David Faustino:I think it’s from Book One, actually. There’s a moment with you and I. We’re separated, we’re talking, you’re looking at an island that I’m on, or I’m looking at an island that you’re on.
Janet Varney: Nothing bad has happened to either of us yet, but we’re in separate places.
David Faustino: Yeah, it was just a great moment. There are so many great moments.
Read the full Legend of Korra interview with Janet Varney and David Faustino for ComicAlliance (x)
Aang + mimicking Zuko and airbending like a firebender in “Bato of the Water Tribe.”
I’m also putting this under my “firebending like an airbender” tag because, if you look at Zuko’s hand in the top right gif, Zuko has his palm completely open. Usually, he uses fire punches or, in like 2 rare cases, he’ll have his hand in claw-like shape.
And, you can kind of tell it’s airbendery because his flame isn’t as controlled s it normally would be. Airbenders let their element be free, as is their nature but, firebenders need to properly control their element least their element go out of control (a la Aang burning Katara because he firebent like an airbender).
Compare the way Zuko’s hand is positioned to the Warden’s hand when he firebends in “Imprisoned”:
There’s a difference between how airbenders and firebenders use their hands when they use an open palm gesture but I’m not quite sure how to put it into words.
So, Zuko is mimicking the way Aang usually positions his hand, and Aang is using an airbendery fire punch with his palm open.
Ladies and gentlemen: the first time Aang uses an offensive firebending strike. move.
Prior to this, Aang only takes the offensive twice: first when he sprays Zuko and his soldiers with snow (if that counts), and second when he fights Zuko using fans in “The Warriors of Kyoshi,” I guess you could also include the kick he does in “The Avatar Returns” to bust open a door but, that was mostly circumstantial. Other than that, he usually sticks with the usual avoidance and evasion tactics employed by airbenders.
In “The King of Omashu,” King Bumi encourages Aang to change up his style, and attack. So, what does he do? He employs the bending style that uses the most offensive, as opposes to defensive, moves: Northern Shaolin/firebending.
Starting now, Aang’s going to start learning to employ both offensive and defensive moves when he bends. Sometimes, he’ll even use a firebender-like defense or a firebender-like attack. He starts taking the initiative, still sticking with his usual airbender style but, adjusting his tactic to match his opponent For example, when he fights Zhao in “The Deserter,” he goes back to a fully defensive form of fighting because he knows Zhao will do all the work for him.
Come Book 3, and he combines his lessons with with what Toph taught him in Book 2 about about targeting weaknesses and pressure points.
By “Sozin’s Comet,” Aang makes the first move against Ozai instead of waiting for him to fully land and meet him, again demonstrating how he’s learned to to employ both offensive and defensive moves and to take the initiative whenever possible.
Aang and Zuko sharing their backstory with Katara (in a cave no less! Well, technically, one’s a catacomb but, still. Ok, they’re surrounded by rock.).
Something interesting I want to point out: traditionally, when you have a character like Katara sharing parallels with both the protagonist and antagonist, and sharing experiences that connect them together, I feel like the usual way to go about things would be to make it so that the character connecting the protagonist and antagonist (or, ex-antagonist) would be the force that tries to make the protagonist and antagonist realize that perhaps they’re not so different.
Instead, it’s Aang who constantly has his hand open to friendship and Katara who needs to become Zuko’s friend.
On that note, “The Western Air Temple,” would probably play out a lot differently had Mike and Bryan gone with some more traditional storytelling by creating some cheesy scenario where Katara’s all “Aang, you and Zuko should be friends. Look at all the things you have in common.”
Or, if they really wanted to make this into kiddie fare, Zuko would miraculously see the error of his ways and the ways of the Fire Nation in “The Crossroads of Destiny,” join the Gaang in that very episode, and maybe we’d have an episode that features Katara trying to get Aang and Zuko to be friends.
Instead, Katara helps to connect the Avatar and the Firelord together through joint experiences. On top of that, you have something that’s almost like a hierarchy of parallels when it comes to comparing different characters to Zuko, with Aang and Zuko sharing the most parallels, Katara and Zuko the second most, and so on. And, while parallels exist between Zuko and other members of the Gaang, the parallels between him anf our two other central characters (Aang and Katara) are by far tge strongest.
And yet, there’s another layer on top of that with each character that gets parallels to Zuko taking on a very specific aspect of Zuko’s story when it comes to drawing parallels. Aang and Zuko get parallels that are mostly based around the events that happen between Aang being unfrozen and the end of the war. And, since Zuko and Aang aren’t exact parallels, Katara gets her Zuko parallels when it comes to her mother and protection. Sokka, likewise, gets parallels to Zuko when it comes to leadership and being a warrior. Even Toph has her own parallels to Zuko by taking on a secret identity to escape her current circumstances (the Blind Bandit for her and the Blue Spirit for Zuko). Each member fits into the equation in their own special way. (There are similarities between the other members of the Gaang and other characters but, that’s the subject of a different post.)
