Welcome to the Avatar: The Last Airbender MUSICAL EPISODE!
Many people think this episode is cheesy and a waste of time, but this episode has some major moments in it that resonate throughout the rest of the series. It also has an abundance of cute Appa moments, so I have a soft spot for this episode.
This episode follows the Aang gang as they journey through a secret mountain tunnel to Omashu with a group of singing travelers. We begin the episode with Aang and Katara practicing their waterbending. I think this is important simply because it reminds the viewer that they are still learning, even if they are becoming quite badass. Octopus Aang is pretty awesome.
When the Gaang meets up with the travelers led by the strumming Chung (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker…better known as the voice of Appa and Momo) and his gal, Lily, Sokka initially refuses their offer to walk through the SECRET TUNNEL. But after a quick mid-air altercation with the Fire Nation, Sokka accepts that he will have to walk through the “stupid love tunnel.”
When the Gaang reaches the tunnel, the Fire Nation barricades them inside the mountain, rather than follow them into the labyrinth of caves. The aftermath of this moment is important because it showcases Appa’s issues with being in tight spaces. Just something to think about for the future…
Over time, the Gaang ends up getting separated, leaving Aang and Katara on their own with Appa while poor Sokka gets stuck with the singing travelers. (“Don’t let the cave in get you down…SOKKKAAAA!”)
Aang and Katara’s journey through the caves takes them to the tomb of two lovers. Then, we are shown in lovely watercolor the legend of the two lovers. They were the first two Earthbenders, having learned from the badger moles in the caves. Katara awkwardly suggests that the two of them should kiss in the dark. Aang doesn’t quite know how to respond. Aang’s crush on Katara has always been clear, and in the fortuneteller episode in Book One Katara seemed to consider that she might end up with Aang. In this episode, Katara’s suggestion of the kiss comes from a place of logic. We kiss, we get out. Poor Aang would love to kiss her, but doesn’t want his true feelings known. Resulting in what I feel is such a middle school conversation about kissing. “What? I said I would rather kiss you than die? That’s a compliment!” Oh, Aang, you have zero game. Ultimately, the two of them do kiss and the way out of the cave is lit by crystals.
Sokka doesn’t have it so easy. His group is attacked by the badger moles, but lucky for them, badger moles appear to be fans of music. My favorite exchange of the whole episode is the Gaang’s discussion of the ways the escaped. Aang says love led the way. Sokka? “We let huge ferocious beasts lead our way!” Did anyone else notice that Appa and Momo had a tiny reunion of their own? It is moments like that when the details of the show really stand out to me.
A few thoughts on the Zuko/Iroh plot line. After Iroh’s pathetic boy scout skills result in rashes, the two of them end up in a Earth Kingdom village where Zuko meets a young girl who also has been burned by the Fire Nation, literally. This is the point in the Zuko/Iroh arc where Zuko finally begins to see the havoc the Fire Nation brings to the rest of the world. He will continue to make observations like this over the rest of the season. Despite having obviously been moved by his interactions with this Earth Kingdom family, in the end he still leaves and steals their ride! Oh, Zuko, when will you learn?
Another thing to consider is that this is a show that features a lot of combat and violence, but all of the conflict in this episode is resolved through love and music. Isn’t that nice?
This episode really sets us up for the world of season 2. Episode 1 gave us our villain, now we have the setting. I think season 2 is my favorite season because it is so green and because I think earthbending is the way to go. We leave the Gaang outside of a Fire Nation-occupied Omashu. Where is King Bumi? Will the singing on this show ever be in tune? (Hint: NO). Come back next week to find out.
Attention First-Time Avatar Watchers: Our posts will be spoiler-free (except for the episode we’re discussing), but be aware that spoilers for future episodes may 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: Return to Omashu!
Jordan Hamessley is an assistant editor at Grosset & Dunlap/PSS at Penguin Books for Young Readers where she edits the Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Dinosaur Train 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.