Mark Watches ‘Avatar’: S03E16 – Sozin’s Comet, Parts I & II

In the first half of the series finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender, both sides assemble for the oncoming battle against the Fire Nation. In the process, though, Aang disappears and some old friends show up to give their support. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Avatar.

PART I

I was fascinated that the opening minutes of “Sozin’s Comet” contained so much happiness, especially since there wouldn’t be much of it in the rest of the story to come. It’s both a sign of how unprepared Aang feels and the desire of the gang to enjoy what they had while it still lasted. It was also nice just to see them all interacting with so much happiness on their faces. I think I also knew, deep down, that this was the last time I’d get to see all four of these characters acting downright silly, enjoying watermelon juice, having a beach part, and laughing at Sokka’s interpretive art. It was one of those moments where I had to stop and acknowledge that this show and this wonderful experience was coming to an end.

Okay, I must also admit I was wondering WHAT THE HELL THESE CHARACTERS WERE DOING. The greatest fight of their lives was closing in, and they were building sand Appas? I’m certainly not a fan of over-preparing myself, but this seemed like the polar opposite of that. Sokka, the king of over-preparation and mass paranoia, even seemed disinterested in Zuko’s insistence that Aang needed to train more. That’s when Katara reveals a secret that sort of puts an interesting context on the last few episodes: They had all decided to wait until after Sozin’s Comet passed to attack the Fire Lord. Considering that the Fire Nation had pretty much “won” the war after taking Ba Sing Se, what else could they do while Aang was still not trained as well as he could be?

I guess it sort of makes sense, though it’s about taking failure in a different direction than they had in the past. We’d seen Team Avatar fail numerous times since the end of season two, so now it looked as if they were being preemptive about protecting themselves. And I get that! But….surely they didn’t think that Ozai would just do nothing when the comet passed by?

I suppose that’s a moot point to make; Zuko reveals why he is so upset with the stagnant nature of the group. To be frank, the desire to know what Zuko had witnessed in that first war meeting with his father had never crossed my mind. It didn’t seem like the show was hiding anything from us at the time; it just seemed natural that the scene wasn’t shown to us. The story of Zuko’s unhappiness was more important than the details of a war meeting.

LOL NOPE NOT AT ALL. For Zuko reveals that in that very meeting, he inadvertently gave his father the idea that the only way to crush the Earth Kingdom’s rebellious nature was to exterminate them. It was immediately apparent to me what the writers would do: parallel this with the genocide on the Air Nomads. It’s almost the exact same situation: Ozai would use the same comet his grandfather did to wipe out an entire nation. jesus christ. Yet even knowing that this is what Ozai has planned, the writers do such a fantastic job dealing with the horrific moral quandary that Aang has now been thrust into.

We know that Aang prefers to use violence as a last resort, that he prefers being clever and witty (UM IS AANG THE DOCTOR WTF), but we also know that Zuko is probably right. There doesn’t seem to be any option left: Aang will have to kill the Fire Lord in order to stop him from eliminating every remaining Earth Kingdom citizen. It is touching, though, that Aang’s friends are quick to offer their support, to assure Aang that he won’t be alone in this mission. Seriously, what are friends for? Oh, right. Group hugs. Ugh, this show is slowly destroying my heart. I know we’ve already dealt with Katara’s anger at Zuko, but seeing her invite him into the Great Team Avatar Friendship Hug was wonderful.

And so the group, led by Zuko, begins to run Aang through a series of training exercises. Even if they only have three days to prepare, they’re certainly not going to waste what they do have. Zuko teaches Aang the ability to pass lightning through his body, warning how fatal it could be. When Aang jokes that Katara could just heal him afterwards, Katara sheepishly reveals that she used all of the spirit water on Aang the last time. WELL. SHIT. I’d been feeling that the training was going well, but from that moment on, everything just feels wrong. The writers wouldn’t include that detail without building off of it, and they use it to imbue the story with the reality of death: Either Aang or Fire Lord Ozai is going to die at the end of this.

That’s what makes this finale so spectacular, though: Aang refuses to believe this is the only choice he has before him. It’s a reluctant refusal at first, though. Because he must face the mighty Melon Lord before Ozai, and the Melon Lord is a valiant and frightening adversary. I bow before the Melon Lord. But it highlights the bizarre nature of what Aang is dealing with: His entire culture taught him all life was sacred, so much so that even slicing the head off of a melon dummy is too much for him.

Even later, when Katara finds a picture of Lord Ozai as a child and Zuko laments that the cute child grew up into a horrific person, Aang is still resistant. Even if Lord Ozai was responsible for the most heinous crimes imaginable, does that negate his right to life? (I know it wasn’t intended, but there’s a neatly coded criticism of the death penalty here.) Of course, everyone else doesn’t see the problem because they’re not the ones who have to kill another person. Well…I do get why Zuko doesn’t care. He doesn’t love his father, and the sooner the man has no chance of ever ruining his life again, he’ll have closure. Even then, the point still stands: Aang is the one who is supposed to take another life. Frustrated and confused, he storms away from the group, determined to figure this out on his own.

I think in hindsight, it was easy to assume that, upon meditating, Aang had somehow contacted someone or something in the Spirit World, and when the strange island appeared in the night, I figured that we’d be given some crucial information from other spirits (and maybe the past Avatars) about what Aang could do instead of killing Lord Ozai. So Aang and Momo head to this tiny, bizarre island, telling no one where they are. WHICH IS A GOOD PLAN, YES?

Regardless, Aang “disappears,” sending his friends into a panic about where he could be. It’s even pointed out that my own idea about Aang being in the Spirit World is impossible: He didn’t leave his body behind and Momo is gone as well. WELL, THIS IS INTERESTING. And who knew that there would come a day when Team Avatar would willingly ask Zuko to track down Aang? Oh, I love this show so much, and the way that it inverts things like this.

It was great to see June again, even if it was only a brief flash at the end of the first part, but the whole time, I couldn’t figure out why this chapter was called “The Phoenix King.” The writers were cleverly saving that for the end, as we switch over to the Royal Plaza, where Ozai is ready to depart to the Airship Base to begin his journey to the Earth Kingdom. I can’t lie: I was unbelievably shocked when Ozai told Azula to stay behind. It made no sense to me at first. But as he explained that he only trusted her to watch over the Royal Palace while he was gone, I sort of felt that he wasn’t stating the other reason: He thought she was a bit too much, which was clearly demonstrated by her resistance towards obeying her own father and pitching a whine fest. However, even if that’s the case, he still enables her to act out her hideous form of rule: He makes her the new Fire Lord, and then proclaims himself the Phoenix King, ruler of the entire world. Part of me thought that it was kind of sad that Azula’s new position was sort of meaningless under her father’s new role, but I was also worried at what Azula would do with her new power.

It couldn’t be good.

PART II

Well, Aang doesn’t exist anymore. How the hell is that possible?

The reintroduction of June into the story was done well, especially since it’s clear that she has no particular allegiance to anyone but herself and her Shirshu, Nyla. (Plus, given what happens at the walls of Ba Sing Se later, the group didn’t really need another person joining their group.) Aside from using her to establish that Aang was somewhere quite unique, it’s also remarkably effective at injecting this all with an air of surrealism. You can even see the slight shock on June’s face, as I’m sure this has never happened before. Which, of course, leads us to one question: Where is Aang?

As Zuko gives June an old sandal to June to track down the only other person who might be able to help him if Aang does not return (IROH IROH IROH IROH!!!), we flash over to Aang, who is just as confused as we are as to where he is. He’s no longer near the beach he left; in fact, he’s in the middle of the ocean. Ok, so it moves? How is that possible? IS THIS SHOW TURNING INTO LOST. Well, it’s definitely nothing to do with the Spirit World, so Aang figures he should head to the highest point on the island to get a better look at where he might be.

I love that the writers decide to switch back and forth between both Aang and the rest of Team Avatar making surprising discoveries at nearly the same time. Aang discovers a bizarre hexagon made up of a material that is impossible to bend. Which…even in hindsight, I can’t recall if this is ever explained. Simultaneous to this, June’s Shirshu brings Team Avatar to the walls of Ba Sing Se. My first thought was that Iroh had returned to the same tea shop that he had spent time in with Zuko, but that thought immediately made no sense once I remembered that Ba Sing Se had fallen. You know, that huge plot point. Instead, it appeared at first that they’d all walked right into a trap. After setting up camp that night before heading into the city, they are all woken up when they are immediately surrounded by fire. GREAT THEY JUST TURNED THEMSELVES INTO THE FIRE NATION, I thought. Except…doesn’t that guy look familiar? Wait….KING BUMI??? WHAT??? Oh, how fantastic was this reunion? All four masters we’d come across in this show–Jeong Jeong, Piandao, Pakku, and Bumi–have all come to help Team Avatar. Oh, right. Because they belong to the ORDER OF THE WHITE LOTUS.

a;sdlfkjadsf;kladjsf

as;dflkjas;dflkjasd;flkjasd;fla sf;kalsjdf ;lkasjdf ;lkasjfadskljf

I LOVE THIS SHOW SO MUCH.

And as joyous as this was, I couldn’t help but notice how tonally contrasting Aang’s experience on his magical island was when you put the two side by side. As Team Avatar are reunited with their own masters and the idea of a Zuko/Iroh reunion looms before us, Aang is reunited with Avatar Roku in the hopes of attaining wisdom regarding the difficult path ahead of him. Surprisingly, Roku also has no idea where they are. That’s a comforting thought, isn’t it?

If I’m going to talk about what feels comforting, then it must be said that it was a pretty bold move on the part of the writers to have every single incarnation of past Avatars that Aang calls forth advise him to kill Fire Lord Ozai. Roku admits that his careless nature in dealing with his friend Sozin is what caused the war in the first place, so he urges Aang to be “decisive.” Even worse, Aang then summons Avatar Kyoshi and even tries to reason with her, saying that Chin’s death was merely incidental. She disagrees, stating she would have killed him anyway if it had been necessary. She says something fascinating: “Only justice will bring peace.” Part of what justice is involves closure. How can Aang bring closure to this war and to the events that have torn apart the lives in his world if the Fire Lord is still around?

What a difficult situation. The writers never poke fun at it, and I’m glad it’s written so seriously. This is a heavy topic to deal with on a kids show, and they don’t take it lightly at all. Still, Aang is no closer to discovering another method of winning the war than he was before, and we finally get to meet other past Avatars besides Kyoshi and Roku. Aang summons the spirit of Kuruk, the most recent water bending Avatar. And it seems that Aang may have found his answer: Kuruk lived in a time of love and prosperity. However, much to Aang’s dismay, the man’s laziness was his ultimate demise. We finally get to see what Koh meant when he told Aang that he had stolen the face of the lover of one of his past lives, and the message is clear: Without taking a stance in the world, other forces shape your destiny.

Well, he’s 0 – 3. That’s….reassuring?

Back with Team Avatar, the group is brought into the White Lotus camp while Bumi recounts how he finally escaped from the Fire Nation at Omashu. (Oh god, I love Bumi so much.) There’s a lot going on in this chapter of the final episode, but when Zuko was taken to his uncle’s tent, I knew we were about to witness the one moment I was looking forward to. Even thinking about it now, I do feel a wave of emotions washing over me, and the image of Zuko sitting out side his uncles tent, unsure if the man who has been the best father he could ever want, will be willing to forgive him.

Dante Bosco gives his best voice performance in the entire series’ run in this chapter. If you re-watch Zuko’s apology again, it’s obvious that you can hear how Dante’s voice changed. We had never heard Zuko like this. His voice cracks and rises in volume, and he speaks as if he’s got a lump of shame and terror in the back of his throat. I was terrified, too, that Iroh had finally lost patience in his nephew, but before Zuko could even ask how to redeem himself in his uncle’s eyes, Iroh throws himself upon his nephew, tears freely falling from his eyes, because he had already forgiven Zuko. Ugh, I just had to stop for a second because my eyes started watering again. I am pressed to think of a more rich, detailed, and emotional character journey than that of Zuko, and if you think back to his first moments way back at the beginning, he’s an entirely different person than he was before. What’s great about that is that the writers have never made his story seem artificial and cheap. This has been a natural (if incredibly difficult journey) for the boy who once devoted his life to capturing the boy in the iceberg.

IT JUST MAKES ME HAPPY, OKAY? NO JUDGING ALLOWED.

I wish I could say that Aang’s journey was suddenly this easy, but when he manages to summon the last air bending Avatar, it’s now clear that Aang has a horrific decision ahead of him. Avatar Yangchen agrees that Aang has the right idea about the world, that all life is sacred, but that Aang’s role as an Air Nomad must be put aside to satisfy his duty as an Avatar. Contradicting what Guru Pathik told Aang, Yangchen reveals that the Avatar must remain attached to the world, since they would be destined to protect it.

And thus, Aang knows he only has one option left: He must kill Fire Lord Ozai.

“Sozin’s Comet” moves straight into the surreal and the terrifying in the final minutes of the second chapter. Still assuming that Aang might not come back, Zuko asks Iroh to join them in defeating the Fire Lord. It’s interesting thinking both about what Iroh tells Zuko and what the group decides to do having seen the full episode, too. Iroh refuses to fight his own brother, stating that it’s best for the Avatar to follow his destiny, rather than for him to follow in a long line of sibling violence and scrambles for power. While it’s certainly great to hear Iroh praise his nephew and urge him to take the throne as the next Fire Lord (!!!!!), I was totally fascinated when I realized how much this whole group had planned without Aang. Of course, they all hope that Aang will return in time to fight Ozai, but I never expected that in the finale, they would be split up in the way they do here. Aang is off on some mysterious island, Zuko and Katara are off to fight Azula, and Toph, Sokka, and Suki are planning on going after Ozai’s airships. When does splitting up ever work out? Ok, sometimes it does, but I didn’t really have the greatest feeling about it, and Aang’s disappearance was probably all a part of that. They had to come up with new plans in the spur of the moment. What if they didn’t work out? What if some other variable caused another failure?

At the very least, though, I was relieved to discover that Aang was not stuck out in the middle of the ocean anymore. That moving island? It’s not really an island. I can’t even recall when it was first mentioned, but the writers saved the appearance of the very first Lion Turtle until the end of the series. And holy shit, it is a million times bigger than I could have possibly imagined. I don’t know if lion turtles are known to be wise animals due to their age or if Aang was just desperate, but he asks the turtle for its wisdom regarding Fire Lord Ozai.

I certainly did not understand what the lion turtle was talking about, and I definitely had no clue why Aang lit up in an emerald blast of light when the lion turtle touched him, but Aang seemed so content and pleased to receive the creature’s wisdom. But what wisdom did he give Aang?

As Aang departs from the lion turtle with Momo, it’s apparent that the time for war has come. From here on out, as Sozin’s Comet suddenly arrives, the sky is painted blood red: a sign of violence. Aang waits on a cylindrical crag as the Fire Lord begins his journey to eradicate the Earth Kingdom.

Shit is gonna get real, y’all.

THOUGHTS

  • Toph’s field trip was the worst. Poor Toph!
  • HOW AWESOME WAS THE RETURN OF THE CHANT.
  • I thought it looked like Suki.
  • Does June always throw men into tables?
  • I’m sorry, that had to be a Captain Planet reference, right?
  • “I AM MELON LORD.”
  • I may–may–declare Sokka’s belief that Appa ate Momo and Aang as the best joke in the series. Good god, that was so perfect.
  • PAKKU IS NOW KATARA AND SOKKA’S GRANDFATHER! Granpakku!!!
  • “So what about you guys? Did you do anything interesting on the day of the eclipse?” “Nah.” “No, not really.” LOL INDEED.
  • “All old people know each other. Don’t you know that?” Bumi, you are perfect.

 

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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388 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Avatar’: S03E16 – Sozin’s Comet, Parts I & II

  1. July 19, 2008: The Day in Fandom

    "Holy shit, the Watchmen trailer comes out!"

    "Holy shit, The Dark Knight comes out!!"

    "Holy shit, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, Act III, comes out!!!"

    "HOLY SHIT ZOMG AVATAR SERIES FINALE AAAAAHHH!!!!"

    It was like the most anticipated weekend of all time.

    In conclusion, since all four of these works are known for their music, have some music from the finale.

    • psycicflower says:

      Thanks so much for the music. I may have had them on repeat most of yesterday. And on the bus this morning. And on the way home this evening.

      • Avatar_fan_mom says:

        Yes! I was doing dishes and laundry while listening to it today, and
        tomorrow morning's pre-work yoga session will be amazing.

        Thank you!

    • LucyGoosey says:

      Good day in general

    • Partes says:

      This post has reminded me that I really need to see Dr Horrible. I've heard so many awesome things about that show but just keep putting it off. NO MORE.