Another interesting thing to note: Katara, as a waterbender, uses a fighting style that uses both positive (offensive) and negative (defensive) energy. Meanwhile, Zuko begins as being completely on the offense (positive energy), while Aang is entirely focused on the defense (negative energy). In time, both Aang and Zuko incorporate offensive and defensive forms into their fighting style all the while remaining true to their native bending style.
I’m just throwing that out there because I think it fits into the idea of Avatar not following certain tropes. It also supports the idea that Katara (push and pull) helps connect these two opposing forces.
Dramatic Zuko being dramatic. I wonder if this quote is actually from “Love among the Dragons”? Or, maybe, it’s just a line that Zuko picked up from somewhere prior to his banishment. Granted, Zuko’s no stranger to dramataic monologues and stuff like that.
It would have been neat if “Love Among the Dragons” had some connection to Zuko’s story though. Maybe it’ll still play a role–but, that would be kind of cheesy I think considering how the play is a cheesy romance. That, and Zuko has already been humbled
Wait, unless–and, I’m not actually being serious–the Dragon Empress is a metaphor for of Zuko’s honor?
I had to play around with the order a bit to make things make more sense, but “The Western Air Temple” really is in essence just Zuko’s version of “The Avatar Returns,” but with a few events reversed (and with a few other changes and plot points added into the latter episode as well, so it’s not like “The Avatar State” and “The Southern Raiders” where the storylines were almost exactly the same and in the same order of events).
Anyway, what I’m impressed with the most, and the parallel that I think is the most significant, important, and telling in these two episodes is the parallel between Aang offering himself up as a prisoner to Zuko in “The Avatar Returns,” and Zuko offering himself up as a prisoner to the Gaang in “The Western Air Temple.” It really brings Aang and Zuko full circle.
While Aang does it out of selflessness, Zuko does it because he has no other open options left. But, It really goes to show just how far Zuko has come in his development. He starts out as someone who never gives up, and never surrenders no matter the circumstances, but here he make this one exception as he stands before the Gaang because he doesn’t have any other option. And yet, despite being bent in the face as he kneels down on the ground (again!), and despite being rejected by the Gaang, Zuko remains true to his nature and doesn’t give up on winning the Gaang’s friendship, just like he never gave up on winning his father’s love.
He ended up gaining both his father’s love and the Gaang’s friendship at some point in the series, but only one of those relationships was permanent, real, and true to who Zuko was deep down.
(You also have to appreciate the irony of the hypothetical scenario where, instead of having their opinion on Zuko change when he tries to fight Combustion Man, the Gaang tries to capture Zuko.)
“That’s who you are, Zuko. Someone who keeps fighting even though it’s hard.”
parallel between Zuko and Aang is how they cope when they turn
their backs to their mentors/father figures–Aang by leaving Gyatso and Zuko by
Aang turns his back on Gyatso, and he feels
guilt whenever he thinks about it (up until “The Guru,” where he finally accepts
everything and moves on. Love, after all, is energy “and it swirls all
around us.”). Each time, Aang is supported by his mentors–Katara and Guru Pathik–who assure him of his previous mentor’s love (or, the change of that love), and remind him that we cannot dwell on the past (something that Zuko doesn’t learn until Book 3).
After he joins the Gaang, Zuko like Aang is also racked with guilt whenever he’s reminded of his turning his back on his mentor. And, like Aang, he is assured of his mentor’s love and forgiveness each time.
However, unlike his airbending counterpart, Zuko has the benefit of meeting his mentor once more to make amends. But, regardless, both Avatar and Firelord come to realize that their mentor’s love has always been with them–and will always be with them.
On one final note: It’s interesting how Zuko only begins to get a lot of positive support when he becomes the most like Aang. That is to say that he only gets that positive “everything will be ok” support–and actually accepts that support–when the bulk of his temper subsides, when he officially becomes a protagonist, and when Zuko becomes less angsty and more happy and fun-loving. This is because it’s only now that he’s no longer ruled by his past so, he has a less guilt-ridden conscious and instead of thinking “I’m a failure, I need father’s love” he’s thinking “I’m doing ok, there is hope.” Long story short, he becomes a “glass half full” kind of guy,” just like Aang.
While both Iroh and Mai have tried to give him positive support in the past, he was always too angry and too worried about his father’s love and acceptance of him to actually accept their words (see “The Avatar State,” “Avatar Day,” and “The Beach”). Thus, Iroh usually stuck to trying to calm his temper and trying to keep Zuko’s spirits up. But, after realizing that he’s not ruled by his past, Zuko is finally able to accept the former kind of support hence Sokka, Toph, and Katara all telling him that everything will turn out alright and that Iroh will forgive him.
Some more parallels connecting our three central characters.
