Mark Watches ‘Avatar’: S03E11 – The Western Air Temple

In the eleventh episode of the third season of Avatar: The Last Airbender, FINALLY. FINALLY. FINALLY. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Avatar.

NO, SERIOUSLY, I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS EPISODE FOR A REALLY LONG TIME. And I can faithfully report that it has exceeded my expectations.

This was never going to be an easy thing, and I would have cried foul had Zuko’s acceptance in Team Avatar been a simple, joyous occasion. It would have been a great disservice to the layers of characterization that the writers had piled up over the course of the two and a half seasons prior. It’s still funny to me that I believed Zuko was this huge villain to be used for the entirety of this show, and now I just watched him rehearse lines about asking for forgiveness from Team Avatar….to a toad. this is everything I could have hoped for.

Even with the predictable nature of this story (Zuko would have to ask to join the team eventually, and the kids would obviously pitch a fit about it), the writers still manage to keep me guessing and to give us a story that isn’t wrapped up all neat with a tiny bow either. Things start off well when we’re introduced to the final Air Nomad temple, this one in the west. Oh, and it is built upside down underneath a cliff. And it’s not even hanging from the cliff: the buildings are literally upside down.

The first sign that we’re going to given a much more fascinating story than we could have hoped for is when Zuko arrives at the Western Air Temple. In a blurry flashback, we learn that just a week after Zuko’s banishment from the Fire Nation, he and Iroh came to this very place first in order to search for the Avatar. What a long journey Zuko’s been on for the last three years. Aside from making me miss Iroh (WHERE IS HE), it’s an interesting way to show us just how far this young man has come. Unlike Zuko’s transformation in “The Guru” and “The Crossroads of Destiny,” the happiness Zuko does show here never seems fake or disingenuous. At the same time, he’s now filled with apprehension. He knows that he’s finally on the right path, that he is going to follow his own destiny, but he’s not foolish. This new direction in life is not going to be easy, and it’s surely going to come with its own problems. The very immediate problem Zuko has is one of forgiveness: How is Zuko going to get these people to believe him? After all the pain and torment he’s caused, he can’t simply walk up to them and just ask to be on the team, right?

For the kids who escaped from the battle with the Fire Nation, it’s an awkward point in their lives. Their parents are captured, shame is creeping into their minds, and they’re stuck again without a plan. Sokka suggests what seems to be both the obvious answer and the only one: Aang needs to learn fire bending, master all four elements, and face the Fire Lord before Sozin’s Comet passes by again. Unfortunately, this is met with a whopping dose of sarcasm from Aang, who recognizes the futility of such an idea. BUT AAND, ZUKO IS LIKE…30 SECONDS AWAY FROM YOU. Katara suggests finding Jeong Jeong again, and I actually had to look him up because I forgot about him. Where the hell is that man? I remember I used to think he would eventually be the one to teach Aang fire bending, but that’s not the case anymore.

I was a bit dismayed that Aang was so unwilling to deal with the situation at all, but only until I knew that it was kind of hopeless to discuss it right then and there. They’re in a new temple they haven’t explored, they have plenty of time, and they at least deserve a small break after their long journey to the temple. Well, that’s not going to happen! Because Zuko decides that just waiting around for the “right” time is a waste, so he finally confronts them.

holy. awkward. It’s even more awkward than I could have expected, despite that Zuko’s body language suggests his guilt and shame. Which is not to say that I think it was wrong for anyone to suggest Zuko wasn’t to be trusted. It’s kind of neat that they almost trot out a luandry list of the various offenses that Zuko unleashed upon them over the past half of a year. It’s weird seeing Zuko be bashful and shy and not immediately give in to anger. There are flashes of it, but they are fleeitng. And for once, anger isn’t controlling his actions.

Still, it’s not an easy situation. They all see Appa treat Zuko friendly (since Appa would remember who freed him), but everyone aside from Toph isn’t buying it. I was glad to see Zuko never once take the defensive, apologizing for what he could, but then…ZUKO. WHY. WHY WOULD YOU TELL THEM YOU HIRED COMBUSTION MAN. (Which is not his real name, so….I wonder if we’ll learn it later. Just a thought.) At the very mention of the assassin’s nickname, they immediately shut down. DAMN IT. HE WAS SO CLOSE! Katara lashes out in bitter anger, attacking him with a wave, and tells him never to return.

Well. Zuko’s off to a good start!

It’s fitting that Toph’s the one who thinks that her friends are being a bit too emotional about the situation. Aside from Combustion Man, she has no history with Zuko like the others do. She points out that they were just whining about not having a fire bender to teach Aang, and one just waltzed into their camp! It literally could not be easier for them! But I have to admit that simplifying someone’s history this way isn’t a fair thing to do. The guy has chased them all around the globe and one day, they’re just supposed to forget all that? Though I’m sure to them, that’s what Toph’s suggestion feels like. The truth is that Toph intends to propose some sort of middle ground, acknowledging Zuko’s flaws, but finding a way to be accepting in order to benefit the whole group from the process.

And yet, even THAT doesn’t go well. When Toph storms off to see Zuko, Zuko is in the forest, chatting with his friendly toad, lamenting the fact that he can’t even be a good guy without royally messing it up. That night, Toph secretly comes to visit him and, again, it gets even worse than before. Startled, Zuko lets out a blast of fire and ends up burning the soles of Toph’s feet, effectively rendering her completely blind. CAN SOMETHING PLEASE GO RIGHT FOR ZUKO.

I actually really like the progression of this episode, which goes from hopeful, then to awkward, then to frustrating, then to head-to-the-wall, then to WHYYYYYY, then to HOLY SHIT COMBUSTION MAN FOUND THEM. When that third-eye-tattooed beast shows up, I dearly hoped that Zuko would take this sliver of an opportunity to show Team Avatar that he truly wants to join up with them. Thankfully, as Combustion Man begins to sends rays of destructive fire on the kids down below, Zuko swings in Indiana Jones-style to try and attack the very assassin he hired to kill Aang. He does this loudly, enabling the others to hear him trying to help, but the man’s supreme power blasts him off the side of a cliff and he returns to trying to send the entire temple crumbling into the mist below.

Good ol’ Sokka and good ol’ boomerang. I always love when he gets a chance to use his own talent to help save the day for Team Avatar, and this is no exception. It is sort of weird that no one ever found out that you needed to hit Combustion Man’s third eye to block his chi, but this time, Sokka lands a perfect hit, and it causes him to FUCKING EXPLODE. I mean, I understand Nickelodeon can’t actually show that on their network, but I’m assuming that since we saw the man’s arm fly off into the mist, that means it separated from his body. Right???

It’s here that Zuko meets with Team Avatar again; they all witnessed him doing his best to stop Combustion Man, and that’s about as good of a sign that he’s “converted” as they’re going to get. I can’t help but think that Zuko channels a bit of his uncle here, speaking plainly and honestly about his past transgressions, giving a sincere apology, and telling Toph that he will be as careful as he can about fire bending so that he does not unintentionally harm someone again. It’s this last bit that triggers Aang’s memory of harming Katara during “The Deserter.” They now share a direct parallel in their past, and Aang is ready to accept Zuko as his teacher. (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) He asks each of his friends if they’ll accept this too, and each one is less excited than the last about the idea, with Katara only doing so because she trusts Aang.

It’s painfully awkward, I must admit. When Sokka shows Zuko to his new room at the temple, you can see that the entire idea that Zuko is now on their side is just too surreal for him. It was nice to see Zuko smile again, though, because he is finally on the right path. It’s fitting that he pulls out a portrait of his uncle, too. If only Iroh was here right now, I thought. I bet this all would have been easier.

So you can imagine my surprise when Katara appears in the room. It’s clear she still feels personally betrayed after the events of “The Crossroads of Destiny,” and she communicates that to Zuko: If he so much as slips up in any way, she will kill him. The end.

GOOD GOD. Well, that’s not a lot of pressure at all, right???


  • “It’s my throat hole flap!” Even with context, it might be the most absurd thing Sokka has ever said.
  • “You’re right, Toph. Let’s go find him and give him a medal: the ‘Not-As-Much-Of-A-Jerk-As-You-Could-Have-Been’ award.” OH KATARA. YOUR SASS IS APPRECIATED.
  • I’m actually glad Toph brings up the fact that Zuko’s upbringing probably shaped who he came to be, and I wish that was explored more by the kids.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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253 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Avatar’: S03E11 – The Western Air Temple

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Actually, I'm so surprised that no one has yet photoshopped that pic of Zuko greeting Team Avatar so that it would make the Vulcan sign, with a caption "Live long and prosper". I mean, come on, Internet! 😀

  1. Hello, spectralbovine here.

    A Summary of Nickelodeon's EPIC SCHEDULING FAIL

    U.S. Airdate of "The Day of Black Sun": November 30, 2007

    Canadian Airdate of "The Western Air Temple" (Episode 12): December 14, 2007
    Canadian Airdate of Episode 13: January 4, 2008

    U.S. Airdate of an Episode of Avatar, According to Our DVRs: January 11, 2008
    What They Actually Aired: Zoey 101
    U.S. Airdate of an Episode of Avatar, According to Our DVRs: January 18, 2008
    What They Actually Aired: Not Avatar
    U.S. Airdate of an Episode of Avatar, According to Our DVRs: January 25, 2008
    What They Actually Aired: Spongebob Squarepants
    U.S. Airdate of an Episode of Avatar, According to Our DVRs: February 15, 2008
    What They Actually Aired: Spongebob: The Movie

    Approximate Appearance of a Minigame Based on an Upcoming Episode, Implying That Said Episode Would Be Aired Soon: March 6, 2008

    U.S. Rerun of "The Avatar and the Fire Lord," According to Our DVRs: March 25, 2008
    What They Actually Aired: Drake and Josh
    U.S. Rerun of "The Avatar and the Fire Lord," According to Our DVRs: March 27, 2008
    What They Actually Aired: Avatar HOLY CRAP
    U.S. Rerun of "The Avatar and the Fire Lord," According to Our DVRs: March 28, 2008
    What They Actually Aired: Drake and Josh
    U.S. Airdate of an Episode of Avatar, According to Our DVRs: April 4, 2008
    What They Actually Aired: iCarly

