the siege of the north part two

anonymous asked:

"they were going to have Kαtααng, which they insist is in the “DNA” of the show, happen with a ten and twelve year old?" That's because Kataang was supposed to remain one-sided with Aang crushing on Katara but her not reciprocating. Them actually getting together was not planned out until later on. Even during Book 3, some of the writers wanted Katara to end up with Zuko. Zutara happening was not something that Bryke wanted but the other staff members and Aaron Ehasz wanted it to.

“I think you’re absolutely right about Mai being retconned to be paired off with Zuko. I have heard that Aaron Ehasz created Mai (and Ty Lee and Azula), and he doesnt like Maiko. If you look only at the eps that he or his wife wrote, Return to Omashu, Zuko Alone, The Awakening (life story comment) none of them suggest that they were “childhood sweethearts”. They only show Mai liking Zuko quite superficially and nothing from him. Bryke like Maiko, thats why its badly written like the LoK romance.” 

“about your ask for the airbender thing and ty lee, aaron ehasz originally was going to make ty lee a descendant of an airbender who escaped. zephyrita mentioned it once on their blog before they left. again, bryke fucked up and the ehasz duo needs to come back like aang and save us from bryke’s bullshit.” 

[Disclaimer: Araeph does not vouch for the validity of these asks, but merely wishes to demonstrate the context and frequency of these two names being mentioned.]

Who Are the Ehaszs, and Why Does Everyone Bring Them Up?

Aaron and Elizabeth Ehasz. You will hear these names often as guides for what disenchanted fans, particularly Zutara shippers and “Legend of Korra” antis, would have liked to have seen in the Avatar world, versus what we actually got once Bryke assumed more control. While A:TLA was such a collaborative effort that no one person or team could be the end-all-be-all of the series, often the balance shifts too far the other way, with people ascribing all of the series’ creative genius to Bryke. (The disappointing “Legend of Korra” and character-mangling comics helped fans take a second look at the process behind A:TLA’s creation.) There has been a subsequent pushback in recent years to give the other talents around A:TLA more credit for the story. So why were these two staff writers so important?

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"As long as I am breathing, it's not over."

Avatar The Last Airbender

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Book 1: Water

1 - The Boy in the Iceberg

2 - The Avatar Returns

3 - The Southern Air Temple

4 - The Warriors of Kyoshi

5 - The King of Omashu

6 - Imprisoned

7- The Spirit World (Winter Solstice, Part 1)

8 - Avatar Roku (Winter Solstice, Part 2)

9 - The Waterbending Scroll

10 - Jet

11 - The Great Divide

12 - The Storm

13 - The Blue Spirit

14 - The Fortuneteller

15 - Bato of the Water Tribe

16 - The Deserter

17 - The Northern Air Temple

18 - The Waterbending Master

19 - The Siege of the North, Part 1

20 - The Siege of the North, Part 2

Book Two: Earth

1 - The Avatar State

2 - The Cave of Two Lovers

3 - Return to Omashu

4 - The Swamp

5 - Avatar Day

6 - The Blind Bandit

7 - Zuko Alone

8 - The Chase

9 - Bitter Work

10 - The Library

11 - The Desert

12 - The Serpent’s Pass

13 - The Drill

14 - City of Walls and Secrets

15 - Tales of Ba Sing Se

16 - Appa’s Lost Days

17 - Lake Laogai

18 - The Earth King

19 - The Guru

20 - The Crossroads of Destiny

Book Three: Fire

1 - The Awakening

2 - The Headband

3 - The Painted Lady

4 - Sokka’s Master

5 - The Beach

6 - The Avatar and the Firelord

7 - The Runaway

8 - The Puppetmaster

9 - Nightmares and Daydreams

10 - The Day of Black Sun: The Invasion

11 - The Day of Black Sun: The Eclipse

12 - The Western Air Temple

13 - The Firebending Masters

14 - The Boiling Rock, Part 1

15 - The Boiling Rock, Part 2

16 - The Southern Raiders

17 - The Ember Island Players

18 - Sozin’s Comet, Part 1: The Phoenix King

19 - Sozin’s Comet, Part 2: The Old Masters

20 - Sozin’s Comet, Part 3: Into the Inferno

21 - Sozin’s Comet, Part 4: Avatar Aang

Katara, Consumed by Destiny: Water

[Link to previous posts in series.]

