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Leradny2010-12-20 15:31:14

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Part Three: Aasif Mandvi Reports Live From His Pity Date With Zuko

When last we left off three days ago when I should have been updating yet wasn't, because I couldn't stomach more than twenty minutes of this slime a week, our lovely waterbender Katara was being about as compassionate, understanding, and mobile as a block of cardboard. Well, scratch that. Even cardboard would be moving around quite a bit in the large whirlwind Ung had created due to his immense distress. Sokka was likewise doing nothing to soothe Ung's hurt feelings at being the only one left of his people, and actively telling his sister to have Ung just let it out while they ran away, or something. Our resident villain Prince Zuko was being all wibbly, making the task of not sympathizing with him very hard. You try not sympathizing with that face.

Oh, whoops! That's Show!Zuko. But Movie!Zuko is Dev Patel, whose career will take a beating from mere association with this movie, so it all evens out.

And our hero Ung who had just returned from a touching flashback to his dear mentor Monk Gyatso had somehow opened his eyes in the midst of a strange forest complete with Bad Blue Lighting. This makes this scene look even more washed out than the white glaciers and steel gray oceans of the Southern Water Tribe, or the dead brown trees and dusty Air Temple, or... Well, perhaps not Zuko's ship. Certainly it is the darkest scene this side of Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow, making the flashback in relation look like the brightest scene this side of Tim Burton's Big Fish.

Ung glances around in bewilderment before heading to a cave, which is somehow even darker than Prince Zuko's warship. The camera focuses on a bunch of rocks in the darkness, and I wait expectantly for something to jump out at the screen (remember, this is showing in 3-FRICKING-D and we gotta give the viewers their money's worth!). When a deep, gravelly voice addresses Ung and a pair of particularly bright stones disappear and reappear as if blinking, I realize that we are already staring at the face of a... small-eyed horse?

Even now, whoever is in charge of storyboarding has decided that traditional, non-distracting angles Will Not Work To Portray The Vision of M. Night Shyamallamma, and has cut off the top and bottom quarter of the dragon(?)'s face. Or maybe the camera is fixed to remain a set distance away from whatever it's aimed at, which would explain why shorter people like Ung and Katara manage to fit entirely in frame while insanely tall people like Zuko (whose actor is 6'1") need creative angles.

Katara's voice mumbles something about being there as long as Ung needs her (gee, a little late much Missie Exposition?) and Sokka, while Ung and the dragon have a stare-off. Ung's expression is still mildly bewildered and the dragon's indiscernable due to the fact that all we see are its glowing eyes and its nostrils, if we squint a bit and turn the monitor's brightness up. Then we realize that the dragon just asked Ung where the hell he's been for the past hundred years or so—but before Ung can answer, the creepy forest fades out to the dingy brown Air Temple, where he opens his now regular eyes. Still waiting for Katara to give him a damn hug or something.

Scene shift to a telescopic view of Prince Zuko where Aasif Mandvi is live on the scene of The Last Airbender! He helpfully remarks for the benefit of the viewer that Zuko is a banished prince, and decides to... I don't know, go on some sort of pity date with him since he was in the neighborhood. Or a stalker date, seeing as he was scoping out Zuko, a banished prince, and conveniently "in the neighborhood". There is not a viewer among us who doesn't mentally say "Back to you, Jon!" as the scene shifts. While Zuko uncomfortably picks at his food and his uncle decides to sit between them in case this is, in fact, a stalker date, Aasif announces to his soldiers that something something Prince Zuko was banished something something Fire Lord renounced his love. While Aasif goes on and on about Zuko's dirty laundry, a pretty good approximation of Show!Zuko's Woobie expression makes me want to shove a ferret down Aasif's pants and see how long it is before he begs for us to spare his nads. I mean, this is a villain who we would feel great kicking the shit out of.

Then we see a closeup of Zuko's face and UGH, is the rash getting aggravated by all the blood rushing to his face? Then his expression shifts to anger and while his fist clenches, a candle flame detaches from its wick and drifts in the direction of Aasif (who is still rattling off just about every humiliating event Zuko has ever participated in, including that one time he got really drunk and went cow tipping but the cow was actually his dad's car and they broke all the windows and Ozai was so mad he scarred Zuko's face). Iroh puts his hand over the fist and apparently the candle extinguishing ability works even if another bender is already controlling the flame, because we don't see it in the next shot and we are once more convinced that this is the coolest uncle ever. Or I don't know, maybe he was blocking the Force use of Zuko's chi. Meanwhile I wonder why none of the soldiers saw the candleflame acting weirdly and alerted Aasif to the fact that his major dickitude was pissing Zuko off. Actually they seemed pretty apathetic so maybe they weren't paying attention. I know I stopped around "Ozai renounced his love".