    Appearance of a Brazilian Trailer for Episodes 14-15: April 17, 2008

    U.S. Airdate of an Episode of Avatar, According to Our DVRs: April 18, 2008
    What They Actually Aired: Drake and Josh Go to Hollywood

    Confirmation from New York Comic-Con That New Episodes Would Not Air Until July, Plus Trailers and Clips from the Last Few Episodes: April 19, 2008
    Day I Said, "Fuck That Noise," and Watched the Two Episodes That Had Aired in Canada: April 19, 2008

    Appearance of Leaked Episodes 14-15 Ripped from the DVD: April 25, 2008
    Official Release of DVD Containing "The Day of Black Sun, Part II," "The Western Air Temple" and Episodes 13-15: May 6, 2008

    Release of Novelization of "Sozin's Comet": May 20, 2008

    U.S. Airdate of "The Western Air Temple": July 14, 2008
    U.S. Airdates of Episodes 13-15: July 15-16, 2008
    U.S. Airdates of Episodes 16-17: July 17-18, 2008
    U.S. Airdate of "Sozin's Comet": July 19, 2008

    Release of DVD Containing Episodes 16-17 and "Sozin's Comet": July 29, 2008

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:



      • There were unconfirmed rumors that the delay in airing was due to network censoring or something, but we never heard anything official, and at NYCC, Mike and Bryan claimed the finale was still being animated. The DVD and book dates were scheduled for sensible dates at the time, but apparently they couldn't be changed when the series airing got wonky.

        It wasn't just the wait that was killing us; it was, as I documented, the fact that Nickelodeon kept promising us Avatar, ANY Avatar, and then showing something else. Sometimes they would pull the episode from the schedule the day before or the day of, but sometimes the DVR would still say Avatar while it was airing Spongebob or some shit. (We started taking bets on what they would show each Friday instead of Avatar.) For months, we had no idea what was going on, why they weren't airing the show, why Canada got to air two episodes first, why FUCKING BRAZIL was promoting episodes that hadn't aired before we even saw a commercial in the States, why Irish Nickelodeon was showing Avatar when U.S. Nickelodeon wasn't bothering to even air reruns.

        On top of all this, they promised us one-hour movies after the series ended. They never happened. But, hey, at least we get Legend of Korra. Which, I hope to God, will air on a reasonable schedule.

        • Amira says:

          OMG! I forgot about the "It says Avatar, but Spongebob airs" crap!

          I'm thinking back now to just a few weeks ago when "The Lost Adventures" had a controversy similar to the airing schedule. First it was July, the June, then suddenly it was December or January for release. Then June 22nd rolled around and people were receiving notices their copies had shipped. Only comic book stores had gotten them in and not the larger bookstore chains. The fandom was kind of in an uproar over that.

          I remember the release of the Sozin's Comet book 2 months before the finale aired. That was some interesting times there.

        • Irish Nickelodeon was showing Avatar when U.S. Nickelodeon wasn't bothering to even air reruns.

          Yeaahh, but I don't recall them ever showing anything beyond season one over here, so :/

          Then again, it was a couple years ago and my memory might be failing me … Idk.

        • Ridia says:

          INick dicking around with the schedule didn't effect me as much as it could have, because I'm an old Invader Zim fan and what Nick did to Avatar isn't *half* as bad as the shit they pulled with Zim. "Oh, you thought we'd be airing Invader Zim today? Sorry, here's a shitty show about sumo wrestlers instead! Oh wait, don't worry we just moved the time slot. No we didn't, psyche! More sumos for you. Hmm? What's that you say? New episodes? Oh yeah, we decided to air those on this completely random day at a completely random time that wasn't on any TV guide schedules anywhere and not promoted at all. Oh and we also cancelled your show because too many college students were watching it. Sucks to be you." At least when Avatar finally aired they had commercials and everything so we knew it was actually airing.

      • Amira says:

        It was awful. And it made the fandom unbearable. And trying to avoid spoiler's unbearable.

      • Sue Deuxnim says:

        I don't even know but I distinctly remember watching this episode in terrible quality online as well as the next one, buy the dvd for the two after this, being out of the country while the finale aired (Which I was so paranoid about missing I taped not only on my DVR but my friend recorded it on her VCR as well) and getting spoiled by my friend for two minor details and by TVTropes over a major plot point. At which point I wanted to burn every copy of the novelization.

    • echinodermata says:

      holy shit

    • ina300 says:

      Yea the schedule for season 3 was a nightmare. But you forgot to mention that episodes 306-309 aired in the UK a month before they aired in America.

    • lossthief says:

      Pretty much Nickelodeon gave the fandom the biggest fucking teasing imaginable for a good 6 months because the show dared to be more interested in story telling than marketability.

    • Embies says:

      Oh god, I remember that brasilian trailer. The spoilers in that one made me so happy!
      (rot13'd) Fhxv jnf nyvir! Naq fur jnf qbvat fbzrguvat gbgnyyl onqnff!

    • breesquared says:



    • herpestidae says:

      You forgot this one:

      U.S. Airdate of any possible Episode of Avatar on the base Nick Channel, According to Our DVRs: Never again. Fuck You

      • breesquared says:

        It's on NickToons all the time, multiple episodes, every day. Sometimes in 2 hour blocks. The base Nick channel has practically kicked out cartoon shows altogether.

        • tigerpetals says:

          We don't all have this channel. I know it's been on Nicktoons, with the other cartoons I enjoyed on Nickelodeon.

          • breesquared says:

            Oh I know, i was just saying that Nick hasn't only just dumped Avatar, it's sort of shuffled all the toon programming to that channel. Which is unfair for people who don't have it.
            They play it so often because they KNOW it's a good show that people want to watch, but they're gonna hide it and make you pay for it.

            • lossthief says:

              Yeah, it seems like they're dumping any cartoons to their side channels so they can load up the main one with nothing but teen sitcoms. For instance here's the broadcast schedule for today:

              7:00 am – 9:00 am: Bubble Guppies (That's a show? I didn't even know that existed)
              9:00 am – 10:00 am: Spongebob Squarepants
              10:00 am – 11:00 am: The Epic Adventures of Bucket and Skinner
              11:00 am – 12:00 pm: Big Time Rush
              12:00 pm – 2:00 pm: iCarly
              2:00 pm – 4:00 pm: FRED: The Movie (WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?)
              4:00 pm – 6:00 pm: Spongebob: The Movie
              6:00 pm – 7:00 pm: The Epic Adventures of Bucket and Skinner
              7:00 pm – 8:00 pm: Spongebob Squarepants

              Outside of Nick Jr. there's only 1 cartoon, and it's the one they've had on for over 10 years.

              • birdbrainblue says:

                Nick's trying to be Disney Channel, because despite the fact that Nick has generally had more entertaining shows (in my opinion, at least) thanks to their cartoons, Disney's paint-by-numbers family sitcoms have been more popular and have more marketability. It's terrible.

    • Stephalopolis says:

      Wow… I mean, I was THERE for all that, but it seems so much worse in written form.

      I don't know how I did it, but I was actually one of the few that waited for the US airing of the episodes. Looking back at how much I went through though… How did I overcome the pressure??

    • Moonie says:

      I'm kinda bummed I missed the fandom fun and speculation by watching this series after it was done. But, due to this shit, I am so glad I started the series in June 09. SO GLAD.

    • tigerpetals says:

      You know, the very day Western Air Temple aired was the day before I had a two-week vacation planned, so I was packing and only caught the last scene.

      Then I came back, fell asleep on my bed with the TV on and woke up in the middle of a rerun of the finale.

    • LucyGoosey says:

      Forgot the bit that I remember the clearest: a few days before the release of the vol 3 DVD (but before the leaks), when a generous video store employee (they get to view DVDs early sometimes) posted a few shoddy screenshots and a detailed summary, and a few parts of the fandom proceeded to call her a liar and generally treat her like crap.

      • Thennary Nak says:

        I remember that. I think at that time there were some high tensions in the fandom, as Zutarans were pretty much the new Harmonians and were butting heads with Aang/Katara shippers big time, since the wait and all the broken promises from Nick were getting on everyone's nerves.

        I felt sorry for the person posting all that as she was most likely jeopardizing her job to do so and got treated so poorly.

    • Hec says:

      I tried to review this with my son and he said, "No, we got Black Sun from [Spectral Bovine] and then watched everything but the finale when we were at a motel for my baseball tournament from those downloads you got."

    • Jay Gatsby says:

      This schedule was the thing of nightmares…

    • birdbrainblue says:

      I think that being only fifteen years old and not a member of the fandom yet when the finale aired was one of the best things that ever happened to me, looking back. My family didn't have cable at the time, and after watching Day of Black Sun at a hotel (I was SO LUCKY that we were traveling on the day it aired!!!) I was convinced that that was the end of the third season and that a Book Four: Air, detailing Team Avatar moving from Air Temple to Air Temple for some reason, was being shown on Nick. Through a series of incredible circumstances, I was staying at my grandparent's for HOLY FUCKSHIT DROWNING IN AVATAR WEEK and found my mouth hanging open in horror when "The Western Air Temple" aired, as I realized seven months had passed with no Avatar and I didn't even realize it.

      tl;dr I love this fandom to death, but I'm so glad I only joined last summer.

  2. arctic_hare says:

    Hi. I'd like to introduce to my friend here, whom I think is one of the greatest things to ever grace my screen. His name is Adorkable Zuko and he is the star of today's episode.

    😀 No really, he is utterly fantastic. This is the Zuko we got a brief glimpse of back in Tales of Ba Sing Se, on his date with Jin, and now we're seeing him in full force, and it is GLORIOUS. His entire rehearsed speech, beginning with the classic line "Hello, Zuko here." is pure gold, as is the fact that he's trying it out on the hypnotoad. And that's before we get to his hilarious impersonations of Iroh and Azula.

    I said in my Day of Black Sun review that when I watched Zuko's confrontation with Ozai, I thought about how different he is now from how he was in Boy in the Iceberg. Well, in this episode, that stark difference is literally in front of my face in that flashback to when he'd just been burned and exiled. It's so weird to see him with that hairstyle and outfit again, isn't it? It's also sad to see how he yelled at Iroh about being lazy, and how much he regrets that now in the present. Now that he's come over completely to the good side, there are a lot of things weighing on his mind, all his past misdeeds; and I don't think it's presumptive to guess that one of the chief things bothering him is his past treatment of his uncle. In the last episode, we saw so clearly his love and respect for Iroh in the words he said about him to Ozai, and the pride on his face when he admitted to having been influenced by him. Now we see the depth of his anguish over having betrayed Iroh in Ba Sing Se, in not being appreciative enough of him before that time, and his mistreatment of him afterwards. He intended to free Iroh from prison during the eclipse, but he got there too late, and missed his grand escape. Even if he successfully gets himself into the Avatar's group – and he's kinda done that by the end of the episode – he's still going to have that unfinished business with Iroh hanging over his head, all that guilt and sadness. Even being good isn't going to be all happy happy fun easy times for Zuko.

    Frankly, I don't blame the group for not being willing to trust him at first, and I think Katara's completely justified in her extreme mistrust of him at the end. After all they've been through, that's natural, especially after what happened the last time Katara started to trust him. Toph doesn't have that history with him, though, so it's believable that she'd have less of a problem with it (although she was definitely pissed about the whole Combustion Man thing). This distance also allows her to be more pragmatic than the rest of Team Avatar, pointing out the obvious: where else is Aang going to find a firebending teacher? And that they're doing themselves no favors by turning away the one that shows up and freely offers himself. I think that the rest of the group is justified in their mistrust, but Toph also has a point here, and it's a combination of her lack of much real experience with Zuko's past and her ability to sense his sincerity that brings her to that conclusion. I understand how hard it must be for them all to trust Zuko after what he's done, but considering Toph's abilities, they should at least listen to her point of view, even if they ultimately don't let Zuko join them (which, they do, phew!).


    • arctic_hare says:

      Some people think he messed up by admitting that he sent Combustion Man after Aang, but I'm not in that camp. I think it's so much better in the long term to get that out in the open now and deal with it. In my opinion, it would have been so much worse if he had hidden or lied about it, and it had come out later after they'd accepted him into the group. And if he'd been lying, Toph would have seen through it in an instant, and that would've made it harder to believe anything else he was saying. No, upfront honesty is what was best here, because as much as he stumbled over everything and felt like he was screwing up, the fact that he was honest and genuinely meant well would be obvious to our human lie detector here, which is important. Zuko, I know you felt like a fool after that whole scene, but rest assured, you did the right thing. Sometimes awkward is best, and honesty was the correct course of action in this situation. It'll be okay.

      Over on Aang's end, before Zuko shows up, it's obvious that he's falling back into an old pattern: running away from the tough stuff. He's so emotionally beaten down by the failure at the eclipse, which he had placed all his hopes into after the defeat at Ba Sing Se, that when they finally reach the temple, all he wants to do is explore it and avoid dealing with plans for the future. He's resentful and irritated when Katara stops him from immediately running off to join Haru, The Duke, and Teo in exploring, and quickly finds an excuse to leave the discussion and go do just that. Then later, he pretends not to hear what Katara and Sokka are saying as they follow him on Appa, and when they all land, he wants to discuss the future plans later, show them some of the temple now. It's Aang's tendency for avoidance manifesting itself once again. It's understandable for him to be depressed about the failed invasion, and of course it won't be easy to find a firebending teacher (or so they think at first), but it doesn't help anyone if he just runs away from the subject. Sure, worrying endlessly about it won't accomplish anything either, but they should at least be trying to come up with a plan together as a group, because as much as I sympathize with his desire to just roam the temple and try to get his mind off things, they've got only a limited amount of time for him to learn this and beat the Fire Lord. It's a rough situation, and it's no surprise to me that it brings that side of his personality out again.

      And in the end, Zuko does say exactly the right thing. I love his speech about what he's come to realize, and that he sincerely apologizes to Toph. It's this apology that proves to be the key to winning Aang's acceptance of him into the group: his acknowledgement that it's so easy to hurt others with firebending, so it's important to be careful and control it well. Back in The Deserter, as Aang mentions, he accidentally hurt Katara with his uncontrolled attempt at firebending, and Zuko's words here echo what Jeong-Jeong said about it. He really has come a long way, and it's great to see a new beginning for him and Team Avatar starting to unfold here. Aang now accepts him as his teacher, and Toph jokes about getting revenge on him for the foot-burning thing. Sokka and Katara are the least comfortable with this situation, quite understandably; but hey, that's what future episodes are for, right? 😀 To develop new friendships and bonds of trust~ aaah, I feel all warm and fuzzy~ <3

      Other stuff:

      – Momo is welcome to rest on my head any time he likes.

      – The Western Air Temple really is amazing.

      – Awww, Appa likes Zuko. 😀

      – Yay for continuity, I love Aang bringing up the events of The Blue Spirit. I think that's the first time we've heard Zhao (who was voiced by Jason Isaacs, btw) mentioned by name since the Book One finale.

      – Yay, boomerang! 😀

      – I love the shot of Haru, The Duke, and Teo peering out all "WTF just happened?"

    • kartikeya200 says:

      Adorkable Zuko is THE BEST THING.

      And pretty much everything you said. I especially agree about Combustion Man: if Zuko HADN'T told them, we'd have had this whole thing start out with a lie, and it probably would have gone ugly once Combustion Man did show up.

      • Avit says:

        Yeah. I think he could have gone about it better — IIRC he seems to have been unaware that the GAang didn't know CM was his agent — but the unawareness wasn't his fault.

        (Sending CM was his fault, obvs., but too late.)

      • Elexus Calcearius says:

        Exactly. Might make for an interesting AU, premise; what would have happened if Zuko had lied about Combustion Man?

    • notemily says:

      this comment is good and you should feel good.

  3. echinodermata says:

    <img src=""&gt;
    So pretty! I think the Western Air Temple is actually my favorite location on the show, although The Library gives it some competition.

    And this is the episode where I feel pretty justified in feeling unguilty about any time I've laughed at Zuko in the past. Because he sometimes acts in lolarious ways. So thank you show, for outright confirming that we can laugh at Zuko.

    And I like that Toph is the pragmatic one in the group right now. Granted, it's largely because she doesn't have the history with Zuko that the others do, but I love her for stepping up to her friends and telling them they need to consider the bigger picture more, and that she proactively goes to find Zuko on her own and talk to him. And then she's angry at him for burning her, but she doesn't let that grudge her into thinking Zuko is unneeded. Oh, Toph, you're so easily my favorite.

    (…and were I to rank my favorite characters of ATLA, Zuko is pretty far down the list so I appreciate this episode, but really no Zuko thoughts from me.)

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      To quote Azula, "Its alright, you can laugh. It's funny."

      Also, when you realise you're agreeing with Azula on something, that is a horrible, horrible feeling.

  4. affableevil says:

    The very best thing about this part of Zuko's arc is that he's still awkward, dramatically shouty, awkward, earnest/determined and SUPER AWKWARD. He's just unfettered by all the anger and confusion he used to be carrying. Even though he's changed so much, he's retained what makes him innately Zuko and so he is still recognizable as the same character. And the other thing that I love about it is that his growth absolutely makes sense. I can look back at the early episodes and it's a huge difference, but I can see the seeds of Western Air Temple Zuko in The Blue Spirit Zuko.


    Basically this episode makes me want to hug him.
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

  5. RocketDarkness says:

    Western Air Temple beats the hell out of all the other air temples. Combined. So gorgeous.

    Also, this episode does a fantastic job of dealing with a very serious moment in the storyline while still delivering incredible, hilarious quips.

    "Hi. Zuko here!"

    "Yeah, BOOMERANG! Aww, boomerang!"

    Not as much of a jerk as you could have been award! (This needs to be a real thing)

  6. H. Torrance Griffin says:

    Okay Mark, now you can celebrate Zuko joining the crew.

    Incidentally, the end of this was the point that the fandom went berserk.

    The palpable amount of outrage over Katara's failure to welcome Zuko with open arms was astonishing. I recall at least one explicit analogy to foxholes and multiple claims that her unprovoked cruelty would doom everyone by driving Zuko away.

    Of course even scarier were the people going on about the romantic and/or sexual tension between Katara and Zuko in that last scene.

    • H. Torrance Griffin says:

      One other point. As amusing as Zuko's impersonation of Azula was it also made sense.

      I mean, which child of Ozai has had the better track record getting the cooperation of others?

    • tigerpetals says:

      I posted a related fanart of the hatred by Booter-Freak.

      Here it is again: Fandom is a Fickle Mistress
      <img src=""&gt;

      There's also a strip calling out more general Katara bashing, and an open letter from Zuko to his fans. I don't know who made those or where they are, though. Probably in my favorites and/or browser history.

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      Yeah, I was pretty amazed by that reaction, too. I mean, it is completely natural; my reaction if the same thing had happened to me would probably be similar. (Although not as extreme, because I'm a wimp, but you know.)

    • FlameRaven says:

      Yeah… not going to lie, that last scene is pretty much why I can't see Zutara in any sort of canon setting. I mean, here we are seven episodes from the end of the show and Katara just outright said that if Zuko makes one mistake she will fucking kill him. This is in-character for Katara, but… yeah. Goddamn, girl, back the fuck down.

      So a Katara/Zuko romance in the canon? Nope, sorry, not seeing it. I think it might be possible in the future, once they've known each other for longer, but… it seems kind of unlikely. Contrary to what literature would have you believe, starting out hating someone doesn't usually lead to love. Sometimes it can, but not nearly as often as stories imply. Usually you just keep hating them and/or try to never see them again. With Katara, I can see her eventually coming to trust or respect Zuko, but a romantic relationship would be incredibly difficult. Not that it couldn't happen, but I've yet to see any really convincing arguments why it would go that way.

      • MichelleZB says:

        I understand what you're saying, but wanted to say I had the opposite reaction while watching. This is when I started to see Zutara as possible.

