Mark Watches ‘Avatar’: S03E15 – The Ember Island Players

In the fifteenth episode of the third season of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Sokka convinces Team Avatar to watch a play that is an adaptation of their lives since discovering Aang. It is not at all what they expected, and then MOST HAWKWARD ENDING EVER. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Avatar.

Once I figured out what sort of format “The Ember Island Players” was going to take, I couldn’t help that my mind went straight to one place: “Hollywood X.” I love the idea of a well-executed re-cap episode, and this specific one not only wove a thread of absurd humor throughout, but it contained multiple meta moments of reflection from the writers. I am going to be an asshole and say that The X-Files did this very same concept (characters within a show watch an adaptation of their lives in another medium, producing wonderfully hilarious results) much better than this one, BUT THIS IS NOT BECAUSE THIS IS BAD. THIS IS BEAUTIFUL AND NOTHING HURTS.

I could already see how people might dislike “The Ember Island Players” purely based on the fact that it’s sandwiched in between the super intense “The Southern Raiders” and the series finale and tonally, it’s a jarring experience. I can admit that. And yet? DON’T CARE. This was a pleasure (though a very awkward one) to witness and even though most of it had me laughing, the few serious moments were necessary character developments before the finale. (CHRIST. THAT IS SO SOON.)

The biggest development of them all, however, is Aang’s confrontration with Katara, where he outright tells her that he likes her more than a friend. As I said in the introduction: HOLY. AWKWARD. I think it’s so shocking not because it’s unrealistic. In hindsight, this was the most natural place for the writers to take these two characters. Given that Katara never rushed to Aang to confirm her feelings for him after the invasion, I’d had a sinking feeling that this was not going to turn out like he’d hoped. And she makes a hell of a good point: Given the political (and emotional) situation they’re currently wrapped up in, how can Aang expect her to sort out her feelings for him in the midst of the war?

SO YEAH. Kissing her at that moment? Oh, Aang, what a REALLY BAD DECISION. I face-palmed so hard. I do get that Aang is young, confused, and immature about the whole thing, and having to face that sort of rejection certainly didn’t make things easier. STILL. I’m glad the message coded into this scene was pretty obvious: HEY DUDES. RESPECT BOUNDARIES. IT’S SHITTY WHEN YOU DON’T.

Despite getting absolutely NO CLOSURE AT ALL from these two characters, Toph and Zuko have a conversation that’s pretty much the polar opposite of Aang and Katara’s talk. I wondered if Toph would ever reveal that she once met Uncle Iroh, and this was a perfect time for her to do so. I like that the writers have not made Zuko’s transition to Team Avatar easy for him, and to do so would have seemed too convenient for me. Despite that the play enraged Katara and Aang, inspired Sokka to intervene, and brought joy to Toph, there’s no one who could feel quite as embarrassed as Zuko, who has his life’s mistakes laid out before him. Even if they got things “wrong” about him, he can’t avoid that in his path to where he is right at this moment, he lost his Uncle. (Where the HELL is Iroh, anyway?)

While Iroh isn’t around to witness Zuko’s genuine transformation, Toph is quick to point out that she knows from experience that there’s nothing Iroh would want more than to see his nephew happy and on the right side of history. It is sad to think that Iroh is off doing…I don’t even know. I can’t even guess! I think I’d love this even more if he were alongside Zuko right now, but this journey is one Zuko must conquer on his own, and ultimately, he’d have to let go of his uncle anyway.

I’m still holding out that Iroh has one last secret plan left. WHAT IS IT.

I feel like “The Ember Island Players” is an episode you either love or hate (CAN YOU GUESS WHICH SIDE I LANDED ON), and I think that’s perfectly fine. It’s largely a silly episode, though the final moments are IMMENSELY DISTURBING. Despite that the representation of the characters were meant to be ridiculous, I wondered why this wasn’t as negative as it could be for a Fire Nation production. Oh, it’s because they were going to KILL ZUKO AND AANG AT THE END OF IT. My god, could you imagine witnessing that sort of depiction of your immediate future? Christ.

Anyway, I didn’t really feel compelled to discuss the intricacies of the endless stream of jokes that this episode throws at us because…well, explaining jokes regularly removes the funny from them. I was thinking today about how I’ve gone through this show, how quickly I fell in love with, and how it’s enabled me to talk about a lot of rad things I’d never addressed before. Sometimes it’s weird to me. I feel like I’m riding a bulldozer into a fandom and I dearly hope that I am not running anyone ever. I did worry that I wouldn’t like Avatar that much, but it’s common knowledge at this point that I do with every series I start.

I know that I still have the finale left and I’m sure I will have lots of gushy thoughts and feelings that I’ll want to share, but the nature of “The Ember Island Players” got me thinking about the series as a whole. (That’s what recap episodes are for, right?) I am sad that this is coming to an end, that after Saturday, it’ll at least be until 2012 before I get to revisit this universe again. (LEGEND OF KORRA!!!!) This show has impressed me, time and time again, and I wanted to do a little experiment with today’s review that was less about me and more about the beautiful fandom that seemed to show up out of nowhere to contribute to this community.

Since “The Ember Island Players” references numerous episodes by hand picking scenes from the series, I wanted to know if there was an absolute favorite scene that you each had from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Yes, choosing one scene is absurd, but what specific scene is the one your mind goes to when you think about this show?

I will do a much more comprehensive write up about the series as a whole on Monday when I review the finale, but I wanted to take a more specific look back at my favorite moment in the entire series. For me, it was when Lee rejected Zuko’s dagger in “Zuko Alone.” Avatar doesn’t always have positive endings, but it was the first moment for me during the run of the show that I knew the writers were willing to take a risk and write a fulfilling story, even if it was upsetting. It’s still one of the most powerful images of the entire show.

We’ve got one more post to discuss a lot about this show, but let’s just devote this one to being sappy and positive, shall we?


About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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368 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Avatar’: S03E15 – The Ember Island Players

  1. Proof That "The Great Divide" Is Canonically the Worst Episode of Avatar, Although This Meta Joke Keeps It from Being the Single Episode That Neither Drove the Narrative Forward nor Introduced Characters, Concepts, and/or Settings That Were Mentioned Later
    "Look, it’s the Great Divide. The biggest canyon in the Earth Kingdom."
    "Meh. Let’s keep flying."

    • Tauriel_ says:

      I love that bit. XD

    • shirtninjas says:

      I actually don't mind the Great Divide. I mean, it's a total filler episode, sure, but it's got some great parts in it, like Aang revealing that he made that whole story up and his face when he sees the custard tart.

      I do LOVE this episode though just because the whole thing is the writers making fun of themselves and of fandom's reactions to everything they did. Evidently, the fandom hated The Drill as well, which is why they show the audience falling asleep as Azula rides toward the wall.

      • Embies says:

        I don't remember the fandom hating The Drill. I think it was the director poking fun at himself (he directed both episodes).

        • Elexus Calcearius says:

          Oh, that would make sense! I've been wondering for ages what that joke meant because almost everyone I've talked to loved the Drill!

      • MocataJoy says:

        Remember when I was sick like three days ago and watched The Great Divide while you were out buying me Gatorade? Made me feel better and lulled me to sleep. ^_^

  2. shirtninjas says:


    In honor of your reaching the end of the series, I present you with this:

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

    The colors were brighter on paper… As you can see, it's you, riding Appa over the clouds with Momo, sporting the arrow tattoo I'm sure you're going to get. 😀

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Great pic! 🙂 Pity you didn't draw it earlier – Mark could've used it as a banner for this series. 🙂

      • shirtninjas says:

        Yeah… but he doesn't really use banners anymore, does he? Otherwise I would've posted sooner, I've had it done since about the beginning of Season 3.

        • xpanasonicyouthx says:

          I do use them, but no one has made them! I have a custom banner up for The Subtle Knife up on Mark Reads right now.


          • chikzdigmohawkz says:

            So Mark, if you were, say, a fighter pilot (perhaps for a battlestar that is in space) what would your callsign be? For example, if you've seen Top Gun, Tom Cruise's character was 'Maverick', his co-pilot was 'Goose', Val Kilmer's character was 'Ice Man', etc.

            No particular reason, really. But if there was a reason, it would not be custom banner-related at all…definitely not.

            • notemily says:

              Come on, someone has to have some suggestions for Mark's callsign. As his fellow pilots it is our right to choose it!

              Potato Baby
              Ice Bear


              • chikzdigmohawkz says:

                Actually, I was looking through the Greek gods because [REDACTED FOR SPOILERS] and I'm liking Koios, the 'Titan of intellect and the axis of heaven around which the constellations revolved.' Which pretty much describes the community, because without Mark…well, you get my point.

                Although Mark 'Potato Baby' Oshiro has a nice ring to it. (Which, objectively, is kind of an odd thing to say, but whatever.)

              • monkeybutter says:

                I vote for Potato Baby, too!

    • doesntsparkle says:


    • arctic_hare says:

      Sheer perfection. <3

    • Hotaru_hime says:


    • monkeybutter says:

      Wonderful! I love the look on Appa's face.

      • shirtninjas says:

        Thanks! I love the look on Mark's face… "HOLY SHIT I AM ON APPA!"

        Though it's mostly because I can't draw people. :p

    • Elexus Calcearius says:


      You know, at some point we should make compilation banners, combing Mark's favourite characters/elements for each of his two sites. None of the shows or the books would be left out!

    • Pelleloguin says:

      This is absolutely wonderful.

    • MocataJoy says:

      My poor, deluded roomate. Attempting to steal Mark's affection from me. Did YOU mail Mark a feltie? Did YOU draw Team Avatar atop a cupcake? I THINK NOT.

      (Translation: Damn you I should have drawn this first.)

  3. arctic_hare says:


    <3 <3 <3

    Look, if you asked me to pick just one favorite episode of this show, I probably couldn't do it. It's that tough. But it's just as likely that this would be one of the top contenders, among the best of the best, the favorites of the favorites. I feel like it was written just for me, because it is so much that I love: meta, and lampshade hanging, and poking fun at oneself, and gently spoofing fandom, and genre-savviness, and and humor. It's such a brilliant way of skewering themselves and some anime tropes, while also showing us how far the characters have come since the first episode. It's wonderful and amazing, and the thought of anyone hating it makes me sad, because that's like hating Momo levels of wrong. 🙁 ANYWAY. This doesn't really lend itself to my typical review style, so I'll list off all the meta/funny things I spotted, with interludes where I talk about a non-play scene or moment that I have something to say about.

    – "a surprisingly knowledgable merchant of cabbage" – CABBAGE MAN! Oh, the fond memories. *sniff*

    – I am still curious as to what "Love Amongst the Dragons" is about.

    – lol Katara's hope speeches.

    – Aang being played by an actress: perfect. There's a long tradition in anime/video game dubbing of having grown women voice act as young male characters, and as I recall, the creators of this show consciously avoided that. Hell, it's older than that even: look at the old Peter Pan production where Peter was played by an actress named Mary Martin. (We also have Mr. B Natural, as seen on MST3k, but the less said about that short, the better.)

    – Oh wow, season one Zuko, only the scar's on the wrong side (more on THAT later). I love Zuko's reaction to Katara saying the actor nailed him, and how it's the exact same line the actor delivers to actor Iroh (who is suddenly a cake fiend rather than a tea devotee).

    – Actor Zuko is being voiced by Dante Basco's younger brother. Flawless.

    – THE GIANT BLUE SPIRIT MASK. And clearly no one outside of Team Avatar aside from Iroh and Zhao ever figured out that Zuko was actually the Blue Spirit, because here it's Zuko that has Aang, and the Blue Spirit rescues him. From… himself. I love the looks on Aang and Zuko's faces when they see the end of this part of the play, they know how it really went down.

