Mark Watches ‘Avatar’: S03E02 – The Headband

In the second episode of the third season of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Team Avatar decide to disguise themselves as Fire Nation citizens in order to prevent from constantly having to travel each day. In the process, Aang enrolls in school. REALLY. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Avatar.

I think that, at heart, there’s a very serious issue that the writers would have to address in season three, and that concerns how our heroes would find a way to assimilate into a culture that is so unlike their own. Even if Toph hadn’t convinced them all that staying put for a while was beneficial, at some point, they all would have had to become part of the Fire Nation in some way. Aang does not have a master of fire bending to teach him the element yet, and I’m not one to believe it’s just going to happen to them through random chance as it did with Toph.

The Fire Nation culture is one that is the most rigidly defined of all four elements, and it’s because of this that I appreciate just how charming “The Headband” ultimately was. It pokes fun at how serious the Fire Nation can be, but it never strays into insulting the culture at all. It’s about Aang coming to understand more about these people and to simultaneously give them a taste of the Air Nomad culture as well.

I know that I’ve not watched this show in the way that a lot of you have. The wait between seasons was drastically shorter for me. Because of this, season two is a lot fresher in my memory, and I couldn’t help but feel that we’d been delivered a whole lot of downers in a row. The last third of season two is increasingly bleak, and the story that opens season three isn’t all that positive either. Don’t get me wrong; I am drawn to darker narratives over the positive ones, but putting Zuko’s story aside (LOL WHAT AM I SAYING I CANNOT), there’s a pervasive and pleasant humor strung from scene to scene, as well as a whole lot of sentimental squishiness between Aang and Katara. We see that right from the start: Sokka’s overreactive snooping is meant to be funny because the guy chooses to take the strangest things seriously. I mean, THE BIRDS ARE EVIL, YOU ALL.

But given the situation that they are all in, I sort of feel that humor is probably the only way for them to stomach what’s happened to them since the previous year. How else do you deal with stealing someone’s clothing? Or going into town with a boy who still thinks 100 year old slang is appropriate to use? (HOTMAN WILL NEVER NOT MAKE ME LAUGH.) I mean, if you think about it, this episode is about how all four members of Team Avatar are forced to hide all signs of their identity. Once you stop and think about that….it’s kind of depressing, isn’t it? I think there was a way for the writers to take “The Headband” into a really dark place. And let’s be real: I would have loved it. I AM SO PREDICTABLE.

(Side note: I love that Aang goes to find lettuce in the trash and I dearly hope that was a reference to the fact that people who are veggie are constantly asked if they only eat lettuce.)

Truthfully, though, there was no better way for Aang to learn more about Fire Nation culture than for him to just happen to steal a school outfit and get shipped off to school. AANG HAS TO GO TO SCHOOL. That sentence alone is like a story in and of itself, and of all the members of Team Avatar, I really think that Aang was the perfect one to get stuck there. He had the smallest chance of being uncomfortable, because for him, it’s simply another adventure and another challenge. (More on that in a second.)

It’s clear that this is definitely going to be a challenge just seconds after Aang–ahem, I mean Kuzon–is brought to his new classroom. Even something as simple as the standard Fire Nation greeting is new to him, but Aang doesn’t face this challenge with a sweaty brow and a dose of worry. Instead, it’s something new to learn. But there’s a subtext that’s later spelled out that explains why Aang is so drawn to the idea of going to school: he gets a chance to be “normal.” That’s a word I sometimes despise, but sometimes I completely desire it, and it all depends on the context. For Aang, I completely get what he means. He’s been on the outside his entire life and he’s largely missed out on growing up as a teenager without being the Avatar. (And even after all this is over, is it honestly going to be any different for him? How could you return to a “normal” life even if you win? You’re the Avatar.) We’ve seen bits and pieces of his life with the Air Nomads before he went into the Avatar State and disappeared for one hundred years, and we know that his childhood pretty much ended around that time.

So for me, despite how silly a lot of this is, this is actually a remarkably serious story. Like the idea of identity and how that is tied to visual markers and the way a person chooses to dress, humor is simply the way to get us to digest other themes that might have otherwise been harder for people to swallow. (I’m reminding myself that this is a kid’s show, and this is a great way to do just that.) At the same time, I imagine that these scenes of Aang in school were something that a lot of the younger audience could actually relate to in way. I used the word “charming” before, and I think it resonates well with all of the scenes with Aang interacting with the Fire Nation student. Despite being ignorant of virtually every custom or tradition of this culture, he approaches it all with a wide smile on his face and a willingness to learn new things.

Even when faced with the prospect of a bullying boyfriend of a young girl who befriends him, Aang never slips into anger, discomfort, or violence. He has no interest in such things; it wasn’t until the end of the episode that I realized he was showing these kids what life as an Air Nomad was like, despite that he never once revealed it to anyone. (He was from the “colonies” to them.) It was never about insisting his way was right, either; it was just different.

Of course, being different and simultaneously making the main bully in school look like an utter fool doesn’t always work out beautifully. That night, Aang returns to the cave that is Team Avatar’s temporary home, and as he tries to convince his friends that he needs to return to school the next day, I knew that there was no way that Aang wouldn’t have another confrontation with Hide. But I did enjoy the scene for what it was: A chance to see Lord Ozai in noodles and for Sokka to say: “I am a fan of secret rivers.” Sometimes, it’s the little things that do me in. FLAMEO, HOTMAN. aang what are you doing

That second day of school is predictably worse, but it was also the first time that we see Aang actually express discomfort. He didn’t intend to make his lack of knowledge of the Fire Nation oath a joke, and he didn’t mean to be so distracting with his dancing while playing the Tsungi horn, and he didn’t mean to be rude about correcting the history lesson about Fire Lord Sozin and the Air Nation Army. Where Aang previously met these moments with a carefree smile, now he knows how out of his element he actually is. This only gets worse when Hide confronts Aang yet again for talking to his girlfriend, On Ji. (Ok, just a side thought: Why didn’t Aang just say he already had a woman he liked to make it clear he wasn’t actually flirting with On Ji?) When Hide tries to do exactly what he’s expected to do (beat people up), Aang manages to avoid every single blow, frustrating Hide so badly that he eventually plunges into the ground in anger.

In terms of absurd silliness, I’m pressed to think of a more grand moment than Aang’s meeting with The Headmaster of this Fire Nation school. I believed initially that Aang would admit that he is an orphan and that this episode would get really depressing. I’m glad I didn’t because SOKKA WITH A BEARD. SOKKA WITH A BEARD. And his name is WANG FIRE. And Katara is SAPPHIRE FIRE. How the Headmaster didn’t immediately realize this was total bullshit is beyond me, but it doesn’t matter because IT IS SO GLORIOUS. Oh my god, I love this show so much. Could Sokka just wear this beard for the rest of the series? I would totally be ok with it.

All of this humor, though, leads to something quite redemptive and inspiring. Honestly, I didn’t buy Aang’s idea when he suggested it to Katara and Sokka. A dance party? Look, I know I am awful at dancing and I rarely do it, but I’m not opposed to the idea. But how would a dance party teach the students of the Fire Nation about freedom of expression? How would he find a way to inspire them to break from a culture they’d spent their whole lives living in? It’s ambitious, for sure, but what would be the ultimate point?

I must then admit that despite being skeptical of this all, I actually watched the Fire Nation dance party with the biggest smile on my face. That word comes up again: charming. I wanted to give this episode a hug. I could not believe how well the final scenes were pulled off. Aang not only gives these children a taste of freedom, but the dance between him and Katara was mesmerizing. (Not surprising, considering their chemistry.) It was a chance to see these kids cut loose a bit, and to see probably the most affection between Katara and Aang yet. (I saw some capoeira in their dancing, but it was mixed with something else? Do you know what it was, Watchers?)

It all leads to one of my favorite moments in the whole series: Hide tattles on the group because he is a truly awful person who does not know joy, and the Headmaster confronts everyone and demands that Aang be captured. I expected a chase of sorts, but the Headmaster and his guards become confused when a few students are wearing the same headband as Aang. This is when the title of this episode suddenly transforms into a powerful statement: In a sign of solidarity and thanks, every student dons the same headband, allowing Aang to escape. I was shocked at how a silly situation suddenly became so touching to me within thirty seconds or so. Aang escapes out of the back of the cave because of what these kids did for him.

Seriously, think about this message, broadcast on a children’s show. this show.

You’ll notice one plot is conspicuously absent from this post. Am I saving the best for last? BUT OF COURSE. I’m at a point where I can’t possibly believe that any other character on Avatar is going to get a better story than Zuko. Contrasting the innate silliness of “The Headband,” we find out that Iroh has been locked in a giant Fire Nation prison. Over the course of the episode, Zuko makes attempts to get closer to his uncle, who seems to have taken to giving his nephew the silent treatment out of heartbreak. (WHICH IS 100% UNDERSTANDABLE.) Zuko starts off with anger and pride when he first visits his uncle, but he slowly begins to break down the façade that he keeps giving us uncle. He brings food. He admits that he is confused. He even outright begs his uncle to give him the advice that he needs.