The Storm: Aang looks at Zuko and Zuko looks at Aang as some form of connection is made between them (although they may not know it quite yet).
The Crossroads of Destiny: Katara looks at Zuko as she wonders (much like the audience) if the banished prince will finally make the right choice and join Team Avatar.
Also, that oh so important camera framing.
I wonder if I could bring in what I suggested a while back about Aang being reminded of Kuzon at that very moment, prompting him to look down at Zuko and eventually tell him about Kuzon in “The Blue Spirit.” It would go well with the Zuko and Katara’s moms connection. Making a connection with Zuko based on someone they knew.
Either way, we still have that implied connection (and probably protagonist empathy/sympathy) via camera framing going on, which is always neat.
Can we take a moment to talk about this moment right here in part 2 of “Winter Solstice”?
First off, this is the first time , as far as I know, that we see Iroh get frustrated with Zuko’s antics. Zuko’s desperation to have his honor back, and go home that he’s willing to risk his life in the worst way possible—by defying his father’s orders, and risking capture.
However, that’s not the most important thing about this scene. Look at iroh’s expression in the final frame. He’s not just worried that his nephew might be captured, and possibly killed. He’s not just afraid for his nephew who will do absolutely anything to regain his honor, and to go home.
Iroh’s afraid of losing the closest thing he has to a son.
That’s the face of a father who has already lost one son, and can’t bear to think about possibly losing another. That’s the face of General Iroh, the Dragon of the West, dreading the thought of reliving the pain he felt at Ba Sing Se when he heard his son was killed.
“This isn’t air temple preschool, this is the real world”
Hey guys! So, a couple of weeks ago I made this post suggesting that Zuko thought forgiveness was childish in “The Southern Raiders,” because of his own experiences with begging for forgiveness as a child backfiring horribly.
With that said, I decided to make a visual about Zuko’s thoughts on forgiveness/mercy from the start to the end of the series.
“You’re not soldiers; you’re bullies. Freeloaders, abusing your power. Mostly over women and kids. You don’t want Lee in your army–you’re sick cowards messing with a family who’s already lost one son to the war.” - Zuko
So, this was originally just going to be a camera framing post comparing “Zuko Alone” to “The Avatar Returns,” but it just sort of evolved into something else.
Anyway, this is probably one of my more harsh posts (sorry, Zuko), but I was thinking about this a bit and it just sort of made sense to me.
Zuko obviously doesn’t realize it at the time but, his honor quest is kind of making him a bully. And, just look what he’s doing in the Book 1 screenshots in relation to Katara:
He’s wanting to take away this kid that has given her a new sense of hope. Not to mention that Zuko destroyed half of her village with nothing but the hull of his ship–never mind the fact that the Fire Nation had been targeting their tribe during raids for years. That, and this is the second time the Fire Nation has tried to take away someone that Katara cared about.
He’s trying to use Katara’s necklace–the only memento Katara has of her mother–to get her to tell her where Aang is so he can finally capture him. This again ties into what I said in the above point about Zuko trying to take away someone Katara cares about.
He obviously comes through at the end and realizes the error of his ways but, it’s probably telling that he doesn’t quite put two and two together when it comes to his own actions. He talks about bullies but, given the type of flashbacks we get in “Zuko Alone” and the wording of his quote, he definitely has a long way to go before he really pieces things together–especially given his choice in “The Crossroads of Destiny.”
You know what’s funny about Zuko’s impersonation of Azula?
The fact that Zuko isn’t actually impersonating Azula.
While the “your choice” is in line with Azula’s MO, the “or I can do something unspeakably evil to you and your friends” bit is much more in line with Zuko’s usual MO.
Zuko;s threats and mode of persuasion always involve the threat of violence, or the exchange of something: “if you don’t do that, I’ll burn this,” “if you do this, I’ll give you this,” or “if you don’t give me that, I’ll hurt something or someone you hold dear.”
Azula, on the other hand, is much more subtle. She gets inside your head and messes with you psychologically and emotionally. She makes you feel guilt, or fear. Azula knows that we humans are always more frightened of the unknown because when we think of the unknown we’ll imagine the worst things that could happen,
So, if Zuko was really impersonating Azula, he’d probably say something more like “Oh, what a shame…and to think I was going to tell you my father’s plans…but I guess you won’t need that anymore.” And, for a bit of a guilt trip, he could throw something in there about everything burning all because they never accepted Zuko into their group.
This also brings up the question of “what would Azula do if she was Zuko in ‘The Waterbending Scroll’?”
My guess is she’d guilt Katara somehow, maybe by saying that they had Sokka somewhere. Or maybe she’d manage to use Kya’s necklace against Katara…not quite sure how yet.
That said, Sokka’s “He wants you to trust him and feel sorry for him, so you let your guard down, then he strikes,” line is probably more in line with Azula’s MO, funny enough.