    – Play!Katara is A-OK with Jet wiping out the town, and exclaims "Oh, Jet, you're so bad!" LULZ.

    – "Look! It's the Great Divide, the biggest canyon in the Earth Kingdom!" "Eh, let's keep flying." This one gets me every time. It's a direct jab at that episode, which the creators knew was not popular at all. I love that they're not afraid to make fun of themselves in this way.

    – Oh, Sokka.

    – I love the Koizilla costume. And look! It's got a tiny puppet Zhao in its hand! Unfortunately for the puppet, it has no lines, and thus does not get to be voiced by Jason Isaacs.

    – omg play Toph is a big, burly GUY. Just like her original concept. AND THE REAL TOPH LOVES IT AND SAYS SHE WOULDN'T HAVE CAST IT ANY OTHER WAY. THIS EPISODE IS FLAWLESS. <3 <3 <3

    – I also love the shocked look on Zuko's face when he sees the play's version of Toph, and how he drops the paper he was hiding behind just a second ago.

    – The audience is getting bored by the drill sequence. STEALTH PUN. I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE. (also there are apparently fans that think that episode is boring, which I still don't understand.)

    – YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW HOW HARD IT WAS NOT TO QUOTE THIS PART WHEN YOU REVIEWED LAKE LAOGAI, MARK. NO. FREAKING. IDEA. "Did Jet just… die?" "You know, it was really unclear." This will never not be funny to me. So meta, so hilarious.

    – SHIPPER TROLLING AHAHAHA. I love the looks on Katara and Zuko's faces as they scoot away from each other. AWKWARD. 😀

    – I guess Sokka's acquired a taste for fire flakes since the first time he tried them.

    – "Choose treachery, it's more fun!" Another line I had a really hard time not quoting during the end of Book Two. THIS EPISODE IS ENDLESSLY QUOTABLE.

    – "I might as well have." 🙁 🙁 🙁

    – OH MAN the poses of the Dangerous Ladies. IT HAS TO BE A SHOUTOUT TO THEIR "OZAI'S ANGELS" FAN NICKNAME.

    – ZING, Suki. It's not in the play, but that has to be a meta comment, considering that Team Avatar won at the North Pole, but has been losing ever since, in Ba Sing Se and then the invasion.

    – COSPLAY. THERE IS COSPLAY. THIS IS AMAZING. I especially love the cosplayer who tells Zuko that his costume is pretty good, but the scar is on the wrong side. AHAHAHAHAHA. Apparently something like this happened to one of the creators? It wouldn't surprise me.

    • arctic_hare says:

      – Okay, EASILY my favorite non-play scene in the episode, and one of my favorite scenes in it period, is the one with Zuko and Toph, where he opens up about the intense guilt he feels over his choice in Ba Sing Se and how he treated Iroh. I really feel for him: he regrets it so much, and he wanted to free Iroh from prison in Day of Black Sun and make things right with him, but he went into one-man-army mode before Zuko even got there, and now they have no idea where the other one is. Zuko doesn't know if he's okay or not, or if he'll ever get to see him again and tell him how sorry he is. Things are so unfinished between them right now, and it's understandably causing Zuko a ton of anguish over it. As it turns out, Toph is exactly the person he needs to talk to about it. Remember her hanging out with Iroh back in The Chase? She tells Zuko about it, and what she says to him combined with the look on his face when he hears about what Iroh said about him always makes me get all wibbly when I watch this scene. It's so sweet and touching, and I want to reach through the screen and hug Zuko and tell him that Toph is absolutely right, Iroh would be proud of him. Because he made the right choice in the end, and he did it all on his own. Iroh would feel the same pride in you, Zuko, that I felt upon hearing your speech in Day of Black Sun. So don't worry so much.

      – "Oh no, another fan with ideas." Knowing fandom in general (not just Avatar fandom) the way I do… this line will forever crack me up. OH MAN, THEY KNOW. THEY KNOW. Also I love that Scott Menville is Actor Sokka.

      – NO, AANG. NO. JUST NO. YOU DO NOT DO THAT. SHE JUST SAID SHE WAS CONFUSED. BACK OFF. Urgh. The way he acts in this scene makes me so, so uncomfortable.

      – I love how startled Actor Toph and Actress Katara look at Actor Sokka adlibbing with the real Sokka's jokes.

      – "Unless… THIS IS THE FUTURE!" *spooky music* I <3 you, Sokka.

      – "HONOOOOOOOOOOOOR!" Another great line. 😀

      – I can't even imagine how horrible it is for Zuko to see the audience cheering on his death in the play. That's just awful on so many levels, and his expression says it all. I do like how everyone else on Team Avatar (well, except Toph) gives him a concerned look: awww, they care about him. </total sap>

      – Wow, that play sure ended on a disturbing note, didn't it? Team Avatar, perhaps Aang especially, is afraid of things ending just that way, with them being too late to stop Ozai before the comet, and dying in the process, and the play's ending shows them not only that very real possibility, but the fact that people will cheer on their deaths. People are cheering on the theoretical deaths of children. That is so fucked up on its own, and then you consider that those very kids are in the audience too, watching all this. Ugh. Horrifying.


      • Elexus Calcearius says:

        Its so brilliant to see your thought on this episode in particular, because like Mark, you've had a crash course in the fandom, and I love how funny you found this!

        I love that you reference "Another fan with ideas," because if any line summed up fandom, it would be this. Especially avatar fandom, which came up with more ideas than the creators could ask for. When they first started, I don't think they quite knew what fans could do, especially terms of shipping. Oh, their reaction when they discovered the battle between the Zutarans. They were so bloody confused!

        They then proceeded to troll both sides equally hard. Bless them.

        I love all the jokes you pointed out, and I love all the serious moments, even if I want to slap Aang. Come on, buddy, that's not helping. I especially love the ending, because its interesting to think about how this must be for the Fire Nation viewers. As far as they're concerned, these guys are buffonish villain protagonists, and it makes complete sense they would die at the end, and that the viewers would like it. I mean, none of the characters were really portrayed positively. If Aang was actually that sugar-y and cheerful, he would Taste Like Diabetes, and most fans would want him to die, even if they didn't side with the Fire Nation.

        …and it is a shame that the puppet wasn't voiced by Jason Issacs. Do you know who else wasn't?

        (Most characters, actually.)

        • arctic_hare says:

          Yeah, I love meta stuff like this, so I was bound to adore EIP. And creators being aware of fandom and having a sense of humor about it? EVEN BETTER. <3 I once saw an episode of an anime where three of the lead characters ended up starring in a play about them, and it was a pretty funny episode, but this is even better because of all the awesome meta and in-jokes and fun-poking at the creators and fandom.

          If Aang was actually that sugar-y and cheerful, he would Taste Like Diabetes, and most fans would want him to die, even if they didn't side with the Fire Nation.

          So true. I've seen characters not that different from Play Aang, and they've always gotten an overwhelmingly negative response from fans. Heck, some people really dislike Aang as he actually is. It makes even more sense for people to cheer on their deaths – awful though it still is – in that context, you're right. Ah, fandom (in general)… I love you dearly, you can be great, but you can also be so terrible at times. 😛

    • Tauriel_ says:

      I love the Koizilla costume. And look! It's got a tiny puppet Zhao in its hand! Unfortunately for the puppet, it has no lines, and thus does not get to be voiced by Jason Isaacs.

      Hehehe, this is one of those few moments in TEIP, when you actually think about it, you have to ask: "How on earth did the playwright know about THAT?"

      The only witness to Zhao's death was Zuko, and I doubt he would've talked about it to some playwright…

    • hpfish13 says:

      "YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW HOW HARD IT WAS NOT TO QUOTE THIS PART WHEN YOU REVIEWED LAKE LAOGAI, MARK. NO. FREAKING. IDEA. "Did Jet just… die?" "You know, it was really unclear." This will never not be funny to me. So meta, so hilarious."

      The Crosses the Line Twice page on TV Tropes has this brilliant passage regarding Jet's death and the fact that they managed to make it funny in EIP.

      "Avatar: The Last Airbender has a non-violent example in the episode "The Ember Island Players", when they were re-enacting Jet's death. Making fun of what is probably the most tragic event in the series where a Government Conspiracy kidnapped, brainwashed, and killed a teenager? Dude, Not Funny!. Representing his Brainwashed nature with crazy hair, hooks for hands, googly eyes, and droning "Must… serve… Earth King" while his death is depicted with a hollow rock prop falling on top of him that the actor fails to get into properly? Hilarious.

      * Don't forget the flower in his mouth, or the actor's beer-belly. Zuko and Sokka's responses to the reenactment didn't detract from the funny either."

      Also, I'm bummed at their use of the word crazy, but I didn't know whether it would be better to edit it out or leave it put……

      • Elexus Calcearius says:

        Edit! Its easy enough to just go in a put a harmless- well, not synonym, but you get my drift. Something like wacky, or messy.

    • notemily says:

      Dude, I really want to know what "Love Amongst the Dragons" is too!


  4. Tauriel_ says:

    I love this episode – not only it provides a chance to recap the events of the previous two seasons before the grand finale, but also gives the creators to shamelessly poke fun at various parts of fandom.

    My favourite bits from the play:

    Actor Jet: "Don't cry, baby! Jet will wipe out that nasty town for you!"
    Actress Katara: "Oh Jet, you're so bad."

    Actress Azula: "But wait! What's that? I think it's your honour!"
    Actor Zuko: "Where???"

    Actor Iroh: "Choose treachery – it's more fun!"
    *Actor Zuko walks towards him*
    Actress Azula: "No way!"
    *Actor Zuko pushes Actor Iroh to the ground and walks away*
    Actor Zuko: "I hate you, uncle! You smell! And I hate you for all time!"
    *Earth Kingdom flag falls down and covers Actor Iroh*
    (this bit actually made me feel sorry for Actor Iroh. Great piece of tragi-comedy)

    And the moment between Zuko and Toph where they talk about Iroh is very sweet and touching. <3

    Interesting factoids:

    Grey DeLisle strikes again, this time as Actress Katara. And her performance is brilliantly hilarious. XD

    Actor Zuko was voiced by Derek Basco, Dante Basco's older brother.

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      I am continuously amazed by the versatility of Grey DeLisle's voice acting skills! Seriously, I don't even recognise her. Didn't know that about Actor-Zuko, though. Interesting.

  5. monkeybutter says:

    <img src=""&gt;
    <img src=""&gt;
    I LOVE THIS EPISODE. I'm sorry, Mark, Ember Island Players >> everything. The costumes, Peter Pan Aang, Koizilla, Yue, Sokka’s jokes, Toph’s a man, alllll the awkward Zuko moments (his hair! his honor!)

    <img src=""&gt;
    The terrible, useless, drama queen Katara to make fun of fan claims that she’s a Mary Sue. THE TEARBENDING. God, I love that the writers can make fun of themselves so brilliantly. And though I haven’t seen the movie yet, they really seem to have nailed it to the wall. Flameo, hotman, flameo.

    I can't tell you what my absolute favorite moment is yet, so second place would probably have to be a tie between the fight and escape scene in "The Blue Spirit" and Zuko confronting his father in "The Crossroads of Destiny." I really like your favorite scene, too.

    Oh, and I loved the lesson about Aang respecting boundaries, too. Maybe someone could forward this episode to Dawkins; I don't think the tone is too rough for his delicate sensibilities. Doing things that make people uncomfortable doesn't make you a bad person, but you have to be considerate of other people's feelings. If Katara says she's not ready to deal with her feelings in the midst of all that chaos, then Aang should respect that. And I'm glad he saw that he screwed up.

    • MichelleZB says:

      Dawkins like… Richard Dawkins? I don't get it.

