Mark Watches ‘Avatar’: S03E10 -The Day of Black Sun, Parts I & II

In the tenth episode of the third season of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Team Avatar assembles a band of familiar faces to invade the Fire Nation, and Zuko finally reveals his true destiny. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Avatar.

This is all about growth.


At the end of season two, Team Avatar had assumed that victory was easy to them. After having defeated the Fire Nation at the Northern Water Tribe with Aang’s spectacular showing in the Avatar state, it seemed that the team could only go up. After adding Toph to the group, the defeat at Ba Sing Se stung that much more: they lost, and they lost hard, with Aang wounded badly and the entire city in control of Azula and the Dai Li.

Months later, it appears our heros now know how to lose.

It seemed pretty obvious that Aang couldn’t have defeated the Fire Lord at this point. What would the remaining episodes of the season be about? So the end of this two-part episode wasn’t a surprise to me in this sense. I was more interested in seeing how the writers arrived at this ending. What sort of story would they tell in the process?

A pretty spectacular one, I might say.

The way that the writers set up the invasion made it unsettling: it was too happy. Aang wakes from his first full night of sleep, perfectly rested, and the procession of awesome begins. More than ever before, the people that Team Avatar have helped, either directly or indirectly, show their support by joining up with the war effort. The Foggy Swamp Tribe are the first to reveal themselves, with Huu ceremoniously declaring pants to be an illusion. This is my kind of man. Haru and Taru have also offered their support, and I love the idea that they’re repaying Katara for inspiring them and their fellow Earth Kingdom citizens into finding a way to empower themselves. I can’t imagine a more fitting return myself.

It only gets better when an explosion reveals the return of The Mechanist, Teo, Pipsqueak, and The Duke. !!!!!!!!!! OH GOD, I LOVE WHEN CHARACTERS ARE BROUGHT BACK UNEXPECTEDLY. Also, peanut sauce bomb. I will take thirty of those, please.

Even right from the beginning, this all seemed a bit disconcerting. Avatar is a joyous show, for the most part, especially since it celebrates so many wonderful themes and messages about heroism, empowerment, and doing what one believes is the right thing in life. But why was this all working out so well? Why were so many people showing up for this battle? When Sokka attempts to do his best to present the battle plan to the group and fails miserably due to his nervousness, his father steps in to brilliantly explain the situation and inspire the troops. Sokka is disappointed in himself, but it doesn’t seem like a huge tragedy. At the very least, the plan has been explained, the troops are ready to fight, and they’re willing to give their lives in the process. Everything is right where it needs to be for the army to successfully invade the Fire Nation.

To Sokka’s credit, this is a familiar story of his, but done in a way to highlight Sokka’s own concerns with his masculinity and his social destiny. How do you live up to the shadow your father casts? I don’t want to suggest that Hakoda is a one-dimensional character, but he does exist in the story to shine a loving light on his son and daughter. We’ve seen that he does have a side to him that justified leaving his family behind and how that harmed them. But it’s not what overpowers his character.

So where does Sokka stand when it comes to his father? His friends and his sister won’t ever truly empathize with how he feels because he comes from such a different experience. We know that Katara felt a lot of anger at her father for leaving, and Sokka instead chose to set him on a pedestal. It’s natural for him to feel as if he’s upset his father because he’s not as good or better than him. I think one of the better things this show has done is relate self-esteem through expressions of masculinity and femininity in the Avatar world, and Sokka’s journey is indicative of how his belief in social roles influences how he feels about himself. It’s the same for Katara, who, even from the first episode, was acutely aware of the disadvantages put forth to her, highlighted even more when she visited the Northern Water Tribe.

As the Team continues to fret and prepare for the invasion, the writers also don’t ignore the very fascinating things that are happening inside the Fire Nation walls. (God, I really love that we see this invasion from two sides.) Uncle Iroh’s physical preparation appears to be reaching the final stage of…well, his plan has to be some sort of fight, right? Why else would he physically bulk up like that? It also seems he’s got someone on his side, at least in his day-to-day life. A prison guard, Ming, brings him special treats, vocalizing her respect for the once-great general. (Well, she probably believes he is still great, given how she acts towards him.) Is he going to involve her in whatever his plans are? Are his plans going to involve Zuko?

Oh, Zuko. I’ll have my moment soon, but let’s do this in order. The end of “Nightmares and Daydreams” seemed like a huge emotional moment for Zuko, a realization that his heart has other intentions and desires than what his “destiny” had in mind. Had he finally reached the point where he was going to leave the Fire Nation?  It’s seems to be. He writes a goodbye note; we watch as he leaves it on Mai’s bed, and he tells her that he is sorry. He confesses to a painting of his mother. It’s time to do the right thing.

Oh, Zuko, what are you going to do?

It’s clear that the show got more money to spend on this double episode. The animation that starts off the invasion is some of the smoothest and realistic work we’ve seen on the show. (Computer animation, I’m guessing?) Everything–the music, the animation, the writing–comes together in one long, tense set of scenes as Team Avatar, with their band of allies from the Water Tribe and the Earth Kingdom, begin to ascend on the Fire Nation. It’s about as close to perfection as this show has ever gotten. It’s tense, it’s poetic, and it provides us with one hell of an emotional moment. It’s all about the Fire Nation’s culture of force coming into conflict with the crafty, inventive techniques that the earth benders and water benders have been using to survive. Even knowing now what happens in the end, I don’t want to take away from the brilliance of these scenes: The Fire Nation completely misjudged how prepared these fighters were, and it’s a testament to their ingenuity and passion that they are able to be successful for so long.

After making it past the Great Gates of Azulon (which I must admit looked like a giant, flaming volleyball net), it became clear to me that something was just wrong. It was a small sensation at first, a thought at the back of my mind that kept trying to force its way to the front. I’m a cynic by nature most of the time, and it takes a lot for me to look at the bright side when it comes to popular media. Avatar has finally made that rather easy for me. It’s simple for me to be positive and hopeful about this show because it makes me feel so happy. That happiness, however, now seemed to be a sign that things weren’t right. Knowing that they’re parting ways, the group has one final goodbye; Katara and Aang, on the other hand, stay above before Aang leaves to go confront the Fire Lord. It’s a perception of finality that I’m left with: Why do Aang and Katara say goodbye in the way that they do? Has Aang accepted in his heart that loss is actually a possibility this time? Has he learned a lesson from his confrontation with Azula?

That’s what I mean when I say this is about growth. Aang knows now that he has to accept loss, since it’s clear that he’d never even considered it when facing Azula. Well, he faces it now, and in a moment of maturity and desire, he shows Katara how he finally feels, planting a goddamn romantic kiss on her lips before flying off all majestic and shit.

Holy hell, Aang. Bravo.

Uncle Iroh has grown, too. He’s still a calm, serene man, but his transformation to one of self-determined brutality is now complete. He’s not including Ming in his plans; in fact, he heavily implies to her that she needs to be away from his cell later that afternoon, and the look on his face is one of frightening severity. Whatever he has planned, it’s not going to be pretty.

Oh, Iroh. What are you going to do?

Sokka faces his moment of maturity, too. The submarines, designed by Sokka and The Mechanist, manage to break past every obstacle the Fire Nation throws at them. In a scene that evokes the Invasion of Normandy, the subs bellies open to release centipede-like tanks that spill on to the beach, as the Fire Nation rain fire bombs from up on high. It’s a stunning scene design, and the animation, as chaotic as it is, never devolves into looking confusing or muddled. Sokka and Katara are taking out battle towers with their father when Hakoda, on his own, is badly injured by one of the Fire Nation soldiers. While it seemed that Hakoda was now set-up to die the entire time (seriously, introduce loving father figure who is absent, reunite him with children joyfully, then TAKE HIM AWAY, is an old, old trope), it was more clear to me that this was designed to give Sokka the opportunity he’d been waiting for: to step up for his father and show him that he was the son he always wanted. It’s not even about the fact that Hakoda already loves and respects his son; it’s about Sokka’s perception of himself. So against any sort of practical reason, he does what he promises to his dad, and leaves on Appa in order to lead the troops into the heart of the city.

Aang is alone. His battle with the Fire Lord is one that only he can take part in, and no one accompanies him. He flies into the city limits (while, of course, enjoying some treats from the built-in compartment on his glider, provided by The Mechanist), and it becomes apparent to him quickly that something is desperately wrong.

There are no citizens in the streets. In their houses. In the markets. There are no guards to stop him, no blasts from the Fire Nation to protect their beloved Fire Lord. Aang is able to break into the royal palace with no effort at all, where he discovers that this was all one huge mistake.

There is no Fire Lord. There is no one in the city. They knew about the invasion, and it was all for nothing.



Well, who knew that seeing Aang would inspire such fear?

Unlike “The Crossroads of Destiny,” by the time the second half of this story opens, the characters all know that this is not going to end well. This is the first time we see a collective growth on behalf of the entire team. When Aang returns with the unfortunate news that they’ve been had, that the invasion isn’t going to work if there are no fire benders left to invade, instead of overreaction or panic, they…talk. They talk.  THEY TALK.

How amazing is this? This is growth, and this is a group of people accepting that things don’t go their way, that sometimes, winning is not the answer. So what do you do in this situation? Do you turn away? Keep going? Throw a dance party? It seems that Team Avatar is ready to do what is most practical and safe. They’re already there, and the Fire Lord can’t be too far away, so they all decide to mutually push on with the invasion in time for the solar eclipse.

It’s here that the writers give us a simultaneous parallel unlike any other in the past: Team Avatar confront Azula in the hidden bunker beneath the volcano, and Zuko confronts his father. Both groups are faced with antagonists who are unable to use their normal means of violent behavior in order to take out their opponents, so it’s the first time our heroes are at least on the same level. The dynamic between these two conversation is unsettling and electrifying, and the way that the writers masterfully cut between the two increases the suspense, as we’re constantly left wondering what’s going to happen the second the eclipse is up.

The main difference between the two is balance. Azula, despite being unable to fire bend, has the advantage in the group. To use a term we’re all familiar with, she’s a master troll. She’s known about the invasion the whole time, the Fire Lord is safe, and there’s really nothing that they can do. Oh, and she brought the Dai Li with her from Ba Sing Se, so have fun with that! (True story: When Azula broke out of that little rock thing Toph made, I thought she was going to reveal that she’d learned earth bending in Ba Sing Se, which would have been completely terrifying. But…people who aren’t the Avatar can’t do more than one type of bending, so what was I thinking?)

Zuko’s confrontation, however, is entirely balanced on his side. His father cannot retaliate against him under the eclipse, and he has the element of surprise on his side. It’s time for Zuko to be honest, and I’d be kidding myself if I didn’t admit that Zuko’s scenes with his father were his best of the series so far. He has no reason to lie to himself or to anyone else anymore, so he spills it out: Azula lied about who killed the Avatar in order to protect herself in case he was alive, and Zuko is certain that Aang is leading the invasion into the city. Furious, his father demands him to leave and Zuko finally does what he’s always needed to do: He tells his father no. Pulling out his swords in an act of defiance, Zuko transforms himself into a manifestation of his own destiny.

As the invasion forces begin to capture the city, and Team Avatar does their best to go after a fleeing Azula, I couldn’t help but want to focus solely on Zuko and Ozai. The conversation between the two is obvious and direct, but Zuko’s never been one to be a flowery communicator. He does not speak as Iroh does, though he now is acting like his uncle. I love how plainly Zuko states all of his grievances, that he just wanted his father to love him, that what his father did to him years ago was cruel, unimaginable, and unforgivable. As someone who was abused as a kid, I wasn’t triggered by this conversation: I felt an immense joy and satisfaction to see Zuko stand up to the man who had done him so much wrong and who had caused him so much pain and trauma. I love that Zuko translates this to a much less selfish concept to, explaining how his father’s cruelty is evident in the way the Fire Nation treats the rest of the world.

The best part of this is the fact that Ozai laughs at his son, claiming that his son’s declarations about the hatred their nation brings is just Iroh’s influence creeping through. What Ozai seriously misjudges is his son’s experiences during his three year banishment. We’ve seen how the world views the Fire Nation not only through Team Avatar, but from Zuko’s experiences in “Zuko Alone” and the time spent in Ba Sing Se. Zuko knows firsthand what his Nation’s actions have done to the rest of the world. There is no glory or prosperity in imperialism; the Fire Nation has only brought about misery and death.

In this sense, as Zuko spells it out, Iroh has always been more of a father than Ozai has. We all know this. And so, he states very plainly that he knows what he is going to do now: Free Iroh, beg his uncle for forgiveness, and join Team Avatar.


The writers’ final parallel involves the antagonists baiting our protagonists (ZUKO IS OFFICIALLY A PROTAGONIST MY CREYS Y’ALL) and how they each respond. Azula, on the one hand, successfully baits Sokka once the group realizes that she is specifically trying to waste their eight minutes. Unfortunately, her comments about Suki’s imprisonment is too much for Sokka, and even though they’ve all admitted they need to leave her behind, he can’t resist but lunge at her. And in that moment of vulnerability, Azula’s already won. For Zuko, though, he has a chance to walk away from his father before the eclipse ends, and when his father teases him with the full story of what happened to his mother, he too cannot resist the temptation. The bait is set, but unlike what happens with Sokka and Azula, this does not come out as Ozai plans.

The true story behind Ursa’s disappearance is just one huge contrast between the two parents: Zuko’s mother was willing to commit treason and be banished from the Fire Nation to protect her son, and Ozai cared so little that he permanently scarred his son and banished him to a life of misery and shame. But, again, Ozai underestimates the power that Zuko has, both emotionally and physically. The confrontation has allowed Zuko to release the hold his father had on him, and the story does not cause him to lose focus or to breakdown at the possibility that his mother is alive. Instead, as Ozai uses the end of the eclipse to send a terrifying jolt of blue lightning at his own son as punishment, Zuko reveals that he has perfectly mastered the ability to redirect lightning, something we’d never even seen him do since Iroh taught it to him.

