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Film / Avatar: The Way of Water

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All spoilers for Avatar are unmarked. You Have Been Warned.
"I know one thing: wherever we go, this family is our fortress."

"The way of water has no beginning and no end. Our hearts beat in the womb of the world. The sea is your home, before your birth and after your death. The sea gives and the sea takes. Water connects all things: life to death, darkness to light."

Avatar: The Way of Water is a 2022 epic Science Fiction adventure film directed by James Cameron and co-written by Cameron, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver. It is the long-awaited sequel to 2009's Avatar and the second installment in the namesake franchise.

More than a decade after the events of the first film, Jake Sully and Neytiri have founded a family. The forces of the RDA have eventually returned to Pandora, and they now seek to form colonies on the planet on top of quashing the Na'vi resistance by any means necessary — with neutralizing Sully as a threat being their top priority. In order to protect his people from the RDA, Sully cedes power from his tribe and takes Neytiri and their children to the Metkayina, a Na'vi tribe living on the shores of Pandora's oceans, to lead the invaders away from his home. Meanwhile, Colonel Miles Quaritch, now cloned as a recombinant avatar, pursues every lead in an effort to discover and kill Jake.

While the Sullies learn the way of life of the Metkayina (also known as "the Way of Water"), one of Jake's children, Lo'ak, develops a companionship with a whale-like creature known as a tulkun, and Kiri, the mysteriousy conceived Na'vi mixed child of the late Dr. Grace Augustine, an adoptive child of the Sullys', discovers she has a very strong and extraordinary bond with Eywa, the sentient force of Pandora.

Returning cast members include Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Stephen Lang, Giovanni Ribisi, Joel David Moore, Dileep Rao, C.C.H. Pounder, Matt Gerald and Sigourney Weaver. Newcomers include Kate Winslet, Cliff Curtis, Edie Falco, Brendan Cowell, Jack Champion, Jemaine Clement, and CJ Jones. Simon Franglen, who was the co-composer of the first film's Award-Bait Song and did electronic arrangement on its score, now fully replaces the late James Horner as the score's composer.

Like the first film, it has been filmed in stereoscopic 3D. Cameron planned sequels to Avatar as far back as the release of the first film back in the 2000s, but he wanted to wait until the special effect technologies to make them would be advanced enough, especially in regards to water effects and underwater Motion Capture, hence the thirteen-year Sequel Gap. The second sequel has been filmed back to back along with this one since September 2017.

Dark Horse Comics published a Prequel series Avatar The High Ground that leads directly into the opening of the film.

The film was released on December 16, 2022.

Previews: Official teaser, full official trailer, Final trailer

Avatar: The Way of Water provides examples of:

