AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water

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Re: AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water
« Reply #105 on: January 23, 2017, 11:43:05 AM »
Yeah this was the result of
a) ATLA episodes being interchangeably animated by two different studios, JM Animation and Dr Movie (replaced in Book 3 by MOI Animation) and;
b) the inconsistent - within and between episodes - and IMO subpar end product of Dr Movie, who animated the current episode.

Personally I found the fluctuating quality in animation annoying. This is one of the reasons why I consider the previous episode Imprisoned (JM) as the first fully satisfactory episode - everything basically works on a technical and storytelling level - and the later infamous Great Divide (Dr Movie) as a near-total miss-step.

In Season 2 and 3, I can tell the difference between the different animation studios, but in this season it's a lot harder for me, and when I do notice the differences (like this episode) it doesn't match what I expect of either studio. But that's probably because the quirks I later notice haven't quite solidified yet, so I'm just seeing a slightly different flavor of "off-model."

For me it was evident almost immediately with Dr Movie's first outing in The Southern Air Temple onwards. Mostly in the face shape, eyes and how mouth movements were sometimes animated. Dr Movie's gAang have a more rounded face and feminine eyes - they look younger in general. These qualities often fluctuated during the episode - for instance Katara's face changes throughout The Spirit World - and there are certain moments such as the first scene of this episode where the main characters are are sloppily drawn and look uglier. In addition, Zuko's scar sometimes looked uglier than normal.

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I always read the old man's statement as "are you the Avatar, child?" The other way works too though. ;D

Could be! When we get to Book Earth, we can discuss if the White Lotus challenge is, "Who knocks at the guarded gate?" or "Who knocks at the garden gate?" :D (One of my fanfic readers pointed that one out for me.)
I've already got my answer prepared for that question :)

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P.S. It is interesting to note that the first spirits we meet in ATLA do not talk. Hei Bai and Fang don't verbalize their feelings; they show them. This is great in terms of setting a distinction between the mortal and spirit realms as well as engaging the viewers - showing vs telling.

Good observation! It also has the effect of making Koh stand out even more when he shows up.
There are two other interesting observations to make about spirits in this episode:
1. Hei Bai kidnapped Sokka on sight, but treated Aang very diffferently; ignoring him for the most part after an initial and brief deferential moment. Is this because Hei Bai recognized who Aang really was from the start, and then continued its rampage when Aang did not properly reciprocate?

2. Hei Bai has a shrine dedicated to him in the forest. An it is by no means benign, being as Hei Bai's statue is a (temporary?) conduit between the mortal and spirit realms for himself and Fang. This is interesting in light of LoK's moral equivalency with humans and spirits living together, whereas this shrine suggests that the spirits are very much the rightful senior partners under whose good graces humans live reverently? What do you guys think?

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P.S. I thought naked Iroh was good fun, and never ascribed to it the creepy sexual connotations that other viewers did.

...I was not aware that people were ascribing creepy sexual connotations, although I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.
I think I spotted some of that in ASN. Might be wrong though.



I agree with all this , but at the same time I'd have liked to see the gAang at the war front once or twice. As it stands, we never got a concrete sense of where the war fronts were, and this ambiguity lends itself to certain plot conveniences - like the gAang and Jun tracking Iroh across the entire width of the entire EK continent  in the series finale  :o .

It is slightly frustrating that the fronts are so fluid. The Fire Nation seems to be everywhere in the Earth Kingdom - right outside Fong's base, then right outside Ba Sing Se. You almost get the feeling that the Earth Kingdom's units are isolated.
Yeah, well I suppose that is in line with Katara's line in the premiere prologue - backed up by Zhao in The Southern Air Temple  about the Fire Nation nearing final victory in the war.

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Re: AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water
« Reply #106 on: January 23, 2017, 07:32:26 PM »
1. Hei Bai kidnapped Sokka on sight, but treated Aang very diffferently; ignoring him for the most part after an initial and brief deferential moment. Is this because Hei Bai recognized who Aang really was from the start, and then continued its rampage when Aang did not properly reciprocate?

My thought was that Hei Bai's perception of Aang was simply as not being entirely human. It somehow detected that Aang had an Avatar Spirit attached to him, or else was dangerous in some way even if Aang wasn't actively doing anything at the moment. That's just headcanon, though. We don't even know what the villagers originally tried when Hei Bai started attacking them, so we don't know what it might have been expecting.


2. Hei Bai has a shrine dedicated to him in the forest. An it is by no means benign, being as Hei Bai's statue is a (temporary?) conduit between the mortal and spirit realms for himself and Fang. This is interesting in light of LoK's moral equivalency with humans and spirits living together, whereas this shrine suggests that the spirits are very much the rightful senior partners under whose good graces humans live reverently? What do you guys think?

It's worth noting that LoK shows Benders as being the real danger to the Spirits, and we weren't shown that any of the villagers could Bend. The Earth Kingdom, in the background lore, is said to have the lowest percentage of Benders in its population. That could be why Hei Bai is more of a danger here, compared to Tui and La in the Northern Water Tribe or the dragons (if the dragons are spirits) in the Fire Nation.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2017, 07:17:23 PM by Loopy »

Re: AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water
« Reply #107 on: January 24, 2017, 09:36:33 PM »
It's worth noting that LoK shows Benders as being the real danger to the Spirits, and we weren't shown that any of the villagers could Bend. The Earth Kingdom, in the background lore, is said to have the lowest percentage of Benders in its population. That could be why Hei Bai is more of a danger here, compared to Tui and La in the Northern Water Tribe or the dragons (if the dragons are spirits) in the Fire Nation.

I dunno, Ran and Shaw's first appearance immediately disabused any previous notions of Aang and Zuko fighting their way out if things went wrong. As did Sokka's brief attempt to confront Hei Bai, which proved the old man right about the Avatar alone being worthy of the task. Even in LoK bending was at best a temporary reprieve for anyone who wasn't Unalaq or the Avatar. That said, maybe Hei Bai was just a big wuss, choosing to torment the hapless villagefolk over the ruthless Fire Nation culprits it may have been aware of. ;D

Now Tui and La and the dragon masters clearly enjoyed the deep devotion of their host communities. Hei Bai didn't have anything like that, but the shrine suggests that this wasn't always the case. As such, perhaps the villagers were suffering the reasonable consequences of failing to 'recognise', even though they were not the direct culprits.

The point is that humans in ATLA generally revered the spirits, exempting notable exceptions. In LoK this attitude is absent even in spirit-friendly people, and the spirits themselves didn't really command that kind of respect either - case in point the carrot 'Pokemons'. The spirits in LoK were almost like an alternate species claiming a stake the mortal realm with humans.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2017, 10:42:01 PM by longman »

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Re: AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water
« Reply #108 on: January 27, 2017, 07:21:06 PM »
Well, for the bigger and more powerful spirits, I expect you'd want more than just two Benders. LoK did show armies at work.

