headband nation

anonymous asked:

This has been bugging me for a while. I understand why Zuko took that lightning for Katara. But why did Azula shoot it at her? She was very calculating and had no way to know that Zuko could redirect it. She could have ended him then and there but she changed her mind last second. So why did she shoot it at katara as she called a filthy peasant? What would she have gained from it if it did hit her?

Azula did know that Zuko could redirect lightning–Ozai would have told her about the technique after the Day of Black Sun, when Zuko redirected it toward his father. Azula knew that Zuko could have fought her to a stalemate, and maybe even won, at this point in the Agni Kai. She’d been knocked off her feet and was breathing hard, the sign of a person losing a firebending battle (think Zuko at the beginning of his Agni Kai with Zhao). She needed a weakness that Zuko had that she didn’t, in order to exploit it.

Azula pinpointed Katara as being the weakness that would cause Zuko to lose the fight. She knew that if she shot lightning at Katara, Zuko would dive in front of it, leaving himself vulnerable. So the question remains: how could she know how much Katara meant to Zuko?

First of all, she knew that Zuko and Katara had been imprisoned together for a long time in Ba Sing Se–she was the one who put them there!–and that they had had a heart-to-heart of some kind.  There were no signs of a physical struggle between them after they were freed, and during the four-way fight between Zuko, Azula, Aang, and Katara, the latter yells out for all to hear:

“I thought you had changed!”

Then, after Azula strikes the Avatar with lightning, he mysteriously survives. She doesn’t know how, but it’s safe to say waterbending healing would occur to her as a possibility, especially since Katara was the one holding Aang in her arms and spiriting him to safety. What she DOES know, is that Zuko lied to her about it even after supposedly choosing Ozai’s side over Iroh’s, even after dating a person sanctioned by Azula and under her thumb. All signs point to Katara being an obstruction on Azula’s path to domination over Zuko.

Now, here comes the interesting part. After Zuko joins the Avatar, he breaks up with Mai. And then, sometime between the Day of Black Sun and the Ember Island Players, a popular play arises from an acclaimed playwright and that is a hit in the high-end theaters. We know from “The Headband” that the Fire Nation has a tightly controlled state-run media, and it’s possible that play had to be approved at the highest levels prior to seeing production. In that play, Katara thinks of Aang “like a brother” and shares a romantic moment in the Crystal Catacombs with Zuko. It’s highly likely Azula knew about, even watched the play in order to glean information.

Then, just before Azula is crowned Firelord, her brother shows up on the Avatar’s bison with none other than Katara herself.

It wouldn’t take a strategic genius to connect those dots in a way that banks on Zuko loving Katara enough to take substantial risks for her. But just in case it wasn’t CRYSTAL CLEAR, Zuko actually says in front of Azula, “And this way, no one else has to get hurt” (meaning Katara). Whether or not Azula heard her, the Fire Princess had more than enough evidence at this point to direct her attack at Katara with reasonable confidence that Zuko would at the very least break his stance and leave himself vulnerable in order to deflect the attack. And if he failed and the lightning actually hit Katara, Azula knew enough of her brother’s emotions to be certain he would be too distraught to effectively continue the fight.

2

History Teacher: We don’t wear head-coverings indoors!

Aang: I’ve got a scar, it’s really embarrassing.

History Teacher: Very well.

Props to the Fire Nation history teacher for letting Aang keep his headband on. You know, to cover that arrow scar. She’s the unsung hero of Book 3. So thoughtful of her.

#84: Fire Nation School (AtLA 302, "The Headband")

Presumably because our heroes are all kids, the first two books of AtLA give us some idea of education in the Four Nations—training games at the Southern Air Temple, combat and healing classes (with students accepted at the master’s discretion) in the Northern Water Tribe, and masters-for-hire in the Earth Kingdom, as well as the one-on-one tutoring Aang and his friends search for everywhere they go.

Here it’s the Fire Nation’s turn, and their education system is both more advanced and more disturbing than anything we’ve seen so far. 

Our creators based the Fire Nation of Aang’s time partly on Imperial (ultra-nationalist?) Japan, and this is one of the episodes where it’s most apparent. Aang first shows up in Fire Nation school because he’s dragged there by the truancy officers, but he stays because he’s learning things about the Fire Nation he could never pick up by spying from the outside. 

Information about the Fire Lord, for one thing.

Here I must go off on a brief tangent about one of the funniest visual jokes in the entire show—Aang’s noodle portrait of the Fire Lord, which is so brilliant it almost deserves a Top 100 entry to itself. First of all, it’s visually hilarious for both its similarity to the real thing and its display of Aang’s usual effortless prowess; secondly, it’s quite surreal to picture Aang’s entire class of preteens engaged in making these as yet another way to “mold their young minds." 

School isn’t all fun, though. If the Fire Nation is missing some of the technologically advanced twentieth-century propaganda devices we see used in The Legend of Korra, they have mastered the control of information, erasing the airbender genocide in favor of imaginary battles between Fire Lord Sozin’s troops and the “Air Nation Army.” And Aang suffers a run-in with the sort of bully who would make a great Fire Nation Army grunt, leading to a run-in with the school’s equally nasty headmaster. 

Because this show never keeps things dark for long, the writers turn that encounter to comedic purposes (Wang Fire, anyone?), but it’s a still reminder of how lucky these kids are that regime change is coming.

Soon it will be Fire Lord Zuko’s portrait hanging in schools throughout the Fire Nation, if he doesn’t discontinue that practice first. Though he might not mind the noodle portrait thing, as long as the court painter got his good side for the kids to copy.

[Screenshots from Avatarspirit.net.] 

See the rest of the list so far!