AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water

  • 154 Replies
  • 7624 Views
*

Loopy

  • False Prime
  • Administrator
  • ***
  • 179
  • I'm Loooooopy!
    • My Fanfic @ tumblr
AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water
« on: August 04, 2016, 06:52:10 PM »
Hi, all! As I mentioned in my advertisements for these forums, this is a place where we can come together as a group to look back on each AtLA episode and unearth some discussion points with the benefit of hindsight and a much larger context. I figure one thread per Book should be about right, but I'm open to alternative solutions.

So, the first episode is "The Boy in the Iceberg." We all know this episode and the major plot points, but here's some discussion points that occurred to me on a rewatch:

  • We all know how great the worldbuilding is via the dialogue, with Katara establishing that Bending isn't magic. However, what does constitute magic in Katara's mind? Avatar stuff? Spirit stuff? All the nonsense from the ghost stories she heard as a kid? I'm with Sokka: Bending is magic, even if it is an everyday-sort of magic.
  • Katara's reaction to Sokka's sexism is well animated, but it always looks weird to me because it's too details. It stands out too much from the rest of the animation. I can't help but wonder if the Mike or the Bryan modeled the full performance.
  • So, how often did the Sokka and Katara's village get Fire Nation raiders? Sokka immediately assumes that Aang is a spy, and in the next episode, everyone in the village is rock solid in their belief that the Fire Nation is on their way. The fact that the kids don't seem to care about their warrior training would indicate that Sokka is just being paranoid and got unlucky with Zuko's arrival, but perhaps there were cases where Fire Nation ships came by a for a look, and the villagers needed to hide or evacuate.
  • I counted the number of people in the village: 9 adults (including Gran-Gran), 10 kids, 2 teenagers (the Water-sibs), and a dog.
  • I like Iroh's harsher attitude with Zuko during the training session, up to the point of even popping a fireball right in Zuko's face. I have a mental model of an Iroh who would be far too sensitive for such a thing, given Zuko's history, but here puts on a show of intimidating strength when Zuko fails to respond to his teachings. I wonder, was this the remnants of an outdated characterization for Iroh, or one of very few hints at his harder edge?
  • Does Katara always keep fish in her sleeve for emergencies?
  • I've always been struck by Aang's line when Katara doesn't want to go into the wrecked Fire Nation ship: "If you wanna be a bender, you have to let go of fear." Earlier in this episode, Sokka tries to teach the kids, "Now men, it's important that you show no fear when you face a firebender." In the next episode, Sokka is obviously terrified when he faces Zuko's ship, but he rallies and manages to get a good hit in, and when Aang arrives to save him, one of the Water Tots says, "Show no fear!" I think it's getting to the point where 'showing fear' is a recurring motif in the two-parter. Yet, I don't recall it being followed through in subsequent episodes, and fear doesn't seem to play into anything important. A dropped idea, or a part of something I'm missing?

Destiny alert: (This is something I'm going to logging, since Iroh seems to subscribe to the idea of "Destiny," but whether he's right or wrong is up in the air, and something he says in the finale makes me wonder what "destiny" even means to him.) Zuko just so happens to be in the right spot at the right time when Aang awakens and to later see the flare release from the trap on the ship. Either it's a massive coincidence, or something wants Zuko to find Aang.

Feel free to bring up your own points as well! I'm not going to hold this to a schedule; when we run out of things to say, we can go to the next episode.

Re: AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2016, 07:15:02 PM »
Quote
Does Katara always keep fish in her sleeve for emergencies?
This is the most worthwhile thing discussing.

Anyway, I actually like Iroh's harder edge here. Sometimes you forget the guy is a military veteran (and a successful one at that), so you think he'd display a little more strength outside very serious situations (in which case, it is almost obligatory for most characters, be they wise men or fools, to adopt a more serious attitude). Though I agree that Iroh's behavior here is, in part, influenced by earlier conceptions of his character. Though I would also like to say that I don't think that the Iroh in the show lacked a hard-edge at all, I'm just agreeing that that moment when he's training Zuko was interesting.

As far as magic is concerned, I'm interested in that too. I wish the show touched on that a bit more? What is considered part of the every-day world and what is considered sorcery? I suppose if you were to venture outside the world of Avatar you could bring up that classic distinction which says that magic is forcibly bending nature to your will by coercing outside the conventional means. Though that doesn't answer the questions from the perspective of the Avatar universe.
Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam

*

FartsOfNeil

  • The Avatardist
  • 86
  • Savage... Brutal... Bendt.
    • Art of Neil
Re: AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2016, 07:37:08 PM »
Relatively certain the raids stopped after Kya.  It's pretty heavily implied in S3 that the purpose of the raids was to remove water tribe benders as a threat and they believed her to be the last one, so Katara and Sokka would be the only children to care since they were the only one's alive to witness it.  Does raise the question of how those kids got made in the first place if Hakoda got every marching off right afterwards.  Maybe it's Water Tribe tradition for men about to shove out to war to get some 'we may never see each other again' downtime just prior to shore leave.

