"I need to redeem myself. I need my honor back."- AangHe runs away again, but this time to confront Ozai and redeem himself, it is another thing that Zuko would have probably done in a similar situation. It is the intensity of his actions at this point that add emotion to these scenes, he easily speeds past a blockade, he is hit by a wave and thinks it is finally all over, he has failed completely. We then get my two favourite moments in this episode. First Roku appears before Aang and reveals how he has out Aang in a horrible position, Aang has to sort out the problems he never stopped, but that he believes that Aang can save the world. Second is that Yue (AKA The Moon Spirit) appears to him and also believes in Aang and tells him not to give up. Her appearance also gives Aang enhanced waterbending and allows him to make it to land. Very powerful scenes and it was so important that Aang was told that by Spirits and not just his friends, even powerful beings believe in him. His friends soon find him and he realises that everyone thinking he is dead is good for the group and gives them the element of surprise. Aang in this episode has such real reactions and emotions, ones that reference previous events which add to their power. His acceptance of their situation and that he can end the war is crucial also. Next has to be Katara in this episode. For her, this episode is about her interactions with both Hakoda and Aang. While she has been excited to see her father again as has been referenced in past episodes, it finally happens here and her reaction is not as you would expect, but makes sense in the end. She is delighted to be around him again, but is upset that he left her and Sokka and most importantly, she needed him. The scene is done so well here she speaks about Aang, but everything she says applies to Hakoda and is aimed at him. It was an important scene to have, and especially contrast Katara's interaction with Hakoda compared to Sokka's, that it is not just a happy family reunion, there are issues and high emotion involved. In the end all Katara needed to hear was that Hakoda missed her and Sokka so much, she just needed to hear him say it. What Katara says to him before this is powerful.
"I understand why you left. I really do, and I know that you had to go, so why do I still feel this way? I was so sad and angry, and hurt." - KataraThen her scenes with Aang show how much she cares about him, The Bridge comic story really adds to this. She understands Aang's emotions here, she knows how much it affects him to think he failed. When he leaves and she finds out, it at the same time sets up the scene with Hakoda and once again shows how much Aang means to her. My last point is about Zuko. He has returned to the Fire Nation and is dating Mai now, he should be happy, what he has waited 3 years for is coming true. The problem is that he is lost in thought about how it came to happen, what he did to his uncle, if he made the correct choice. He is cheered by the people of the Fire Nation when Lo and Li present himself and Azula to the nation. The people are accepting him, things seem to be going well for him, but we all know as does he that he is doubting his choice. Also in Zuko's side of the story is Azula, still manipulating events. She sets it up so that Zuko will take the fall should the Avatar turn out to be alive, as far as Ozai knows it was Zuko who "killed" Aang. He knows that Katara has the spirit water and that more than likely Aang is still alive and that at some stage the truth will come out. It seems that nothing can go right for him.
"Please, Zuko. What ulterior motive could I have? What could I possibly gain by letting you get all the glory for defeating the Avatar? Unless somehow, the Avatar was actually alive. All that glory would suddenly turn to shame and foolishness. But you said yourself that was impossible. Sleep well, Zuzu." - AzulaThis line from Azula tells you everything that she is about, she is playing Zuko and has been since Ba Sing Se. It is at this stage that Zuko realises even more clearly that he may have made the wrong choice, he believed Azula who was actually lying to him as opposed to his uncle who has done nothing but help him. One last note would be that we see Ozai's face for the first time in this episode. He only accepts Zuko back because he went against the brother he hates and killed the Avatar. It is an interesting moment, because we see his face and it humanises him, the big villain at last has a face, but when you hear him talk so cruelly about Aang and Iroh you realise again that this is the man who burned Zuko. Overall this is a great opening to the Book, it succeeded in following up one of the biggest cliffhanger endings ever. It has great character development while setting up nearly everything that will happen in the book. Favourite Moment/ When Roku and then Yue appear before Aang and give him his confidence back. Favourite Line/ "I understand why you left. I really do, and I know that you had to go, so why do I still feel this way? I was so sad and angry, and hurt." - Katara
Mai: Orange is such an awful colour. Zuko: You're so beautiful when you hate the world. Mai: I don't hate you. Zuko: I don't hate you, too.This exchange shows exactly how their relationship works. It is nice to see a different style of relationship, this is so different to Katara and Aang's. When Azula then appears to break up the love fest or rather hate fest we see a very interesting moment from Mai, she gives Azula a look that could kill for interrupting them. It for the first time shows some high emotion from Mai and that she cares so much for Zuko that it eclipses an hold Azula has over her, I love that this scene can explain Mai's eventual decision in 315. Zuko returns to Iroh with food this time. This time he admits to Iroh that he is confused and needs advice,
"I brought you some komodo-chicken. I know you don't care for it, but I figure it beats prison food. I admit it. I have everything I always wanted, but it's not at all how I thought it would be. The truth is, I need your advice. I think the Avatar is still alive. I know he's out there. I'm losing my mind. Please, Uncle, I'm so confused! I need your help. Forget it! I'll solve this myself! Waste away in here for all I care!" - Zuko
This is the first time Zuko has admitted out loud that being home is not like he expected and that he realises that it is not his true path, but he is angry and impatient and soon leaves. This time a tear rolls down Iroh's face, he would love to help his nephew, but it is important that Zuko figure some things out on his own. Zuko then hires Combustion Man to take down Aang properly so he does not have to worry about Ozai finding out the truth. He is making some progress, but also regressing in some ways.
