OK, maybe this episode is a better look at what makes Katara tick.
See, the last time we got a focus on Katara, we saw she was idealistic and stubborn in a good way, both positives. I said she wasn’t much of a character compared to Sokka and Zuko, both of whom seem a bit more complex than they would at first glance.
Then we get to this episode and my Katara assessment changes by giving her some flaws. Up to this point, she’s been just a good ally who always does the right thing. So, this episode asks what happens when she does the wrong thing and why she felt that way in the first place.
See, Aang only has until the end of the summer to learn enough about bending water, fire, and earth to challenge the Fire Lord or else he’ll be super-charged by a comet and finish the whole “world domination” thing.
So, why not give Appa a rest while Katara teaches Aang the handful of waterbending moves she knows? What can go wrong?
Well, Aang picks up the lessons a lot faster than Katara did. Heck, he’s better a them than she is with her having months or years of practice while he just…picks it up on the spot. All that’s left is is for the group to try shopping for supplies in the nearby village. Too bad Aang spent money on a bison-shaped whistle that doesn’t seem to work.
Also bad: Iroh decided to go shopping and and he and Zuko are nearby.
Ah, but that comes later. The Aang Gang find some rather…shifty tradesmen who Sokka realizes quite quickly and easily are pirates. These guys have a waterbending scroll that Katara would love to have, ostensibly for Aang, but the group doesn’t have money even as Aang attempts to haggle. He’s not good at that.
Also not good: Katara just shoplifts the thing and gets the others to make a run for it before telling them why. As it is, they do escape the pirates, and the scroll is good, but really: Katara did a bad thing in part out of extreme jealousy of Aang’s skill.
Well, things get nutty when she goes off to practice only to be captured by Zuko, and Zuko is working with the pirates. Those guys capture Aang and Sokka, and that’s when Sokka proves his worth by loudly pointing out to the pirates that Aang is the Avatar and the pirates could get a much better ransom than whatever Zuko is offering.
By the by, Zuko pulled out Katara’s necklace. He knows its hers. He’s seen her maybe twice before this incident and recognized the necklace. He’s a very perceptive young man, and he does spell out he wants Aang to get his honor back. So, like Sokka, more than we’ve seen so far. And we can add Katara to that list.
Oh, and even though three kids gave the pirates problems before, somehow they are a match for Zuko and his forces. And when a fight breaks out, Aang and his friends steal the pirates’ boat, to the amusement of Zuko. Then the pirates steal Zuko’s boat, and that is far less amusing.
Anyway, there’s a waterfall, the whistle summons Appa at the right time, both boats go over the falls, Zuko is probably stranded for now, and Katara apologizes for what she did out of jealousy. However, Sokka (who has been skeptical of waterbending for the entire series) managed to retrieve the scroll for his sister, so it looks like it’s OK to steal if you steal from thieves.
I don’t think that’s a good lesson.