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  • Actual Pacifist: The tulkun, who have a cultural taboo against all violence, even in self-defense. The reason Payakan was outcast from the other tulkun is that he broke this rule to attempt to fight off the RDA after they killed his mother, which resulted in all the other tulkun and Na'vi who were willing to join him getting killed.
  • Aesoptinum: The new phlebotinum that prompts human economic activity on Pandora is a substance that is used to make an anti-aging drug for humans. It is drilled from the brains of sapient, pacifist whales after they have been tortured to death in front of their young calves (because mothers with calves are easier prey).
  • Airborne Aircraft Carrier: A downplayed example crossed with Cool Ship in the Sea Dragon, a ground-effect vehicle able to skim just above the water at high speed and able to deploy submarines, boats, and VTOLs. The front half of the hull is even able to open up for deployment and processing.
  • Alas, Poor Yorick: Quaritch, now returned as an Avatar, does this pose with his own human skull when finding the remains of his original body.
  • Alien Invasion: A more traditional one as the humans are now seeking to establish a permanent settlement on Pandora rather than simply plunder its resources.
  • Alternate Personality Punishment: Averted, as there is functionally no difference between the original Quaritch and the Recombinant, the former having backed up his memories just prior to the final battle in the previous film. His first instinct is getting revenge once he realizes Jake probably killed him.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: The Akula that chases Lo'ak would've eaten him if the much bigger and stronger Payakan hadn't intervened.
  • Always Second Best: Lo'ak feels like he lives in the shadow of his older brother Neteyam, and bears some resentment towards how Neteyam is the perfect son while he's the troublemaker of the family. Part of the reason he bonds with Payakan is from their shared feelings of being outcasts.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Scoresby gets his arm severed by the cable of his own harpoon, shortly before his death.
  • Androcles' Lion: Curiously inverted with Lo'ak and Payakan. As in the classic vein of the trope, Lo'ak helps Payakan by dislodging a rusty harpoon head embedded in his fin. However, this happens after the Tulkun saves Lo'ak's life from a hungry Akula and carries him to the surface. Arguably, considering the sentience of the Tulkun, Lo'ak could in fact be considered the Lion to Payakan's Androcles.
  • Animal Nemesis: Inverted. Payakan the Tulkun, a member of an intelligent but non-technological species of Space Whale, has far more reason to be angry with Scoresby the Space Whaler than Scoresby does with him. It's just business for Scoresby, and although he does appear to enjoy the job, it's not indicated whether he even recognizes Payakan specifically.
  • Are We There Yet?: Tuk asks Neytiri this as they are flying to the Metkayina village.
  • Art Evolution: The first film was no slouch in the department of remarkable visual effects, but this movie ups the ante in this regard, being even more realistically detailed. This YouTube video details some of the graphical differences.
    • The reflection of Neytiri's eyelashes in her eyes are visible, and hair follicles and skin can be seen on her face.
    • Jake's Avatar skin is far less glossy then it was in the prior film in mid-distance shots.
    • The vines connecting the Hallelujah mountains are lit in brighter settings that show off incredible detail, and there isn't any usage of clouds or fog to cover the distant details.
    • When Ronal uses the Na'vi equivalent of acupuncture to bring Kiri out of her coma, there is fine peach fuzz visible on Kiri's abdomen.
  • Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence: It's revealed this is what happens to the deceased Na'vi (and even humans) whose bodies are connected to Eywa after they died, and their consciousnesses live on through Eywa itself. By linking to the Tree of Souls, Kiri is able to see Grace Augustine and Jake and Neytiri are able to see Neteyam again after their deaths.
  • Asshole Victim: The RDA's whalers. They mercilessly hunt the sapient tulkun, specifically go after mothers and babies because they're slower and more defenseless, use depth charges to deafen them, shoot them with harpoons that carry inflatable sacs to slow them down and force them near the surface, shoot them with explosive harpoons, all while chasing them until they drop from exhaustion, if the aforementioned harpoons don't kill them first. Several whalers take glee in watching the mother tulkun frantically and futilely try to shield her baby with her own body, and they laugh about how the tulkun never fight back due to their cultural taboo about killing and violence. They then don't even use all of the corpses, only taking the age-halting brain fluid and then leaving the body to rot. Did we mention that the tulkun are just as intelligent as humans and Na'Vi, and that the RDA knows this? Seeing Payakan take his revenge against the whalers is nothing short of cathartic. He drowns several, crushes more, breaches atop the whaling flagship, clotheslines the dinghies with their own harpoon cords, tricks the whalers into shooting at their own boats, and rips an arm off Captain Scoresby during the aforementioned clotheslining.
    • Somehow downplayed, because not everyone in the whalers team is a sadistic asshole, and at start they at least try to reason with Quaritch against hunting in the waters of the Metkayina, because attracting the ire of the tribe is obviously not in the best interest of safety and business. However Quaritch eventually brings them all to their doom with a combination of duress and bribery.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Both Recom Quaritch and Spider make it clear to each other that they don't view each other as father and son. But despite his bravado, Quaritch is unwilling to see Spider killed and gives up his own hostage instead. Spider later reluctantly saves his life but still refuses to go with him, choosing the Sullies as his family.
  • Back from the Dead: Despite seemingly being killed at the end of the first movie, Quaritch has returned as a Recombinant Avatar. However, both the original Quaritch (in a video log) and Recom Quaritch state that they're technically not the same person, with Recom Quaritch being a clone who has some of the original's DNA and memories. That said, Recom Quaritch certainly acts like the same person for the most part and is addressed as if he were the same person, so it's a bit ambiguous.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Zig-Zagged. Quaritch and the other Recoms don’t seem to treat their ikrans noticeably worse than the Na’Vi do theirs (combat with the ikran is a standard part of the iknimaya ritual), but the RDA whaling division is merciless towards the tulkun, going out of their way to draw out the hunt. Notably, the scenes with the ikrans caused a minor uproar in the fandom upon the trailers’ release: Quaritch, Spider, and the other Recoms had been edited out of the scene, but their ikrans’ militaristic, utilitarian Kevlar saddles had not. The speculative biologists within the fandom all immediately came up with increasingly horrifying theories for how the RDA might have been controlling the ikrans: beating them into submission, shock collars, drugs, controlled starvation, and mind-controlling devices were all thrown around. It was a mild surprise when the ikrans were tamed with a somewhat-accurate iknimaya process instead (barring Quaritch punching his ikran in the face during the combat portion).
  • Battle Couple: Twice with Jake and Neytiri. Once to save their children from Quaritch's Recom unit in the first act, and then a second time during the climax... this time, to avenge Neteyam's death as well.
  • Betrayal by Offspring: If Spider counts as a Sully then his rescue of Quaritch, whose stated goal is to kill Jake and the rest of his family counts. His rejection of Quaritch afterwards counts from the other side of the aisle.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Pakayan and the tulkuns more generally. The genre blind villains even lampshade their understanding that the tulkuns are so nice that they don't have to worry about retribution from them despite their physical prowess.
  • Big Bad: General Frances Ardmore is commanding the RDA's military, and she's the one who gives Quaritch the mission to find and kill Jake. That said, Ardmore remains out of action during the film, allowing Quaritch to continue as The Heavy.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Time is running out and Quaritch has Jake's kids and a couple of their friends... and then Payakan the tulkun suddenly leaps out of the water to attack the humans just before the kill order is sounded.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Sully family and the Metkayina succeed in repelling the RDA, saving the ocean clans and the Tulkun whales from further violence and oppression (at least for now). The Sullies also fully earn the acceptance and respect of the Metkayina. However, Jake and Neytiri have lost their eldest son Neteyam. The RDA also maintains a strong, destructive presence on Pandora, with no form of peace or diplomacy between them and the Na’vi in sight, thus a new war has just begun. Lastly, their greatest asset, Quaritch, lives to fight another day and is still out for Jake and Neytiri’s blood.
  • Blessed with Suck: the Tulkuns' bodies are very well-armored - which doesn't actually save them from being killed, just makes their deaths more drawn-out and painful. The combat advantages of their form are mostly wasted on the Tulkuns, given their pacifist philosophy, and their backstory implies their physical attributes only made their original internecine combat more intense.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Those new fluid animations aren't just used for water. While the first movie wasn't particularly shy about gore, this film tends to show blood actually spill from wounds rather than just staining clothes or skin.
  • Blow That Horn: A Metkayina Na'vi blows a shellfish horn to signal arrivals at the Metkayina village. First when the Sullys arrive on their Ikrans and later when the Tulkuns return from their migration to visit the Metkayina.
  • Body Backup Drive: How Quaritch and the various Marines from the first movie apparently come back. Before the final battle, they had their memories scanned and taken back to Earth, where they were imprinted into new Avatar bodies. They aren’t quite the same people they were, but the differences are so minimal that they can be considered more or less the same.
  • Bookends: The movie begins with Jake teaching Neteyam to shoot his first bow, and Neytiri weaving a song cord to mark his birth... and ends with Neytiri finishing the cord to mark his death, and Jake reliving through Eywa the memory of him teaching Neteyam.
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass: Part of the reason Quaritch and his squad are revived as Avatars is because it's believed this will allow them to bypass the "immune response" demonstrated by the planet whenever humans move in large groups. Considering they move around in the mountains for extended periods, the theory seems to have panned out.
  • Broken Aesop: the film downplays it's predecessor's concerns about wholescale environmental destruction and colonialism in favor of an anti-hunting aesop. But the Na'vi are a hunting culture, Pandora operates on a social darwinist ethos in which everyone is fair game for predation, and even the hunting of the sapient Tulkuns is tolerated until close friends of the protagonists are targeted. The distinction between hunting sapient and merely sentient beings is blurred by the film's reliance on the suffering of victims to convey its message. Near the end of the film we see a happy memory where Jake is teaching one of his children to fish - and the fish, impaled on an arrow, thrashes in agony much as though it were a Tulkun. Jake is unbothered.
  • Bubblegum Popping: Recom Zdinarsk of Quaritch's squad is always seen blowing pink bubbles.

