When the Avatar enters the Avatar state, all the Avatars work together, right? Which means that every successive Avatar's Avatar state is stronger than that of the last. This page has mentioned how Crazy-Prepared the Avatar is, and this is another layer to that: it makes itself stronger every time it's born.
Aang's greatest character flaw is that he goofs around instead of training hard, in part because he doesn't want to be the avatar and in part because he's still a kid. Aang's teachers (Katara, Toph and Zuko) help him overcome this flaw, as well as master all four elements, because all of them have mastered their own element through sheer determination. Katara and Toph had to learn their elements by themselves. Zuko had teachers, but all of them up to Iroh pushed him too far, too soon, in order to improve him. Iroh may be a good teacher but Zuko's training is hindered by his search for the avatar, and now he pushes himself too much.Indeed Katara is told at the first book that she has sufficently mastered water enough to teach Aang, because while he has more raw talent, he lacks the discipline that she has.
Not to mention that whatever little Katara knew at the beginning is self-taught. Students that self-teach out of necessity sometimes end up with a great knack for intuitiveness, as they had to work hard for everything they got right.
Toph had both formal training and training from Badger Moles. She faked her lack of development in the former, but she had teachers.
Zuko's swords foreshadow his ancestry. Subtly lampshaded in Zuko Alone.
Zuko: You're holding them all wrong. Keep in mind, these are dual swords. Two halves of a single weapon. Don't think of them as separate, because they're not. They're just two different parts of the same whole.
If you look at all the masters in the Order of the White Lotus, Bumi, Piandao, Pakku, Jeong Jeong, Iroh, and what Bumi says by "All old people know each other...don't you know that?" you can't help but think that proper practice of the bending arts makes you wise and spiritual, which was perhaps the ultimate purpose of all forms of bending. Remember that kung-fu masters see it not just for combat, but as a way of life and enlightenment? Bumi, you're a master of this trope!
After Firelord Sozin betrayed Roku he started the tradition of killing dragons for fame and glory despite having a dragon mount before and during the betrayal. Roku also had a dragon and it was basically his symbol so it is possible that Sozin started the tradition of hunting dragons because they reminded him of Roku and the friendship he had to destroy in order to fulfill his dream of conquest
This troper used to wonder how Zuko's firebending was so weak as a child in "Zuko Alone" and how he was able to match Azula towards the end and then realized why - the Firebending that Zuko learnt at first had to be fueled by rage and hate, which Zuko was too soft for, unlike Azula or Ozai, it isn't in his nature to be so heartless or evil to work well. Well until he got banished and dishonored, he didn't have a source of rage and Angst to fuel his fire. He got much better after he learnt the "Fire is Life" approach, because that is more in tune with his real character.
Firebending has a Dark Side that would make you evil because it's the only way to master it. No wonder the Fire nation military and industry commits the atrocities they do with no conscience, they've all been influenced by The Dark Side of firebending.
And why Jeong Jeong hates being a Firebender so much.
Considering that said Dark Side of firebending is fueled but anger and/or hate, how much anger and hate do you think Azula harbored to make her fire freakin' blue?
Actually considering that Ozai himself acts like an Ax-CrazyPsychotic Manchild in the finale, it might even mean that this approach to Firebending also makes you insane after a point. Perhaps, among other things that contributed to her insanity, Azula went too deep in that direction.
And why Iroh acts like he's One of the Kids so much, he's full of life and youth by mastering the true form of Firebending. Good Firebending makes you more spiritual.
To add to your point. In one of the flashbacks in Zuko Alone we see Iroh writing a letter where he makes a joke about burning down Ba Sing Se. So he has always had a sense of humor, it was just darker before his spiritual revival.
Wow, that fits really well with my theory. I assumed that he got stronger because he finally got over his shame at not living up to his father's expectations (both because of his weak firebending as a kid (which was due to the reason you presented above) and his banishment), since it said when Aang was studying under the guru that the fire chakra has to do with willpower and is blocked by shame. The instant I heard that, I thought "Woah. So Zuko is going to be a lot stronger when he finally gets over his mistakes." This means that he was getting a boost from more than just Sozin's comet in the finale—he had finally gotten over both his old problems and been forgiven by his uncle. That helped give him the boost that put him on Azula's level.
This is true on a more technical level. In an earlier episode we see Iroh being uncharacteristically stern regarding Zuko's firebending, stressing that he needs to breath. If you see his fights you can see that he moves to much and rarely does anything besides big fireballs. Per his personality, Zuko always tries for direct and powerful, despite having issues with the basics. Obviously this affects his technique. At his duel with Zhao, he finally improves. Look closely how he fights. He uses simpler movements against Zhao's unnecessary display of power. All thoughout Season 2 Zuko goes Back to Basics in his firebending, and by the Season Finale he's a much more credible threat to the Avatar than ever, making use of impressive techniques. Once he learns the "Fire is Life" approach, and with his revisited technique, by Season 3 Finale he's finally one of the most powerful firebenders in the show.
If you think about what the different bending abilities would be used for in real life, it becomes clear how perfect the characterizations for the different nations are.
Airbending seems like it would be useless in combat, and though the air-benders shown are really strong, none of their attacks can be used to seriously hurt or kill people. Just knock them down or blow them away. This is why the air-benders are all peaceful monks. They only use their air-bending for self-defense, and only when they have to, and usually just avoid fighting altogether. Also, the movements are based on kung-fu, which like airbending, has no purely offensive attacks.
They can move better (or Aang does, at least) than anyone else, and his superior movement tends to win him a lot of fights. Also, air can be really, REALLY powerful (hint: It's called a Tornado). They're peaceful because if they weren't, they'd be in conflict all the time.
Also, they're peaceful because if they actually wanted to kill someone they'd just have to suck the air from their lungs: the world need them peaceful because if they weren't nothing could stop them. Kind of explain the losses taken by the Fire Nation during the Airbenders' genocide: some of the airbenders must have gone desperate enough to try and take down as many Firebenders they could, and as soon as one of them started sucking air from the attackers' lungs...
Forget sucking the air out of someone's lungs - overpressure is all you need. Normal atmospheric pressure is 16 pounds per square inch (psi). It requires as little as 3psi of overpressure to cause serious injuries or fatalities. Even given the general Made of Iron nature of people in the Avatar universe an angry airbender would be a killing machine, one capable of ignoring armour or cover. The Fire Nation may have chosen to attack the Air Nomads during the arrival of Sozin's Comet simply because without it they couldn't have actually won.
To put it simply, if it had been the Airbenders who aimed from World conquest, it probably wouldn't have taken 100 years. All they have to do is either use the above methods listed, or, on a larger scale, possibly use their airbending to creating tornados and all sorts of destruction. And the fact that they frequently ride gliders or flying bisons mean they could easier stay out of harms reach. Especially if they're experienced in flying in those conditions.
The Chinese term "qi" means both life force and air; thus, the ability to bend air comes with the ability to control your life spirit. This could explain why there are virtually no non-bender Air Nomads. It also betrays a darker side of airbending to mirror bloodbending, that is, the bending of the life force within a person, i.e., soulbending.
And this is what Aang does to Ozai in the finale.
Earth-bending fights always leave giant walls of rock all over the place. This would be an annoying mess to deal with in real life, because every time there's a fight, you would have rocks and craters to clean up. If someone was to focus their earth bending constructively, they would be able to do anything with them. They could build houses, fences, statues, virtually any structure really. And in the show, they do just that. All of the earth nation cities are shown to have large elaborate structures, and the largest city is surrounded by a giant stone wall. At one point, Aang even uses his bending to build a zoo for a man in Ba Sing Se.
Fire bending seems like it would be the most useless one to have in real life, because you really can't use it for much besides combat, and it would be difficult to use without burning something. This would explain why the fire nation is so war-like. But if you think deeper, you realize that there's much more to it than that, even beyond the basic uses of fire like cooking and warming. Fire can be used in any number of industrial processes, metal forging, engines, ships, factories, etc. And the fire-nation does just that. In the flashbacks with Sozin and Roku, Sozin mentions that the fire-nation has been going through an extremely prosperous era, it's because they were having an industrial revolution! Some fire-bender must have created a steam-engine of some sort. This also means that they will likely never leave steam power, because they have total control over it. Fire-benders basically have an infinite supply of coal shooting out of their hands, so it makes complete sense that the new series will take place in a steam-punk themed city. It's why fire-benders have so much engineering and technology, while the rest of the tribes are relatively primitive.
Water bending is the most obvious one, you can use it to move boats around, and maybe even use it to catch some fish. Their location makes sense because someone who had control over ice and water would want to live somewhere that they were never far from it. But the water tribesí presence at the north and south poles also gives the gang an excuse to travel over the entire world, before the show ever has to stop in one point for too long.
Also, the Fire and Air. Probably unintentional, but think about it-the fire nation is taking over the entire world, growing larger and larger - you know, like a metaphor for fire spreading? Also, the Air Nomads have four different temples scattered around the world, like real wind scatters. Again, probably completely unintentional, but it makes sense.
With all that Bryke has been shown to do with regards to World Building, never assume anything is "Probably Unintentional."
I was watching Lake Laogai when I realized that Jet and Katara's storyline foreshadowed and paralleled Zuko and Katara's storyline in Season 3. Jet and Zuko both set off on a quest of honour and do what they think is best for themselves/their people, even if it's detrimental to other people. They each end up earning Katara's trust, betraying it and then coming back for a second round. The only difference is that when both are mortally wounded, Jet dies, and Zuko lives. Why? Because even after promising to start a new life in Ba Sing Se, Jet couldn't let go of his old obsession with the Fire Nation, while Zuko gave up everything to embrace his new life with the Gaang and makes up for past wrongs.
Why did Jet want to recruit and assist Zuko? Not just to help Zuko, but also because Jet finds he somewhat identifies with him. He makes a remark about Zuko's scar I can't recall. Perhaps Jet inferred that Zuko was a victim of a firebender (which was true) and related to his situation.
I believe the exact quote was "I know he (Zuko) didn't get that scar from a water-bender."
Iroh knew the non-corrupt form of fire bending. And early in the series he's shown instructing Zuko in the art; specifically, drilling Zuko in the basics. Zuko was too angry to catch on; a very different show would have resulted if he had.
During the episode "The Swamp", Hu tells Aang that the swamp shows visions of people that they loved and lost. Aang sees Toph. Hu says she is someone Aang is yet to meet, however: the visions seen are specifically of those LOST. This must mean, because time is an illusion, Toph died before Aang.
Though he does say it works differently for Aang because he's the Avatar, so this may just be a case of that.
I was deeply troubled by Zuko's subverted Heel-Face Turn in the Season 2 finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender. I kept grinding my teeth in dread of the possibility that the writers had spent an entire season setting up this beautiful redemption story, only to get cold feet and default back to black-and-white, heroes and villains kiddie fare. It wasn't until about a quarter of the way through Season 3—which, given the huge inter-season hiatus meant that I had had the better part of a year to mull it over—that I realized how much better it was this way. Because what would it prove if he switched sides at that point? As far as he knew at the time, he had nothing to lose. It wouldn't have been a personal sacrifice. But after going home and being hailed a hero and praised by his father, he knew exactly what he was choosing between, and it made his eventual genuine Heel-Face Turn that much more meaningful. Bravo, writers! —Karalora
High Emotional Torque — that's the brilliance behind that finale. All the teeth grinding, anger, outrage, and shock we all felt that night was a good thing. —Lale
I'm still mixed on that particular moment in the show, but I'm not as angry as I was when I first watched it. While I feel there are cons to it (mostly the aftermaths occurred during the first half of Season Three), I can see the reasons behind why the creators did what they did with Zuko, much of the reasons having already been stated above. —NeoYi
I realized somewhere between Seasons 2 and 3 that if Zuko and Iroh had joined the Avatar and his friends, they would have defeated Azula, taught Aang Firebending, and invaded the Fire Nation on the Day of Black Sun with the full might of Ba Sing Se on their side, thus ending the war. I figured such a scenario could probably play out in about the length of a movie. Since they were planning another whole season, I realized they had to have Zuko join Azula and betray Iroh just to draw things out. —GeneralNerd
I was frustrated too, which was of course the point. But Zuko's redemption at that point is what truly would have made for kiddie fare. His choice showed him to be a truly complex character with truly complex motivations, not one who makes decisions based on fiction conventions. Throughout season 3 he's unsettled but has trouble reasoning out exactly why; that's because real people don't think along the lines of "I'm bad and I should be good." - Tarsus
Moreover, the failed Heel-Face Turn of season 2 was perfectly in character for that Zuko. He may have shown character development to the point that he is now somewhat of a good guy, but he's still obsessed with the redemption of his honor and returning home. Remember how he used the Blue Spirit mask when he was stealing? That was because he was afraid of his name being tarnished even further. So when Azula offered him a chance for the redemption that he had been seeking for years, he had to take it.
Related to the above, there are a couple mentions on this site about how plum stupid it is for Zuko to have a My Name Is Inigo Montoya moment in "Zuko Alone", given the hatred the people in that episode have for the Fire Nation. But put that moment in context with Zuko for the rest of the season: just setting Appa free instead of using him to capture Aang is in so much conflict with his normal self that he spends a whole episode in an Angst Coma, he uses the Blue Spirit around Ba Sing Se as noted above, he can't bend lightning in "Bitter Work"... Zuko in season two still at a core level wants to be accepted by his father and taken back into the Fire Nation fold, and sees that as the only way to regain his honor, so it makes perfect sense for him to declare his Fire Nation heritage at what he sees as a Crowning Moment of Awesome— and this foreshadows his inability to Heel-Face Turn at the end of the season.
Alternately, of course Zuko declared his name when he saved the villagers. He just did something worth being praised and honored for. He wanted recognition that he'd done something righteous and just and correct - and the villagers' rejection of Zuko served to highlight to Zuko just how badly the Fire Nation was ruining the Earth Kingdom, that they would hate him in spite of doing something so good for them. It's one of many slaps in the face that Zuko needs to wake him up. —UnknownTroper
This comment just made me realize something. Remember how Iroh told Zuko that pride is not the opposite of shame, but its source? That slap in the face was what Zuko needed to realize that one should do the right thing not to achieve fame and praise, but simply because it is the right thing, and doing it is its own reward.
It's also important because it highlights (along with the rest of the episode) just how terrified everyone is of the Fire Nation and the war, especially because of Sozin's rationale (given later in "The Avatar And The Firelord") that the war, or rather the occupation, would enrich and improve the other nations. Zuko remembers to throw this in Ozai's face during his defection. —JamaicanCastle
Zuko not joining the Gaang at the end of Season 2 makes so much sense this Troper is suprised that so many fans hated it. Along with the reasons mentioned above, there is another that becomes apparent after watching season 3. Zuko has spent his whole life trying to be what his father wants him to be. At the end of season 2 he has all but let go of his father and the fire nation. Does he then become his own person? No! He immediatly latches onto Iroh and tries to become what he thinks Iroh wants him to be. Compare his behaviour at the end of season 2 to his behaviour at the end of season 3. In the latter he is a slightly friendlier version of the Zuko we have become familiar with, but at the end of season 2 he is almost unrecognisable, he reacts to everything with a sort of bland optimism, with a forced smile constantly plastered on his face. Any decision to join the Gaang at this point would have been empty because he would only be doing what he thought Iroh wanted. In Season 3 Zuko has been removed from Iroh's influence, making his turn all the more meaningful. As Iroh tell him in the series final "You lost your way, but you found it again. And you did it all on your own."
Adding to that, think of who was the most important person in Zuko's life prior to Iroh. His mother. Her last words to him were: "No matter how much things may change, never forget who you are." This is why Zuko obsesses over regaining his honor. He is really trying to regain his identity as the Fire Nation prince. It isn't until season 3 that he realizes that the prince his father wants him to be is not who he truly is and what his mother really meant was to not let his father (or anyone else) change him into someone he wasn't. When he discovers that what he truly believes is that his father is a tyrant and needs to be stopped, his decision to join Aang is clear. —ElementX
In a finale-related note, it took me a while to realize the full significance of Ty Lee joining the Kyoshi warriors... at first it just seemed an odd bit of Pair the Spares (so to speak)... but then a comment on this wiki made me realize that for a girl whose neuroses all stem from how she spent her life seeking attention and individual acclaim to distinguish herself from her identical sisters, that she has found happiness as part of a team whose members all dress and act alike shows great personal growth. - Rothul
Woah! I love Ty Lee this is hella insightful! I always wondered about that moment because Ty Lee is overjoyed and the other warriors have a, "OH GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE" face on. Which, I have to admit, makes me laugh. Later on, in The Legend of Korra previews, "the bad guys" all use Ty Lee's techniques to stop benders, so I wonder how Ty Lee inadvertently begins a giant rebellion. I wonder if it connects to her at all! —FrenchlyChutes13
At the same time, it's not as though she had to subordinate her uniqueness to the group in order to get her happy ending. They let her join because she had an unusual skill that she was willing to teach the rest of them, and teaching is a leadership role. For once she was able to be a trendsetter rather than a follower, and that's how she was able to reconcile her desire to stand out with her psychological need to overcome that neurosis. —Karalora
Speaking of the finale and of psychosis, after a while, it's hard to deny just how poetically appropriate Azula's breakdown truly is-she is someone who has been taught to use fear as a weapon. It has what kept her feeling secure during her whole life. When Ty Lee and Mai turned on her, her sense of security vanished. Eventually, she is consumed by paranoia. The has been psychologically hoisted by her own petard.
I liked it the development but I hated that her character development was off screen she just randomly Heel Face turned one episode then the next time she is seen she is joining the Kyoshi Warriors. —defenastrator
Not a true random heel face, Azula was going to fry the other member of their best friend power trio and even she seemed surprised at her decision to chi block and lock down Azula. She was never really antagonistic towards the Gaang but was just following Azula. With her gone and her remaining best friend on Zuko's side, she went with the flow and actually found a group she belonged too.
Aang at one point says he doesn't like Ba Sing Se, because they don't live how the monks taught him people are supposed to live (contrast the slum Zuko and Iroh were living in and the wealthy neighborhood the Gaang was staying in, complete with state appointed "helpers"). You could almost say Ba Sing Se has a caste system in place. The Airbenders appear to be heavily based off of Buddhist monks, and one thing which separated Buddhism from the Hindu beliefs its founder originally had was a rejection of the caste system.
Speaking of Avatar. At first This Troper thought that the Fire nation's abduction of Benders from other nations was simply a systematized way of Kicking The Dog and showing was bastards they were. Once one comes to understand how the Avatar's cycle of reincarnation works in the series that it suddenly made complete sense: the Evil Overlords are trying to effectively contain a threat to their schemes before it is even born!
This part is REALLY fridge brilliance, this is really happening now. The Avatar is largely based of the Dalai Lama, the present day Dalai Lama is in exile in India. The Chinese have control over Tibet. There's a lot of political conflict about a 'new Dalai Lama' and many people have proposed that the Chinese will try to control the new Dalai Lama.
What, are the writers oracles?
Well even if he didn't know that, he would be pleased because the next Avatar would be born either in the easily conquered South Tribe, the highly isolated North Tribe, or the Foggy Swamp which was in the Earth Kingdom he had control over. After that it would take at least 12 years for him to become an effective Waterbender and there's no way for him to become a fully realized Avatar because there's no one to teach him Airbending and it is very unlikely that anyone from the Fire Nation will be willing to teach him Firebending. An Avatar with a 2 maybe 3 element mastery would be useless against a largely consolidated Fire Empire.
Keeping the other bending cultures alive would also greatly benefit the Fire Nation in the long run. They could easily kill a young Avatar, hastening the cycle until the Fire Nation got the Avatar again. Then they could easily indoctrinate him/her and force their captive Water and Earth Benders to teach the Avatar their skills. The Fire Nation winds up with a powerful weapon that they can still theoretically control as a fully realized Avatar is impossible (a Firelord should be able to defeat a rogue Avatar with only 3 elements). After that Avatar, the cycle will break but by then the Fire Nation should rule the world with or without Sozin's comet. The eugenic potential also does not seem to escape them with Ursa's grandfather in mind. Try not to think too hard about an Avatar mentored by Fire Lord Azula and married to one of Azula's children.
Day of Black Sun: During the chase scene, Azula was going towards the Fire Lord's chamber, so that when Aang and crew realized that she was leading them on a wild goose chase, they would go in another direction anyway. - SalFishFin
Made even more brilliant by her quote to Sokka, Toph and Aang when they decided to ignore her.
Azula:: It's a trap.