Re: AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2016, 12:29:39 AM »
Yeah, I think that most of the kids in the village would be too young to remember the last time the Fire Nation turned up.

(I'll try to rewatch the episode later.)

*

SC

  • 157% Piandaoist
  • Administrator
  • ***
  • 144
    • piandao.org
Re: AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2016, 03:49:51 AM »
    • Katara's reaction to Sokka's sexism is well animated, but it always looks weird to me because it's too details. It stands out too much from the rest of the animation. I can't help but wonder if the Mike or the Bryan modeled the full performance.

    Appa and Aang's animations when they both sneeze are also incredibly detailed.  It does look strange. When Appa sneezes, the next scene is a scene of Sokka freaking out and the animation's quality is that of a low-budget anime. :b


    • So, how often did the Sokka and Katara's village get Fire Nation raiders? Sokka immediately assumes that Aang is a spy, and in the next episode, everyone in the village is rock solid in their belief that the Fire Nation is on their way. The fact that the kids don't seem to care about their warrior training would indicate that Sokka is just being paranoid and got unlucky with Zuko's arrival, but perhaps there were cases where Fire Nation ships came by a for a look, and the villagers needed to hide or evacuate.

    The last attack was probable when Kya was killed.  Most of those kids probably weren't even born yet.  This would explain their utter lack of interest in training to fight the Fire Nation.  That's probably nothing more than a ghost story to them.

    We can assume the Fire Nation has stayed away because they thought they killed the last southern waterbender.  The villagers are probably always on high alert because they're just waiting for the Fire Nation to realize Katara's a waterbender.  So, not so much paranoia as much as it is a case of people planning for the inevitable. I say this because it seems like Kana was echoing a lot of Sokka's sentiments. She was quick to banish Aang and she was upset Katara had even gone to the old navy ship.


    • I like Iroh's harsher attitude with Zuko during the training session, up to the point of even popping a fireball right in Zuko's face. I have a mental model of an Iroh who would be far too sensitive for such a thing, given Zuko's history, but here puts on a show of intimidating strength when Zuko fails to respond to his teachings. I wonder, was this the remnants of an outdated characterization for Iroh, or one of very few hints at his harder edge?

    I think it's a hint of his harsher side.  We know he has one, and the first two books of ATLA were spent showing us how pragmatic Iroh can be.  What I find interesting about this scene is that Iroh shoots fire directly in Zuko's face, and Zuko doesn't even flinch.  And it was obvious, from Day 1, that someone had burned Zuko's face.  You'd think that would be the sort of thing Zuko would back away from.  So, was this the sort of thing Iroh did so much that Zuko had come to expect it and had even become desensitized to it?


    • Does Katara always keep fish in her sleeve for emergencies?

    I always assumed she watched Aang struggling to catch a penguin so she just fished it out of the water before she went over to talk to him.


    • I've always been struck by Aang's line when Katara doesn't want to go into the wrecked Fire Nation ship: "If you wanna be a bender, you have to let go of fear." Earlier in this episode, Sokka tries to teach the kids, "Now men, it's important that you show no fear when you face a firebender." In the next episode, Sokka is obviously terrified when he faces Zuko's ship, but he rallies and manages to get a good hit in, and when Aang arrives to save him, one of the Water Tots says, "Show no fear!" I think it's getting to the point where 'showing fear' is a recurring motif in the two-parter. Yet, I don't recall it being followed through in subsequent episodes, and fear doesn't seem to play into anything important. A dropped idea, or a part of something I'm missing?

    I just saw it as a subtle nod toward the notion of how easily people confuse "fearlessness" with "bravery".


    Destiny alert: (This is something I'm going to logging, since Iroh seems to subscribe to the idea of "Destiny," but whether he's right or wrong is up in the air, and something he says in the finale makes me wonder what "destiny" even means to him.) Zuko just so happens to be in the right spot at the right time when Aang awakens and to later see the flare release from the trap on the ship. Either it's a massive coincidence, or something wants Zuko to find Aang.[/list]

    Even if there were forces at work (spirit world interventions?) that willed it so Zuko would find Aang and set a series of events into motion, I don't know that Iroh has the inside track on that.  We already know that he had a vision about Ba Sing Se and that he misinterpreted it as him conquering it for the Fire Nation.  Was it destiny that caused the death of Lu Ten, thereby causing Iroh to fall into a deep mourning and give up a siege that he would later continue as a full-on attack to liberate Ba Sing Se from the Fire Nation five years later?  Or was it just a coincidence?  Lu Ten's death changed Iroh and this ultimately had an impact on the person Zuko become.
    « Last Edit: August 05, 2016, 03:57:41 AM by SC »

