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Opinionated Guide to Avatar: The Last Airbender

I think the reasons they use "books" instead of "seasons" is to fit with the setting, where books are the primary means of storing information. Maybe they were trying to make it look like an adaptation of an old story written down ages ago, like "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" were supposedly translations of ancient documents.

As for the balance thing, the Avatar exists to make sure none of the four elements (through their respective nations) overpower the others. A recurring theme is that no element is evil in and of itself. All four can be used for good. I think there's something of an environmental theme as well.
Glad to see this liveblog. Any flaws that Atla may have, it's still a great series and a wonderful addition to Western Animation.
Thank you for a more in depth review of ATLA. I will do the same for myself but seeing other opinions is fun.
I too wasn't happy with the pilot episodes. I thought "this show is okay..." but like you, I'm glad I stuck with it. I started watching solely based on the recommendations of people online, and decided to check it out. The first 5 episodes (I count this as two episodes, not one) didn't do anything for me. Episode 6 was where it picked up for me.
I think the reason they have blue eyes is because they're waterbenders and blue is associated with water. As to why non-benders have them as well, who knows.
I don't think Aang was meant to come off as callous and inhuman; just in denial. Seems like that would be the normal human reaction to being told "it's 100 years in the future and everyone you know and love is dead". Especially a 12 year old boy, godlike elemental powers or no. Checking out the obviously booby-trapped ship was a dumb move, though. They could have just had him reveal himself as the Avatar (while saving one of the villagers or something), and then have Katara and Sokka agree to accompany him on his journey (Katara to study waterbending in the North, and Sokka to protect her and find a way to become a better fighter despite his lack of bending powers). Then part 2 could have them encounter Prince Zuko, rather than him being all "stuff is happening, it must be the Avatar!" for his first episode.

Sokka's over-protectiveness is annoying as hell, but I guess I see the reason for it. He and his sister seem to be the oldest people in the village other than their grandmother. They have a lot of responsibility on them at this point, so I'm willing to forgive him for having difficulty handling it well. The sexism, not so much.

As for Zuko, I guess I figured it was the writers' intention to portray him as a sympathetic ineffectual villain rather than the main threat. Plus with Iroh, they kind of avoid portraying the Fire Nation as Always Chaotic Evil, a trope I don't really care for.

Strangly enough, I do agree with your opinion on Aang. He was taking the 100 years asleep thing a little too well.
Also, I find Aang getting over seeing his people dead way too, for want of a better term, cartoonish. I just don't buy that any actual human being can leave one day, come back a few days later (to them), see their entire family and just about everyone they've ever cared about dead, and then brush it off. I understand that wangst can be a problem, but angst when everyone you've known is dead after them being alive a few days ago is entirely legitimate. To the point where not showing some kind of discomfort at this suggests sociopathic tendencies.

You'd REALLY like The Last Airbender better than the series, wouldn't you?
Lord no! It is possible to go too far in the other direction. I would prefer balance.

Just look at how Aang reacts in Season 2 when Appa is stolen. He goes a bit overboard due to security issues, but it's all a very human reaction. That's all I want.
No discomfort? He went into Avatar state when he found out his mentor not only died 100 years ago, but was killed by people trying to get to him. The world itself felt his pain, if the various temples lighting up signified anything. Aang as a Stepford Smiler? I can see that. But Aang as a sociopath? Makes as much sense as a Zuko-Katara pairing.
Liking this very much so far. I do agree with alot of the opinions you've voiced to date. Looking forward to more!
I consider this the first episode that didn't suck. I think the way the geishas were about to throw them in the water to be eaten was excessively harsh, and that type of barbarism is one thing I don't like about "ancient times" settings, but other than that, I have much the same complaints you have and the same compliments. It was still a cartoonish episode, but it was an improvement over the previous ones.
One thing I like about this show: character development that sticks. Which is more than I can say for other shows where the heroes keep relearning the same lessons.
Sigh. Misogyny means a hatred or dislike towards women. Sexist means adhering to traditional gender roles. Now which sounds more like what Sokka was doing? Katara even says it in the first episode!
Just started reading your liveblog (I'll hold off on most of it since I'm watching the cartoon right now and I'm up to book 2), but I wanted to see what you'd think about this episode. I really hate it myself.

I hated the cabbage guy demanding that the Gaang's heads be cut off. I hated the king character and found him annoying (and I didn't realize he was Bumi until Aang did, to be honest). I hated the story of the episode. I hated his cruely in forcing his friends to wear the creeping crystal (and the "comedy" around such a horrible fate). And him being revealed to be Aang's old friend, made me wonder what he would have done to Aang's friends if Aang had never figured it out.

I hate Bumi, I hate this episode, but episode 6 in my opinion is when the show started getting good.

I'm gonna check out more of this blog. Your opinions and reasons you give are interesting. (and this was the first entry of yours I checked out besides the intro)
Whats with spelling comedy with a K. Is this some sort of meme or something? More irritating than anything lol

From the looks of that constant mispelling, I take it you don't like the series humor?

As for the explaining metal thing, I have a hypothesis: Because it's not obvious to the viewer. Metal is found in the earth. In rocks, which earth benders can bend. Metals are minerals, so you'd expect earthbending to work on them like any other minerals (earth, rocks, sand). Heck why can they bend coal but not metal? While both are minerals, coals used to be plants, to me the not bending metal thing does need explaining, as it seems completely arbitrary. Why are coals earth but metals are not? What about plaster? Mortar? Cement? Do bones count as earth? It's mostly calcium, like limestone! Heck, why do CRYSTALS count as earth, but not metals? What about metal crystal, like gallium, can an Earthbender bend those?

Heck, why can Firebenders bend lightning? That's not fire. Has nothing to do with it.

So to me the metal speech, while a bit out of place, to me it IS necessary, because bending has completely arbitrary rules that do need explaining, as none of it is based on logic. The writers do need to explain the artificial limits put on their superpowers, because no viewer can be expected to know them.
Ghilz (edited by: Ghilz)
"Whats with spelling comedy with a K. Is this some sort of meme or something?"

Say it with a thick, stereotypical Russian accent. Then say "Avatar bring good the Komedy!"

That's what I was going for.

"Heck, why can Firebenders bend lightning? That's not fire. Has nothing to do with it."

Well, they are both plasma. And they're both very hot. It's not a gigantic stretch.

"So to me the metal speech, while a bit out of place, to me it IS necessary, because bending has completely arbitrary rules that do need explaining, as none of it is based on logic. The writers do need to explain the artificial limits put on their superpowers, because no viewer can be expected to know them."

I get what you're saying, but you don't need a big giant speech to say it. The fact that none of the earthbenders are bending the metal around them means that they can't. Show, don't Tell.

Indeed, you see them doing this in other cases. Nobody ever says that earthbenders can bend coal. Or crystals. Or any other rock-like material that comes out of the ground. The series simply shows that they can. Why? Because they have similar physical properties; they're all rock-like and they come out of the ground.

That fact only serves to show more why this speech was unnecessary. Because they *only* use it with regard to metal. They never talk about it with regard to anything else.
Why do I hate this? Well, first, it makes no sense to say it. Why? Because nobody has to say that firebenders can't bend wood. Benders bend their element; exactly and only their element. And even the Avatar is limited to bending fire, earth, water, and air.

Commander Sulu I bet is trying to rub it in that they can't escape. It's called Demotivation, no matter how petty. I imagine he does this speech with all new arrivals.

I get what you're saying, but you don't need a big giant speech to say it. The fact that none of the earthbenders are bending the metal around them means that they can't. Show, don't Tell.

And if they don't explain it, then people might call it a plot hole, and put it under Fridge Logic. Fan assumption is not a good thing in this case. This is a major detail, and they need to establish it.

See, I don't hate this episode so much for what it is. This episode itself is average to below-average (for first season). I hate it for what it eventually causes. For what it makes inevitable.

I am developing my rebuttal as we speak.

This is the first episode I considered good, cartoonish as it was. I saw good elements of the show, but didn't yet see why it was considered so great. But I consider episode 6 to be when the show started to pick up.
Maybe it's because I've seen a lot worse, but I didn't think the comedy was that awful. Though in retrospect, I get what you're saying about Katara. She's kind of a Mary Sue, even more so than the guy who can bend every element. And the plot of this episode does come across as "good triumphs because evil is dumb".
Padding.....Korval, how exactly is character interaction, giving us reason to care about them, padding? Are you saying that you would just cut out all nonvital conversations? How would that work?
I can see the Katara thing. The show runners probably went overboard with the female empowerment thing.
And thus we have the first iteration on the last airbender facts of the verse: the Spirits are either useless or total jerks.
But once they enter, a group of people calling themselves Fire Sages shows up behind them. And if you think the Fire Nation likes putting "Fire" in front of everything too much, you haven't heard anything yet.

Well they are the Sages for the Temple of the Avatar on the Fire Nation side. I think that would be important. Plus it kinda works if you assume that there are also Earth, Air and Water sages. I guess that title would hold weight.

The Fire Sages are the "Guardians of the Temple of the Avatar." When Aang says that he's the Avatar, they attack him. They're guardians of the temple, you moron; that doesn't mean they like the Avatar.

Yes, but the Temple is dedicated to him, so therefore, the Avatar is the reason that they are guarding the temple, ergo they should have some commitment to the Avatar.

''The Gaang is getting a bunch of exposition from Shyu, their new friend. The Fire Sages were originally supposed to be on the Avatar's side and no one elses. But since the Avatar vanished for a hundred years; during that time, Firelord Sozin (who started the war) forced them to work for him. Good job, Avatar Aang.''

Eh. It's happened before. Like that one lazy Avatar who disappeared from his land for a Hundred Years and when he got back, people forgot about him and a religion masterminded by an evil red guy gained huge influence in the land. This was after he indirectly caused a war with the Gargoyle nation and caused his virtues to be perverted into a series of corrupt state mandates. Oh wait.....

And supposedly, this will mean that the world will be permanently out of "balance" (again, what does that mean?).

The world is build on four elements. This is the way the world is supposed to work. When one element faction takes over the others, particularly when they embrace smog blasting death machines and annual ethnic cleansing, I think that would be grounds for imbalance.

Anyway, Roku somehow senses Zhao's ambush, and says that he will help him face it. Aang gets all glowy, the temple doors open and everyone sees... Avatar Roku. If Avatar Roku can just hijack Aang's body, why doesn't he have Aang go find Firelord Ozai, and hijack his body for the 30 seconds it would take to execute a beatdown?

Because he was only able to do that when linked to Roku's Spirit at that time. I assume he was in the Avatar State, it's just Roku decided to get in the proverbial drivers seat to keep things in control.
Emperordaein (edited by: Emperordaein)
Not really, come Avatar Day, we see Avatar Kyoshi take possession of Aang, so there's really no reason Roku can't do it and go kick ass...
"The world is build on four elements. This is the way the world is supposed to work. When one element faction takes over the others, particularly when they embrace smog blasting death machines and annual ethnic cleansing, I think that would be grounds for imbalance."

There are two points here. First, nobody ever explains why the world needs to work with four (five if you count the SWT as separate) nations. They simply accept that this is how it must be without question or comment.

Second, there's no need to apply unquestioned values to stopping the Fire Nation, because as you pointed out, they're doing clearly bad stuff. So why invoke this ephemeral concept of "the balance" when you could just say, "hey, the Fire Nation's being lead by a colossal douche who's conquering the world and enslaving populations in prisons and stuff. Stop them."

It just seems like a cheap way to make "stop the badguys" sound more deep or spiritual.
Because they need a "generic" reason the Avatar exists. Sure, Aang needs to stop the firenation, but that alone doesn't explain why there's ALWAYS an Avatar. Because there's not always a nation that picks up the Villain Ball presumably.
This was the first really good episode, in my opinion, even with the flaws you pointed out. And yes, I too thought the temple guards were technically supposed to be on the avatar's side, though their behavior didn't surprise me.
A study of Avatar that didn't include at least some discussion of shipping would be like a Nixon biography that left out Watergate.

I beg to differ. Understanding Watergate is required to understand Nixon's carreer. Shipping aint needed to understand the plot of Avatar (As you've yourself shown, Shippers have such a loose grasp of the plot to begin with, I raise you that discussing shipping actually hinders the experience). This is fluff. Creepy ass fluff from a creepy vocal minority of the fanbase.
Ghilz (edited by: Ghilz)
Shipping is a by product of practically any popular series, no matter the tone. In the world of shipping, Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted. Even a series like One Piece, where the Mangaka goes out of his way to remove any tones of romance has a shipping community.
I agree with your rant about Katara's hypocrisy.
I'm surprised you didn't touch on Aang getting subdued by a common net. And pretty spot on about Katara and the inanity of Zutara.
Jet wasn't MEANT to be a sympathetic villain. None of the characters treated him sympathetically when they realized he was a crazed terrorist. There's difference between having a sympathetic backstory/motives and actually being sympathetic, y'know.
This was definitely the episode where they started to show more sides to Sokka and improve him as a character with admirable traits. Not a great episode, but this was the third one I considered good.
Good on Sokka but this does raise the Katara annoyance. And Aang seems to be weirdly non existent here.
The funny thing about this episode is that I expected it to be bad as soon as it started. I hate stories that involve leading a group of people, and I hate "two warring groups hate each other" stories, and I hate "angry over something that happened a long time ago" stories. As soon as I saw the two tribes of people show up, and both of them talking about going down the Great Divide, I knew the episode would suck simply because I don't like "big group" stories.

But wow, was it terrible. So terrible I didn't think the cartoon was going to be all that good (I'm new to it; up to season 2 episode 4 as I type this). Good thing that things picked up considerably after this. The only redeeming factor at the end was Aang's clever lie at the end, which I genuinely was impressed by. The rest was pure boredom and crap.
If they really needed Sokka and Katara to argue, they coulda made Sokka finally be fed up with Katara's crap.
At that point, Azula is only 11 years. How the hell does this count as being a "woman"?
I know she's 11 years old. But 'look' at her; would you describe her as a teenager if you didn't know she was supposed to be? She looks too old to be an 11 year old.

I actually have a point to make with that, which I'll get into in my season 2 introduction.
I actually missed Azula next to Iroh. Anyway, I totally agree that this was the episode that grew the beard for the show. If I were to introduce my brother to this cartoon, I'd probably start with this episode.
"it was meant to be" oh god. They used a Shyamalan.
Basically, what happens is that the writers keep trying to have Zuko impress us. But they can't let him beat Aang. So he has to beat everyone but the guy he's trying to capture.

What a true, very common plot device.

Although I'm trying to hold back on reading your liveblog because I don't want my expectations for the show colored by disappointment (as I'm only up to the early second season as I type this), I am noticing that a good number of your complaints are based around storytelling devices that are quite common. That doesn't mean they're not dumb storytelling devices, but they're pretty much par for the course, unfortunately
Your link at the top 404'd
Fixed it. Thanks.
The Earth Kingdom is huge. They haven't been conquered because there are plenty of other, less crummy places to conquer, ones that don't exist on the foot of an active volcano.
Reminding me of this makes dislike this ep alot. The Universe hating on 1 character is not always funny.
Aunt Wu is a villain.


Uh, there are nuns in Buddhism.

Other than that, I'm liking your analysis so far (though I don't agree with everything).
I also liked the fact that Aang showed human flaws, and Sokka and even Katara got pissed. It made all three heroes human, and it was the sort of realistic characterization I wish more cartoons had. I wouldn't consider this a favorite episode, but it was definitely one of the good ones.
Imagine how things would have gone if she'd been permanently scarred. Maybe even a facial scar, like Zuko. Every time Aang looked at Katara, he would see the mark of his own failure. Every time someone flinched when they saw her scar, he would have to remember that it was his fault. He would have had to deal with that and accept what he had done. But no; healing-bending is able to deal with it and nobody will be the wiser.

You need to remember that this is a kids show on Nickelodeon. There would have been standards of what could and couldn't be shown, and I don't think something like that would have gotten past the censors, or would have gone down well with the executives.
Then why write into the series that he burns her at all? If you're going to write characters making significant mistakes into the series, at least try to make some of those mistakes have actual long-term consequences.
Here's the thing. I believe the executives would not be happy with a predominant female character suddenly gaining burn scars on her hands. After all, if they want to use Katara in merchandise, in don't think they would like to have a detail like that be predominant at all. I just think that the executives would see things that way.

