“Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory.”
I think one of the things that makes Azula so amazing as a villain and a character is that her breakdown is foreshadowed by her earliest episodes. All the pieces are on the board at the very start, you just don’t realize it. So when the breakdown comes it’s all full of callbacks to earlier behavior and it suddenly feels utterly natural that this person you’ve seen as a nigh-untouchable badass mastermind is coming so undone. It doesn’t come out of nowhere, it was there all along from the very start and we simply forgot about it in the interim because she was being so badass and it had no reason to take effect just yet.
–Her speech to the captain about the tides foreshadows her banishing all her servants and advisors. The captain is totally honest with her despite being scared, that they’re not bringing the ship in just yet because of an issue with the tides. Tides are BIG deal in regards to bringing in a ship but Azula doesn’t care and simply wants her will done now and makes it clear she will harm or kill the captain if he doesn’t do the thing he knows is a bad idea. The man is not delaying for silly reasons or to hide a mistake, he is genuinely making a sound decision about how to bring a ship into port, Azula simply doesn’t care she wants what she wants done now and treats disagreement as disloyalty. Azula perceives anyone subordinate as not doing what she wants for any reason at all to be proof they’re not perfectly loyal.
–The one hair out of place with Lo and Li training her. It shows Azula as a perfectionist, and again, as a control freak. She cares about appearences, which probably ties into her status as a prodigy who has long been praised for being such. She needs to make it look effortless and perfect. But after Boiling Rock this starts to slide. In The Southern Raiders he hair comes down fully during her fight with Zuko and she doesn’t even care–hell, she can’t do anything to fix it since she needs her hand to hang onto the mountain. Then in the finale her hair is an utter disaster, showing just how far she’s fallen. Once again it fully comes down while she’s fighting, and by the time the fight is over and Katara has her restrained she’s a total mess.
–Recruiting Ty Lee. This is where we should have known from the start that Ty Lee’s loyalty to Azula is not absolute by any means. Ty Lee wanted to stay with the circus and only left because of Azula clearly threatening her by having the net set on fire. We see it again in Zuko Alone’s flashbacks, where Azula is obviously jealous of Ty Lee being able to do better gymnastics than her and bullies her for it. Ty Lee is only with Azula out of fear and always has been. Of course if it came down to Azula or Mai she’d choose Mai.
–Recruiting Mai. It’s even more subtle than with Ty Lee but they show why Mai will eventually betray Azula in the same episode Mai debuts in. When Tom-Tom, Mai’s little brother, is in danger and a hostage, Azula makes it clear she doesn’t give a shit about that and that the deal should be off Mai’s not as open as Ty Lee is so she doesn’t seem to react as much but it’s the same situation. Azula wants Mai on her team and doesn’t care what happens to people Mai probably cares about. Thing is, the person Mai cares about most is Zuko, who Azula is hunting. Mai betraying Azula for Zuko becomes more and more of a given as the show establishes Mai’s feelings for him. Meanwhile Azula probably assumed that if Mai was willing to endanger her own little brother for Azula, there would be no conflicts of loyalty regarding Zuko…and was wrong. As Mai said, she miscalculated.
It was all there right from the start of season 2.
Tater’s parents divorced when he was very young, he doesn’t even remember a time they were together (although they had an amicable relationship post-divorce). His father was a hockey player, his mother was a figure skating champion.
He grew up in Russia with his father, but would spend a couple months every year visiting his mother in the USA. She retired from competition, but continued on to be a formidable youth figure skating coach. Her students were always successful.
When Tater visits his mom, he usually tags along to her early morning practices. Truthfully, he catches a bit more sleep in the stands most days, but he does really enjoy watching the progress her students have made on days mornings when he’s well-rested.
When he’s 11 or so, his mom takes on a tiny blond boy as her newest student, and Tater absolutely LOVES watching him practice. The kid is fast learner, and young Tater has been around the best and brightest of figure skating enough to know that this boy is going to be great.
Even when Tater returns home to Russia after his visit, he still asks his mom about how the little blond boy is doing with his lessons. The next time he visits, the improvement is already staggering. Now he eagerly attend his mom’s early morning lessons to see what this talented tiny boy can do.