Iroh responds with more silence. This enrages Zuko, who now knows that he is completely alone on this journey, and he storms out of his uncle’s cell in a fiery fury. Iroh starts to cry and seriously my heart cannot handle this much longer.

I was hoping that this would all lead to some sort of epiphany on Zuko’s behalf, but in the final scene of the episode, we see him standing with some unnamed man who has a metal arm and leg, admitting that he thinks the Avatar is alive and asking him to keep a secret. He tasks him with eliminating the Avatar and the camera pans up to an angry face with a tattooed third eye. who the hell is this. Zuko, what are you doing???

oh god OH GOD


  • I never do this, but at the end, when the face of that….man, was revealed, all I could think was that whenever I shave my head, I kind of look like him? JUST IN THE FACE. Obviously I am not a brick of muscle, but I was like IF I SCOWL REAL HARD I DO SORT OF LOOK LIKE HIM. what is my brain
  • “Who knew Twinkle Toes could dance?” RIGHT??? And he’s REALLY GOOD!
  • Was that a….cow hippo????
  • “This is incredible! It’s like my inhibitions just disappear!……..Okay… they’re back again.”
  • Mai and Zuko are kind of sweet together? I mean, I still need to get used to it, but part of me likes it?
  • “I know. You’ve got fancier feet then anybody. And six of ’em!” APPA DANCE PARTY BETTER HAPPEN SOON.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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486 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Avatar’: S03E02 – The Headband

  1. An Excerpt from My LiveJournal Post on September 28, 2007

    This episode was better than the premiere, but something's still not right. I think it's tonal whiplash from the increased darkness of the last half of the second season leading into…secret dance parties.

    I do love the behind-the-scenes look into the Fire Nation, like the fact that the history written by the victors includes an Air Nation Army and little Fire Nation students pledge allegiance to the Ozai. Every country has had a very distinct culture, which is very cool. Interestingly enough, the revisionist history on display here is very reminiscent of the Dai Li's brainwashing efforts in Ba Sing Se.

    Remember, kids: stealing is wrong, except when it's from pirates…or the Fire Nation. (How the HELL did Toph know what to take?)

    Sokka was a little over-the-top at times in this episode, but he also had a lot of moments of hilarity. "Hmm, I am a fan of secret rivers…" "This is my wife, Sapphire."

    (And on the subject of Sokka:

    Aang: "You get to be normal all the time."
    Toph: "Ha!"
    Me: "HAAAAAAA.")

    Onji was cute, but her jerk boyfriend was…way jerky in a one-dimensional way. But sometimes an amusing way: "No one shows her ANYTHING…especially movements." Why would you put up with someone like that?

    The delivery on "I already found a picture of Ozai. And here's one I made out of noodles!" was fucking priceless. Oh, Aang. Hotman this, hotman that! Flamey-o!

    And then and then and then: Avatar does Footloose ahahahaha. Like, they couldn't have made it more blatant, and I've never even seen the movie. And then a few minutes later they did the old Spartacus trick. Wherever all those headbands came from.

    But in the middle, there was dancing! So much dancing! And it was really kind of awesome and cool!!! I didn't know Katara had moves. And they're really pushing 'ships this season, I see. They brought back the Reddening Cheeks of Attraction.

    I was sad they had to flee. I was looking forward to more of Aang's antics in Fire Nation school. That was funny stuff. Sunghi horn!

    Meanwhile, in We Don't Want to Pay Greg Baldwin, Zuko tries to realize how much of an ass he is, and Iroh will have nothing of it.

    "You're so beautiful when you hate the world."
    "I don't hate you."
    "I don't hate you too."

    Haaaaaaaaa. Oh, Fire Nation love.

    Thank you, Nicke-fucking-lodeon, for spoiling the last scene of the episode in the promo, you asses. I don't know who this mysterious assassin is (well, I presume he's the guy mentioned in the magazine), but let's hope he is a fun villain. It's been a while since we had someone chasing after Aang and trying to kill him! It's just like old times again!

    A fun episode, and I guess I have to remember that the beginnings of seasons are like this. Things will pick up, but for now, secret dance parties are plenty entertaining.

    In conclusion, WHERE THE FUCK IS TY LEE?

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      Ty Lee has gone to a land of puppy dogs, because she's so sweet and wonderful that Zuko's plotline of angst cannot contain her.

      Also, as for where all the headbands came from, they're actually belts that all the students were wearing. Aang used it wrong.

    • Tauriel_ says:


      Untangling her braid, didn't you pay attention? 😛

      • monkeybutter says:

        Why do I have the feeling that Azula tied her braids to a post?

        • Edogg says:

          Why do I have the feeling that it's a bedpost she's tied to? (Because this fandom)

          • Moonie says:

            It tells you something about this fandom that 90 percent think there is SOMETHING going on with Ty Lee and Azula.

            What does it tell you, exactly?

            That this fandom is AWESOME.

            • Ty Lee clearly has a huge girlcrush on Azula, at the very least. She has all these random lines where she praises Azula that seem to fall completely flat because Azula never acknowledges her compliments and thanks her. That's what it is! Those lines always bugged me because they seemed like poor writing, but that's why they felt so off: Azula doesn't say a damn thing in return.

              • Edogg says:

                I know pretty much everyone interprets Ty Lee's praise as affection (if not desire), but I see it more as her trying to stay on Azula's good side. Considering what Azula did when she showed any defiance, that's not a bad strategy.

                I'm not saying Ty Lee doesn't like Azula at all, just that her complements are mostly to stroke Azula's ego and keep her from doing something awful to her, again.

                • Oh, that's a very good point!

                • Tauriel_ says:

                  That's how I see it, too. Basically, Ty Lee is the ultimate "yes man" (or in this case, "yes girl") in this show.

                • H. Torrance Griffin says:

                  The two aspects are not mutually exclusive. It is quite conceivable that Ty Lee and Azula are in some sort of relationship… however the odds of it being a healthy relationship are close to nil.

              • Brieana says:

                I think Azula didn't say anything in return because she's so used to people worshiping her. I would never expect her to say anything along the lines of "thank you".

    • Sarah says:

      Ha ha, it took me a while to realize the headbands are their belts! :’D

    • Brieana says:

      "How the HELL did Toph know what to take?"
      You know, I had the same problem.

      • WhiteEyedCat says:

        She…felt the clothing through the ground…Yeah, I don't know, Toph's just so awesome that even the writers forget her blindness.

        • notemily says:

          If she could "see" the ants on the log in her first episode, it makes sense to me that she could "see" clothes hanging from a clothesline that was, presumably, somehow anchored to the ground.

  2. monkeybutter says:

    For all of its cheesy moments, I like “The Headband” a lot more than “The Awakening.” I forgot how much I adored it until rewatching, because WANG FIRE IS THE BEST CHARACTER EVER and he overshadows the rest of the episode in my memories.

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

    So aside from the bearded-glory of that stern, pensive, soulful man, there are also new clothes and hairstyles, and an introduction to Fire Nation culture and propaganda. I like the detail that not only is the Fire Nation prejudiced against members of other nations, but also Fire Nation citizens who live overseas. Seeing how deep this nationalism runs makes Aang’s fight to end the war even more daunting. Fire Lord Ozai (Sokka is totally jealous of Aang’s noodley talent) has an iron grip on his people.

    I enjoyed the Footloose plot brought on by the band teacher (so moved by the love of his nation that he can’t control his own body) because appealing to people’s spirits is the best way to fight the Fire Lord’s authoritarian regime. And it sort of pays off when the kids show no hesitation to dancing to a style popular in Ba Sing Se. Fun wins out! And I liked Aang and Katara’s dance; it’s nice to see them acting like kids, and that Aang is doing something about his crush.

    As for the royal family, Azula is trying to help Zuko, but also keeping him on his toes. I know you hate her, but she’s still a compelling character. Zuko trying to justify himself to Iroh is awful to see, and even worse is his admission that he’s confused and life isn’t what he had expected — just as Iroh had warned him. Iroh’s disappointment is unbearable. Watching Zuko take another step down the bad road by hiring Tattoo Guy to kill Aang isn’t even frustrating anymore; I’m resigned to the fact that he’s going to dig himself deeper and deeper.

  3. majere616 says:

    *dons shipping goggles*
    <img src="; border="0"/>
    <img src="; border="0"/>
    *removes shipping goggles*



    <img src="; border="0"/>

  4. kartikeya200 says:

    Spotted in this episode is the rare cousin of the Drunken Giraffe dance: the Tipsy Turtleduck.

    <img src=""&gt;

    Okay I had to THAT DONE, this episode holds a special place in my heart. It's just so fun.