    *

    Loopy

    • False Prime
    • Administrator
    • ***
    • 179
    • I'm Loooooopy!
      • My Fanfic @ tumblr
    Re: AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water
    « Reply #5 on: August 05, 2016, 05:15:54 PM »
    As far as magic is concerned, I'm interested in that too. I wish the show touched on that a bit more? What is considered part of the every-day world and what is considered sorcery? I suppose if you were to venture outside the world of Avatar you could bring up that classic distinction which says that magic is forcibly bending nature to your will by coercing outside the conventional means. Though that doesn't answer the questions from the perspective of the Avatar universe.

    I actually struggle with the way "magic" is defined in many Fantasy stories. For that reason, my favorite depiction is The Lord of the Rings (novels), where when Frodo and Sam meet with Galadriel at her water-mirror: Sam asks to see some elf magic, and Galadriel says she's not clear exactly what Hobbits would consider to be magic, but guesses that the visions in her mirror would quality. To her, it's all just power that she commands. So, similarly, if a world has a power that can contradict the laws of nature, are the laws of nature really hard laws, or is "nature" simply greater and larger than than the current understanding?

    I also have a problem with fiction that portrays magic and science at odds. The scientific method can definitely be applied to magic systems.


    Relatively certain the raids stopped after Kya.  It's pretty heavily implied in S3 that the purpose of the raids was to remove water tribe benders as a threat and they believed her to be the last one, so Katara and Sokka would be the only children to care since they were the only one's alive to witness it.  Does raise the question of how those kids got made in the first place if Hakoda got every marching off right afterwards.  Maybe it's Water Tribe tradition for men about to shove out to war to get some 'we may never see each other again' downtime just prior to shore leave.

    Yeah, I try not to worry too much about the timeline when it comes to AtLA. The Mike and the Bryan were up front about not doing the math. :D However, if we want to patch things, perhaps it took Hakoda up to a year to put together a fighting force capable of leaving on an extended deployment.


    We can assume the Fire Nation has stayed away because they thought they killed the last southern waterbender.  The villagers are probably always on high alert because they're just waiting for the Fire Nation to realize Katara's a waterbender.  So, not so much paranoia as much as it is a case of people planning for the inevitable. I say this because it seems like Kana was echoing a lot of Sokka's sentiments. She was quick to banish Aang and she was upset Katara had even gone to the old navy ship.

    Yeah, that's something I glossed over, but Kanna is definitely the one in charge, even though Sokka is a loud advocate. Perhaps there's a touch of PTSD in the certainty that a Fire Nation attack is always imminent.

    I think it's a hint of his harsher side.  We know he has one, and the first two books of ATLA were spent showing us how pragmatic Iroh can be.  What I find interesting about this scene is that Iroh shoots fire directly in Zuko's face, and Zuko doesn't even flinch.  And it was obvious, from Day 1, that someone had burned Zuko's face.  You'd think that would be the sort of thing Zuko would back away from.  So, was this the sort of thing Iroh did so much that Zuko had come to expect it and had even become desensitized to it?

    That's another good point. Zuko is still working on his Firebending basics, according to Iroh, so perhaps a chunk of that three years was getting Zuko to stop flinching when fire came too close to him. Zuko's lack of a reaction could have been gradually built up, with Iroh popping fireballs closer and closer over time.

    Of course, Zuko was also a growing boy, and I don't know if that could have affected his progress with the basic forms.

    I just saw it as a subtle nod toward the notion of how easily people confuse "fearlessness" with "bravery".

    Could be. Bravery is mentioned throughout the series, and even in some contexts that do question true bravery. Perhaps the strength of the motif here was setup for a topic that the storytellers wanted to address, but didn't have solid plans for yet.

    Even if there were forces at work (spirit world interventions?) that willed it so Zuko would find Aang and set a series of events into motion, I don't know that Iroh has the inside track on that.  We already know that he had a vision about Ba Sing Se and that he misinterpreted it as him conquering it for the Fire Nation.  Was it destiny that caused the death of Lu Ten, thereby causing Iroh to fall into a deep mourning and give up a siege that he would later continue as a full-on attack to liberate Ba Sing Se from the Fire Nation five years later?  Or was it just a coincidence?  Lu Ten's death changed Iroh and this ultimately had an impact on the person Zuko become.

    Good questions, and who says Iroh's vision is was even a true vision? After all, it's not exactly a huge leap that the son of the Fire Lord who made a lot of progress in a war of conquest would eventually finish the war by taking the enemy capital. I'm just making notes of where people say that something is their destiny and then it later happens. We can sift through the results as the count climbs.

