cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (Default)
Or, in which Aang stuffs up. Apologies for the delay in posting this to anyone who had gotten all optimistic about my more rapid posting schedule; my main excuses this time are visiting family, and a total power blackout for three days (a substation caught fire). The latter meant moving to stay at the much warmer but not wi-fi equipped house of a friend til the power was (hopefully - we've been warned about more outages during peak times) restored.

Bato of the Water Tribe The group run into a friend of Katara and Sokka's father's who, injured, is waiting for a message to rejoin their father and the rest of the men. I take it as a bad sign that we haven't heard about any great victories on their parts. Aang feels left out and when the overly trusting messenger (who appears to be riding a chocobo) gives him the location details, Aang conceals it from Katara and Sokka, until the guilt overwhelms him during a slightly unlikely staged Water tribe initiation ritual that sees him being described as a loyal friend. Katara and Sokka, furious, leave him briefly to go with Bato but then decide Aang's mission is more important; this is intercut with the B plot, in which Zuko hires a bounty hunter with a monstrous beast that can track scents to find Aang using Katara's necklace.

Vague ponderings. )

The Deserter. Aang, Katara and Sokka head to a Fire Nation town holding a festival, because Aang wants to see firebenders in action (I presume ones other than those who routinely try and capture/kill him). There is a slightly embarrassing sequence where Aang's identity gets revealed when he intervenes to save Katara during what looks like a very stagy demonstration of firebending, and then their escape is aided by a deserter who takes them to Jeong Jeong, the first man to desert the Fire army and survive – as well as the firebender who trained Zhao (who, in this episode, I discover is voiced by Jason Isaacs, a discovery which ensures I will be saying hello to him in all relevant subsequent episodes).

More detail. )
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (Default)
The Blue Spirit – Sokka and Katara are down with bad colds after the storm of the previous episode, so Aang sets out to find help from a nearby herbalist. The herbalist is unhelpful (ish) and Aang's travel there gets him noticed and, on his departure, captured by the famous and deadly Yuu Yan archers, now under the control of the just promoted Admiral Zhao. Aang is swiftly spirited away to a castle with a complex series of siege walls that reminds me of the occasional nightmare I have about trying to get outside and having every window/door etc open on a new enclosed area, and the highly efficient Admiral is already giving speeches to his troops about how now the Fire Nation's only obstacle has been removed, when a mysterious figure with a blue stylised mask finally completes its break-in, frees Aang, and starts trying to break him out.

The reveal! )

The fortuneteller. A chance encounter leads Aang and the others to a village where Madame Wu, a fortune teller who is always right, guides pretty much everyone's decisions, to the extent that the village no longer indulges in its previous sensible if infrequent yearly custom of sending someone up to check the activity of the local volcano. I am sure you can hear the thuds of the plot from here, and I was left wondering whether these characters are going to come up again, because it's an odd story – is Madame Wu really that powerful? Why doesn't the village use her the way Katara does? Is this in fact some sort of brutally suppressive anti-free will dystopia in disguise, rather than a rather pleasant if unhelpful peaceful village?

Not really spoilery. )
cyphomandra: Painting of a bare tree, by Rita Angus (tree)
Possibly I should investigate icons. Anyway, Aang, Katara and Sokka visit an Earth kingdom city that is not ruled by the Fire Nation, inflict a certain amount of wanton property damage (I am actually on the side of the cabbage owner here) and then have to solve the king's trials or be progressively frozen in rock crystal candy. The identity of the king is pretty obvious to the audience, and it's hard to know how hard it is for Aang to solve - there's not enough backstory visible for us to find it out - but I do like the hug.

In the next episode we're in a small town controlled by the Fire Nation, and the Earth benders are imprisoned on a metal ship so they can't earthbend. Katara initiates all the action here - she talks a young Earthbender, Haru, into using his skills, then deliberately gets captured to track him when he is caught as a result, and then gives all the inspiring speeches on the ship. The end scene - Zuko picking up Katara's necklace - was not something I expected at all and sent appropriate chills down my spine.

Worldbuilding comments - three episodes in the Earth kingdom, and we've seen an independent city, a neutral one, and one controlled by the Fire Nation. I need to stare harder at the map in the opening credits, although this may not help! All the Earth benders we see are male, but there's no problem with Katara pretending to earthbend. The captured Earth benders are not killed - but also not used? Initially I thought they were working on the ship, but then apparently not. Omashu (the city with the mad king) did not appear to be at war, but presumably is - but just distant from any Fire nation troops? How did the troops get to the Air city anyway? (questions largely rhetorical!)

I am also totally with the fire nation henchpeople on the lack of need to distinguish between a flying bison and a flying buffalo, not least because I can't tell the difference either.(Hmm. A flying buffalo would presumably be useful for making very special mozzarella).

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