We are working backward from the end of The Legend of Korra, pretending we don’t know anything more about Katara than that she is a waterbender and a member of Team Avatar. At this point, however, we’ve accompanied Katara through four books of LOK, four comics series, and two seasons of A:TLA. The progression, or rather, regression, of her character, is all too clear. We’ve seen Katara’s biggest triumphs and most cutting remarks; what more could the initial season of A:TLA have to offer?

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Opening Sequence


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Escape From The Spirit World

Book 1:

  1. The Boy in the Iceberg
  2. The Avatar Returns
  3. The Southern Air Temple
  4. The Warriors of Kyoshi
  5. The King of Omashu
  6. Imprisoned
  7. The Spirit World (Winter Solstice, Part 1
  8. Avatar Roku (Winter Solstice, Part 2)
  9. The Waterbending Scroll
  10. Jet
  11. The Great Divide
  12. The Storm
  13. The Blue Spirit
  14. The Fortuneteller
  15. Bato of the Water Tribe
  16. The Deserter
  17. The Northern Air Temple
  18. The Waterbending Master
  19. The Siege of the North, Part 1
  20. The Siege of the North, Part 2

Book 2:

  1. The Avatar State
  2. The Cave of Two Lovers
  3. Return to Omashu
  4. The Swamp
  5. Avatar Day
  6. The Blind Bandit
  7. Zuko Alone
  8. The Chase
  9. Bitter Work
  10. The Library
  11. The Desert
  12. The Serpent’s Pass
  13. The Drill
  14. City of Walls and Secrets
  15. The Tales of Ba Sing Se
  16. Appa’s Lost Days
  17. Lake Laogai
  18. The Earth King
  19. The Guru
  20. The Crossroads of Destiny

Book 3:

  1. The Awakening
  2. The Headband
  3. The Painted Lady
  4. Sokka’s Master
  5. The Beach
  6. The Avatar and the Firelord
  7. The Runaway
  8. The Puppetmaster
  9. Nightmares and Daydreams
  10. The Day of Black Sun, Part 1: The Invasion
  11. The Day of Black Sun, Part 2: The Eclipse
  12. The Western Air Temple
  13. The Firebending Masters
  14. The Boiling Rock, Part 1
  15. The Boiling Rock, Part 2
  16. The Southern Raiders
  17. The Ember Island Players
  18. Sozin’s Comet, Part 1: The Phoenix King
  19. Sozin’s Comet, Part 2: The Old Masters
  20. Sozin’s Comet, Part 3: Into the Inferno
  21. Sozin’s Comet, Part 4: Avatar Aang


Book 1:

  1. Welcome to Republic City
  2. A Leaf in the Wind
  3. The Revelation
  4. The Voice in the Night
  5. The Spirit of Competition
  6. And the Winner Is…
  7. The Aftermath
  8. When Extremes Meet
  9. Out of the Past
  10. Turning the Tides
  11. Skeletons in the Closet
  12. Endgame

Book 2:

  1. Rebel Spirit
  2. The Southern Lights
  3. Civil Wars, Part 1
  4. Civil Wars, Part 2
  5. Peacekeepers
  6. The Sting
  7. Beginnings, Part 1
  8. Beginnings, Part 2
  9. The Guide
  10. A New Spiritual Age
  11. Night of a Thousand Stars
  12. Harmonic Convergence
  13. Darkness Falls
  14. Light in the Dark

Book 3:

  1. A Breath of Fresh Air
  2. Rebirth
  3. The Earth Queen
  4. In Harm’s Way
  5. The Metal Clan
  6. Old Wounds
  7. Original Airbenders
  8. The Terror Within
  9. The Stakeout
  10. Long Live the Queen
  11. The Ultimatum
  12. Enter the Void
  13. Venom of the Red Lotus

Book 4:

  1. After All These Years
  2. Korra Alone
  3. The Coronation
  4. The Calling
  5. Enemy at the Gates
  6. The Battle of Zaofu
  7. Reunion
  8. Remembrances
  9. Beyond the Wilds
  10. Operation Beifong
  11. Kuvira’s Gambit
  12. Day of the Colossus
  13. The Last Stand
From the South Pole Iceberg to the Republic City Portal: A Critical Study of the Avatar Franchise: Part Eighteen

ATLA Book One: Water

Chapters Nineteen and Twenty: The Siege of the North Parts One and Two

In Which Hai Bai has an argument with a sarcastic monkey spirit, Koh may or may not give me nightmares, and Aang stares at two coy fish.

