Goal: Write 1 thought every day re: why I love ATLA (until I finish rewatching the series)
#36: Zuko reunites with Iroh in “Sozin’s Comet Part 2.”
Here it is, guys: the single most perfect and beautiful and amazing scene in all of ATLA. The dialogue is perfection. The voice actor delivery is perfection. The framing is perfection. The music is perfection. And the FEELS ARE OFF THE CHARTS.
We start with a shot of Uncle Iroh waking up. As he notices his nephew’s presence, Uncle Iroh’s face is hard to read.
Zuko’s is an open book, though. He is deeply, deeply ashamed and sorry for his actions. Indeed, he must have been rehearsing this apology speech in his head the whole night as he waited for his uncle to wake up (perhaps even before that). And he feels these emotions so deeply that his voice cracks as he says the words (kudos to voice actor Dante Basco for the delivery here, which is just incredible):
Zuko: Uncle, I know you must have mixed feelings about seeing me. But I want you to know, I’m so so sorry, Uncle. I’m so sorry and ashamed of what I did. I don’t know how I can ever make it up to you but I’ll…
Iroh does not even allow Zuko to finish before he pulls him into the most tear-inducing hug ever:
Even then, Zuko is not quite ready to forgive himself for betraying his uncle. He expected (and perhaps wanted) Iroh to be furious with him, and expresses disbelief at this warm embrace.
Zuko: How can you forgive me so easily? I thought you would be furious with me. Iroh: I was never angry with you. I was sad because I was afraid you lost your way. Zuko: I did lose my way. Iroh: But you found it again. And you did it by yourself. And I am so happy you found your way here. Zuko: It wasn’t that hard, Uncle.You have a pretty strong scent.
I love the subtle shift in Iroh’s hand position as he delivers the line “I was afraid you lost your way” – he moves his hand to protect Zuko’s head. It’s just such a parental gesture:
And Zuko’s face here is just precious: at long last, he feels at peace, because he knows he has the love and affection of the man who has been a true father to him:
I LOVE THIS SCENE SO MUCH AND CRY EVERY TIME. And by gosh it’s a scene that this series damn well earned through fantastic character work over three seasons.
Avatar: The Last Airbender storyboards by Giancarlo Volpe from “Sozin’s Comet, Part 2: The Old Masters" (Book 3 | Chapter 19) ! In which Aang summons his past lives: Roku, Kyoshi, Kuruk, Yangchen but even the Air Nomad Avatar tells him that in order to end the Hundred Year War, he has to kill the Fire Lord. After all that, The Lion turtle makes its appearance and offers her/his wisdom to Aang allong with the ability of Energybending!
“The true mind can weather all the lies and illusions without being lost. The true heart can tough the poison of hatred without being harmed. Since beginning-less time, darkness thrives in the void, but always yields to purifying light.”
Can we take a minute to appreciate this character development for a minute?
Book 2 Zuko would never have given a shit about how other people outside the Fire Nation were doing. But, because of Zuko’s experiences in the second season, he’s feeling incredibly conflicted when he’s forced to reflect on his journey and to possibly aid in the destruction of a people he had spent an extensive amount of time with.
I also like how he immediately tries to say ”that’s not exactly what I meant.” after Ozai says that they should destroy the Earth Kingdom’s hope, as if Ozai would simply go over there and ask them to stop rebelling or something like that.