It seems that I have now stumbled upon one of the more controversial episodes to be found in this series. And quite frankly, I'm amazed at how much hate this Episode gets. See, even though I personally thought this was a great Episode, it seems there is also a faction of fans who did not enjoy this so much, to the point where they seem to imply that it's actually worse than Episode 4. I am strongly opposed to that view, but why is it that I say that? Why is it that people seem to look down on this Episode so much? Well, find out, today, on...
Avatar: The Last Airbender!
Anyways, we come across the Gaang
(jeez, no matter how many times I say it, it still sounds like a disgusting foot fungus to me...) listening to a guy telling stories to peddle for money...and he sure sounds like it. It's like he's trying to be this mystical storyteller, but keeps tripping over his lines (It might not be a talking parrot, but a flying..............man) and hasn't figured out how to emphasize words (and LAUGH at those boundtotheEarth
by it). But oh well, he does decently enough I guess. It's not like he's horrible, just...mediocre. But whatever, it's time to move on.
And for the next two minutes or two, after Aang starts flying again, I am absolutely amazed by the soundtrack here. Ever since the very beginning, the music accompanying the Gaang
flying on Appa has always borne an uncanny resemblance to two of the World Map themes from 7th Saga. But besides that, both this music, and the next one with Aang trying to outdo Teo, just sounds so intune with what's happening on the show while at the same time, sounding superbly awesome.
As for the contest between Aang and Teo, it is just amazing. It fits this scene PERFECTLY! And it's so well composed to! Seriously, it sounds like the composer took all of the best beats and melodies from these songs... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSAjNWypykQ&p=77D98F68F6DBB35D&playnext=1&index=12http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xsj5xjoLXtEhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjObRm9e81Y&feature=related
...and threw them all into one big blender, and created something new and cool from it!
In terms of what was done with a scene musically, I'd say both scenes from 2:00-4:20 of this Episode, and the scene in Episode 13 with Iroh's Sumki Horn music are my favorites in my show so far, bar none! This soundtrack really can get pretty exceptional at times.
Anyways, here's where one of the common complaints of this Episode come in, The Mechanic, who I'm going to call Reno for the Episode. This man gets a lot of hate, to the point where many people who comment on this Episode actually wished that the guy was KILLED by Aang...JEEZ! Why?! Why does this guy get so much hate?!
I mean, ok, he did go a bit too far in restructuring the Temple. Fine. But you know what? He's also a kind, compassionate man who did his very best to make life as wonderful for the refugees and his son as he possibly could. And quite honestly, it was a temple of a dead race, what use was it going to be to anybody? Your top priority as a human being, as far as I'm concerned, is making the lives of others as pleasant as you possibly can, and always being willing to admit your flaws. Sure, he may have gone a little far, but as a rather kooky man, it seems to me that whatever harm he did, it was out of lack in certain social areas that a lot of geniuses seem to have rather than any kind of malice.
I mean, the guy's no Zhao, that's for sure. Anybody who takes as much delight as he does in the prospect of torturing a 12 year old for the rest of his life cannot be entirely right in the head, I'll tell you that much. As for Aang's rebuttal...Aang: Nature knows where to stop.
Um, news flash Aang...no it doesn't. I mean, we ARE talking about the same "Nature" that spawned stuff like disease, Hurrican Katrena, the Meteorite that killed the dinosaurs, causes floods, earthquakes, the Ice Age, and eruptions, all of which was both/either destructive or completely changed the land, right? Nature has a lot of talents, but "knowing when to stop" has never been one of them.
Another common complaint I see a lot in this Episode is that the pacing was a little off. I suppose I can kind of see it if I looked carefully, but honestly, I never noticed on my first viewing. Sure, some of the Sokka and Reno segments were a little dull, but they weren't very long, and the Aang + Katara and Teo segments more than made up for it. Mainly, I thought it was really touching how Teo tried to show Aang how what happened isn't as bad as it seemed while showing that he understood at the same time.
