Mark Watches ‘Avatar’: S02E15 – Tales of Ba Sing Se

In the fifteenth episode of the second season of Avatar: The Last Airbender, we are given six separate short stories about what the cast of characters have been doing during their stay in Ba Sing Se. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Avatar and sob to himself in a laundromat. True story.

I really do love it when a show takes a risk by giving us a new method of storytelling. Sometimes, that alone makes the episode so much fun. This is not that case, though, because while I do appreciate the varied narrative device that “Tales of Ba Sing Se” gives us, the real strength here is in the storytelling.

To give you an idea how far ahead of myself I got (more than ever, really) in order to have posts for all of you whilst I was on the AIDS/LifeCycle, I am writing this on Friday, June 3. Today is my packing day, and part of that has involved me doing so much laundry that I’m now wondering how we are in the twenty-first fucking century and we haven’t invented an easier and quicker way to clean clothes. My clothes were spinning about in the washer as I watched this episode on my iPad and right at the end of Iroh’s story, I could not believe how much I was crying. IN A LAUNDROMAT.

This show. The things it does to me.

I’d like to separate this out by story, in the order they each aired, in order to discuss this, as I want to spend time talking about each one. Onwards!

TOPH AND KATARA

I noticed that out of everyone’s stories, only Toph’s and Katara’s had the gang appearing together, and it suggested to me that maybe these stories actually occurred in chronological order in terms of time. Either way, from the start, we’re giving the glaring contrast of Toph’s sense of hygiene with the rest of the group. It was a subtle reminder to how long Team Avatar (well, the first three members) had been traveling. Now that they’re stuck in a way inside Ba Sing Se, why shouldn’t they take the opportunity to enjoy being stationary? In Toph’s case, though, she’s the kind of girl who has little interest in her own physical appearance, and her wonderful rebellion against this particular society’s gender roles is acted out over the course of this story.

When Katara suggests that they have a girl’s day out, you can see the disappointment in Toph’s face, but what this story does is show how Toph can enjoy herself without compromising who she is. She was naturally reticent towards the idea (especially her feet being touched) because her upbringing was engulfed by this very concept of what femininity was for her. Why would she want to go back to being pampered?

What I love so much about this story is how both Katara and Toph are able to have satisfying both what is considered the more “girly” side of the personalities while they are SILLY AS HELL. Toph is able to make creepy faces using Earthbending towards the attending and just minutes later, she can also admit that she feels quite ok with pampering herself and wearing make-up. The scene with the older girls not only shows how toxic this sort of projected hatred of women can be, but it also allows us to see how Katara and Toph care for each other. Katara knows that being “girly” is a new thing for Toph and she doesn’t want her to feel shamed for it, so I rather adore how quick she is to defend her friend.

Even after earth bending them into a river and then water bending them far downstream, Toph still expresses reservations about the whole thing. Words still can hurt people and Toph is hurt. But Katara steps up to the plate and tells Toph the truth, that she IS rather pretty, and that her confidence and self-worth is beautiful. (Well, in her own way.)

I guess that’s what I love about this so much. It’s about supporting your friends when you are down and protecting them from the shame that society tries to heap on them for being themselves. THIS SHOW, Y’ALL.

IROH

If anything, Iroh’s story is just a further continuation of his characterization as one of the most polite and respectable people we’ve seen in the show. Iroh is able to find joy and peace in nearly every act, no matter how banal or how negative it is. Wherever he goes, he wears a smile on his face, and that smile is infectious. It spreads to the owner of a shop selling picnic baskets, and it spreads to the ailing Moon Flower, and it spreads to the young crying boy, who is comforted by Iroh’s magnificent song on the liuqin.

Iroh moves through the world with a deep understanding of love and an even deeper appreciation for the very fact that he is alive, and I love watching him inject that ferocity into others. Even when Iroh is presented with the threat of theft by a mugger (WHO WAS TOTALLY IN “City of Walls and Secrets”), he can’t frown or feel threatened. He merely instructs the man on the proper fighting stance, demonstrating how poor his technique is currently, and how he can correct it to improve. And really, only Iroh would act out this sort of patience with someone who is essentially threatening his life. Hell, he even invites the man to join him for tea! WHERE IS MY TEA DATE WITH IROH.

He imparts the same wisdom here with the mugger that we’ve heard him give both Zuko and Toph: it is perfectly all right to be blessed with the help of others when you need it. And time and time again, Iroh is always willing to be the one to provide that support.

That evening, we learn why Iroh bought a picnic basket, as he ascends a grassy knoll in one of the more beautiful scenes in the whole series. The colors of the Fire Nation swirl behind him, almost as if the writers are giving us a visual hint to what Iroh is about to do, as he begins to set up his picnic. That picnic actually turns out to be a memorial, as it is the exact birth date of Lu Ten, and as the camera flashes to the cloth Iroh laid out, where we learn it’s actually a photo of his dead son, Iroh’s eyes fill with tears. He lights two sticks of incense and gives THE MOST DEPRESSING MONOLOGUE I MAY HAVE EVER HEARD. Oh, Iroh, your story breaks my heart a thousand times over. I don’t know if everything that Iroh does now is out of guilt, as I feel he’s moved past the guilt of losing his son, but at the very least, it has inspired him to help others. As Iroh begins to sing that exact same song he sang to the crying child, I found myself WEEPING PROFUSELY IN A LAUNDROMAT. oh god iron you need all of the hugs ever

(PS: I just found out what the dedication at the end of this story meant. fucking hell I NEED TO BE HELD RIGHT NOW)

AANG

In a way, there’s a neat parallel between Iroh and Aang: both of them have a zest for helping others out. As Aang searches Ba Sing Se for any sign of Appa, he comes upon a zoo that’s derelict and run down, due to a lack of funding from the Dai Li. Drawn to the place and the man who runs it because of his inherent love for animals. Well….that doesn’t always work for Aang, as we see here.

Of all the stories, Aang’s feels the shortest. He gets the idea to take all of the caged beasts who live in this depressing zoo and free them so that he can put them outside the walls and live a higher quality of life. And you know, I’m happy to get this small little story, but there’s not really anything terribly huge or life-changing that happens in it. Aang’s love for the animals gets the best of him, as they chaotically roam the town, and he uses Appa’s bison whistle to call them all towards the outer wall in order to let them out. (Well, there’s also CABBAGE GUY, who YET AGAIN loses his cabbages by some feat of poor luck. Poor guy.) I loved how massive the range of the bison whistle was, but unfortunately, it doesn’t trigger any notice that Appa is around. Where is he???

If anything, Aang’s story is certainly a reminder to us all that Aang has become quite a talented earth bender and the speed and creativity shown when Aang is constructing the new zoo is rather impressive. This is probably the only show I could think of where someone building a zoo in thirty seconds from scratch is not something that’s a disaster. That’s pretty neat.

(One small question: If this zoo was outside the inner wall and it was a big deal that the walls had to be opened….how did so many people just suddenly show up at the zoo after it was made?)

SOKKA

Oh, Sokka. All of your problems are caused by yourself. And I love you for it.

Sokka’s story is also rather short, but it’s such a treat to watch. We can tell how out-of-place that he feels trapped inside those mighty walls, not allowed to talk about fighting the Fire Nation, let alone fighting them. As he wanders the streets of Ba Sing Se, it’s a testament to his determination that he still manages to find a confrontation.

But this particular conversation is so absurd and ridiculous that it’s impossible for me not to smile while I think about it. I think it’s great that Sokka’s tale teaches people about the pattern of haikus and then has him get into a HAIKU WAR with the teacher. Oh, Sokka. Seriously, never change.

ZUKO

Uh, Zuko, could you please just have one completely happy moment. :(

I’ll still maintain that Zuko is the best written-character in Avatar and this story is no exception. And while I do recognize just how depressing Zuko’s story is, we do get to see the smallest smidgeon of hope in him here. It all starts off with paranoia, as Zuko suspects that a young woman at the tea house has figured out that he is Fire Nation. Iroh, however, recognizes that Zuko’s fear has clouded him from a much simpler reality: this girl is totally crushing on Zuko. But Zuko has no experience with such a thing, and so he interprets her actions in the only way that he can: in terms of war.

So Iroh sets up a date for his nephew and because of this, we get to see Zuko with slicked back hair and it is the most adorable thing ever and he is so handsome and oh god i just want him to be happy. His date, a young woman named Jin, is a tad more confident than he is, but it’s nice that they are largely both treading on unfamiliar ground. The small talk is awkward and it doesn’t help that Zuko can’t be honest about who he is, so his imagined life is even more bizarre than it already is. And really, Zuko: traveling circus? Juggling??? Oh gosh, YOU ARE SO TRAGICALLY CUTE.

Still, Zuko does begin to understand that he needs to let his guard down every once in a while, and for the briefest of moments, he does it here. Jin takes him to a fountain that is normally light with a collection of lanterns, but vocalizes her disappointment when they arrive and they’re all off. The risk Zuko takes to impress Jin here should not be understated: he could have exposed himself to anyone in Ba Sing Se and risk expulsion (and probably a whole lot of pain) for him and Iroh.

Instead, he secretly lights the lanterns for Jin, and the two share an intimate moment that I never would have expected from Zuko. I was even more surprised that after Jin kissed him, he paused and gave her a kiss. And for that small, tiny window of time, Zuko allowed himself to be completely and totally vulnerable. But that moment ends as quickly as it started, and Zuko pulls away. “It’s complicated,” he says. And he runs away, as he’s so prone to do.

And yet, even when he sees Iroh that night and predictably slams the door at Iroh’s questioning, it’s still not what he relies on completely. He reopens his door and tells Iroh that his night was “nice.” It’s a step. It’s a step towards healing. And I appreciate it all the more.

MOMO

oh my god HE GETS HIS OWN STORY. Thank you, writers, for treating Momo as a character who deserves their own story, and for giving us one that’s both adorable and incredibly crushing.

I mean, how sad was it that Momo finds a tuft of Appa’s fur and then imagines him to be all around? We have seen how badly Aang misses Appa, but at this point, I’d not really considered how close Momo had become to his big furry friend. And it’s during this search that Momo happens to accidentally come across GIGANTIC PUMAS. What? And while a bulk of his story deals with the ridiculous chase that follows (and the amazing scene with the dancing monkeys, which is one of Momo’s best), it’s more about where this leads to: friendship and loneliness. As Momo and the pumas are eventually caught by a butcher and face certain death (and a future on some plates), Momo frees himself and the pumas (despite that the pumas nearly ate him) and the four creatures escape on the rooftops.