In the last two posts, we’ve discussed how Book One’s beginning and ending mirror each other, an effect that is oddly suitable for a Season titled “Water”, itself an element that, when still, produces a reflection. “The Siege of the North” completes this mirroring structure: the season began with a two part story where the Southern Water Tribe was invaded by a Fire Nation ship, and this two part story ends the season with a Fire Nation fleet invading the Northern Water tribe. This is also the first time this blog has focused on two episodes at once since the opening two parter, but it is worth acknowledging that the two parts have very distinct focuses.

Part One largely focusses on the Fire nation’s military invasion, and the water tribe’s defence against that invasion. The first part of the invasion focused on is the looming sense of dread inspired by the soot-blackened snow, snow that is recognised with particular pain by Sokka and Katara: Sokka’s gentle “oh no…” being a particularly telling moment that will be expanded upon later. The looming dread gives way to relentless work for Aang, who increasingly feels the weight fighting the Fire Nation puts on him as the battle goes on. He starts out determined to make a difference, but is weighed down by the impossible pressure being the Avatar puts on him: his protest that he’s “just one kid” bringing us back to the lost youth explored in “The Storm”, and recalling his admission that he never wanted to be the Avatar in “The Avatar Returns”. Particularly telling is the fact that Aang sees himself as being alone, just “one” boy fighting an entire nation: Aang needs the support of those who love him, and needs to accept that support.

Not for the first time, Zuko’s position parallels Aang, as we see how much he relies on the person who loves him most: Iroh. Iroh and Zuko get two scenes that bookend Zuko’s appearance in the episode, the first being Iroh’s goodbye to Zuko as Zuko chases down Aang alone. Iroh’s admission to Zuko that “Ever since I lost my son […] I think of you as my own” in particular highlights the similarities between Zuko and Aang. Zuko is uncomfortable with Iroh’s affection, requesting that Iroh doesn’t say it, and doesn’t want to accept love, clearly not being sure how to respond to Iroh’s feelings: arguably, Zuko feels unworthy of love.

So Zuko is on his own throughout this story, with no more support from his crew, merely using his own resources to chase down Aang. He gets as close to capturing Aang as he has done so far, but it nearly costs him his life, as he only survives thanks to the Aang taking pity on him. Interestingly, Zuko has a similar moment of pity for Zhao, but it is a pity that the general refuses, a moment that arguably leaves him even more rejected and alone. Certainly, Zuko is left exhausted at end of the episode, as he collapses on the raft, finally taking his uncle’s tentative advice without hesitation, and resting. It could be seen as a moment of progress for Zuko, a moment where he finally accepts his uncle’s help, but given the nature of his arc and where we know he is going at the end of Book Two, I’d read it differently: he seems to have given in in completely, and because there is no other option, he goes along with his uncle’s request, and abandons his hunt for Aang, at least for now.

Iroh’s position throughout this story is particularly interesting, as we see him working as Zhao’s second in command. He has remained relatively neutral in all conflicts so far, and is clearly on a redemption arc, just like his nephew. Here, however, he is the closest he’s come to being in the position of a villain, helping lead a large scale military raid on a major nation. It is, of course clear that even here he is only working as an insider to support Zuko, with the reveal that Zuko survived his attempted assassination at the end of the last episode making it clear Iroh is not doing this for Zhao or the Fire Nation. But at the same time, Iroh seems to feel some sense of sympathy towards Zhao, because he can see a man setting himself up for a great failure by attempting to invade and defeat a powerful city and military stronghold, something that reminds him of his own failure at Ba Sing Se. It is an attempt to humanise Zhao through Iroh’s eyes, but arguably succeeds more at making Iroh a more interesting character than it does Zhao.