        Katara reacts the strongest to Zuko. This isn't just about Aang–this was about his personal betrayal of HER. Or, it could be read that way.

        • Emily2 says:

          I think this was more the moment when Katara sets her priorities and makes her choice. Katara and Zuko could work – they've both experienced family trauma in their formative years and retain some anger over it, and both refuse to give up in situations where the odds seem hopeless. They could have used these shared strengths and experiences to form a strong emotional bond.

          Instead, Katara declares that if Zuko threatens Aang in any way, she will BREAK him. She's already made her choice.

          • MichelleZB says:

            Well, if you think of it as a choice. I just think of it as a normal way for her to react. It's not like she can't change her mind about Zuko later. Hypothetically.

      • H. Torrance Griffin says:

        Let us just say that lot of people seem to regard 'Slap-Slap-Kiss' as the default romantic relationship and leave it at that.

        I really should try to track down that essay by Foxbandit though.

  7. chichichimaera says:

    Adorkable Zuko is adorable and hilarious and my favourite flavour of Zuko. Oh Zuzu, karma hates you doesn't it. Sorry about that.

    Sokka gets to prove how awesome he is by working out the perfect angle to hit Combustion Man, just from where he is firing his blasts. One day he will be all grown up and taking on Piandao equal to equal.

    A bit of a backlog of Texts From The Fire Nation so uh, sorry if this is gonna be a little spammy.
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">

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

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

  8. @clodia_risa says:

    "Hello there, Zuko here." CLASSIC.

    This was the episode that all of us were waiting for from halfway through Season 1, and the writers certainly delivered.

  9. Doodle says:

    This episode just hurts my heart =[ Poor Zuko!

    As much as we all know Zuko is now fully on the good side, the last time Team Avatar saw him, he teamed up with Azula and tried to capture/kill them in Ba Sing Se. As far as they know, he's still the villain and is just using some new trickery to capture Aang. Luckily, it ended up being a GOOD thing he hired Combustion Man, because it gave him a perfect opportunity to prove his loyalty! Hurray!

    Also, the first smidgeon of Avatar I ever saw was in a future episode, when Zuko was with Team Avatar, so I always knew he would end up on their side. Then, when I watched the show in order with my boyfriend, every time they interacted I was like IS THIS WHEN HE JOINS THEM?!?!?!?! and had practically given up hope and thought I imagined it by the time it actually happened. Oh, writers, you are awesome.

    -Combustion Man is still scary as shit…thank goodness for Sokka's boomerang skills!

    -Zuko practicing to the toad and getting angry at its lack of response is hilarious

    -As are his impressions of Iroh and Azula


    -Zuko's new outfit is sweet.

    • chichichimaera says:

      Yeah, I too was totally spoiled for that fact, as if was some intriguing fanfiction that actually got me to watch the show in the first place. I felt like I had been totally punked by the writers at the end of S2, lol.

    • Mauve_Avenger says:

      I only started watching the show when Mark did, and Zuko's coming over to the Avatar's side was pretty much the only thing I'd known beforehand, aside from a very basic understanding of the premise. I found out because of the criticisms of the movie; it was argued somewhere (maybe that even if they did have to cast all their villains as pretty much the only non-white people in the movie, they at least could have made their portrayal of Dev Patel's Prince Zuko a lot more nuanced, since he's not an evil kid, and he comes over to the right side eventually.

  10. Kaci says:

    This episode is one of my favorites. There is nothing better than Zuko talking to the frog, impersonating Iroh and Azula, and in general being the failiest firebender ever to fail. It's precious.

  11. kartikeya200 says:

    <img src=""&gt;

    I don't have much art for this episode, and Mark said preeeetty much everything I might have, so!

    I mostly remember this episode as The One In Which Zuko Is Really Bad At Being Good. And he's such an endearing, awkward dork about it too. Oh Zuko. You do try hard.

    <img src=""&gt;

    I seem to remember Katara getting a huge amount of flack for her attitude toward Zuko here. Oh Fandom, you are not surprising.

    But no, seriously, Katara has every single right in the world to be pissed off at Zuko. She trusted him, she opened herself up just a little bit, made herself vulnerable, and he not only stabbed her right in the back for it, his actions led to Aang temporarily dying and the fall of of Ba Sing Se. You could even argue that the invasion might well have been successful, because if Zuko hadn't joined Azula there, Azula might well have been defeated before she could warn the Fire Nation about the Day of Black Sun. And even if she had managed to escape, they'd certainly have had a much, much bigger force on their side.

    <img src=""&gt;

    I kind've love how Appa just sits there licking Zuko throughout that entire argument.

    Oh, and Zuko's impressions are THE BEST. The end.

    <img src=""&gt;

    For the Western Air Temple, the designers referenced the roof styles of Bhutanese monasteries. In order to make this Air Temple location unique from the others, but equally as difficult to access, Bryan had the idea that the temples hung upside down from the cliffs.

    • Evil Midnight Lurker says:




      • @redbeardjim says:


      • Elexus Calcearius says:

        It rains in the right direction, but they're under cliffs, so they don't need to worry about it getting wet, anyway. (Although, living in a tropical climate, I am beginning to wonder about what happens in typhoon style winds….)

    • Rickard says:

      I don't really agree. Yes, she has the right to be pissed, yes.

      "She trusted him, she opened herself up just a little bit, made herself vulnerable, and he not only stabbed her right in the back for it, his actions led to Aang temporarily dying and the fall of of Ba Sing Se."

      Zuko didn't stab anyone in the back, SHE expected him to do that very thing to his entire country, just because they shared a story. Heck, what would your reaction be if Katara suddenly switched sides to the Fire Nation just because Zuko shared something of her story? That's basically what Katara assumed Zuko would do.

      Katara is trusting, yes. To a fault. AND she's self-righteous.

      Yes, she has a right to be angry because of the consequences, but believing Zuko would change sides just cause she thought he would doesn't make him a backstabber. It makes her a fool.

    • Rickard says:

      Also, the really ugly act where she waterbends right into his face.

      It's basically the equivalent of me kicking a guy in the face while he's defenseless.

  12. hallowsnothorcruxes says:

    Off topic

    Last days on the set of DH part 2

    <img src=" "/>

    It starts at about 30 seconds in and ends at 3 minutes.
    [youtube YLfVjnjJ-q0 youtube]

    • NopeJustMe says:


      Who here is going to the midnight viewing on the 14-15 of July? Because I've already got my ticket 😀

      I finished school this year too. Really feel like my childhood is over you guys :/

      • lossthief says:

        My friends and I are all going to the midnight release here. We have already planned out that when the movie ends we're going to hold up our wands and shout "Mischief Managed!"

        • Emily2 says:

          My local theater's doing a double feature with Deathly Hallows Part 1 starting at 9 and Part 2 at midnight. I am so there.

      • qwopisinthemailbox says:

        going to the midnight showing with SO MANY of my friends. i'm going to try and memorize the song 'going back to hogwarts' from AVPM and start singing it at the end. OR PLAY IT REALLY LOUD IDK.

    • shirtninjas says:


      I've had my midnight tickets for about a month, lol. I am NOT missing it for the world.

  13. dragonsong12 says:

    Seriously one of my favorite episodes of the entire series.
    I kind of love the awkwardness, it's kind of adorable. His impersonations of Iroh and Azula were fantastic. It's kind of great to see Zuko acting like just a normal guy rather than trying to live up to the ideal of his father. And the fact that he's so bad at it is even more hilarious.

    I'm glad for the bit with Katara at the end as well. As much as I wanted everyone to get along right away, I loved that past actions had consequences. THANK YOU WRITERS!

    ((Also, we had a big meal for the 4th, when this went up, my sister made me read it aloud. I tried to express it as was written. Laugh as you imagine it.))

  14. Toph13139 says:

    The Western Air Temple is one of my favorite locations. Man, I would move there. Srsly.

    And also, Mark, did you miss the part of Zuko's impersonations? Because I was actually looking forward to read your thoughts about those. Not Zuko's reunion with the gaang, not Zuko JOINING the gaang, not all the awesomeness of the episode. The impersonations.

    This is basically what all the Avatar fandom waited for and fantasized about for three years. I mean it. The amount of speculations and fanfictions (oh god the fanfiction), it was brutal and overwhelming. It got even worse once it actually happened and some were disappointed, let me tell you. My only Avatar watching friend, Daniel, is one of those people. He knew it would happen but didn't like that the general rejection felt like High School's popular kids rejecting Timmy Turner to sit with them.

    • H. Torrance Griffin says:

      I did find it vaguely annoying that so many projected high-school relationships/cliques onto the story and it's cast. Understandable to some degree but still annoying.

      • Elexus Calcearius says:

        I know what you mean…despite the teenager thing, their lives are so utterly different, with waaay more complexities than a High School setting. I mean, in High School, most of the conflict comes from pretty inconsequential things (although there are exceptions, of course) whereas most of the conflict here comes from debates about morality and fleeing for your lives. Bit of difference.

  15. herpestidae says:

    [youtube gnIa1-dzmoE youtube]

    I wish I had more to add…

  16. Tauriel_ says:

    W00t! Zuko has joined Team Avatar and I can finally post this pic of mine:

    <img src=""&gt;

    (Feel free to add comments /end shameless self-promotion 😀 )

  17. irrelevanttroubadour says:

    It's not a toad, it's a BADGERtoad!

    seriously the hybrid animals are my favorite thing about this show

  18. licoricepencil says:

    I would like to point out another parallel here, to when Team Avatar met Jet again in Ba Sing Se. Katara also had a really hard time trusting Jet the second time around because he betrayed her trust back when she first met him. In fact, she attacked him when he offered to help the gAang find Appa. That little piece of characterization continues here with Zuko. She had offered to help him back in "Crossroads of Destiny," but he ended up siding with Azula in the battle.

    So, once again, we have Katara threatening an attack if Zuko betrays them.

  19. chichichimaera says:

    Oh, and I can also post this video now! (Skip the first 10 seconds, they're just the vidder's intro or something.)
    [youtube 0afUlKMl4Gk&feature=view_all&list=PL9CC5E62FE4404622&index=132 youtube]

    (Previews at the end should not have spoiler-y pics, but the videos themselves are spoilery if you click on them.)

