND MOON SPIRITS??!?!?!) Sokka, in perhaps his most poorly told lie yet, promises the Knowledge Spirt that he will not do such a thing, even asking Aang to “vouch” for him as the Avatar. As a condition to allowing them to use the library, Wan Shi Tong asks for each person to offer a gift to the library, but heavily insinuates that this promise is not to be broken.

That’s sort of what I wish this episode explored a bit more. Team Avatar believe that what they are doing is an exception to the rule, and you can tell by the way that Sokka operates in the library that he knows he’s bending the truth in order to justify what he’s doing. We all know that defeating the Fire Nation at this point is a necessity, as the loss of life and freedom is astronomical at this point. We also know that whatever information Team Avatar can find in the library might very well assist them in a much-needed victory. So how do you get around the fact that Wan Shi Tong is very correct about why these people are currently in his library? How can you blame his complete anger when he discovers what Sokka has done?

This is made all the more complicated when Sokka discovers an old, burnt parchment with a date and a brief mention of the “darkest day” of the Fire Nation. Convinced that this is the key he needs for his plan, Sokka directs the rest of the group to where the Fire Nation books/info is held, only to discover that fire benders have already been there and destroyed all of the evidence. (How does that work? At what point did they arrive in a way that Wan Shi Tong allowed them to enter that hall and burn it down? I mean, surely there are some Fire Nation heads stuffed on a mantle somewhere in that library because of it.)

After one of the scholar foxes gets the attention of the group, it leads them all to a planetarium, providing us with one of the cooler scenes in all of season two. That planetarium is absolutely mystical, an unexpected journey to a place I’d not thought existed in the Avatar world, though, in hindsight, it makes sense that someone would have studied the stars. It’s in this planetarium that Sokka learns that the darkest day for the Fire Nation is a literal description: that specific date was a solar eclipse.

AND OH MY GOD THAT IS AMAZING. It’s such a direct parallel to Zhao learning about how to invoke a lunar eclipse from the end of season one, and even further builds into the complicated moral system this story addresses. THE FIRE NATION HAS A WEAKNESS L;ASDJ F;A SAKDFJ  AS;FUW 8A;KFSDJ A;AIDSF :J *(D^^5^D7F8

Thanks to Sokka and his desire to vocalize nearly everything that pops into his brain, Wan Shi Tong appears, knowing that they’ve been betrayed, and in a moment of cathartic rage, the Knowledge Spirit begins to sink the whole library.

It’s at this point that I understood why the writers separated Toph from the rest of the group. Outside, she is faced with a most impossible situation. She realizes that the tower is sinking into the sand, but even a powerful earth bender like her is not well-versed in art of sand bending, explaining why she was talking to Appa earlier about how the sand made her vision “fuzzy.” As she does her best to dig deep into the sand for support, a horrifying reality becomes apparent: the sand benders from earlier are rapidly coming closer to where Appa and Toph are, and we know the inevitable.

They are going to steal Appa.

Back inside the library, Team Avatar rushes away from the planetarium in an attempt to escape the now-angered Wan Shi Tong, but Sokka hesitates. The knowledge of the Fire Nation’s weakness is good information, but he knows it is not enough. He needs a date for that knowledge to be actionable, and so he tells Aang to come with him back to the planetarium as Zei, Momo, and Katara flee from the furious Knowledge Spirit.

As the situation outside the library becomes even more hopeless, we’re given a moment of clarity in the planetarium as Sokka and Aang determine the correct date of the next solar eclipse, which is thankfully before the date that Sozin’s Comet will plunge into earth. But even armed with this game-changing information, they have no idea how horrific their trip to the library has proved to be. Toph is now aware that people have arrived and are trying to kidnap Appa, but the decision she’s presented with is simply too unbearable: does she remove her grasp on the tower, allowing it to sink and bury alive her newfound friends? Or does she continue to hold on, saving them, but inevitably allowing Appa to be stolen away to certain danger? In this moment, the writers have put Toph, the most certain individual of the entire group, in the most horrifically uncertain situation imaginable. There are no good choices given to her. Whatever she chooses to do, she will definitely fail at saving someone. And thus, she chooses to allow Appa’s kidnapping in order to save her friends, and when Team Avatar escapes (predictably leaving Professor Zei behind), we can see the anguish in her face. This has broken her. She made a choice that was probably the least worse of the two, but neither one was particularly enjoyable to her.

My only hope is that in the coming episode, Aang, who is SUPREMELY HEARTBROKEN here at the end of “The Library,” does not excoriate Toph for the awful decision she had to make. I hope that Toph realizes that she did what she thought was best, that she was presented with an impossibility, and that Team Avatar appreciates her for saving their lives.

But fucking hell, you all. Shit just got so real.


  • “That’s called Sokka Style! Learn it!”
  • THERE ARE CREATURES CALLED LION TURTLES? what. I much prefer turtle ducks.
  • “Aang, did you know that you were left-handed in one of your past lives?” “I always knew I was special!” ;LSADKF AS;DKFJ A;SDKFJ ADS;FK
  • “Are fruit pies an agricultural product?”

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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414 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Avatar’: S02E10 – The Library

  1. Modern Home says:

    Cheers meant for making the effort to discuss it, Personally i think passionately concerning this and even love knowing additional for this topic. When possible, while you increase abilities, does one spirit posting your website with additional knowledge? It is most of great help for everybody.

  2. kaleidoscoptics says:

    I'm pretty sure that woman's cat from Blue Spirit was just a cat.

    "A group of sand benders is standing around Appa, clearly interested in him, but Professor Zei shoos them off. (OMG FORESHADOWING THAT I DIDN’T EVEN CATCH.)"

    omg how did I not see that. ;_;

    Okay, so most of the awesome in this episode is overtaken by… not secondhand embarrassment, but I want to grab both the boys and just tell them to stop lying already. Seriously, Sokka. The giant immortal owl spirit tells you that he won’t let his knowledge be used for war. What do you do? Not the smartest thing ever, that’s what. Seriously, just let the bumbling archaeologist have fun in the awesome library and don’t piss off mister owl. It's a very realistic and in-character thing for him to do, it is just really stupid.

    However, the firebender / sun connection this brings up again is really cool. It makes sense. We saw that when the moon was gone, waterbenders were defenseless. It fits that when the sun is blocked, firebenders would have similar problems. It’s a really cool little connection that makes the world seem so much more thought-out.

    The end, though! ;_; Appaaaa. Aang can’t lose his BFF. And poor Toph stuck between saving her friends or saving Appa. This is such a terrible cliff hanger. But on the other hand, Toph held up an entire palace-sized structure that was being pulled down by the immortal spirit owl.

    At the LIBRARY!!! Best. Vacation. Ever.
    The groundhog orchestra was so cute and very Aang.
    “That’s what it’ll sound like when one of you spots it.” Okay, I kind of love you, Toph.

  3. arctic_hare says:


    Also, SURPRISE! I get to use this picture ONE MORE TIME!

    <img src=""/&gt;

    😀 Because this is the same hidden library that Zhao discovered the info about Tui and La's forms in. PRETTY NEAT THAT THEY FOLLOWED UP ON THAT, RIGHT? I think so, anyway!

    Seriously, though, the library here is one of my favorite settings so far in the show. Ordinary libraries are great enough in themselves, but this one is particularly badass and epic and I can't blame Professor Zei one bit for wanting to stick around when Team Avatar was leaving. If I could get food somehow while in there, I'd be perfectly content to while away my days reading all it had to offer too. I think Wan Shi Tong would like me very much. :3 We'd get along wonderfully and he would never have to chase me around and try to kill me and I'd just read for the joy of reading and learning and be an ideal library patron and happy happy joy joy~

    It's also completely gorgeous, I share Zei's awe at it. SO BEAUTIFUL. And is it wrong that I kind of want to snuggle Wan Shi Tong? I just love owls and birds in general, okay? If that's wrong, I don't WANT to be right. <3 I shook my head disapprovingly at Sokka and Aang lying to him, though. I mean, I know they need to gain knowledge on the Fire Nation, but I really think it's a bad idea to lie to spirits, they should be showing more respect.


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


    The planetarium the cute little fox leads them to is also made of awesome, I could spend hooooooours in there just fiddling about with it. <3 <3 <3 I agree with Aang, Sokka picked the best mini-vacation.

    Of course, he then screws it all up by blurting out what they need to do with the information they just learned. GOOD GOING, SOKKA. It's time for Team Avatar to get the hell out of Dodge before the library sinks, while also avoiding a very very pissed off giant owl spirit, which is easier said than done. While they're doing that, Toph is making her best effort to keep the place from going down… and then THE WORST THING EVER TO HAPPEN TO THEM HAPPENS: SOME SANDBENDING ASSHOLES STEAL APPA. D:! NOOOOOOO~ The sequence when he's taken away is so awful: Toph was trying to save him, but she also needs to keep the library from sinking, and she can't do both by herself, she's only one person. So despite her best efforts, Appa is dragged away and poor Toph blames herself. I just want to hug her when she apologizes to Appa.

    The mini-vacations are over. Shit has now gotten painfully real. They know when the next eclipse is going to be, and need to get that info to Ba Sing Se in order to plan an invasion that could end the war… but Appa is gone. 🙁 🙁 🙁 This is not good. Not good at all.

    Other stuff:

    – Don't hate, Sokka. Aang's orchestra is awesome and adorable!

    – I am completely with you on the mango, though, Sokka. Mmmmm, maaaaaaaaaaaaaango. <3 <3 <3

    – The thought that Appa is the last of his kind is heartbreaking. I don't want him to be the last, because then sky bisons will be extinct when he dies (nooooo~ live forever, Appa~) and species extinction is one of the SADDEST THINGS IN THE WORLD TO ME. T_T


    – I don't understand why you wouldn't want to snuggle Appa, though, Toph. 🙁

    – "I could spend an eternity in here." YOU AND ME BOTH. WE ARE ~KINDRED SPIRITS~ PROFESSOR.

    – APPA ;_;

  4. Bonzu says:

    Noooooo. Appaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!111(10/9)

  5. @maybegenius says:

    Well la dee da.

    <img src=""&gt;

    This episode is wonderful and more than a little upsetting. The stakes are being raised and the reality of their task is bearing down on them. But there's also some great humor.

    God, Toph. I love her sardonic humor and the subtle pokes at Team Avatar's assumptions — they are not blind, so it simply doesn't occur to them to remember or recognize what Toph's perception is. They rarely think about it until she points it out.

    <img src=""&gt;

    I mean, yes, the joke itself is a little easy, but IDK. Love it. I also found the changes to her sensitivity on sand to be interesting. So far, she's been incredibly powerful (I mean, girl HOLDS UP AN ENTIRE LIBRARY. OMG OMG OMG.), but even she has her weaknesses. More believability that way.

