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Avatar Book 2, Disc 2 – spoiler-friendly reaction post - A Sorta Fairytale
October 2013
 
 
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hymnia
hymnia
Joie
Sun, Nov. 30th, 2008 09:30 pm
Avatar Book 2, Disc 2 – spoiler-friendly reaction post

This post is for commentary with SPOILERS for episodes beyond Book 2, Disc 2. Again, info from the commentary tracks will be marked with a "C".


Chapter 6: The Blind Bandit

C: They talk about the idea that Toph learned directly from the badger moles, which they weren't sure would end up in the series canon at this point. It does show up in season 3, when the Gaang discusses the origins of firebending. I like how that parallel works out; two of Aang's bending teachers learn (and therefore teach) a superior form of bending that comes directly from the source.

C: Fire Nation Man is the first sandbender to show up in the series.

I wish the series would have resolved Toph's conflict with her parents more fully. I understand there were time constraints, and I don't consider it a major weakness. I just would have liked to have seen some reconciliation.


Chapter 7: Zuko Alone

"That's what moms are like; if you mess with their babies, CHOMP, they're gonna bite you back." Nice foreshadowing of Ursa's performance of "treasonous acts" to save Zuko.

demonalchemist9 and I were talking about this episode yesterday, and she mentioned some dissatisfaction that while Mai's crush on Zuko is clear at this point, there is no indication of how Zuko felt about Mai prior to the opening of season 3. But I do think this episode offers a little bit of development on that front. First, romances are often hinted at from only one side to begin with. When I first watched this, I took the smile from "Return to Omashu" and the blush from this episode combined as a pretty clear indication that Mai would be Zuko's love interest. Why create the crush only to leave the girl heartbroken? This technique in introducing a romantic storyline is often wildly underestimated by fans, especially if they have another outcome in mind. (*coughHarry/Ginnycough*) A crush almost always leads to one of two outcomes: an established, canon relationship, or a character who is heartbroken for some purpose that fits into the overall story. (I will admit that Toph-->Sokka is an exception to this rule.) As for the second outcome, it tends to lead to more dramatic romantic storylines than I would normally expect to appear in a light-hearted adventure series like Avatar, where romance is really a side dish. (I will admit that Eowyn-->Aragron is an exception to this rule.) The point is, the presence of a crush is often an indication of future reciprocation. But even apart from that, the fact that these memories are from Zuko's point of view is pretty telling: among emotional memories of his mother, his sister, and his uncle, there is this memory of an incident that partly involves his mom and sister, but is mostly about Mai. This suggests that she is significant to him.

Continued from the spoiler-free post: Ursa's benediction is the wrong advice for the moment. Zuko's success and heroism in this episode—and to a certain extent, throughout season 2—is a result of abandoning his identity with all of its shackles—his shame, his misplaced quest for honor, his blind loyalty to the Fire Nation and to his father. Announcing his identity to the village causes him to be rejected again. But Ursa's advice is right for the long run. It's not his identity as Prince of the Fire Nation that she means for him to remember; it's his nature—his pure, noble spirit, which we see clearly throughout the flashbacks, as well as in the actions he takes to help Lee and his family in the present. (Though she may also be referring to his identity as the grandson of Avatar Roku.) His task will ultimately be to reconcile the heroic nature that he is able to show anonymously in this episode with the burden of his identity as Prince.


Chapter 8: The Chase

Azula gets to do her impression of Zuko when she introduces herself to Aang; I guess it's only fair Zuko gets to impersonate her in "The Western Air Temple".

<333 Zuko's reaction to Iroh getting shot down by Azula. This scene seems to foreshadow Zuko taking a hit for Katara in the finale.


Chapter 9: Bitter Work

I'd forgotten that Iroh actually does bend lightening. For some reason I thought he only knew how to redirect it, and that only cold-blooded sociopaths Azula and Ozai could actually create it. To me, it seemed like a sign of Zuko's innate noble spirit that he could only master re-directing it, but remembering that Iroh can create it makes me want to re-think that. Do you think Zuko will ever be able to create lightening?