      • monkeybutter says:

        Oh, there's been a bit of a blow-up in the world of atheists and skeptics after he posted dismissive comments on PZ Myers' blog about an uncomfortable experience in an elevator that Rebecca Watson had, summed up here. And when Dawkins was called out on it repeatedly, and often in a direct, non-sweary manner, he was still dismissive and asked that the situation be explained to him "calmly and politely." Here are Watson and Myers' responses.

        Really, I was annoyed by Dawkins' shittery, and saw a parallel when I rewatched the episode and read Mark's review. Aang's not a bad guy for kissing Katara, but it made her feel uncomfortable. It was nice to see Aang show remorse for that rather than just shrug it off and think "What's her problem?"

  6. Tauriel_ says:

    Where the HELL is Iroh, anyway?

    *snigger* Oh, just you wait, Mark. SO NOT PREPARED! *snigger*

  7. Dragonsong12 says:

    I kind of loved hyow they trolled their fans throughout it…and mocked themselves at the same time.

    My favorite scene from the series? Weeeeeelll there's one coming up that I love, but…yeah…spoilers.
    Beyond that? I think it would have to be Jet getting hypnotized, just because of how creepy and dark and chilling that whole sequence is. Long Feng was just an amazing villain. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. Ugh. Poor Jet.

    "Did Jet just die?"
    "It's kind of vague."

    Apparently their comments on the play were the writers voicing their opinions on the movie. I agree with Sokka though, I liked the effects too. They were very creative for a stage performance. I'd watch that play.

  8. inkspotfancy says:

    Good God, one scene? One scene EVER? Oh boy.

    It's when Katara breaks down when she's talking to her father in the opening of season three, and it starts out about Aang, but ends up about her, and him, and it just gets so INTENSE and so heartbreaking as she just lets the floodgates open and says to him what she needed to say. Not only is the voice acting AMAZING there, but the focus of the Water Tribe siblings had largely been Sokka misses his father, Katara misses her mother. This was a great reminder that both parents were an impact on their children's lives, and that even the right decisions made for the best reasons and understood by all parties can still hurt, painfully, and for such a long time. I just found it really powerful and heartbreaking

    • monkeybutter says:

      I loved that one, too! I really like the end of yesterday's episode, but like you say, it's nice to see how Katara feels about her other parent. Katara coming to terms with her feelings about Hakoda is really moving.

  9. shirtninjas says:

    I think my absolute favorite scene in the show is the scene where Zuko confronts his father.

    Or the one where Aang swallows the puzzle piece and the Man in the Big Yellow Hat has to take him to the hospital.

  10. arctic_hare says:

    My favorite scene? This is actually kinda easier than I would have expected. I think I might have to go with Zuko confronting Ozai in Day of Black Sun. It was just so perfect – so satisfying and cathartic to watch. I always think of that when I think of favorite scenes from the show.

    Other contenders are the Dangerous Ladies break-up in Boiling Rock, ALL OF THE BLIND BANDIT, and Sokka seeing the mushroom cloud in The Desert. Sokka/Cactus Juice/Momo OT3!

    • monkeybutter says:

      I love the split at the end of "The Boiling Rock" and everything about Toph's first appearance. God, the more comments I read, the more torn I am about my own answer!

      I've got yet another one, now: Iroh's Tale. It kills me to watch it, but it shows the cost of the war for everyone, and gives you a clue why Iroh changed for the better.

      • hpfish13 says:

        I'm going to have to agree regarding Iroh's Tale. It's such a powerful piece of work, I'm welling up just thinking about it.

  11. Amanda Violet says:

    I would share my favorite scenes… but MOST OF THEM HAVE NOT HAPPENED YET. And saying "the entire series" would be lame, so…

    But I'm pretty sure almost everyone in the fandom loves this episode, so no worries there.

    • arctic_hare says:

      "Lame" is an ableist word, let's not use it.

      • Amanda Violet says:

        Oh, sorry. Didn't even occur to me.

        • xpanasonicyouthx says:

          does everyone like it??? I've heard that some people are BORED TO TEARS by it.

          Which….did we watch the same thing

          • hpfish13 says:

            BORED?!!! By Ember Island Players?!! No one I've talked to about the show doesn't love the episode, and it, along with Zuko Alone, are my favorites from the show.

          • Amanda Violet says:

            I've never heard of anyone being bored by it, and frankly the idea makes me sadface! And seriously, if they exist, what were they watching, indeed.

            I can see people maybe not getting some of the jokes if they're just "casual" viewers, or whatever, but that doesn't mean there's not a lot of other funny stuff.

          • lossthief says:

            The general Fandom Consensus seems to be that this episode is a hilarious bit of meta-comedy that gives us a breather before the finale.

            I'm sure there are fans who dislike it, but they're not particularly vocal about it.

          • arctic_hare says:

            Like I said in my post, hating this episode is like hating Momo. NO ONE WITH A SOUL DOES THAT. You'd have to be freaking VOLDEMORT to do those things.

  12. TDM says:

    The series is summed up for me in the Zuko and Aang scene in The Siege of the North part 2 where Zuko talks about Aang reminding him of Azula… to take the specific quote (possibly paraphrased) that sums the show up for me:

    "My father always used to say my sister was born lucky. He said I was lucky to be born. I don’t need luck though. I don’t want it. I’ve always had to struggle and fight and that’s made me strong. It’s made me who I am."

    Your experiences make you who you are, whether they're good or bad… And that's something to be proud of, even if those experiences really hurt. That's my personal belief, anyway.

  13. doesntsparkle says:

    The Ember Island Players is absolutely flawless. I, for one, am dying to see their adaptaion of "Love amongst the Dragons."

    I love how in touch the creators are with their fans and how different episodes and characters are viewed. It is tonally different than the last few episodes, but like Sokka, I've been missing the "wacky time wasting nonsense." It's nice to remember how much joy Avatar provides.

  14. LucyGoosey says:

    I remember at NYCC the year season 3 aired, they screened the first act of this episode. It was even before the Western Air Temple aired in the US, and the biggest thing I remember was the fan shrieking at Suki, alive, with the Gaang.

    That and they snipped the seat bit before the play. Probably figured "no need to start a shipper massacre months early"

  15. Dragonsong12 says:

    OH ALSO? Early on in your reviews when you were talking about how Katara represented Hope?…I was SOOOOO itching to quote this episode at you. Katara crying about hope is so hilarious.

  16. @maybegenius says:

    This episode. I don't even know. I love media that can make fun of itself. I love all the subtle jabs at its own storytelling/characterization and all the little nods to the fans.

    I pretty much just laugh through this entire episode. It's the last little moment of frivolity before SHIT GETS BEYOND REAL. My one "harumph" moment is when Aang is all WAIT I AM NOT A GIRL but Toph apparently thinks the fact that she was cast as a guy is amazing. Also, she comments that Aang's "in touch with his feminine side," which, while not malicious, is something they've mostly stayed away from doing in this series. So that irked me a teensy bit. But the overwhelming humor and awesome got me in the end. This show is otherwise so good about avoiding gendered stereotyping and wankery, sooooo. Yeah.

    Yeah. I don't even know where to begin with this episode. So hilarious.

    "I release a SONIC WAVE FROM MY MOUTH." Oh my god. It cracks my shit up that everyone else is so obviously uncomfortable with their characterization, but Toph's just beside herself with glee.

    <a target='_blank' title='ImageShack – Image And Video Hosting' href=''><img src='; border='0'/>

    "But it's over. Unless… THIS IS THE FUTURE." Oh, Sokka.

    <a target='_blank' title='ImageShack – Image And Video Hosting' href=''><img src='; border='0'/>

    "Your Zuko costume is pretty good, but your scar's on the wrong side." "THE SCAR IS NOT ON THE WRONG SIDE."

    <a target='_blank' title='ImageShack – Image And Video Hosting' href=''><img src='; border='0'/>

    Actor!Zuko's hair. OMG.

    Zuko and Katara scooting away from each other uncomfortably during the Zutara scene. Omg omg.

    Sokka cracking up at his own jokes.


    And of course the obligatory "Oh yeah, shit, we have to DEFEAT OZAI DEAR GOD" moment.

    "That… wasn't a good play." I WHOLE-HEARTEDLY DISAGREE. SRY 2 SAY.

  17. kartikeya200 says:

    There are about a million versions of this joke on Youtube, fyi.

    [youtube k_FreTKKx6M youtube]

    And in celebration of the silliness of this episode, I'll use any excuse to post this


    [youtube AYOyyWN2xBM youtube]

    Art post incoming!

  18. Saphling says:

    When Actress Katara professes her attraction to Actor Zuko… I love Aang's little, semi-unconscious reactions of jealousy.

    Stage!Zuko: But I thought you were the Avatar's girl!
    Aang: *petulant nod*

    • arctic_hare says:

      I just want to smack him upside the head when he does that. NO AANG NO, you are veering into Nice Guy territory there!

  19. hallowsnothorcruxes says:

    I can't believe Mark Watches Avatar is almost over.

    <img src=""&gt;

    I think the episode is like a clip show/self parody. Probably the second best clip show I've seen after Community's Paradigms of Human Memory

    <img src=""&gt;

    <img src=""&gt;

    <img src=""&gt;

    <img src=""&gt;

    About Zuko's scar being on the wrong side.
    <img src=""&gt;
    <img src=""&gt;

    And just because this needs to be shared

    <img src=""&gt;

  20. echinodermata says:

    I adore this episode. Probably my favorite of the entire show, and certainly the one I'm most likely to rewatch. I love the meta-y self-aware humor, and the genre-savvyness, and the inside jokes for the fandom. And I love the characters' bemusement and embarrasment, with Toph's utter joy, and I love the ribbon bending and the shadow ninja people moving props. And I love that amazing Koizilla costume.

    I just want to quote and gif the entire play, basically. Because I love it. But my highlights:

    "His sources include singing nomads, pirates, prisoners of war, and a surprisingly knowledgeable merchant of cabbage."

    "Look, it’s The Great Divide. The biggest canyon in the Earth Kingdom.
    …eh. Let’s keep flying."

    <img src=""&gt;

    "My name's Toph. Becaues it sounds like tough."

    <img src=""&gt;(source)

    ""Azula": Wait. What’s that? I think it’s your honor.
    "Zuko": Where??"

    <img src=""&gt;

    <img src=""&gt;(source)

    For all that I think this episode is hilarious, it's also cool in a dark way. The play represents, once more, Fire Nation propaganda, and we moreover get to see an entire theater cheering at the idea of Aang dying, and Ozai victorious over the world. We also see Katara's and Aang's relationship come to an interesting place – I'm really glad that Katara yells at him for kissing her, because that was not the right reaction to her confusion. I think Katara's confusion is pretty relatable and understandable, and it's nice that we're not just given some quick and easy relationship building here.

    Basically, I like just about everything in this episode. Not liking this episode is essentially rejecting the majority of my preferences.

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      I reject your preferences and SUBSTITUTE MY OWN.

      (…no, seriously, I really love this episode, I was just overcome by the urge to use that quote).

    • @MeagenImage says:

      I'm kind of reminded of the Don Juan story. He was a smooth-talking womanizer who flaunted all social mores and was justly punished at the end by being dragged to Hell. The idea was for the audience to vicariously enjoy his exploits but still feel morally okay at the end for cheering at the bad guy getting punished. But as time passed, reactions to the idea of a womanizing smooth-talker changed, and now people can feel okay with enjoying watching him without the dragged to Hell bit.

  21. Hotaru_hime says:

    OMG, how much do I love this episode?! I didn't so much like the Katara/Aang stuff, but that's because I usually don't like romance stuff anyway.
    I remember watching it and wondering how the Ember Island Players got so many details right and why was this play totally in favor of the Avatar? AND HOW AWESOME WAS TOPH'S ACTOR? BEAUTIFUL. It's like the creators were poking fun at their original idea of Aang's Earthbending master. And Fake!Zuko's scar? Beautiful!!