But yes, I see your larger point. There is the running theme in LoK, starting with the very first episode, that modern people are a bit out of balance. I'm not a fan of how it was handled, overall, but this lack of reverence could have been part of it. And considering that the ending of LoK had a city with a spirit portal in the center as a positive development, and showed people and spirits living without conflict before that, it could be that the reverence shown in AtLA was actually characterized (retroactively) as being part of the divide and conflict between spirits and humans. We're all just people, even if some of us are made of ectoplasm. :D

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Re: AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water
« Reply #109 on: January 31, 2017, 07:31:11 PM »
Well, we've kept Roku waiting long enough, I think. Let's get on with the second part of the 'Winter Solstice' saga, Avatar Roku:

  • I just want to start by saying that this episode is crackin'. After a quick recap, we start with that cool blockade-running sequence, get probably 25% of all the worldbuiling the Fire Nation receives in the series in the form of the Fire Temple and the corrupt sages, get on to Roku's big epic appearance where he sets out the big plot of the series, and then get an exploding volcano. All of it peppered with charming character moments, a confrontation with Zuko and Zhao, and great music. I dunno about you guys, but IMO this is about as good as it gets in 22 minutes.
  • I love that Iroh is still naked in the background when Zuko shows up find out where the gAang is going. Zuko may be willing to give up a shot at returning home to save his uncle, but he can't wait long enough for Iroh to find some pants to put on. Or maybe Iroh was just enjoying the breeze.
  • I love the blockade-running sequence, but that picture of the blockade itself always bugs me. It's literally a straight line of ships forming a wall across the ocean explicitly marking where Fire Nation waters begin. For one, how do they get the ships to line up like that? What's the point of putting that many ships there? Does it really stretch to surround the whole Fire Nation? How did Zhao end up posted there? Didn't Napoleon talk about how stupid it is to spread out one's forces equidistantly across a border? (He noted it was good for stopping smugglers, not military incursions.) Do the boats ever bump into each other, being so close? Everyone else, feel free to add to the questions. Let's get this up to maximum dumb.
  • That said, I love how Aang destroyed that final projectile (don't worry about the physics of it). The show is pretty consistent about how he can take out something of that size and mass only if he gets a moment to line it up and gather his strength for a strong attack.
  • Zuko was seen breaking his banishment by the crews of two ships. Even if the sages' accounts aren't admissible, couldn't he be prosecuted with that many witnesses? Or was Zhao worried that bringing up charges would take keep him from grabbing the glory of capturing hte Avatar?
  • Did the sages know Aang was coming? They seem very confident in attacking him even if they had taken a moment to get over their surprise at his walking into their home.
  • For a temple, though, it's very fortressy. I wonder what they have there besides the big Roku Room, secret passages, and hallways.
  • And here we get our only animated appearance of Shyu, the good Fire Sage. (Although we saw his ancestor in a flash short.) The comics reveal that this guy survived and got to be the Fire Nation equivalent of Pope. Personally, I was sure he was killed after this. Did anyone else have that impression, or do you think there's awesome secret backstory that could explain his survival? The short revealed that his grandfather was a sage in Roku's time; maybe he has family connections.
  • Also, I like Shyu's voice.
  • We only see male Sages. At this point, the show wasn't as good as showing women among the regular ranks of the Fire Nation, but do you think this case was more deliberate? Are there female Sages? At least one appeared in Korra, but was that a result of reforms?
  • And as the gAang traverses the secret passages, I think we get our first case of lava only being dangerous if you touch it. Of course, it happens again later as the temple is destroyed. I'm not personally bugged by this, due to its prevalence in media, and so far it's consistent in depiction.
  • The whole sequence with Sokka's plan to open the Magic Fire Door is Da Bomb. I love seeing Sokka's clever side, even if it didn't work, and I really appreciate how the results of the plan were still useful for tricking the sages into opening the door. Also, I appreciate that Sokak got compliments. Too often, the Complainer character is insulted even when not meriting it. And Katara gets a nice moment where she's the one to come up with the final solution, showing everyone's worth to the team.
  • And just when it seems like everything will work out... Surprise Zuko! Who fails to keep Aang from getting through the door. I love how many twists they have piled up, here. Most other cartoons would have just stopped with Sokka's original plan working.
  • Roku's whole sequence is epic, and although it gets a lot of fandom snark, I personally love how Avatar's cosmology is all magic stuff with no correspondence to real world heavenly objects. I was actually really disappointed when LoK had a planetary alignment, because that ruled out the Avatar world being flat with a big sky-dome over it, in which the sun and moon and stars and stuff hang out, all at the center of the entire universe. It also works as a great plot device, giving Aang a time limit that still leaves room for the show to breathe.
  • People say that one of M Nighty's few good points in his TLA adaptation was increasing the length of time until the comet appears to three years, instead of less than a year, because it's more realistic. And I suppose that's right, to a degree, but most other Avatars had that long for each element, so it still makes Aang a Super-Learner, and I kind of like the idea of Aang managing something impossible. But eh, it's a small nitpick compared to the other failings. They somehow missed adapting the Roku scene, for one. That would have looked epic in live action, with a competent director, and a good cinematographer, and a special effects budget that wasn't wasted.
  • However, Roku's head looks really high up from his body to me, with the beard and his Fire Nation robes. If they shaved this character model's beard, would his neck be a foot long?
  • Aang becoming Roku is epic, destruction of Fire Temple is epic, Momo coming to the rescue in a stolen Sage Hat is epic, everything is epic epic epic. I feel like I'm making redundant points here.
  • Aang being able to channel the past Avatars to the point of transforming into them is a new power introduced here, and my impression was that this was a thing that could only really happen on a Solstice. Yet Aang later becomes Kyoshi on a plain day just by wearing her clothes. I like that they linked it to special circumstances of some kind, to keep it from either being over-used or a plot hole, but surely Aang could eventually learn to do it on command? I think an Avatar series where the Avatar just keeps transforming into past Avatars for every problem might be interesting.