  • Call-Back:
    • The Way of Water begins the same way as the first Avatar, with a POV shot flying through the misty forest, and ends the same way, with a closeup of Jake's eyes opening.
    • After being resurrected, Quaritch begins making the same "not in Kansas" speech that he made in the first film.
    • A darker allusion to the first film occurs with Neteyam’s death because he dies in a similar manner to Grace. Both of them are shot at, escape from the danger, but notice they are bleeding out from a bullet wound. Neteyam howver, dies quicker than Grace, who at least survives long enough to be connected to the Tree of Souls.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: because Jake refuses initially to fight the RDA task force that wants him dead, they track his family to his new home among the Sea People and kidnap his children to force him out of hiding.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Spider delivers this to Quaritch after saving the latter from drowning, denouncing him for his cruelty before returning to the Sullies.
  • Came Back Strong:
    • Sort of. Quaritch and his squad have each had their memories and personalities copied into an Avatar Body Backup Drive, which gives them the enhanced physiology of the Na'vi and allows them to fight on equal terms with the natives rather than relying on machines and vehicles as they did in the first movie.
    • This also goes for the RDA as a whole. In the first film, the RDA came in as a simple mining operation, and to the extent they were hostile to the Na'vi, it was only to protect their investment. They came well-armed, but it was primarily a defensive operation. This time, the RDA has come back as a colonization project, with an entire armada of spaceships. They are willing to use their engines as makeshift orbital WMDs, and their entire operation geared toward a permanent presence and pacification of the native population. Humanity has taken the gloves off and we are now barely seeing a small glimpse of the full might of the RDA. One must wonder how Jake Sully and co. is going to counter this now.
  • The Cameo: Giovanni Ribisi makes a very short return as Parker Selfridge in a video Quaritch recorded for his recombinant self.
  • Casting Gag:
  • Centrifugal Gravity: The ship that brings the marines to Pandora has rotating sections that generate gravity.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • When Spider is brought aboard the Sea Dragon, there are several pointed shots of him observing the helmsman operating the ship's main throttle. Sure enough, when the fight against Payakan gives him an opening, he lunges for the throttle levers, slams them to full and smashes them with a fire extinguisher, sending the ship racing into a reef.
    • The Metkayina tell Kiri about the "angel wings"-like organism that can help Na'vi breathe underwater if they make tsaheylu with it. This becomes instrumental for Kiri's rescue of Neytiri and Tuk at the climax.
  • Child of Two Worlds: Subverted. Jake and Neytiri's children do face discrimination for being the half-breed children of a native Na'vi and an Avatar, and they notably have the traits to prove it; beyond the physical traits Lo'ak and Kiri possess that mark them as part human, they were very clearly raised bilingual with them being as fluent in English as they are in Na'vi, with their English being more casual and informal than the less refined but more formal way of speaking that all other Na'vi who learn English as a rarely used second language use when speaking itnote , and are overall very close to the remaining allied humans like Norm who assist their tribe - even going so far as to consider Spider a surrogate sibling. That said, they don't feel conflicted about their heritage much; Lo'ak even speaks of Earth as "a star my dad came from" with some level of pride even though the greater majority of humans are hostile to him.
  • Combat Compliment: For all his nastiness, even Scoresby is not beyond expressing a remark of admiration for the incredible toughness demonstrated by the Tuklun he and his team so viciously murdered.
  • Continuity Nod: Supplementary material for the first movie established that the RDA had a complement of ten ISV Venture Star ships as part of their Earth to Pandora supply chain. When humanity returns in the sequel their massive invasion force is exactly ten ships—they sent their entire fleet for an all-out reclamation of Pandora.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The first half of the movie’s end credits feature several shots of underwater Pandora wildlife akin to a nature documentary.
  • Creator Thumbprint: The climax involves the protagonists escaping from a sinking vessel as it floods and swimming long distances while holding their breath.
  • Desecrating the Dead: Downplayed. As part of the plan to lure Jake out, the whalers leave a killed Tulkun alpha cow and her calf to rot in the water. The Metkayina, who are close friends with her pod, are utterly furious and Neteyam only barely manages to talk them down from attacking immediately. While they agree to stand down so that the other Tulkun can escape, the capture of the Sully children and their own puts an end to that plan and they attack the RDA en masse in the subsequent confrontation.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Neytiri has a reduced presence in this film, with her being absent for long stretches in favor of the younger generation's stories. That being said, she still has many important moments.
    • Neytiri’s mother Mo’at and the rest of the Omatikaya clan have less screen time than they did in the first movie and do not show up again after the Sully family take their journey past the ocean.
    • In the previous movie, Norm was a major supporting character while Max had a pivotal role. Here, they're limited to brief appearances and a couple of lines each.
  • Discovering Your Own Dead Body: Quaritch, revived as a Recombinant, scopes the scene of the climactic battle from the first film, eventually finding his downed mech suit and his human self's remains within. After watching the dash cam footage to confirm who killed him, Quaritch takes the time to crush the lifeless skull of his former self before leaving.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Lo'ak gets into a fight with Aonung and his posse after the latter insults his sister Kiri and by extension the Sullies as a whole. When he comes to apologize to Aonung later at his father's insistence, Aonung and his friends pretend to accept his apology before tricking Lo'ak to follow them to an Akula's hunting ground and leaving him stranded there, clearly intending to leave Lo'ak for dead.
  • Distaff Counterpart: General Frances Ardmore is pretty much just a gender-flipped copy of Quaritch from the first film. Her personality and mannerisms are almost identical. The film itself leans into it with a scene of her casually and callously drinking from a mug of coffee while plotting the heroes' demise, in a very clear throw-back to when Quaritch did the same thing in the previous movie.
  • Double-Meaning Title: In addition to evoking the Avatar program of the first film, Kiri, is born of a human woman without a father, and having power over the lifeforms of Pandora, is pretty much an Avatar of Eywa herself.
  • Downer Beginning: Several years since the ending of the first film, Jake and Neytiri raised a family and live their lives in blissful peace, until humanity returns to Pandora with a much larger fleet, with the goal of being here to stay this time instead of just mining for resources. Just their ships landing burned down much of the Omaticayan homeland, forcing Jake, Neytiri, their kids and the tribe to flee into the mountains and wage a guerrila warfare against the humans. Then it gets worse when a certain Colonel comes Back from the Dead in a new Na'vi body and is eager for a payback.

