April 19, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Avatar: The Last Airbender “Warriors”

Season One, Episode Two

I really, really don’t want to write these up constantly comparing this series to the animated original.  I really don’t.  I truly want to judge this show based on its own merits, whatever they may be.

Episodes like this one make that a wee bit difficult.

Before Netflix dropped season one, it got out that Sokka in this version would not display the sexism he did in the animated original.  That got some people mad, but it made a bit of sense to me.  Animated Sokka is a cartoon and can get away with more blatantly inaccurate or awful opinions.  Besides, his sexism lasted all of one episode, one where he met Suki and she knocked him on his ass two or three times.  Live action Sokka is bigger, looks older, and while still something of the comic relief, he’s also not the same kind of comic relief.  Besides, this version of the show is a lot less humorous.

I could ask if it’s supposed to be, but the series brought out Momo for this episode, and if nothing else, he’s there for basic comedy because, being CGI, Momo is still basically a cartoon.

Essentially, Aang here has a mission to follow, unlike the animated version’s first season where he basically just went to random places before he got where he wanted to go.  That means some streamlining.  Katara gets the waterbending scroll from her grandma, tucked in with her other things.  Sokka seems less like an arrogant wannabe than a decent guy who’s never been more than five miles from home in his life.  And Aang, well, Aang wants to know about the Avatar State, and a journal he swiped from Zuko suggests he can get information if he can contact one of his predecessors, namely Avatar Kyoshi in her hometown temple.

That of course leads to the group’s capture by the Kyoshi warriors, led by Suki, and back to their village where Suki’s mom is in charge.  And hey, it’s Tamlyn Tomita as Suki’s mom!  I always like seeing her in stuff.  It may not be much of a role, but I don’t have anything to complain about there.

No, my complaints are saved for Ken Leung’s take on Zhao.  His Zhao seems more like a brown-nosing today, someone who figures out what Iroh and Zuko are really up to when the pair dock their boat in his port looking for information.  This is mostly Iroh’s doings, so he’s more involved in the Avatar hunt, but again, this is a more serious version of the story, so Iroh’s more, shall we say, subversive side has been a bit better hidden thus far.  But if this is the Zhao we’re getting, I’m thinking I might be a bit disappointed.  There’s no menace to Leung’s portrayal.  I like Leung’s work most of the time, but this version seems to be a little less than something anyone should have to worry about.

Likewise, Aang’s conversation with Kyoshi in the spirit world felt more “meh” than anything else.  It is nice to see Kyoshi as an active character here, and she comes across as pretty formidable, especially since the original version had Aang get most of his advice from his immediate predecessor Roku, but about all Kyoshi really accomplishes here is that she remind Aang that much of what went wrong went wrong the way it did because he didn’t face up to his responsibilities.

But honestly, the Suki/Sokka stuff worked for me.  The attraction seems more mutual this time and not a surprise at the last second, and Sokka mostly tries to talk up his warrior responsibilities back home, but the thing that comes across pretty quickly is he’s entirely self-taught.  Suki is a better fighter than him by far, and she can apparently wipe her make-up off in about ten seconds, but she looks at him and seems to get he’s trying and he has some skill, but no formal instruction.  That’s something she can offer, and he’s a quick study.

Besides, even if Zhao isn’t overly threatening, Zuko is, and he’s a lot smarter than Zhao here.  That may make up for a lot.