    I really love it when this show introduces some variations to the traditional four-element bending, like Swamp Benders and Sand Benders. Technically they're Water and Earth, respectively, but they've found new and unique ways to use what they have access to. I like it. Not when they use it for the evil that is stealing Appa, though 🙁 APPA, NOOOOOOOO :((((

    When Wan Shi Tong gets pissed and starts chasing everyone around, the way his neck extends out and his movements always remind me of No Face from Spirited Away lghfs;g87ya[8yfg;odfhgfhgkdhg;as SO UNNERVING

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

    Dude had a point, though. Everyone thinks their war is justified. Everyone. As much as the Fire Nation is painted as violence-loving brutes, they're not going to war for shits and grins. They're doing it because they believe their culture to be superior, like they're "gifting" it to the other nations. Also, potentially power/land/resources, I'm not sure. It's an incorrect and ass-backwards assumption, but it's what they believe. At least, it's what the general people believe via propaganda. I'm still not entirely convinced Ozai is anything other than just really fucking mean.

    I have to say that I really feel for Wan Shi Tong here. He's interested in the pursuit of knowledge. I imagine that at one time he was very keen to share it (because what's the point of having all that wisdom and no one to share it with?), but he's been repeatedly burned by people who want to use said knowledge selfishly. And once again, he is disappointed. No joke, he's become a scary, head-displaying, murderous dude now, but… yeah. I can see where he's coming from. How awful, to feel like your greatest love is always being used for nefarious purposes.

    Still, though, as much as I gave Sokka the side-eye in this episode (srsly, buddy, stealing scrolls and getting a wee bit of the bloodlust), I still loves that he can show the spirit that HE DOES TOO HAVE HIS OWN KNOWLEDGE. That'll show Wai Shi Tong for telling him he isn't very bright.

    <img src=""&gt;

    And then to finish off that traumatic experience, there's Appa. Oh, Appa :(((((((((((


    • xpanasonicyouthx says:


    • monkeybutter says:


      And another thumbs-up for the rest of your great comment! I loved what Wan Shi Tong had to say about humans, even if I am rooting for the Gaang. Everyone finds justifications for their actions; people rarely do things they believe are wrong or totally harmful. "The Greater Good" is way to frequently invoked, and I don't blame Wan Shi Tong for sinking his library (even if I'd love to live in it).

    • barnswallowkate says:

      "he's been repeatedly burned by people who want to use said knowledge selfishly"

      I see what you did there 😉

    • majere616 says:

      This episode was the only instance where I was rooting against the Gaang, because I just felt so bad for Wan Shi Tong. I mean, the last time he trusted someone with his collection they used it to KILL THE FUCKING MOON. THEN THEY BURNED AND ENTIRE SECTION OF IT. Yet he was still willing to trust them with nothing but their word as insurance. And then they steal, and vandalize and do exactly what they promised not to do. NOT COOL GUYS!

    • calimie says:

      I really disliked that Spirit for unapreciating Sokka's knot. Okay, so it's a knot, but knots are important and knowledge. It was the same with Aang's "Wanted" poster. OMG, what I wouldn't give for his "Wanted" poster! And this Spirit doesn't care either. This library had no heart.

      • @maybegenius says:

        Yeah, he was kind of a KNOWLEDGE SNOB.

        • The Welsh Pirate says:

          LOL, yeah. I could kind of see why Wan Shi Tong wasn't very impressed with Sokka's gift. If Sokka had giving him instructions detailing how to make then knot, then that would count as knowledge. But just a bit of rope with a knot in it isn't going to teach somebody much of anything. So I laughed extra hard at his "you're not very bright" comment.

          Also, I liked how Sokka's knot was shaped like a butterfly.

      • Classtoise says:

        I disliked how it was basically treating Sokka like the least intelligent, when, except for MAYBE the Professor (and obviously Wan Shi Tong) he was easily the smartest person in the library. Hell, probably for many miles (assuming there were more than just sandbenders around).

        It was kind of nice to see that he had tricked a knowledge spirit.

    • giga_puddingchu says:

      NoFace <3

  6. Avit says:

    There were the frogs in "The Blue Spirit"!

  7. Diana Kingston-Gabai says:

    Okay, so if you've seen Shrek, remember when Donkey starts singing "Ain't No Stopping Us Now"?

    That's pretty much the theme song from now on. 🙂

  8. echinodermata says:

    I love the opening bit with the "orchestra", but I truly cannot stop wincing at the animals being out of tune with Aang. IT REMINDS ME OF ELEMENTARY AND MIDDLE SCHOOL BAND, AND THOSE ARE KINDA SCARY MEMORIES.

    And hey, anthropologist! He's pretty awesome to me, and I generally like jokes about academics. Plus, ooh Ba Sing Se University. And then he gets out a little shovel to try to unbury the library. Whatever, I find him entirely endearing.

    Sandbenders get some awesome design. The clothing is insteresting, and then those vehicles are pretty sweet. And I like that sandbenders exist in the first place. Although them stealing Appa is just not on.

    Also, Toph making fun of her blindness is one of my favorite things ever. Also love the idea of her not really having much care about a library, considering she can't read. And that she wouldn't like the sand very much, since it dulls her abiility to "see".

    <img src=""&gt;
    And the the library itself is really really gorgeous, and then GIANT OWL I love it. Also love the idea of him rotating his neck as in the common horror trope, but it totally makes sense since he's an owl.
    <img src=""&gt;

    And then Toph holds up the great big library on her own for a significant amount of time because she is ridiculously awesome.

    Yeah, so I don't really have much to say about the actual plot of the episode, other than yay forward development? I love all the detail to this episode, and the small moments (like Toph not wanting to snuggle with Appa), so the plot is kind of my least concern, actually. One of the consequences of this being a rewatch, I guess.

    In conclusion, the planetarium was so pretty omg, but I particularly like the calendar itself:
    <img src=""&gt;

  9. When are we finally going to see what’s inside of it?
    Every time you ask, it moves farther away, carried on the back of a giant lion-turtle. At this point, it is somewhere in season four.

  10. Tauriel_ says:

    I love how Toph pokes fun at her blindness (or more precisely, how Team Avatar often forget that she's blind). That little wave of her hand in front of her face she does while grinning madly cracks me up every time. XD BLESS YOU, TOPH.

    BUT WTF NOOOO APPA!!!!! D: This season sure does like to have cliffhangers in which beloved characters are hurt and/or lost (first uncle Iroh and now Appa)

  11. JonT says:

    I don't think the mini-vactions were as time-wasting as they seemed. For the first time since the Pilot, Team-Avatar has no destination they need to get to. Aang's got Katara and Toph with him and can be trained on the move. Until he gets proficient enough in Earthbending, there's nowhere that he needs to be.

    The only question is if it would be wiser to hole up somewhere safe until he needs to start looking for a Firebending master or continue moving about.

  12. Tauriel_ says:


    Movie!Zhao: "You know this scroll I found in the library… have I mentioned the library? Yeah, there's this LIBRARY I found underground… So I went to this LIBRARY and found this scroll… Did I tell you about the L.I.B.R.A.R.Y. I visited once??"

    • tearbender says:

      I was quite impressed with the intricate foreshadowing in the film, the sequel of which I still await most anxiously. The subtlety M. Night uses for future plot points is matched only by his seamless direction of the fierce and synchronized movement of the earthbenders.

      • Diana Kingston-Gabai says:

        Reviews from the Mirror Universe? 🙂

      • Tauriel_ says:

        and synchronized movement of the earthbenders

        Don't you know? They were practicing for the next Avatar Olympics. Eeeeeey Macarena!

    • calimie says:

      You know, I haven't watched the movie yet, but since I finished the series, I'm kinda excited about it. I want to know just how bad it was and see the fish punching (and the mentions of the library).

    • kartikeya200 says:

      In conclusion, library.

      • MichelleZB says:

        So wait… are you saying that Zhao got his info at a library?

        Why the movie writers felt the need to spoil that little tidbit, I have no idea. It's not like they felt like including much actual info or events from Season 1 itself.

        There should be a movie drinking game for the liveblog, if Mark is indeed still watching the movie… and I'd understand if he doesn't want to!

        • Tauriel_ says:

          So wait… are you saying that Zhao got his info at a library?

          No, he got it AT THE LIBRARY! XD

          Also, I don' t know about a drinking game for this particular movie – I mean, if you had to take a shot whenever something nonsensical happens or is said in the movie, you'd pass out from alcoholic poisoning before Aang even left the South Pole… XD

  13. MissDirect says:

    Pretty much the main thing I admire in this episode is how we get to see more of Sokka and how his brain works. We've previously seen him be fairly decent at strategy, but here we see him actually proactively planning whereas the rest of them are just goofing off–I know they're all kids and they deserve a break, but Sokka does have a point about the tight schedule and the fact that as of yet they DON'T ACTUALLY HAVE A PLAN. I just think this shows the person Sokka is, likely as a result of the responsibility his father has placed on his shoulders. I love him when he's silly, but I love it even more when he kicks ass.

    But Appa, oh my soul does ache for you! And for Toph for having to make that decision.

  14. arctic_hare says:

    Team Avatar believe that what they are doing is an exception to the rule, and you can tell by the way that Sokka operates in the library that he knows he’s bending the truth in order to justify what he’s doing.

    Interesting choice of words there, my friend! Now, no one can claim that Sokka is a non-bender, because that's just not true. SOKKA IS A TRUTHBENDER.

  15. monkeybutter says:

    At first, I nearly peed myself because I thought that was Koh again, but Wan Shi Tong appears in the form of a giant owl.

    More proof that No-Face is the creepiest thing ever. He is like the ur-creep.

    I love Sokka so damn much for choosing to go to the library. I've said it before, but he's my heart and soul. A vacation AT THE LIBRARY! is a beautiful thing.

    <img src=""&gt;

    And I feel awful for Toph. She had to make an impossible decision, and I can't imagine feeling helpless — caught between two hard decisions and literally out of her element — was easy for her. Appa 🙁

  16. lilah80 says:

    "Dear Diary, Sometimes I feel like nothing I do even matters. Everyone's always so impressed with the Avatar, and I get ignored. When I regain my honor and my throne, they'll be sorry. They'll ALL be sorry! The flames will burn with an unquenchable — brb, Uncle wants me to pet a turtleduck. No one understands my pain." – Zuko

  17. tethysdust says:

    I really like this episode for pointing out two things:

    1) The Gaang has no idea what they're going to do to stop the Fire Nation. They have the vague idea "Defeat Firelord Ozai", but no real plan or strategy. What they've got here is a start (a good day to attack the Firelord!), but they still don't have a map of the Fire Nation or any idea how they could infiltrate it. They've been kind of ignoring this to focus on Aang learning bending, which is also important.

