“Don’t bother the earth spirit who lives here. She is working on a story. It is the oldest story in the world and it is delicate, changing. If she sees you watching she will invite you in for coffee, give you warm bread, and you will be obligated to stay and listen. But this is no ordinary story. You will have to endure earthquakes, lightning, the deaths of all those you love, the most blinding beauty. It’s a story so compelling you may never want to leave; this is how she traps you. See that stone finger over there? That is the only one who ever escaped.”
Now that I know there was going to be a 4th season, it especially drives me crazy when I think of Koh the Face Stealer. It seemed to be really hinting he was a character/villain we were going to go back to later. Heck, I recall people theorizing that last face he showed was perhaps Iroh's son. Just feels like wasted potential there.
Oh my God, yes! I am sure there was more planned with him. His story definitely felt incomplete. There was so much speculation about Koh on the Avatarspirit.net forums back in the day before Book 3 aired. His last words that they would meet again? Totally hinting at something. We were led to believe by Bryke that both Koh and Kuzon would be important in the future. I was pretty mad when I found out that an episode with Aang and Kuzon’s backstory was scrapped for Kataang dancing. And I’m sure Koh got the same treatment. The Siege of the North episodes are some of the best episodes in Avatar and are (unsurprisingly) written by…you guessed it, Aaron Ehasz.
Even in Escape From the Spirit World, (a canonical online game) the conflict between Kuruk and Koh is brought up, hinting at some kind of future story revelations. I was really looking forward to learning what that was.
This is frustratingly hinted at again in The Old Masters, written by our own dear Aaron Ehasz.
Iroh’s trip to the Spirit World and his flashback with Lu Ten are both mentioned in episodes written by Aaron Ehasz. Ehasz said he wanted to do a two-part special on Iroh’s past with Lu Ten and the Spirit World and I have been dying to know what that would have entailed. It would make total sense if Koh were tied in to all of that.
I think that the resemblance to Lu Ten is uncanny (that nose, though!). It wouldn’t surprise me at all if that were Lu Ten. In fact, I do believe that it is! There was clearly something planned here. In which case…Goddammit! I wanna know the deal with this so bad. It sounds so interesting. Ugh! It’s not fair!
I’m sure it was connected in some way to how Ummi got dragged into the Spirit World at the Spirit Oasis. Why bring that up at all if it wasn’t going to lead somewhere? Obviously, this subplot was going to explore something in the future. It sounds like Lu Ten possibly got taken to the Spirit World and Iroh tried to go rescue him? Such a waste! Argh! I am dying here!
Bryke completely dropped the ball with the Spirit World under their direction. In Avatar, spirits and the Spirit World were enigmatic and there was a certain gravitas surrounding them. Spirits could also be quite dangerous. In The Legend of Korra, it’s just a theme park now…literally.
In Avatar, it connected to nature, and when the energy of the human world became chaotic and destructive, it created an imbalance in the Spirit World, too. Hei Bai even has the black and white motif of the yin-yang, so I think he was kind of a metaphor for balance.
Only certain people who were sufficiently spiritually advanced could see glimpses of the hidden reality of the spirits.
It had specific rules related to astrology, such as the Spirit World being accessible only during the winter solstice.
And concepts like the Spirit Oasis and the full moon allowing for easier entry. Oh yeah, and you had to be meditating to allow your consciousness the ability to access it. No convenient portals to waltz right in.
And I don’t know about anyone else, but it didn’t feel like a place where someone would want to go on vacation in Avatar. If you ask me, it was kind of creepy. Maybe someone should warn Korra and Asami…
The spiritual aspect is also what made The Swamp such a great episode. Now that’s an episode that deals with some advanced metaphysical concepts–in this case, the illusory nature of reality, known as dharma in Buddhism. Not something you’d expect to see in a ”kid’s show”. Sokka and Katara have visions of the past, while Aang has a vision of the future. As Huu says:
“In the swamp, we see visions of people we’ve lost, people we loved, folks we think are gone. But the swamp tells us they’re not. We’re still connected to them. Time is an illusion and so is death.”
