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The Fortuneteller

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This article is about the episode. For the titular character, see Wu.
Aunt Wu reads the clouds
"The Fortuneteller"
Information
Series

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Book

Water

Episode

14/61

Original air date

September 23, 2005

Written by

John O'Bryan, Aaron Ehasz

Directed by

Dave Filoni

Animation

JM Animation

Guest stars

Tsai Chin (Aunt Wu), Jessie Flower (Meng), Clyde Kusatsu (calm man), Cameron Monaghan (the twins - additional voice)

Production number

114

Episode guide
Previous

"The Blue Spirit"

Next

"Bato of the Water Tribe"

Transcript
"The Fortuneteller" is the 14th episode of Book One: Water of Avatar: The Last Airbender and the 14th of the overall series. It debuted on September 23, 2005.

Overview

Aang, Katara, and Sokka travel to a village that relies solely on the predictions of a cloud-reading fortuneteller. Sokka is skeptical and tries to disprove all the predictions. Upon discovering a nearby volcano is about to erupt, Aang and Katara manipulate the clouds as a warning to the oblivious villagers. The group manages to evacuate the village before the volcano erupts.

Synopsis

While camping out beside a river, Katara spots a fish jumping out of the water. Convinced the fish is taunting him, Sokka grabs his fishing rod to catch it, only to realize the fishing line is gone. Aang confesses that he had crafted a necklace for Katara out of Sokka's fishing line to replace the necklace she lost, much to Sokka's annoyance. Sokka attempts to catch the fish by throwing the fishing rod at it; when that proves unsuccessful, he takes out his knife and runs into the water after the fish.

When Katara puts the necklace on, Aang sees her in a completely new way, shedding light on his ever-growing crush on her. Sokka teases Aang by saying, "Smoochy! Smoochy! Someone's in love!" He makes kissing faces at the fish he finally caught, but the fish slaps him with its tail and lands back in the water. However, Katara remains ignorant of Aang's crush, commenting that Aang is only a good friend, much to Aang's dismay. She even compares him to Momo.

Upon hearing loud noises nearby, the trio witnesses an old man being attacked by a huge platypus bear. To their surprise, the man does not express concern over his situation; rather, he calmly dodges the animal's attacks while commenting to the three of them on the day's pleasant, sunny condition. When he ignores their yelled advice in regards to escaping the platypus bear, Aang and Appa confront the bear head-on; seeing Appa rearing up onto his hind legs and bellowing, the animal lays a spotted egg out of fear and flees.

As Sokka takes the egg hungrily, the man placidly tells them the reason for his coolness: Aunt Wu, the fortuneteller in his village, predicted that he would have a safe journey and he has. Sokka objects, saying that the man was "almost killed" by the creature, to which the man replies cheerfully, "But I wasn't!". In departing, the man hands them a wrapped umbrella, stating that the fortuneteller told him to give it to any travelers he met. The moment Aang opens it, it begins to rain, thus proving the fortuneteller was correct in predicting that some travelers would need the umbrella. The sudden downpour causes the egg to slip from Sokka's grasp and fall on his head, where it shatters. Sokka continues to be skeptical of fortunetelling; in an attempt to debunk the fortune, he remarks falsely that the sky had been cloudy all day, essentially saying that anyone could have predicted it would rain, and to prove the simpleness of making such a prediction, he makes one of his own: "It's going to keep drizzling." Ironically, the rain stops immediately and the sun shines down on them.

Arriving in Makapu Village, the trio meets a man keeping the door of a large building; he motions them inside, saying that Aunt Wu is expecting them. Upon walking inside, Aang meets Meng, the fortuneteller's assistant, who instantly develops a crush on him, as demonstrated by a romanticized shot of Aang seen from her point-of-view. She asks them if they would like any bean curd puffs, although the question, and most of the questions she asks "the group", are aimed primarily at Aang. She makes remarks about the similarity of their names, Aang and Meng, and about the relatively large size of Aang's ears - which Sokka sarcastically reinforces - before leaving to retrieve the puffs. A brief discussion elapses between Katara and Sokka, in which Katara states that there are some things in the world that simply cannot be understood; knowing a taste of what the future holds, she says, would be nice.

Meng and Aang

Meng stares at Aang, whom she is convinced is her one true love, after nearly dropping the bean curd puffs.

As Meng returns with the curd puffs, a young woman emerges from the inner room, ecstatic with joy, and tells Meng Aunt Wu's prediction for her: the man destined to be her one true love will give her a rare panda lily. When Meng, glancing over her shoulder at Aang, wonders aloud if her own true love will do the same for her, the woman asks if Aang is "the big-eared guy" whom Aunt Wu apparently predicted she would marry. The comment leaves Meng embarrassed and jittery and, in the process of delivering the puffs to a somewhat disinterested Aang, she trips, almost spilling the food; Aang catches it for her, holding her hands in his own for a brief moment. They slowly raise their heads and look into each others' eyes; while Meng blushes, embarrassed further, Aang is only slightly surprised. As Meng leaves the room awkwardly, Aunt Wu emerges from her sanctum and asks the trio which of them would like to go next. Sokka looks away and Aang looks to Katara, who answers, "I guess that's me."