    2) Also, it points out the importance of being careful about their motivations and actions. As the Knowledge Spirit suspected, they were only seeking wisdom to defeat their enemies. Sure, the Fire Nation needs to be stopped, but they are still fighting a war. How they decide to end it, and what comes after that are, I think, important issues the Gaang need to think about. If they do defeat the Fire Nation, what's to stop the Earth Kingdom/Water Tribe from then abusing the Fire Nation in vengeance? Are they just going to end up changing the balance of power, and making their lives better at the expense of their enemies? I think they really need to think not only about how they are going to end the war, but also how they are going to achieve peace.

    Also, OMG that library was beautiful! I love libraries! And another Miyazaki-esque spirit, hooray! And poor Toph and Appa D:!

  18. Dragonsong12 says:

    Wan Shi Tong was probably one of the coolest spirits ever. I kind of loved that he was antagonistic, but you got it. You understood why and you couldn't really fault him for it. (omg I love owls)

  19. barnswallowkate says:

    VACATIONING IN THE LIBRARY Sokka are you me or are we just ~made for each other~ still.

    This is the ep where my intentions to watch slowly went straight out the window. APPA NOOOOOO WHAT WILL HAPPEN.

  20. Taryn says:

    But but but…. this is a two-parter ):>

    No review for next epi today?

    • It's not really a two-parter; Nickelodeon just packaged it that way because they were TERRIBLE AT SCHEDULING THIS SHOW.

      Season 2, Episode 9
      Original Air Date—2 June 2006

      And then they didn't air the show for over a month, so they decided to have an ~*event*~!

      Season 2, Episode 10
      Original Air Date—14 July 2006
      Season 2, Episode 11
      Original Air Date—14 July 2006

      And then they didn't air the show for TWO MONTHS, so they decided to have another ~*event*~!

      Season 2, Episode 12
      Original Air Date—15 September 2006
      Season 2, Episode 13
      Original Air Date—15 September 2006

      And then they realized that, oh, maybe we should start airing this show weekly.

      Season 2, Episode 14
      Original Air Date—22 September 2006

      …And then they started airing a new episode every two weeks. I DON'T KNOW WHY THEY HATE TELEVISION.


      • calimie says:

        For some reason, I kinda feel you're still bitter about that, right?

        That's some nonsensical schedule, it's a wonder the viewers just didn't drop off the show, what a nightmare.

        • Luckily, I'm in California, and someone on the East Coast alerted us, but oh man, I would have been so pissed if I had started the episode on my DVR and it was ten minutes in. And, if I recall, that episode had a particularly awesome first ten minutes!

          Looking at the schedule now, I can see that what they INTENDED was to have a summer hiatus, but then they threw two episodes in there anyway, and, you know, that is not how serial storytelling works. Most television shows know when hiatuses are, so they plan for episodes to have, like, a pre-hiatus cliffhanger. This season is clearly meant to be continuous, and they split it up all willy-nilly.

          • herpestidae says:

            I'm actually curious, which episode was 10 minutes early? (number please, so no spoilers)

            • hpfish13 says:

              That's the first episode I ever watched! Though, admittedly, not on tv.

            • (Hope you got the answer in your e-mail. I deleted it because it would make my comment on the awesomeness of its first ten minutes a spoiler.)

              • herpestidae says:

                I got it and… damn.

                You missed that?

                Poor, poor you. I'm so glad I had no cable and had to wait the next day for turbonick.

                That's almost as bad as, say, releasing a book that recounts the final four episodes before those episodes air.

                … Fuck NIckelodeon.

                • I got it and… damn.

                  You missed that?
                  I didn't miss any of that episode because I had been warned to tune in early beforehand, thankfully. But woe to those who did!

                  That's almost as bad as, say, releasing a book that recounts the final four episodes before those episodes air.
                  HA HA HA HA I KNOW RIGHT.

          • calimie says:

            You were really lucky, yeah! Missing half an episode because of that must have been infuriating.

            I don't get TV networks' reasonings. I just don't.

      • Coyote_Sister says:

        YES. THIS. ^ THAT.

        I saw this show in little, out-of-order pieces, because I could NEVER figure out when it was supposed to be on. That's one of the things I'm appreciating about this series of reviews! Not only is Mark (and ALL of the comment threads, ALL OF THEM) awesome, but every now and then an episode will come up that I NEVER SAW, despite how much I loved the show. I cannot BELIEVE I saw The Great Divide, but not Zuko Alone. FAIL, Nickolodeon.



          (People have mentioned that "The Great Divide" is one of the most-aired episodes because it's so utterly stand-alone.)

      • FlameRaven says:

        As bad as that was, it was EVEN WORSE for season 3. They aired the first 10 episodes once per week, then took a break for several months, and the remaining episodes were all over the place, Nick was failing to air episodes when they were being shown in other countries! Episodes 13-16 came out on DVD before episodes 15 and 16 had even aired in the US! It was completely ridiculous.

        • @redbeardjim says:

          The junior novelization of the series finale was published a couple of months before it aired! WHAT THE HELL NICK

        • Oh yeah, I remember that! I held out for a while before downloading the episodes because COME ON WE HAD TO TALK ABOUT THEM WHY HADN'T THEY ACTUALLY AIRED IN AMERICA YET WHAT THE HELL. Such an epic fail.

          • FlameRaven says:

            I was actually in Japan for the second half of Season 3 and the finale, so yeah… no way I was getting those episodes besides the Internet, and NO WAY was I missing Avatar.

  21. Kaci says:

    This isn't one of my favorite episodes, but so much plot happens in it that it's undeniably integral. THE ECLIPSE! APPA! TOPH'S CHOICE.

    And I will never not sniffle at Aang's heartbroken face at the end. ALL MY CREYS.

  22. tearbender says:

    This is one of my favorite episodes. I kind of want to go watch the cave scene from Aladdin . Plus now I can post this piece by the amazing Isaia:
    He Who Knows 10,000 Things
    <img src=""&gt;

    – "I don't usually use the word pristine."
    – "You're a living relic." "Thanks. I try."
    Why is Aang not real and why is he not my younger brother?
    Oh, Professor Zei. I hope those foxy fox spirits will take pity on him and bring him something to eat every now and then :/
    Stuffed heads? I wonder if Wa Shi Tong spent a few centuries hanging out with Koh back in the day. He's not *quite* as terrifying, but suffiecently creepy.

    The Planetarium is one of my all time favorite settings in the show. I watched the episode on my tiny computer screen, but I still feel kind of small while watching the caldendar spin and the moon and sun move.

    "Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure."
    I never thought I could love Sokka more until this episode. They have a gigantic owl spirit set on destroying them. The library is collapsing around them Aladdin style, yet he still risks it all to get the one piece of information that can give them the edge in this war. It's so fascinating to see Sokka's insecurities play out in the show because he really is the leader of this team. He's right, it's not just enough for Aang to learn the elements before the comet. I love how Sokka is still looking at the bigger picture: they know practically nothing about the Fire Nation. And bless him for playing up the bufoonery to fool Wan Shi Tong, if only temporarily.

    And finally, poor, poor Toph. What an amazing little girl. I did LOL when Sokka told her she needed to "work here a little longer" to get vacation time, and though she was as snarky as ever concerning her blindness, I did feel her isolation here. Seeing her having to make the choice, watching her hold up an entire goddamn sinking library and saving their lives while having to feel/hear Appa being kidnapped broke my heart.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      I LOVE that picture by Isaia. Her artwork is simply GORGEOUS.

    • Avit says:

      OMG you mean his name is 萬事懂?? I feel like there are all these cool referencey things that I just did not ever catch. I will set and blame their wacky pronunciationses, I will.

    • agrinningfool says:

      OMG, I love that artwork. I always have.. I was hoping someone would post it!

    • simplefaith says:

      One, Isaia's art kind of owns my soul. And two:
      "Why is Aang not real and why is he not my younger brother?"

      Right?! Aang is essentially the younger sibling I always wanted but never had.

  23. Dragonsong12 says:

    "There are a few times where she wraps herself in earth and they leave an eye hole (Bitter Work is the only example I can think of) but in general they are great about it. "

    Actually, if you check the art book for that (posted on the bitter Work review if you wanna check) the original design left a mouth hole for her to breathe, not an eye hole. The final design was a mistake that they missed until it was too late. So they thought of that, it just got flubbed.

  24. Jenny_M says:

    When I realized that Appa was gone and that they were ending this on a cliffhanger, I was like, "HAHA BUT THIS IS A KID'S SHOW. KIDS WILL BE TRAUMATIZED BY THIS."

    Funnily enough, kids are pretty resilient – I was the traumatized one.

  25. kaleidoscoptics says:

    I'm not sure if this is what they were drawing off of, but there is a type of owl that can change its appearance to ward off predators that Wan Shi Tong reminded me of. Video here.

  26. H. Torrance Griffin says:

    I have to agree that it is hard to be offended by cheap blind gags when it is the blind person making them… especially at the expense of people with working eyes.

    • shirtninjas says:

      I also love it because she totally knows that they keep forgetting she's blind… they've only known her for like… 4 episodes.

  27. Twelve says:

    You now realize that Sokka does, in fact, still have the bag that matches his belt.

  28. Vikinhaw says:

    All I could think of when Wan Shi Tong got angry was this owl.
    It did not make it any less creepy.I'm occasionally showing Avatar episodes to my niece and nephew and usually they don't get too scared (they haven't seen Koh) but this episode. You could see the tension in them. Raising their shoulders and shaking their heads side to side.

    Also: Appaaaaaaaaaaaa!

  29. arctic_hare says:

    Nice pic, but it's a spoiler, so I have to delete it.

    • @M1ssDirect says:

      Sorry– how is it a spoiler exactly? I didn't think that it was actually representing something from later in the series, but maybe I'm forgetting something?

  30. psycicflower says:

    The Spoiler blog is still in action, there just won't be any separate posts for the next little while. If you want to talk about anything just post your comment like normal in the most recent post.

  31. God, I love Toph trolling the rest of the Gaang. And Appa!!!!!!!!!!! ;_; ALL MY TEARS.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      She caught the highly infectious disease Trolliosis when she shared a cuppa with Iroh.

  32. fantasylover120 says:

    This was actually the first full episode of Avatar that I ever saw. So I have a hopeless fondness for it. First off, I am not the only bookworm who wants that library to be real, right? Also, I admit the sandpeople kind of reminded me of the similar beings in Star Wars that were on Tatooine. I don't know why, they just did.

  33. Saphling says:

    I agree with your spoiler. I seriously hadn't thought about it that way, before.

  34. chipster99 says:

    I'm not sure if that bit about the comet is considered a spoilers

  35. Tauriel_ says:

    You're right about the spoiler.

