Avatar: The Last Airbender “Chapter Sixteen: The Deserter”

At some point, Aang is going to need to learn firebending.  Since the entire Fire Nation seems to be hostile to him, that might be a wee bit difficult.

That said, he may have other problems there.

While traveling, the Aang Gang finds a Fire Nation village celebrating a festival of some kind.  Sure, there are wanted posters for Aang all over, and Sokka thinks it’s a bad idea, but Aang and Katara decide to go down in disguise and see if they can pick something up.

And then Aang panics when a fire magician’s trick looks like it’s going to burn Katara.  Yeah, it’s a trick.  Of course it’s a trick.  That didn’t stop Aang from jumping on stage to save his potential girlfriend and revealing he’s right there.  A man in the crowd helps them escape, even getting a bit of help from Appa and a convenient cache of fireworks.  The mystery man’s name is Chey, and he’s a deserter.  So’s his master Jeong Jeong.  And Jeong Jeong is a master firebender.  Will he teach Aang firebending?

Um, no.

He says Aang has to learn earth and waterbending first.  And when Aang does wear him down, Aang kinda sucks at it.  Mostly because he’s told to meditate and relax and breathe and he can’t sit still for that long when he just wants to toss fireballs.

See, Jeong Jeong had a bad experience with a previous student who wouldn’t learn control and just wanted power.  That turned out to be Admiral Zhao, and he’s closing in on Aang.

Now, Jeong Jeong comes across like a jackass, but there’s a good reason for it.  After Aang burns Katara and Katara teaches herself how to use waterbending to heal, he explains that fire is really, really, really dangerous, moreso than the other elements, and a good firebender needs to be really disciplined to control it.  That’s the lesson he tried to teach both Aang and Zhao.

So, when Zhao shows up and tosses the fireballs, Aang just dodges and taunts.  And after a bit, without tossing a single airblast, Aang declares victory.  Why?  Well, Appa showed up and allowed Aang and the others to escape, Jeong Jeong and his people (except Chey who wasn’t supposed to bring anyone back to camp anyway) managed to escape, and Zhao, in his fury…destroyed all of his boats and has to walk back to the village.

So, maybe Aang did learn a valuable lesson, including how he shouldn’t play with fire…right away.

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