(For the record, one of my cats acts exactly like the puma who snuggles Momo. She is a snuggle BEAST.)

What’s really important to me is the fact that the pumas lead Momo to a giant footprint after coming into contact with Appa’s fur, and it’s the first visual confirmation that Appa is alive somewhere inside Ba Sing Se. Unfortunately, there’s no other sign, and Momo, missing his companion more than anything, curls up in that giant footprint as the rain begins to fall and I feel like crying again.

goddamn it, Avatar.

About xpanasonicyouthx

Vegan cyclist, Internet community nerd, atheist bookworm, high-five purveyor
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443 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Avatar’: S02E15 – Tales of Ba Sing Se

  1. The Tale of Toph and Katara
    Ba Sing Se mean girls
    Should not mess with Earthbenders.
    Yay, female bonding!

    The Tale of Iroh
    Cry cry cry cry cry.
    Cry cry cry cry cry cry cry.
    Cry cry cry cry cry.

    The Tale of Aang
    Poor Cabbage Merchant.
    You'll never save your cabbages.
    Fucking Avatar.

    The Tale of Sokka
    Haiku slam battle?
    This is the best show ever.
    Fuck yeah, Avatar!

    The Tale of Zuko
    ZUKO ON A DATE!
    Well, some people juggle geese.
    His heart burns for her.

    The Tale of Momo
    Where's Appa, Momo?
    Is he there, or there, or there?
    He was here. Cry, rain.

  2. arctic_hare says:

    FINALLY! FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY! YOU ARE FINALLY AT THIS EPISODE! Forgive the all-caps and the excitability, it's just that I am deeply in love with this episode and everything it chooses to be. Plus I've been really eager to see your reaction to it, if only because it's such a brilliant example of a show breaking from its usual format to tell a story – or in this case, stories – in a different way. Like you, I'm always up for that, and this episode is already quite possibly my favorite instance of that in anything ever, simply because of the specific format it takes. It feels like an anthology of short stories in visual form, and I love short story collections, so that is already major points in its favor. The stories themselves have a strong "slice of life" feel, which also is something I really love in fiction. It's a great way to show each of the characters doing their own thing as they acclimate themselves to life in Ba Sing Se, just everyday things that explore their personalities and function as wonderful bits of characterization. The fact that each one only lasts a few minutes just adds to the brilliance – you get so much out of so little.

    I'll tackle each tale separately.

    The Tale of Toph and Katara – ~Girly bonding time~, yay! I love this little glimpse into how far Katara and Toph have come in their friendship from the antagonism on display in The Chase. They clearly enjoy spending time together now, and it warms my heart to see it. I also really dig the gender issues explored here: Toph is not a girly girl at all, and shows it in multiple ways. She spits, she doesn't care about getting cleaned up, etc. – hooray for subverting gender roles! Yet, she ends up having fun with Katara at the spa (aside from the foot massage); I think because it was a nice change for her to do that sort of thing for the enjoyment of it, with a friend, rather than because it was something expected of her because of her gender or status. I love how they work together to create the steam in the sauna, and later to take down those jerks making fun of them, and Toph bending the mud on her face to freak out the spa attendant is hilarious.

    It's refreshing, too, to have a female character that honestly doesn't care what people think of her appearance, and to be so confident and self-assured (though she's still hurt by what those girls said, and I can't blame her; makes me want to smack them for being mean to Toph). I also enjoy that Katara and Toph are allowed to have a girly day and not have that take away at all from their badass in battle. And seeing them have a strong friendship and interact on their own without once discussing romance or guys in general? Pretty damn sweet. As is the ending of this tale.

    The Tale of Iroh – "OMG FUCK YES! IROH! THIS IS GOING TO BE AWESOME!" was my immediate reaction to seeing this title onscreen. And, well… it was, but I feel that just saying that wouldn't do justice to this, my very favorite of all the stories in this episode.

    For the entirety of this part, I couldn't get it off my mind that Iroh is now living in the place where he lost his son. I kept thinking about that part of his story and wondering how it must feel for him to be doing that, and things like him singing to the child at the beginning to stop him crying made me kind of whimper a little inside, because I couldn't forget that Iroh is a father, and no doubt was a very kindly one to Lu Ten, if his behavior with Zuko is anything to go by.

    All the same, I was completely unprepared for the ending, where he sets up a makeshift shrine to his dead son and wishes him a happy birthday, and begins crying as he expresses his regret that he couldn't help him, before singing the very same song he sang to that little boy. I… pretty much burst into tears while watching, and then It Got Worse when "In Honor of Mako" came up on screen, and I cried even harder. All my tears forever and ever.

    When I thought about it later, it occurred to me that The Tale of Iroh isn't just a tale about a day in the life of Iroh in Ba Sing Se, it is truly a tale of Iroh, in the sense that it is a concise summation of Iroh himself and all we love about him. We see him being sweet and fatherly towards the little boy at the beginning; hilarious with the kids who break a window; glimpses of his inner badass with the would-be mugger; he dispenses sage advice (that echoes what he told Toph in The Chase) and tea for the same would-be mugger; and we see the heartbreaking tragedy of his backstory at the end. That is Iroh in a nutshell: wise, kind, a wonderful father figure, secretly badass, funny, loves tea, and has a tragic backstory. This story encapsulates the essence of Iroh perfectly, in just a few minutes. That, my friends, is incredible storytelling.

    And I can't watch it without crying my eyes out.

    (cont)

  3. arctic_hare says:

    The Tale of Momo – Before I get down to my actual feelings on this final tale, I have to make note of something.

    6. HELL, LET US HAVE AN EPISODE DEVOTED TO MOMO, TOO.

    I don't know if this was a serious prediction or just a wish, but I'll award you a gold star anyway, BECAUSE WE ACTUALLY SORTA GOT IT. :D In that we get a part of an episode devoted to Momo, and since this is a series of short stories rather than one big narrative, I think it absolutely counts, as it's a mini-episode.

    <img src="http://i52.tinypic.com/a9vd07.png"/&gt;

    Boy, this one does not waste any time at all twisting the knife, does it? Not even a minute in, and my heart is already breaking, because APPA. And Momo misses Appa. :( This is one of my favorite things about this show, the animals are characters in their own right and yet are still recognizably animals in so many ways. Here we see that Aang isn't the only one having a hard time coping with Appa's loss, Momo is too, because Appa is his friend too. It's just the cutest thing, I love friendships and animals and cute animal friendships, only here it's also depressing as hell because Appa is missing and Momo is so sad about it. The way his ears flop down each time he realizes he didn't actually see Appa is just… :(

    We're soon treated to comic relief, though – after the scary, scary sequence of Momo being chased by those cats, he gets pulled into joining a performance of some dancing monkeys. I love Momo's dancing. <3 <3 <3 Then, after another brief but scary chase, MOMO VISION IS BACK FUCK YES! :D And he saves the cats, and they all snuggle on a rooftop, and it is ULTRA CONCENTRATED CUTENESS DESIGNED TO HIT MY WEAK POINT and I'm just on the verge of overload when one of the cats takes off with the bit of Appa's fur Momo had tied around his wrist WHAT. At first I was like "THIS IS HOW YOU'RE REPAYING HIM FOR SAVING YOU?" and then I realized where they'd taken him: Appa's giant footprint. And then Momo curls up in it as it rains and heartbreak forever. :(

  4. kartikeya200 says:

    <img src="http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y29/kartikeya/Avatar/tales1.jpg"&gt;

    I think Tales of Ba Sing Se is absolutely a filler episode in the best possible way. It's the filler episode all filler episodes should aspire to be, a piece where the plot takes a break (aside from that little teaser at the very end) for some fun, some comic relief after all of that intensity, but, especially, character building.

    And it's gorgeous. And it gutpunches you (especially with Iroh, but shockingly, also with Momo). And it has time for a beautiful dedication to a great actor. And there are hilarious moments. Haiku!

    <img src="http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y29/kartikeya/Avatar/tales2.jpg"&gt;

    Designing a sprawling metropolis like Ba Sing Se was no easy task. But Jevon Bue constantly amazed us with his meticulous, epic background designs.

  5. kartikeya200 says:

    <img src="http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y29/kartikeya/Avatar/tales1.jpg"&gt;

    I think Tales of Ba Sing Se is absolutely a filler episode in the best possible way. It's the filler episode all filler episodes should aspire to be, a piece where the plot takes a break (aside from that little teaser at the very end) for some fun, some comic relief after all of that intensity, but, especially, character building.

    And it's gorgeous. And it gutpunches you (especially with Iroh, but shockingly, also with Momo). And it has time for a beautiful dedication to a great actor. And there are hilarious moments. Haiku!

    <img src="http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y29/kartikeya/Avatar/tales2.jpg"&gt;

    Designing a sprawling metropolis like Ba Sing Se was no easy task. But Jevon Bue constantly amazed us with his meticulous, epic background designs.

  6. kartikeya200 says:

    <img src="http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y29/kartikeya/Avatar/tales1.jpg"&gt;

    I think Tales of Ba Sing Se is absolutely a filler episode in the best possible way. It's the filler episode all filler episodes should aspire to be, a piece where the plot takes a break (aside from that little teaser at the very end) for some fun, some comic relief after all of that intensity, but, especially, character building.

    And it's gorgeous. And it gutpunches you (especially with Iroh, but shockingly, also with Momo). And it has time for a beautiful dedication to a great actor. And there are hilarious moments. Haiku!

    <img src="http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y29/kartikeya/Avatar/tales2.jpg"&gt;

    Designing a sprawling metropolis like Ba Sing Se was no easy task. But Jevon Bue constantly amazed us with his meticulous, epic background designs.