    • Narrative Priorities says:

      Okay, that was pretty damn apt.

      Thanks for the link! I hadn't seen this one before!

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      Oh, here's another I find really fitting (checked; no spoilers):

      [youtube 4bndPisKcZQ youtube]

      "Deception….disgrace….evil as plain as the scar on his face." Seriously, if I didn't know the movie, I'd think the song was written for Zuzu.

      • qwopisinthemailbox says:

        oh my…..<3

      • zee says:

        oh my goodness

        I was a big part of the Lion King fandom back in the day, I remember all the hype leading up to Simba's Pride–turned out to be a huge disappointment in most areas, but this song was amazing and gave me chills every time I heard it. I haven't even thought about it in years but turns out it STILL has that ability. And it fits poor Zuko's experience perfectly…that scene of Azula's face fading into Katara's oh God why is a compilation of clips of a show I've seen a million times getting to me like this.

  20. Amira says:

    You know, I'm glad you touched upon the issue of the Gaang not be openly welcoming to Zuko at first. Parts pf the fandom actually hated on Katara for a while after this episode aired because she didn't welcome Zuko with open arms. It to me was more believable that they didn't, especially her. He had done things to hurt them. He had hunted them. And I'm sure with Katara the thing that kept running through her mind was her thinking Zuko had changed in Crossroads of Destiny only to end up holding a lifeless Aang while he and Azula advanced on her, preparing to take them prisoner. And I'm sure that was at the base of her threat to him at the end of the episode.

    Katara: "…So let me tell you something right now. You make one step backward, one slip-up, give me one reason to think you might hurt Aang… and you won't have to worry about your destiny anymore. Because I'll make sure your destiny ends right then and there… permanently."

    She got a lot of flack for that. But I think it was a great way to show that not everyone was just going to go "YAY! Zuko's here!" She had opened up to Zuko about the Fire Nation taking her mother from her. And then a short time later Zuko helps Azula to nearly take someone else she loves from her. That was not going to be something she was going to forget. She almost lost Aang once in part because of what happened in the crystal caves. She wasn't going to let anything like that happen again.

    About Aang's avoidance of dealing with finding a firebending master and dealing with the Fire Lord – yes, he slipped into some old patterns. But I also think that Aang was excited to be there. Excited to show off places that were important to his people and to his childhood. I think he wanted to share those things with his friends and enjoy being in his familiar surroundings because the opportunities to do so are few and far between.

    • Amira says:

      This episode had IMO some nice animation. The part where Aang was flying on his glider made me smile. It was like his spirit had not been diminished by recent events.

    • FlameRaven says:

      Oh, Katara's actions here are definitely understandable. The girl can hold a grudge, and she does not forgive easily after a betrayal. I think it's totally in her character to treat Zuko this way, and even so, I still flinch every time I see that scene.

      Then again, Zuko is so adorable here that I pretty much just want to give him a hug and some encouraging words and bring him turtleducks to play with.

      • Amira says:

        See I'm glad she did and I think Zuko should have been on the receiving end of at least one person's anger. Zuko did things to her and to Aang and he should have consequences from that.

        LOL…I find him entertaining in this episode but that's about it. I'm not into Zuko as a character. Aang for me is more adorable and heartwarming.

  21. Sarah says:

    but have to say Zuko is adorable and I love the similarities in katara’s warning to Zuko and roku’s warning to sozin.
    Idk, they just kind of sounded similar.

    • Avit says:

      Does anyone have the exact quote for Sozin's warning? It's been a while for me.

      • Sarah says:

        Roku: I’m letting you go, Sozin. I’m letting you go as a tribute to our past friendship, but I warn you: one more step out of line will result in your permanent end.

        Okay I guess they are similar, in wording at least. glad I wasn’t makin stuff up :’D

        • Avit says:

          Cool, thanks. Yeah, you're right, they're pretty similar. Only difference is, Katara hasn't got a past friendship to hold her back should Zuko try anything…

    • tigerpetals says:

      That's an interesting thought.

    • monkeybutter says:

      I was hoping someone would mention that! I really only noticed it upon rewatching, but it adds another layer about trust, and relationships carrying over generations to "The Avatar and the Firelord." Roku and Sozin have a much deeper relationship than Katara and Zuko, but there was still a moment of confrontation, hope that things had changed, and betrayal. It's exciting to see how Zuko's last chance will unfold.

  22. TreesaX says:

    That look on Zuko's face before he said, "Hello, Zuko here." Haha I DIED. SO AWKWARD AND ADORABLE. And the rest of his speech sounding like a mix of a job interview and talking to a boy/girl you like. OMG ZUKO LOVE YOU FOREVER. <33

    I'm an admitted Zutara fan, so the last scene hurt my heart a little, but I understood. I'd like to think I'm not one of the crazies that thought every moment they shared had some romantic/sexual tension underneath it. And I completely understood Katara's hesitance.

  23. Narrative Priorities says:

    Well, since we're all linking to silly things..!

    I made this for an ATLA "fan panel" that Nick Magazine ran at New York Comic Con back in 2008 — it's a compilation of various comedy vids that other folks submitted. Spoilers up to "Day of Black Sun," so technically I could have posted this Friday?


    [youtube YcuQY9yOz2A youtube]

    • Emily2 says:

      I love this video! Thanks for sharing!

      PS. I was at NYCC in '08 before I was an Avatar fan, and I remember being impressed by the number of people walking around in costumes I recognized from the show I'd never seen.

    • qwopisinthemailbox says:


  24. herpestidae says:

    Wait, I do have something to add!

    Warning: The following image is long(as in really tall). It is a satirical documentation of the fandom reaction, and may be considered sexist by… everyone. But that's kind of the point.

    • herpestidae says:

      Warning for use of slurs

      [mod edit – removed embed, link to picture here]

      • Tauriel_ says:

        Brilliant pic. XD

        Shows a nice mirror to the fandom's hate and vitriol. Yeah, it uses sexist language – but it's in order to prove a very good point.

        Bravo, Booter-Freak. *standing ovation*

      • echinodermata says:

        …yeah, this makes me extremely uncomfortable with its use of misogynistic slurs. Basically, seconding Avit's comments on this, and given I know I'm not alone in being uncomfortable with this, I've removed the embed and added a warning for the language.

      • … I'm not seeing the hilarity tbh.

        • breesquared says:

          I think the humor is in how easily thrwarted the sexist/outlandish arguments against Katara's character are. The satire could've been acheived without so much of the slurs (not the deftest of hands), but I think there's humor in the mockery of the people who used it seriously.

          • Oh, yeah, I get how it's supposed to funny, haha.

            It's just … not, really.

          • Elexus Calcearius says:

            Having been there for all of this, I understand that the maker of the comment, BooterFreak, wasn't actually using the slurs in way that showed she at all agreeed with the sentiments or usage of a term, but was rather giving a satirical look at how fandom uses them, so its somewhat forgiven by me. Do I like the term? No. Would I preferred if she didn't use them? Yes. But at the same time I understand how this was merely to point out the inconsistencies in anti-Katarers arguments.

      • tigerpetals says:

        Oh, I'd seen that before and wondered if it was by her. I wanted to link it in my previous post here.The punchline is great. I love it, despite that I agree that cunt shouldn't be used as a slur, not even for an asshole.

        Now there's only one left I wanted to link, an open letter from Zuko to the fans about their response to him; I think it was purported to be in the scroll he left on Mai's bed.

      • notemily says:

        What is weird to me is that the artist bothered to censor "f*cking" at the end.

      • herpestidae says:

        Okay, here we go.

        I tend to do this thing where I don't think about what I'm doing. Sometimes it works out. And sometimes (like right now) it doesn't.

        But I'm not making excuses here.

        I screwed up. I should have known better than to post it as an image.

        I offended people. I assumed that everyone would "get" what I "got," and see past the words that were used to the heart of the piece.

        And I am sorry. This site is meant to be a "safe" corner of the internet, and I have disrupted that safety. I can do nothing but humbly beg the forgiveness of everyone.

        If anyone needs me I'll be in the corner choking on my own foot.

    • Avit says:

      Erm… could you warn for the language specifically, please? There's the daily grind of misogyny, which many people have come to expect, and then there's the violence virulence of certain words and images. Not exactly the greatest thing to come flashing across one's screen.

    • Avit says:

      Not to mention that it makes no examination or critique of the sexism (and ciscentrism) in the derogatory use of the word itself — it unquestioningly accepts the negativity and seeks only to defend Katara against the accusation.

    • @Ahavah22 says:

      I hate misogynistic slurs, but that was hysterical!

      And, oh my gosh, fanart of Zuko as Hachi from NANA!!! Wow. Just never thought I'd see that!

      The context, too: Mean Dad + Mean Sis + Crappy Life + Overcoming it all (pic of Zuko taking Dad's lightning and sending it back)= Too delicate for your 'tude! (pic of Zuko as Hachi/Nana Kometsu) LOL!

    • "oh noez it uses words that describe women's parts but it's okay that we call zuko a dick right?"

      I laughed really fucking hard. thanks for sharing this.

      • Avit says:

        …you are being sarcastic, right?

      • Time-Machine says:

        "oh noez it uses words that describe women's parts but it's okay that we call zuko a dick right?"

        I am really fucking sick of people making this argument. You know why? In application to me and most of my feminist friends it's a straw argument. Because I don't think it's okay to call anyone a dick. "Dick" is a gendered insult, and perpetuates stereotypes about gender along with promoting genital-essentialism. We are not our body parts, and our body parts don't say anything inherent about us except that we have them. Your genitals don't even determine what gender you are, let alone anything else about you. And there is nothing inherently mean or aggressive about penises anymore so than there is anything inherently inferior, submissive, or dirty about vaginas.

        But even if you were talking to someone who did (wrongly) use "dick" as an insult but (rightly) acknowledged that "pussy" and "cunt" are NOT OKAY. It doesn't mean they were wrong about the word pussy, and it doesn't suddenly make that insult appropriate. It means they're wrongly using "dick".

