First, I’ve found a great site about the good Avatar for you to waste your time on. Second, while this isn’t “licensed” Avatar, so far it is the closest you can get to Lego Avatar goodies. Somedays, life is good.
Onto the disc! Which, I have to say is (so far) my pick if I had to choose only one disc of Avatar to keep. Why? Well…
Chapter 11. the Desert – In this episode… Iroh defeats a boy band! Well… maybe not “technically” but close enough that I’m using it to deal with the trauma of the ’90s outbreak I survived. (you youngsters don’t understand what it was like, no zombie apocalypse can compare with the boy band apocalypse at the end of the twentieth century…)
From a technical and writing standpoint, this is also a great episode because they’ve finally figured out how you do “being upset” with Aang. Instead of being over the incident instantly, we have him struggling with it, trying to cope with the loss. I hate to say it but… I found his anger over Appa’s loss more believable than his anger over the loss of his entire people. This is what I mean by “reinforcing” your work! Study this episode well aspiring writers.
12. Journey to Ba Sing Se, Part 1: the Serpent’s Pass -Here we have a complete pandering to the fans, with lots of call backs and return cameos by favorite characters including – my fave – Platypus Bear! (ok ok, Jet and Cabbage guy are cool too). It was nice to see Suki again too, she should go without makeup more often.
Actually, a good alternate title for this episode would be “slash fuel unleaded” (and I make this claim without even checking the internet, the squees are that loud). First up, we have Jet and Zuko teaming up to kick a righteous amount of ass for the fangirls. Then we have Toph and Suki inspiring much drooling from the fanboys.
Oh, there was like… a plot or something wasn’t there? Well turning to less serious matters, the show does work well up until the very end. Some might question why Sokka and the others leave Toph behind on the island but the show has done a very good job of demonstrating that Toph is so capable, the characters frequently forget her handicap so it wasn’t out of character or unbelievable. No, where it all gets a little stupid is when the baby starts coming. Katara, suddenly having the requirements to be a midwife, asks Aang – the Avatar who has learned to bend water – to go get rags while asking Sokka – the guy with bladed instruments – to go get water. WTH? Then the scene with the baby and her naming – while nice – is so over-the-top I felt cavities opening in my teeth just watching it. Still, a great episode otherwise.
13. Journey to Ba Sing Se, Par 2: the Drill – With last episode and this one, I have a great idea for a spin-off. It will be “Sokka, the Lady Bender” learning the ways of the pimp from the master, Iroh. Actually this does make me wonder: I can get Iroh being a ladies’ man, when you’re voiced by Mako it’s a law of the universe, but Sokka? He’s racking up a harem rivaling most animes. Can the ladies tell me if the guy’s supposed to be a stud or is the show’s karma (aka, the writers) compensating for all the stuff they put him through?
The animation in this episode is GORGEOUS and makes you wish they would just make the Avatar movies animated instead of live. It’s also nice to see more battles and how conflict in this world works. And of course it’s always good to see the evil girl trio.
14. City of Walls and Secrets – Best quote on the disc. “This place is weird” -Toph upon discovering that the city has ‘regular bears’.
I loved this episode because, the older I get, the more intriguing I find fictional politics (my opinion on real-life politics is well documented) and everything else in this episode was just pitch perfect. Jet’s obsession… the city’s creepiness… the frustration of bureaucracy… well done on all levels.
Yet what was especially well done is the play of writing. By the end of this episode, it becomes apparent that Aang & Co might have been a lot better off if they had let the giant drill of the previous episode proceed to tear up a lot of Ba Sing Se. But of course, how were they to know? In the long run and with hindsight, stopping the drill may have been the wrong choice, but it was the right one at the time for the characters and the knowledge they had. That’s excellent writing. That’s how you prevent mary-sueism. That’s how you do drama.
15. the Tales of Ba Sing Se – Following that, we then have one of the best examples on how you do a filler episode or “in-between” moments. Remember, if you need the plot on pause for any reason, use the time for character exploration and growth – don’t waste anything in your work (unless it’s a humor work that’s about nothing). So… how do the segments go?
- Toph & Katara – No, the best part isn’t the girls sitting around a spa in only towels, it’s the revelation of Toph’s sensitivity about her feet. Which makes perfect sense, she “sees” through them and wouldn’t you be screaming and crying if someone tried to massage and clean your eyeballs? The random encounter with the bitches was… not really necessary but since it’s always fun to watch the girls kick ass, we can let it slide.
- Iroh – I didn’t cry… until the segment concluded with a memorial toward Mako (Iroh’s voice actor who passed away). If you can get through this bit and not love Iroh, you have no soul. Really, my only complaint is that this should have concluded the episode (but I think they put everything in chronological order) because all other bits pale in comparison.
- Aang – He invents a zoo. We get to see more of the wacky creatures inhabiting this world. Not much else to say here.
- Sokka – Gets involved in a poetry slam and reinforces his status as the master pimp of the avatar-verse (once Iroh abdicates the title of course). One of his best, moments as comic relief.
- Zuko – Meanwhile, trying to catch up with Sokka’s harem, Zuko goes on a date. It’s a nice touch that we see him improving as a character and in life the more we see him worry less about himself and more about others. Oh, and for those curious, the tally is now, Zuko: 3 girls, Sokka: 24. Looks like the prince better get to work.
- Momo – Yes, the flying monkey gets his own moment in the spotlight. He even gets a moment to dance. So far I’ve only been… tolerant of the animal sidekicks but sure enough, this bit almost gets me to care about one of them. Who knows, by series end, I might actually care about one of them.