Re: AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water
« Reply #110 on: February 01, 2017, 04:06:00 PM »
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We're all just people, even if some of us are made of ectoplasm.
... and others are quasi nature gods. ;D

The whole deal with spirits and spirituality in LoK was ruined by a lack of clarity in ideas. The Smokey Bear framework may appear too simple at first, but the upside is that the fundamental ideas are easy to convey: humans respect nature because nature is powerful and humans depend on it, and since spirits are intimately connected to nature, humans respect spirits too, or risk adverse consequences. LoK dealt with the more complex issues of modernization but didn't properly qualify it in terms of clear causes and effects. While humans didn't seem to have any relationship with the spirits, that was only connected to their problems by Unalaq and Korra's proof by assertion fallacy, and the 'solution' is itself contradicted by Wan's backstory. None of it made any sense.



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I just want to start by saying that this episode is crackin'. After a quick recap, we start with that cool blockade-running sequence, get probably 25% of all the worldbuiling the Fire Nation receives in the series in the form of the Fire Temple and the corrupt sages, get on to Roku's big epic appearance where he sets out the big plot of the series, and then get an exploding volcano. All of it peppered with charming character moments, a confrontation with Zuko and Zhao, and great music. I dunno about you guys, but IMO this is about as good as it gets in 22 minutes.

Agree 100%. This episode converted me from an intrigued skeptic into a fan. I'll also give a shoutout to the ending, a cool and wordlessly poignant moment with the gAang flying off into the moon, giving us a chance to catch our collective breaths and join them in reflecting on the meaning of everything we've just seen, and remember that at the heart of all the noise and flash are three orphaned children struggling more than ever with adult responsibilities in a world at war.

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I love the blockade-running sequence, but that picture of the blockade itself always bugs me. It's literally a straight line of ships forming a wall across the ocean explicitly marking where Fire Nation waters begin. For one, how do they get the ships to line up like that? What's the point of putting that many ships there? Does it really stretch to surround the whole Fire Nation? How did Zhao end up posted there? Didn't Napoleon talk about how stupid it is to spread out one's forces equidistantly across a border? (He noted it was good for stopping smugglers, not military incursions.) Do the boats ever bump into each other, being so close? Everyone else, feel free to add to the questions. Let's get this up to maximum dumb.

I suppose it's a primitive blockade at best, though it works as a simple visual device for the TVY7 crowd. The gAang briefly considered circumventing it by flying north, so that means it does not infact surround the entire FN. As to why the blockade exists, I can only guess from the maps that it has something to do with the easternmost FN islands coming quite close to the EK's western coast.

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Zuko was seen breaking his banishment by the crews of two ships. Even if the sages' accounts aren't admissible, couldn't he be prosecuted with that many witnesses? Or was Zhao worried that bringing up charges would take keep him from grabbing the glory of capturing hte Avatar?
What I want to know is how Zuko's crew felt about the criminal action of breaching their own nation's blockade and going up against their own countrymen at great risk to themselves, considering Uncle Iroh's loud protestations to boot. They obeyed without question, but could this have been the the start of their disgruntlement with Zuko in Episode 12?

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Did the sages know Aang was coming? They seem very confident in attacking him even if they had taken a moment to get over their surprise at his walking into their home.
According to Shyu the sages figured that Aang would be headed their way eventually. Rather than attack on sight, they should have done what Shyu did - win the Avatar's trust, which he was initially ready to give anyways - only in their case it would've been a trap. That's what Azula would've done.

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For a temple, though, it's very fortressy. I wonder what they have there besides the big Roku Room, secret passages, and hallways.
Beautiful, beautiful design. Another thing that hooked me was the continuous unfolding of Asian-inspired cultures in this world, which was very unlike anything I had seen in western animation at this point.

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And here we get our only animated appearance of Shyu, the good Fire Sage. (Although we saw his ancestor in a flash short.) The comics reveal that this guy survived and got to be the Fire Nation equivalent of Pope. Personally, I was sure he was killed after this. Did anyone else have that impression, or do you think there's awesome secret backstory that could explain his survival? The short revealed that his grandfather was a sage in Roku's time; maybe he has family connections.
I never saw the flash short! Where is this?

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We only see male Sages. At this point, the show wasn't as good as showing women among the regular ranks of the Fire Nation, but do you think this case was more deliberate? Are there female Sages? At least one appeared in Korra, but was that a result of reforms?
Well the FN Sages at the capital were also men. I would not necessarily interpret LoK's female sage as the result of deliberate FN reforms, because in AtLA Ozai had no qualms about disowning his only son and leaving his daughter the presumptive heir for years -and later the official heir - so there were egalitarian notions already in the air.

At this point in the series however, all we've seen of the FN until now are the military personnel overseas, so  I'll cut AtLA some slack and play the verisimilitude card  ;D. Plus I'll also have to acknowledge my overwhelming preference for AtLA's Fire sages over LoK's for reasons other than gender: the former had names (well, a name), backstories and motivations, while the latter had none of either.

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The whole sequence with Sokka's plan to open the Magic Fire Door is Da Bomb. I love seeing Sokka's clever side, even if it didn't work, and I really appreciate how the results of the plan were still useful for tricking the sages into opening the door. Also, I appreciate that Sokak got compliments. Too often, the Complainer character is insulted even when not meriting it. And Katara gets a nice moment where she's the one to come up with the final solution, showing everyone's worth to the team.
You know, Sokka nearly died twice in the past two episodes, but you don't really feel it because upon rescue the narrative immediately shoves him into the comic relief role. The first two things he says after Hei Bai releases him are treated as jokes - even though the second statement was a perfectly reasonable request - and the only gag moment in the blockade run sequence is Sokka smacked in the face by a fish after nearly plummeting to his death.

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Roku's whole sequence is epic, and although it gets a lot of fandom snark, I personally love how Avatar's cosmology is all magic stuff with no correspondence to real world heavenly objects. I was actually really disappointed when LoK had a planetary alignment, because that ruled out the Avatar world being flat with a big sky-dome over it, in which the sun and moon and stars and stuff hang out, all at the center of the entire universe. It also works as a great plot device, giving Aang a time limit that still leaves room for the show to breathe.
Didn't AtLA adopt the round-earth theory with Aang's visions in The Guru? It was also consistent with LoK in connecting atmospheric spiritual energies to the movement of planetary bodies.

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People say that one of M Nighty's few good points in his TLA adaptation was increasing the length of time until the comet appears to three years, instead of less than a year, because it's more realistic. And I suppose that's right, to a degree, but most other Avatars had that long for each element, so it still makes Aang a Super-Learner, and I kind of like the idea of Aang managing something impossible. But eh, it's a small nitpick compared to the other failings. They somehow missed adapting the Roku scene, for one. That would have looked epic in live action, with a competent director, and a good cinematographer, and a special effects budget that wasn't wasted.
One of the first nitpicks I had watching this show was the youth of the main characters - I thought Aang and a few others were way too young - combined with the extraordinary burdens placed on them. It is a ridiculous stretch to ask an orphan boy with virtually no support system to accomplish in a matter of months what it took his far better adjusted forbears years to finish. I actually like that at the series finale the gAang acknowledged that Aang really only mastered waterbending within that time (Toph probably has a much stricter definition of earthbending mastery than others, but still.)