    <img src=""&gt;

    At the writer's retreat we came up with the idea that the kids would spend some time in disguise, acting like Fire Nation citizens. From a design standpoint, this was really exciting. We had made forty episodes by this point, and frankly I was tired of Team Avatar's stock outfits. In most stories, the villains get the best clothes, but you get the best of both worlds dressing up your "good guys" like "bad guys".

    <img src=""&gt;

    I thought it was important to have each new outfit echo elements from the characters' stock attire, so their iconic identities weren't lost in the translation.

  5. arctic_hare says:

    Starting off the episode with Zuko? Yeah, this show knows how to get my attention. 😀 Although it then cuts away before I can find what he's doing. Aw.

    When I realized that this season would feature a lot of the gang's time spent going incognito behind enemy lines, I was very excited, because that's something so new for them – they've never really, aside from that brief stint in The Deserter, had to hide their identities in this way. They've always been free to wear their native clothing and display Aang's arrow, bend their own elements for the most part, etc. I tend to enjoy this sort of thing in fiction in general, and I reacted with even more enthusiasm here, because it meant seeing more of everyday life in the Fire Nation and learning more about it, both for Team Avatar and for me as a viewer. We've seen precious little of its culture in comparison with the Water Tribes and the Earth Kingdom, and the glimpses of Air Nomads via flashbacks and Aang's stories and viewpoints. All we've really seen are the villains, most of them away from the capital, and that one Fire Nation town in The Deserter. Now, with Team Avatar on the inside, and Zuko living it up in the capital alongside Azula, there's fittingly – for this Book is called Fire, after all – going to be a lot of focus on this society and its people. And seeing the normal people in a villainous nation is always a good thing, as it gives realistic nuance and depth that you just don't get when it's a 2D depiction of a country where everyone is an evil jerk. It just doesn't work that way in real life, and it shouldn't in fiction either. It thankfully doesn't here, and so after the glimpse we got of average people at that festival, plus my interest in Zuko's continuing arc, I found myself even more excited for this season than I was at the beginning of last season.

    This episode does not disappoint. To some, it may seem like fluffy filler, and to some extent it is, in that it doesn't advance the overall plot, but I found it very enjoyable in three ways: the abundant humor, the character stuff for Zuko (more on that later) and getting to see inside a Fire Nation school. Right off the bat, we see that the homeland society looks down on colonists. Which… is rude and a bit classist, but colonialism is a fucking terrible thing, so… basically it's gross all around, because the Fire Nation shouldn't be going there and colonizing ANYWAY. Ugh. Also ugh is On Ji's alpha male douchebag (wait, that's redundant… oh, whatever) boyfriend. What a jerk, I hate guys like that. Fortunately, the other kids (and On Ji herself) are pretty nice to Aang.

    After Sokka's hilarious reaction to Aang revealing where he'd been, we learn where Zuko had been headed the previous night: Iroh's cell. Which is where I become intensely sad, because it's so very incredibly hard to see Iroh like this. 🙁 🙁 🙁 He needs to come over to my house instead, plz. We'll have tea and get up to ~wacky hijinx~. Much better than being treated like this… and I DON'T just mean being locked in jail. BAD ZUKO. VERY BAD. SHUT THE FUCK UP AND SIT THE FUCK DOWN, YOU UNGRATEFUL BRAT. HOW DARE YOU. This scene made me so angry, for him yelling like that at Iroh and calling him "crazy". I could understand his actions in Crossroads of Destiny; and I still find him one of the most interesting characters on the show. I really do. It's not that I hate him. I'm a big fan, actually, and I normally love him because of his fantastic arc. But this made me want to reach through the screen and slap him around a few times, for so many reasons. Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugh.

    That oath is intensely creepy, isn't it? It's another example, like that puppet-show in The Deserter, of how the Fire Nation indoctrinates them young. Not only that, but it's alarming how the history texts somehow fail to mention that the Air Nomads had no military and were exterminated in an ambush. I really don't see this as being an accident: it was a deliberate rewrite of history in order to make the Fire Nation seem not like a genocidal bully, but like conquering heroes, triumphing over an enemy army. One can only guess at what the fake details given in these texts are, but I'd guess they paint as rosy a picture of the Fire Nation as possible, and demonize the Air Nomads, in order to justify what Sozin did. It's an incredibly disturbing thought that unfortunately feels all too real and believable. No wonder people of the current generation of the Fire Nation are so comfortable with the war: the history of it has been altered and reconstructed. They've been sold a false narrative of their own country's actions and motives. Look at the shock on the other kids' faces when Aang says that Sozin ambushed the Air Nomads, and think about the fact that the teacher called them the Air Nation. This one little scene gives me such chills. "Great march of civilization"? I bet we can all think of the real world parallels for much of this stuff.


  6. JonT says:

    'Out of his element' literally!

  7. Tauriel_ says:


    WANG FIRE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! <3 <3 <3

  8. lilah80 says:

    "Dear Diary,
    Well, I have a plan. Maybe it's not a very good plan, because Uncle wouldn't help. Why is he being so stubborn? And alright, I'm in a hole, but if I just keep digging, maybe I'll tunnel out the other side. And I tried to explain it to Uncle, but he won't even look at me. Well, I'll show him. I'll show everyone! I'm back home now, and everything's going to be all right. I just – I just need to destroy the Avatar, and everything will be fine. Plus, Azula says she'll be looking out for me, and that's good, right?" – Zuko

  9. RJM says:

    <font size=+2>FLAMEO MY HOTMAN.</font>

    This episode makes me ridic happy. The Kataang dance, it was so beautiful. The episode also made me into a Maiko fangirl. "I don't hate you too." INDEED.

    <font size=+3>WANG FIRE!!!</font>

  10. Dragonsong12 says:

    I kind of loved too, that the first dances Aang showed to the Fire Nation kids were actual Fire Nation dances. That wasn't even part of a different culture, it was their own heritage that had been forgotten, and I thought it was a beautiful way to connect and to show that the Fire Nation is more than just a bunch of angry soldiers.

    I believe the entire premise of the episode was an homage to 80's high school dance movies. Which just makes it all more hilarious somewhow.

    • TheWelshPirate says:

      In the commentary, the creators strait-up admit that this episode is a homage to Footloose.

    • MocataJoy says:

      I love the whole message of this episode. Sokka straight up calls Fire Nation children "depraved little fire monsters." But they AREN'T. They're kids. Kids who are being brainwashed and told incorrect things about other cultures AND their own culture. In a sad yet wonderful way, Aang knows more about the Fire Nation than the students at the school do.

      That's another theme that pops up a lot in this show, I guess. Aang tends to learn as he teaches others.

  11. echinodermata says:

    Okay, I actually really love that we get to see a Fire Nation school. And that oh, they're all about etiquette and apparently the mainland looks down on the colonies. And Aang is basically doing recon while making a picture of Ozai made of noodles. Love it all.

    Plus, Fire Nation oath! Propaganda for school children! LOVE IT. "Great March of Civilization!" Rewriting history! No really, LOVE IT.

    But Iroh! 🙁 🙁 🙁 bawling foreverrrrr. And shut up Zuko. Just shut up.
    <img src=""&gt;

    "You're so beautiful when you hate the world." Look, I really do love them together. That Zuko enjoys Mai's stoicism and apathy, and that Mai accepts that Zuko is prone to strong emotional reactions. I just think they're an awesome match, and I really do enjoy watching them together since they genuinely seem to like each other, despite their differences.
    <img src=""&gt;
    "Mai: I don't hate you.
    Zuko: I don't hate you, too."
    (And I may very will gif every single time they kiss because haters gonna hate.)

    Alright, so all the stuff pertaining to the dance party is massively cheesy, but I still think it's pretty enjoyable, and whatever, I still like this episode.

    In conclusion, Tsungi Horn.
    <img src=""&gt;
    (Also, that flute is facing the opposite way I'm used to, and it bugs me to look at it.)

    • Anne says:

      Maiko = OTP.

      • shirtninjas says:

        I can't remember… doesn't Iroh play the tsungi horn on one of the music nights on the ship in season 1?

        • monkeybutter says:

          Yup, during "The Blue Spirit." It's pretty, haunting music throughout the episode. Obviously, the tsungi horn is reserved for badasses.

        • Tauriel_ says:

          And apparently, Zuko is a pretty good Tsungi hornist (according to Iroh, anyway).

        • musingsteele says:

          They actually buy the Tsungi Horn from the pirates in season one, it shows up again on music night (and here), and ends up becoming Iroh's leitmotif.

    • Strabo says:

      Wouldn't left-handed people hold the flute this way?

      • echinodermata says:

        I'm both left-handed and a flautist, so this is kinda an interesting question to me I hadn't considered. In the real world, I don't think the conventional metal flutes exist as a left-handed version. I mean, I know left-handed guitars exist, even if they're rare, but I've never even heard of a left-handed flute (or sax or clarinet or brass instrument.)

        Also, left-handed instruments generally exist when one hand has a lot more to do with the other, and that's really not the case on flute. So while holding a flute up is automatic muscle memory for me and mimicking the way it's held in the gif just feels wrong, I also don't think there's anything uniquely handed about the way the flute is held.

