Mon
Mar 22 2010 6:08pm

Avatar: The Last Airbender Re-Watch: “The Southern Air Temple” (episode 103)

In this episode...

With the hope of finding other Air Nomads, Aang and company travel to the Southern Air Temple. After revisiting fond memories (and befriending a lemur he names Momo), Aang discovers that the Fire Nation truly has murdered all his people. This revelation sends him into the Avatar State, alerting people all over the world that the Avatar has returned. Fortunately, Katara is able to talk Aang down. Meanwhile, Zuko stops in at a Fire Nation harbor for repairs. A powerful Fire Nation officer, Commander Zhao, learns of the Avatar’s return from Zuko and challenges the prince to a duel. Zhao intends to teach Zuko a lesson, but Zuko wins the duel. Zhao then attempts to kill Zuko, but Iroh saves his nephew.

 


 

Matt

So I thought it would be easy to keep my posts spoiler free. This is the first episode where I’m dying to talk about things that happen down the road. Look for an extended post in the comments.

This episode shows a lot of things that are not common to cartoon series. Often, the principal cast is established in the pilot. Here, in episode three, Momo the lovable lemur shows up, as does Big Bad Commander Zhao. These character introductions leave us with a sense that any character we meet could easily hop aboard Appa and join us for the remainder of the show. You never know.

Also, this is only the second week of the show—two part series premiere, and now this episode, and you already have the antagonist cast in the protagonist’s role. There are two independent plot lines going back and forth in this episode and in one of them the good guy is the bad guy from the previous episode. He’s the hero. He is the character with something to prove. He has the arc. Zuko and Iroh are the good guys for half this episode. And they don’t do anything to hurt or obstruct the Avatar in any way. On the contrary, they are unknowingly helping him by keeping the full force of the Fire Navy off his back.

My first time watching Avatar, I did not make obvious Star Wars connections until late in season two, but this time I can’t stop drawing Star Wars parallels. The Fire Nation is very evil empire. There’s a great scene where we see Zuko’s massive ship dwarfed by even more massive ships that reminds me of the opening of Empire Strikes Back when the Super Star Destroyer rumbles into frame. There seems to be a parallel between Aang and Luke. Last of the airbenders, last of the jedi. Both see the skeletons of murdered loved ones. It makes me wonder: if Aang survives his three season-long quest, perhaps he will spend his retirement trying to recreate the Air Nomads Jedi Academy style.

A few quick thoughts:

  • I like that Sokka so deftly walks the line between having his own drama and being comic relief.

  • It’s a cartoon for kids, and you have A PILE OF DEAD BODIES. In a show where you have booger humor you can also show a really kick ass airbender pulling an Alamo and killing 150 firebenders before finally going down himself.

  • When it comes to Airball, Aang is kind of a jerk. He totally kicks Sokka through a wall. It would be like if you asked me, “Hey Matt! Teach me how to play soccer!” And I was like “Okay” and the first thing I did was punt the ball at your head.

Next time! Sexist Sokka, sizzling Suki, and the all-important lesson: “There’s always a bigger fish.”


Jordan

After all the talk following the first two episodes about how childish the show was, this episode brings the darkness. Two episodes ago, you’re watching little kids who have to pee and then you get to this episode where Aang sees the skeleton of his mentor. That image is juxtaposed with our introduction to Monk Gyatso, that showed him and Aang throwing cakes at the other monks. Extremely childish. I also think that scene shows where Aang’s sense of fun comes from.

Another thing: Aang went into the Avatar State in the last episode, but it was his going into the state in this episode that appeared to alert the world to his existence. Why now? Was it his proximity to the Air Temple or perhaps that he went into the Avatar State because of an emotional reaction. Thoughts?

Onto Zuko. In his conversation with Zhao, he acknowledges that the his father can’t expect the world to bow down to his rule through violence. It’s interesting to see that even though Zuko desperately wants his father to respect him, Zuko doesn’t necessarily agree with his father’s actions. Considering where Zuko ends up, it was cool to see how early on he was thinking that.

Sokka thought: He hated Aang three days ago in show time and undergoes a complete 180. By the end of this episode he tells Aang that they are a family now. I guess he really took to heart was his grandmother said about their destinies being intertwined.

Jordan’s list of cute things:

MOMO! I love the way Momo’s entrance was set up. They gave him the commercial break. Big, scary, Fire Nation helmet-looking shadow turns out to be an awesome lemur. The moment that sold me on Momo was when he brought Sokka food. That is one smart lemur.

