Opinionated Guide to Avatar: The Last Airbender
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Return to Omashu
The universe has given me strong hints that it's time for a career change. I want to join you on your mission.The last episode ended with the Gaang reaching the outskirts of Omashu and seeing that the Fire Nation had seized it. This also cleverly explains why there were so many Fire Nation soldiers on the route to Omashu; they were fortifying their positions. Aang wants to go in to find Bumi, but Katara and Sokka point out that it's too dangerous. It's important to note that when Sokka starts to suggest that Bumi probably isn't among the living anymore, Aang starts getting kinda upset at him. Aang says that it isn't about finding an earthbending teacher; it's about finding a friend. Does Aang have abandonment issues? Well, there's a good chance of that, since just about everyone Aang ever knew died, to him, a few months ago. We'll see this play out a bit more in future episodes. The Gaang sneak in through the sewer system. As they crawl up the pipes, we see that Aang uses airbending to dig a channel through the sewage. Katara waterbends the sewage (remember that), but both of them just throw it all over Sokka. Thanks, you two; thanks for helping. We get a bit of Komedy! afterwards, where Sokka has these octopus-leeches on his skin, but Aang shows him how to remove them. The suckers leave a bunch of spots on his body, though. When the Gaang is accosted by Fire Nation soldiers, they claim that Sokka has "pentapox." And that's apparently good enough for them. On the other end of the competence spectrum is Princess Azula. She's on her ship, speaking with the two old women who serve as her advisers. They say that keeping the royal procession around might hinder her ability to maintain the element of surprise in tracking Zuko and Iroh. Azula agrees, since she's all about the element of surprise. So she decides to visit some old friends, to build an elite fighting team. We get a few scenes with the Gaang to show that they're looking for where Bumi's being held. Then we cut to a woman we've never seen. She's the daughter of the new Fire Nation governor of Omashu. This is Mai (pronounced like May); she's emo. She complains about how boring things are in Omashu. A group of earthbenders want to liven things up; they drop rocks at the governor's party. However, Aang interferes, not wanting to see anyone killed by the attack. Mai then shows that she's got skills by chasing the Gaang. She also has miniature crossbows up her sleeves, as she is able to fire arrows at them. Aang slows Mai down, then the ground beneath the Gaang drops away, taking them with it. Mai turns, sighs, and walks away. Cut to Azula. She's at a circus; there she finds someone she calls Ty Lee doing a hand-stand. Ty Lee effortlessly twists from a hand-stand into genuflection, as this is the proper position when meeting Azula. Azula exposits that Ty Lee's the daughter of a nobleman, and that the two met at the Royal Fire Academy for Girls. Azula then tries to recruit her for her mission, but Ty Lee doesn't want to go. She says that she's happy in the circus. Azula seems to accept this. Then she says that she'll be seeing Ty Lee's performance tonight. *sting* Ty Lee is visibly shaken by this. And well she should be; she said no to Azula. Such things do not happen without punishment, and Ty Lee should have remembered that. The Gaang meets up with the earthbenders, former soldiers who formed a resistance. They tell Aang that, when the invasion came, King Bumi decided to do nothing. Aang then convinces them to leave Omashu, so that they can fight another day. But even if the soldiers want to, what about the people? Sokka decides on an epidemic. They use the octipus-leech things to create a mass outbreak of "pentapox." And this actually works; the governor has the guards let the infected people out. He barely even questions whether "pentapox" is a real disease. Meanwhile, Aang breaks into the palace to find Bumi. He comes across Bumi's monster pet from before, and the two ride in search of him. While this is going on, Momo accidentally leads the governor's toddler son away; through a series of hijinks, the two find themselves among the crowd leaving the city. On to something less stupid: Azula at the circus. The ringmaster naturally welcomes the Crown Princess of the Fire Nation, saying that if there's anything they can do to please her, she has only to ask. As if he needed to offer.