Zuko is finally free. God, that is such an amazing sentence to type, and I can hardly describe the joy it brings me. Even though there are only five episodes and then a finale left, the amazing things the writers can do with Zuko are almost endless. WHY AREN’T THERE 40 MILLION MORE EPISODES LEFT?

The meteoric growth in all these characters is shown in the final moments. Team Avatar now as to accept defeat, but not at all in the same way as they did at the end of “The Crossroads of Destiny.” They’ve learned how to cut their losses, to do what they need to without losing other people. It is incredibly sad that the invasion does not work and that even after trying to fight the Fire Nation forces, they decide it’s best of Team Avatar takes the younger members and separates from the main group, leaving behind the adults to surrender. It’s a grim ending, but it’s not one steeped in impossibility. These people believe that Aang can face the Fire Lord again and use the element of surprise in order to prevent a repeat of this invasion. It’s an act of both pragmatism and patience, and it’s a sign that these people don’t have to rush into everything unprepared anymore. (It’s actually a great parallel to the way Azula behaves; she is deeply patient and always waits for the right moment to strike, and it’s proven mighty successful, don’t you think?)

The real mystifying thing, though, is the fact that Zuko arrives at Iroh’s cell to discover his uncle has literally ripped the bars of his cage open and escaped. Even though we see Zuko following Appa to the Western Air Temple, I’m more interested in the unanswered mystery:

Where the hell is Iroh?

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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535 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Avatar’: S03E10 -The Day of Black Sun, Parts I & II

  1. I want to say a lot about these episodes, but I want everyone to discuss their fair share so I'll only brief about what compels me the most about this mid-season epic.

    An aspect that really chokes me about this episode is by the end the kids take on the role of the adults in the world. From the Northern Water Tribe, we had Master Pakku and the Water Tribe army retaliate in “the Siege of the North”; in the Earth Kingdom we had the Earth King and his army support the opposition; and not to mention the various miscellaneous friendships from the swamp, the Northern Air Temple and the last remnants of the Freedom Fighters: all these alliances are made of adults somehow. Then you hear Hakoda say that these kids, the oldest being no more than fifteen, are the last stronghold and the last hope of taking a second shot of ending the war; it really strikes the heart.

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">

    The look of disbelief on everyone's faces… after all Team Avatar has accomplished for the past several months journeying through various lands, learning different cultures of the various nations culminating up to this point proves short. It's the acknowledgment of failure. Everyone was so forward in thinking the day would be won and everything would be different, but they were one step behind the Fire Nation. To me, that's pretty damn amazing for a kid's show to teach: that failure doesn't mean the end. It's what pushes us further.

    Sokka “You seem so confident about everything. How do you know we’re going to win‌?”
    Aang “Because I already failed the world once at Ba Sing Se. I won’t let myself fail again.”

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">
    “We lost today but we’ve never been this close. We tasted victory and that counts for something.”

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">
    “Thank you all for being so brave and so strong. I’m going to make this up to you.”

    • Shamu says:

      The “Thank you all for being so brave and so strong. I’m going to make this up to you.” bit always makes me tear up. ZTE's delivery is SO GOOD.

    • @redbeardjim says:

      “We lost today but we’ve never been this close. We tasted victory and that counts for something.”

      "We've done the impossible, and that makes us mighty."

  2. An Excerpt from My LiveJournal Post ("Ozai There") on November 30, 2007


    First of all, ALL THOSE RETURNING CHARACTERS. I could have lived without ever seeing the swamp folk again, but Hugh's awesome Seaweed Monster kicked ass. Teo in a motherfucking tank! Haru with motherfucking facial hair! THE BOULDER! Hippo! The Mechanist! Pipsqueak! The Duke! Unfortunately, most of them didn't really get a chance to shine during the actual battle, but token appearances are still appreciated, right?

    Aang kissed Katara! For reals this time! Awwww.

    And then the awesome invasion! With the SUBMARINES POWERED BY WATERBENDING OMG. And the WATERBENDING ICED TORPEDOES. And the CATERPILLAR TANKS. And the SEAWEED MONSTER. And the METEOR SWORD SLICING THROUGH METAL. And Hakoda dying horribly not dying but being badly hurt.

    While exciting and full of fighting and excitement, "The Invasion" was really all setup for the kickass "The Eclipse."

    I was disappointed that Toph didn't appear to be doing much during the battle, but she got to be useful as hell before the eclipse. Navigating underground tunnels! Crunching through metal doorways! Earning Sokka's eternal gratitude and/or love!

    About ten minutes into the episode, I reminded myself that Azula knew about the eclipse, although we didn't really know what her plan was. I did not expect her to play SUPER AWESOME DECOY LADY. BEING A PRETTY GOOD LIAR. ASSISTED BY THE MOTHERFUCKING DAI LI!

    And then, oh my God, that conversation in the corridor was so completely fucking hilarious, we were dying. I rewound so we could watch it again.

    "That's what your friend just said. SINCE YOU CAN'T SEE, I SHOULD TELL YOU I'M ROLLING MY EYES."

    It's like Azula has read the Evil Overlord Handbook and the Anime Cliché Handbook and is deliberately defying everything in them. AIN'T NO SMACKDOWN LIKE AN AZULA SMACKDOWN.

    And Suki!! Suki's alive!! Because you know if Azula had killed her, she would have damn well told Sokka.

    "Oh, sounds like the Firebending's back on." HOW CAN ONE TEENAGE VILLAIN BE SO AWESOME??? I LOVE YOU AZULA PLEASE DON'T KILL ME.



    I…they pulled a bait-and-switch on us! The eclipse wasn't about Aang's confrontation with the Fire Lord. It was about Zuko's. And Zuko. Zuko! ZUKO!!! Everyone's being all proud of Aang and Sokka and everyone else but LET'S ALL BE FUCKING PROUD OF ZUKO. He finally discovered self-awareness! He stood up to his crappy dad! God, the kid has grown over the series. Finally, he sees that his dad kind of SUCKS, and he doesn't need his approval. And I didn't even expect him to go so far as to, like, completely denigrate the Fire Nation, but yes. He's gained so much perspective recently.

    And his choosing to join the Avatar now makes so much more sense than it would have in "Crossroads of Destiny." Like I said, he's gained perspective, and he's more equipped to evaluate what it is he truly wants. It's earned, rather than simply expected. Especially now that he knows Aang is his great-grandfather. (Sidenote: is adhering to "destiny" really making a choice about what you truly want?)

    Confirmation that it really was Ursa who killed Azulon! Finally! And confirmation that she's totally alive! FIND YOUR MOMMY, ZUKO!

    Ozai can shoot lightning! And Zuko can GIVE IT BACK.

    I've said it once, and I'll say it again: Zuko has one of the best character arcs I've ever seen. It's organic and consistent and real and fascinating and frustrating and satisfying all at the same time.


    And, holy crap. I did not expect them to fail so spectacularly. I knew they would fail, obviously, but I expected them to retreat and regroup. Not…get everyone captured. But, storywise, this all makes complete sense. The final confrontation with the Fire Lord should be just Team Avatar. And it shouldn't be during an eclipse: Aang needs to use Firebending.


    And now The Duke and Haru and Teo are joining Team Avatar? Appa's going to be crowded. Maybe they can all just chill at the Western Air Temple. And I cannot wait to watch Zuko attempt to join Team Avatar. He's good now, guys! Really!


    • Partes says:

      Ozai can shoot lightning! And Zuko can GIVE IT BACK.
      I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THAT MOMENT. I remember the first time I saw this episode, and the fact that there was such suprise in Ozai's eyes after he got blown backwards. The second he realized Zuko had grown – and away from his guidance rather than to merely serve him – it was too late.


      And then Zuko walks away, something he simply couldn't have done before. He's ready to leave that dick behind, and follow his own path.


    • majere616 says:

      And Azula negates all of the goodwill she garnered in The Beach by being a heinous bitch. I mean I know this is a kids show but the Gaang could have hurt her a little. Not full-blown enhanced interrogation, just you know roughed her up a bit.

    • monkeybutter says:

      <img src=""&gt;
      She's terrible. I love her.

      Like I said, he's gained perspective, and he's more equipped to evaluate what it is he truly wants. It's earned, rather than simply expected. Especially now that he knows Aang is his great-grandfather. (Sidenote: is adhering to "destiny" really making a choice about what you truly want?)

      I think it's about living up to the potential of what you are, not what you or other people wish you were. Not in the "I want to be an astronaut" sense, but your moral sensibilities. So yeah, self-awareness is a necessary step to becoming a better person and living your life peacefully.

    • notemily says:


  3. arctic_hare says:

    It's finally here: the day of the eclipse! Time for the invasion, and… HOLY SMOKES, LOOK AT THIS!

    OMG I JUST HAD A THOUGHT. What if there’s a huge battle later and The Mechanist and Teo show up to help. Ok, just wishful thinking, BUT THAT WOULD BE AWESOME.

    THAT, lest any of you have forgotten, is from Mark's review of The Northern Air Temple waaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in Book One. IS HE NOT A TRUE SEER? I THINK HE IS INDEED. For here are the Mechanist and Teo, showing up to help with the invasion. They're not the only past characters returning to do so, either: Pipsqueak and The Duke, as we saw in Awakening. The Swamp Benders. Haru and his dad. OMG THE BOULDER AND THE HIPPO. THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER. In fact, you could say that this two-parter expectation spoilers itself, because once you see all these characters returning, there's no way you could possibly expect anything short of pure mindblowing awesome from these episodes.

    And you get it. Hoo boy, do you ever get it.

    There's a lot that goes on in these two episodes, but as I'm not one for talking in-depth about battle scenes (though I will say that the big one in these episodes is pretty damn sweet), I'm going to focus on the portion that grabbed most of my attention. You might guess, knowing my interests in this show and having read my past reviews, that this was the Zuko side of things.

    You would definitely be right.

    We first see him in Part One, directly after the shot of Aang shaving his hair off, and in a furthering of the parallels of the two, he's removing the hairpiece Iroh gave him back in The Avatar and the Firelord and letting his hair fall down. He's also removing his armor, and beginning to write a letter to someone. We're left wondering who it is for, until it cuts back to him later on, leaving it on Mai's bed with an apology to her. I pretty much knew what was happening at that point, and my excitement began to really grow, even moreso when I watched him tell the picture of Ursa that he knows he's made some bad choices, but today he's going to set things right. Because it was finally happening: what we've all been waiting for.

    And the best part is, it's twice as wonderful and satisfying as I ever could have hoped for. As frustrating as it was to see him choose the wrong path in Crossroads of Destiny, it becomes crystal clear here that it had to happen that way. Do I think it would have been nearly as satisfying a payoff to have him side with Aang and Katara in that episode? No. Not by a longshot. That could never have compared to the sheer joy I felt watching him confront Ozai and say all the things we've been thinking about that asshole since we watched The Storm. All the things we've been longing for Zuko to realize, and to say. It's been a long time coming, and that makes it all the more rewarding to finally see it happen, at long last. The creators were brilliant and absolutely correct to make us all wait for this; Zuko's arc just makes so much sense done this way. It wouldn't have felt right, it would have felt cheap and unearned, had he joined Team Avatar at the end of the second season. He would have always wondered what might have been, and that's a hard burden on anyone's mind. He could have betrayed them later in order to try to get what he wanted; and either way, he would not have been happy, and would have created his own unending misery. This way is so much better. He needed to get what he wanted, to find out that it and being happy are two different things. He had to see the reality of the world, find out about his true heritage, and begin to think about what it is he really wants, and what kind of person he truly is. He's finally found the answer, and it is the one that we, and Iroh, have been wanting badly for some time now.

    My apologies for stealing this gif from you, psycicflower, but I think there's no better one for expressing my reaction to Zuko uttering the line "Think again. I am going to speak my mind, and you are going to listen."

    <img src=""/&gt;


    • arctic_hare says:

      Seriously, every line of his speech fills me with immeasurable joy. ZUKO, I AM SO PROUD OF YOU, I KNEW YOU HAD THIS IN YOU. :'D <3 He says everything that's needed to be said to Ozai for so long. He's finally broken free of his father's horrible influence and realized exactly what was so deeply wrong with their family dynamics. I just want to cheer so loudly when he asks him how he could possibly justify a duel with a child. There is no justification for challenging a thirteen year old to an Agni Kai, especially when it's your own child, and Zuko now knows it, he knows exactly how cruel and wrong it was. We saw this part of Zuko's story in the flashbacks in The Storm, how he begged for mercy from his own father, and received none. We saw how Zuko had learned from that to try and suppress the good side of his nature that led to his scarring and banishment. And all along, I wanted so badly for him to wake up and see the truth, of how fucked up and abusive Ozai is, that his influence has done nothing good for either of his children, that his idea of his destiny was being forced on him by this awful man who deserves none of the respect he demands from them. I watched him struggle with his own character, watched him fall further than he had ever been before, and now I got to watch him rise up again, higher than ever. He knows now what his true destiny is: he knows that Iroh was absolutely right about it being what he chooses for it to be. He's made his choice, and it is to do the right thing, to make things right with those he's hurt; to support Aang and help restore balance to the world.

      When I watch this scene, I think back to the Zuko we were introduced to in Boy in the Iceberg, and I marvel at how far he's come since then. He's seen and learned so much, grown so much. He's no longer the troubled antagonist who seeks to have his honor restored; he has reclaimed it himself, here and now, and is ready to stand tall as the person he truly is, and somewhere inside always was, even in his darker moments. He, and Ozai, and Azula, have tried to destroy that part of him, but they never succeeded. In fact, I would say that Ozai set things in motion for this day the moment he banished Zuko. That banishment was the best thing that could have happened to him, in a way, because his journey and the things he saw on it awoke his true self, over time, and allowed him to become who we see before us now, a stronger, better person than ever before. Maybe it felt, in Crossroads of Destiny, like everything he'd seen of the world outside the Fire Nation and the effect the war has had on people's lives, was for nothing, but it was never in vain. It was what kept him doubting then that he had done the right thing, and it's what leads him now to declare that what he was taught as a child about the war was a lie.