    As for what Iroh is doing, we don't know, but it's probably BADASS. Because everything he does is BADASS. Like break out of jail with his bare hands. Escape the Dai Li by breathing fire. Steal a face away from Koh the Face Stealer.
    OK, I made that last one up, but whatever, I bet he could do it.

    My favorite moment hasn't happened yet.

  22. Aeryn Sun says:

    Best/and or favorite moment of the entire series? Aside from everything in the finale, it has to be the one scene that I repeatedly watch and rewind and watch again: The fight sequence in The Drill. That whole episode is amazing, but Aang running down the wall, and blasting through the drill with the spike is awe inspiring.

  23. kartikeya200 says:

    <img src=""&gt;

    "Choose treachery! It's more fun."

    I love this episode. It is deeply silly, and I always appreciate when creators can make fun

    of their own creations. And The Ember Island Players is just a merciless piss-take. Plus,

    once again Mike and Bryan demonstrate they are MASTER TROLLS. There are so many fandom

    pokes in this episode too.

    Plus, it's twice as funny to watch this once you've seen The Last Airbender. It's like they


    <img src=""&gt;

    Early in season three, writer Tim Hedrick pitched the idea of our heroes encountering a

    caravan of traveling actors who put on a play about the Avatar and his adventures. At the

    time, we thought the idea sounded too goofy. Later, as we neared the end of the series, we

    wanted to do a lighter, more comedic episode before the epic, serious finale. So we

    revisited Tim's idea as a way to do our own take on '80's-sitcom "recap" episodes. Having

    Aang and the kids watch a play about their successes and shortcomings was a great device to

    reflect on where their journey began and how far they'd come. Plus, it gave us a chance to

    poke fun at ourselves before anyone else had the opportunity!

    <img src=""&gt;

    We had an actress play Aang, as a nod to the fact that adult women often voice the boy

    characters in animated shows. We made Toph a big, buff dude as a joke on our original

    intention to make Toph a male character. And the Aang actress in the "Koizilla" costume was

    our homage to the kaiju tradition of Japanese monster movies.

    <img src=""&gt;

    I love the ending of this episode. EVERYONE DIES. Because it was kind've easy to overlook

    the fact that this was a play about the Avatar showing in the Fire Nation, of course

    they'd end it that way.

    I'm also a huge fan of the 'special effects' they came up with to represent how this might

    be shown on stage without any actual bending involved. I mean, you don't think about

    it much while watching, but that's a lot of design and creativity to expend on a

    shamelessly silly breather episode. My favorites are the streamers to represent firebending

    and the glow in the dark makeup to show the Avatar state.

    <img src=""&gt;

    I do remember the specific fringe (not Fringe!) Zutara fandom reaction to Aang's kissing

    Katara in this episode. It was ugly. See, what I love about this? This exact scene

    shows up in so many, many stories, from movies to cartoons to romances to comedies… the

    girl expresses hesitation, and the guy just kisses her anyway. And always, always,

    this is shown as romantic and the girl is just like 'okay!' and everything is roses.

    But here, in an animated show on Nickelodeon, Katara calls that shit out.

    "I said I was confused!" It's not an invitation to kiss her anyway, as

    though, if you push things, you'll make up her mind for her. I cannot put into words how

    much I appreciate that.

    But you can imagine how a few Zutara shippers gleefully interpreted that in regards to

    Aang's character, nevermind how very very often this exact trope shows up in this exact way

    in just about everything. Ugh, fandom shipping wars, I hate you.

    <img src=""&gt;

    "THE BOY IN THE ICEBERG — A new production from acclaimed Earth Kingdom playwright Pu-

    on Tim, who scoured the globe gathering information on the Avatar, from the icy South Pole

    to the heart of the Earth Kingdom capitol. His sources include singing nomads, pirates,

    prisoners of war, and a surprisingly knowledgeable merchant of cabbage! Brought to you by

    the Ember Island Players."

    I sat and thought about which single scene would be THE scene for me when I thought about this series and I…can't. I know which one I think is my favorite animated sequence (I THINK), and that would be the Dragon Dance from The Firebending Masters, because it's gorgeous. If I don't think about it, and just let one pop into my head…well, then it's probably one from the finale. Maybe I'll discuss it then!

    • The ribbonbending is fabulous. The stagecraft — ugh. So good. I've been to a Peking opera show, and it's just like this (with less meta).

    • eleniel says:

      I cannot get over Actor!Ty Lee's tutu. And I never noticed Actor!Mai's frowny face button! omg, too funny.

    • jubilantia says:

      I already think this episode is great, so I might have to suck it up and grit my way through the movie if I can get another layer of appreciation. That shit still breaks my heart.

      What's even more terrible is Shyamalan's apparent impression of how wonderful his interpretation is: in the forward for the art book, he talks about how they've got all this Avatar art in their house, and how great he thinks it all is, and then he just throws it all in a blender of horribleness and pukes up the movie.

      Anyway. I agree with you on the dislike of shipping wars. If you've seen the series, you should search for Book 4: air on youtube, and see Brian and Mike's affectionate parody of fandom and fan art and fan shipping- spoilers for the finale, but it is a thing of beauty.

  24. Time-Machine says:

    My favourite scene? Gah. So many. I have to say though, the moment in season 1 at the end of The Blue Spirit always takes my breath away. The blurriness of Zuko waking up, Aang's heartfelt confession, Zuko's silent immediate attack.

    It just struck me watching it for the first time how remarkable it was for this children's show to take a moment to be quiet like that. I look forward to that moment on every rewatch.

    Also, like people are already saying, Zuko confronting his father. OMGSOAMAZING. It's just pitch perfect and I have to fight the urge to punch the air every single time I see it. I love the journey Zuko takes so much.

  25. Matt says:

    Hard to pick a favorite scene in the series, but since it wasn't mentioned much in the reviews, one of my favorite scenes is from "The Beach", where Zuko and the Dangerous Ladies are spilling their guts out around the campfire.

    When first watching this show, I was constantly surprised with where the writers chose to go with the characters and that they were able to still come up with creative story lines and character arcs even into season three. "The Beach" was one of those big moments for me – I never thought that Ty Lee or Mai would end up ever being that developed, and that scene really made me realize how well thought out everything was.

    This is a great show, thanks for giving it a shot on your website. Can't wait for the liveblog/final review.

  26. accioetoile says:

    I figure Ember Island Players is as good an episode as any other to post these pictures.

    I first started watching ATLA in the fall of 2009. That Halloween, my friend decided to have a pumpkin decorating party, so I decided that I wanted to paint a pumpkin. Not only did a I want to paint a pumpkin, I wanted it to be an Avatar pumpkin. And I came up with this:

    <img src=""&gt;

    Do you know how hard it was to actually find a small, round pumpkin?

    And I love the way his ears came out:

    <img src=""&gt;

    I also painted a Kyoshi Warrior, but Suki didn't come out as good as Aang. 🙁

    <img src=""&gt;

  27. TOP1862 says:

    My favorite scene hasn't happened yet. But I'll say it's basically Azula's whole… thing. You know the one. I might possibly discuss that when it happens in the liveblog? I only did one liveblog here (I think goblet of fire) but I kept getting distracted by the movie and confused while trying to pay attention to the comments, but I watched the finale yesterday so maybe I'll have enough memory not to have to watch AND read haha.

    Not that it matters.

  28. affableevil says:

    If pressed, I'd have to say that the one scene I think of when I think of this series is in the finale, so……


    Two favorite jokes from this episode?
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">


    [youtube hZ8aLRnd80k youtube] I once had a gif of this but I can't find it 🙁


  29. echinodermata says:

    Reading other people's picks for favorite scenes, there are a lot of poignant choices. Mine is not.

    I'd go with either the Koizilla from this ep, or the singing nomads singing in The Cave of Two Lovers.

  30. @redbeardjim says:

    Avatar State, yip yip!!!

  31. @maybegenius says:

    My favorite scene???? UGH. Hm. Can I pick a favorite episode instead? Because it would probably be "The Library." That episode just speaks to my soul. I love the animation, the OH SHIT moments, the jokes, the emotion. Toph being a complete badass. Etc.

    But Imma echo several other people and say that a few of my absolute favorite scenes occur in the finale. SO YOU GOTTA WAIT.

  32. lilah80 says:

    "Dear Diary,
    My hair does not look like that. And frankly, I found the stagecraft of the play stilted and derivative. The father/daughter scene was straight from their production of On Flaming Pond. And my hair does not look like that. Oh, Uncle. You never even got to see Acts Four and Five in my play, which far surpasses that dreck. You said that Act Three was so wonderfully soothing that you had to rest your eyes, so I've heightened the suspense in Act Four. But will I ever be able to perform Forever Flaming Darkness for you? I'd give all the tea in the world to be able to see you and apologize." – Zuko

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Awwww… XD

    • brotorious says:

      forever flaming darkness opened to modest ticket sales and universal critical disdain. cultural columnist hotman sozulaismith of the new ozai chronicle called it, "the most painfully melodramatic eleven hours in theatrical history. i never thought i'd miss love amongst the dragons." ba sing play's lee hai wrote, "as clumsy as it is mawkish… forever flaming darkness marks the theater world's day of black sun."

      writer and director prince zuko retaliated, writing an angry and melodramatic op-ed entitled "HOW COULD YOU SAY THAT?"

      (up next on E! true stories: in an exclusive interview, former acrobatic circus sensation ty lee reveals the truth about boys, auras, and the mysterious circumstances regarding her incarceration! can't miss!)

    • mou issai says:

      You love teasing us with Forever Flaming Darkness, don't you?

    • MocataJoy says:

      Just FYI, my favorite scene in this series is when Zuko performs Forever Flaming Darkness during the finale, ending the war in a burst of aangst. That's brilliant stuff.

    • notemily says:



  33. TOP1862 says:

    what the… double post several minutes later. someone delete it or something? : /

  34. Viyamusic says:

    "Hey, Zuko here…"

    That has to be my favorite scene. It represents how far he's come… from angry, honor bound, approval seeking, fire nation prince to humble, trying to make new friends, adorkable, dignified outcast who FINALLY is truly Zuko. As we know, that scene is not the beginning of the change in him, but the beginning of a new journey where he is once and for all free.

  35. Sarah S says:

    One scene as my favourite? Blue Spirit/Zuko rescuing Aang from Zhao. I'm sorry, but I love watching Zuko ninja. And ninja is so a verb, dammit!

  36. Zephyrus says:

    My favorite scene is probably the ending to Iroh's tale in Tales of Ba Sing Se. It really gets you emotional, Mako's acting was great (and his dedication is just another reason to start bawling your eyes out), and I think it's one of the most memorable moments in Avatar.

    Leaves from the vine
    Falling so slow
    Like fragile, tiny shells
    Drifting in the foam
    Little soldier boy
    Come marching home
    Brave soldier boy
    Comes marching home

  37. My favorite scene is from The Southern Raiders, where Katara is like "rain? NO. NO RAIN." Waterbending is my favorite of the four, and that is just the most elegant and yet 100% BAD ASS application ever. A close second would be Katara nearly fighting Pakku to a standstill BEFORE ANYONE HAS EVER TAUGHT HER ANYTHING.

  38. beeftony says:

    I can't pick just one, so I'll be grouping this by character. Here are my favorite moments involving all of them:

    Hands down my favorite Aang scene is in "The Southern Air Temple" when Aang discover's Gyatso's remains, and the cooldown talk Katara gives him afterwards. It marks the exact moment when we, the audience, discover that not only is this no mere kid's show, it handles emotional moments with more finesse than most dramas on dedicated adult networks.