  • Easily Forgiven: Neytiri threatens Spider’s life and even cuts him across the chest in the film’s climax to make Quaritch release Kiri. No one reprimands her for it afterwards. Even Spider doesn’t seem to hold it against her.
  • Electric Torture: RDA thugs use cattle prods to subdue and menace cuffed, kneeling, helpless neutral villagers.
  • Evil Plan: We see several nasty agendas this time from the RDA:
    • Bridgehead is now a settlement with the goal of pacifying/exterminating the locals to make way for human colonists. Their very arrival on the planet does terrible harm.
    • Quaritch is seeking revenge for the death of his human self, and thinks nothing of torching a Nav'i village for not knowing Jake's location or taking Jake's kids hostage to draw him out.
    • The whalers hunt the Tulkun for their brain fluid, despite recognizing them as equally intelligent and emotional creatures, because it halts human aging.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Double subverted with Quaritch. He does have a soft spot for his son, Spider, but he claims he doesn't have any real emotional attachment for him (due to being a copy of Quaritch rather than the real deal) uses the boy to both master the ways of the Na'vi and find Jake Sully. However, when Neytiri shows she's not bluffing on killing Spider after Quaritch holds Kiri hostage, Quaritch immediately falters and gives in to her demands. By the end of the film, Quaritch is saddened by Spider's rejection of him, as if he's now realizing what his vengeance is costing him.
  • Exposed Extraterrestrials: Na'vi of all ages and sexes are almost completely naked, save for loincloths and in some cases super minimal chest coverings. Humans in avatar bodies tend to wear more, evidently as a cultural value, even as they try to fit in.
  • Fake Ultimate Mook: Quaritch's Recom marines are much stronger and faster than any human troops and able to operate without support deep in Pandora territory, but in an actual fight against the much more experienced Jake and Neytiri they get taken out almost as quickly as the regular RDA grunts, with only Quaritch able to really hold his own against them in direct combat. Even when fighting aboard the RDA whaling ship where they have more of a home-field advantage and backup from regular RDA troops, the Recoms besides Quaritch get wiped out fairly effortlessly. Only Quaritch himself really gives the heroes a hard time.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Metkayina live on the islands of Pandora and have several similarities to the Maori, including intricate tattooing, elaborate war dances, whetero (sticking the tongue out as a threat display), and a spiritual relationship with the whale-like Tulkun. It helps that Tonowari is played by Cliff Curtis, a Maori actor.
  • Feed It a Bomb: Subverted. During the final battle, Captain Scoresby attempts to fire one of his explosive-tipped harpoons into Payakan's open mouth, but he closes it just in time, and the weapon merely glances off his hide, only to then hit Scoresby's whaling flagship.
  • Flying Seafood Special: The Metkayina ride sea creatures (resembling an Echovenator crossed with a gar and a flying fish) called Skimwings or Tsurak, which are capable of gliding flight, similar to a real-world flying fish.
  • Foreshadowing: When Jake finds Neteyam injured on the ground after the train raid goes awry, he first checks his son's back before carrying him to safety. He also scolds Lo'ak that he almost got his older brother killed. In the third act, Neteyam gets shot, and Jake checks his back only to see that the shot has pierced through his back, meaning the wound is fatal and there's no saving him. Lo'ak later blames himself for Neteyam's death, as Neteyam was only trying to keep him out of harm's way.
  • Framing Device: The movie begins and ends with Neytiri singing while Jake explains the songcords Na'vi use to chronicle their lives, at Neteyam's funeral.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • At the beginning, the toy that young Lo'ak and Kiri are fighting over is a model of The Great Leonopteryx.
    • If viewed closely, Neteyam is shown clutching his chest underwater, before it's revealed that he's been shot.
  • Future Copter: The RDA uses the Kestrel and Seawasp as more advanced and deadlier successors to the Samson and Scorpion, respectively, from the first film.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: Downplayed compared to the previous film. The Ikran in the Hallelujah Mountains swarm any human craft that spend more than ten minutes in their airspace, which is described as an immune response by Ardmore. The fact that their fortress is surrounded by a completely barren perimeter and defended by heavy gun emplacements further demonstrates that they've learned from the native wildlife overrunning their troops the last time.
  • Genre Blindness: Jake, despite being from Earth and presumably being aware of its history and film culture, is unaware that he is co-starring in the extraterrestrial version of Zero Dark Thirty and that hiding will only inspire the humans to pursue him.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: The new division of the RDA focused on marine expeditions, Cetacean Operations, deploy a new variant of traditional motion capture AMP suits, this time clearly modeled after crabs.
  • Giant Flyer: Like in the first movie, the Na'vi can fly on the back of Ikrans.
  • Going Native: Downplayed. The Recombinants begin learning the ways of Na'vi just to get the advantage over them, starting with their language. But none of them feel the urge to switch sides unlike Jake Sully. With Spider as their teacher, they begin taming Ikrans with their bare hands rather than using tranquilizers as they intended, and soon go fully barefoot rather than wearing oversized boots even at human HQ. Quaritch in particular manages to become the Sole Survivor of his squad because he adapted to the Na'vi fighting style the best.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Quaritch and Ardmore, respectively, to Spider.
  • Gray Rain of Depression: When Jake, Neytiri, Ronal, and Tonowari come across the murdered pod of Tulkuns, the pouring rain and gray sky complements the sad moment.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Ardmore is in charge but doesn't do much of anything beyond her character-establishing scene where she tortures a child.
  • Green Aesop: The Way of Water is the most anti-whaling film one's likely to watch.
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: Jake and Neytiri's children face some of this; some members of Metkayina refer to them as having "demon blood" and not being "real Na'vi" because at least one of their parents is an Avatar and visibly passed on some human traits to them, to the point Ronal is initially reluctant to let them stay in their village and some of the younger villagers bully them over it. The RDA also derogatively refer to them as half-breeds.
  • Hand Signals: The Metkayina use these to communicate while underwater which confuses Jake's children due to their unfamiliarity with them. Tsireya agrees to teach them.
  • Handy Cuffs: the captured children are secured to the vessel with easily-cut straps, rather than chained with metal shackles, which would have ensured their drowning.
  • Happily Adopted: Kiri is treated with the same affection by Jake and Neytiri as their biological children, and at the end Spider seems to be officially joining the family, too.
  • Happy Ending Override: The film's opening montage is practically made of this; the ending of Avatar was an uplifting one with the RDA being driven off Pandora and peace restored, and Jake permanently joining the Na'vi. In this film we see that the Omaticaya have rebuilt their village, Jake and Neytiri have a bunch of kids and the few humans that remain live peacefully with the Na'vi. It seems like the happiest ending Jake and Neytiri could possibly have. But then the RDA return in full force, destroying a large swaft of the Omaticaya's land again and forcing them to hide out in the mountains, with Jake leading a guerrilla war against the RDA in a desperate attempt to stop them. The pressure of fighting a war and trying to protect the clan negatively affects Jake's relationship with his sons, especially Lo'ak. And things don't get any easier from there.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Scoresby fires an explosive harpoon at Payakan's open mouth, intending to Feed It a Bomb. Payakan closes his mouth in time, causing the harpoon to glance off his hide and strike the RDA whaling flagship instead. Later, he fires another harpoon at Payakan, who then wraps the cord around one of his echoreceptor horns and clotheslines Scoresby's dinghy, causing Scoresby to be thrown from the boat and killed.
  • Homeworld Evacuation: Ardmore explains to Quaritch that Earth is dying and the intent is to make Pandora suitable for colonization, so they won't be retreating like last time.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: Even more than the first film. Imagine aliens coming to your world in colossal indescribable metallic rods that shine like artificial stars; that once these objects land, their engines proved so hot it vapourise kilometers upon kilometers of land in ways incomprehensible to your kind. That once they have settled up, they immediately began hunting down your whale-friends, drilling holes in their skulls for reasons you do not know and leaving their corpse to rot.

