May 27, 2024

Gabbing Geek

Your online community for all things geeky.

Avatar: The Last Airbender “Into The Dark”

Season One, Episode Four

I didn’t realize it before, but apparently actor James Sie is reprising his role from the animated series here for the live action version.  I mean, I thought the Cabbage Man’s voice sounded about the same and all, but now I know for certain.

So, here’s the part where I say, once again, that I am not trying to just compare this show to the original animated version.  These are two very different shows that should be treated as such even if they are telling very similar stories.  But man, this is so hard to do since I am going through the series with Jimmy again right now.

I should ask Jimmy what he thinks.  He usually thinks things.

However, I do want to touch upon two characters for this adaptation, one that I think this show is getting right, and the other not so much.  This series has found a rather effective way to retell Iroh’s story in a way I can really get into.  It keeps the story’s important parts about the same while expanding on what kind of man he was in ways the animated series barely hinted at.  But then there’s this incarnation’s version of King Bumi.

To cover Bumi first, I remember some YouTuber saying that it seems a lot worse here because, in the animated version, Bumi fighting Aang in an arena is still a cartoon and doesn’t look that real.  Here, it’s live action, so an obvious adult looks like he’s beating up a child, and that makes things worse.  I can actually get past that.  I take more of an issue with how Bumi acts in this episode:  he seems more dangerous in a bad way.  I will say I appreciate that Aang recognizes Bumi immediately and even asks how he can still be alive 100 years later, something  Bumi attributes to clean living, but he isn’t sure that’s a good thing.  That leads to what I think the main issue I have with Bumi is:  he’s not really teaching Aang a good lesson this time around.

Cartoon Bumi puts Aang through the ringer because he wants Aang to be smarter before he goes up against the Fire Nation.  Aang, he says, will need to be.  Bumi comes across as a fool, but he’s actually a wise old man with some good advice for his childhood friend.  That I can appreciate.  This Bumi is depressed and suicidal.  His lesson is, since Aang disappeared, that you shouldn’t depend on anybody.  That ignores the fact that Aang didn’t disappear on purpose, but likewise is a bad lesson since Sokka and Katara, using a plotline involving underground caves and some goofy musicians from season two, manage to show up and prove that Aang can depend on friends, and this fact is enough to snap Bumi out of his funk.  And…yeah.

Oh, as for the make-up job, it’s obviously a younger actor, but I think that’s probably because it would be harder for the show to find a jacked old man than to just put a jacked younger man into the make-up.  I don’t mind that.

But then there’s the Iroh plotline, one that does a couple things exactly right.  First, it points out that Iroh was a pretty brutal man in his soldier days, and he’s not happy with himself for it.  He takes it to heart when an Earth Kingdom soldier accuses him of crimes committed during the siege on Ba Sing Se.  And then there’s the flashbacks, implying why Iroh changed, namely the death of his son, and why he sticks with Zuko.  This episode shows Lu Ten’s funeral, and while Fire Lord Ozai is perfunctory in his condolences, Zuko actually reaches out to the older man and shows genuine concern for Iroh, leading of course to Iroh’s decision to accompany Zuko on his mission to find the missing Avatar.  There are some other nice touches, too, like how Zuko’s face is unscarred at the funeral but bandaged around his burned eye when Iroh boards his ship, or just that, like before, Zuko chooses to save Iroh rather than to try and capture Aang.  Iroh is probably one of if not the best character from the original series to the point that he even appears in a couple episodes of The Legend of Korra, as improbable as that seems given the time period.

Basically, I don’t think this incarnation needs to return to Omashu.