  7. Tauriel_ says:

    The Tale of Toph and Katara:

    How awesome this show is? The morale of this story seems to be: You can be a badass, and there's STILL nothing wrong with feeling/being girly from time to time! <3

    The Tale of Iroh:

    ALL THE CREYS. Also, I wish we'd see a grown-up Lu Ten in a flashback. He looks quite handsome. :)

    <img src="http://images.wikia.com/avatar/images/d/d6/Lu_Ten.png"&gt;

    The Tale of Sokka:

    Just awesomeness. XD

    The Tale of Zuko:

    Full of lulz, but it's nice to see that Zuko actually has a heart underneath all that anger and angst! *gasp* *shock*

  8. Tauriel_ says:

    The Tale of Toph and Katara:

    How awesome this show is? The morale of this story seems to be: You can be a badass, and there's STILL nothing wrong with feeling/being girly from time to time! <3

    The Tale of Iroh:

    ALL THE CREYS. Also, I wish we'd see a grown-up Lu Ten in a flashback. He looks quite handsome. :)

    <img src="http://images.wikia.com/avatar/images/d/d6/Lu_Ten.png"&gt;

    The Tale of Sokka:

    Just awesomeness. XD

    The Tale of Zuko:

    Full of lulz, but it's nice to see that Zuko actually has a heart underneath all that anger and angst! *gasp* *shock*

  9. Tauriel_ says:

    The Tale of Toph and Katara:

    How awesome this show is? The morale of this story seems to be: You can be a badass, and there's STILL nothing wrong with feeling/being girly from time to time! <3

    The Tale of Iroh:

    ALL THE CREYS. Also, I wish we'd see a grown-up Lu Ten in a flashback. He looks quite handsome. :)

    <img src="http://images.wikia.com/avatar/images/d/d6/Lu_Ten.png"&gt;

    The Tale of Sokka:

    Just awesomeness. XD

    The Tale of Zuko:

    Full of lulz, but it's nice to see that Zuko actually has a heart underneath all that anger and angst! *gasp* *shock*

  10. lilah80 says:

    "Dear Diary,
    It wasn't really a date, it was just two people doing activities in a coordinated fashion in the same area. But even though it totally wasn't a date, Uncle insisted on telling me about the antelope-birds and the mocking-bees while he did my hair. It all sounds pretty undignified. I think he must be mistaken. Mother and Father wouldn't have done that. And I'm pretty sure that Azula sprang fully formed from the depths of a subterranean vent in hell." – Zuko

  11. monkeybutter says:

    The first thing I think of when this episode is mentioned is

    <img src="http://i52.tinypic.com/28b9mvt.gif"&gt;

    then

    <img src="http://i56.tinypic.com/szhjma.gif"&gt;

    which reduces me to

    <img src="http://i53.tinypic.com/2h3a71y.gif"&gt;

    I can't believe you watched it in a laundromat. It's like "Jurassic Bark;" you're going to be blubbering. When you made your prediction that Iroh would be the first to die, it broke my heart and I knew you wouldn't be prepared for this episode and finding out that Mako died. Iroh and Momo…whyyyy.

    Even though those two parts are overwhelmingly sad, I love everyone else's stories. Aang gets to help some animals, and turn his grief into something productive. Sokka gets to show off, flirt with some girls, and eventually his pride dooms him, like always. Zuko is adorable and awkward. It's sweet that his uncle wants him to try and connect with his new home. And I'm proud of him for doing something nice for Jin. It was really sweet. Toph and Katara have my favorite light-hearted vignette, though. I loved seeing that they could do something girly and relaxing together. For Toph, behavior expected of girls comes with a lot of baggage, but they actually had fun. And I loved them bonding over revenge on mean girls.

    <img src="http://i54.tinypic.com/10eeot1.gif"&gt;

  12. monkeybutter says:

    The first thing I think of when this episode is mentioned is

    <img src="http://i52.tinypic.com/28b9mvt.gif"&gt;

    then

    <img src="http://i56.tinypic.com/szhjma.gif"&gt;

    which reduces me to

    <img src="http://i53.tinypic.com/2h3a71y.gif"&gt;

    I can't believe you watched it in a laundromat. It's like "Jurassic Bark;" you're going to be blubbering. When you made your prediction that Iroh would be the first to die, it broke my heart and I knew you wouldn't be prepared for this episode and finding out that Mako died. Iroh and Momo…whyyyy.

    Even though those two parts are overwhelmingly sad, I love everyone else's stories. Aang gets to help some animals, and turn his grief into something productive. Sokka gets to show off, flirt with some girls, and eventually his pride dooms him, like always. Zuko is adorable and awkward. It's sweet that his uncle wants him to try and connect with his new home. And I'm proud of him for doing something nice for Jin. It was really sweet. Toph and Katara have my favorite light-hearted vignette, though. I loved seeing that they could do something girly and relaxing together. For Toph, stereotypically girly behavior comes with a lot of baggage, but they actually had fun. And I loved them bonding over revenge on mean girls.

    <img src="http://i54.tinypic.com/10eeot1.gif"&gt;

    • justira says:

      oh my god that momo gif ;_;

    • NeonProdigy says:

      I could watch that gif of Toph and Katara all day long…

    • majere616 says:

      Sad Things and My Reactions:
      Brother Hit by Bus (4-day Coma)- "Look at all the fucks I give."
      Cat of 13 Years Dies- "Huh"
      Pokemon the First Movie-"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"
      Harry Potter and the Halfblood Prince-"DAMN YOU ROWLING! WHY DO YOU HATE HAPPINESS?"
      Tales of Ba Sing Se-*sound of my heart being ripped out of my chest, torn into shreds, and then ground into the dirt leaving me a trembling, broken shell of a man*

      Something is very wrong with me…

    • Patrick721 says:

      someone needs to photoshop the faces of the girls from Mean Girls onto those girls…I really wish there were a way to write that sentence without using "girls" so many times.

  13. monkeybutter says:

    The first thing I think of when this episode is mentioned is

    <img src="http://i52.tinypic.com/28b9mvt.gif"&gt;

    then

    <img src="http://i56.tinypic.com/szhjma.gif"&gt;

    which reduces me to

    <img src="http://i53.tinypic.com/2h3a71y.gif"&gt;

    I can't believe you watched it in a laundromat. It's like "Jurassic Bark;" you're going to be blubbering. When you made your prediction that Iroh would be the first to die, it broke my heart and I knew you wouldn't be prepared for this episode and finding out that Mako died. Iroh and Momo…whyyyy.

    Even though those two parts are overwhelmingly sad, I love everyone else's stories. Aang gets to help some animals, and turn his grief into something productive. Sokka gets to show off, flirt with some girls, and eventually his pride dooms him, like always. Zuko is adorable and awkward. It's sweet that his uncle wants him to try and connect with his new home. And I'm proud of him for doing something nice for Jin. It was really sweet. Toph and Katara have my favorite light-hearted vignette, though. I loved seeing that they could do something girly and relaxing together. For Toph, behavior expected of girls comes with a lot of baggage, but they actually had fun. And I loved them bonding over revenge on mean girls.

    <img src="http://i54.tinypic.com/10eeot1.gif"&gt;

  14. Dragonsong12 says:

    You know, Zuko is not my favorite Avatar character by quite a lot, but I totally and completely agree with you – his story is the best. His arc is far and away the most complex and interesting of any of the characters of Avatar, and that's saying a lot. It's really amazing to follow it from beginning to end, and I really do adore what they did with him.

    …and oh man, Momo and (most especially) Iroh's tales get me every time. It doesn't get any easier on rewatches either. Just when you think you made it through, that dedication pops up and it's over. I think Aang's story may have been so light just to compensate for that.
    Bless this show.

  15. justira says:

    Tale of Sokka

    Besides the incredible and utter hilarity of this segment, what I notice here is the continued careful emotional pacing. The tales have progressed chronologically throughout the day — Toph and Katara's in the morning, Iroh's starts a little later, Aang's in high daylight. Now, Sokka's is taking place in the early evening, and while Aang's tale ended on a very positive note, Sokka's — while pretty lighthearted and silly overall — ended with him failing at haiku and getting kicked out. I wouldn't say this is a negative ending, but along with the diminishing sunlight, I feel like it carefully sets us up for the ride back down to the drowned kingdom of endless tears.

    Tale of Zuko

    Okay, besides how cute and sweet this tale was and the great look at Zuko's emotional state, I really want to emphasize something: this tale felt so good to me in terms of its messages about female agency and desire. Jin — who is utterly freaking delightful, by the way — asks him out. Absolutely nothing is made of this, as if women experiencing and actively expressing desire, instead of waiting around for men to come and get them and validate them with their manly approval, is totally normal and okay! Halleh-freaking-lujah! While things don't really work out for Zuko and Jin, I feel like the writers really portrayed Jin in an extremely positive light, and I so appreciate this. It's also very interesting to compare Zuko's response to Jin to his response to Song — I think it's another way for the writers to show us how much he's changed and grown emotionally over the course of the season — but he's still not quite there.

    I also feel like this tale has some of the best atmosphere/setting, showing us several different places in Ba Sing Se with that wonderful class awareness always going on in the background. So great! I also just love the sequence where Jin pulls Zuko down the street to the fountain.

    And things that will never get old: Zuko juggling, and this:

    <img src="http://piandao.org/screencaps/ep35/ep35-1074.png&quot; />

    Tale of Momo

    AND BACK TO TEARS

    Once again with the perfect emotional pitch! Zuko's tale continued the trend toward a little more depth and seriousness, and now we come to Momo, a sustained mix of tears and silliness and more tears. First of all, I LOVE LOVE LOVE that Momo gets his own tale. It really shows how the writers care about him as a distinct character, not just set dressing — he's not a prop, he's his own being with needs and emotions. It's heartbreaking how he's shown to miss Appa, to feel not quite at home in his new surroundings. His adventure and antics are hilarious and then heartwarming — I love when the rescued pygmy pumas (HOW GREAT ARE THEY BY THE WAY; also I love enemies-turned-friends stories) lick and groom Momo after their ordeal.

    AND THEN THIS HAPPENS

    <img src="http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20090302125216/avatar/images/thumb/8/8b/Momo_sad.png/200px-Momo_sad.png&quot; />

    oh my god ALL THE TEARS AND ALL THE SUSPENSE

    APPA!!!

    Overall this episode felt like such an amazing look at the richness of Ba Sing Se, giving so many characters their own space and juggling emotional and plot advancement so well. BRAVO.

  16. justira says:

    Tale of Sokka

    Besides the incredible and utter hilarity of this segment, what I notice here is the continued careful emotional pacing. The tales have progressed chronologically throughout the day — Toph and Katara's in the morning, Iroh's starts a little later, Aang's in high daylight. Now, Sokka's is taking place in the early evening, and while Aang's tale ended on a very positive note, Sokka's — while pretty lighthearted and silly overall — ended with him failing at haiku and getting kicked out. I wouldn't say this is a negative ending, but along with the diminishing sunlight, I feel like it carefully sets us up for the ride back down to the drowned kingdom of endless tears.

    Tale of Zuko

    Okay, besides how cute and sweet this tale was and the great look at Zuko's emotional state, I really want to emphasize something: this tale felt so good to me in terms of its messages about female agency and desire. Jin — who is utterly freaking delightful, by the way — asks him out. Absolutely nothing is made of this, as if women experiencing and actively expressing desire, instead of waiting around for men to come and get them and validate them with their manly approval, is totally normal and okay! Halleh-freaking-lujah! While things don't really work out for Zuko and Jin, I feel like the writers really portrayed Jin in an extremely positive light, and I so appreciate this. It's also very interesting to compare Zuko's response to Jin to his response to Song — I think it's another way for the writers to show us how much he's changed and grown emotionally over the course of the season — but he's still not quite there.

