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- I just wanted apologise for the long time between these reviews being uploaded to the Wiki, it’s just that it was much more difficult to review these than I first though.
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A LOOK AT AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER
Book One: Water (Part 2 of 3)
|" Whenever righteousness wanes and unrighteousness increases, I send myself forth. For the protection of good and for the destruction of evil and for the establishment of righteousness, I come into being, age after age."|
|— Text from the Bhagavad Gita|
Winter's Solstice, Part 1: The Spirit World
A casualty in the battle of the rig, from the last episode, was Katara’s necklace. A reminder and memorial of her late mother, which is claimed by Zuko. This leads us into the two parter, “Winter Solstice”, where Zuko is now closing in on Aang, and more on the Avatar’s responsibilities and abilities are revealed. It starts off with the gang coming across this forest which has been devastated by the Firenation, later a nearby village, which is being tormented by a spirit monster, both are connected. To stop it, Aang must enter the spirit world as the Avatar is the bridge between both worlds. While the classic elements of Earth, Fire, Water and Air are well known, many over look the fifth element (not the movie). The Greeks called it Aether and the Japanese called it, Void, the idea is essentially the same, there’s an intangible presence as well; energy or spirit. The Avatar, master of all elements, must also have a connection with this fifth element of the Spirit world.
Eventually, Aang ends up in the Spirit world, by accident, where he’s swept away by a dragon, who takes him to a statue of Avatar Roku in the FIrenations Temple, who will become Aang’s main spiritual guide. But for the moment, Aang must first calm down the angry spirit, who succeeds resulting in the ultimate sad panda...no literary. This ends the spirits act of random vengeance, and while this was going on, Iroh was captured by Earth Kingdom soldiers, forcing Zuko to follow his trail and rescue him. At one point Iroh spots Aang and the dragon who both fly by, nonchalantly Iroh changes the subject, but it brings up a curious question, does Iroh have some connection with the dragon and the spirit world? Interestingly, Zuko has the chance to follow Aang (who isn’t actually riding Appa) almost abandoning his uncle to do so. But his loyalty to his men is greater than his need to capture the Avatar. This is subtle hint to the princes backstory, choosing loyalty to the men over the mission.
Winter’s Solstice, Part 2: Avatar Roku
The second part has Aang taking the trip to the Temple where Roku’s statue resides, which is deep in Firenation territory. Understandably, this is an extremely dangerous trip for all, as well for the pursuing Zuko, because he’s banished. So, yeah, he really shouldn’t be there because banished means, stay the hell away! Anyways, in the end (after a very entertaining evasion scene) passes through Zhao’s blockade, where he simply let’s Zuko stroll on by without any action against the banished prince. Iroh knows his real plan is to follow Zuko after the Avatar, so he leaves in a small vessel to continue his pursuit of Aang himself. Meanwhile at the temple, the Fire Sages, who were supposed to serve the Avatar, turn their allegiances due to the corruption of the Fire Lord, a symbol on what effect he’s having on his people. Which succeeded only in Aangs absence, only one seems loyal to Aang though, another symbol that even when it seems the Firenation are this monnerlinth of evil, they are still good people in the Firenation and as they’re much as apart of this world than any other nation and can be saved, as it’s necessary to maintain the balance. One of the most important, erm, elements, is revealed, the hope he brings. It was the absence of it which allowed the Fire Sages to be turned to the side of the Fire Lord, but it’s the return of it that we repeatedly see. From Gran-Gran back in the North Pole, repeating again and again, where Aang goes, hope is restored.There’s a confrontation between Zhao and Zuko both arrives, but Aang is able to get to Roku’s statue in time and becomes able to speak with him, who explains how the war started when a previous Fire Lord used the power of a passing comet to strengthen his armies. Which, made from ice, gas and rock, powers the one bending ability which isn’t actually present - unless they mean on it's decent? This could make the Fire Lord, Fire Lord Ozai, so powerful that not even the Avatar could possibly stop him. So, he’s got until the end of summer to learn all these abilities, erm, no pressure… Roku’s parting gift it to help Aang free everyone and destroy his temple, but unfortunately the loyal Sage is caught by Zhao, again, but at least there’s hope now. But it does depend on Aang learning the other three elements in time for the comet to arrive, which nicely leads us into the “Waterbending Scroll”.