Also important is Zuko and Katara’s battle and subsequent rematch in the second part of the story, which gives Katara a genuinely significant victory in the finale’s battle, a moment that was needed seeing as her defining moment of badass so far involved losing to Paku, a great moment, to be sure, but one that the show needed to move forward from. She doesn’t just get to land a few successful hits on faceless extras before being captured or needing rescue, she wipes the floor with a major villain to get poetic justice for Zuko catching her off her guard, and in doing so rescues Aang while he is in peril. This is, of course something Katara manages on multiple occasions throughout the series: Aang wouldn’t be alive to defeat the Ozai if it wasn’t for Katara, and that chance for Katara to have a significant heroic impact on the series takes a significant leap forward here.

The battle between Zuko and Katara also brings into focus a key theme of the episode: the opposition of fire and water. Zuko’s line “You rise with the moon, I rise with the sun” is particularly demonstrative of that theme: there is a natural balance between fire and water, with one giving way to the other as day turns to night, a push and pull between the two elements that parallels the push and pull between the moon and the ocean spirits. It’s a vital parallel that holds the story together, as Zuko and Katara’s fight is linked to both the plot surrounding the fire nation’s raid, and the plot surrounding the moon and ocean spirits. The binary opposition of fire and water becomes the bridge that links the military focussed first half of the story to the spiritually driven second part.

That second part of the story quickly takes us to the spirit world, where we explore the spiritual themes set up in the first part of the story. As was the case in “The Spirit World” there is a push to showing the general weirdness and alien nature of the world of spirits, as we explore the spirit world in greater detail than before, seeing a world that runs in parallel to the material one, but is driven by a completely different set of concerns. We see spirits without a moral compass, in particular, the monkey spirit, who has no time for Aang and his human concerns, although Hai Bai’s helpfulness contrasts to this, with a role that neatly mirrors his role in “The Spirit World”: after dragging Aang into the world of the spirits in “The Spirit world”, Hai Bai guides him out of that world in this episode. While the monkey spirit highlights the continued separation between the spiritual world and the material one, Hai Bai’s assistance shows that the gap between humans and spirits can be bridged, although it is a gap that will not truly be questioned until after Aang’s time.

Mention of a time in the Avatar after Aang leads neatly into the scenes with Koh, which are greatly concerned not just with the story at hand, but the stories of the Avatar world’s past, and of its future. The sequence represents a rare moment where the series leans heavily into horror movie trappings, with Koh genuinely being the stuff of nightmares: “Show no fear, show no emotion at all” is a rule that is as terrifying and challenging as Doctor Who’s “Don’t Blink” for the Weeping Angels, and represents something of a metafictional challenge to the viewers to be as emotionless as Aang, lest Koh steal their face. But aside from being probably the scariest thing the franchise has ever done, the sequence gives an intriguing glimpse into Aang’s past and future, both through the hints of a past Avatar’s lost love and Koh’s claim to Aang that they will meet again. The line “we’ll meet again”, is a line that is never paid off in the series, but makes sense if we accept it as a part of a way of portraying the strangeness of the spirit world: like the other spirits, Koh also shares a worldview that isn’t human, looking at Aang not in terms of his human form, but the Avatar Spirit that Koh knows he will meet again in a later lifetime.

We also say goodbye to Zhao in this episode, and in spite of his problems as a villain, he gets a rather strong ending, for my money. “I will be… Zhao the moonslayer” is a moment that works really well for Zhao, largely due to the sheer audacity of its scale. He’s never worked when they attempt to ground him in human motivations, such as pulling rank on other soldiers, or when presented as a reckless former student, but leaning full tilt into inhuman madness works brilliantly for him, as the show accepts he isn’t exactly a multi-faceted character, and focuses on doing a simple cliché well. He doesn’t really want to kill the moon spirit because he mistakenly thinks it will cause a valuable military advantage, but because he wants to become the terrifying legend that caused a cataclysmic event. It helps that Jason Isaacs underplays the moment, not taking the monomaniacal raving too far, letting the audacity of the moment speak for itself. Zhao’s actions further extend the opposition of Fire and Water in the story, as he wipes out the source of waterbending and spirituality in the Water Tribe with a violent act of firebending.

Zhao’s actions also lead to a repositioning of Iroh within the series, with Iroh’s attempt to stop Zhao representing his most clearly heroic move so far. Iroh has occupied a morally neutral stance throughout most of the first book, but his attack on Zhao represents the first time he chooses to attack a major fire Nation Villain. Ozai’s declaration that Iroh is a traitor is particularly telling: it is now obvious to the villains of the show, as well as the audience, that Iroh is not on their side, but is working to take them down.

