Avatar: The Last Airbender Book Three “Chapter Five: The Beach”

I complain quite a bit that, for its final season, Voltron: Legendary Defender felt like it was spinning its wheels and wasting time.  Well, this here is the final season of Avatar: The Last Airbender, and here we see an episode where most of it focuses on the various characters taking a day off.  Do I feel the same way?

Not in the slightest.  Avatar uses an episode like this to build up the characters and still has a creative action sequence late in the story while simultaneously advancing the overall plot.  Voltron doesn’t seem to do anything like that and instead just had everyone do silly or inconsequential things until it is too late to change my mind.

In fact, much of this episode focuses on Zuko, Azula, and Azula’s two minions as they are forced to go to a semi-tropical island for a vacation on the beach.  None of them (save maybe the perpetually cheerful Ty-Lee) seem all that interested in going.  But they have to, so why not make the most of it?

It does not go well.

Azula is still thinking of everything in terms of conquest and defeating all enemies, like a group of kids playing beach volleyball.

Zuko, though dating Mai now, is sulking because that’s what he does, and his half-assed romantic gestures don’t mean much to an emotionally distant girlfriend.

Ty-Lee is the most popular girl on the beach, getting the attention of lots of boys.  That is until Azula steps in to do Azula-level awful stuff.  Having the four go to a party is a bad idea when first Azula insists they all get invited instead of just Ty-Lee and she takes the invitation of “from dusk to dawn” rather literally when they’re the first to arrive.

You know, I can see why the girls might be able to travel without anyone recognizing them, but how does no one know who Zuko is with that huge scar?

Regardless, the party goes badly.  Ty-Lee panics and knocks out a mob of suitors.  Azula, given flirting lessons from Ty-Lee, ruins her progress when suddenly switching to scary talk of world domination.  And Zuko flips out when Mai gets some attention from another guy and that angers her as well.  This vacation of self-discovery sucks.

Except it doesn’t.  The four do bond.  They have some secrets and make some revelations that bring the foursome together enough to go back to the party house and trash it (yes, that was Azula’s idea because she does Azula-level awful stuff).  I won’t say too much about what the women reveal, but Zuko, well, Zuko’s still angry all the time.

He’s angry at himself.

He got what he wanted, but now he isn’t sure he wants it.  Why can’t he enjoy that?

These are the sorts of questions that will drive him to be a better person.  It’s not like Azula is that introspective.  She knows her mother thought she was a monster.  And her resolve afterwards is to trash someone’s house and basically revel in being that monster.  That’s not exactly progress if a character like Azula can be redeemed.  She has to, you know, what to do right.  Zuko isn’t sure he knows the difference anymore, but that just says he cares enough to want to.  Azula, not so much.

As for the Aang Gang, Aang gets spotted by some Fire Nation soldiers screwing around a waterfall, but their message to the capital is stopped by Zuko’s assassin, the dude with a third eye (probably a tattoo).  And that guy can make things explode with his mind.  He easily deflects Aang’s airbending, Katara’s waterbendng, and Toph’s earthbending.  The only thing to do is distract him long enough to make a run for it on Appa.

Yeah, that guy is going to be a problem going forward.

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