        So to answer your question, I don't think so? But in the land of mass-production, I can't say for sure.

      • stefb says:

        Having played the flute since I was 9 (although I haven't in a long time), no they don't make left handed flutes (at least I've never heard of them : ). Both hands have basically the same amount of work as the other—even if there was a problem, which I don't see as likely, the player would quickly get used to it.

      • sabra_n says:

        Lefties have to learn to use instruments as righties do, generally speaking. So that's how I learned guitar and viola and yes, the flute, for the brief period I played it. Instruments are already pretty specialized products; making backwards versions for the 10% of the population that might need them doesn't seem economically viable.

    • Depths_of_Sea says:

      "(And I may very will gif every single time they kiss because haters gonna hate.) "

      I would totally support that.

    • meatandsarcasm says:

      And I may very will gif every single time they kiss because haters gonna hate.

      You won't see me complaining.

  12. Talie says:

    Yay, we've reached one of my favorite episodes, and my favorite fandom word: the Kataango! (Wang Fire and enemy birds are awesome, too, but the Kataango's epicness can't be described in such words—just watched.) Props to the track team for the amazing accompanying music.
    No matter what, I can never seem to dislike canon pairings. For that matter, I'm very open to non-canon pairings, too. (Can one ship Zutara and Kataang at the same time? Yes, it's possible.)
    Anyway, this episode is not just one of my favorites because of the shipping and the dancing and the music. It was a nice break from the previous darker episodes of last season, fun and humorous. And I can never stop laughing at "Flameo, Hotman!"

  13. bookgal12 says:

    I've been waiting for so long for you to post your review of this episode, this is one of my favorites due the dance scene with the wonderful music. This episode made me realize how awesome the music in the series is and that it is a crime there isn't a soundtrack out there for us fans to buy yet. The dance scene is so perfect is the way it mirror's Katara and Aang feelings for one another and done so beautifully. I was happy to see that Aang got the schoolkids out of their shells if just for a moment.
    <img src=""&gt;

    But not all is good because we get Zuko's visit with Iroh which just brings tears to my eyes to see the extent of Zuko's conflict that won't be going away anytime soon. I found his first visit a little bit arrogant so I was Glad Iroh didn't acknowledge him. The second visit shows reenforces the fact that Zuko has to find his own way and can't keep looking to uncle for advice. On a slightly more pleasant note, we do get to see that Zuko and Mai are becoming more of a couple which I think is a a much needed dose of happiness for Zuko.

    And because I can't get it out of my head, here is the music from the dancing scene: <a href="” target=”_blank”>

  14. arctic_hare says:

    The secret dance party is so fun and cute and teen movie-ish… so of course, Hide the Lord of the Assholes has to be the ultimate party pooper and RUIN EVERYTHING. Yeah, yeah, we know, I really hate that guy. Don't we all? What I love, though, is all the kids working together to help Aang escape. Aawww. 😀 See, Sokka, just cause they're Fire Nation, doesn't mean they're all terrible people! THERE IS HOPE FOR THIS GENERATION YET.

    Of course, the episode can't end there, can it? We finish on a deeply ominous note, as Zuko contracts an assassin to "end" the Avatar, and my scream of "WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING, ZUKO?!" resumes, and louder than ever. 🙁 🙁 🙁

    Other stuff:

    – What cute birdies. 😀 <3 I love when that one just hops onto Sokka's head. AWWWW.

    – I love their spiffy new Fire Nation clothes.


    – GOOD LORD do I sympathize with Aang's difficulty in finding something non-meat to eat in a strange place. I love that the show acknowledges this reality.

    – Seriously, why couldn't I have taken Momo with me to school as a kid? MY LIFE FEELS SO INCOMPLETE.

    – "Wang Fire" is perhaps the greatest name in the history of the world.

    – I wish we could have seen Appa dancing. 🙁 I have no doubt in my mind that he does indeed have the fanciest feet of all.

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      Can I just second so much of you said?

      To begin, let me just say, it is very very difficult to find pure veggy food. I'm not vegetarian, but I've got friends who are, and I've travelled with them. It is very difficult to get somewhere which sells cheap, good vegetarian food, and I really sympathies with Aang here.

      What I personally think is so important about this episode is the looking into Fire Nation culture. Like you said, it prevents them being stereotyped as a culture which is just evil. We see that they're people, too, even though they're people who happen to be at war with everyone else. But the fact is, that's what many people in the world are. Soldiers all have families, friends, cultures. Its important that people learn that you don't just become evil.

      What this episode excels in is showing the conditions that allow for dictatorships and control. I've studied things like Nazi Germany and Mao's domination of China, and what we see in this episode mirrors a lot of that. We have the re-writing of the history books to put the Fire Nation in their favour. That's just natural. What we didn't see here is how they've changed other text-books. There are examples from Nazi Germany where students had math problems about the rate of bombs falling on Britian, and "how much money Germany looses to disabled people each year". School is such a perfect place to indocrinate children.

      Which is perhaps why the dancing thing of this episode is so absolutely brilliant. It may be an obvious Footloose reference, but it is also based on fact. Controlled societies like this do tend to stifle self-expression, because free thought is an easy way to loose control of the masses. Going back to Nazi Germany (Goodwin's Law, what's that?), the state actually made modern dancing illegal. That didn't stop 'Swing Kids' from going to illegal dance parties as a way of rebelling.

    • majere616 says:

      I resent your comparison of Hide and Zhao. At least Zhao was kind of a badass. It took the ocean taking on a physical form to kill him.

      • lossthief says:

        It also only took a 16-year-old to beat him in combat, soooooo.

        JK, Zhao's fun on a bun. Plus, he's voiced by Jason Isaacs! Did you guys know that?

  15. grav_ity says:

    "I already have a picture of the Fire Lord! And here's one I made out of noodles!" –> possibly my second favourite line of the whole series.

    Now that we're here, I can say that I almost never watch season two unless I can go from "The Library" to "The Headband" all in one go. I can't stop watching while they're looking for Appa, and then I can't stop watching until I get something happy! And I don't even really mind, because it's just that brilliant.

    • grav_ity says:

      Also, I really, really love the look that Mai shoots Azula when she leaves to go help Ty Li with her braid. Even without the music cue it's awesome, but it definitely sold me on the two of them being together.

      • Saphling says:

        I always saw the side-eye Mai gives Azula as a sign of annoyance for breaking up her picnic with Zuko. Mai doesn't dare do more than that to show her displeasure at Azula.

        • TheWelshPirate says:

          ^That's always how I read it, too. Azula tried to tell Zuko that she wanted to speak to him in private, but he basically said "get lost". So Azula switched her sights over to Mai who she knew she could intimidate easier.

      • shirtninjas says:

        Every time I see that I imagine Mai is sneaking around the corner to listen in on the conversation because she distrusts Azula.

  16. kaleidoscoptics says:

    Still surprised that Azula seems to keep protecting Zuko. She clearly has some sort of motive beyond wanting to make sure he’s not lying about Aang being dead. She wants a pawn, I guess? She knows how well she can manipulate him, and doesn’t want him captured?
    Generally the school plot is just kind of silly, but it was neat to see how the Fire Nation kids are taught to see the world. Revisionism is scary stuff. The pledge seems like it’s intentionally close to the American pledge that we were supposed to say every week in k-8, possibly to make it hit home harder that these kids are a lot like their viewers. (Thankfully when I was a smartass and pledged to Russia and Barbara Streisand, the teachers didn’t give us a pop quiz.)

    Zuko clearly respects his uncle and just wants Iroh’s approval—but he can’t have Iroh and his father’s approval. They’re diametrically opposed. And he already made his choice. Iroh saw Zuko as his son, and wanted to do right by him, only to have Zuko turn on him. This show is such a tragedy. Zuko especially is really like the Greek tragic characters whose pride gets in the way of doing the right thing. Like hiring out someone to go after Aang. What the fuck, Zuko. Really. What is wrong with you. I am so angry at a cartoon character right now.

    (Although I gotta admit, I kinda love the Zuko/Mai fluff. It’s just so perfectly… teenager. It’s weird seeing Zuko act like a normal kid.)

    Finally: Wang Fire. How did that get past the censors?

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      As for Azula's motive….I don't know. Maybe she genuinely cares for her brother on a certain level. Now that he's been accepted back, he's first in line for the throne. I'm sure Azula could easily kill or dispatch him to get it back, but maybe that's too heartless for even her. So she could be trying either to get Zuko on her side, or just wants to play him as a pawn so he'll be a figurehead when he comes to power.

      • The Welsh Pirate says:

        As far out as it sounds, I think that Azula has actually grown some level of respect for Zuko. His story thus far is actually kind of inspirational in a twisted way. The banished and fallen prince who has endured many hardships away from home, but when tested he helps defeat their nation's greatest enemy and captures the Fire Lord's treasonious brother. If the Fire Nation was on the "good" side of the war, that would be a very heroic story. And from their perspective, the Fire Nation is on the "good" side.