    For Katara, I really liked when she stood up to Pakku and gave him way more of a fight than he was expecting. It showed that she had the strength to fight her own battles and was yet another reminder that Aang isn't the only hero on the show. Also it showed just how far she had come as a waterbender despite only having one scroll to study.

    For Sokka, I have a really hard time narrowing it down to just one, but I do love the scene in "Sokka's Master" when he humbly admits that he has so much to learn. That whole episode, really.

    I will never stop loving the scene in "The Blind Bandit" when Toph makes all the Earth Rumble wrestlers eat dirt. Toph tends to have a lot of these moments.

    For Zuko, it's standing up to his father on the Day of Black Sun. His entire character arc had been building toward that point, and seeing him make the right decision, with nobody forcing him to, was fucking awesome. I can still quote his monologue.

    Every scene with Iroh is utter perfection, but there's really no mistaking that the memorial scene at the end of "The Tale of Iroh" is the greatest moment this show has ever given us. Everything is played to perfection, and the dedication to Mako at the end just pushes it completely over the top. Makes me cry every time.

    For Azula, shooting Aang in the back was the most clever bit of cunning I have ever seen from a villain. She's such a perfectionist that when her father sent her to apprehend Iroh and Zuko, she converted Zuko, captured Iroh, subverted the Dai Li and launched a successful coup on Ba Sing Se and double crossed Long Feng, and KILLED THE AVATAR. At age fourteen.

    So many other moments that I love, but those are my favorites.

  39. who_cares86 says:

    I love meta episodes. They're always funny. With the ending near this is really the last chance to have some fun so let it be had. Pretty much every series does this. The first 2/3rds of Half-Blood Prince is a lot of fluff compared to what comes before and after it, meanwhile Planet of the Dead while pretty bad was always the last bit of fun the Tenth Doctor would get before things get worse and start leading to his demise.

  40. majere616 says:

    The Boy in the Iceberg
    By Li Scorch

    Regular readers will be aware of my disdain for the way this term is bandied about nowadays, but it is the only way I can hope to succinctly voice my feelings upon viewing this production: The Boy in the Iceberg is a true tour de force. It is a testament to the genius of Pu-on Tim and the Ember Island Players and will live on as a true classic of theatre. The casting was excellent, perfectly capturing the characteristics of the characters; the emotional volatility and stunted sense of humor endemic to the Water Tribes, the Air Nomads’ flighty and devious natures, and the hulking oafish simplicity of the Earth Kingdom. But the true highlight of this production is the spotlight stealing portrayal of our glorious leader, Fire Lord Ozai. Despite only appearing for a short time, his performance in the closing act was truly inspirational. I will refrain from spoiling the magnificent ending though I will say this; its beauty is sufficient to cause any truly loyal patriot to tearbend with emotion. Mark my words, come awards season I know who I’ll have my eye on.

  41. Kaci says:

    This episode is EASILY in my top three of the entire series. KATARA IS TEARBENDING. AANG IS PLAYED BY A GIRL AND TOPH IS PLAYED BY A GIANT BURLY MAN (AND THRILLED ABOUT IT). The shipper tease, the meta jokes, "Did Jet just…die?" "You know, it was really unclear." and LET'S KEEP FLYING. A surprisingly knowledgeable merchant of cabbage. I just…can not get over it. LOVE. (Note: I am predisposed to love meta episodes, though, so…)

    But to answer your question, I would have to say the moment where Katara has bloodbended for the first time, and Hama is being lead away, and Katara's friends crowd around her while she sobs at what Hama has turned her into. So dark, so creepy, and so one of the moments where I could not believe that this was happening on a children's show and wanted to punch the air with joy.

  42. Toph13139 says:

    Tomorrow will be a festival of tears. Reliving July 19th of 2008, anyone? My favorite scene happens in one of the final episodes, so I'll wait until tomorrow.

  43. Depths_of_Sea says:

    It's too bad Netflix cuts out the "Previously on Avatar" segments. For this episode they had a bit with Li and Lo's dialogue about Ember Island smoothing away all the rough edges and revealing your true self over the footage of Aang and Katara's invasion kiss. It was really rather beautiful.

    Anyway, "Ember Island Players"! Aside from the mood whiplash at the end, I think this episode is hands down the funniest episode of Avatar. So many fandom nods and shout-outs and in-jokes.

    I'll get my meta about the Kataangst out of the way first. Fandom likes to argue about the balcony scene. A lot. Sometimes very nastily. I won't go into details but I would like to throw in my two cents.

    I don't think Katara is confused about her feelings for Aang. Far from it. We've seen from previous episodes that she definitely does return Aang's feelings. I've always held that she was confused about what to do with those feelings, where to go with them. As I mentioned before in my comments on the "The Southern Raiders" post, Katara has major issues with losing the people she loves. I think it's realistic that she's afraid of getting into a relationship with Aang now, when so many things are still uncertain, when there's still a VERY REAL, VERY GREAT possibility that she will lose him in the battle. She's trying to guard her heart so that she doesn't get too close. So that it won't hurt as much when he dies.

    Aang doesn't have the same qualms about loving while he can, while he's still alive to do it. Hence the misunderstanding when he realized they weren't yet officially "together". And because he's so young and inexperienced at romantic relationships he flubs it up worse when he tries to talk things out with her.

    I don't want to downplay anyone's concerns about consent with regards to the kiss, but I would like to point out that it was clearly portrayed as the Wrong Thing To Do. And Aang realized that right away, accepted Katara's reprimand, and then left her alone. He gave her space and didn't try to force the issue again, and he even distanced himself physically from her so as not to make her uncomfortable. I agree that the way it was handled was a little clumsy and problematic, depending on interpretation. I do wish this had been a little better resolved. Still, I took it mostly as a tragic misunderstanding and miscommunication between two Almost-A-Couple people, one of whom mistook the relationship as something more than it was and one of whom was hesitant and emotionally choked up. Basically, playing out like an angstier, more strained version of the "Girlfriend/Friend Who Is A Girl" misunderstanding between another of my favorite couples, Robin and Starfire from Teen Titans.

    I accept that people's mileage may vary on this though.

    Anyway, enough seriousness, let me gush about the UTTER HILARITY that is the rest of the episode. Like Zuko's Do Not Want faces.

    <img src="; alt="" />
    <img src="; alt="" />
    <img src="; alt="" />

    And Girl!Aang! And Weepy!Katara! And Man!Toph! And Cockblock!Zuko! And Meat Obsessed Sokka voiced by my love Scott Menville (speaking of Teen Titans lol). Seriously Scott. Stop showing up and making me fangirl your voice.

    And the endless stream of hilarious quotes!

    -"Let's forget about the Avatar, and get massages."
    -"Oh great, another fan with ideas."
    -"Look! What's that? I think it's your honor!"
    -"The scar is NOT on the wrong side!"
    -"Avatar State, yip yip!"
    -"And I think Combustion Man died."


    • Amira says:

      Excellent ideas on the balcony kiss. Also, I think this episode hit on a lot of self-esteem issues for Aang. While certainly not sexist, it probably didnt help him to see himself being played by a rather ditzy girl. It probably also didn't help to have Zuko refuse to move or Katara to not speak up and say she wanted to sit next to Aang. It also didn't help to see her (or at least an interpretation of her) fawn over older guys, drooling about how they were handsome and attractive.

      I have never remembered a time in the show when Aang seemed so worried about what someone thought of him, so afraid of being rejected. I think the play rattled him and I think their talk and I don't think his kiss would have happened if they had just talked things out instead of trying to hash out issues after an embarrassing and emotionally charged play.

      I don't think she was confused. I think she was afraid. Afraid of losing him again. She doesn't handle losing people well and this talk happened just after the scenes where Aang was shot in the back by the lightning.

    • brotorious says:

      Scott Menville


      i've always wanted to say: cool profile image.

      <img src=""&gt;

    • arctic_hare says:

      Excellent comment. 😀 And I too have been meaning to say that I love your profile pic.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      Actually, Netflix keeps the "Previously on…" clips in for every episode except if it groups episodes together, like the finale or two-parters.

      • Depths_of_Sea says:

        Did not know that. Cool.

        (Still a bit of a bummer. The broadcast of the finale had this epic minute-long "Previously On" sequence that like, recapped all the best moments of the whole show. I still miss that in the DVD version.)

        • Murph says:

          I have a rip of the original US broadcast of the finale on my home computer. I can make a clip of the "Previously On" montage and put it on mediafire later on if you'd like.

        • Murph says:

          Here ya go Depths_of_Sea, sorry for a cruddy quality. This was clopped from one of the first broadcast rips posted to /co/ the early morning after it aired 🙂

          No spoilers in there, just a recap of the major story arcs in the series with some AWESOME and tense background music. It really gets you pumped up to watch the finale!

          • Murph says:

            "clopped". Er- I meant *clipped* there!

          • Murph says:

            D'oh! I just checked the finale on netflix and this sequence is in fact fully intact on there. At least those with just the DVDs and no netflix access can see it again, albeit in cruddy quality.

  44. teaspooncapacity says:

    I love The Ember Island Players. Avatar can poke fun at itself, Avatar can poke fun at the fans, I can poke fun at Avatar, everyone wins! It's an episode of nonstop fun.

    My favorite parts:
    -Aang gets cockblocked.
    -"It just gives me so much HOPE!"
    -"Jet, you're so bad."
    -"You never told me you made out with the Moon Spirit." "SHH! I'm trying to watch!" SOKKA CREYS.
    -Toph releases a sonic wave FROM HER MOUTH. That is so undeniably hilarious and badass.
    -"Did Jet just die?" "It was really unclear."
    -"Avatar State, yip yip!"
    -Toph/Zuko interaction! Pretty much the most awesome thing ever.

    As for my favorite scenes in the entire series…oh gosh, that is difficult. Besides the FUCKING AWESOME FINALE FOR WHICH YOU ARE NOT PREPARED, as well as the finales of the other seasons, there's Iroh's Tale for sure, Aang dropping into the Oasis to merge with the Spirit of the Ocean, Katara's badass fight with Pakku for girl power, Sokka being himself during training in Sokka's Master, Toph kicking ass and taking names in The Blind Bandit. One of my ultimate favorites is yet to be seen, but tied for my ultimate favorite is the Zuko vs Ozai showdown in Day of Black Sun. That was the most epic thing I have ever watched ever, and it continues to make me happy and giddy and overall ecstatic many years after it has come out and many times after my original viewing. Zuko's characterization is culminized into a whopping moment of badassery and poetry.

  45. Riel says:

    Favorite scene: Hasn't happened yet!

    Toph Vs. The Boulder
    Team Avatar Vs. The Earth Palace Guards (I love synchronized attacks)

    And from Ep. 3, when Aang enters the Avatar State and all the Avatar statues in the world light up.
    "Send word to the Fire Lord immediately. The Avatar has returned!"

  46. theohgod says:

    [youtube WHy7BZd9ZRM youtube]

    A few fun facts:
    The poster for the play is based on the DVD cover for the first season.

    Sokka's "flying kickapow!" and Zuko's "honorrrr!" both return in the third game as phrases they randomly yell during fights.

    According to Bryke, the writers probably threw in the last few lines as a jab at the M. Night movie.

