Thursday, October 11, 2012

Avatar S1E2: The Avatar Returns

Last time on Avatar: The Last Airbender, we met the Avatar, who is also the last airbender, as well as Sokka, Katara, their entire village and the Fire Nation battleship ready to unleash ice-melting hell on it. Prince Zuko thinks Aang is a little old man, his uncle Iroh thinks only the greatest of things, and I think it's time we get on with the second episode - after the jump. I can totally format things!

Ah, here's the opening I recognize, in which we hear Aang's name and see him slam into a giant stone head. Wow, the previously-on segment confirms that a helluva lot happened in the twenty-some minutes of the first episode of this show. Not a moment wasted, not even while penguin sledding! Seriously, they fit some great character-establishing lines in that scene. ("You still are a kid!") Anyway, now Aang and Katara are back at the village and everyone over the age of ten is really mad at them for the whole setting-off-a-Fire-Navy-flare thing. Sokka is convinced that Aang is a Fire Nation spy because of this, which would make sense except that it doesn't seem like the Fire Nation gets along well with others, and Aang is clearly an Other. Still, I guess you never know.

Wait, what? Sokka takes it upon himself to banish Aang from the village and Katara's response is "Grandma, don't let him do this!" instead of "Grandma, Sokka is clearly only a year or two older than me yet he thinks he has the authority to unilaterally expel a person from our village!"? Shenanigans. Sokka's assumption of an all-male warrior class as well as the other views he shared last episode make it clear that this is a male-dominated society, but the men have clearly been gone for awhile now and Sokka's a mere sprig of a thing. Take charge, Granny. Smack the kid upside the head and declare it your right to exile the child.

Aw, Aang, this whole "hundred years" thing really isn't clicking for you, is it? At the very least, it's not your room to clean anymore. Cheer up, Katara, you're a main character and a threat is approaching! Aang's not really going away forever. Also, both you and your grandma are able to generate wind to rustle your hair loopies when you're sad. With that kind of power, you're far too useful to leave behind. Oh snap, the actual Fire Nation ship actually approaches! Get back there, Aang! Sokka, you are totally using this as an excuse to wear your makeup, admit it. See, you should have admitted it. Now your watchtower's a pile of slush again. Also, there is a ship barreling toward you.

I love how everything about this ship is harsh and pointy, including the people who step out of it. Sokka, you are showing quite a bit of foolhardiness, but also courage and tenacity. No matter how many times this prince and/or his ship toss you aside, you keep on coming! OMG. Random small Water Tribe child: "Show. No. Fear!" ILU 4EVA, SPEAR THROWING KID! <3 Zuko's response to less-than-matched opponents seems to be similar to Sokka's response to unconscious children, except that after Zuko broke the spear, those three pokes he gave Sokka's head were much, much harder. And now it is his turn to be thrown aside when Aang comes sliding in! He even lands face down with his helmet on his butt. The similarities between Zuko and Sokka abound.

Bam! Now everyone knows Aang's the Avatar! Awwww, Aang goes quietly instead of fighting for the good of the screaming children. That is so sweet. It's also sweet how Katara reacts to the fact that she actually didn't need to speechify at Sokka because he already has a boat ready to go after Aang. And thank you, writers, for making it a foregone conclusion that he'll be taking her with him! Despite his sexist socialization, his sense automatically overrides the stupid when it's time for action. Yay! Hee, they both look so guilty when their grandmother comes to ask them what they're doing. SQUEEEEEE, MORE SWEETNESS! Grandma is being helpful and hopeful and everything is adorable!!

Hahaha! Aang can indeed take those two grown Fire Nation guards with both hands tied behind his back. Oh, just let yourself be excited that Appa's flying, Sokka, it's cute. Aang can also run up walls and flip through the air with nary a care! And yet his first response to the guards brandishing weapons at him is to ask them if they know where his staff is. Ooh, I love how he uses one of their helmet points to cut the ropes binding his wrists. That is a badass move right there. AAAAAAAAAA AND HE WHISPERS AN APOLOGY TO SLEEPING IROH!!! This is such a fun character!

This fight between Aang and Zuko is excellently done, up to and including the moment when Aang gets his staff back and Zuko, who's had Aang on the run this whole time, gets slammed into the wall and ceiling by his own mattress. WHOA, Zuko is one hardcore fighter! He just leapt to grab Aang off his glider with not a single fuck given for the fact that if he misses, he could break his legs or spine landing on the metal deck below. Daaaaaang. But oh man, he is no match for what is about to go down right now. Katara's shouting coupled with being submerged in the sea have made Aang's eyes and arrows all glowy. He's made himself a waterspout! Well, in reverse, because the real ones are water in tornadoes instead of corkscrewing up from the sea. WHATEVER IT WAS COOL.

More of Zuko being one hardcore fighter: he has already climbed the metal hull of his ship, likely using the anchor, to go another round. Ha, I like how Sokka gives him the same three head-jabs with Aang's staff. I also like that Katara can freeze water around people, as well as the quirk that she has to do it backwards right now. This line from Sokka while he's chipping ice away from his feet is fabulous and has flawless delivery: "I'm just a guy with a boomerang, I didn't ask for all this flying and magic!"

It is worth noting that Iroh just woke up. I have a feeling this all would have gone very differently had he been involved. Having seen the kid deflect a giant fireball to cause an avalanche, Iroh's nephew is determined not to underestimate his enemy, which puts him a league above Bond villains right off the bat. Zuko is clearly quite a smart prince. He can also recognize when he needs to re-prioritize his commands: "Dig the ship out and follow them! [Sees half the soldiers working to thaw the others] Aaaas soon as you're done with that."

I like everyone so much! Iroh is Iroh, Zuko is already likable despite his villain status, Aang is super fun, I can't help identifying with Katara, and Sokka just said this in response to Katara telling him he may get to "knock some firebender heads on the way" to the North Pole: "I'd like that. I'd really like that." Respect the hogmonkeys' consent, though, Aang. No riders means no riders.

Next post, we will follow this trio of friends and their flying bison steed to somewhere further north, where something will happen. Something awesome, I bet!

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