Also, may double as a little bit of Fridge Horror too, but think about what could have happened if they'd ended up following Azula all the way to Ozai. Azula had wasted enough time that, by the time they would have gotten to Ozai, he'd have his firebending back. Therefore, he could have beaten the Gaang right then and there.
A lot of fans said that Fire Lord Ozai's praise to Zuko for killing the Avatar were wrong, because killing the Avatar would just result in starting the search all over again. But it isn't the fact that the Avatar's dead that the Fire Lord is happy, but that Azula told him everything, including that she shot lighting at Aang just as he entered the Avatar state. Fire Lord Sozin's—Fire Lord Ozai's grandfather—was best friends with Avatar Roku. Wouldn't it be safe to say that sometime, possibly if Fire Lord Sozin asked Roku why he couldn't "glow it up" to defeat the other nations, that killing the Avatar in the Avatar state wouldn't just kill him, but end the Avatar cycleforever? Fire Lord Ozai wasn't happy simply because Aang was dead but because the Avatar cycle was over and there wasn't anyone to stop him from finishing the war. - Ares
No, actually. She didn't tell that part, it seems. Plus, as long as the avatar is dead, the cycle is over, since there's no airbending teacher. Also, even if it did continue, he'd have to be reborn, and the war could've easily been won while he was one year old. - Wanderlust Warrior
Appa could have taught the next Avatar how to master airbending.
Or the next Avatar could have learned it on her own, gradually developing techniques from trial-and-error and/or Airbender records. Bending masters did not come into the world fully-formed. They had to learn from instinct, just like the first martial artists in Real Life.
Besides, the fact that the first Avatar's abilities were unprecedented, and yet manifested in elements other than their birth one, implies that multi-bending is something that naturally shows itself, even if the person doesn't expect it to.
It might just be that it's an acceptable outcome. It would be ideal to capture the Avatar but finding and killing the Avatar is acceptable as it ensures their enemy disappears for another decade or so. In the meantime, Zuko performed admirably and proved his ability and will and that pleased Ozai.
Also, the next Avatar would be born a Waterbender, and the water tribes (especially the southern tribe) are fairly small and insulated and therefore, in Ozai's eyes, easily stopped.
At first, I felt that perhaps Azula's Villainous Breakdown happened too quickly. Then, I realized that her world rested on pillars. That she would always be the best warrior, especially over Zuko, that she had friendship in which she was the dominant one, and that her father loved her for how much like him she was. It was not the breakdown itself that was rapid, it was the pulling away of the pillars. In short order Zuko and Aang's group moved up to within striking distance of her, her captive friends said no we're not friends and turned, and she found out, as Zuko had, then Ozai's only love is for himself. With all that gone, the master warrior and strategist became just a teenage girl with no one who loved her. Remember, up until the finale, she had never suffered the kind of definitive defeat our heroes took as their stock-in-trade. Kind of like, on a gentler but still violent note, Naru from Love Hina's reaction to failing her Tokyo U entry exam, it was a case of immense strength but no resiliency.
My personal Fridge Brilliance is about The Beach, while it had some bits of deeper stuff, it seemed to be mostly a Breather Episode. Then I rewatched it after the finale. It occured to me that Azula's awkwardness and desperate behavior was hinting at her deeper emotional problems. In retrospect it's rather disturbing to see her making strained attempts at being "normal". Additionally, at the end, the others each have a sort of a breakthrough but not her. And at the end... They've all Heel Face Turned, but not her. - JackCain
It's even better. She makes light of her past ("My own mother thought I was a monster! She was right, of course...") and dismisses it as unimportant, but in the end, that's how her Villainous Breakdown manifests, as a hallucination of Ursa.
I have a lot of feelings about Azula, I think it's interesting what was planned for her character and what wasn't. In the very beginning of season 2 she seems like a 'older sister' archetype (even though she's younger). The perfect, older sibling who wins all of daddy's approval, the one thing Zuko ever wanted. It's great how much they developed her, from being the epitome of everything Zuko needed, to her own, flawed character. She and Ozai both have an obsession with control and perfection. When she unhinges, we see her going into a more 'animalistic' instinctive nature. Killing a "weak" sibling (we always knew Azula was fine with Zuko dying, even early in season 3, something she might even actively pursue herself) and displaying more of her real nature. They really play with the idea of her being a sociopath throughout the series. Zuko couldn't beat her in her normal state. I respected the breakdown because anything else would have been undermining her character, if Zuko had just merely defeated her, it wouldn't have been enough. If she'd 'reformed' or been humiliated, it wouldn't have been enough. She had to die or 'break down' until she couldn't be her former self. Because any other Zeus Ex Machina or decision wouldn't have been a fair treatment of her character.
Something else about Azula's breakdown I just recently realized that's worth noting. Remember when Azula told Ozai all about how Zuko killed the Avatar just in case he was still alive, then Zuko outright exposed that lie on the Day of Black Sun? Many people believe that Ozai casting Azula out of the "burn everything to the ground" plan, tasked her to protecting the homeland as Fire Lord instead, then openly declared himself the Phoenix King right in front of her, was a punishment for this. This is true, but at the same time maybe that wasn't all there was to it. Let's not completely dismiss the fact that Ozai not only bothered to placate her, but did so by verbally emphasizing the importance of the role he was giving her. Also, Ozai, not only as Azula's father but as the head of a militaristic propaganda state, had to have known about the betrayal of Mai and Ty Lee stopping her from killing Zuko along with several friends and members of the Gaang. It wasn't just a punishment; it was a Secret Test of Character. Could she recover from her recent disappointments, both deception and failure? Could she effectively lead the fortification and defense of the Fire Nation both as a warrior and as a commander? Was she strong enough both physically and mentally to truly be a worthy part of his dynasty? The Social Darwinist that he is, it just makes sense. And the answer was no.
Referencing Azula's Villainous Breakdown, her first appearance where she does some crazy firebending and then is all perfectionisty upset about her hair? Definitely foreshadows the hair-chopping Ax-Crazy in the finale.
Fridge Brilliance 2
Remember Zhao's insistence on I Want Them Alive with Aang, even though it's obvious that everyone else in the Fire Nation doesn't care whether he' live or dead? In that same episode, it was strongly implied that Zhao is just after Aang as a vanity project. And what's more vain then keeping your foe around as a trophy?
True, though Zhao does say that were he to kill Aang, the Avatar would simply be reincarnated into the Water Tribe, meaning the search would start all over again. Capturing the Avatar is a vanity project for Zhao to curry favour with Ozai, but keeping him alive also serves - from their point of view - a practical purpose.
I realized that there's a good chance that the current Earth King might turn out to be the best Earth King Ba Sing Se has had in a good long while. He honestly cares about his people, or at least that's what he said before he was put on a bus, and seems genuinely interested in the needs of his people. I mean, how many other kings willingly pose as a peasant in order to learn about his country? Of course, on the other hand, he is a curious guy who was very sheltered, so it might just be that he finds "Commoner Culture" interesting. Both of these might have something to do with Long Feng. He may or may not know about his past, and if he did, maybe he was able to learn about commoners through him. Maybe. Possibly. Depending on when Long Feng took over, it's possible that Earth King Kuei was a child (In fact, probable. How else could Long Feng pull it off?), so maybe having been "raised" by a commoner caused him to see commoners as equals, instead of as lowly peasants who should grovel at his feet. -Kat
Something else I thought of regarding the Earth King: he was royalty, sheltered within the walls of his kingdom. And one day he learned of the suffering of his people and decided to go on a (spiritual) journey. Reminding anyone of a certian Siddhartha Guatama?
A minor one occured to me in the episode "Bitter Work". Earlier in the episode, Toph took Aang to take a stance... and stop a huge boulder she set rolling down the hill towards him. Of course, he does the thing any sane person would do, and jump out of the way. Later in the show, seconds before he learns to earthbend, he defends Sokka by airbending a huge beast out of the way. What I realised was that he was using an earthbending stance, and that the situation was almost exactly the same: He stood his ground against a seemingly unstoppable force, and used an earthbending stance to stop it.
...and, in further Fridge Brilliance, he uses airbending to make the unstoppable force be unstoppable somewhere else - reinforcing that the true strength of the Avatar, as Iroh points out, is the ability to take abilities, tactics, and philosophies from all four nations and apply them in whatever combination suits the situation. —JamaicanCastle
Iroh also devises a firebending ability using a waterbending stance to redirect lightning, the ultimate form of firebending.
In the episode at the North Pole where Zuko sneaks in under the ice to get to the Spirit Oasis, I noticed he seemed unusually good at holding his breath for a long time while he was swimming. At first I was like "Well, that's Hollywood for you," but then I remembered that the key to firebending is in breath control. So Zuko probably is really good at holding his breath.
Aaah! This is what Iroh told him in the first episode! Iroh told Zuko to master his breathing first, before continuing to the next lesson. I guess he listened after all!
Don't forget when Jeong Jeong was training Aang: "I've been breathing for hours!"
"You want to stop breathing?"
Damn this is brillant. So subtle.
And why is breathing so important for Firebending? Fires need Oxygen.
The original firebenders were dragons. Dragons breathe fire.
As a Kataang supporter, I at first felt the finale, relationship-wise, did an Ass Pull when it came to the Canon ship; Aang is on the balcony and Katara comes out and wordlessly kisses him. I felt cheated: the scene with Zuko saving Katara from Azula's lightning bolt was far more powerful, emotional, and ship-worthy. It wasn't until later as I rewatched the second season finale that I realized that Aang being shot in the back as Katara watched almost completely mirrored Zuko's near-death experience. So, it was because she saw Zuko get shot that she came to love Aang: she was able to compare the two occurences and realize that her feelings of losing Aang were stronger than if the same exact thing happened to any of her other friends, such as Zuko. After that, it was so clear that she didn't even need words.
I thought it was really intriguing that Katara ended up with Zuko in his final showdown, away from Aang, Toph, Sokka and Suki. I really wondered about that! I think it may have partly been because, Katara is "the mother" of the group and while she was needed to help restrain Azula in the end and to also give some sort of "weakness" for Azula to aim at (which was foreshadowed repeatedly in the series, Azula looking away and then hitting a target) it's also because she really represents everything Azula isn't.
Further Fridge Brilliance stemming from the above: Katara is absolutely the Team Mom, and the only other member of the Gaang present at the royal siblings' Final Battle. Who is the most signifigant person in Zuko and Azula's lives? Ursa.
Katara being at the fight also helped Azula's final breakdown. I noticed it when rewatching the fight between Zuko, Katara, and Azula that after Katara tied up Azula and healed Zuko they had a sweet moment together that showed they grew as friends and could trust each other. Who was watching this? The same girl whoís friends betrayed her, basically felt abandoned by her mother and father, and had no other person she could trust or rely on. To me, Azula sobbing uncontrollably was not only her insanity but extreme depression and loneliness from watching the friendship she wished she had.
What's more is that Katara appears to be Azula's Good Counterpart: motherly, but in a caring, gentle way as opposed to a manipulative, controlling way, holds the team together with love and trust, not fear, the naturally talented bender in a sibling pair. Azula trying hitting her can be seen as a metaphor for Azula killing (so to speak) any chance of a normal life with friends or even people genuinely who care about her- she has no one left on her side so she attacks the girl with tons of loyal, supportive friends. And once again, Zuko got in her way; he got mommy's love, a dependable father figure, and friends who actually like him- things Azula desperately wants but can't have- and Zuko is the one who stops her attack.
There's also the sibling angle to consider; throughout the series we've seen that even though Katara and Sokka can drive each other up the wall they still love and care for each other. By contrast ever since they were kids Zuko and Azula have been at odds and never really got along, culminating in their Agni Kai in the finale. Katara's presence seems superfluous until you realize what the writers are doing: they're comparing the two sibling pairs. When Azula is chained to the grate at the end, sobbing and screaming, and Katara and Zuko are watching her silently, you know that both of them are thinking about the other's sibling (Zuko-Sokka, Katara-Azula) and wondering how their relationship with their own could have turned out differently.
Speaking of which, Zuko betrayed the Gaang in Ba Sing Se but he goes back to them they accepted him...eventually. Afterwards Azula is betrayed by her friends and they don't come back to her. They're opposites in every way.
I owe this bit directly to TV Tropes: I've always thought "The Southern Raiders" was a Wacky Wayside Tribe that existed solely to give Katara her "field trip with Zuko." As I was reading the Arc Words entry for Avatar, I realized Katara's quest in that episode fits the pattern of the honor quest Zuko, Aang, and Sokka had! I have no idea why it took me so long to realize that because I've known for a long time that Avatar follows the old concept of honor, not as some ambiguous, positive virtue like it is to us but a tangible possession that could be lost or taken away. This is obviously what happened to Zuko in the flashback in "The Storm." The Fire Lord stripped him of his honor, which would be restored to him when he brought back the Avatar. As a result of Sokka losing his honor when he lost the battle on the day of Black Sun, he had to restore it by rescuing his father. I knew this! So why didn't I see that Katara (appropriately) felt the murder of her mother was a blot to her honor and she had to restore it by avenging herself on the killer?! This is where the concept of the "blood price" I learned about when studying Beowulf comes from — someone who killed someone else would pay the victim's family a monetary "blood price" to make up for the loss. And, if someone didn't pay, a hero would be justified in killing whoever killed his wife or sister or whoever. The blood price is apparently not a foreign idea to Katara, or Yon Rha when he suggests "you take my mother" instead. I knew this, yet I still didn't see that episode as Katara's honor quest (just like the boys') until now. TV Tropes Will Enhance Your Life after all, I guess. ~ Lale
More than Honor, it's Pride, Zuko, the weak son of a warrior society, needs to take a life, Sokka, the genius, needs to validate his strategems, and Katara, the maternalcharacter was unable to protect someone. They were all humiliated and need to get their mojo back.
...and of course, Toph doesn't need a real 'life-changing excursion with Zuko' because she's quite comfortable and confident in who she is and what she can do. While just to round it out, Aang's quest with Zuko is mainly for him to not only learn to get along with Zuko, but to overcome his distrust of and hate for Firebenders in general, and to realise he needs to save the Fire Nation as well.
It occurred to me that the killer of Katara's mother ended up in a such a sorry state because he actually failed in his duty as the leader of the Southern Raiders. As pointed out above the purpose of capturing Waterbenders was to curtail the coming of the Avatar and in Katara's flashback her mother is being questioned about the last Waterbender at the Southern Water Tribe. Her claim of being the last Waterbender incites her murder but makes no sense if she was the Avatar as it would cause her reincarnation as an Earthebender. The murderer's superiors would would have been enraged even if the man was pressed for time and forced him to retire, his actions could have caused the the Earth Kingdom to have a huge advantage and rendered the whole purpose of the Southern Raiders moot. No wonder he's living with his abusive mother, he must have lost honor and his pension when he panicked and killed Kya. His reaction when Katara spares him makes a lot of sense as he is now not even worth killing. - koolkame
I actually took this as having nothing to do with the Avatar and everything to do with Hama getting the crazy and bloodbending her way out of prison. The Fire Nation had had a policy of capturing and imprisoning the waterbenders, which was clearly what Kaya expected to happen. However, after the horrifying way Hama broke out, capturing the waterbenders would seem like much more of a bad idea.
Speaking of bloodbending - the fact that Katara was willing to use bloodbending halfway through on the man she believed (in error) was her mother's killer, compared to her sparing the real killer by the end is an excellent indication of how much character growth she went through in that single episode. Also, the night she was bloodbending, the moon was not shown, leaving open the possibility that she was able to bloodbend even without a full moon - an indication of just how powerful a waterbender she really was.
Don't forget, though, that the full moon lasts more than one night a month. I'm pretty sure the moon was still full when Katara used bloodbending on that man.
On another note involving the honor quests, it seemed a little weird to me that Zuko just went on quests with everyone is such an alsmost formulaic way (it's even lampshaded by Toph.) But then I realized that it actually makes perfect sense that Zuko accompany everyone on quests that played huge parts in building up to the climaxes of their respective character arcs, because his arc was the first to be resolved! When you think about it, Zuko's arc is pretty much done in Day of the Black Sun when he has his epic Calling the Old Man Out moment and goes to join Aang. Not that important things don't happen to him post-DOTBS, but his main character development from Point A to Point B was pretty much concluded.
Even more important when you remember that Zuko spent years (including most of the show) traveling with a Static CharacterCool Old Guy who played the exact same role in his life - helping him along with his character development because Iroh's own had already been done!
Recently, I learned in my history class how China could have built a world spanning empire instead of Europe. They even sent out massive ships called "floating dragons" as a show of power; some think the expeditions might have reached Hawaii. After Zheng He, the emperor's friend who was leading the expedition, died, bureaucrats called Mandarins burned all the records of the voyages, including the ships and how to build them. The Mandarins were followers of Confucius who emphasized knowing your place. They were also very traditional and cautious of change, thus burning the records. When I learned about them, I couldn't help but think of the Dai Li. The similarities seemed far too strong for this to be a coincidence, and I recall reading that the Earth Kingdom was based off of China.
I thought Iroh's speeches to Zuko after his Angst Coma sounded familiar, but didn't realize until reading about it on This Very Wiki that Iroh was channeling the Vorlons and Shadows. ("Who are you? What do you want?") It doesn't end there, of course; his insistence that Zuko find "his own path" mirrors Sheridan and Delenn's epic speech to the First Ones ("find our own path between order and chaos"). To the WMG! —Jamaican Castle again
Avatar related regarding the Live-Action Adaptation. I'm certain I wasn't the only one perplexed by the announcement that M. Night Shyamalan would be directing a martial arts epic film, especially since he was known solely for methodically paced horror/psychological thrillers. Looking over his resume I remembered that Haley Joel Osment was nominated for an Oscar in The Sixth Sense, and thinking more on it Spencer Treat Clark was also very good in Unbreakable (The kid who played Bruce Willis' son). Shyamalan knows how to find and direct child actors. The Last Airbender is about child protagonists. And once realizing that, his action sequences in Unbreakable and Signs were expertly crafted, if not quite the same genre. — KJMackley
Very good point, but unfortunately ruined now that the movie's out. All of the child actors (as well as the adult actors) were miscast and turned in absolutely horrible performances and the fight scenes were awful. (The camerawork was good, but the actual fight choreography was atrocious. Five-person-pebble-dance, anyone?) What's more, Shyamalan directed a martial arts film that didn't actually use any martial arts. (All of the fighting was just people flailing their arms around.) So yeah, he was just as horrible a choice for the film as we initially thought.
As I was thinking about which kinds of elements earthbenders since it seems like they can bend them all it hit me, bending is not based on the element but on the state of matter! Airbending controls gas, waterbending controls liquid, earthbending controls solid and firebending controls plasma. — Kattib
Eh, no. Waterbenders can also control ice and steam. Otherwise it works.
I looked at this and suddenly realized it could work completely: the Lion Turtle basically says that all bending styles were derived from the energy bending Applied Phlebotinum that Aang used in his fight with Ozai; perhaps this means benders can absorb and then use energy from their respective element. This means that waterbenders can give or take (usually take) heat energy from the water they're bending and make it ice or steam and firebenders create fire from nothing by transferring energy into the air. How exactly energy turns into fire escapes me, but I imagine something similar to Roy Mustang's flame happens. In that example, his gloves are made of a material that gives off a form of energy every time he snaps his fingers; then, using whatever science governs that universe (alchemy in specific), he moves and amplifies the energy for explosive results. — Numbuh214
Close, but no cigar, although I'm not sure if it really matters. Mustang's gloves create a spark and he uses alchemy to increase the amount of oxygen or hydrogen in the air to amplify the spark and create fire.
So with that logic, it makes sense that the ultimate form of firebending is lightning. It would just be weaponizing the electrolysis firebenders always use.
When Aang is talking to his past lives while on the Lion Turtle, he is distraught that they keep telling him to kill the Fire Lord. But they didn't! Not a one. They gave advice like "Be descisive", "Be attentive", "Bring justice". But they never said "The only way is to kill the Fire Lord". Aang was too confused to notice that. — Piearty
Quite arguably, Aang killing the Firelord in the wrong way (basically any way that would have made Ozai the least bit of a martyr in the eyes of anyone in the Fire Nation who sympathized with him) would not have helped the world, but instead trigger a civil war within the Fire Nation, creating even more chaos and suffering in the world. So discrediting Ozai's warmongering by defeating him, neutralizing him and sparing his life may in fact have been the only way for the Avatar to restore the balance of the world.
But arguably what Katara did with Azula was just that, she fought unevenly against two foes. And while she managed to come over Zuko a second opponent broke her somehow ilegally, while I can come to terms with the fridge great irony of Ty Lee's decision after all this time I still think the Agni Kai resolution is sketchy, Katara could beat Azula all the way since the end of season two but not Zuko and at the end Azula even broken was cunning enough to play Zuko directly in one last trap.
