July 20, 2024

Gabbing Geek

Your online community for all things geeky.

Avatar: The Last Airbender “Masks”

Season One, Episode Six

C.S. Lee, who spent most of his time in Dexter snickering at his own dirty jokes, here is Avatar Roku…who is also a prankster who snickers in a very different way at his own jokes.

Hey, the guy has a niche.

The live action version of this story certainly has done a lot of mixing and matching of various animated episodes, but I think this one may have done the most mixing and matching as it shows Zhao become an admiral, Aang consult Roku for information after going to Roku’s temple and running afoul of the monks there, June’s capture of Aang, Zuko’s time as the Blue Spirit, and the story of how Zuko’s eye was scarred, a story that Iroh finishes for the crew of Zuko’s boat in a way that gets the men to finally show Zuko some respect as he isn’t the jackass he often seems to be.

He’s really an angry child raised by an awful father, and one thing I like about this new version of The Last Airbender is that the show makes it quite clear that Ozai is just as horrible a father to his Azula as he is to Zuko.  Animated Azula was a borderline psychopath whose final punishment feels deserved.  This Azula is just as much a victim of a man who calls compassion a weakness and ignores the rebukes of his older, wiser brother Iroh.

But despite all those elements tossed into the blender to see what comes out, I was actually somewhat impressed at how well the elements all still worked.  Zhao’s general weasely nature is supposed to be there as he isn’t supposed to be all that much of a mastermind.  Iroh’s more comical side has been sanded off a bit, but he’s still a warm presence.  Aang is oddly very recognizably the same character.  Katara and Sokka mostly sit this episode out as Aang figures out how to appease the Face Thief (who sadly does not speak this time around in George Takei’s awesome voice).  About the only thing that doesn’t fit in is June as she basically captures Aang and then disappears as quickly as she appeared.  She is important to get Aang out of Roku’s temple, but the point stands.

As such, I was largely impressed at how so many disparate elements were fused together in this episode without making it feel particularly busy.  Aang and Zuko get to talk some, and it doesn’t work out (for now) in Aang’s favor, but he did have a moment or two of connection with Zuko while Iroh, explaining the backstory to the crew of Zuko’s boat, demonstrates that Zuko is not the bad guy here.  He has the chance to be better, and unless this adaptation opts to drastically change what happens, that looks here like it is something that could actually happen.

But as I head into the homestretch, I do wonder how the series will show Zhao’s evil if he isn’t some kind of mastermind.  I suppose he could do what he will in an accidental manner, but that might be a bit less impressive.  I’ll just have to wait and see.