        I think it's going to be an important part of Zuko's arc that he will eventually realize that earning the respect of the likes of Ozai and Azula is something to be ashamed of, not proud of.

  17. herpestidae says:

    Well, this episode. I’m not sure how to go about organizing this, so bear with me.

    This episode is Footloose.

    Okay, it is. Can we get over that?

    It was a big point of contention when it came out, because the second episode of season 3 was… “filler.” But I still liked it. While the plot was kind of copied, I like the little things they did. I mean, it was genuinely funny from start to finish.

    New Wardrobe

    Yeppers. They’ll be wearing Fire Nation clothes. No way this can go wrong.

    Jeepers Katara, you’re in the presence of a monk. Put your midriff away!

    I kid. I mean, once you’ve shown Azula in a bathrobe, there’s really no outfit that won’t be allowed.

    Wang Fire

    Sometimes, Sokka just makes this show. You have no idea the kind of shenanigans the fandom has attributed to Wang Fire.

    Wang Fire won an Agni Kai without firebending.

    The only element Wang Fire bends is the element of surprise.

    Fire Nation School

    Jeez. Like… They don’t let the kids do anything, do they? And they teach horrible history. They’re brainwashing the children. “New mind ready for molding” indeed. Is this a kind of oppression?

    Also: Reform School = COAL MINES!? The Fire Nation is District 12!

    The Party

    Notice Aang running up walls and junk? Way to be inconspicuous there, “Kuzon.”

    The Kataango. I loved that little scene from the start, especially how Katara can go from “blushing” to “seduction face rawr” in a single blink. It also goes back to the Cloudbending back in The Fortuneteller.


    See, this is why I like Maiko. Zuko is a total dork totally and completely. He’s very well-built, and handsome, but he’s the biggest dork on the planet. And Mai puts up with him anyway. What more evidence do you need?

    Zuko and Iroh
    Yeah, pretty much this:

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Awesome Booter-Freak art is awesome, thanks for posting it! <3

    • majere616 says:

      Wang Fire invented a language comprised of entirely of meat, with "Flameo" and "Hotman" as its only vowels.

      Talking to Wang Fire solves all your problems, even ones you didn't know you were gonna have yet.

  18. MissDirect says:

    This episode always just makes me smile. I mean, there's new clothes! Dancing! Sokka wearing a magnificent beard! How can anyone watch it and not want to hug everything in sight? That being said, Iroh and Zuko are once again breaking my heart. Why is it that almost every instance that this show actually brings me to tears involves either Iroh or Appa? Zuko is now, for the very first time, completely without an adult he can turn to for guidance. He is now (and I really, really don't mean this as an insult to Mai, because I love her to pieces) more alone than he has been for a long time, and once more this isolation is due to his own bad choices. Well, they say we learn more from our mistakes than our successes…

    Aside: "Was that a….cow hippo????"
    It's a Hip-POW!!!

  19. Saphling says:

    The main reason why I think Mei and Zuko work so well as a couple is that her dry sense of humor is the perfect answer to his emo. How can he be fully emo when she doesn't hate him? ^__^

    Also, that side-eye she gives Azula when Azula lies to her to break up Mei and Zuko's picnic gives me the chilllls.

  20. hallowsnothorcruxes says:

    Those gifs are amazing 😀

    Btw how do you feel about Evangeline Lilly playing you? 😛

    • Tauriel_ says:

      I have no idea who she is, but she's a LOT prettier than me, so I fully approve of the casting! 😀

  21. Tauriel_ says:

    Zuko, what are you doing???

    Yep, you're confused, so obviously the best solution is to send a fucking assassin after the Avatar. Way to go, Zuko… *facepalm*

  22. ambyr says:

    There is a comic set after this episode (no spoilers for later episodes) that some people may enjoy, based on their comments here.

  23. Tauriel_ says:

    "I don't hate you."
    "I don't hate you, too."

    Best non-cliché version of "I love you – I love you, too" since The Empire Strikes Back's "I love you – I know", Y/Y?

  24. Nomie says:


    Somebody’s got their Halloween costume figured out!

    This is one of my favorite episodes in the show, for many of the reasons you touch upon in the review, but also the music is just fantastic throughout. I would elaborate but hi, sneaking on at work to read. THAT IS MY DEDICATION TO MARKWATCHES.

  25. qwopisinthemailbox says:


  26. Oooh, of course! I don't even remember whether I caught that on a rewatch.

    That just adds to the theme that Mark pointed out where Aang is showing them their OWN CULTURE in a different way.

    • shirtninjas says:

      Did you all catch the fact that Aang is wearing his sash UPSIDE-DOWN the entire time?

      • DuskQ says:

        Yeah, I did. It represents the fact that, from the start, he unwittingly is rebelling against the Fire Nation norm. We know that when he put on the uniform he didn't know what it was. He clearly didn't know that the sash was not meant to be a headband, but he still adapted it to hide the gargantuan arrow tattooed to his forehead.

        The triangular symbol is also above the doorways, at least the one above the classroom entrance, and the symbol seems to directly represent the school. Aang literally turns the school upside down.

        " expected a chase of sorts, but the Headmaster and his guards become confused when a few students are wearing the same headband as Aang. This is when the title of this episode suddenly transforms into a powerful statement: In a sign of solidarity and thanks, every student dons the same headband, allowing Aang to escape. I was shocked at how a silly situation suddenly became so touching to me within thirty seconds or so. Aang escapes out of the back of the cave because of what these kids did for him."

        And Aang's influence is so infectious that the Fire Nation soldiers even begin tapping to the music. It suggests that what was only a show of solidarity continues to spread throughout the nation. It's one of the unconventional ways in which The Gaang saves the day. Even the soldiers learn to dance by rediscovering the art of fancy footwork!

        • shirtninjas says:

          I guess it could be analyzed that way… I just thought it was a hilarious expression of how Aang was completely ignorant of their culture despite the fact that he thought he knew all about it… like if someone from 100 years ago appeared today and walked around with a t-shirt on backwards.

        • accioetoile says:

          And here I thought it was meant to represent his arrow when he couldn't actually show it.

  27. Strabo says:

    This is probably my favourite "silly" episode. It's just chokeful of great lines, funny scenes (Sokka's beard, "Flameo, Hotman", "even the meat eats meat", ENEMY BIRDS, the scene with the headmaster, the Fire Nation Anthem, forbidden dancing…) and simple fun (the Zuko/Iroh storyline aside). It's a great homage to "Footloose". Aang's schoolfight and Aang's and Katara's dance were just beautifully choreographed. The insight into the Fire Nation was really well done.

    And Wang Fire and his wife Sapphire Fire are just wonderful.

  28. TyBlack says:

    Dance Parties were my old Social Studies teacher's solution to everything.

  29. Embies says:

    Time for an insightful post: is it just me, or Katara's boobs are significantly larger in season three?

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Evidently the Fire Nation invented Wonderbra… 😛

    • @redbeardjim says:

      Maybe. Might just be that she's wearing less restrictive clothing.

      • Meenalives says:

        Or they're just still growing. She is only 14.

        • @ladylately says:

          I feel incredibly creepy having just checked this, but it's intentional. She's pretty clearly going through puberty through all the seasons. Go, artists, for having realized that and not just making her developed from the start!

    • @Siesiegirl says:

      When she was being Sapphire Fire, at least, there was some extra stuffing to give her those pendulous pregnant boobs (this new mom appreciates the animators' attention to such details).

      For the rest of it, I think it's a combination of no longer wearing the binding Water Tribe undies, and the exposed midriff that makes her _look_ more curvy because suddenly we can see a well-defined waist.

    • MichelleZB says:

      Yeah, the first time we see Katara as a teenaged girl is in the second season when she starts training Aang in her underwear. Now, in Fire Nation clothes, she is looking a lot older. This is pretty normal for a 14-year-old girl. I grew at that age.

    • Strabo says:

      Different clothing (probably no longer the wrapped underwear the Water Tribe usually wears, but definitely less restrictive Fire Nation clothing) and a girl of 14, who over the run of the series is now approaching 15 (why didn't they celebrate birthdays btw? All of Team Avatar born in Autumn? – not that I complain, as being born in November myself :D)

      • shirtninjas says:

        The writers have said (somewhere, I can't remember) that just as the elements are associated with the seasons, (air=autumn, water=winter, earth=spring, fire=summer) most people in each nation are born during their respective seasons. I dunno about them celebrating their birthdays though. They probably would, but the writers just didn't spend any episodes on it.

  30. echinodermata says:


    Haha, my reaction, when I'm not supporting Mai/Zuko, is Zuko, you're getting in the way of my ot3! Clearly we are doing fandom wrong or something.

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      Pah, there's no way to do fandom wrong. Besides, The Dangerous Ladies is a surprisingly popular threesome.