Azula lost the Agni Kai to Zuko. I'm pretty sure attacking someone who isn't part of the duel counts as a forfeit.
Katara was kind of "saving her from herself". The imagery of that scene makes Azula look like a mad animal. But, Katara's intervention does break the rules of Agni Kai (although someone points out that hitting someone who isn't in the Agni Kai is a forfeit, and Azula was aiming the lightning at Katara. I guess by then Azula had won the Agni Kai though by getting him down!). That scene is kind of fascinating, because Azula is so dismissive of her position as Fire Lord, it means nothing to her at this point and she wants to defeat Zuko but at the same time, she's just being violent to be violent.
On that note, Azula's dismissive reaction to the position of Fire Lord makes perfect sense as well. With Ozai declaring himself the Phoenix King, it has become nothing more than an empty title. She doesn't care about becoming Fire Lord anymore because it doesn't matter. And the outcome of the Agni Kai in itself didn't matter (at least not to her). Whichever of them won, Ozai was still in a position of power over them. Azula might have been coming apart at the seams, but she hadn't completely lost her senses. On top of that, agreeing to the Agni Kai was a good strategic move on her part. This way, she could try to take both opponents out one at a time instead of both at once (though in her normal, collected state, that might have been unnecessary).
I thought it was clear enough. Azula broke the rules first — by shooting at a non-participant while Zuko was still capable of fighting. When Katara got involved, it didn't matter anymore. She was fighting in self-defense.
The Guru believed Aang had to give up his worldly attachments to access his final chakra and the Avatar State. The past Avatars, most blatantly Yangchen, believe Aang should permanently ground himself for the good of the world. The Lion Turtle helps Aang find the medium between the extremes: "The True Mind can weather all lies and illusions without being lost. The True Heart can tough the poison of hatred without being harmed." — Starshine
The Guru was, in a way, right. In a bit inspired by Star Wars's own Fridge Brilliance entry, what Aang really needed wasn't to sacrifice his connection to Katara, but to be prepared to subordinate it to his duty as the Avatar, exactly the way Kuruk didn't. When, as in the finale, he has to split the party, or when Katara is in danger, he has to know what his priorities are. (It would help if he realized that, as an extremely powerful bender, she can handle herself a lot better than he tended to think.) — Jamaican Castle
At first the combination of the last airbender avatar telling Aang that he cannot distance himself from the world seemed like it went directly against what Guru Pathnik said, since the Guru told him to let go of his worldly attachments. Then it became clear: the Avatar is about balance, not just between the elements but also between the spirit world and the physical world. Aang cannot detach himself from the world, but he has to know when to let go.
Furthermore: Roku's trip through time in "The Avatar and the Firelord" shows that being the Avatar didn't exactly hurt his chances in love, yet he was able to control the Avatar State perfectly to the point of accessing it at bursts. At first this would make it appear that Pathik was talking out of his ass when he said Aang needed to let go of Katara. However, looking back at said Avatar State bursts, they were Roku's most powerful, decisive striking moments in the entire flashback. He neither looked nor acted the part of a man who was distracted by romance, bitterness, belongings, or anything else, but rather one who was fully focused on the task at hand, with nothing else in mind. Roku didn't disprove anything Pathik said, nor was the Guru just kinda right; his story was in fact the first sign of just how on the money Pathik truly was the entire time.
The real brilliance is that Aang actually applies the advice of all his past lives ... just not in the way they intended. Even though they never explicitly direct him to kill, that is their obvious implication. Nevertheless, what Aang actually does IS decisive, it DOES bring justice, it IS an active means of shaping his own destiny, and it IS a sacrifice of his own spiritual welbeing for the greater good. It simply doesn't involve mortal violence.
In "The Ember Island Players", I knew that the exaggerated personalities of the characters in the play were based on the usual Flanderization of the characters in fanfiction. However, I wondered why this was done in context; the playwrights could have easily asked Ozai and Azula for information on the Gaang (especially since Azula has fought against them personally). Then I realized something: the play is Fire Nation propaganda. Of course they are going to make the Gaang look as harmless as possible!
It's also a moment of Fridge Brilliance to the Gaang as well, since even the ones who were enjoying the play realize its intention when it depicts Zuko and Aang being brutally killed. They are, of course, horrified.
Prior to then, we only see Ozai in Zuko's flashbacks. Given his relationship to his father, it would make sense that he would imagine him as a distant and intimidating figure, beyond the reality of the man.
Ozai, like Azula, is obsessed with perfection. Given that, it would make sense for him to keep his appearance strong and attractive so that he can be the epitome of his own ideals.
Having some kind of disfiguration on Ozai to symbolize his evil is unnecessary. We've had such a symbol from day 1, not on his own face, but on Zuko's. Ozai's evil is symbolized on his son far better than it could be by any flaw in his own appearance.
Which is perfect, since throughout the series, Zuko is really the strongest evidence for why you should despise and fear Ozai, and most of Ozai's characterization is secondhand through his effect on other people. Having an arch villain that wants to take over the world is standard, but seeing the damage he did to his own kid (psychological as well as physical) makes him a lot scarier than any genocide plot could have.
The "Avatar Extras" mention that Ozai was designed to look like an older Zuko— which explains why he's so pretty— and also makes a lot of sense; Ozai and Ursa (descended from Sozin and Roku, the two sides of the Fire Nation "at war in Zuko") are the extreme "what ifs" for future Zuko, not only in temperament but reflected in their looks.5
It's the Bishonen Line. He's the boss because he's the prettiest.
Given the three points above, another brilliance comes out. Ozai looks like Zuko, grown up and beautiful, without the scar. Of course his appearance is surprising and shocking. He is what his son could have looked like, but also like what his son NEVER COULD LOOK LIKE. His reveal truly shows how dark of a man he is.
Fridge Brilliance 3
It occured to me recently that an important element of an episode from Season 1 (the Fire Temple) was possibly referenced much later on in the series. The Good Fire Sage tells Aang and co. that the door with the 5 fire-bending necessary locks could only be opened by 5 firebenders or a fully realized avatar. Now flash forward to the very last episode of the entire series. Aang in the Avatar State against Ozai, during Sozin's comet. Look carefully throughout their battle, Aang uses 5-pronged blasts of fire twice during the fight. Over the course of the entire fight, Ozai, supposedly the greatest firebender in the world could not ever manage more than three blasts of fire at once. More than 2 seasons after the fact, the finale of Avatar proved an inconvenient plot device to be completely true. I don't even know if this was intentional.
This troper gets the feeling that nothing in this series is unintentional.
I always through that the only thing stopping normal Firebenders from using 5 blasts of flame at once is due to the fact that Firebending jets of flame is a form of propulsion. Ozai only used 3 at once because the mouth blast counteracted the 2 hand blasts just enough to keep him on the ground, whereas the Avatar could use Airbending to balance out the 5 flame jets to unlock the temple door. Obviously, any Firebender who tried blasting 5 jets of flame would propel him/herself into the walls.
I always thought the Fire Nation was stupid for capturing and not killing the waterbenders, in case they escaped with a grudge. Especially since Zuko didn't stake out the Water Tribe in his search for the Avatar, which made me think that the Fire Nation thought that the Avatar was still a survivor air nomad (especially Zuko's remark about the avatar having remarkable agility despite his old age). Now I realize they thought the Avatar was a waterbender and were just letting Zuko roam around the world searching for a nonexistent(or so they believed) airbender to keep him out of their hair. That way, the Avatar wouldn't be born into the Earth Kingdom, a huge and not-as-easily weeded out place as the Water Tribes. At least, until the waterbenders died of old age, which I think Ozai was betting on happening after he won the war. Also, even though they don't have the waterbenders from the south pole, even if the avatar was there, it isn't likely they can master earth and fire, there is absolutely no chance of them mastering air, and so they aren't much of a threat to the Fire Nation. - Crewe
There's also a bit more fridge brilliance to this considering Aang's successor as Avatar, Korra. She could already bend three of the four elements much younger than any previous Avatar, Aang included, only having trouble with Airbending because it was opposite to her personality. Ozai's plan was pretty much doomed to failure from the start.
This is a bit of fridge brilliance that nicely wraps up two fridge logic questions- why couldn't the Earth Kingdom just sail East until they hit the Fire Nation, and why did night and day pass normallly in the North/South poles? Simple: the Avatar world is flat.
That's not Fridge Brilliance. Aside from the creators dismissing the "flat world" idea in the DVD commentary for the finale, you do actually get normal-length days near the arctic circle/north polar region. Not to mention that a flat world would be drastically different in everything from weather patterns to the appearance of horizons than the Avatarworld, and that we actually see the world curving below Aang when he's absorbing "cosmic energy" in Season Two. The real reason why nobody sails east is likely that it's just a vast, empty ocean with no land except for scattered volcanic island chains. That would be a difficult trip for a Fire Nation fleet to accomplish (since coal-powered ships usually needed a number of different re-fueling stations to restock on coal in real history), never mind an Earth Kingdom fleet made up of wooden, wind-driven ships.
Almost, though Sokka did claim in the first episode to be experiencing "midnight sun madness". I mean, if you're not exactly at one of the poles you still get day and night I suppose.
erm- you can still get "night" and "Day" if you are at a pole during spring or fall- and at one point, someone even points out that " at this rate we won't get there until spring" it wasn't a throw-away line at all, but an explanation.
One thing I did notice though, is that the comet is said to be coming at the end of the summer. In the real world, the northern and southern hemispheres have summer at different times, making that that definition of a time fairly pointless.
Where was Roku when he told Aang this, Crescent Island...in the Fire Nation which is mostly if not entirely in the northern hemisphere and we know it was summer at the south pole when Aang was found but by that episode they had traveled far enough north for it be winter.
This one has to do with the generation of lightning and was a case of Fridge Logic until I really thought about it. Iroh tells Zuko lightning is fueled by an absence of emotion. However, we see Ozai and Azula generating lightning when they're visibly enraged. It didn't make sense to me until I remembered that the Fire Nation had been corrupted from the true meaning of Firebending. Firebending is about life and energy, not just destruction and when Zuko lost his drive his bending became weak. It led me to believe that lightning generation isn't about an absence of emotion but a complete focus on a single task. When Ozai and Azula bend lightning while enraged they're completely 100% focused on killing their targets. The reason Zuko can't do it when Iroh's teaching him isn't that he can't let go of his emotions, but that his mind is focused on too many things at once (surpassing Azula, finding the Avatar, getting his father's praise) his mental focus is all over the place. And an even bigger bit of Fridge Brilliance is that Iroh knew the true secret of Firebending and yet he told Zuko what would have been in keeping with the Fire Nation's philosophy at the time. He kept the secret from him until he was ready to know the true way of Firebending. Lightning may be a true expression of Firebending but it is a true and pure expression of firebending in the sense of being the absolute pinnacle of a Firebender's drive.
It could also be that lightning bending requires complete focus on something, but "nothing" qualifies as a focus. Learning it that way, as Iroh did, grants an advantage: lightning (or firebending for that matter) based on, for instance, hatred for an individual is rendered powerless if that hatred fades. Power based on meditation and serenity, though, can't ever be lost. — Jamaican Castle
This actually brings up another fridge brilliance. Bumi talked about how there's over 50 something types of Jing, with three of them being Positive (offensive), Negative (defensive) and Neutral (doing nothing). Bumi said that the best earth benders were those who listened and waited, using Neutral Jing. Since both him and Iroh were part of the White Lotus, it's not out of the question that Iroh learned this from earthbenders and applied it to his lightning, much in the same way as how he learned about redirecting lightning from the Waterbenders.
It's because they are sociopaths. They are strongly in control of their own "temperaments" even when they seem to be enraged - that frustation and rage is detached from themselves. Even in the final Agni Kai, Azula is clearly not temperamentally alright, but she can use lightning because she doesn't "feel".
This seems obvious now that I've thought of it, but Toph's initial reluctance to flying on Appa isn't just the same as Sokka's or Katara's, where they don't feel comfortable flying. Toph hates flying because on land she uses earth bending to see things, while flying she can't see anything at all.
It could also be obvious because Toph outright says this on several occasions.
This is less Fridge Brilliance than "rewatching the episodes far too closely brilliance", but if you pay attention, Lion Turtles are everywhere— statues in the Air Temples, door knockers in the Earth Kingdom, the front of the Fire Nation war zeppelins; smattered across all three seasons and in all four nations. The Producers Really Do Think Of Everything.
I noticed that as well. I remember in the library episode, someone pulled out a scroll and commented on the HUGE lion turtle on it.
In Sozin's Comet, Zuko realized Azula was going to attack Katara(basically forfeiting the Agni Kai), and jumped in front of the lightning. However, he could've just as easily let Katara get hit, and taken advantage of the opening. In fact, as far as he knows, it's the best tactical decision. He is, after all, ostensibly the person best equipped to fight her. Not only did he sacrifice himself to save his friend, he also trusted Katara to save them both. —Jonn
Zuko was trying to goad Azula into using the lightning on him deliberately. He may have intended on winning the duel by redirecting her own lightning back at her, since he knows that defending against lightning is the one thing he can do that she cannot. So he may have been also motivated by a sense of personal responsibility when he realized that he had miscalculated and Azula was aiming at someone else.
It's interesting how that's been foreshadowed for seasons, Azula is constantly looking off to the side when about to attack and usually it's to find a distracted person to aim at, she does it at least twice in S2. Once, to take out Iroh who would have been the only one in the group who could have stopped her from escaping.
Maybe it was obvious to everyone else, but I was really bugged by "Zuko's story" in "Tales of Ba Sing Se". Specifically, after he lights those candles for Jin I kept wondering how she didn't realize he was a firebender and, I don't know, run the hell away? I thought Zuko was incredibly stupid for doing that, and she was even stupider for not realizing it. But now I get it - Jin DID know he was a firebender, she was just acting coy and clueless because she thought he didn't want her to know. Why was she not scared? Why, because there IS no war in Ba Sing Se! (Though since Zuko didn't know that he was still stupid for firebending in front of her, "close your eyes" or no.)
Although, a badass yet absolutely stupid stunt to impress a girl is a pretty normal part of teenage life, which might have been the point.
Then again, she does think that he was in the circus. And as we all know, a magician never reveals his secrets!
Only he said he was a juggler, not a magician...
Still, he could have picked up a few tricks from any magician at the circus.
The first time I watched, "The Southern Air Temple", I thought it a little odd that it shows Monk Gyatso surrounded by only around ten dead firebenders, and while an impressive number for a peaceful monk I thought it small for the person who taught Aang. But then I watched Sozin's comet, and realized the full extent of the increase to the firebenders power... And then re-watched the episode - a non-Avatar taking out that many uber powered firebenders. My mind was blown. - Fiddlesoup
Want to blow your mind even more? Word of God says that airbending is basically devoid of any lethal moves. That's right, Gyatso managed to kill a dozen fire nation soldiers with defensive moves.
Well, with sufficiently sadistic creativity, there's no such thing as a purely defensive move.
You realise you're talking about a group of monks, right?
Itís possible that airbending lacks any offensive moves in the common list of things they teach, but if you get creative or desperate enough, you'll find these nice two large bags of air in the middle of the other guys chest, thermobaric weaponry anyone?
Of course had the monks not been pacifists they could have slaughtered the fire benders simply by sucking the oxygen away from them. - TrueMetis
This Troper now considers the fact that Gyatso sacrificed himself by using airbending to suck all the air out of that room, depriving himself and the firebenders of oxygen and the firebenders of the ability to use their bending (no oxygen=no bending), part of her personal canon.- ConstantlyComic
After watching "Sokka's Master", a second time I came to an amazing realization. At the end of the episode Piandao gave Sokka a White Lotus tile, on two levels its shows that Piandao is a member and that Sokka became an initiate. - Fiddlesoup
Taking it one step further: If Sokka is an initiate to the White Lotus, then that means that not only is Piandao the titular master, but so is Iroh. And who else did that episode focus on?
And taking it another step further, remember the episode when Iroh was obsessing about his lost lotus tile? At the time the episode aired, it came off as simply a joke. But... considering the events of Sokka's master, giving someone a lotus tile seems to be the general way of initiating someone into the Order of the White Lotus. The lotus tile Iroh was looking for was probably the one he was given when he first joined. Plus, the way members identify each other is based on the use of the lotus tile, as seen in "The Desert." Without the tile, Iroh could not identify himself to other members if the need ever arose. He really did lose something important.
I also took the episode's title another way: Sokka's Master = Sokka Is Master. He did complete his training, after all.
You know how, in the finale, Toph managed to stick to the metal ceiling Spiderman-style when she donned the Instant Armor? Magnetism. Greatest earthbender in the world, indeed. —Unknown Troper
She must be smarter than she lets on because I would never have thought of that.
The desert. She got the idea in the desert. Remember the big vulture-wasp hive? Hematite. — Kintatsu
I was initially confused in "The Runaway", because the guards in the town used a wooden cell on Toph. Considering it was a Fire Nation jail, anyone they threw in there might be able to just burn their way out. Then I realized that the town's guards, through investigating Toph's scams, figured out that she was an earthbender. Thus, they knew what cell to use, especially after Spark Sparky Boom Man showed up to help set the trap. Also, it only makes sense that a Fire Nation jail would have a cell specially designed to contain an earthbender, considering they're at war with the Earth Kingdoms and thus they might have to worry about earthbending agents. —Unknown Troper
That still didn't explain why they had a wooden cell as opposed to the metal ones they've been using quite successfully up to now. After all, how could they know Toph is a Metalbender? I don't think even Azula saw it. Here are my two guesses as to how they knew she was a Metalbender (and I'm sorry if I already posted one of these a while back).
One: the mercenaries sent to return Toph to her parents were encountered by Fire Nation troops. They were leaving Ba Sing Se, after all, so it's not implausible. And once rescued, they'd probably tell the Fire Nation everything. These Earthbenders have shown in the past that they have no patriotism for the Earth Kingdom whatsoever.
Long after seeing the finale, I realized (while reading one of the trope pages) the symbolism of Aang using waterbending, rather than another discipline, to put out the fires during the finale. He uses a gigantic version of Katara's "push and pull" cantrip - and the very first bending in the entire series (opening titles exempted) was Katara practicing the same move to pass the time while fishing.
Ozai was completely right when he says to Zuko, "You will learn respect, and suffering will be your teacher." At first it seems like a line that just proves his cruelty, and that's probably what he meant it to be. But here's the thing: Zuko didn't learn respect until he had suffered for a while, particularly throughout season 2. Watch as his pride is slowly broken down and he starts being less of a jerk, culminating in his Heel-Face Turn in season 3, which was preceded by half a season of intense inner conflict.
I think there is something Zuko did "learn" from his father there. Consider: Zuko surrendered, and got in a world of hurt for it. As Sokka observes in the season 1 finale, "If there's one thing we know, it's that Zuko never gives up". Up until "The Western Air Temple" halfway through season 3, Zuko was the only one of the "core cast" who had never surrendered to someone who wanted to fight him. That he can offer himself as a prisoner is a sign of how far he has moved out of his father's influence, particularly since getting a bending attack in his face again for the attempt does not work to deter him for long. —Anke
Fire Nation troops don't usually fight in formation, which kind of annoyed me at first. After all, armies of the period tend to fight in formation to maximize the effectiveness of spears and shields. This is particularly noticeable in the assault on the Northern Water Tribe. It wasn't until after I watched a couple of films from World War II that I realized why. If you replaced the Fire Nation troops with, say, WWII soldiers and replaced the tanks with WWII tanks, they'd look very similar to the FN's loose formations, with squads of troops moving among the tanks. And that makes sense, because firebending would render most pre-gunpowder formations useless anyway, and every firebender (which makes up the majority of the FN's army) would be capable of long-ranged attacks at will - exactly like modern firearm-equipped infantry. The Fire Nation has, quite literally, pioneered combined arms tactics on a parallel with modern mechanized armies. —Unknown Troper
The fire nation's entire army parallels Germany during this period. Their favourite method of attacking is a quick strike before retreating (blitzkrieg), had utilized awesome but impractical weaponry (a giant fleet of zepplins, a gigantic, almost looney-tunes esque drill) and moved to heavily industrializing the mainland for the war effort.
Three minor moments occurred to me while watching lately—Ama.Dear
Why does Zuko look so upset at the end of the Ember Island Players' show? He's never been shown to be nervous about dying before—he just keeps fighting not to die, even sacrificing himself without question. Then I realized that it's not his death that has him worried, it's the audience's reation. Everyone in the theater cheers at Zuko's death, even though it isn't even the end of that scene. These are the people he has to rule when he inherits the throne! He's not afraid of dying, it's the thought of being hated by the people he's supposed to protect that leads to his shocked reaction.