And it's not like it didn't serve a purpose. Katara's burns were to introduce Waterbending healing (Although I have to agree with your complaints about it being illogical. A example of this kind of thing being done better is Alkehestry in Fullmetal Alchemist, where they explained how it worked an why it existed as part of Xinghese culture) and to give Aang a reason to be afraid of Firebending (How little it came up).
Your idea of Katara having permanent burn scars is a fascinating one. I just might use it somewhere. (G Iving you credit for the idea, of course.)
The human body is mostly made up of water, using water to replace damaged tissue makes sense.
Water can't replace damage tissue, it's just a component of tissue. It's like fixing a car using steel girders because most of a car is metal.

An interesting thing about this episode is how it's obviously based on Heart of Darkness in its motifs (going up the river, Jeong Jeong is analogous to Kurtz, "savagery") but has a much more idealistic perspective on leaving the structure of your culture.
Sokka: Let me get this straight: you can invent tanks [caption: Invented 1915], jet skis [caption: Invented 1973], and a gi-gantic friggin' drill [caption: Invented 20xx]... but the concept of a hot air balloon [caption: Invented 1783] eluuuuuuuuuuuuuudes you.
Mechanist: Yes.
Sokka: I hate this world and everyone in it.
Zhao's meeting with the pirates. He pays them to kill Zuko. This seems unnecessary since he just took Zuko's crew.

Not really. He knows now Zuko's the blue Spirit, and he knows the Blue spirit, acting solo, can still twart his plans, because he's done it before.

Also, it should be pointed out that the purpose of this meeting wasn't for Katara to be trained; it was to get Pakku to allow Aang to be trained. You remember him, right? The Avatar. The person who needs waterbending training, or else the world is screwed. Yes, by all rights there should be other teachers he could learn from. But the way this scene is structured, either they don't exist or Aang's faux pas would mean that nobody would train him unless Pakku allowed it. So basically Katara's little temper tantrum just doomed the world.

To be fair, the NWT needs the Avatar too, so by not teaching him waterbending over a perceived slight, they are dooming themselves too. Katara and them can share in the blame.

I do agree the resolution is kinda cliche, contrived and dumb. I'd have preferred Yugoda be the one to decide to teach Katara, as a way to stick it to the system (after all, she's ancient, AND in a city of benders. Even if she "officially" can't waterbend, you really think she has not picked up anything?). Alternatively have Yugoda pressure Pakku in accepting (Who's gonna treat your bad back next time if you gone pissed her off old man?)

For the healing things... Maybe it's just a beginner's class? Hence the kids? I mean, sure Katara HAS done healing, once before, but to parallel real life, the fact you actually bandaged a wound correctly once before should not dispense you from taking an anatomy course before learning open heart surgery. Anyway, it's what I always assumed each time I watched the episode.
Ghilz (edited by: Ghilz)
I agree that this episode didn't show healing for the impressive power it should realistically be. Not to mention how much use healing will be to Katara as she and her friends fight a war.
I agree with your assement of Katara. She is waaaay too skilled to have only scratched the surface of Water Bending.
Uh outside of Maybe TY Lee, Mai, Azula, and that female guard in a later ep, what other woman soldier has been on the Fire Nation?

But I do agree about this ep. It does feel like Katara hijacked this ep for her selfish reasons and it does seem that the writers realized that they wanted to move on from NWT but they didn't have the time to give Aang the chance to really train with a master, which strangely despite his good skill back in the Waterbending Scroll, he apparently really needs.

It shows that some long term planning/ideas weren't completely ironed out.
"OMFG, Katara's a Mary Sue! She couldn't possibly have gotten stronger on that long trip to the North Pole 'cuz we didn't SEE it! Katara shouldn't be a Bad Ass Action Girl co-star, she should just be a submissive sidekick like she was in The Last Airbender!"

Seriously, that's all I'm getting from this and the previous entry. What you call a "gaping plothole", I call "nitpicking."
Show Not Tell. Her getting stronger doesn't make her a Mary Sue, her getting stronger with no explination makes her a borderline case. If the show intended for her to get better slowly over the course of the trip, it would've come up at some point.

I have no problem with Katara being a Bad Ass Action Girl, but I agree with this post. It needed to be executed better.
Show Dont Tell. Not Show Not Tell. *facepalm*
I guess the problem was that the writers were putting too much into episodes to devote time to showing her getting stronger. Which sucks since stupid stuff in "The Great Divide" or "The Fortune Teller" could've easily been taken out to make more room for something important like that.
The difference I feel between Katara and Aang is he lacks her discipline and understanding - bending with sheer power, much in the way Zuko's firebending is explosive but not typically impressive until later into the series. This is depicted frequently with all the elements. Aang can grasp the basics easily, but not nuisance behind them. A prime example comes when his impulsiveness leads to him burning Katara.

Furthermore, Aang only exclusively relied on Airbending in the first and early portion of the second season. It stands to reason Katara surpassed him from sheer dedication and focus, attributes Aang is shown to lack at varying times.
Honestly while Katara straddles the Mary Sue trope, making Aang too good at waterbending in TWS was the bigger mistake. Maybe if they had made so that he could only thing good in the scroll but not the others.

Like say, he could make the push and pull motions and make a big wave. T Hat's about all he can do because true waterbending involves more intricate ways to make them twist and bend. A hand wave motion combined with chi or so should factor more in the whole bending style.

As for Katara, she has prior tries in water bending so maybe if she could've made her own bastardized style woulda been the way to go. Like she makes her own movements to get what she wants but since she's still a novice or missing that pivotal piece in bending the water, then maybe. Like back in the first 2 eps, maybe make the whole freezing water thing a sign of more masterly training since she would need to direct her bending to make cold but not ice water even colder which lends more...weird mythical stuff. I don't know.

Plus a lot more showing of her getting better at waterbending would definitely given more credit to her.
BTW, I'll be taking a short break from the series. I'm somewhere in the middle of writing Season 3 (and editing season 2), and I want to get that one pretty tight before I start posting season 2. I'll resume daily updates on Monday of next week.
Alright :)

As for knowing Zhao's the commander, they learned his name from Jeong-Jeong (Dunno if they learned his rank too though). But Sokka guessing it makes sense. A fire nation fleet shows up RIGHT after they show up at the NWT. And there's been only two people chasing them all this time: Zuko and Zhao. They know Zuko doesn't have access to a fleet, so that kind of narrows it down to Zhao.

WHAT BALANCE?! What does that mean?! Goddammit, if you're going to have the tension of a scene turn on something, explain it!

I am guessing the balance of not having several island of the Fire Nation being drowned by uncontrolled tidal forces?
I think Ghilz explained what I was going to say. This Balance is the Moon Spirit keeping the Ocean Spirit in check. If the Moon Spirit is gone, then the Ocean Spirit will go out of control. It's similar to in Ultima VII: The Serpent Isle Chaos and Order Serpents being controlled by the Earth Serpent. When the Earth Serpent was removed by Exodus, the Order and Chaos Serpents went out of control.
I can accept that. So why doesn't Iroh just say, "Zhao, if you kill the Moon Spirit, the Ocean Spirit may go crazy and kill us all!" That seems more likely to get a reasonable response (either that, or Zhao'd kill the Ocean Spirit too) rather than talking about "the balance."
Coz it's Iroh? When, in all three seasons, have you seen Iroh talk to everyone in simple, direct terms? The man speaks in metaphores & metaphysics.

Plus, I was not just talking about the ocean spirit in general. The moon itself, spirit or no spirit, fills many functions in the natural order of the world and in human society. Regulating tides, acting as meteorite shield for earth, stabilizing earth's orbit, providing illumination at night, acting as a measure of time based on its cycle, etc...

Take it like that and yes, the word "Balance" is the good one. Because destroying the moon would alter the balance of the natural world (Coz that's what nature runs-on balance).
Ghilz (edited by: Ghilz)
Besides, I doubt Iroh suspected that annoying the ocean spirit would result in Koizilla there. Just that bad things would happen.
Oh, and Aunt Wu? Yue's sacrifice causes Sokka's greatest suffering in the series. And there is no way that this is his fault.

Well, it could be seen this way: even if Sokka had never fallen in love with Yue, her sacrifice would still have happened and he wouldn't be hurt as much. Granted, he, let alone anybody else except maybe Yue's father, didn't see Yue's sacrifice coming, but before that, he still indirectly pursued a romance with Yue even after finding out about the arranged marriage, making things harder on both of them. So in a way, it is kind of Sokka's fault, just a tiny bit.
You know, every time you say "Komedy!" It sounds like it's referring to those incredibly goofy fatalities in Mortal Kombat. So that would mean that moments like Momo jumping on Zhao's face would be MORTAL KOMEDY!!

(Every time that is said, it is "MORTAL KOMEDY!!", not Mortal Komedy. The Caps make it come to life)
What does "Komedy" even mean? Is it supposed to be insulting to the show's sense of humor, 'cause I don't get it.
Zhao was promoted to Admiral in the episode "The Blue Spirit". Aang could have learned Zhao's name and rank at some point during that altercation.
About your complaint about the spirit world being different... I hate to say it, but the only plausible reason for the changed appearance is...........magic.

Wow, dude I think have issues accepting that this is still supposed to be a rather lighthearted show in many facets. It's okay to crack a joke, too much gloom and doom turns away the audience.
You're wrong on alot of things. Zhao was always intended to be offed in season one since the conception of the series, Zuko always wanted his father's love (his honor was just an excuse he made to himself), and Azula in "The Storm" was ALWAYS AZULA. Why would they include her with Iroh and Zhao (two other established characters) if she was just an extra. And I think she DID look a bit younger in that flashback due to how her face was drawn.
Zuko always wanted his father's love (his honor was just an excuse he made to himself)

Very well could've been another Ret Con. There's no real evidence otherwise.

Why would they include her with Iroh and Zhao (two other established characters) if she was just an extra.

Maybe because at the time there were no other established characters whose presence would've made sense, so they just made someone up?
Very well could've been another Ret Con. There's no real evidence otherwise

Really? I thought it became obvious as soon as we got more of Zuko's backstory. In "The Storm", there's even that silent moment where he's remembering him and his father on Ember Island long ago.

Maybe because at the time there were no other established characters whose presence would've made sense, so they just made someone up?

Except that they said in an audio commentary that her purpose for being in the scene was as a Checkovs Gunman so that people couldn't just accuse them of suddenly making the character up. She's also the firebender in the opening; she was obviously a intended major character long before her debut.
And also...Azula was visibly wearing a crown on her head during her cameo in The Storm. And she was giving an evil smile aglong with Zhao. She was Zuko's evil sister from the start.
In regards to the change after "The Blue Spirit", I think at least part of it was that the writers originally didn't know if they would get a chance at continuing the story. Nick picking up the rest of the series was in doubt at the time, which kinda left the writers hanging as to how far ahead they could plan things out.

Once they knew they had the rest of what eventually came out, they probably put more thought into how the story was to develop as more than "broad strokes" writing.

(This is all, though, speculation on my part. I didn't get into ATLA until last year, via Netflix and a barely capable internet connection, so I'm sure that at least some of the background stuff people who were in on it from the beginning could answer ATLA questions in general more confidently.)
Ugh, that last sentence came out all wrong. I hope the meaning got through, at least. :(
I think you make a great point about how writers who actually correct their own mistakes are much better than writers who assume that their initial success means they got it right the first time. Azula has definitely made herself known as a bigger threat - I'm only on episode 8 of season 2, and I find her intimidating, though I also found Zuko intimidating as well in season 1 (though not as much as Azula).

If the commentary states that Azula was added into the "The Storm" audience on purpose and isn't a random character repurposed as a villain, then that's actually good planning ahead on their part.

I wonder how many of the pre-13th episode changes were due to them thinking they had to simplify and "little kid"-ify the cartoon to appeal to a Nickelodeon audience, though? Nickelodeon certainly isn't known for its high quality storytelling, and they ARE known for their dumb humor. So ATLA had a lot of that. Once they realized the show had more of a chance, they may have refocused their efforts on telling a good story.
The captain's body was never found. Or maybe his head was set at a crossroads, as a warning to others. We never see him again, so we can assume he's dead. Because if looks alone could firebend, the one Azula shot him would have immolated him on the spot.

I heard that on that night, on that very Fire Nation port, there was a gigantic flash of lighting and fire, appearing for a second. When the people came there, there was nothing but a blackened mark in the earth that looked vaguely like the outline of a skeleton. For generations to come, people swore on certain days, they could hear a soft, drawn out scream of agony, as if death came to somebody so fast and ferociously that their suffering and horror lingered on the world of the living as a testament to the sheer rage and power that wiped them from the earth.
This episode started off season 2 great, and also established a higher quality of storytelling in the process. I thought it did a great job of kicking things off, showing extra character development, establishing a new threat, and explaining things, all in one.
About the top-knot cutting; I always understood it as the two of them cutting ties to the Fire Nation. Of course Zuko still wants Ozai to accept him, but at least for the time being he's on the run, so... you know. What with Ozai declaring him a failure and Iroh a traitor.
Look up topknots in ancient Japan. It's a high-grade status symbol, signifying that you are a Very Important Person due to your Undying Loyalty to a Very, Very Important Person. Chopping it off is about one quarter-inch away from using that knife to slit his stomach open. The writers did their best to convey this - despairing faces, shimmering knife, sad music as those two little locks of hair are swept down the river - but it's really damned hard for a Westerner. It's kind of like a fifty-year career military officer burning his dress uniform, his combat decorations, and his dogtags - I Am No Longer An Important Person, And I Do Not Believe That I Will Ever Be Important Again.
It is especially important, since it implies Zuko is over honor, the one thing that has kept him going.
This is where your guide started to descend into pure nitpicking for me.
This obsession is based on nothing more than the purely physical. They aren't soul mates. They aren't alike in any way. They don't share any personal interests. Indeed, we never even find out what R&J's personal interests are.

Dude, you ever even read Shakespear era theater? Romances were never written based on what the participants interests were. It was always on the purely physical level. Heck, look at Romantic Comedies (to contrast with Shakespeare's tragedies) like The Barber of Seville by Beaumarchais, again the attitude of the time was to accept Love At First Sight as a fact (and that there's nothing creepy about a man stalking the girl he saw one across all of Spain to eventually get her to marry him. Coz you know. True love and shit).

Point is, you are applying fairly modern standards of love and romance to a story written in a time where such notions were less than common at best. So saying "we never even find out what R&J's personal interests are" is a completely hollow criticism, like saying that your action movie does not include a complete cooking show-like recipe of the salad that one mook was seen making before being gunned down by the hero: it's not relevant to the plot. Similarly, in 16th century theater, the respective interests of the two lovers and how they match was rarely a factor in the story.

A sad side effects of those stories being written at a time where... well let's say people cared even less about strong female protagonist than they do now (and they don't care nearly enough now). So (paraphrasing the words of the times( why would WE care about Juliet's interests? And why would Romeo care? It's all woman's stuff.

And for a question, why all the talking about shippers and their creepy crap? Whats next, a discussion on the A:TLA cosplayers?
Ghilz (edited by: Ghilz)
"Point is, you are applying fairly modern standards of love and romance to a story written in a time where such notions were less than common at best."

The author is dead. There's nothing wrong with looking at art from a contemporary perspective. Indeed, the most long-lasting art is universal. The reason Romeo and Juliet survives as a play is because contemporary audiences can still find meaning in it.

Also, the point I'm making is that contemporary people keep holding up R&J as an idealization of how love should be, rather than looking to more realistic forms of love. Look at how the writers here idealized Oma&Shu as Bending Romeo&Juliet, only without the double-suicide at the end. You know, R&J without the tragedy.

"And for a question, why all the talking about shippers and their creepy crap?"

1: It's a substantial part of the fandom.

2: It influences the writing of the show. The writers have explicitly written romance into the series. Katara and Aang. Suki/Yue and Sokka. And the many, many women that follow Zuko around. Shipping isn't just a part of the fandom; it is a part of the show.

