Hi, as you've mentioned a lot of times The Crossroads of Destiny episode was where the writers were originally planning on Zutara to start happening but of course That's not how it played out, but even if that episode ended the way it did, I still see a lot of evidence in Zutara still happening, when Zuko joins the GAANG mid Book 3, him and Katara spend the most time with each other out of all the other characters, the fought, joked and slept next to each other 1 episode lol, what do you think?
Oh, I totally agree. The decision to go with Kataang came up well after the general story for Book 3 was thought up, so a lot of Zuko and Katara’s moments together were no doubt conceived back when they were still planned to wind up together. Like Aang getting so jealous of them during the play. And he even brings up his issue with opening his final chakra, then Katara rejects his kiss. And all of that…led to nothing. Which is why so many of the writers were so surprised when the final draft had the Kataang kiss. It’s very easy to see why.
They still have many very important moments together, they spend a lot of time with each other and their personalities are very compatible. This is why it was so important for Bryke to come up with a contrived way for her to hate Zuko for most of Book 3. Otherwise, they’d have too much obvious chemistry and Kataang would seem even more forced than it already was.
But you can still see times where they did have special moments, even in canon. Especially in episodes by Joshua Hamilton, and the Ehasz couple, who all shipped Zutara. There are little hints that
show how he wanted to make them a couple.
And the show constantly parallels their characters. Zuko is dealing with Ozai during The Awakening, written by Aaron Ehasz and directed by Giancarlo Volpe, both Zutara supporters.
And at the exact same time, Katara is dealing with her pain about Hakoda. This was completely intentional.
The same is true during The Eclipse. Zuko is having a character-defining moment confronting Ozai and leaving for good.
And Katara is having to separate from her father.
Katara tells Zuko the story of how her mother was murdered. This is something deeply painful that she never shares with Aang. And by the end, she feels grateful to Zuko for going with her, unlike with Aang, who judged her.
Zuko’s feelings about Iroh are so fundamental to his character, and it is only Katara who he feels safe confiding his worries in. He never once talks about anything like this to Mai, and Katara is far more supportive than she ever was.
Zuko is so happy when Katara is reunited with her father and the episode goes out of its way to show that in the same episode he dumped Mai.
Katara is there for Zuko’s reunion with Iroh. And it is Katara who helps Zuko take on his sister, something vital to his character arc.