Mark Re-Watches ‘Avatar': The Firebending Masters

This really is one of the best episodes of the whole series, both because it reveals so much about Aang, Iroh, and Zuko, but also because it demonstrates how well Avatar was able to mix both humor, drama, and fear so effortlessly. Let’s discuss!

Here’s the video first:

  • I love the entire Western Air Temple story arc. It’s such a tremendous setting for this story. 
  • In hindsight, I think I understand the appeal of Zutara as a ship more than before. Again, I’m probably the worst person to talk to about shipping because it’s just something I rarely do, so take what I say with a million grains of salt. Actually, don’t literally do that because I’m sure it’s bad for your health. Anyway, the point being: Zuko and Katara have an undeniably fascinating dynamic with one another, and even if there’s only that one moment where she’s sarcastic towards him, I couldn’t help but spend time thinking about their growth with one another. I mean EVERYTHING AT THE END OF SEASON TWO H E L P. I wouldn’t call myself a Zutara shipper, but I get it, y’all. That’s neat.
  • Watching Aang and Zuko build their bro-ship is just incredible. God, remember when I was basically begging this show to get Zuko on Team Avatar? Little did I know how SATISFIED I would be. 
  • Okay, I have to do it, but “The Firebending Masters” shows how Avatar understood complex issues of race and identity far better than Legend of Korra. Like, the whole plot of this episode is how the Fire Nation stole from the Sun Warriors! And the Sun Warriors anger is never trivialized! You know, like the whole non-bender nonsense in Korra that was brought up and then COMPLETELY ABANDONED by the end of the first season. BLEH.
  • It is so appropriate that Iroh was the one who lied about killing the last dragon. So much of Zuko’s journey is about him unknowingly following in his uncle’s footsteps. While he certainly respects Iroh, he doesn’t realize how much of an influence Iroh has had on him over the years.
  • Everything about the dancing dragons and the Dancing Dragon is some of the best shit in this whole series. Beautiful, evocative, and integral to understanding the ultimate message of this show.
  • BADGERMOLES! Ugh, I can’t even get over how amazing they are, and what an incredible character Toph is.

The next commission I’m doing is for Blackadder series 1, which goes up Tuesday, and then the season 3 finale of Lost on Wednesday! Huzzah!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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