      I can't help it; my eyes well up when I see him smile as he says that yes, Iroh has "gotten to him" when Ozai asks. This too, is something I think we've all been waiting for: Zuko has been strongly influenced by Iroh, and is proud of it. After everything that's passed between those two, especially in the episodes this season, it's incredibly moving to see Zuko happily acknowledge that influence. Those three simple words, and the smile that comes with them, say so much about the love and respect he feels for his uncle, about the appreciation for all that he has done for him that he finally feels. Iroh, unlike Ozai, deserves every ounce of that love and respect, as we all know. It's so gratifying to see that Zuko at last knows too, just how good Iroh has been to him and for him. He's been more of a loving father figure than Ozai ever was, and he never once put conditions on his affection. He always supported Zuko, and loved him no matter what, and tried to help him in so many ways. He only ever wanted what was really best for him, the real him. I find a parallel here to the conversation Toph and Sokka had in The Runaway, where Toph talked about how her parents failed to care about the real her in the way she needed, whereas Katara did. It's like that with Zuko and Ozai and Iroh; and it took a while for it to sink in for Zuko just what he had, but he has at last and it's wonderful to see.

      • arctic_hare says:

        This episode is just a huge crowning moment of awesome for Zuko, and it's what commanded most of my attention when I first saw it, because I just have no words to truly sum up the sheer epic of it. Really, that gif is just so appropriate and true. The culmination of all this badassery (after Ozai pretty much confirms what I suspected after the flashbacks in Zuko Alone) is flawless: Zuko redirecting lightning the way Iroh taught him, against Ozai. Perfection. 😀

        And while all this was going on, Iroh's training paid off and he busted out of jail all on his own, without using firebending. Damn. We only get to see the aftereffects, with the cell bars destroyed and the asshole guard saying that he was like a one man army. I kinda wish we could have seen this in action, but then again, perhaps it's better left to the imagination, where it can be as wild and epic and badass as we want. 😀

        It's awful and sad to see everyone get left behind; but there's hope on the horizon in the form of Zuko, who follows Team Avatar and the other young members of the invasion force, out of the capital and towards the Western Air Temple. The invasion may have been a failure, but at least everyone involved will be alive and imprisoned, rather than dead, and there's the chance for Aang to strike again another day, for he is alive and free. And now he has an unexpected ally on the way…

        Other stuff:

        – Ah, it's nice to see Team Avatar back in their old clothing. 😀 AND AANG SHAVES HIS HEAD AT LAST, YES. IT FEELS LIKE THE WORLD IS RIGHT AGAIN.

        – "Pants are an illusion. And so is death." GREATEST LINE EVER, Y/Y?

        – Yay, a new glider for Aang! 😀 And don't argue with the snack compartment, kid, snacks are always handy and important.

        – Sokka losing his nerve is painfully awkward to watch. Perhaps because I'm absolute crap at public speaking too, and thus can identify.


        – "What do you know, it did come in handy." Told you, Aang.

        – I am really not sure why they expected Ozai to be sitting on his throne waiting for them. Surely the Earth King would've mentioned that he blabbed about the invasion plans to the Dangerous Ladies when they were in disguise?

        – oh my god flying over the lava

        – it's like the Mario level from hell

        – "I am so glad we added you to the group!" EVERYONE IS, Sokka. Everyone. <3 Toph, you rule.

        – Have I mentioned lately that I hate the Dai Li? Because I really, really do.

        – omg Suki's alive! 😀 But in prison somewhere. 🙁

        – I feel so bad for the Mechanist when he sees the war balloons. 🙁

        • Avatar_fan_mom says:

          Good point about the Earth King. He was not the sharpest tool in the shed though either, and I wouldn't be surprised if it never dawned on him to tell them. He's busy exploring the world with Bosco now…

          • Mandi says:

            It probably never even dawned on him that he let that information slip to the enemy. He probably didn't think about everything he told these people before he knew they were in disguise, so I think he forgot all about it and never told the Gaang.

        • Elexus Calcearius says:

          "Its like the Mario level from Hell." Oh God, I laughed.

          Actually, can I just steal all your words and pretend their mine?

          On the topic of Iroh BAMF escape; clearly the scene was just so truly epic that the animators couldn't even conceive of how to draw it.

      • nanceoir says:

        I … watched him fall further than he had ever been before, and now I got to watch him rise up again, higher than ever.

        Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it.


        • arctic_hare says:

          lol clearly I watch too much DW. 😀

          • Elexus Calcearius says:

            Okay, so, we definitely saw the dark rise, and true live lies, and all that stuff; who's the good man? And WHICH CHILD WAS LOST?

            • Will_Da_Zuner says:

              All the children were lost from the point of view of the adults in the invasion.

  4. Matt_Thermo says:


    Mark, I've been waiting for you to get here for so long. This is easily one of the best episodes in the whole series. There's so many things to love about it, that if I were to launch into detail about each and every little scene, this would be less a review and more a short story. So I just want to touch on three scenes.

    Goodbye hair!

    Look, unlike Mark, I'm actually a fan of hair (despite my own slowly leaving without permission), but it just doesn't look right on Aang. So much so, that when I watched this for the first time, I felt a little relieved when I saw him finally shaving it off. And speaking of that same scene. I totally dig Aang's new threads. No offense to his original design, but that outfit always struck me as… I don't know, a bit less authentic than a lot of the others on the show. More like a Shoalin monk Halloween costume. It always had more of a "kiddy" feel to it. This new outfit on the other hand. Fuck Yeah! I think it's a great visual representation of just how much this character has changed. As Katara says later in this episode "You're not that goofy little kid I found in the Iceberg anymore." (oh, well get there). And she's right. And here we have a perfect visual representation of that. This isn't Aang the goofy little kid, this is Aang the warrior monk.

    Speaking of Katara. THAT KISS!

    YES! YES! YES! When I was watching this for the first time, I literally jumped up off my couch, threw my fist up and yelled. I'm a man in his thirties, and I shouldn't have that kind of reaction to this sort of thing. But I did, and I'm not going to apologize for it.

    Aaaaand then there's Zuko.

    Mark, I'm so glad you were wrong concerning you're predictions about Zuko's father not excepting him back. That would have made Zuko's decision to join the Avatar so much easier. The very fact that Zuko got exactly what he wanted, and gave it up to follow the path he felt was right is what makes his decision in this episode so much more powerful.

    Oh Zuko. Zuko, Zuko, Zuko. You have on of the most absolutely satisfying character arcs I've ever come across in any story. And this scene in the icing on the cake. I have a feeling that roughly half the comments section will be a discussion of just this scene alone, so I'll just let it speak for itself.

    "My father, who challenged me; a thirteen year old boy to an Agni Kai. How can you possibly justify a duel with a child… …It was cruel, and it was wrong!"

    How long I've waited for you to see your father for exactly what he is. My god was this scene everything I could have hoped for and more.

    "Your Uncle's gotten to you hasn't he?"

    "Yes, he has."

    If I could smile any wider, the top of my head would be in danger of sliding right off. But for every bit of fantastic brought to the stage by Zuko, I would be remiss if I didn't comment on what a Magnificent Bastard Ozai is.

    "Don't you want to know what happened to your mother."

    Bam! And right there, we see were Azula gets it from. Ozai brings up THE ONE THING he knows will stop Zuko dead in his tracks. Speaking of Azula, let's talk little bit about lightning bending shall we. The first time we ever see it, is Azula practicing on the bridge of her ship. It takes her about 5 seconds to charge up and fire a bolt. This remains pretty consistent every other time we see it. Even when Iroh is explaining the technique to Zuko, it tales him roughly the same amount of time. Five seconds. When Ozai unleashes his lightning strike on Zuko, from wind up to execution takes him less than a second!

    Holy shit! And Aang has to fight this guy!

    (Oh, and Mark Hammill rocks as a voice actor.)

    • @redbeardjim says:

      And now we see *why* Iroh learned to redirect lightning…

      • Avatar_fan_mom says:

        Ahh…true…I guess I never even thought about why a firebender would need to learn to bend lightening. *doh*

    • hpfish13 says:

      So….sorry to only pull one thing out of your marvelous comment to respond to, but your reaction to Aang & Katara's kiss was the same as mine. I enjoy the idea of the Zutara ship, but when Aang and Katara finally kiss I could not have been more excited! I would liken my reaction to when Ron and Hermione kissed for the first time (except it was not 3 in the morning, so I could express my glee as loudly as I wanted to)

    • eleniel says:

      All the new outfits are amazing, but I particularly like Aang's. I agree with what you said, about it being less "kid-ish". And I also love that it incorporates the pants and boots of his Fire Nation outfit. Balance, because he's the Avatar <3

  5. Embies says:

    Now you can see the first season three trailer!
    [youtube D9GLzisdzpE youtube]

  6. RocketDarkness says:

    At long last, the Day of Black Sun finally arrives. Hard to believe we've known about this for a season's worth of episodes. And man, was it worth the wait.

    Team Avatar finally gets to return to their normal outfits, though they get some awesome changes for the battle ahead. Aang looks ridiculously cool in his new get-up. We know it means a lot to him to be able to show the world he's alive. And it's fitting he receives a new staff for the occasion, considering how iconic it is for him. Not more iconic than his arrow, however, which makes its triumphant return. Goodbye hair! Katara gets her hair loopies, and we get to see Sokka in full battle regalia. It's amazing how much more mature he looks (and is) compared to his attempts to defend the Southern Water Tribe in the show's first episode. And Appa looks downright badass in his armor. Major props to Sokka for his craftsmanship. Guess he really did put that money from The Runaway to good use.

    This episode serves up ton of nostalgia in the form of the invasion's recruits. Everyone from Swampbenders to Haru (with a MOUSTACHE) to the friggin' Boulder and Hippo. As Toph so succinctly put it: sweeeeeet.

    Sokka outdoes himself in this episode by inventing sumbarines. Wonder if he invented the torpedos as well? Ingenius uses of waterbending. If the Water Tribes ever decide to become imperialistic, those subs would sure as hell give them an advantage.

    Blah blah Invasion blah blah awesome blah blah oh no did Hakoda die oh wait no blah blah explosions.

    Zuko finally decides to make things right. I think we can all let out a collective "IT'S ABOUT FUCKING TIME." The smile he gives when he admits that his uncle has gotten to him is so incredibly genuine, its fantastic. And then Ozai shoots to kill with a massive lightning blast. Much like real lightning, I knew it was coming and what would happen a few seconds before it actually did. Zuko gets to put his training with Uncle to the ultimate test, and redirects the lightning flawlessly. Such a beautiful, symbolic moment.

    Aang's speech thanking the invasion force for their sacrifice before fleeing always breaks my heart. The animation of the character's emotions are so skillfully done; you can read the sadness and regret in Aang's face clear as day.

    Unfortunately, we all knew it wasn't going to pan out. This episode is smack-dab in the middle of the season after all. But at least one person found their path. I'm looking forward to seeing the last of the four air temples, and see how Zuko approaches the group.

  7. lilah80 says:

    "Dear Diary
    I finally faced up to Father and told him what I thought of him! My soul is
    now unfettered by the chains of filial responsibility, free to soar higher
    than the largest war balloon could dare! Now all I have to do is find the
    Avatar, convince him to accept me, defeat Father and the Fire Nation army
    and introduce a new Fire Lord. Without Uncle. I – I may be feeling – feeling
    a little light-headed. Okay, and a little queasy. With freedom! I'm going to
    go lean over the side of the basket for awhile." – Zuko

    • icingflarewhite says:

      "Okay, and a little queasy. With freedom!"

      Oh how I love these.

    • lossthief says:

      true story, all I would have been able to put for that would have been

      "Dear Diary,
      …it's been a long day."
      – Zuko

      • @Ahavah22 says:

        How about:

        "Dear Diary,
        Mother might still be alive! I have to help the Avatar defeat the Father-Firelord, Find Uncle Iroh, and find Mother! When I return to the Firenation after restoring peace and balance to the world, I'm sure Mai will be right there to welcome me back! I have never been this hopeful!

        But Azula's probably going to find a way to screw this all up, isn't she? :("

    • eleniel says:

      QUEASY WITH FREEDOM <3 <3 <3

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      You know, if you ever want to make a fanfic compilation of these, that would probably not only be fine, but one of the most epic things in the history of fan stuff.

    • Tilja says:

      I second Elexus Calcearius' idea: if you feel like making a compilation of these diary entries, you have a faithful audience for them waiting.

  8. majere616 says:

    First off I need to present this perfect GIF: <img src="; border="0"/>

    Now to Avatar.

    The fact that Iroh's escape occured off-screen strongly supports my theory that whenever we are not watching him he is doing incredibly awesome things. Like wrestling saber-tooth mooselions.
    Honestly, if I was in the world of Avatar, I would spend all day every day in his tea shop pretending to read a book while I was really sneaking furtive glances at him. Then I'd go home and write in my journal detailing his every-


    Oh dear God what have I become!?!

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

    • Anne says:

      GAME OF THRONES. Oh, man, I haven't started the TV series yet but I finished all the books in less than a week. Can't wait to start the show and read the next book when it comes out!


      Ahh, living in the Avatar world. Wouldn't completely mind that.

    • Minish says:


      I never read the books, but I hope to after I finally finish The Hunger Games one of these days.

    • Avatar_fan_mom says:

      You are so right on about Iroh. As much badassery as we seen DURING the show, there is much more that is only implied.