  • Idiot Ball:
    • After Kiri's seizure, Jake impulsively (if understandably) calls Norm and the other scientists to help revive her, instinctively trusting modern medicine over the natural remedies employed by the Na'vi. Since they have to fly in by gunship, the RDA picks up the suspicious movement and is able to track their location to the archipelago, allowing Quaritch to deduce that Jake is hiding there and kicking off the final act. To rub salt in the wound, the scientists are of virtually no help, failing to revive her and only offering a theory as to why she had the seizure in the first place, while Ronal's treatment succeeds in waking her.
    • Jake's decision to seek sanctuary with the Metkayina merely puts a different community in danger, and he of all people should know Earth military culture well enough to understand that humans will follow high-value insurgent leaders to the ends of the world, and for years if it is necessary to hunt them down. Jake figures this out at the very end of the movie.
    • Quaritch provokes Jake into a final, one on one Knife Fight by promising to kill Jake's whole family if Jake does not kill him. Jake should realize this challenge is Schmuck Bait: given that Earth's cloning tech means killing Quaritch does not solve the problem, as Quaritch can always be re-cloned, whereas Jake dying in the battle would render him unable to protect his family. Even Neytiri grasps this dynamic right away, as she says at the beginning of the movie she will kill Quaritch as many times as necessary - she understands death is not permanent for him.
  • I Have Your Wife: Done twice by Quaritch during the big fight scene.
    • First time, he captures Lo'ak, Tuk and Tsireya and holds them captive on his ship, threatening Jake that he'll kill them if he doesn't come on board. Thankfully Payakan intervenes, allowing the Na'vi fight back.
    • Done again when he captured Kiri and later Tuk and uses them to taunt Jake and Neytiri to come aboard the ship to face him or he'll have them both killed.
  • Immortality Inducer:
    • The whaling party led by Captain Scoresby hunts tulkuns because of what they carry in their brains: "Amrita", a unique substance that, when consumed, can seemingly stop aging altogether. It's apparently an even more valuable resource than the Unobtainium in the first film, bringing Scoresby many riches when he sells them to buyers.
    • The cloning tech that brought Quaritch and the other dead members of his squad back into the story also confers immortality of a sort.
  • Immune to Bullets: Tulkuns' hides are so thick that emplaced machine guns just ricochet off. The hunters use rocket-propelled harpoons to penetrate them, and even then need they to target weaker points like the underbelly, fins, or mouth.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: All Metkayina have these, as opposed to the Supernatural Gold Eyes of the forest Na'vi.
  • Insistent Terminology: Quaritch repeatedly addresses Jake by his old rank of Corporal, making it clear he sees the latter as little more than a deserter.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • When Neytiri is threatening Spider to get Quaritch to let Kiri go, she claims it would be "a son for a son" after the death of Neteyam. Later once they all escape the sinking ship, Spider chooses to rejoin the Sullies rather than go back to Quaritch, and Jake notes that they have indeed taken a son for a son.
    • When we are first introduced to the whalers they are debating the Tulkuns' intelligence. Garvin says they are smarter than humans because their brains have more neurons. Scoresby dismisses this by scoffing that he's the one with the harpoon. Later when Payakan is using the harpoon cable to wreck the whaling ship, Garvin snarks "who's got the harpoon now?"
  • Irony: "Monkey Boy", Kiri's nickname for Spider, has an element of this, when you consider that the difference between apes and monkeys is that the latter have tails, something that Spider as a human does not have, but Kiri as a Na'vi-Avatar hybrid does.
  • It's Personal with the Dragon:
    • Downplayed. Quaritch develops a slight grudge against Neytiri for being personally responsible for his death, but he likewise remembers that Jake betrayed him and is the primary target regardless. The closest he comes to singling Neytiri out is when the whole family is there and he claims to "owe [her] a death," but makes no active attempt to kill her.
    • Played straighter in the other direction, though. Quaritch is a subordinate of General Ardmore, but Sully has far less emotional investment in defeating her than he does in his enmity with Quaritch.
  • I Work Alone: briefly, during his transition back from Refusing the Call to military leadership of the Na'vi, Jake (upon deducing the RDA is attacking the Tulkuns in order to draw him out) tells the Metkayina not to fight, but to inform him if any Tulkuns are tagged with tracer harpoons, and he will deal with them himself. Almost immediately the children are kidnapped and the Metkayina and Pakayan join him in battle.
  • Jump Scare: For a non-horror film it has quite a few of these.
    • The Recombinants coming out of the trees to capture Jake's kids.
    • After Lo'ak passes out and nearly drowns, he wakes up on what appears to be a rock, that is until water suddenly bursts out from a blowhole, revealing the "rock" to be a tulkun (essentially a whale).
    • When Tuk surfaces alone in the air pocket of an underwater plant, a submersible is stalking her with tense music, which then stops and she breathes a sigh of relief. Suddenly... Neteyam surfaces next to her!
  • Karmic Death: After hunting Tulkun whales and mocking their pacifistic nature, Captain Scoresby gets killed by Payakan, an outcast Tulkun. Bonus points in that Scoresby loses an arm similar to how Payakan lost a fin to the RDA. The look on Scoresby's face when he realizes Payakan's just used the cord from Scoresby's own harpoon to clothesline the dinghy is priceless.
  • Karmic Transformation: After his conflict with the Na'vi in the last film, Quaritch has been restored to life by the RDA and has became a Na'vi Recombinant Avatar. That said, he actually is appreciative as it grants him increased strength and durability in the hostile Pandora environment.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Neteyam's last words before he Dies Wide Open are "Dad, I..."
  • Knife Fight: Jake and Quaritch square off in a climactic duel at the end.
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: Lo'ak, to Kiri. He starts a 2 vs 4 fight with the Metkayina teens because they called his sister a "freak".
  • Let No Crisis Go to Waste: Even with Earth becoming unsustainable, this hasn't stopped the RDA from making some extra money on the side by hunting down tulkuns for their "Amrita" to sell to wealthy clients back home.