3: I felt that people would find it interesting. I didn't even intend to write the last couple of paragraphs of the digression; I mostly wanted to talk about the deification of R&J and why it pisses me off so much. But somewhere in writing it, I realized that R&J really symbolizes and explains the hardcore shipper mentality.
Nice point although Oma & Shu ''do'" get screwed over at the end. In retrospect it does seem their story was a shakespearen tragedy along your lines. Teens given great gift for love, squander it on yiffing, one winds up dead, learns mistake and founds city. Pretty deep if you ask me.
I really hate King Bumi as a character. This episode was okay, though. It was neat seeing a town we'd seen in season 1 return and be recognizable, yet heavily changed for the worse. So kudos to them for their demonstration of how war and conquest changes things.
I have to agree, that it's painfully obvious that Bumi wasn't going to join the group. 3 teenagers and an 112 year old man....creepy.
The ep forshadowed Toph,Bloodbending, the "Seperation is Illusion" theme used by The Guru and Lion-Tortoise, and Aang's spirirt powers. Not at all "useless."
I agree with you about this episode being crap but: was probably the inspiration for this tree. As well as this: So it's another hybrid, with qualities of both.
Think of the Screaming Bird as symbolic of this episode. Sometimes the mysterious thing is in truth ridiculous. And sometimes it's a megaorganism screwing with causality.
I thought the redneck swamp waterbenders were awesome. But that's considering how close I live to the southern swamps of the US. From my POV they got the creepy , mystic, yet utterly ridiculous nature of the area right.
I do like the flashback because this is our first REAL glimpse of what a fully realized avatar is capable of (we saw a bit when Roku possessed Aang) and it's rather amazing, when you think about it.
I HATED this episode. I found it totally annoying, hated the plot, and I don't like "on trial" plots at all. And total silliness on a show like this really annoys me. I'm actually shocked you like it.
I'm going to pretend that by being at the right place at the right time, it opened up whatever chakras Aang needed for it to work more or less at will.
Even though we've already established that clocks (and sundials) don't exist in this world.

Call me stupid when has it been mentioned Sundials don't exist? They have solar calendars so why not sundials? And with sundials, hours are not hard to create (and have existed in 24h format since ancient greece)

I assume you refer to The Northern Air Temple To which I point out that Sokka was not impressed by a device that could tell time, but rather by the fact that this device was a candle (and thus worked indoors, unlike a sundial)

The Mechanist: Come the pulley system must be oiled before dark.
Sokka (approaching the candles): Wait, how can you tell the time from that thing? The notches all look the same.
>The Mechanist: The candle will tell us. Watch.
(The candle flame snaps four times in a row.)
Sokka: You put spark powder in the candle!
The Mechanist: Four flashes, so it's exactly four hours past midday, or, as I call it, four o'candle!

In fact, the scene would hint that sundials do exist, otherwise why would Sokka care about the notches being the same (unlike a sundial, where they are numbered)

AFAIK there's not a shred of evidence that sundials don't exist, and quite the opposite in fact.

Ghilz (edited by: Ghilz)
Korval. You. Are. Missing. One. Important. Point. Toph learned how to fight by fighting people who can SEE. She's the single greatest Earthbending duelist in a well-known six-years-running series of Earthbending tournaments. She knows every POSSIBLE way to screw with a sighted moron who think they could rule a Kingdom of the Blind.

Fighting teams or armies on the other hand...
[i]Even though we've already established that clocks (and sundials) don't exist in this world.[/i] How could that be if they clearly know what a Sundial is? And how to tell time?

And abut the Hypothermia, you really need to stop trying to force actual science into this show. Dude, people can move mountains and oceans with their bare hands. Logic means very little.

I liked this episode. You do a good job of pointing out the Fridge Logic on Iroh, which I wouldn't have picked up on. But I did enjoy this episode, and seeing Zuko living as a fugitive in the territory of the very people his country wishes to invade.

As for Azula always being evil, there are rare instances of kids who are just fucked up early on. In college, I read a book once about psychopaths that I found interesting, and while a real psychopath in the clinical definiton of the term would be unlikely to plan as well as Azula, one thing real-life psychopaths have in common is that even as young children, they have no remorse and take pleasure in other people's pain. I can buy Azula being evil as a child. Though ages aren't mentioned here, so how old was she when possibly being involved in Azulon's murder?
A western in Asia? Sergio Leone's spaghetti western A Fistful of Dollars is directly based on Kurosawa's Yojimbo, a movie set in feudal Japan. Zuko Alone bears a close resemblance to both. Man, you need to watch more movies.
the mental hoops it would take for her to realize that someone could follow their trail are... well, about what she would have to do to realize that people can't see through a dust cloud. So while it is consistent, it is still wrong.

Okay, Blind people are not RETARDED. As you seem convinced they are. I know people blind from birth, and they do understand (somewhat) how the world is for people with sight. They do get what a trail is, or that some stuff, like fog or a dust cloud, can impair vision. Why? Because why blind they have grown up with non-blind people who have explained such things to them. A blind person knows what a trail is. They know that if they can deduce a trail by poking/touching/feeling the objects making up the trail, then it's a logical assumption that seeing people can do the same by LOOKING at the objects. Seriously, your insistence on treating the blind like imbeciles who have no idea how things work because apparently they've never talked to anybody in their lives borders on insulting.

Now, I am not saying Toph's a realistic depiction of blind people - she aint, and I agree with your earlier point about the daredevil vision, but complaining because she's not treated as an idiot or alien unaware of the most basic things other people can do is simply wrong. And especially calling it "mental hoops" like she's a chimpanzee trying to learn which button to push to get a banana is kind of dumb. Seriously, stop treating the blind as if they were unaware of anything.

I will, however, grant that it really should have been Sokka who thought of the hair as a trail first. And Toph sure as hell shouldn't have been anywhere near the first to do so.
Ghilz (edited by: Ghilz)
"Okay, Blind people are not RETARDED."

I'm curious as to how you missed the very next sentence, where I said, "I'm willing to buy that Toph could have figured it out." So I don't see what it is that you're taking issue with, since we seem to agree on the point in question.

I neither said nor implied that blind people were "RETARDED".

"And especially calling it "mental hoops" like she's a chimpanzee trying to learn which button to push to get a banana is kind of dumb."

I would like to remind you that this is the Internet and you are only reading the text I wrote. So you should keep in mind that what you gather from what I wrote may not have been what was intended, due to lack of vocal inflections and so forth.

Keeping that in mind, I have absolutely no idea where you're getting the mental image of chimpanzees from the phrase "mental hoops". That's the kind of term I use to describe solving a complex problem in programming or Space Chem or something. You have to keep a lot of facts active in your brain at once and connect all the pieces. That's mental exercise. Jumping through hoops. Only mentally.

I'm just not seeing the connection between chimps and mental hoops.
This "opinionated" guide is getting as painful to read as that old liveblog for Buffy The Vampire Slayer. The sheer amount of nitpicking over the writing and animation and the griping about every single last detail that that plot and characters do is just unbearable. You are flat-out LOOKING for everything you can to pan the show and prove that it's "not as great as everyone says". Seriously, cut this Serious Business approach and just enjoy the damn thing!
Yes, God forbid someone actually examine something. No, we should simply accept anything that's given to us and not think critically about it.

I noticed that you didn't actually offer a defense for series; you didn't defend this particular episode. You didn't address any of the points I made. All you said is that I shouldn't be looking for problems, that the mere act of pointing out what is there is somehow invalid.

I'm not here to unconditionally praise something. I'm here to analyze it. To take it apart, put it under a microscope and see what makes it tick.

Oh, and I am enjoying "the damn thing", thank you very much. I learned quite a bit about the show, both positive and negative, in the construction of this piece. I'm having fun, both in praising and damning it.

As for this particular episode, as I said, the first time I watched it, I loved it. But the second time, all the problems really revealed themselves. Why should I ignore them? If you want to ignore the problems, that's fine. If you don't see them as problems, that's also fine. But don't act like they aren't there or that it's somehow wrong or unfair to show something for exactly what it is.
I can get by your reasoning Korval, and I won't say that you are wrong in your approach. You make ALOT of good points in your analysis, and while there are several opinions on characters and some arguments I don't agree with at all, you still do a good job in the analysis.

Actually, I kind of have similar feelings to a degree with my favourite series, Fullmetal Alchemist (Which I consider in places to be what Avatar would be like if it took it's darkness to extremities). I love it to pieces, yet I can still find quite a few flaws in it, some more prevalent than others. I actually outlined them in my Liveblog (Which I am kinda on the fence about continuing. And I actually did plan to have a large tangent to why Al's Heroic BSOD after Lab 5 was stupid in the Manga, as well as why I think Mei Chang was a wasted character).

However, the thing is, I don't like lingering on these flaws that get uncovered. I feel that getting too hooked up on them spoils my enjoyment of the series. I see them and make mention of them, but I just put them in footnotes.
As for Toph's plot-breaking abilities, ahem: At this point, she is a DUELIST, not a warrior.

Knock out the road? Why would she think to do that when she's used to waiting for a challenger to attack her?

She's the one who realizes Appa's fur is drawing attention? She's the one who's used to picking apart an opponent's strategies - and it takes her three tries to figure this puzzler out.

Bending a stream of sand at Azula? THEY ARE IN THE MIDDLE OF A DESERT. Was she supposed to bend an adobe hut off its foundations and throw THAT? You'd really complain about that.

Until the end of this episode, they're still the Gaang +1 - she's still trying to feel herself and the others out.
You know, for a guy that complains about padding and pacing, your ideal version of this show and all your complaints being resolved would lead to the most overly serious, rushed and passionless show.
"Yes, God forbid someone actually examine something. No, we should simply accept anything that's given to us and not think critically about it."

Kind of ironic, considering someone is ''examining' your synopsis and now you've gotten pissy about it. Your entire examination is essentially whining at nearly every aspect of the show. Depictions of humor or character interactions are cited as "non-humor" or "padding", yet you demonstrate a complete lack of consistency when you argue the show doesn't develop characters.

Perhaps if you stopped attempting to find fault in every little thing, you would notice all those instances of padding do precisely what you're asking.
Sifu is the Chinese version of sensei
''Because obviously Azula simply fled the scene and didn't bother to sick around and pick off her enemies while their defenses were down.

From Villain Sue to Idiot Ball.''

If she HAD stuck around to attack Zuko and Iroh, I bet you'd say she was being to obvious.
plus why would she even think they were still there
Apparently, Zuko decided to stay in the abandoned town from the last episode. Because obviously Azula simply fled the scene and didn't bother to sick around and pick off her enemies while their defenses were down.

How do you propose Zuko travel with a heavily injured Iroh? Iroh can't exactly ride the Chocobo, and he's kinda too heavy for Zuko to carry over his shoulder. Not counting that, ya know, he's badly injured.

It's basic first Aid that you don't move someone critically injured (especially if you are no doctor, which Zuko ain't) unless they are in an immediate danger, such as in a burning wreckage or something like an unstable building (which Iroh is not).

And before you say "He could have put him in a cart or something like that" it's still dangerous, especially since a wooden cart ain't exactly a smooth ride.
"If she HAD stuck around to attack Zuko and Iroh, I bet you'd say she was being to obvious."

Because attacking an enemy when they are at their weakest is certainly not Azula's style. No, Azula's the kind of villain who likes giving her enemies a sporting chance and would never kick someone when they're down.

All I'm asking for is consistency. Azula does not seem the type of character to ignore a weakened enemy.

My point is that, while she did escape, that doesn't mean she should have simply disappeared into the aether. She's found her quarry; why isn't she stalking them?

It's too easily accepted that she just fled and isn't a problem for the immediate future. Especially after having been pretty close to omniscient in the last episode. If she can track the stray hairs from a flying beast while riding a train, it is strange that she would be unable to tell that Zuko and Iroh are still in that abandoned village.

I'm not saying that Azula absolutely would have stayed; odds are, she considers Zuko to be a lower priority than Aang. But Zuko just ignores the possibility that she might show up and kill him and Iroh in the middle of the night.

"How do you propose Zuko travel with a heavily injured Iroh?"

My point is that Zuko is operating under episodic logic. Azula was a problem last episode. This episode, she's not a problem, even though she was last seen in the area. Because that was last episode.

I don't know about you, but injured Iroh or no, I wouldn't want to stick around in a place where Azula might be lurking about, just waiting for when I fall asleep to shoot me full of lightning. Traveling with an injured man would be hazardous, but not as hazardous as having a pissed-off Azula in the region.

Zuko staying in the area only makes sense if Zuko knows for a fact that Azula's simply not going to be a problem.
The Aesop of this episode is, "Sometimes the direct approach is best." Aang keeps on dancing around looking for the easiest method of achieving his goals, and 95%+ of the time that will work wonderfully, with maximum observation resulting in minimal effort - but sometimes you just need to take a deep breath and kick the damned door in.

Oh? And as for the whole "learn all three elements in a year" thing Aang does that no other Avatar seems to? He's only learning combat techniques(and the occasional joke). Bending isn't just blasting things with elements, it's a lifestyle. Every bender also uses their bending to do things besides fight.

Aang would use airbending to hang-glide everywhere if he could.

Earthbenders mine and landscape and manipulate industrial gear such as mail chutes and trains. They also act as carpenters for their stone cities.

Waterbenders do the same for their ice cities, as well as learn how to heal (and purify drinking water I'd imagine).

Firebenders smelt glass and steel, and power their machines.

Aang only learns how to fight, because his entire purpose in learning Bending is to duel the Fire Lord. He'll have to catch the rest later.
"Besides showing that Toph is being an asshole, what does this scene accomplish?"

It's funny
Besides showing that Toph is being an asshole, what does this scene accomplish? What are they trying to say about Toph's character here?

It's meant to be a funny scene. But I guess that OMG!CHARACTERHUMORISN'TFUNNY, THISSHOW'SWRITING SUCKS!, huh? Will the nitpicking ever end?
Besides showing that Toph is being an asshole, what does this scene accomplish? What are they trying to say about Toph's character here?

Okay. I cannot defend you anymore here. This is nitpicking of the pettiest kind of all. IT'S A BLOODY JOKE.

Toph is handled a bit strangely this episode. Her stuff in the early part of the episode made her seem like an attention-starved twat. But her stuff later, when she fails to stop a few pesky sandbenders from capturing Appa, all because she's blind, works reasonably well. The details of this will be discussed in the next episode.

Right. Because one harmless prank/joke at her team should be the judge of her entire character. Good god that is petty.
What are they trying to say about Toph's character here?

That she has a sense of humor? Really?
"It's meant to be a funny scene." "IT'S A BLOODY JOKE." "That she has a sense of humor?"

But it wasn't funny. None of the characters laughed. They gave her looks, but that's about it. And it wasn't even funny for the audience.

It's just petulant behavior.
It was funny to the audience, a lot of people found t funny.
Honestly, you guys, you're getting pretty worked up about this. It's just Korval's opinion, even if he's nitpicking. Going "WHEN WILL THE NITPICKING END," well...
^ "It's just his opinion." Laziest. Stock Excuse. Ever.
I too thought the joke Toph made was mildly amusing, and a nice character moment for her. In fact, I like seeing her make jokes about her blindness. It didn't bother me at all, quite the opposite.

It was a joke dude. Seriously it was just a joke. I get that you don't like Toph, but that was clearly just a gag. Stop acting like humor is the worst part of this show, it's what gives it a soul.
I agree that it's great to see Aang's abandonment issues come to the fore. This was a great bit of character building.
I'll agree with you on Aang getting better a tad quickly. And personally, I didn't like how they totally segwayed out of the desert. Yeah they explained it, but it felt rushed.
It works OK unless you give the episode even the slightest bit of thought. At which point, everything falls apart.

So it's like the majority of any Ben 10 Series. BAH-ZING!

I really agree with you on the Curb-Stomp between the Terra Team and Azula's Angels -1. That kind of thing is a pet peeve of mine in any given media. It's one of the reasons I liked The Briggs Army Vs Sloth in Fullmetal Alchemist so much, in that it actually showed how strong Briggs was without making Sloth look weak and visa versa.
Ty Lee is a Bad Ass Normal. Even if she, Mai, and Azula for that matter are teenagers, they're still dangerous.
Ok, it's really irritating the way you classify any establishing scenes, simple character interaction, etc. As "padding".

Also, who's to say Long Fang wants the war to end? It's pretty obvious he's just interested in personal power, ruling the Earth Kingdom in the shadows. War makes a pretty good reason for vast government power. Plus include his arrogance and you have a good reason to dismiss them,
Oh sure, overturn the culture of Ba Sing Se; it's clearly corrupt and needs to be overthrown. But completely ignore the Northern Water Tribe's cultural prohibitions against women. Oh no, those must be respected and should only be fought against when they affect Katara; and we must stop fighting for them the moment she gets what she wants.

Are....Are you seriously saying that Cultural Feminism is as bad as a Totalitarian Government?!
Need I remind you that the last time they were in front of a king...