  47. shoroko says:

    I rewatched this last night and though I've always loved it, I was surprised by how brilliant it is in a lot of ways. Along with the clear meta self-critiques and references, I do think it says a lot about propaganda and how certain people tend to be stereotyped. Just take it in different levels:

    1. "The Boy in the Iceberg" is ultimately a piece of Fire Nation propaganda. This is made obviously clear in the, yes, REALLY DISTURBING ending (not only are Zuko and Aang killed, but the crowd literally RISES FROM THEIR SEATS TO CHEER IT), but I do think there are some subtler instances earlier on. Aang's representation as a sort of Peter Pan-character is a (not always inaccurate) caricature, but it's interesting to note that even in more serious sequences, he's portrayed as silly and immature – he's shown playfully jumping around and pouncing on Fire Nation ships while with the Ocean Spirit in the Siege of the North (compare "The Avatar is Back! Yaaaaaay!" with the trauma and overwhelming fear Aang actually felt subsequent to those events) and goes into the Avatar state with a cheerful "Yip yip!" While it bothers him that he's portrayed by an actress (HORROR OF HORRORS), I think the much more telling issue is that the play belittles the Avatar by portraying him as a silly child even in instances of combat.

    (And there are other minor things, like Azula being shown as distracting Team Avatar rather than nastily lashing out at Iroh after faking surrender – though, of course, "HEY, LOOK, IT'S YOUR HONOR!" was about the funniest thing ever.)

    2. While this in part has to do with the caricature-ish version of the characters and what seems to be various mistranslations and misinterpretations of events as they were related among people, it is interesting how this is shown as ultimately resulting in very stereotypical conclusions. Katara, already considered the most "traditionally feminine" female character on the show a lot of the time, has every such quality about her exaggerated to the extreme. She cries a lot and gives preachy speeches about hope, and her relationship status is brought up about a dozen times, but I don't think we ever see her flip a waterbending ribbon around in combat. Toph is of course a guy because what! A girl character like that! (And on a meta level, a reference to something the writers' themselves had dealt with.) Aang's portrayal is also kind of ageist and possibly speaks to Fire Nation views of the Air Nomads, and… okay my brain is dead but the point is, I think there is something interesting in how they show the cost of these sorts of caricatures, especially when they draw so much from stereotypes.

    3. The obvious meta references all over the place. And even aside from the great self-referential jokes, I think you can sort of pick up some of this as the writers' commentary on their own struggles with developing and maintaining these characters (we know that's definitely true of Toph, for instance), and I really find that quite interesting, especially for what is ultimately a recap show.

    In conclusion: Totally fantastic episode, and a great example in itself of this show's ability to subvert and play with typical narratives and storytelling techniques.

  48. Depths_of_Sea says:

    Oh, and as for my favorite scene… shoot, I don't even know.

    My biggest favorite is probably when Aang strikes the final blow in "The Drill". The way the music swells and how it's staged… it's just mind-meltingly epic. And I distinctly remember that being the moment when I knew I was utterly in love with the show.

    …and I guess I will always have a special place in my heart for this too:

    <img src="; alt="" />

    • Amira says:

      Oh I love that one. I tear up with them every time. Just the beauty and strength of their bond.

    • Rachel says:

      Thank you…I was just thinking of that scene where Katara alone walks up to Angry Aang and embraces him through the chaos. Very good call.

  49. Manself says:

    Not sure if it's been mentioned yet, but Actress Aang was voiced by Rachel Dratch.
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    Favorite scene? I wanna say the end of City of Walls and Secrets. Just so damn chilling.

  50. WHATATWIST says:


  51. Teresa says:

    It's impossible for me to pick a favorite scene (too, too many!), but when you word it like this: "what specific scene is the one your mind goes to when you think about this show?" I see that as a different choice, and a very easy one for me. My mind immediately goes to Aang and Zuko dancing with the dragons. It makes me teary every time, it's such a culmination of things I had hoped for, it wordlessly captures the themes of the show, and it's utterly gorgeous.

  52. LoonyLu says:

    I've been waiting for this episode so I can finally post this!

    [youtube UfDk3I6di5E youtube]

  53. Goldensage says:

    I laugh hysterically every time I watch this episode. EVERY TIME.

  54. sabra_n says:

    Can I just say how much I love the little bits of stagecraft in this episode? The death of stage!Aang was actually really picturesque, and the fight choreography was (of course) good all around. Anyway, as a theater nerd, I loved all the detailed attention that was paid to…well, how theater happens. If they'd had the Gaang interact with the stage crew I'd have been in heaven. 😛

  55. Strabo says:

    Favourite scene from the series? That's hard, because there are so many. It's like "what's your favourite ice cream?"
    Let's make it easier: One per season.
    Season One: Aang and Zuko/Blue Spirit fleeing the castle, including Aang's monologue in the woods.
    Season Two: The fight below Ba-Sing-Se
    Season Three: Katara confronting Yon Rha (although the the interaction between her and Hama is a close runner-up).

  56. brotorious says:

    my favorite is spoilers, so:

    "you don't need to do this!"
    <img src=""&gt;

    runner up (oh god just ONE? i simply do not have the self-restraint.):
    "take my hand."
    <img src=""&gt;

    katara wants to dance with aang. i know it. you know it. katara know it. moltar know it. zorak know it.
    she gets (just a little) nervous, and aang's response is perfect. totally cool, supremely confident.

  57. birdbrainblue says:

    Hmm. I can't think of a specific scene, but I know what my favorite episodes are (BESIDES DAY OF BLACK SUN AND THE MINDFUCKINGLY AWESOME FINALE, OF COURSE) : "Jet" and "The Puppetmaster".

    These are episodes that show ambiguity and chilling depth to characters that at first appear to be heroes, and tell children (CHILDREN!) that nothing is black and white and first appearences can be misleading. They go from whimsical to vaugely creepy to completely disturbing in under half an hour. I LOVE shit like that, where as the story goes on you realize something is very, very wrong.

    • Hyatt says:

      ATLA is great at handling mood whiplash like that. See this episode, where it goes from funny to gut-punching in the last few minutes.

  58. Narrative Priorities says:

    I have been sitting here trying to think of what my favorite scene from this show might be…which is next to impossible, honestly, given how much I adore the entire cast of characters and wrapped up I became in their lives.

    But if I had to choose ONE SCENE, not including anything from the finale?

    Probably it would be the scene with Aang and Zuko in the forest from The Blue Spirit, just after their escape from Zhao and the Yu Yan archers.

    "You know what the worst part about being born over a hundred years ago is? I miss all the friends I used to hang out with. Before the war started, I used to always my friend Kuzon. The two of us, we'd get in and out of so much trouble together. He was one of the best friends I ever had, and he was from the Fire Nation, just like you. If we knew each other back then, do you think we could have been friends too?"

    Particularly given how things ultimately played out in the show?

    Kills me EVERY. TIME. ;___;

    (Runner up: Iroh and Jet's conversation on the ferry to Ba Sing Se.

    Jet: "I’ve done some things in my past that I’m not proud of. But that’s why I’m going to Ba Sing Se, for a new beginning. A second chance."

    Iroh: "That’s very noble of you. I believe people can change their lives if they want to. I believe in second chances."


    • Wendy says:

      Have to second your runner-up.

      Iroh: "That’s very noble of you. I believe people can change their lives if they want to. I believe in second chances."

      Especially when I compare it with more lines like
      Jet: "Have you been to Ba Sing Se?"
      Iroh: "Once, when I was a different man."
      When Iroh got a second chance at life, and a second son like Zuko, he turned his life around.

      and contrast it with Roku's constantly giving Sozin so many chances to stop the war, because he wanted to believe his friend was good. He wanted to believe it so badly, and avoid having to murder his friend or lock him away. It was heartbreaking to see how sometimes you can give a second chance only to get burned again. (Pun not intended?)

      Iroh's line is incredibly beautiful, and I wish I could quote it without sounding superior like a know-it-all.

  59. birdbrainblue says:

    Oh yeah, and also! Any scene that experiments with color. The death of the Moon Spirit in the season one finale, the subtle red tinges to everything in "Jet", the purple space scene where Aang tries to open his last chakra… all the instances where colors are used to emphasize certain emotions or just provide jaw-dropping beauty.

    • Avatar_fan_mom says:

      Right? The whole death of the Moon Spirit scene with the music is so intense. Up there as one of my favorite moments, because I think it is where I decided that this show is so EPIC.

  60. theohgod says:

    Oops, forgot to talk about my favorite scene! I adore Zuko and Sokka's war balloon ride. I think it was the first time we'd seen any Sokka and Zuko interaction, and since they're two of my favorite characters it was really fun to see them doing some awkward teenage bonding.

    Animation wise, I'll always love Aang and Katara's gorgeous dance(/fight?) sequence in "The Headband." In fact, most of the dancing makes me really happy.

  61. Robin says:

    There is a scene I come back to again and again, one that makes the whole series unmistakably worth it for me, one that never fails to be perfectly emotionally satisfying…but it hasn't happened yet.

  62. Hyatt says:

    This is the episode to see before watching the movie. So… much… riffing… material…

    EIP might be love-it-or-hate-it, but I've seen very VERY little of the latter around. Yay, ATLA fandom can take a joke at their expense, apparently!

    Can't say what my favorite scenes are, because all that I can think of come from the finale. Spoilers: It is going to be awesome.

  63. lossthief says:

    My favorite scene? I would tell you Mark, but the problem is you haven't seen it yet!

  64. Jupiter Star says:

    Hands up if most of the scenes you think of when you think of how awesome this show is can't be discussed yet!

    (…okay, so maybe that's just me)

    I'm just gonna have to say the whole series, then. Or maybe when Aang first opens his eyes, all dramatic, beckoning Katara closer…PENGUIN SLEDDING YAY!

  65. Jay Gatsby says:

    First of all, Mark, you don't have to protect this episode. Thank you for feeling the need to protect this show, though. "Ember Island Players" is one of the most beloved episodes in the fandom. It's just so brilliantly written and smart and self-reflective. The writers are very aware of the fandom and made this episode as a tribute to us!

    "Did Jet just die?" "You know, it was very unclear." JUST BRILLIANT!

    Secondly, in regards to your experiment, I hold two scenes about Zuko very close to my heart and I'll tell you all why.

    1.) The scene in "The Storm" where Zuko is meditating and we see a transition from a picture of young, scarless Zuko of the past to the damaged, scared face of Zuko in the present. He's damaged, traumatized, bitter, disenchanted, haunted.

    2.) The scene in ""The Siege of the North, Part 2" where Zuko tells Aang, "I don't need luck though. I don't want it. I've always had to struggle and fight and that's made me strong. It's made me who I am."

    These two scenes create one of the most interesting characters in all of film. Here's a young man who has been so damaged and wronged by the world, and yet all the pain and suffering he has had to endure has made him dedicated to his agenda to the point of obsession. Zuko NEVER falls to hopelessness. He keeps on fighting. It's who he is. The world is an ugly, horrible place, but if you just keep on struggling, fighting, suffering yet continuing, you'll keep moving towards your goal–your dream.

    For me, Zuko is the most important element in the show. He is the reason this show is so great, because most of us know what his experience is like. We all know what it feels to suffer and to be so wronged by the world that it can seem hopeless to sustain any dreams at all. Yet Zuko keeps on fighting. Zuko never gives up and he never slips to despair.

    I'm fighting my own past on a day-to-day basis. I'm trying to make sense of my past which has been confused and disordered. But whenever I feel that I'm slipping to despair and hopelessness, I look to Zuko. I think of Zuko as a role model for myself. If I just keep on fighting on no matter how much I may suffer and be alone, I can achieve my goal. Zuko's story is empowering. I hold his story close to me as a model for how to deal with life.

  66. audzilla says:

    My favorite moment is in the upcoming episode.

    Aside from that, though .. gosh, still a hard choice. Katara's fight with Pakku is high on the list. So is Zuko's confrontation with Ozai.

  67. Lycanthromancer says:

    Um…I do believe "The Ember Island Players" is the 17th episode of this season.