    I also feel like this tale has some of the best atmosphere/setting, showing us several different places in Ba Sing Se with that wonderful class awareness always going on in the background. So great! I also just love the sequence where Jin pulls Zuko down the street to the fountain.

    And things that will never get old: Zuko juggling, and this:

    <img src="http://piandao.org/screencaps/ep35/ep35-1074.png&quot; />

    Tale of Momo

    AND BACK TO TEARS

    Once again with the perfect emotional pitch! Zuko's tale continued the trend toward a little more depth and seriousness, and now we come to Momo, a sustained mix of tears and silliness and more tears. First of all, I LOVE LOVE LOVE that Momo gets his own tale. It really shows how the writers care about him as a distinct character, not just set dressing — he's not a prop, he's his own being with needs and emotions. It's heartbreaking how he's shown to miss Appa, to feel not quite at home in his new surroundings. His adventure and antics are hilarious and then heartwarming — I love when the rescued pygmy pumas (HOW GREAT ARE THEY BY THE WAY; also I love enemies-turned-friends stories) lick and groom Momo after their ordeal.

    AND THEN THIS HAPPENS

    <img src="http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20090302125216/avatar/images/thumb/8/8b/Momo_sad.png/200px-Momo_sad.png&quot; />

    oh my god ALL THE TEARS AND ALL THE SUSPENSE

    APPA!!!

    Overall this episode felt like such an amazing look at the richness of Ba Sing Se, giving so many characters their own space and juggling emotional and plot advancement so well. BRAVO.

  17. justira says:

    Tale of Sokka

    Besides the incredible and utter hilarity of this segment, what I notice here is the continued careful emotional pacing. The tales have progressed chronologically throughout the day — Toph and Katara's in the morning, Iroh's starts a little later, Aang's in high daylight. Now, Sokka's is taking place in the early evening, and while Aang's tale ended on a very positive note, Sokka's — while pretty lighthearted and silly overall — ended with him failing at haiku and getting kicked out. I wouldn't say this is a negative ending, but along with the diminishing sunlight, I feel like it carefully sets us up for the ride back down to the drowned kingdom of endless tears.

    Tale of Zuko

    Okay, besides how cute and sweet this tale was and the great look at Zuko's emotional state, I really want to emphasize something: this tale felt so good to me in terms of its messages about female agency and desire. Jin — who is utterly freaking delightful, by the way — asks him out. Absolutely nothing is made of this, as if women experiencing and actively expressing desire, instead of waiting around for men to come and get them and validate them with their manly approval, is totally normal and okay! Halleh-freaking-lujah! While things don't really work out for Zuko and Jin, I feel like the writers really portrayed Jin in an extremely positive light, and I so appreciate this. It's also very interesting to compare Zuko's response to Jin to his response to Song — I think it's another way for the writers to show us how much he's changed and grown emotionally over the course of the season — but he's still not quite there.

    I also feel like this tale has some of the best atmosphere/setting, showing us several different places in Ba Sing Se with that wonderful class awareness always going on in the background. So great! I also just love the sequence where Jin pulls Zuko down the street to the fountain.

    And things that will never get old: Zuko juggling, and this:

    <img src="http://piandao.org/screencaps/ep35/ep35-1074.png&quot; />

    Tale of Momo

    AND BACK TO TEARS

    Once again with the perfect emotional pitch! Zuko's tale continued the trend toward a little more depth and seriousness, and now we come to Momo, a sustained mix of tears and silliness and more tears. First of all, I LOVE LOVE LOVE that Momo gets his own tale. It really shows how the writers care about him as a distinct character, not just set dressing — he's not a prop, he's his own being with needs and emotions. It's heartbreaking how he's shown to miss Appa, to feel not quite at home in his new surroundings. His adventure and antics are hilarious and then heartwarming — I love when the rescued pygmy pumas (HOW GREAT ARE THEY BY THE WAY; also I love enemies-turned-friends stories) lick and groom Momo after their ordeal.

    AND THEN THIS HAPPENS

    <img src="http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20090302125216/avatar/images/thumb/8/8b/Momo_sad.png/200px-Momo_sad.png&quot; />

    oh my god ALL THE TEARS AND ALL THE SUSPENSE

    APPA!!!

    Overall this episode felt like such an amazing look at the richness of Ba Sing Se, giving so many characters their own space and juggling emotional and plot advancement so well. BRAVO.

  18. justira says:

    Tale of Sokka

    Besides the incredible and utter hilarity of this segment, what I notice here is the continued careful emotional pacing. The tales have progressed chronologically throughout the day — Toph and Katara's in the morning, Iroh's starts a little later, Aang's in high daylight. Now, Sokka's is taking place in the early evening, and while Aang's tale ended on a very positive note, Sokka's — while pretty lighthearted and silly overall — ended with him failing at haiku and getting kicked out. I wouldn't say this is a negative ending, but along with the diminishing sunlight, I feel like it carefully sets us up for the ride back down to the drowned kingdom of endless tears.

    Tale of Zuko

    Okay, besides how cute and sweet this tale was and the great look at Zuko's emotional state, I really want to emphasize something: this tale felt so good to me in terms of its messages about female agency and desire. Jin — who is utterly freaking delightful, by the way — asks him out. Absolutely nothing is made of this, as if women experiencing and actively expressing desire, instead of waiting around for men to come and get them and validate them with their manly approval, is totally normal and okay! Halleh-freaking-lujah! While things don't really work out for Zuko and Jin, I feel like the writers really portrayed Jin in an extremely positive light, and I so appreciate this. It's also very interesting to compare Zuko's response to Jin to his response to Song — I think it's another way for the writers to show us how much he's changed and grown emotionally over the course of the season — but he's still not quite there.

    I also feel like this tale has some of the best atmosphere/setting, showing us several different places in Ba Sing Se with that wonderful class awareness always going on in the background. So great! I also just love the sequence where Jin pulls Zuko down the street to the fountain.

    And things that will never get old: Zuko juggling, and this:

    <img src="http://piandao.org/screencaps/ep35/ep35-1074.png&quot; />

    Tale of Momo

    AND BACK TO TEARS

    Once again with the perfect emotional pitch! Zuko's tale continued the trend toward a little more depth and seriousness, and now we come to Momo, a sustained mix of tears and silliness and more tears. First of all, I LOVE LOVE LOVE that Momo gets his own tale. It really shows how the writers care about him as a distinct character, not just set dressing — he's not a prop, he's his own being with needs and emotions. It's heartbreaking how he's shown to miss Appa, to feel not quite at home in his new surroundings. His adventure and antics are hilarious and then heartwarming — I love when the rescued pygmy pumas (HOW GREAT ARE THEY BY THE WAY; also I love enemies-turned-friends stories) lick and groom Momo after their ordeal.

    AND THEN THIS HAPPENS

    <img src="http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20090302125216/avatar/images/thumb/8/8b/Momo_sad.png/200px-Momo_sad.png&quot; />

    oh my god ALL THE TEARS AND ALL THE SUSPENSE

    APPA!!!

    Overall this episode felt like such an amazing look at the richness of Ba Sing Se, giving so many characters their own space and juggling emotional and plot advancement so well. BRAVO.

  19. justira says:

    Momo gets his own story in this episode, so it's high time for a Momo art post. Huzzah!

    SO APPROPRIATE, CANNOT UPVOTE ENOUGH!!

  20. shoroko says:

    Okay I love that note on the last Momo sketches way too much. Lemur/monkey/bat/cat-thing!

  21. cswike says:

    I have been waiting for you to get to this episode, simply because it was the first episode of Avatar that actually made me cry. I have probably re-watched Iroh's Story more than any other single episode of this show, because it is so touching and wonderful and SO SAD. Just thought I'd share.

  22. Kaci says:

    I love that even in this episode–which could be considered "filler" by the strictest definition–still gives us moments of character, and develops relationships (Katara and Toph, Momo and Appa, Zuko and Iroh, etc), and gives us a clue towards one of the ongoing plots (Appa's footprint).

    And I love, love, LOVE the fact that when Katara and Toph, who have just spent the day indulging in society's traditional views of what it is to be a woman, are faced with the older women shaming Toph, they immediately use their bending to enact physical revenge upon those women. It's this beautiful, subtle way of saying, "You can get a pedicure and wear make up if those are your choice–but you can also kick ass, too! They are not mutually exclusive, young girls who are watching this show!"

    I know I keep raving on in all my comments about the way this show writes its female characters, but 1) IT DESERVES ALL THE PRAISE; 2) It's rare to see this, particularly on a kid's show; and 3) I'll stop talking about how awesome it is at this the moment IT STOPS BEING THIS AWESOME AT THIS.

  23. Saphling says:

    Mark, you're totally not alone. I had to pause and walk away from my computer for a few minutes when I first finished watching Iroh's story, I was crying so hard. Iroh holds so much strength and wisdom and kindness, and he shares it with everyone he meets. To see him hurting is nothing short of horrible. It shouldn't be allowed.

  24. meatandsarcasm says:

    I cry every time I watch The Tale of Iroh.

    <img src="http://i.imgur.com/EOg3n.gif&quot; alt="" title="Hosted by imgur.com" />

  25. meatandsarcasm says:

    I cry every time I watch The Tale of Iroh.

    <img src="http://i.imgur.com/EOg3n.gif&quot; alt="" title="Hosted by imgur.com" />

  26. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Zuko has one of the best character arcs I have seen in any television show, period.

  27. arctic_hare says:

    CUTE OVERLOAD! *passes out* So much love for Momo.

  28. Ha ha ha ha, AWESOME. I was hoping I had screwed one up just so someone could do that.

  29. @M1ssDirect says:

    Your origin story for Azula is my new personal canon, just so you know.

  30. Dragonsong12 says:

    Oh yeah, in case you wanted to cry some more, here's Iroh's song in Chinese (Mandarin?)

  31. Dragonsong12 says:

    Oh yeah, in case you wanted to cry some more, here's Iroh's song in Chinese (Mandarin?)

  32. monkeybutter says:

    I counted on my fingers like Sokka and everything! :)

  33. Tauriel_ says:

    Chibi-Iroh: Cutest thing ever or CUTEST THING EVER???

  34. thefireandthehearth says:

    This is such a nice episode full of sadness and joy and slice of life-ness and ;^; Comments on each, I have them!