Aang becomes agitated about what Aunt Wu and Katara will talk about and nervously consults Sokka, asking what he thinks they will discuss. Sokka says, "Boring stuff, I'm sure: love, who she's going to marry, how many babies she's going to have", confirming Aang's suspicions that they are talking about love. Curious about his role in Katara's future, he excuses himself, saying that he has to go to the bathroom; in reality, he tiptoes down the outside of the walled sanctum to eavesdrop out of sight.

Aunt Wu welcomes Team Avatar

Aunt Wu invites one of the team members to get their fortune read.

After a brief talk about cosmetics, Katara does indeed ask Aunt Wu whom she will marry. Aunt Wu says that she can see "a great romance" for her and that the man is "a very powerful bender". Aang is delighted to hear this and begins to jump and dance in silent jubilation.

When Sokka's turn arrives, Aunt Wu predicts, without taking him inside her room, that his future will be full of "struggle and anguish, most of it self-inflicted"; when Sokka objects, saying that she needs to read his fortune in the room, she tells him it is unnecessary and subsequently beckons Aang into the sanctum. Inside, she chooses a fortunetelling method which involves throwing a bone into a small fire and observing the cracks. When Aang picks one and throws it in the fire, it explodes.

Aunt Wu explains hysterically that he will be involved in a great battle between the forces of good and evil which will determine the fate of the whole world. Aang, already aware of that, dismisses her prediction nonchalantly and inquires as to whether or not there is love in his future. Aang is downcast when Aunt Wu tells him that she did not see anything of that nature in the bones, but noticing Aang's disappointment, she grabs a piece of shattered bone and tells him that she missed a crack on it, explaining to Aang its meaning: if he trusts his heart, he will be with the one he loves.

Later that day, Sokka complains about fortunetelling, believing it to be a hoax. While ranting that his life will be joyful, instead of full of self-inflicted pain as Aunt Wu predicted, he kicks a pebble, which ricochets off a sign and hits him in the head.

Mt. Makapu

The people of Makapu Village have complete confidence in Aunt Wu's predictions.

Later, the group notices a crowd of people gathering in the town square and learn that it is the day of their village's annual cloud reading, a ritual in which Aunt Wu predicts the fate of the villagers by studying cloud formations. She reads the clouds, predicting a good harvest, that it will be a good year for twins, and that Mt. Makapu, the volcano which looms large over the village, will not destroy the village that year. Their good fortunes bring the people to cheers.

Katara becomes obsessed with Aunt Wu's predictions, repeatedly asking her for more and more readings. While Sokka remains very skeptical of fortunetelling, Aang, discouraged that Katara seems to have no special feelings for him, asks Sokka for advice. Under the incorrect assumption that the girl in question is Meng, Sokka tells him that the best way to get a girl is by acting aloof; when Aang next encounters Katara, who is eating a papaya on Aunt Wu's suggestion, he acts indifferent and Katara remains oblivious to his feelings. Abandoning the aloof approach, Aang decides to make his intentions clear by taking a panda lily himself from the rim of the volcano. He and Sokka make the climb to the rim; upon reaching the top of the mountain, they discover to their horror that the volcano is on the verge of erupting, contrary to Aunt Wu's prediction. They rush back down to the town to warn everyone of the imminent danger, but, owing to their unshakable faith in Aunt Wu, not a single person believes them.

Knowing that the only person the villagers will listen to is Aunt Wu, Aang decides to steal her cloud reading book. When he breaks into Wu's house, Meng appears behind him and sadly tells him that she knows that he does not feel the same attraction to her that she feels toward him. Aang, seeing her disappointment, reassures her that she will find her love in the future. Before Aang can leave, Meng presents him with the cloud-reading book, admitting awkwardly that she was stalking him. Using the book, Katara and Aang manipulate the clouds with a combination of waterbending and airbending to create the symbol for "volcanic destruction". While Aang and Katara work in the sky, Sokka convinces Aunt Wu to make a second reading, which now tells her incontrovertibly that the volcano is going to erupt. Aang and Sokka quickly organize the village's earthbenders, as well as anyone capable of digging, to make a giant trench around the village to redirect the lava. As the lava surges over the trench, hanging in space over the village, Aang unleashes a massive gust of wind to cool the lava, solidifying it into a giant wall. Sokka, awestruck, admits that he sometimes forgets how powerful a bender Aang really is and Katara has an epiphany, suddenly struck by the remembrance of Aunt Wu's love fortune.

Aang inhales

Aang employs a powerful airbending move in order to save Makapu Village.

Aang sheepishly hands back the guide for cloud-reading to Aunt Wu, but instead of being reprimanded by the woman, she praises him. Aang tells her that he suspects that she lied to him about the love in his future and made something up to please him. Aunt Wu responds that just as he molded the clouds to his own design, it is his responsibility to actively shape his own destiny.