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Aang being able to channel the past Avatars to the point of transforming into them is a new power introduced here, and my impression was that this was a thing that could only really happen on a Solstice. Yet Aang later becomes Kyoshi on a plain day just by wearing her clothes. I like that they linked it to special circumstances of some kind, to keep it from either being over-used or a plot hole, but surely Aang could eventually learn to do it on command? I think an Avatar series where the Avatar just keeps transforming into past Avatars for every problem might be interesting.
I think the Roku scenes demonstrate how the Avatar concept excelled on a dramatic and narrative level. Aang in the Avatar State is always a visual treat because it is a sharp contrast from the playful non-confrontational boy monk, and AtLA does well in giving us only small doses so that it never gets boring. So every brief glimpse of the Avatar State reminds us of Aang's potential, and what he could become in terms or raw godlike power. But now in the person of Roku, we get a glimpse of Aang's human potential - standing tall, assured, and authoritative. Roku's introduction also makes clear that being the Avatar is not simply the mark of Aang's singular specialness; it is about the history and legacy of his world, and his obligation to it bound up in his very nature, and the juxtaposition of these surmounting responsibilities with his human needs help make him an interesting character.

Re: AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water
« Reply #111 on: February 04, 2017, 12:46:26 AM »
I just want to start by saying that this episode is crackin'. After a quick recap, we start with that cool blockade-running sequence, get probably 25% of all the worldbuiling the Fire Nation receives in the series in the form of the Fire Temple and the corrupt sages, get on to Roku's big epic appearance where he sets out the big plot of the series, and then get an exploding volcano. All of it peppered with charming character moments, a confrontation with Zuko and Zhao, and great music. I dunno about you guys, but IMO this is about as good as it gets in 22 minutes.

I agree; the pacing, action, soundtrack, and dialog are all very well done, and they set a pretty serious tone for a cartoon. This two-parter doesn't top my favorite episodes list, but I feel that same combination of drama, adventure, and suspense that I remember from my viewings as a kid. This episode, in particular, constantly keeps on you on edge and wondering what happens next.

I'll also give a shoutout to the ending, a cool and wordlessly poignant moment with the gAang flying off into the moon, giving us a chance to catch our collective breaths and join them in reflecting on the meaning of everything we've just seen, and remember that at the heart of all the noise and flash are three orphaned children struggling more than ever with adult responsibilities in a world at war.

Yes, I really appreciated that ending. If you look closely, you can see Katara and then Sokka comforting Aang, which reminds us how anxious he must feel about the sudden need to master the elements in less than a year.

I love that Iroh is still naked in the background when Zuko shows up find out where the gAang is going. Zuko may be willing to give up a shot at returning home to save his uncle, but he can't wait long enough for Iroh to find some pants to put on. Or maybe Iroh was just enjoying the breeze.

Nice catch. :) Perhaps Zuko didn't have any spare clothes when he rescued Iroh, in which case, the writers did a good job maintaining the continuity.

I love the blockade-running sequence, but that picture of the blockade itself always bugs me. It's literally a straight line of ships forming a wall across the ocean explicitly marking where Fire Nation waters begin. For one, how do they get the ships to line up like that? What's the point of putting that many ships there? Does it really stretch to surround the whole Fire Nation? How did Zhao end up posted there? Didn't Napoleon talk about how stupid it is to spread out one's forces equidistantly across a border? (He noted it was good for stopping smugglers, not military incursions.) Do the boats ever bump into each other, being so close? Everyone else, feel free to add to the questions. Let's get this up to maximum dumb.

I also think that the blockade contains too many ships to be plausible; the formation looks impossible to maintain. Perhaps it was meant to act as a lookout, or a show of force. Zhao has not been seen since his encounter with Zuko at the shipyard in "The Southern Air Temple," so he hasn't begun chasing the Avatar yet. We can assume that he returned to his more mundane duties as a naval commander.

Other nitpicks I have: Why didn't Appa run the blockade as high as he could fly? The cloud cover could have given them cover against the fireballs. Why would they stop launching fireballs the moment Appa crossed into the Fire Nation? The kids are still military targets, regardless of which side of the invisible line they're on. How could the ships stop so quickly after Zhao ordered them to cut the engines? Large ships have lots of momentum and can't stop on a dime.

All of which are minor and mostly forgivable.

That said, I love how Aang destroyed that final projectile (don't worry about the physics of it). The show is pretty consistent about how he can take out something of that size and mass only if he gets a moment to line it up and gather his strength for a strong attack.

Yup--when Aang's about to perform that attack, you know things just got real. Off the top of my head, he also uses it to down the buzzard wasp in "The Desert."

Zuko was seen breaking his banishment by the crews of two ships. Even if the sages' accounts aren't admissible, couldn't he be prosecuted with that many witnesses? Or was Zhao worried that bringing up charges would take keep him from grabbing the glory of capturing hte Avatar?

I'm not sure what you're asking here? Zhao let Zuko go so that he could lead him to Aang. Once he captured Zuko, he planned to turn him over to the Fire Lord, not an ordinary Fire Nation court or tribunal, so the usual legalese wouldn't apply.

There are some inconsistencies in this plot thread; Zuko's cruddy ship can apparently match Appa's near-maximum flying speed, so why wouldn't Zhao just arrest Zuko and order his ships to continue the chase? He could also interrogate Zuko and his crew if he really wanted to know where Aang was heading.

What I want to know is how Zuko's crew felt about the criminal action of breaching their own nation's blockade and going up against their own countrymen at great risk to themselves, considering Uncle Iroh's loud protestations to boot. They obeyed without question, but could this have been the the start of their disgruntlement with Zuko in Episode 12?

The crew might have been immune from arrest, like Iroh, since only Zuko was banished. Of course, they probably did not enjoy getting fired upon by the blockade. I like the idea that this led to their later clashes with Zuko.

Did the sages know Aang was coming? They seem very confident in attacking him even if they had taken a moment to get over their surprise at his walking into their home.

As longman noted, they knew from Avatar State activation in "The Southern Air Temple" that the Avatar had returned.

For a temple, though, it's very fortressy. I wonder what they have there besides the big Roku Room, secret passages, and hallways.

Perhaps some Fire Nation-style booby traps?

Beautiful, beautiful design. Another thing that hooked me was the continuous unfolding of Asian-inspired cultures in this world, which was very unlike anything I had seen in western animation at this point.