      Iroh spinoff anyone?

  9. @maybegenius says:

    Are these two episodes not SO INTENSE? GOOD LORD.

    First: the animation. The animation here is WTFmazing, especially on the tech. The movement of the submarines and the structure of the massive war balloons never fails to make me giddy. Also, seriously, how incredible are those subs. Almost as incredible as Sokka's initial concept sketch.

    Speaking of Sokka, I was beyond moved that he got to play such an integral part to this invasion. He's so unsure at first, and I love that Aang tells him his public speaking doesn't matter — his actions in the heat of the moment do. And he pulls through with flying colors. He's a skilled fighter and a natural leader, just like his dad. LOVE YOU SOKKA. Man, when Azula trolls him and makes him cry, I want to punch her right in her perfectly-painted lips. HOW IS SHE SO CRUEL. HOW.

    Katara doesn't get much battle-time, but she's absolutely essential nonetheless and her skill is out in full force. When she and Sokka take out the towers, it is A++++ And when she and Aang go after the balloons? Sdhf78^PS*^GPSYGIUFDHGK.

    Aang 🙁 I feel for you so much, buddy. Always taking your knocks and feeling like nothing you do is good enough. His tears over having to leave MORE people behind and admit defeat AGAIN… God. ALL THE HUGS, AANG 🙁

    Toph, I'm so glad they added you to the group, too. Unadulterated awesome.

    <img src=""&gt;

    I love how they all play these powerful, crucial roles. No one's ever like, "LOL wait, no, you can't fight, you're just kids." Nope. Their power is respected and they're never condescended to for being young. YOUNG PEOPLE ARE CAPABLE, DAMNIT.

    And Zuko. Oh, Zuko. Bless you for finally confronting your father and allowing yourself to come to terms with your abuse. You are growing right before our eyes. Now go make best friends with everyone, because LORD KNOWS YOU NEED A FRIEND OR SIX. And admitting that Uncle Iroh has always been more of a father to him, but not being able to tell IROH that because he BROKE OUT OF PRISON DURING A SOLAR ECLIPSE LIKE A BOSS… so sad.

    <img src=""&gt;

    ^ How jaw-dropping is that, really? What a metaphor. Ozai's abuse and hatred comes lashing out, Zuko takes it, masters it, and turns it back around… but not to hurt his father. He won't. Like he said, that's the Avatar's destiny, and he's done chasing any destiny but the one he chooses. HOLD ON TEARING UP. OKAY I'M BETTER NOW.

    And after all of this, all of that planning, all of that fighting… the kids have to leave the adults behind. It's heartbreaking, but as a storyteller, I LOVE IT. I am a person who wants characters to really, really EARN their victory, so these kind of big falls are fuel to my rooting-for-you fire. GO TEAM AVATAR GO.


    Other randoms:

    2) But seriously, Haru, what's with the mustache.
    3) I want a snack compartment in my air glider for sure.
    4) APPA'S ARMOR.

    • majere616 says:


    • Avatar_fan_mom says:

      Oh man, I love that clip of Zuko redirecting the lightnening!

    • Krystal says:

      When I skimmed through your review I thought it said "Now go make best friends with everyone, because LORD KNOWS YOU NEED A FRIEND OR *SEX*" Curse my pervy teenage brain.

    • Maximus says:


      Because as a little girl, Ozai gave her a cookie every time she kicked a puppy.

      Seriously, I doubt that's much of an exaggeration.

    • notemily says:

      Ozai's abuse and hatred comes lashing out, Zuko takes it, masters it, and turns it back around… but not to hurt his father. He won't. Like he said, that's the Avatar's destiny, and he's done chasing any destiny but the one he chooses. HOLD ON TEARING UP. OKAY I'M BETTER NOW.

      I love this!

  10. Tauriel_ says:

    I don't have much time for a long post (and I didn't prepare it in advance), so I'll just second all the superlatives everyone is raining on these two episodes (especially the confrontation between Zuko and Ozai – BADASS!!! FINALLY, ZUKO!!!).

    I just want to share this funny thing that I experienced when I first watched these episodes:

    I was totally convinced that Ming is actually Zuko in disguise, coming to free his uncle from prison by stealth. My brain is probably too weird, but it honestly sounded to me like Zuko pretending to be a woman. XD And since I love the "guy-in-drag disguise" trope, I was actually a bit disappointed when it turned out it wasn't actually Zuko. And I was shocked to find out afterwards that Ming was voiced by Serena Williams. Does she really sound like that?

    So, to conclude my post, here's the REAL, uncensored version of how Iroh actually escaped from prison (by the brilliant Booter-Freak):

    <img src=""&gt;



  11. arctic_hare says:


    I am still asking myself this.

  12. Doodle says:


    This is one of the greatest Avatar episodes ever, IMO. Mostly because ZUKO FINALLY TURNS GOOD YES YES YES! Your reaction made me crack up! And it filled my heart with pure glee! As a shameless Zuko fangirl I just love the way he finally stands up to his dad and REDIRECTS LIGHTNING and his hair blows in the wind as he follows Team Avatar *sigh* and goes to join the good guys! YAYYYYYYYYY!

  13. monkeybutter says:

    YAAAAAY! I love these episodes! The reappearance of all of those old characters was amazing; I'm so glad that the Gaang's travels have won them so many loyal friends. Haru justified his existence by growing that moustache! And "pants are just an illusion" is my personal motto.

    Don't feel bad, the first time I saw Azula break out of those rocks, I was like HOW DID SHE– oh, right. Those guys. I'm smart. Her lying and trickery was amazing, and I'm glad that we now have a hint about what happened to Suki in the Earth Kingdom.

    Zuko's speech is everything I've been waiting for. I'm proud of him for finally coming to his senses, standing up to his father, and showing that he's learned something from his banishment and return. He's finally setting things straight, though it was heartbreaking to see that Iroh had already busted out without him. And does anyone else think that Iroh learned how to redirect lightning just in case Ozai tried to assassinate him? The portrait of the worst father ever.

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

  14. Strabo says:

    If only they had taken Katara with them into the underground bunker. Or if Aang remembered that he can waterbend too. Ice/Water would have made short work of Azula's chase-ruse.

    Unfortunately Katara's potential was completely wasted in part II by acting as walking help for her father.

    • Embies says:

      Katara is the only healer in the team, her staying with the troops made perfect sense.
      Aang just didn't have any water to bend.

      • Strabo says:

        If he wouldn't ignore waterbending for Air and flashy Earth all the time he probably would have taken a few flasks with him however 😉

        Katara might be the only healer, but she is still one of the three most powerful (offensive) benders in the invasion force. Her father was out of danger already. I know it was necessary for story purposes (as I don't think Katara would have allowed the baiting by Azula to go on for so long/she would have been able to trap Azula with ice), but it still feels like a lot of wasted potential.

        • Elexus Calcearius says:

          I see where you're coming from, but I also get the sense that it was important to hold the beach, to prevent them coming in as back up. Then again, I'm not tactician, especially not when it comes to magical elemental warfare. That course got dropped at my school.

  15. Hotaru_hime says:

    Well, not really, but you get what I mean.
    These episodes felt more like they were about Zuko breaking free of Ozai's and Azula's influence and choosing his own path. I think it was brought up in earlier reviews, that the first season was about Zuko wanting to please his father, the second about wanting to please Iroh, and now, finally, about pleasing himself by doing what is right. (There is an excellent scene in Buffy that I want to quote, but you're going to watch that, so GODDAMMIT SPOILERS) It's inspiring and amazing when Zuko redirects the lightning.
    There's also a kind of contrast between Zuko and Ozai and Sokka and Hakoda. Zuko yearned to please his father, the same way Sokka does. However, Hakoda is a really nice and cool guy and Ozai is a sociopath.
    You know that going into these episodes that they can't possibly win because we're only halfway through the season, Aang still doesn't know Firebending, and we haven't settled our account with Sparky Sparky Boom Man. Not to mention Aang doesn't seem to be able to go into the Avatar State.
    Something that really irritates me are the Dai Li. I'm sorry, but these guys gathered information for Long Feng for years and suddenly they're on Azula's side and betraying the entirety of the Earth Kingdom? These guys know EXACTLY what the Fire Nation war is and they're going along with it?! It really pisses me off, I guess.

  16. Moon_Shadow says:

    Iroh broke out of prison WITH HIS BARE HANDS. Fought his way past the guards WITH HIS BARE HANDS. Where'd he go? What's he going to do? WE DON'T KNOW. We know only that Iroh is the awesomest of awesome firebenders.

    That's my favorite part of this two-parter. Sure, the rest of it is great, but HE BROKE OUT WITH HIS BARE HANDS FFS.

  17. Dragonsong12 says:

    Oh I was hoping you'd do these two together! They really do work as a set, unlike a lot of the other 2-part episodes, where both parts could stand alone.

    The moment when Zuko stands up to his father is just so beautiful and simple. And I love how much like her father Azula is.

    "The Fire Nation completely misjudged how prepared these fighters were"

    So, is it fair to say of the Fire Nation that They Were Not Prepared(tm)?

    • Avatar_fan_mom says:

      Oh yeah, there was a whole lot of Not Prepared in this episode…

      Aang and the Gaang = NOT prepared for Azula's cunning ways.
      Iroh's prison guards = NOT prepared. Tsk tsk…never underestimate Iroh's badass ways.
      Ozai? well, he THOUGHT he was prepared for the invasion…but NO…BAM! Enter Zuko, transformed. Ozai = COMPLETELY NOT PREPARED.

  18. MissDirect says:

    Good lord, every time I watch this episode I feel so much love and joy for this show that I practically explode, so for the sake of not repeating everyone else in the world and just mentioning a few of my favorite things:

    Sokka: What would we do without you?!
    Toph: Perish in burning hot lava.
    (YES. Toph is amazing and wonderful and I want to be her best friend. Also, props to Sokka for giving credit where it was due)

    Also, did anyone else find Zuko's declaration of his loyalty to Iroh a bit Harry Potter-esque? Although I must admit (and you're welcome to disagree, naturally) that I just LIKE Iroh better and generally think he's ten times more kickass than Dumbledore. Also Zuko's scar is more impressive 😉

  19. xpanasonicyouthx says:


    omg TEAM ZUKO. omg omg omg.

    • Give it time. It only gets better from here.

    • Dragonsong12 says:


      Though in rewatching the episode last night I commented to me sister at THE SCENE that I wondered how loudly you were cheering there.

      • SisterCoyote says:

        YES. EVERY TIME YOU SAID THAT, MARK, it was such a STRUGGLE not to spoil! And when you were talking about how abusive Ozai is and how Zuko needs to stand up for him SO MUCH AWESOME. So much tongue-biting.

        (because there's no spoilers in Mark Sing Se.)

    • arctic_hare says:


    • Shay_Guy says:

      Basically everyone who watched this episode when it came out had the same reaction to Zuko's big moment. (So did I, and I didn't see it until later.) I mean, it was basically everything everyone had wanted him to realize and say. Two and a half seasons of character development, all building up to this. Utter win.

      Also: Iroh's man through and through.

      • I remember /co/'s reaction to Zuko's revelation. Everyone felt soooo good.

      • SisterCoyote says:

        Iroh's man through and through.

        HELL YES.

        I think my favorite part of the episode is where Ozai goes "Your uncle's gotten to you!" obviously trying to brush it off as "Oh Zuko, you're letting your weak/foolish uncle sway your poor feeble mind" and Zuko just smiles that little smile. "Yes. He has." Tears of joy, man. Tears of joy.

    • Avatar_fan_mom says:

      Omg, I need to make a Team Zuko shirt…

    • monkeybutter says:

      You've been waiting that long for him to take up ballooning? Okaaaaay.

    • bookgal12 says:

      Team Zuko indeed! Just wait Mark,its only going to get better from here :).

    • breesquared says:

      It's too satisfying for words, man.

    • Hyatt says:

      Because he hasn't joined the team yet. We've only seen Zuko resolve to help. We're saving the excitement for when he catches up with them.

      Also, understand now why Zuko had to join Azula at the end of CoD?

    • elusivebreath says:

      Mark, when I was watching this last night that was my first thought, lol. I was all "Omg Mark just lost his shit right about now!" and we giggled and a good time was had by all 😛

    • Viyamusic says:

      Because we're not yet used to commenting about it on the blog… we're so used to yelling at our computers: "WAIT TILL DAY OF BLACK SUN, MARK!!!" It's hard to change the yelling into typing about Zuko's transformation; it was such a big moment!

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      Yes, Mark. Team Zuko. Relish it.

      This is why, although we didn't know it, Zuko had to make that choice in the Crossroads of Destiny. It was setting up for something so much more epic.

      • Avatar_fan_mom says:

        Oh, completely. Standing up to his father and making the decision to do so independently could not have been executed any better. Crossroads of Destiny just made this so much sweeter.

    • FlameRaven says:

      Bah, we've all been cackling to ourselves since the beginning. Zuko's arc is so amazing and this confrontation is just beautiful, but you're still not even prepared yet.

      One thing I did want to note that I think you might have missed: it's not so much that Zuko mastered the technique when we weren't watching, but that he can only use it now, because he's finally in perfect harmony with himself. Remember in 'Bitter Work,' Iroh said that you had to be in total balance to create lightning, and Zuko couldn't do it because he was too angry and conflicted. Now, he has no doubts. Symbolism!

      Regarding the animation: I heard somewhere (and can't confirm this) that by the time the series hit the end of season 2 and definitely by season 3, Nickelodeon was spending something like $1 million per episode. No wonder the series is so fantastic! 🙂

    • MichelleZB says:



  20. herpestidae says:

    1: Haru's stache.
    [youtube sIOgGBE5yOw youtube]
    2: Zuko telling it like it is. Sit your ass down, Ozai.
    3: Iroh busts out of Jail. A lot of people were like "why didn't we see it? Epic Fail!" but I say "dude, whatever he did, it can't be more awesome than what we think he did."

