Book 1(Water), 13: The Blue Spirit & 14: The Fortuneteller
"But can your 'science' explain why it rains?"
"YES. YES IT CAN!"
The Blue Spirit
This episode I think does a really good job at setting Zhao up as a credible threat, not just someone lurking around being vaguely evil. Especially since we've only just had the reveal of Zuko's banishment, so we know what the stakes are for him (if he doesn't capture Aang, he never gets to go home). Zhao decides what he wants and then pursues it rigidly, and competently. Aang trying to escape the archers was genuinely scary, especially as we've seen over and over how good Aang is at evading/escaping. He was terrified.
Then Zhao is an evil bastard, and even Aang's frozen frogs are deserting him. :(
I definitely want to talk about Zuko for a while here. He's not an especially good firebender, but we see him here taking on exceptional firebenders like Zhao and winning, working with Aang and with his environment. Without bending. But all his training that he does obsessively on his ship is with fire, never with swords.
I think very much one of Zuko's great tragedies is that he's so fixated on there only being one way to do something -- which, really, is only endorsed by the Fire Nation as far as we've seen. For instance, an Agni Kai is a duel with fire. So the odds have always been against him in that respect. He's never been taught that playing to his strengths is actually a thing! That he can do! His life has gone horrifically off-track but he's heartbreakingly convinced that if he just follows the rules well enough he can salvage it. But... that really doesn't seem likely.
Another thing I love about Aang is that he is so very willing to forgive. He saves Zuko from Zhao, and then asks him if maybe they could have been friends. That is just such a sad scene. Not least because at this point I think this is truly a possibility which Zuko just has no concept of. I think he actively doesn't want to see Aang as a person, rather than a prize to be captured.
And then he can't even look at the Fire Nation symbol on his wall. Poor baby :(
But! There are things about this episode which are not sad! One is that since the last episode, Zuko has clearly managed to actually learn about getting on better with his crew, and it seems that they've reciprocated. Like this shot, where he and his bo'sun are actually having a discussion!
And also the whole sub-plot with the hunt for medicine. Particularly this shot of the herbalist's cat. HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE THAT CAT.
The whole "But can your 'science' explain why it rains?" / "YES. YES IT CAN!" exchange between the villager and Sokka is one of my favourite non-Zuko lines in the show. (I say that now; I'm sure I'll remember more.)
Something that was great was Katara making this little umbrella from the rain, giving her long enough to get under the one Aang's holding. It's these lovely little ways that show how much her skills are developing as she continues to learn and practice. (And contrast it with some specific scenes from later episodes.)
Other things I continue to love about the show: the animals. Aang shouts, "Oh no! Someone's being attacked by a platypus-bear!" and... what do you know. It is what it says on the tin.
I also adored the over-the-top sparkles in Aang's vision of Katara, and Meng's vision of Aang. Awww, adorable little kids. *hugs them all*
My favourite thing about this episode, however, is the "moral". I love how subversive this show can be, deliberately setting up all the tropes to telegraph that there is going to be an Important Life Lesson learned here... and then all we learn is that it's impossible to teach people Important Life Lessons if they don't want to hear them. (After all, the village wasn't destroyed! Belief in Aunt Wu's predictions is therefore validated!)
I do not, however, like Meng's last line. Cheap laugh, wholly unneeded.
So as not to end this post on a sour note, though, have a picture of Katara waterbending. Because I really love this shot, and Katara continues to be gorgeous.
1. No character bashing, please.
2. No future episode spoilers in the spoiler-free thread (and comments containing them will be screened), but expect to find them in others! If you're talking about massive plot twists it's nice to put a spoiler warning in the header, but it's not required.
3. Spoilers for Legend of Korra are also fair game everywhere except the spoiler-free thread; again, labelling them is friendly.
4. Feel free to illustrate your squee with caps. And gifs!
SPOILER-FREE THREAD (On LJ.)
Posted at http://frith-in-thorns.dreamwidth.org/97847.html with comments.