That being said, one thing I can't quite as easily whitewash was how Reno has been making weapons for the Fire Nation for all this time, but even then, I can at least understand why he did it. And besides, for all we know, Reno was probably purposely making weapons that were inferior and less efficient than what he was capable of. At the very least, he sure didn't do this willingly.
Speaking of the Fire Nation, one thing I find interesting to note is that for the very first time, the Fire Nation has shown how evil it can be. Up till now, I thought the Fire Nation was actually relatively...well, maybe not nice, but not nearly as bad as they could've been, especially considering what atrocities many nations in our world have committed over the years. Episode 6 for example. Even though all of the Earthbenders were slaves, all of them seemed properly nourished, none of them seemed to have dirty, unclean clothes, and most impressively, when faced with the problem of not enough blankets to go around, what was Tryo's solution?Prisoner: Tyro, the prisoners are complaining there aren't enough blankets to go around.
Tyro: I'll talk to the guards.
I mean, wow. So basically, if they needed more blankets, all they needed to do was ask? That...actually shows a surprising amount of humanity on behalf of the Fire Nation soldiers if you ask me, more than you'd think they'd have. You have to admit, for a Prison Warden that was described as "a ruthless man", he actually treated them pretty well, all things considered. I mean, that's about as well as I could've hoped for them to be treated considering that they were part of an army that probably killed a lot of Fire Nation soldiers in their fights. As for the Warden being oppressive, well, of course he's going to be. He probably wanted to make it absolutely clear that no mutiny would be tolerated. That's more being smart than being evil, to me at least. Don't our prisons do something like that?
Another example that comes to mind is Episode 3. Despite razing the Southern Air Temple and killing all it's inhabitants, you have to admit, it was pretty awesome how the Fire Nation soldiers left everything intact. They could've easily raided and destroyed the Temple itself, yet, aside from the deaths of the Airbenders, it seemed pretty much unmolested.
But no, in stark, STARK
contrast to both of these examples, these
Fire Nation douches are not only willing to burn the whole temple to the ground, but don't have any qualms about murdering helpless civilians who have no way of defending themselves (bonus points to this show for never shying around the topic of murder by the way)....
Hmm...WAIT A MINUTE!! SOMETHING JUST OCCURRED TO ME! I mean, lets think back to Jeong Jeong for a moment. The guy was a highly talented General in the army right? But he was a decent man, who finally forsook his ways after the destruction he was causing was starting to get to him right? I just realized, do you think Jeong Jeong might've been responsible for the destruction of the Airbenders in the Southern Temple? Do you think THAT might've been the final straw for him, the bloodshed of the peaceful, nonviolent Airbenders and their young students? And THAT'S why the Temple was left unharmed, because of his reverance for Avatar Roku? He seems about old enough...
Just thinking about this theory reminds me of Final Fantasy IV, in which Cecil, Commander of his Kingdoms Airforce, pulled his Heel Face Turn because of the guilt he suffered for slaughtering the innocent Mysidians for their Crystals. If you think about it, if I'm correct, the two share a lot of similarities, and it makes me wonder if the writer wasn't at least partially inspired by either Final Fantasy IV, or a game similar to it.
So, after Aang lets the Fire Nation Emissary go, like an idiot, we come to this Episodes climax. And I swear, this whole battle, despite what a lot of fans say otherwise, is without a doubt the darkest few minutes of the entire series so far. I mean sure, Zuko's scarring in Episode 12 is probably a close runner up, but even then, nobody DIED. Not like they did here. I mean, can you imagine just how many Fire Nation soldiers must've died in this battle? I mean, the Gaang has buried them under avalanches, tackled them off cliffs, and, in one particularly shocking moment, ended it BY DROPPING A FRICKEN BOMB
ON THEM!! A bomb blast so powerful in fact, that it ended up blowing up the cliff in front of them...Aang: Look! They're
completely annihlated retreating!