    *

    SC

    • 157% Piandaoist
    • Administrator
    • ***
    • 144
      • piandao.org
    Re: AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water
    « Reply #6 on: August 07, 2016, 08:32:49 AM »
    As far as magic is concerned, I'm interested in that too. I wish the show touched on that a bit more? What is considered part of the every-day world and what is considered sorcery? I suppose if you were to venture outside the world of Avatar you could bring up that classic distinction which says that magic is forcibly bending nature to your will by coercing outside the conventional means. Though that doesn't answer the questions from the perspective of the Avatar universe.

    I actually struggle with the way "magic" is defined in many Fantasy stories. For that reason, my favorite depiction is The Lord of the Rings (novels), where when Frodo and Sam meet with Galadriel at her water-mirror: Sam asks to see some elf magic, and Galadriel says she's not clear exactly what Hobbits would consider to be magic, but guesses that the visions in her mirror would quality. To her, it's all just power that she commands. So, similarly, if a world has a power that can contradict the laws of nature, are the laws of nature really hard laws, or is "nature" simply greater and larger than than the current understanding?

    I've always fallen into the Science We Can't Understand camp.

    I also have a problem with fiction that portrays magic and science at odds. The scientific method can definitely be applied to magic systems.

    Agreed. I rather like thinking about the Science of Bending and the Science behind the Spirit World.  It is an alien world? Another dimension?  Are the portals Korra opened / created like worm holes that take you to a faraway place?


    Relatively certain the raids stopped after Kya.  It's pretty heavily implied in S3 that the purpose of the raids was to remove water tribe benders as a threat and they believed her to be the last one, so Katara and Sokka would be the only children to care since they were the only one's alive to witness it.  Does raise the question of how those kids got made in the first place if Hakoda got every marching off right afterwards.  Maybe it's Water Tribe tradition for men about to shove out to war to get some 'we may never see each other again' downtime just prior to shore leave.

    Yeah, I try not to worry too much about the timeline when it comes to AtLA. The Mike and the Bryan were up front about not doing the math. :D However, if we want to patch things, perhaps it took Hakoda up to a year to put together a fighting force capable of leaving on an extended deployment.

    That would put Katara around 10 years old.  But she honestly seemed like she was only 7 or 8 when their mother died.


    I think it's a hint of his harsher side.  We know he has one, and the first two books of ATLA were spent showing us how pragmatic Iroh can be.  What I find interesting about this scene is that Iroh shoots fire directly in Zuko's face, and Zuko doesn't even flinch.  And it was obvious, from Day 1, that someone had burned Zuko's face.  You'd think that would be the sort of thing Zuko would back away from.  So, was this the sort of thing Iroh did so much that Zuko had come to expect it and had even become desensitized to it?

    That's another good point. Zuko is still working on his Firebending basics, according to Iroh, so perhaps a chunk of that three years was getting Zuko to stop flinching when fire came too close to him. Zuko's lack of a reaction could have been gradually built up, with Iroh popping fireballs closer and closer over time.

    Hmm...  Hadn't even considered that.  That seems like something Iroh would do.

    I'm interested on your take about the theory proposed by some that Iroh actually sabotaged Zuko's training and that's why Zuko struggles with Firebending.

    Of course, Zuko was also a growing boy, and I don't know if that could have affected his progress with the basic forms.

    I think it had more to do with his impatience, honestly. which could be a sign of his youth.  But it could also be a sign of how desperate his situation was.  Remember, Zuko was preparing to find an Avatar that he thought would be a hundred+ years old and fully-realized.  He thought he needed the big tricks to take him out.  Plus, after three years of working the basics, maybe Zuko thought Iroh wasn't taking the mission seriously.  Given Iroh's playful nature, I could understand why Zuko would make this assumption.

    In the Waterbending Scroll, Zuko thought Iroh was just being stupid when he turned the ship around to go shopping for a lotus tile.  It isn't until the middle of Book 2 that Zuko learns why that tile is so important. There are things going on in Iroh's life that Zuko just wasn't privy to until Book 2. And, let's be honest. Iroh has been prone to legitamate fits of stupidity (brewing poison tea, wandering off alone to go to a hot springs in the middle of enemy territory). Zuko probably thought the guy was an idiot. :b


    Even if there were forces at work (spirit world interventions?) that willed it so Zuko would find Aang and set a series of events into motion, I don't know that Iroh has the inside track on that.  We already know that he had a vision about Ba Sing Se and that he misinterpreted it as him conquering it for the Fire Nation.  Was it destiny that caused the death of Lu Ten, thereby causing Iroh to fall into a deep mourning and give up a siege that he would later continue as a full-on attack to liberate Ba Sing Se from the Fire Nation five years later?  Or was it just a coincidence?  Lu Ten's death changed Iroh and this ultimately had an impact on the person Zuko become.