The Waterbending Scroll
Katara offers to help Aang in learning the Waterbending that she has accumulated over time. However, Katara becomes irritated and jealous by how easy it is for him in comparison to her, making her feel inadequate. This is initially to show Aang’s previous lives experiences which subconsciously reminds him (or his spirit) his manner of using Waterbending. Katara’s later jealousy influences her into stealing a Waterbending Scroll from the previous holders, Pirates, disregarding the threat she now brings upon them. Luckily for them, it works out. This is another sign of Katara’s interdementualism nature and the rest of the characters, normally Katara is usually guarded by her conscience, but her obsession with Waterbending ‘again’ get’s the better of her.
- Katara: “Sokka, where do you think they got it? They stole it from a Waterbender!”
- Sokka: “It doesn’t matter, you put all our lives in danger so that you could learn some, stupid, fancy splashes.”
- Katara: “These a real Waterbending forms, you know how crucial it is for Aang to learn Waterbending!”
Again, Katara is willing to rationalise when it comes to own concerns - a very human thing. It’ll manifest in a different way later in Book Two: Earth.
The next chapter demonstrates how the war affects people and the world, captured with the character (whose name is also the title), Jet. A teenager whose parents her killed by Firenation troops, notice I typed troops instead, this’ll have more meaning later in this section of the review. Quickly, Katara is drawn to this character, who she begins to admire more than her own brother, as he leads a group of guerillas against the occupying Firenation forces. Like Katara previously, Jet has an obsession; to avenging the loss of his parents, making him even more dangerous to the Earth Kingdom than the occupying forces - the connection to Katara’s dead mother was her Waterbending,and his is unfortunately what Katara will also go through in Book 3: Fire, revenge! Aang and Katara later discover his plain, which is to flood the village below, but fortunately Sokka is able to inform the village before the dame is blown-up.
I’m aware many people don’t like this episode due to Jet's dry personality and the alternative love interest to Katara for a brief while, but I personally thought this was a pretty good episode. It excellently shows that not all Firenation are bad people, cementing the aspect, they’re simply people.
The Great Divide
The following episode, "The Great Divide", we discover refugees who join our hero while they trek across a canyon so they can re-build...not the canyon but their civilisation...er, anyway, Aang steps-up as a leader despite their divisions.
The StormThis brings us to one of the big episodes, "The Storm" (and my favourite). Iroh starts sensing a storm on the horizon, so to speak, and informs Zuko suggesting a detour for safety. Which Zuko overturns as it could lead them distant from Aang, showing no empathy toward his crew. The Lieutenant takes umbridge to this remark and voices his and the rest of the crew frustrations of him. Iroh later tells (us) the crew about for Zuko’s obsession with finding and capturing the Avatar. Two year before, Zuko wanted to join in with the meeting in the War Room, if only to learn. But it was on condition of silence, and upon hearing a General's plan to send in loyal but inexperienced men into a battle that they couldn’t win, Zuko speaks-up against it. As a result he had to engage in a duel, an Agni Kai, but it isn’t against the General he spoke out against, it’s his father, the Firelord. When he tries to plee for forgiveness, he got that nasty scar and is banishment. The only way he can regain his honor and his home is if he finds and captures the Avatar, hence the significance in episode 2 when had Aang in his clutches and states he’s going 'home'. The words gain that much more meaning once you watch this episode, giving it such weight and yet, as we just saw it as a destination. He had completed his task and his exile was over… The ironic thing is, that Zuko’s connection with Aang gives him a level of hope, which Iroh later confirms. During this, the storm worsens and the helmsman is thrown from the control tower, hanging on for dear-life, Zuko risks his life to save him. This just shows that Iroh was right, he didn’t mean it, that Zuko still believes in his subordinates, either his Uncle or a crewman, their more important than the mission.
