Notes on the last half of Book 2:
Appa: Taking Appa away from Aang was an awesomely evil, horribly wonderful little twist. Think about it. Appa is Aang’s link to his past, the only one who has survived from his life a hundred years ago. No wonder Aang was so unhinged when he was stolen.
Dai Li: Oooh, things are not quite right in Ba Sing Se. Aang and co. just destroyed the giant drill from tunneling through the outer walls, but no one inside cares. They’re not allowed to talk about the war, you see. And even though Aang has important information about the Day of Black Sun, he isn’t allowed to talk to the King. Smiling, blank-eyed bureaucracy stymies them at every turn. Turns out the Dai Li and their head are more concerned about keeping their power and hold over the king and city than the threat from the Fire Nation. Bad for Aang, bad for Ba Sing Se.
Zuko: Oh, Zuko, Zuko. And here I thought you were starting to come around. You grew reconciled to serving tea. You even smiled when your uncle got his own tea shop. You kept your cool when Jet tried to provoke you into revealing your fire-bending (unlike that last time, with the thugs in that earthbender village, remember?). You freed the Avatar’s bison, and dropped your Blue Spirit mask into the lake. You even went on a date! And did something nice for someone else.
And then Azula came.
Oh, I knew why you had it to make the wrong choice. Because you needed to get what you’ve always wanted–fame, acceptance, your father’s approval, a return home as a hero–and see how hollow and tinny it all was. You needed to go home and give it all up.
But still. Bad choice. Bad bad choice.
Azula: Still awesome, in the way Pratchett’s elves are terrific. She understands people and power and oh, she uses that knowledge like a sharp knife.
Still, can we say… foreshadowing?
Mai: I didn’t like Mai at first, but she’s grown on me. And can I just say that I don’t think she fears Azula at all? You won’t catch her going into a chute full of muddy gunk or fight over a performing bear if she doesn’t want to. Mai does. not. care. And, nyah. Azula can’t make her.
Three words: Toph. discovers. metalbending. I love LOVE watching the characters learn and discover new ways of using their bending. It adds a dynamism to the worldbuilding.
K, that was more than three words.
The Finale: This is my favorite finale of all three seasons, just for sheer on-the-edge-of-your-seat uncertainty. Is Iroh’s and Katara’s trust in Zuko misplaced? Will Aang give up Katara to achieve the true potential of the Avatar state? Will they defeat Azula and the Dai Li? It’s the lowest point of the plot arc–the last stronghold of the Earth Kingdom falls through treachery, Aang is badly wounded, and his friends barely escape with him at the end. But there is–always–still hope. And another season. 😀
edited to add links to previous Avatar the Last Airbender posts: