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Well, there's only one way to do this.
SLOPPY CAPTIONING TIME!
Toph: Look! There it is!
Everyone: OMG WHERE??
Toph: That's what it'll sound like when one of you spots it.
Toph is an adorable troll and I love her for it.
[Appa and Toph chill outside.]
Toph: So... you like flying?
[Appa and Toph chilling outside again when the library begins to sink. Appa roars.]
Toph: I already told you, I don't want to snuggle.
(again, captions are mine; pictures are from here)
I wish we could have seen more of Appa and Toph hanging out while the rest of the Gaang totally broke their promise to Wan Shi Tong. Given the above, I'm sure it was hilarious and heartwarming in equal measure.
AND THEN TOPH HAS TO CHOOSE BETWEEN TRYING TO SAVE APPA AND TRYING TO SAVE THE GAANG AND OH MY GOODNESS MY HEART CANNOT TAKE THE STRAIN. Nooooooo, Appa! Please be okay. :( :( :(
(Also...how are the Gaang going to get out of the desert now? I mean, they were flying for a pretty long time and they don't have very much water. Just in case you weren't horrified enough.)
Confession time: I love wildly dysfunctional royal families. The interplay of politics and family ties (or the lack thereof) and the complications of emotion those entail--it makes for a really compelling, though usually thoroughly tragic, narrative.
And boy howdy, is the Fire Nation royalty ever wildly dysfunctional.
Even Iroh--who becomes the wise, tea-drinking badass we all know and love--is here depicted as a joyous, if unsuccessful, conquerer. And why shouldn't he be? It's in his blood. War is the Fire Nation birthright.
I think it's important to note that the only one who is portrayed as consistently compassionate is Ursa, and she wasn't born into the warmongering. She just had the spectacular good fortune to marry into it. Though it's certainly lucky for Zuko that she did, considering she's the reason he got one parent's unconditional love. And possibly the reason he had a childhood at all, considering the implications of those last flashbacks. (Eeeeeeee, political skullduggery!)
Ozai, on the other hand... If there's an asshole event horizon, he passed breezily by it and fell into a gaping black hole of endless dickbaggery.
HEY, DAD, SO I KNOW MY BROTHER JUST LOST A SON AND ALL, BUT I REALLY WANT TO BE KING CAN I CAN I CAN I PLEASE? I PROMISE I'LL MONGER THE SHIT OUT OF THAT WAR.
Clearly he is Relative of the Year. But seriously--he's not a good son. He's not a good brother. He's not a good husband. And he's obviously a terrible father. Basically, if you're related to him, he is going to screw up your life someway, somehow.
Probably the most subtle instance of this is Azula, who is a complete terror from such a young age. Precocious even in malice. Especially in malice. And while other commenters have already talked beautifully about the way she is very much her father's daughter, I want to highlight a parallel that has thus far gone undiscussed:
-Ozai is a second son who is crueler and more ambitious than his brother. Who believes himself (though this is not shown to be demonstrably true or false) more talented than his brother.
-Azula is a second child who is crueler and more ambitious than her demonstrably less-talented brother.
No wonder Ozai so strongly favors her. And no wonder Azula is following so closely in his footsteps.
THAT BEING SAID.
1. Intent is not magical.
2. I am not qualified to make that diagnosis.
3. I should shut up right now.
I apologize. My description was ill-advised and ill-considered. I will do better in future.
Wooo, tonal dissonance!
That being said, I still really like this episode because I like both of the things they're giving us, even though together they're not a great combination. Two great tastes that DON'T taste great together, if you will.
Anyway. Enough meta, let's talk about SOKKA, MASTER DETECTIVE. Oh man, everything Sokka says or does in this episode is completely hilarious to me. Actually, let's not talk about him. After all, what can you really say that would properly encapsulate his magnificence? LET'S MAKE A LIST! LISTS ARE AWESOME!
Momo: [MOUTH INVADE!!]
Sokka: What are you doing in my mouth?! Momo, you need to need to be a little more sensitive to my boundaries.
Aang: Having a huge festival in your honor is great, but frankly, it's just nice to be appreciated.
Sokka: And it's nice to appreciate their deep-fried festival food!
Sokka: So some people don't like you. Big deal! There's a whole nation of firebenders who hate you. Now let's bust you out of here.
Aang: I can't.
Sokka: Sure you can! A little... swish, swish, swish! AIRBENDING SLICE! And we're on our way.
Katara: I'm going to call Avatar Kyoshi herself!
Sokka: What are you doing?
Katara: Well, she is Aang's past life. Maybe wearing her stuff will trigger something.
Sokka: I do believe in the power of stuff.
Sokka: Boomerang! You do always come back!
(sloppy captioning jobs are mine; pictures themselves are from here)
Can we start a dysfunctional Fire Nation teens fanclub?
Ty Lee: It'll be interesting seeing Zuko again, won't it, Mai?
(Mai looks away and smiles slightly.)