      Also, wow at that music.

      • Caterfree10 says:

        WHY HAVE YOU NOT SEEN IT YET? YOU MUST AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE, I HOPE YOU KNOW~ It's available on Netflix streaming if you have that (AND IT'S LEGAL <3). If not YouTube should have it, though I kinda doubt it's official there. :/

  2. tigerpetals says:


    <DIV style="OVERFLOW: auto"><IMG alt=Photobucket src="
    http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n69/Galiene/MyLittleZukoPonyPaint.jpg&quot; border=0>

    I made this over the weekend. I used Paint for the scar and Cutie Mark. For the rest, http://generalzoi.deviantart.com/art/MLP-FiM-Pony

    It's a My Little Zuko Pony.

  3. arctic_hare says:

    ARCTIC_HARE'S SEMI-ORGANIZED THOUGHTS ON PARTS I & II OF SOZIN'S COMET

    – Sokka, sorry, but Zuko was perfectly justified in destroying that thing. He did everyone a favor. 😀

    – Sokka has it right about Ozai's plan: it's pure evil. Ozai is an unredeemable monster to me more than ever after seeing that scene. I don't know what went wrong to twist him into such a horrifying human being, but I can't see how anyone could come back from that. I see Aang's POV on not wanting to take a life, but honestly? Ozai does need to be stopped and at this point in the story, it's hard to see an alternative way to do that.

    – Awwww, Zuko gets to be part of the group hug! THIS IS ALL I EVER WANTED FOR HIM, AND YOU DID TOO, MARK. IS IT NOT WONDERFUL? <3

    – "I AM NOT TOPH! I AM MELONLORD!" I love you forever, Toph. <3 <3 <3

    – "And the worst father in the history of fathers." PREACH IT, ZUKO.

    – Why is it not possible for me to reach through the TV and pull Momo out? (Alternatively, I just read the book Inkheart, and if I could read stuff out of books the way certain characters can in that novel, I would write fanfic about Appa and Momo and bring them out of it.)

    – The sequence in which that weird island appears and Aang sleepwalks/swims out to it is kinda spooky.

    – "What? Everyone else went on a life-changing field trip with Zuko, now it's my turn!" Except poor Toph gets the worst field trip ever. 🙁 I wish they'd been able to give her her own episode devoted to Adventures with Zuko.

    – I will always laugh really hard at Sokka thinking Appa ate Momo, especially Zuko telling him to get out of Appa's mouth.

    • arctic_hare says:

      – Ozai, what the fuck. No really, what the fuck. He's used Azula to get this far and now he's throwing her away? JFC, this piece of shit. He twists and warps her into a mini-version of himself, uses her desire to stay in his favor to make gains in the war, and now just tosses her aside. Giving her the title of Fire Lord is a fucking joke, because with him as "Phoenix King" the title is going to be meaningless. An empty honor. This is what makes him the worst father in the history of fathers: he abuses one child, and even the one he purports to love and favor is, in actuality, nothing more than a tool to be manipulated and used until their worth to him runs out. Azula learned how to do that from him, and now she's finding out that he was doing it to her all along.

      Look. I know she's done awful things that can't be excused, and has been a pretty awful person throughout the series. But I can't help but feel awful for her, because I really do blame Ozai for a lot of how she turned out. He ruined her. He caused her to lose her balance, and she's now suffering so much emotionally. It's easy to forget because she's so cruelly brilliant, but she's still fourteen years old. Only a year older than Zuko was when he was burned and banished by his own father. Ozai has caused serious emotional damage to both his children, just in very different ways, and when it comes down to it, I can't hate Azula. I never did, honestly – from the beginning she was an awesome villain that I had the "love to hate" feeling towards. She was whip-smart, creative, genre-savvy, and incredibly competent all around in a way that I love to watch, and so rarely get to see. I want villains to be a credible threat to the protagonists, so Azula delighted me from the getgo in that respect. As time went on, and I began to see deeper into her troubled psyche – in The Beach in particular, and especially in this four-part finale – I began to realize just how badly Ozai had warped her and how much of a distance there was between her and regular people. I can't take any joy in watching her crumble like this, because it's just so sad to me. She isn't any less deserving of a loving parental influence than Zuko is, and I think the lack of it, plus Ozai being so horrible, pushed her into this. All the adults around her failed her, in my view: Ozai was completely horrifying, Ursa said things like "What is wrong with that child?" within earshot, and unfortunately I don't think Iroh made much of an effort for whatever reason. Azula desperately needed someone in her life who cared about her unconditionally and wanted what was best for her, who tried to help her be the best person she could be, the way Ursa and Iroh did for Zuko. The way that Katara is for Toph, as discussed in The Runaway. Azula never had anyone like that, and I think that's at least part of the source of her inability to maintain friendships without using fear to control them (which, as we know, only lasts so long). She just doesn't know any different from what Ozai's been teaching her all these years. She's been truly alone for so long, and now Mai and Ty Lee's betrayals, and her father's sudden rejection of her, is showing her the truth of that. She's having the rug yanked out from under her; no wonder she's hurting so much. It's really sad for me to watch.

      – YOU AND ME BOTH, TOPH. JUNE IS WONDERFUL. <3 <3 <3

      – The ending of part one really really has a Lost feel to it.

      • arctic_hare says:

        – My voice crush on Jennifer Hale is eternal. <3

        – THANK YOU. I appreciate the line about Iroh's actions towards her having been creepy.

        – HE SAVED THE STINKY SANDAL. OH. MY. GOD. 😀 His being able to identify it as Iroh's by the odor was funny enough back then, but knowing that he ended up hanging onto it through all that happened afterwards? Makes it even funnier.

        – ASKDKHSGDKSLJA:LSKHDSKJGDSN I SERIOUSLY DON'T HAVE THE WORDS FOR THIS. PIANDAO. JEONG-JEONG. PAKKU. BUMI!!! THIS IS SO AWESOME. <3 <3 <3

        – Although it does need more ladies. 🙁 Seriously. LESS SAUSAGEFEST, PLEASE.

        – Aang, don't hate. Kyoshi is made of badass and awesome and win. She Avatared LIKE A BOSS and deserves respect.

        – Speaking of doing things LIKE A BOSS, Bumi taking back Omashu is one of the greatest things I've ever seen. And after how sad and awful it felt to see Omashu conquered back in Book Two, it feels so cathartic and gratifying. Especially when he takes down that statue of Ozai. FUCK YES.

        – I love Zuko and Sokka's answer to his question about what they did on the day of the eclipse.

        – AGH KOH

        – I've seen it theorized that the personality of an Avatar is influenced by their predecessor's approach to their duties, and after seeing Aang consult these past four, I buy it. We sadly don't know enough about Yangchen to judge what made Kuruk so laid-back, but it's easy to guess that his carefree attitude influenced Kyoshi taking everything more seriously. In turn, Kyoshi's actions towards Chin probably caused Roku to want to exercise restraint… but that backfired rather spectacularly for him and the whole world, didn't it? Personally, I think that with regards to these four past Avatars, Kyoshi and Yangchen come off the best, as the most competent Avatars. I love what Yangchen says to him, and I really want to know more about her.

        – Awwww. I love that Katara encourages Zuko when he's hesitating outside Iroh's tent. They've come so far, these two, and are real friends now who support and care about each other, as we also saw in the group hug, and later when he asks her to go with him to the Fire Nation to take down Azula. :') It's wonderful.

        – Even more wonderful, though, is the actual reunion between Iroh and Zuko. I can't watch it without crying, it's so beautiful. It's what we've all been waiting for since Day of Black Sun, and it's every bit as amazing as we'd hoped. It's so sweet and moving. Everyone who assured Zuko that Iroh wouldn't hate him, that his actions during the eclipse and afterwards would make him proud, was right, and I think we all knew that, but it's so much better to be able to confirm it with this scene. I didn't mention it on Friday, but like many others, this is one of my favorite scenes in the whole show.

        – I love what Iroh says. Every last bit of it. He's completely right about why he can't be the one to defeat Ozai, and about what Zuko has been through and why he needs to be the next Fire Lord. It's a lovely summation of Zuko's personality and struggles and how he's overcome so much, and I'm so glad he said what I've been thinking since Day of Black Sun: that he restored his own honor. Because he did, and because that's how it works. No one else could ever have done that for him, he had to do it all on his own, and he did. It's been such an amazing character arc that I feel so happy to have watched.

        – I also love that Iroh asks Sokka "What do you think it is?" when Sokka wants to know what his, and Suki's, and Toph's destinies are. FREE WILL, FUCK YES.

        – Awwww, Sokka hugging Piandao. 😀

        <img src="http://i55.tinypic.com/2ajrk3a.jpg&quot; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

        I feel that sums it up.

        • kartikeya200 says:

          My voice crush on Jennifer Hale is eternal.

          MINE TOO

        • tigerpetals says:

          I never read the novelization, but I believe someone on TWOP posted a quote from the group hug scenes. Zuko was thinking "I'm too cool to need group hugs," and then when he joined in he was all "YES!!"

          June's attitude is refreshing: a more self-centered grown-up Toph.

          I think Zuko asking Katara for help with Azula is a callback to him interrupting their fight at Ba Sing Se.

          Agree with your thoughts on Azula, and on that note:

          http://snarp.dreamwidth.org/275177.html on the finale and female stereotypes in general http://coffeeandink.dreamwidth.org/299956.html On Azula and older women role models http://kaigou.dreamwidth.org/350898.html Deconstructing Azula

          There was a fanfic trilogy focused on Azula's journey postseries, I think written by a MasterGandalf on Fanfiction.net. I've heard good things about it.

          • stephanienienie says:

            Still in the process of reading—but I absolutely love "Deconstructing Azula" because it is insightful and draws examples that I never thought twice about. I've always adored the character yet I've had trouble explaining to others why I relate to her on a very personal level, that I'm not just blinded by fanaticism for a villain.
            Thanks so much for sharing the link.

        • unicornseatrainbows says:

          A+++ for Azula commentary!

          Also I love what you said about the personality of the Avatar influencing it's successor. It's just one more reason I so look forward to meeting Korra, knowing Aang as well as we do now.

        • notemily says:

          Hee hee, for some reason the phrase "she Avatared like a boss" is funny to me. Like if Aang went around saying "I'm gonna go Avatar for a while, brb."

          Your comments = awesome (as usual).

      • echinodermata says:

        ALL OF THIS

      • psycicflower says:

        I just want to quote your whole section on Azula back at you for pure, unadulterated truth.

      • clodia_risa says:

        Your thoughts on Azula exactly match my own, except that yours are more fully-realized and articulate. Thank you for saying what needs to be said, and for your insightful and fun analysis throughout the series.

      • Anne says:

        I love your thoughts on Azula. She really had no one, did she? I hope we get to see/hear more of her in the upcoming comics and Legend of Korra.

      • A Guest says:

        You know what could possibly be even worse? That Hallucination!Ursa said what the real one never did.

        • Tauriel_ says:

          I don't think that's true – we only saw a brief flashback into Zuko and Azula's childhood with their mother – it's a pretty big stretch to assume that Ursa never told Azula she loved her. Come to think of it, she didn't explicitly tell Zuko she loved him, either (in the flashback), did she?

          • A Guest says:

            Mmm… I should have added "as far as she can remember" Her mother had to run away when she was eight years old after all.

          • A Guest says:

            Forgot (again! what is wrong with my memory?) to add this.

            Yes she did, in Zuko Alone, when she visit him before escaping the palace she tell him this:

            "Zuko please my love listen to me"

            • Tauriel_ says:

              Right you are. Anyway, I assume she would've said something similar to Azula, too – we never saw Ursa saying goodbye to her (because it was Zuko's memory).

              • A Guest says:

                You are entirely correct, there is not enough information to reach a consensus.

              • Hyatt says:

                Now I want to see the scene where she said good-bye to Azula. I like to think that she told Azula to remember that she would always love her no matter what, and possibly thanked Azula for telling her about Azulon and apologized for not being able to see her grow up strong. Next morning, Ozai probably convinced Azula that it was a canned farewell and Ursa didn't mean any of it, and Azula forgot about it until her worldview collapsing brought back old, buried memories.

          • licoricepencil says:

            Also, (complete conjecture on my part), couldn't Zuko's memory of Ursa asking "What is wrong with that child?" have been made up by Zuko as a way for him to think that somebody recognized Azula's bullying and also thought something was wrong with her? I don't know if that's a possibility, but somehow it became a part of my head!canon.

  4. lilah80 says:

    "Dear Diary,
    Uncle forgives me, and everything is going to be all right. I'm pretty sure that I know my destiny now. I've got to take down Azula and become the Fire Lord. But none of that's going to matter if Aang doesn't put an end to Father. I guess all I can do is my part. I asked Uncle how to face Azula, and he just said, "Sweep the leg, Zuko." That doesn't seem very helpful, but I'm glad to have him back." – Zuko

  5. Partes says:

    God I'm going to miss this show so much. I mean, I can watch it again, but nothing ever quite matches the magic of watching something the first time, desperately hoping that the characters you love are going to make it out okay.

    I think everyone can take something different out of The Last Airbender; there are certainly enough characters and themes for everyone to find something to fall in love with. But for me, the thing I'll always think back of will be Zuko's journey; he's so hopeless in some ways and magnificent in others, and you just kind of want to ruffle his hair and tell him he's going to be alright, because at the end of the day he did the right thing. In Sozin's comet we see his true potentital shine forth, as he steps forward to deal with the final assault on his home, to take it back and try and put it on the path. He's willing to tackle the bad aspects of his life if it means he can replace them with good ones after he's dealt with them. There's a pretty good message in there.

    Thank you Mark. My first time watching Avatar, I didn't really appreciate it. I got three episodes in and just didn't feel like the tone fit my viewing tastes. But then you started watching so I tried again… and have absolutely loved every minute of it. You and all the wonderful people on this site have made me look at this series in a totally different and wonderful way and THANK GOD as I have been missing out SO MUCH AWESOME.

    tldr: I get all emotional about a tv show and then post about it on the internet, with other people on a site who do the same, so I don't get mocked and we all get to caps lock together. I love this place.

    Aaah now I'm getting all sad thinking about reading the last review tomorrow. I DON'T WANT IT TO END.

    • arctic_hare says:

      tldr: I get all emotional about a tv show and then post about it on the internet, with other people on a site who do the same, so I don't get mocked and we all get to caps lock together. I love this site.

      Me too, that is exactly how I feel, 100%! As is this:

      Aaah now I'm getting all sad thinking about reading the last review tomorrow. I DON'T WANT IT TO END.

      SERIOUSLY. 🙁 🙁 🙁

      • Tauriel_ says:

        Well, we'll still have The Legend of Korra, right? 🙂 And it will be just like Series 6 of Doctor Who, experiencing it TOGETHER for the first time! Yay!

        … except we'll have to wait until late 2012. T____T

        THE WORLD IS SO CRUEL.

        • psycicflower says:

          At least The Legend of Korra will help fill in the void of whatever the hell they seem to be planning to do with Doctor Who next year.

          • Tauriel_ says:

            I don't think there will be any void… BBC already confirmed the commission of 14 new episodes (including this year's Christmas Special), but I think they might play around with the format a bit – something like this year's split. Or something.

            • arctic_hare says:

              I've been hearing that it's transitioning to an autumn/winter season rather than running in the spring/early summer.

              • Tauriel_ says:

                Which should result in better viewing figures – it gets dark much sooner in autumn, and Series 5 suffered (ratings-wise) a little from the extremely hot and sunny weather, IIRC…

                Plus, Doctor Who is the type of the show that's suitable for gloomy, dark evenings… adds to the atmosphere, methinks.

                • arctic_hare says:

                  Yeah, for those reasons + my love of autumn and winter, I'm not only okay with such a move, but I'd be happy about it too. 😀 Also IIRC that's the classic show ran, the spring/early summer run is a relatively new thing that started with series one of New Who.

            • psycicflower says:

              A while after that they said that there wouldn't be a full series.
              *digs up link*
              There will be some episodes but there won't be a full series, so we won't have a thirteen part run Also situation stays the same – 14 episodes commissioned, starting in 2012. How they will play out will be revealed at a later date.
              We don't know what exactly they're planning on doing yet but it's looking like we won't be getting the full series in 2012 http://www.doctorwhonews.net/2011/06/dwn140611220

            • psycicflower says:

              A while after that they said that there wouldn't be a full series.
              *digs up link*
              There will be some episodes but there won't be a full series, so we won't have a thirteen part run Also situation stays the same – 14 episodes commissioned, starting in 2012. How they will play out will be revealed at a later date.
              We don't know what exactly they're planning on doing yet but it's looking like we won't be getting the full series in 2012 http://www.doctorwhonews.net/2011/06/dwn140611220

              • Tauriel_ says:

                Which Moffat later contradicted.