  • Lighter and Softer: Zigzagged. On one hand, the renewed conflict between humans and Na'vi results in far less damages and loss of life for either when compared to the first film, with the climactic battle only involving a single whaling ship and maybe a platoon of Na'vi, the latter of which barely take casualties. On the other hand, the Sully family is hit much harder than the last time since an interplanetary ship at the beginning vaporized a large portion of jungle (fauna included) with a Weaponized Exhaust and because, well, they're a family now instead of just two adult warriors going into battle. Unfortunately for them, this involves the Death of a Child when their eldest is killed in battle.
  • "Lion King" Lift: While he doesn’t hold his newborn son over a cliff, Jake still raises the newly born Neteyam into the air for his entire tribe to see in a manner very reminiscent of the iconic lift.
  • Mammal Monsters Are More Heroic: Lo'ak is tricked into fishing in the hunting ground of an akula, a shark-like creature the size of a bus that smashes its way through tens of feet of coral reef to get to him. He's saved by Payakan, a member of the local Sapient Cetacean species the Tulkun, who effortlessly smashes the akula against the reef before helping Lo'ak to the surface. Payakan specifically is considered monstrous by the Metkayina and by other Tulkun because he's willing to use violence where Tulkun usually refuse violence for any reason, but Lo'ak realizes he wouldn't hurt a fly unless the fly hurt him first.
  • Meaningful Name: Supplementary materials give the name of the spacecraft that the RDA uses to spearhead their colonization initiative as the ISV Manifest Destiny.
  • Messianic Archetype: Kiri is a Na'vi-Avatar hybrid who was mysteriously born from Grace's brain-dead Avatar and has the most spiritual connection to Eywa and all life in Pandora out of all Na'vi, quickly adapting to the watery environment while Sully's biological children struggle and commanding the wildlife with ease, even subconsciously as the grass moves in sync with her breath as she sleeps.
  • Meta Guy: When Scoresby shows Quaritch the vial of Amrita he's extracted from the tulkun, Quaritch exclaims "So that's what this is all about!" — a reaction likely shared by the members of the audience who would have been wondering for the last 15 minutes of screentime why these guys are hunting whales, and why General Ardmore didn't already brief Quaritch about this in advance.
  • Mind Rape: Ardmore tortures Spider for information with a device that seems to cause pain via visual sensory overload and which can read any thought he forms in his mind.
  • Mortal Wound Reveal: Neteyam reveals he's been shot after a narrow escape from the whaling barge.
  • Mook Horror Show: Where nearly all humans killed by Na'vi in the first film were shot with arrows, here we are shown much more hand-to-hand combat. We get to see in intimate detail how terrifying it would be to be hunted by nine-foot humanoids with an expert grasp of guerilla warfare, as Jake and Neytiri carve through human marines to reach their children.
  • Mystical Pregnancy: Grace's Avatar somehow became pregnant despite being brain-dead and gave birth to Kiri. Nobody knows whose Kiri's father is (or if she even has one) and Kiri happens to have the most spiritual connection to Eywa out of any Na'vi, often spending most of her time embracing the wildlife around her.
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles: When they're being targeted by RDA, the Sullys head for the territory of the Sea Clans, which encompasses thousands of islands of unknown territory. It works temporarily to keep them hidden, with only Jake contacting Norm and Max giving it away.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • After Kiri suffers a seizure while communing with a spirit tree and falls into a coma, Jake contacts Norm and Max to come to the Metkayina village in a desperate attempt to help her. While Kiri recovers (more thanks to Ronal's healing), the RDA take note of Norm and Max's ship, allowing them to narrow down the area where the Sullys are hiding out.
    • When Jake deduces the RDA is attacking Tulkuns in order to draw him out he tells the Metkayina to warn the Tulkuns of the situation. Because Pakayan, being outcast, is not going to be included in this warning message the kids go out on their own to warn him, which leads directly to their kidnapping and the final battle.
  • No Biochemical Barriers: Averted and played straight once again. The rules from the first film still apply: The atmosphere is deadly dangerous to humans, as is all the other toxic junk. However it's also flipped with the Na'vi and Recombinants this time around. While half-blood Na'vi (like Kiri and Lo'ak) and Recoms (like Quaritch) can tolerate human atmospheres for short periods, it's still much thinner than Pandora's air and is severely lacking in carbon dioxide. While inside human environments, they need to keep "Recom breathers" on them at all times and take several breaths from it every few minutes to supplement their CO2, otherwise they'll begin to experience hypocarbia (much like how humans experience hypoxia from lack of oxygen), which would result in shortness of breath, delirium, compromised motor functions, and eventually start suffocating and go comatose.
  • Now You Tell Me: Spider goads Quaritch into taming an Ikran without cheating by tranquilizing them first. When Quaritch takes the bait and starts wrestling the beast, Spider shouts out that you're supposed to muzzle them, leading Quaritch to reply with the trope as he's trying to pin it down.
  • Oblivious to Love: Tsireya comments that Lo'ak needs to slow his heartbeat to properly hold his breath, apparently unaware of the physiological effects on a teenage boy of a teenage girl whom he has a crush on rubbing her hand against his chest and stomach. Their respective siblings smirking in the background probably doesn't help to keep him calm, because barely a few seconds later Tsireya says his heartbeat is fast.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: As with the first film, Sam Worthington's Australian accent creeps in occasionally, especially when he's shouting.
  • Orc Raised by Elves: Spider is a human boy who's adopted by the Sullys and lives alongside them like a Na'vi. However, this is deconstructed as the film goes on. Despite his bond with his adopted siblings and his father, Neytiri doesn't really consider Spider one of her own. There is a good reason for this: Spider is actually the son of Colonel Quaritch, the man who destroyed her home, killed her people (including her father), and almost destroyed her entire way of life. When push comes to a shove in the climax, Neytiri doesn't even hesitate to threaten to kill Spider in front of Quaritch to save her daughter's life, as well as to avenge the life of her eldest son who was killed by a stray bullet earlier.