Also, I’m going to keep a running tally of the Agni Kai’s Zuko gets himself into... starting now. 1: Zuko vs. Zhao.


John

We get to learn a lot about the mythology of Avatar in this episode, and after watching this one I don’t see how anyone could not get completely hooked on this show. Seeing the Air Temple for the first time is very cool, and also very sobering given that the monks have been wiped out—sort of a stark contrast to some of the lighthearted elements I’ve talked about before. This is nicely brought home by Aang’s reaction to seeing the devastation—coming to a head when he sees the corpse of his friend Monk Gyatso; of course, Aang must have known that if he was in the iceberg for 100 years pretty much everyone he knew would have to be dead (certainly a monk of Gyatso’s age would be), but to find his friend and mentor, murdered, that’s something else entirely, which of course is what sends Aang into the Avatar State.

Of course, as Jordan mentioned, it’s quite unfortunate that the Avatar State triggers that beacon thing, thus alerting the world the Avatar is around. But the question is: why didn’t that happen when the Avatar State was triggered in the previous episode when Aang is fighting Zuko? Is it, as Jordan suggests, that it was his proximity to the air temple statues? Or is it that he was more angry this time, so maybe he wasn’t quite fully in the Avatar state last time? Or do those fireworks go off every time he goes into the Avatar State and we just don’t know it? I do wonder what the purpose of it could be. Maybe a warning system to alert civilians to an impending threat? (After all, the Avatar State would only be triggered in extreme situations.) I’m really not sure about that as an explanation, though, and while it was kind of cool to see, in retrospect it seems kind of dumb to me—like it was a too-easy way for the writers to clue the Fire Lord and his minions that the Avatar is definitely alive. It probably would have been better story-wise had some action of Aang’s clearly alerted them to his presence (and thus intensified their hunt for him), to give him a bit more internal torment to serve as fuel for his quest to truly become the Avatar the world needs.

Another sign in this episode showing us that this is not your typical kids show is when Zhao is interrogating Zuko, he is not so easily fooled by Zuko’s lies; he doesn’t trust Zuko will tell the truth—after all, why would he?—so even while he’s interrogating Zuko, he has his men question the other Fire Nation soldiers on the ship, and so Zuko is caught in his lie. And regarding Zuko, an element of characterization that I find is often lacking in all forms of fiction is the portrayal of the villain. In reality, a villain never thinks he’s evil and doesn’t cackle over the bad things he does; the villain always thinks he’s right and justified in his actions. Avatar does a great job of portraying the villains that way.

About that airball game—While the bending abilities explain away some of the superheroic stuff we see on the show, I have to kind of wonder how Sokka would have even survived that game of airball. That was a preeeetttty long fall he had there (not to mention that he was slammed into that stone disk). This kind of thing happens throughout the series, and even though most of the time it’s happening with Aang or other benders, the bending doesn’t quite explain how they’re able to survive these things.

One of the things that I think is great about this show is that they’re not afraid to end episodes on a down note. Given the fact that the Avatar’s quest is to save the world from an evil empire, it makes sense that there would be darkness in the show—Fire Nation killed an entire race of people! There’s GENOCIDE in a KID’S SHOW!—and thus some episodes would end with sadness. Yet doing so, even with similar circumstances, is exceedingly rare in cartoons.

This episode, of course, ends on a really down note. When Aang discovers that all the monks in the air temple are dead, and that he really is the last of the airbenders—that’s really just a totally sobering moment and they portray it quite well. And while they do lighten it up with some humor before the end of the show, the last shot of our heroes riding Appa away from the air temple is kind of a heartbreaking thing: Aang, looking back toward the air temple—he only home he’d ever known and now the eternal resting place of all of those he held dear—is just CRUSHED. As you would expect him to be. But kudos to the writers for actually portraying that properly.


Attention First-Time Avatar Watchers: Our posts will continue to be spoiler-free (except for the episode we’re discussing), but be aware that spoilers for future episodes will abound in the comment thread below. We wanted to keep the comment threads future-spoiler-free as well, but it will likely prove impossible and it would impede our ability to analyze the series in retrospect.

Up next: The Warriors of Kyoshi!


« Episode 102 | Index | Episode 104 »


Matt London is an author and filmmaker who lives in New York City. He is a graduate of the Clarion Writer’s Workshop, and a columnist for Tor.com. His fiction is forthcoming in the anthology The Living Dead 2. He holds a BFA in Film Production from New York University.

