Something I never understood clearly was Iroh's intentions. I know at least he wants the best for Zuko. How does that translate into joining Team Avatar in "The Crossroads of Destiny"? Why didn't Iroh help Team Avatar from the start if that's what he wanted for Zuko? Or it was just that he was always against the Fire Nation and found the Gaang to be a better group? Finally, was the White Lotus was just a series finale thing? Why didn't they help Iroh financially? He even became a beggar in B2.
Sorry for getting to this question so late. I kind of had an idea how to answer it, but I eventually forgot about it as the inbox started to fill up. So, now that the inbox has been emptied a little, I thought I;d give it a shot. \
The first thing you have to remember is that Iroh is going through his own journey. He started out thinking his destiny was to conquer Ba Sing Se. But, as time passed, his belief in what his destiny was constantly changed. He goes from simply thinking he;s wrong, and maybe even that his destiny is to just a peaceful life in Ba Sing Se, to realizing that his destiny is to free Ba Sing Se from Fire Nation rule.
Another thing you should remember is that Zuko too is going through his big redemption arc, And it’s really about Iroh not trusting Zuko, it’s more like there’s no way in hell Book 1 Zuko would even care to listen to Iroh. Thus, Iroh’s more subtle with his guidance, trying to calm Zuko down when his anger gets too out out hand.
By Book 2 though, Iroh is more obvious with his guidance. After all, they’re actually on the run this time, and Iroh doesn’t want to see his nephew consumed by his obsession more than he already has.
This leads us to “Crossroads,” with Iroh thinking he’s changed his nephew for good, or that hie nephew has changed for good. Unfortunately though, Iroh miscalculates, and Zuko betrays his uncle in favor of the one thing he wants most: his father’s love.
As for your White Lotus questions…
Finally, was the White Lotus was just a series finale thing?
Rewatch the series more closely. There are lotus tiles everywhere. Also, right from the very start we see the White Lotus conspiracy. Everything from Iroh’s obsession about his white otus tile in “The Waterbending Scroll” to his conspiring with the flower shop owner in “The Desert” leads up to the big reveal.
As for why they didnt attack sooner, remember what Bumi said about neutral jing? They used a lot of that, I think. Waiting for the right moment to strike.
Why didn’t they help Iroh financially?
The White Lotus is more of a philosophical guild. And, while we don’t know much about their financial assets, the whole point of going to Ba Sing Se through the White Lotus network was that they could blend in with all the refugees. By the time Iroh set up his shop, it was almost like he belonged there as opposed to immigrating there from someplace else, which would have undoubtedly caught Azula’s attention.