    <img src="; />

    And for added measure (Non-canon, obviously)

    <img src="; WIDTH=500 HEIGHT=402 />

  21. A Conversation on December 1, 2007

    Friend: When is the next episode airing? Cause now I'm all pins and needly squeeing.
    Me: No one knows!

    (The answer: July 14, 2008. THAT IS HOW LONG WE HAD TO WAIT.)

    • Shay_Guy says:

      And the rest of the season aired through the rest of that week, didn't it? Weirdest broadcast schedule EVER.

      • Ha ha ha, yes, you're right!! They just aired them all one after the other; it was so bizarre. …Especially because many of us had already seen four of the episodes before they aired. (I am going to do some research for my comment on the next post to figure out the timeline of that ridiculousness.)

    • @redbeardjim says:

      I thought the next episode aired sometime in March? (still way too long, obvs.)

      • monkeybutter says:

        Nah, the DVD for the next block of episodes came out in the spring, and that's when everyone actually watched the episodes. Through completely legal means, of course. Those were heady days.

      • affableevil says:

        IIRC, it was supposed to be March, and March came and went with not only no episodes, but no news of episodes. A dark time in fandom indeed.

        • @redbeardjim says:

          Ah, you're right. I must be thinking of when it aired in Canada or the UK or some other place other than where it was produced.

          (what the hell, Nick?)

        • Elexus Calcearius says:

          Exactly. However, they forgot to inform the book production team, so the comic version of the finale got released months in advance, so the fandom had to spend ages side stepping offiical spoilers.

    • icingflarewhite says:

      It was that long of a wait? Damn, I forgot about that.

    • lossthief says:

      I was like "FUCK THAT NOISE" and found all of the episodes (Sans the finale) online.

    • Depths_of_Sea says:

      Ugh that was the WORST EVER. What the hell was wrong with you Nickelodeon?

    • tia says:

      That was the worst part. I succumbed to fan fiction because of that ridiculously long wait!

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      WHY SO LONG???

      • Elexus Calcearius says:

        Because despite the fact that Avatar was one of the most popular shows on the network, Nick was not kind to the production scheduling and releasing. It just kept changing deadlines and air dates, and shuffling around time-slots.

      • lossthief says:

        Since Avatar got such a big following OUTSIDE of the targeted age range Nickelodeon was aiming for, the majority of the Avatar merchandise didn't sell as well as viewership suggested, so Nick decided that if they couldn't squeeze EVERY LAST DROP of money out of the franchise, they'd screw with the run times. After the months long wait for a new episode they ended up airing the rest of the season in one week with a new episode every day, culminating with the 4 Part Finale on Saturday.

        Then they practically never played the episodes again. This is also one of the factors for why we still don't have a Soundtrack released.

    • Kit says:

      See, this is really weird for me because I could swear I watched the entire series in a week in September of 2007… O.o

    • Avatar_fan_mom says:

      Ok, Nick better rectify that shit before Korra comes out if it indeed will be even a fraction as epic as this series is. For real.

      Or, perhaps I will hide myself from the show completely and wait a few years until its released on Netflix in its entirety so I do not have to subject myself to such ridiculous wait times.

    • herpestidae says:

      And you know that since the Series Finale, Avatar hasn't run on the basic Nick channel? At all? Thankfully, it plays for an hour on Nicktoons Network every weekday, but… c'mon!

  22. hallowsnothorcruxes says:

    <img src=""&gt;

    <img src=" gifs/zukovsozai_by_macready84464.gif"/>

    "…My father, who challenged me, a thirteen year old boy, to an Agni Kai. How could you possibly justify a duel with a CHILD?"

    "It was to teach you respect–

    "It was CRUEL. And it was wrong."

    • samibear says:

      I've been reading these comments and feeling blown away by the sheer awesomeness and intensity of these two episodes.

      And then I saw that first gif, and now I can't stop giggling like an idiot.

      Tee hee 😀

  23. Kaci says:

    The amount of evens that I cannot with this episode. I just. Okay, so, I was re-watching it last night in anticipation of your review today, and I was still holding my breath through huge chunks of it, including every scene between Zuko and Ozai. AND I'D SEEN IT BEFORE. I knew how it ended! THAT is master storytelling right there.

    I am so excited for you to finish this journey, Mark, even though I don't want it to be over.

  24. MocataJoy says:

    "…My father, who challenged me, a thirteen year old boy, to an Agni Kai. How could you possibly justify a duel with a CHILD?"

    "It was to teach you respect–

    "It was CRUEL. And it was wrong."

    What an amazing, terrific, FANTASTIC exchange. An incredible moment, not only because Zuko is standing up to Ozai, not only because Zuko cuts his father off mid-sentence, but also because Zuko FINALLY UNDERSTANDS and can separate right from wrong. Completely.

    And then, of course, there's…

    "You Uncle has gotten to you, hasn't he?"

    "….yes." *Smile* "He has."


    • Patrick721 says:

      Zuko saying "yes he has" reminds me of "Dumbledore's man, through and through."

    • FlameRaven says:

      My favorite lines are "What an amazing lie that was!" and "The people of the world hate and fear the Fire Nation. And we deserve it."

      • MocataJoy says:

        I love Ozai's face during Zuko's lines, too. He has to know, on some level, that what his son is saying is the truth. But he is just so infuriatingly stubborn…so convinced that he is the most right and the most powerful.

        Which, of course, is why he seriously underestimates his son and gets totally lightninged. (That's a word now.)

  25. affableevil says:

    There are so many things to love about this episode, but I can only seem to focus on Zuko in this comment. He finally, FINALLY, gets to confront his abusive father and say what you have done to me is monstrous, and you don't get to treat me this way anymore. And it's such a beautiful thing. I can watch that scene again and again and it never gets less satisfying.
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">


    • arctic_hare says:

      I know! I've watched it over and over and I have the same reaction every time. It's truly amazing. <3

  26. Brieana says:

    I miss Aang's hair.

  27. Alan says:

    Remember how Iroh demonstrated to Zuko how to generate lightning, and how it takes at least a few seconds for both him and Azula to generate it?


  28. Josh says:

    The Boulder is frustrated that you did not mention his triumphant return to the show in this review.

  29. luckyduck says:

    Zuko is finally confronting his father and going to rescue Iroh from jail and HE IS GOING TO JOIN TEAM AVATAR!!!!


    <img src="; border="0" alt="happy gifs Pictures, Images and Photos"/>
    <img src="; border="0" alt="happy excited Pictures, Images and Photos"/>
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Yay! Pictures, Images and Photos"/>
    <img src="; border="0" alt="happy gifs Pictures, Images and Photos"/>

  30. kartikeya200 says:

    <img src=""&gt;

    "I know I've made some bad choices. But today, I'm going to set things right."

    You guys, you guys, this episode. I can't really pick favorites with Avatar, but if I had to, if I had to really sit down and pick one episode, it would be The Day of Black Sun. The design, the story, the music, the build-up, all of the returning characters (I am a total SUCKER for shows bringing back characters you thought were one-offs for some significant event), and the fact that it starts out incredibly triumphant and then ends on an UNBELIEVABLY bleak note, with only a tiny glimmer of hope, is one hell of a set-up for the final episodes. You know how yesterday had a wild amount of word spam in with the art posts? Yeah, nothing compared to today. I pretty much took random disjointed notes all throughout this rewatch.

    <img src=""&gt;

    The armor for Appa and Sokka and the Water Tribe men came from unused toy-idea submissions I did for the consumer products department.

    <img src=""&gt;

    Aang's asymmetrical outfit…was inspired by Shaolin monk garb. I wanted him to look like a simple, humble warrior-monk like the great performers in Shaolin: Wheel of Life–vulnerable but strong.

    <img src=""&gt;

    Aang at first appears to be wearing his original outfit with the above modifications, but on closer examination, he's still wearing his Fire Nation boots and pants along with it. Toph is wearing her original clothing, but with the same bracers, shoulder thing and hat that seems to be traditional Earth Kingdom soldier wear. Sokka is wearing the Southern Water Tribe warrior dress. Katara is wearing her original outfit, but she has the same armored gauntlets and boots that all of the warriors (Sokka included) are also wearing.

    <img src=""&gt;

    The considerable majority of Firebenders seen in this episode are women. One is referred to as 'sir', so we've also got a female Firebender officer. This fits with the previous note in the art book about high ranking female Firebenders featuring prominently in the Domestic Forces.

    I always wondered if Ming was how Iroh managed to get that message out to Zuko in the Avatar and the Firelord.

    <img src=""&gt;

    I love that the subs look like fish, and work via waterbending, while the tanks look like caterpillars, and not only move via earthbending, but it seems to be the same sort of earthbending moves used to move the trains in Ba Sing Se.

    <img src=""&gt;

    The Earthbender-powered tanks were inspired by one of Leonardo da Vinci's tank designs.

    Teo is driving one of the tanks. Like with the Northern Air Temple, no one ever suggests he should stay out of the fight due to his disability.

    <img src=""&gt;

    The Fire Nation created their fleet airships after finding the Mechanist's war balloon in "The Northern Air Temple." We had the idea for the airships during bible development.

    It's not remarked on, but I'm pretty sure the background Earthbenders/soldiers are some of the same ones that we saw in Return to Omashu. Specifically, Bumi's general seems to be present in at least one shot.

    Ozai, why are you calling your son PRINCE Zuko? He's your son for fuck's sake. Oh right because you are a TERRIBLE HUMAN BEING who threatens his life a minute later. And then gloats about his mother. And insults Iroh. AND THEN TRIES TO KILL HIM WITH LIGHTNING.

    <img src=""&gt;

    That one Firebender trying to bend during the eclipse, all I could think was LOL MOVIE BENDING. It looks like that. JUST LIKE THAT.

    <img src=""&gt;

    Isn't it interesting that during the eclipse, unable to use her Firebending, Azula falls back on two things to defend herself: astounding acrobatics, and (attempted) knife throwing? And it's clearly one of Mai's knives at that.

    <img src=""&gt;

    And a plot thread left hanging near the end of SEASON ONE suddenly springs back into horrifying, bite-the-heroes-in-the-ass reality. Not only has the Fire Nation created more war balloons, they've run wild with that idea and made fucking zepplins.

    • Hotaru_hime says:


    • Isn't it interesting that during the eclipse, unable to use her Firebending, Azula falls back on two things to defend herself: astounding acrobatics, and (attempted) knife throwing?
      ZOMG. That is interesting!

  31. kartikeya200 says:

    I need to talk about Zuko, guys, oh I need to talk about Zuko. But first I'm just going to transcribe this entire exchange, because it pretty much says it all:

    "For so long, all I wanted was for you to love me, to accept me. I thought it was my honor that I wanted, but really, I was just trying to please you. You, my father, who banished me just for talking out of turn. My father, who challenged me, a thirteen year old boy, to an Agni Kai. How can you possibly justify a duel with a child?"

    "It was to teach you respect."

    "It was cruel, and it was wrong!"

    "Then you've learned nothing."

    "No. I've learned everything, and I've had to learn it on my own. Growing up, we were taught that the Fire Nation was the greatest civilization in history, and somehow the war was our way of sharing our greatness with the rest of the world. What an amazing lie that was. The people of the world are terrified by the Fire Nation. They don't see our greatness, they hate us, and we deserve it. We've created an era of fear in the world, and if we don't want the world to destroy itself, we need to replace it with an era of peace and kindness."

    *Mocking laughter* "Your uncle has gotten to you, hasn't he?"

    "Yes. He has."

    I mentioned that I had lots of Thoughts about Zuko's story arc back during The Crossroads of Destiny, but that most of them were spoilery as they were about the importance of his choice there to the narrative. We don't know exactly what's going to happen between him and Team Avatar now, but we DO know that he has finally, finally made the right choice.

    I have endless appreciation for the route the writers have taken with Zuko, and that they did not have him do the expected thing in Crossroads of Destiny. Him making the choice here and now is far, far more powerful. The choice in Crossroads of Destiny was Zuko's fever dream with the red and blue dragons made manifest: two opposing forces pulling him in opposite directions, each one demanding that he go the way they were telling him to go. If he had gone with Iroh's path then, if he'd decided to join with the Avatar and fight his sister, he would have still been following someone else's idea of his destiny and what he should do, as awesome and wonderful and entirely right as Iroh was. It would have been his decision, but it would not have been his own destiny.

    <img src=""&gt;

    By making the wrong choice, Zuko has two very important things happen to him: first, he loses Iroh. Iroh has been his constant emotional support since his banishment, that quiet, almost eternally patient voice of reason and conscience. But now Zuko's on his own, and all the decisions he makes have to be his own decisions. There's a reason the mentor figures tend to die in stories like this, and that's because it allows the protagonist (I'm counting Zuko as a protagonist now, so there) to finally stand completely on his own, and see just what kind of a person he can be.

    Secondly, Zuko gets absolutely everything he has ever wanted. That was the big point of his scenes in the last episode: he has everything he could possibly want, and then some. Turns out that this still doesn't make everything magically better. He's still torn and confused, still emotionally damaged, still as directionless home in the Fire Nation as he was out on his own in the Earth Kingdom. He has doubts, he's seen the reality of what his nation is doing, and he can't keep on ignoring it while still remaining himself.

    Having Zuko choose here, choose on his own, with no one forcing the decision, no one looking over his shoulder, to give up everything he ever thought he wanted in order to do what he believes is right, especially when he doesn't even know if the people he wants to help will accept him at all (he has every reason to believe they won't, really, given Zuko Alone) that is an incredibly powerful character arc. Zuko needed this time having everything he wanted to realize that it isn't actually what he thought it would be. If he had never had this opportunity, there would have always been that lingering doubt, that little 'what if?' nagging at the back of his mind.