When Roku emerges from the room at the Fire Nation temple in The Winter Solstice, he obviously has no qualms about fighting the Fire Nation; he rebukes Zhao and the Fire Sages, while freeing Katara and Sokka. Why, then, does he also free Zuko? At that point in the series, Zuko is the Avatar-hunting Fire Nation loyalist. It's because Roku is Zuko's great-grandfather! That plot twist, which doesn't occur for another two seasons, is foreshadowed in the way that Roku not only recognizes Zuko, but recognizes that he has good in him and deserves to be freed. Zuko, of course, doesn't realize this, and runs away from his genetic destiny instead of staying to find out what's going on.
Speaking of Roku's motives, why does he threaten Jeong Jeong? Roku knows Aang very well, and must realize that Aang isn't ready. That is the exact reason he does it! Roku knows that, if Jeong Jeong didn't begin by teaching Aang restraint, Aang wouldn't learn the dangers of firebending, and therefore would never visit the Sun Warriors. Roku rebukes Jeong Jeong for thinking that he couldn't learn firebending again, because Aang's mastery of firebending is directly connected to his teachings.
And why was firebending so dangerous for Aang? Precisely because he started as an airbender, and air enhances fire! So firebending would seem easy for him at the start, making it even more likely for him to get himself into trouble with it. However, the opposite was not true for Ruko, as he learned airbending first after firebending, and found it easy. And that is probably because mastering firebending requires mastery of controlling breath, and breath is air. In a similar vein, Aang found waterbending easy, probably because since gases and liquids are both fluids, many techniques he mastered for controlling air probably applied with only minimal modification to controlling water. The order Jeong Jeong wanted Aang to master the elements (air then water then earth then fire) directly mirrors the Avatar cycle itself, and the pattern is probably a general one for all Avatars (the element immediately after that Avatar's birth element shares enough in common that the Avatar will find learning it very easy, and so will always learn it second after the birth element, the next element will be in some way opposite and therefore counterintuitive and difficult to master, and the final element will be complementary but deceptive and/or dangerous in some way, and so should be mastered last.)
And Roku learned his elements the same way! Just move fire to the front (fire/air/water/earth) They specifically show that order being taught in the Avatar and the Firelord.
It is explicitly stated in the Southern Air Temple that the Avatar MUST master the elements in the order of the Avatar cycle.
And now in the Legend of Korra - Korra has mastered water, earth and fire. She only has air left to master.
In the Grand Finale, Azula is ranting at the mirror that "trust is for fools. Fear is the only reliable way". Azula, who believes in fear, is bested by Katara, who had accompanied the Firelord's son, and a former hated enemy, to the Firebender infested capital of the Fire Nation all alone. Trust in your friends won the day.
In China the word laogai is used to refer to prison for political dissidents, where they attempt to reform them. This is exactly what the Dai Li is doing in the facility under Lake Laogai.
It suddenly struck me that when Aang makes Katara a new necklace in The Fortuneteller, going by Northern Water Tribe traditions, he was actually unknowingly proposing to her. It's also in that episode that Katara first has a flash of realization that Aang might be the one for her.
This thought just came to me... The season of fire is said to be summer: well Fire Nation is located in a region where it's always summer. The season of water is winter: the Water Tribes are located on the poles where it's always winter. Air and earth don't properly fit into this idea, though. Although, the Air Temples are all between a pole an the equator, like autumn is between summer and winter. The Earth Kingdom still doesn't apply since it is partly on the equator too... but then again, if you look at what parts of Earth Kingdom fall on the equator: The Chameleon Bay and the Desert, two naturally scarcely inhabited areas. (Although, so does Omashu.)
Well, Autumn is often the windiest part of the year in a lot of places, and Spring is when plants and the like start growing in the earth, so there's a bit of seasonal connection.
Think of it along with the order the Avatar learns the element and to which tribe he is born. It goes fire air water earth, in other words summer fall winter spring. Also there is the line in the begining of The legend of Korra where it says "Like the cycle of the seasons the cycle of the avatar begins again. It makes sense!
A minor bit of Fringe Brilliance regarding "Nightmares and Daydreams." During the second half of the episode dealing with Zuko, he's upset about not being invited to the upcoming war meeting Ozai is having with his generals, and eventually confronts Azula about it, asking if she was invited. She responds with a yes, and responds that she was the Princess. This makes perfect sense. As the Princess (as a woman), and second born, she isn't expected to show up, and has to be invited, as protocol. Zuko however, has no reason to be invited, as he's the first born child, the Crown Prince. he's expected to be there by default as he's technically the heir to the throne already. The entire reasoning for Zuko getting upset was that he was made unaware that he doesn't have to be invited to these sorts of things, he's expected to show up regardless.
Which is the kind of thing that Iroh would have been able to tell him if he wasn't in prison.
And it is in fact what Azula told him, but in a way she knew would leave him confused and upset.
Another from that same episode: Aang's nightmares might not all be stress-induced. The Avatar gets visions about the future, and Aang was currently headed into a premature battle that was destined to fail. The dreams were trying to tell him not to go ahead with it.
When Aang shows reluctance about killing Ozai, Zuko gets pretty angry. This is less about doing what is necessary and more about the fact that Zuko knows firsthand what will happen if Aang hesitates. He was the same age as Aang when he faced his father in Agni Kai. He doesn't want his friend to get burned.
Either that, or he wanted his dad out of the picture for good. Zuko didn't seem too pleased that Ozai was still alive when he was visiting him in prison.
When talking about killing Ozai, Zuko refers to him as the Firelord and deliberately distances himself. His amusing slip up (calling Ozai the 'Fatherlord') suddenly becomes a Tear Jerker.
When I first watched "The Fortuneteller," I initially rolled my eyes at the Screw Destiny take that seemed prevalent in a show about a boy whose destiny is to save the world. In this setting, the "mysticism is wrong and believers are blind to reality" bit, while providing some hilarious moments, seemed out-of-place. Then I realized: Aunt Wu predicted the volcano would not destroy the town, right? Guess what ended up not happening at the end of the episode! The Aesop of "we make our own destinies" isn't a copout at all; it's a lesson to Aang that he can't wait for destiny to come to him. He has to work towards his destiny, and that's exactly what he does.
Exactly. She never says the volcano won't erupt, just that the town won't be destroyed. This is foreshadowed in the first couple minutes of the episode. Aunt Wu predicted the man would have a safe journey, and he did, thanks to the Avatar, exactly like what happens with the volcano.
Although this is explicitly stated by a townsperson at the end of the episode...
Explicitly stated by the same townsperson from the beginning of the episode who has been explicitly stating what would otherwise be fridge logic throughout the episode.
This also ties in to Avatar Roku's backstory, where he also ends up fighting to keep a volcano from destroying a village. At one point, Aang exclaims "You're fighting a volcano - and winning!" Except Roku doesn't win; as a matter of fact he ends up dying, due to Sozin's betrayal. Aang, by contrast, actually does manage to conquer the volcano in spite of not yet being a fully realized Avatar, because he has his loyal friends beside him helping him out.
Fridge Brilliance 4
The Fire Nation military was the most gender equal of all the four nations, but all the women seen were young women. There were no older women seen among the Fire Nation generals, and no older Fire Nation women seen in the Order of the White Lotus. And in the flashback to Roku and Sozin's youth, the women that were seen were all in more traditional roles. This suggests that the gender equality seen in the present is a recent phenomenon, possibly spurred by the exigencies of war to make up for manpower shortages (how else could the Fire Nation prosecute a 100 year war against the vastly larger Earth Kingdom?). Which would mean that it had to be one of the three Complete Monster Firelords (Sozin, Azulon, and/or Ozai) who introduced gender equality into the Avatar world.
I was probably Azulon's initiative, or one of Ozai's first acts as firelord. It takes time to train half decent firebenders, and Ozai's kids were already in training by the time Ozai took throne.
It makes perfect sense for it to have been Ozai, actually, considering Ozai is explicitly shown to favor his daughter over his son.
This really stood out to me too. Especially when you see the initial struggle Katara has when she tries to learn, I thought to myself, "well at least in the fire kingdom women are allowed to learn firebending" but I wondered if maybe Azula was the only exception, since she's royalty because we don't know with Mai and Ty Lee who aren't benders. However, if they had female soldiers in the army... Ozai favored Azula because she was a prodigy (and very much like himself, which may be because he reinforced her to be more like him, more cold) or because he saw "himself" in her.
Warlike nations usually have greater gender equality, if only for economic reasons. Western gender equality has been greatly helped by war, although in that case it promoted more women into industrial positions than as soldiers. A good long world takeover campaign would almost necessitate encouraging women to take traditionally masculine roles simply to have enough soldiers and industrial producers.
This one's related to the new series. Korra is supposed to have already mastered everything except air, right? Which is also why it might be a miniseries: one element would naturally take less screen time than three. When I heard that, I figured, okay, maybe Avatars start learning earlier now...it wasn't really something I had put much thought into, since it wasn't really all that Fridge Logic-y. Then I realized it also makes a whole lot of sense in a meta fashion: after watching Airbender, we've already seen the process of learning water, earth, and fire. But we've never seen someone being trained in airbending. So in a way, it's an aversion of redundancy. Sure, it would probably be different, watching Korra learn them instead of Aang, but it wouldn't be different enough. That was really the "oh, I get it now!" moment for me.
Not just that... there are still plenty of waterbenders around, the fire nation and the earth kingdom are still there, so learning earth, water and fire should be pretty easy... but almost all the air nomads have been wiped out, so who is there to teach Korra airbending?
Apparently, Aang and Katara's son.
Book One (or Season One) was Water, where Aang learned water. Book Two was Earth. Book Three was fire. There was never a fourth season, and so there was never a book of air. Now, we have a new installment, and Korra will be learning air. Not only might it be the fourth book, she is completing two cycles: her own element training, but the series as a whole. - Maddy Marie
Maybe pre-war it was a very simple process to have the avatar learn the different elements, in the flashbacks it seems like a more communal thing. But it makes me wonder what the new "drive" of the seasons will be, once she's done learning air. The big bads are non-benders so a whole new tactic may be in order! (I'm highly curious because non-benders versus a whole world of benders who can do whatever the fuck they want, doesn't seem like even playing field fighting. These non-benders are going to have to be very resourceful).
Which is why the Equalists wear masks. By hiding their identities and dissapearing on the crowd whenever they want to, they can indeed level the field.
The next season it seems will focus on the spirit like the avatar state since the title is Spirits.
It took me a while to think, but I just realized that the order of elements Aang has to master ties into his personal growth during the seasons. At the opening of season 1, Aang doesn't realize at first that there is a war going on and that the world as he knows it isn't the same. Only after visitng the ruins of what used to be his home temple and seeing the skeleton of his mentor does Aang realize that he has a responsbility to the world and can't go back to his old life anymore. Throughout season 1, he has to deal with the duty of being the Avatar. What element does Aang have to master for this season? Water, the element of change. Then next in season 2 is earth, the element of substance, whose discipline requires firmness and strength. Halfway through the season, Aang loses his animal companion and living relic of his old life, Appa and almost loses hope. Also the gang has to deal with delivering crucial info that could end the war to the Earth King past Obstructive Bearucrats, the Dai Li. Finally, Aang learns fire, the element of desire and deciveness in the last season where he faces off against Fire Lord Ozai. In the last first episodes he struggles against killing the Fire Lord due to his pacifist nature despite everyone telling him he must do it. Also in the last episode Aang and Katara kiss, thereby confirming their relationship, something both of them had desired to do.
Throughout the series, the vast majority of vehicles, weapons, etc are either powered by benders of one flavour or another or by animals. Except for the Fire Nation. Why? Because they have put the world out of balance and have lost touch with the natural world. As such, they rely on machines that cause massive pollution and ecological damage wherever they go. Green Aesop, anyone? —mulberrym1lk
Actually, the turrets the Firebenders used were powered by firebending, as were the war balloons. I'm not so sure about the other vehicles, I'll have to check on those.
The fire nation use coal engines, thus their need for coal mines
I took the coal mines and what not as this. Fire nation had pride in its benders, and might be losing touch with nature. However, look at what they were doing. All of their machines could be fire bender operated. However, they were paving the way for non-benders to have equal power as their benders. Why dedicate a bender who could be used for fighting (gunpowder isn't around yet so Benders still have superiority in fighting)to keeping your vehicle moving when you could have anyone do it?
So, the Fire Nation can develop tanks, giant drills, massive factories, etc...but no hot air balloons? Odd. Until you realize what happens when you kill everyone in the world whose specialty is manipulating air. Of course the Fire Nation didn't realize that hot air would allow flight; all of the accumulated knowledge of flight and moving with the air was lost when the Airbenders were wiped out!
Except that they got hot air balloons from the inventor in the Northern Air Temple, and the tanks and drill were at least heavily implied (if not outright stated) to be invented by him as well.
Which plays right into this anyway because Northern Air Temple. Plus said inventor's son is said to have the spirit of an airbender and is very much likely not alone in this.
In "The Earth King", Toph brought down the house.
Episodes in the third season like "The Beach", "The Painted Lady", and "The Headband" aren't just Padding or Breather Episodes (though they serve that last purpose too). Up to now, the Gaang (and the audience) has seen the Fire Nation through the royal family and the army. These episodes let us see that the Fire Nation citizens also have kids in school who make pasta art and sneak out to go dancing. They have beach parties and go to the theatre. The lower classes struggle to make a living. In other words, they're not Always Chaotic Evil. The average Fire National is no worse (or better) than anyone else in the four nations. The goal is not to defeat the Fire Nation; it's to defeat Ozai and restore the "living in harmony" between the nations. —alanh
In "Bitter Work," Iroh teaches Zuko about the four elements and how they operate in balance, and how different approaches to different bending arts can be implemented. Zuko comments that "all this four elements talk sounds like Avatar stuff." While Iroh's explanation on how the four elements and the four nations operate in harmony makes sense, it becomes even more relevant in hindsight when it is revealed in "The Avatar and the Firelord" that Zuko is the descendant of Avatar Roku and Iroh tells him he has the power to bring balance to the world - which leads ultimately to Zuko's final turn to the good guys. Even in the middle of the second season, they were already laying the groundwork for the revelation of Zuko's ancestry.
It was being laid down even earlier than that, back in the first season - in 'The Blue Spirit', Aang asks Zuko if it's possible that they could have been friends if they'd known each other 100 years ago. Now this is obviously them also trying to emphasise that the Fire Nation AREN'T All Chaotic Evil, but I digress ... Zuko responds to Aang's query by attacking him. However, as Aang leaves, Zuko watches with an almost longing expression on his face. And finally (here's the brilliance) in the closing moments of the episode, Zuko is seen laying in his bed on the ship, with a Fire Nation banner on the wall - he shifts restlessly, and specifically turns away from the banner - Fore Shadowing his eventual defection from the Fire Nation.
Haha I just realized, "we could have been friends if we'd known each other 100 years ago" Roku is his great-relative and there was a lot of comparison's between Roku's friendship with Sozin to Aang and Zuko and we only learn that seasons later...
Let's go full circle with this one. Aang and Zuko fix Roku and Sozin's mistakes.
I just watched "Return to Omashu" and noticed how Mai was completely apathetic to her baby brother being kidnapped - and it's just a baby. Then it occurred to me, having grown up watching Chinese dramas - the first baby boy would always be elevated past any number of female siblings in a traditional Chinese family, even before China's one-child policy. Heck, the patriarch would take concubines to try for a male child, so the baby could well be Mai's half-brother, and the reason Mai's own mom would be denigrated in her own family. More angst for your buck!
That's a good reason for the lack of affection but I always thought her decision to fight instead of save her brother was because she saw Tom-Tom happily asleep in Sokka's arms. He was with Katara and Aang who looks about as threatening as a turtle duck (unless he's in the Avatar State). She realised that they won't going to hurt him (she grew up with Azula... she could probably pick that sort of thing) and trading King Bumi for a two year old is a bit silly. Mai just didn't count on being pwned by a giant, apparently-not-extinct, flying ball of fur.
It was a test of her loyalty to Azula, and, like a certain professor in Harry Potter, Mai had to play along if she wanted scam Cthulhu.
Or Mai could have went along with it because, really, it was a lose-lose situation. Mai has been Azula's "friend" for many years, and so she knows exactly just how ruthless Azula is; if Mai had chosen to make the trade of Bumi for Tomtom, then Azula's reaction would not have been pleasant. At the very best, Azula would have passed on that Mai's family willingly handed over a powerful enemy figure for their son (who got lost because of their carelessness) to her even-more-ruthless father, Ozai; likely punishments would have been either stripping them of everything they had or execution. At the worst? Azula would have had them all executed personally. Somewhere in the middle of the scale? Azula would have killed Tomtom herself right there and then so that there's no reason to make the trade — remember, this is a girl who, at the age of nine, grinned with delight while watching her own brother get half his face set on fire. Killing somebody else's baby isn't that much of a step down — "It's not my baby" and all that. On one hand, Mai had the despair of her parents and possible death of her baby brother (and, as noted above, Aang, Katara and Sokka look pretty harmless and are clearly taking good care of Tomtom already). On the other hand, Mai had the very real wrath of Azula, a ruthless individual if not a budding psycho, and in turn the almost certain death of her baby brother and her parents along with herself. Siding with Azula is the least dangerous option there.
Aang's short-lived Heroic BSOD in "The Spirit World" seemed kind of over-the-top to me, until I realized: the Avatar is the spirit of the earth. Even the tree-huggiest twelve-year-old probably wouldn't go into a depression over a burned-down forest, but the spirit of the planet is another story...
This also may explain the Fire Nation's Steam Punk thing. Another brilliant troper said that the Fire Nation became out of touch with the natural world, reverting to Steam Punk. This could also be why - because the Spirit of the World wasn't there for the balance.
But then the question remains: How does Korra live in a Steam Punk city, if the Avatar is supposed to keep everything natural?
Here's my take: Apparently, the new series will take place at a time when people are rebelling against Bending. Naturally, they might not have a very high view of the Avatar, who is basically the epitome of Bending. Thus, the technologically advanced people (in this universe, at least) are rebelling against the Spirit of the Earth and the Natural World. - RatPuncher
Nah because apparently Aang and Zuko had a hand in creating this city specifically as a place for different cultures to meet. Steampunk relies heavily on coal (A combination of fire and earth) to create steam (combination of water and air) to run mechanical devices. So if anything it could be seen as a great balance of all the elements. - TrueMetis
The technology in the city is visually a lot more clean. Firebender ships and tanks are always bellowing out big clouds of black smog. In Korra, they've learned to harnes electricity, having powerplants where firebenders shoot lightening into huge generators, rather than burning coal.
Chronologically, the story begins with the Avatar and the Fire Prince as best friends, and when they part ways it causes the loss of balance in the world. The series ends with the Avatar and Fire Prince as enemies, and balance is only restored after they become friends.
Something that hit me about Lake Laogai's B plot after going over the calligraphy section of the artbook. Zuko decided to track down Appa after picking up one of the flyers Aang scattered. The same flyer that contained Aang's name and (pre telecommunication mind you) contact information. That's right, Zuko had the Avatar's current address in his hand and his first idea is to find the HQ of the local Secret Police and steal a somewhat hostile ten-ton animal (which he had no way of knowing if they even had). Oh Zuko, you special, special boy....
It might not have had Aang's actual house address — it could have been something along the lines of a post office box, or even the location of the zoo that Aang created in Tales of Ba Sing Se. Zuko ain't that dumb. Not to mention, even if the flyer does have Aang's house address, why go there and face down the Avatar and his ultra powerful friends again (to whom Zuko keeps losing) when you can seize their precious Sky Bison and force the Avatar to show his hand?
I just realized, Aang is the Last Airbender, and Appa is an Sky Bison, the first Airbender. Neat!
The show's three seasons correspond with whatever element Aang is learning, obviously. But I also realized that they also correspond with what Zuko is doing, proving once again that they're Not So Different! In the Water season, he lives on a ship out in the middle of the ocean. In the Earth season, he wanders around on land pretending to be an Earth Kingdom peasant. In the Fire season, he's a Fire Nation prince again, and then teaches Aang firebending.