It never struck me as particularly unusual when I watched the show as a youth, but I now appreciate the special attention that the show paid to its Asian culture inspirations. Of course, I can think of contemporary cartoons with similar themes, such as Jackie Chan Adventures and American Dragon.

And here we get our only animated appearance of Shyu, the good Fire Sage. (Although we saw his ancestor in a flash short.) The comics reveal that this guy survived and got to be the Fire Nation equivalent of Pope. Personally, I was sure he was killed after this. Did anyone else have that impression, or do you think there's awesome secret backstory that could explain his survival? The short revealed that his grandfather was a sage in Roku's time; maybe he has family connections.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Fire Nation is never portrayed as willing to execute their prisoners--not even the captured Southern waterbenders from Book Three or Aang himself when he's captured by Zhao. So the Sages were probably left to rot in prison until Ozai was overthrown.

Also, I like Shyu's voice.

I like how expressive his face is. It's a stark contrast with the villager at the beginning, who comes across as flat and emotionless.

We only see male Sages. At this point, the show wasn't as good as showing women among the regular ranks of the Fire Nation, but do you think this case was more deliberate? Are there female Sages? At least one appeared in Korra, but was that a result of reforms?

Perhaps it was a deliberate attempt to mold the Sages as monks. We get the nuns in the perfume makers from "Bato of the Water Tribe."

And as the gAang traverses the secret passages, I think we get our first case of lava only being dangerous if you touch it. Of course, it happens again later as the temple is destroyed. I'm not personally bugged by this, due to its prevalence in media, and so far it's consistent in depiction.

Agreed.

The whole sequence with Sokka's plan to open the Magic Fire Door is Da Bomb. I love seeing Sokka's clever side, even if it didn't work, and I really appreciate how the results of the plan were still useful for tricking the sages into opening the door. Also, I appreciate that Sokak got compliments. Too often, the Complainer character is insulted even when not meriting it. And Katara gets a nice moment where she's the one to come up with the final solution, showing everyone's worth to the team.

Yup, Sokka was great in this episode. I also appreciated Katara making the call to run the blockade, Katara and Aang agreeing to follow Shyu, Sokka trying to break out of the chains while Katara shouts "No, Aang!", and the "How is Aang gonna make it out of this? / How are we gonna make it out of this?" bit. The relationships between the characters are so subtle, yet rewarding. I constantly replay portions of the episodes as I watch them, because it's so easy to miss the little moments like these in a blink of the eye.

You know, Sokka nearly died twice in the past two episodes, but you don't really feel it because upon rescue the narrative immediately shoves him into the comic relief role. The first two things he says after Hei Bai releases him are treated as jokes - even though the second statement was a perfectly reasonable request - and the only gag moment in the blockade run sequence is Sokka smacked in the face by a fish after nearly plummeting to his death.

There is an interesting dualism between "comic relief" and "pragmatic, deadpan straight talk" in Sokka's character. One moment, he's getting hit by the fish, and the next, he seems to be the only character with a level head. In my opinion, the former became emphasized at the expense of the latter as the show progressed, and that's a real shame.

And just when it seems like everything will work out... Surprise Zuko! Who fails to keep Aang from getting through the door. I love how many twists they have piled up, here. Most other cartoons would have just stopped with Sokka's original plan working.

Just another reason why ATLA is so special, and why this particular episode is so tightly written.

Roku's whole sequence is epic, and although it gets a lot of fandom snark, I personally love how Avatar's cosmology is all magic stuff with no correspondence to real world heavenly objects.

I appreciate it too; it allows us to suspend disbelief. I really enjoy the hinted cosmology in "The Library." So mysterious and understated.

People say that one of M Nighty's few good points in his TLA adaptation was increasing the length of time until the comet appears to three years, instead of less than a year, because it's more realistic. And I suppose that's right, to a degree, but most other Avatars had that long for each element, so it still makes Aang a Super-Learner, and I kind of like the idea of Aang managing something impossible. But eh, it's a small nitpick compared to the other failings. They somehow missed adapting the Roku scene, for one. That would have looked epic in live action, with a competent director, and a good cinematographer, and a special effects budget that wasn't wasted.

I never saw the film either, am I missing something? ;D

The accelerated timeline works better, given the constraints of the cartoon medium--episodes can only feel hours, days, maybe a week apart.

One of the first nitpicks I had watching this show was the youth of the main characters - I thought Aang and a few others were way too young - combined with the extraordinary burdens placed on them. It is a ridiculous stretch to ask an orphan boy with virtually no support system to accomplish in a matter of months what it took his far better adjusted forbears years to finish. I actually like that at the series finale the gAang acknowledged that Aang really only mastered waterbending within that time (Toph probably has a much stricter definition of earthbending mastery than others, but still.)

The kids are believable throughout Book One, which is mostly lighthearted and avoids confronting the war. I started to echo the same criticism toward the end of Book Two--charging the Earth King's palace and outmaneuvering the Dai Li felt just a little too extraordinary. I will elaborate when we get there.

I too appreciated the acknowledgment of Aang's incomplete mastery of the elements. But don't get me started on Book Three.

However, Roku's head looks really high up from his body to me, with the beard and his Fire Nation robes. If they shaved this character model's beard, would his neck be a foot long?

Not a foot; that's a little dramatic. His chin seems to just touch the top of his shoulder pads.

Aang becoming Roku is epic, destruction of Fire Temple is epic, Momo coming to the rescue in a stolen Sage Hat is epic, everything is epic epic epic. I feel like I'm making redundant points here.

Yes; we finally get see what a fully realized Avatar can do. It always struck me that Roku was willing to destroy the temple indiscriminately even though there was no guarantee that Aang and his friends could safely escape. It comes across as reckless and frightening, yet precise and composed.

Aang being able to channel the past Avatars to the point of transforming into them is a new power introduced here, and my impression was that this was a thing that could only really happen on a Solstice. Yet Aang later becomes Kyoshi on a plain day just by wearing her clothes. I like that they linked it to special circumstances of some kind, to keep it from either being over-used or a plot hole, but surely Aang could eventually learn to do it on command? I think an Avatar series where the Avatar just keeps transforming into past Avatars for every problem might be interesting.

I believe those are the only two instances of this ability being used? Perhaps Kyoshi has a special connection with the place where she created Kyoshi Island, just as Roku has a special connection with his temple.

Seeing the past Avatars in the final fight against Ozai might have been intriguing; on the other hand, it would have detracted from the focus on Aang and his personal journey.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2017, 12:49:35 AM by Wordbender »

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Re: AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water
« Reply #112 on: February 07, 2017, 07:15:09 PM »
I suppose it's a primitive blockade at best, though it works as a simple visual device for the TVY7 crowd. The gAang briefly considered circumventing it by flying north, so that means it does not infact surround the entire FN.