  36. Tauriel_ says:

    Of course we are! 😀

  37. herpestidae says:

    "Where is My Appa!?"
    -Mark, in several past reviews.

    See what you did! It's your fault! You jinked it!

    Question: You need to provide information to enter the library. What did Zhao give the owl to let him in?

    Booter has all the answers.

    <img src=""&gt;

  38. grav_ity says:

    This episode? Why I can't do the "one a day" thing.

  39. ABBryant says:

    Two things:

    1.) Did anyone else yell at the screen for Sokka to spit back at the sandbender who spits at him near the beginning. I mean, he just shared his water with you.

    2.) Strap on your big kid undies everyone. This is where it gets complicated.
    <img src=""&gt;

  40. thinofsubstance says:

    Oh, TOPH. For not being in the main plot of this episode, she certainly steals the show. First, with comedy (Sokka and Toph are similar that way: they're both totally hilarious) and then with badassery (SHE HELD UP A BUILDING. A BUILDING WHICH, OH YEAH, WAS BEING BROUGHT DOWN BY A VENGEFUL SPIRIT) and then with utter tragedy (APPA!!!).

    Well, there's only one way to do this.


    Toph: Look! There it is!
    Everyone: OMG WHERE??
    Toph: That's what it'll sound like when one of you spots it.

    Toph is an adorable troll and I love her for it.
    <img src=""&gt;

    [Appa and Toph chill outside.]
    Toph: So… you like flying?
    <img src=""&gt;

    [Appa and Toph chilling outside again when the library begins to sink. Appa roars.]
    Toph: I already told you, I don't want to snuggle.
    <img src=""&gt;
    (again, captions are mine; pictures are from here)

    I wish we could have seen more of Appa and Toph hanging out while the rest of the Gaang totally broke their promise to Wan Shi Tong. Given the above, I'm sure it was hilarious and heartwarming in equal measure.


    (Also…how are the Gaang going to get out of the desert now? I mean, they were flying for a pretty long time and they don't have very much water. Just in case you weren't horrified enough.)

  41. Sparky says:

    Ah, a two-parter involving a library. That can't possibly have precedent on television to end badly.

  42. @MeagenImage says:

    Aaw, poor Professor Zei. He's voiced by Raphael Sbarge, who also played Carth Onasi (romance option if you're a female Jedi in Knights of the Old Republic) and Kaidan Alenko (romance option if you're playing a female Shepard in Mass Effect).

    Oh, Bioware writers. Your insistence on providing female player characters with a SENSITIVE MAN who harbors SECRET PAIN and has TRUST ISSUES but if you can get through to him then he will LOVE YOU FOREVER is kind of insulting, but you give them all such awesome voice actors that I can't stay mad at you.

    • kartikeya200 says:

      I love Raphael Sbarge. He only has, like, one voice, but it's so recognizable, and he's so very ~giddy~ in this episode.


    • TheWelshPirate says:

      I'm still so ashamed that after all of the re-watches I've gone through with A:TLA, I never realized that was Raphael Sbarge until recently. I'M SORRY RAPH!

      Oh, and I think I heard somewhere that in Mass Effect 3, Kaidan Alenko will be available as a love interest for male Shepard as well.

  43. V whfg jnagrq gb cynl jvgu guvf guvat.

  44. enigmaticagentscully says:

    Oh Sokka, you continue to be my second favourite (IROHIROHIROH). Vacation at the library!!! YES FOREVER. Although…did anyone else kind of expect River Song and a team of Archaeologists to show up?
    No? Just me?

    But SWEET FANCY MOSES THE KNOWLEDGE SPIRIT SCARED THE CRAP OUT OF ME. Even when he was being friendly enough he was severely creepy!

    I reeeeaaally want to see Ba Sing Se…

  45. kartikeya200 says:

    <img src=""&gt;

    This episode really and truly blindsides you, because it starts out so light and goofy (singing gophers, I mean really) and then it's like 'NOPE GUESS WHAT THIS LIBRARY IS AMAZING' and then it's 'HEY LOOK, CONTINUITY' and then 'SO WOULD YOU LIKE A SERIES PLOT TURN?' and then ends with 'ALSO WE'RE GOING TO STEAL APPA BECAUSE'.

    <img src=""&gt;

    And then the episode ends. With them all stranded in the middle of the desert with no supplies and no transportation and no Appa (the worst thing of all). The episode that started with musical gophers.

    • kartikeya200 says:

      <img src=""&gt;

      The planetarium room and calendar where Sokka learns about the impending eclipse was one of the most difficult locations to conceptualize and execute.

      <img src=""&gt;

      I love the planetarium. I get giddy about planetariums, even when they're, you know, not real. True story, I was playing Fallout 3 the other day, and walked into a still working planetarium, and somehow failed to notice three super-mutants jumping me until I was nearly dead because STARS.

      <img src=""&gt;

      • @maybegenius says:

        I was playing Fallout 3 the other day, and walked into a still working planetarium, and somehow failed to notice three super-mutants jumping me until I was nearly dead because STARS.

        This would totally be me. I'm so bad at those sorts of games because I just like to LOOK AND EXPLORE everything. And then I'm like "Oh crap, something's eating my ass."

        • kartikeya200 says:

          This is why the god mode code was invented. 😀

        • Coyote_Sister says:

          Haha. That happened to me constantly in Oblivion. "Oooh, look, a waterfall! Pretty statutes! Stars! …Why am I sh– AAH WILD BOAR" My brother finally made me stop playing because I would just break into houses to read all their books.

          • kartikeya200 says:

            You are a gamer after my own heart.

          • PlatypusbearOFACTION says:

            Ahhh, that's me too. I have a save just before paradise so when i'm bored I can load that and just walk around and admire it.

      • agrinningfool says:

        …Yeah.. I remember that part in Fallout 3. Bad times.. bad times.

      • True story, I was playing Fallout 3 the other day, and walked into a still working planetarium, and somehow failed to notice three super-mutants jumping me until I was nearly dead because STARS.

        Oh, good, I'm not the only one.

    • Depths_of_Sea says:

      And then the episode ends. With them all stranded in the middle of the desert with no supplies and no transportation and no Appa (the worst thing of all). The episode that started with musical gophers.

      Which is why you should never ever underestimate Avatar or its writers.

  46. Lindsay says:

    I just realized that this could totally be read as spoilery. Feel free to delete, and I'm sorry!

    Uh…this episode is awesome! I love love love that you think its going to just be goofy ("Vacation….TO THE LIBRARY!!!!!!!") and then the ending is like a punch in the gut.

  47. lastyearswishes says:

    (Deleted my previous comment because I may or may not have said something spoiler-y. Rather be safe than sorry!)

    ugh Appa. ;-; This is my least favorite story arc because it feels like my heart is being ripped out and stomped on every time I watch it. :'(

  48. ShinSeifer says:

    I assumed it was implicit. Roku said Sozin's Comet was first used by fire lord Sozin to start the war, and the same comet is now, after 100 years, returning to orbit the earth, granting immense powers to firebenders. There's no word about it colliding with the earth.
    also, if that was the case, the threat of the firebenders would be a VERY VERY secondary one! XD

    • lastyearswishes says:

      That's what I always figured as well but I've still deleted my comment just to be safe!

  49. Alex says:

    … are not prepared Mark. not prepared at all.

    god damn you spoilers…. /keeps mouth shut/ :X

  50. shirtninjas says:

    Sokka is a TRUTHBENDER.

    • shirtninjas says:

      Ahh! Second one to point it out. Goddangit. Well this episode kicks 11 asses on a scale of 10 (as do most of the episodes). Also: I LOVE the scene with the four of them trying to gain entrance to the library (and I love it that the professor's contribution is his own private journal. Also also: "It's a special knot!! That counts, right?" "You're not very bright, are you?")

  51. Pelleloguin says:

    Oh heavens why was Appa kidnapped! They are in a desert, how can they get out without their six legged, ten ton, flying buddy?! I can not have been the only one demanding my TV to air more episodes right now because I need to see what happens to Appa. Talk about a dark turn of events. First: Singing gophers. Second: LIBRARY! Third: Library sinking. And finally: Appa gets kidnapped. Not funny, writers. Not funny.

  52. linguisticisms says:

    I love Toph making blind gags. While I'm not blind myself, I do have a physical disability, and I spend a great deal of time making fun of it. It's cathartic, and further, it underscores that having a disability is not a huge fucking deal the way the able-bodied make it out to be. It doesn't make us walking Very Special Episodes. So the fact that Toph is so comfortable with who she is and how her blindness is a part of that makes me very, very happy.

  53. audzilla says:


  54. ShinSeifer says:

    Oh, god, the end of this episode marks the exact halfway point of the series and THIS is where SHIT GETS REALLY REAL. And the best part is that the episode started out like a seemingly underwhelming filler, and then, BAM, it morphes into one of the LEAST one-shot episode of the series (if it is such a thing), actually opening a potential PLOT ARC. In short the series suddenly became more serialized!
    Appa was kidnapped! They discovered INVALUABLE information about the war and need to deliver it to Ba Sing Se! AND THEY ARE STRANDED IN AN IMMENSE DESERT WITHOUT A MEAN OF TRANSPORTATION.
    Oh crap, this is the antithesis of underwhelming. This episode managed to actually be serialized in a retroactive way, by revealing the background of a past event, namely how Zhao discovered the location of the two spirits.

    Also, I love the blind jokes Toph makes. I don't know how people with visual impairments/people with strong feelings on the issue feel about them, but I love them, not only because they're funny, but also they seems aimed at the viewers as well as the other characters. It is easy to forget that Toph is blind sometimes, because of her abilities (at least, I sometimes forgot, the first time I watched Avatar); also it showes us that despite her talents there are still things she can't to (read, for example), and she's totally cool about it.

    There's one thing I always wonder during the episode. Has no civilization at large yet discovered the means of predicting a solar eclipse? It seems unrealistic to me because astronomy tends to be one of the first sciences developed by growing civilizations (Ancient chinese, mesopotamians, maya, etc.) so I'm always a little baffled when Sokka and Aang risk their lives to return in the planetarium to discover the date of the next eclipse… Of course, maybe the planetarium is simply the most accurate instrument in the world for that purpose.

    • Avit says:

      That's a good quibble. Hmm. I can see the possibility that the Fire Nation would have sought to destroy this kind of learning in other nations, when it began its war of conquest, but surely Ba Sing Se would have had something…

    • Meenalives says:

      I think it's possible that people in the Earth Kingdom know how to predict eclipses, they just don't know that that is the Fire Nation's weakness (a fact that the Fire Nation would be keen to conceal). I think it's entirely plausible that Sokka and the rest of the Southern Water Tribe don't know how to predict them (their level of technology seems fairly minimal) and Sokka might not know that anyone else has that knowledge (he's extremely intelligent, perhaps the smartest member of the Gaang, but he's not that well-educated).