  32. kartikeya200 says:

    "Because I know my own destiny. Taking you down is the Avatar's destiny." I mean, sure, it's impractical and you kind've want to go 'oh Zuko, but you're kind've RIGHT THERE and the Avatar ISN'T', but Zuko stating confidently (not defensively, as in Lake Laogai) that he knows his own destiny is, perhaps, the most powerful declaration he's ever given. It's what he's been looking for all this time, and as Iroh kept nudging him towards, it's one he's chosen.

    And we end on one hell of a note, don't we? The invasion has been crushed, and Team Avatar is on the run again. With all of their allies gone, it's almost a return to the beginning of the series, isn't it? And to complete that echo, they're being chased by a young, scarred Fire Nation prince, only this time he's not chasing the Avatar to kill him, but to join him.

    <img src=""&gt;

    Well done, sir. It's. About. Fucking. Time.

    • Everything I wanted about to acknowledge about Zuko.

      Right here folks. More thumbs up.

    • ambyrglow says:

      "Because I know my own destiny. Taking you down is the Avatar's destiny." I mean, sure, it's impractical and you kind've want to go 'oh Zuko, but you're kind've RIGHT THERE and the Avatar ISN'T',

      I actually think it's supremely practical. I mean, what happens if Zuko takes down Ozai right there? Azula tells the guards (who know her better than him; he's been gone for years, after all) that he's committed fratricide purely for his own advancement, he's arrested and probably executed, and she takes the throne. No one's going to believe him that he did it for the good of the nation, not when it so clearly benefits him as heir presumptive.

      Hell, even if does succeed in winning over the guards and defeating Azula, Team Avatar is never going to trust that the new Fire Lord is better than the old Fire Lord, nor is the Earth Kingdom or the Water Tribes–not when he's speaking from a position of power, and not when he's just murdered someone to get that power.

      Whereas if he goes to the Avatar as a penitent, he might have some chance of convincing him. And if he returns as Fire Lord with the Avatar at his side, he's got some moral authority going for him. Might not help much with the Fire Nation, who've been taught to hate the Avatar, but it could win him some points with the rest of the world–and a nation that's been attacking the rest of the world for 100 years needs all the points it can get.

      . . .mind, I don't for a split second believe Zuko was thinking about any of this. Practicality and political awareness are not his middle names. But it makes me happy as a viewer for there to be pragmatic as well as noble reasons for the hero not to take the easy way out.

      (Zuko is a hero! We can say that now! Yay!)

      • Elexus Calcearius says:

        Pretty much this. Zuko has been raised in court, and I think he understands some idea about how the politics will work now. He can't just kill the Fire Lord; partly he is vastly overpowered, and probably wouldn't succeed, but he needs moral weight around his actions. If he overpowers him now, ZUko will be put in prison and Azula will come to the throne. The Avatar instead must effectively topple not only Ozai, but the surrounding support of the court.

        • Rickard says:

          And the slight possibility that he may not win a fight even against a bendingless Ozai- I mean, in "The Avatar State", Azula destroyed him without bending at all(while he used fire daggers to emulate his swords).

          Firebending is based on Martial arts after all, and Ozai is the best in the world at it.

          Ozai certainly don't WANT to risk the fight(No matter how good you are, you don't risk going unarmed against a moderately skilled opponent with two weapons), but I kinda lean the same way with Zuko(An offensive may have put him in a bad position).

    • I want to ruffle his hair so badly.

    • arctic_hare says:

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

    • monkeybutter says:

      I also like to think that Ming was Iroh's messenger, I feel silly for never noticing the significance of Azula's acrobatics and knives, and I love your word spam about Zuko. He needed to see how unsatisfying everything he's been working towards since he was thirteen is in order to give it up and choose the right path. You rule.

      <img src=""&gt;

      • @Ahavah22 says:


    • eleniel says:

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

  33. bookgal12 says:

    This episode is so hard for me to describe, as a two parter I knew that writers were going to hit us with some heavy stuff. To start us off we get to meet a bunch of allies that Team Avatar has met throughout their adventures and it made me happy to see those swamp benders again. I was glad to see that they were brought back together to fight the fire nation. As they embark on those subs that Sokka conceived with the Machinist. I could not but clap happily for the rise of Sokka's creativity and to have it praised by his father was the icing on the cake for me. If that was not enough, we get an actual kiss from Aang and Katara.

    Onto Zuko, who finally decides to leave the "perfect" life he had in order to pursue his own destiny. I cannot express how much pride I felt to see Zuko face Ozai and tell him that he was going to help the Avatar defeat him. I cheered his monument of a stepping stone and probably spooked my mother who was sitting in the other room but, I do not care. Zuko is actively going to try to become a member of team avatar! I love Zuko's story of growth and cannot wait for the next episodes to come.

    <img src=""&gt;

  34. Saphling says:

    Ursa is the perfect name for Zuko's mother. You mess with the mother bear?

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">

  35. Emily says:

    I AM SO HAPPY YOU FINALLY GOT HERE!!!! 😀 Ever since you started expressing your desire to have Zuko join the Gaang I’ve been waiting and waiting and WAITING (it took a LONG time) for you to get to this episode. Finally Zuko expresses his desire to join up with the Avatar and take down the Fire Nation. WOOHOO. Happy. YAY.

  36. echinodermata says:

    In case the title of the episode wasn't clear, shit's getting real.
    <img src=""&gt;
    <img src=""&gt;

    Yo Katara, your hair looks pretty fabulous, especially considering you're in the midst of a rather epic battle. Good for you.
    <img src=""&gt;

    And whistling dude giving Aang and co directions to the Fire Lord in the underground secret lair deserves a gif, because I loled.
    <img src=""&gt;

    And then Azula! Azula on the throne, having known about the invasion for months, and therefore just looking entirely unimpressed. Looking fearless and staying calmly sarcastic when it's three against one. And being a superb liar who can fool even Toph! Seriously, she makes such a great villain. Wasting their time, emotionally manipulating Sokka like a pro, Azula just gets shit done. I mean, forget Ozai, Azula would quite likely make the best evil dictator ever. (And it's not like I actually want her side to win or anything, but I would desperately like to see such a world, with her at the helm. Her in full power would be an amaing thing.)
    <img src=""&gt;

    And then Zuko! Zuko owning up and turning against his father! Fucking finally. "We’ve created an era of fear in the world. And if we don’t want the world to destroy itself, we need to replace it with an era of peace and kindness." Good for you, Zuko. Now go find Iroh and then go find Aang, and then go teach him firebending so Aang can defeat Ozai with all four elements and then glitter and rainbows can prevail.
    <img src=""&gt;
    <img src=""&gt;
    Although I'm pretty bitter that Zuko apparently just left Mai a note?! 'Brb off changing sides?' Dude, that's pretty cold. It's like texting a break-up notice or something. If your text is also about you breaking up with your nation. Or something . (Look, I like Mai a lot more than I like Zuko, so I am being angry on her behalf! Hope she rips that note to shreds with her knives or something because that is some ridiculous shit.)
    <img src=""&gt;(source)
    Tell her the truth! IN PERSON!!

    But ooh, Iroh is basically a one-man army! Even off screen he's being a BAMF.

    And yay, Team Avatar is getting bigger! Very cool.

    • @redbeardjim says:

      Excellent comment is excellent.

      • echinodermata says:

        Why thank you! And I like how many different versions of gifs there are for the Ozai-Zuko battle. I humbly submit mine.

    • @redbeardjim says:

      Oh, and Whistling Guy is War Minister Qin, who we last saw in charge of a large drill.

    • Emily2 says:

      On the other hand, Mai was apparently the only person in the entire fire nation he cared enough about to even leave a note for. That's something.

      (Plus, if he had told her he was leaving, that would make her involved in his act of treason for not turning him in.)

      • Avatar_fan_mom says:

        Hmm, good point. I think part of it was him protecting her, knowing that this path he has chosen will likely be a dangerous and difficult one in so many ways. I also think he just knew he had to forge this alone. His relationship with Mai would have potentially interfered at this point in fulfilling his plans.

        • @Ahavah22 says:

          Not to mention that Mai would have gone straight to Azula with the info, unless she was willing to join Zuko and betray her country herself. It was too big of a risk. I understand Zuko's reasons and feel bad for the both of them. 🙁

    • majere616 says:

      Whistling Guy clearly has his priorities straight.

    • notemily says:


      Also, I love whistling guy. Especially when he just goes right on whistling after checking to make sure that nobody saw him.

      I'd be angry if I were Mei, too, but… I don't know if she'd be at all accepting of the fact that Zuko is going to betray the Fire Nation. "Hi, I know you're my girlfriend and all, but do you mind if I go hang out with the Avatar in order to take down my father and end this whole Fire Empire business? Are you cool with that?"

      On the other hand, I was broken up with via email once, and it suuuuucks. I'd be pissed if I were Mei. I guess what I'm saying is, I can see both sides here. Which might be a sign of well-written characters?

      • echinodermata says:

        I get Zuko's side, but since it seemed like he was all up in his own head and not at all interested in Mai and their relationship in the previous ep, I'm just not that charitable towards Zuko in this respect. It feels like he's going the route of 'I am a manly man that must suffer in loneliness because no one understands me. And so I pull on my hood and look angsty.' I think it's boring, and I just perpetually wish characters would, you know, talk to each other about important stuff.

  37. Mauve_Avenger says:

    Since I was writing real-time reactions as I watched, most of my notes on these episodes were just predictions. The non-prediction stuff I wrote:

    -Maybe I’m missing something, but how would Toph know that Aang glows when he’s in the Avatar State? I can’t remember anyone talking about his glowiness (this needs to be his new title) in front of her. Was this actually addressed after she joined Team Avatar, or is it something that everyone just knows about him, the same way they know about the arrows?
    ROT13 for Lord of the Rings spoiler: "Cnagf ner na vyyhfvba…naq fb vf qrngu." Vf vg whfg zr, be qbrf Uhh fbhaq n ybg yvxr Gerrorneq gur Rag qhevat gung yvar? V guvax V'z cebonoyl tbvat gb or zragnyyl vafregvat gung yvar vagb gur frpbaq obbx naq zbivr jura jr svanyyl trg gb gurz.
    -Ming seems really nice, giving Iroh White Jade tea and all. (Wait…but isn’t White Jade the poisonous plant Iroh brewed tea from earlier?)
    -Does the end of the second part maybe mean that Haru, Teo, and the Duke are going to be with the Team for the rest of the season? Excite.
    – Oh, Jesus!Aang, you're so subtle.
    <img src=""&gt;

    • I loved the koala-sheep walking up to join him. It reminds me of the cauliflower sheep that follows Oedipus around in Oedipus the Movie (which, if you haven't seen it, is Oedipus starring vegetables). TOO ADORABLE.

    • DuskQ says:

      I usually don't get the Messiah parallels, but if ever Aang looked more like a Kung Fu Action Jesus than a Dalai Lama, it's this day- the day he became a shepherd. Of course, maybe this was one lucky koala-sheep who didn't donate to Aang's bed. Hence they bonded?

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      *facepalm* How did I manage to miss the sheepherd thing all this time?

    • Ozaira says:

      Ming seems really nice, giving Iroh White Jade tea and all. (Wait…but isn’t White Jade the poisonous plant Iroh brewed tea from earlier?)

      YES. I have a sneaking suspicion that Iroh used the White Jade "tea" to melt away the bars on his cell, so he could bust out. -.- That or he made a peanut sauce + white jade bomb, and ignited it right before the eclipse.

  38. LoonyLu says:

    Day of Black Sun, Part 1 and 2
    <img src="; border="0" alt="happy gifs Pictures, Images and Photos"/>

    That pretty much sums it up.

    Also, Serena Williams was a big fan of the series and she was the voice of Ming. ~The More You Know~

  39. SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION TIME! (Vid itself is spoiler-free; recommended videos and comments might not be.) (Don't know how to embed, sorry.)

    I love this episode. These episodes. Whatever. There's such build-up, and excitement, and FAILURE, and Zuko's talk with Ozai is a seriously epic example of Calling the Old Man Out, and Azula is a stone-cold evil BADASS. Who brought Dai Li home as souvenirs.

  40. daigo says:

    Man I was totally hoping to hear more about what you thought of how Azula baited Sokka.

    "So… Sokka's your name, right? My favorite prisoner used to talk about you all the time. She was convinced you were going to come rescue her, but you never came, so she gave up on you."
    *tears up* "AARRGGGHHHHH"
    "Come and get it!"
    "WHERE. IS. SUKI?!"

    One really interesting thing to note is that while Azula has Mai and Ty Lee as "friends," it seems that the biggest motivating factor in choosing her friends was for their elite abilities. Mai is a master of hidden weapons and small arms, while Ty Lee is an extremely agile acrobat. Notice that when Azula is fighting the Gaang she uses Mai and Ty Lee's abilities… she's able to run, dodge, and leap as well as Ty Lee (we've seen this before in how she handles herself in The Drill) and here she also slips a hidden dagger out from her sleeve to stab Sokka when he charges here like Mai would.

    Mike and Bryan noted that these abilities of Azula's were definitely picked up from Mai and Ty Lee throughout their relationship. Azula doesn't necessarily choose friends because she cares about them. She chooses them in order to use them as tools.

    • icingflarewhite says:

      Juvpu zvtug rkcynva jul gurl orgenl ure va Gur Obvyvat Ebpx. Jryy, jr xabj Nmhyn qbrf fb sbe Mhxb naq Gl Yrr sbe Znv, ohg ure orvat n hfre zvtug cynl vagb vg nf jryy.