So what do you call Bumi? A doorknob?
Man you have no sense of Humor

I guessing the Dai Li do the stone hand things because they are skilled enough to do it with out Crushing their own hands

Earthbending is no easy most of the things you complain about is pretty hard to do for normal Earthbenders
Sure both Long Feng and the gaang don't want the war breaking out in Ba Sing Se. The difference is that...Long Feng isn't a good person. The reason he doesn't want to work together with Aang is because that would mean letting the Avatar handle too much of the situation and he sees the Avatar as a threat to the order in Ba Sing Se that he's literally spent his life building up. Long Feng isn't going to work with the good guys to stop the war because he's not really interested in what happens in the war so long as he keeps his power and manipulation of the Earth King.
Ba Sing Se = satire on modern day China. I called it.

Well, that's what came to mind during much of this episode.
I think Long Feng wouldn't want to risk the security of his own city to invade the Fire Nation. Moving troops away from Ba Sing Se to the Fire Nation capital would leave the city in danger, which is the very last thing Long Feng wants.
We Are Not At War With The Fire Nation. (But if we were, we would need every able-bodied man an in the field where they could fight the Fire Nation.)

Long Feng is Dolores Umbridge in control of an entire continent. He does NOT want the war to end. It's been going on for his entire life, his parents' lives, his grandparents' lives... he see no reason the Fire Nation should win in his lifetime, and therefore no reason for the Earth Kingdom to aid the Avatar in defeating it.

Conflict Ball? There were large segments of the CIA - and the government in general - that the US should NOT have let the Berlin Wall fall, as it would lead to geopolitical instability. Long Feng is a Bad Guy because he has as much interest in helping the Gaang as Ozai does.
You really need to get a sense of humor. That Bear Joke was one of the best of the series.
Lu Ten did not die of illness or tragedy. He was killed by Earth Kingdom soldiers who were desperately trying to defend their homes from the invading Fire Nation army that Lu Ten was a part of. Yes, it's sad for Iroh, but maybe The Dragon of The West shouldn't have been trying to take something that didn't belong to him. And if his child was important to him, maybe he should have kept his kid at home and not had him participate in a war.

Which makes Iroh's sadness all the more poignant. He wasn't there when his child died in the front line to defend him. AND he feels responsible for it (since he brought him here). I don't see why this is supposed to ruin our enjoyment of the episode...
Good point

Honestly while I enjoy this Live blog it feels like your just trying to be a buzz kill for no real reason
I agree with Ghilz. That doesn't ruin it. It makes it sadder.I suggest reading The Chinese Submarine Story from World War Z (Also, since World War Z is awesome if you love a combination of Zombie Apocalypse combined with Genre, Political and Cultural Satire) which has a very tragic take on that kind of tale.

I belive it was this moment that changed Iroh. He REALISED what war could do to people, and what it was like. Oh, and as for your earlier comments on how Iroh gave up ONLY because his son died, it seems more like the Fire Nation forces were suffering major fatigue from the siege, given from Iroh's "We were tired" speech from "The Winter Solstice Part 1", and the death of Iroh's son broke his willpower. While breaking though the walls was an accomplishment, they still had a long trek of Earth Kingdom area to go past, and another siege. I liken it to Alexander The Great's army mutinying at the banks of the River in India, except from disheartenedness from both the troops and command.
All your paragraph does is runic my already tenuous enjoyment for thuds terrible liveblog
Umm... You missed the point.

The Tale of Toph and Katara shows that these two personalities have come to terms and are comrades.

The Tale of Iroh shows that IROH STOPPED FIGHTING BECAUSE HE REALIZED WARISHELL. His son's death was his own damn fault and he KNOWS it.

The Tale of Aang shows that "Yeah, I've been practicing, see my L 33 T SKILZ".

The Tale of Sokka shows that he's figured out that he's pretty cool as long as he doesn't get overconfident.

The Tale of Momo shows that... wait for it... APPA IS IN BA SING SE.

Five four-minute stories that managed to hit at least three major plot points. Not bad for a 21-minute show.
(really? They have those? That's the first one we've seen, outside of past Avatars)

That has got to be the single dumbest thing you have said in this Liveblog. Wow! Who would have thought that a culture would have FEMALES!

That was kinda dickish. Sorry.
Emperordaein (edited by: Emperordaein)
(really? They have those? That's the first one we've seen, outside of past Avatars)

To paraphrase a reviewer

"Besides showing that Toph The reviewer is being an asshole, what does this scene remark accomplish?"

"But it wasn't funny. None of the characters readers laughed. They gave her the liveblog looks, but that's about it. And it wasn't even funny for the audience."
"A female airbender (really? They have those? That's the first one we've seen, outside of past Avatars)"

"That has got to be the single dumbest thing you have said in this Liveblog. Wow! Who would have thought that a culture would have FEMALES!"

I think the point was that no other female airbenders had been seen, not that it was surprising that there were female Air Nomads. Aang's the last of his kind, so the audience never really got to see the attitude of the Air Nomads towards females learning airbending.

Korval: I've been enjoying your liveblog. I'd previously given up on the show due to Hype Backlash, but your liveblog has encouraged me to give it another chance.

Just when I thought this liveblog couldn't get any more nitpicky and point missing.

It's like, if the show was made the way you wanted it, it would be the blandest, driest, rushed ("learning about a character, the world, everything that should make us CARE about why our heroes need to succeed? Padding! Cut it") crappy show ever.
Enjoying the liveblog quite a bit, as a fan of the show. The criticism can be harsh, but I enjoy seeing the show from a different perspective quite a bit. Keep it up!
Personally, as someone who gave the show a comparatively glowing liveblog way back in the day, I am enjoying seeing it dissected and criticized to this degree. I actually find that I'm agreeing with a lot of what you've written here, and I think it's an interesting read.

Guys, there is nothing more pointless than calling a guy a nitpicky asshole for expressing his opinion. Especially on the Internet.
Yeah. I admit, I've been getting a bit too much aggressive against you. This is a great liveblog, and it's has many elements that I wanted to do in my FMA Liveblog.
Guys, there is nothing more pointless than calling a guy a nitpicky asshole for expressing his opinion. Especially on the Internet.

Except when, y'know, he IS being a nitpicky asshole? To point out what you find as bad plot or character writing is one thing but to flat out LOOK for reasons to rag on every little detail of every scene in the episodes is just beyond dumb. There are some times when "only an opinion" just doesn't cut it.
Missed me?

Yeah, I didn't think so.

Sorry for the delay. I had some very odd problems posting, then spent the weekend watching EVO 2011 (time well spent), but I eventually got it corrected and posted.
Yeah, the Dai Li does kind of suck. And Long Feng is a terrible villain.

Of course, as Thundercats shows, if you want that someone being evil be a surprise (as Long Feng was originally meant to be). Don't make Clancy Brown voice them!
I would make an excuse that after years of effortless censorship, the Dai Li and Long Feng became soft and paranoid, but that's a dumb stretch anyway.

BS! We have seen, time and again, that the earth that earthbenders throw around can be broken by any instrument, whether a simple chain someone swings or swords or, in this episode, arrows. I absolutely refuse to believe that Long Feng was somehow able to perform a kill-move that easily.

I may need to check the episode again, but I think he hit him under his guard into his torso. I would suppose that would be severe enough.

Now you'd think that with two earthbenders that this wouldn't be a problem. But Aang and Bending Daredevil have decided to forget how to be awesome.

Yeah....Now, I freely admit that Toph is easily my favourite character. But I think the writers realised that they made her TOO powerful, and it always felt like they were always trying to minimise her full powers for the sake of drama. It might be why she got screwed over for screen time in Book 3.

It's not like the Gaang outsmarted Long Feng and the Dai Li in an epic battle of wits or anything. The Gaang didn't undertake a serious investigation, they didn't employ clever tricks, there was no misdirection or guile. The Gaang just does their usual stuff. Add in a couple of plot contrivances combined with making the Dai Li pathologically stupid and boom: they get to beat the Dai Li.

And yet another reason why I loved the Briggs and Intermediate arcs in FMA so much. The heroes managed to shake off the *OMITTED DUE TO SPOILERS* through very extensive and complex subterfuge.

Huh. I am suddenly considering resurrecting my FMA Liveblog....

Emperordaein (edited by: Emperordaein)
Of course, as Thundercats shows, if you want that someone being evil be a surprise (as Long Feng was originally meant to be). Don't make Clancy Brown voice them!

So you're saying Clancy Brown has a naturally evil voice or something? Besides, he's great at voicing villains so you might as well have him voicing the bad guy once he's revealed to be evil.

Again, it has become very aparrent how you feel about Toph, while I will wait for The Guru to finish to reply, suffice to say this is a lynchpin.
Half Assed? One of the best episodes of the second season is half assed?
Now we know why Chin the Conquerer was able to take over the Earth Kingdom (save Ba Sing Se, of course). What I don't understand is why Kyoshi didn't just anoint him Earth King (since he actually does stuff) and take out the current one? Oh that's right; preserving "the balance". Because in the Avatar-verse, you're not allowed to overthrow your current ineffectual government and make something that actually works. Unless of course, you're the Avatar; then you get to create your own little fiefdom (Kyoshi Island) and overthrow a guy who's actually building a nation.

Didja miss the part where Kioshi called Chin a cruel tyrant and we see him attack someone (who is in kneeling before him) with earth bending?

"doing stuff" doesn't mean Chin was a better ruler. Better to have someone that does nothing than one who goes around gratuitously attacking and killing.
And I don't mean that they beat the army. Or that they get past the army. I mean that the Earth Kingdom army defending the palace never even comes close to stopping them. The Gaang makes them look like a bunch of poorly dressed fools. Nobody lays so much as a stone on them. At no point are the Gaang ever in anything even remotely approaching danger or peril. They effortlessly smack down everything that highly experienced earthbending soldiers throw at them.

This reminds me so much of Thane's recruitment mission in Mass Effect 2 when Shepherd and Co. Murder an entire building's worth of Eclipse Mercs to find Thane. Then you find Nassana, and the conversation goes something like this:

Shepherd: Hey Nassana! I know you know I murdered your sister on your orders, but I am here to tell you that I murdered my way through your entire security staff who was protecting your from the assassin to ask where the assassin that is trying to kill you is!

Nassana: I hate you so much right now.

Of course that I can accept, because it's Commander motherfucking Shepherd and that's how he/she rolls.

We cut for a bit to Iroh taking care of Zuko, who has a fever.

Fun fact: This is what inspired Hbi2k to create the Angst Coma trope in Escaflowne Abridged. It's when the brain shuts down as it rapidly approaches the Sasuke limit, before bounding into the Shinji zone.

Cut to Sokka and Aang. Sokka starts talking about his positive attitude, and how that got them where they are. Then he says, "Everything’s gonna work out perfectly, from now on and forever."

Richard Hammond: "Oh, I've missed the prang of dread whenever somebody says that....''

Sokka is the team planner and the invasion was pretty much his idea, Long Feng only needed Aapa since the Gaang wouldn't go against him, and it was public frikkin' knowledge that they were in Ba Sing Se, Aang wasn't exactly discreet when he stopped that drill or built the zoo.

Now to the "good" I actually agree with you on the Earth-stomp. although it looked positively awesome it was a serious characterization flaw. One of the things I like about Avatar is how we can see power development; Katara going from the little girl in Season 1 to kicking ass in the Painted Lady is a good example. But having such a power jump this early really cheapness the deal. An argument can be made that with a war going on, nobody would spend the best benders guarding a puppet king in an area that was considered impervious to attack in the first place, but plotwise it makes it come off cheap.

I'd also like to note that guys named "The Conqueror" usually aren't that good. So Kyoshi held up a powerless Monarch we have those now, this guy was most likely killing burning and raping his way through a continent and it was pretty much her job to protect them. She made Kyoshi island (her homeland) not as a feifdom as you put it, but as she said, to protect her people from that kind of crap again, and so far ut seems. To have worked. Kyoshi island stayed ''completely" out of the war all this time.

All in all you are a cathartic fellow but your heart is in the right place and I'd love to see how you work editing.
"Apparently, Long Feng was keeping information from the Gaang. A letter addressed to Toph says that her mother is in the city and wants to speak with her. There is also the message from the Guru back in Appa's Lost Days; Long Feng took it from Appa's horn. And there's an intelligence report of some Southern Water Tribe warriors nearby lead by Katara and Sokka's dad Hakoda.

Now wait a minute. Long Feng had all the information he needed right here to bribe all of the Gaang members into doing whatever he wanted."

You could say that. Or you could say that Long Feng had all the information he needed right here to get at least three of the Gaang members(particularly the human WMD and the earthquake that walks like a girl) out of the city for a while. And it was just lying around where a naive bookworm whom Long Feng has known since childhood could find it.

Say. It. With. Me.

It's a trap!
Kalaong (edited by: Kalaong)
I agree that the Gaang did make fools out of the Earth Army.
I'm going to do a full post-mortem on this Chakra in the next one, because it really has nothing to do with Aang. We don't even get to see this Chakra opened, because we cut part-way through this to...

Huh. I think I had that same reaction of pure rage to the end of the Pain Arc in Naruto.

Aang doesn't know what those are, so Pathik takes a good minute of screen time to explain this concept in the most roundabout manor possible.

It's an unsaid rule that mentors or Watchers who have answers have to answer every question in the vaguest, most convoluted words possible. And it's dumb. Especially when their vagueness causes disaster (Thanks, Rachel Alucard.)

Naturally, rather than taking a few minutes to finish his discipline, he gets on Appa and flies off.

Ughhh. Hated this. ALWAYS hated this. It and everythign else makes the finale play out like an episode of Seconds From Disaster.

Stole your top of page quote thing for my liveblog. M Wahahhaha and stuff.
1. Meeting your long lost father isn't the same as a guy who you were just Im'd Aang is definitely capable of Emotion as you will and have seen.

2.Even if The City is impregnable they still don't want enemy ships running around on their soil.

3. The Grief and love are associated with each other because they're in the same Chakra, from your pandering to the concept, it's obvious you dislike the spiritual aspects of the show, which is fine, but seems to deviate from your usual (and preferred) structural/plot-centric critiques.

4.Illusion is a concept of seeing what's not their, confusion/disasosiating/bigotry etc. A lie is someone deliberately trying to instigate a mistruth, also good piece of continuity nodding with how fast Aang gets over the Sound Block, thought you would've of like the consistency, odd.

5.Their are no Water Benders in the South, the FN considers it a non threat, they're a bunch of poor, powerless women and children what the hell would they care about it for?

6. And now for the Doom-Bomb, ill give you one thing; you know your literacy skills. Great organic foreshadowing to this climax.
The speck's in the metal are remnents of the earth inside the metal because of her Toph Vision she can see them and detect them allowing her to use them and bend the metal (even then in a very simplfined fasion of just moving the stuff around a bit

She is the only Earthbender who ever had the Vison power even if she was not the only blind earthbender because of her powers she is stronger then other Earthbender's and can metal bend
Katara isn't "the waterbender;" she's a character who can waterbend. She was a character before she was a waterbender (of significance). And she remained a character even after she learned how. Many of her character moments have been around waterbending, but waterbending itself does not define who Katara is.

Ur, but you think Katara's character sucks, right? Even when she has a character beyond just being the Waterbender, you hate her and say she's badly written. Indeed you have alot of valid points in here but I just can't take what you have to say on Toph seriously when you come off as an Unpleasable Fanbase guy. Oh wait, replace "Toph" with "the series" on that last paragraph.

This "character moment," which some people dare to call her Crowning Moment of Awesome, is nothing of the kind. Oh, she gets to be awesome in terms of power, shaming every earthbender who ever lived by mastering something in the space of a day that everyone else thought was impossible.

Sometimes a Crowning Moment of Awesome doesn't HAVE to be a "character moment." In fact, the original defenition was for a character to do something so absurdly Bad Ass that the audience would cheer. Toph doing the impossible with metalbending sounds like that to me.

1. In the vision we can see that Toph used her vision to see the impurities of Earth in the metal and bent those to warp the metal, thus the extra effort exerted (it did look a bit painful) and why she can't levitate/push metal like the earth she usually uses.

2.Another point is toph's uniqueness; when she says she's the best earth bender in the world it's true. Toph has the benefit of being tough the bending by the Badgermoles, the creators of the art, as well as a blindess-based ability. This not only let's her get in tune with the real mechanics of earth bending (getting a full sensory analysis of the bending material) but it also allows her to manipulate the metallic impurities, something that would be impossible for someone who wasn't her or trained by her. Because you are incapable of seeing what me, other commenters, every poster on the wiki, and countless fans see as an obvious extension of abilities already revealed ( the best literary way to show power development rather than just tacking on arbitrary ones) does not make it a Deus Ex Machina, especially given how significant it becomes later on.