This is waaaaaaay boring Aasif, do you have a new writer on board or something?

Oh, wait—Aasif Mandvi, in front of a live audience, spilling out really embarrassing and personal aspects of Zuko's life? Fire everywhere? This isn't a pity date or a stalker date! It's a roast! Then he closes the speech with something like "he's not even allowed to wear the Fire Nation uniform really, but since we're all friends we're just gonna let him wear it like a child wearing a costume". Silence falls as everyone privately thinks that Aasif's gone a little too far with the last one, which is correct as Zuko gets out of his chair, towers over Aasif from behind, and gets ready to say a badass oneliner before punching that fucker in the face!

...Actually no, he just whispers that Aasif will one day bow to him and storms out, not even leaping over the table to make his exit as dramatic as possible. Well, anticipation can get worse than the actual deed. I guess. Iroh follows, but not before finishing whatever's on his plate.

Then a closeup of a drawn portrait with a couple and their two kids, one of which is probably Zuko. Said banished prince stares at it for a moment before tucking it back into his jacket and nodding at a bunch of men circled around him, who start whaling on him. Or attempting to whale on him. Instead he whales on them without even using his bending, before going on and using his bending anyway to get some practice in. Iroh observes his nephew's badassitude while drinking tea, and I have to wonder what the point of this scene is. Even considering the fact that Aasif's soldiers would have gotten all up in Zuko's space if a fight started, I'm pretty sure he and Coolest Uncle Ever could escape to their own ship with some luck and that would have been just as effective.

The kids are now in the Southern Earth Kingdom. Katara wears a heavily embroidered and somewhat nice-looking blue kimono under her parka, which is distracting not due to the angle but due to the fact that it's crossed right over left. Possibly this signifies her status as dead weight—though she is feeding the lemur-bat so she must have a few uses here and there. She asks Ung if he's okay, and Ung no doubt surprises all the viewers when he answers "I'm fine." Not because he's just experienced massive trauma, but because he's actually answered a question!

Katara, not wishing to press her luck, remarks that her gran believes Ung is the Avatar because he is an airbender, and the last Avatar who disappeared was one as well. Despite it not being a question, this is avoided by Ung asking how much territory the Fire Nation controls, but I'll give the kid a little slack since he is grieving for the death of his people and all. Katara does her exposition spewing and Sokka asks Ung if he's the Avatar. I'll give him a little slack on the abrupt subject change, since he only heard about seventy-five percent of the conversation and couldn't possibly know they were off the subject of Ung being the Avatar already.

Apparently Ung has a serious lump in his throat as he stares at Sokka for maybe five seconds in silence, then gets distracted by a cute Chinese girl in green appearing about half a mile away and jogging over to hide... er, next to Sokka. Is this Toph already??? It would explain why she's so bad at hiding. Katara tells Ung to hide, specifically the tattoos on his head, and very conveniently Ung's tattoos vanish! Except he still pulls his hood up so yeah.

Then a bunch of police-y looking people show up on-screen and we wonder how much of a head start that girl (probably not Toph) got on them, or if she lost them in a crowd or something before getting her cover blown by some idiot, and the firebenders say "Hey! That boy's getting arrested!" Sorry, Ung, looks like pulling your hood up to cover invisible tattoos while the antagonists were sixty meters away with no means of amplifying their vision was too slow. Then the leader says, and I quote verbatim:

"He was bending tiny stones at us behind a tree! It really hurt!"

"You can bend Earth?!" Katara asks Ung. That was dumb, they're trying to keep a low profile here! Also the camera must have been stuck or something as it focuses on cute-Chinese-girl-who-might-be-Toph. This shot must have been left in entirely to piss cosplayers off as we can see every fiber in Sokka's haori, and that the color is not solid but subtly dappled brown and purple. Katara and the lead policeman argue about Ung some more, with Sokka backing his sister up so her telling them to leave Ung alone doesn't look quite as silly. It culminates in Katara attempting to bend water in a sort of spirally rope (hey, she's improved a little!) at the guards, but it splashes to the side instead of forward and Sokka lives up to his name once again. Haha, I guess. It even freezes so that half the fighters in their group are now incapacitated with the other being reluctant to blow his cover and—wait, that's not funny. All these kids are going to get slaughtered!