  41. audzilla says:


    Best episode ever, seriously. The invasion is awesome and all, but Zuko's entire story thusfar has been building up to THIS MOMENT and it's 100% beautiful and wonderful and satisfying. The writers have really made it clear to us over the last two seasons how difficult it's been for Zuko to accept and articulate these things, but his speech to his dad is PERFECT. "Think again. I am going to speak my mind, and you are going to listen."

    When he tells his dad straight-up that challenging a thirteen-year-old to a duel was cruel and wrong, I just want to cheer for him. And I love that when Ozai accuses him of having been influenced by Iroh, he admits it with conviction.

  42. Depths_of_Sea says:


    And Zuko calling out his father. My sister and I always joked about how Zuko was the "Redeemable Villain Who Had Yet To Be Redeemed", and here, FINALLY, he redeems himself. He see's Ozai's shit for what it is, and recognizes who's been the better parental figure to him all these years-Uncle Iroh. And knows what he's supposed to do now. AND THEN REDIRECTS LIGHTNING OH MY GOSH.

    My favorite fight of these episodes is actually Aang-Sokka-Toph against Azula. Hands down. Azula the Chessmaster is prepared for everything and even without her firebending she's an incredibly formidible opponent. And misdirects the Gaang's attentions just like her father in the coolest parallel crossfade ever. And mocks Toph's blindness. And taunts Sokka about Suki. AND IN MY FAVORITE SOKKA MOMENT EVER, SOKKA TEARS UP AND THEN FLINGS HIMSELF AT AZULA IN RAGE AND DEMANDS TO KNOW WHERE SUKI IS. I WILL NEVER EVER GET OVER THE, "Where… is… Suki?!" LINE.

    Sokka/Suki OTP I love them.

    And then, THEY FAIL. The invasion fails. Everything goes to hell. The Fire Nation brings out their zeppelins. The heroes lose their subs and means of escape. The adults are captured. Aang takes a moment to cry privately, because this was supposed to be his redemption for Ba Sing Se. It was supposed to be when he'd make it all up to the world, and make things right. And it failed. And Katara comes over and comforts him with a warm look on her face, and then Aang pulls himself together and demonstrates remarkable maturity as he thanks their forces for their valor and bravery.

    And then they fly away.


    Other miscellaneous thoughts:

    -I read that one of the animators drew the mustache on Haru as a joke and then Mike and Bryan were all like, "Yeesssss, he must have a mustache." However it came into being it is utter hilarity.
    -"Pants are an illusion, and so is death." Never change Hue.
    -Western Air Temple!

  43. Avatar_fan_mom says:

    ZUKO! YESSSSS!! Oh man, I had some serious, serious chills during that whole scene. Talk about how powerful that all was after all the buildup to this point – that I could FEEL so intensely for a CARTOON character! It felt SO right, and so perfect. It really makes you appreciate what the writers have done here. After Crossroads of Destiny I was a bit worried…but thank god they didn't have him turn to Team Avatar at that point. It wouldn't have been as satisfying. This change came from within Zuko and felt 100% genuine. So amazing.

    Flameo, Avatar….flameo.

  44. corporatecake says:

    Supposedly (I say supposedly because I found Avatar about a year ago) a lot of people in the fandom were disappointed when this episode first aired. I don't understand why because I think that this is some of the show's best work by far.

    Zuko's confrontation with his father always makes me tear up. It's so rewarding to see him stand up to his abuser, to call Ozai out on all the shit, all the cruelty that he inflicted not just physically, but psychologically. Zuko is my favorite character in the show, and this is what I'd wanted for him for so long that it's hard not to cheer and say, YOU GO GIRL.

    Now Ozai can die in all fires. 😐

    All of our babies have grown so much. :')

    • Pimento says:

      I wasn’t disappointed, but much like The Boulder, I am conflicted. I love this episode because it packs so many awesome moments, Zuko’s confrontation with his father being the crowning one. However, it has quite a few things that make me yell bullshit and are typical of the problems with Book 3. Azula is great and skilled, but they were in a cave, with the fucking world’s greatest earthbender and the avatar and she was without firebending yet they still couldn’t stop her. Bullshit, I say. And why would the Dai Li go to the Fire Nation to continue being her lackeys? Really?
      Would the Fire Nation really take Hakoda and the rest as prisoners? Kids show is the answer to that one, which is the answer to a lot of issues with Book 3. The limitations of a kids show really showed in a way that didn’t for the first two seasons.
      But I don’t want to kvetch too much about this episode, because overall it is awesome and I do my best to ignore the nagging thoughts (and the Kataang, heh). Basically, Zuko makes it for me.

      • Strabo says:

        "Would the Fire Nation really take Hakoda and the rest as prisoners? Kids show is the answer to that one, which is the answer to a lot of issues with Book 3. The limitations of a kids show really showed in a way that didn't for the first two seasons. "

        Surrendering enemy soldiers are usually taken prisoner and not shot even in our real world wars. Not always, but most of the time. It is a custom that has developed into a rule with the Geneva Convention and there are compareably few regimes even in our history who would kill off enemy soldiers who have surrendered routinely.

        • Pimento says:

          Sorry, I should have specified. I think the Fire Nation would take them as prisoners, and then execute them. So, surrendering doesn’t seem as inconsequential as it was made out to be.

  45. Dragonsong12 says:

    Oh, I didn't see anyone else mention this (though I admit they probably did, though it might've also gotten lost in all the other awesome) but Ming was voiced by Serena Williams.
    She came into the gym at Nick to find them doing the martial arts for one of the episodes and revealed herself to be a huge fan! So when this character came up, they called on her for the voice.

    Just a random bit of trivia. 🙂

  46. lossthief says:

    Well, Azula's just shown that even temporarily de-powered she's still more than a handful for the 3 of them, and I imagine that even if they were able to beat Ozai, they wouldn't get back in time to keep Azula from essentially cooking Sokka.

    • Avatar_fan_mom says:

      Yeah, unless Sokka put his smooth moves on her, I can't see him winning that battle…

    • @Ahavah22 says:

      No, she was only a handful because she had the Dai Lee with her. Let's see her be so tough without bending AND without an army backing her up!

      • lossthief says:

        Sokka would be able to keep her there for as long as the eclipse was going on. Unless Aang and Toph managed to make their way to Ozai, beat him, and get back there in under ~2-3 minutes, Sokka WOULD DIE. He's a strong fighter, but taking on one of the strongest Firebenders we've seen with nothing but the Space Sword wouldn't end well for him.

  47. Joe says:

    Yes, but one of them is a two-parter, so it will be watched in one day.

  48. Helldars says:

    Well, I guess scamming and bribing Sokka did helped the war effort !

    <img src=""</&gt;

    <img src=""</&gt;

    'cause all these maps, leather and metal must have been quite expensive.

    • lossthief says:

      This was actually mentioned before. In "The Runuaway" Sokka actually says he'd been thinking about building a set of armor for Appa, so he wouldn't have to go into battle naked.

    • @Ahavah22 says:

      I Love Sokka's speech. It's the messed up Powerpoint presentation that anyone who has ever had to give a powerpoint presentation angsts about. And when he "starts from the beginning", I just can not stop laughing!

      "…and now Haru has a mustache, which you can see if you look at him in the front row…" LOL!

      ILU, Sokka! 🙂 All the smiles!

  49. LoonyLu says:

    I forgot to mention this but can we all agree that Sokka's picture of the submarines was AMAZING!!!

    That is all.

  50. PlatypusbearOFACTION says:

    Ok, it the exchange,

    "You're uncle has gotten to you hasn't he"
    "Yes, he has"

    I am always totally reminded of when Scrimgeour says to Harry,

    "You're Dumbledore's man through-and-through"
    "Yeah, I am"

    And that just makes everything EVEN COOLER

    • majere616 says:

      Yeah, but then Harry spends the entire book doubting Dumbledore…

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      Yeah, I way always reminded of that.

      (BTW, love your username. Semi-aquatic, egg-laying mammal, right?)

  51. icingflarewhite says:

    Psst, this is episodes 10&11, not just episode 10.

    And on another note, I'm still left wondering why Aang and Toph didn't leave Sokka to handle Azula by himself/Aang just left Toph and Sokka with her. Would've allowed for an interesting plotline or two if they/Aang came back to find him/them missing after just barely escaping Ozai.

    • Matt_Thermo says:

      Uh, cause they care about him and don't want to see him get killed?

      • icingflarewhite says:

        Well yes, but if Toph stayed behind too that wouldn't have been much of a problem.

      • Avatar_fan_mom says:

        Nah, he could handle Azula. He would just need to put some smooth Sokka-style moves on her…Ladies Love Cool Sokka.

  52. Bad at names says:

    It's so great to see Zuko stand up to his dad. Ozai's "reasoning" because scaring and banishing Zuko makes the whole thing even worse. He obviously didn't like Zuko much, but he claims he did it to teach Zuko a lesson – that seems even more messed up than just doing it out of spite.

    I also love the contrast between Hakoda and Ozai in this episode. Through-out the show, Ozai has been horrible to Zuko whenever he considers Zuko even the slightest bit of a failure, but Hakoda still loves his kids no matter what. The biggest thing for me though is that Hakoda is more than happy to stay behind to be jailed/executed/tortured/whatever just as long as his kids can get away. Ozai spends the episode hiding away while being perfectly fine with his favored kid being his decoy while she's powerless. Dude's a dick!

    • Avatar_fan_mom says:

      The parallel between what a father should be and what a father should NOT be hasn't been so in your face until this episode.

  53. lossthief says:

    Now all I can think of is DBZ Abridged.

    "I killed everything here with my bare hands. Including the bear hands."

  54. Ashley says:

    does anyone know if the Water Tribe warriors wearing different phases of the moon on their armor means anything? Is it rank?

  55. H. Torrance Griffin says:

    Some Observations:

    Yes, we get a full-blown Lock&Load Montage

    Say everything you wish about Azula's character, but nobody can claim the is a coward or an incompetent. For that matter, between her knowledge of the invasion and her pet Earthbenders the girl could have bumped off the old man without anyone suspecting a thing… instead she stands between the Avatar and her father with nothing but her wits and physical skills.

    I have to agree that Katara not handing Hakoda off to a medic and, if not following Aang under the palace, at least providing fire support was the most disappointing part of this two-parter.

    Zuko? Honeybear? I get all the reasons why you did not take Ozai's head off, but as cathartic as it was for all concerned a personal confrontation was less-than-tactically-sound. Ninja into prison, grab your uncle, and bail. With all the chaos you could get at least a day's head start.

    (this is probably what Mai would have tried to get him to do if she were in the loop and realized he would not be swayed)

    Sokka is what we call a polymath. Unfortunately public speaking is not one of his gifts either.

    • H. Torrance Griffin says:

      One other thing, they danced around it a bit but it is made rather clear that Ursa; the Good/Nice/Sane parent; murdered an old man in cold blood. The Court of the Fire Nation is Not A Nice Place.

      • FlameRaven says:

        Well, it seemed like there was going to be murder happening that night regardless: either Ursa took care of Azulon, or Ozai was going to kill Zuko. (Also, how fucked up is it that he flat out admits it, even shrugs? Like, "yeah, your granddad wanted me to kill you, and I was okay with that.") Ursa made her point back in Zuko Alone: when you mess with a mother's child, she will get you back. And while it doesn't help much, I do get the impression that she would probably not have killed otherwise if she weren't forced into that decision.

        …then again, I'm kind of the opinion that Ozai was lying out his ass about Ursa, and that she's probably dead. That or I have a crack theory that she is being sheltered by the Order of the White Lotus, and is so deep undercover no one will find her until after the war is over. If she is alive, she must have mad ninja skills.

    • kartikeya200 says:

      The thing with Katara is, this is the Southern Water Tribe. There are no other Waterbenders, definitely no other healers, and if they had a medic, well…we didn't see any. I can't really see Katara handing off the care of her badly injured father to someone she doesn't know when she's by default the best healer they have.

  56. banans13 says:

    So I can finally post this now. Yeaaaah. <3

    [youtube 44yrY9YO3tc youtube]

  57. jubilantia says:

    OH MAN. Pretty much everything you've said is what I think, but that scene with Zuko and his dad is just so ridiculously awesome and satisfying, both for Zuko himself and for us viewers. And of course the fact that he almost came to that conclusion at the end of season 2, but ended up taking detours, makes it even more satisfying.

    I still cheer every time I see it, especially since Iroh gave Zuko the means to protect himself. Yet more wonderfulness from Iroh, that he was able to stand back, trust Zuko, and let him draw his own conclusions to become a more balanced and strong individual. He's exhibited such respect for everyone, time and again, that I try to emulate those qualities in my own life.

    I'm also super excited that you've finally gotten here. It's been reeeeeally difficult for everybody to keep their mouths shut. I mean, in episode 1, you're all "hey, I know this is totally and completely outside of all possibility in every potential universe, past, present or imagined, but wouldn't it be awesome if Iroh and Zuko, like, became good? Oh haha, silly me, why would that ever happen, forget I said it…" and we're all "MMMMMMNNNNNNNNNNNGHHHHHHHHHHHH SO NOT PREPARED"

    And I definitely agree with the sentiment of there needs to be infinite Avatar

  58. ApocalypsePenguin says:

    Surely you mean platypus bear. Or an armadillo bear.

  59. Evil Midnight Lurker says:

    My favorite Ozai bit is in this episode. It's not anything he specifically says to Zuko, but how he says it: as their confrontation goes on, Mark Hamill is letting more and more of The Joker into his voice.

    Ozai is slowly letting go of anything resembling sanity, and Hamill knows EXACTLY how to show that.

  60. Pelleloguin says:

    Not mush to say today besides that I wish we could have saw Iroh break out of prison. He didn't have bending powers, or he bended just before the eclipse to ensure that any retaliation would be futile. Either on screen or in our minds, I vote his break out to be seven kinds of awesome!