    It makes me a bit sad that Katara and Toph didn't get their own mini-sodes dedicated to each of their adventures, but I'd been wanting more of them together anyway. It's really amazing to see how much their relationship has changed from "The Chase". The moment where Katara compliments Toph on her inner strength and toughness breaks my heart in the best way possible. THere's also one of my favorite little messages here- there's nothing weak or stupid with enjoy feminine things sometimes, and stand by your friends. <3

    For Iroh's…
    <img src="http://i.imgur.com/uBIrl.png"/&gt;
    Yeah. Not much else I can say, other than Iroh is awesome. The reason I started watching the show had passed. I wasn't going to stop, obviously, but still. Sadface forever.

    Aang's story is very cute, and very fitting for him. He's so sad about Appa, but he's not letting that sadness overtake his life. A good lesson for all! And Rabbaroos = adorable.

    Sokka is so much better at haikus than I am. I would have been kicked out in like a millisecond. I'll stick to dirty limericks, thank you.

    OH AND JIN!

    <img src="http://i1232.photobucket.com/albums/ff376/inlovewithzuko/tumblr_lbbrsnd8JP1qdb4h5o1_1280.png"/&gt;

    Do you know how much hate this girl got when this episode first came out? I mean, damn. Just because a girl's confident with herself and friendly, SHE IS A WHORE THAT MUST DIE apparently. Fuck that. Zuko needs more happy people in his life and his actions with Jin give me hope that he can adapt to a life not focused on honor and hunting the Avatar.

    But then Momo's tale shows up and OH MY GOD THE FLYING LEMUR GETS HIS OWN MINI-SPODE BEST SHOW EVER. In ATLA, the animals aren't just adorable furniture- they're characters in their own right. I love that he's on his own quest to find Appa.

    So all in all, this was a nice break from the non-stop brain-breakage of the last episode. Cute, slice-of-life-y, and heartrending; what more do you need?

    • meatandsarcasm says:

      It's ridiculous what batshit shippers (in general) will do and say about a character who dares to have any romantic interest in one half of their OTP. *shakes head*

      Jin is so cute and I love her to bits.

    • justira says:

      Jin: Man, fandom, I WAS DISAPPOINT. Jin was freaking amazing and the hate she got for daring to be confident and expressing her desires. HELLO MISOGYNY, I DID NOT MISS YOU.

      Way to miss one of the great little messages of Zuko's tale fandom. Rock on. Except don't.

      • audzilla says:

        Agreed. This is actually the main reason I have never gotten into fandom. I've been consistently surprised, reading the comments to Mark's reviews and finding out how much fandom hate there is for some things in the series – and how much of it is motivated by peoples' romantic fixation with the characters. I know it's a small subset of fandom, and I like well-written stories in a universe that I love, but some people get so passionate about their "OTP" (had to look up the acronym just now, though I have run into the concept) that they'll flame other people over it. Maybe I have been unlucky? I dipped my toes in, ran into that, and turned right back around again.

        The concept of "OTP" is a bit strange to me in general, I admit. I think this is because if the characters were actual people instead of cartoons it would be creepy and unhealthy behavior to feel so strongly about their romantic choices, and I can't shake that even though the characters are entirely fictional and made of lines on paper. Dismissing the choices of the writers seems a little .. entitled? A few steps removed, but kind of the same thing? Is this too harsh of me?

        • justira says:

          I'm heavily in fandom myself (less specifically the Avatar one, but I'm certainly in plenty of others), and I don't really get OTPs either. I do know plenty of people who have OTPs in the non-creepy way, where it really is just a preference — this is the relationship that interests them most, everyone else is welcome to play however they like. And there are plenty of multishippers, too (which is where I personally fall), who are more interested in exploring the various connections between lots of different characters. (And just as a note, all these ships, OTPs or multishipper interests or whatever, can be canonical or not, just something the fan in question finds interesting.)

          The people who take shipping to a fanatical extreme, though, I don't understand and find pretty disturbing, as these are generally the same people who police other people's fannishness. Which is just not cool. For a lot of such shippers, they insist that their ship is canon, whether they're right or not, and in a lot of ways I do find that dismissive and disrespectful — both of the creators' work and of other fans' interpretations of that work. I do think it's fine and great when people have various ideas, theories, and interpretations on what's canon, but insisting that your interpretation is the only valid one ever (or that you know what's canon better than the creators do)… that doesn't feel right and seems pretty entitled, yeah =

          And, of course, there's often a lot of intersection with kyriarchy in that kind of shipping, where arguments against the other possible partners (usually women) are framed around how terrible the other woman is.

          =|

          All that said, though, fandom's a big place! There are plenty of places that are distinctly *not* like that, and it depends on the fandom, too. I've tended to avoid Avatar fandom at large, but I've found smaller corners where things are pretty sweet =D

        • mary says:

          you're probably going to get scared but you better know…

          there are people who actually Ship real people. (currently the insanity is in the harry potter fandom)
          and it's just as bad (well worse since it's Real People) as with characters.

          and 100 creepier.

    • majere616 says:

      How dare she try to come between Zuko and Honor! That home-wrecker, trying to take advantage of a rough patch in the relationship!

    • Hyatt says:

      You forgot that Jin's a gold-digger and only interested in Zuko because he's the prince of the Fire Nation (…yeah), and that she uses her looks (read: big boobs) to manipulate men.

      • majere616 says:

        *gasp* That cunning trollop!

      • thefireandthehearth says:

        … I actually remember reading something like that which had been written in all seriousness.

        Oh, ATLA fandom. Back in the day, you were wacky enough to make the HP fandom proud.

        • Hyatt says:

          Over at fandom_wank, we called the Zutara shippers the new Harmoanians.

        • meatandsarcasm says:

          Did you read the interview Mike and Bryan did a couple months ago? I don't want to go into details since it involves spoilers, but the explosion from some parts of fandom reminded me of the HP bullshit I had to deal with since I was involved in the R/Hr and H/Hr ship war. Luckily I got into Avatar after the series ended and haven't ventured too far into the fandom myself, but several people in the comm on LJ I participate in were pissed off.

          • Ken says:

            Could you link to the interview/community? Or would that count as a spoiler?

          • justira says:

            Seconding the request for link, as long as it's not spoilery! Or if it's in the spoiler forum…?

            • meatandsarcasm says:

              It has spoilers in it, sorry! But once Mark and everyone who is watching along with Mark finishes the series, I'm sure someone will link to the interview.

          • Jabberwocky says:

            Ugh, yes, I know what you're referring to. Only Avatar fandom could create drama out of the writers confirming the show canon. >_> I don't even have words for that kind of nonsense. The show's canon is canon. If you don't like it, write fanfic around it, but don't whine when that canon is reinforced.

            • The Welsh Pirate says:

              Naw, the HP fandom was able to do that as well.

              • hpfish13 says:

                Seriously, here's just one (pretty mild) example
                http://www.mugglenet.com/wallofshame-special.shtm

                • The Welsh Pirate says:

                  Maybe it's a little immature of me, but Rowling's "anvil-sized hints" quote never ceases to amuse me.

                • audzilla says:

                  "DFlataphilia: She [JKR] is no genius afterall – what you see is what you get. Too bad that Harmonians do seem to be more intelligent, thoughtful, and brilliant than she is, which is probably why she's been treating us the way she has lately."

                  Wow. She's treating her fans badly by writing her own story her own way?

                  That is amazing.

              • FlameRaven says:

                I'll believe that. Honestly, I actively avoided HP fandom because they had such a reputation for drama. I mean, I wasn't that interested in HP fic anyway (I like the books but am not all that interested in exploring the world) but the fandom reputation made sure I kept away. I did hear that some fan actually went so far as to write an entirely different version of Deathly Hallows because they hated the Ron/Hermione pairing. So… yeah.

                It seems Twilight has dethroned them as the Fandom of Drama, but yeah. Still not all that interested in touching that.

                • jennywildcat says:

                  All that drama was the reason I got out of the HP fandom. Of course, lots of fandoms have drama and shipping wars and what-have-you, but it got out of hand with Harry Potter. It was horrible. Thankfully, I found MRHP and my faith was (somewhat) restored.

                  (And Twilight seems to have mainstreamed their drama – at one point, stores actually sold "Team Edward" and "Team Jacob" merchandise. I can't even…)

                • Hyatt says:

                  I did hear that some fan actually went so far as to write an entirely different version of Deathly Hallows because they hated the Ron/Hermione pairing.

                  That was HBP, they were rewriting the Harry/Ginny romance, and it wasn't so much rewriting as taking the original book and C&Ping names. She claimed that it wasn't plagiarism to use so much of the original text because the fic was "parody", but she gave up and removed the fic anyway. Amusingly enough, some of her substitutions made it read like Harry was crushing on Neville.

          • Lariren says:

            I think it's sad I knew exactly what interview you were talking about. And the comment. And the…wank doesn't seem like the right word…not anger either. Something. over that.

    • eleniel says:

      Seriously, haters to the left. Jin is 100% AWESOME.

      • The Welsh Pirate says:

        TAKE TWO (now with 100% less spoilers):

        I just can't believe there are people heartless enough to hate Jin! She's sweet, confident, and just downright adorable! I'm not sure what it is, but there is some combination of voice acting, dialogue, and how her expressions are animated that instantly make me like her. Maybe it's her hair. It's so adorably mussed up, she just seems really relaxed and seems like she just likes to enjoy the simple things in life. She's intelligent too. When Zuko gave her the coupon she instantly caught on to how Iroh was trying to help Zuko out.

        I'm not one for shipping, but I totally ship Zuko/Jin. What would you even call that? Jinko? Zukin?

    • Maya says:

      Jin haters, pls move to the Supernatural fandom. You will be welcomed there with open arms.

      • awildmiri says:

        I really wish I could defend Supernatural fandom at large against that implication. I really, really wish I could. Sob, SPN fandom, why so horrendous and militantly misogynistic.

        In lighter news, though, Jin is adorable and I will always have a quiet soft spot for Zuko/Jin, negl.

        • Maya says:

          This is why I consider myself a fan of SPN, but not of the fandom. Too much hate, not enough love for those who are not Jared, Jensen or Misha.

          Jin IS adorable. Gotta love a girl who goes for what she wants :-P

    • agrinningfool says:

      I adore Jin! So Much! I want her and Zuko to be happy together :D They'resocute!

    • MichelleZB says:

      Again, what's with fandom and slut-shaming? There are usually more women in ship wars than men, too, and whenever some girl has the courage to ask a man out, or be forward in any way, groups of fandom women jump all over that like it's evil behaviour! I don't understand! Can I blame, like, religion or something for this phenomenon? Where did we get the idea that girls who fall in love deserve to be vilified?

