Opinionated Guide to Avatar: The Last Airbender
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The Warriors of Kyoshi
Don't worry, Sokka. Where we're going, you won't need any pants.Welcome to our first message episode. Where our characters and the audience learn valuable life lessons. Fortunately, unlike message episodes in other serieses, this one doesn't suck. The episode begins with a bad joke, where Zuko mistakes Aang's eratic movements due to getting lost for him being a "master of evasion." Sokka makes a misogynistic comment, for the sole purpose of reminding us that he does that. You know, in case we were starting to like him from the last episode. Katara throws his pants in his face for it. Literally; she was sewing them at the time. Cut to Aang riding on the backs of some giant Koi fish, trying to impress Katara. She's not really into it. Then, a large monster eats the fish Aang was riding, and he has to run on the water to get back before being eaten. This leads to the Gaang being captured by people using the stealthy art of standing slightly out of frame. When their blindfolds are removed, we see that their captors are... Geishas. Yes, really. Ninja Geishas, with the face-paint and everything. They even use metal fans as martial weapons, though they do wear padded armor over their kimonos. When Sokka makes another misogynistic comment, they're about to throw them in the water to feed the beast, so Aang demonstrates his airbending to prove that he's the Avatar. This is Kyoshi Island, so named because it is the birthplace of Avatar Kyoshi. She's the one who started the whole Ninja Geisha thing. So when they find out Aang's the Avatar, they're ecstatic. But gossip gets from Kyoshi Island pretty quickly; we see the chain of gossip that leads to Prince Zuko learning where the Avatar is.
Katara suggests that they leave relatively quickly, to stay ahead of the Fire Nation people looking for them. Aang is reluctant to leave, since roving gangs of girls follow his every move. Meanwhile Sokka goes to see the titular Kyoshi Warriors. He spouts more misogynistic drivel, and their leader, Suki, is sarcastic with him. She gets him to try to show them his moves, and then beats his ass in seconds, half-hog-tyeing him with his own belt. Hurray for humiliation! Aang starts thinking that Katara is jealous over the attention he's been getting. Which is slightly true, but her points are still valid. Meanwhile, Sokka seeks out Suki again. Before her and her other Warriors, he prostrates himself and apologizes for his prior dickishness. And he asks for her to train him. And she agrees, so long as he agrees to honor all their customs. Smash-cut to Sokka as a Geisha. Aang goes to Katara and tells her that he's going to ride the big sea serpent in the bay. The two argue for a bit and Aang leaves. Sokka is training with Suki; apparently, she was on the level about training him and not doing this solely to humiliate him. Just partially. She's trying to show him something and he then knocks her on her ass. She tries to play it off, and they go back to training. Yes. Romantic tension between the warrior woman and the guy who was openly misogynistic to her mere hours before. And it doesn't stop here. Aang's out in the bay, acting as serpent bait. Katara comes out, and the two reconcile. The sea monster interrupts them, and after a bit of action, Katara helps Aang escape with some emergency waterbending. Then Zuko's ship shows up. He and his crew emerge on the backs of some rhinos. The Kyoshi Warriors and Sokka attack. While his men don't fare well, Zuko almost seems like a credible threat here, using a sweet breakdancing/firebending move to take out several at once. Then Aang shows up and they fight. Aang picks up a discarded set of fans and find that they make pretty good airbending instruments; he beats Zuko in one move. As he's flying away, he sees the devastation of Zuko's attack and finally releases that people who are around the Avatar are potentially in danger. So the Gaang gets set to leave, to draw Zuko away. While Suki's Warriors are out fighting, she's having a tender moment with Sokka. Hey lady, you might want to get into the fight to protect your village. It's only your job! Sokka apologizes again for his dickishness, and she kisses him on the cheek. As the Gaang's leaving, Aang jumps off of Appa. He gets on the back of the seamonster and forces it to spray water onto the village to put out the fires. And then they leave. But only after getting an emasculating shot of Zuko soaked by the monster's water, wearing a thoroughly displeased expression. Yes, that shot was totally necessary; we wouldn't want to see Zuko as a credible threat or something... This is not a bad episode. Except for Suki's needlessly sudden attraction to Sokka, the Sokka arc worked better than the rest of the episode. I thought the Aang/Katara stuff was... OK. It was a lesson Aang really needed to learn, but it's not really a lesson that we see him apply in future episodes. Fortunately, Sokka does learn his lesson, so we can cross "misogynistic douchebag" off of the list of Sokka's character problems. That just leaves "he's the butt of the jokes" and "he's an imbecile." Oh, and this won't be the last time we see the Kyoshi Warriors. Come on, they're Ninja Geishas; you don't make up a concept that full of awesome and then throw it away.
Liking this very much so far. I do agree with alot of the opinions you've voiced to date. Looking forward to more!
I consider this the first episode that didn't suck. I think the way the geishas were about to throw them in the water to be eaten was excessively harsh, and that type of barbarism is one thing I don't like about "ancient times" settings, but other than that, I have much the same complaints you have and the same compliments. It was still a cartoonish episode, but it was an improvement over the previous ones.
One thing I like about this show: character development that sticks. Which is more than I can say for other shows where the heroes keep relearning the same lessons.
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