February 26, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Avatar: The Last Airbender Book Three “Chapter Thirteen: The Firebending Masters”

Aang and Zuko go on a quest together to find the original firebenders.

OK, so, is the backhalf of this final season going to be a lot of the redemption of Zuko?  Because honestly, I’m fine with that.  The show does a good job balancing these characters as it is, so giving Zuko more to do to show how much he’s changed strikes me as a good thing.

Yeah, that’s what I see a lot of here.  Zuko starts to teach Aang firebending, something Aang is already nervous about since the last time he tried, he burned Katara.  So, naturally, Aang doesn’t generate more than a puff of smoke.

Oddly enough, so does Zuko.

Apparently, relying on his rage to generate fire for so long means now that he’s not so angry anymore, he can’t really make more fire.  That isn’t to say Zuko is even-tempered.  Sokka tries to provoke rage by poking the former prince with a stick, and that does get a bit of anger, but not rage.  Anyone who thought a benevolent Zuko wouldn’t still be a sullen, moody boy would be very much mistaken.

Anyway, if neither of these guys can firebend, Aang is still in need of a firebending teacher.  Toph suggests trying the original firebenders.  She learned earthbending from some badgermoles, large creatures as blind as she is, and Aang recalls the Air Nomads used to say the first airbenders were the air bisons like Appa.  So, what was the first creature to teach firebending?

Dragons!  Cool!

Oh, wait, the Fire Nation drove those things to extinction while Aang was on ice.  Iroh, of all people, killed the last one.

Well, maybe the place where the tribe known as the Sun Warriors used to live has some clues.

OK, so, to cut to the chase a bit, the Sun Warriors aren’t dead, and they do have Aang and Zuko follow a bit of ceremony to see if they’re worthy by their two firebending masters.  These masters will see in their hearts and ancestry of the two supplicants.  That’s a problem for Zuko since, you know, his ancestors on his father’s side all seem to suck.  And Aang doesn’t get a free pass either since he was missing for a century when people needed him.

Now, it would mean the show probably got cut a bit short if Aang and Zuko were found to be unworthy.  Especially since the masters are the last of the dragons and Iroh lied about killing them (that sounds more like Iroh).  So, yes, both boys are worthy because fire is about creation as much as it is about destruction.  Zuko’s real problem wasn’t his lack of rage but lack of direction since he had a purpose when he was hunting the Avatar, and Aang got over his fear of fire since it isn’t only for destruction.

But hey, Zuko and Aang did work well together even if Aang let his bit of the eternal flame go out and he managed to put Zuko’s out while trying to get a bit of it for himself.  Plus, if dragons are good judges of character, then Zuko has changed.

Someone might want to tell Katara that.