That's what Aang said, yes, but I'm not taking him as an authority on the subject. Plus I needed more questions to properly convey the ridiculousness.


According to Shyu the sages figured that Aang would be headed their way eventually. Rather than attack on sight, they should have done what Shyu did - win the Avatar's trust, which he was initially ready to give anyways - only in their case it would've been a trap. That's what Azula would've done.

Shout out to myself: in my current fanfic epic, I had Mai absolutely go off on Zuko for attacking Aang at their first meeting and not saying, "Hey, Avatar, I'm Prince Zuko and I want to be your friend. Want to come home with me for tea and cookies?" :D

Anyway, yeah, the sages knew the Avatar was active and may have even scene sketches based on the interrogation of Zuko's crew in 103, but I'm always surprised when family shows up on my doorstep.

I never saw the flash short! Where is this?

Here you go. It's also on the final Book Earth DVD.


Well the FN Sages at the capital were also men. I would not necessarily interpret LoK's female sage as the result of deliberate FN reforms, because in AtLA Ozai had no qualms about disowning his only son and leaving his daughter the presumptive heir for years -and later the official heir - so there were egalitarian notions already in the air.

At this point in the series however, all we've seen of the FN until now are the military personnel overseas, so  I'll cut AtLA some slack and play the verisimilitude card  ;D. Plus I'll also have to acknowledge my overwhelming preference for AtLA's Fire sages over LoK's for reasons other than gender: the former had names (well, a name), backstories and motivations, while the latter had none of either.

Well, the army and the royal rules of succession don't necessarily mean that the church is on the same level of progressiveness.

And yeah, I'm fine cutting slack and maybe assuming that some of the voiceless skull-masked Firebenders were pulling a Phasma, but it's just something that occurred to me considering how LoK went out of its way to use its one opportunity to show a female sage.


You know, Sokka nearly died twice in the past two episodes, but you don't really feel it because upon rescue the narrative immediately shoves him into the comic relief role. The first two things he says after Hei Bai releases him are treated as jokes - even though the second statement was a perfectly reasonable request - and the only gag moment in the blockade run sequence is Sokka smacked in the face by a fish after nearly plummeting to his death.

This isn't something I've noticed before, and I'll have to keep an eye out in the future. My own instincts would say that after a thrilling rescue, deflating the tension with a joke is a natural move (such as Toph obliviously kissing Suki after being saved from drowning) and since Aang and Katara rescuing each other would be romantic in nature, Sokka is left to do the humorous rescues in the current cast. But we'll see how it goes from here.


Didn't AtLA adopt the round-earth theory with Aang's visions in The Guru? It was also consistent with LoK in connecting atmospheric spiritual energies to the movement of planetary bodies.

Fans take thoes Guru scens that way, but I'm a stubborn holdout gripping any vestige of visual ambiguity.


One of the first nitpicks I had watching this show was the youth of the main characters - I thought Aang and a few others were way too young - combined with the extraordinary burdens placed on them. It is a ridiculous stretch to ask an orphan boy with virtually no support system to accomplish in a matter of months what it took his far better adjusted forbears years to finish. I actually like that at the series finale the gAang acknowledged that Aang really only mastered waterbending within that time (Toph probably has a much stricter definition of earthbending mastery than others, but still.)

Yeah, I'm usually down on protagonists this young, but as you noted, AtLA made it work. I liked how it even acknowledged Aang's ridiculous youth at points like during the Siege of the North. In fantasy, even just an acknowledging nod can be enough to get me to buy ridiculous stuff.


I think the Roku scenes demonstrate how the Avatar concept excelled on a dramatic and narrative level. Aang in the Avatar State is always a visual treat because it is a sharp contrast from the playful non-confrontational boy monk, and AtLA does well in giving us only small doses so that it never gets boring. So every brief glimpse of the Avatar State reminds us of Aang's potential, and what he could become in terms or raw godlike power. But now in the person of Roku, we get a glimpse of Aang's human potential - standing tall, assured, and authoritative. Roku's introduction also makes clear that being the Avatar is not simply the mark of Aang's singular specialness; it is about the history and legacy of his world, and his obligation to it bound up in his very nature, and the juxtaposition of these surmounting responsibilities with his human needs help make him an interesting character.

Good summary. Roku's visual design is very much meant to evoke the Ultimate Old Man archetype mixing Chinese gods with Santa Claus with Moses (among others, I'm sure), and AtLA really gets a lot out of the imagery.



I also think that the blockade contains too many ships to be plausible; the formation looks impossible to maintain. Perhaps it was meant to act as a lookout, or a show of force. Zhao has not been seen since his encounter with Zuko at the shipyard in "The Southern Air Temple," so he hasn't begun chasing the Avatar yet. We can assume that he returned to his more mundane duties as a naval commander.

Zhao hasn't been seen, but he was directing the beginnings of search efforts in 103. That's why he was detaining Zuko after the crew was interrogated; he wanted his own forces to have a head-start.

I've played with the background Fire Nation politics in my own fanfic, up to Zhao using obscure pretenses to keep himself in charge of the search for Aang for as long as possible, so I may just have an unusual interest in this type of thing.


Other nitpicks I have: Why didn't Appa run the blockade as high as he could fly? The cloud cover could have given them cover against the fireballs. Why would they stop launching fireballs the moment Appa crossed into the Fire Nation? The kids are still military targets, regardless of which side of the invisible line they're on. How could the ships stop so quickly after Zhao ordered them to cut the engines? Large ships have lots of momentum and can't stop on a dime.

All of which are minor and mostly forgivable.

For Appa, I've wondered if he needs to use more Airbending power to achieve more height; it would tire him out too much to go that high.

For why the Fire Nation ships don't continue firing, maybe their launchers are on fixed mounts and can't turn around. :D

But yeah, good questions that don't do much to hurt an exciting scene.


I'm not sure what you're asking here? Zhao let Zuko go so that he could lead him to Aang. Once he captured Zuko, he planned to turn him over to the Fire Lord, not an ordinary Fire Nation court or tribunal, so the usual legalese wouldn't apply.

Right, but I meant that afterward, Zhao could go tattling that Zuko broke his banishment. The sages aren't reliable witnesses if he wants to prosecute them as traitors, but my point was that there were other witnesses. I guess Zhao just didn't consider it worth his time, or Zuko to be a real threat, until he made the Blue Spirit connection.