    Good questions, and who says Iroh's vision is was even a true vision? After all, it's not exactly a huge leap that the son of the Fire Lord who made a lot of progress in a war of conquest would eventually finish the war by taking the enemy capital. I'm just making notes of where people say that something is their destiny and then it later happens. We can sift through the results as the count climbs.

    I know.  But I like rambling. :b  As an aside, I think when you get done going through all three books, cateloging Iroh's attitude about Destiny, you're going to find out that much of Iroh's thoughts on destiny seem to tie in with his own personal agenda.  Whether he actively realizes this or not is a matter for debate.

    I always considered that maybe Iroh's "vision" was a daydream he had as a child that had become an obsession.  And, over time, he had convined himself it was a vision that he needed to act upon.  So, he would have seen it as an Act of Providence where Destiny is actively on his side the same way Ozai thought his encounter with Aang was an Act of "Providence" that would lead him to greatness.  In both cases, the outcomes were not what they had prepared for.  So, either their interpretation of Destiny's paths for them is wrap in so much personal and cultural bias that they can't even see a clear picture of what will happen.  Or they both have fallen victim to their own hubris.  Or, again, maybe it's a deliberate trap set by an unseen force to "neutralize" people who are dangerous which would also be an Act of Providence.  It just wouldn't be an act that yielded favorable outcomes for them.
    « Last Edit: August 07, 2016, 08:53:18 AM by SC »

    Re: AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water
    « Reply #7 on: August 07, 2016, 10:11:03 AM »
    Just rewatched The Boy in the Iceberg.

    • One of the village kids also calls Aang's airbending "magic" (and gets corrected on it). Makes me wonder whether the parents of the younger kids avoided the topic of bending, out of fear they'd try to waterbend and end up being killed like Kya. Though, maybe it's just the result of being around Sokka all the time  :D
    • When they bring up the subject of the Avatar, Aang says that he never knew him, but he knew people who knew him. Funnily enough, even if Aang wasn't the Avatar himself, this would be true:



    • On the topic of the training scene, aside from showing that Iroh is a lot more controlled with his firebending (compared to Zuko, who is willing to knock someone over with his fire blast), I think it maybe reveals an implicit level of trust between Zuko and Iroh. Despite the fact that Zuko's been burned, and despite the fact that Iroh was in the middle of  chastising him, Zuko didn't feel physically threatened enough to move or flinch. But it's a level of trust that Zuko maybe doesn't even realise he has. Like, he takes it for granted that his uncle isn't going to hurt him.
    • Speaking of which, it is a little weird seeing Iroh being so harsh.
    • It's mentioned that Zuko's father also searched for the Avatar. I wonder what that entailed. I'm guessing that by the time it was Ozai's turn to search, it wasn't taken too seriously. Maybe he just used it as an excuse to go on vacation  :P
    • I find it interesting that they only mention the "men of the tribe" going to war, considering that we later learn that the Southern Tribe is more progressive than the Northern Tribe. Did the Southern Tribe hold onto the idea that only men can be warriors, or was it an issue of convenience? (There's a lot of young kids around, I'm guessing a fair number of them were babies when Hakoda left.) Maybe the Southern Tribe didn't have any hangups about female waterbenders fighting, but never applied the same attitude to female non-benders?  Where did Sokka's opinions on women come from- did he learn them from someone else, or were they just a weird side-effect of him being left behind as the village "protector"? 

    *

    Loopy

    • False Prime
    • Administrator
    • ***
    • 179
    • I'm Loooooopy!
      • My Fanfic @ tumblr
    Re: AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water
    « Reply #8 on: August 07, 2016, 05:45:06 PM »
    I'm interested on your take about the theory proposed by some that Iroh actually sabotaged Zuko's training and that's why Zuko struggles with Firebending.

    This is the first I've heard of that theory in this form. Supposedly, the original series bible for AtLA- constructed back before any episodes would have been written- leaked, and among the plot details described within was Iroh actually being loyal to Ozai, and purposefully teaching Zuko a flawed form that Ozai would be able to counter. Zuko taught this form to Aang in ignorance, and so Aang couldn't fight Ozai directly. I wrote a short story based on it, which seemed to popularize the concept a bit more.

    As far as the finished product goes, though, I don't think it can fit. Individual styles barely get any mention (if there's a mention at all) with the story focusing more on the 'source' of Bending, what emotions go into driving each fighter. As far as character logic goes, I'm not entirely sure if Iroh really thought Zuko would find the Avatar, while considering the duel that happened when Zuko encountered Zhao, any sabotage in Zuko's style was more likely to get him killed fighting another FIrebender.