—Ty Lee, who has learned to deny Azula nothing
When Ty Lee is doing a stunt, where she balances precariously on the high wire, Azula asks whether she'll fall. Naturally, the ringmaster says she won't, so Azula asks why they don't just remove the net. He hems and haws around his answer, and she accepts it. Then she orders that the net be set on fire. Knowing the difference between "asking" and "ordering", they set the net on fire. Of course, Ty Lee is not amused. She is less amused when Azula orders all of their animals to be released into the tent. Cut to something less awesome: Aang discovering that they accidentally have the governor's son. We cut to the governor, who thinks that the child was kidnapped. Cut back to Azula. Was it really necessary to have that tiny cut of the Gaang between two Azula scenes? Couldn't they have just done a fadeout to show that time passed? Anyway, we see Azula coming backstage after the performance to speak with Ty Lee. When Azula suggests that she'll be coming to Ty Lee's next show, Ty Lee speaks the page quote. And note that this is how Azula treats her friends. Cut back to the Gaang. They get a message from the governor, saying that they'll trade their son for King Bumi. The next day, as Aang is preparing to make the exchange, Sokka points out that it's certainly a trap. Aang says that he has a good feeling about it. If this were Season 2, this would all be a clever ploy by the head villain, one that plays on Aang's incessant gullibility to lure him to his doom. But since... hey wait a minute, this is season 2. And oh look, here's Azula riding into Omashu to engineer a clever ploy, one that plays on Aang incessant gullibility to lure him to his doom. But first we get Azula talking with Mai, who seems surprisingly blasť about the whole "my brother was kidnapped" thing. Mai also knew Azula, and she is quickly recruited into a group I will now call Azula's Angels. Azula then proceeds to chew the governor out for being stupid. She also renames the city "New Ozai" for some reason. The Angels will be handling the negotiations for his son now. Cut to those negotiations. They lower King Bumi down from a crane; he's in a man-sized metal box, with just his head poking through a hole. It must be hard to go to the bathroom in there. Or at least unpleasant. Mai starts off negotiating, but then Mai introduces Azula with her proper title, and she takes over. Azula says that trading a powerful earthbending King like Bumi for a toddler isn't a fair trade, so the deal's off. Aang rushes them and gets a taste of Azula's blue firebending. When he starts jumping around and pulls out his glider, he turban slips off, and Azula knows who he is. Oops. What follows is a chase between Azula and Aang. They ride through Omashu's various chutes they use for mail. Aang uses Bumi's metal box as a sled, while Azula appropriated a stone cart herself. Meanwhile, Katara and Sokka square off against the rest of the Angels. Mai's daggers and arrows are no match for Katara's waterbending. This is enough to cover Sokka's escape to get help. They fight some more, but Ty Lee is able to get to melee range against Katara with some acrobatic moves. Once there, she strikes a series of locations on her body, which renders her unable to bend. Before Mai can deliver the coup de grace, Sokka appears on Appa. They try to help Aang in his fight against Azula, but are unable to do so. Eventually, Bumi is able to destroy Azula's cart by earthbending with his face. Sure, why not. Anyway, once they get to the bottom, Bumi says that he has to stay. They talk about some philosophical, Asian-esque nonsense, but it ends with Aang having to learn from an earthbender who waits and listens. Bumi's all about waiting for the opportune moment to strike. I guess it's a good thing for him a certain celestial phenomenon showed up before the one that the series ends on. Otherwise he'd have been screwed.
So Azula's Angels depart. We get the first inklings of the Maiko ship (I told you that anyone is automatically shipped with Zuko) when Ty Lee says that Mai must be looking forward to seeing Zuko again. And Azula now says that they have 3 targets. That night, Aang returns the governor's child. Aw, isn't that nice? This episode was a step up from the drek of the last episode. There's a clear difference between a villain with competence (Azula) and one without (Mai's father). We also get the formation of Azula's Angels as well as their abilities and general personality traits. And by "general personality traits," I mean the one characteristic that they will have for the rest of this season. It's still obviously an excuse for them not to have Bumi be Aang's earthbending teacher. But at least we got some entertainment from it.
I really hate King Bumi as a character. This episode was okay, though. It was neat seeing a town we'd seen in season 1 return and be recognizable, yet heavily changed for the worse. So kudos to them for their demonstration of how war and conquest changes things.
I have to agree, that it's painfully obvious that Bumi wasn't going to join the group. 3 teenagers and an 112 year old man....creepy.
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