Overall I really do enjoy this episode, it is a personal favourite of mine, while it is not one of the top episodes of the series it is a very high quality episode that has multiple layers to things.
Favourite Moment/ The Kataango
Favourite Line/ "Wang Fire: Don't you worry, Mr. Headmaster. I'll straighten this boy out somethin' fierce. Young man, as soon as we get home, you're gonna get the punishment of a lifetime! School Headmaster: That's what I like to hear."
"Look at this place. It's so sad. We have to do something to help." - KataraThis after only seconds of being in the place. She uses the villages love of their spirit, The Paited Lady as a disguise to help the people and give them hope. She gives them food and heals their sick. I like the conflict between Sokka and Katara, Sokka is so focused on their overall mission and is very harsh on Katara when she wants to help, but in the end Sokka is a good guy and realises what needs to be done. While Katara does not learn to put the group first as the episode may have seemed to be setting up, but instead further understands that she needs to help people in any way she can, it is who she is and not a flaw as Sokka would make it out to be. In the end it is this that makes me love this episode, Katara does not change as a character her, because she does not need to, it is Sokka who learned to have some more compassion. My favourite line in this episode and possibly from the whole show defines Katara as a character completely and is delivered so well from Mae Whitman.
"No. I will never, ever turn my back on people who need me. I'm going down to the village, and I am gonna do whatever I can." - KataraSokka had been making her out to be completely wrong and in this moment she pushes back hard against her brother and makes him understand. He says "I will never turn my back on you" and realises he needs to help too. I absolutely love the Sokka and Katara interaction in this episode. After the factory is destroyed the soldiers come to teh town for revenge with plans to ruin it. Team Avatar are forced to defend it. I really enjoy how it is done using the mystique surrounding the Painted Lady to scare many of them off and some clever bending to beat the others. Even Appa and Sokka play a role in the plan. Finally is the last few scenes. The town turn on Katara when they find out she has been the Painted Lady all along, I was shocked at the villagers reaction and how ungrateful they were, so when Sokka spoke out I was delighted. Katara then points out that their problems are real and that the town needs to help themselves.
Sokka: "Maybe she is a waterbender, but she was just trying to help you. Because of her, that factory won't be polluting your river, and the army is gone. You should be down on your knees thanking her." Katara: "Sokka, it's okay. I shouldn't have acted like someone I wasn't, and I shouldn't have tricked you. But I felt like I had to do something. It doesn't matter if the Painted Lady is real or not. Because your problems are real, and this riveris real. You can't wait around for someone to help you. You have to help yourself."They agree and thanks to some amazing acting from Toph they decide to clean the river. Then just as you think the episode is about to end we get a fantastic scene of Katara down by the river at night. The real Painted Lady appears before her and simply says "Thank You", a spirit realises how important what Katara did was. A great moment and honour for Katara to get respect and thanks from a spirit. It also may show something else about spirits, that they try not to interfere with human matters, hence why the Avatar exists in the first place. Overall this is actually a really good episode, it is a personal favourite of mine, but good in it's own right. Katara is at her amazing best here with an interesting sibling conflict with Sokka as well as a nice lesson on pollution and compassion. Favourite Moment/ Katara is thanked by The Painted Lady Favourite Line/ "No. I will never, ever turn my back on people who need me. I'm going down to the village, and I am gonna do whatever I can." - Katara