The message of Huu is that essentially, when you get right down to it, every aspect of every moment of the past, present, and future all exists simultaneously, eternally, in the infinite NOW of Creation. It is simply that our consciousness, while incarnated in a human body, perceives things in a linear fashion. Think of it like a movie on a DVD. All of the events are already encoded on the disc, but while watching, it creates the illusion that events “haven’t happened yet.”
With death it is similar. Human consciousness simply moves into a different frequency, like changing a station on a radio. Just because the living can no longer perceive the deceased, does not mean that they do not exist. A radio may be tuned in to only one station at any given time, but the other broadcasts don’t cease to exist. The signal just isn’t being tuned into. Consciousness is eternal.
When Aang meditates under the tree, the same is shown to be true of space. Aang’s consciousness is able to connect with Appa; a kind of remote viewing, that allows him to transcend the bounds of physical distance. This relates back to the concept of Oneness associated with the Crown Chakra. All things are a manifestation of the same one Source, the Supreme Consciousness. We are all One. So distance is just an illusion, like time.
Well, this goes to show how incredible Aaron Ehasz and the other writers really were. Nothing of this type of complexity or academic sophistication exists in the comics or Korra. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it: We got robbed!
Have you seen 'Avatar The Last Airbender - The Lost Episode' on youtube (uploaded by TLAFollowers)? According to the comments, it's bonus content from the Book 2 DVD boxset. I guess it was made to show what Aang was up to while he was in a coma. What do you think of it?
Yep, I have seen it. It is really great and the episode is very well-written. It was originally cutscenes from a canonical online game called Escape from theSpirit World. Due to its quality, I have a sneaking suspicion that Bryke didn’t write it…Feels more like Ehasz to me.
There is very interesting mythology in the episode. I enjoyed seeing Avatar Roku’s past training. You learn a little more about the Fire Sages too and that is awesome. Avatar has some of the best mythology.
You learn more about Avatar Kyoshi and the Earth Kingdom Royal Family lineage. The politics are so interesting and believable. It definitely doesn’t feel like a kids’ show. Kyoshi is so cool and she lived to be over 200. Yet Katara is apparently “too old” to fight in TLoK. Give me a break.
One of the biggest reasons I think that Ehasz wrote these is because the conflict with Koh and Avatar Kuruk is brought up. It pisses me off that this subplot never got to be resolved.
Another reason I think Ehasz wrote this is because Aang admits that he and the other Avatars are not perfect…LOL. And because it deals with authentic Eastern spirituality, which Bryke have no understanding of. Yangchen deals with what an Avatar’s true purpose is, which relates to the concept of Bodhisattva in Tibetan Buddhism, otherwise known as an Avatar in Hinduism. Basically, an Avatar is a spiritually evolved being who has earned nirvana, but willingly chooses to stay in the cycle of reincarnation until all of humanity has attained Enlightenment, and freedom from ignorance and suffering, out of compassion and love for all sentient life. I liked Yangchen’s episode the best because of this.
Avatar: Escape from the Spirit World - Avatar Roku
This is a short series that was used to show what happened to Aang immediately after being struck down by Azula’s lightning. It is broken up into 4 parts with each part focusing on one of the previous Avatar’s life. Enjoy!
When I was a young Avatar, I traveled the world, challenging other benders to tests of strength. I loved impressing people with my bending prowess. Especially girls. I was arrogant, proud and boastful. I never thought about settling down until I met the love of my life.
We met during the new moon celebration, when the sister tribes would come together as one. It was love at first sight. Her name was Ummi. She was from the Southern Tribe. And she was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. With Ummi in my life, I decided to change my irresponsible ways and settle down.
We were to be married in the Spirit Oasis. But on the day of our wedding, tragedy struck.
Ummi fell into the spirit pond, as if some unseen force pulled her in. She didn’t drown. She disappeared into the Spirit World… Koh took her to punish me for my past mistakes.