    [Goofy] Somethin's wrong, 'ere! [/Goofy]

    • theohgod says:

      Netflix groups together multi-part episodes, so Day of Black Sun and The Boiling Rock are both listed as one episode.

      • ina300 says:

        Yea, but I think it would be better to call them by there actual episode number. It would be less confusing for us and if you went into a fan forum and started calling EIP "episode 15 of season 3" people would not know what you are talking about.

        You might not think this is a big deal and you are correct it is silly. However during the airing of season 3 the issue of weather DoBS counted as one episode or two did come up. They made a mistake when making the DoBS title cards and accidentally called both episodes "chapter 10". This was eventually fixed for the dvds and future airings, but at the time it caused a huge uproar.

        You see we were told we would get 21 episodes of avatar. Now some people took this to mean DoBS counted as one long episode and the series would still end on episode 20, others thought we would still get a 21st episode and thus actually get 48 extra minutes of avatar that season. Some thought DoBS counted as two separate episodes and they were right.

        I'll post a link to a topic made at the time so you can see what I'm talking about.

        • theohgod says:

          Oh, I don't think it's silly! Those are all very valid points. I was just offering up an explanation as to why Mark was using a different numbering system.

  68. empath_eia says:

    My favourite scene is in the finale. My second favourite would have to be Zuko and Aang ascending the steps to meet the Masters, I think. There are lots of other scenes that other people have mentioned that have great emotional impact, and they were certainly effective for me too (oh god I love this show), but seeing them standing back to back experiencing all that spiritual wonder as friends and brothers just killed me.

    When I first started watching the show, I knew from the first episode that I wanted them to be friends. I didn't think it was possible, though. Then it happened, because the showmakers and I apparently have something in common. That moment really brought home to me how much their relationship changed over the series.

    Also, flipped scar aside, that scene is gorgeous. Dat fire. *___*

  69. Alan says:

    Has this .gif been posted yet?

    <img src=""&gt;

    because it is glorious amazingness.

  70. hungriestgame says:

    "Um, so, we kissed, at the Yule Ball, and, well, I thought we were going to be together forever. But we’re not."

    "Yeah, that a, that pretty much sums it up."

    sound familiar?

    • LoonyLu says:

      "What if the Death Eaters get us? What if we don't come back?"
      "Ron, don't say that. Of course we'll-"
      ~*they kiss*~

      Avatar-Day of Black Sun
      "What if I don't come back?"
      "Aang, don't say that. Of course you'll-"
      ~*they kiss*~

      I totally love that the Starkids watch Avatar too and include it in their plays.

  71. FlameRaven says:

    Ooh, favorite scene? Yeah, I think it's something in the finale, so I can't speak for it yet! That said, the conversation between Toph and Zuko is probably up there. I loved that little moment of theirs, especially since Zuko and Toph is my platonic OTP. 😀

    Also this episode is SO QUOTABLE, I can't even.

    "I'm so full of hope it's making me tearbend!"

    "Zuko! It's time we had a talk– about your hair! It's gone too far!"

    "Did Jet just… die?"
    "You know, it was really unclear."

    "What's that? I THINK IT'S YOUR HONOR!"
    "She escaped– but HOW?!"

    Ah, too many.

    Also, fun fact! Azula's voice actress, Grey deLisle, did Actress!Katara's voice. So weird!

  72. Shay_Guy says:

    In the fifteenth episode of the third season of Avatar: The Last Airbender

    <img src="; />

  73. Michael says:

    You said that the finale was your last chance to experience this universe until 2012 with the Legend of Korra.

    Didn't you forget the amazing live action version?

    • Strabo says:

      There is no live action movie. There never was a live action movie. There will never be a live action movie. Because such a movie would never do the series any justice.

      Maybe if Peter Jackson and Christopher Nolan work together and get a billion dollar to make it into a live action series.

  74. bookgal12 says:

    My favorite scene in the series is hard to choose. This show is so wonderful in so many ways, it is hard to pick out a moment or two. My top two are a moment you haven't seen yet and Zuko's confrontation with his father. Zuko grew on me through the seasons and by Season 3, I wanted him to join Team Avatar and choose his own destiny. And oh boy how blown away I was to see Zuko go toe to toe with Ozai. To see Zuko tell his father the he wants his own destiny and that how Iroh has gotten to him made me cheer for this monumental character development!
    <img src=""&gt;
    Rock on Zuko, Rock on

  75. DuskQ says:

    For me, I love the finale of Siege of The North. It's beautiful and tragic all at once. Yue bravely sacrificing herself almost entirely makes up for her annoying fickleness, and the kiss goodbye breaks my heart every time.….

    That proceeded by Aang going into a much more chilling version of the Avatar State and merging with the Ocean Spirit. I always feel my hairs stand up.

    Every. Single. Time. That scene is beautifully animated complimented by the use of colors or lack there of. It sums up the drama, romance, and fantasy of this show for me perfectly. It reminds me of the complexity of the world's mythology and its politics. Most of all it makes me feel for my favorite characters Sokka and Aang.….

    Could anyone fix my images for me?

    • Avatar_fan_mom says:

      As much as I love the entire series…the finale of Siege of the North is my fave as well. The whole thing actually – Iroh being a badass concerned more with balance of the world than the Fire Nation. It's so goddamn beautiful the way it is done as well – the color, the music – it's just so intense.

  76. Mauve_Avenger says:

    My favorite scene is probably from "The Blue Spirit" when Zuko steals Aang out from under Commander/Admiral/Assistant to the Regional Manager Zhao's nose. You really get a sense of how well Zuko and Aang can work together, and it looks amazing. After that I think it's probably a tie between Pakku and Katara's Waterbending fight, and the flashback of Zuko's history in "The Storm."

    Also, can we just take a moment to appreciate the fact that they replaced the button (at least, I think it's a button?) at Mai's waist with a huge "meh" face? <img src=""&gt;
    <img src=""&gt;

  77. simplefaith08 says:

    I LOVE this episode. It's definitely in my top five. I like that they can make fun of themselves and fandom.
    I also like how the play, while hilarious, is essentially propaganda. But even more interestingly, is something along the lines of how the show would be if it was written as a blockbuster. There is no nuance; Katara's being feminine is exaggerated into "useless weepy love interest," Sokka being comic relief becomes his only trait, Toph becomes a big dude, etc. The meta is strong with this one.

    As the characters said, the play may have sucked, but the effects were decent (Bryke even said, in the commentary, that they think that last scene was added by the writers to be a jab at the movie; which is pretty prophetic, considering that production had barely started at the time :P).

    Gosh, my favorite moments in the series? Hmmm, at the top of my head:

    1) The end of the season 1 finale, with Yue becoming the moon spirit and Aang teaming up with the ocean spirit to defeat the armada.
    2) Sokka getting into a haiku battle.
    3) Katara vs. Pakku (most waterbending-based fights, really)
    4) Katara meeting the man who killed her mother and all that follows.
    5) That scene in "The Avatar State" where the general gets Aang to go into it, with the obvious effects.
    6) Zuko confronting his father.
    7) Mai and Ty Lee standing up to Azula
    8) Toph in her introduction episode. Just…all of her scenes in that episode.

    I have a couple others, but they're in the finale! Which, btw Mark, YOU ARE SO UNPREPARED FOR. ;D

    • arctic_hare says:

      Bryke even said, in the commentary, that they think that last scene was added by the writers to be a jab at the movie; which is pretty prophetic, considering that production had barely started at the time 😛

      They probably had a pretty good idea, given who was making it (and had it been cast yet? I can't remember).

      • Elexus Calcearius says:

        It hadn't been cast yet, but M. Night had been chosen, I believe. Well, not chosen- the movie wouldn't even have been made if not for the director. He was a big fan of the show, and wanted to make a version of it for his daughter, who loved Katara more than anything.

        I guess it goes to show that being a fan doesn't mean that you'll make spin-offs well.

        • arctic_hare says:

          Yep, in the end, M. Night was just another fan with ideas, as this episode put it.

          (More seriously, that part always breaks my heart the most – his daughter loved Katara so much, and he did that to her? I'm pretty sure that's one of the worst presents you could ever give your daughter, dude.)

          • kartikeya200 says:

            Man, I have so many…so many WORDS about what they did to Katara in the movie. Agh agh agh x infinity + forever.

  78. tia says:

    My favorite scene is one coming up. Just thinking about it is making me joyfully tearbend. I love this episode and everything in it. I don't know anyone in fandom who doesn't like it? I thought it was the perfect episode right before the finale.

  79. Picking a favorite scene, well that's tough. My favorite moments usually have to deal with Aang. He was the heart of the series for me, so scenes like the end of "The Desert" when he was just in pain and Katara holds him, the short-lived joy he had showing off his beloved childhood home to his new friends, bravely facing Azula, trying to be friends with Zuko, the suave confident boy asking Katara to dance in The Headband, wanting to be normal and go to school, etc. It's hard to pick.

  80. Celestine says:

    If I had to choose a favorite scene from the entire series, it would have to be Aang's renewed commitment scene in "The Awakening".

    Avatar is saturated with the "never give up" theme. You could say that one scene is a microcosm of one the show's central ideas.

    Plus, it's my favorite episode.

  81. Christie says:

    I can't tell you my favourite scene, since it's in the FINALE TOMORROW (ohgod I'm so excite but whyyyy does it have to end!?) but a second runner up would be when Mai and Ty Lee betray Azula. It was just so AWESOME to see Azula finally realize that she isn't as cunning as she thinks, and it's really taken a number on her.

  82. Angie says:

    Yeah, I love this episode. It is SO entertaining to watch. I have to say. though, the theatre lover/actress in me always gets distracted from the show by daydreaming about how I would construct the sets and costumes and who amongst my group I would cast, etc. And I love the fact that Aang is performed by a woman in the play, which goes back to a long tradition of casting women as boys (because women aren't going to grow any more, and their voices won't change over a long run, etc – the one everybody remembers is Mary Martin as Peter Pan)

    And hey, that's John DiMaggio as Actor Toph! <3

    I can't even begin to pick out my favorite scene. Too hard.

  83. Some of the stuff I liked about Ember Island Players – Toph's sonic wave, the ribbon bending, just the ridiculousness of it.

    But I was bothered along with Aang about his portrayal. He's not sexist. He's not opposed to women fighting and such. But I think at that point in their journey Aang wanted to be seen as the brave Avatar, who was fun and yet a capable young man. Especially in front ot the girl he loves. And his portrayal in the play just I think stripped him of some self esteem. And I think it had an effect on his later talk and kiss mistake with Katara.

    • Avatar_fan_mom says:

      I agree. Seeing himself portrayed in that way brought about that ridiculous poorly timed kiss. It was so out of character for him! Normally he is so respectful, and in any other episode I could see him being upset at Katara's confusion but NOT forcing some weird awkward kiss.

      • The fandom made Aang into such a bad guy for this episode. And yes, what he did was wrong and he beat himself up for it. But like you said – when has this character ever behaved like this? And while I wanted to smack him for what he did I was also irritated with Katara in that scene.

        • milkofthepuppy says:

          Why be annoyed with Katara?

          • I've sent guy friends off to war. One we had a situation very similar to Katara and Aang's. A guy is going off to battle, putting his life on the line for you, your family, your friends, etc. You don't stand there and twirl your hair and poorly communicate. Aang knew he was going to war. He knew what was at stake. He doesn't need to be reminded of that. He wanted to know that she at least acknowledged what he felt. That hope for them wasn't dead. He wanted to kmow they had a chance at least. He was looking for something more than an end to the war to hope for and fight for. And he deserved better than "I'm confused" and "there is a war going on."