Meanwhile, Sokka, believing he has been vindicated by the volcano's eruption, happily tells the villagers that Aunt Wu was wrong, but a man, the same one who encountered the platypus bear, says truthfully that Aunt Wu did not claim the volcano would not erupt; she simply stated that it would not destroy the village. Sokka, beaten again, retorts with an aggravated "I hate you" and Katara drags him away. With that, the trio leaves the village to continue their northern journey. Meng and Katara wish each other goodbye and, as Appa flies away, Meng's final comment, a parting shot unheard by Katara or any of the others, is the softly spoken word "floozy".

Credits

Production notes

Transcript

Main article: Transcript:The Fortuneteller

Translations

Main article: Writing in the World of Avatar

Avatar Extras

Main article: Avatar Extras for Book One: Water

Series continuity

  • Though Aang battles against a volcanic eruption for the first time in his life, it is the second known time for an Avatar; the other occurrence was when Avatar Roku fought to protect his home in "The Avatar and the Fire Lord".
  • The parasol given to Aang by the traveler is seen again in "Appa's Lost Days" when the sandbenders raid Appa's saddle for loot.
  • Meng is the second girl to have a crush on Aang; the first was Koko, a Kyoshi Island resident, seen in "The Warriors of Kyoshi".
  • Aunt Wu's prediction that Katara would marry a powerful bender foreshadows the development of Aang and Katara's relationship.
  • Aunt Wu's prediction that Aang would be involved in a great battle to determine the fate of the world foreshadows his fight against Ozai.

Goofs

  • The necklace Aang makes for Katara, which she wears at the beginning of the episode, disappears once they arrive at Aunt Wu's village.
  • After rescuing the calm man from the platypus bear, Sokka's bone knife sheath disappears and reappears from shot to shot.
  • When Sokka emerges from the river, he is soaking wet. However, when he is yelling at the calm man in the next scene, he is completely dry; he is never shown drying off.
  • When Team Avatar first meets Aunt Wu and she asks, "Who's next?", Katara's braid disappears.
  • In the shot depicting Team Avatar leaving Aunt Wu's building after having their fortunes told, the door to the building is a strikingly bright red; in an earlier scene and throughout the rest of the episode, the door is a mere rusty brown color.
  • When the gang gathers the villagers to warn them about the eruption, the woman who speaks first is initially wearing a purple and pink robe; when she speaks again, it turns green. Her robe continues to change colors several more times.
  • When Aang realizes Mt. Makapu will erupt and drops the panda lily into the volcano, the flower is replaced by CGI flames when it hits the surface of the magma.
  • During the volcanic eruption, the trees should be on fire, but they are not.

Trivia

  • Aang and Katara are seen sharing an umbrella in this episode. Sharing an umbrella is an old romantic motif ("Ai-Ai-Gasa") in Japanese history[1] and is commonly used in manga and anime.
  • The volcano is called Mt. Makapu. Meaning 'bulging eye' in Hawaiian, Makapu'u is a name given to the extreme eastern end of the Island of Oʻahu in the Hawaiian Islands.
  • A special sneak-peek of this episode was featured at the 2005 San Diego Comic-Con.[2]
  • In ancient China, osteomancy, a type of pyromancy, was practiced in the Neolithic period and Shāng and Zhōu dynasties in the form of burning or heating oracle bones—usually the scapulae (shoulder blades) of oxen or turtle shells—to produce cracks which were read as portents. This was the form used by Aunt Wu to see the future.
  • Katara reveals in this episode that she hates papayas.
  • The statues seen being burned by the lava flow bear resemblance to real-life statues called daruma, which are commonly seen in Japanese shinto shrines.
  • It is definitively shown that even with identical twins, one can be born a bender while the other is not. Of course, this would not apply to Air Nomad twins, who would always be born as airbenders.
  • The title card of this episode remains on-screen for less time than any other episode title in the entire series.
  • Jessie Flower, the voice of Meng, would later join the main cast as Toph Beifong.
  • When Meng sees Aang for the first time, the shot of Aang from her point-of-view is similar to the romanticized shot of Katara seen from Aang's point-of-view, which came earlier in the episode when she put on her new necklace.
  • When Sokka kicks a pebble and it bounces off a nearby sign, hitting him in the head, the Chinese character on the sign ironically reads "", which roughly means "a good blessing".

References

  1. METMuseum.org
  2. P1011824. San Diego Comic-Con 2005. ASM (2005-07-19). Retrieved on August 7, 2013.

Start a Discussion Discussions about The Fortuneteller

  • The Fortune Teller

    8 messages
    • The Air Nomad Critic wrote:She is the eldest, it would make sense for her to have kids by the end of LoK, fairly grown up ones at that. While I...
    • Mvs109 wrote:That fluffy bunny of distruction cloud: Monty Python anyone? Ha ha. [1]  There is a Monty Python reference in there.
  • Aang, Roku and Volcanoes

    13 messages
    • Even the Avatar State has limits. The most we've see out of it, waterbending-wise, is the production of large waves. But yes, I suppose he co...
    • BINGO!!! i forgot about those guys...yeah, that's basically what i was thinking of. :)

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