Follow TV Tropes


Recap / Avatar: The Last Airbender "The Great Divide"

Go To
The Gan Jin are on the left, and the Zhang are on the right.

"Harsh words won’t solve problems; action will."

The next destination the gang stumbles into is the Great Divide, the world's largest canyon. The group starts bickering, so Aang decides to put his Avatar skills to the test. He successfully solves their minor disputes, but Aang tries to put his skills to practical use, when two Earth Kingdom tribes, who have been in a feud for 100 years, need to cross the canyon together. Aang sends Appa across with most needy people of the two tribes, and, with the help of a knowledgeable earthbender, guides the rest across the vast, dry landscape. In the end, Aang is able to end the feud, and the two tribes travel together to the capital city of Ba Sing Se.


Tropes: (YMMV items are HERE)

  • Accidental Aesop: In-Universe, The Gan Jin and the Zhang tribes interpret what Aang says as a good reason to Duel to the Death. Aang experiences a Hope Spot, when it seems the two tribes will try to work out their differences and get along, before they try to kill each other. Aang then immediately flip-flops, and says "I take it back; harsh words aren't so bad."
  • An Aesop: Several, the main one is the page quote, it becomes Arc Words for the episode. Also if the trained wilderness survival expert, and your guide through dangerous terrain tells you not to bring food along, because it will attract dangerous predators, listen to him! Another good one is that sometimes its best to let go of past grudges and move on. The final aesop at the end of the episode is that it is ok, sometimes even good to lie, if the lie is done with the intention of stopping a destructive conflict. Aang happily admits to lying to The Zhang's and Gan Jin's about knowing Jin Wei and Wei Jin. Katara approves, Sokka is shocked and disappointed.
  • Advertisement:
  • Barbarian Tribe: The Zhang, what with wearing animal furs and eating food with their hands.
  • Big Eater: The entire Zhang tribe has this in spades.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Zhang means dirty in Mandarin, while Gan Jin means clean.
  • Breather Episode: Set between the dark "Jet" and the whammy "The Storm".
  • Contrived Coincidence: Subverted. It would have been a stretch if Aang had been there to witness the real event 100 years ago that led to the myth. Turns out he just made it up.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The Great Divide refers to both the canyon and the conflict between the tribes.
  • Enemy Mine: During the climax, the Zhang and the Gan Jin bond over figting a common enemy, the Canyon Crawlers.
  • Filler: To the point where you can skip this episode without having the impression that you have missed one. This is lampshaded in "Ember Island Players" which has the actors note the Great Divide itself and then move on immediately. This only happens once more in the show, with "The Painted Lady."
  • Fire-Forged Friends: The Zhang and Gan Jin tribes initially start off hating eachother, but after working together to get out of the canyon and a good fabricated lie from Aang, they both decide to drop their petty squabbles and move forward as one.
  • Flashback Effects: The Zhang's story is shown in a sketchy, stylized style as opposed to the more realistic style of the Gan Jin's, reflecting their respective natures. Aang's story begins with half of the screen in each style.
  • I Know You Know I Know: The Zhang's reasoning for bringing in food is that Gan Jin will bring in food on the suspicion that the Zhang will bring in food. They are correct, and it's implied that the others did the same thing, for the same reason.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: The Canyon Crawlers are a mix between spiders and crocodiles.
  • Motivational Lie: Aang lies about the source of the conflict between the two tribes to get them to make up. When he admits such to Katara and Sokka, they're floored.
    Aang: You could call it luck... or you could call it lying. I made the whole thing up.
    Katara [amused]: You did not. That is so wrong.
  • Motivation on a Stick: Aang's trick to get the crawlers to carry the group out of the valley.
  • No Antagonist: Even the crawlers are more a menace than an active force against the heroes.
  • Not So Different: The leader of the Zhang notes at the end that they are not so different from the Gan Jin.
  • Pelts of the Barbarian: The Zhang dresses in rough animal skins, reflecting their brutish nature compared to the genteel Gan Jin.
  • Plot Parallel: Between Sokka and Katara regarding their stance on the tribes and their war.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: Both the tribes have different reason to why they have been feuding for so long. The Gan Jins claim that the forefather of their tribe, Jin Wei, was attacked while transporting a sacred orb during their redemption ritual by a thief, Wei Jin, from the Zhangs. The Zhangs claim that their ancestor, Wei Jin, saw Jin Wei passed out on the ground and was returning the sacred orb to Jin Wei's tribe when they wrongfully imprisoned him for twenty years. Aang goes on to claim that Jin Wei and Wei Jin were actually two twin brothers playing a game, when Wei Jin got a penalty and spent two minutes in the box. In the end, Aang admits that he made his version up to stop the dispute.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Subverted. Aang appeals to this trope when coming up with his Motivational Lie by saying the two tribes confused a child's game with a redemption ritual.
  • Slobs vs. Snobs: The Zhang as the slobs, and the Gan Jin as the snobs. Their names actually reflect this, as Zhang means dirty in Mandarin, and Gan Jin means clean.
  • Take This Job and Shove It: The Canyon Guide quits at the end of the episode. Ironically, there isn't any supervisors he can say this to, it's coupled with Screw This, I'm Outta Here!.
  • Tempting Fate: The guide's proclamation "We'll be safe now." is followed by him getting attacked by a canyon crawler.
  • Wacky Wayside Tribe: The Zhang and the Gan Jin don't have much to do with the arching plot of the season.
  • The World's Expert on Getting Killed: Downplayed. The skilled Earth Bending guide is the first to get attacked and injured by the Canyon Crawlers.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: