February 27, 2024

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Avatar: The Last Airbender Book Two “Chapter Seven: Zuko Alone”

Zuko, on his own, learns no good deed truly goes unpunished.

We have a whole episode here devoted to Zuko, and none of the series usual protagonists appear at all.  Clearly, the show is doing something with Zuko, to perhaps explain more about why he is the way he is.

And he’s a most interesting young man.

Zuko, as the episode title states, is on his own.  Traveling through an Earth Kingdom village, he ends up standing up to some soldiers acting as bullies, gains respect from a farming family, and even seems to get some admiration from the family’s young son, enough so that he gifts the lad with an Earth Kingdom dagger Iroh had sent Zuko when Zuko was a boy.

That comes in an episode filled with flashbacks.  We see young Zuko was his mother’s son, still with a bit of a temper, but she was kind and thoughtful to him in ways no other member of the family was, save perhaps Iroh who was off at the front.  We see Iroh lost his only son out there, and his younger brother, Zuko’s father, essentially stole his brother’s throne.

We see Azula was gifted and cruel even as a child.  Zuko learned early she always lied, except for when their mother disappeared and Zuko didn’t realize it right away.  Ty-Lee and Mai were there too, and Azula abused even them as she took her father’s and grandfather’s favors while Zuko just earned scornful looks and condemnation.

No wonder this kid is all messed up.

And it gets worse.  Back in the present, he’s asked to rescue the kid he befriended from the local bullies/soldiers, and he does so, holding off on firebending for as long as possible, and then when he does, he makes sure everyone there knows his name.

And the people reject him.  Even the kid he rescued.

Not because he’s Fire Nation or a Prince of that Realm.  No, they do so because he was disgraced by his own father and an outcast.

So, to review, the Earth Kingdom people look at Zuko as a disgrace because his father exiled him as well.  Apparently, it doesn’t matter where he goes, he has no honor for that reason, even to enemy nations.

Yeah, it’s not a surprise he is the way he is, but perhaps he can heed his mother’s final advice and be better by being true to himself.