|"For the South to grow strong again, all foreign presence must be eradicated, especially the North."|
|— Gilak about the Southern Reconstruction Project|
Gilak was a Southern Water Tribe warrior who traveled with Hakoda to fight the Fire Nation during the Hundred Year War. After his return to the South Pole, he fell out with Hakoda about the future of the tribe and tried to stop the Northern Water Tribe's restoration efforts, which he revealed to be initiated as a takeover.
During the Hundred Year War, Gilak fought under Hakoda's command against the Fire Nation and came to greatly respect the then de facto chief of the South. Having become aware of the structures of power that exist in the Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation, Gilak deemed the lack thereof as the reason for why the Southern Water Tribe fell so easily to the latter. Upon his return home after the war, he was informed that Hakoda was to be made head chief of the Southern Water Tribe as a whole, much to his delight.
Katara and Sokka met Gilak after chasing down the two thieves of Maliq's briefcase of documents, running into a group of Southerners hidden in a cave under the shipwreck. Gilak quickly explained to the siblings that he already knew of them and that he considered both them and Hakoda himself to be heroes. He also showed them what he referred to as "a gathering of patriots", which were all people who felt like the presence of Northerners in the Southern Water Tribe was unwanted. Becoming overly zealous in trying to convince Sokka and Katara to join their initiative, Gilak went as far as to put a knife to Sokka's throat in order to make them stay and keep the group's secrecy from the chief. However, he was quickly overpowered by Katara's waterbending, allowing the two to escape. Using a horn, Gilak rallied several warriors, ordering them to stop the siblings at all costs, but they managed to escape nonetheless.
Knowing that Sokka and Katara would tell their father of the undertaking, Gilak vacated the shipwreck, leaving a message carved into an ice wall for Hakoda, promising to show the chief the truth. Later that night, as the capital city hosted a festival in celebration of the Northerners partnership with Earthen Fire Industries, Gilak watched from a distance with his second-in-command, Thod, and his army, as Hakoda readied the capital city's defenses for a frontal assault, which Gilak felt was his former comrade's predictable response.
Using a drilling machine, Gilak tunneled underneath the city and emerged in the middle of town square, where he revealed to the assembled crowd that Malina and Maliq were plotting to take control of the South for its oil in the name of the North, showing Maliq's briefcase, which contained documents verifying his accusations. Malina shamefully admitted that it was the original plan, as they had believed the South could not handle its oil fields responsibility, but insisted that she cancelled the plan. However, Maliq publicly confessed that he never intended to go along with his sister's change of heart, and confirmed that Gilak spoke the truth, before ranting over how the South deserved to be controlled by the North, even labeling Gilak's tribal armor as "ridiculous". Malina managed to silence her brother before attempting to appease Gilak by canceling the Southern Reconstruction Project, and offered to leave the South the next morning. However, Gilak refused a peaceful compromise and ordered his warriors to attack the Northerners; Team Avatar intervened, defending the Northerners and allowing them to flee.
Gilak pursued Malina and Maliq to the city outskirts, where Thod's disciples cornered them. Malina again begged him to let them go, but Gilak still refused. His warriors then cast a net over the pair and the two young warriors chi blocked Malina to prevent her from waterbending. Malina pleaded that her brother spoke out of term and begged for Gilak's forgiveness. However, Gilak retorted that forgiveness between family is easy, but that Malina and Maliq were not truly part of the tribe. As he prepared to deliver the killing blow, declaring that their deaths would send a message to the rest of the world to think twice about dominating the South, Hakoda appeared seized his hand. Gilak learned from the Chief that he was well aware of the Northerners' original plan, but Malina changed her mind once she got to know her sister tribe. Gilak insisted it was a ruse to deceive them, but Hakoda reminded that Fire Lord Zuko was once their enemy but was now their fiercest ally, thus he believed people were capable of change. Enraged that the chief would not accept the chane of plans was a ruse, Gilak declared Hakoda a traitor and attacked him, starting a brief duel that ended when his opponent injured his sword arm. Hakoda then tried to reason with Gilak, reminding him of their adventure on Whaletail Island, but Gilak proceeded to stab him in the stomach. Team Avatar soon arrived on the scene, and an enraged Katara encased Gilak in ice before attending to her father's wound while Avatar Aang subdued Gilak's remaining followers.
Gilak was soon sent to prison, where a female officer named Lirin informed him that she heard his speech from the inmates. Admitting that his cause seemed just, she slipped him the key to his cell with his evening meal.
After getting help from Lirin again, Gilak managed to break free and rally his supporters again and break into a meeting of Hakoda, Earth King Kuei, and Team Avatar. Gilak succeeded at first, managing to knock out Hakoda and take the Chieftain with him, but was caught by Aang and Katara before he could get to safety. Even though Hakoda was now safe, Gilak had still successfully captured the Earth King.
He quickly sent a ransom note, offering to exchange Kuei for Hakoda at the Bridge of No Return, which Katara described as an old rope bridge up in the mountains. Anyone who walked across it would never come back from the treacherous terrain on the other side. His other condition was that Team Avatar would allow Thod and his disciples chi-block them, preventing them from fighting back.
Gilak and his army met Hakoda and Team Avatar on the bridge, and had Thod chi-block them according to plan. He sent over the Earth King once the group had been subdued, but tried to cut the ropes of the bridge once Kuei and Hakoda were in the middle. He was stopped by Malina and Toph's metalbending students, who quickly knocked out Gilak's guards. Knowing that he lost, Gilak grabbed a torch and fled onto the bridge, but Malina followed him and put him in a hold. He managed to light the rope on fire, but the flame was quickly extinguished again by Zuko. However, the rope had weakened enough from being on fire and snapped, sending the bridge tumbling down. Zuko was quick to rescue the Earth King, and Aang swooped in on his glider to try and catch Hakoda, Malina, and Gilak. The latter still tried to kill Malina, but he lost his grip during the attempt and fell to his death in the ravine.
Gilak was a proud man, evidenced by his support of his own nation. He appeared to be loyal to his tribe, exhibited by his engagement in the war with Hakoda and the fact that he would do what he thought was best for the Southern Water Tribe. This also resulted in a fear of change instigated by foreign entities, such as the Northern Water Tribe.
Gilak was willing to do anything to win and was not above double-crossing those he made deals with, as he had no intention of sparing Earth King Kuei's life during the exchange for Hakoda. He did not take losing well and was willing to sacrifice himself to ensure his enemies did not win, which ultimately lead to his death.
Graphic novel trilogies
- North and South trilogy
- Gilak is the third known person to have attempted regicide, the first being Ozai and the second being Zaheer, though he is the only one to have failed in their attempt.
- Gilak is also the third known person to have attempted murder-suicide, the others being Tarrlok and Ghazan.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). North and South Part One (September 27, 2016), Dark Horse Comics.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). North and South Part Two (January 25, 2017), Dark Horse Comics.
- ↑ DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). North and South Part Three (April 26, 2017), Dark Horse Comics.