    • __Jen__ says:

      I've come to the conclusion that I basically ship all of the ladies of Avatar in various permutations and I'm okay with that. 😀

  31. Wang_Fire says:

    Aang is not the same boy he was two seasons ago. As we saw last episode, he now takes role as the Avatar extremely seriously. And yet, now that he has to stay incognito, this episode is all about the childish part of Aang as he embraces the chance to be a normal boy for a while. He really does seem so happy to go to school, even in the ‘enemy nation’.

    But while Sokka and Aang provide lots of great moments, this episode doesn’t run on wacky mode. There’s a couple of little moments (“Your Mom’s necklace.” “Oh… I guess it’s pretty obviously Water Tribe, isn’t it?”) and then there’s the whole B plot. Oh, Zuko… Betraying Iroh was the worst part of the whole fiasco. So, of course, he needs to make it in his mind that Iroh is the one at fault. Iroh could defend himself. (The claim that he would be in the gutter was very unfair. Iroh pulled himself up to owning the best tea shop in Ba Sing Se’s Upper Quarters!) Instead, he remains silent, not even letting Zuko see his tears. And even when he admits that he is confused, Zuko still makes the wrong decision. Zuko has entered full denial mode.

    This is also an interesting episode in that we get to see life within the Fire Nation for the first time. (Outside of their messed up ruling family, I mean.) Contrary to Sokka’s concerns about “enemy birds”, there’s real thought put into the depiction of regular life in nation. And what better way to see life in the Fire Nation than by seeing the educational system first hand! A system that is designed to mold minds to support the government’s interests. (With those who won’t conform sent to coal mines?) If this has been going for a century, it’s no wonder they don’t have a lack of soldiers.


  32. chichichimaera says:

    I know some people are kind of meh about this episode, but I really like it. I think it's a combination of the humour, as well as getting to see our first slice of the Fire Nation way of life.

    Sokka: Those are ENEMY birds! His reactions are so great in this epidode. His expression of shock when Aang says he's enrolled in school. Checking out all the different clothes on the laundry line before making a decision. His wolf-tail flopping forwards in depression when he's talking about living in caves. WANG FIRE, who is a being of sheer awesome. I also really like their new costumes for Season 3, particularly the hair changes. And Aang's old slang is hilarious too.

    It's clear the Fire Nation has been using propaganda and indoctrination for some time. The creepy oath of allegiance, the portraits and statues of Ozai everywhere, the revised history they're taught, the metion of their 'March to Civilisation'. I really like that they have chosen to show there's a reason the FN is this way, not just that they are evil for the sake of it.

    Zuko, LOOK AT YOUR LIFE, LOOK AT YOUR CHOICES! (Except Mai, I am totally down with their angst-based teenage relationship.) So we start off with him at the palace back in what presumably was his childhood bed. Must be bringing back a lot of memories. (And can I just say how much I love the set design on this show. It is amazing.) I think it's pretty clear that he is very conflicted about being back home. He's always relied on Iroh for advice, even if he told himself he never wanted to listen to it, I think it was always something of a comfort to him.

    Of course Iroh doesn't want to talk to him. This is something Zuko is going to have to work out on his own. (Also, seriously, 'here I brought you some food you don't like, plz forgive me now'. Try harder Zuko. Stop turning your uncertainty outwards into rage. I know it's a habit of yours, but since when has it ever gotten you someplace good?

    Azula takes joy in cockblocking Zuko. Oh Zuko, why did you fall for that old trap? You are so very outmatched. I would watch your back in future.

    And now, some more Texts From The Fire Nation
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">

  33. Tauriel_ says:

    Interesting factoid:

    Look closely at the sashes the schoolchildren wear (and which Aang uses as a headband) – the triangular emblem points upwards, but Aang wears it pointing down, so that it resembles his actual arrow.

    A subtle thing, but a really nice detail. 🙂

    Also, remember that line from Avatar Day where Sokka compared him losing his boomerang to Katara losing her hair loopies and Aang losing his arrow? Well, now Katara has lost her hair loopies and Aang has been forced to hide his arrow. What goes around, comes around, eh? 😛

  34. Strabo says:

    This is probably my favourite "silly" episode. It's just chokeful of great lines, funny scenes (Sokka's beard, "Flameo, Hotman", "even the meat eats meat", ENEMY BIRDS, the scene with the headmaster, the Fire Nation Anthem, forbidden dancing…) and simple fun (the Zuko/Iroh storyline aside). It's a great homage to "Footloose". Aang's schoolfight and Aang's and Katara's dance were just beautifully choreographed. The insight into the Fire Nation was really well done.

  35. aaren says:

    "You're so beautiful when you hate the world."
    "I don't hate you."
    "I don't hate you too."


  36. birdbrainblue says:

    Aang probably didn't tell On Ji he was crushing on someone else because he didn't realize she was flirting with him (if she even was, and it wasn't just her boyfriend being a jerk.) He was just so sweet and open and excited with everyone in this episode that it makes more sense to me for him to think she was being friendly.

  37. FlameRaven says:

    Yaaaaaay FOOTLOOSE EPISODE. It's so much fun, and you're right, it's a welcome break from the intense drama and bleak tone of the last few episodes. I don't know if there is a video with the end dance and the Footloose song, but there needs to be.

    One thing I did not notice on my first viewing: Aang wears his headband upside down, so that it forms an arrow shape on his forehead. SUBTLE.

    "Mr. and Mrs…. Fire." Oh Sokka. Never change.

    Zuko and Mai continue to be hilarious together.

    I need to properly rewatch the episode before commenting further, but there really is so much heart in this episode, it's a welcome addition even if it is a little bit filler.

  38. Klin says:

    <img src="; >

    The fanbase of this show has changed me for the worse.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      omg this gif

    • shirtninjas says:

      It's kind of creepy… in a weird way…

    • calimie says:

      Remember, kids: 12 and 14.

      (This is why I concentrate on Maiko)

      • Elexus Calcearius says:

        This. Although, it helps that in my personal head cannon, two years have passed since the whole iceberg thing, making them 14 and 16. It makes it more tolerable.

        • Mysti says:

          I thought Word of God said a year of story time passed each season so they would be 14 and 16…. or is that something my head made up so I wouldn't be quite so squicked with romance involving Aang?

          • Hyatt says:

            That's only for the movie. In the show, one aired season equals about one in-series season.

      • lossthief says:

        If my aunt is to be believed (and I'm fairly certain she is) then this is nothing compared to some o she stuff she saw at the middle school dance she chaperoned.

      • MichelleZB says:

        Yeah, let's not sexualize this too much, okay? Can it be a cute puppy dog thing? Because Aang's still 12 so… EW.

      • Brieana says:

        Heh. I tried to look up cutesy kataang pictures on tumblr the other day and saw so much inappropriate shit. Okay, not THAT much, but still, things that were more adult than that gif.

    • Shay_Guy says:

      Quotes from the RPGnet forums on the Kataango:

      "Look at how chaste they are! Chastely panting, chastely sweating, their chests chastely heaving up and down, chastely staring intently into each other's eyes like they've just chastely completed a very chaste bout of chaste physical exertion. You just can't get any chaster than that, nosirree."

      And from another thread, in response to a declaration of creepiness:

      "What? You mean that perfectly chaste dance that was perfectly chaste? With perfectly chaste panting and chaste sweating amidst the chaste caressing and the chaste thrusting and the chaste heaving? Perhaps with a chaste cigarette afterward? No idea what you're talking about. The very portrait of chastity."

  39. kartikeya200 says:

    Yeah, I was always under the impression they're basically going through a bending routine in this dance. It looks like a very slowed down fight with extra flash and random bits thrown in.

  40. xpanasonicyouthx says:

    Literally, you could not even be further from the truth.

    I have not banned this word. People use it here every day. EVERY DAY. I just asked people to please be as careful as humanly possible about it's use and to LISTEN to folk who ask them not to use it.

    It is not up to you to decide how me and others are to deal with that word. It's up to the people it harms. And I don't even know where you got the idea that oppression ends "when the marginalized group decides that the privileged person or group has no power."

    I mean….WHAT??? When has this EVER HAPPENED EVER. EVER. There is no precedent in history EVER that this has happened. Oppression might end some day, and when it does, it will be when THE OPPRESSORS STOP OPPRESSING. It is not the responsibility of the marginalized to do this.

    I understand that people don't know "crazy" or "insane" can be used as slurs. That's why I allow for the fact that people need to tell them it is. The rules around here are not about "banning" language. They are in place to foster the entire idea that we can be respectful of marginalized folk and treat them in a way that is different from the entirety of the Internet.

    Just….no. No.

  41. chichichimaera says:

    And the arms crossed at the wrists thing was the start of Zuko and Jee's little face off back in 1.12 The Storm. (Whether this means this signifies 'we're gonna fight' in the FN is a matter of personal opinion, but it might explain why everybody turns to watch them.)

  42. @redbeardjim says:

    "That hullaballoo going on with your feet… that a nervous disorder?"