                They clearly have a mess in their PR department… 😛

        • Elexus Calcearius says:

          I know! Legend of Korra for the win.

          The world won't end then; the Doctor will come and take to the future so we can all watch together.

    • elusivebreath says:

      And that is what keeps me coming back to Mark Reads/Watches, lol. Mark's great insights, and all the awesome people in the comments, and knowing that I can come here and rant/cry/capslock/whatever is just amazing.

  6. Quaero says:

    Posting "the making of" Avatar: The last Airbender.

    A documentary on how the show was made, and the people that made it possible.

    [youtube X6kQ-rV5ark http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6kQ-rV5ark youtube]

  7. @maybegenius says:

    Ooooooooooooh you're splitting the posts. I will save my GIANT POST OF DOOM for tomorrow, then.

    In the meantime, I'll say WHERE'S MY ZUKO FIELD TRIP and WHERE'S MY AVATAR BEACH PARTY and WHERE IS MY RIDE ON THE BACK OF A LION TURTLE and WHERE'S MY IROH HUG. SOB. LIFE IS SO UNFAIR.

  8. Tauriel_ says:

    UM IS AANG THE DOCTOR WTF

    Actually, Aang stuck to his morals much more than the Doctor, who's often a real hypocrite – I mean, this is the man who won't handle a gun, but doesn't have any qualms about destroying entire races (the Daleks, the Racnoss…).

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      Well, you could argue that they both are hypocritical. Aang has definitely killed people before; like in the North Pole, destroying those boats definitely killed hundreds, if not thousands, of the crew. Does this mean that Aang only cares about killing people he can see.

      (Of course, you could equally argue that Aang wasn't really conscious or in control in that sense, so it didn't count, and he was trying to prevent a repeat. But if so, I wish that had been acknowledged in the show.)

      • Tauriel_ says:

        Well, unlike the Doctor, Aang never killed anyone consciously and willingly (all those potential casualties happened when he was in the Avatar State – in one case he was actually merged with the Ocean Spirit – and not in control of his actions).

        • majere616 says:

          But he CHOSE to enter the Avatar State. He HAD to know that it would result in casualties. He's a kid not a complete moron.

          • BardChild says:

            I didn't think he "chose" to enter the Avatar State as so much the Ocean Spirit set it off and used Aang like a vessel

  9. Tauriel_ says:

    And I sooo wanted to finish my fanart of the Doctor joining the Order of the White Lotus (because he's 1. totally a timebender and 2. an old master of it) before this review, but just didn't have enough time for it… 🙁 Gah. Curse you, real life.

    • kartikeya200 says:

      My desire to see this cannot be expressed.

      Maybe if I get REALLY BORED today I'll try to encapsulate that whole thread we had about Iroh teaching the Doctor pai sho.

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      You should so do it!

      In related thoughts, you have now changed your avatar (not THAT one) and I keep thinking you're someone new until I read your name.

      • Tauriel_ says:

        Hehe, yeah, I actually planned to get an avatar much earlier, but I couldn't find the time to draw it until now. It's basically an animated version of myself. 🙂

  10. chichichimaera says:

    So. Epic. Just <3 <3 <3 <3 hsjdnbsdkfbfg.

    So there are quite a lot of Texts From The Fire Nation for these four episodes, so don't open this comment thread if you don't want lots and lots of images.

    <img src="http://i70.photobucket.com/albums/i95/Gestalt1/tumblr_ln1x4zDXTN1qi3k37o1_500.jpg&quot; border="0" alt="Photobucket">

    <img src="http://i70.photobucket.com/albums/i95/Gestalt1/tumblr_llzmd0UmFj1qi3k37o1_500.jpg&quot; border="0" alt="Photobucket">

    (cont.)

  11. echinodermata says:

    I want to talk about Azula. So, her friends betrayed her, but she's still truckin', going after Zuko and Aang in The Southern Raiders. It seems like Mai's and Ty Lee's departure affected Azula, since she seemed somewhat less composed in that ep. But still a fighter, and still knows what her priorities are. The betrayal shook her, but I truly believe she could have overcome it with time. Now we see her at the end of this first part, and whatever else, she's still loyal to her father. But then, she starts yelling at her father because he doesn't want her fighting with him, apparently. From childhood, we've seen her trained into a weapon, to the approval of her father and grandfather. Azula's trade, and well, passion, is her fighting skills. So the idea that her father doesn't want or need her is such a blow to her, and I can't imagine she's one to yell at her father in any usual circumstance. The idea that her abilities aren't being acknowledged by her father is a further betrayal to her, and her yelling at Ozai is the least composed I think we've seen her yet.

    And then Ozai promotes her to Fire Lord status, and it's like her dreams are coming true – her father recognizes her ability, and wants to honor her with the most prestigious title. Only, not. Because Ozai is a ridiculously megalomaniacal person, and he makes "Fire Lord" a worthless title, since he just makes a new, higher title for himself. In a moment, Azula goes from thinking her father believes she's a truly worthy successor, to realizing Ozai really is basically patting her head and giving her a cookie.

    So we know that in the second half of the finale, Azula lacks all composure and is spiraling downwards fast. Mai and Ty Lee leaving her hurt, but I definitely argue it was Ozai who really broke Azula. Because fighting for her nation is essentially her only purpose, and one Ozai bred her for, and now she's stuck behind the walls instead of on the frontline of war because she was given a now-pointless title. Which was a title she used to aspire to, but Ozai ruined that for her too.

    And a not-Azula thought:
    Many people, myself included, commented during the liveblog about the fact that The Order of the White Lotus has, well, "not enough ladies, too many mans."

    So these men are basically those people who were past (potential, in some cases) trainers – they represent masters at their skill. I noticed watching the first time that wow, the show was really going with the (more or less) wisened (and bearded) male mentor. Seeing them all together, it's really jarring to me how they're all men.

    And then in the midst of this, you get Aang meeting past Avatars. And there are some awesome ladies in there, which honestly kinda feels like a slap to the face in that yup, the writers are capable of writing awesome older ladies. Maybe they have to be dead to be awesome, bamfy, heroic older women? I don't know, I just know I'm really dissatisfied with Avatar on this point.

    (And Ursa being the most major dropped plot-thread doesn't help.)

    • arctic_hare says:

      This. SO MUCH THIS. I'll repeat myself on this tomorrow, but I'll say it anyway: watching her final breakdown in the second part, as she loses the Agni Kai, makes me want to cry for her. Because, as you said, Ozai broke her, he did this to her and it didn't have to be this way. 🙁

    • ambyrglow says:

      I noticed watching the first time that wow, the show was really going with the (more or less) wisened (and bearded) male mentor. Seeing them all together, it's really jarring to me how they're all men.

      All the more jarring because there are, in fact, female mentors and other older women in the show–not as many as the men, but they do exist! Why didn't Yugoda join Pakku at Ba Sing Se to help heal the wounded? Why don't Song and her mom show up, revealing that her mom (who should have a name, damnit) is a long-time member of the White Lotus who knew who Zuko and Iroh were all along? Why doesn't Aunt Wu turn up with her villages in tow to rebuild the city? Why do Li and Lo get played for laughs in the banishment scene, instead of being revealed as White Lotus spies in the heart of the Fire Nation court? Why doesn't Hama–well, okay, I'll give you that Hama would make a lousy White Lotus member. But still. I submit any of the other ideas is perfectly in-keeping with canon, and could have done a lot to make that Order of the White (Male) Lotus reunion scene enjoyable, rather than aggravating, for me.

      (Actually, I refuse to admit that Yugoda _isn't_ at Ba Sing Se; she's just hard at work in one of the tents we don't see. And she gives Katara another thing of spirit water off-screen–thus explaining how Zuko is still alive after Azula lightning bolts him, something Katara explicitly said she wouldn't be able to heal at the beginning of the finale. La la la, there are TOO women in the White Lotus, I don't care what you tell me, show.)

      • echinodermata says:

        Fantastic comment.

        Especially love this suggestion: "Why do Li and Lo get played for laughs in the banishment scene, instead of being revealed as White Lotus spies in the heart of the Fire Nation court?"

        To those who don't understand why people like fanfic, it's because of stuff like this. Because sometimes, canon can be improved, and who better to fix it than fans who love the show.

        • Tauriel_ says:

          Lo and Li being OTWL spies.

          THAT MAKES PERFECT SENSE, WHY HAVEN'T I THOUGHT OF THAT BEFORE???

          • ambyrglow says:

            Well, it does have some kind of nasty implications. The training style they use with Azula sure does feed her perfectionism and insecurities. If they're actually OTWL spies, then it starts to look less like they're just not well-suited as her teachers and more like they're deliberately trying to make her fragile enough to break later. Which is. . .probably a little dark for the show.

        • Anne says:

          Yes, exactly! Ambyrglow had some wonderful theories; how amazing would it have been to see them happen in canon? A good fic-writer could craft something truly epic where A:TLA failed.

        • ambyrglow says:

          To those who don't understand why people like fanfic, it's because of stuff like this. Because sometimes, canon can be improved, and who better to fix it than fans who love the show.

          Yep. I've done a little scribbling about Yugoda, and I may yet end up with a series of Women of the White Lotus stories. It makes canon a happier place for me to have it supplemented in that way.

          (In the queue: Secret Agent Li and Lo, how Ming got recruited, why Kanna turned down her chance to join.)

        • Elexus Calcearius says:

          Exactly! Its so awesome to try and expand on things the show (or books, or whatever) never touched on!

      • thesimplyuninspired says:

        And she gives Katara another thing of spirit water off-screen–thus explaining how Zuko is still alive after Azula lightning bolts him, something Katara explicitly said she wouldn't be able to heal at the beginning of the finale.

        I just want to point out: ZUKO WASN'T DEAD. He managed to redirect most of the lightning and got hurt really bad, but he was still moving around and clearly in pain. Without medical attention, he probably would have died, which adds another layer of tension to the Azula/Katara battle, knowing that with every passing second Zuko is closer to giving up the ghost, but Katara manages to get to him in time.
        Meanwhile, Aang was taken by ambush and received a full, direct hit and was probably killed instantly. This is alluded to in "The Awakening": "I wasn't just hurt, was I? I was gone. But you brought me back." Katara didn't just need to heal Aang; she needed to bring Aang back to life.
        They weren't saying "If I get hurt really bad by a lightning attack, I'll need Spirit Water to fix me up." They were, in fact, saying, "In case I'M KILLED, I will need Spirit Water to BRING ME BACK TO LIFE."

        Sorry; it's just something that really bugs me. :

    • psycicflower says:

      <img src="http://i52.tinypic.com/2h6snqs.gif&quot; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    • tigerpetals says:

      On that note, here are some links to related meta: http://snarp.dreamwidth.org/275177.html on the finale and female stereotypes in general
      http://coffeeandink.dreamwidth.org/299956.html On Azula and older women role models
      http://kaigou.dreamwidth.org/350898.html Deconstructing Azula

      • echinodermata says:

        Ooh, thanks for the links. Don't have time to read them now, but they look like they're right up my alley.

      • sam says:

        Wow, the last one is espeically insightful, and I think you or somebody else should repost it tomorrow under the general comments so people are more likely to read it.

      • monkeybutter says:

        Thanks for these. They're great reads, and I love what Kaigou has to say in particular (haha, she even mentions the doll incident). I was going to wait until tomorrow to talk about Azula, because that's when we have the full view of her character arc. And I agree with sam that you should post these again tomorrow as a general comment.

      • Bad At Names says:

        I only got around to reading Kaigou's. I think it started out incredibly, but the ending didn't really work for me. Azula didn't lose her mind because she was given power, she cracked because of "betrayal," abandonment, and being left behind with a POWERLESS position.

        And the whole idea of Zuko stopping Katara's take down of Azula seems much more insulting than what we got. Also, there is no way Azula and Zuko are ready to make up. I'd love to see it in the comics or something, but that's going to require a whole 'nother story.

        Also, she makes a big point of how Katara's takedown of Azula is showing how masculine women should be taken down, and that feminine women are the heroes. How on earth does Toph fit into this argument?

        • Hyatt says:

          Also, she makes a big point of how Katara's takedown of Azula is showing how masculine women should be taken down, and that feminine women are the heroes. How on earth does Toph fit into this argument?

          Or Kyoshi. She's very female, but not very feminine, at least in the traditional sense. She's a giant of a woman and her huge feet are a source of pride for her village, and she's probably the most accomplished past Avatar that we know of. The worst you can say about her legacy is that she created the Dai Li, but she admitted that it was a mistake and passed on advice to Aang about his actions having consequences lifetimes later.

        • tigerpetals says:

          Toph is a heroine, but she doesn't get much character development. Nor does she take down feminine women (or masculine ones) in important moments. I don't remember what she thinks of Toph, but she does have a Toph post called 'imbalancing Toph.'

          Kyoshi is a bit character.

          • Bad At Names says:

            Sorry, what I meant is that Toph is a masculine girl who is portrayed positively. The argument that Katara taking down Azula is about feminine women being better than masculine women is ridiculous when the show features Toph and other masculine girls/women in a positive light.

        • Embies says:

          I agree. I've read that argument more than once, but power has nothing to do with the position Azula was given.

    • jubilantia says:

      WHOA. So in hindsight, I don't know how I never thought about this. It makes me sad, because up until now I thought the finale was pretty much perfection (topped with unicorns and rainbow-bending and chocolate sprinkles).

      It strikes me as unusual because most of the women on the show are so strong and awesome, whichever part of the moral scale they roll in. And the main cast, especially with Mai and Ty-Lee included, is actually skewed towards more females, and none of them are stereotypical.

      I don't know, maybe they will tie some of the Zuko's Mom plotline up in flashbacks during Legend of Korra? I think Dante Basco is on the cast list… At any rate, I still enjoyed the finale, even if the gender aspect falls short. Interesting points.

      • Lavanya6 says:

        Personally, I hope they avoid Ursa's plot entirely in Korra. It feels like too much of a continuity lock-out for viewers who haven't seen the original show, and, taking place as it does 75 years in the future, there's no good way for Korra to get involved without it becoming a pseudo-AtLA episode. Korra should stand on its own as a show, not pick up major plot threads from a previous series. This is partly why that, as awesome as it'd be for Korra to hang around with an elderly Toph, I can see why they set the new series far enough in the future that everyone we knew is dead and buried.

        Now if the creators answer it in the upcoming sequel comics, sure. It's more stories that would naturally be important to the Gaang. Or if Ursa's left entirely unresolved, even better. A few dangling questions make for fun speculation and good fanfic.

        • jubilantia says:

          I see what you're saying, but I think it would be possible for someone else to tell her about it briefly, for a flashback to have an effect on what happens in Korra. I picture it woven in as a minor part of the current plot line. Such an event would affect Zuko's further character development, especially since the Fire Nation will probably be doing a lot of rebuilding of the world after their period of destruction, so I think it's possible to at least mention it without making a whole episode.

          I think I'd be more satisfied with an unresolved ending if it hadn't been such a blatant plot thread. It feels incomplete for me, because it feels like they were planning on resolving it. Fan fiction is all well and good, but I would much rather it rethink something canon, than have it fill in gaps. It makes the writers look like they were slacking.

          Not to mention that good fanfic is so rare, and not widely circulated enough to satisfy actual gaping plot holes.

          • Lavanya6 says:

            I know, I know, but… Zuko's character development is over. The curtain fell. And trying to bring him and Ursa into LoK in a major way feels like it'd cheapen his character and shortchange Korra in her own show. For me, it's the same with Aang and Katara. If we ever hear about them, I only want to hear about them in a way that's important to Tenzin's and/or Korra's character development.

            I worry about the AtLA cast overshadowing LoK's cast in their own series. I acknowledge that a workable crossover story is possible, like something in line with how The Avatar and the Fire Lord connected Roku/Sozin's era with Aang/Zuko's, but I think we know so much more about the Gaang, and, more importantly, care about the Gaang in a way we didn't Roku/Sozin, that they'd drown out Korra and Tenzin by sharing the same screen.

            This is why I also can't get onboard with the fans wishing an elderly Toph/Zuko/Katara as one of Korra's bending teachers. I want Korra to have her own life and adventures, not be a conduit for the fandom's love of the original series.

  12. MissDirect says:

    Re: Unbendable material on the "island"– I'm pretty sure Aang couldn't bend it because it was part of the lion turtle's shell.

    Also, just thinking of Iroh and Zuko's reunion makes me tear up. I want a hug from Iroh right now!

    • Kate says:

      That was always my thought. He couldn't bend it because it was turtle shell, not an element.

  13. monkeybutter says:

    I’m sorry, that had to be a Captain Planet reference, right?