3. Now the rest of this post os where you shine, here you do exactly what you should do and exactly why I read this. Despite my posts o have no inherent dislike of you and I have an open mind and here is ere you have contributed something of purpose. Toph, in all instances is a gun; despite the character wrapped around her that shines through in certain episodes she's used as a human tool, and with the exception of some great story eps (like the Blind Bandit) she falls short as the flattest character. Even Tai-Lee got some in The Beach and The Boiling Rock. But Toph is simply shallow. Is that okay? Its tolerable, and I can see the idea working through, she's got a good personality and powers and she's very likable; but ultimately she's pretty much a hologram, a 2D figure that forms the appearance of a 3D whole. Now its a sign of Bryke's genius that this gets thru in an other wise full-checked cast, but it stands to be reasoned that this could be the west , if strong, link on the chain. To go meta this is were you are at tour strongest and while I do not agree with many of your insights your skills are not to be ignored.
@ Man With The Plan: Thinking someone has no character and not liking the character given is not the same thing. No one's about to argue that Scrappy-Doo had no personality just because no one liked him.
@ Justice Man: The only main character more flat than Toph would be Suki. Other than that, the likes of Aang, Katara, Zuko, Sokka, Iroh, or Azula are all better developed than her. I love Toph, don't get me wrong, but she isn't the best character in the series and I think she gets a little too much love from many fans who think that she is.
I think Justice Man nailed what I was going to say. I can totally get behind the fact that it was simply her method of beinding being able to do this, and I like the idea that she got the ability from said abilities coupled with her willpower and desperation.

However, the commentry on Toph's character as a whole couldn't be more true. Toph really should have been given a character, as her basic personality was great. But yeah, she really was just a plot device by Book 3, and she didn't deserve that. Not much else to say there.
Book 2 being "Earth", I thought Toph as a character and an earthbender had a very strong presence. In Book 3 on the other hand...
[i]The sad part is this: I like Toph[/i] I'm sorry but that's nonsense. Ever since she was introduced you've done nothing but rag on her, and you suddenly expect us to believe that after all this liked her?

No Korval, just no.
I really gotta work on that Italics thing.
I'll be back on Friday with the Season 3 intro.
''—> A soldier on my own, I don't know the way
I'm riding up the heights of shame
I'm waiting for the call, the hand on the chest
I'm ready for the fight, and fate''

Woodkid: Iron *

I have to say, this was an amazing season finale. The action, plot, themes and overall impact on the story are some of the best in any piece of Western Animation.

And I have never watched it again after the first time.

Why? It's.....It's a quirk I have. There are things I admit are very, VERY good, but I don't like watching them. I don't like watching this because it is soul crushingly depressing. Actually, from those emotions I realised that this finale is basically the end of Empire Strikes Back. Hell, the Book 1 finale was A New Hope.

Cut to the rest of the Gaang back at their house. Toph uses her Toph-Vision to see that nobody's home. Then she says someone's at the door; an old friend. When the Gaang opens it, they see... Iroh! Wait; how did he know where they were? I know how he knew they were in Ba Sing Se, but how did he know how to find the Gaang's house?

"Oh thank god it's you! I busted into five houses before this one!"

Seriously, why did they surrender just to keep this fop alive? Let Azula roast his ass; serves him right for being an idiot, and maybe someone not made of fail can run the Earth Kingdom afterwards.

Hey, they aren't going to let someone be killed due to apathy. A life is a life. And if I can (Barely) endure half an Act of trying to put a useless doormat on a throne, only for him to fuck everything up, I can endure them trying to save the Earth King.

But the writers didn't do that. Why? Because there wasn't time. This episode is so full of stuff that there simply wasn't any time to write it that way. Maybe if they hadn't screwed around with those time-wasting episodes earlier in the season, they could have done the finale as a proper two-parter rather than a 1.5-parter.

Since Legend Of Korra is having a tighter episode count, I bet they will be much more inclined to not fall into that trap.

Wow, you actually praised the writing of Avatar?

In all seriousness, I agreed with alot of the positive AND negative criticisms you gave for this finale. This is how the liveblog should be done more often: less nitpicking over the unrealistic story, all the character's behaviour or Komedy! and more REALLY looking at things for what you percieve them as.
1. Why do you keep using (improperly I might add) Diablos Ex machina. All the things that happen are direct outputs of character actions, its can only be an Ex Machina if it just came out of nowhere.

2.It was a very personal moment. Imagine a jew being trapped with a Nazi. Would you expect, calm, cool statement of the facts, or a full freak attack, which is more realistic?

3. And letting him die would be immensely out of character. ._.

4.The point of the speech was that the Dai-Li as secret police only respected Power. Azula, as the. Most powerful one, was who they listened to. They really don't give a shit, they run the city any way.

5.I liked the reference to the season 2 Octopus technique a good instance of a power upgrade, I'd also like to note that if she's immobilized she can't bend

6. Okay, HOW can you go on a long praise stating that Azula's defeat of the Avatar was anything but a Diablos Ex Machina and, the, one paragraph later say the exact opposite! What the hell!

All in all, awesome review, very Linkaresque. I'll be seeing you. ;)
It was a pretty good finale, but there's no excuse for the Dai Li to still be in power, and Long Feng's lobotomy was unbearable. Why is he giving Azula control of the Dai Li again? Oh, right. To facillitate the plot. Of course, that man has spent the entire Ba Sing Se Arc doing whatever is needed to move the story along, regardless of what he logically stands to lose or gain. I might not have had as big a problem with Feng being out-manuevered if he hadn't had the ambiance of someone crafty and intelligent. The way his voice-actor spoke, I got the impression that he was a veteran schemer. If a fantasy-loving college kid can spot the risks in giving an enemy authority over the Dai Li, then Long Feng should have been able to do the same. Given how crucial the Dai Li were to Azula's plan, Long Feng's idiot balling really marred the finale for me.

On a sidenote, a poster named The Narrator over at Television Without Pity had this to ask about the Gaang after they escaped from the conquered Ba Sing Se. Why didn't they get in contact with the millitary forces guarding the wall and tell them that the city has been taken over by Fire Nation agents?
Cutting out some of the filler episodes from earlier could have allowed them to improve the final arc of this season.

Long Feng's problem was that he got focused on doublecrossing Azula when the time came to it rather than focusing on the Dai Li possibly doublecrossing him. He was overconfident in their loyalty to him but when they turned on him, he saw that he had no real power anymore. Azula told it to him straight and he surrendered. Personally, I thought it was well handled. Yeah, Long Feng could've showed a bit more resistance in the end but he's been scheming, manipulating, wielding power, and fighting people with words his whole life. When confronted with Azula, she, as he put it, "beat him at his own game."
But why would Long Feng give Azula the opportunity to take control of the Dai Li? His need for Azula and her companions is simple and limited. They are to stalemate or capture the Avatar and his friends. Long Feng himself can take care of coordinating the Dai Li's movements. And though it might be reasonable to suggest that Long Feng underestimated Azula, Long Feng 1)knows that Azula had the intelligence and boldness to plot a takeover of Ba Sing Se and should thus be considered just as dangerous as any adult and 2)Long Feng has undoubtably had previous experience fighting political battles, both before and during his rise to power. He's obtained, and kept, the position of head of the Dai Li despite the attempts other power-hungry individuals would have wanted to replace him. He should be too smart to jeopardize his hold over the Dai Li by handing authority over them to anyone. Even if Azula's authority was only intended to be temporary, she doesn't do anything with the Dai Li that Long Feng can't do himself. It's not like the man hasn't fought directly before. Truthfully, Azula should have simply tried to kill Long Feng and anyone else who challenged her for command, and even then Azula would be taking the risk that someone ambitious enough and smart enough among the Dai Li would instigate a coup against her.
1) No, he did NOT know that Azula had the intelligence and boldness to plot a takeover; she was acting when she was first brought in front of him and probably led him to believe that the whole thing would be his plan. He gave her temporary control of the Dai Li BEFORE knowing how "terrifying and inspirational" she was. He never knew Azula personally until now, she was just the Fire Nation princess to him. 2) Long Feng doing it all himself would mean attempting a prison break, which would cause a commotion and put him in a more suspicious position when the coup was attempted. Long Feng's all about handling things quietly. He wanted to stay in prison while Azula and her friends directed the Dai Li in overthrowing the Earth Kingdom.

Oh and Azula killing Long Feng wouldn't have the same effect as her Hannibal Lecture, and why would she attempt to take out anyone who challenged her. She's way to sure of her ability to control people to do that: she never had that sort of paranoia until after Mai and Ty Lee betrayed her.
  • Yes, Long Feng knew she could plot a takeover of Ba Sing Se, since that was why Azula was in the city to begin with.
  • There's no reason for Azula to be giving orders to the Dai Li, period. It doesn't matter if Long Feng thinks of Azula as brainless thug; if the Dai Li's loyalty is based on greed, power-lust or fear then they can be corrupted. Long Feng has every reason not to give Azula a chance to win the Dai Li over.
  • Long Feng is being guarded by Dai Li. They can easily slip him out of his cell. Besides, by the time Dai Li agents are arresting generals and the Earth King and taking down our heroes, there's no more reason for Long Feng to worry about being suspicious. He doesn't have any more reason to be docile.
  • I suggested that Azula kill Long Feng since taking control of the Dai Li by force is the only realistic way to have them on her side. Long Feng isn't going to hand them over; the Dai Li are a powerful weapon and are also the most important part of the coup since they are the only ones with the power to run the city.
  • Did he know how capable she was of actually pulling it off, though?
  • Long Feng was not told that "the Dai Li's loyalty was based on greed, power-lust, or fear", he was told by the Dai Li that they were "loyal to HIM." He didn't consider Azula moving in on his territory until it started happening.
  • It would depend on if Long Feng would want that.
  • Unfortunately (for you at least), the writers weren't going for "realistic". Azula won the Dai Li over by being Azula. Call her a Villain Sue for it if you must, but that's how it is.
  • Long Feng didn't know if Azula was truly as competent as she thought she was, but he certainly wasn't going to act on the assumption that Azula was in over her head. That would be taking a needless chance.
  • Long Feng should have some idea of why the people in his employ work for him without needing to be spoon-fed the answers. He's no mind-reader, obviously, but he ought to at least know if there was the possibility that someone could give the Dai Li a more attractive alternative to working for him.
  • If Long Feng is does not want to get involved personally, why doesn't he delegate control of the coup to some trusted subordinates? He certainly doesn't need to put Azula in charge.
But the fact is, Long Feng did not do any of the things you think he should have done. He just wasn't as good at what he was doing as you thought he was or wanted him to be. You don't have to like or understand this part of the episode but Azula beating Long Feng at his own game is what happened and what needed to happen. End of story.
And the only reason that Long Feng behaved like this was so that Azula could succeed. Even though Long Feng has no reason to act the way he does.
Maybe being arrested the first time threw him off his game and he got hold of the Idiot Ball?
Azula was just being a luckier Zhao when she shot lightning at Aang. Zhao knew no restraint, and didn't seem like the guy who would stand around and wait to get his ass kicked. Azula was just better at it because the writers had to show her as being powerful enough to be a viable threat. That's why Long Feng gave up instantly.
>She doesn't ask that he form a new kind of government

Kyoshi didn't believe there was anything wrong with this kind of government. Her job as the Avatar was generally to keep things the same as they've always been.

Aang was a progressive avatar, but generally all the Avatars before him did the job of ensuring that the borders between the nations stayed the same for the most part and that their governments also remained the same traditional forms of government that they'd always been. That's the Avatar's job.

The Dai Li were not created to be the king's private army or police force. They were meant to be an independent organization that ensured that the traditional form of government and social structure always stayed intact, because Earth Kingdom people don't like change very much and the Avatar's job was never really to create new forms of government as much as it was to make sure the traditional forms stayed in place. The Dai Li were for all intents and purposes an independent organization that served as advisers to the King. They stopped any rebellion that might change the government or social structure of Ba Sing Se, but were also there to make sure that Earth King ran the government correctly according to how Earth Kingdom culture and tradition said an Earth King should behave.
Wait; how did [Iroh] know where they were? I know how he knew they were in Ba Sing Se, but how did he know how to find the Gaang's house?

Remember those leaflets Aang dropped, which Zuko caught one of? You'd have to know how to read Chinese to get it, but Aang's address is written on the flier.
"Such a person would kneel down, earthbend her out of that seat, and then perform that kill-move he used on Jet while she's flying through the air."

And upon doing so, Azula would notice his attempted assault given he's directly in front of her, dodge it and strike him dead with lightning.

Long Feng is a schemer. He knows any opposite towards Azula means either his political or literal demise. Therefore, he chooses the more advantageous path of servitude.

Honestly, do you even pay attention to the nuisances or does that get in the way of your rants?
Yangchen was pretty much femJesus, she was so good that she created a golden age of peace, the kind that could allow Kuruk to exist in the first place.

Kuruk attacked Koh but apparently he didn't know what Koh did. But again, a bit of a story weakness, although implications can be subverted, so that's not an issue.

It was a compromise; The King wanted Kyoshi to straight up preserve the status you but The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized so she had to ensure a peace, thus rather than letting the peasants go all French Reign Of Terror on them, she forced the King to not be a dick and kept anarchy from coming across with the Dai Li. And her age isn't a plot hole, old ages aren't unknown in the Avavverse (Sozin, Azulon, etc.) And Earth-folk are the longest lasting, combine that with the Avatar power boost and its not that crazy. Aang had like 160 years of Ava-juice in him, and they said she was the longest among them, so not that hard. Roku sucks. :P

The whole Katara / Hakoda plot annoys me, becomes it comes out of freaking nowhere. Watch Bato of the Water Tribe. Katara is HAPPY at the idea of joining her dad (not as much as Sokka, who is positively hyper, but my point stands). There's NO trace of the abandonment issues she has here. This plot comes out of nowhere, and quietly leaves, not accomplishing anything.
I always assumed that Zuko and Mai were continuing a relationship. That's the feel I got from watching the two of them interact. Kataang, by contrast, spent most of its shelf-life in the form of a one-sided crush on Aang's part. Katara seemed too old to be interested in Aang romantically (even if it's only a two-year age difference).
Earth is round you know, he probably just went around the other way.

And yeah, I think the Maiko issues are due to the episode editing problems you've noted.

And I hope the Yue thing was a joke.

Good Review.
Earth is round you know, he probably just went around the other way.

That still doesn't work. They are almost smack dab in the center of the world map. Fire Nation is on the western edge. Ergo, half way across the world, no matter which direction they go.
The whole Katara / Hakoda plot annoys me, becomes it comes out of freaking nowhere. Watch Bato of the Water Tribe. Katara is HAPPY at the idea of joining her dad (not as much as Sokka, who is positively hyper, but my point stands). There's NO trace of the abandonment issues she has here. This plot comes out of nowhere, and quietly leaves, not accomplishing anything.

My thoughts exactly. This actually WAS poor writing, and yet Korval doesn't call it out? I call bullshit on this liveblog!
Um... The "Kataango" isn't a dance. They're using nothing but Waterbending moves. They're sparring. And are they having fuuuuun.
The teacher's name is Ms. Kwan.
As much as I actually agree that this episode was a display of Katara being a self-righteous Mary Sue who gets away with it, the whole rant on the "I will never, ever turn my back on people who need me" was REALLY nitpicky. You know arrogance wasn't the intent of the line; it was just phrased wrong. She was basically saying that if she has the opportunity and the ability to help people out, she will not pass it up. With great power comes great responsibility and all.
This is the same guy who took an offhanded joke comment from Toph and used it to say there was a characterization shift later in the episode. I've learned to gloss over the nitpicks because there are a lot more solid arguments in this liveblog.
The Irony is lost on you I see.
I actually liked this episode. Not one of the better ones, but I did like it. Still, your criticisms about it cutting into the schedule of the war, or how the heroes put the village in danger, are spot on, and I missed both of those when I was originally watching it.
What I find funny is when Katara says she will never turn her back on people who need her, most people will point at her leaving Jet. I remember her being determined to abandon the people of Ba Sing Se.

Who's interested in an episode-by-episode calculation of exactly how much time passed in the show, including the first half of Season 3?