The death of the moon spirit results in Aang fighting off the fire navy in the Avatar state by combining with the ocean spirit. It is Aang’s climactic hero moment on which to end the season, a moment that parallels his the powerful act of waterbending he uses in the Avatar state to stop Zuko in “The Avatar returns”. Most telling is his response to Yue’s despair of “No. It’s not over”: Aang’s defining heroic act in the first book is his refusal to accept the world being thrown into chaos.

But the day isn’t just saved by Aang: it is also saved by Yue and her connection to the moon spirit. Disappointingly, the sequence is a slight fridging for the sake of Sokka and Yue’s father, who get a brief scene of shared man pain together at the end where they grieve for Yue. It is arguably a softened fridging, as she has agency to make a heroic sacrifice, and the moment partially completes her arc, rather than cutting it short, but only partially. Her link to the moon spirit isn’t woven into her arc from the beginning, but introduced at random a few moments before her sacrifice: the closeness of her description of her birth and sacrifice make her death feel like a narrative necessity, rather than a completion of her character arc. Even here, however, the “transcends to a higher plane of being” trope invoked for her death softens the use of the fridging trope: her consciousness is allowed to live on throughout the series, and her character still remains a part of the show, as we’re shown later in the series that her consciousness lives on in the moon spirit. And ultimately, Yue’s sacrifice is one of the powerful heroic moments of the finale: Aang fights off the Fire nation fleet, but she restores spiritual balance to the world. There are many positive aspects to the way Yue is written, but with a slight lean into harmful tropes: a summary that is not so different to Book one’s treatment of its female characters as a whole, which has been good, but still needs working on.  

But ultimately, Katara is the show’s biggest legacy for improving the representation of female characters in genre fiction, and she ends the season by becoming Aang’s teacher. Her arc has run in parallel or slightly behind Aang, but she is now capable of being his waterbending master, becoming the first of Aang’s peers to take on the role of being his teacher instead of the traditional mentor figure of Paku. The transition from Paku to Katara is necessary because of the division between the South and the North that we have witnessed throughout these last three episodes, a division Paku has chosen to bridge. Because of Paku’s decision, Aang’s teacher goes from being a privileged Northern master to his friend, the Southern peasant girl who has fought to become one of the most skilled waterbenders in the world. The season’s arc is ultimately her journey, the story of Aang taking her to the North Pole to become a waterbending master, which she becomes to the point where she is capable of training the most powerful bender in the world, a genuinely empowering and hopeful message.

End of Part Eighteen and Book One.
Every time Honour is said in Avatar the Last Airbender

Number of Times Each Character Says Honour:
zuko: 15
Iroh: 7
Azula: 6 
Aang: 5
Katara: 4
Sokka: 3

Most times Honour mentioned in Episode:
7 (EP: 205 Avatar Day)

Episodes without Honour:
EP: 102 The Avatar Returns 
EP: 108 Avatar Roku (The Winter Solstice, Part 2)
EP: 110 Jet
EP: 111 The Great Divide
EP: 114 The Fortuneteller
EP: 116 The Deserter
EP: 117 The Northern Air Temple
EP: 119 The Siege of the North, Part 1
EP: 120 The Siege of the North, Part 2
EP: 202 The Cave of Two Lovers
EP: 204 The Swamp
EP: 207 Zuko Alone
EP: 209 Bitter Work
EP: 210 The Library
EP: 212 The Serpent’s Pass
EP: 216 Appa’s Lost Days
EP: 219 The Guru
EP: 302 The Headband
EP: 303 The Painted Lady
EP: 304 Sokka’s Master
EP: 305 The Beach
EP: 307 The Runaway
EP: 309 Nightmares and Daydreams
EP: 310 The Day of Black Sun (Part 1: The Invasion)
EP: 316 The Southern Raiders
EP: 318 Sozin’s Comet (Part 1: The Phoenix King)
EP: 319 Sozin’s Comet (Part 2: The Old Masters)
EP: 320 Sozin’s Comet (Part 3: Into the Inferno)

28 Episodes do not mention Honour
33 Episodes mention Honour
54% of Episodes have Honour

27 Seconds Spent on Honour
24 hrs 12 min 30 sec of Avatar
0.03% of Avatar Spent on Honour

From Description