      • Avit says:

        I dunno though, wouldn't it be symbolically obvious? And the whole rise-with-the-sun thing would be evident in any Firebender vs. * battle which happened to straddle sunrise or sunset.

        It's true that the SWT probably doesn't know, and they seem pretty isolated to boot. Maybe it will turn out that the Ba Sing Se knew all along and just didn't think it would be enough… or didn't have the firepower to conduct an offensive… or some other thing.

    • Susa says:

      There may be other means of predicting the next eclipse, but the planetarium is relatively fast, accurate, and, most importantly, right there. The Gaang is, after all, in the middle of the desert; even if Appa hadn't been kidnapped, they would have had to fly out of the desert, gather themselves together, and go questing to find someone who knows these kinds of things. That would cause them to lose valuable time. And anyway, considering the backgrounds of these characters and the fact that they've largely been hanging out in small country towns, would they even know that there are other ways to predict eclipses?

      Hmm, I've never really thought about this.

  55. hpfish13 says:

    This looks suspiciously like the language Haley speaks in Order of the Stick….

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Order of the Stick! <3

      Mark should totally review that. XD

      "I'm a sexy shoeless GOD OF WAR!" <3

      • hpfish13 says:

        Indeed he should!! But I don't know how he would break it into parts.

        My favorite quote of Belkar's is "It's as true today as it was when I got started, when in doubt, light something on fire"

      • calimie says:

        It'd be a bit difficult to review (10 strips a day?) but it's so wonderful! At least he should read it.

  56. MichelleZB says:

    ROT13! Cool… I'd never heard of it! A really good way of concealing a spoiler!

  57. Aeslech says:

    This is actually the first episode I ever saw. Not from the beginning either, I saw the end. I was flipping channels and landed on Toph desperately trying to hold up the library and keep the sandbenders away from Appa. My immediate reaction was "WHAT IS THIS AND WHY AM I NOT WATCHING IT ALL THE TIME" The Library remains one of my favourite episodes because of this and the emphasis on Sokka being the one to look at the big picture and plan while still being hilarious.

  58. isoycrazy says:

    This episode was one of the biggest cliffhangers, no question.

    I truly hate the sandbenders for stealing Appa. When they were around Appa earlier, I was reminded of Jawwas.

  59. Avatar_fan_mom says:

    This was not one of my favorite episodes…partly because there was no Zuko (who we last saw berating the heavens for not sending lightning his way) and no Iroh (who I just <3)

    Anyway, despite the silliness of the beginning of this episode, it did set up a huge heartbreaking moment. I'm not sure who I feel worse for at the end of the episode…Appa being bison-napped, Aang realizing Appa (his only living connection to his people,) or Toph who had to make such a difficult decision. For someone so direct, it speaks volumes that she cannot even bear to say what happened when Aang asks her where Appa is. *knife to the heart*

    Oh, and I also love the owl spirit's assertion that all humans think their wars are justified. True dat big owl spirit…

  60. Avatar_fan_mom says:

    Hahaha….at "not in front of the fox, he's with the owl!"

    That one got me too…

  61. MocataJoy says:

    1. I love how clueless Katara is: "You have something against libraries?" Yea Katara. Stop and think about that for a moment.

    2. "You're not very bright, are you?" LOL.

    3. "You're a living relic!" "Thanks. I try."

    4. "Shh…not in front of the fox! He's with the owl!"

    I think it's a bit of a stretch, when Aang asks Toph where Appa is, she shakes her head, and immediately his eyes fill up with tears. I get why the writers did it that way, but really…if I asked someone where my bison was and all they did was shake their head, I would be like "well? Where is he?" Is it supposed to be implied that Aang knows the sandbenders stole him because he saw the sandbenders earlier? Unless I'm remembering things wrong, Aang didn't really have much of a reaction to the sandbenders standing around Appa the first time. So how does he just KNOW that Appa's been stolen when Toph shakes her head? Odd.

    • lastyearswishes says:

      Aang probably knew on some level that Appa was taken when he didn't see him (I mean, I can't imagine that he makes a habit of flying off on his own). Toph merely gives him confirmation on what he doesn't want to accept himself by shaking her head.

      • Violets are Blue says:

        I will agree here. My chocolate Lab, Nutmeg, who passed away just a couple of months ago (rest her soul) had what was called cognitive dysfunction which is a canine form of dementia. Since I am in college and was not able to bring her with me because of her health, her mental status, and my restrictions of living in a dorm, I would often check up on her during my calls home. The pause my mother would give before telling me how she did the past few days always told me she was not doing well before my mother confirmed it. It would be a certain look when I was home when I knew something was more wrong than usual with her (she came down with pneumonia twice in a year, both times I was out of town when it happened and would only be able to come back halfway through the illness).

        While Toph is new to the group, in all of the situations we have seen, Appa would not leave Aang and his disappearance in the middle of a giant desert would, to someone who knows Appa like Aang, be only against his will. I don't think he honestly knows Appa's been stolen, it's more something terrible has happened and Appa is gone because of it.

        • MocataJoy says:

          Good points all. And I have to admit, if nothing else, the tearful look in Aang's eyes is HEARTBREAKING for viewers (who obviously know that Appa has been stolen) and it creates the best ending shot of any cliffhanger EVER.

  62. Anonymouse says:


    Think about it, He's a frequent comic relief character, like Ron, who loves to eat, also like Ron, and is very protective of his baby sister, again, like Ron. But he's also got Hermione's "bushy brown hair" (take a look at him after the moose lion cub takes his ponytail out), logic skills, and he wants to spend his vacation at the LIBRARY!!! It all makes sense!

    …yeah, Avatar and Harry Potter have officially destroyed my sanity. DON'T JUDGE ME.

  63. Hotaru_hime says:

    I seriously started crying and ran to my younger brother, who had watched it before I did and went, "AAAAAAAAAPPPPPPPPPPPPPPAAAAAAAAAAAA WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY"
    Poor thing, he had to deal with me crying a lot over television.
    They pointed out that Firebenders "rise with the sun" as per Zuko, so the idea that a solar eclipse would knock out Firebending powers the way the destruction of the moon knocked out Waterbending abilities is really awesome. It does bring up the question if such a thing is possible for either Air or Earth, which is pretty impossible, right? I'd want to be an Earthbender, y'all.
    HOW AWESOME IS THAT OWL? I want to be that Owl, living in an underground library LIKE A BOSS, hoarding knowledge LIKE A BOSS.
    Except that owl ended up being a jerk, huh? Makes you wonder how Zhao got in and out with that information without it tearing him to fucking pieces.

    • elephant penguin says:

      I guess that at the time Zhao was there, Wan Shi Tong didn't consider the possibility that someone might use the knowledge for evil purposes. Then Zhao came along, and his troops burned down aisle F.2 (firebending, fire nation history and, most importantly, all of Wan Shi Tong's Sudoku magazines!!!). And then Zhao used what he'd learned to try and kill another spirit – and since they're both spirits, they know about each other (TuiLa: zhao totally tried to fry us @wanshitong #fishfillets, wanshitong: dude, not cool! #ihatehumans).

      So yeah, I wouldn't really call the owl a jerk for that…

      • Hotaru_hime says:

        Yeah, I guess that's true. I'm just really prejudiced in favor of the Gaang.

      • Amanda says:

        TuiLa: zhao totally tried to fry us @wanshitong #fishfillets, wanshitong: dude, not cool! #ihatehumans

        I am dieing of laughter at this.

    • Avit says:

      Well, Firebenders need a handicap anyway, seeing as they don't need preexisting fire to bend. That puts Waterbenders at rather a disadvantage, though, since they have eclipses AND element dependency — plus, the lunar eclipse to solar eclipse ratio is similar to our world's, that's a double disadvantage.

      Airbenders also get a bit of a boost, since their element is just so damn common — anywhere that a human is, there must be air. Even if they go into outer space one day!

      • sabra_n says:

        No, there's just vacuum in outer space. Having enough air to bend requires an atmosphere, which requires gravitational pull. Aang could still airbend on Mars, but not during a spacewalk. 😛

        • Avit says:

          There's air in oxygen tanks, though, isn't there? Or doesn't it count unless there's a certain ratio of nitrogen and argon to oxygen?

  64. ABBryant says:

    Qhqr, vg'f yvxr gbgnyyl pbby.

  65. Caterfree10 says:

    ASJFHDSLFKJHDLFKJHDS I both love and hate that you ask so many awesome questions, BUT WE CAN'T ANSWER THEM LDSKJGHDSFGLKFDHGLKDFJHDS

    So I'mma just say this anytime you ask a question that has a spoilery as all hell answer from now on: All answers will come in due time~




    I also adore the hell out of the Planetarium, it's so incredibly awesome and I'd kill to see one like the one in AtLA irl, I'm not even kidding. <3





    *skitters off*

  66. freeradicals says:

    So now that it is no longer a spoiler, you should know that when I watched Doctor Who's "Silence in the Library" I kept expecting that the Gaang would appear, chased by Wa Shi Tong.

    I wish that it was a real crossover!

  67. Toph13139 says:

    This episode, I remember, almost gave me a heart attack. Just like Koh, Wan Shi Tong scared the fucking shit out of me, and when he got mad… *shudders* I know I almost cried when Toph shook her head and was all sad and sadder.

    I know I now look for suspicious-looking ornaments, or owls whenever I get into a library… Also, I <3 Professor Zei forever and EVER.

  68. Fusionman29 says:


    Sorry… Sorry… This is when the show truly transcended from "Great kids show" to "Miracle of animation WHY ISN'T THIS THE NORM?!"

  69. sundaycoma says:


    I've been ridiculously busy with work and personal life so I haven't had the opportunity to be as active in this community as I would have liked to have been during this entire journey but I'm purposefully ignoring dinner with my family for a second to type this out. Because this episode is just that real.

    First, I would like to take a moment to appreciate the inclusion of a higher institution of learning. As someone who hopes to one day gain a professorship at a University and teach, I love how much this small detail helps build up the credibility of this world. Of course, Ba Sing Se would have a university. As the only city that hasn't yet been cut down by the Fire Nation's conquering machinations and as a city for a culture that's been presented as having much more structure and "sophistication", in the "needs of a civilization" sense, than the Water Tribe, of course they would have some kind of institutionalized educational system. Such a small touch but such a good one. BRYKE. I C WUT U DID THUR.

    • sundaycoma says:

      Then, I would like to take a moment to BUST MY GUT LAUGHING over Toph because she completely got me too. She cries out "There it is!" and my heart flies because I'm glad to see this montage end and there's just so much sincerity in her voice that I was completely caught up in it… and then she waves her hand in front of her face and I completely remembered: DOH! I'm completely devoid of sense. But that got me thinking about her character, and maybe this is just a bit of fan wank because Toph is my favorite of the heroes but the implications I garned from this small hilarious scene are momentous for me.