Every year, on the anniversary of our wedding, I traveled to the spirit world, hoping to save my wife from Koh… But I failed.
i recently stumbled upon some Avatar: The Last Airbender gems that i’ve never seen before! apparently there were a handful of ‘Chibi Shorts’, three to be exact, from the Season 2 + Season 3 PAL Region DVDs. they were cute 3-5 minute skits a nice DVD Extra. (watch them here: ONE, TWO, THREE)
i also found the Pilot episode which was great. a little more anime-esque, if you will, and not as streamline. Prince Zuko didn’t change much from the A: TLA Pilot but did you know that Katara was originally called Kya?–of course, the creators didn’t just trash the name, as we come to find out that Kya is the name of Katara + Sokka’s mother.
but better still is this 'Animated Graphic Novel’ (or Motion Comic) called Escape From The Spirit World. no voice overs, just pictures moving slightly and subtitled dialogue. very simple concept of Aang walking through the spirit world, interacting with his past lives and learning about the responsibilities of an Avatar. anyone can pick this up and enjoy it, whether you’re a fan or new to the show. really enjoyed it.
Do you think Korra's going to overthrow the Earth Queen or at least intimidate her into ruling more fairly, like Avatar Kyoshi did with the Earth King in "Escape from the Spirit World"?
That’s what I’m hoping… well, the former rather than the latter.
I have a bit of an unusual take on Kyoshi, at least in contrast to the near-universal fanon view of her. I don’t think she was particularly good at ending injustice or legitimately strong on foreign policy. Instead, she was the product of a time where non-monarchical (or, at least, representative) government was almost unthinkable and she acted accordingly.
Kyoshi’s actions towards the Earth King regarding the peasant uprising were less than ideal, even ignoring what the Dai Li turned into. The peasants felt the Earth King’s role was outdated and that he didn’t represent their interests… exactly what the people of the Earth Kingdom feel in Korra’s day. Kyoshi bolstered an oppressive government that was failing and ensured its survival for over 400 years, but the sentiment that almost triggered its collapse never went away. She chose stability over justice, believing she could force the Earth King to represent his people’s interests… and she might have succeeded during her own lifetime, but even she couldn’t live forever, and I can’t imagine the message she sent by slapping the Earth King on the risk but taking his side anyway wasn’t heard loud and clear by the other world leaders.I don’t think Kyoshi’s decision was that unusual for an Avatar, either. We’ve got a bunch of examples of Avatars who are more interested in stopping people from fighting than getting at the issues underneath – Kyoshi’s the most obvious one, of course, but Roku was pretty bad too, and even Aang needed his friends’ (and especially Zuko’s) help to understand that the world couldn’t be put back the way it was. Wan, of course, was the Ur-example, sticking the Spirit of Darkness in a tree and closing the spirit portals to keep him there. I suspect we’re going to see more of this in the final part of The Rift, too, with Yangchen devising a stabilizing solution that ended up blowing up later on, and Aang either following in her footsteps or acting on someone else’s impetus.In other words, I think that Wan essentially codified stabilization-above-all as a core principle of the Avatar when he became the first Avatar, and it’s been backfiring ever since. Korra’s first act as the first Avatar of the new age, in contrast, is one of destabilization. Whatever Korra does to the Earth Queen, I don’t think there’s going to be much precedent for in the actions of past Avatars.
There is so many ways Chell’s story could go but either way, in the end, Chell would had help a lot of spirits (including the spirit cores like Wheatly), defeat Glados, and sadly when escaping from the spirit world, would die in the hands of Gray.
So yeah that’s all I got. XD
Edit-Forgot that benders can bend if and only they enter through the portal Korra opened. Oops! XP
Is there a resource available where everything canon in the avatar universe is listed? (the show, the comics, escape from the spirit world, republic city hustle, possibly games and or free comic book day comics?)
Yes, right here! This list contains every episode, comic, webisode, graphic novel, and canon video game, from both series in chronological order.