    And my own personal theory of Iroh's character was that he wasn't committed to opposing Ozai until the Book Earth finale. I think Iroh was waiting and seeing what Aang was like and what his agenda was throughout Book Water, and how far the Fire Nation itself was going to go. Zhao's authorized act of killing the Moon Spirit was enough to turn Iroh against his home nation finally, but he still would have rather hid in Ba Sing Se than actively join the fight.

    If Zuko had captured Aang during Book Water, I think Iroh would have sat and observed the whole incident. He would have counseled Zuko, of course, but I don't think it would have been to let Aang go or join Aang's cause, but rather to simply be true to himself and make sure he brought the Avatar back to the Fire Nation in the right way. Perhaps Iroh would have advocated that Zuko bring Aang back for talks of some kind, rather than as a chained prisoner.

    I think Iroh's not quite on the protagonist/good vs antagonist/evil scale that the narrative is, basically.


    II think it had more to do with his impatience, honestly. which could be a sign of his youth.  But it could also be a sign of how desperate his situation was.  Remember, Zuko was preparing to find an Avatar that he thought would be a hundred+ years old and fully-realized.  He thought he needed the big tricks to take him out.  Plus, after three years of working the basics, maybe Zuko thought Iroh wasn't taking the mission seriously.  Given Iroh's playful nature, I could understand why Zuko would make this assumption.

    In the Waterbending Scroll, Zuko thought Iroh was just being stupid when he turned the ship around to go shopping for a lotus tile.  It isn't until the middle of Book 2 that Zuko learns why that tile is so important. There are things going on in Iroh's life that Zuko just wasn't privy to until Book 2. And, let's be honest. Iroh has been prone to legitamate fits of stupidity (brewing poison tea, wandering off alone to go to a hot springs in the middle of enemy territory). Zuko probably thought the guy was an idiot. :b

    Yeah, it all make sense.


    II always considered that maybe Iroh's "vision" was a daydream he had as a child that had become an obsession.  And, over time, he had convined himself it was a vision that he needed to act upon.  So, he would have seen it as an Act of Providence where Destiny is actively on his side the same way Ozai thought his encounter with Aang was an Act of "Providence" that would lead him to greatness.  In both cases, the outcomes were not what they had prepared for.  So, either their interpretation of Destiny's paths for them is wrap in so much personal and cultural bias that they can't even see a clear picture of what will happen.  Or they both have fallen victim to their own hubris.  Or, again, maybe it's a deliberate trap set by an unseen force to "neutralize" people who are dangerous which would also be an Act of Providence.  It just wouldn't be an act that yielded favorable outcomes for them.

    All good things to keep in mind. I don't think I'll actually come to a conclusion by the end, but we can at least weigh the different theories and see how they compare with all the evidence.



    On the topic of the training scene, aside from showing that Iroh is a lot more controlled with his firebending (compared to Zuko, who is willing to knock someone over with his fire blast), I think it maybe reveals an implicit level of trust between Zuko and Iroh. Despite the fact that Zuko's been burned, and despite the fact that Iroh was in the middle of  chastising him, Zuko didn't feel physically threatened enough to move or flinch. But it's a level of trust that Zuko maybe doesn't even realise he has. Like, he takes it for granted that his uncle isn't going to hurt him.

    Interesting point. Zuko does later assume that Iroh will refuse to forgive him for the Crossroads Debacle, most likely based on his experiences with Ozai, but in that case, Zuko felt he had done something to merit such treatment. In this scene, Zuko hadn't done anything but mouth off a little, so he likely knew that such an offense wasn't likely to bring Iroh's wrath (through long experience of mouthing off and getting no punishment in return, no doubt). So my point is that there was indeed that trust, but Zuko is so damaged that the trust only goes so far.

    IIt's mentioned that Zuko's father also searched for the Avatar. I wonder what that entailed. I'm guessing that by the time it was Ozai's turn to search, it wasn't taken too seriously. Maybe he just used it as an excuse to go on vacation  :P

    I was always in that camp that Azulon and Ozai didn't personally do any searching, and simply ordered/directed searches. Zuko was the only one to actually go looking.

    I find it interesting that they only mention the "men of the tribe" going to war, considering that we later learn that the Southern Tribe is more progressive than the Northern Tribe. Did the Southern Tribe hold onto the idea that only men can be warriors, or was it an issue of convenience? (There's a lot of young kids around, I'm guessing a fair number of them were babies when Hakoda left.) Maybe the Southern Tribe didn't have any hangups about female waterbenders fighting, but never applied the same attitude to female non-benders?  Where did Sokka's opinions on women come from- did he learn them from someone else, or were they just a weird side-effect of him being left behind as the village "protector"?