    Thankfully, Sokka and Suki (haha her name is perfect) are a lot more useful than Ma-Ti.

  14. ambyrglow says:

    To be frank, the desire to know what Zuko had witnessed in that first war meeting with his father had never crossed my mind. It didn't seem like the show was hiding anything from us at the time.

    That's because it wasn't! In the commentaries, the creators explain that the idea for what Ozai said in the war meeting wasn't proposed until they began brainstorming for the finale.

    Listening to the commentaries in general, I never fail to be impressed by just how smooth the show's arc is, given how much they seem to have been making up as they went along. I sure never would have guessed that some of the things that seemed like throwaways at the time but later acquired deeper meaning. . .really were throwaways, originally.

  15. Dragonsong12 says:

    Just as a note "Aang discovers a bizarre hexagon made up of a material that is impossible to bend. Which…even in hindsight, I can’t recall if this is ever explained."

    It's a lionturtle, I'm sure that hexagon is on its shell, which Aang wouldn't be able to bend.

    ANYWAY, I'm sure you'll be hearing this a lot, but that scene with Iroh and Zuko? My favorite from the series, and I couldn't say on the other post because SPOILERS. But it's so perfect and so beautiful. Thank you, Avatar, for moving moments like these. An amazing – if strange – set-up for the end, I have to admit.

  16. Depths_of_Sea says:

    No thoughts. Just pure undiluted happiness.

    And tears at the Zuko+Iroh reunion.

    Many tears.

    • Moon_Shadow says:

      Truth. I teared up again just reading about Mark's tearfulness over Iroh and Zuko.

    • jubilantia says:

      RIGHT? I still bawl every time I watch it. I mean, we haven't seen Iroh in, like, 6 episodes, so he needed to come back with a bang, but they really hit it on the head. Zuko's amazement at Iroh's reaction is so heartbreaking and gratifying and cathartic. Sometimes there are long character arcs that don't get resolved well, or have other satisfying aspects, but this one was awesome all the way through.

    • bookgal12 says:

      Where is a gif of their embrace? We totally need one.

  17. audzilla says:

    Many wonderful things have already been said about this episode. I love a series with a brilliant and satisfying conclusion. And oh man, Yangchen. <3 I agree that it's bold of the creators to have all the past lives agree that Aang has to be decisive in dealing with Ozai, but her advice especially – that being true to his own spiritual needs is selfish when it conflicts with his role in preserving the balance of the world – is really powerful and brave.

    The reunion of Zuko and Iroh is probably my favorite scene in the series, and so is Iroh's advice afterwards. What I really love about it is his admission that he isn't actually sure he could beat Ozai – very humble, matter-of-fact, Iroh-like. Though he does seem to have changed a bit since his escape from prison, in his new role as grand master of the Order of the White Lotus.

  18. clodia_risa says:

    Regarding the unbendable hexagon: I don’t think even Avatar Aang knows Lion-Turtle-Shell bending.

  19. Lariren says:

    I'm so glad there is this since I had to work through the liveblog.

    MELON LORD! I will always bow to you Toph. You also need a redo on your field trip with Zuko. Clearly Iroh should join this field trip as well.

    GRANPAKKU! PAKKU/KANNA! I always found that really sweet and he's so excited that Katara is his granddaughter and a whole lot less excited about Sokka. I just want to say "aw".

    "Father Lord." "You mean Fire Lord." "That's what I said." I love you slip!

    Katara reassuring Zuko about seeing Iroh!!!!!!!

    It took me awhile to get what the hexagon is: the shell of the turtle.

    • No, Toph needs to fieldtrip with Zuko AND MAI, because Mai's arc would be much more useful as conversation-fodder. Assuming Mai could be induced to talk and open up. :->

    • majere616 says:

      I always ascribed to the theory that Pakku is their biological grandfather.

  20. FlameRaven says:

    Aang discovers a bizarre hexagon made up of a material that is impossible to bend. Which…even in hindsight, I can’t recall if this is ever explained.

    Presumably, the reason Aang can't bend the hexagon is that it's part of the Lionturtle's shell, and is therefore made of bone, which is not a bendable material.

  21. tigerpetals says:

    I think the hexagon was part of the shell. He couldn't bend the shell.

  22. elusivebreath says:

    I was really excited about these episodes, and I actually skipped the liveblog so I could concentrate on them, having never seen them before. All I can say is … wow, just wow. I can't get over how great this show is, it's now right up there on my list with Buffy and Doctor Who, and it's a cartoon!

  23. MocataJoy says:

    Mark, the mysterious hexagon was a part of the lion turtle's shell!!! And, given that Aang's immediate instinct was to bow to the lion turtle and ask for its wisdom, I'd say that lion turtles are known to be wise, powerful creatures. Every time I see this part, I think about my pet tortoise. He is a baby that fits in the palm of my hand…but maybe one day he will be big enough to ride on! Maybe he will also become wise and powerful.

    <img src="http://i.imgur.com/Z3Z5b.png&quot; alt="" title="Hosted by imgur.com" />

    Also…

    "Zuko's gone crazy! I made a sand sculpture of Suki, and he DESTROYED IT!!!"……………………."Oh, and he's attacking Aang."

    LOL.

    • arctic_hare says:

      omg baby tortoise <3 <3 <3 SO CUTE

      • MocataJoy says:

        Thanks! He was grumpy when this picture was taken…he does not like being picked up. He hisses and flails his little front legs.

        That's how I know he will grow up to be a fearsome beast.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      You should write on its shell "When I grow up, I will be a Lion Turtle". 😀

      The other day I saw this tiny old Citroen that had a bumper sticker which said "When I grow up, I will be a Porsche." CUTEST THING EVER. <3

  24. TheWelshPirate says:

    "Aang discovers a bizarre hexagon made up of a material that is impossible to bend. Which…even in hindsight, I can’t recall if this is ever explained."

    Because it's part of the Lion-Turtle's shell. It can't be bending because it's not an element.

    Oh, and I just have to mention Zuko's great line:

    "You are the only person other than the Avatar who can beat the Father Lord."
    'You mean the Fire Lord?"
    "That's what I said."

  25. Toph13139 says:

    ……………………….

    I missed the liveblog….

    *facepalm*

    Anyway….

    Mark, congratulations on ending the series. That emptiness in your soul will go away, eventually. As for the review, good stuff in here, and… I haven't watched these episodes since they aired. They're super hard to watch, for me. I guess I don't like it when things that form an important part end. I was planning on watching them again during the liveblog, but that went to hell, so.

    I'm gonna watch them again, though…. Yup.

    Oh, I'm gonna miss terribly these reviews. See? Another wonderful thing Avatar's brought me. It got me here. ^_^

    I'll wait until the next time you watch/read something that I watch/read… (I'm a lazy, lazy girl. I don't read many books or watch a lot of T.V. Unless you start reading 100 years of Solitude or watching… Meeh… Friends. XD).

    Oh and…. Korra. o.o And the MOVIE. OMG, yes, you're missing that one. Yup. I got two more days with you! Movie and the rest of this review! Yay!

  26. daigo says:

    Aang discovers a bizarre hexagon made up of a material that is impossible to bend. Which…even in hindsight, I can’t recall if this is ever explained.

    The plates of a turtle's shell are hexagonal. 😉

    • breesquared says:

      LOL yeah, it's unbendable because it's an animal.

      • jubilantia says:

        Also, the animal might be older than bending itself.

        /rampant speculation

      • Lycanthromancer says:

        If you can bloodbend, I’m not sure bonebending is that far out there. Bone is mostly calcium, which is a mineral and a component of rock…

        • breesquared says:

          Actually, did some research and the outer scales on a turtle shell are not bone, but they're called 'scutes' and they're made of a fibrous protein. The bones are in the inner shell.

        • breesquared says:

          And actually, bloodbending's not much more complicated than swampbending, logistically. there's veins and there's water inside of them. Grabbing minerals out of an organic material is probably more akin to metalbending.

  27. Luurks says:

    The hexagon of material that Aang couldn't bend was part of the Lion Turtle's shell! I actually didn't get that until this last time watching it…heheh ^^;;

  28. xpanasonicyouthx says:

    Hey, you all, I did watch the entire finale at once, so there are no more spoilers left? So please stop reporting comments for being spoilers.

    • ambyrglow says:

      Have you watched Escape from the Spirit World yet, or are we still avoiding spoilers for that? It's an "extra" on the Season 2 box set that fills the gap between Seasons 2 and 3.

      • FlameRaven says:

        Was that ever confirmed to be canon? I know it was on the Nickelodeon site, but I also know it raised a bunch of conflicts with the canon in the show.

        • shirtninjas says:

          From what I understand it is canon.

        • Tauriel_ says:

          What conflicts? Avatar Yangchen does tell Aang that he won't remember it, so it doesn't conflict with the fact that he didn't know Kuruk and Yangchen before talking to them atop the Lion Turtle.

          And that discrepancy in count of years (Koh tells Aang that one of his past lives – Kuruk – tried to kill him about 800 years ago, which would've meant that Kuruk lived even longer than Kyoshi) is just a simple numbering mistake that could also been explained that time flows differently in the Spirit World.

          Other than that, I can't remember any other "conflicts" with the show proper…

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Can we post the two released pictures for Korra? (and talk about the info that has been released so far?)

    • Hyatt says:

      We-ell, there's still Legend of Korra spoilers… You're avoiding those as much as possible, right?

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      Mark, I think you've clearly missed the bonus six-hour movie, where Appa and Momo go on an epic journey to find others of their kind, and on the way learn to become wizards.

      (Oops. Spoilers.)

  29. inkspotfancy says:

    You said pretty much everything I wanted to say, so instead, let me just leave this most beautiful of videos ever, comparing the journies of Zuko and Aang

    [youtube RFAHGD5zb_8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFAHGD5zb_8 youtube]

    Caution – for anyone in comments who hasn't watched all four of the finale eps, there are some spoilers, so if you managed to hold off ((HOW??)) proceed at your own peril

    • inkspotfancy says:

      Actually wait! I do have something!

      I know all of the other avatars said or at least implied that *they* would kill Ozai. But its interesting that the advice they give him is not actually to kill the Phoenix King. They tell him to make his decision instead of letting others make it for him, to be decisive, to seek justice and to act for the greater good of the whole world. All of which he actually does in the way he ends the war.

    • Beka says:

      Wow that video was so beautiful! Thanks for posting it 🙂

      • inkspotfancy says:

        I've yet to find anything from that creator that isn't beautifully done, but this one literally still moves me to tears

  30. daigo says:

    Oh yes some goodies:

    Want to see Avatar continue? Can't wait for Korra? Well here is a 400 PAGE COMIC WRITTEN AND DRAWN BY RUFFTOON, one of the storyboard artists for the series! Not canon, but GODDAMN is it amazing! It details what happened three years after the war, when a familiar face turns up in the Northern Water Tribe…
    http://noselfcontrol.deviantart.com/art/Water-Tri

    One of the best Avatar AMVs out there:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBGk-vWzVXs

    The Last Airbender movie stinks, but I'd so totally watch this in the theatres:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpzkDnu-nTo

  31. Shay_Guy says:

    I don't think anyone needs my help naming all the great lines in the finale, so I'll skip the two dozen or so that I could name.

    Remember how much trouble Toph had seeing in the desert? "Working on my sandbending" indeed.

    I know a guy who really hated Aang's moral dilemma, to the point where he specifically told someone else watching the series to keep track of all implied deaths of Fire Nation soldiers, especially the ones resulting from Aang's actions. I couldn't fathom why it would be so important to him that everyone else hate the same things he hated.

    "You must be decisive."
    "[Y]ou must actively shape your own destiny…"
    "Nigecha dame da."
    Between the above and Negima (I don't know a good quote summarizing Negi's character development there), I think the media I consume is trying to tell me something about my life.

    I don’t know if lion turtles are known to be wise animals due to their age or if Aang was just desperate, but he asks the turtle for its wisdom regarding Fire Lord Ozai.

    Given his awed tone upon realization and subsequent bow, I'd say the former.

    hexagon

    Why am I not surprised to see a dozen comments saying the same thing about the lion-turtle (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson)?

    • Lavanya6 says:

      I know a guy who really hated Aang's moral dilemma, to the point where he specifically told someone else watching the series to keep track of all implied deaths of Fire Nation soldiers, especially the ones resulting from Aang's actions. I couldn't fathom why it would be so important to him that everyone else hate the same things he hated.

      You have to admit, Aang's wracked up a modest body count. Even ignoring the Siege of the North and pinning those sunk ships on Ocean Spirit, there's events like knocking soldiers/tanks off the mountain in the Northern Air Temple or flooding the Drill with slurry. It rankles some people that killing faceless mooks is A-OK but having to look a genocidal son-burning maniac in the eye is crime beyond imagining. Not to mention how he puts the world at risk by not killing Ozai with that lightning, or by risking potentially the Avatar Spirit itself during the energybending of Ozai. He has valid moral reasoning for not wanting to kill Ozai, but at the same time Aang has responsibilities to the rest of the world that he keeps running away from — dicking around in Season 1 with field trips instead of heading to the North Pole with all due speed, deciding to wait until after Sozin's Comet to deal with Ozai.

      But there's a counter-argument as well. Aang's 12. Killing someone up close is hard. He comes from an era that, unlike the world his friends grew up in, war existed only as a dark rumor. Plus if seeing the bleached bones of his own people wasn't enough to make him a killer, why should another genocide?

  32. kartikeya200 says:

    So I have good news and bad news. The good news is I have a truly MONSTROUS amount of art to post for the finale. The bad news is that last Friday afternoon Comcast decided to kick us to the curb for heavy bandwidth usage (hence why I was absent for the glorious liveblog, though I've read all the comments), so I'm currently using a very very unreliable connection with very limited bandwidth.

    I'm saving the art post for tomorrow's review as I couldn't figure out how to split it up anyway, though I'm going to be scanning and uploading stuff today. But there is a chance that the final art post might be a day or more late. Sorry if that ends up being the case! It will eventually show up though, I promise.

    So.

    Let's talk Lionturtles.

    <img src="http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y29/kartikeya/lionturtle4.jpg"&gt;

    From the unaired pilot.

    <img src="http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y29/kartikeya/lionturtle3.jpg"&gt;

    From The Library.

    <img src="http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y29/kartikeya/lionturtle2.jpg"&gt;

    <img src="http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y29/kartikeya/lionturtle1.jpg"&gt;

    From Sokka's Master.

    The Avatar wiki lists the following references to lionturtles:

    ■It is seen in a scroll in Wan Shi Tong's Library.[6]
    ■A fountain at the Northern Air Temple had the shape of a Lion Turtle.[7]
    ■Piandao compares Sokka's courage and heart to a Lion-Turtle.
    ■Piandao's manor contains many Lion Turtle statues.[8]
    ■Admiral Chan's home in The Beach has a Lion Turtle door knocker.[9]
    ■Its face somewhat resembles the oni mask Zuko wears when in the guise of the Blue Spirit.
    ■General Fong and General Sung both have pauldrons representing the head of a Lion Turtle as does one of Aang's battle "options" in The King of Omashu.[10]
    ■Statues of the Lion Turtle are seen in the background during the episode Avatar Day when Sokka is looking for clues in the courtyard.[11]

    I've also always thought the statues Aang smashes into in the episode opening looked like lionturtles, but I've never been sure.

    • jubilantia says:

      SO COOL. And I never noticed them. I am silly. I think they even say it a couple of times.

    • simplefaith08 says:

      LOL, I love the fact that they've been subconsciously whispering "LION TURTLE" into our ears for three whole seasons. That's kind of amazing.

      • Tauriel_ says:

        It is amazing – and it also turns the whole "Energybending was a Deus Ex Machina" argument pretty void.

        • Joeldi says:

          It really doesn't. It's foreshadowed that Lion Turtles are some great beast, it's never foreshadowed that they had anything to do with bending nor that there was another form of bending that Aang could use. It makes sense in hindsight if you look really hard, but if it didn't seem like an asspull, thousands wouldn't be complaining that it was an asspull

          • BardChild says:

            that's because the fandom was too busy in ship wars, to noticed that the energybending was foreshadowed too.

          • Hyatt says:

            The thousands complaining that it was an asspull have a lot of overlap with the thousands who wanted to see Aang kill Ozai. They're unhappy that canon didn't go the way they wanted, so they attack canon.

            • BardChild says:

              These are probably the same people that accuse Aang and Katara shippers, "pedophiles" <.<

            • @redbeardjim says:

              Alternately, they wanted Aang to die tragically, possibly immediately after killing Ozai.

            • linguisticisms says:

              Thanks for putting opinions in our mouths.