Apparently not as the next shot is of Ung with manacles around his wrists as he and the gang are led through a prison with people so tired and out of it that a lady sweeping the floor doesn't realize her broom bristles are about half a foot off the ground. Also, everyone is Asian for some reason. But they're in another kingdom and probably another country so I guess this is all right. Cute-Chinese-girl-who-might-be-Toph yells, "Dad!" and runs over to her father for a hug. Okay, probably not Toph. Sigh.

Sokka tells Katara that the Fire Nation's plan is to suppress all the other benders. Ung asks the girl and her dad how this happened to them, and shockingly there's a reply: The Fire Nation sent soldiers, which were defeated with no problem, and then machines, which were less easy to handle. All of the non-benders fell under the radar while the benders were sent here to the prison. The prison... with earth and rocks everywhere underfoot? The prison with only one brazier out in the open, which doesn't even have a lid to cover it from a bucket of water "accidentally" spilled onto the coals? The prison where not a single prisoner has any manacles or bindings except for the newbies and every one of them is an earthbender?! What the fuck?! But then, see my comment about the sweeping lady earlier. Ung gets a look of righteous indignation on his face in lieu of this glaring plot-hole (at least I think it's indignation, it's a little hard to see what he's feeling while his hood's up), and yells: "Earthbenders! Why are you acting this way? You are powerful and amazing people who don't have to live like this! There is earth right beneath your feet!" And stuff we already know.

A couple of skeptical earthbenders say that if the Avatar was alive he would defend them, and Ung decides this is the perfect time to blow his cover, dramatically lowering his hood and declaring that he is the Avatar, and Fire Nation bitches better stop smacking round his Earth Kingdom homies before he starts smacking them around. A skeptical guard says that the Avatar would have to be an airbender, which is pretty dumb as Ung was bending rocks at them earlier. Katara runs up and shoves the guard aside with her bare hands, and then does what she does best: Stand there like a lump. He wasn't even knocked over! While Katara totally deserves the guard trying to continue their sissy fight, Ung blasts the dude away with his air skills. Sokka runs in to protect his sister, having taken a while to remove his restraints, and yells that everyone can help them now.

A firebender tries to scorch someone off the left side of the screen, and a wall of earth blocks it. Cute Chinese Girl's Dad appears to be the originator of it—good for you, Cute Chinese Girl's dad! Then Katara yells some more sissy crap about not being afraid, and while Cute Chinese Girl's Dad is hugging Cute Chinese Girl and completely off guard—or, seemingly off guard, as another wall crops up. Dude that was awesome! He wasn't even paying attention, or visibly moving, and he defended himself with a somewhat larger wall! Then everyone turns to see this group of Earth benders doing a synchronized drill and DUDE THEY'RE GOING TO CAUSE AN EARTHQUAKE I KNOW IT


Football sized rock slowly floats past.

(&MNL;Q23:lksdE oh wait, a single dude was controlling the rock.

So uh. What the hell was the Earthbending team doing? Nothing is shown happening once they're done—and as we all know from Part One when Katara's narration gave us Ung's name ten seconds before Katara actually asked for it, if something happens off-screen it doesn't happen at all! Were they just providing a distraction?

Anyway Sokka gets his boomerang back by kicking some dude in the arse and then boomerang-whipping said guard with it. Since there's no water around with Sokka a hair's width of twenty feet from her, and Ung is protecting her anyway, Katara stands around like a lump. Ung blows the gates open, then blows the firebenders away.

And. Er. That's it.

A wizened old man brings Ung and Co to a shed full of scrolls and books and junk, related to bending. Their pet lemur bat noses around, eventually knocking a scroll over, and it turns out to be a waterbending scroll. Someone picks it up (I wonder why his hair is done in a female hairstyle with two cute little buns?) and gives it to Katara, saying the Fire Nation took it from the Water Tribe. Since Katara hasn't bent any water while in view of the earthbenders, I'm assuming he made a guess based on her blue clothing. She says something along the lines of "Oooh what a rare scroll! My mom told me about this!" Then Ung is led to a statue of someone who was Ung two lifetimes ago, Avatar Kyoshi of the Earth Kingdom, who loved games.

"I do too!" Ung chirps. "I mean, I still do."

And we are left with the headscratcher of whether or not more than innate bending abilities transcend the reincarnation cycle of the Avatar. Or we would be if Resident Buzzkill Sokka hadn't opened his big mouth and told us there are other villages like this under the control of the Fire Nation.