Jordan Hamessley is a children’s book editor at Penguin Books for Young Readers where she edits the Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Chaotic publishing programs, as well as developing original series. She is also an assistant editor for Lightspeed Magazine. She can be found on twitter as @thejordache.

John Joseph Adams (www.johnjosephadams.com) is an anthologist, a writer, and a geek. He is the editor of the anthologies By Blood We Live, Federations, The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Living Dead (a World Fantasy Award finalist), Seeds of Change, and Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse. He is also currently the fiction editor of Lightspeed Magazine, which launches in June 2010, and the co-host of Tor.com’s Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast.

27 comments
Chris Meadows
1. Robotech_Master
Where the pilot episodes introduced the characters and the setting, "The Southern Air Temple" is the first episode in which the overall story begins to unfold. Aang, Katara, and Sokka visit the nearest air temple, which Aang once called home, to investigate and see if any traces of the Air Nomads remain. Meanwhile, Zuko and Iroh pull into a Fire Nation port to get their ship repaired, and meet up with the menacing Commander Zhao—voiced to villainous perfection by Lucius Malfoy himself, Jason Isaacs.

This episode does a number of important things. One of these is to give the audience a chance to root directly for the guy we had previously taken to be "the villain"—pitting him against an even worse adversary. At the same time, it fills in some of the background, and reveals just how disgraced Zuko really is. As Zhao rightly points out, if his father really cared at all he'd have been invited back by now, Avatar or not. We also get our first hints at the darker secrets in Zuko's past. "Remember what happened the last time you dueled a master."

There is also a great martial-arts fight sequence, with a stand-up duel between two excellent Firebenders. The kung-fu moves are obvious and recognizable to anyone who has ever watched a Jackie Chan movie, and if the ending is a little clichéd it's easily forgivable.

There's some foreshadowing on Aang's side as well, as he remembers his time with Gyatso. "The only mistake the monks made was in telling you before you turned sixteen." We begin to see, even if we don't realize it yet, the way in which Aang's background parallels Zuko's. We also get our first look at Avatar Roku.

And we get to see the family dynamic between Aang, Sokka, and Katara made explicit when Aang discovers the truth about the Fire Nation, and the eventual fate of the man who was the closest thing Aang had to a father. Katara and Sokka both agree: they are family now.

Little details in this episode stand out, such as the way Zuko's ship is positively tiny compared to the much bigger, newer, ships commanded by Zhao. Clearly he was given an old, obsolete vessel for use on his search.

Uncle Iroh has some great comedic beats, such as when it becomes painfully clear he and Zuko never thought to get their story straight between them about how their ship was damaged. (Really, they ought to have settled on a story ahead of time, not to mention informed the crew not to let anything leak. But it was funnier this way.) But it also seems that there might be a lot more to Iroh than meets the eye, as he is able to toss Zhao halfway across the yard with a single move.

I do wonder why a statue was made of Monk Gyatso while he was still alive. Usually that doesn't happen until after you're dead—and after Gyatso was dead, there would have been nobody left to make a statue of him.

One of my favorite moments comes near the end, when the flying lemur steals a peach from Sokka, and Aang decides to name him "Momo"—and Katara laughs as if Aang has just said something funny. As it turns out, "Momo" is a popular name for pets in Japan—but it is also Japanese for "peach". So Aang made and Katara laughed at a joke that is only funny if you know Japanese!

The one really sour note for me is a minor problem I've had with the show as a whole: the way the Air Nomads were wiped out practically instantaneously. It's all too tidy. In the real world, genocides usually take years to accomplish, and even then almost never get everybody. And at least some of the Air Nomads should have been able to flee easily, since they could fly. Small wonder a number of fans continue to believe there must be hidden colonies of Air Nomads hiding out somewhere, even as the creators of the show say that no, Aang really is the last. (One wonders how the Avatar after Aang will learn airbending, or what will happen when the cycle comes around to the next Air Nomad Avatar after Aang.)

As I've said, there is a lot of good stuff in this episode. Still, I'm not terribly fond of it and I'm not entirely sure why. Maybe I just end up comparing it to later ones, which are even better. Maybe I'm just impatient for the story to unfold. Or perhaps it is just that there are two separate stories going on and they don't ever overlap, which means neither of them is quite as satisfying on its own as a single full episode-long tale.

My grade: B+.
Andrew Blackburn
2. ajbcool
I had started watching the series recently (probably due to the start of this re-watch), and I watched having things spoiled for me, like Aang really being the last Airbender.