            • milkofthepuppy says:

              Er, no. Don't care about shipping(in response to above comment), and I never expected nor desired Aang to Kill Ozai, and I STILL thought it was a Deus Ex Machina. Sorry, but good foreshadowing involves a bit more than placing easter eggs.

              I love the series, but I notice a good chunk of the fandom becomes touchy to say the least when people point out the flaws in the series. Nobody's perfect, and sticking the landing is hard even for the best creators. I adore Harry Potter, and if J.K. Rowling wants to declare herself the new queen of England, I'd genuflect right now, but I didn't give her a pass when she dropped the ball in Deathly Hallows, and I don't see why I should do the same for Avatar.

              • Hyatt says:

                We get touchy when people make objective judgments on subjective points.

              • Elexus Calcearius says:

                I very much agree with you on the Lion Turtle thing. It was a Deus Ex Machina, although one that I forgive a little bit because Aang obviously could have killed/defeated Aang without it, and also because its so darned cool.

    • monkeybutter says:

      Thanks for the lion-turtle list! I've never noticed them on the Generals and the door knocker.

      Comcast obviously hates ATLA, because my internet kept cutting out during the liveblog (in addition to the site breaking multiple times). Comcast is the enemy of happiness.

  33. H. Torrance Griffin says:

    Minor point of order: I got the impression that Aang was essentially sleep-walking… or rather sleep swimming… when the Creepy Island called him.

    Not that it stopped segments of fandom from accusing the kid of running out on his friends at the cusp of the invasion. It is strange how many viewers who liked the show seemed to absolutely hate the title character (although thinking back to my 'Ranma&Akane are dysfunctional tools who deserve each other' days I probably should not talk)

    • Kit says:

      hey, you can love Ranma and Akane and recognize that they've both got some serious issues. ;p

    • kartikeya200 says:

      I would have thought this more confusing if I hadn't spent years watching certain sections of Harry Potter fandom loathe Harry Potter. And his friends. And Dumbledore. And uh. Well let's just say there are some bits of fandom still going on and on about how much they hate everyone in the books except Snape and occasionally the Dursleys (no seriously).

      • jubilantia says:

        *snort of horrified disbelief*

        People are silly. I also think this is a product of internet fandom, specifically, because people have the opportunity to argue and discuss things that wouldn't make sense if you really thought about them for half a second.

      • simplefaith08 says:

        Oh, the Harry Potter fandom. They're…interesting (I say this as someone who was apart of it).
        I remember hearing someone say how much they loathed Harry in the first book. And I'm like, one, why keep reading them if you hated everyone (except Snape!) so much, and two, I get maybe not liking Harry as the books go along or whatever (I may not agree, but I get it), but little 11 year old Harry, who had never been loved and is discovering magic for the first time like a little bespectacled puppy? What?

        And don't get me started on the whole "Lily is an over-sensitive golddigger and did Snape wrong" BS. >.>

        • notemily says:

          I think a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans had similar animosity towards Buffy (but I'll not say more because of spoilers). Main characters take a lot of flak for some reason.

    • jubilantia says:

      People hate Aang?

      …do they also kick puppies?

      I don't know, some heroes can be annoying, but Aang isn't one of them. He doesn't spend every. single. episode in endless angst, for one thing, and still has his sense of humor.

      I'd say they needed to lay that groundwork to resolve the Not Killing Ozai issue, so he needed the island trip.

      • @redbeardjim says:

        He doesn't spend every. single. episode in endless angst, for one thing, and still has his sense of humor

        That's why some people dislike him.

        *shrug*

        • jubilantia says:

          I don't know, I think they show him to be realistically light-hearted. It's part of the airbender creed to accept the guilt but also live your own life to the fullest in honor of your deceased loved ones. At least, that's the impression I got. And he is twelve- I'm sure he will be dealing with the grief for the rest of his life, and that his poor mind probably sealed part of the grief away to allow him to go on living.

          I know some narratives show heroes twisted and warped by what has been done to them or what they perceive to be their fault. But really, who wants to watch that? I think these people don't think enough about what it would be like without Aang's sense of humor.

          • @redbeardjim says:

            No, I agree with you. Just pointing out that there's a fair-sized segment of fandom that doesn't really like any character who isn't Angsty McBroodypants. They also tend to dislike happy endings.

            • jubilantia says:

              Oh, totally. I knew you agreed, I was just elaborating. I… tend to talk. A lot. Especially when I am procrastinating. This "subscribe to replies" setting is an evil, awesome feature.

              I understand that sometimes tragic endings are built into the narrative, but mostly, I want no truck with them.

              • @redbeardjim says:

                My general attitude is "I don't need to go to fiction for tragic endings. Real life has plenty."

                • hpfish13 says:

                  For me, I don't mind tragedy, but I prefer it to be coupled with a feeling of hope. A perfect example of this is Les Miserables, which I love so very much. Despite the fact that so many characters die and lots of horrible things happen, the story is still incredibly uplifting.

        • Lavanya6 says:

          Reminds me of that fic, Reconstructed Destinies, where the author makes Zuko the last airbender and Aang the scarred prince, while keeping their personalities intact. AtLA gets a dark, brooding Avatar. Not being a forgiving and friendly soul, Zuko tallies up quite a body count being a Byronic Avatar.

          • Elexus Calcearius says:

            Ha, yes, I read that! And Aang goes around as the talented Fire Prince, who solves his problems with a friendly face.

  34. Ayala says:

    The one thing that bothers me about the finale is Zuko asking Katara if she wants to help him "put Azula in her place." That phrase has such a loaded history and has been used almost exclusively in a misogynistic context– the idea of a woman rising above her "place" in society and needing to be taken down a peg, taught a lesson, shoved back down into her traditional gender role. I was really disappointed that the writers did that. They'd been doing so well with feminist messages in this show.

    Other than that, this finale is perfect.

    • arctic_hare says:

      Yeah, I hate that line too.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      I didn't think it was meant that way. Azula had no right to the Fire Throne – even if we forget Iroh, Zuko was the rightful successor after Ozai. And now he had the blessing of Iroh who had the REAL right to the throne, which meant that Zuko had double right to the throne now. Azula had none.

      • Ayala says:

        Even if they didn't mean it that way, it's still a very loaded and problematic phrase. With a phrase like "put her in her place", being used towards a female character, you cannot ignore the historical context. Intent is not magical– that is, a good intention cannot erase the negative connotations of a word or phrase. If that wasn't what they meant, then they shouldn't have used it. They could have had him say, "Katara, how would you like to help me take Azula down?" Or "How would you like to help me reclaim the throne from Azula?" Same end result, but without the problematic wording.

        • Tauriel_ says:

          Oh, I agree that it was a… strange choice of wording.

          • Ayala says:

            Yes, very strange. It felt really out of place to me the first time I watched the finale, but it took a while after that to realize why.

        • Joeldi says:

          If using it against a male character in the same context would have removed the sexist connotations, then the phrase itself is not being used in a sexist way at all. I have heard those five words used repeatedly in non-sexist ways…although right now I can't think of many that aren't otherwise classist and negative.

          • FlameRaven says:

            Thank you. I think this says pretty much what I would have.

          • Pseudonymph says:

            "If using it against a male character in the same context would have removed the sexist connotations, then the phrase itself is not being used in a sexist way at all."

            How can you possibly think this makes any sense? The argument is that the phrase "put her in her place", when referring to a woman, has sexist connotations. Just because saying it to or about a man wouldn't be sexist doesn't mean the usage we're discussing is not sexist. The whole reason sexist language is oppressive is because it targets women.

            What if the phrase was "get back in the kitchen". This is a phrase that has historically sexist connotations. When said to a man, it wouldn't be sexist. When said to a woman, it would be sexist. The same goes for the phrase discussed in this thread.

    • FlameRaven says:

      Eh. It doesn't bother me, but I tend not to worry about those kinds of things in general. Like, yes it's got a history of misogynistic context… but that doesn't automatically mean the context *here* is misogynistic. The show has done a pretty good job showing Azula as someone amazingly competent and someone whose skill and cunning should be admired, if not liked. No one is trying to shove Azula into a more traditional gender role. She's never had a traditional gender role. They are, however, going to take her out of the ruling position she's in because she is not suited for the task– for a variety of reasons, chiefly her growing mental instability. Not because she's a girl.

      • Ayala says:

        I will say the same to you that I said to Tauriel_ above: intent is not magical. Just because they didn't mean it in a misogynistic way doesn't erase the misogynistic history behind the phrase. I would also like to quote someone from the liveblog; I don't recall their name, but they said something to the effect of, "No one's talking about putting Ozai in his place". This is not a phrase that is used in reference to male characters. I have never seen a movie, book, or TV show where Protagonist A talks about putting Male Villain X "in his place". Not once. I have only ever seen it directed at real women/female characters.

        No, no one's trying to push Azula into a traditional gender role. But that phrase, especially used by a man towards a woman, still carries tons and tons of unfortunate implications.

    • Quaero says:

      I believe it was meant as "CUT DOWN TO SIZE", the show as a whole has generally shown strong female characters, so I don't think this was intended to have a misogynist undertone.

      Context people, words and idioms may have other interpretation and undertones, but without context, all of that is meaningless.

      • Ayala says:

        LIke I said above, I agree that it wasn't intended to have a misogynistic undertone. However, like I said above, intent is not magical. The undertone is there whether the writers meant it or not, because of the phrase's history. Writers can use misogynistic tropes/ideas without meaning to. It might not have occurred to them that the phrase was problematic. But it still is a problematic phrase.

        • Castlejune says:

          I agree the phrase was potentially offensive, however, I would like to point out that the history of the phrase is not strictly sexist. It has been used to put anyone down who behaved in a way that was above their "station" or role. Men, women, minorities, nobility who "bought their way in" from a lower class. It was a general saying to call someone out on acting in a way that others thought was above their proper or actual role. Now, obviously, this has great potential to play into all sorts of oppression and "isms" that are frowned upon and offensive. However, the phrase is NOT, in and of itself, sexist, although it certainly can and has been used to be so. Was it a reference to sexism here? I don't believe so, but I can see where people would get their hackles raised by it.

          Besides this whole issue, is it within Zuko's character so say this? Absolutely. He has superiority issues, and out of his mouth he could mean it in a sexist way, or perhaps a "My little sister has no right to my birthright" way. Both are within the realms of possibility for Zuko's character, but I believe the second is much more likely. He hasn't shown the outright sexism Sokka has, and he has made it VERY clear from the get go that he considers the throne of the Fire Nation HIS (which it rightfully is), and therefore she is "out of place" in her persuption to take the throne away from him. Therefore, he is "putting her in her place" in the way of he is taking her off the throne that is HIS.

      • Anne says:

        No one's denying that Avatar hasn't depicted wonderful female characters. However, this show is still a product of our patriarchal society, and problematic phrases like this one do pop up. We can still admire the show for showing female friendships, diverse women, etc. while pointing out where they could do better.

        I said during the liveblog that no one talked about putting Ozai in his place, even after he had the arrogance to crown himself Phoenix King. However, here we have Azula, who isn't going to be "defeated" — she's going to be "put in her place." Don't you see how that's a very unfortunate thing to say? It's not something that should ever be said to a woman (or another minority group that's been subjugated or oppressed.)

        For too long women's "place" has been said to be in the kitchen, the birthing room, etc.

          • Anne says:

            LOL what. Is that article serious? Wow.

            I'm genuinely surprised it wasn't written in the early 90s.

        • breesquared says:

          Plus, it's the first time we've seen a female character in a position of government leadership, and of course she goes nuts and should be replaced by her brother.

          I mean, not saying they were being sexist, but it has implications. the fact that stories almost ALWAYS go that way being the cause.

          • Limisa says:

            Azula going insane had nothing to do with putting her in a position of leadership.

            You're making it sound like she went nuts because she couldn't handle the pressure of governing, when it was the betrayal of her "friends" what really cracked her.

            • breesquared says:

              That's not what I meant to communicate. Azula's breakdown was initiated with Mai and Ty Lee, but the majority of it was shown on screen after she obtained a position of political power. The entire story has one female government leader, and she is not capable of being a leader (for whatever reason).
              What the audience sees is the only woman leader being irrational and off the handle.

              • L-chan says:

                But, isn't that a "power position" who is immediately rendered irrelevant when the one who give it to her appointed himself in a bigger one mere seconds later? In my opinion, Azula's breakdown was triggered by the cognitive dissonance of having being, at the same time, "honored" and humiliatingly demoted by the person she wanted to please the most. Isn't the position per se, its the circumstances surrounding that political move and the fact that she was given a poisoned gift on the very first place. Had Ozai simply make her Heir Apparent, o General of the Empire, or some other equivalent high position of power, and has him not doing anything to undermine her new power, she would have remained saner and reliable.

                • breesquared says:

                  In my opinion that makes the representation even MORE unfortunate. The one woman granted a government position a) doesn't have any power, and b) is still shown incapable of handling it.
                  I'm not trying to imply it's the power that caused her breakdown, just the fact that it's the ONLY instance of a woman in a political position of power. If there had ever been another woman of equal political prominence shown in the series, Azula's story would not have as sad an implication.

                • breesquared says:

                  We have to remember this is a KID'S show and they're not always going to try so hard to examine the cause of Azula's breakdown. They don't have the knowledge of history, politics, and psychology yet.

              • ambyrglow says:

                Well, there are other women in positions of political power, though I'm not sure they make the implications much prettier. In the canon comics, Azula appoints Joo Dee as "supreme bureaucratic administrator" of Ba Sing Se to govern in her absence. She is "the perfect person to leave in charge" because she will "execute the Fire Lord's will without question." And of course, there's Kanna, who has some form of authority in the Southern Water Tribe but defers to her 15-year-old grandson.

                Otherwise? Well, there's the leader of the Zhang tribe in The Great Divide–not a terribly pleasant person, but she seems to be competent enough, and her own people respect her. So a definite point for the show there. Auntie Wu doesn't have an official title, but she definitely seems to be the leader of her village. And. . .that's all I can think of.

                On the male side, we have: the leaders of both Water Tribes (or all three, if you count the swamp people as a separate Water Tribe), all known present and historical rulers of the Fire Nation (except Azula), all known present and historical rulers of the Earth Kingdom, all known generals and admirals of both the Earth Kingdom and the Fire Nation, all known Fire Nation prison wardens, King Bumi, Oyagi (village leader on Kyoshi island), the chief of the village under attack by Hei Bai, the other tribal leader in The Great Divide, the Mechanist (leader of the Northern Air Temple settlement), the Governor of New Ozai (Mai's dad), the village leader of the village in Avatar Day, the sandbender tribal leader (and his heir apparent), Long Feng, the headmaster of the school in The Headband, the mayor of the town in The Runaway, and the leader of the Sun Warriors (and his second-in-command).

                Watching the show, it didn't bother me, but yeah, when I lay it all out like that, the imbalance is kind of painful to contemplate. And it's not like you can say, "Well, the army is for men, so of course there are no female generals." The Fire Nation has plenty of female soldiers. They just. . .apparently hit a glass ceiling, and hit it hard.

                On the fanfiction side of things, Damkianna has an in-progress AU of the show (Imagine the Ocean covers season 1, and Listen to the Earth covers season 2) in which Katara is the Avatar and the gender ratios of the secondary characters are essentially inverted–the majority of the leaders and helpful (or hindering) people Team Avatar encounters are women. It feels weird. It feels wrong. And it is no more unbalanced than the show itself. Reading it has really forced me to examine my culturally set assumptions about what a "fair" gender balance in media is. It's interesting.

                • Hyatt says:

                  And it's not like you can say, "Well, the army is for men, so of course there are no female generals." The Fire Nation has plenty of female soldiers.

                  Except… you sort of can. The artbook explicitly says that the female soldiers primarily make up the domestic defense force. The Fire Nation army is closer to gender equality than any other nation's, but it's not fully equal; women can be soldiers, but they can't go out to the battlefront, instead they have to wait for the battle to come to them.

                  • ambyrglow says:

                    Women are found primarily in the domestic defense force, yes, but it's not the only place they serve–there are women in the Yu Yan archers unit, which is stationed in the Earth Kingdom. And which is under the leadership of male Colonel Shinu (later promoted to general). Like I said: glass ceiling.

                    We meet four Fire Nation generals across the course of the show, unless I'm missing one: Iroh, Bujing, Shinu, and Mung. We also see some unnamed male generals in the various war meeting footage. I'll grant the rules of the Fire Nation military dictate most should be men, but all? One of the unnamed generals couldn't have been a representative for the domestic defense force? General Mung, who is part of the domestic defense force, had to be a guy?

                    (And of course, I caveat all this with: Avatar does way better job presenting a multitude of roles for women and girls than most shows out there. I just think it could have done better.)