      The thing that's hilarious is that it's not like Jin was super aggressive. She is pretty shy throughout the date.

      I watched this show all after it aired, so I missed fandom. It can't all be because Zutara shippers be crazy. I ship Zutara too! But why would anyone hate a nice teenager like Jin? Everyone obviously needed to calm down.

      I always disliked comparisons between Zutara and H/H, because while I like Zutara, I was always solidly on the side of Ron and Hermione. Zutara seems to have a much different dynamic than H/H. But I guess the comparison has more to do with the insanity of the fans, so I get it now.

      • Avit says:

        Jealousy, internalized misogyny, GIFT, not a pretty combination.

        I know at least one ~crazy~ person who doesn't get shipping at all, except in terms of examining canon and fanon ships from a meta standpoint.

  35. Alexander says:

    Oh god, the last one:
    "He's a lemur/monkey/bat/cat-thing!"

  36. Lariren says:

    I really adore this episode and will fully admit I like Iroh and Zuko's stories the best. Katara and Toph's story is sweet and I like how it shows them bonding not only in a way Toph would like (bending) but also in the way Katara wanted. And can I be able to make the face Toph does with mud? Please?!

    I cry every time I watch Iroh's tale. It's so beautifully done. I've also watched the episode with the extras and, at least according to them the writing on the picture MAKE ME CRY SO MANY MORE TEARS. Apparently it says "General Iroh, I will see you again when victory is obtained. Your loyal son, Lu Ten." ALL THE MORE TEARS AND I WANT TO HUG IROH AND GIVE HIM MORE TEA.

    Aang's story and Sokka's always feel short to me as well. Almost like they were an after thought to the other four. I like them, but not as much as the others.

    ZUKO DATING! ZUKO AWKWARDLY DATING! I love how it seems he also doesn't understand how a girl would be interested in him. This also goes well with Iroh buying flowers for their apartment in the previous episode so one of them can "entertain a lady friend." Oh Iroh you push Zuko to date anyone! I love the fountain in general and love how precise the bending he uses is.

    Finally Momo…well it's an episode about Momo and this one seems to tie everything together and actually furthers the main plot of "where is Appa?" Its done in such an awesome way and I remember getting to it and thinking "really?…well ok" and was impressed.

    There should be more of Momo and the dancing monkies. Yes, all the time.

    • MichelleZB says:

      Iroh totally does push Zuko to date a little. I think he feels like the poor guy missed out on part of his teenaged development. He wants Zuko to fall in love and experience the full high of teenage hormones. Also, Zuko is very awkward socially and I think Iroh wants him to start making friends and empathizing with other people.

      Zuko was plucked from being a shy kid into being stuck, at 13, on a ship in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of adult soldiers who hated him. There has been no time for friends for him.

      Iroh is also thinking about GRANDCHILDREN. Well, grandnieces and nephews, of course. :)

      • Lariren says:

        Oh I totally think Iroh wants Zuko to be a normal teenager for once in his life and feels like now that he can't be Prince Zuko and has to be Lee he can totally date and not feel awkward about it. I also get the feeling that Iroh really wants them to be happy in Ba Sing Se and what better way to make a teenage boy happy, at least in Iroh's mind, than a romantic interest.

        While I agree that Zuko was a shy kid my opinion is that he stopped real fast and began demanding things once the initicial (spelling is not my forte) shock from losing Ursa wore off and he realized what was expected of him. His demanding to be involved in the war meeting that lead to his banishment does not really coincide with his ten year old self (at least not the kind of shy part). I always wondered if Zuko had friends in the Fire Nation. Azula obviously did but I really hope Zuko at least talked to other children his age. Because if not that makes me want to hug him even more :(

        Oh I totally think Iroh would see any off spring of Zuko's as his grandchildren if Zuko let him see them that way. Considering he sees Zuko as his son (at least if the season 1 finale is to be believed) and think about it, Iroh would be an awesome grandfather.

  37. Tauriel_ says:

    Yeah, we'll have none of this ironism around here! Every element deserves respect, even transition metals!

  38. Tauriel_ says:

    I hope River Tam never meets Toph with her hair down… XD

  39. kaleidoscoptics says:

    This episode is a really nice light episode after the last one was like a punch in the gut. But it’s still not entirely fluff.

    List time? List time.

    - I like the detail that Toph doesn’t really ‘look’ the same way most people do. It’s a nice attention to detail
    Otherwise, the Toph/Katara bonding time was adorable. Toph’s mud slug impersonation xD There's lots of really nice characterization here that needed a more low-key episode. Toph is such a strong person and personality, but she's completely out of her comfort zone here and lets the Mean Girls get to her.

    - Aang’s earthbending was pretty awesome. I’ve really got to wonder about how much trouble that guy would be in, though. We’ve seen how EVERYTHING in Ba Sing Se requires permits out the ass—setting up a zoo in an agricultural area would seem like it wouldn’t just go unnoticed. why am I thinking about this type of thing, this is a cartoon

    - I FUCKING LOVED SOKKA’S POETRY SLAM. Haiku pseudo-rap battle thing. That was hilarious. The poetry lady was using more traditional metaphors, and Sokka’s just being ridic. Love it.

    - Oh god Iroh’s part is the saddest thing ever. It starts out as “Iroh is awesome all the damn time,” then POW mood whiplash. The song he used to comfort a child turns absolutely heart-wrenching when he sings it about his son. Iroh is finally in Ba Sing Se, but he’s lost his whole world in the process. It hasn’t been spelled out, but you definitely get the feeling that he’s trying to atone for his part in the war.

    - Zuko’s part is just awkward and adorable. He is so bad at dealing with normal human emotions. A cute girl who’s been watching you obviously wants to kill you! It’s played as a joke, but it’s clear that that’s pretty much how Zuko’s life has been. He does get a good, happy day with her, but he’s still so messed up he doesn’t really know how to appreciate it. Poor kid.

    - Weirdly, Momo’s is one of the saddest. I’m glad that they gave him a section. Appa was his BFF, and he’s missing him as much as the rest of Team Avatar. And then at the very end: Appa’s footprint?! ;_; He really is there! Momo is so close, but he still can’t find Appa. This is so sad.

    • monkeybutter says:

      I like to think that the bureaucrats were so befuddled by the appearance of a zoo and distracted by arguing over who has jurisdiction while wrangling pissed off house cats that Aang was able to slip away unnoticed.

    • majere616 says:

      Light? This is the most soulcrushing thing to ever be aired on television.

      • kaleidoscoptics says:

        Well, most of Team Avatar's stories were pretty light, Aang and Sokka's in particular. It was less soulcrushing than City of Walls and Secrets.

  40. monkeybutter says:

    The worst part about "Iroh's Tale" is that when rewatching, I always start tearing up when he sings "Leaves From the Vine" to the little boy. The music in this episode just sets me off.

    I love the animal bonding, too. Our family dog was lonely after our cats died, so it just crushes me to see Momo curl up in the rain. Animals really do get sad when they lose their buddies. This episode…

    • rosalius says:

      I always cry too when he starts singing the song. D: I'm like "Aw, so cute that he wants to help that b- OMGWHYYYYYYYYY" and then tears forever.

  41. Openattheclose says:

    Hopefully not while it is hot.

  42. Lariren says:

    They did an activity! Yay! Also that is now how I believe Azula was created.

  43. monkeybutter says:

    Yay, Momo post! I love his Totoro snout.

  44. Gimlimonkey says:

    Leaves from the vine
    Falling so slow
    Like fragile, tiny shells
    Drifting in the foam

    Little soldier boy
    Come marching home
    Brave soldier boy
    Comes marching home

    • Avatar_fan_mom says:

      …but HIS brave soldier boy DIDNT come marching home….

      Iroh tears = my tears. Always.

    • MocataJoy says:

      It was a long long way to Ba Sing Se,
      But when Toph and Katara hit the city,
      They ended up looking rather pretty.

  45. audzilla says:

    Mark, I've been DYING for you to get to this episodes. It's one of my favorites in the whole show.

    Iroh's story always makes me cry and cry (and once I looked up the meaning of the dedication, even more crying.) I feel like he and Zuko steal the show here, both dealing with complicated pasts.

    In this episode particularly, the writers do a FANTASTIC job of showing how different, and consistent, each individual character is. Having contrasting personalities is one thing within the group dynamic, but by pulling each character aside into their own story, where they are all still very true to themselves, it really makes all of them stronger.

    (also, Toph and Katara had a girls' day out and didn't spend ANY time talking about boys! I love what this says.)

    • thefireandthehearth says:

      (also, Toph and Katara had a girls' day out and didn't spend ANY time talking about boys! I love what this says.)

      Passing the Bechdel Test- you're doing it… right! Well done, ATLA.

  46. Embies says:

    The fandom reaction to Jin still pisses me off.
    After the episode aired, so many people were hating on her. Her fault? Asking Zuko out first.

  47. arctic_hare says:

    PERFECT.

  48. meatandsarcasm says:

    I agree, Mr. Van Der Beek. I agree.

  49. echinodermata says:

    (I am disappoint that it didn't end with the original gif)

  50. Patrick721 says:

    Toph and Katara: Proof that Toph would make all chick flicks 10000000000 times better.
    Iroh: SO MUCH STUFF
    -He corrects the mugger's stance, and then gives him some life advice. Clearly, we need to clone Iroh and set up a giant therapist company.
    -Earthbending football!
    -It is better to ask forgivness…but not this time, RUN!
    -ALL. THE. TEARS.
    Sokka: Haiku Poetry Slam/Rap Battle…I need to see the entire cast having a rap battle. Especially The Boulder.
    Aang: Ok, but this one doesn't really hold my interest compared to the others.
    Momo: Well, I guess I didn't use up ALL THE TEARS for Iroh, because here are some more.

    Seriously, the only work of fiction that I can remember hitting me as hard as Iroh and Momo's tales is the end of Changes, by Jim Butcher. Only other time that a work of fiction has actually made me cry.

    And I think Iroh may blame himself for Lu Ten's death in some way, since Iroh was in charge of the siege, which is where Lu Ten died.

    • kartikeya200 says:

      True facts, I'm not someone who usually cries at movies, books, tv shows. I'll get sad, I'll feel my heartstrings liberally tugged, sometimes I'll feel like crying and my heart absolutely aches, but I don't usually cry.

      There are only two pieces of media I remember outright crying at: the end of the Elephant Man (the book), and The Tale of Iroh.

