anonymous asked:

Zuko is my favorite ATLA character, but I'm wondering about his skillset in comparison to the rest of the Gaang. Aang is the Avatar, Katara is a self-taught master waterbender, Toph is the greatest earthbender ever and inventor of metalbending, Suki is leader of a prestigious group of warriors, and Sokka is a cunning fighter and strategist. But poor Zuko tends to lose a lot, and -aside from lightning redirection - his abilities don't seem to improve like thee others'. Thoughts?

1) Aang is the Avatar, yet he struggles immensely with earthbending, and even though he has the talent to firebend, you hear Zuko telling him to be more aggressive, and Jeong-Jeong telling him he lacks discipline. Even Pakku gets annoyed by Aang’s learning style.  

2) Katara is not self-taught, not entirely. Yes, she figured out the mechanics, but her bending (until we watched her fight Pakku) really wasn’t more than defense mechanisms to flee an invading enemy. She blossomed into the master that she is under Master Pakku. Like he said, hard work and determination are more fruitful than raw talent.

3) Toph, for years I imagine, had very feeble attempts at earthbending, until she learned from the badgermoles and developed her own style. However, Toph is also someone I’d describe as a prodigy. Raw talent, hard work— and she’s leagues ahead of any other earthbender in the world. 

4) We never saw Suki develop into who she was. I imagine it wasn’t without being knocked down. 

5) Sokka lost all the time??? Or the fight was over before he got to it. Season 2 was when Sokka started coming into his own, thanks to what Suki taught him, but if he was ever faced with a fighting style he didn’t expect (Ty Lee) it was over. Season 3, Sokka learned from a master and grew, same as the rest. 

6) Zuko’s difficulty with firebending in season 1 and most of season 2 largely stems from his refusal to bend it properly. He seems to know the basics and how to fight strategically and aggressively, as we saw when he fought Zhao, but Iroh still reprimands him for not using his breath and requires him to stay at the basics. He struggles because his aggressive style makes him tire quickly and he’s negligent with it. 

However, we do see Zuko handle fire very adeptly on numerous occasions outside of his Agni Kai with Zhao: on Kyoshi Island, at the perfuming nunnery, against the pirates— these are all scenes where he’s holding his own and at points, close to winning, but the fight is lost due to outside forces (beyond his opponents). He loses in the North Pole to Katara because, well, what firebender will last in the dead of night, surrounded by water and ice, under a full moon? And in season 2, we don’t see him bend a whole lot, not outside of his fight against Azula— and again, anger got the best of him. We do, however, learn that he’s a very, very talented swordsman in his duel with Jet. Under Ba Sing Se, he seems out of control with his firebending, but he’s necessarily losing because of it (though that could have something to do with Azula’s participation.)

Season 3 also starts out slow with Zuko’s bending, and it fizzles out the moment he switches sides because he no longer has anger to fuel it. As soon as he meets the masters though, everything changes for him. 

My point is… None of the characters in atla are where they are at without a master and hard life lessons regarding who they are and what they want. Zuko took longer on his journey, but by the end, he is no less adept than any member of the Gaang.