Chapter 10: The Library

The Lion Turtle! Nice to see the early placement of that bit of information.

Joie

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demonalchemist9
demonalchemist9
demonalchemist9
Mon, Dec. 1st, 2008 02:53 am (UTC)

I'd forgotten that Iroh actually does bend lightening. For some reason I thought he only knew how to redirect it, and that only cold-blooded sociopaths Azula and Ozai could actually create it.
True he can use it but I think it speaks volumes for the Iroh that he mostly doesn't use it. It sets him far apart from Azula and Ozai since he has the power but knows when to and when not to use it. Azula and Ozai on the other hand are all about power which is what I think the lightning shows.


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hymnia
hymnia
Joie
Tue, Dec. 2nd, 2008 04:32 am (UTC)

Good point. I think that episode might be the only time we seem Iroh use it, apart from re-directing it. Azula and Ozai, OTOH, seem to use it regularly--as often as, if not more often than, fire.


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spin1978
spin1978
Kyouraku Shunsui
Mon, Dec. 1st, 2008 02:59 am (UTC)

I like how that parallel works out; two of Aang's bending teachers learn (and therefore teach) a superior form of bending that comes directly from the source.

Do you think Zuko will ever be able to create lightening?


I think these two points could be related - not only do I think that Zuko is now capable of creating lightning since he knows where firebending truly comes from, but I also think he could figure out how to create different colored flames, like we see in that season 3 episode that the masters were able to create.

Since it involves how the "shipping" ends, I'll put it here. The Avatar relationships are more of a complementary rather than "opposites attract" nature. Elementally speaking, air and water (Aang and Katara) aren't opposites, unlike air and earth (Aang and Toph) and fire and water (Zuko and Katara). Both Zuko and Mai are complementary in the sense that she grew up as a noble of sorts in the Fire Nation, and can understand that aspect of life as Zuko's girlfriend. Despite it all being a bit comical at the start, Sokka grew into the warrior role (strategist, Piandao's student) and found a girlfriend in Suki, who is the (Young) Lady of War sort as noted therein.

I really do need to rewatch the entire series again, but I'm terrified that if I do, I'll be gripped by an unquenchable urge to write Avatar fanfic. Heh.


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hymnia
hymnia
Joie
Tue, Dec. 2nd, 2008 04:42 am (UTC)

I also think he could figure out how to create different colored flames, like we see in that season 3 episode that the masters were able to create.

Yeah, I was a little surprised we didn't actually see this occur after that episode. Maybe he just needs more time for the lesson to sink in.

The Avatar relationships are more of a complementary rather than "opposites attract" nature.

Yes! I find it refreshing. I mean, I do enjoy ships that reconcile opposites, but I like that Avatar went a different way. There's a bit of complementing between Zuko and Mai (passionate and idealistic + cool and pragmatic), but for the most part, the Avatar couples are more alike than different.

I really do need to rewatch the entire series again, but I'm terrified that if I do, I'll be gripped by an unquenchable urge to write Avatar fanfic. Heh.

Hmm...that wouldn't be such a terrible thing. ;)


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spin1978
spin1978
Kyouraku Shunsui
Tue, Dec. 2nd, 2008 06:04 pm (UTC)

Maybe he just needs more time for the lesson to sink in.

In Zuko's defense, he was pretty busy, what with trying to help the Gaang stop his father from taking over the world. Heh.

I mean, I do enjoy ships that reconcile opposites....

Ron Weasley: Id. Hermione Granger: Superego. Enough said. :)

I already have about half my brain currently consumed with an epic Bleach fanfic, I can't afford to have the other half be consumed with Avatar fanfic - I won't have enough space left for this article I have to write for my work. Heh.