  51. echinodermata says:

    I'm deleting this because it edges too close to spoiler territory.

  52. fizzybomb says:

    I love how they keep emphasizing that he's NOT A HUMAN.

  53. alexamarie0813 says:

    NO MUFASA WHY

  54. Anonymouse says:

    See this Bleach/Naruto/every other show with crappy filler ever? This right here is how you do filler.

    Katara and Toph: I loved getting to see these two get to (for lack of a better phrase) be "girly girls." And here again we see Katara being the most amazingly supportive and beautiful person ever (except Iroh and Wash, who will forever have my heart). However, their makeup in that scene is really distracting to me.

    Iroh: This has to be the most tragic scene to ever air on Nickelodeon ever.

    Aang: I WANT TO GO SEE THE BABY RABAROOS AT THAT ZOO!!! Really, who's up for a road trip?

    Sokka: Chittering Monkey
    Sokka is surely not one.
    He is pure awesome. (Yeah, my haiku sucks)

    Zuko: is such a dork, but an adorable dork, so I don't mind. He's adorkable.

    Momo: I take it back. THIS is the most tragic scene to ever air on Nickelodeon. And I agree, I love how the animals in Avatar are characters in their own right, not plot pieces or props. Also, Momo should dance every episode…

    • stefb says:

      Nothing is as tragic and terrible as Rurouni Kenshin fillers. WHICH ULTIMATELY CAUSED THE SHOW TO BE PREMATURELY CANCELED BECAUSE THEY SUCKED SO BAD.

      I generally just skipped the Bleach/Naruto fillers when I had time to watch the shows.

    • Jaxx_zombie says:

      See this Bleach/Naruto/every other show with crappy filler ever?
      Ugh, the Bleach and Naruto fillers…… those things make me want to punch a wall. I try to skip every single one…. or when you get a character that you really don't care about and they dedicate one or more episodes to their battle… *RAGE* yet another thing that makes me unhappy.

      This right here is how you do filler.
      <img src="http://i1222.photobucket.com/albums/dd494/Jaxx_zombie/ten147-1.jpg&quot; border="0" alt="Photobucket">

  55. Avatar_fan_mom says:

    Let me say that this episode is quite enjoyable for me as an Avatar fan…but I will admit that on first watch I was *semi-annoyed* with a “filler” type episode after City of Walls and Secrets. I mean, COME ON! Let’s see WTF is up with the new Joo Dee! And that jerk Long Feng! And what about poor Jet?? And APPA!!!!

    Now that I’ve got THAT out of the way, I can really appreciate what a beautiful episode this truly is…Toph is adorable in her little segment. It’s kind of heart-breaking how much she does care about the comments of the mean girls. She is putting up this tough exterior like she doesn’t give a crap…but that tear and how much she appreciates Katara calling her pretty are so telling. I think this is a big reflection of what girls go through as they transition from carefree kids to self-conscious preteens. *sigh* I can’t help but think of my own almost 10 year old during this scene. F*ing society and their screwed up ways…

    IROH! Yet another episode that solidified Iroh’s place in my heart. I want that song in high-quality MP3 format to listen to over and over again. His whole vignette was perfection. Just perfection. That’s all I will say about that.

    Sokka as lovebender = win every time.

    Zuko, oh Zuko. We continue to see the duality that he lives. It’s so painful to watch him just wanting to enjoy himself but being held back by the expectations that he has of himself as a result of his horrendous upbringing. Again, he is my all-time favorite. His development is so intriguing…the little glimpses of hope and normalcy contrast so well and so painfully with the angst.

    Aang and Momo had comparably less memorable storylines…but Momo cuddled up in that giant footprint at the end….WAHHHH!!!!!

  56. Tauriel_ says:

    PERFECTION. :D

  57. hpfish13 says:

    Sheesh, I can't even count the number of times I've almost cried just reading this post and the comments so far.

    This episode is so brilliant, but I can't even hear the first line of that song without wanting to bawl.

  58. hhgrrl says:

    FINALLY, you get to this episode! I have been waiting since you started A:tLA! I cry every time I watch this episode. You. Are. Not. Prepared.

  59. This is basically the greatest and most perfect comment ever.

  60. Well, that's just fucking wrong. Nothing should ruin Iroh. >:C

  61. jubilantia says:

    I love this little set of vignettes so much. In any other show, they would be silly but here they further the character development in wonderfully imaginative ways.

    You already fanboyed over all the stories, but AAAHHH. I love them all. I can't even say "especially" for any of them because I love them all equally. Although probably Iroh's and Sokka's maaaarginally better than the rest. I bawled just reading your description of Iroh's one- I still cry, and I've watched it more times than I can count. Such a fantastic person.

    But god, Sokka's is just so brilliant I can't even take it.

    "The name is Sokka
    It's pronounced with an "okka"
    Young ladies, I rocked ya!" *crickets*

    Bouncer: Uh, that's too many syllables.

    LAUGHING FOREVER AND EVER AND EVER

    • Diana Kingston-Gabai says:

      "I calls it easy!
      Like I paddle my canoe
      I'll paddle yours too!"

      Oh Sokka, never change. :)

      • Tauriel_ says:

        Okay, that one bit really had me cringing. The innuendo was just… no, please no. Just… no. Don't do this, Avatar, please.

    • The Welsh Pirate says:

      BOUNCER: "Uh, that's one too many syllables there, bub."

      Now everytime I watch this episode, I get a wonderful image in my head of Wolverine getting a job as a poetry club bouncer.

  62. Diana Kingston-Gabai says:

    Ohh yes, I remember fandom reaction to Jin. It was more or less this:

    <img src="http://nuevosgif.tk/wp-content/plugins/wp-o-matic/cache/0d16d_1253886001_office-no.gif"&gt;

    Which just goes to show you: watch yourself when traversing the fandom of a story you like. You never know what you might step in.

  63. arctic_hare says:

    My guess is what he first says to the kids about it being best to admit mistakes and seek to restore honor.

    • That is it, I believe. You can't really tell unless you're listening for it, which is a good sign.

      • Tauriel_ says:

        Actually, when I first watched the show, I had no idea that Mako died between seasons 2 and 3, and I didn't even notice the change of Iroh's voice actor in Season 3. Upon subsequent rewatches, I can hear the subtle differences, but still – Greg Baldwin sounds AMAZINGLY like Mako. Fantastic job there, keeping Iroh's voice consistent.

        • Dragonsong12 says:

          Apparently he had actually studied Mako's voice previously for another project where he had to double for him, so he really was the perfect cast. I only really notice on his longer speeches, and that says a lot, really.

      • It jumped out at me. Jarring! I'm Iroh-sensitive, I guess.

  64. Avatar_fan_mom says:

    As an aside…my feet are totally as dirty as Toph's right now from gardening all day. And I'm totally rocking it.

  65. affableevil says:

    Bah, I don't think James Van Der Memes could ever truly be redundant or irrelevant. Do it anyway!

  66. audzilla says:

    OMG I did not know that! AWESOME.

    That makes me like this A MILLION TIMES MORE than I already did.

    (obv. I love the regular writers too, but good projects are born when everybody on staff feels so strongly!)

  67. Paddled Canoe says:

    I love this episode. At first glance it can seem like it's dropping the momentum from the last episode, but it totally works.

    Just for the record, not all shippers have an irrational hate-on for Jin. I love her and her hair and her confidence.

    Watching Zuko lie horribly was great, but if he REALLY wanted to end the night early he could have told the truth and replied "Chase around a 12 year old boy!" when Jin asked him what he likes to do for fun. Just sayin'…

    My new life's ambition is to get into a haiku battle. BRB, going to buy some plums.

  68. meatandsarcasm says:

    I knew the fandumb in this fandom was ridiculous but to hate on Iroh for this? WHAT THE FUCK?

  69. The Welsh Pirate says:

    Best Azula backstory EVAH!

  70. @maybegenius says:

    Lawl Toph, never change. And thank you, Katara, for both realizing her vulnerability and pumping her up, both by complimenting her looks AND complimenting her amazing personality and confidence.

    <img src="http://i33.photobucket.com/albums/d61/lostluck_personal/TV%20gifs/tophmudmonster.gif"&gt;

    God, seriously, the Iroh storyline WRECKS me. That song. Little soldier boy WHYYYYYYYY :((((( Like. I am not a crier. It actually takes something very specific and very powerful to make me cry at fiction (real life is another story). But family stuff, and parents losing children? OH MY GOD. EVERY TIME.

    Aang and Sokka's stories are just kinda feel-good and cute. RABBIT KANGAROO. TIGERDILLO. I WANT. I always want to just hang around Sokka so I can playfully punch his arm and go, "Oh, Sokka."

    Zuko is just SO ADORABLY AWKWARD when it comes to normal social interaction, isn't he? Poor kid. He's never had fun, playtime buddies. Just his malicious sister and her friends, who were cool and all, but they had, like, COOTIES. It really makes me wish that Jet would have cooled his jets (HAHA I'M SO CLEVER) and they could have been friends, because Zuko desperately needs a real friend. Just a peer that he can hang around and, like, I don't know, play Fire Ball with or something. "My uncle spent ten minutes doing my hair!" LAWL FOREVER.

    Momo, you are the cutest and I love your little trained monkey dance. I am glad you made friends with the scary pumas. WHERE IS YOUR APPA, I HOPE YOU FIND HIM SOON :(

    <img src="http://i33.photobucket.com/albums/d61/lostluck_personal/TV%20gifs/momoappa.gif"&gt;

    • Hotaru_hime says:

      THAT GIF
      ALL THE SADS

    • MocataJoy says:

      Best thing about the trained monkey dance was that we get to hear Momo's "theme" music again, which we haven't heard in quite a while. It used to play almost every time he was on screen by himself in season one (or even in the flashbacks when there were other lemurs.)

  71. Edogg says:

    Y'know, there have been many great crime-fighters over the years. Superman and Batman. Iron Man and Spider-Man…

    But only Iroh can fight crime with the POWER OF TEA! And that's the reason (one of many) Iroh is the bestest.

    TEA-MAN, AWAAAAYYY!!!

  72. Anonymouse says:

    As a Zutara fangirl, I'd just like to say that those people don't represent us…
    I like shipping, to an extent, but to hate on Iroh for something like that is just an all new level of wrong.

  73. Pelleloguin says:

    Haiku for the episode:

    Iroh and Momo,
    They break my heart into bits.
    I must go cry now.

  74. stefb says:

    A warning to those who don't want to be spoiled for future episodes—the suggested videos on the side are spoilery, even if they're just the pictures (actually a few of the stills are REALLY SPOILERY) so I wouldn't watch this unless you were done…or are somehow able to watch it without seeing any of the suggestions/comments.