  43. Kaci says:

    I admit it: I'm kind of mushy and conversely kind of cynical, so "I don't hate you," "I don't hate you, too," is like SUPER ROMANTIC TO ME and I make ridiculous noises every time I watch that scene despite my preference for the Zuko/Katara dynamic.

    I'm a multi-shipper and mushy. There, I admitted it.

  44. shirtninjas says:

    It's called a threesome.

    • Talie says:

      Or ménage à trois, or OT3, or OT4 (if you add Mai), etc. Ah, fandom. The ideas are endless…

  45. shirtninjas says:

    I always got the sense that Aang leaned over and told Katara to pretend they were fighting or training, and just "do what I do." Because the whole amazing dance looks like a well-choreographed fight.

  46. Talie says:

    Multishipping is a fun place to be, yes it is. 🙂

    • shirtninjas says:

      In my shipping, everybody loves everybody else and they're all best friends.

      I am bad at shipping.

  47. Tauriel_ says:

    I'll fourth this. 😛

  48. @redbeardjim says:

    Spoilery image is very, very spoilery!

  49. Tauriel_ says:

    Um, that pic is still spoilery…

  50. Pelleloguin says:

    This show loves to make me happy and then tear my heart out, then put it back just in time for me to have a heart attack.
    -Aang going to school and making noodle pictures = D'aww
    -Zuko and Iroh and the Silence of Shame and Disappointment = Why cant we all just get along and eat cake and be happy!
    – WANG FIRE! = Need I say more?
    – Footloose in my Avatar? = Yay! Happy dance time!
    – Mr.Tattoo-on-head = Zuko! What are you doing! This can not possibly end well.

  51. Quaero says:

    The music in this episode was very nice.

    Music 1

    Music 2

  52. arctic_hare says:

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

  53. affableevil says:

    I love this episode. It's just fun as hell!

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

    Dance party in the comments, guys! (I have even more dance gifs than this, but I figured I should cut them off somewhere)
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

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

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

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

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

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

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

    post your best dance gifs go go

  54. Hyatt says:

    Actually, they had. Greg Baldwin, the official replacement, did some voicework for Season 2, not to mention all the SD shorts.

  55. majere616 says:

    As you should be. Wang Fire is the Rory Williams of Avatar.

  56. Tilja says:

    If you want to know where all the headbands came from, just look at their belts: they are the same, that's where Aang took his from. Ready made Headbands. 🙂

  57. Tauriel_ says:

    Um, really? I've always thought that the "It is usually best to admit mistakes when they occur…" line to the earthbending-footballers in The Tales of Ba Sing Se was already recorded by Greg Baldwin, and that Iroh's silence in this episode was completely intentional by the creators…



  59. Classtoise says:

    Future note to everyone.

    WANG FIRE is all caps.

    It must be.

    No other form of writing it can contain such rugged manliness.

  60. Helldars says:

    The Kataango, or how to incorporate sexual tension between two underage characters in a kid's cartoon with grace and taste.

    Mike and Bryan (and their whole crew), you rule.

  61. monkeybutter says:

    <img src=""&gt;
    <img src=""&gt;
    <img src=""&gt;
    This barely scratches the surface of dancing gifs.

  62. MocataJoy says:

    I am getting married on July 16th. My husband and I WILL be doing the camelaphant strut at our reception, as well as dancing the way they do in the ballrooms of Ba Sing Se. Really.

    We wanted to do the pheonix flight too, but we decided it was too dangerous. (I got kicked last time we practiced >_<)

  63. enigmaticagentscully says:

    I love how Aang ends up in school and he just sort of…rolls with it. For a kid with a hell of a lot of responsibility, he's surprisingly laid back.

    Also, Mai and Zuko will never stop being adorable.

  64. simplefaith08 says:

    "Charming" is the perfect way to describe this episode. Though I'm not the type who dislikes silliness, anyway (I REVEL in it).

    1) I like to gush about the art all the time, but I never seem to gush about the animation. Which is ridiculous, since it rocks. This episode really makes it shine, however, because the dancing just looks fantastic. Major props to the Kataango as well (that's one of my favorite fandom terms, btw). But Aang's a good dancer in general.

    2) Sokka was just hilarious in this episode. If I were to quote my favorite lines from him it would probably just be 90% of his dialogue. (Flameo, sir, flameo *slow clap*)

    3) OK, I'm just going to admit it: I like Maiko quite a bit. I'm not a shipper, really, but I just like what the writers did. And that little scene is exactly why. The two of them are watching a romantic sunset and what does Mai say? "Orange is such an awful color." And then the whole "I don't hate you," "I don't hate you too" exchange. After I stop giggling, it just makes sense for them to be this way. Like, some couples have a lot in common, some couples are opposites and balance each other out, and some couples…just kind of work, somehow.

  65. alexamarie0813 says:

    flameo, hotman. flaaaameeeo.


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

    I may just be a little bit addicted to that show <333

  67. @Siesiegirl says:

    Yeah, I always assumed it was a waterbending kata.

  68. unicornseatrainbows says:

    So many incredible lines in this episode, but this might be my favorite of the series:

    "You're so beautiful when you hate the world".
    "I don't hate you."
    "I don't hate you, too".

    BEST EXCHANGE EVARR, emo kids unite!

  69. Tauriel_ says:

    Perhaps this episode should've been titled "The Avatar Dances", right? 😛

  70. Evil Midnight Lurker says:

    Toph can almost see Wang Fire.

  71. Ryan Lohner says:

    During the break, there was naturally a lot of speculation over what would happen with Iroh after his actor's death, with a lot of fear that he would be killed off. Thankfully, they found the perfect solution in placing him in situations where he naturally wouldn't talk, building up our affection for the character again before revealing his new voice (Greg Baldwin, who does a fantastic Mako impression).

    • Nikki says:

      The creators said in one of the episode commentaries that this wasn't the reason. They had already planned on Iroh giving Zuko the silent treatment and it ended up just happening to sort of coincide with the loss of Iroh's original voice actor.

  72. Teaspoon Capacity says:

    1. Loss of Katara's hair loopies. D:<
    2. I was waiting for this episode because I always thought you kinda looked like the mysterious assassin, Mark.
    3. Iroh. Cry cry. T.T
    4. The glorious introduction of Wang Fire, memetic badass. Oh yeah.
    5. Where is Ty Lee, damn it?!

    • potterfanatic says:

      "2. I was waiting for this episode because I always thought you kinda looked like the mysterious assassin, Mark. "
      OMG he totally does!! I never noticed it until now!! Can't unsee!

  73. Mysti says:

    I had blocked that out apparently. I will now resume the D: over Aang/Katara moments until I forget their ages again.

    • Hyatt says:

      Keep in mind that the kids in the series have to age faster than in the real world; the war forces them to mature. Aang especially has grown up a lot from the carefree child he was at the beginning of the series. 14 also used to be the average age of marriage in many cultures.

  74. @Siesiegirl says:

    Knowing that Mako was dead made Iroh's silence really creepy to me. Like, I was suddenly keenly aware that the cartoon image and the voice are two completely separate things; the fact that the voice NO LONGER EXISTED and there wasn't even a stand-in doing non-speech sounds like sighing or crying made the image on screen just this hollow shell and HE'S NOT REALLY THERE to me and it was really uncomfortable to watch.

    Not at all helped by the fact that the scene itself is a rather uncomfortable one.

  75. Harlock says:

    So Mark you think you look like that guy that Zuko hired at the end if you scowl hard enough? That reminds me of those reaction shots of you reading Twilight….there we go:

    I just couldn't resist ^^

  76. Avit says:

    Well, we do have the Pledge of Allegiance…

    • NopeJustMe says:

      …? Yeah, that's the point I was making. However I don't think America's pledge is as creepy as the Fire Nation's. I was just pointing out that anything like that, no matter how harmless, tends to freak me out a little, probably because we have nothing like it in my country.

      • Meenalives says:

        Yeah, I'm American, and it creeps me out too. I was always the one kid who opted out of saying the Pledge, and had to explain every time that I belong to a religion that forbids taking oaths. I frequently got bullied for being unpatriotic, especially after September 11.

        • NopeJustMe says:

          :O That's sad. I hope you didn't have a overly rough time :/ Though nerves were probably a little strained after 9/11. I can't really pass judgement on the Pledge of Allegiance, seeing as I have no idea what the content of it is.

  77. Avit says:

    They thought Aang was from the "colonies", so presumably a former Earth Kingdom citizen whose hometown was conquered by the Fire Nation.

    • Moonie says:

      I always assumed that line meant he was Fire Nation, and lived with his parents in the Earth Kingdom. Like Mai did.
      I can't really see them letting Earth Kingdom citizens into their schools with open arms, to be honest.