        Saying "you did one bad thing therefor it's okay for me to do EVEN MORE BAD THINGS" is immature and harmful. Along with being vile and incredibly self-entitled. Two wrongs don't make a right.

        • witchylana says:

          I apologize in advance for my rambling, disjointed thoughts…

          The whole resorting to calling people/things genitals is odd. It's body parts – body parts aren't bad.
          I mean – If you're male* and you call someone a "dick" as a slur – does that mean you see *your* penis as a bad thing? If you thought that penii are awesome – then wouldn't you use the word in a positive light?

          *gender/genital arrangement is a very personal thing – this was just the first example that popped into my mind.

          Hating yourself is A Bad Thing.

          I've been trying to get this concept through to my Husband (though he has been generally pretty good about it since I told him it bothers me – but he does slip-up from time to time) – by interrupting him and yelling "NOSTRIL" or "KIDNEY" or some-such as a replacement for whatever distasteful thing he was going to utter. Because I'm ridiculous.

          I may have to add "Throatal Flap" to my vocab…

      • echinodermata says:

        The history of oppression is such that a misogynistic slur has more power and insult tied to it than insults tied to "maleness"/"masculinity."

        Is it wrong to use "dick" as an insult? Yes (I've used it in the past and still do sometimes use it, but I'm working on it). But "dick" as an insult is not equivalent to a misogynistic slur, especially the one in question. Hell, many people use Dick as a nickname for Richard. So the "level" of insult isn't the same.

        As was said over and over in that one 'Jesus take the wheel' thread, oppressiveness is not the same as offensiveness.

  25. Mauve_Avenger says:

    Can we get some Teo appreciation? I mean, he only has a few lines, but one of them is this:

    "I wanna ride that tunnel down to the Hall of Statues again! It'll work a lot better now that I fixed my brakes."

    Also I love how Sokka modulates his voice when he's taking Zuko to his room in the temple. It's so soft and very Host-to-a-Person-You've-Never-Met-Before and oh my god it's so so awkward. And then he meets Aang in the hall outside and his voice is completely back to normal.

    • Ayala says:

      Teo appreciation forever! Dude probably crashed into a wall or something and his head is bandaged, but look at all the fucks he gives! He's all like, "LOL w/e time for round two! :D"

  26. @Ahavah22 says:

    I *LOVE* this episode!
    "Hi! Zuko here!"

    -Zuko's resume! It's really like he's applying for a job: "You've seen my skills. You know, when I was attacking you…yeah, I guess I should apologize for that…"

    -Zuko impersonating Azula and Iroh -"Even when I'm speaking for him, I still can't figure out what he means!"

    -Zuko accidently burning Toph's feet makes me so sad. 🙁

    -Sokka "In a lifetime of evil, at least he didn't add animal cruelty to the list!" (Mike & Bryan were afraid this would majorly offend animal lovers and discount the Genesis Award that they'd won).

    -Indiana Jones!Zuko!!!!

    – Sokka: "Boomerang! boomerang [/dejected]"

    RIP Sparky-Sparky Boom Man. You will be remembered for your personable personality and your communication skills! 😛

    Katara: Because Ursa wasn't the only Mama Bear on this show. She's Team Mama Bear!!

    Now that Zuko's finally joined the Gaang, let the fun begin!

  27. redbeardjim says:

    This is a good time to link to a couple of my favorite post-"Western Air Temple" fanfics:

    Male Bonding — rather silly
    Lessons in Thin Air — rather less so

  28. TreesaX says:

    Also, Sokka's "Hey what about me, I did the boomerang thing." moment was glorious as well.

    <img src=""&gt;

  29. fantasylover120 says:

    I just love that part of the Western Air Temple is upside down. Nice one Air Nomads. You guys get all the internets for creative temples.

  30. Violets are Blue says:

    This is where Zuko's status as 'adorkable' came into light.

    That and the Badgertoad. ALL GLORY TO THE BADGERTOAD!

  31. Robin says:

    There is just something about Zuko's delivery of "Well, that's not his name …" that cracks me up every time I hear it.

  32. EmD says:

    Katara's darkness.

    It's refreshing when ti shows up considering she's so damn perfect most of the time. Makes her a better character.

  33. Amira says:

    This episode is probably one of the few where I actually like Zuko. I'm just not a Zuko fan. But in this episode he was amusing and enjoyable.

  34. notemily says:

    OMG. ZUKO FLASHBACK POST-BANISHMENT. And then he's like *facepalm* haha. I love how we get Zuko calling Iroh "laziest man in the Fire Nation," because it's such a contrast to how we've just seen that Iroh BROKE OUT OF PRISON WITH HIS BARE HANDS.

    "Where am I supposed to get a fire-bending teacher?" MAYBE THERE IS ONE HANGING OUT NEARBY AANG. YOU SHOULD CHECK.

    I like how we still see hints of the old frustrated Zuko here. He's not Happy Shiny Zuko anymore, like he was at the end of S2. Because this time it's real.

    "Zuko… you have to look within yourself… to save yourself from your other self. Only then will your true self reveal itself." NO ZUKO I THINK YOU ARE EXCELLENT AT IMPERSONATIONS.

    GIANT PAI SHO TABLE omg Iroh would have loved that. I wonder if he stole a giant white lotus tile.


    "IT'S MY THROATAL FLAP!" I believe you Sokka.

    I kinda love Sokka carrying Toph around after her feet get burned. I know he's got a thing for Suki, but Toph's crush on him is adorable and I'd like to see it explored more.

    The Western Air Temple is really gorgeous and I want to spend some time there please.


    I'm kind of looking forward to seeing Toph's revenge on Zuko. Also, I like that even after he burns her feet, she still tries to defend him to the group. She knows it was an accident and doesn't immediately discount him for it.

    Katara at the end is… interesting. She tries so hard not to hurt people, and was so resistant to using bloodbending just a few episodes ago, but here she actually threatens to KILL Zuko. She's known as the Team Mom, and I think she's also got a Mama Bear aspect to her–threaten one of her "kids" and she will END YOU. She also, I think, holds grudges for a long time (as we saw with Jet), but this overtly violent side of her is one we haven't seen before.

    In conclusion, Zukooooooooooooooooo ILU WILL YOU BE MY FIREBENDING BOYFRIEND

    • @redbeardjim says:

      I don't think Katara has ever been depicted as particularly reluctant to hurt people, if she feels they deserve it. She's been bad-tempered and violent since episode 1.

  35. tigerpetals says:

    First, I thought Appa looked so cool in his armor. Then I realized, poor Appa. He must be boiling under it. Yet he is so gentle and forbearing about it.

    Lol at interviewee Zuko. Or public speaking at a comedy club Zuko, which is my first impression. Also reminded me that there's a fic where Azula was going to kill her father, it was discovered, and she went to join the group. It' was pretty unsettling.

    There are actually other characters in other series that Katara's and Sokka's responses apply to really well. I think this is one of the few series I can remember where I think a believable redemption storyline is being given to a genuinely good character whose made mistakes. Others fail in at least one of the characteristics mantioned above. I'm also including fandom when I talk about redemption of characters.

    I think if they believed Zuko was out to hurt them, they shouldn't have tried to drive him away, considering he knows their location. It would have made more sense to take him prisoner like he offered, or kill him.

    Edited to add: continued in next comment.

    • tigerpetals says:

      Toph's being pretty rational here, adult and pragmatic (not that the others are being childish, though they aren't being pragmatic). Even when he burns her, she only hits him because she knows she can't trust him by being in his company alone and almost helpless, not because she assumes he was trying to attack her.

      Weirdly, I find Zuko's flailing funny. Usually I feel secondhand embarassment for characters, but here I shake with laughter.

      I like that Katara's the one who threatens him. Aside from Aang who is his double, she was the first person in the group to think well of him. Like with Jet, a bit. Well not the same thing and I don't know who the first to like Jet was, but the point is she reacted the most ruthlessly with Jet also. I also just like this side of her: it complements her general kindness and compassion without seeming out of nowhere. In fact I think it's not even a different side of her personality, necessarily. It's all one fluid ball, reflecting different colors in the light.


  36. LoonyLu says:

    "Ugh! Why am I so bad at being good."

    Zuko's character in a nutshell.

  37. sam says:

    katara/sass = otp.

  38. fizzybomb says:

    Alright, now I can post this!

    <img src=""&gt;


    I posted another picture by this artist a while back, Katara's Plan B, and mentioned that his account was no longer up. Well, for anyone who was interested, he's back with a new one, as you can see, and reposting most of his stuff.

  39. Lariren says:


    I also love how the writers deal with the extra people who aren't the main characters: they get to explore the temple. That's it. Written out.

    I love the flashback because it adds to how long both Iroh (STOP CALLING YOUR UNCLE NAMES ZUKO) and Zuko have been suffering and what this means to Zuko.

    The last part of the episode is amazing. Seriously Katara holds grudges like its her job.

  40. Tilja says:

    You forgot to mention Zuko's impersonations, they're one of the most hilarious things of the entire episode, only beaten by Zuko's monologues to the badgerfrog. Honestly, that toad is Zuko's only unconditional friend; it's never afraid of his tantrums, or his anger, or his fire lashing outs. V guvax gung onqtresebt jnf va gur cybg jvgu Mhxb nyy nybat gb znxr Nnat genva jura ur jnfa'g gurer. Ur zhfg'ir neenatrq nyy bs vg jvgu gur onqtresebt'f pbafrag jura ur jebgr gur yrggre.

    Now we've come to the point I've been waiting for ever since your predictions for this season. I couldn't write this before because it'd given you ideas. But now is fine to do so because we're there. Have you noticed the ages of the protagonists and main antagonists in this show? This is a children's show, the members of Team Avatar (official name thanks to Sokka, bless his naming ability) are children. The avatar is a child; the first enemy Aang faced was another boy, Zuko. When Zuko was removed from the chase came his also teenage sister, Azula, with her teenage friends. Given all this setting with children for being a children's show, what made you think that Aang would have an adult firebender master as part of his team? Aang had temporary and fixed master benders as his teachers. The "old people" whom he asked to teach him were all temporary teachers (Bumi -though he didn't actually teach any moves to Aang-, Paku, Jeong Jeong; he didn't ask Iroh but he's also of the old people), and in the end his main teachers are all young people (Katara, Toph, and now Zuko). This is something I've been dying to mention ever since Book of Earth, since Toph joined the team, because you never once seemed to consciously notice that all of the members of the team so far were children. You kept mentioning how this is a children's show, but you never voiced a thought on the fact that is a children's show with children as protagonists, so maybe all the avatar's masters would be children as well. It's like the link was never made in your mind, even though I know you noticed this. I still found it odd you never made a prediction on this specific point of age, given the ages of the rest of the team.