Like many other people, I was confused at first as to why the Gaang let Ozai, Azula, Yon Rha, and others live rather than just killing them. Then I realized something about the Fire Nation; if Zuko is an example of the Fire Nation, Firebenders hold a high sense of honor (this is why out of the four nations, the Fire Nation has the greatest royalty). Killing a Firebender would be an easy decision, but an even better solution is through humiliation. Ozai, the ruler of the Fire Nation, is beaten by a child and imprisoned, Azula loses her "friends" and her once-ruthless personality, and Yon Rha is bluntly told by Katara that he isn't even worth killing. -Torquey
Even Ozai found it more disgraceful when Zuko refused to fight him in the Agni Kai, partly because he's a Social Darwinist and partly because of Values Dissonance within the Fire Nation - he might have looked terrified when Aang almost shot him in the finale, but he was pissed when Aang refused to kill him when he had the chance. Also ... that makes it funny when you consider that Zhao actually had the most honourabledeath in the series, of all noteworthy villains - he refused to degrade himself by taking Zuko's hand to survive, and so although he died with everyone considering him a monster, he at least felt he went out how he wanted. Not to mention, this places some interesting ideas on the level of morality afforded by the 'good guys' to the 'bad guys', and how it became more complicated as the series went on. - Caellach Tiger Eye
To add another level to that, his choice was be saved by a teenager, one that was considered an embarrassing failure by his nation, or be killed by what was basically a pissed off god. Still crazy from a modern standpoint, but Fridge Brilliance if you think like a Firebender.
Well, it is definitely something interesting to put on your tombstone: "Zhao: Killed a god. Another god was needed just to take him out."
In addition to being beaten by a child and imprisoned, his throne was taken by the son he personally branded and banished. Furthermore, this defeat came in the form of being held virtually at gunpoint and then spiritually castrated. This is what you call a Humiliation CongaWorse than Death.
Zuko is using Iroh as a replacement father, and Iroh is using Zuko as a replacement son.
Is it Fridge anything when both of them explicitly acknowledge this in the series?
Sometimes the most obvious things are the most amazing if you missed them the first time round.
I just realized another good reason Toph's blind. All the in-universe written text in the series uses Chinese or Japanese characters. Having someone around who can't read gives the rest of the Gaang an excuse to read things to her, and by extension to the audience. - Mr Death
Not to mention making it hilarious when someone (usually Sokka) tries to show her something written/drawn (like a picture of Appa).
Rewatching the first season shows that Iroh never actively attacks the Avatar, except once, where he lent his strength to Zuko's fireball (which missed). The reason? Even now, Iroh knows that the Avatar must win and that Zuko must eventually join forces with him. But if he openly tells Zuko that, Zuko will send him away. He helps Zuko hunt the Avatar, because right now that's what Zuko needs. But the entire time he plays up his own weaknesses to try to slow Zuko down. Second season, when he has a better excuse, Iroh starts actively pushing Zuko away from hunting the Avatar and tries to convince him to have a normal life while he can.
Something that seems like a bit of Fridge Logic at first: Azula, Ozai and Iroh were all expecting the Day of Black Sun. Azula and Ozai go into hiding and Iroh uses it to aid his escape. But if they knew it was coming before hand, why not tell your soldiers, who obviously didn't know? The reason is because they didn't actually know, but as Master Firebenders, they could feel their firebending getting weaker and getting ready to disappear. This is why Iroh knew to firebend his way out of his cell immediately before the eclipse and why Ozai knew he would be able to lightningbend the exact second it was over, even while underground.
Except that they did know it was coming because the Earth King told Azula about the plan. That doesn't explain why Iroh knew though. Probably why they didn't tell their troops is that a deserted capital would have either made the invasion force leave immediately, giving them time to build more numbers or allowed for an easy take over (honestly, if you knew you were losing your bending, would you stand right there and face the invasion?).
Yet more things that make the Hakoda/Kya and Ozai/Ursa families diametrically-opposed mirror images of each other: Kya died and Ursa disappeared at about the same time. Furthermore, Hakoda went to war and Zuko was banished at about the same time.
Now, I know that some fans feel the whole Energybending thing was a huge Ass Pull, but perhaps they were subtly foreshadowing it. First of all, Aang has to master all four elements to take down Ozai despite the fact that (though Ozai is more powerful), Aang was able to take on Zuko with only Airbending before he started to master the other elements. I also remember Iroh mentioning to Zuko much later that all four elements are individual pieces of the same whole (or something along those lines). Perhaps Energybending is the reason why an avatar needs to master every element, because, other than the avatar state, that's the true power of an avatar (also, let's face it, the avatar state was just pulsating with energy, so it's possible).
There's also that the show has heavy (South)East Asian and Inuit influences, but Earth, Air, Fire, Water is the typical Western element set, the Japanese set has those four plus Void/Heaven/Spirit. Energybending completes that five element set.
Indeed. Note that Ty Lee does exactly the same thing earlier in the series, only non-permanently, and with physical force and deft accuracy rather than elemental ability. Aang, too, needed to touch Ozai to Energybend him. Maybe said touch was augmented with really subtle Water/Airbending to make it more or less permanent (And Korra may well have learned this ability from him while in the Avatar State in her season finale, enabling her to later 'cure' it.) Hell, maybe chi-blocking was a lost art, and one of the previous Avatars Aang melded with knew it!
In the first-season finale, one of Koh's faces looks almost exactly like the Blue Spirit mask. This means that the Blue Spirit actually existed, and was the inspiration for Zuko's mask. —Tiger King
Either that or there was an animal that had a face like that. Baboons have faces almost like that. Somehow I just don't think another spirit would let Koh take it's face.
An awesome little easter egg. How did Zuko get his hands on his Blue Spirit mask after his ship was destroyed? His isn't the only one. You can buy them where you'd buy any other mask. Here's the proof◊
Who says Koh can't take a spirit by surprise and take it's face? Even then, who says the creature was even a spirit? It could just be some extinct race or monster known now only in legend, and is commonly (though wrongly) believed to be a spirit.
Koh is capable of stealing a spirit's face. One of the creatures Aang encounters in the spirit world is a monkey that has no face. Later in that episode Koh is shown to have a monkey's face.
This troper originally felt that Katara's pwning of Azula hopped up on comet power was a bit of an Ass Pull. However, upon rewatching "Crossroads of Destiny", Katara actually had the upper hand in her brief fight with Azula before Zuko interrupted.
Plus, Katara is possibly the most powerful waterbender in the world and water beats fire.
It wasn't really that much of an Ass Pull. Azula had the clear advantage of raw power, which is why Katara had to lure her into an ambush.
Not to mention Azula's sanity has been slipping the whole time. After all the original plan was for Zuko to fight Azula with Katara because even as improved as he was he still wouldn't have stood a chance alone, it is ony when he realizes that she is slipping that he decides to challenge her to an agni kai.
I was idly thinking about bending the other day, and how waterbenders are the only ones who can logically be caught without their element. Air and earth are pretty much ubiquitous, and firebenders can conjure flames from within themselves essentially nowhere. But waterbenders have to carry those skins around if they're battling on enemy territory and don't have the home field advantage of tons of ice and snow (or, in the swamp tribe's case, mud). I thought it was kind of unfair, until later when I was thinking about how waterbenders are also the most versatile. We've seen them bending ice, water, and vapor, as well as any other liquid (soup, for instance); no other element has that much variation in its power. I briefly pondered how unfair that seemed until I put two and two together and realized waterbenders have both an innate advantage and an innate disadvantage, and are therefore pretty much balanced.
Exept that waterbenders can, in fact, withdraw water from flowers, trees and (probably?) even people, as shown in the episode with Hama. So that would give them another advantage. But, on another note, water would probably not be the stongest of all the elements (I would personally prefer fighting a waterbender to a firebender).
This Troper wouldn't. A master waterbender could probably pull the water out of your body if they tried hard enough. In any case, doesn't it make sense that waterbending is incredibly versatile, but a waterbender's power vacillates with the phases of the moon? That's because water itself is the most versatile of the other four elements, and the tides can change with the moon.
Iroh said that Water is the element of change and adaptation. Waterbenders are creative by design, because more often than not they have to go without their element. They have to be creative as a survival need. This also makes it obvious why it has to come after Airbending, but before Earthbending. Airbending is about peace and avoidance. Water is about adaptation and creativity, which acts as a buffer to the stoic and head on earthbenders, since it lets the avatar explore before going back to their strict ways.
Of course, having to carry water with you to waterbend doesn't seem like such a huge disadvantage when you consider that soldiers have to carry water around with them anyways, especially if going into battle, or else face the crippling effects of dehydration and heat stroke. The Firebenders, if facing a lengthy fight, would logically have to carry as much water as the Waterbenders just to deal with the negative effects of being exposed to so much heat for an extended period. This could potentially make the Waterbenders even more dangerous a foe.
Talking about the versatility of waterbending, imagine what would happen if waterbenders studied the basics of the other bending forms (using similar principles to Iroh's lightning defense).
Waterbenders could bend ice, like earthbenders bend stone. In the show, waterbenders generally switch ice into liquid water and back again to use it. But using earthbending form, they could bend the ice directly and go as far shoot solid projectiles at enemies. To make it worse given the nature of water they can form the projectiles into shapes the earthbenders cannot (and I'm not talking about no ice swan).
They could also bend water vapor, like airbenders bend air. Consider that fact that water vapor is literally everywhere except in arid climates (like deserts or tundras), a waterbender with an understanding of airbending form could draw water from the air and never be without water. Taking it further, a waterbender could use the water vapor to attack similar to (though significantly weaker than) an airbender making for a better defense.
They could also use a firebending form to bend scalding hot, high pressure steam.
That said, a fully realized Avatar with full mastery of all four elements and a mastery of the element synergies is probably beyond the imagination in terms of power.
It took Roku 12 years to master all four elements, and other avatars probably took similar amounts of time. Aang takes less than a year. Yes, it's partly driven by the urgency of learning them, but that's still quite a quick study. But Aang is 12, four years younger than when an Avatar is supposed to begin training. It's been shown in the real world that younger kids can learn things, like languages and martial arts, easier than older kids. - Mr Death
Or the Avatar has to do more in each nation than simply master his element. He or She also has to learn the culture and history of each nation in order to fairly represent it as equally as a his or her home. In short they have to act as ambassadors and that familiarity takes time. Aang (A) didn't have time for that because it's WAR TIME and (B) already had a grasp on the rest of the world with Appa's help. The head nomads might even have stressed world traveling for his age group to give the future Avatar even more of a head start or maybe that's just how nomads always behave.
There is an additional reason: Aang was always surrounded by MASTERS of their elements (Katara was clearly a prodigy, Toph invented metalbending, and Zuko got his training not only from Iroh, but as a Fire Nation Prince, he was expected to not be lax in his skill). Not only was he growing on his own, but he was surrounded by people who were doing the same and ended up becoming just as powerful. Of course, he managed to pick up bending much faster, he was constantly immersed in it. That, combined with the whole "wartime" aspect, forced him to develop much faster than usual.
Masters heck: they were freaking geniuses. You know you're in good hands when the Crown Prince of the Fire Nation is your least-brilliant teacher.
But Aang never really .mastered. the elements, the only element he mastered was Air. Sure, he .learned. the others, a master would be able to do superior things like we've seen prior Avatars do (Split the earth, make geysers and draw magma from the spilt while there's a tornado) or like Bumi (earthbending with your face) and Azula (lightning). So Aang has not reached his full potential, but he had the avatars before him and energy bending to help him defeat the fire lord. And I'm pretty sure the Avatars before Aang had masters as well, probably better ones since they would have much more time to seek the masters out.
It's outright stated that Aang never mastered anything beyond Airbending. He was proficient in waterbending, but so was Katara before she met Pakku. He also just learned Firebending, and didn't use it much during the final confrontation either, implying he never got past the beginner stage. Katara on the other hand could be considered the prodigy, since she is possibly better than Pakku now, despite having only studied Waterbending for about one year (as opposed to Roku, who studied for an average of 4 years).
And then there's Korra who could bend three of the elements at the age of four.
That is something different though. The Avatar is born with the ability to bend all four elements. The reason Korra could bend three elements is that she knew at a young age that the next Avatar would be a Waterbender, so she just decided to see if it was her by trying to bend other the other elements.
In "The Swamp", as Zuko and Iroh sit by the road begging for coins, a cart of masks passes them. If you pay close attention, one of the masks is identical to the one Zuko wore as the Blue Spirit. But this isn't just a Freeze-Frame Bonus... The end of the episode reveals that Zuko will be using his Blue Spirit identity again. However, he and Iroh had to leave quickly to escape Azula, with no chance to pack any belongings. It's highly unlikely he kept the mask with him. So where did he get the mask at the end of the episode? The cart from earlier!
Fridge Brilliance 5
Why did Bumi try to teach Aang to think differently than he usually would, when he appeared for the first time? Simple, he wanted to mentally prepare Aang for the from airbending fundamentally different approach to earthbending. - Blackribbon.
Adding to that, let's consider the tests Bumi put Aang through. A key in the middle of a vicious waterfall, distinguishing what Flopsy actually looked like as opposed to what he was and finally facing Bumi in a one on one challenge. Now go back and re-examine the settings of these tests, location, color patterns, etc. Bumi not only recognized it was Aang to begin with but was testing him to see if he can achieve what was to become expected of Aang's entire elemental growth through the series. In Book 1: Water, he has to not only accept the ferocity and weight of the world in front of him but he must also become the key to saving it. Book 2: Earth, he has to find an Earthbending master, namely in Toph, and learn that some of the most powerful and threatening forces could become allies like Toph and Zuko. Finally, in Book 3: Fire, he had to face down a Bending Master with proper decisiveness. Notice that Bumi gave Aang the decision of whom his enemy would become. Also notice how the two selected individuals Aang would've fought somewhat resemble Zuko (scar on face and young swordmaster) and Sparky Sparky Boom Man (large and frighteningly powerful in appearance). You can also take into account how Katara and Sokka being encased in crystal is a mirror to their future captivity in the crystal caves and the Boiling Rock. In short, Bumi new EXACTLY what Aang would be up against and actually took the time to prepare him for it way before Aang even knew the weight of what was to come. Bumi, you ARE a Mad Genius!! - rockysamson
Nice, but I think the crystal thing was more of a metaphor for the return of Sozin's Comet, ie "you have to do all that crap, and FAST".
Also, Bumi (albeit when he was just a kid, so this might not be so much intentional on the characters part) told Aang something along the lines of "see it in a different light, don't think about it how they want you to." Everyone, even Iroh, keeps telling Aang he'll have to kill Ozai, which he's very much against. During the finale, at the last minute, he "thinks about it in a different light" and finds a way to defeat Ozai without killing him.
Iroh, the bumbling old man who travels with Zuko and is constantly trying to get him to take it easy, suddenly turns out to be Bad Ass. If you look at the restof his family, you realize that if he wasn't badass, he wouldn't get to be an old man.
The only way to convince his family he wasn't a threat was to be a bumbling old man. The 'bumbling' persona is actually a protective measure.
For the first half of season 3, the members of the Gaang and the Fire Kids mirror each other. Observe:
Aang and Zuko. Obviously this has been pointed out in canon and in analysis several times.
Katara and Azula. They're both extremely gifted, the more talented sibling in their respective families despite being younger than their respective brothers. They also hold the team together, but in different ways: Katara is the Team Mom, whereas Azula controls people through fear and intimidation.
Toph and Mai. Both were repressed during childhood and found freedom and expression through their friends. Also, they're both snarky and awesome, and aren't afraid to tell people off when they need to cut the shit.
Sokka and Ty Lee. Sometimes seen as goofy, but they both bring unique skills to the table that neither group would be able to function without. Also, both of them felt overshadowed in their families, Sokka by Katara, and Ty Lee by her sisters.
It goes further than that, just look one generation above. You have a son who desperately wants approval from a father figure they haven't seen in years, with he and his sister's mother being gone since they were young children because of the Firelord. Now, is that Sokka and Katara, or Zuko and Azula?
We all know how Sokka can't draw, right? Well, he's a Southern Water Tribe peasant. Of course he can't draw! He never went to school, and before traveling with the Avatar, his only experience with drawing would have been pictures in the snow; also, it's very difficult to use ink brushes, even if you know how to use a pen/pencil. He draws on the level of a preschooler because he IS on that level.
You don't need formal schooling to learn how to draw. Though, being from the Southern Water Tribe, Sokka was probably most used to drawing or writing on animal hides instead of parchment or paper, so that may have something to do with it.
No, you don't need formal schooling, but you're unlikely to understand perspective or proper 3D drawing without someone at least showing it to you. Perspective as a technique within art only really comes about in the 1600s in our world - the simplicity of Sokka's drawings may well come from a lack of education.
Another Sokka one: We all know how the universe loves to torture Sokka, right? Well remember when Toph was training Aang, how quickly Sokka gave up meat and sarcasm, and then he went right back to eating meat and being sarcastic? The Avatar verse is paying him back for breaking his promise!
In addition to that, the speed in which he gave up meat and sarcasm means he's probably done it before. He might not have been in another situation like that while with Aang, but I would bet it's really easy to get lost in a blizzard in the Southern Water Tribe or get into another situation where you desperately need help, especially if you're the kid who manages to do something like get two fishhooks in your thumb. He's probably made that promise before and broken it, and the universe just keeps pwning him because of that.
While Sokka might promise to give up sarcasm, but before he met Aang, it's unlikely that he even comprehended that someone might view eating meat as an ethical issue or taboo; on South Pole you either eat meat or starve.
It's very minor, but in "Avatar Day", if you look at the expansion of Chin the Conqueror's empire across the Earth Kingdom in Kyoshi's flashback, it expands across the entire continent - except Ba Sing Se.
And there's more Fridge to that episode: just as Aang is about to be proclaimed guilty for murdering their 370-year-ago leader (and sentenced to almost-certain death in the process), Avatar Kyoshi herself steps in, admitting to the crime. This is often noted as a Nice Job Breaking It, Hero moment, but really, he was just about to be proven guilty anyway, so she did nothing other than stall the villagers... just long enough for the upcoming Fire Nation attack, allowing Aang to save them in time, and a reason for the village to let him live in response. Pretty damn smart of her, if you ask me.
I just realized what really happened at the end of "The Waterbending Master." When Pakku realizes Katara's necklace is the one he carved for Kanna, all of a sudden he's willing to break tradition to teach a female waterbender. Why? Because seeing that necklace forcibly reminded him of what those traditions had cost him, an entire lifetime with the woman he loved. It's probably not something he tried to think about often, but the combination of Katara proving her talent and having that element of his past thrust back into his face must have made him see that holding to those traditions had cost him already more than he realized.
The only time CGI is ever used is when the Fire Nation's artillery is moving. This is perhaps to signify that the Fire nation has far surpassed the norm - but in doing so has created something so unnatural that it could never fit in with the world.
I got the impression the wooden poles on the airball field were made using CGI, as well as quite frequently water surfaces. Just off the top of my head.
Regarding Zuko and Agni Kai: In season 1, Zuko manages to defeat Zhao, a potent firebender, early on by "breaking his root" - i.e., upsetting his stance, specifically using an ankle sweep. This is fairly rudimentary principle - as Iroh had been drilling him on the basics in the first few episodes - but it works. Fast forward to season 3: Zuko's dueling Azula for the crown, and it's (gasp) evenly-matched. She's jetting around and throwing huge walls of flame, but he's wearing her down. She circles him, looking to engulf him, and he break-dance-firebends a fire wheel at ankle height. He breaks Azula's root and she tumbles to the ground, pretty much beaten. Zuko bested his nigh-unbeatable prodigy sister, during Sozin's comet, using a basic firebending principle.
The Lion Turtle at the end of the third season isn't drawn like the other characters and creatures, instead, he is done with the more detailed style and coloring used for the backgrounds. It makes perfect sense: he is one of the oldest creatures on the Airbender universe's earth. He is old enough to have a large, thriving forest growing on his back and the only creature we know of that's old enough to know energy-bending. He is drawn in the same style as the earth itself because like the earth, he is ancient.
Ba Sing Se can be considered a parallel of New York. Why? It's seen as a very secure location and immigration hub, with a symbol that everyone immigrating to the city will see which is a symbol of safety and freedom, it has distinct sections each with different class of citizenry, and if said symbols fell many would consider it the end for that city.
Also, the ferry that takes immigrants to Ba Sing Se is comparable to the ships that took immigrants to America from Europe.
Another Korra one: the new trailer surprised me when Korra was shown fighting using Fire and rarely Earth and Water. I figured it was either because she needed more practice with it or she thought Earth would be a bit to conspicuous when fighting in the middle of a city (she was being chased by the Metalbending cop, of course). But then it hit me: fire is the best element to use in terms of availability. And it fits her personality; the polar opposite of Aang—she's hot headed and aggressive, therefore an aggressive fighting style suits her the best, even if water is her base element.- The Stray XIII
It's a more minor one, but early in season 1, Iroh drags Zuko on a detour to buy a new game piece. At the time it's Played for Laughs how concerned he is that's he's lost it. Skip forward a season, and it turns out said piece actually is that important - he needs it if he ever wants to contact the White Lotus.