  • The Power of Family:
    • A recurring theme in the movie is that the Sully family are strongest when they work together, even in the worst of times, with Jake stating:
      "I know one thing: wherever we go, this family is our fortress."
    • Even Quaritch isn't immune to this; despite his claims to the contrary, he feels a definite attachment to his son, Spider, and by making a degree of effort with him, grows stronger by following some Na'vi traditions. Spider, for his part, hates his father, but still feels an obligation towards him, being unable to allow him to die at the end of the movie.
  • Practically Different Generations: Tonowari and Ronal's two eldest children, Aonung and Tsireya, appear to be teenagers, while their mother is currently pregnant with a third child.
  • Pragmatic Villainy:
    • Scoresby and his crew may be unrepentant about hunting the Tulkun, but they actively avoid killing any of the Tulkun that live within the Metkayina clan's territory because they know that doing so would inevitably provoke a costly conflict with the Metkayina due to the special bond that the Metkayina have with those Tulkun. Unfortunately for everyone on both sides, provoking the Metkayina clan into a conflict is precisely what Quaritch has in mind in order to draw Jake and Neytiri out of hiding.
    • As in the first film, despite their casual cruelty towards the natives Colonel Quaritch and his marines recognize that actually killing non-aggressive Na'vi (besides their targets Jake and Neytiri) represents a major escalation in hostilities and do avoid crossing that particular line, though partially only because of Spider's protests.
  • Precision F-Strike: Dropped by a frustrated Spider near the end of the film when he finds himself unable to simply leave Quaritch to drown.
  • Pregnant Badass:
    • Ney'tiri is shown in flashback, heavily pregnant with her and Jake's daughter while hunting. She's far enough along that she has to change how she holds her bow across her torso because her baby bump is getting in the way.
    • Ronal is the authoritative, no-nonsense co-leader of the Metkayina tribe and is visibly pregnant; during the climatic battle her mate says she should stay behind due to her condition, but she just brandishes a spear and insists she's coming. She demonstrates herself to be a capable fighter.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: the inhabitants of Jake's new home are complacent about the slaughter of the Tulkuns, and nobody in the story has a problem with it - until a close friend of their tribe is killed, and then the tribe is furious and has to be talked down from engaging the humans (temporarily).
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Dr. Ian Garvin, a marine biologist, is working with Scoresby hunting Tulkun, but only does so in order to finance his own research. He actually seems amused when Payakan turns the tables on Scoresby.
  • Recurring Element: once again Jake (and this time, also, Quaritch) must tame and learn to ride a new mount, symbolizing the conquest of the challenge of the new environment.
  • Refusal of the Call: when the humans return to wreak havoc amongst Jake's adopted tribe, the Omatikaya, he refuses to fight on their behalf, even abandoning his clan leadership position and leaving with his family to live with the Metkainya.
  • Remote Body: By the time of the film, only Norm uses an Avatar body. Jake's mind has been transferred permanently into his Avatar body by Eywa making him a Na'vi, Dr. Grace Augustine has passed and the Recombinants (including Colonel Quaritch) are autonomous Avatar clones of dead human marines.
  • Rescue Equipment Attack: In the middle of the battle, Spider seizes the opportunity to sabotage the bad guys' ship. He uses a fire extinguisher to knock out a pilot, then shoves the power lever forward and smashes it with the fire extinguisher so they can't turn it off. Sure enough, this makes the ship crash on the rocks.
  • The Reveal: Spider, the orphaned human who has basically become a Na’vi, is the son of Miles Quaritch. A fact that the cloned Quaritch is rather surprised to learn, considering he believed that his son had been sent back to Earth. It's not a surprise to the other characters, including Spider himself, though; Spider is all too aware of who his biological father is.
  • Reveling in the New Form: Once the initial shock wears off, Quaritch is quite pleased with his new Avatar body.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: Thanks to new swarm drones, the RDA manages to establish an entire fortress and supply lines inside of a year. There are a few shots of the bots and other machines basically printing out new facilities from raw materials.
  • Save the Villain: Spider reluctantly decides to save the unconscious Quaritch from the watery grave Jake had condemned him to. Once Quaritch comes to, however, Spider makes it very clear that he will not be returning to the RDA with him.
  • Scenery Porn: Pandora is just as beautiful underwater as it is on land. In addition to the gorgeous-looking forests and mountains carried over from the first film, we see lush seabeds and colorful coral reefs teeming with life, as well as a huge, detailed mangroves where the sea clans have made their home.
  • Schmuck Bait:
    • Quaritch offers Jake the chance to kill him in a mano a mano Knife Fight to protect the family from his menace but this is a phony offer given that Quaritch can be reproduced if he is killed.
    • Lo'ak lets the Metkayina bullies lure him out beyond the reef after they suggest they should be asking his brother to come out hunting instead.
  • Sea Monster: Several sea creatures can be seen in the movie.
    • The Metkayina ride Plesiosaur-like creatures, the Ilu, and teach to the Sully children to do the same.
    • Lo'ak bonds with a Tulkun Whale, and later hitches a ride on it.
    • At one point, Lo'ak is tricked by Aonung into following him into the hunting grounds of an Akula (the Russian word for shark, also used with regards to Soviet submarine classes), a ferocious mosasaur-like creature that chases after Lo'ak relentlessly and would've successfully devoured him were it not for the timely rescue of Payakan, the aforementioned Tulkun whale.
  • Sequel Escalation: The first film had the Na'vi fighting a mining company's goons, led by the human Colonel Quaritch. In this film, our heroes fight a military invasion headed by Na'vi-bodied super soldiers.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • Kiri's special connection to Eywa is not explored in this movie and thus presumably set up to be addressed later.
    • also, Spider's decision to save Quaritch could have been addressed at the end of the film but went undiscussed, but will inevitably come up later.
    • At the end Quaritch promises Jake that he will kill his whole family later on and tells Neytiri he owes her a death.
    • Jake makes his own sequel hook when he says at the end that he's learned hiding is not the solution and he has to take the fight to the RDA.
  • Settling the Frontier: The RDA have returned in full force to Pandora in part because Earth is becoming inhospitable to human life, and the RDA is now tasked with making Pandora a permanent colony for humanity to resettle on.
  • Ship Tease: Lo'ak and Tsireya, as well as Spider and Kiri, are unusually attached to each other. Nothing seems to come out of this by the end of this movie, however, though there are of course several sequels in the works.
  • Shout-Out: Lo'ak has braids that hang down over his right eye. James Cameron insisted on this as a reference to John Connor's hairstyle from Terminator 2.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: Initially downplayed. Neytiri doesn’t like or trust Spider for being Quaritch’s son, but at least tolerates him around her family. She comes dangerously close to playing the trope straight near the end of the film by threatening to kill him to make Quaritch release Kiri and as a form of retaliation for Neteyam’s death, going as far to say, "A son for a son."
  • Sixth Ranger Traitor: Spider is not a Sully, not even a Na'vi, but he pals around with them almost as though he's part of the family. Then he is taken by the human invaders and he collaborates with them, acting as translator and giving Quaritch information on how to tame a mount. In the end it appears he's going to be a full member of the sully family and is even treated as such, but he saves the life of the Sullys' hated enemy, Quaritch, even though this Quaritch is not even his actual sperm donor but just a clone of him, even though this Quaritch has been kidnapping and trying to kill various members of the Sully family and has promised to kill the entire family in future. Likely this action, and his failure to disclose it, will wind up as a Sequel Hook.
  • Slasher Smile: Quaritch gives one to Jake before they fight underwater.
  • The Snack Is More Interesting:
    • General Ardmore is often casually sipping from a coffee mug even while commanding combat missions, a trait lifted directly from her predecessor, Colonel Quaritch.
    • Several humans in addition to Recom Zdinarsk are seen casually chewing gum during moments of action.
  • Softer and Slower Cover: The teaser starts and ends with a piano version of "I See You".
  • Space Whale: Played with. While the whales in question aren't from Earth, instead of living in the vacuum of space, they live in Pandora's oceans.
  • Spider Tank: The whaling crew of the RDA uses crab-shaped amphibious submarines. They have human-like hands but move on land like crabs would. They can fold their legs and use propellers underwater.
  • Spin-Offspring: The children of the previous film's main characters are major characters in this film. Neytiri and Jake have three biological children, Neteyam, Lo'ak and Tuktirey, and have also adopted Kiri, the daughter of Grace's Avatar (her biological father, if any, is unknown); Spider, a human boy left behind on Pandora, is also their adopted son in all but name (or at least Jake and the kids view him that way) and he's revealed to be the son of Miles Quaritch. Lo'ak, Kiri and Spider get particularly focused upon, each starring in their own subplot and playing a big role in the overarching story.
  • Suicidal Pacifist: The Tulkun refuse to fight even in self defense, even to save the lives of their mothers with young calves, even though later events demonstrate they could make whaling...uneconomic, if they chose to fight back, going so far as to ostracize any of their own people who do fight.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: Na'vi will pass out and eventually die of anoxia if they hold their breath too long, but they don't seem to reflexively inhale water when they run out of oxygen, as humans do. This makes it easy for both Lo'ak and Quaritch to be rescued and recover quickly after they become unconscious underwater.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: The predatory fish that pursues Lo'ak gives up on an already bleeding prey to go after Lo'ak, breaking through reef trying to get him and waiting for him to need to surface for breath.
  • Super Soldier: The Recombinants are essentially this, their Avatar bodies' size, strength and speed combined with their training as former human soldiers being a force multiplier against the Na'vi. It's too bad for them that their target is just like them but with far more experience as an Avatar than all of them put together, not to mention the ever so deadly Neytiri whose ferocity and archery skills are still unmatched, and also the Na'vi's Home Field Advantage.