Before anyone says it's impossible to accurately calculate the passage of time in Avatar The Last Airbender, I'm going to agree with you; it is impossible. Using the lunar calender, that is. The phases of the moon change according to the plot and are very inaccurate, but that just means we have to use the solar calender, instead. In other words, we'll have to calculate time according to the solstices, and even according to the solar eclipse and Sozin's Comet.

First of all, exactly when did Sozin's Comet happen? All we ever got on the time was “the end of summer.” And the Western calender and Chinese calender have very different views on when the seasons start and end, and we don't know which calender Roku was using when he said that. The Western calender names the solstices and the equinoxes as the beginning points of the respective seasons, but the Chinese calender has them as the mid-points of the seasons, because of China's location. The end of summer according to the Western calender would be September 22-23, when the autumnal equinox occurs and marks the beginning of the autumn season. But, in the Chinese calender, the end of summer happens earlier than that, around August 7, about six and a half weeks after the summer solstice, which would be June 21-22. If we wanted to more or less satisfy both definitions of the end of summer, we could pick the mid point between the different dates as the “end of summer” as used by Roku; August 31-September 1.

Now, let's say that that is when Sozin's Comet occurred. Let's count back from that date, shall we? Between Aug. 31st-Sep. 1st and the summer solstice, June 21-22 (a.k.a. The Avatar And The Fire Lord), would be 68-69 days. Almost 2 ½ months or 10 weeks. Between the summer solstice and the winter solstice, which is about December 21-22 (a.k.a. The Spirit World part 2: Avatar Roku), would be 182-183 days. 6 ½ months or 26 weeks. Which also includes the time skips that occurred between the three seasons, however long they were.

So let's add it up. About 2 ½ months + 6 ½ months = about 9 months, from the winter solstice to Sozin's Comet. If we were to add an extra month or six weeks to that number for the first seven episodes of Season 1 that took place before the winter solstice, that would be 10 ½ months at the most. On average, that would be 4.8 days per episode for all three seasons, if they each covered that much time and there weren't any time skips between seasons. If we used the Chinese calender and started earlier than August 31, with Aug. 7 as the date of Sozin's Comet and counted back to Dec. 22 from that day instead, then added six weeks for the first episodes, that would give us about 9 ½ months instead, leaving us with average 4.3 days per episode. If we started from a later date, with Sep. 21 (the day or two before the autumn equinox) as Sozin's Comet and did the same thing, that would be 11 months and seven days, with an average of 5.3 days per episode.

In other words, no matter which calender you use, the time that passed in the cartoon between The Boy in the Iceberg and Sozin's Comet was less than a year. Having clarified that, let's focus on the time that passed during the first half of Season 3, which is what you have a problem with in this article.

The Awakening – 2 days. The Headband – 2 days. The Painted Lady – Approx. 1 week. This episode is tricky, because they could've spent anywhere between one day to several days cleaning the river at the end of it. However, only four days passed before that, and if we say it took three days to clean up the river as much as they were able to, then that would be a week, so let's just go with that. Sokka's Master – 2 days. The Beach – 1 day. Azula mentions them having to stay at Ember Island for a week, and since at least her and Zuko were back at the capital by the next episode, then we need to remember to add in this minor time skip. The Avatar and the Fire Lord – This is also tricky, as we don't know how much time passed between Roku telling Aang to go to his island during the Summer Solstice and the actual Summer Solstice. But, since Zuko read Sozin's last testimonial during the solstice, and it took him at least a day to figure out that that was what the letter was saying to do, with some more time passing after the solstice itself showing Zuko confronting his uncle about the letter, let's just say 3 days for this episode, to be safe. The Runaway – This one is easy. The episode specifically states two days passed before when the episode started, so all we have to do is add another day for Katara and Toph's scam attempt and subsequent events. 3 days. The Puppetmaster – 2 days. Technically 3 nights and 2 days. Nightmares and Daydreams – 3 days. Day of Black Sun parts 1 and 2 – Both episodes happen over the course of 1 day.

So, including the assumed week that passed between The Beach and The Avatar And the Fire Lord, how much time passed during the first half of Season 3? I got 33 days including The Awakening and The Headband, and The Day of Black Sun two-parter after Nightmares and Daydreams. From just The Painted Lady to Nightmares and Daydreams, however, it's only 18 days. That doesn't count any time that passed in between those episodes except for the one week Azula mentioned, but let's add, say, one day between each episode. Number of episodes = 7. Days between episodes = 6. 18 days + 6 offscreen days between the Painted Lady and Nightmares and Daydreams = 24 days.

So that's about how much time passed in the first part of Season 3, accounting for overhead.

Having figured that out, how much time did Team Avatar have to spare for things like the Painted Lady episode during that part of the story, anyway, if they had any time to spare at all? That answer will take longer to answer, because we'd have to start back at the beginning of the series and count forward, but I'm game.

Let's say that Sozin's Comet takes place on the last day of summer according to the Chinese calender, August 6, which is the earliest it would have happened. Not only is the Chinese calender the more likely candidate than the Western Calender is, considering the Asian influence of the Avatar world, but it would also give Team Avatar the tightest deadline plausible to defeat the Fire Nation before Sozin's Comet. Using the dates and calculations we figured out using the Chinese calender before, with the extra six weeks tagged onto the front of it to be safe, The Boy In The Iceberg/The Avatar Returns happened about Nov. 10th.

So, six weeks pass. They visit the Southern Air Temple, all the spots marked on Sokka's map, Kyoshi Island, la la la la, until they end up at Hei Bai's forest two days before the Winter Solstice, December 20th, give or take. Let's say that the actual Winter Solstice occurred on Dec. 22.

Okay, so after the vagueness of how much time had passed before, now we can get someplace. Now we have a definite, real-world, astronomical event that canonically did happen during the story, to mark the passage of time with from here to Sozin's Comet. First, Season 1:

The Waterbending Scroll – 2 days. Jet – 3 days. The Great Divide – 2 days The Storm – 1 day. Technically 1 day and 1 night. The Blue Spirit – 2 days The Fortuneteller – 2 days (doesn't seem like two days at first glance, but the ash and smoke from the erupting volcano can make it look like night had fallen again and that three days passed instead of two). Bato of the Water Tribe – 2 days The Deserter – 2 days. The Northern Air Temple – 1 day. Technically 1 night and 1 day. The Waterbending master – 4 days Siege of the North 1 and 2 – 3 days

Total = 24 days. Like before, let's add in 1 day offscreen that happened between episodes, also taking into account times where we know more than a day passed since the previous episode. Two days passed between The Northern Air Temple and the Waterbending Master. Between The Waterbending Master and the Siege of the North, however, is difficult. There couldn't have been one day between them, because there's no way Katara could've picked up enough Waterbending to shoot to the top of Pakku's Waterbending class with only one day's training. If it weren't for the moon phases being messed up, we could compare the current moon phase with the phases seen during the Waterbending Master (which would be about three weeks.) So let's say half that time passed between the Waterbending Master and The Siege of the North, 11 days.

Offscreen days = 21 days. 21 off screen days + 24 on-screen days = 45 days since the Winter Solstice, December 22. That would place the day after the Seige of the North at Feb. 6, right around when the Chinese define the beginning of the spring season.

Now for the time skip that happened between Team Avatar being at the North Pole and them being somewhere off the Earth Kingdom coast at the beginning of Season 2. Iroh mentions being on the raft him and Zuko escaped the North Pole on for three weeks, and assuming some time had passed between those three weeks and perhaps the two of them having to reach the actual Fire Nation colonies on foot, let's say four weeks have passed since Feb. 6th and the Siege of the North, which places us at March 6th as we begin Season 2.

The Avatar State – 3 days The Cave of Two Lovers/Return to Omashu – 2 days The Swamp – 2 days Avatar Day – 2 days The Blind Bandit – 2 days Zuko Alone (assuming that this episode didn't occur at the same time that The Blind Bandit did) – 2 days. The Chase – 2 days. Bitter Work – 1 day. The Library/The Desert – 2 days The Serpent's Pass/The Drill – 2 days City of Walls and Secrets – 2 days Tales of Ba Sing Se – 2 weeks; see notes for next episode. Appa's Lost Days – The episode specifies that four weeks passed between Appa getting captured by the Sandbenders and eventually ending up at and getting captured again at Ba Sing Se. The episode shows that both The Serpent's Pass episode (shown by the Gang sleeping at the camp they'd made there for the night and Zuko and Iroh being on the ferry) and probably part of City of Walls and Secrets (as shown by the shot of Aang sleeping in Ba Sing Se when we find out that he's not the one blowing the bison whistle that Appa was answering to) happened during this episode. If so, then Appa would've been captured by Long Feng the very night before the Earth King's party, allowing him to use Appa as blackmail for Aang. And that's assuming that he wasn't messing with Aang's head and didn't actually capture Appa until during Tales of Ba Sing Se. The Serpent's Pass episode had already come and gone halfway during this episode, but Appa didn't go to Ba Sing Se then. At least 5 days passed between the scenes that showed those episodes and when he actually did go to Ba Sing Se itself. From this, we could say that Tales of Ba Sing Se happened over a course of approximately between one and two weeks. Lake Laogai/The Earth King – 3 days The Guru/The Crossroads of Destiny – Aang said he wouldn't be back for a week during the Guru, but it's safe to say that he flew as fast as he could back to Chameleon Bay to get Sokka because he knew something was wrong with Katara, and got there sooner than that. More than likely both episodes occurred over a week.

So let's add all this up. I know this is getting tedious, but bear with me. On-screen days = 46 days. Off screen days = only 11 (thanks to all the two-parters and simultaneous episodes that happened in this season). Off screen + on screen = 57 days from March 6th, where we've gauged the season started, and a little over 4 ½ months since the Winter Solstice. Now it's about May 2nd as Team Avatar escapes from Ba Sing Se. To be more specific, it's two months before the summer solstice, and 3 ½ months before Sozin's Comet right now.

Now for the second time skip. We really don't have anything definite about this one, outside Katara's offhanded comment about Aang being out for a few weeks. We could try guessing how long it took for Aang's hair to grow out and all, but we don't know how fast his hair grows. Can we just say that four weeks passed here the same as did after Season 1? That would put us at May 30-31 when Aang wakes up at the beginning of Season 3, just short of the summer months. Less than one month away from the events of The Avatar and the Fire Lord, 2 ½ months before Sozin's Comet, and 33 days before the Day of Black Sun, like we'd figured out earlier. So let's see what we get when we add up all of Season 3:

The Awakening – 2 days. The Headband – 2 days. The Painted Lady – 1 week. Sokka's Master – 2 days. The Beach – 1 day. 7 days mentioned by Azula The Avatar and the Fire Lord – 3 days. The Runaway – 3 days. The Puppetmaster – 2 days. Nightmares and Daydreams – 3 days Day of Black Sun parts 1 and 2 – 1 day. The Western Air Temple – 2 days The Firebending Masters – 3-4 days, depending on how long it took for Zuko and Aang to come back from the Sun Warriors. The Boiling Rock 1 and 2 – 3 days The Southern Raiders – 5 days, but let's go ahead and round it up to 7, since Katara and Zuko had to go back and pick the others up before going to the beach house. The Ember Island Players – 1 day Sozin's Comet 1 and 2 – 3 days

On screen days = 53. Off screen days = 14 (again, less than season 1 because of the two part episodes, and including the week we'd already counted after The Beach). 53 + 14 = 67 days, between The Awakening and Sozin's Comet. 2 months and 11 days to be exact. Total days from the Winter Solstice, Dec. 22, to Sozin's Comet, Aug. 6th = a little over 8 months.

So, how much time did Team Avatar waste before Nightmares and Daydreams, if they did? We've already agreed that 33 days passed between The Painted Lady and Nightmares and Daydreams, and that's including the off screen days we added for overhead. On average, that would be 6.6 days per episode. So is that how many days each episode covered? No, it's not. Did Team Avatar waste time pussyfooting around like they did before Nightmares and Daydreams? They ran a bigger risk of getting caught, yes, but did it really cut into their time, necessarily? No, it didn't. They had enough time to spare, Sokka was just overreacting like he does a lot of the time. Heck, if they really had stayed on a tight schedule while doing everything that they did before going to the rendezvous point, they would have gotten there even earlier than four days.

And all of this, of course, is assuming that both of the time skips really did cover four whole weeks apiece, that it really did take Katara one and a half weeks to become Pakku's star pupil during Season 1, that the Tales of Ba Sing Se really did last for two whole weeks, and that Zuko Alone happened after The Blind Bandit, instead of during it. Any variation of these in any combination would've added even more overhead to the first half of Season 3 then we've already got.

Correction: My bad. Only 24 days had passed between The Painted Lady and Nigthmares and Daydreams. 24 days divided by 5 episodes = 4.8 days average per episode inbetween the two episodes.
Hey, if Aang's allowed to open seven chakras in the course of mere hours, I see nothing wrong with Sokka becoming a competent swordsman in two days.

I'm loving your blog, man. It's impressive how much you think about and analyze these things.
@Shadow Warden Well, thing is, mastering spiritual peace is one thing. A normal person learning good skill in an art that requires physical might and precision, as well as a proper mindset is something else entirely.

On the commentary for this section, Brian Konietzko (one of the co-creators of the series) said, "Everything that Aang is wearing represents stylistic elements that Mike and I don't really care for." Um, OK. But why is it here? You're not really poking fun at it. And the references are so muddled and incomprehensible that it's impossible to even know what these stylistic elements actually are. You can't just put a bunch of stuff into a blender, plop it onto the screen, and expect us to know what the hell you're talking about. And it certainly doesn't amount to satire or mockery.

I can clearly see what they were going for. They were parodying the insanely ridiculous Armour Costumes that are all the rage in JRPG's or Shonen Anime. They wanted to make an almigated reference. And they poked fun at it by having Aang unable to stand in the stuff, let alone move. You say pointless, I laughed, I saw where the satire was, and I knew what they were referring to.

Because obviously regular shiny swords aren't spechule enough for a member of the Gaang. No, he needs the Black Sword.

Well, if they have an Avatar, they may as well make the connection complete. And at least they didn't infuse an evil demon into it.

The Fire Nation sent a team of a hundred soldiers to arrest him for desertion. He beat them. All of them. I remind you that Piandao is not a bender.

Pssh. Come back when he's blown up a Tank with a Sword and a Hand Grenade.
Most people on an exercise regiment have...y'know...lives. They have jobs or friends or whatever so don't spend nearly as much time exercising if one might if all he had to do was sleep and eat. And let's face it—there's no reason to believe that Iroh isn't continually exercising whenever there's no one in the room with him or he isn't sleeping. Not to mention that he's not eating nearly as much as he would be otherwise, so it's not like he'd be putting on a lot of weight. So it's somewhat justifiable that Iroh gets more ripped in two months than most get in a year.
Really, the armor scene was pretty much one, BEVERLEY funny jab at Anime attitues and especially the toy markers, I find it a funny Fandom Nod to have Aang demonstrating why all that stuff that has been talked about to death wouldst work. Besides, "swosh, swosh" is gold.

Also Piando was looking for humility not bad self-esteem. He gets tons of request by argat douchetards for traing, and heres a kimd amditting he needs help. Espiclly in an Asian culutre that goes far.

Aslo note that this isnt just some slob, he's the M Otherfucking Dragon of the West, Iroh. 2 Months can get him boosted for sure.

Also note that he's a military deserter.

And in the art book , it is said that they wanted to do an insert of him from the start, but lacked the proper character, so when they decided to make an ep were Sokka gets a master, they naturally gave him their irl master. S Imple.
You forgot one point of the Sokka/Piandao duel; Piandao is praising Sokka every few seconds for instinctively pulling stunts that it took him years to figure out. He's saying that Sokka will be eventually more awesome than he is - and he's 1000% true. Sokka outdoes him by taking out an entire fleet of airships within just a few months.
As an Asian martial artist myself, I would just like to say that I fully agree with every one of your statements blasting the cryptic pseudo-wisdom that comes out of the mouths of every character that's supposed to be "wise". All that mystical stuff is the cancer that's killing my beloved kung fu and relegating it to obsolescence in the face of MMA.
1. Of course Ty Lee used the guys as shade, she loved it!

2. The FN are the most advanced Nation on Earth, they also are at an upscale area filled with rich folk, probably the place for a high-class luxury. Besides, they never said it had to stick to a strict tehc tree. Life is not civ, tech incoungrojucnes happen all the time.