It's also possible that he was just trying to further hinder Zuko's mission to capture the Avatar because he knows he's better off as far from his father as possible. Consider that when all is said and done, he finds the tile in his own sleeve.
Related to the above: A few episodes after Iroh's White Lotus tile is featured, but well before the true significance of it is revealed, we see another Old Master using the tile in a game: Monk Gyatso. Old people really do all know each other!
I wonder if this counts: We all heard Iroh tell Zuko that he is the representation of the battle between good and evil due to being the great grandson of both Roku and Sozin. Many viewers wondered afterward "yeah, but what about Azula?" for quite a while. A lot of them came to the simple conclusion that Zuko is the good great-grandchild while Azula is the evil one. Then, at the end, Azula's Villainous Breakdown happened, and a number of viewers thought that, despite being foreshadowed, it was an Ass PullFreudian Excuse for sympathy. But it isn't; Azula's inner turmoil means that both she AND Zuko have great potential for BOTH great good AND great evil. The siblings are inverses: while Zuko is a basically good person struggling with bad influences and emotional turmoil caused by said influences, Azula, while outwardly psychotically evil, struggles with emerging hints of humanizing qualities, such as small amounts of warmth for Mai, Ty Lee, and especially Zuko, and a deep desire for true, unconditional love, particularly from her mother. That's a big part of the reason why Azula snaps, and why, unlike Ozai, she is quite tragic and sympathetic, and has at least some chance for redemption.
There's a small parallel between Zuko and Azula in that regard. Zuko temporarily had the "sickness" when he gave up capturing Appa after Lake Laogai, and went into deep turmoil since Iroh's Armor-Piercing Question made him rethink what he wanted, not what his father did. Azula likewise had a similar breakdown when she realized that being the firelord wasn't what she wanted and the betrayal of her friends made her question herself as well. Unlike Zuko though, Azula's Parental figure Ozai did nothing to help her, instead discarded her to what amounts to being a regent. Zuko, with the help of Iroh, passed his test of character, while Azula failed.
In the manga Angel Sanctuary, a hateful father called his son Yue, because it can also mean "accident" or "recently deceased", hoping that he'd die faster that way. Princess Yue also died young. Her name has a double meaning.
It's actually mentioned on the Avatar Wiki that "Yue" is Japanese for children who are stillborn or die very early.
"Yue" also means "moon" in Chinese.
Iroh taking Zuko back into his arms and even accepting him as suitable for the Fire Lord, despite the fact that Zuko betrayed Iroh personally at the end of season 2 can look a bit unrealistic, perhaps even Easily Forgiven territory. However, Iroh has certainly had time enough to think on the matter and realise that, ultimately, Zuko did exactly what Iroh told him to do under Lake Laogai. Iroh's lecture was for Zuko to find his own path, rather than to let others tell him how to live his life... ironically, Iroh was telling Zuko how he should live his life, trying to force Zuko into the quiet, hidden, refugee teashop worker existence of "Mushi's" nephew/surrogate son. As painful as it was for Zuko to betray Iroh the way he did, it ultimately was for the best, as it was an act by Zuko to choose his own path in life (plus, he then went on to realise that he should turn against Ozai on his own accord, which certainly helped redeem him).
Of course, some could argue that Iroh was holding an Idiot Ball (or just having a What an Idiot moment) when he seriously thought that Zuko, who Iroh knows damn well is stubborn, proud, desperate for recognition, determined, and driven to try and reclaim his place in the Fire Nation for many reasons (including a desperate need to have the love of his family as well as a yearning to return things to "normal" and stop being the disgraced, dishonorable, worthless exile), would happily agree to spending the rest of his life meekly denying everything he was and pretending to be a humble waiter in a teashop.
Which leads to Fridge Brilliance in its own right; a further emphasis of the subtle message in the show that all beings are fallible. Nobody, no matter how wise or powerful they may be, is totally immune to making mistakes or learning from those mistakes.
I just realized that the "Roar like a Dilo-lion" move would/could actually form the Fire Nation symbol if the two fists of fire rebounded off the ground just right.
In "The Headband", one character mentions that people in the Fire Nation don't dance. At the end of the series,Zuko beats Azula using a breakdancing move. That is some subtle Foreshadowing.
Even more subtle that it demonstrates how foreshadows the original form of Firebending, the Dragon's Dance taught by the Sun Warriors. The corrupt form of Firebending is a reflection how the Fire Nation culture disregarded the very roots of their civilization and the appreciation of their element's place in the world. Without that connection, without dancing, the Fire Nation upset the balance.
Soooo...the Fire Nation, lost their Groove?
Iroh tells Zuko that lightning-bending is fueled by the separation and recombination of positive and negative chi. This is similar to the way lightning actually works: by separating negatively charged electrons and positively charged cations, and then allowing the former to violently seek out the latter.
This troper realized something by reading this page. Aang was convinced that he was forced to kill the Firelord. There is an old Buddhist saying that goes "If you see the Buddha (an idea about Nirvana) in the road (the path to Nirvana), kill him (destroy the idea)". In the end, that's exactly what Aang did. He killed the idea of the Firelord. Brilliant!
Azula and Ozai think in fundamentally different ways. Whenever you see Ozai's reaction to something, he's reacting as the problem comes along, usually with more harshness than necessary. ("Son speaking out of place? Agni Kai! Refuses to fight? Burn half his face off and banish him! Rebels in the captured Earth Kingdom? Burn the entire continent to the ground!") Azula is genre savvy, plans way ahead, acts on opportunities, plans for every possibility, and manipulates people and events to her advantage. Her train of thought is more like, "I'll dress up like a Keoshi warrior to get into Ba Sing Se, and since Long Feng wants to manipulate me, I'll let him think he's manipulating me, while really manipulating him. This gives me control of the Dai Li, so I'll use them in a complicated plan to take over the city. I'll instillI fear in the Dai Li, so that when Long Feng eventually tries to betray me they'll still be on my side. I won't be able to beat the avatar and his friends, even with the Dai Li on my side, unless I also have Zuko. So I'll easily emotionally manipulate him and take it from there." In the end, Azula's villainous breakdown is shown, besides the paranoia and hallucinations, by her losing this methodical logic and becoming more like Ozai. Her decisions are now just like his. ("Servant left a pit in my cherry? Banish her!) Her complete loss of control and planning comes in her final fight with Katara. She was able to out reason Zuko, but Katara sees a grate with water running under it, lures her onto it, and uses the water to be able to defeat her. Under normal circumstances, Azula would be the one pulling a trick like this, and would have probably known about the water in advance and prepared for it.
Iroh always said that firebending came from the breath, and what did Combustion Man do before firing (pun intended)? He took a deep breath.
Remember how Combustion Man shows up at the Air Temple after the Gaang takes refuge there? Remember how Zuko entreats Combustion Man to stop his assualt (to no avail)? Why wouldn't an employee listen to his employer? Because at the point, Zuko WASN'T his employer anymore- Azula was. Think back to the episode that Combustion Man first appears in. Azula is savy enough to know that Zuko has been visiting Iroh. If that's the case, she has got to know that he hired Combustion Man. She's probably already intercepted and "re-hired" combustion man (to both the Gaang AND Zuko's detriment) before Zuko could even get to bed that night.
The creators explained in the DVD commentary for "The Western Air Temple" that Combustion Man continues attacking the group because he figures Fire Lord Ozai would be grateful for the elimination of the Avatar, even if Zuko wasn't going to pay him.
Not sure about Russian prison slang, but in regular Polish "suka" simply means "bitch", both as a female dog and as an insult. And "suki" is the plural form. But Suki's name probably came from Japanese (the adjective "suki" refers to something liked or loved).
"Suka" does indeed mean "bitch" in Russian (not just in prison slang either). And while Suki's name is probably meant to be Japanese, the pronunciation in-universe is (unfortunately for her) closer to the Russian one.
There are a lot of ways to take "dog", though, and Suki does share more than a few traits with them: loyal, forthright, optimistic, not terribly bright, prefers skill over raw power...
I just realized that the reason firebenders wear shoes with metal soles is because, otherwise, they'd literally burn their shoes off every time they shot fire out of their feet.
In "The Library," Wan Shi Tong's attitude comes across as kind of a Knight Templar: it's his library, he has the power, and the Gaang bows to him because it's that or be kicked out. (Or trapped beneath the sands for eternity.) But remember who the last human who visited the Library was? Remember what he found? And remember what he did with it? Remember when he killed the fucking MOON, which everyone but him thought was idiotic and, probably, would've wiped out humanity and a fair amount of the gaiasphere? Suddenly, that owl's zealousnss seems downright sensible.
That's kind of the point.
As a counterpoint to the above. Why does the Knowledge Seeker help Sokka get information on stopping the Fire Nation, even though it knows that they plan using it for warfare? Well, for one thing, it's implied that Wan Shi Tong doesn't leave his library, and only sends the foxes out to get new information. He's only seen humanity as the Fire Nation, destructive, cruel, and thoughtless. The Knowledge Seekers, constantly being outside and seeing the destruction the Fire Nation is causing to the rest of the world firsthand, have a better grasp of the situation, and understand that Team Avatar is looking to minimize the destruction rather then intensify it. Thus, they're more reasonable towards them and actively help get the info they need, even if it's going to be used for pragmatic means.
In Western folklore, owls are associated with wisdom and arcane knowledge. In Eastern folklore, owls are associated with fear, nighttime horrors, and death. Wan Shi Tong, the demonic owl librarian, is both.
The fire lilies from "The Puppetmaster" are real-world world flowers. In Hanakotoba, the Japanese language of flowers, the fire-lily symbolises hatred and revenge.
In the flashbacks in 'Zuko Alone', Ozai makes a grab for the throne immediately after learning that Lu Ten died. At first glance, this seems doomed to end badly, but after thinking about it, I realized that that meeting likely went exactly as Ozai planned it. If Azulon agrees to Ozai's request, Ozai gets what he wants. If Azulon flat out refuses, it's not like Iroh is going to take the throne anyway after Lu Ten's death, meaning Azulon will have to name Ozai as heir. Since Azulon ordered Ozai to kill Zuko, Ozai gets a legal opportunity to off his 'worthless' son, and proves his loyalty and worthiness as heir. And then Ursa finds out and interferes and Ozai gets everything he wants, except for the fact he's still stuck with Zuko. And that will resolve itself in a few years. Now that's the kind of genius you can expect from the man who raised Azula.
The cactus juice that Sokka drinks makes him hallucinate, because the cactus contains mescaline!
This might belong in Fridge Horror as well, but Toph's tremor sense is so acute because she's conventionally blind: her earth sense is interpreted through her visual cortex. This means that even if her eyes (which seem to be covered with cataracts) could be fixed, she still couldn't see because the signals haven nowhere to go. To acquire sight, she'd need to isolate herself for Earth for a long time, and she'd lose much of her tremor sense.
How do you know the signals are interpreted visually? Not to mention, Aang demonstrated in the ending that it's possible to have a sense of vision and still have acute earth sense.
Oh, it's absolutely possible to develop an earth sense without being blind. But Toph can feel the movements of ants, which is far more detailed than Aang's likely abilities. And I didn't say she processed the information visually, I said she processed it through her visual cortex, like Dr. Lawrence Scadden, who can echolocate so well that he can safely ride a bicycle in traffic. He's repurposed his visual cortex to process auditory information; she's repurposed hers to process her tremor sense.
This may have already been mentioned, but the Fire Nation going for the Waterbenders, and going to the South Pole as soon as they hear of another. At first, it seems like they're just trying to contain the threat of a revolt from the Water Tribes. However, then you remember the Avatar Cycle. They attacked all four Air Temples to try and find the Avatar. They were making sure the Avatar couldn't be born into the Water Tribe by taking all the Water Benders they could find.
I was thinking this too, which is also why the Southern Raiders' Admiral was living with his mother, in retirement, rather than some nicer set up: If the fire Nation believed that the Avatar could have been a Water Bender, by killing someone who could have become the Avatar, he would have put the Avatar in the Earth Kingdoms, where s/he both a) could be sheltered in somewhere like Ba Sing Se, and b) would be able to rally the majority of the military behind him. Furthermore, if he were Reincarnated into Earth, and they somehow killed him there, he'd be reincarnated back into Fire nation, potentially destabilizing the Fire Nation's war efforts from the inside, as Roku threatened to do. Really, it's a no win situation, except to capture all the benders, which is what they ended up doing, or at least attempting.
At this point this has already probably been pointed out, but each pair of naturally opposing elements/Bending Arts actually share common ground that the other does not; Both Fire and Water gain boosts in power in accordance to time of day through celestial bodies (Sun and Moon during Day and Night respectively) as the penultimate source of their bending comes from those sources - and yes, Firebending may have been passed down from Dragons but its power is driven by the Sun. In turn, both Air and Earth on the other hand, don't receive such bonuses from...any known celestial bodies or spirits and as such don't have any perks dependent on time (as shown so far anyway). Amusing how the two opposite pairs share a basic thread.
Somewhere up-page, someone made a joke about Captain Planet, but let's run with that for a second:
Aang is Wind
Katara is Water
Toph is Earth
Zuko (or, briefly, Uncle Iroh) is Fire
Which leaves Sokka as Heart. As evidenced by Sokka's Master, which showed that in Sokka's absence, the Gaang is reduced to listlessness and boredom, compared to their previous drive to complete their mission or being distracted by various adventures on the way.
Aang's siege of the Water Tribe while merged with the ocean spirit was eerily similar to the Passover. Aang (the angel of death), passed over those who met a certain requirement. The Angel of Death passed over the houses marked with blood and only killed on those without the mark. Aang only turned his wrath on the Fire Nation, who were attacking, instead of the Water Tribe as well, who bowed to him as the ocean spirit. He "passed over" them
In one of the scenes where we first meet Azula, she's practicing her lightning. Afterwards, Li and Lo comment that she was "Almost perfect" with a single hair out of place, which Azula found unacceptable. Cut forward to the finale, just before she hallucinates her mother, she poorly cuts her hair. Her hair was also probably a large indicator to Zuko that she wasn't at her best
This is seen elsewhere in the series, Azulas hair being cut by Katara in the season two finale, and falling loose signified she was losing. Furthering the importance of Zuko's side switch.
The way Zuko and Azula firebend is fundamentally different. While Azula relies on practice and precision , Zuko firebends using raw power. This is illustrated by the way they use their hands, Azula uses the tips of her fingers while Zuko shoots fire from his fists, thin, calculated strips of fire versus wild blasts.
Also a reason why Azula realized Zuko would eventually win in the finale (and why Zuko thought he could win when he challenged her); Zuko had her beat in both control and raw power. Evidenced in that Zuko barely moves from his spot while Azula was expending large amounts of energy zapping around the dueling grounds. Sure Zuko did some fancy break dancing, but he was basically in the same spot. The only time he moved was to take the hit meant for Katara.
Bloodbending makes perfect sense when you take Waterbending healing into consideration. It likely works with the same principle, bending fluids inside the body for things such as stopping internal bleeding or ensuring proper circulation. Add the Waterbending amplification effect, and what normally works on a small scale suddenly becomes possible on a large scale.
Toph mastering Metalbending, a form of bending no one in the world could do before, in matter of minutes seems impossible, right? Well, what's her family insignia? A flying pig◊. Er, boar rather.
It's worth mentioning that Toph doesn't actually master Metalbending until the series finale, but she does develop the technique in a relatively short amount of time (a few hours at the very most).
Whoever thought of designing the Avatar State mechanism must have Batman levels of Crazy-Prepared. On one hand you would do well to have the power and skill of all the past avatars, but on the other hand, Aang has access to all their experience. If ATLA and Korra is something to go by, once people find out a child or teenager is the Avatar, then their expectations skyrocket and they want them to be like their fully realized predecessors, who have lived for decades, even centuries. Now that is about as unreasonable as it can get, in fact it's dumb, as Sokka points out when he says Aang is just a goofy kid. No child or teenager has the experience, wisdom and Character Development of a fully realized Avatar who has lived a full life. Unless there was a way by which they could contact the previous Avatars and get their guidance. The Avatar's spiritual link up comes prepared just in case this sort of situation was to happen, and according to Roku, it has happened many times before.
Further Fridge Brilliance: Why does Aang go into the Avatar state to energybend Ozai, Yakone and Korra? Because nobody can overcome the spiritual strength of a thousand fully realized Avatars and the spirit of the whole planet acting through you. This allows the Avatar State to have offense and defense capabilities at a spiritual level too. Crazy-Prepared all right.
In Season 1, Katara tells Aang she's sure that he ended up frozen for a hundred years for a reason. What reason would destiny have for wanting to put the Avatar on ice for a century? Well, imagine what would have happened if Aang (or, if he had been killed, the new Avatar) had grown up and faced Firelord Sozin. Even if he had won, there would have been no one fit to succeed Sozin as Firelord. Azulon wasn't much better than his dad, and certainly would have continued the war if he thought his father had been killed by the Avatar. True peace couldn't be achieved until someone could lead the Fire Nation back to its original path and atone for Sozin's killing of Roku. So Aang had to wait until Zuko showed up, because only together could they restore balance.
It used to bother me that Tyro and the other Earth Benders in "Imprisoned" were more or less accepting of their situation and collectively decided to just wait it out. It wasn't like they were being starved or beaten relentlessly while in prison(it was downright pleasant compared to the Boiling Rock). Katara wasn't even punished for attempting to incite a prison riot. It seemed odd to me that the Earth Benders would buckle down in such a way, what with Earth Benders being notorious for their inner strength. You'd think they'd be more aggressive towards their captors, even without the use of bending, rather than doing nothing more than waiting it out. Then I realized that it relates to what Bumi told Aang about Neutral Jing, and how the strongest Earth Benders are those who have mastered it. It makes sense that the imprisoned Earth Benders would be okay with waiting, as their apparent inclination towards Neutral Jing calls for them to do so. Suddenly the Earth Bender prisoners are far stronger than I gave them credit for. Even though they were unable to practice the physical aspect of their bending, they kept practicing the spiritual side of it.
Aside from "Escape from the Spirit World", Koh's line about meeting with Aang again is more or less a gun that never fired. Except he doesn't necessarily have to be talking about Aang. Throughout their conversation, Koh clearly shows that he doesn't care about the individual holding the title, all Avatars are the same to him, and he talks about things that Avatar Kuruk did as though Aang was the one to do them. That statement wasn't to say that Aang would come back, Koh knows that sooner or later, another Avatar would come to him for guidance just like Aang did. For him, meeting Aang again is just a matter of waiting for his knowledge to be needed again.
Well, he sees the Avatar as a spirit just like himself, as a single entity. To him, the Avatar's incarnations are just like him changing faces.
Zutara being portrayed in the play from "The Ember Island Players" may have an explanation other then "The creators wanted to troll the fans": Aang was played by a woman in the performance, and his and Katara's respective actresses may have been unwilling to act out a romance scene.
So of course they made Zuko Katara's love interest. He's the only male main character beside Aang (who can't be the love interest for the reason above) and Sokka.
And what was the EI Ps' other play? "Love Among the Dragons". They have an affinity for (badlywritten) love stories.
Speaking of the Ember Island Players, remember how Toph was portrayed as a huge, muscular man? The creator of the play got all the information secondhand, and it's quite plausible that people said she was a big guy, so as not to admit that they got beaten up by a "littlehelplessblindgirl".
Why is Roku the one to introduce recaps of previous episodes at the start of each episode? Because he's the previous life of Aang.
This troper prefers to think of the entire series as Roku telling the whole Avatar story to other people in the spirit world.
The opening narration is done by Katara, though.
This bit of Fridge Brilliance came to me while re-watching the Sozin's Comet finale. Specifically the second episode "The Old Masters". Initially I thought it referred to the revelation of the White Lotus society and how all those Old Masters knew each other and would form the backbone for the resistance against the fire lord. But I just recently realized it also refers to the past Avatars that Aang seeks for advice while on the Lion Turtle. He needed the wisdom of the Oldest Masters he knew and I thought you couldn't get much older than that. But the true moment of Fridge Brilliance comes with realizing that the Lion Turtle is in fact THE Oldest of all Masters and that only his advice and teachings are what truly set Aang on the path of defeating Ozai without compromising his ideals.