There are some inconsistencies in this plot thread; Zuko's cruddy ship can apparently match Appa's near-maximum flying speed, so why wouldn't Zhao just arrest Zuko and order his ships to continue the chase? He could also interrogate Zuko and his crew if he really wanted to know where Aang was heading.

Perhaps Zuko's smaller ship is faster than those under Zhao's command, and Zhao doesn't want to risk a delay if Zuko and/or his crew resist.


The crew might have been immune from arrest, like Iroh, since only Zuko was banished. Of course, they probably did not enjoy getting fired upon by the blockade. I like the idea that this led to their later clashes with Zuko.

Yeah, they're not banished from the Fire Nation, and it's not their fault if Zuko wants to stand on the deck while they sail into the Fire Nation. But also yes, I can see them getting mad about not having expected real military action. On the other hand, I see lots of fanfics that like to portray Zuko's crew as not liking Zhao at all and siding with the prince when the two come into conflict if just for the sake of the rivalry.


It never struck me as particularly unusual when I watched the show as a youth, but I now appreciate the special attention that the show paid to its Asian culture inspirations. Of course, I can think of contemporary cartoons with similar themes, such as Jackie Chan Adventures and American Dragon.

I had actually grown consciously weary of the typical Ye Olde Englishe look of most fantasy, to the point of speculating out loud that someone should make a fantasy epic based on Russian culture if just for the cool domes on top of towers. I discovered AtLA at a great time, because while I was aware of the martial arts fantasy that Chinese cinema produces, I get easily frustrated by obvious "wire fu."


Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Fire Nation is never portrayed as willing to execute their prisoners--not even the captured Southern waterbenders from Book Three or Aang himself when he's captured by Zhao. So the Sages were probably left to rot in prison until Ozai was overthrown.

Good point. I can't think of a counter-example, aside from Kya (in what was clearly a deviation from policy on Yon Rha's part) and the rumors that the EarthSoldier bullies spread about the Fire Nation putting prisoners on the front lines with no weapons and opposite uniforms.


Perhaps it was a deliberate attempt to mold the Sages as monks. We get the nuns in the perfume makers from "Bato of the Water Tribe."

It's possible, and of course the Air Nomads had separate temples for the sexes.


I never saw the film either, am I missing something? ;D

You jest, but it's a fair question. Some portions of the fandom consider it a laugh-riot in terribleness, but I just found it boring.


Yes; we finally get see what a fully realized Avatar can do. It always struck me that Roku was willing to destroy the temple indiscriminately even though there was no guarantee that Aang and his friends could safely escape. It comes across as reckless and frightening, yet precise and composed.

I liked that Roku put the gAang in danger, actually. It was a real Wrath of God moment, similar to Koizilla.


I believe those are the only two instances of this ability being used? Perhaps Kyoshi has a special connection with the place where she created Kyoshi Island, just as Roku has a special connection with his temple.

Seeing the past Avatars in the final fight against Ozai might have been intriguing; on the other hand, it would have detracted from the focus on Aang and his personal journey.

Yeah, it was definitely right to let Aang handle his own stuff. I'm just curious if the ability could perhaps make for enough of a twist on Aang's journey to be the basis of a new sequel/prequel series. LoK seemed to struggle to find ways to keep Korra from just using Aang's solutions, IMO, and maybe leaning into that could be a shot of needed creativity.

Re: AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water
« Reply #113 on: February 13, 2017, 06:42:49 AM »
  • Speaking of the Spirit World, Aang explicitly says, "I'm in the Spirit World!" But he's kind of not? He's in our world, and his spirit just got separated from his body. Do you think intentions changed, or was this just an over-simplification to help introduce people to the whole magic system at work here?

I'm a little late, but I'm pretty sure that the Winter Solstice is the reason why the Spirit World shown in this episode is weird and different from all its other appearances. During the Winter Solstice, "the natural world and the Spirit World grow closer and closer until the line between them is blurred completely", which is why Aang's being in the Spirit World just looked like spiritual projection. I think going into the Spirit World is basically projecting your spirit into the Spirit World, while regular spiritual projection is projecting your spirit around the physical world (like Jinora does in LoK). When the two worlds blur together during the Solstice, using spiritual projection lets your spirit be (or at least appear to be) in both the Spirit World and physical world simultaneously. In The Siege of the North when Aang goes into and returns from the Spirit World to find that his body had been moved, we see the difference between projecting to the Spirit World and the physical world when they're not blurred together.

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Re: AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water
« Reply #114 on: February 13, 2017, 06:35:34 PM »
That could very well be! I hadn't considered the full implication of the "blurred" line, just figuring that it meant spirity stuff was more likely to show up, but your logic definitely holds up.

Re: AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water
« Reply #115 on: February 23, 2017, 01:27:54 PM »
Well, the army and the royal rules of succession don't necessarily mean that the church is on the same level of progressiveness.

And yeah, I'm fine cutting slack and maybe assuming that some of the voiceless skull-masked Firebenders were pulling a Phasma, but it's just something that occurred to me considering how LoK went out of its way to use its one opportunity to show a female sage.
Now that I think about it, Shyu's grandfather also being a sage might suggest patrilineality at work.

One of the first nitpicks I had watching this show was the youth of the main characters - I thought Aang and a few others were way too young - combined with the extraordinary burdens placed on them. It is a ridiculous stretch to ask an orphan boy with virtually no support system to accomplish in a matter of months what it took his far better adjusted forbears years to finish. I actually like that at the series finale the gAang acknowledged that Aang really only mastered waterbending within that time (Toph probably has a much stricter definition of earthbending mastery than others, but still.)

Yeah, I'm usually down on protagonists this young, but as you noted, AtLA made it work. I liked how it even acknowledged Aang's ridiculous youth at points like during the Siege of the North. In fantasy, even just an acknowledging nod can be enough to get me to buy ridiculous stuff.
AtLA made it work in part because it didn't fall too easily into the power trip fantasy that action-adventure kid shows sometimes do. (This is an issue I have with the comics, with gAang still running around doing hero work and Nutha's "we didn't get to buddy up with the Avatar and leave home like you, Katara"  ::) line. )  This is also why some Aang's sillier moments were endearing, and why some of the humor which was otherwise hit-and-miss got a pass from me.
But back to the original point, yes I think AtLA sometimes had issues with its depiction of the passage of time:
- Aang being required to complete his training in nine months when it took his predecessor 12 years in far better circumstances;
- Firelord genealogy. Only three generations (Azulon, Ozai/Iroh, Zuko) in the space of 100 years? So what Sozin/Azulon were still making babies in old age?
- The Black Sun invasion. This massive undertaking was premised on a solar eclipse that lasted for only ten minutes. Ten freaking minutes? No wonder it failed.