            He deserved at the very least: "I know we kissed. I know how much you care about me. And I care about you too. But there is so much going on and it is difficult to understand right now. We should talk abou this, but that i need you to kmow that play is wrong. I don't think of you like that. You are so much more to me. But I need to have a chance to figure out what that all means. Can you give me that time, Aang?

  84. Elexus Calcearius says:

    Choosing one scene? You surely must jest!

    Okay, seriously…..hmm, that's a tough one. I think I'd probably settle for Zuko facing his father in Day of Black Sun; The Eclipse. Its such a powerful scene, showing the pinnacle of Zuko's character development. It highlights the dangers of rampant expansion and propaganda, and is such an empowering moment for anyone who's been abused, or just wants to see Zuko succeed. The speech given by Zuzu is amazing, and the animation during the lightning strike is gorgeous. Bravo!

    As for this episode itself- I love it. It makes sense that they would want something light before the finale- "This is exactly the kind of time wasting nonsense I've been missing"- and a recap episode makes perfect sense. Most recap episodes, I find, are just composed of clips from old episodes, and they're really boring. The Ember Island Players shows off more creativity than most ever put into them, all the while allowing for character interspection and the writers who mock themselves.

    Seriously, how can you not love a show that says "this is where our writing is bad! Let us laugh!" They joke about how the Great Divide was boring, how they can make Katara too preachy, and that Jet's death was overly ambiguous. They make those flaws into writing a celebration. That's truly a joy to behold.

  85. enigmaticagentscully says:

    "I couldn’t help that my mind went straight to one place: “Hollywood X.”"

    Hey Mark, if you're talking about the X Files episode here, I think you mean 'Hollywood A.D.'


  86. Zephyrus says:

    Because this is sort of relevant, I want to bring up this:, you fail.

  87. DeaDlineD37 says:

    Personally, I quite enjoyed this episode. It didn't follow the (from my perception) clichéd "Quiet Before the Storm" technique. The writers knew that fans were aware of the upcoming finale, and as such gave us an episode that pretty much sums up the entire series as means of preparation. What also struck me was how open the writers were about criticism, and how involved they were (and are) with the fan community. How the spectators yawned during "The Drill" recap, Jet's ambiguous death, the dangerous trio in the signature 'Charlie's angels' pose, and above all how the GAang decided to skip the Great Divide.

    As to my favourite scene, it's understatement to say the least to find a specific ONE. One scene from the finale (which I am sure many others share with me) aside, I found the scene that immediately followed Iroh getting struck by lightning (I am at a loss to remember in whcih episode that was in) so melancholic, depressing, so well executed. Zuko's anger mixed with extreme sadness at the potential loss of his uncle come together incredibly to the extent that he completely secludes himself from the outside world (rejecting even Katara's offer to attempt to heal Iroh). Iroh's tale as a whole in "Tales of Ba Sing Se" as well as "The Avatar and the Firelord" are also two episodes which have really marked me from the entire series.

  88. Violets are Blue says:

    This is, hands down, one of my favorite episodes. The hilarity of it just gets me everytime (which is why I am extremely upset that, for an entire SUMMER, NickToons would refuse to play it during the consecutive hour block of Avatar every weekday morning simply because the odd number of episodes in the third season mess their schedule up). Everything about it is amazing and just the people are great.


  89. Fishylungs says:

    For me there's never one favorite moment, unless I'm dividing it between characters. There' Sokka's whole jounrey with Pian Dao, The Runaway with Toph, Katara's fight with Pakku, Zuko's moments in The Firebending Masters, just Iroh always, Azula's intro lines/final line before the finale.

    Funny enough there's no side characters I would list. A lot of them are kind of jerks.

    As for my favorite Aang moment. The finale. Just, when you see it it'll make sense. All of the finale.

  90. sam says:

    Maybe I'm just really shallow, but I absolutely love the beautiful, well-choreographed fight scenes in this show. The gracefull martial arts paired with supernatural bending is like WHY IS THIS NOT REAL AND WHY CAN I NOT DO IT. I pretty much love all of the fight scenes.

    Concerning scenes with, like, conversations and plot points and stuff, I definitely love Mai's decision at the end of the Boling Rock, Toph fighting in the earth rumble arena (oops that's a fight scene lolz. But I was thinking "What did I like about that episode the best, and that's what came up), Zuko at Day of Black Sun, and Katara's leadership at the desert. Also Aang being Koizilla, because of the music used. This show has also got some amazing music.

    Oh, and does anyone remember that one moment in the Kyoshi Island episode where Iroh says to Zuko "Aren't you going to eat your fish?" and Zuko swipes the plate from the table and is like "I'm saving it FOR LATER!" I love when the show has these little moments of comedy.

    Looove this shoooooow

  91. momster says:

    I first watched Avatar at my own pace last summer with my kids who are now 9 and 12. The 9 year-old is a boy who love a lot about the series and is an uber-geek in the making but the silly episodes are all his favorites. My daughters favorites are the ones where she imagines herself as Zuko's girl. But we collectively have a favorite scene and it has a lot to do with our viewing experience when we first saw it. It is when Zuko finally confronts his father. We were are really crushed by his choice not to make the break and join Team Avatar in Ba Sing Se, so when he did finally do the right thing – and do it so awesomely – we all started yelling "Go Zuko!" over and over and clapping our hands and rewinding and re-watching. It was glorious!

    Funny story too about this episode. I had heard of many online friends being really into the show while it was still on and I thought about checking it out but pretty much figured I'd wait until it was all over. However, I caught just a glimpse of Ember Island Players one time and didn't realize the show-within-a-show was just that. I thought it was the actual show and thought it was SO DUMB! (Hey, don't judge. It was in a crowded area with barely any volume and such.) Later it was explained to me that I was definitely not operating with all the facts.

    • Avatar_fan_mom says:

      Love that this show appeals to ALL ages. My 3, 5, and 10 year old are as obsessed with it as I am. It's a beautiful and rare thing when a show can simultaneously entertain kids and adults, without having to sneak in all these little jokes for the parents or dumb things down for the little ones. I keep looking for something similar for us to enjoy as a family, and it is just NOT happening.

      Oh well….we shall continue to rewatch Avatar for now…

  92. thesimplyuninspired says:

    So, if I had to pick JUST ONE SCENE from this show? The one I keep going back to is from "The Blue Spirit":
    "If we had known each other back then, do you think we could have been friends?"
    It's such a quiet, somber moment, and even though Zuko rejects the idea at that moment, you can tell it sticks with him. And it's such a good piece of meta, knowing that they eventually do become friends, but at this moment in time, they are not at that place yet. (Aaaaand maybe I just love Aang's and Zuko's relationship, it makes my heart so happy.)

    "What's that? It looks like your honor!!" Oooh, BURN.

  93. enigmaticagentscully says:

    Favourite scene? Iroh's tale in 'Tales of Ba Sing Se', hands down.

    Favourite episode? PROBABLY THIS ONE TBH. It might just be because I'm in such an Avatar place right now, but I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. :D:D:D
    I LOVE IT when a show pokes fun at itself like this.

    It reminded me a lot of the Stargate SG1 episode 'Wormhole X-treme'. Any SG1 fans here?
    In that episode some guy makes a TV show based off the real life Stargate program, complete with cheesy dialogue and ridiculous caricatures of the main characters. And it's basically just one big excuse to take the PISS out of themselves and I love that episode like cake.

    • hpfish13 says:

      The process was the other way around for me. I saw Wormhole X-treme after seeing Ember Island Players, but they are beautifully similar!

    • notemily says:

      Wormhole X-treme was great! SG1 has such a great sense of humor about itself.

  94. jubilantia says:

    HEY YOU WITH THE TOUGH QUESTIONS. HOW DO YOU EXPECT ME TO PICK JUST ONE??? I mean, really. You could pick a funniest, most character-defining, most heart-breaking moment, etc.^infinity for each character and still have so many left over.

    I might have to go by character on this one, and excluding the finale. I'd have to say my top one would be the scene in The Blue Spirit when Zuko is unmasked, and Aang's subsequent (heart-warming/breaking) talk with him, and his reaction.

    It also happens to be the first episode I saw, but it is such a huge moment that drives the point home that Zuko has more depth than we ever imagined- and that it's going to be harder than we thought to get him to rainbow-bend with the others. It encompasses the complexity of the character interactions in the show, which I think are its greatest strengths.

    Aang's flashback episodes and the chakra sequences are my favorite serious ones for him, but I can't pick a favorite funny one.

    Now for the other characters. For Toph, pretty much the entire Blind Bandit episode, as well as the scene at the end of season 2 when she learns to metal bend. My favorites for Sokka: Foo-foo Cuddly-poops, the sword episode, all his scenes with Suki, and the haiku-off in Tales of Ba Sing Se.

    For Katara, I LOVE her fight with Master Pakku- it shows how focused and passionate she is and makes me want to be her when I grow up. Plus the scenes where she pulls Aang out of the Avatar State- she's so understanding and loving in those, and it highlights how close the bond between the characters has become.

    Also the Firebending Masters dragon scene is one of my all-time favorites, and pretty much all of Zuko's scenes are really well done, but especially his scenes at the beginning of season 3 where he is desperately searching in his conversations with Iroh, and it's clear that Iroh knows he can no longer guide Zuko, that he has to stand back and trust Zuko to find balance within himself. Soooo heart-wrenching. And then of course the confrontation with his father was really cathartic for me.

    Anyway yeah, those are by no means all of my best ones, but that would probably be a good 80% of the series, so I'm stopping. None for the Dangerous Ladies or Appa and Momo, but I think they speak for themselves.

    I am firmly on the side of love for the Ember Island Players episode. It's awkward, but it's plausibly awkward. The way the writers make fun of themselves and the fans just tickles me to pieces.

    I will be going to the Obon Festival tomorrow in San Jose, so no liveblog for me, but I'm looking forward to your Monday review and I hope everybody has a blast!

  95. Pelleloguin says:

    I am SO excited for the finale! It's gonna be GREAT! And that is all I can say on the topic because there are no spoilers in Mark Sing Se.

    I really like this episode, it's a lampshade hanging fest of a recap episode and the writers actually get us pupped for the coming epicness because of the way the play ends. They all died! And the audience loved it! Fire Nation propaganda knows no bounds, and the 'what if that really happens' factor all of the characters are feeling really makes you wonder what is going to happen in the last few episodes.

  96. Stephalopolis says:

    I've been wondering how you would take this episode, Mark, because it was basically an episode written for the fandom. Filled with SO much meta commentary… it made me laugh and enjoy my self wondrously, but I was involved in the fandom at that point. I'm glad that this episode stands up and is hilarious even in years past 🙂

    As for my favorite scene….. hmmmmm. It's definitely a Zuko one, now I just have to decide which 😛

    *5 minutes later* Well…. while Aang and Zuko on top the mountain "dancing" and being surrounded by dragon fire was a very very close second, I'm going to have to ultimately decide that my favorite is the moment when Iroh angrily tells then-dense Zuko that he has two great grandfathers… and one of them was Avatar Roku. (whoah… Zuko and Roku look very similar- never noticed that before. Just change the Z to an R and switch the u and o) Just that moment of "shock" for Zuko, and the complete shifting of how he viewed that story he read, and the alternate view of his history. Powerful moment for me.

  97. tori says:

    This is a flawless episode. Honestly, it is. The creators make fun of themselves, we get to relive all of the past episodes that we love so much, and it's also got an intense ending to remind us all where we're headed next. I love this episode so much and it keeps me laughing throughout. I have to say that this one is my favorite of the series. But there are so many. The Waterbending Scroll, The Storm, The Southern Raiders, Zuko Alone, The Blue Spirit, there are just too many! I love this show so much and it's ending is so bittersweet. Everything is tied up and the ending, but we have that sad feeling that there will never be a show like this ever again.

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