                  • FlameRaven says:

                    … and that makes the situation of Fire Nation female soldiers pretty close to modern-day US ones. :/ While it's not usually adhered to because of practicality issues, there is apparently a rule on the books that says women are supposed to be kept out of active combat.

                    I think the Fire Nation is doing pretty well for a society that's in the middle of its industrial revolution with the rest of the world in a more or less medieval era. We don't know that there aren't any female generals or higher-ranking officers. We hear about what, three important FN military figures? Zhao, Admiral Chan (only mentioned briefly) and the leader of the Southern Raiders. It's entirely possible that there are female officers, we just don't see enough of the FN army to see any of them.

                    • ambyrglow says:

                      We do in fact see rather a lot of the Fire Nation army's officers. Specifically:

                      War Minister Qin, General Bujing, (former) General Iroh, General Shino, General Shu (never on screen), General Mung, Colonel Mongke, (former) Admiral Jeong Jeong, Admiral Chan (never on screen), Admiral Zhao, (unnamed) Commander of the Southern Raiders, Captain Lee, (former) Captain Chey, (unnamed) Captain of Azula's ship, and Lieutenant Jee. I'm probably missing some. But still. Zero for fifteen, women for men.

                    • Hyatt says:

                      Yeah. A step behind the US Army, as they do deploy women to overseas locations.

                      My point was that the lack of high-ranking female military officials is due to the sexism of the setting, which is visible even in the more progressive nations. The pattern is familiar to real-world history. The glass ceiling is realistic and reflected in more than just the lack of female officers.

                    • FlameRaven says:

                      Okay, I guess I'm confused then? If the sexism is in line with the historical period… why are we discussing it as a flaw? I mean, I'm well aware that the lack of women in positions of power is in line with the generally-medieval setting… which is why it doesn't bother me.

                • breesquared says:

                  I forgot about the leader of the Zhang tribe, so that's good, we've got one. But she was in a one-shot episode. I'd say less about Aunt Wu because, while she was awesome, she solidly filled the role of "wise elder woman who probably has never been married, therefore her leadership is legitimate because she's never had sex/been a mother". (I don't know a briefer name for this trope, lol, but we discussed it in my politics of entertainment course.)

                  • ambyrglow says:

                    Heh. She's in The Great Divide; it's no wonder she gets forgotten about! (And of course, of all the tribal/village leaders I listed, she's the only one who appears in an episode with two such characters. If the episode had been written to have only one leader, I'd lay money on it being a guy.)

                    I think the gender balance among the one-shot leadership characters is telling. When it comes to main characters, like the Gaang and the Fire Nation royals, the show's creators clearly are aware of issues of gender balance, of the desirability of showing a kaleidoscope of both male and female role models. They're making conscious choices, thinking, "Huh, wouldn't it be more interesting if we cast Toph as a girl?"

                    But when it comes to the throw-away characters like Generic Village Leader and Generic Military Officer, there doesn't seem to be as much thinking. Why should there be? So they go with the default. And that default, for generic authority character. . .is a guy. It's not intentional sexism–I would never accuse the show's creators of that. It's unconscious cultural assumptions, something that sometimes bites all of us in the ass.

                  • FlameRaven says:

                    Uh, where did you get that interpretation of Aunt Wu? Granted we don't see that much of her, but her brief exchange with Iroh sounded rather like a proposition to me. She always struck me as either a widow and/or an important matriarch of the town.

      • Noybusiness says:

        Let's not forget who is saying it about whom. Azula is an arrogant person who has bullied and belittled her brother Zuko.

    • Castlejune says:

      In the opposite direction, I would like to point out that Azula's character is a direct condemation of a certain sexism that plauges media: the princess stereotype. Young girls are supposed to relate to / want to be young, beautiful, talented princesses. Well, here we have a young, beautiful, talented princess who is the VILLIAN, whom we are supposed to admire and also hate. Azula is the perfect princess, but no one wants to "woo" or "win" her, and she certainly isn't the epitome of sweet goodness. I love that the creaters attack the princess stereotype.

    • SS7 says:

      There's no point in me asking you if you're serious because you definitely seem to be.
      Ughhh.

  35. enigmaticagentscully says:

    Can I just say how much I LOVE the whole debate about whether Aang should kill Ozai?
    So often shows go to one extreme or the other – either just having it as a given that the bad guys deserve to die and no-one blinking an eye at it, or having the good guys being really sanctimonious and preachy about how taking life is always wrong and there is no excuse.
    It's so refreshing to see a show actually tackle the question properly, making it an issue and showing both sides of the argument as reasonable points of view. And on a kids show too! I'm used to this sort of morally grey area thing in anime (since animation isn't so much seen as 'just for kids' in Japan), but in a western cartoon it's pretty impressive.

    Bravo Avatar. Bravo.

    Also, the Iroh and Zuko reunion scene? Crying forever. That's twice ATLA has reduced me to tears, which is a pretty good record. LOVE THAT SCENE.

    • jubilantia says:

      I KNOW. I remember being surprised- and pleased- by that pattern when watching Miyazaki for the first time. The villains are so nuanced. I wonder if it's because a lot of that stuff is based on or inspired by manga, which tends to show both sides of the story more. The same thing happens in our comics too, though which side did it first I don't know.

      Flamio!

      And agreed n the reunion scene too. Probably one of the most beautiful of the entire series.

  36. kartikeya200 says:

    <img src="http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y29/kartikeya/tumblr_lmo9dbuNAI1qeuftn.gif"&gt;

    <img src="http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y29/kartikeya/tumblr_lm6viv7F4x1qe2kqpo1_500.jpg"&gt;

    No, really, I'm saving all my deep thoughts for tomorrow, today it's revel in GIFs and macros day.

  37. TDM says:

    "if you think back to his first moments way back at the beginning, he’s an entirely different person than he was before."

    The best bit is that Zuko never feels out of character. It's a very natural progression of character and gradual release of his backstory that enriches his character as the series goes along.

    You can't approve of all of his decisions, but that's not the point – Zuko is a very believable character, and he makes mistakes and learns from them.

    I still think Zuko's journey through Avatar is not only the best piece of character development on the show, but one of the best pieces of character development I've ever seen/read.

    And Avatar itself, I think, is as much Zuko's story as Aang's – I feel the finale underlines that a lot.

  38. Pelleloguin says:

    Gonna save the deep thoughts essay for tomorrow, so I'll just thank you, Mark, for letting all of us come with you as you watched the show. It was like seeing the episodes for the first time all over again and it was a blast. And you do not know how hard it was to not spoil you sometimes. But that was all part of the fun, sitting at the computer going "His mind is going to EXPLODE when he figures out that Iroh and Zuko DO team up with Team Avatar!"

  39. BardChild says:

    I wrote an essay about Aang's dilemma last year in February. It was touching on some important concepts like Aangs devotion to ahmisa (the act of non-harm), and the justification of murder. A very very difficult concept to bring up in Western animation.

    As Westerners we grow up being taught that killing someone is alright if they deserve it. We never question it. Killing someone is ok if they are a "bad guy". I noticed a lot of the fandom was seriously pissed off at Aang for not killing Ozai, that he was a coward. How can they possibly think it's at all moral or a ethical a twelve year old child to kill a man? How can people reason that it's ok for Aang to kill Ozai thusly dropping to his level? I thought Aang's solution was still following the pass lives advice and a powerful message that keeping to one's morals and believes is NOT WEAK.

    As for the Lion-Turtle…I caught the what he was saying pretty quickly or at least the gist of it. But then again I've studied Vedic philosophy and It totally felt like an Krishna/Arjuna moment. It also sounded a lot like this

    From delusion lead me to truth
    From darkness lead me to light
    From death lead me to immortality.

    Let there be peace everywhere

    When the five senses and the mind are still, and reason itself rests in silence, then begins the Path supreme

    I kinda figure it was some sort of powerful soul changing thing when touched the Heart and Third Eye chakras. As well as the clue that folks had been bending energy before they did elements.

    Thank you Yoga class for teaching me basic Vedic lore!

    • enigmaticagentscully says:

      " I thought Aang's solution was still following the past lives advice and a powerful message that keeping to one's morals and believes is NOT WEAK. "

      That's what I took from it too. It reminded me of watching Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood a little while ago – the main characters in that make a point of never killing anyone. And it also raises the point that, while neither is necessarily the 'correct' view, the resolve to never kill is just as strong, and just as worthy as the resolve to kill those who deserve it in the name of justice.
      What's important in FMA:B (and in Avatar) is that characters always stick to their personal morals and do what they judge to be the right thing no matter how difficult, not that they follow one particular moral code.

      Also reminds me of a quote from Dumbledore: "Killing is not so easy as the innocent believe." I love that quote, because when it comes down to it, taking anyone's life, even someone who you think deserves it, is not an easy thing to do.

      • BardChild says:

        I don't think the fandom caught that. It was totally one of those "Easy to be brave when there is no danger" Aesops. I think it's also dishearting to think that some of the fandom thought that true ahmisa and pacifism is weak. Broke my heart.

      • @redbeardjim says:

        Always reminds me of Gandalf's quote from Fellowship of the Ring:

        “Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

        • BardChild says:

          Personally I want to see Ozai as redeemable. THAT WOULD BE SO AWESOME

          • notemily says:

            Or at least useful for something, the way the character that Gandalf refers to in that quote is essential to later events. (Trying not to spoil for LOTR)

    • jubilantia says:

      That's so cool! I hadn't realized they had done their homework to that extent. Yet another reason to love Avatar. Plus, it would make sense that the lion-turtle would have that knowledge and power because it might be older than bending itself. I get the idea that bending became a Thing a long time ago in the world of Avatar, but that they had quite a bit of time before that where people couldn't bend.

      I know some people thought the solution was a bit contrived, but none that thought it made Aang weak. I thought they did a pretty fantastic job with it. I mean, sometimes they don't kill the character like you think they should and it feels unfinished or unsatisfying, but in this case they laid the groundwork with his Lion-Turtle Journey and finished those particular plotlines really well. Plus, he's hesitant from the beginning, so it's not like he's resolved from the beginning to kill the Fire Lord and then cops out at the end.

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      Thank you so much for this post. It was beautiful to see them touching upon the Hindu belief of Ahimsa in a television show, abd debating these ethical concepts, and I'm always saddened when parts of the fandom just ignore it completely.

      • BardChild says:

        Because were Westeners, it's not in our culture systems to view non-violence as viable and wise decision. The fandom didn't notice the fact that he practiced ahmisa because it's a tenet of Vedic culture not noticed by Westeners.

        Also to turn up the geek to 11, Aang didn't practice the Hindu version of ahmisa but the Buddhist one. Hindu ahmisa justifies death in war, in fact that was part of the moral quandary that Arjuna was stuck in, on top of killing his family.

        • Elexus Calcearius says:

          Well, if we're going to get technical, whether or not killing is allowed in war depends on which class or varna you're in. As a monk, Aang is probably in Brahmin, which means its much more important for him not too kill. It depends on interpretation of the Vedas and other books, of course, but there are some pretty extreme ways you can interpret ahmisa at that level.

          As for the Western view, I'm dubious. Firstly, its quite clear that Avatar is based on Eastern cultures, both in style and belief systems. Aang has already shown many times that he is a vegetarian, and does not like to take lives, and that this is part of his belief system. You would think that people, no matter what religion (or lack therefore of) would respect that this is literally going against what he's believed his entire life. (Especially when you consider that many religions, especially the dominant Christianity, has sanctity of life, a very similar concept.)

          Furthermore, its a moral quandry, brought up in the show itself. It doesn't matter where you were brought up, you should be able to stop and think over the implications of this.

          (Thoughts from a westerner raised in Asia.)

  40. Mauve_Avenger says:

    Since I wasn't in condition to comment much during the liveblog, I rewatched earlier today and wrote out some reactions:
    -I'm guessing that being *unmasked* as a member of the OWL (which I keep trying to call the Order of the White Phoenix) would lead to imprisonment? We don't get much of the history of the organization, but it makes sense that it would be a more or less open society when it started (provided it was created in a time of peace), and then the fact that it's a multinational organization got used against it in wartime and so it had to go underground permanently.
    -Speaking of the White Lotus: I think I predicted at one point that the pai sho tile Sokka received from Piandao would be a sort of one-time get-into-the-White-Lotus-meeting-free card, and that it'd be a quasi-rebel camp and they'd learn valuable information there. I guess the gift of the tile is more of a "I'm recommending your induction when you get old enough to join" sort of thing, though?

    -"I didn't know what or when, but I knew I'd know it when I knew it!" Oh, Bumi. Also, was he seriously chewing on those green fire crystals at the end of that scene?

    -I was interestingly spoiled about the Zuko-Iroh reunion in such a way that it was actually more surprising than if I'd just been watching unspoiled. I happened upon a website where someone was saying something like "ugh, when Zuko finally finds Uncle Iroh again and Zuko's pouring his heart out to him and Iroh's just sitting there with his back turned" and so I just assumed that it meant Iroh completely rejected Zuko's attempts at reconciliation. 🙁
    -I have to wonder if Iroh's vision about taking Ba Sing Se is the tie-in with Zhao's statement that Iroh has spent time in the Spirit World.

    "Many great and wise Air Nomads have detached themselves and achieved spiritual enlightenment, but the Avatar can never do it. Because your sole duty is to the world. Here is my wisdom for you: selfless duty calls you to sacrifice your own spiritual needs and do whatever it takes to protect the world."

    I don't think I made the connection when I was watching this scene in the liveblog, but Yangchen's statement here really does remind me of the idea of the shepherd-type bodhisattva, though obviously the role of an Air Nomad Avatar has a somewhat different dynamic.
    Which I suppose is another interpretation of this: <img src="http://oi55.tinypic.com/2i8iz4x.jpg"&gt;

    • Hotaru_hime says:

      Order of the White Phoenix? I think you mean Lotus.
      Cool gaffe regardless~
      Every time I look at the Koalamb, I can't help but be shocked at its face.

    • lossthief says:

      Also, was he seriously chewing on those green fire crystals at the end of that scene?

      I do believe that was Geminite, aka Rock Candy from Bumi's first episode.

  41. Hotaru_hime says:

    Toph as the Melon Lord!! I totally forgot that happened until the liveblog- Toph, you are so beautiful.
    But I want to point out that Aang has learned Waterbending, Earthbending, and Firebending in under a year to kill a man who rules a nation bent on world domination. Keep in mind that one year ago to Aang was 100 years ago for the rest of us. His last memory was being stuck in a storm on the back of Appa, running away from being the Avatar. His life was one of peace and joy- he traveled the Four Nations on the back of Appa, mastered Airbending, and had a friend in Monk Gyatso. But now this twelve year old boy is expected to kill a man who is simultaneously his elder and junior in order to save the world.
    Aang is not like Avatar Yangchen, who presumably did NOT have to restore balance to the world like Aang did and spent many years traversing the world gaining knowledge and learning bending. Yangchen learned to resign herself to the world and let go of the teachings of the monks and nuns to an acceptable degree. Aang has had maybe six months? And he's had several failures along the way, so his confidence in his own abilities isn't that high!
    And then the Lion Turtle Island appears and I just keep thinking of Genbu.
    Azula, at the end of part one, is obviously slipping. She seems dissatisfied with everything and her shock and dismay at her father telling her to leave her behind is another traitorous blow. She immediately begins to whine, saying "But you said we were going to do this together!" remind us all that Azula is a fourteen year old girl. We can see Team Avatar as the young teens they are because they behave as such, but Azula does not. So here her insecurities are revealed, even when she's told she will be Fire Lord.
    Zuko's reunion with Iroh… I am tearbending y'all. It's so TOUCHING. I mean, Iroh forgives him right off, embracing him and in that reminding Zuko that he is essentially Iroh's son, not Ozai's. SO HEARTWARMING, I CAN HARDLY TAKE IT.
    I love the reunion of all their old masters, but it really drives home something other people have commented on- WHERE ARE ALL THE IRON LADIES? Avatar really shows you how you should respect your elders (unless they're sociopaths hellbent on burning the world) but they really don't have any cool older females. I mean, Hama is the closest we got to an experienced female bender and she was EVIL.

  42. simplefaith08 says:

    One of the things I actually love about the advice of the past Avatars (though it's something I didn't notice the first time around) was that they never said kill the fire lord. It was "Be Decisive," "Only justice will bring peace," "Be proactive," "Be prepared to sacrifice yourself for the good of the world." And in the end, he ends up doing all those things, just in a different way. And I think that's way clever.