Tater meets him once, but the funny little American boy talks very fast and Tater has no idea what he’s saying. He manages to say “Hi” and “good skate” and then stares, completely overwhelmed by this ball of blond energy shaking his hand and talking a mile a minute. Tater knows he’s saying something nice about his mom, because the boy is smiling a lot and looks over at her a couple times, but he knows very little English, so it mostly goes over his head. Still, it makes him smile, and he’s happy his mom has found such an enthusiastic student.
The years go by, and although Tater is sad to hear that his mom’s star pupil no longer figure skates, he gets busy with his hockey career. His mother has other talented students now, and she’s back in Russia. Life goes on. It’s been years since he’s thought of the tiny blond boy…
But one day, his teammate Jack starts (does he ever stop?) bragging about how wonderful his boyfriend is, and brings him along for a fun shinny game with the Falcs to show off Bitty’s skills and speed.
“Remember last time we did this, Bits?” Jack teases his boyfriend while the other guys set up the nets.
“The boys made me do a jump in my hockey skates for the school paper,” Bitty replies with a laugh.
Tater insists on seeing Jack’s little blond boyfriend do a jump, because he does miss watching figure skating like in his childhood. Bitty obliges, and the moment he lifts off the ice, Tater is filled with nostalgia. He knew something was familiar about this energetic young man.
“Hey, little B!” Tater skates over to Bitty immediately. “You’re so good. Always jumping so high, even in hockey skates.”
“Well, it would be better if I were in figure skates, and had a bit more practice…”
“Is okay. Long time since you started hockey, yes? When you were 15?”
Bitty doesn’t think too much of it, aside from being a bit of embarrassment that Jack has told his friends THAT much about him. “Yeah, I figure skated for years before that.”
“So many championships. Good skate.”
Bitty chuckles, remembering the time he met Katya’s quiet son who didn’t speak much English. That poor shy boy had only managed to tell him “good skate” too. He was hit with a wave of déja vu. This giant of a man was about 10,000 times more talkative than that boy, but now that Bitty thought about it, he did look a little familiar. “Um… Tater? This may sound strange, but…”
how would life be like if bruce knew how to chill?
bruce wayne, age 8: my parents are dead. instead of swearing vengeance over their graves in the rain, i’m going to stay inside, and not get pneumonia. instead of crawling out of the waiting room window, i’m going to attend grief counseling like alfred asked me to.
bruce wayne, age 15: my teacher asked me a question today that reminded me of my parents. instead of setting his lawn on fire, i’m going to vent with my counselor.
bruce wayne, age 18: i’ve worked through my grief, trauma, and related anger issues for years now. because i feel the desire to help people strongly, in order to aid gotham city, i’ve funneled money into setting up safety nets to drag it out of the dumps. i’ve also studied to become a doctor. this is a rational way of helping, unlike punching people in the face.
bruce wayne, age 25: being a doctor can sometimes be stressful, but i take good care of myself, and talk to my counselor if i ever feel particularly rundown. never in my entire life have i wanted to dress up as a bat, because i don’t have an inflated sense of drama. my life is stable.
everyone always talks about ty lee turning on azula in book 3 and that being the catalyst for azula’s downfall but look at their first interaction in the show months earlier. ty lee is happy to see her friend for the first time in years but when azula tries to recruit her ty lee nervously she tells azula she’s happy where she is and is genuinely relieved when azula seems to respect that. then azula says she’s gonna come to ty lee’s show that night and look how ty lee’s expression changes (the last four frames in the photoset). i feel like this is such a significant moment in the series that is completely overlooked. we all know what happens at the show– azula sets the net on fire to threaten ty lee. she coerces ty lee into joining her, which is like, sad, i mean that azula has to force her friend to pretend to want to come, and they both just pretend it’s ok later. i’m not saying ty lee is completely faking their friendship the whole time they’re together for the rest of the series but this moment really shows that their foundation was based on a lie and that ty lee was at some level always unnerved by azula and there against her will. or rather she was recruited against her will and later she probably slips into the role in the team with azula and mai genuinely, they do seem to be real friends, but when the betrayal comes at the boiling rock, that was always there from the beginning. essentially in her very first scene we see the “true” ty lee who is then put away for most of the series until she comes back in her very last scene when she breaks from azula