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lilac_bearry
lilac_bearry
Lilac
Tue, Dec. 2nd, 2008 02:34 am (UTC)

Okay, that's where we saw the Lion Turtle! I just watched book three on Nicktoons yesterday (I'd seen most of the episodes, but not in order) and yeah. Thanks!


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hymnia
hymnia
Joie
Tue, Dec. 2nd, 2008 04:45 am (UTC)

:D You're welcome. I always get a kick out of seeing signs that authors have planned the twists in their stories far in advance.


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peachespig
peachespig
peachespig
Tue, Dec. 2nd, 2008 04:11 am (UTC)

From the other post:

peachespig was saying on one of my previous posts that Koh was the only truly scary thing in Avatar, but I think Wan Shi Tong is pretty creepy, too, even if he's not quite as malevolent.

You got me thinking about this, and while I stand by the idea that Koh is the scariest thing in the show, there are a few other things that are pretty creepy. Wan Shi Tong doesn't scary me much, but number two, I think, is Hama's bloodbending.

I wish the series would have resolved Toph's conflict with her parents more fully. I understand there were time constraints, and I don't consider it a major weakness. I just would have liked to have seen some reconciliation.

I agree, especially after she sent them a note via Hawky; this was more or less the end of the subplot as far as I can remember. Poor Toph, she wasn't quite important enough to have the life-changing field trip with Zuko that Katara and Sokka used to resolve their emotional arc subplots (and the show even admitted it).

When I first watched this, I took the smile from "Return to Omashu" and the blush from this episode combined as a pretty clear indication that Mai would be Zuko's love interest. Why create the crush only to leave the girl heartbroken?

I agree, this is a perfectly good bit of foreshadowing and set-up. Me, I just wish they had show us their getting together on-camera instead of putting it in a comic book! Which I've never read. You don't know how to get scans of it, do you?

I will admit that Toph-->Sokka is an exception to this rule.

It was interesting that they introduced this crush — it was obviously there and deliberately created — and did nothing with it. Poor Toph even had to "watch" while Suki saved her and Sokka's lives at the end! But I choose to think that it was just a casual crush, and nothing too heartbreaking. Sokka is pretty irresistible, after all.

But Ursa's advice is right for the long run. It's not his identity as Prince of the Fire Nation that she means for him to remember; it's his nature—his pure, noble spirit

I agree, and well said. In fact one might even say that what really wanted was for him to remember his nature, and remember that he is Prince of the Fire Nation, and thereby use that nature to start healing the wounds of his country. Which is, of course, what happens.

Do you think Zuko will ever be able to create lightening?

Yes, I expect his new inner peace and new knowledge of bending will make it easy for him eventually. But it seems unlikely it will ever be something he likes much!


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hymnia
hymnia
Joie
Tue, Dec. 2nd, 2008 05:02 am (UTC)

but number two, I think, is Hama's bloodbending.

Oh, yeah. ITA. (Wan Shi Tong is more creepy than scary; I actually find him more disturbing *before* he vamps out and starts chasing the kids.)

You don't know how to get scans of it, do you?

As a matter of fact, I do! You can view all the Avatar comics at Nick's website here. Click on the Aang icon and then pick any comic you want to read from the righthand column. The Mai/Zuko one is called "Going Home Again". Also, some fans have uploaded scans of several of the Avatar comics, including GHA, in this thread.

But I choose to think that it was just a casual crush, and nothing too heartbreaking. Sokka is pretty irresistible, after all.

Yeah, that's what I think, too. Toph is a pretty tough cookie, so I don't really picture her pining for Sokka or anything. Same goes for Ty Lee. I think the purpose of both those crushes was not to make Toph or Ty Lee poor little broken-hearted w00bs, but to 1) provide a bit of humor, and 2) establish Sokka as a total chick magnet.

But it seems unlikely it will ever be something he likes much!

Yeah, especially having felt the effects of it personally, I'm sure he would use it sparingly (as Iroh apparently does).


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