    Also, not sure if spoilery or not, so the next sentence will be coded.(I think not, but to be safe, decodes it)
    V qba'g guvax gung gurl qvq vg sbe gurfr rcvfbqrf, ohg sbe gur svanyr gur perngbef nfxrq Avpx sbe n shyy bepurfgen gb qb gur fpber, naq jrer npghnyyl cercnerq gb cnl sbe vg gurzfryirf. Jryc, Avpx tnir vg gb gurz naq jr raqrq hc jvgu sbhe rcvfbqrf bs njrfbzr zhfvpny tbbqarff.

  61. corporatecake says:

    I think I remember people on a podcasts saying that they thought it was disappointing. But they might have just been the minority.

  62. beeftony says:

    Finally I can post this AMV. It shows pretty much Zuko's entire arc, and it's well-edited to boot. The song is "No Giving Up" by Crossfade.

    [youtube Ms8vQJH3jjU&feature=fvw youtube]

  63. riverdear says:

    Oh Zuko. Zuko Zuko Zuzu my favorite character forever.

    I must say, when I started rewatching the show along with you it was very hard to go back to the very beginning with Zuko. In the first episode, when he's standing on that ship with his hair so tightly bound, shouting at his uncle, I just wanted to grab him and give him a big hug and be like, YOU CAN BE SO MUCH MORE. I KNOW YOU HAVE IT IN YOU. It was actually hard for me to watch him like that, which is why I really don't like rewatching early, early episodes. (me to friends: go watch it! on your own! tell me when you get to the third season!)

    It would be unbelievable that it's the same character except for the fact that his story as been so beautifully and naturally laid out. Except for the rather abrupt emergence of his relationship with Mai (what what they are making outt whattt) we have been there every step of the way. So it's not like we didn't see it coming. I think what makes it so gratifying was that we did know it was coming. Mark, you even picked up on it in the first season.

    oh my creys time to go get my seatbelt and buckle in for the last few episodes.

  64. Crookshanks says:

    In honor of Zuko's joining Team Avatar(tm), let us count the number of times Mark has wished for this to happen.
    In episode three, Mark said, "Will this turn into a story where Iroh/Zuko break off from the Firebenders to be on the side of the Avatar??? HOW COOL WOULD THAT BE." (At which point in time we all clamped our hands over our mouths.) MARK, YOU ARE A ~TRUE SEER~. THIS WAS EPISODE THREE, Y'ALL.
    Episode nine had this thing of beauty in it. " I have this really awesome image in my head of Zuko defecting to Aang’s side to fight against Fire Lord Ozai, but that’s just wishful thinking on my part. I just want them all to bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone will eat and be happy…." (Note that this was the first time he mentioned rainbows in collaboration with Zuko joining Team Avatar.)

    • Crookshanks says:

      (I would like to point out, too, that never once did Mark wish for this to happen in The Storm. WHAT.)
      -"…makes me wish there was like TEAM AVATAR or something and Zuko could just join and everyone could be cute friends and stuff?" -The Blue Spirit Review (I'm getting too lazy, so it's going to be in list format from now on.)
      -And there was no further mention of this until his predictions review for Season Two. "And my big prediction for season two: Uncle Iroh and Prince Zuko will be two of those new “team” members. LOOK I KNOW I MAKE JOKES ABOUT PUPPY DOGS AND CUPCAKES but I really want them all to be on the same side ok gosh stop judging me"
      -"PLEASE LET THIS MEAN [Zuko and Iroh] ARE JUST ANOTHER STEP CLOSER TO JOINING TEAM AVATAR." Same post as the above- twice in one go!
      -"…Aang, Zuko, and Iroh. (COULD THOSE THREE JUST ALL BE ON THE SAME SIDE PLEASE)" -Return to Omashu Review

      • Crookshanks says:

        cont. (this is getting long, but it keeps on telling me that my comments are too long.)
        (Also- how did this not come up in Zuko Alone? OUTRAGE.)
        -"…but omg I JUST WANT THEM ALL TO BE FRIENDS omg all the tears)"- Bitter Work Review.
        -"So….Iroh is totally on Team Avatar’s side RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT."- Appa's lost days Review. (Okay… this is is only Iroh soooo… half credit?)
        -"Oh, right, about that: Zuko will fully come over to Team Avatar by the time the finally rolls around. THERE I SAID." – Mark's predictions for S3
        (Again I must say: not even in The Avatar and the Firelord. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE.)
        -And, finally, "SO THIS IS TOTALLY A SET-UP FOR [Zuko] TO JOIN TEAM AVATAR. RIGHT? RIGHT? right?!?!?!?! OH GOD PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE LET THIS HAPPEN"- Nightmares and Daydreams Review.
        Phew. So that comes to a count of 8 1/2 times Mark has wished upon a shooting star for this to come true.
        (Why yes, I did go through every review for Avatar EVER to find these. Took me about two hours. WORTH IT.)

    • MocataJoy says:

      Mark is a wizard, skilled in the ancient art of Divination.

  65. simplefaith08 says:

    *squee* I can finally ramble on about Zuko without being spoiler-y! 😀

    I love Zuko's arc to pieces. And one of the things I love is that they allowed him to keep making mistakes until he could draw his own conclusions. Like, everyone was pissed after "Crossroads of Destiny" because they thought it was wasted character development, but as we see now, it was perfect. The call of one's homeland can be very strong, along with the one thing he craved: Ozai's approval. And so they give him a chance to go back, be respected, revered, live comfortably with honor…and he figures out that this is wrong. The side he chose was not worth it, the love and respect he's getting is just to further use him (it's the biggest thing I cannot stand about Ozai, even if that seems like my priorities are out of whack; that he purposely withdraws love from Zuko's life and uses the promise of it to manipulate him). Seeing all he could have had and him choosing what is right is beautiful.

    Also, that speech he gives to Ozai is PERFECTION. It's just straight forward "You have done me wrong in all ways possible, and I don't need you anymore." Just…I wanted to make him cake and tea.

    Other thoughts!:

    1) God, Azula, I really hate you. Like, you're powerful and badass and cool and all, but I hate your guts.

    2) I knew, like you did, that their plan would fail (after all, it's only half way through the season) but it didn't make it any less painful. It's hard watching all these really good and amazing characters that you grew to care about constantly fail.

    3) I love lock-and-load montages. <3

    4) When I saw the submarines, for some reason, they reminded me of the submarines in "Yellow Submarine" (and that is way too many :submarines" in one sentence xP). Maybe it's because it looks kind of organic? or maybe I'm just ridiculous, which is always a possibility.

    …I can't believe this is almost over. 🙁

  66. qwopisinthemailbox says:



  67. Cakemage says:

    Zuko's confrontation with his father gives me chills every time. Four for you, Prince Zuko! You go, Prince Zuko!

    Also, I know that Azula is a horrible person with a bad case of The Evils, but I love her more than is healthy*. She's just so damn good at it.

    *Note: there is no such thing as a healthy way to love Azula.

  68. TreesaX says:

    I love Dante Basco's voice for Zuko. It just has this sense of.. realism I guess? Which is why his speech sounded so great. It's hard to explain. All the voice actors are great, so crisp and polished, but very animated-y and cartoon-y (which is a very good thing in terms in regards to this show). But yeah, I'm horrible in trying to explain this, lol, but yeah, awesome.

  69. Amy says:


    YES. This was officially the moment where I held off watching further episodes while I made a picspam/meta post on my own lj about my adoration for this series. Zuko an OFFICIAL PROTAGONIST. I mean, think about it. Look at the amazing development of every major character that we've met, including Toph, Sokka, Katara (oh my god, Katara), and for so long we assumed the ultimate character development would obviously be Aang's. SURPRISE. (And that's still not to take away from Aang's own remarkable changes. OH, THIS SHOW, GUYS.)

    When I wax squeeful about this series to those folk whom I know won't watch it anyway and don't care if they're spoiled (I can say this here because I was saying it at this point in the show, without having watched any more), I tell them, "It's a series that tricks you into thinking there's one major protagonist, and slowly pulls the rug out from under you."

    You know what I'm going to say to you at this point at last, Mark? I think you ARE prepared. I really think you are.

  70. Violets are Blue says:

    Appa in his armor is just amazing. WHY DOES MOMO NOT HAVE ANY? He could…um…throw some sludge bombs somewhere?

    Also, didn't look like anyone mentioned it but Ming was voiced by Serena Williams (tennis player). Yeah, she's apparently a big fan of the show. I don't particularly care for her much but she did pretty good with Ming.

  71. Jallorn says:

    Awesomesauce. I have three things to say: First, I love your reviews, they allow me to get all excited about the show in a way I don't normally. Second, you got me to rewatch the show, so thank you for that, it was time (although I'm no longer sure how I found this site, lol). Finally: GET THE REST OF THE REVIEWS OUT, I WANNA READ MORE!!!


  72. Brieana says:

    So Toph asked Aang if he was going to get his glow on. How does she know that Aang glows while he's in the Avatar state?

    • Murph says:

      My headcanon says Sokka described Avatar State!Aang to Toph in between The Desert and The Serpent's Pass.

    • MocataJoy says:

      She also mentions Aang's tattoos during "The Beach." I assume they've been traveling together long enough that this stuff has been described to her. It's pretty important–definitely something they would have discussed.

  73. Murph says:

    Allow me to share an lj user's in depth analysis of the Kataang kiss and the scene where Aang acknowledges their defeat (contains spoilers for the American version of The Office, scroll 2 pages down to the red Header "The Confession and Kiss Scene: An Analysis" if you wish to avoid them):

  74. licoricepencil says:

    <img src=>

    Yet another fabulous drawing by Booter-Freak.

  75. Classtoise says:

    Part 2 (and despite what everyone thinks,) and the Beach have 2 of Zukos best lines.

    I love how he finally brings his father to task.

    “How can you justify a duel with a child!?”

    It’s been nagging at every Avatar watchers mind for 2 and a half seasons. And he finally brings it up.

  76. Will says:


    He always was. A protagonist doesn't have to be a good guy.

    • sabra_n says:

      Not every antagonist has to be a bad guy – that's what distinguishes them from villains. I guess I thought of Zuko as an antagonist up to this point because his goals (for the most part) were directly in opposition to those of our clear protagonists – the Gaang. I can see your point, though. *ponders*

    • Casey says:

      Like Doctor Horrible! Completely off topic, but completely relevant…

  77. tinybit92 says:

    Three random things that really stand out to me in these episodes. (you know, aside from the obvious things)
    1.The Duke giving Toph his helmet to puke in. That was so cute and sweet of him.
    2.Toph kissing her fingertips before ripping apart the metal doors with two fingers from each hand. She's such a BAMF.
    3. Zuko's delivery of the line "What an amazing lie that was." For some reason it always stands out to me, it's just very well done by his VA.

  78. @Siesiegirl says:

    You have _ no_ idea how hard it has been not to say anything, every time you wished so fervently for Zuko to join the Gaang. Granted!

  79. Elle says:

    Everyone else has commented on Zuko. Well I'm going to comment on Aang. I think here we get a true sense of his growth. He's gone from penguin-sledding kid to a young man with a sense of duty and maturity. He sheds his hair and once again can "wear his arrow proudly.". He sheds most of the fire nation clothing and goes to face the fire lord as Aang the Avatar and the Last Airbender. He kisses the girl he loves, knowing he needs to let her know how he feels just in case he doesn't return. He is well aware of his own mortality amd knows that he might not make it out. And he embraces it. He doesn't run from it. And when things don't work out, he feels the defeat deeply and yet is still able to stand and make a speech of thanks and encouragement.

    Aang's growth gets overshadowed, IMO, and I think seeing the changes in him is one of the best things in the series.

  80. Weston says:


    As you were.

  81. shirtninjas says:

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

    In the final episode, Ozai gets with Katara and they have a kid, and Aang immediately falls desperately in love with the newborn child.


  82. lossthief says:

    Mark actually hasn't seen A Very Potter Sequel yet, he's only seen the first. He's scheduled a liveblog for AVPS the day after we watch the A:TLA finale.

  83. arctic_hare says:

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

  84. notemily says:

    So… Zuko's saying that the Fire Nation troops are not greeted as liberators? I C what U did there, show.

    That final shot of Zuko sailing after Appa makes me squee and clap in anticipation. (My spellcheck wants to change "squee" to "slue," which… what?)

    I love that Zuko redirects lightning, because now he's finally figured out his own destiny and his soul or chi or whatever is in balance, unlike the first time he tried to learn the technique. He needed to come to this place in order to master that skill.


    "Pants are an illusion, and so is death." This is another one of those lines that I want to embroider on a cross-stitch sampler and hang above my bed. Because RULES FOR LIFE, amirite?

    (No, spellcheck, not "emirate.")

  85. machetecat says:

    Hey Mark, I'm new to this site, and I've been having fun seeing your reactions to Avatar.

    I wanted to ask, though, if you've seen the Escape from the Spirit World shorts that Nick advertised while we were waiting for season 3. They occurred while Aang was unconscious between seasons 2-3, and you get to see Aang interact with previous Avatars.

    These shorts were animated as a sort of animated comic book, but they explain a lot about previous avatars, and they have some information that you might want to know, or would just be fascinated by. They are bonus features on one of the season 3 DVDs, but here are the youtube links if you want to see them. Each short is less than 5 minutes long.

  86. Will says:

    I can has next review now??? D:

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  89. Rickard says:

    "The true story behind Ursa’s disappearance is just one huge contrast between the two parents: Zuko’s mother was willing to commit treason and be banished from the Fire Nation to protect her son, and Ozai cared so little that he permanently scarred his son and banished him to a life of misery and shame."

    She also abandoned her other child completely. And heck, leaving Zuko with Ozai, who has clearly shown that he might kill him, is shortsighted at best.

    Ursa gets far to sanctified.

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