It never struck me as particularly unusual when I watched the show as a youth, but I now appreciate the special attention that the show paid to its Asian culture inspirations. Of course, I can think of contemporary cartoons with similar themes, such as Jackie Chan Adventures and American Dragon.

I had actually grown consciously weary of the typical Ye Olde Englishe look of most fantasy, to the point of speculating out loud that someone should make a fantasy epic based on Russian culture if just for the cool domes on top of towers. I discovered AtLA at a great time, because while I was aware of the martial arts fantasy that Chinese cinema produces, I get easily frustrated by obvious "wire fu."
Yeah the Asian martial arts fantasy was a big draw for me, and I was really disappointed at the way this was discarded in the sequel.

I believe those are the only two instances of this ability being used? Perhaps Kyoshi has a special connection with the place where she created Kyoshi Island, just as Roku has a special connection with his temple.

Seeing the past Avatars in the final fight against Ozai might have been intriguing; on the other hand, it would have detracted from the focus on Aang and his personal journey.

Yeah, it was definitely right to let Aang handle his own stuff. I'm just curious if the ability could perhaps make for enough of a twist on Aang's journey to be the basis of a new sequel/prequel series. LoK seemed to struggle to find ways to keep Korra from just using Aang's solutions, IMO, and maybe leaning into that could be a shot of needed creativity.
This is an interesting point. Aang's solutions hung rather hollow for Korra because she didn't have the same challenges. Her problem wasn't so much a lack of power wrt her adversaries as it was a lack of wisdom. She needed a coherent framework for approaching the changing world and the Avatar's role  it. As such, I feel that at the very least, Korra could have spent much more time actually talking with her past lives as a means of addressing this. But this would also run into other difficulties like the expectations of an action-adventure serial.

In some ways LoK was just a combo of different ideas that didn't complement each other.


Re: AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water
« Reply #116 on: February 24, 2017, 11:37:22 AM »
This is an interesting point. Aang's solutions hung rather hollow for Korra because she didn't have the same challenges. Her problem wasn't so much a lack of power wrt her adversaries as it was a lack of wisdom. She needed a coherent framework for approaching the changing world and the Avatar's role  it. As such, I feel that at the very least, Korra could have spent much more time actually talking with her past lives as a means of addressing this. But this would also run into other difficulties like the expectations of an action-adventure serial.

The problem that would arise from having Korra manage to talk with the past lives would make the plot they forced on her to be null.

Korra: "Aang, why did you want everyone - and I mean everyone - to lock me up until I learned to be a mediator and keeper of balance for the world I'm not allowed to see? Even your own wife, Katara?"

Aang: "I did what now?"

There, now Books 1 - 4 don't happen.

In The Siege of the North when Aang goes into and returns from the Spirit World to find that his body had been moved, we see the difference between projecting to the Spirit World and the physical world when they're not blurred together.

Aang returning is still sketchy though? When he returns Momo doesn't react yet Katara sees a spirity thing moving across the sky and says it's Aang. So he could be seen but still not interact?
Probably something to talk about come that episode.

As for Avatars taking over their current incarnation, I thought it would be linked to the Solstice but - as it is pointed out - Kyoshi appears on what appears to be an average day to speak her piece. So are the Avatars always watching and ready to pop out? Roku's was more of a "let me help now" and Kyoshi's was more "Objection, who cares if I did it? Which I did." Then again you could have the possibility of the dead getting character development.

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Re: AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water
« Reply #117 on: February 24, 2017, 07:23:33 PM »
Well, Kyoshi appears on the day after dual holidays celebrating/condemning her actions, while Aang is dressed is her holy relics. (Granted, the latter has more to do with her appearance than the former.)  So at least there's some spirity-esque justification in play.

I'm thinking I'm going to do the next episode early next week. Last call!

Re: AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water
« Reply #118 on: February 26, 2017, 02:27:39 PM »
This is an interesting point. Aang's solutions hung rather hollow for Korra because she didn't have the same challenges. Her problem wasn't so much a lack of power wrt her adversaries as it was a lack of wisdom. She needed a coherent framework for approaching the changing world and the Avatar's role  it. As such, I feel that at the very least, Korra could have spent much more time actually talking with her past lives as a means of addressing this. But this would also run into other difficulties like the expectations of an action-adventure serial.

The problem that would arise from having Korra manage to talk with the past lives would make the plot they forced on her to be null.

Korra: "Aang, why did you want everyone - and I mean everyone - to lock me up until I learned to be a mediator and keeper of balance for the world I'm not allowed to see? Even your own wife, Katara?"

Aang: "I did what now?"

There, now Books 1 - 4 don't happen.

Haha yeah, tbh only Books 2-4 are under threat, since Korra was spiritually inert until the Book 1 finale. That said, what you're talking about has less to do with the past Avatars and more to do with with the plot itself. It should not fall apart with a simple conversation or other event that should naturally arise from the environment and isn't clearly obstructed by any logic we know of. Korra didn't even attempt to contact her past lives until halfway through the Book 2 (and that was involuntary on her part) and the revelations that ensued invalidated almost all the melodrama that came before it. So the plot felt artificial anyway, and Korra's irrational behavior contributed to it.

However, using the past lives risks making the story redundant, but look how AtLA handled it. In the current episode Roku gave Aang valuable information about Sozin's Comet, but also imposed the extraordinary burden of fasttracking Aang's training in very difficult circumstances. That's kinda how the relationship worked; the past lives were never a carte-blanche remedy. (If this scene was written in LoK mode Roku would have energybent the keys to Avatar State mastery into Aang and the series would be over in 10 episodes.)

Re: AtLA Episodes Retrospective Thread - Book Water
« Reply #119 on: February 27, 2017, 05:03:47 AM »
In The Siege of the North when Aang goes into and returns from the Spirit World to find that his body had been moved, we see the difference between projecting to the Spirit World and the physical world when they're not blurred together.

Aang returning is still sketchy though? When he returns Momo doesn't react yet Katara sees a spirity thing moving across the sky and says it's Aang. So he could be seen but still not interact?
Probably something to talk about come that episode.

Momo is fast asleep, so it is plausible that he didn't see Aang, or perhaps didn't react until the camera cuts away. But my guess: the writers wanted to emphasize that Katara is the first one to witness Aang's return.

I find it interesting that neither Yue nor Sokka sees Aang. Is there another dimension to Katara's connection with Aang besides subtle romantic attraction, something spiritual or related to bending? Putting that aside, she happens to be the only bender present. Can she sense spirit things that the others cannot?

These ideas seem to support Loopy's working hypothesis that bending has spiritual and cultural elements (no pun intended), and is not just magical powers.

 

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