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…”
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.
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
You’ve heard of 110% Jack Zimmermann, now get ready for
0% Jack Zimmermann.
There’s a cookout at a neighboring
frat house, and the hockey team plus Farmer go to hang out and drink beer. They
start playing an impromptu game of volleyball in the yard, and Jack’s on
Now, Chowder is steeling himself
for strategy, Jack’s murder face, and a lot of competitive bullshit.
What he gets is Jack chirping
Holster, who isn’t even in the yard. The ball goes flying right past Jack’s
face and this total meatball just watches it bounce out of bounds.
“Ha ha, look at it go.”
Chowder kicks Jack off his team
because they are losing so bad, it’s actually pretty embarrassing. And Jack’s
like, “What? Of course I can play with a Sprite in my hand.”
Jack studying for a class that he
has zero interest in. His studying for economics looks an awful lot like
“Jack, why is there a popsicle
stick Eiffel Tower on the kitchen table? Wait, where did these popsicle sticks
even come from?”
Jack actually gives negative fucks
when it comes to cooking just for himself. His meals don’t even make sense half
of the time. Bitty caught him eating a bowl of mac and cheese, tater tots,
green peas and ketchup once. He still has nightmares.
There’s another cookout on Frat
row that the hockey team crashes (but they bring tub juice so they get to
stay). Someone set up a badminton net in the yard and Jack somehow gets roped
(Not by Chowder, though, because
that’s the kind of lesson you only have to learn once.)
Bitty is playing his little
Southern heart out, running up and down his side of the makeshift court. He
swings at the birdie so hard it actually gets stuck in his racket.
Meanwhile, Jack is seeing if he
can balance his racket on his chin.
And then he tries to see if he can
whack the birdie onto the frat house’s roof. Which turns into several people
cussing him out and Bitty chases him around for a few minutes with the intent
of beating Jack Zimmermann’s ass.
(Jack laughs and laughs and maybe
he lets Bitty catch him and then he grins up at him—there had been a leaping
tackle involved in the take down—and he says “What’re you gonna do with me now,
Bittle?” And Bitty is Not Amused, so he pinches Jack’s nipple hard and then he
goes help the frat bros get the birdie out of the gutter.)
Jack loves history, but only some
history. He gives a lengthy presentation on Colonial North America in one of
his history classes, and at the end the TA raises her hand. “How did Thomas
Jefferson’s contributions shift the course of United States history?”
And he just squints at her and
goes, “Who the fuck is Thomas Jefferson?”
Watching TV with Jack is a gamble.
He’s either on the edge of his seat, eyes trained on the screen, ready to
permanently silence anyone who dares speak/interrupt his show. Or he talks over
the TV, puts it on mute to better hear someone else talk over the TV, and makes
fun of the various American accents on the show.
(Jack’s southern accent is so bad
and he knows it, and he makes it so much worse when Bitty is around to hear it.
It’s all fun and games until a French Canadian on TV has something to say, and
then Jack’s all like “Wtf, Bitty? I thought we were friends!?” Bitty is really
glad he sprung for throw pillows in the Haus, because otherwise he would end up
concussing his captain.)
Jack took one semester of Spanish,
and he remembers a surprising amount of it, considering he went to class a
total of six times and did virtually none of the work. His Spanish is terrible,
but he knows numbers, colors, seasons and “No bueno.” For some time, lots of
things were “no bueno.”
But then Jack stumbled across ASL
via YouTube and he gets super into it. By the end of the week he knows about as
much ASL as he does Spanish. By the end of the month he can sign the most
beautiful profanity and dad jokes. By the end of the school year it’s started
rubbing off on the rest of the team.
(Their butchered ASL is somehow
worse than Jack’s Spanish, and he would be more annoyed if it weren’t
hilarious. For some time Ransom and Holster take to pointing at good things and
then making the sign for “candy.” Sriracha? Candy. Apple pie? Candy. The
mysterious orange cat that wanders along Frat Row? Candy. Chowder’s stuffed
shark? Candy. The latest episode of Breaking Bad? Candy. Pretty soon everyone
starts using the candy sign as a gesture of approval. One Sunday Jack walks
down to the kitchen to find Bitty making those amazing sausage balls, with real
maple syrup and grated sharp cheddar. Jack touches his shoulder so that Bitty’s
looking at him and then he presses a finger to his jaw, candy, and points to Bitty so there’s no misunderstanding. Bitty
blushes clear to the roots of his hair, even when he says, “Y’all are so
This takes us to a new friend. Ransom
and Holster and Jack and Chowder are chilling in the dining hall, and Ransom
and Holster are using their terrible pidgin ASL (half the signs are made up and
the rest don’t matter) which catches the eye of one Amy Willashire, who is HOH
and still pretty new to Samwell.
Amy marches her happy ass up to
the table and starts signing away, a mile a minute, the biggest grin on her
face because sometimes it feels like she’s the only HOH student on campus. That
grin slowly fades as Ransom and Holster stare at her like she’s grown a second
head. (They’re actually panicking, because they understand about one word in
ten and how are they going to tell her that?)
And then Jack perks up and starts
signing back, so Amy is signing to him. He has to tell her twice to slow tf
down, but then she sits with them and by the time the hockey crew have to go to
class she’s chirping Jack for his ASL accent. (Some of his signs come out
backwards, and he’ll swap hands halfway through a thought instead of using his
dominant hand for most of the work. Jack flips her off with a laugh, which is a
sign everyone can get right.)
So Jack and Amy are ASL buddies.
Amy is super stoked that most of the hockey team knows at least some of the
language, which means she can tell them something in a pinch. So the team
learns even more ASL and Amy learns about hockey, and things are golden.
Until Amy invites Jack and Dex to
a pool party. Everyone there is at least one beer in, and they’re playing in
the pool, and someone mentions water chicken. Amy wants to play, so as a matter
of course she clambers onto Jack’s shoulders.
From her vantage point, she can’t
tell what Jack’s saying but she can feel him giggling like a bastard as they
wipe out literally every time, to the point where everyone else is playing pool
chicken and she is trying to splash Jack into next week. He’s splashing back.
It’s a whole thing.
(They find Dex in the basement
with a few of the stoners and a lingering smell of pot. Dex has finally found