3.Again its not voleyball and , b IT CAT BE AN ANACHRNISM IF IT'S NOT EARTH! T His is a fictinal world they can have whatver hey want! Having an asianish voleyball analouge isnt that far off, hell it has sevarl real wolr analouges dating back quite far!!!

4.Its not filler ifit establishes a major villian

5.Ink doesn't make sound...]

6.running and hopping on short terrain isnt the same as a straght sprint run.

7.dude, her daughter was girl Hitlr, just saying, Zula also just noted that she thought she was amonster not that she said it.
"And doesn't all this look so very modern for the time period?"

Which would be...when, exactly? Oh, don't get me wrong, the show does borrow a lot from the past, but we've got shit like giant drills and battle zeppelins. I don't think sand castles and volleyball are that big a deal.
Surprised that you liked this one. Alot of people actaully HATE this episode and think it's stupid filler. But I've always been a fan of villain spotlight episodes, so naturally this was one of my favorites.
Mai and Zuko decide to spend some quality time under an umbrella. And doesn't all this look so very modern for the time period?

The ancient Egyptian had umbrellas dude. The chinese have had collapsible umbrella since ''21 AD.
So what Iroh is saying is that he's evil?
Good job analyzing the whole Roku thing with Zuko. That wasn't good writing: it was an unnessecary twist that gives all sorts of Unfortunate Implications and then is never spoken of again. Yes, even when Zuko is with Aang, he never once tells him "Hey, you were my great grandfather in your past life, y'know." Making the whole reveal pointless. So you're actually right on this; none of it did matter.
I originally liked this episode, but all the flaws you point out are true. At first, my complaint was that "Let's share our prosperity with the world" seemed like a dumb reason to start a war, unless Sozin was lying to Roku. But the things you point out are much bigger writing mistakes.
I agree that the whole Genetic Morality bit was a line of bull... but for some reason I think Iroh knew it was a line of bull, and more to the point a line of bull that would get Zuko thinking in terms of living up to different ancestors rather than making his Old Man happy.
How exactly does Toph Vision allow her to see this? Toph can see stuff that's sitting on earth; that's fine. But can she see stuff that is on stuff on the ground, even when the stuff between them is not earth? Apparently so, since she can see a pebble through a wooden table.

That brings lots of questions. Does Toph see a boulder when she uses earthbending to make it fly? Is something being pure stone alone enough for her to see it.
I always assumed the vision had nothing to do with what the surface was made of unless you factor in the state of matter. She can make out people and shapes so long as they're on the ground or on something that's on the ground or on something that's on something that's on the ground (etc, etc.)
Getting kind of sick of the way this liveblog treats Toph. She's not a very important or developed character, but that doesn't mean she's not a character and the writers didn't think that either.
I like Toph, I do think of her as a character, just not one that's as developed as the others and given as much detail as the others.

The name "Sparky Sparky Boom Man" for the villain is one I initially hated, but later I came to realize it's pretty accurate. Listen to the noises that occur every time he attacks. Firecracker firecracker explosion. Very distinctive and funky. Plus, I actually thought it was funny how after one name is proposed, the next character actually uses it in context. ("Sparky Sparky Boom Man is after us!")
Right, because this moment where a tragic hero is taken into captivity is all about you!

Wow. Draco In Leather Pants and Ron The Death Eater much?

Also, when you were bitching about Hama's fate, you neglected to take into account Hama's motives as to why she did all this to teach Katara bloodbending. Simply put, she's old and near death. If she didn't pass on the technique she invented to a younger, stronger waterbender, than her technique would go with her when she died. This would pretty much make her entire messed up life a waste; as if she lived and suffered (and learned bloodbending) in vain. She had to ensure it all had meaning and teaching it to a girl who wanted nothing at all to do with it gave her a warped sense of closure. Which is why she gladly accepted being locked up in prison for the remainder of her life; it wouldn't be that long a life anyway. She got the result she wanted: Katara's a bloodbender. (HAHAHAHAHA!)
Draco In Leather Pants and Ron The Death Eater much?

So you're saying that Hama isn't a tragic hero? That she actually deserves to spend the whole of her life imprisoned, because the Fire Nation stole her away, locked her and her closest friends up, probably tortured those who attempted escape?

Yes, she Jumped Off The Slippery Slope. But it's not like Hama would have done any of that if the Fire Nation hadn't been attacking her home and captured her. Katara was right to say that she's a hero. The tragedy is that, after badassing herself free, she simply couldn't leave things alone. And in so doing, became what she despised.

you neglected to take into account Hama's motives as to why she did all this to teach Katara bloodbending.

But she didn't do "all this" to teach Katara bloodbending. She didn't go around abducting people on the off-chance that a wandering waterbending master would show up that she could teach her skills to.

Hama went into the woods fully expected Katara to just learn the technique from her, the way she'd taught Katara the other stuff that day. The fight wasn't part of the plan. Nor was getting Aang and Sokka involved; that was just a fortunate circumstance for her.
Yes, Hama's a tragic fallen hero. But she was still a crazy, morally dubious antagonist and what she was doing, as you said, wasn't right. Katara was overwhelmed by the scary technique she just learned to really pay attention to Hama's capture, so the "all about you" crticism doesn't fit.

And the abducting people had nothing to do with her plans for Katara, nor did Aang and Sokka's involvement, and certainly not her getting locked up again. What I'm saying as that this time, she was able to accept being imprisoned for the rest of her remaining life because she had accomplished what she was setting out to do with Katara.
If they're bound they CANNOT bend. They just ensure that they are chained whenever they would need to go, and that when they ARE unchained they make sure that any messes are cleaned, and to beat the fucking shit out of them if they move a finger.

And I'd note that Katara did it for legitimate revenge, Hama was just committing hate crimes. You see an old Japanese man on the news chaining up white people in his basement for months because he was in interment and see how much sympathy he gets.
While you complain about lack of subtlety, ironically, I actually assumed the overt "witch" and "creepy" references were meant to be red herrings, and there was nothing odd going on, or a logical explanation.

The way the prisoners were treated in that flashback looked exceptionally harsh for a kids' cartoon. Quite morbid. Not complaining, as I think kids can handle this stuff (and probably have pretty damn morbid imaginations themselves), not to mention there's the season 1 threat, "We'll keep you alive, but just barely" to Aang to prevent his reincarnation.
The entire invasion hinges on one key detail - everyone in the Gaang thinks that everyone else in the world thinks Aang is dead. Without Aang, the whole invasion is a farce - how do you break into a capitol city and eliminate its dictator in just eight minutes? Without a living WMD like the Avatar?

Is it really their fault that they don't know that Azula is some kind of magic princess who can tell if someone she kills is brought back to life with Plot-magic water?
I agree with this asessment gets better in the next part. Especially for Zuko.
Actually, in the Cave of Two Lovers, Iroh was uncertain as to if the plant he saw was the White Jade or if it was poison.

Which renders a large amount of that griping to be unfounded...

Are all these Complaining About Shows You Don't Like?
The Gaang is surprised. Of course they are. It's not like they knew going in that it was a trap or anything. It's not like one of them, who was smart enough not to come along on this suicide mission, told them it was a trap or anything.

Back outside, you could hear Katara laughing hysterically because once again, she's always right!
Katara was the healer, ever play World Of Warcraft?
About the symoblism with Zuko's scar. I think it represents the part of Zuko that's been damaged by Ozai. That's why it's used to emphasize his darker moments.
Agree with the above post. Zuko was a troubled but perfectly good kid until Ozai gave him that scar and banished him; after that trauma, he snapped. We see it clearly in the next episode's flashback how he's suddenly acting the way he did when we first met him in Season One. The scar represents his darker side while the normal part of his face reperesents the good person he used to be and must be again.
Combustion Man is essentially Avatar's Boba Fett. No matter how much Star Wars fans deny it, he was a characterization-less villain who was there to serve the plot and then die a lame, anticlimactic, dumb luck death when the plot didn't need him anymore.
He also, was probably pissed out of being asskicked so much by little kids.

I'd also note that the Creators giving many possible reasons makes him feel more organic as a plot device, but that's just me; logically that IS what a person would do.
I liked Combustion Man as a villain for what he was: dumb, simple, distinctive and a threat. He got the short end of characterization, but he was almost an Implacable Man, and being that he never talks, that makes him seem more intimidating, I think.
I always assumed the attack was personal after getting hit in the Third Eye.

It's like they kicked him in the balls and he wanted payback.
"So the Chief tells them that, if they want to learn firebending Sun Warrior style, they have to face Ran and Shao, two masters. They'll teach them if they deem Aang and Zuko worried, otherwise they'll be destroyed on the spot."

Just pointing out a typo. Bothered me a bit.

I just archive binged your liveblog, and I have to say, great stuff. I really liked the analysis.
Interestingly enough, the original series bible by Mike and Bryan always had this "right and wrong" way of firebending in mind and the twist was that Iroh was DELIBERATELY teaching Zuko the wrong way of firebending because (in conception) Iroh was a bad guy under orders from his brother. In the finished product, Iroh became the total opposite of that, yet they still have him essentially lying to Zuko by teaching him all that hate and rage stuff for firebending. I find it weird that they never found a better way of fixing that.
1. The extinct Dragons aren't a retcon as we see that the only recurring dragon, from Season One, onward is Fang. Who is dead.

2. Iroh learned his firebreath from the dragons.

3. The Sun Warriors got there quicker because a) they didn't take the probably longer ceremonial path and b) they weren't going slow while worried about keeping fire. Also the Sun Warriors aren't "Mayan ripoffs" they mix Mesoamerican and Polynesian Native architecture, the sun motifs being decidedly Aztec.

4.Their really wasn't any real issue with the origin of Firebending. Breath is the fundamental physical manipulation, the Sun is the power source, and willpower leads to combustion. Rage is just the primary arbitrator of that.
By the way Brilliant Stuff, you're one of the best L Bs here. Can't waitil yo hit Sozin's comet.
^ When he gets to Sozin's Comet, I bet he's going to conclude it with "This series was fun, but filled with terrible writing."
I found this episode boring, but it really was full of stupid stuff. I'd consider this on par with "The Great Divide". That scene with the multicolored fire and "I understand now" was ludicrous. The rest of the episode wasn't much better.

And of the episodes you listed by the same writer, I dislike all of them, including "Avatar Day" and "Dreams and Nightmares". I like "The Avatar State" though, which you also consider good.
Re: learning martial arts from animals - plenty of real life martial arts styles claim this. Of course, the efficacy of said styles in a real fight or even a simulated fight is...dubious, at best.
Then, the writers try to shove "I have to regain my honor" down Sokka's throat, like those words sound like anything Sokka would say.

I theorize that Sokka deliberatly used those words against Zuko to make Zuko understand how he felt and help him with it. Manipulative Bastardry, much?

And the reason fans (even some who aren't Zutarians) demonize Mai is because they just cannot let go of her being willing to abandon her baby brother in her first appearance and consider it to be her Moral Event Horizon and nothing good she does afterwards can ever make up for it. Which is of course, dumb.

On a minor note, I found it a bit disconcerting when Chit Sang's girlfriend and best friend got left behind on the second escape plan.
The BROTALK (tm) on the Ballon was just priceless.

Sokka: "My first girlfreind turned into The Moon."

Zuko: "That's rough"

Sokka: "Yeah."

Totally agree here. To give a comparison, take the bit in Bakuman (If you haven't read Bakuman, it's a series about a Manga making duo) when their editor Miura says that if Mashiro can't agree with his view, then Takagi should drop him as a partner. Takagi does NOT shake off that line. He damn near ends his cooperation with Miura then and there, and it takes Miura some grovelling and a big apology before he can even get back to speaking terms with them.

On the revenge subject I would like another comparison on how to do this kind of plot. I point to the Doctor Who episode "Dalek". SF Debris already addressed this moment in a great way, but it bear briefly repeating: "You would make a good Dalek" was a brilliant line, and coupled with the Doctor's attitude through the entire episode, it was a wonderful moment and a great way to show how revenge was affecting him.
LOL, I KNEW your reaction to Katara's unforgivable line was coming given your hatred of the character, Korval. I agree it was a line that the episode could've done without but I guess we're supposed to accept that Sokka realized she said it out of psychotic anger and got over it during the time she and Zuko were away. It may not be satisfying, but it's how it is.

Also, you didn't adress that the show didn't adress Zuko's hypocrisy in mocking Aang's "forgiveness" approach and saying it doesn't work. If he's saying forgiving your enemy is wrong, then by his own logic the gaang (including and ESPECIALLY Katara) shouldn't have ever forgiven him for all the bad things he's done to hurt them in the past. He's basically taking this "no forgiveness" approach as a way for Katara to finally forgive him!
This episode screams A-SUE-LA to me. Given that she can find their hideout AND escape without a hitch.
My guess is that, in universe, this is the Fire Nation's way of laughing at their enemies.
^ Though at the same time, Sokka did pass himself off as "a Sokka fan" and the actor playing Sokka didn't question it. I guess Sokka's gotten so cool that he even has a fan club within the Fire Nation?
And for the last frikking time, Toph IS a character. Being a flat, one-note character does not equal to not being a character at all. I mean, Toph wouldn't be half as popular as she is if she was the non-character you always describe her as!
Toph wouldn't be half as popular as she is if she was the non-character you always describe her as!

This show wouldn't be half as popular if he was right in any way.
^ True. But I can kind of see his point on Toph, especially on her non-prescence as a character in the 4-part finale, but that doesn't mean she's not a character nor does it mean the writers think she's not a character. He's only exaggerating the truth so he can have a "clever" way of insulting the wriitng of this show.
plus I loved her comment about Boomerang and her advencture with Zuko
Y'know, all of Korval's claims of the writers not treating Toph like a character can really be said for Ty Lee. SHE'S the character who's a non-entity in this season. She only appeared three times and aside from "The Beach", she just fought alongside Azula, followed Mai in betraying Azula, and then had one undewhelming scene in the finale. LAME. The poor girl deserved better.
But at least Ty Lee is never presented like she's meant to be one of the main character. From the beginning she never is shown to be little more than an Elite Mook for Azula.

Toph is supposed to be part of the Gaang, yet she has about the same impact on the storyline as Appa or Momo.
^ Ty Lee AND Mai were both presented as simply Elite Mooks for Azula from the beginning. Yet Mai gets much more focus than nessecary in this season simply by the virtue of being in love with Zuko. Other than her crush on Zuko (which was only brought up twice), there was nothing indicating that Mai was any more important than Ty Lee back in Season Two. Ty Lee is also a friend/minion of Azula and thus a semi-major character, yet she was given a total shaft in this season.

As for Toph, it's probably because (as Korval said) her main purpose was to be Aangs earthbending teacher and the team's main earthbender. Mike and Bryan had originally planned for Toph to be a guy who tought Aang earthbending, stuck with the group for the remainder of Season Two, and then (supposedly) left with the Earth King in Season Three, leaving Aang, Katara, and Sokka a trio again until Zuko joined them. Toph wasn't planned to get this far, thus the writers didn't have many ideas for her in a season where the focus had to be on many other, more important things.

Amd I still think that doesn't make her a non-character. Just a dissapointingly minor one.
Not sure reviewing the finale by "storylines" was the way to go, all the "i'll cover later" or "stuff happens" gives your recap a chaotic feel and makes it REALLY hard to follow. Think you'd have had more success reviewing the episodes as they come, and only do the storyline by storyline thing for the evaluations at the end. Not counting that if you will re-visit scenes again and again, this may get rather annoying.
Ghilz (edited by: Ghilz)
Naturally Katara appears and righteously wrecks his shit for... oh way, that doesn't happen. I guess we'll just forget that whole, "You make one step backward, one slip-up, give me one reason to think you might hurt Aang, and you won't have to worry about your destiny anymore. Because I'll make sure your destiny ends right then and there. Permanently!" thing. Idle threats are idle.

I REALLY wish this had been adressed in the show. Specifically, there should've been a moment after Sokka says "Zuko's attacking Aang" where Katara acts all shocked, saying that Zuko's finally going after Aang now that he's won all of their trust. But then Sokka would remember when he last saw Zuko and the "teaching you a lesson!" line and put two and two together and realize that no, Zuko's just throwing a hissy fit at Aang. Everyone would be like "oooh" but still give Zuko a big What The Hell Hero when they catch up to him. Not only would that bring Katara's threat back up, but it would also subvert it by having all the ensuing drama you think would happen...not happen. That would've been cool.
I am actually surprised you never mentioned how the Order of the White Lotus' attack on Ba Sing Se has... little purpose. Since everything hinges on Aang and Zuko, even if they liberate the place, them and their 20 supporters (count em, that's about how big this "army" is) can't hold the city from the fire nation forever after they re-organize, meaning that were Aang and Zuko defeated, the order of the white lotus just did something pretty meaningless.