One thing that had puzzled me about this episode was, if the temples were unreachable except by other Airbenders (and those riding air bison of course), how on earth did the Fire Nation get up there? A couple possible answers are eventually found later in the series, what with the grappling tanks and Azula's....rocket style. I think that's not too spoilerly.

Also, why did the Fire Nation wait 12 whole years between Roku's death and the wipeout of the Air Nomads? If they HAD managed to kill the avatar, then he would just be reborn in the Water Tribes, and they'd have to be wiped out too. I would think that the gap between the previous avatar's death and the wipeout of the next nation would be minimal, maybe even to the point where they happen at the same time (to prevent meddling from said fully-realized Avatar).
Chris Meadows
3. Robotech_Master
@ajbcool: They had to wait for (an event mentioned in episode 8) to happen to make them strong enough to invade the air temples.
Dot Lin
4. fangirl
uncle iroh cracks me up. it's still early, but he's a great minor character. guy sure loves his tea.
Kate Nepveu
5. katenepveu
Robotech_Master @ #1, I also found the cuts in this episode a little random. And yeah, I don't know if I twigged that it was setting Zuko up as just a little tiny bit sympathetic at the start, by giving him a worse enemy, but that was pretty clear now.

Did you all notice that the Avatar statues in the temple were arranged in a spiral, with the last in the center? I guess if you're an Airbender you can rearrange THOUSANDS OF STATUES pretty easily when the next Avatar dies.

Also, we have episodes called after all the Air Temples but Eastern; Google reminds me that it's were the Guru is waiting for Aang.

Finally, bringing Aang out of the Avatar state here was way too easy.
Chris Meadows
6. Robotech_Master
katenepveu: I did find it interesting that the Avatars of all four persuasions were shown in the air temple. You'd think their sanctuary would be devoted to something specifically "air"-like instead of Avatarian. There didn't seem to be displays dedicated to the Avatar cycle in the sanctuaries of any of the other temples we get to see. (Though granted, we only get to see two, and one of those has been substantially repurposed.)

Something else interesting is that the three statues preceding Roku do not match up to the preceding Avatars as shown later in the series. But this is because the creators didn't have those Avatars fully designed at the time.
Andrew Blackburn
7. ajbcool
I know of said event, I just wasn't entirely sure HOW it enabled them to get way up there, but watching the last episodes just now showed me how.

My theory on those statues is either 1) There are others of differing elements in other sancuaries, or 2) They change which one has them all based on which one is the next in the cycle, although that would require a lot of work, and with the latest one (Roku to Aang) dealing with entering/exiting hostile territory, I'll just lay it on 'Avatar mumbo-jumbo'.

OR, maybe since the Air Nomads were the most spiritual of the 4 groups, they were the ones most knowledgeable and concerned about all the Avatars as opposed to just the ones in their element.

One last thing, I'm curious as to how the Earth and Water sanctuary doors work, as I don't remember seeing any in the series.
Phil Frederick
8. flosofl
Instead of Star Wars, think Joseph Campbell's The Hero With A Thousand Faces. A:TAB is the archetypal monomyth that he laid out in his scholarship. Of course the same archetypes and story telling was used in the original Star Wars Trilogy (eps IV-VI). Lucas drew heavily on the idea of the monomyth when writing the first Star Wars.

Incidentally, loving the re-watch here. I just blasted through season 3 again over the weekend.
Chris Meadows
9. Robotech_Master
ajbcool@7: My guess is that the Earth Sanctuary door is just a big slab of rock that you bend out of the way. And the Water Sanctuary one would be a slab of ice. Or else something involving water-based counterbalances behind a wall.

flosofl@8: True dat, but to note Bryan and Kevin have made the comparison to Star Wars themselves, in the sense of "We wanted to do our own version of that, but with more kung fu in it."
Maggie M
10. Eswana
Things are really beginning to cook in this episode.
]

Now that I've seen the series a few times, it's really nice to be able to appreciate the character development and meticulous advance plotting. The creators knew they had three seasons to work with (IIRC) and they were able to give everyone an important arc, rather than just trying to fudge something together on the fly, like what often happens in TV shows (thinking of BBC's Robin Hood, for an example of poorly done character development and plotting).

"...any character we meet could easily hop aboard Appa and join us for the remainder of the show. You never know." Ha!! I'm sure we'll go more into this in Season 2, but at first I really was surprised at the additions to the original Scooby gang. But then I realized how awesome they were.

