Opinionated Guide to Avatar: The Last Airbender
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Bye, skank! Just you wait, I'll come back as a kickass blind chick and have way more fans than you! Then you'll be sorry!We open with Sokka clowning around. Aang used up his fishing line to make Katara a new necklace, though I prefer to think that he used the fishing line because he's a vegetarian and doesn't want Sokka fishing. Katara then shows off the new necklace in a blur filter. Just to remind the audience that Aang has a thing for Katara. Sokka teases Aang about his obvious infatuation, but Katara says that he's just her good friend. Like Momo, their pet. Something not entirely unlike the plot shows up. We see a man being attacked by a Platypus-Bear. It is at this point that I need to digress. We've seen strange creatures all throughout Avatar-world. Momo is a Lemur that has bat-wings. We saw those spider-things that seems to have heads that resemble crocodiles back in The Great Divide. The four-armed penguins. Etc. Until now, they just named things based on the main part of the animal, if they named them at all. The four-armed penguins are just called "penguins." Momo isn't a Bat-Lemur; he's just a Lemur. And so on. But beginning sometime around this episode, they began to consistently name animals based on their constituent parts. It's also around the time when they started designing animals specifically as hybrids. The four-armed penguins aren't hybrids of two animals; they're just penguins with an extra set of arms. I can't really tell where the heads from the spider-creatures come from. From here on, animals will almost always be some specific fusion of two Earth animals. Platypus-Bears, Turtle-Ducks, Wasp-Vultures, etc. The only exceptions will be those that were grandfathered in (Lemurs, flying Bison, etc), certain special creatures, and one specific exception that exists mainly for a joke. A bad joke. There's a point to that digression, but I'll clarify that later. For now, just keep it in mind. Back to the episode. The man evades the bear's attacks, while the Gaang shout various advice of an increasingly dubious nature. He seems entirely unconcerned by a ferocious monster trying to tear his flesh off. Appa, as the resident Deus Ex Machina, appears and growls, sending the Platypus-Bear scurrying off. When asked why he wasn't concerned, the man says that Aunt Wu, a fortune teller, predicted that he would have a safe journey. Sokka wisely points out that his journey wasn't safe, since he was nearly killed. He says that he wasn't killed, so clearly she was right. Aunt Wu also told him to give an umbrella to anyone he met on his journey. With that, he wanders off. Aang opens the umbrella, and it almost immediately starts to rain. This begins a running theme this episode: "Sokka is always right, but the writers hate him for it." That's really the only way to explain what happens in this episode. For example, when Sokka mocks Aunt Wu's prediction of rain (on a cloudy day) by predicting that it will keep raining, the rain immediately stops. Ha ha.
—Meng, from Avatar: The Last Airbender in a Nutshell
The Gaang goes to Aunt Wu's place. Because Katara wanted to go, and Katara always gets her way. There, they meet Meng, Wu's assistant. She's a little girl, but she takes one look at blur-filter Aang and immediately wants him. Apparently, Aunt Wu predicted that she would marry a guy with big ears, and Aang, with his shaven head, has pretty big ears. When Aunt Wu emerges to offer to read their fortunes, Katara goes first. Aang eavesdrops when Sokka suggests that they'll be discussing her future marriage plans. He finds out that Katara is fated to marry a "very powerful bender." Which pleases every faction of Avatar's rabid shipping fanbase, because everyone Katara's shipped with is a badass bender. After finishing with Katara, Aunt Wu deals with Sokka next. But instead of taking him to a secluded room, she just states in front of everyone that his life will be full of "struggle and anguish, most of it self-inflicted". That's only because the writer of this episode hates him. Oh, and remember this foretelling. She takes Aang to the back room, where she throws a bone onto a fire, saying that the cracks in the bone will tell his future. The bone promptly shatters into a million pieces, and she excitedly exclaims that he will be at the center of a battle between good and evil for the fate of the world. Which leads to a genuinely funny bit when Aang points out that he already knows that; he wants to know about his love-life. She gives him the usual vague nonsense to follow his heart. Aang, being one of the densest creatures on the planet, doesn't realize she's pulling this out of her ass, so he's happy about it. Later, after Komedic Irony strikes Sokka, the villagers and the Gaang gather in the town square. There, Aang tries to follow his heart