    Also, Azula's line "You can't treat me like Zuko!" is so incredibly telling. Not only in how Ozai's treatment of Zuko probably lead to some of Azula's perfectionism ("This is what will happen if you fail me"), but Azula is so incredibly assured that she knows how everything and everyone works, that she's got everyone's number, the fact that maybe her father doesn't respect her is world-altering. Zuko is able to give her a fight, her loyal friends aren't so loyal, her own father is leaving her behind and giving her a useless title. Her world is changing right from under her.

    • Matt_Thermo says:

      Everything you just said about Azula is exactly what I came in here to post. Though I will elaborate slightly. This is a girl who knows that her father's "love" is conditional, and her whole life has pretty much been about meeting those conditions. Though, once he doesn't need her anymore, he still tosses her aside. Just like he did with the son that didn't meet the conditions of his conditional love. Despite everything she's done for him, once she no longer serves a purpose, she still get treated like Zuko!

      Like Arctic_Hare said earlier. It really was the cruelest thing Ozai could have possible done to her.

  43. Tauriel_ says:

    Also, remember how we debated how was Zuko able to take off his tunic in "The Beach" with one single move? Well, Sokka beat him here in "The Phoenix King" – he managed to take off not only his tunic, but his trousers and his boots as well, all IN ONE SiNGLE MOVE! Can your science explain THAT?! XD

  44. Elexus Calcearius says:

    Don't have much time, and I'm sure to try to come back and make a more in-depth comments (plus I'm sure someone's said this already), but;

    The reason there were hexagonal shapes that could not be bent was because they were made of shell. I actually recognised that right away on the first viewing, and guess that it was a giant turtle. I guess I'm just familiar with Asian myths about them.

  45. @redbeardjim says:

    On a completely random note, I loved the side-eye looks that Piandao and Jeong Jeong gave Bumi when he jumped in front of them to confirm the "Order of the White Lotus" thing.

    "Dude, give it a rest already!"

  46. @redbeardjim says:

    And I can't believe I forgot to post this earlier:

    [youtube JwK4B7jvjso http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwK4B7jvjso youtube]

  47. @redbeardjim says:

    And also also, the Word of God explanation for why Nyla couldn't find Aang is that the lion-turtle is so old and so massive that its scent "smells like the whole world" and completely masked Aang's.

  48. hheadgrrl says:

    Hey, remember in the episode "Sokka's Master," Pian Dao compared Sokka to a lion-turtle! Something about being as brave as one or having a heart as big as a lion-turles! On the Avatar Extra's, they said a lion-turtle's heart = four Appas!!! Also:
    I am Melon Lord, muwahahahaha!
    …defeat the Fatherlord…
    lol

  49. Tilja says:

    "UM IS AANG THE DOCTOR WTF"

    Well, he reincarnates the moment he dies, and he has access to all his past lives. Yes, I can pretty much sum up that he's a Time Lord living incognito in this world.

    "Aang discovers a bizarre hexagon made up of a material that is impossible to bend. Which…even in hindsight, I can’t recall if this is ever explained."

    A LionTurtle is a living creature, so my guess is that the hexagon, being part of a turtle's shell, is made of bone, which would explain why he can't bend it. It's neither wood nor stone, it's part of a living, sentient creature. Maybe Toph should get her sensitive hands and ears to it and see if she can actually bend bone as some people suggested in previous episodes comments. That makes me wish so much for her to at least once have the kind of weird and spiritual adventures the others have had.

    Poor Toph, no life changing field trip, no spiritual or strange adventure. She's so down-to-earth, her very experiences are all down to the earth. Can someone please give her a good otherworldly experience, at least in fanfic format. I feel for her.

  50. Tauriel_ says:

    Oh, and I forgot another thing. Every time I watch Ozai declaring himself the Phoenix King, I can't help but think:

    "Sure, he's an evil murdering bastard, but you've got to admit… he's got style."

    😀

  51. isoycrazy says:

    These two parts were some of the best work in the series. The return of the Old Masters, both the current living ones and the previous Master Avatars is a wonderful surprise. I can only hope that those of the GAang who survive, I make no comment on if any of them actually do, will end up as awesome as the old masters in this episode in Korra's reign.

  52. Caterfree10 says:

    AHHHH I want to talk about things, but most of them are in the second half! *SOBS*

    jskhdfalkjfhsdflkj anyway, I will say a few things about this half anyway. 1, I would really like to know why the writers chose to wait until right before the comet to confront Aang having to kill the Firelord. I mean, wtf did he plan on doing on the Day of Black Sun? Talk him to death? While I do commend the past Avatars for being all "No, the world > your morals. You are the Avatar, fucking act like it", I just wish it was addressed sooner in the series. ~_~

    Oh a higher note, I fucking loved the Zuko and Iroh reunion as well as the preceding moment with Katara reassuring Zuko beforehand. The Z/K scene before just showed me how much I love them and love them together (hell yes I giggled like a madwoman at June suggesting they were an item XD) and it was such a sweet moment, too. And then the reunion. OH MY GOD, I don't think I've cried as hard at anything else before or since (except maybe the end of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of the Sky, but no1curr). Hell, just thinking about it now is causing tears to flow, it was just so beautiful. ;A; Definitely one of my favorite scenes in the entire series. <3

  53. Whitney says:

    It IS explained why Aang can’t earthbend on the island: the island is actually a lion-turtle lol it’s not made of earth, hence, no earthbending! xD

  54. Hanibi says:

    "I certainly did not understand what the lion turtle was talking about, and I definitely had no clue why Aang lit up in an emerald blast of light when the lion turtle touched him, but Aang seemed so content and pleased to receive the creature’s wisdom. But what wisdom did he give Aang?"

    You remember the way Roku's dragon communicated to Aang, and then Aang used that to communicate to Hei Bai?

    Remember how Aang communicated with the tree in The Swamp?

    And how Guru Pathik read Appa's heart and mind?

    What the Lion Turtle did to Aang is just a continuation of the foreshadowing the creators have been building upon since the first season. This was never a Deus Ex Machina, as many have claimed. It was planned from the beginning.

  55. Joeldi says:

    My god, I nearly cried just reading your recollections of nearly crying at the scene with Zuko and Iroh. I love this show.

    You couldn't figure out that Aang can't bend LionTurtle shell though? For shame.

    And I lol'd at "Dante Bosco" Zuko was undercover in the Earth King's palace The Whole Time! And a bear. RAAARRGH

  56. hymnia says:

    The Zuko/Iroh reunion is my favorite scene! It was the first one I thought of when you posed your question on the last review. (The second one was the Agni Kai between Zuko and Azula.)

    I'm so sad this is coming to an end. I've really enjoyed re-living the series through you. A couple of years ago, not long after I watched the series for the first time, I decided to do a re-watch project, posting my thoughts on each episode to my livejournal. I got all the way through the first half of Book 3, and then the project got stalled. But you inspired me to go back and revive it, and I finally posted reviews of "The Western Air Temple" and "The Firebending Masters" yesterday. If anyone wants to check them out, here's the tag at my LJ: http://hymnia.livejournal.com/tag/avatar

    Also, now that there's no fear of spoilers, here are my two favorite ATLA fanvideos:

  57. Patrick721 says:

    I was unable to do the liveblog past halfway into part II. There were just too many people on the site, I think, and my internet connection has been pretty crappy lately. So let me explain-no, let me sum up my reactions the first time I watched this.

    -WTF beach party?
    -WTF zuko?
    -oh, now it makes sense.
    -captain planet!
    -holy shit ozai. holy fucking shit.
    -MELON LORD!
    –Seriously, I love Toph.
    -Ok, Aang, i get the whole sticking to your beliefs thing, but…dude, Ozai needs a good murderin'
    -ominous chanting is bad.
    -APPA ATE MOMO! Sokka is the best.
    -JUNE!
    –Jennifer Hale's voice is like sex for the ears or something. When I actually get around to playing Mass Effect, I'm making a female shepherd who looks like June
    -Of course Toph would like June…I SMELL A SPINOFF. TOPH, JUNE, SOKKA, AND THE BOULDER HAVE ADVENTURES!
    -Firelord Azula? Yikes.
    -Would that make her Firelady?
    -Phoenix King.
    -Damn Ozai. Say what you will about the man, but that outfit is pretty pimpin'…someone needs to draw ozai in a pimp coat, hat, and cane. Or Iroh, actually.
    -Aang doesn't exist?
    -IROH!
    -Aang pretending momo can talk=hilarious
    -Aang you are outvoted. If you don't want to kill him, at least break his spine and paralyze him or something.
    -OLD PEOPLE! BUMI! PAKKU! JEONG-JEONG! PIANDAO!
    -Where's Momo?
    -Bumi took back Omashu all by himself. LIKE A BAWS!
    -Zuko and Iroh reunion=ALL THE TEARS. MANLY TEARS!
    -JESUS THAT IS A BIG TURTLE. BUT WHERE ARE THE ELEPHANTS ON ITS BACK?
    -End of part ii: SHIT IS ABOUT TO GET SO REAL.

    So yeah, I have no problems with this. Other than it being the end of the series (half of it, anyway). I don't like that because this series should go on forever. Spinoff ideas
    -Show Iroh's journey into the spirit world. Maybe he met the spirit of tea there.
    -I want to see zuko/sokka bromance. Just them doing stuff in ba sing se or something. And getting drunk on cactus juice. and having another haiku showdown that turns into a full on rap battle or something.
    -June and Toph having adventures.
    -More Earth Rumble! I want to see the Avatar version of The Ultimate Warrior.

    and I'm just rambling, so I'll shut up now.

  58. fizzybomb says:

    <img src="http://fc00.deviantart.net/fs45/i/2009/131/9/b/Hogwarts_Crossover_by_RoseMuse.jpg"&gt;
    (Source)

    I had to split up my comment so it would post.
    Also, cackling Slytherin Toph seems oddly appropriate in the wake of Melon Lord.

  59. Lavanya6 says:

    Did anyone else think Iroh acted a bit iffy in this episode? "Zuko, me killing my brother would be seen as a shameless power grab. Now go kill your sister and take her crown. Enjoy reconstructing a war-torn world while I, an elder statesman, retire to a simple life at my tea shop."

    I get the writers wanted Zuko to be Firelord but the justifications given were a little weak.

    • BardChild says:

      I didn't think they were honestly. We always knew that that Zuko would be firelord that he had to confront his sister as well as his dad. Personally I wanted Iroh to live a life out of imperial politics,

    • breesquared says:

      Well they did so in the form of an Agni Kai, which in Fire Nation culture is noble/honorable. Do we know if those tend to end in death? Zuko won without killing Zhao, and Ozai didn't kill Zuko. And neither was crowned Fire Lord yet, so it wasn't an usurpation (Iroh killing Ozai would have been).

      • Lavanya6 says:

        Death seems to be common, although canon isn't explicit on that. Zhao seemed to expect Zuko to kill him. Ozai essentially humiliated his son by scarring him visibly and sending him on a snipe hunt, so maybe death wasn't good enough for him. Secondary canon suggests that Combustion Man first won cred by winning several easy Agni Kai.

        On the final Agni Kai, I've seen a few interpretations of it. Some take the view that Zuko technically lost the Agni Kai because Azula KO'd him, meaning Azula is the legal winner but can't contest that because she went insane. Others see it that Azula forfeited the Agni Kai by attacking an outside observer (Katara) before her opponent had been defeated. Whatever the case, the result is the same — the Agni Kai legitimized Zuko's claim to the crown despite him being a traitor.

        • breesquared says:

          Maybe it's common but not necessary. It seems to be more of a 'checkmate' scenario, where there's no way for the opponent to get out on their own.

    • Hanibi says:

      i kind of thought Zuko did something similar in DoBS

      “It was cruel and wrong to expect a 13 year old boy to fight you to the death! So instead of killing you now while you’re helpless, I’m going to go browbeat a 12 year old to do it instead.”

      Yeah, I know. Major difference being his dad and all. Still sounds bad.

      • FlameRaven says:

        First, I don't think Agni Kai's are generally to the death. It's an honor duel– whoever wins is shown to have more honor. There's really no evidence at all that they would usually end in death. Quite honestly, the Fire Nation cannot have the population to support the nobility killing themselves over these things.

        The whole point of having the Avatar take Ozai down is that it's an outside power intervening instead of an internal power struggle/coup. The Avatar's purpose is to maintain balance and check any of the nations that overstep their bounds. The Fire Nation, and specifically Ozai and his forebears, massively upset the balance of the world by pulling off one genocide, beginning another, and nearly destroying half of another nation. It wasn't just about getting rid of Ozai, it was specifically about making sure the Fire Nation's destructive activities would be stopped. Personally, I would still have put Iroh on the throne first, but it's a kid's show and it's important to have the younger protagonist take that role.

    • Hyatt says:

      Just because Iroh doesn't want to be Fire Lord doesn't mean that he won't continue to act as Zuko's adviser. As for Iroh and Ozai vs. Azula and Zuko, I think that the difference is that Iroh has already given up his claim to the throne, and Ozai has already been crowned and ruled for years. Iroh's encouraging Zuko not to forfeit his right to the throne and to claim it before Azula did.

    • Classtoise says:

      No one knew Azula was Fire Lord yet (her coronation hadn’t even happened, so really it was just “Ozai is unfit to rule, the heir gets the crown”), and no one would believe her if she ranted and raved from prison.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Um, Iroh never said Zuko needed to kill Azula…

    • H. Torrance Griffin says:

      The Avatar passing judgement over the True Big Boss _would_ make a deal easier to sell to the rest of the world. As for the rest… I got the impression that Iroh is borderline phobic about being in a real position of leadership or command after the mess with his son.

    • FlameRaven says:

      I think Iroh is right to be wary of the political ramifications: there has already been one political assassination in recent memory in the Fire Nation (when Ursa murdered Azulon, and that was only 6 or 7 years before the show) and a political coup as Ozai usurped Iroh's position. It's important that it is an outside power (the Avatar) to resolve the situation and bring justice, regardless of the Avatar's age.

      Iroh never said that Zuko should kill Azula. And yes, I would personally have wanted Iroh to take the throne, but there's also a lot of idealism in putting the younger heir on the throne. Personally I like to think that Iroh stuck around a lot longer and helped Zuko sort out some of the massive political drama that would occur before he retired back to Ba Sing Se– we don't know how much time passed between Zuko's speech and the scene in the tea shop, but realistically, it was probably several months later if not a year or more. We don't know.

  60. BardChild says:

    Energy is energy….

  61. misterbernie says:

    I certainly did not understand what the lion turtle was talking about
    Neither could I, because holy shit was that some horrible mumbling /ESLer gripe

    I must admit, though, that to me, the conflict of whether Aang should kill Ozai rang hollow, because… the mooks that surely must've died before (the ships Koi!Aang sank, the mooks he's blasted and shoved offscreen…) never got a moment of "woe I killed".
    And yes, I understand the difference between acting in self-defense (which is mostly what he's done) and actively going out to kill someone, but still, for the most part of this ep, I sat there all "…can you please start the fight now?"

    • lossthief says:

      The thing is, other than the North Pole, Aang's never delivered any kind of strike that seemed lethal, and THAT incident was when he was in the Avatar State, without control. And if you remember he did feel bad about that incident.

      • misterbernie says:

        True. I shouldn't forget a whole season opener 😉

        Maybe deep down I'm just a bloodthirsty monster and I try to hide it with flimsy justification 😛 (which, given how anti-violence and nonviolent I am in real life, is kinda <s>ironic</s> funny)

  62. Hanibi says:

    Roku's dragon spoke with Aang in the spirit World, but when Aang did the same to HeiBai, it wa s in the real world.

  63. Rickard says:

    "His entire culture taught him all life was sacred, so much so that even slicing the head off of a melon dummy is too much for him."

    And… here's were I take issue with the show. Aang pushed people of mountains(Northern Airtemple) with the intent that they don't get back up. He killed a Buzzard Wasp by beheading it in the desert.

    But in this episode he claims he haven't killed or tried to. Except the show itself disagrees. This really took a lot of fun out of the episode for me. It went against what had already been established, and by doing so broke my suspension of belief.

    • @redbeardjim says:

      Aang killing the buzzard-wasp in "The Desert" was pretty explicitly meant to show just how fucked up he was at that point. He may not even remember it.

      • Tauriel_ says:

        Actually, I don't think it was explicitly shown that he killed the buzzard-wasp. I always assumed he just knocked it out.

        • Hyatt says:

          No matter what, it was portrayed as unnecessary violence and a sign of how fucked up Aang was getting.

    • Hyatt says:

      Aang never set out to kill any of those people; he wasn't going into the battles with the resolution that his opponents would die.

      • BardChild says:

        Also folks need to keep in mind that Deity!Aang is not the same as Monk Aang. The deity and the monk war with in Aang. Aang hates using the avatar state because he is not himself. He is basically "god". Also as Koizilla I firmly believe that it was the Ocean Spirit killed all those soldiers not Aang. He was merely used as a tool by the Ocean Spirit. I don't also believe Aang is truly…there when his in the Avatar state, he is MANY PEOPLE AT ONCE.