      • sundaycoma says:

        Toph is not defined by her blindness. The creative team have crafted so compelling a character and one who is so motherfucking adept at her power that we assume automatically that there is nothing wrong with her. And there isn't, much like there isn't in any real-life people with disabilities. It's a moral I think needs to be said more and not in just a "Very Special Episode" way: people with disabilities are not lesser beings, do not live lesser lives, do not have "lesser" abilities. They just don't have the same ones and yes, that means they have to adapt in a world suited more to the capabilities of others, but just like Toph, they find ways to cope and ways to excell. "Differently abled", indeed.

        • sundaycoma says:

          Then the actual library — I know the community had a collective fucking conniption over Koh but this series' real nightmare fuel for me is Wan Shi Tong. His voice and the way his neck elongates while he's attacking them and the complete and absolute rage and indignation and anger he feels at them for betraying the knowledge storehoused in his library… Oh, so much No Thank You. No Thank You for miles, for lightyears. In my version of Hell, Wan Shi Tong would run its innermost sanctums and I would do fucking anything to keep from ending up there.

          • sundaycoma says:

            Sokka and his knot-tying as his admission into the library &lt;3 Tying knots is a highly valuable and practical form of knowledge in certain professions! I wouldn't want to be aboard a ship with a man who grew up in a water-oriented community that couldn't tell his ass from his elbow as far as knots were concerned.

            And of course the reveal OMFG SOLAR ECLIPSE OH FUCK.

            …And then… everything that matters. Because Appa is taken and Toph is fucking broken-hearted that she couldn't stop it from happening. Did you see how fast that tower started to sink when she let go of it? That right there, that small detail BLEW MY MIND in its implications for how powerful this little twelve-year-old girl whose parents wouldn't even let her leave their garden for fear of her "delicate and vulnerable" nature. TOPH. I WANNA BE YOU. YOU ARE TOO COOL FOR ALL THE SCHOOLS in all the galaxies in all the universes. Please let me be your astral-plane friend. I could make you a friendship bracelet and make it official if you would only say yeeesssss.

        • Patrick721 says:

          If they made a "very special episode" for Toph, it would just be about her winning the Earth Rumble over and over again.

  70. Avit says:

    Funny, I never interpreted Toph to be making a ~cheap blind joke~. It always seemed to me that she was just bored of waiting around for something she had no interest in, and wanted to spread the joy 😛

  71. GeneralNerd84 says:

    Reading your review reminded me of this:

  72. Moonie says:

    It should tell you something about this series that every time you post a new review, I go "/GASP/ I love that episode!"
    Seriously. Every time.
    Also, when i feel like going to the library, sometimes I pretend to be Sokka. IT'S FUN.

    Also, we've seen some normal fish. (Well, moon spirit fish. But still, looked pretty normal.)

    • Ozaira says:

      True…like the very first fish on the show, the one that Sokka and Katara were trying to catch on the canoe. And there's Zuko's tiny fish from 2×02 (LAWL).

  73. corporatecake says:

    Man, I had been away from the computer for a long time and I had forgotten how intense these middle episodes in Season 2 get.

    The end of this episode leaves me with a sick feeling. Oh my god, poor Toph. I don't know what I would do in her place. If she saves Appa, what happens to the others in the library? But without Appa, they're screwed for transportation. Plus, it's APPA. APPA.

    Ugh. Just thinking about it is so upsetting.

  74. jubilantia says:


    Shit has most definitely gotten real, my friend.

    "TO THE LIBRARY!" To reiterate- ILU SOKKA

    I think this episode is really cool. Learning that earthbending also has another discipline made me happy.

    It cracks me up that Won Shi Tong knows swamp-bending. Another note- how awesome is the voice actor for the Knowledge Spirit? They always get this stuff so bang on.

    I also love that the spirits are morally ambiguous. I guess they always kind of are in fiction, but it's pretty awesome seeing them in action.

    In conclusion- APPA!!!!! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!11!11!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!1!!!!!!!

  75. Classtoise says:

    First off: D: Appa nooooo
    Second: I love how all three of the kids giggle at "Buttresses".
    Not just Sokka and Aang (who are renowned bros…"HIT IT HARDER!" "I'M TRYING!"), but even Katara has to snicker.

    Also Toph is the best. I feel so bad. She's usually so stoic and then at the end you just see her too worn out and tired and probably distraught with what she (thinks she) did wrong to do much more than groan.

  76. arctic_hare says:

    "Spazzy" is an ableist word, please do not use it here.

    • shirtninjas says:

      It is? I'm not questioning the decision, I've just never heard that before (and I've spent a LOT of time in classes about discrimination/privilege/social issues/etc, so that sort of surprises me.)

      • Avit says:

        My last class about gender and culture was made of a bazillion kinds of ciscentric, ethnocentric fail, so really I'm not expecting anything great out of formal education on these topics.

      • echinodermata says:

        Ableist Word Profile on "Spaz/Spak"

        (and google is your friend)

        • MocataJoy says:

          First: Markwatches is one of my very favorite sites on the ENTIRE INTERNET not only because Mark watches/reads awesome stuff (Harry Potter, Avatar, etc.) but also because he has created such an awesome safe space where people can talk about gender, religion, disabilities, etc. without being shamed or marginalized by others. I have been reading every Mark reads/watches review since the good old Harry Potter days, and it has brought me endless joy and allowed me to discuss my own history growing up with sexism (I'm a girl who never fit into her gender "box" so well) without being called a "crazy feminist" or "over sensitive."

          So please, PLEASE keep that in mind when I say what I'm about to say.

          I've read this whole thread, beginning with the original comment and ending with your latest comment to shirtninjas. I'm familiar with the new site rules. I've read the "derailing for dummies" thing that Mark linked to. And while I am absolutely positively TERRIFIED of being banned from my favorite website in the universe, I feel that as a huge fan of this place, I need to speak out here.

          I feel that you, echinodermata (not artic_hare or any other person or mod on this thread) are being a bully. I feel that you are bullying shirtninjas. I don't feel that way because you are pointing out that spaz is a slur. I feel that way because you are being very, very disparaging in the way you are speaking to him. "Google is your friend"? That's so rude! And implying that he is asking you to educate him? I don't see that in anything he said at all, and your comment seems very disparaging.

          I normally wouldn't butt in in this type of situation. Like I said, this site is such a huge part of my life that I'm more terrified of being banned than you know. And I recognize that you're mods for a reason–you're just trying to do your job. I get it. But I feel like this is an exception where I just have to step in and defend my favorite website. Just because you're on the "right" side of an issue (the "right side", in this case, is the side acknowledging that "spaz" is a slur) doesn't mean that you're not being a bully. Being a bully has to do with HOW you speak to someone. Saying something like "google is your friend" is…well…marginalizing.

          • xpanasonicyouthx says:

            You won't be banned for this because you are at least opening a conversation. I ban people who aim to end the discussion.

            Saying something in a snarky manner is not bullying. I understand that you, shirtninjas, and many other people are new to this and many other ideas about offensive language and trust me, I know how quite difficult it is when you are first presented with such a thing and someone uproots an idea you have about words or actions and how they are used.

            Here's all I'm asking you and others to do: Please take a moment to think about how often that people like myself and others with marginalized bodies are asked to CONSTANTLY justify our lives and experiences and the words used to harm us. This is a constant, steady steam for many of us, and the most common of that all generally is the request for us to define and explain EVERYTHING. And it gets to a point where we are so tired and sad from having to justify our lives that this is what happens.

            Telling someone to Google a definition or a theory seems like a rude, catty thing to you, but to us, some days it is necessary for us. We are permanent broken records to those who don't have our lives. And we are asking you to just believe us about our lives for once.

            Does this make sense to you?

            • MocataJoy says:

              Yes. I totally get that and nothing you just said, Mark, was offensive in the least. And also, keep in mind, I and other readers of this blog have read a lot about your personal experiences with your family, with coming out, etc. And we feel for you and respect you and LOVE you. And we do believe you. Also, I'm a girl and people have marginalized me as well. I know how it feels. I get it. I do.

              But just look at arctic_hare's reply to what I said. She said that my post (which was very heartfelt and difficult for me to write) can be summed up as "tone argument, blah blah blah." I mean…I hate to reply to you and not her, but I feel like I'm just going to get beat up if I reply to her. What's up with that tone she has? It's REALLY antagonizing…and I wasn't trying to antagonize anyone! I wasn't saying that anything wasn't a slur…because it is. I just…I feel like we're being bullied here. I feel like mods are being rude to people. And it doesn't make me angry, it makes me SAD. Because I love this place. This is supposed to be a place where we DON'T get bullied. Can you understand where I'm coming from?

              • arctic_hare says:

                What's up with that tone she has?

                Seriously? This is not helping to convince me that you're not pulling the tone argument. And wtf, nobody is going to "beat you up". Nobody is being silenced here, we're trying to get people to not use words that are hurtful to others, and in response we keep getting the same old BS about cultural context, intent, how we're "oversensitive", to not get upset, etc. It happened over and over yesterday, it's happening again today, and it's happened in the past too. We are understandably losing our patience with having to explain this stuff again and again to people who flat out do not try to learn and keep arguing. And saying that we're not being polite enough or whatever is derailing. Which Mark has said in the site rules is not to be done. His site, his rules, please refresh yourself on them and abide by them.

              • Avit says:

                "She said that my post […] can be summed up as 'tone argument, blah blah blah.'


                What's up with that tone she has?"

          • arctic_hare says:

            Saying something like "google is your friend" is…well…marginalizing.

            No. No, it is not. Marginalization is – well, read Avit's link.

            The rest of your post can be summed up as "tone argument blah blah", which you should know better than to do if you really have read "Derailing for Dummies". You didn't need to butt in, and you're not "defending your favorite website": you're derailing and defending someone who is doing things like trying to tell other people how to feel. Don't do that. It is not anyone's job here to educate anyone else and nobody gets to tell others that they shouldn't get upset at something. Period.

            I am getting really tired of this crap.

          • rainbowsinside says:

            I completely agree with everything you've said. I love that I've learned so many new things here about marginalization and other things that I probably would have never thought of (I had never before thought that the word "crazy" could be offensive and now I've started watching how I use it in my everyday speech) but I feel like the mods here can be a bit quick to jump down people's throats sometimes. I've noticed this in a couple of other instances. I love that this place can be a safe place to talk about these sorts of issues, but people shouldn't be so afraid of making a mistake and having people jump on them for it that they don't want to post.

            I've read all the comments below as well and shirtninjas admitted that they were ignorant that what they said was offensive and then posted a little bit of information on the cultural context of the word yet continued to be jumped on. I just don't think that's right.