Honestly, screw Aang coming to grips with what happened to his temple "too soon", what I want to know is why he wasn't more upset about was how many Fire Nation soldiers must've gotten killed in this fight. I mean, I know Aang's been steadily coming to terms with his need to be violent when the situation calls for it, but this still seems like way too large of a leap for him. Then again, he IS 12, so he probably too impressionable to really hold strong standards the way a lot of adults do.
Also, before ending this Episode, I've got four things left to cover....
One, yet another complaint levied at this Episode. Apparently, many saw this battle as too "kid friendly", or something dumb like that. Why? Just because they used Sludge and Stink Bombs instead of conventional weapons? Well, first of all, as Sokka said, they didn't have any conventional bombs other than the fuel tank for the air balloon, and secondly, the people are woefully outclassed in terms of pure militiary might. How else were they possibly going to win outside of resorting to unconventional methods that the Fire Nation probably wasn't trained to deal with? And as I've said, this battle was anything BUT kid friendly, if the death toll is anything to go by.
Two, many complain that Aang's acceptance of Reno's remodeling didn't seem realistic. Personally, I thought it was totally realistic. I mean, we saw in Aang's talks with Teo that Teo was helping him come to terms with what happened, so Aang probably worked out a lot of those issues off screen with Teo. In addition, Reno and all of the refugees have all proven themselves to be extremely brave and kind individuals who were willing to risk their lives to oppose the Fire Nation, and that's something that Aang, and I think a lot of us, can really aspire to.
He no doubt has a lot of fear about his responsibilities, so for him, the way the people were willing to defend the Temple probably not only proved him wrong about their lack of respect for it, but probably him with a sense of hope, that maybe HE can be just as brave as them despite how much fear he's no doubt going through.
Thirdly, is it just me, or were those mechanical tanks the most hardcore things on this show yet? It was just incredible to me how invincible they seemed. It was like watching a Dragon Ball Z fight all over again, the way that no matter how much power, or how many new methods the heroes found, the villains would just keep getting up, or find ways around it, or render the attack worthless. Only something like 7 tanks, and it still forced Reno and Sokka to almost give up their lives
simply to stop those monsters. Screw Zhao, these
things are where it's at in terms of creative exciting fights.
It certainly didn't hurt that, again, the soundtrack delivers, with an intimidating theme that makes it's introduction in Episode, that serves to emphasize how unstoppable the tanks are, and how hopeless the situation seems for the woefully unprepared refugees. I hope they use it in the future sometime.
Finally, just a nitpick I have with something Sokka says...Sokka: Aang, you were right about air power. As long as we've got the skies we'll have the Fire Nation on the run!
Um, Sokka, I hate to break it to you, but the Fire Nation has already been proven to have to skies as well, LONG before this Episode and it's war balloon ever came. Again, I refer to Episode 3, in which Aang explains how the Fire Nation couldn't possibly
have touched the Southern Air Temple...Aang: You don't understand, Katara. The only way to get to an airbender temple is on a flying bison, and I doubt the Fire Nation has any flying bison. Right, Appa?
Aang of course was incorrect about this Temple, and of course he would be, since he didn't live here. But, the point is, the Southern Air Temple is inaccessable by anything but flight, so if the Fire Nation was able to get to it, they probably did it by using flight somehow, whether through animal or machine. That is all...
Anyways, for the Episodes rating, I'm sorry guys, but I don't care how many detractors it has, I'm giving it an A-. I personally thought it was a highly entertaining Episode, with some very important messages. First of all, not getting too attached to material possessions if it becomes an obstacle to providing for your loved ones, secondly, it shows the value of understanding and forgiveness, and thirdly, I think it's a great moral in not automatically assuming the worst in people just because of one or two horrible things that they did, or just because they did something you don't agree with. We shouldn't immediately judge people before we really get to know them (although we also shouldn't let that stop us from killing any random mugger or enemy soldier that attacks our loved ones of course).