Joie (hymnia) wrote,

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.

Tags: avatar, avatar re-watch

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