Avatar state warning system? This one.... hmm, sorry, but I've gotta call shenanigans. Aang was in the Avatar state in the previous episode. AND, I believe, it was the Avatar state that allowed him to stay cryogenically frozen for one hundred years. Neither of those triggers a giant light up beacon all over the world. So maybe I'm just too cynical, but I'm not buying it. Maybe it has something to do with the proximity to the Air Temple, but that seems like a flaccid excuse.

Yay Momo! I never knew his name was an in-joke! Brilliant!

I'm so excited to meet Suki in the next episode! Love love love her!!!!!
Greg Bloom
11. MuleHeadedLummox
I don't think that the statue room is meant to go off every time the Avatar state is entered, but to be a way to announce to the world that the Avatar has been reborn and is ready to assume his role. Aang was supposed to enter the room when he turned sixteen, when he was fully trained as an airbender and ready for the next stage in his training. He was also supposed to meet a guide there, which judging from what we see in future episodes, would probably have been the spirit of his past life, Avatar Roku. If this is the case, then there are two possible explanations for why the other temples weren't signaled earlier: either it is due to the proximity to the statue room, or the signal is designed to go off the first time he enters the Avatar state after entering the statue room.

Also, while I can believe that the previous Water and Air avatars had not been designed and therefore the statues don't match what we later learn, it is strange for the previous Earth avatar to be incorrect since we learn about Avatar Kyoshi in the next episode.

Overall, this is a fairly weak episode as Avatar goes (although it is still better than a lot of TV shows). The split storyline is a bit jarring, mainly because the two storylines are not parallel. If Aang and Zuko's stories mirrored each other, it wouldn't be as bad, but there is no real relation between the two. I do agree that the way Zuko becomes the protagonist in this episode is a great way to provide depth to his character, and we are also introduced to Zhao, the big villain of the first season. But Zuko was still a huge jerk, even if he was the 'good guy' of his storyline. Zhao is just the less likable of the two.

The Aang side of the story is a necessary step, showing the fate of the Airbenders. The first time I saw the scene with the skeletons, I was surprised that Nickelodeon would show it. It also made the show seem so much more real, that we were seeing actual evidence of the battle, and not just being expected to take for granted everything that happened off-screen. Also while the scene where Katara talks Aang down at the end was necessary for plot development, it would have been more powerful if we had a couple more episodes to see Aang, Katara and Sokka grow closer before it happened.
Matt London
12. MattLondon
@10 When Aang's cryoball opens in episode 101, a big beacon of light goes shooting up into the sky, but you're right, it doesn't give every temple on the planet a heads up.
judebyotitinoodni
13. judebyotitinoodni
ha?
Jason Ramboz
14. jramboz
Just thought I'd throw in a little comment here. In may Japanese anime series, it's not uncommon for all the main characters to not be introduced for several episodes. I've seen several series where you don't get the "full cast" assembled till episode 10 or so. It seems that Avatar is following the Japanese mold in this, as in so much else.
Pablo Defendini
15. pablodefendini
@jramboz
With A:TLAB it's arguable that you actually don't get the "full cast" (Team Avatar, if you will) till the second season!
Jordan Hamessley
16. Jordache
@pablodefendini
SO TRUE. Just wait until we hit season 2 and Toph shows up. She's my girl.

@11 MuleHeadedLummox
I hadn't thought about the fact that Aang would've entered the room at 16 once he was told he was the Avatar. I'll buy that idea for why the beacon went off... even if he wasn't in the room at the time.

~Jordan
Matt London
17. MattLondon
A spoilerific thought:

Very early on I was predicting some sort of arc for Zuko and even may have said "Oh, Zuko and Aang are going to end up best friends." And I wonder if this gets pushed too soon. It's way before the blue spirit episode. Now, granted, no complaints about this arc. Zuko's transformation is the most compelling part of the narrative. But I wonder if it starts too soon. I would have liked to get more comfortable with him as a villain. That would have made the shift more powerful.
judebyotitinoodni
18. ElizabethRandall
The lack of a clear-cut villain at the start is one of the things I like about Avatar. It introduces more layers and depth and interest for me by acknowledging from the start that life is more complicated than black-and-white, good-and-evil.

Also, it speaks to the planning that went into the story from the beginning - particularly concerning Zuko. They weren't trying to redeem a character who started off evil, did evil things, then got popular because he got all the good lines, so they were scrambling for an excuse to keep him around.
René Walling
19. cybernetic_nomad
Robotech_Master says: "The one really sour note for me is a minor problem I've had with the show as a whole: the way the Air Nomads were wiped out practically instantaneously. It's all too tidy. In the real world, genocides usually take years to accomplish, and even then almost never get everybody."


ajbcool says: "Also, why did the Fire Nation wait 12 whole years between Roku's death and the wipeout of the Air Nomads?"