    That's a good question. I think the only difference we actually get evidence of is that the Southern Tribe simply doesn't have arranged marriages. However, that does call to question why Katara thought she would get trained. It could be what you said, that Waterbenders get an exception, but I wonder if it might be a difference in leadership. Perhaps in the South, the gender-rules can just be pushed aside by a willing Chief, and Katara figured that Sokka was just being bossy and contrary.

    *

    SC

    • 157% Piandaoist
    • Administrator
    • ***
    • 144
      • piandao.org
    Re: AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water
    « Reply #9 on: August 08, 2016, 05:15:40 PM »
    I'm interested on your take about the theory proposed by some that Iroh actually sabotaged Zuko's training and that's why Zuko struggles with Firebending.

    This is the first I've heard of that theory in this form. Supposedly, the original series bible for AtLA- constructed back before any episodes would have been written- leaked, and among the plot details described within was Iroh actually being loyal to Ozai, and purposefully teaching Zuko a flawed form that Ozai would be able to counter. Zuko taught this form to Aang in ignorance, and so Aang couldn't fight Ozai directly. I wrote a short story based on it, which seemed to popularize the concept a bit more.

    Well, that explains some things.  Back in 2007, some people on lj were talking about how this was canon.  I never got to look at the series bible.  You wouldn't happen to know where I can view a copy, would you?


    As far as the finished product goes, though, I don't think it can fit. Individual styles barely get any mention (if there's a mention at all) with the story focusing more on the 'source' of Bending, what emotions go into driving each fighter. As far as character logic goes, I'm not entirely sure if Iroh really thought Zuko would find the Avatar, while considering the duel that happened when Zuko encountered Zhao, any sabotage in Zuko's style was more likely to get him killed fighting another FIrebender.

    Agreed.  But I always found this other theory fascinating because it seemed to come out of nowhere in the early days of the fandom. A lot of folks were drabbling about it and I thought, if that's true, that just adds a whole other dimension to Iroh's character.



    If Zuko had captured Aang during Book Water, I think Iroh would have sat and observed the whole incident. He would have counseled Zuko, of course, but I don't think it would have been to let Aang go or join Aang's cause, but rather to simply be true to himself and make sure he brought the Avatar back to the Fire Nation in the right way. Perhaps Iroh would have advocated that Zuko bring Aang back for talks of some kind, rather than as a chained prisoner.

    I doubt that Iroh would go this route, at least not while Ozai was Firelord.  He seems to have a rather low opinion of Ozai, saying he's not the "understanding type" and that Ozai doesn't forgive. He's also seen what Ozai did to Zuko. So he sees that Ozai is violent and radical--not the sort to embrace talks with the Avatar.

    I don't think Iroh had a game plan.  He always thought Aang was dead, and so his only job was to be a father and teacher to Zuko and indulge him in his futile mission and give him emotional support.  With Aang in the picture, his only option was to let Zuko try to capture him, then take him back to the Fire Nation to suffer Ozai's wrath.  Because, when we got to The Boy In the Iceberg, what are Iroh's options?  Sabotage Zuko's efforts, or go with the flow?



    I think Iroh's not quite on the protagonist/good vs antagonist/evil scale that the narrative is, basically.

    I think Iroh is one of the best gray characters we've ever gotten from ATLA or Korra.  A critical analysis of his character reveals a man who has done as much bad as he's done good, and much of the good he's done has been to service his own personal agenda.  He is literally one of the nicest yet one of the most terrifying characters to come out of the franchise.


    • Speaking of which, it is a little weird seeing Iroh being so harsh.

    Honestly, if I were trapped on what I thought was a hopeless mission with S1 Zuko for three years, I'd probably be harsh, too. Plus, at that point, Zuko only really responded to harshness because, frankly, that's all he had ever been shown.  When I first watched this, I assumed that was what was going on and I didn't give it much thought.  It's only after we see the person Iroh is at the end of Book 3 and in Korra that seeing stuff like this in the rewatches throws me off.


    • It's mentioned that Zuko's father also searched for the Avatar. I wonder what that entailed. I'm guessing that by the time it was Ozai's turn to search, it wasn't taken too seriously. Maybe he just used it as an excuse to go on vacation  :P

    Actually, I think Mike said that he didn't actually go on the search himself.  He, Azulon, and Sozin sent people out on the search. But yes, I believe it was stressed that he wasn't taking it seriously.  In fact, it was made clear in interviews that Ozai deliberately sent Zuko on a "fool's errand".


    On the topic of the training scene, aside from showing that Iroh is a lot more controlled with his firebending (compared to Zuko, who is willing to knock someone over with his fire blast), I think it maybe reveals an implicit level of trust between Zuko and Iroh. Despite the fact that Zuko's been burned, and despite the fact that Iroh was in the middle of  chastising him, Zuko didn't feel physically threatened enough to move or flinch. But it's a level of trust that Zuko maybe doesn't even realise he has. Like, he takes it for granted that his uncle isn't going to hurt him.