and explain how he feels about Katara. But she doesn't even notice this, because her new BFF Aunt Wu is about to read the clouds and predict some stuff. Among some sundry predictions, she states that the nearby volcano won't destroy the village. Afterwards, Aang asks Sokka for advice on women. He says to act aloof and uninterested around her. Sokka, being the second-densest creature in the world, thinks that he's talking about Meng. Though I like to imagine that he really knows who Aang's talking about and is deliberately sabotaging Aang. Naturally, the whole aloofness act doesn't work on Katara. Meanwhile Meng repeatedly tries to get Aang's attention, which he barely notices. Also, Katara keeps going back to Aunt Wu, to the point of politely throwing Katara out. Also, it is here that an important point was dropped. It was put in so clumsily that I cannot help but guess that it was a late addition to correct a fundamental problem with the story. Namely, that Aunt Wu is clearly perpetuating a hoax that has the entire village eating out of her hands. Probably not the best lesson to teach children; this is a kid's show after all. When Katara grouses about Aunt Wu shutting her out, she mentions that Wu doesn't charge. Which suggests that she isn't doing all of this for profit. While that's nice and all, it doesn't explain her mansion-like house or the fact that she's able to keep at least one servant girl in her employ. And it does nothing for the de-facto power she has over the entire village. She has a guy wearing red shoes all the time because she told him he would have red shoes on when he met his true love (which Sokka naturally calls him out on, to his utter obliviousness). Instead, Aang decides to go to the volcano to pick some kind of flower that he heard was a token of affection. While he and Sokka are there, they notice that the mouth of the volcano is filled with lava. They take this to mean that an eruption is imminent. We'll ignore the fact that this isn't what that means. They try to warn others, but Sokka insists on leading his remarks with, "Aunt Wu was wrong!" Which is not really what these idiots want to accept, so they ignore them. Instead, the Gaang decides to trick Aunt Wu into revising her telling. To do this, they have to steal her cloud reading book. While Aang goes in to get it, he's caught by Meng. She realizes that he's not interested, and Aang lets her down easily. Remember back in Winter Solstice: Part 1: The Spirit World, when Aang learned that clouds are made of water? They actually use that here. Though to be honest, anyone who's been flying through clouds for as long as Aang has should have known that before then, but whatever. It's a nice touch. Aang and Katara water/airbend the clouds into a shape that forecasts volcanic doom. After finally getting these people to realize the danger they're in, Aang forms teams of earthbenders and people with shovels to dig a trench around the village. However, this isn't quite enough, so Aang must use his awesome airbending might to channel the lava. Sokka makes a comment about Aang being powerful. Which apparently is enough to penetrate the mind of the densest creature in all of the Avatar-verse: Katara. And thus, Kataang was born. So, the Gaang confesses about having stolen the book. Somehow, Aang says he realizes that Aunt Wu never made a true prediction about his love life. And she basically tells him that fortune telling is a crock. That he can reshape his own destiny. Um, WTF? So she's really just taking advantage of gullible people? And she's not supposed to be a villain? Oh that's right; unlike modern-day hucksters, she doesn't take money. So that makes it all just fine. Naturally, the villagers learn nothing from this, as they continue to claim that Aunt Wu was correct, since the village wasn't destroyed. As far as I'm concerned, that level of stupidity alone deserves to be rewarded with fiery doom. How did this village avoid being conquered by the Fire Nation yet? Or did they realize that ruling people of this level of idiocy isn't worth it? As is often the case, Sokka channels my outrage. After Meng wishes them well and the Gaang flies off, she mutters under her breath, "Floozy!" Oh, and about Aunt Wu's prediction for Sokka? Yeah, any way you slice it, that was 100% horsecrap. I am therefore instituting the "Screw You, Aunt Wu" count. Whenever Sokka is miserable due to non-self inflicted means, the count will be incremented. And whenever Sokka is particularly awesome, it will be incremented again, since she said that his life will be filled with misery. We'll see how well Aunt Wu does.
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The Earth Kingdom is huge. They haven't been conquered because there are plenty of other, less crummy places to conquer, ones that don't exist on the foot of an active volcano.
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