        I am getting sick of people holding him accountable for actions he was used not consciously decided.

      • H. Torrance Griffin says:

        Not to mention the psychological distinction between incidental endangerment of lives at a distance (scuttling ships, landslides) and looking a man in the eye as you kill him in cold blood.

        I do note that Aang seemed far more cautious with the lives of others after The Seige of the North….

  64. Ridia says:

    I really loved how this show let Aang have his dilemma about killing Ozai. Until it got brought up at the end of The Southern Raiders, I had never even thought about how Aang would finish Ozai. I think in the back of my head I was always thinking 'Disney death.' Like Ozai would fall off something high and fall screaming away and la la la everyone's happy (even though that would make no sense, thinking about it, since Aang's an Airbender and could presumably save someone falling to their death). No matter how it turned out (and I personally liked the answer the show chose) I just love that Aang was allowed to have his dilemma. Too many kids' shows choose the Disney death option and let the hero kill the villain but still have clean hands. Avatar even acknowledges that letting the bad guy fall to his death really doesn't mean you didn't kill him — Kyoshi admits straight out she doesn't see a difference between her actually killing Chin and him standing in one place while the earth crumbles beneath him. No quick and easy smoothed-over ending here.

    Iroh and Zuko's reunion scene is my very favorite in the whole series. I love it so much. Anecdote time: the first time this aired, I had to work. Not having a DVR, I went old-school and set my VCR timer. When I got home I rewound the tape and sat down, planning to watch straight through, fast-forwarding through only commercials and not rewinding. Then I got to the Zuko-Iroh reunion scene and I rewound that bit at least four times before continuing. I don't think I've ever watched the finale without rewinding that scene at least once. Everything about it is really perfect — Zuko's voice breaking, so sure that Iroh hates him, and then Iroh just grabs him and hugs him and my heart melts into a puddle. Pitch-perfect.

    • Hyatt says:

      Kyoshi probably doesn't see a difference because if Chin hadn't stupidly stood there and fallen to his death, she would have returned to the cliff and killed him herself unless he immediately surrendered to her and accepted her judgment and punishment. Chin being too stubborn to move when the earth was literally bringing him to his death was all she needed to know about what would have happened after she returned from her warning gesture. (Or maybe she deliberately created the cliff too close to Chin, knowing that he would never back away. Or both.)

  65. Macy says:

    NGL, one of my favorite parts in the series is the reunion of Zuko and Uncle. Every time I see it, I burst into tears. Dante's voice just kills me.

  66. theohgod says:

    "If I’m going to talk about what feels comforting, then it must be said that it was a pretty bold move on the part of the writers to have every single incarnation of past Avatars that Aang calls forth advise him to kill Fire Lord Ozai."

    Roku tells Aang to be decisive, Kyoshi says that Ozai must be brought to justice, Kuruk tells him that he must shape his own destiny, and Yang-Chen says that he must do whatever it takes to protect the world. They never once say that Aang must kill Ozai, Aang simply interprets it that way because it seems like the only option he has.

    • BardChild says:

      A++++

    • Classtoise says:

      They all heavily imply that he needs to kill him. They don’t SAY it because they don’t want to influence him, but “I screwed up and by not killing my best friend at his worst, he caused all the problems you inherited”, “I would have killed him either way, regardless of whether or not it was intentional the first time”, “I sat on my ass and my wife died, and I could have stopped it from happening”, and “We’re told to revere all life, but you’re not just an Air Nomad” all seemed to be definitively leaning towards offing Ozai.

  67. BardChild says:

    Seriously. I want to know this. Why do people want to see a kid kill someone in a cartoon? Why do people have boners to see a twelve year old kill a man?

    • breesquared says:

      It sucks, but it was better than NOT killing him when faced with the two options alone. And unfortunately, the 12-yr-old is the only one who stood a shot. So does Aang kill one person, or through inaction allow a genocide akin to the one that happened to his culture?
      No one knew what energy-bending was until the last 15 minutes of the series, so I would hardly say people's realistic expectations constitutes a hardon for murder. If that were the case, they'd want to see Ozai burn villages alive.

      • BardChild says:

        But take a step back for a second.

        Aang is twelve. He's face was with a severely difficult choice. People want to see him kill Ozai. To me that's a bit fucked up to want to see something that kinda messed up on television. I think what pissed me off is the constant accusations that Aang was a coward for finding a non-violent resolution and that the Lion Turtle was an asspull, when both energybending and the Lion Turtle were more like super ninja chekovs guns.

        All I know is, if Aang killed Ozai, while not being in Dues mode, I would have stopped watching the show all together and be squicked for weeks.

    • Classtoise says:

      I never get how anyone for Aang killing Ozai seems to be some sick twisted individual who loves death.

      Look, if you’re faced with the options of “Killing a genocidal maniac” or “Arresting a genocidal maniac and making sure he can’t personally hurt anyone again”, what do you do?

      Oh you arrest him? Great. Fine. He still has his loyal followers to rally around him and break him out to usurp the throne.

      Or maybe the loved ones of the people he murdered just don’t think you’re such a swell guy for letting him get off easy.

      Neither one is a good outcome, but killing a genocidal maniac who would rather destroy that which will not be easy to control is not the same as gleefully watching others die.

  68. Manself says:

    Avatar has always used colors splendidly, and nowhere is this clearer than in the three season finales. If you’ll notice, each finale’s climax is bathed in the colors of the element which the book focuses on: The cool blues of the Northern Water Tribe, the phosphorescent greens and deep browns of Old Ba Sing Se, and the harsh red of Sozin’s Comet burning in the sky, enhancing the orange and yellow flames of the Firebenders.
    <img src="http://i55.tinypic.com/154dbvk.png&quot; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">
    <img src="http://i51.tinypic.com/28vv9jl.png&quot; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">
    <img src="http://i56.tinypic.com/2up4eg4.png&quot; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

  69. Stephalopolis says:

    Who would win in a fight- Wang Fire or The Melon Lord?

    • thesimplyuninspired says:

      Neither. It would be an epic battle that would ravage terrain, wipe-out millions, and would end with both sides conceding to the other's awesomeness and the two sitting down to a game of pai sho.

  70. Classtoise says:

    Oh! Other stuff I loved.

    The team didn’t feel like “Aangs posse”. It felt like a group of people who was friends with Aang who had their own goals. They weren’t gonna stop because the Avatar was late. They wanted this, and he just so happened to be the one to follow through.

    Suki and Sokkas relationship is also cute as hell. Especially how she humors him when she sees the sand sculpture he made her. D’awww/

  71. Diana Kingston-Gabai says:

    I keep going back to what Yangchen tells Aang: yes, life is sacred, and yes, the Air Nomads were all about spirituality and detachment. But Aang is the Avatar. He's the only person in the world who can't be bound to specific ideologies and national identities: consider that Kyoshi was born in the Earth Kingdom, but she still took down Chin; likewise, Roku never shares Sozin's belief that the Fire Nation should "share" its prosperity with the other peoples of the world.

    It's certainly unfortunate that Aang is a child, but I think when viewers (like myself) say "I wish Aang had killed Ozai", it's not because we're all hopped up to see a kid kill a bad guy, but because in terms of narrative structure, it's a very appropriate way to conclude the story – at a point where Aang finally realizes that yes, he is the Avatar, and he does have responsibilities, and if those responsibilities are in conflict with his personal beliefs then the latter needs to be set aside, however momentarily.

    As an aside, Energybending and the Lion Turtle were most certainly asspulls – it's all well and good to point to statues and drawings, but the problem isn't that the Lion Turtle exists, it's that Aang just happens to stumble onto it, and it knows all sorts of things: who Aang is, why he's so troubled, that Sozin's comet is coming and the world is going to be destroyed, that Aang is going to face Ozai, and that there's a secret technique no other living entity seems to know about (and Guru Pathik doesn't count – sensing energy isn't the same as manipulating it), and – surprise surprise – this technique just happens to give Aang exactly the out he needed to emerge not only victorious but with his personal beliefs intact.

    (cont.)

    • Diana Kingston-Gabai says:

      Consider: If this is a creature that predates the Avatar, why is it at all interested in human affairs? Why intervene now? What are its motivations?

      And one more aside: if depowering Ozai was always the plan according to the creators, could someone explain the Invasion to me? Because I don't recall Aang expressing any similar concerns then – he was going to face and "defeat" the Firelord, no ambiguity there. So what changed?

      The whole thing just feels like a bit of a cheat, because there's no real sacrifice in the hero's moment of triumph – in a narrative where every victory comes with a price (as it should, because this isn't the '80s and there's no such thing as a "clean win"), the fact that Aang strips Ozai of his bending, and presumably does the same to Azula, without any drawbacks? It just doesn't ring true.

      • Hyatt says:

        Consider: If this is a creature that predates the Avatar, why is it at all interested in human affairs? Why intervene now? What are its motivations?

        Maybe because it created the Avatar spirit, so it feels some responsibility to the current Avatar?

        And one more aside: if depowering Ozai was always the plan according to the creators, could someone explain the Invasion to me? Because I don't recall Aang expressing any similar concerns then – he was going to face and "defeat" the Firelord, no ambiguity there. So what changed?

        To quote Iroh, And Then What? Aang wasn't thinking about what happened after he defeated Ozai. It wasn't until Zuko joined the group and told him that he needed to kill Ozai that Aang even considered it. Not thinking things through: another parallel between Aang and Zuko.

        • Diana Kingston-Gabai says:

          Maybe because it created the Avatar spirit, so it feels some responsibility to the current Avatar?

          If it did create the Avatar spirit (and there's no canonical evidence of that), and that's its motivation… why not intervene during Roku's lifetime, before the war actually started?

          To quote Iroh, And Then What? Aang wasn't thinking about what happened after he defeated Ozai. It wasn't until Zuko joined the group and told him that he needed to kill Ozai that Aang even considered it. Not thinking things through: another parallel between Aang and Zuko.

          There's a difference between not thinking things through and being completely obtuse: are we supposed to believe that Aang led an invasion into the heart of enemy territory, intent on ending the war by "defeating" the Firelord, and he didn't stop to think what "defeating" actually meant?

          • Hyatt says:

            Roku was a fully-realized Avatar at the time of his crisis, he thought that the problem was solved at the time, and the world wasn't yet imbalanced by the genocide of the Airbenders. Aang was not a fully-realized Avatar, and the world had been out of balance for 100 years before the Lion Turtle gave Aang his wisdom.

            Is it so unreasonable to think that Aang thought, at the time of the invasion, that he could simply defeat and imprison Ozai?

            • BardChild says:

              Is it so unreasonable to think that Aang thought, at the time of the invasion, that he could simply defeat and imprison Ozai?

              Especially so that Aang thought he would be unarmed and would have no bending.

              and – surprise surprise – this technique just happens to give Aang exactly the out he needed to emerge not only victorious but with his personal beliefs intact.

              I don't understand why keeping to your morals and beliefs is considered weak. Why is ahmisa and pacifism "irresponsible". I don't understand why killing someone thusly throwing away the ethics that Aang was taught is a sign of maturity, the proof of manhood.

              Maybe as someone who actually studied ahmisa, and as someone that is surrounded in murder culture. I am sick and tired of the justification that killing people is ok if they deserve it. I am sick and tired of that lesson being force fed to our generation and the one after us.

              But it makes sense really, after all we still need Nationalistic soldiers fight the rich man's war. (bitter here)

              Also the idea that "everyone wins" is pretty false. You think that because of Ozai being alive that their won't be consequences to Aang's actions? You don't think their might be unrest in the FN, revolts, assassination attempts from bitter EK or WT people?

              • Diana Kingston-Gabai says:

                I don't understand why keeping to your morals and beliefs is considered weak. Why is ahmisa and pacifism "irresponsible".

                Generally speaking, this isn't the case. But in this particular situation, Aang allows his personal beliefs to interfere with his duty as the Avatar. If he hadn't conveniently learned Energybending from the Lion Turtle, he would've kept pulling his punches and Ozai would have either escaped or killed him. Either way, even without Sozin's Comet, the Fire Nation would have continued to control most of the world.

                Also the idea that "everyone wins" is pretty false. You think that because of Ozai being alive that their won't be consequences to Aang's actions? You don't think their might be unrest in the FN, revolts, assassination attempts from bitter EK or WT people?

                If that possibility exists, it's not addressed within the framework of the actual narrative. As Mark noted, it would've certainly been nice if we'd had 40 million seasons of this series (because yes, I do think it's quite likely that Zuko's entire war cabinet would've turned against him when he started making concessions to the Earth Kingdom – and it's not like he can just give back all the conquered territories, since some of those Fire Nation colonies have been around for decades), but as it stands we have to work with what's there: everyone wins, and their victories are "free" in the sense that no real price is paid by the heroes.

  72. RobotNinja says:

    I have always imagined that Ozai wanted to keep his reveal to be "Phoenix King" a secret from everybody. So, I've always imagined him in his room, making a bunch of banners, yelling "No! Don't come in!" Handing them out to all his flag bearers "Don't look at them until I reveal my new name….lift them up, not in front of the Fire Nation banners, just in between…oaky, we'll practice with blank banners, Don't look!" Being forced to make his head piece out of paper mache because he never learned metalworking.

  73. Noybusiness says:

    "I’m sorry, that had to be a Captain Planet reference, right?"

    I think it was a reference to the Avatar opening, where Katara names the elements.

  74. Mikan says:

    Maa, probably half of you have already said this, but I find it kinda really horrific that Ozai seemed completely happy to burn off all of Earth Kingdom, while there were Fire Nation colonies all over it. O__o

    I mean, of course it's not less evil to burn Earth Kingdom people, but he seemed so… unconcerned about the people of his OWN country, too.

  75. bookgal12 says:

    This is a short comment from me because all lot of what I want to say about Parts 1&2 centers around Zuko and Iroh's reunion. When Zuko takes out the smelly sandal of his uncle's I was touched but wrinkled my nose to think of the smell. It was fun to run into June again and see that she was still a badass. When they met the other members of the White Lotus, King Bumi, Piandao and Jung Jung I was excited to see Iroh among them but no he was asleep in his tent. I was biting my nails when Zuko walked in and waited for his uncle to wake. When Iroh finally woke up and faced his nephew, the butterflies in my stomach were up and fluttering. Then they hug…augh it my eyes tear up. I am always amazed how this show is able to tug at my heart strings in ways that some shows can't.

  76. JewelOfSong says:

    Iroh is one of my favorite characters in the series, but what he says to Zuko in the breakfast powwow before Team Avatar parts ways in "The Old Masters" really rubs me the wrong way. Iroh refuses to fight Ozai because history would just see it as a brother killing another brother for power. Then in the very next breath, he tells Zuko that he must fight his own sister for power. It's really hypocritical, and it definitely tarnished my view of him.

  77. ambyrglow says:

    In short, the show's female teen leads–Mai, Ty Lee, Azula, Toph, Suki, and even mostly Katara–act like liberated, 21st-century girls. They don't defer to men, and no one (outside of the Water Tribes) expects them to.

    And I can't resolve that with the Fire Nation and the Earth Kingdom being places where only men can hold authority. Their characterization doesn't match that background–nor does how they're treated over the course of the show. The Earth Kingdom apparently has an all-male military, an all-male Dai Li; we see women relegated to being tour guides and receptionists. But no one blinks when the female "Kyoshi warriors" show up at the palace; they're welcomed as honored allies, and immediately trusted with the secret invasion plans. How does B make sense in a culture with A? Why aren't the disguised Dangerous Ladies treated like Katara was in the Northern Water Tribe?

    Either our protagonists and antagonists travel around in little sexism-free bubbles, or the cultures they live in are much more egalitarian than what we see. The former is possible; I can even make up a Watsonian explanation. They're mostly rich and powerful, and that privilege could be insulating them. But I prefer the latter, Doylist interpretation. And so I wish we got to see that egalitarianism, the older women in authority who are role models for our heroes and villains, on screen more often.

    • echinodermata says:

      I like you.

      (Looked at your intensedebate page and I'm curious: have you commented here earlier, just without an account/a different account?)

      • ambyrglow says:

        Err, thanks! :blush:.

        Yeah, I was using OpenID from my DW account for a while before I got tired of dealing with the log in process. (I was also trying not to comment on the earlier posts, because I am _terrible_ about remembering what is and isn't a spoiler at any given point during a show–it all blurs together in my head!)

  78. Jallorn says:

    I'd like to point out that none of the previous Avatars actually say "Kill Sozin." Everything they say is in support of that idea, but strictly speaking, they never say that it's the only option.

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