The fact that Zuko is the descendant of both Roku and Sozin, and that this lineage gives him a pointedly evil and a pointedly good side is somewhat sneakily foreshadowed throughout the series. The first subtle one I caught was when Azula snarks, "remember to remind the portrait painters to get your good side." But then I also realized that this is exactly why he can learn to redirect lightning. At the point in the story when he learns the skill from Iroh, he's told he must separate the negative and positive energies to create lightning. He can't manage this because at this point, his good and evil sides are in conflict - i.e., his negative and positive energies.
As a subset of this Fridge (mini-fridge?) he also has an evil (scarred) and a good (unscarred)side of his face. In shots where he's doing something noble, such as the first time he Approaches Aang and asks to join the group, his unscarred side is highlighted. I have no scenes in mind for the opposite but I'm certain it's true too.
I always thought that the unscarred side represented evil and vice versa, as it's the scarred side of his face that represents suffering, which made him who he is, and the other a reflection of other fire lords.
Sky Bison aren't like... mascots that just happen to have convenient arrow-like markings. Master Airbenders tattoo themselves that way precisely because Sky Bison have them. Since, you know, they are the 'original airbenders'. ...I'm slow, yes.
Somehow, Sokka managed to sneak past all his friends in order to run off and save his dad from the Boiling Rock. Most of the Gaang aren't exactly known for their powers of observation, but Toph should have been woken up by someone walking around in the middle of the night. Problem? Actually, no—the creators snuck in some brilliance by drawing Toph propped up on her bundled-up bedding in such a way that she's more sitting than laying, and her feet are off the ground. Further brilliance comes into play when you realize that Toph probably sleeps like that as much as she can to avoid seeing all kinds of distractions—she can't just close her eyes the way everyone else can.
One thing that bugged me with The Runaway was the Fire Nation having a wooden cell. Yes, someone explained that they were prepared for Earthbenders, but then why not a metal cell? Like what they've used the whole time. They would have had to have known that Toph was a metalbender, but to my knowledge, they had no way of knowing.... unless Xin Fu and Yu told them. Those two set out from Ba Sing Se, so they may have been rescued by Fire Nation troops who were moving in to invade.
Toph doesn't really make a secret of her abilities. There are about a dozen times the fire nation could figure out shes a metal bender, just need to send a hawk,and poof, combustion man knows.
Remember when Aang thought Pipsqueak was the one called the Duke? Maybe he should have paid attention to the animation (Pipsqueak is the one moving when Jet says 'Pipsqueak').
This troper was reading through the Avatar Wiki as he watched the episodes, so as to read the trivia for each episode. One of the points raised was the in The Ember Island Players, the play ends with a Fire Nation victory, despite the fact that it's written by a playwright from the Earth Kingdom. Why would this be? If he wrote it with Aang winning, then the play would likely not be permitted to be seen in the Fire Nation, and there's also the possibility of him being executed for rebelling in such a way. By ending it with a Fire Nation victory, he's essentially sucking up to the Fire Nation!
That's what I figured, too. Obviously, the real world has plenty of examples of authors having to comply with censorship to even see their works published, even if it meant ruining their original intent. This instance has an amusing parallel in Mikhail Bulgakov's play The Purple Island. The play shows the rehearsal of a fictional play which is about to get banned by Soviet censorship, but the author saves it at the last minute by tacking on a cheesy ending where the local Communist-stand-in tribe successfully organizes a world revolution.
During the war-games Katara attends, in preparation for the Day of Black Sun, Momo jumps onto the board and knocks over all the Earth Kingdom pieces. It seems like a bit of subtle foreshadowing, given the results of that invasion.
I don't think that anyone has posted this yet, but I noticed in the episode Journey to Ba Sing Se: The Drill is that when the slurry starts to pour out, but before the drill is broken, Azula and Aang both loose their grip and start to slide off the edge of the drill. While Azula struggles and eventually stops herself, it's a long climb back up. When Aang is falling, Momo helps him on his feet. In other words, Aang is helped up by a friend while Azula takes a harder, solo route.
Another for Azula's breakdown. We never see Azula being taught much about actual ruling or ever taking an interest in what's happening at the lower levels of the Fire Nation except when it directly impacts her. All we ever really see of Azula is her exceptional combat skills or using fear and misdirection to ruin her enemies and increase her power. The one time we see her at a war meeting, her contribution is to suggest genocide. Compare that with Zuko, who isn't nearly as good as Azula at firebending and he's incompetent at manipulation, but he is shown to grow to genuinely care about his people, he does listen to other people sharing their problems and at the same meeting his contribution is to analyze the problem and show an understanding of the Earth Kingdom. In other words all there really is to Azula is her abilities as a conqueror and nothing to her as a ruler. From the start the series foreshadowed that Zuko would be a decent ruler while Azula would be a disaster even if Mai and Ty Lee had stayed.
During the Ba Sing Se arc Zuko get's quite a few scenes with the character Jet. Literally days after watching this a realization hit me, during that time Zuko was going under the name Lee or Li. And who does he end up fighting? Jet. Jet and Li. Jet Li. I have no idea if this is intentional but given all the knowledge about different martial art syles the series has it seems quite likely.
Why did the 100 year war take 100 years? The Fire Nation was technologically advanced, had more able soldiers and firepower than the other tribes combined. Combined with the fact that their primary enemy has inept leadership. Yet, for all intents and purposes their war effort is stalling. Then after learning more about the elements and the back story it became clear to me. The Fire Nation is it's own worst enemy. Exiling both Iroh and Zuko for petty reasons was a blunder, as both of them proved to be very capable tacticians that ended up overthrowing the Firelord. The you have Commander/Admiral Zhao who actively works against Zuko in capturing Aang. If the two cooperated and were willing to share the credit Aang would be locked for good. Another real blunder was killing all the dragons. If you knew you would be conducting a war, wouldn't a fire breathing dragon have more tactical advantage than a giant drill? If the Fire Nation had a squad of dragon riders, even the walls of the Earth capital would have been useless. As Iroh said, the element of fire has the will and decisiveness to achieve it's goals, but seems to lack in control and foresight to consolidate it's gains.
First off, the Fire Nation was fighting a 3-way war, against the Earth Nation and the two Water Tribes. Second, "more soldiers than the others combined"? Where are you getting these figures? The Earth Kingdom is huge! The Earth Kingdom probably has substantially more people and by extension, soldiers, it's just that the Earth Kingdom is hardly a united population. While the Earth Kingdom has a bigger population, it can't field them effectively.
Okay you have a point, I can't say they have more troops, but I still by my statement that the Earth kingdom was weak. It's own leadership didn't even know there was a war going on, and the ones that did were covering it up. You are right, the Earth kingdom is huge and had more people, but so did China and it still got destroyed by Japan in the Sino-Japan war and WWII. The complete lack of central leadership in the Earth Kingdom's war effort should have made it easy prey, no matter the size. The Southern water tribe were basically just a nomad fleet, more an annoyance than a real threat, and the Northern tribe couldn't even win a naval battle on it's own turf. From what we have seen the Fire nation should not have taken this long given all its advantages.
The city of Ba Sing Se didn't acknowledge the war. Everywhere else in the Earth Kingdom did. The Earth Kingdom doesn't have a central leadership, the other smaller kingdoms within it are constantly fighting. Also, "the Northern tribe couldn't even win a naval battle on it's own turf"? The naval battle in question was hardly typical—it's made pretty darn clear that Zhao is given an extremely overwhelming amount of ships—probably taken from other theaters of war—to make the assault. It's outright stated that the Northern Tribe's defenses have made it impossible for the Fire Nation to successfully attack up to now.
At the Fire Temple, Sokka attempts to open the doors by rigging bombs. Why does this plan fail? The doors require a constant stream of fire to unlock.
An early Fridge Brilliant sign of Aang's collective Avatar wisdom? In "the Fortuneteller," when confronted by the specter of a volcano erupting and destroying a village, Aang, true to his airbending nature, saves the village by simply diverting the lava. We later find out that his previous life ended when he tried to confront a volcano eruption (albeit a MUCH bigger one) head-on, like a firebender would.
In "The Drill", Team Avatar quickly realizes that the drill is impenetrable from the outside, so they have to sabotage it from the inside. And this comes back: after Team Azula fails to penetrate the defense of Ba Sing Se from the ouside, they sabotage it from the inside.
When confronting Ozai, the Avatars speaking through Aang specifically say that for Ozai's crimes, he will be made to pay "the ultimate penalty". Well, if you think about it, for someone like Ozai, death is not the ultimate penalty, but losing his bending and being made a Soulless Shellis.
When Azula is trying to recruit Ty Lee, she goes to see her circus performance. She also makes it quite clear through the wild animals and setting the safety net ON FIRE that she could completely destroy Ty Lee's life as well as just her feeling of safety with but a snap of her fingers. What makes this scene worse is Ty Lee's expression when this dawns on her and she realizes it is, once again, Azula's way or the highway... the exact same thing she ran away from in the first place.
There's no getting away from Azula - she can find her wherever she goes. Ty Lee's part of a traveling circus. There's most likely more than one of them, and why not just send a letter? She knew Ty Lee would refuse and Azula wanted to threaten her life in person.
Ty Lee didn't run away from Azula but from conformity in her family, though she probably does have previous experiences of Azula leading with fear.
It struck me as likely that a passerby would've helped them out. Someone would've gone by that road eventually and I don't think everyone is cruel enough to ignore "Help us, we're dying in a metal box!"
I just thought about Toph ability and I realize that if wall don't stop her from "seeing" what's behind them, then human skin isn't a barrier either!
She doesn't see like seeing people do. She probably doesn't make a too huge difference between the skin and organs to begin with.
Everything except the bones would be basically jello anyway. So it is less like comic book x-ray vision and more like a blurry version of real x-ray vision.
Well, possibly kind of averted by the positive ending, but consider this: Chit Sang may have been nice enough, but he was still a dangerous prisoner for some reason. Maybe it was treason, which would make him a good guy in this context. Or maybe it was theft, murder, etc. And then he, a relatively strong firebender, is practically left alone with a bunch of kids and Hakoda. Hakoda and Haru may be strong enough to stop him from whatever he might do, but the other two? No chance.
Being a political prisoner is the most likely possibility. You would think that the Fire Nation would burn off the arm of a thief, or something else equally cruel and symbolic, and it's unlikely that they let murderers live at all.
The prison is reserved for the most dangerous criminals, so it's very unlikely Chit Sang is in for a petty crime. Given his proficency in firebending and apparently having his girlfriend in there with him, it's implied he is a political prisoner, possibly a former Fire Nation captain that disobeyed his superiors.
Another thing about Chit Sang: His first escape attempt, he had his girlfriend and best friend escaping with him too. On the second attempt, he doesn't even seem to bother looking for them. Combine that with the Warden's fixation on his prison's record, and I think you know what happened.
With Plantbending, which can be done during a normal day, you can either draw the water out of the plant or bend the plant itself. With Bloodbending, you can bend the body itself during the full moon. Using the connections these techniques share, a sufficiently powerful waterbender, under a full moon, could draw the water out of their enemies and use it to slaughter others.
Considering their inspiration from the Imperial China, they might all be eunuchs, though.
Actually, Smellerbee, Longshot and the other Freedom fighters survive and appear again in The Promise. We still know nothing about the Joo Dees however...
You know what waterbenders can do with normal water in the series? Turn it to ice or steam in an instant, use it to cut steel or smash with incredible force. Yeah, a bloodbender can do that inside your body! The implications are so horrific that if the creators had dealt with any of the uses of bloodbending other than the People Puppets one, the age rating on the series would have had to have been revised WAY upward.
All bending disciplines have plenty of Fridge Horror, considering things like how Airbending can induce instant suffocation and Earthbending can bury people alive. And even though Firebending is demonstrated to incinerate anything, there is still the implication that with enough practice a Firebender can create flames anywhere.
While possible, generally Airbenders are taught to never use their powers offensively so as to avert that. Played completely straight twice with Earthbending, once by Bumi (albeit jokingly) and once more by a general trying to induce the Avatar State in Aang by burying Katara alive.
You know what I just realized? Who's to say none of that happened off-screen? Hama is nuts enough to do that. Besides, this troper figures that Hama's been bloodbending for years; she probably kills most of the time and imprisons people she want to torture longer. It makes so much sense, it's terrifying.
You know those funny old monks and cute little kids Aang is playing with in the flashbacks? They all get burned to death shortly afterward.
While it's never directly addressed in the series, the Fire Nation's attack on the Air Temples was entirely for the purpose of killing a 12 year old child.
You remember how Sozin started that whole dragon hunt game just so Firebenders can boast about how they've killed the original masters of fire? You remember that dragon Sozin was riding on in the flashback episode? The guy probably friggin' killed his loyal steed and decided to make it a national sport.
Something that really bothers this troper is the question of just how horrible Ozai was to BOTH of his children (mostly after Ursa left). I can't help but wonder what else Zuko had been through before he got half his face napalmed merely for calling BS on sending good men to their pointless deaths. As for Azula, why do I get the feeling that her blind loyalty to her father might include more than a little Stockholm Syndrome?
Zuko probably also has some Stockholm Syndrome, considering that he still wanted Ozai's favor.
Azula becomes hysterical when she thinks her father isn't going to give her the throne, and terrified, begins screaming, "YOU CAN'T TREAT ME LIKE ZUKO!" This troper couldn't help but wonder what else her father did to her brother...
The inside of Azula's mind is scary when you try to imagine how it must feel to actually BE her. She is possibly the unhappiest and most lonely fourteen-year-old ever animated. Keeping up that ultra-competent facade just to keep Ozai (and Azulon before him) happy must have taken a lot of willpower when you see how quickly she snapped. Zuko at least managed to get better on his own after three seasons of therapy.
Speaking of Ozai, Word of God says that he was at least a decent husband and father during the first few years of his kids' lives. Was it all an act? Or was it a horrible story involving a huge fall due to hunger for power?
Zuko's mom, Ursa, had two kids with Ozai, who's clearly disturbed. That means they had sex at least twice. What do you think fucking a genocidal maniac would feel like?
It was implied that Ozai was quite normal before his little power grab. Most likely at one point he really did love Ursa, and that's how Zuko and Azula were born.
Actually, there are quite a few inheritable psychological disorders which, before setting in, the person seems/is normal, but afterwards... It is a part of this troper's head-canon that the Fire Nation royal family has some mental disorder that runs in their family and, unfortunately, until Zuko, every single one of the Fire Lords since Sozin inherited it. Think about it; Sozin was best friends with Roku and I can't imagine the Avatar being close friends with a psychotic dictator, but within a few years, Sozin apperentally decided conquering the world was in the world's best interest and refused to listen to his friend (the Avatar's) advice and started a war over it. Azulon ordered his son to kill his own son. Ozai apperentally was at one time a "decent husband and father" but then suddenly decides that killing his son is an acceptable thing (if it gives him power) and when Ursa objects, finds killing his father and banishing his wife a great way to get power, when he probably could have been made heir over Iroh and just waited 5 years tops anyway. This is of course, not touching on everything Ozai does during the series itself (Phoenix King anyone?). As a person whose family has one of those disorders I mentioned, the pattern fits very well; the person is normal, and then, within 2 years or less, they suddenly go postal
And the fact that genetic disorders often run strong in royal families because of all the incest. (Like in Hamlet how his madness was considered reasonable because he was the prince and that happens to some of 'em)
Regarding disorders and diagnoses, this troper always felt that Azula, at least, displays pretty clear signs of sociopathy/psychopathy: pathological lying ("Azula always lies..."), lack of empathy, easy emotional manipulation of others, inability to feel remorse, and an inflated sense of self-importance. The childhood flashbacks in particular lend weight to this theory; read a few written accounts by parents of sociopathic children, and the confusion and horror Ursa expresses at Azula's cruelty will seem chillingly familiar. It's debated whether sociopathy is inheritable, but a lot of the criteria are present in Ozai as well (although it's usually observable from childhood, so I'm more inclined to believe Ozai just had some kind of psychotic break as an adult).
Concerning Zuko it was hinted at in the first volume of The Search the he's not actually Ozai's son, but Urasa's son by another man-the man she wanted to marry before being forced into marriage with Ozai. This would explain a lot about the way Ozai treats Zuko if you actually think about it, (it is shown that Ozai did know about this fact).
Another underlying factor to the "mental disorder" theory is that Firebending is noted to be fuelled by rage and hate in the Fire Nation as opposed to the "Fire is Life" version of the Sun Warriors. As many of the Royal Family are some of the most powerful Firebenders on the planet, a life time of using such a corrupting power might have pushed a succession of Fire Lords over the edge. Sure when they're young they can still function as human beings, love and show affection to their families and generally are mentally sound despite any inherited tendencies. After enough years of using Firebending to the degree they do, restraint eventually snaps and they give in to the disorders plaguing them. Iroh and Zuko are two of the more mentally sound members of the Royal Family and they both have Sun Warrior training.
Iroh comes home with a dead son to find his father dead, his brother ascended to the throne, and his sister in law has disappeared, then calmly watches Ozai abuse the shit out of his kids.
Before that, Iroh had casually mocked the Ba Sing Se defenders in a letter to home, which was sent along with several pieces of looted treasures, including an Earth Kingdom doll. Even with the implication that Iroh killed a child, it gets even more horrific as you think about how Iroh must have felt when his own son died: He just realized that the pain he felt from losing his son is what he'd been doing to thousands of families, whose sons and fathers have been fighting on the front lines against him. No wonder the guy became a comical old fool, he's probably trying to avoid all the horrible memories he lived.
Well, since he got Zuko's knife from the surrendering General, itís possible that he bought or obtained the doll in another peaceful manner. This can be supported by the fact that Azula thinks he is a little weird and "weak" even before Ozai takes the throne. I just don't see Iroh being the war monster that Azulon or Ozai was, even if he did fight battles for the Fire Nation.
Agreed. I think that possibly Azulon recognized this, which was why he commanded Ozai to kill Zuko. He probably wanted Ozai to take the throne, but he it was more a Secret Test of Character to see that Ozai was not weak like he saw Iroh. A rather evil Secret Test of Character, since passing it would mean that Ozai would kill his son, but in Azulon's mind, I'm sure it was Justified.
Fridge Horror 2
Ozai is an interesting figure. He isn't nearly as well-rounded and dimensional as the other characters, but that's simply because we don't see that much of him. In order to get a better understanding of this man and his family, let's look at Zuko and Mai, shall we? It's likely they'd have ended up together even if Zuko hadn't been banished. They were obviously crushing on each other as kids; it likely would've developed into something greater regardless. Zuko's father is a bad man, but his grandfather was much the same in that regard. It's possible that Ozai had the same thing with Ursa. Azulon was likely just as bad as Ozai turned out, and if Zuko hadn't attended that war-room meeting, he might have been introduced to war when he came of age, been hardened and gone down the same exact path. But Mai probably would've loved him regardless. It's pure speculation, but in this troper's entire time watching the show (since it first aired), he was always under the assumption that Ursa loved her husband. She also loved her son. She murdered Ozai's father so her son wouldn't be dealt the punishment that Azulon had planned for him. She committed a terrible crime, she literally killed the Firelord. In essence, she murdered a world leader. Every single soldier would be ON TOP OF HER, trying to drive a fireball into her chest. It doesn't matter who she is. As seen in the Headband, the Fire Nation is conditioned to obey their almighty dictator. If you kill their leader, they'll be after you. It doesn't really matter if the person who takes the throne is married to them. A soldier will likely try to kill her before Ozai can make a demand not to. Seeing how they've been mentally manipulated, they could even go against his orders and kill her in honor of the Firelord that they've been ruled by for most of their lives. Ursa saved her son and got her husband the throne, at the cost of her own safety. One could speculate that she was purely saving her son, but the possibility that her husband was a large part of the equation as well isn't something that should be so easily overlooked. Mai did the same for Zuko by standing up to Azula face-to-face (which is likely far more terrifying than sneakily poisoning Azulon) that Ursa did for Ozai and him years earlier. This sacrifice ended in their favor, seeing as Zuko and Mai met again later and consummated their love for one another. The same never happened for the previous generation. This leaves some implications about the real mental state of Ozai as these events unfolded. Everything that happened to Zuko is essentially Ozai if things had started off bad and got better as they went on. Things started out well and then just got worse and worse for Ozai.