            Also, I've noticed on one occasion, people posting on the spoiler blog about a particular commenter when the person in question hadn't done anything mean-spirited. To me, that's talking behind someone's back and really shouldn't be happening in such an amazing corner of the internet such as this.

            I'd love a discussion if anyone feels like I'm off-track with what I'm saying. I love this place as well and want it to be the best it can be!

            • arctic_hare says:

              The cultural context doesn't matter, it doesn't change the fact that it's a hurtful word for many people. Intent isn't magic. And people aren't unsure about using a word, then they shouldn't use it. If called out, the best response is to not get defensive and try to justify the use of a slur. It's really pretty simple in theory.

              Also, I've noticed on one occasion, people posting on the spoiler blog about a particular commenter when the person in question hadn't done anything mean-spirited.

              How is this at all relevant to the current discussion?

              • rainbowsinside says:

                I agree that cultural context doesn't make a word any less offensive. That's not what I was saying. I was saying that I saw no point in which shirtninjas was trying to defend their use of the word. They were simply sharing a bit of knowledge they found and trying to open a discussion on why people in the US may be less likely to realize that it's an offensive word. Like if I were to start a discussion on the word "fag" in other cultures. It's an extremely offensive word here in the US that has different meanings in other parts of the world. That doesn't make it any less offensive here and me talking about it doesn't mean I'm trying to defend it's use as I still believe it's a horrible word.

                How is this at all relevant to the current discussion?
                Sorry I didn't make myself clear, it's a bit late for me. I was just tying it to the idea that this site should be a place where everyone can feel safe to have open discussion and effectively talking behind someone's back doesn't promote that idea very well. We can just drop it if you feel it isn't relevant.

            • MocataJoy says:

              I agree! This is one of the few places online where we can really speak our minds…god knows, I don't want to be silenced or bullied or made to feel sad here. That's just…the exact opposite of everything this place stands for to me.

            • Eve says:

              Most of this discussion took place a while ago, so I don't know if anything I have to add is helpful, but I thought I could point out your use of the phrase "safe place" to describe this site.

              Clearly, to you, a "safe place" means somewhere you can make mistakes, have people politely correct you, and then move on.

              However, to someone else, a "safe place" may mean somewhere they won't have to deal with slurs. Or, when something does offend them, they can point it out without worrying about hurting the other person's feelings, without needing to prioritize the other person's feelings over their own.

              I know that personally, the mods being "a bit quick to jump down people's throats sometimes" makes me feel like if someone said something racist/sexist/etc., I would feel safe calling them out on it.

    • shirtninjas says:

      Oh, just throwing this out there: I don't know if you're from the UK or the US but I looked up the word "spastic" on wikipedia and there is a severe difference in how that word is connotated in the UK and the US. In the US (where I live) that word means nothing more than "I freaked out a little and/or messed up what I was doing," whereas in the UK it's apparently a really mean way to refer to disabled people.

      The More You Know!

      • echinodermata says:

        Let's make something clear: "spastic" and its derivatives are still entirely offensive in the US. It's just that it's more well-known in the UK than in the US that it's offensive.

        • shirtninjas says:

          I'm not arguing the potential to be offended by a word; I understand fully how context, culture, and personal feelings form the basis of word-offensiveness. I only brought it up out of curiosity more than anything, because I personally have never heard a single person ever use the word to refer to a disabled person (even though I know that that is the word's root.) My experiences are not everyone's, I know… I'm sure there are people in the US who do, just not as many.

          However, according to a list of the most offensive words in Britain ( it's listed as the 15th most offensive. Really surprising, at least to me. I thought to others like myself (who may otherwise be shocked at some of the words called out by moderators) it was not only interesting information but a good lesson in cultural context.

          In the first article I linked, there is a good example of this involving Tiger Woods, who caused a controversy in the UK and had to issue a public apology for using the word to describe his playing ability, whereas in the US there was not only no controversy, but no mass media coverage of the comment at all.

          • Avit says:

            …it's not about offense. Bigots are offended by the existence of trans people and female politicians and undocumented immigrants and poly families, does that mean we should eradicate ourselves? It's about the sheer fucked-upness of taking a term referring to a physical disability and making it mean "I messed up". It's about the systems of oppression and devaluation that are being manifested and perpetuated by this kind of thing.

            Or are you going to argue that "That's so gay" is all right because it's not being used to refer to actual gay people?

            • shirtninjas says:

              I'm not in ANY WAY suggesting that it is okay for people to say. I have never once said that here, or even suggested it. I'm actually suggesting the opposite. Let me clarify what I was saying before.

              Because of my own experiences, I was unaware that this term was taken as offensive by some (and while you might be saying "this is not about offense," it still offends you, and that is exactly my point.) What I was saying about this being "a good lesson in cultural context" is that it's a good example of why while some people on the blog might think the rules are over-sensitive, they are not, because we cannot compare our definitions of offense to others'. It's a verbal expression of the "Your right to swing your fist ends at my nose" philosophy.

              You shouldn't be upset at what I'm saying, because it's in agreement with what you're saying. There have been comments on previous threads that say "Why are people getting upset at [x]? That's not offensive, you guys are just too sensitive!" and what I'm saying is that THAT IS WRONG TO DO and this is a perfect example of why. (Specifically, why while YOU may not find a word offensive you should still listen to those who do.) So I'm not arguing with you, I'm agreeing with you.

              • Avit says:

                Echinodermata said pretty much everything, so I'll just ask you to please, please refrain from making assumptions about other people's emotional reactions or telling them how to feel : Now I'm offended.

          • echinodermata says:

            While this may be interesting and surprising to you, it's not to others. A number of the mods, myself included, are from the US. We know most people in the US are not aware of the offensiveness of this word. And yet we're still able to recognize its offensiveness and call people out on using it.

            I don't particularly care that the UK acknowledges that "spaz" is a slur a lot better than the US does. IT'S STILL A SLUR IN THE US. This isn't about "cultural context" – this is about not equating a medical condition with anything generally bad. No matter where you live.

            • shirtninjas says:

              I haven't said or implied that the word is okay to say. I've said that it was surprising to me that it was thought of that way, because I'd never thought about it. What's interesting and surprising is different to all, and I don't think the implication that no one cares about or could better understand the site rules (especially new people) through my moment of clarity is either helpful or called for.

              My point was not that it's okay to say the word here, just that it is not thought about much here, and that US members may be surprised if they see the word called out as wrong on the blog. So rather than to excuse the word, my comments were to explain the reasoning behind calling it out.

              • echinodermata says:

                "In the US (where I live) that word means nothing more than "I freaked out a little and/or messed up what I was doing,""

                Quote from you that implies that it's okay to use the word "spaz" in the US. To reiterate, "spaz" is still a slur in the US. It means a lot more than you said it does.

                The issue with your explanation was you directed it at me. After I told you that "spaz" is unacceptable even in the US. So it reads as an excuse. An excuse you wrote after you expressed ignorance that this was a slur, and asked a question you could have easily looked up yourself online – the implication being we're supposed to take the time to educate you while you can't be assed to use a search engine before commenting.

                • shirtninjas says:

                  I directed the question at you because it was a reply to what you had said. Also, that quote was not meant to imply that, and I'm truly sorry that you saw it that way. It was only meant to give background on my experience with the word. As a matter of fact, I did google the word, and posted the information I found before you replied, so there was no need to treat me in the harsh way you chose to do.

                  I may have asked an ignorant question, and I have admitted to my ignorance of the word's connotation, but ignorance is an understandable, and I would say expectable, product of a culture that does not place emphasis on education about this type of thing. MOST PEOPLE ARE IGNORANT. That is why I posted in the first place. To better help people without such knowledge of ableist slurs understand, and to better understand it myself.

                  • echinodermata says:

                    As a mod, my first priority is to enforce the site rules and to make this as safe a space as possible, where we try to eliminate the sort of discussion that pisses off people who have to deal with *isms every day and with people bumbling in and asking, often with good intentions, basic questions that are annoying in their ignorance.

                    This is not a blog meant to be about educating people. It's about providing people with a safe space to talk about pop culture.

                    Your individual education is not a priority to me. Making sure the spirit of anti-oppression is maintained on this blog is.

                    • shirtninjas says:

                      I agree fully with the mission to promote a safe space for talking… that's why I was upset when a misunderstanding of my point led to me feeling like I was going to be banned, and feeling like I was being treated badly for being unfortunate enough to not state my point well on the first try.

                      I also understand that this blog is not about educating people. As I said originally, I have taken many classes on this kind of thing… believe it or not, I am educated on this type of thing. I have a bachelor's degree in sociology and a minor in critical media studies. My classes all through college were nothing but talking about these kinds of things. That's why I was surprised (not in a bad way) to hear about the ableist slur that was originally the topic of discussion (because I had never heard it before.) My comments were only meant to inspire discussion, not argument. This is the last thing I'm posting on this thread though.

                    • rainbowsinside says:

                      …where we try to eliminate the sort of discussion that pisses off people who have to deal with *isms every day…

                      Ok, now I'm just confused. I thought one of the points of this blog was to encourage the discussion of these issues? These things can be very nuanced and many people here are new to it. So if someone unintentionally posts something offensive and are called out on it, are they supposed to simply reply "sorry" and move on? That doesn't necessarily mean they understand what was offensive about what they said. Yes, they can google it, but the internet is not always dependable with this. I google the word "crazy" and get nothing that tells me why it may offend someone.

                      I went and reread the site rules and Derailing For Dummies and from what I understand, what is not allowed on this site are actions intending to stop a discussion. Mark himself said up above "I ban people who aim to end the discussion." All of that says to me that discussions about offensive terms is allowed as long as we're doing it in a respectful manner and not discussing, say, why Ginny should be ashamed of dating so many boys in such a short amount of time.

                      If I'm misunderstanding what you meant, please let me know. You were a bit vague on exactly what kind of discussions you meant.

                    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

                      Ok, I'll explain this a bit more in detail with an example since I can see you are trying to understand this.

                      You are right that this is a place where, in the context of popular media, we can discuss the narratives and techniques and things that mean things in our lives. I just don't want these conversations to be at the expense of people who are actually affected by them.

                      So I'll put this in terms of me. Let's say that the person above had said, "I didn't like when Professor Zei stayed behind, because that's gay." Now, I post a comment replying to them telling that that word is heterosexist and offensive and not to use it.

                      What generally happens is that then the offending person thinks this moment is now a launching board to use my life as a philosophical argument. Now, I know for a fact that this word has hurt me terribly and when used in this meaning, it reminds me of that. And yet this person refuses to listen to me and just take my experience for what it is and respect that.