And if Aang and Zuko win... then freeing Ba Sing Se was pointless.... since Zuko can just order it done.
OK, it's a kid's show. So you can't have Zuko actually murder Azula on-screen. And heavily implying it would probably also not fly.

1. Being a kid's show has nothing to do with it: Mike and Bryan say on their commentary that, coming into this fight, Zuko was desperately hoping NOT to have to kill his sister. Killing her with lightning he challenged her to fire at him would be delibarately killing her, which is out of character for Zuko, not to mention it would be the same as Iroh warned against: a sibling killing another for the throne.

2. I personally love Avatar because it often goes against what's expected. Zuko defeating Azula straight-up as the conclusion to his character arc is obvious. It's much better to subvert it and have him sacrifice his victory to save someone else. It shows how far he's come as a person rather than as a fighter.
And as for Azula...come on, you call her Villainous Breakdown an indignity inflicted on her by the writers? Again, it's all about her as a person and a character, rather than her as a villain. And again, it's about subverting what's expected. Mike and Bryan delibrately avoided the big "villain gets defeated in an epic manner, everyone is happy" ending. Instead, Azula gets defeated in a rather manner that's anticlimactic for her and rather than feel happy at her defeat, the audience and characters feel pity for her and treat this tragic figure's downfall with sadness.

And Katara..yeah, not going to even rationilize it seeing as you seem to despise the character so much and never can look past her initial incompetence at waterbending to acknowledge her development. All I'm going to say is: she's as major a character as Aang and Zuko. They needed to give her something to do, and defeating Azula was it.

As nice as this scene is, wouldn't it have been so much more effective if this was the first time Iroh spoke to Zuko? And if they didn't have that useless and horrible chat in The Avatar and The Fire Lord, everything would have been better.

THIS, I will agree with you on. The scene deliberatly plays out like a prison scene, with Iroh turning his back to Zuko and not speaking to him. That one scene with Iroh telling Zuko about his anscestory and destiny did not need to happen.
, though it could have been so much better if it actually told a story

Well, you see, it DID.

But you're never right so whatever.
^ He was referring to the battle between Zuko and Azula BEFORE Zuko made the stupid "lightning" remark and the Katara vs Azula battle that followed it. Compared to the story-based conflict going on in the Aang vs Ozai battle, this fight WAS more character-driven and less story related.
I fail to see how giving the climax of character's arcs is in any way not story related.
"Killing her with lightning he challenged her to fire at him would be delibarately killing her, which is out of character for Zuko"

Out of character? Didn't I recall him being perfectly willing to assist Katara on her quest to murder a man in cold blood? And wasn't he all for murdering Ozai too? The writers can say whatever they want, but what matters is what they present on-screen. And for the Zuko that we saw, killing her with her own lighting would be entirely in character.
Likewise Auzla was BATSHIT crazy at this point, the indignity is perfectly IC.
Zuko fell down because, if you remember from the episode lightning-redirect, that you're not supposed to redirect through the heart. While he didn't do this before, it appears to be what he did.
^^ He was only willing to assist Katara in her murder to get Katara to warm up to him; he never had any strong feelings towards it, seeing as he didn't object to Katara's final decision NOT to kill him. As for Ozai; he now sees him for what he is and REALLY wants him dead. But again, he accepts Aang's decision not to kill him and even makes the most of it by asking him the question about his mother in the end.

With Azula, I could be able to buy him being willing to put her down because she's so crazy and evil. But to do so by daring her to shoot lightning at him only to redirect it back at her? Sorry, that sounds dishonorable to me. If Zuko could spare Zhao once and then try to save him before he died, he doesn't strike me as the kind of guy who would murder his own sister in cold blood like that.
And with Yon Rah and Ozai, he was only encouraging other characters to kill that person. Do we know for sure that if it came to it, he would've commited murder himself? No. The one person in the series he ever had the opportunity to kill before was Zhao. And he was willing to spare him twice! From what I saw, Zuko's no killer.
"Which would be fine, if we hadn't had that scene back in Siege of the North when Zuko melted through ice while under a deluge of water. So the only possible explanation is that Zuko knows some bending technique that Azula doesn't." Zuko did it knowingly and held his breath. Azula was off guard and concentrated all her breath to the death shot she was going to pull. " I guess we can just forget about that bit back in The Waterbending Master, where Pakku was able to disable her bending entirely by immobilizing her. Then she slowly moves behind Azula, using the chain she picked up to bind Azula's hands and tie them to the ground. Of course, Azula does nothing to stop this, even though her hands are right next to Katara's and she's in the water rather than ice. Not even so much as a scratch with her fingernails. Once tied down, Katara lets the water go. To recap: Azula > Zuko = Katara > Azula. Somehow, I don't think the math works on that one." Unless you consider the factor of time. Also, forgetting time, in this episode only, he beat Azula to the ground and only failed when he pulled that stupid move.
Three years late on this, but...

You're dead on that the fight was too pretty and not representative enough of the characters. But as for the ending of it: the difference between the two sides in the fight is that Zuko had someone, and Azula didn't. Azula used her time making people fear, loathe and finally abandon her. Zuko finally used his to earn the trust of someone he'd previously betrayed, the person who earlier trusted him least. That someone was both a short-term weakness and the reason for his ultimate victory. Note that Zuko doesn't tell her to sit it out because he wants to do it alone; he does it, or at least tells himself he's doing it, because he's trying to protect Katara. The solo victory, the ego trip, isn't what's important to his story, and he finally *knows* it's not what's important, but protecting a friend *is*.

Of course, he was a fool to do it, because some evils won't *let* you not involve your friends, and Azula is one such evil. But Azula underestimated just how valuable and resourceful a friend can be. Katara's presence and action there was just integral to Zuko's character story and growth by showing what he both risked and gained by taking his path. Note that he didn't fail to redirect lightning - though it took a lot out of him, Zuko *succeeded* at redirecting lightning thrown AT SOMEONE ELSE, which is something we never saw Iroh do. Nice parallel to the earlier confrontation in whch Azula targeted Iroh by surprise, too. And hey, as a result of having the right friend there, Zuko was able to take back the throne *without killing his sister*. Nice parallel to Aang's story. Seriously, choreography aside, this was a GREAT conclusion. Zuko did not really choose or want the destiny of a great solo victory. So he didn't get it. He got a different kind of victory instead, the kind he chose, and it's a better one.

Oh, and if you absolutely must have a rationale, Katara subconsciously bloodbent Azula to keep her from firebending out of the ice. And no, I don't actually think that happened, but it could have, since you actually don't need a full moon to bloodbend if you're awesome and determined. Which Katara is. Especially when things are on the line.
Well, i haven't disagreed with someone more since the reviewers for Cars2 came in
A nice point, I'd point you to an Analysis page on Avatar which contends that the primary thesis of the work was Aang vs. The Avatar, and this act, beating Ozai as Aang and not as Avatar using a technique separate from the avatar state (surviving due to Toph and Zuko's techniques) and ultimately winning by rejecting the status of avatar for his own concept that we see Aang has 'surpassed' the Avatar. You can’t let your personal Pro-Killing hang-ups deny that this is both consistent with Character AND with the direction the series was going.
Uh... Disregard that above comment; it was put up there prematurely by mistake. I'll have a full response to GREAT your series later.
Ultimately, I agree with most of what you've said about this series.

I say this as the guy that gave it a mostly positive blind liveblog. I still enjoy it, and still think it's a better series than most that get aimed at kids, but I will definitely say that it's got its flaws and that you've done a masterful job of commenting on them. An excellent work of analysis and critique, sir; my hat is off to you.
Well, of course he finds something to 'hate' in every aspect of it. That was his mission statement when he set out to do this thing, as he outlined it in his very first post. Of course, calling it 'hate' is misrepresenting the entire intent here. It's criticism, and it's very well done criticism at that. There's other places to go - my liveblog being one example among many - if you want a more positive overview of Avatar. This guy very clearly accentuates the negative aspects of the series, which is absolutely fine for him to do; he said already he doesn't hate the show, and if you can see his point then I think it's fair to say that you're bothered by an opinion and mindset that you don't agree with. That's also fine. It's part of human nature.

The point he's making, and that I'm making, in regard to the final battle of spirit, is that it came out of nowhere. Of course, before then, Aang's character was on full display; that's something we expect out of a protagonist. I never meant to argue that there should have been tension as regards Aang defeating Ozai; that's a given! The tension here was Aang's conflict over whether or not to kill the Big Bad (which was already a shaky basis for conflict, due to the implausibility of no one getting killed in their previous fights), and the way it was resolved was a cop-out, regardless of the intentions the writers had going in. And that's a bad thing. It undermines everything they were trying to do.

Also, in regards to your comment: 'Must information always be spelled out for us in the show itself for it to be good writing?' Yes. It must be shown to us, told to us, or otherwise presented in some sufficiently unambiguous way as to give us the sense that we're not being slapped in the face. I'm a proponent of Death Of The Author, and I don't think that someone should have to refer to Word Of God or wikis or other informational sources in order to clarify issues present in the original work.
Like Korval said, if the writers weren't going to have Aang kill Ozai then they should never have brought the question up. This is war; good people do horrific things to themselves and others so that the people they love will be safe. Aang getting a pass on that isn't brilliant, it's a copout. Avatar is a kids' show. The writers couldn't have Aang kill Ozai, even in shadow, because that brings up the question of how Aang feels about what he did. Avatar was never intended to handle such mature issues. Korval was right. The show should have just quietly had Ozai locked away off-screen.
Avatar is a kids' show. The writers couldn't have Aang kill Ozai, even in shadow

Kids are the primary demographic but Avatar's NOT just a kids show. It has a broader appeal. Alot of people just seem to think in the Animation Age Ghetto mentality. And "it's a kids' show" is NOT the reason they didn't have Aang kill Ozai. They could get away with killing Jet, why wouldn't they be able to kill the Big Bad?

Avatar was never intended to handle such mature issues

Y'mean like war, death of family and friends, broken families and parental abuse, sexism, racism, government conspiracy, whether or not to let go of love, etc. Oh wait...

Korval was right. The show should have just quietly had Ozai locked away off-screen.

Which would've been LAME. Mike and Bryan had their resolution in mind from the start and stuck to it. And I for one am thankful that they did.

Okay, where'd my whole argument go? It's absence is especially odd seeing as one of Shadow Warden's comments directly responding to me is still there. Did a mod delete all the wank? Or did Korval? If it's the latter, then c'mon, you can't take comments that oppose your point of view?
Korval can't delete comments. A mod deleted yours when you started insulting people and saying they are "sucking up to the op" coz they disagree with you.
it's very well done criticism at that

This is a funny joke.
^It's called an opinion. It's okay to argue about weather or not he was correct, but people may have different opinions on the overall quality. I disagree with him about the whole killing issue, but I won't disagree that the commentary was in-depth and very good.
^ Problem is, "it's just an opinion" can be used as a excuse for am irrational view on things. Not all of his opinions have been irrational even if they were disagreabl but there were some that just had no excuse for being as negative and critical as they were.

Korval can't delete comments. A mod deleted yours when you started insulting people and saying they are "sucking up to the op" coz they disagree with you.

Uh, would you believe me if I said I was drunk at the time? ^_^
"Aang's off the cuff suggestion of permanently affixing Ozai's arms and legs together is a perfect example of this nonsense. What the hell kind of life is that? Unable to even move one's body around, having to be fed by someone else? Unable to write letters to someone; barely able to even take a dump. At least in prison, you can walk around and move in your cell. Aang's suggestion would leave Ozai confined to the life of a potted plant."

idk, maybe you could stop being an ableist asshat for 5 fucking seconds and find the fuck out "what the hell kind of life" that is.
Stay tuned, there are still two more to go. I have a discussion of the thematic material of the show, as well as a full conclusion left.
And I'm still prepping my commentary. ;)
So let me get this straight. Ty Lee, a bit character whose primary purpose is to increase Azula's threat level, gets more character development off screen than Toph Bei Fong does on screen this entire season. She gets a full character flaw/issue, and she gets a resolution of that issue.

If it happened off screen and now she's suddendly fine with the very thing she hated and wanted to escape, that sounds more like Character Derailment to me. The writers just didn't care about Ty Lee whatsoever.
Well their are still parts to this live blog but I am just going to say this

I don't agree with you but this was a very good live blog
Typical point of view of someone who's afraid of destiny. Not that I blame you, "destiny" is a scary concept.

She doesn't have any more reason for being evil than Zhao,

She was raised by a Complete Monster since birth. I'd say that's enough reason for her to be evil. And before you say "but so was Zuko", no, Ozai mostly neglected or abused Zuko while Iroh was the one who truly "rasied" him. There was a big difference in how Ozai treated his children and that shaped them into the people they are.
Rather than scary, destiny is actually quite a foolish concept. In real life, it can neither be confirmed nor denied, always boiling down to vague predictions with multiple interpretations, or statements made after the fact altogether. And in fiction, it robs the action of any internal consistency, and all the characters of any agency. It's like having Aang not win his battles because of any of his own personal effort, nor anything he learned over the course of the story, but merely a stroke of luck and some barely foreshadowed new powers granted by happenstance... which is exactly what happened. The Gaang's worth as characters was made no greater than if they were random bystanders watching Ozai choke on his morning tea. And in the end, the story became not about Aang - the last Airbender - but merely about the Avatar - a random assortment of arbitrary superpowers, saving the day because destiny the plot says so.

Because in fiction, this is what destiny really is - an open admission of railroading, of writers' inability to otherwise motivate their characters to follow the plot, or enable them to resolve any issues by themselves. And when it's openly affirmed, at least with a straight face, the whole story loses any meaning as a result.
So, I've decided to cover the movie. I honestly was prepared to go my entire life without seeing it. After all, it's widely regarded as being terrible, and I'm generally not a fan of crappy movies. But I think it would only be fair to dissect the film as well.

So in a couple of weeks, I'll start up with looking at The Last Airbender.
Well, it's the end. While I disagreed with you quite a bit, and there were times where you needed to lighten up, I can't deny that this was an excellently crafted liveblog. Oh, and it's fine watching The Last Airbender. It's something every Avatar fan has to take, to get closure. I thought it was the single worst movie I had ever seen in my life. And yes, I refuse to call Legend of Korra by it's full title. I hate that it's that way because James Cameron is a gigantic asshole.

Emperordaein (edited by: Emperordaein)
I...don't get you. I mean, I like how you concluded that Avatar's a quality show even after all the nitpicking you've done. Sure, you certainly had some valid complaints in this liveblog but they were mostly lost among your critical stance that made you out to be an Avatar hater.

The overall plot is formulaic and clichι.

So "The Hero's Journey" plot mixed with an epic good vs evil war story is "clichι" now?

The writing in many episodes descends too much into comedic elements to take the serious parts seriously.

You mean Komedic? Yeah, I never got what that was supposed to mean.

While the plot is formulaic in overall structure, it is executed reasonably well within that structure.

And that's really what matters. You can't complain about cliches when that's in effect.

But the main attraction is the characters. They are usually effectively written, creating in most cases actual, consistent people rather than comical caricatures.

Yet you ripped on so many of the characters so much that I got the impression that the only character you really liked was Azula. You ripped on Aang's irresponsibility and "selfishness", especially in the finale, Katara's inept waterbending and her being "always right and always getting her way", Sokka's bufoonary, Toph's continous fading as a character, Zuko being a failure all the time, and Iroh being a weakly-written good guy with a tea obsession.

While I would say that the show doesn't live up to the hype that some of its more rabid fans have given to it, it certainly does stand as a quality show.

That's a fair enough description.
Well, this gives me prep time for my reply/response/rebuttal. Good Show! PM me!
Woah woah woah woah. Why is this in Anime?
Yeahhhhh, no. After all these complaints, all these nitpicks and all these attempts to convince me that great writing is actually horrible writing. I'm supposed to believe that you genuinely like this show? You might, but it's for a lot of the wrong reasons.

Now I like the show too, and I acknowledge that it has flaws. But the things you brought up and harshly you react to them is what convinces me that you don't care for TLA as much you'd like us to think.

But on the positive side, you did bring up good points every once in a while and it was a pleasure to read this.