So Ursa gave her beloved husband the throne and saved her son. Ursa didn't see the damage that Ozai did to her son, she likely expected him to stay the man she knows and loves. The power the throne gave Ozai corrupted him. But that's not all. It's possible that her leaving contributed to Ozai's emotional separation from the world. He lost the love of his life... Here's where it gets worse. He lost the love of his life, BECAUSE OF THEIR SON. Not only was his son not as powerful as his younger sister, not only did that make him deadweight to Azulon, he lost his father and the love of his life for this one child who didn't even hold up his own weight in his eyes. Ozai felt cheated. He got an heir that barely met any expectations. He lost so much for this one person that outright disobeyed his orders and spoke out in his presence. There's a hell of a lot of resentment there. Zuko killing Aang in the Avatar State (which is what Azula let on) let Ozai know that it wasn't in vain. His son made up for the loss and helped him in achieving his goal. He welcomed him back with open arms because he felt that he was finally recieving the other end of the deal.
Not having Ursa there to be his moral compass, Ozai quickly deteriorated mentally into an egotistical and abusive maniac. Likely a far cry from the idealistic and kind soul he might well have been in his younger years... The same thing that happened to Ozai could've happened to Zuko as well. Fortunately for the world, it didn't.
Let's remember, though, that Ozai was no saint before Azulon's death. Azula was a monster early on, and clearly that was because of his influence. And when Lu Ten died, Ozai went to Azulon and reasoned that, because Iroh had no heirs, he should not inherit the throne, then throwing his hat into the ring. The fact that Ozai's first thought after LOSING HIS NEPHEW was "Time for a power play!" speaks volumes. And Azulon's command for Ozai to kill Zuko in punishment for his callousness? We hear from Ozai's own mouth, with less emotion than Iroh showed over spilled tea, that HE WAS GOING TO DO IT.
Katara's grandma ran away from an arranged marriage to a strange place where she knew no one. That takes her relationship from "I love someone else" to "I'd rather die than be with this man". And then never again speaks of the fact she's from the Northern Water Tribe. How bad do you think you'd have to be treated to act like this? And it kind of set's up Katara's mentor as her grandma's wannabe rapist.
And the fact that she and Pakku reunited at the end of the series kind of deflates that theory. They got back together, and on their own terms. Katara wouldn't have trained with Pakku in the first place if he was the kind of man that could do something like that to her Gran-Gran (who likely would have warned her about such a person upon learning that her grandkids and Aang were going to the Northern Water Tribe.)
Or sounds to me like it could be the reason that people keep coming back to abusive relationships. Gran Gran could know full well what he was like, but he said that he changed. And as for letting them go to the Northern Water Tribe, I'm sure it was a difficult decision, but when it's the frickin' Avatar, whose destiny is to master all the elements, she has to yield to eliminating the greater evil.
I don't know about other people, but it doesn't seem that unusual to me to have relatives not talk that much about their early years? Gran-Gran's also really old; she's spent only the first 4th of her whole life in the Northern Water Tribe. It's possible that she lived at the Southern Water Tribe long enough to consider it her real home. Yes, she probably had bad memories about the place, but that's a long stretch from "Pakku is a rapist". The Southern Water Tribe isn't necessarily "strange place where she knows no one" either, she might've already had friends or relatives living there.
Zhao's death is being dragged to his doom by a vengeful spirit. That's bad enough, but then you realize it's dragging him back towards a portal to the spirit world. It's very possible it didn't kill Zhao but instead sent him to a Fate Worse Than Death for killing it's counterpart. Now think about how, when we saw Iroh and Zuko sailing that raft past all those sunken warships, there were no bodies in the water, implying that they got taken to the Spirit World, too.
I don't know. All of them were wearing full body armor. It is more likely that they just sank. However, that adds the realization that almost everyone in an entire fleet of ships probably drowned. Even worse when you consider that they were firebenders drowning in icy water. They would have been struggling to swim to safety, but they would be weighed down as their bodies slowly went numb and their air ran out.
In "The Southern Raiders", we learn that Katara and Hakoda discovered Kya's body together after she was killed by Yon Rha. We don't actually see it, however - because Kya was killed by a firebender, and her face (or even her whole body) would have been a burned, blackened, featureless hunk of cooked meat, smell and all. And her daughter, nine years old at most, saw it. Good luck watching that episode without feeling sick ever again.
To put it into perspective, World War 1 and 2 happened in the span of about 30 years, which includes the interlude between the two wars. The Fire Nation is implied to be like Nazi Germany. It's like World War 2 lasting 10 times the length.
It could always be interpreted to be like the Second Sino-Japanese War. After the intial period of campaigning the Fire Nation/Japan ends up overextended and unable to advance further while The Earth Kingdom/China is too divided and weak to strike back effectively. This makes things a lot worse when you consider what happened during that war...
Actually, WW 2 lasted 6 years and a day (September 1, 1939 Ė September 2, 1945), so that would be over 16 times the length! Imagine Hitler, the Blitz, and the Holocaust existing in a parallel universe but for much, much longer.
If the Second Sino-Japanese War (mentioned above) is to be accounted for, the war lasted longer than that but the point is still valid. Not to be particularly nitpicky, but the horror did start long before the history books stamped the date on the conflict.
Now that you mention it, we did see Sozin slowly start taking control of the Earth Kingdom decades before he used to Comet to wipe out the air nomads. It's what his argument with Roku was all about. And I doubt the Earth Kingdom gave up their land willingly. That just adds a fresh new layer of horror.
Image how gruesome this show would be without its TV-Y7 rating.
Remember those faceless mooks in the control tower during the finale whom Toph binds to the walls and ceiling with metalbending? Eventually, the airship would have sunk, thus filling up with water. Everyone else could swim out easily, but they were trapped with metal that Toph probably bounded to the walls and ceiling. Basically, no way to get free. They were STUCK THERE, helpless, to die in a watery grave.
If I remember correctly, you can actually see people falling out of the control room when Sokka, Suki and Toph dumped the other crewmembers into the ocean. That would mean that they weren't stuck there should the airship sink.
Bumi is at least 112 years old. Aang at some point would have had to watch his childhood friend die decades before him. Depending on how strong Bumi is, Aang would have either had this happen in his late teens or early thirties.
Bumi looks a bit younger than Aang in the flash back so it's not unreasonable to think that he could be as young as 107. He would still die much sooner than Aang though.
Aang has done many horrifying and awesome things in the Avatar State, the season one finale where he singlehandedly destroyed the Fire Nation fleet being a prime example. This troper was having a conversation with a fellow fan about if Aang would later have to kill people or not and this scene was brought up. It was said that even with all of the Avatars coming together in one body, none of them can reign Aang in when he loses control. This seemed rather odd. Having never fully looked into it, this troper made the realization that he'd always assumed that it was the previous Avatars who had control of Aang's body for the duration of the Avatar State. Aang's bonding with the koi fish in the season one finale pushed this further, seeing as it was likely the koi fish did all of the destruction itself and left Aang only mildly aware of his actions before the koi fish exited his body. Aang obviously wasn't in control because as seen in the season two premier, he has nightmares about all of these actions, implying that himself in the Avatar State is completely separate from his normal self and scares the hell out of him. That's when it all started crashing down. It wasn't horrifying that the Avatars before Aang couldn't control him when he got angry and was close to killing people. It's horrifying that they force him to do it.
In season 3 Aang suddenly mentions his reverence of life and how it's essential to Air Nomad mentality to add drama about how he's going to stop Ozai. Think about a couple of episodes in season 1, specifically The Northern Air Temple and the second part of The Siege of the North. In The Northern Air Temple he's dropping large amounts of snow on soldiers marching up very narrow paths. In The Siege of the North Aang (as Koizilla) is ripping apart Fire Nation ships. In very cold waters, near the enemy and at night and that's not even getting into what might have happened to Zhao. It's safe to say that he unconsciously killed a lot of people.
Actually, if you combine that with the number of Fire Nation skeletons Aang found around Gyatso's at the Southern Air Temple, it probably sinks in that Aang's huge moral philosophical hangup wasn't with the mere fact that killing and death altogether is a reality of war, as seeing the skulls of ten Fire Nation soldiers around that of Monk Gyatso at the Southern Air Temple was the moment he realized the passed century and the ongoing war were indeed real. No, his issue was the actual mission of setting out to attack and murder a man. This would kinda bring us back to Fridge Brilliance a little bit, except not only does that assessment contain an implied slighting of the lives of ordinary soldiers who would never be explicitly marked for death that way, but let's also think about the above example involving the people Aang has killed while under the influence of Unstoppable Rage, his past lives, and other spirits in the Avatar State. Combine all those deaths, probably the one thing that HASN'T happened yet in that department was Aang himself actively making the conscious decision to stop someone at all costs, including murder, and going through with it to that very point. Now just think: if he had allowed his principles to be compromised into breaking that last plateau, most of the world would've been praising him at war's end just the same. He would be called a monster by a minority, but hailed by the majority as a WAR HERO, for something he could only bring himself to think of in terms of "What a Senseless Waste of Human Life." Anyone who's seen similarly awesome works of media with men like Roy Mustang agonizing in their souls over that exact truth, cannot flatly deny that thiswouldendBADLY in the case of an overburdened child, even one such as Aang.
Remember those two guards in "The Beach" who saw Aang and sent a messenger hawk to warn the Firelord. Combustion Man intercepted the message, and the world still believes the Avatar is dead. But wait, whose to say the guards didn't spread the word the next time they went to town or realized their message was intercepted? As a trained assassin, Combustion Man would not hesitate to kill the two guards.
Also the messenger hawk that Combustion Man's bird tied up is pretty much doomed considering it can't fly.
As pointed out in the Radar page, "The Drill" is essentially one big metaphor for sex. Except... not exactly. It's forced, so it's also rape, making it an allusion to a historical event: when Japan invaded Nanking in 1937, the atrocities the soldiers committed were so great that a common nickname given to the massacre is the Rape of Nanking. Building off of this, and the rest of the war analogies already discussed on this page, imagine what the Fire Nation would have done when they entered Ba Sing Se.
To back that up there is a shot were the Fire Nation soliders march past the Iroh's old tea shop. The shop owner has an epic Oh Crap face and Zuko's one shot girlfriend Jin is hiding inside. The next shot is that family with the baby, you can tell how worried the father his for his wife and child. Just doesn't help.
Just thought of another way bloodbending can be done: via metalbending. In which one could mess with the iron content in a victim's blood a la Magneto from X2: X-Men United. *shivers*
Thankfully, not possible. In "The Aftermath" of The Legend of Korra we learn that metal bending is possible due to imperfections in the metal. As the iron in your blood is just that, iron, it cannot be metalbended. *phwew*
It was even explained in the original series by Guru Patik - in the same scene when Toph learns to metalbend.
Another potentially nasty use of waterbending: Making a mixture of poisons and bacteria, then bend the water into a mist straight into a room. Also, one could manipulate the water that is used in liquid poisons and launch into others, acting like injections into their bloodstream (worse than needles). Yeah, it is a very good thing the Water Tribe and Air Nomads in the series were the passive ones because their elements gave off a creative element to being deadly.
I have a theory that air is actually the most powerful and the most deadly of the elements. The defensive practices that the Monks show is not because Airbending is lacking in offensive maneuvers, but it's because it is the only way to keep balance. If the Airbenders began to wage a war, and use their bending offensively, there wouldn't be much of a war, but a slaughter (and probably a particularly messy one, since it would likely involve changes in pressure in someone's lungs. Couple that with Aang's sentiment that there's the potential for good or bad in anyone, all it would take is for the "bad" to show up in enough Air Nomads, and you've got a much more horrific scene than the Century long war.
Since Legend of Korra, many have found Amon's taking bending as an analogy for rape. So, does that mean that essentially, Aang "raped" Ozai? Suddenly, Energybending doesn't seem like it was merciful anymore..
It was Firelord Ozai. He wasn't a minor petty criminal. He was Avatar's version of Hitler. It's okay. Just Be TheLeaf.
Amon's method involved bloodbending, not energybending. It's possible that having your blood twisted around to force your chi closed hurts more than having chi removed (or however energybending works).
It is said that the avatar reincarnates in a human newborn. Not a zygot, not an embryon, not a foetus, a newborn. In the avatar's world, when do you think that human souls incarnate? In the best case scenario, they incarnate at birth, and the avatar just forbids them access to the body that they should have incarnated in. In the worst case scenario, the avatar incarnates when there already is a soul in there, and the soul stays inside a body s/he no longer controls, watching a spirit stealing his/her identity and living his/her life in his/her place, until the body dies.
Nope the Avatar spirit and the spirit of the person whose body the Avatar spirit possesses are separate. Even though Aang is commonly referred to as the Avatar it would be more accurate to call him the vessel of the Avatar. Aang is his own person and is in control of his body at all times except when he enters the Avatar state.
When Azula hallucinates seeing her mother during her Villainous Breakdown, she isn't surprised, and before she breaks down some more she seems more irritated than genuinely upset to see her. Does this mean that she's so far gone that she can't even realise the strangeness of the meeting, or does it mean this has happened before? The speed with which she deteriorates shows that her sanity was pretty fragile anyway, and that it takes comparatively little to push her too far, so maybe this isn't the first time her grip on reality has slipped. Suddenly her Cry for the Devil factor gets even higher.
There's also the consideration that since Ursa in this bit is a figment of Azula's own imagination, all the things Ursa says about how she thinks Azula is just confused and that she truly loves her are things that Azula knows already, but just won't let herself accept. It's not that she truly doesn't understand that her mother loves her or that she doesn't need to rule through fear, she is actively rejecting that way of thinking, presumably because Ozai has.
Overlapping a bit with Fridge Brilliance, but Azula tells Ursa that "Fear is the only reliable way [of controlling people]". You can read quite a lot into that rather desperate declaration, because she's already been proven wrong on that count; during Mai's betrayal, Mai says "I love Zuko more than I fear you". Azula didn't actually lose her temper until that point, and responds with "You should have feared me more", essentially putting the blame for her "miscalculat[ion]" on Mai being stupid rather than her philosophy of fear being wrong. It really emphasises that fear is all Azula has, and she dare not let herself think differently or she'll lose everything.
Azula also proves herself wrong in fear being "the only reliable way"; she follows it with "Even you fear me". From what we saw in Zuko Alone, Azula couldn't control her mother, and had to resort to manipulation rather than bullying with her, and frequently got rebuked. Azula is far too clever not to spot the holes in her logic if she really looked at it carefully, so knows her philosophy is flawed, but is too insecure to admit it to herself, and rejects the part of her mind that tries to tell her this.
Brick Joke: In The Headband, Azula tells Zuko to stop acting like a paranoid child, while getting the spa treatment for the war meeting. Then when she has her spa session before her coronation...the boomerang comes back for her.
Look at the episode "Avatar Day" again and you realise something. The Avatar's role is supposed to be to stop conflict; however, all of the evidence from that episode is that Avatar Kyoshi did absolutely nothing to stop Chin the Conqueror from rampaging across the Earth Kingdom until he finally closed in on Kyoshi Village. And, as far as we know, if he hadn't ended up being killed when she split the landmass off to become an island, she would have just blithely let him continue leading his army to conquer everything in his path. Moral Myopia? Somebody Elses Problem? Whatever it was that made her act this way, if she was willing to let some guy take over the Earth Kingdom on her watch, so long as they left her little corner of it alone, what else might this lazy excuse for an Avatar done?
This gets worse when you learn that Kyoshi founded the group who became the Dai Li, who have their own mentions here and on the Avatar Nightmare Fuel page.
She pretty explicitly states she regrets founding the Dai Li. She's the Avatar, not a psychic.
Rewatched the Kyoshi Warriors episode and the leader outright states they're avoiding the current war. Avatar or no, maybe the village and she (much like Aang and the Avatars before him) was reluctant to accept the call until she could no longer wait? Aang didn't want to fight/kill Ozai, even if it meant saving the world (and would've waited until the decimation of the Earth Kingdom, were it not for Zuko), Roku didn't want to fight his friend and lost his life for it (and let the 100 year war begin in the first place), Koh took the face of a Waterbending Avatar's lover due to his "go with the flow" personality and arrogance... Noticing a pattern here?
I don't know if this is terribly obvious but it freaked me out when I realized it. One of the first things Iroh warns Zuko about when teaching him to redirect lightning is to make sure he does not send the lightning through his chest, as opposed to his stomach, as it could stop his heart. In the finale, when Zuko takes the lightning for Katara, it hits him in the chest. It's entirely possible he stopped his own heart by taking that blow. It's also a bit of Fridge Brilliance, because if we consider that lightning works pretty accurately in Avatar, you can conclude that the reason why Zuko couldn't redirect that lightning because he was in the air, not 'grounded' to complete the circuit
This whizzed right past me for years until this fic mentioned it in passing - Aanglovesthe Fire Nation. Not only was his best friend Kuzon from the Fire Nation, but he loves their dances, their music, their slang, their food(at least the stuff without meat, like fire flakes)... it's as if he was a repeat trader with Japan in the early 1930s who went into a coma and woke up ten years later - "Hey, those people you love hanging out with so much? They're hell-bent on conquering the world, they've committed countless atrocities, and killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people, including not only your family but your entire culture." Oh-damn-it-all-to-hell.
Somewhat related is that the Avatar has incarnated into every nation over and over again since the beginning of the world. Over the millennia, Avatars have married, begun lineages. It's thus pretty much a certainty that every human alive is descended from an Avatar. How must it feel for a compassionate, family-focused Avatar when they think of this and think about how often they hurt each other?
Every human alive is a little too much of a stretch.
Ok. So Bloodbending is the dark side of Waterbending which works by using your body fluids. But if you know your chemistry, it's not just Waterbending alone that has such potential. Eastern philosophy states that all the elements are present in the human body. When you think of the possibilities, it suddenly dawns on you that the doors open for horrific variations in any of the four bending styles. Do not read below if you're of the faint hearted.
Firebending: hypothermia, hyperthemia, heat stroke, spontaneous human combustion...
Earthbending. For one, Earthbenders can definitely bend carbon if they can bend coal with ease. Our body has no shortage of carbon either, not to mention all the minerals in our bones and tissues. Let's not think too much about the possibilities...body bending?
Aang couldn't earthbend the Lion Turtle shell, implying that bone is different. Or just more supernatural turtle stuff.
Azula is pretty much synonomous with The Vamp. When actually trying to seduce, however, Azula fails miserably. While this was brushed off as lacking people skills, there may be something far worse going on. Azula is most skilled at vamping when it is with someone she wants to kill. She doesn't speak in this tone to as large a degree with her father. My theory is that Ozai taught Azula that if she speaks in a certain way to men, it can psychologically disarm them, but he didn't tell her what she was doing when she vamped.
It could also be as simple as her being thrown out of her element due to not being there as the Princess. As the Princess, she could expect a certain degree of deference, not to mention the confidence boost that would go with it. She's just there as some random pretty girl, and she's lost a bit of her mojo due to being concious of it.
Aang had a friend in the Fire Nation before the war, Kuzan. Kuzan must have felt pretty awful when the Fire Nation army massacred the Air nomads. He might not even have known Aang was the Avatar, in which case he would just think he got murdered with the rest of the Airbenders. And if he did know Aang was the Avatar, the Fire Nation probably told their country that the Avatar ran away like a coward. Kuzan would be happy Aang was still alive, and assume that he would eventually come out of hiding and fix everything. He probably died before Aang came back. And that's assuming the Fire Nation didn't know he was Aang's friend and execute him as a traitor.
Most likely, the Fire Nation just hopped up the propaganda and said the Air Nomads were preparing to attack. There's no reason to assume that the Fire Nation is going to execute some random 12-year-old kid who happened to know Aang.
In the episode where the Gaang is stuck in the desert without Appa, they find a bumble buzzard (not sure what they're actually called) nest where intoxicated Sokka tastes a sticky substance on the walls. Subsequently, he finds that it tastes nasty. Remember, these critters are a cross between vultures and bees. He probably tasted their honey, which was likely made from rotting meat!
Imagine what would happen if the northern water tribe forgot to feed the physical bodies of the Ocean and the Moon Spirit... Could they just die of starvation?
In "Zuko Alone" Zuko has a flashback to Azula telling him that Ozai is going to kill him. After she leaves he chants "Azula always lies" and when the flashback ends, he's still chanting it. He's chanting because he believes her and he's never had any reason not to. Every since that moment he's never been sure whether Ozai was going to kill him or not and some part of him believes that he was. For years he's been haunted by the idea that his father was probably totally ok with killing him for almost no reason.
In "Bitter Work", Aang tries to airbend Sokka out of the hole he's stuck in, throwing Sokka's weapons into the air, which then comically strike him on the head...but those things were sharp, and unsheathed. They were only a fraction of a revolution from SPLITTING SOKKA'S HEAD OPEN.
If the Guru wasn't at the Eastern Air Temple to point Appa to Aang, Appa would likely spend the rest of his days barely getting by, alone, either a hermit or constantly attacked by humans, and with little hope of finding his friends again.