    Interesting point. Zuko does later assume that Iroh will refuse to forgive him for the Crossroads Debacle, most likely based on his experiences with Ozai, but in that case, Zuko felt he had done something to merit such treatment. In this scene, Zuko hadn't done anything but mouth off a little, so he likely knew that such an offense wasn't likely to bring Iroh's wrath (through long experience of mouthing off and getting no punishment in return, no doubt). So my point is that there was indeed that trust, but Zuko is so damaged that the trust only goes so far.

    At the beginning of S3, Iroh refused to talk to Zuko when he was seeking advice.  This also contributed to the idea that Iroh hadn't forgiven him when really, Iroh was probably just sick of having the same dumb conversations with Zuko.  But I also think that Zuko's doubt comes from a place of personal shame.  He hadn't forgiven himself and he probably thought Iroh felt the shame for him that he felt for himself.
    « Last Edit: August 08, 2016, 05:19:07 PM by SC »

    *

    Loopy

    • False Prime
    • Administrator
    • ***
    • 179
    • I'm Loooooopy!
      • My Fanfic @ tumblr
    Re: AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water
    « Reply #10 on: August 08, 2016, 07:07:11 PM »
    Well, that explains some things.  Back in 2007, some people on lj were talking about how this was canon.  I never got to look at the series bible.  You wouldn't happen to know where I can view a copy, would you?

    From what I can see, the Copy+Paste on ASN is the last existing record:

    http://forums.avatarspirit.net/index.php?topic=17159.0

    Note the debate halfway through the thread about the validity of the whole thing, and the later note that some details were confirmed by the Art Book.

    If I ever attend another Q&A with the Mike and the Bryan, I'd try to ask about this.

    *

    SC

    • 157% Piandaoist
    • Administrator
    • ***
    • 144
      • piandao.org
    Re: AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water
    « Reply #11 on: August 08, 2016, 07:16:31 PM »
    ^I think I have the I.P. Bible saved on an old flash drive.

    EDIT: Never mind..  It's only a couple of pages from the bible. :/
    « Last Edit: August 08, 2016, 07:21:41 PM by SC »

    Re: AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water
    « Reply #12 on: August 08, 2016, 09:19:08 PM »
    The abandoned storyline about Sokka getting his first taste of a real-life battle sounded interesting. It's a shame we didn't get to see it happen.

    Anyway, I'm a bit undecided on Iroh. I agree that he never expected the Avatar to return and just stuck with Zuko for emotional support. He must have been pretty at peace with himself if he was fine spending the rest of his days on a boat on an impossible search though.

    When Aang did return, however, I think he was willing to help Zuko capture him. I'm not so sure if he was concerned with what would have happened to Aang though, in that it doesn't seem likely that he would have made a big deal about the Avatar being brought before the Fire Lord as a chained prisoner. I always assumed that he understood that the Avatar was a prime target for the Fire Nation, and was okay with the fact that this meant that Aang would likely be eliminated. Now that doesn't mean that he didn't care about the balance. The Season one finale proves, to me, that he does. Iroh's mindset seems to be that provided the Fire Nation doesn't try to do anything stupid like destroy the world, that balance between the nations can still work out, with the Fire Nation ruling over the world in a just manner. While it is true that he accepted Zhao's invitation to be his military consultant in order to be close to Zuko, I don't think he would prevented the fall of the Northern Water Tribe had Zhao simply stuck with conquest.

    It was only after the Season One finale in which Iroh takes a stance against the Fire Nation. And I don't think he did that just because he was a fugitive. When he had the chance to join Zuko and return home, he didn't take it, which suggest that at that point in time, he was no longer interested in allowing the Fire Nation to win the war.

    So Iroh can be interpreted as a pretty ambiguous character.  Though I don't think that him siding with the Empire up until the end of Season one makes him evil.
    Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam

    *

    Loopy

    • False Prime
    • Administrator
    • ***
    • 179
    • I'm Loooooopy!
      • My Fanfic @ tumblr
    Re: AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water
    « Reply #13 on: August 09, 2016, 07:44:20 PM »
    You know, that makes me realize, Iroh wants balance and the natural order to prevail, but the natural order is the Avatar Cycle. Aang dying and being reborn doesn't go against that. Perhaps his whole strategy was about trying to plant the seeds for the generation after Zuko to fix things, and events just forced him to get more aggressive with his timeline. :D

    Re: AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water
    « Reply #14 on: August 09, 2016, 08:49:23 PM »
    Maybe. Though I don't seem to recall him planting much seeds. He's probably the kind of guy who sits backs and observes, and only interferes when the situation is completely dire. So, in my view, he'd let the world work out its own problems.
    Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam

     

    Powered by EzPortal