    I just needed to get this off my chest.

  41. jubilantia says:

    GOD this episode is made of rainbows and puppies and unicorns and lollipops

    I mean, it is also extreeeemely awkward with awesome character development, but it's just wonderful to see Zuko so realistically vulnerable. Lots of times these types of moments- if they are present at all- are played for stupid laughs in TV shows, but here they take it seriously enough that you can actually imagine a real person going through the scenario. Well, apart from the firebending and royalty and all.

    And again, stupendously satisfying to us viewers, and then even more satisfying to finally see you enjoy it. You can imagine our chagrin waiting for you to get to this point as you're all WHY CAN'T EVERYONE HOLD HANDS AND SING KUMBAYAH. Which, I guess they aren't there yet, but Zuko's come so far that they might as well be.

    Also yeah boomerang! I love you Sokka. So, so much. And I love that Toph is the voice of reason in the group. Like you said, they have legitimate bones to pick with Zuko, but sometimes you need a level-headed, relatively partial person in there to smooth things over.

  42. my reaction to this whole episode was basically


  43. My love for that flashback sequence with Zuko and Iroh knows no bounds.


  44. enigmaticagentscully says:

    Oh Zuko. Whatever Katara, I am so happy right now! Zuko is gonna add a whole new dynamic to the group and I am SOOO looking forward to tomorrow's episode to see how everyone handles this!


    Also, strange revelation – non angry Zuko is totally adorkable and kind of hilarious? I felt like we saw flashes of that when he was in Iroh's tea shop in Ba Sing Se, going on a date with that girl (I forget her name) and making up a whole story about being in the circus (lol favourite moment of the series – Zuko trying to juggle) and lighting the lanterns for her and all.
    I'm hoping now we'll see that transformation completed and he'll go back to being that sweet, kind of awkward teenager. I mean, he REALLY seems to have resolved his anger issues in this episode!

    No Iroh though. I miss Iroh terribly. :(:(:(

  45. Sarabunny says:

    The creators say in the commentary that this episode's working title was "Zuko's Cool." I love everything about that.

  46. Ravenclaw42 says:

    I don't really have anything to add – there are episodes with deeper themes, more intense fights, prettier animation, funnier jokes, and more character development, but when I try to think of my favorite episode of Avatar, it always comes out The Western Air Temple. Maybe because, after two and a half seasons of intense and nuanced character buildup, Zuko finally joining the team is just incredibly cathartic. I've watched this episode more than any other, just because it makes me giggle and flail endlessly.

    Also, best unintentional birthday present ever! I realized about a week ago that you would be getting to my favorite ep on my birthday, and I have been super excited about it ever since! 😀 😀 😀

    And I can finally share this, which I made immediately after this episode aired! "Hello. Zuko here."
    <img src=""&gt;
    …I have no defense, except that I like doing miniature crafts and I couldn't think of anything better to do with an old Barbie?

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      I was looking at that thinking; he looks really feminine there…is that a Barbie? And it is, and it is awesome. Best way to twist a Barbie around that I can think of!

      • Ravenclaw42 says:

        It is a Barbie, chest sanded flat with a Dremel rotary tool. Unfortunately there isn't any middle ground between willowy Barbie and Hulk Ken, and certainly not a lot of ethnic options. There's only one Asian "friend of Barbie," and whenever I see one in a thrift bin or something I always buy it. She's also the only Barbie I've ever seen with a close-mouthed smile. A giant, blinding Barbie grin on Zuko would be really creepy…

        And thanks! Clearly I had too much time on my hands when I decided this was a good idea. XD

        • witchylana says:

          I was going to ask if you'd modded the torso, don't need to now. 😀
          I'm making a Barbie-sized dolly myself. My 9yr old insisted that I make him Zuko (she had to *really* twist my arm…)

          • Ravenclaw42 says:

            Oh, wow! The sculpting is beautiful, especially the scar! My sculpture-fu is weak; all I can do is give Barbie a mastectomy. 😀 Sewing is one of my craft loves, so I started with costumes and ended up modding dolls to match them.

    • notemily says:

      BARBIE ZUKO. I love it!

    • monkeybutter says:

      Your Barbie Zuko is awesome, and happy birthday!

  47. NopeJustMe says:

    I can't really say anything that someone else hasn't already said.

    Except for that this episode has made me realise that Zuko has said 'honour' so much that it's ceased to sound like a word to me 0_o

  48. FlameRaven says:

    "Hello, Zuko here! :D" Zuko you are awkward and adorable and I love you forever. Seriously, this episode I just want to give him a hug.

    Although personally I always kind of wondered what he was thinking, offering himself up as a prisoner. I guess I understand the intent behind it, but… what was that actually going to accomplish, Zuko? What if they'd taken you up on it? Ah, well, maybe Toph would have been able to talk them around. It would be interesting to see a fic on that. (By which I mean, if someone has written this, please link me.)

    Anyway! I can't contribute much, but I did watch this on DVD over the weekend, and there is a creator's commentary track for this episode.

    Points they made:

    -The creators commented that the working title for this episode for a long time was "Zuko's Cool" or "What About Zuko?" They said that their episode titles kept leaking and so they didn't want an obvious title that would give away Zuko joining the Gaang. Then again, they also noted that the DVD for this one came out before the episode aired, so the titles were all over the internet anyway.

    -They also mentioned that originally they thought about doing a side episode showing us the adventures of the Duke, Teo, and Haru when they were off adventuring in the temple. They joked about it being the pilot episode for a spin-off show all about those three, and then said that eventually they decided it would be better if we never learned exactly what they were doing.

    -There were also some jokes about how M.Night would find this set difficult to make should the 3rd Airbender movie ever get made. "What, there are no upside-down temples in the real world?" "Ah, just build a temple set and hang it upside down from a cliff, throw some child actors in there."

    -They noted that they thought the Western Air Temple was probably built by Earthbenders, because there'd be no other way to manage an upside-down temple.

    -Also, apparently Avatar won some kind of award from the Humane Society for the show before this, because the creators sheepishly admitted they were embarrassed about Sokka's line making light of animal cruelty. "Now we'll never get an award from them again. Sorry, Humane Society. We really did like your award!"

    I can't remember any other points from the commentary, but if you have the DVDs, you should watch it. 🙂

    Finally, this episode spawned many many Zuko/Toph friendship fics, which I enjoyed because they are my platonic OTP. I have no doubt that if he hadn't accidentally burned her feet she would have sat down and talked and told him his tea was terrible and the next day they'd have shown up and Toph would convince the others he was just a harmless dork. It would have been lovely.

  49. bookgal12 says:

    I love the humor in this episode because it's shown by Zuko who rarely shows off his funny bone until his hysterical impressions of Uncle Iroh and Azula. Then there is the phrase, "Hi, Zuko,here." I could not keep a straight face until Katara hit him with the wave of water. Whenever he says that line I cannot help but imagine him as a reporter. "and now we go to Zuko down at the western air temple." "Hi, Zuko, here. As you can see…."

    Moving on, I can understand both Toph's and the rest of the team's arguments in regards to having Zuko join the party. Toph is right about Zuko being the only firebender who can teach Aang and he was sincere in his apology. But, then there is the other side where they can't trust Zuko because of his past actions against Team Avatar. I give Katara some leeway for his threat against him though, although I thought it might have been a bit over the line.

  50. Ridia says:

    I love this episode so much. Back in Tales of Ba Sing Se I mentioned that that was when we learned Zuko's deep, dark secret of being a total dork. This is the episode where the Gaang learns that secret. "Zuko here." Oh, Zuko, honey. He tries so hard. (And IMPRESSIONS. That entire scene may be my very favorite of the whole series, just for sheer adorableness.) I love watching Zuko fail, he's such a master at it.

    I kinda liked that little "Well, that's not his name" bit when they brought up Combustion Man, because of course Zuko probably knows his actual name and has no idea what the group's been calling him. Not that it matters much now, I guess, since he went all 'splodey. And I like that Zuko did not save the day and get the Gaang to trust him that way. Instead, he does just enough that they'll hear him out one more time and it's his *apology* that finally wins him a spot in the group. If he'd just saved the day and they'd welcomed him with open arms it would've been too easy. (Which is also why, much as I love Iroh, I'm glad Zuko had to do this alone. I think it's just one more step in the whole saga of Zuko finding his way — something he has to do himself, without relying on Iroh as a crutch.)

  51. Pelleloguin says:

    Let's all marvel at the holy awkwardness that is Zuko in this episode folks. It's so painful to watch it's hilarious, especially the Azula impression. (Poor guy tries so hard, but he really has no social skills. I can relate.) Really, everything that can be said about this episode has been said, besides this:
    Combustion Man exploded, on a kids show, that aired on Nick: Home of the sea sponge. 0.o People exploding by being hit in the face, blocking their power. You know, for kids! Just makes me love the show more.

  52. Macy says:

    Hi! Zuko here!
    Oh Zuko, you adorkable guy, you. Also, because of this episode, I now only ship Zuko/Appa.

  53. Kylie says:

    I will never get over the phenominal acting in this episode. Dante Basco and Mae Whitman are so fucking talented. When Zuko is begging to be accepted into the group, even as a prisoner, he is so contrite and pleading, it just breaks my heart. And when Katara is telling him that "he won't have to worry about his destiny any more" if he tries anything with Aang, she is so fierce and powerful. It's just… so, so good. Those two moments are possibly my favorites in the whole series, let alone this episode.

