Monday, December 17, 2012

Avatar S1E6: Imprisoned

Last time on Avatar, King Bumi taught us all the true meaning of trollface and we got a glimpse into the constant looming existential crisis that is the life of Cabbage Guy. This time, the previously on segment wants to remind us that Zuko exists and Aang and Katara want something more to eat than the nuts (some of which may be rocks) that Sokka has brought them.

Hee! I love how Momo thinks he made the big booms by dropping the rock. Scared lemur! Sokka is exhibiting quite a bit of sense here, I must say: "Shouldn't we be running away from huge booms, not toward them?!" If you weren't a character on a TV show with plot concerns, you would definitely live the longest if you could just quit badgering trained warriors and people with super powers. Ooh, look at that dude move that big rock!

LOL! Sokka's all "approach with caution" and Katara's already up and calling out her name and asking his. Which is apparently running. His last name is falling rocks. Did Aang seriously just trade some nuts for that villager's hat? There wasn't even a decent amount of nuts in that bag! He must've done something awesome as the camera cut away because that is so not a fair trade. Ut oh, random earthbender kid was not supposed to earthbend. And now there are Fire Nation soldiers at the door! Heh, "act natural" translates to "form a ridiculous rigid tableau of peasant life." Katara, where did you get those berries?

Wow. This is the second time today that this asshole has extorted money from these people by threatening to set their house on fire. Great way to make the point that the Fire Nation have this village entirely under their thumb. Poor Haru, forbidden to earthbend on pain of being taken away, "like they took his father." BTW, before receiving that explanation in Haru's mother's reply, Katara showed some very good diplomatic reasoning skills in asking what the Fire Nation could do to them that they haven't already. This is exactly the right question to ask the oppressed. If enough people have lives crappy enough to answer "nothing," you've got yourself an army right there.

This conversation between Haru and Katara is beautiful in its simplicity: just two kids sharing the pain of having lost a parent, with Katara's necklace being her only remaining link to her mother and Haru only feeling close to his father again when he engages in the forbidden practice of earthbending. I especially love the end of the conversation when only their backs are shown to the viewers, subtly emphasizing the privacy of the moment. Haru: "[The necklace is] not enough, is it." Katara: "No."

Go Haru, save that old man from getting smushed! The way this plot is going, though, I bet your good deed is going to bite you in the ass, which absolutely sucks. Waaaaa, it did! They're taking Haru away. Oooohhh, you'd better get yours, old man. Somebody saves you from death by slow suffocation as part of a mountain crushes the air from your lungs and you respond by dropping a dime on him? You owe him your life, you nasty old snitch! Aw, Katara, I know. You did pretty much force him into it, but it's not like he'd've been cool with just letting the old bastard die.

I really like that there was no argument when Katara shared her plan to get arrested for earthbending so she can get Haru back. LOL, this fake argument, though! Sokka and Katara's fail acting skills are almost as funny as that soldier thinking Momo's the one doing the bending! That sort of logic does explain why he and the others are falling for the fail acting and not noticing the air whooshing up from the vent toward that boulder, though. Aw! Poor Sokka, getting insecure about his ears for reals! And here he goes demonstrating how a chain of abuse works, calling Momo's ears big to deflect his sudden insecurity about his own.

Yay, Sokka respects his sister even though he doesn't say it to her face! "She'll be fine, Aang. Katara knows what she's doing." <3 Yep, this warden guy is bad news. Calls his prisoners "honored guests" yet gives them one week of solitary for coughing when he's speaking, calls earthbending "that brutish savagery that passes for bending among you people" (very realistic arbitrary mark of superiority there) and has the worst case of evil voice we've seen yet. Hehehe, there's no earthbending on this metal ship, but y'know what you can totally do when you're surrounded by water? Waterbend. Katara's like a sleeper agent waiting for her trigger.

The fact that the ship is metal is being heavily emphasized as the reason these people can't bend their way out of this - so earthbending would be possible on an ordinary wooden ship? Do trees count as earth to bend? Or are there ships with clay hulls or something that they could break up and bend with normally? That doesn't seem like something people would do if they had any self-preservation instincts, considering that lack of hull = lack of ship = lack of protection from drowning.

I wish Katara would just call up some giant waves and wreak some havoc, but it's clearly going to be one of those episodes where a lesson is learned by all. The lesson at hand appears to be that some optimistic speechifying and a heart full of youthful rebellion aren't enough to spur the truly downtrodden into action - especially not if you expect them to already have some plan of escape/attack (Haru's dad: "The plan? The plan is to survive.") The lesson I am learning, however, is that Haru's dad has a magnificent speaking voice.

Augh, I can sense the looming failure! Don't bang on that pan, Katara! This speech, she is doomed! It is a very good speech, though. If their oppression weren't so long-standing, I wouldn't have been surprised if it worked. Alas, however, it's so far from enough in this case, and as much as it pains me to see a good speech crash and burn, I love seeing a show actually admit that yeah, sometimes you can't just walk up to a random group of people and rally them to fight against your common enemy. Sometimes the political prisoners forced to cover their clothing with burlap shifts aren't a seething mass of pending revolution just under the surface. It takes more than hopeful words when hope has truly been stamped out to this degree. This is a show that children watch. I LOVE that they're learning a lesson with this level of complexity.

Seems like this kind of thing might have happened before, or is at least expected in the case of picking up an earthbender young enough to be this naive, as the warden (who doles out weeks in solitary for coughing) waves off the soldier who moves to stop her. He doesn't even think such silliness is worth the trouble of punishment.

Sokka, you can't seriously have thought that Katara would be cool with just leaving with Haru if she had succeeded in bringing him with her. Dude! Warden! You know you have some serious issues when you have to amend an order to, "Then wake up somebody I haven't thrown overboard!" You just chucked the captain of this ship off the side of it because he accidentally alerted you to the fact that your question of whether he and the other guy saw a bison or a buffalo fly through the sky may have been just a little bit stupid. How did you get your job, nepotism?

They have wooden boxes aboard this ship, so clearly wood does not count as earth to be bent...until the heat and pressure underground turn it into coal, that is. Rocks! We has them! And more righteous posturing won't persuade anyone to use them, but the warden's senseless cruelty in response to this failure? Oh yeah. That gets things going. I think Haru didn't even bother bending that first lump of coal, though, lol. Pretty sure he just chucked it at the warden's head and then remembered, oh yeah, I can levitate this stuff. Go Haru's dad! Nobody tries to toast your child!

Bwahahaha! Haru's dad bends the warden and some soldiers over the side of the ship on a pile of coal after another wonderfully choreographed battle and the warden expects mercy, all, "No, please, I can't swim!" and Haru's dad is having none of it: "Don't worry. I hear cowards float." Don't worry, warden, you can soothe that wicked burn with all of that ocean water you're about to drown in. Hooray, message complete! If at first you don't succeed in empowering the mob, give them weapons and try, try again.

Oh noes, Katara's mother's necklace is gone! Haru's like D: in the background. Then we cut to Zuko, who picks up the broken necklace, and he's like, intense staaaare. Oh snap.

Tune in next post, when Zuko will show up to kick ass and return lost necklaces - and he's only got one necklace.

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