    It's sad because this vid isn't actually spoilery at all *sigh* but it's soo great.

  75. Caterfree10 says:

    I will forever maintain that if you do not cry or at least get depressed as fuck at the end of Iroh's tale in this episode, you have no heart. Full. Stop. Hell, I've been known to tear up just hearing "Leaves from the Vine" which I have on my mp3 player. ;A; GODDAMN, I WANT TO GIVE IROH SUCH A BIG HUG. *SOBS*

    AND FOR REAL on Mako! His replacement VA in season 3 (and the chibi shorts! You need to see those after the season 2 finale! They are so adorable! <3) just doesn't measure up to him. *sighs* And the fact that the movie was so fucking whitewashed makes me so angry since Mako fought against shit like that. To have something that's a part of his legacy shat upon like that. :C I fucking hate Hollywood, negl. *sighs* (And yes I feel comfortable mentioning the movie seeing as it was only for book 1 – a nod to a character from season 3 in said movie not withstanding :V).

    I also love Sokka forever and ever thanks to this episode. Hell, thanks to the haiku jam, AtLA fans have been known to break out into them! We just had one in one of the AtLA tumblrs I follow last night, too. x3

    ANYWAY, I so cannot wait for the next ep now. I know you're going to (already?) love it. <3

    AND THEN: [MORE SPOILERS GO HERE] 8D

  76. enigmaticagentscully says:

    Ok, ATLA is officially on my 'favourite ever shows' list.

    I have a very simple criteria – if a show can make me actually laugh out loud and actually shed genuine tears in a single episode, it's on. And this episode just broke the barrier.

    The laughing out loud was at Zuko's totally deadpan attempt at juggling and just saying it had been a while since he practised. I swear, anything where it's ZUKO is being hilarious is just ten times funnier to me.
    The crying…yeah, you all know.

    THIS SHOW. I can't even….why did I not watch this before??

    • Dragonsong12 says:

      "I have a very simple criteria – if a show can make me actually laugh out loud and actually shed genuine tears in a single episode, it's on. "

      Hey! My criteria is very similar. I phrase mine as "if it makes me genuinely laugh and genuinely cry". High fives!

      I know how you feel, though. I've loved this show for years now, but I didn't actually start watching it until just before the final DVD set released. It never caught my attention before that, despite having many people tell me how good it was. I don't even remember why I ended up picking it up, but I DO remember thinking, "what was wrong with me? Why did I wait so long?"

  77. simplefaith says:

    I know a lot of people dislike filler episodes, but I'm such a geek for character-based stories that IDGAF.
    It's so hard for me to pick my favorite…

    1) Toph and Katara's was great for me. One of the things I ADORE about this show is how they treat their female characters, and this is one of those points where it shines. Like, it shouldn't be surprising to see two girls interact w/o talking about guys and showing that they can both enjoy femininity and be badass, but…it's actually pretty rare.

    2) Iroh and Momo's stories!!! GAH, MY HEART. T_T That is all.

    3) So much has happened to Aang in the past few episodes, so I like that we get to take a breather and just let Aang be Aang: his compassionate, animal-loving, generally fun self. Aang, I missed you. *hugs tightly*

    4) Sokka gets in a haiku battle. I never thought "haiku battle" was a phrase I would write before this episode but it is GLORIOUS.

    5) OK, I lied, it's not too hard to pick my favorite, because it's Zuko's. It balances humor with heartache, and it's the first time we ever get to see Zuko be a normal teenager. It's both sweet and really sad, you know? Also, I love how it highlights Zuko's adorkableness. And Jin is awesome, haters gonna hate, etc.

  78. Embies says:

    If I'm not mistaken, one of them became a regular writer in season three.

  79. @maybegenius says:

    Oh man, GROSS. GAH-ROSS.

  80. Embies says:

    Whan Mako died, voice acting for earlier season three episodes had already started (each episode took around nine months to complete, six just for the animation).

  81. Heather says:

    I'm so glad you finally got to this one! It's easily one of my favorite episodes, and it made me cry like a crying thing when I watched it.

  82. Fusionman29 says:

    Now fun list to try and make this better. Mako's list of roles.

    AKU in Samurai Jack.

    Splinter in the 2007 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.

    Akiro/Narroter from the Conan movies. (TBH I can't spell. Sorry.)

    Admiral Yamamoto in Pearl Harbor (Yes the Bay flick)

    Kanemitsu in RoboCop 3

    Nakano in Highlander III (You take what you can get)

    So yeah he's actually on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and he's a key part of many generations' childhood. And I hope an inspiration to Asian-American actors.

    • sabra_n says:

      And the Reciter in the OBC of Pacific Overtures, which had nothing to do with Hollywood but did score him a Tony nomination in 1976.

      /Sondheim nerdery

    • meatandsarcasm says:

      Mako co-founded East West Players, an Asian American theater organization in the 1960s. A number of well known Asian American actors have worked with EWP, including Dante Basco, Lauren Tom, John Cho, Daniel Dae Kim, B.D. Wong, Pat Morita, and Amy Hill.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      He was also in Seven Years In Tibet

  83. Ayala says:

    Iroh's story is one of the most moving, heartfelt things I have ever seen on TV. I tear up every single time!

    And also JIN/ZUKO FOREVER OH GOD. Actually, just Jin forever. I <3 her! She's confident, she knows what she wants, and she isn't afraid to step up and get it. I wish I was as confident as her, srsly. Zukooo, why did you run away and leave her standing there all alone????? That was so rude. >:-[ Look at how sad she was as he left! Her sadface! D:

  84. Avatar_fan_mom says:

    Lu Ten does look quite handsome…PLUS imagine if he had inherited many of Iroh's traits…

    (insert semi-inappropriate fanwoman *swoon* here…)

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Exactly. From what we've seen of Ozai (the shadowy silhouettes and angles which hide his eyes), he's taken a lot after Azulon – tall, slim form, longish face; and Zuko and Azula (especially Zuko) seem to have taken after him. It would make sense that Lu Ten took after Iroh – the more stocky form, broader face, stronger jaw, etc.

  85. WhiteEyedCat says:

    I feel like we need some Jin love, she's a really nice character and definitely what Zuko needs at this point (somebody who will outright laugh at him, with no danger of being torched)

    I don't know how to post pictures. Pictures aren't spoilery, but it's on Deviantart so the comments underneath may be. http://browse.deviantart.com/?qh=&section=&amhttp://browse.deviantart.com/?qh=&section=&amhttp://browse.deviantart.com/?q=Jin%20avatar&amp;… http://browse.deviantart.com/?q=Jin%20avatar&amp;…

  86. Bard Child says:

    Momo's tale was on my list of favs right following Iroh's Mostly because I was grateful that the writers saw Momo as a character not as a prop and I loved that. IROH'S IS PRETTY OBVIOUS OH MY GOD MAKO

    Now I liked Aang's story, for some reason it was nice to see him helping out people in a manner that was simplistic yet a collective nod on what the Avatar is suppose to do outside of war: Solve problems and fix social imbalances. It also showcases Aang powerful and amazing empathy. Which is one of the big reasons I love Aang.

  87. Michelle says:

    I love this episode and I cry every single time I watch it.

  88. ThreeBooks says:

    Seriously, the side videos are HELLA spoilery. Spoilery beyond all belief.

  89. simplefaith says:

    *snort* Antelope bird and mocking bees! xD

  90. Jay Gatsby says:

    I can't my tears…
    SOMEONE HOLD ME AND MY INCONSOLABLE TEARS! (T_T)

  91. Toph13139 says:

    Really? … Simba? OnO

  92. Whitney says:

    Ugh Iroh’s tale never fails to make me bawl. ;-;

  93. Toph13139 says:

    Iroh and tears. I have that song on my iPod and it gets me EVERY TIME.

    Just…

    Oh, and I want Zuko to take me on a date. =D

  94. The Welsh Pirate says:

    Whoops! Did I accidentally put a spoiler in my post? My apologies if I did. Could an admin somehow let me know what is was so I can re-post and remove the spoilery content?

  95. isoycrazy says:

    I loved this episode. No question. It is one of the most beautiful pieces of art ever. I was inspired when I saw this episode to make a video [lost the original] to this song – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auSa0YfkxFE In the video, I honored Mako by using images of Iroh and others.

    I deeply implore people to listen to this song, as it is one of the best songs I know of.

  96. vaporeon13204 says:

    Honestly, I have to say, I've been waiting for you to get to this episode for AGES! The Tale of Iroh… ;_: ALL THE TEARS FOREVER! i love Iroh so much. ;_; Poor poor soul.

  97. Hotaru_hime says:

    Welcome to my favorite episode. I think it's one of the biggest reasons why Book Two is my favorite.
    Iroh's tale… oh God, all the tears just thinking about it. I really can't help it.
    I like to imagine that once Iroh lost Lu Ten at the Siege of Ba Sing Se he realized that no matter how hard he fought, no matter how many victories the Fire Nation won, mothers and fathers were losing their sons and daughters and nothing would bring them back. What use is glory to grief? It is not a salve to ease the pain of losing one's only child (who I presume is the only child from the only woman he loved or would ever love, since Iroh has no other children or wives, which would be strange for a Crown Prince in any kingdom). So he lives life well and kindly and doesn't care if you're Fire Nation or not- he understand harmony. I wonder if after losing Lu Ten was when he wandered into the Spirit World; maybe to find the ghost of his son? SAD THOUGHTS.
    Toph and Katara's side story was really cute too because these two have a hard time bonding. Katara's very motherly and Toph is really independent and they manage to clash a lot due to age and different upbringings, so it was really lovely to see them work together. Considering they're on Team Avatar, they probably really need to learn how to use their bending in tandem to really wipe out enemies.
    Zuko! So much angst! Really, this poor teenager, mistaking a girl's crush for her being a spy or something. But how sweet to light the lanterns! Really dangerous though. But I guess if there is no war in Ba Sing Se, the majority of the citizens won't freak out over Firebending? Still, it's nice to see him be normal.
    Momo's story was the one that really moved the plot along, as it showed us, yes Appa is in Ba Sing Se, although Long Feng seemed to really hint at it in the last episode.
    Aang's and Sokka's stories were fun and lighthearted, which is needed because YOU ARE NOT PREPARED.

    • Anonymouse says:

      I really like that theory about Iroh's spirit world encounter… there has to be fanfiction of that somewhere. No?

  98. Hotaru_hime says:

    Appa is the only member of the group Momo can converse with. It must be really hard on both of them.

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