Comparison to Zukos backstory, we get Aangs, after an old fisherman gives him an aggressive telling-off for coming a hundred years too late. It turns out that the monks of his temple informed him, against the advice of Aangs favourite teacher, that he’s the Avatar years before he should know. They realise the Firenation are a larger threat than first thought and therefore rushed things. But another theme to the series is that shortcuts are not the way, you need to do things the proper way, even if that means that it may take longer to get there, have patience. Like Zuko neglecting his basics in order to learn Firebending which ended-up biting him in arse in the end, however the basics end up defeating a master Firebender, Zhuo. All this pressure of the monks wanting Aang to save the world, ends up driving him away in despair and flying off into a storm, becoming lost for a hundred years and the Nomads attempts to stop the war came anyway, their annihilation came and 100 years worth of war and death. We also see Aangs frailty as he feels his world collapsing around him as he’s driven to runaway. Coming into completes conflict to how he wants to live his life to the full, and the enormity of this ‘burden’ in simply being the Avatar, let alone the responsibility and the expectation from the people around you and in the world! His saving of Sokka and the old fisherman, regardless on what happened, he’s here now, he can do something now. With one look at the end, similarities of Aang and Zuko meet.
The Blue Spirit
The complexed relationship of Aang and Zuko is essential to the next chapter, "The Blue Spirit". With Zhao now an admiral has the authority to take these bad-ass archers and place them under his command, ordering them to capture Aang, which they succeed in doing. Zhao plans to keep Aang in chains for the rest on his life to stop his interference with the war. But Zuko, with his honor and everything, as this point, stands for is at risk, becomes desperate and takes action, takeing the ‘guise as the Blue Spirit, saves Aang for him to later capture.
In this episode primary the rekindles Aang infatuation in Katara, as well as a loose mystery if the fortuneteller was always right or was actually afraid and wrong.
Bato of the Water Tribe
After much development of Aang, Zuko and a little on Katara, we get to Sokka with "Bato of the Water Tribe". Where we meet one the men who left with Katara and Sokka’s father to fight in the war, Sokka’s primary role has been the comic-relief character, normally being the target of misfortune. However his ingenuity has often managed to help the group relatively succeed, but we see where some of his personality issues come from: he desperately wanted to help his father in fighting against the Firenation, but still wasn’t old enough, so his father told him to watch over the village while he was away.That’s why he stood up to Zuko past the point of sanity, he was willing to put his life on the line to do his duty. Bato is left behind by after being injured in the skirmish previously established. Later recognising Sokka’s need to be a warrior, like his father, and tests him on a 'right of passage', so to speak, to stir a boat on rocky waters. This isn’t that dissimilar to the beginning when the boat he and Katara were in broke due to rough current and ice before finding Aang. Now, he's not just able to pass this task but uses his ingenuity and passes all expectations. This is balanced by Aangs selfishness, after holding a letter which was from Katara and Sokka’s father, a place for them to reunite. But Aang’s far more frightened by them leaving him, as he’s lost everyone who was dear to him, but I can understand while people say it seemed slightly out character for Aang. However I think it works to get that message across, even though the execution wasn’t done as well as previous episodes. After this dastardly act, the convenient plot element jumps in to help-out Aang to regain his friends, and it’s in the shape of Zuko and Iroh.After a brief encounter with a bounty hunter, whose pet can conveniently sniff out a stowaway in Zuko’s ship. They later hire this master bounty hunter, she’s a lively, whip wielding, hard drinking, tough young woman whose hotness could only be topped if she was voiced by (searches for voice actress)...by Jennifer Hale...augh-wwa...I think I’m in love…<3
Continues in Part 3
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