Can you explain how the Oma Shu story from the Cave of Two lovers episode was foreshadowing Zutara?
Well, I think the point of The Cave of Two Lovers was to tie in to the Book 2 finale. I wrote a more in-depth meta here. The plot was being set up for Aang to learn the difference between love and attachment. Aang needed to learn what real love is to be a good Avatar. So his “love” for Katara is teased in the episode. He is infatuated with Katara and wants to kiss her and he thinks he is in love. It seemed like a Kataang episode, but it wasn’t.
In this episode, Katara and Aang happen upon the story of Oma and Shu, two lovers who were separated by a war and who could not be together. But their love was strong and they found a way. This sounds far more like Zuko and Katara than Aang and Katara. Especially with the red and blue color scheme.
During this time, Zuko is also struggling with his attachment to what he thinks is his destiny. Capturing the Avatar, going home and restoring his honor. He rejects Song’s kindness and will not let her touch his scar. He is not ready to let other people love him. Once they find a way out of the cave, Katara says that the lovers found each other by following the crystals and she leaves Aang. Katara does not share Aang’s romantic feelings.
In the Book 2 finale, Aang is struggling to let go of his attachment. He assumes Katara will be there “waiting for him” and he is upset when he is asked to let go of her. Katara is thrown in a cave with her enemy and they are surrounded by crystals. Zuko lets her touch his scar after he tells her that he is free to choose a new destiny for himself. He has let go of his attachments. Katara and Zuko were originally going to fall in love. Aang was going to need to learn that love is wanting happiness for another person without expecting anything in return. His love for Katara would grow into a more profound love by letting go of his attachment.
The Cave of Two Lovers was written by Joshua Hamilton, and that episode definitely foreshadowed Zutara, and in a very clever way. Two lovers, divided by war, build a path to be together, and find common ground in a cave with glowing green crystals. That ep was Kataang-centric, but then in the finale, Zuko and Katara find common ground in a place with green crystals. That's enough proof for me that Zutara was originally canon and that The Cave episode was meant to be more than just a filler.
Oh yeah, definitely. Both The Avatar State and The Cave of Two Lovers were supposed to tie into the Book 2 finale. The last two episodes of Book 2 were supposed to be a reversal of the first two episodes, in order to teach a very important lesson about love and attachment. They were definitely originally supposed to lead to Zutara, too. It’s quite brilliant writing, actually. It really is too bad that things got so badly distorted.
The two songs do a good job of highlighting the original message:
“Even if you’re lost you can’t lose the love because it’s in your heart.”
Aang: Well, I met with this guru who was supposed to help me master the Avatar State and control this great power, but to do it, I had to let go of someone I love. And I just couldn’t.
Iroh: Perfection and power are overrated. I think you were very wise to choose happiness and love.
Aang misunderstands Guru Pathik. He thinks he has to give up loving Katara. This is because he equates “love” with his infatuation. Kissing Katara and wanting to be with her equals love to Aang. All of this was supposed to eventually lead to Aang learning very important spiritual lessons.
Iroh: I don’t know the answer. Sometimes, life is like this dark tunnel. You can’t always see the light at the end of the tunnel, but if you just keep moving, you will come to a better place.
Even Iroh’s words about the tunnel allude to The Cave of Two Lovers.
Katara: That’s how the two lovers found each other. They just put out their lights and followed the crystals.
It definitely was not a coincidence to have both episodes be about love, and involve crystals and tunnels.
Zuko’s portion of The Cave of Two Lovers also ties in to The Crossroads of Destiny. He is not ready to accept love or care from Song in that episode, but he finally is ready to open his heart to Katara. He lets her touch his scar after that, unlike with Song.
What Aang has is an attachment to Katara. Ehasz wanted to contrast the “love” that Aang had for Katara in The Cave of Two Lovers to the eventual love and trust that Zuko and Katara were supposed to have starting with The Crossroads of Destiny.
“Two lovers, forbidden from one another, a war divides their people, and a mountain divides them apart. Built a path to be together. Secret tunnel! Through the mountain! Secret, secret, secret, secret tunnel! Yeah!”
Katara: The villages were enemies, so they could not be together…but their love was strong and they found a way.
This song was definitely meant as a reference to Zuko and Katara. It fits perfectly. Zuko’s alter ego has a blue color scheme, and Katara’s alter ego has a red color scheme. This was also done intentionally and The Painted Lady was also written by Joshua Hamilton.
Katara received the Spirit Water in The Avatar State. This object represents her connection to Zuko. It was supposed to be symbolic of Aang needing to let her go in the finale. Katara is positioned behind Aang during this scene. The scene with Aang and Katara occurs right after the one with Zuko and Azula, and they mirror each other. Azula is positioned behind Zuko, symbolizing his attachment to what she represents; his honor. The knife that Zuko has at the end to cut his ponytail was supposed to be the symbol for him to cut his ties with his family, finally letting go of his old life during the finale. “Never give up without a fight.”
In The Avatar State, Aang is put into a situation where he feels that he needs to choose between Katara and mastering the Avatar State. He chooses Katara. In The Crossroads of Destiny, Aang is once again put into a tough spot, and he tries to “let her go”. But he doesn’t understand, and he is struck down by Azula’s lightning before he finishes opening his chakras. This was supposed to set up the main conflict in Book 3 for Aang; learning to really let her go.
In The Avatar State, Zuko is put into a situation where he feels he has to trust either his uncle or Azula. He trusts Azula. In The Crossroads of Destiny, Zuko is once again put into a tough spot, and he was supposed to let his old life go and fight Azula. But he would have been defeated and captured and taken back home to be used as a scapegoat because Azula suspects Aang survived in the Avatar State. This was supposed to set up the main conflict for Zuko in Book 3; managing to really let go of his old life.
This would have made his character arc run parallel to Aang’s in Book 3, starting with The Awakening. That’s why Aang was talking about losing his honor, and why Zuko was going to keep the Spirit Water hidden from Azula. This is also why I’ve been saying over and over and over why Zuko’s betrayal was NOT originally supposed to happen and is absolutely terrible writing. It messes everything up and makesNO sense! No good writer would plan that from the start with all of the buildup indicating otherwise! And it’s no coincidence that The Headband signals a profound paradigm shift for the storytelling. It was definitely Bryke who butchered this excellent story, NOT Ehasz!
Their respective villages/nations were enemies with each other (well, in the Fire Nation’s case, they made the Air Nomads and the Avatar their enemy).
Oma and Shu learned earthbending from the badgermoles, Aang and Zuko learned the ancient origins of firebending and the pre-war form of firebending from the last dragons
Omashu was built as a place where citizens from both villages could thrive in peace, after the war had ended. Republic City was build so that citizens from all over the world could live in peace, after the war had ended.