  54. brotorious says:

    hey. zuko here.

    you may remember me from such classics as "searching for the avatar," "hunting the avatar," "helping my sister kill the avatar," "failing at all the above," "betraying the man who was like a father to me," "groveling for forgiveness," and the critically acclaimed "the way of tea and failure."

    blame unreasonably high expectations or blame the erratic TV schedule (maybe it was just where i lived, but several weeks in a row, i recorded the "NEW" episodes of avatar, only to find what was labeled avatar was in actuality spongebob), but a lot of peeps in the fandom thought KATARA was being unreasonable. did they just forget that katara, being a character IN the show, never saw "zuko alone" or "lake laogai" the way the audience did? she never saw zuko as anything other than a mortal enemy except for a brief moment in the season 2 finale, during which, he promptly betrayed her trust.

    it made for some great comics though.

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

    i know there's a rule against using the word "kill" in certain contexts. they're able to use it occasionally, but i'm guessing there's special circumstances for that. sometimes you're just threatening to kill a motherfucker, though. katara's threat dances around the word like the motherfucking phoenix flight.

  55. simplefaith08 says:

    Awkward Zuko is awkward. And adorable. Him doing impressions of Azula and Iroh is one of the funniest moments in the show, IMO.

    God, the HATE Katara got after this episode (Katara hate, take a shot!). Which is pretty ironic, considering how pissed off the fandom was at Zuko when he joined Azula in CoD. Katara has every right to be pissed. She practically opened her soul to the guy in Ba Sing Se, and he completely betrayed them. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Not that it isn't painful to watch, since WE know that Zuko is good now, but it was definitely necessary. Also, I remember people going "Yeah, whatever Katara, we're ~so scared~" and I'm like "Son, best respect Katara. She can BEND THE BLOOD IN YOUR FOOL-ASS VEINS."

    Favorite Line: "You hired Combustion Man?!" "Well, that's not his name-" Oh, Zuko. Shine on, you awkward diamond.

    • Strabo says:

      Yes, I never understood why people have a problem with Katara's mistrust of Zuko. She was the first to trust him, would have given the Spirit Water to heal him and five minutes later he betrayed her, killed her friend, joined his sister and removed the Earth Kingdom as element from the war. And now, two months later he comes back and wants people to trust him because "he has changed". How exactly should she or anyone of the group know how and why he has changed, except for his words – the words of a proven liar?
      If anything I'm surprised that the usually very paranoid Sokka so easily accepts Aang's decision to let Zuko join.

      "Son, best respect Katara. She can BEND THE BLOOD IN YOUR FOOL-ASS VEINS."

      No only that, but bending water (ice) bubble over ones head and a few minutes wait would do the trick. Not to mention a few more nasty things one could do with a body that's mostly made of water (even without bending the blood).

      • FlameRaven says:

        Actually, while Azula always lies, I think Zuko has been fairly straightforward every time they've met him. I mean, even their first encounter he is pretty upfront: if the Water Tribe village gives up the Avatar, he'll leave them in peace. Even when Katara encounters him in prison, he's not lying. I mean, we only see a few lines between them (and I haven't seen the episode in forever so I forget the exact dialogue) but I don't recall him straight-out lying to any of them, so he's hardly a "proven liar." And while he was sympathetic in the cave he hardly implied that he was going to give up on the Fire Nation, either.

        • Strabo says:

          From Katara's perspective he lied to her in the cell in Ba Sin Se, pretending he changed and was no longer hunting Aang. Sure, we know it wasn't a lie, since he was indeed not yet sure which way to go, but for her? It was some sob-story for the poor little girl to make her trust him.

  56. beeftony says:

    Time for a fanart spam:

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image Source">

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox Extension">

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox Extension">


  57. Hotaru_hime says:

    But WOW Katara, you sure have changed from that little girl at the South Pole, eh?

  58. viyamusic says:

    When Zuko yells "Why am I so bad at being good?????" I hear the music start and Zuko starts singing "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished" from the musical Wicked in my head canon.

    My sisters and I also figured out that if Zuko was a character in the Sims he would have the Loser trait.

    Oh Zuko, we're so happy to finally see the real you! 🙂

  59. The Western Air Temple is my favorite. I've seen it far too many times and just saying "Hello, Zuko Here." at me will send me into peals of laughter and make everything better.

    Mark, I've been waiting for you to get to this episode since you started watching AtLA and I'm so glad you liked it.

  60. MocataJoy says:

    ACK!!! My favorite episode WOULD get reviewed when I was out doing fourth of July things…. : (

    I had planned to make a picture of Zuko, with Team Avatar, surrounded by puppies, rainbows and cupcakes, but I was out blowing things up in honor of my native land.

    Guess I'll just have to post it tomorrow.

  61. Pelleloguin says:

    The internet ate my comment! So to sum up what was said:
    1. Awkward Zuko! He needs a hug.
    2. Combustion Man blew up, You know, for kids!
    3. Now all we need is for Iroh to find them and we'll have a wonderful party full of rainbows and happiness.

  62. DuskQ says:

    Zuko wants the Gaang to know that he’s considered to be pretty good at firebending. “Well you’ve seen me, when I was attacking you. I guess I should apologize for that…” Oh Zuko and your never-ending awkwardness! “Hello! Zuko here.” You didn’t really say that!

    The score for this show is absolutely amazing. So much work clearly goes into making memorable musical beats and rifts. I never noticed that Iroh has his own theme for instance. I like that the respective themes start playing when Zuko is impersonating his family members. I love that Zuko can’t figure out uncles advice even when it’s his own advice. Similarly, his impression of Azula would have been better if she was still one step a head of him even in his own head. LOL!

    Hence, I liked most of the dialogue, but it would have worked just as well if it happened within a plot. IF this was an episode about being accepted into the group an entire episode about Zuko’s tests of loyalty would have worked better than tacking Combustion Man onto the end. Aang witnessing Zuko trying to stop Combustion Man could have just as easily been a trick. They know Zuko employed him. It’s not that I don’t buy the very realistic outcomes of the episode

    May I say that Sokka gets hilarious dialogue in this episode, but I don’t trust this flipping back and forth over whether or not Sokka is smart. “Get him to come back and say he’s our prisoner. Then we’ll jump him and really make him our prisoner. He’ll never suspect it!” – “You are a master of surprise Sokka.” But Sokka IS a great strategist. He’s only ever an idiot when we need the comedic relief, and it doesn’t mesh with his better character. I preferred stuff like that conversation about a wart…

    “Sokka I looked at it and told you that there was nothing there.”– “I could feel it! It’s my throat hole flap!”

    Is anyone sure why Combustion Man continues to attack if Zuko isn’t employing him further? Here was a perfect chance to make a force of nature a character with motivation. I never felt impressed or frightened of this guy, only increasingly confused. He seemed too unthinking. How did he get this third eye in a world where firebending seems so monolithic? And doesn’t he have any sense of self-preservation? The whole temple was likely to come down at any second the way he was haphazardly firing. Finally, I can’t figure out how Combustion Man blew up when we’ve seen his third eye hit perfectly centered before. He survived then. If it had just been that the temple collapsed with him still on it, I may have believed it.

    “I can’t help but think that Zuko channels a bit of his uncle here, speaking plainly and honestly about his past transgressions, giving a sincere apology, and telling Toph that he will be as careful as he can about fire bending so that he does not unintentionally harm someone again. It’s this last bit that triggers Aang’s memory of harming Katara during “The Deserter.” They now share a direct parallel in their past, and Aang is ready to accept Zuko as his teacher. (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)”

    I truly appreciate the call back to The Deserter, too. Aang has always been intentional about people he chooses to guide him in his mastery of the elements. Toph was chosen because she waited and listened to the Earth. Likewise, Aang chose Zuko for his promise to be more intentional and careful with his firebending. Also, I love that Zuko was more excited than ever before when they accept him, but the group doesn’t return his excitement with fanfare. They just walk off without a second thought. This was realistic.

    • DuskQ says:

      The animators are so talented at deciphering the right emotion! It’s even more impressive when you know that most don’t speak English. They have to translate so much to paper upon receiving the voice recordings. Like when Zuko reminisces towards the end of the episode, he looks truly sad next to his uncle. It was a great choice of expression on the animator’s part to show that Zuko is actually hurting as opposed to determined. The latter emotion would match the statement that actually comes out of his mouth, but the impact of watching him look down and miserable was so much more powerful. He’s come so far. In the flashback he talks about knowing his destiny is to capture the Avatar. Three short years later, his destiny is to help the Avatar “restore balance to the world.” How poetic!

      At the end of Crossroads of Destiny I was secretly hoping that Zuko wouldn’t defect. He didn’t have any of his own reasons for turning. Thus, I was neither upset nor shocked that he betrayed Team Avatar. Here I know how far Zuko has come. Thus, the impact of watching Katara threaten his life was underwhelming for me. I think it has something to do with the fact that I know that he won’t mess up again. Also, I know Katara is protective of Aang and probably angry at herself for nearly using that Spirit Water up on plastic surgery. Still, I seriously doubt that she would harm Zuko on the slightest whiff of betrayal without some confirmation. Therefore, the likelihood that her threat will come to fruition feels slim to none. Creating this into some sort of cliff-hanger was really weak. I might have been more interested if all of that showdown was saved for a later episode where the tension between her and Zuko was cumulating into something destructive in the group.

      Notable quotes:

      “I’m beginning to wonder who really is the blind one around here.”

      “I wanna’ ride that tunnel down to the statues again! It’ll work a lot better now that I fixed my breaks.”

      Ribbet! Dejectedly, “Yeah. That’s what I’d say too.”

  63. qwopisinthemailbox says:

    OH ZUKO. YOU ADORABLE THING YOU. you need ALL the hugs. all of them. (whoa, reading too much Hometsuck)

  64. ComputerizedWoman says:

    Dorky Zuko is dorky. In such a lovable way.

    And yay! The episode that spawned more Toko fans!!

  65. Rickard says:

    A thing that bugs me about this episode is the way they handle Toph's advice. It would be one thing if they actually TRIED to consider it. Really, to me it sometimes just feels like: "Hey Toph, you agree with us! Great. We're BFFs!" and "You don't agree with us? Who gave you the right to speak".

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