      • Hyatt says:

        Or they might've assumed that he had Earth Kingdom ancestry while still considering himself Fire Nation. I imagine that at least a few FN soldiers occupying EK towns fell in love with a local girl and decided to start a family…

      • Vikinhaw says:

        Well in some cases of real world colonization what happened was the colonizers were trying to change the colonized peoples into members of the colonizer's nation/culture (but of course at an inferior level to their own). It would fit with the Fire Nation's whole idea of 'great march of civilization', going to other Nations to 'civilize' them. And they been at it for 100 years now so it's quite possible there are now Earth Kingdom descendants who see themselves as Fire Nation.

  78. TheWelshPirate says:

    You know how most kids wear Superman pajamas to bed? Well, Superman wears Wang Fire pajamas.

  79. monkeybutter says:

    Actually, there's some variation in eye color outside of the Water Tribes, where it's mostly just shades of blue. Some of the kids at Aang's school had green and grey eyes, as does Ty Lee.

    • Moonie says:

      Oh yeah? I've noticed Ty Lee's before, but I mostly just like the crack theory of her secretly being Air Nomad in that case.
      Thank you for pointing that out

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Ty Lee has brown eyes…

      And the kid who invites Aang to play Hot and Explode seems to have green eyes.

      Earth Kingdom eye colour seems to vary between green and brown, Fire Nation eye colour varies between gold, brown and grey, and Water Tribe is all blue. Which makes sense, because the Water Tribe seems to be the most isolated nation out of the surviving three – Earth Kingdom is the biggest and the most diverse, and Fire Nation has been colonising it for over a hundred years, so naturally some Earth Kingdom genes got mingled in.

  80. TheWelshPirate says:

    Hitchcock tried to warn us…

  81. ComputerizedWoman says:

    It's really sad if you think about the real reason Iroh isn't talking. He has no voice actor at this moment because Mako died.

    But I liked this episode. The Kataango (Aang's and Katara's dance) was awesome. Also dancing can be a form of expression so having a dance party could work to help these kids express themselves more.

    • Hyatt says:

      Iroh had a voice actor by that point, and he'd already voiced Iroh a handful of times.

      • I, uh, don't mean to shut you down, but…no he hadn't.
        Mako voiced Iroh in all of Book Two.

        • Tauriel_ says:

          Actually, you're wrong. Greg Baldwin DID some voicework for Season 2. (For example, the "It is usually best to admit mistakes when they occur…" speech to the earthbending footballers in The Tales of Ba Sing Se.)

          Iroh's silence in this episode was completely intentional.

        • Jupiter Star says:

          Except for the scene with the boys playing ball in "Tales of Ba Sing Se," and the chibi shorts that went along with season two. Those were the new guy. He was cast very shortly after Mako died, so they did indeed already have his replacement actor on staff for this episode.

  82. WHATATWIST says:



    • shirtninjas says:

      OH GOD… Now I'm imagining a remake of the ending of this series based on the "You Got F'd In The A" episode of South Park. Just… truly awesome.

  83. TheWelshPirate says:

    Since everybody has pretty much said everything I wanted to say, I'll just go with my usual fall-back of gushing about Katara.

    I always love how no matter how rediculous a cover name that Sokka or Aang comes up with, Katara always rolls with it without blinking an eye. Whether it's Jun Pippinpaddle-Oppsocopolis, or Sapphire Fire. Katara is a Smooth Criminal.

    • Murph says:

      "I call the silk robe!" makes me grin with glee every time I hear it. Katara is established from S1 that she isn't above petty thievery for the common good and the writers remembered this 😀

  84. Anonymouse says:

    The choreography in this show is fabulous. If I could dance, I would learn these dances. I especially love the Waterbending one Aang and Katara do, because I am ALWAYS hearing martial arts forms compared to dancing. The similarities are admittedly there, enough so that a MMA dojo in my area actually does "Musical Kata" (karate forms set to Rock Music)!

  85. shirtninjas says:

    Although Wang Fire needs only to bend the element of surprise, firebending was named in honor of him.

  86. meatandsarcasm says:

    <img src="; alt="" title="Hosted by" />

  87. alex says:

    It's funny because wang means penis.

    ((you need to watch yu gi oh the abridged series. oh my lord you have to.))

    • Harlock says:

      Yeah YGTAS is awesome. But when I think about penis jokes and Abridged Series I always think about DBZ abridged:

      Vegeta: As I reveal my GIANT MONKEY….*camera pans over his crotch*
      Audience: *gasp*
      Vegeta: ….-Form. *camera pans to his face*
      Audience: *sigh*
      Random Guy: Thank god, I thought he meant "Penis"!

  88. beeftony says:

    It's story time again! This one's a lot more serious than the episode itself, but I felt that Aang's issues needed a little more resolution than we got. It takes place the night after Aang's first day at school and deals with his thoughts on his failure at Ba Sing Se as well as what the Guru meant.


  89. MichelleZB says:

    My FAVOURITE musical moment in this episode is the hilarious band arrangement of the "Fire Nation Danger" theme. LULZ FOREVER.

    Flameo, Hotmen.

  90. TheWelshPirate says:

    I'll never forgive Katara for inventing a whole new fetish; the Jailbait MILF

    <img src=""&gt;


  91. Brieana says:

    I love the dance party.
    I'll admit that I'm not the biggest fan of Maiko. It seems too shallow for me considering how Zuko has so much internal turmiol and whatnot and Mai knows little to nothing about that. I'd rather Zuko to get with that girl from Ba Sing Se or that other earthy girl.

    • Avit says:

      To be fair, I think a lot of their relationship was offscreen. I remember one of my complaints was that I should have liked to see more of how they got where they were — and "interseason comics" isn't really an excuse; I read the Maiko one upon y'all's kind linkage and it really didn't feel like enough of a showing.

    • Depths_of_Sea says:

      …because Song and Jin know loads about Zuko's issues and inner turmoil.

      I mean… I loved Zuko/Jin a lot too, but wasn't its main problem the fact that Jin didn't really know Zuko, and was more in love with the Lee Traveling Juggler persona, not Zuko Prince of the Fire Nation himself? Well, that and the fact that Zuko tends to fail utterly at dating. Mai at least knows Zuko's real history and backstory.

      • Brieana says:

        I'm not saying that they knew a lot about him. They only talked for one episode. I just think it would have come up eventually.

      • Hyatt says:

        Same here. Zuko/Jin was adorable, but with Mai, Zuko doesn't have to keep up any sort of presence. He doesn't have to lie about who he really is, like he did with Song and Jin. With Mai, he doesn't need to worry about her learning his true identity and their relationship changing, because she already knows all about him. For once, Zuko can forget his troubled past and just enjoy his time with Mai without some big issue hanging over his head.

        …though there might be hope for Zuko/Jin/Mai. Sure, Jin's out of the loop, but they all got along well enough in the inter-season comic…

  92. RomioneRawr says:


    [img ][/img]

    • ThreeBooks says:

      Crazy dancing guy is huuuge but awesome xDD

      I don't know how we missed him!

    • echinodermata says:

      Let's remember not use "crazy" on this site, because it is ableist.

      • Brieana says:

        It isn't okay when used as a compliment?

        • echinodermata says:

          copy-paste from the site I linked to:

          "Crazy as a positive amplifier:

          On the flip side, crazy is often used as a positive amplifier. Folks say that they are “crazy” about something or someone they love or like. But just because it’s positive doesn’t mean it’s a good thing. Crazy as a positive adjective still mean “overly” or “too much”. It’s meant to admit a slight lack of foresight or sense on the part of the speaker. Furthermore, a slur is a slur is a slur, no matter the context. Crazy is mostly, and overtly, used to mean “bad”, “silly”, “not worth paying attention to”, “too much”. Persons with mental illnesses are none of these things as a group. The positive use is not that positive, and it doesn’t absolve the mountains of bad usage."

    • Riel says:

      Why are you calling him C**** Dancing Guy when Freestyle Guy sounds better.

      (But I like to call him "1/4 of the animation budget").

      • Avit says:

        Freestyle Guy? Freestyle Guy? Man, that guy is the fucking Fire Lord of Freestyle. He's the Master of Movement, the Avatar of Action. Give the fellow some respect.

      • Avatar_fan_mom says:

        Fun fact: my 5 year old screams "Everybody freestyle" whenever or wherever there is music going on (because of this episode.) And she may just be able to beat Freestyle Guy in a dance-off. For reals.

  93. MocataJoy says:

    Yes you will! You could even be part of the GIF!

  94. SsngrR says:

    The dance is my favorite part of this episode; other than Sokka's hilarity. xP And Aang's 12; closer to 13 by the end of the series, methink, while Katara's 14. A two-year age difference doesn't matter much. My parents are six years apart. xP

    And yes, I do love how the show goes in-depth into Fire Nation society, to show that not all of them are evil as Sokka tends to think on a whim. I can't get over it, how many shows simply don't have this level of detail and foresight. Nickelodeon was quite lucky to have this show as its own.

  95. Hotaru-hime says:

    I saw that guy with the third eye and all I could think was Tien/Tenshinhan from Dragonball and Dragonball Z.
    I really love this episode. Sokka with a beard!!! Sokka with a beard.
    This episode was truly a thing of beauty.

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