Can we talk about this scene for a minute? Because I tear up literally every damn time I watch it.
After losing his son, Iroh fought tirelessly to save his nephew from Ozai’s brainwashing, no matter how hard Zuko tried to push him away. But even after years of sticking by him through every dead end and reckless gambit, Zuko still goes back to his awful father. Once again, Iroh couldn’t save his son and it just kills him.
Then the kid shows up with team Avatar, because it turns out some of those proverbs got through to him after all.
But the part that really gets me is Zuko’s perspective.
Sitting outside that tent, he’s so damn scared. He’s so convinced Iroh hates him, he won’t even go in without a pep talk from Katara. Everyone else can see that Iroh will be proud of what his nephew has done since they last met, but Zuko can’t. When Zuko goes in to see the family he disappointed, he’s braced for yelling and fire and rage because that’s what he’s been raised to expect when he screws up. Pissing off his father got him disgraced, burned, tossed in the street, told he didn’t deserve to be alive, and shot at with lightening. A lifetime of experience says he should be scared. He doesn’t expect to be forgiven, he just wants Iroh to know he’s sorry.
And then Iroh’s not even mad. NOT EVEN MAD. Mercy and compassion are so alien to Zuko that immediate forgiveness wasn’t even a remote possibility. He’s so utterly confused, but at the same time, so, so relieved. He hasn’t lost his only family. The only person who stayed by him all those years in exile. The only father who loved him.
They both thought they’d lost the only family they had left. Instead, they find themselves closer than they’ve ever been. And I tear up every damn time.