  • Tail Slap: One of Aonung’s friends uses his thick paddle-like tail to hit Lo’ak in the face when a fight breaks out between the group of boys.
  • Tarzan Boy: Spider grew up in the jungle (albeit not Raised by Wolves), he's always shirtless with a Loincloth, is something of a Wild Child, adopts a Primal Stance sometimes, and manages to keep up with Na'vis when they swing and run in the canopies of Pandora's forests. And he's the son of a white human who died in the jungle, like Tarzan.
  • Taught by Experience:
    • The RDA have learned from their past failures. The forest around their base has been paved down to the dirt and the main compound is surrounded with heavy turrets that can almost certainly kill anything that might dare charge out of cover. No stampede of wild animals is going to force them out this time.
    • Having survived an attack by a whaling party previously, Payakan knows their tactics and is able to avoid attacks that have killed his fellow tulkun, using his hide to deflect weapons fire and ultimately using the harpoon cable that Scoresby uses to finish off the tulkun to bring down his boat and kill him.
  • That Man Is Dead: When Jake relinquishes his position as the chieftain of the Omaticaya to go into hiding with his family, the new chieftain puts a wound on his chest in a public ceremony, symbolically killing him.
  • That's No Moon:
    • One night, Jake and Neytiri look up in the sky and see what appears to be a new star. He quickly realizes that it is actually RDA ships decelerating in order to enter Pandora's orbit.
    • Lo'ak nearly drowns and finds himself on what appears to be a rocky shoal. It's actually the armored skin of Payakan, a Tulkun.
  • Thematic Sequel Logo Change: The series logo lettering has changed to an ocean blue to represent the setting shifting to Pandora's seas as opposed to the jungle of the first film.
  • Thicker Than Water: Even though he hates Quaritch, Spider still saves his life at the end because he can't bring himself to leave his father to die, though he does abandon him as soon as Quaritch recovers and rejoins Jake's family.
  • Time Skip: The length of time that has passed in-universe between films is never explicitly stated, but it seems to be around 15-20 years as the human orphan, Spider, is stated to have been an infant during the time frame of the first film and is now in his mid-late teens.
  • Title Drop: Lo'ak narrates the official trailer with "The way of water connects all things, before your birth, and after your death."
  • Tongue-Out Insult: Happens twice. Tuk sticks her tongue out at Lo’ak after he mocks her voice. Later, Kiri sticks out her tongue at Aonung after her brothers come to stop Aonung and his friends from bullying her.
  • Torture Is Ineffective: General Ardmore tries to torture Spider for information on Jake Sully and the Omaticaya, attempting to get him to simply think about their whereabouts so the brain scan can extract it from him. It gets to the point where Quaritch has to stop them before Spider's brain is damaged and they still get nothing, something that he is impressed by.
    • Zigzagged, as it is the threat of being handed back to the torturers which makes Spider agree to ride out with Quaritch, which leads to him collaborating, acting as translator, and developing a bond with Quaritch which leads to him saving Quaritch's life so Quaritch can continue to hunt the Sully family.
  • Translation Convention: Unlike the first film, most of the dialogue in this one is in English, which is shown in the prologue to be because Jake Sully became fluent in Na'vi during the Time Skip. As he narrates that the language finally clicked for him, the dialogue shifts from Na'vi to English mid-sentence and stays that way. The language is still used in scenes told from the human characters' perspective and for a few instances of You Are the Translated Foreign Word.
  • Traitor Shot: In case it wasn't blatantly obvious Aonung and his friends are setting Lo'ak up for failure, the shot of them smirking after they send him into open ocean should do it.
  • Uncertain Doom: Dr. Ian Garvin, the marine biologist that assists Captain Scoresby, was on the same boat as he was when Payakan attacked them, but his body doesn't appear to be visible with the rest of Scoresby's crew.
  • Underground Monkey: Aside from being a different clan, the Na'vi of the Metkayina Clan have a few physical differences from mainland Na'vi like the Omatikaya. They have lighter, teal, skin to blend in with the water while swimming, fins that run down their forearms to their pinkies for paddling, and broad and flat tails for propulsion. Metkayina children use the fact that the Omatikaya don't have these adaptations to tease and belittle the Sully children.
  • The Unreveal:
    • It’s never revealed who Kiri’s biological father is, assuming she even has one, nor how she has such a close connection to Pandora’s wildlife or can sense Eywa’s presence. The only time she even has a chance to find out via using a Tree of Souls equivalent to commune with Grace, her biological mother, sends her into a seizure before she can learn anything beyond the fact that Grace loves her..
    • There is also no mention of Spider's biological mother. However, he was born on Pandora rather than being brought from Earth as the stated reason for him being left behind when most of the surviving humans left at the end of the first film is because he was an infant too young at the time to be safely put into cryosleep for the return trip to Earth. However, her identity is revealed in the tie-in comic as Paz Socorro, a Scorpion pilot killed during the assault on the Tree of Souls.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Neytiri flies into a BRUTAL one when Neteyam is killed.
  • Video Will: Colonel Quaritch recorded one just before the final battle in the first film, telling his future Recombinant Avatar that it was just in case he got killed, which "isn't gonna happen."
  • Villain Has a Point: Quaritch has a point at the end after Neteyam is killed when he tells Jake that he brought this on himself by hiding in the midst of his children and other neutral civilians, thereby failing to actually protect them and instead subjecting them to the risk of becoming collateral damage or worse.
  • Villainous Parental Instinct: Quaritch is callous (at best) regarding the well-being of children, except when it's his own kid;note  he gets Ardmore to stop torturing Spider even though Spider has given no information and at the end he lets Kiri go to save Spider's life.
  • Villains Blend in Better: Subverted with Quaritch. His Na'vi language skills are described to be that of a 3-year old, and he doesn't bother to hide the fact he's a Recombinant from the RDA, with human clothing and weapons. With that said, Quaritch is a fast learner and he manages to tame an Ikran in one day where Jake had to partake in a ritual that lasted for a month to tame his.
  • Weaponized Exhaust: A brutal example. In the first film, the ISV Venture Star dared not to approach the Pandoran atmosphere due to the Roche limit. Their new ships seem to have been upgraded their ships to fly in-atmo now, allowing them to use their anti-matter engines as makeshift planetary blowtorches, completely vapourising what's left of the Omatikaya Clan and forcing the survivors to relocate into the Hallelujah Mountains while at the same time dropping a troop transport to establish a beachhead.
  • Wham Line: Coming from one of the tulkun, Payakan, in the reveal they are full-fledged sophonts who talk back to the Na'vi as intellectual equals:
    Lo'ak: What happened? Why are you alone?
    Payakan: It's too painful...
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The Omaticaya are never seen or mentioned again once the Sullies leave them.
    • Aside from Neytiri's, Bob and the other ikrans more or less vanish after being taken in by the Metkayina.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The RDA are dismissive of the Na'vi, only acknowledging them as lesser beings because of their humanoid appearance. The tulkun, which are not humanoid at all and resemble whales more than anything else, get no such regard. RDA hunts them with no remorse, extracting their brain fluid to make an anti-aging drug, and happily take advantage of their intelligence and pacifistic culture to slaughter them.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
  • Wrecked Weapon: At the end of her rampage, Neytiri realizes that her father Eytukan's bow was shattered in the fighting.
  • Wrongfully Accused: Lo'ak spends time with Payakan, a tulkun who was exiled from his society after he murdered several Na'vi. Lo'ak refuses to believe it, and eventually finds out the truth: Payakan's family was killed, so he gathered the local Metakayina clan to hunt down the whalers, who killed them all to cover their tracks. Payakan was blamed for their deaths, and he didn't correct them because he felt they were right.
  • Yo Yo Plot Point: Quaritch tries to force Jake to turn himself in by threatening Jake's children four times over the course of the movie. Tuk even lampshades it at one point by crying, "I can't believe I'm tied up again!"

"Sullys stick together."