I don't think the Fire Nation was waiting 12 years before getting to the Southern Air Temple, rather I see it as it took 12 years for them to get there. Which also implies it took that long for the genocide to be accomplished (actually, IIRC, nothing says there were no small bands of Air nomads being hunted down for a number of years afterwards.

I've never taken the view that "one hundred years ago" mean exactly 36 500 days ago. But rather "about a century" the way when talking, we might say today that one hundred years ago the Model T was introduced, or plastic was invented or WWI started or Halley's comet made an appearance, or Amundsen reaches the South Pole.
Greg Bloom
20. MuleHeadedLummox
@cybernetic_nomad

As Robotech_Master pointed out in post 3, the reason they waited twelve years (which will be revealed in episode 8) was for the comet. Without the powerup, they probably could not have launched a successful assault on the air temples. And I agree that there may have been some escapees, but the Fire Nation probably made it a priority to hunt down any surviving airbenders since they knew that the next avatar would be an airbender.
René Walling
21. cybernetic_nomad
I disagree. If I was strategist for the Fire Lord, I would not rely on a once in a lifetime event to win my battles, or at the very least, I would soften up my target beforehand to improve my chances of winning. Yes, after twelve years, the ep. 8 event happened, and that was used by the Fire Nation for the coup de grâce.

They're called Air Nomads this tells me that most of them travelled around. The way I see it, the Air temples were fixed locations used by them, but hardly were most of them lived. Judging by the other elements, the majority of people can't bend, but it seems almost everyone in the temple can. Ergo, a majority of the Air Nomads live outside the temple.
Sandi Kallas
22. Sandikal
My 14 year old son has been watching it since the beginning and got me hooked. I am going to argue here that this is not a show for kids as was stated more than once in the blog post. In fact, I think the target audience is teens and adults. When this show first aired it was shown on Saturday nights around 9 or 10. In middle school, teens start learning about horrible events like the Holocaust and slavery in history. They can understand the concepts in Avatar. Sure, little kids do watch it, but I bet they're just there for Momo.
judebyotitinoodni
23. ***Dave
I love Momo (and the Momo Music). Indeed, one of my favorite eps is way down the line when Momo gets a solo segment.

That said, I was always a little disappointed -- after the setup that entering the temple would garner Aang a "guide," I always expected that Momo would turn out to be something more than "just" a bat lemur, or that he would play a more significant role somewhere along the line than he did. Ah, well. Still love Momo.

I have to agree that there has to have been more Air Nomads (especially given that name) than the relatively small populations we see in flashbacks at the various Air Temples. And though the Fire Nation may have been more diligent in tracking all of them down and wiping them out than they were with the (southern) Water Tribes, it may have sufficed to "merely" wipe out just the air*benders*, as they've done at the south pole. Though Zhao later demonstrates how foolhardy that strategy would actually be.

In addition to increasing the depth of Zuko, Iroh gets to demonstrate (as he so rarely but always satisfyingly does) that he's no just a pudgy sybarite or comic relief. His handling of Zhao is so unexpected and so sweet.
Kevin Persiko
24. lanistheman
"Even in exile my nephew is more honorable than you. Thanks again for the tea. It was delicious." Love Uncle
judebyotitinoodni
25. scrollie
Speaking of there being more than meets the eye with respect to Uncle Iroh, I am surprised no one has mentioned the first glimpses into his cunning mind that this episode provides. The second time I saw this episode I remember chuckling at how well-timed his little 'fumble' with the weapons in Zhao's chamber seemed to be...
Jennifer B
26. JennB
Why are there no female air nomads in the flashbacks?? Are they not allowed in the temple?

Also I just watched the season 3 episode last night where we learn about the Firelord Sozin and Avatar Roku. It is implied in that episode that the genocide had to have taken more than 12 years.

After all, the genocide started when Roku died and was completed after 12 year old Aang was trapped in the ice berg.
judebyotitinoodni
27. Kylara
I know that this is pretty late in the game to be leaving a comment here, but I had a thought.

I'm pretty sure young firebenders trying to prove themselves went out hunting down airbenders and searching for the avatar, the same way they tried to wipe out the dragons.

The way the firelord tells Zuko that that is his punishment and the way Zuko accepts it rings of long-standing tradition. Granted, a long long long past tradition, because the airbenders were wiped out a long time ago, but that's probably how it happened.

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