                      While I would love if people stripped these words from their vocabulary entirely, it's unrealistic and terribly so. I, and others here, are merely saying to stop using these words here. Nowhere else. We are not censoring people, we're not controlling their lives, and we are NOT harming them. We are asking people not to harm us.

                      And when this cycle moves through the same familiar power struggle and question and answer session, it only harms one person. In this example, it's me. I have to be on display, willing to answer every invasive question imaginable, and justify my very existence to a stranger who, at the very end of it, can absolutely walk away without being hurt and without having to change at all. They live an experience where that word harms them in no way, and it harms me in all of them.

                      So this is what we're asking and it explains our constant frustration. You are not the first person asking us to justify our lives. You are probably the millionth. And we know that you intend respect or admiration, but it doesn't change the fact that you are simply not listening.

                      And it really hurts a lot of us.

                      So you're right. I banned that group of people yesterday because they actively tried to silence me and others. I would not ban you for this because I do know you're trying to understand it. At the same time, it's almost like…prolonging the wound. It's more time we have to spend explaining and more time spent reminding ourselves that this pattern acts out every single time.

                      I'd say that's a good idea of what this is like for many of us.

                    • ShinSeifer says:

                      This is a very, very good reply.
                      I'm still more determined to never get defensive if I ever happen to unknowingly use an *-ist slur or expression on this blog, and instead apologize, move on and do my research on the matter, in private. That's the right thing to do, even if maybe I would have done differently before discovering this blog.
                      However, unless I read this wrong, this thread began with Person 1 using (probably unknowingly) a slur, getting called out for it, and then Person 2 basically saying "wait, Word X is a slur? wow, live and learn", and HE got called out for it, without ever giving the impression of wanting to use the word, defend the word or even requesting more information about it. I know sometimes when I discover something new on this blog I have the instinct to say something like "mh, I never heard that one. Not sure if I agree, but now I know this word can have this implication and will not use it here".
                      I read "derailing for dummies" and actually a number of other blog entries on the tone argument. basically it boils down to "never EVER use the -tone- of a person to dismiss his points and reasoning, especially after you said something offensive and refuse to acknowledge it". That's because sometimes people get sick, get tired and react badly. I get it, I understand it, and absolutely that doesn't mean I don't have to listen to them anymore.
                      But no blog or comment I've read actually says that an angry reaction is a good reaction. I like your replies, Mark. You rarely get angry unless someone is actually trying to silencing someone, or dismissing his/her argumentation or worse, experiences.
                      But sometimes, just sometimes, it gets a little scary to post on this blog. This is your blog. You're free to say "we don't give a fuck if you're scared". I just still think that politeness, at least in the first warning, would be a good thing, from a moderator's part. If the "wrongdoer" is willing to concede he/she's wrong, she/he will, regardless of the "tone". and vice versa, if the accused person gets defensive or worse dismissive.
                      Yes, it is perfectly understandable to get angry, and moderators are humans like us. But I've never read in any discussion about the tone argument that showing anger is always right. They just said that, when it happens, it's the privileged part that has to back up and consider what he/she may have said to cause this reaction, instead of going "now you're getting angry, I don't have to listen anymore".

                      This is not a suggestion about how to moderate this blog. There are still many things I don't fully realize. This is just a reader's feedback. I'm just going to adapt to things as they are in this place, if I have to.

                    • Avit says:

                      1. When someone tells you you're being oppressive, apologize and stop being oppressive.

                      2. If you are curious, go Google it first.

                      Just because a person says they're not questioning the oppressiveness of an action doesn't mean it doesn't sound to mods/affected folks/allies like (yet another in an avalanche of) 349753rd verse, same as the first.

                      Life is an endless parade of privileged people stomping on the marginalized, and the scary thing is they don't even notice, the scary thing is that this is taken for normal by most of both parties. What you are saying is that "it's perfectly understandable to get angry" if someone is stomping on their — or a companion's — face, "but I've never read in any discussion about the tone argument that showing anger is right". That is a privileged viewpoint most often achievable by living a life of largely not being stomped on one's face just for existing.

                      But hey. Fine. Go read some marginalized people's writing about anger and the tone argument. There are more out there, go do some legwork.

                      Know that when I see someone stomping on a person's face for the 3489574th time I am not thinking very hard about the feelings of the stomper.

                    • Avit says:

                      Also Mark is and has been a fucking saint.

                    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

                      AW SHUCKS. You've been rather amazing lately yourself!

                      I dunno, I'm personally at a point where I am just TIRED OF REPEATING MYSELF, you know? And I honestly get that so many of you DON'T know. and it's not about making myself feel better, because I almost never do. It's about what Avit said. When you see this same cycle of marginalization happening to someone else, you say what you need to in order to stop it and sometimes that does ignore the feelings of the person doing the marginalization.

                      We're not being mean for the sake of it. We're trying to stay alive.

                    • Pan says:

                      You forgot one thing: You are not the first person we've ever met.

                      Your description of the ideal reaction is precisely what my parents told me all the time during my youth. They don't mean to be rude. They don't know better. They don't understand. They've never met a disabled person. Explain it to them. Don't be angry. Talk to them.

                      So I explained. A lot. Due to my disability, I do many things differently, so whenever I acted in an unusual way, I explained why. But at some point I realized, that making it easy for EVERYONE else damages ME.
                      There are a lot of people out there, at some point you're just tired of having the same conversation. It might be the first time for you to meet someone like me, but I'm with me all day. And just because you aren't (or don't intend to be) deliberately rude, that doesn't mean that I've never met people who weren't listening, asked incredibly stupid questions or DENIED MY RIGHT TO EXIST ON THIS PLANET.
                      Furthermore, I stopped caring, if they wanted to be rude. You don't need bad intentions to insult someone, it works perfectly fine without them as well.
                      At least most of "us" have made these experiences and keep them in mind while talking about this subject. Again: Even though it might be the first time for you, it's the millionth time for me. And sometimes, I don't want to bore or depress myself with the same, old conversation again.

                      (Initially, I agreed with you, that it might have been a bit over the top to be so harsh to shirtninjas. But now I realize, that his/her discovery is something, that people who are affected by this know for ages. Would you stay calm all the time in a situation like this? Congratz, if you'd do, because I was there and I didn't.)

                    • Mocatajoy says:

                      I completely understand your example Mark. I'm doing my best to listen and learn here. I really really am. God knows, I certainly don't want to hurt anyone, especially around here. This is like my internet home or something. I've loved this place for such a long time.

                      I also don't want to tell you how to moderate your own blog. But I do agree with some of what Shinseifer is saying. My intent on this thread was not to defend shirtninja's ignorance nearly so much as it was to stand up for someone that I felt was being bullied. And when I did that, when I stood up for him, I got bullied too…which I wasn't really expecting.

                      When I say I've been marginalized, what I mean is that I've had to deal with sexism my whole life–especially when I was a kid. People telling me that I acted too much like a boy, or that I wanted to be a boy, or that I wasn't a "real" girl because I liked the things I liked. In my adult life, this has affected who I hang out with,who I date, how I relate to my family…all sorts of things. On this site, I've felt such a strong connection with the things you write, and I've found a place where I can talk freely about the sexism without someone saying "feminazi!" and jumping down my throat. I don't have to worry about someone calling me a bitch. Because bitch is a slur and people will get banned for it. So I benefit and love this system you have here. I really do Mark.

                      You said early on that saying something in a snarky or sassy tone isn't bullying. And I get why, if you're using a slur, someone tells you to stop, and then you don't, a mod or yourself could get frustrated and say something snarky. I've had to justify myself to others too, just because I'm a woman who does things that "traditional" women don't do. I get that.

                      But I wasn't defending a slur. I honestly don't feel like I was doing anything wrong. And I got totally jumped on and spoken to very rudely. If I had insulted someone, used a slur, defended the use of a slur, etc. I would understand that reaction. But I was just trying to respond to someone getting talked down to. I didnt expect to be jumped on that way. And even though I'm trying my hardest, I still don't understand why I was. Does not using tone arguments mean that mods can be as rude as they want to us, even if we're not slurring or defending a slur?

    • Macy says:

      Sorry about that! I didn't even realize!

  77. lastyearswishes says:

    As much as I hate that Appa gets taken, I can't really blame Toph too much as she really does have to make a pretty tough decision. I can't imagine that I'd have made a better one were I in her shoes (…figuratively speaking lol).

  78. Steeple says:

    There are owls that actually stretch out their necks like that: I saw a gif of a group of barn owls, and two of them were leaning their necks forward in a snakey way. Not to the extent of Wan Shi Tong, obviously, but still.

  79. exbestfriend says:

    I have not been as emotionally manipulated by an inarticulate animal since Seymour from Futurama.

    I'm not going to say this was worse, because seriously what could be worse than that episode, but I definitely feel more emotionally invested in Appa. HOW CAN APPA JUST BE *GONE*????

  80. simplefaith says:

    I love the planetarium, so much. If it had been me in the library I'd essentially just be archive-binging the stars like there was no tomorrow, ngl.
    Also, APPAAAAAAAA D: Way to totally break my heart, show.

  81. daisysparrow says:

    I'm sorry, but during all of this episode, flashbacks to Doctor Who keep popping into my head. Those chase scenes in the hallways? The little voice in my head is saying "count the shadows count the shadows count the shadows OH GOD." Library episodes for the win forever. Also- APPA NOOOOOOOOOO D:

  82. @Ahavah22 says:

    Agreed. Why is it that whenever cartoon characters are in an ancient library, filled with countless irreplaceable tomes, someone starts a fire? And I'm just left on my own screaming: 'NO! The knowledge will be LOST!'

    Not if one of the librarians was named Sheska! 😛 (Where my fellow FMA fans at?) Man, I love libraries, and I wanna be Sheska (even though I probably spelled her name all wrong).

  83. Noybusiness says:

    I just read on Avatar Wiki that Wan Shi Tong means "He Who Knows 10,000 Things". What a cool name.

  84. Jay Gatsby says:

    I love that Avatar is not afraid to make a couple blind jokes!

    • Beka says:

      Yeah but only because Toph did so, not one of the others, which would have been a different situation. I'm glad the writers make her happy enough in her own skin and with the others to joke about it though, agreed.

  85. TheWelshPirate says:

    V whfg pna'g jnvg gb frr Znex'f ernpgvba gb Fbxxn naq Zbzb gevccvat ba pnpghf whvpr! Nyfb, guvf EBG13 guvat vf shpxvat njrfbzr.

  86. NopeJustMe says:

    I think it's good that the others keep forgetting she's blind. Okay it leads to a couple of awkward moments, but if they treated her like she was disabled 24-7 (Toph watch out, Toph be careful there, Toph would you like a hand?) then it would be no different from how her parents treated her. Their confidence in her is probably something she probably enjoys- enough to joke about at least.

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