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Author Topic: Should Zuko's mom have stayed dead?  (Read 9712 times)
Maladin
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« Reply #50 on: Dec 25, 2014 12:37 pm »

If only he had the decency to die like other mentors.
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Esperaholon
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« Reply #51 on: Dec 25, 2014 02:07 pm »

He did... unfortunately it was off-screen and fan service is what this franchise is all about now. The disappointment burns so hard - I'm just going to forget about Book 4.
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Loopy
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« Reply #52 on: Dec 27, 2014 06:06 pm »

Well, if it's any consolation, I think TDK Joker had multiple plans at any given point. There was far too much prep-work necessary for his antics for him not to have multiple plans.

As for Iroh, I really do think he didn't decide to turn against the Fire Nation until Azula came to Ba Sing Se. In Book Water, I think he would have been fine with the Fire Nation conquering the world, so long as it reachieved balance (possibly with the help of the Avatar, but possibly not), did so without needless violence, and enabled Zuko to become a happy and balanced man. Zhao's attempt to destroy the moon went against that, so that's when Iroh really struck back. Before that, at worst, he was playing the game of thrones by trying to support Zuko's rise and healing. Otherwise, I really think he was pro-Fire Nation.

In Book Earth, I think Iroh was content to forget the world and just be a tea-maker; all his advice to Zuko was consistent on that. It was only when Azula came to Ba Sing Se and Iroh realized that he couldn't just disappear and lead a happy life that he sought to fix things, and guide Zuko into actively working against the Fire Nation. When Ba Sing Se fell, Iroh made a plan for the first time in all of ATLA that didn't consist of "keep your head down." And so he brought the White Lotus in, began actively manipulating Zuko, and plotted to free Ba Sing Se.

It's not that I'm trying to glorify Iroh. If anything, I think the people who think he really did have a plan through the whole series are just desperate to see him as a good person. In truth, I think he spent most of the series as a wise and humanitarian nationalist.
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Nikkel
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« Reply #53 on: Jul 03, 2015 02:42 pm »

I never once thought that Ursa was dead. Ever since Zuko Alone, I knew they would tease us with her whereabouts. Now, with the comics out, I am disappointed that the search for her wasn't as exciting or very in-character as I had anticipated. I feel like her having a happy life in Hira'a, memory wiped, contradicts this scene from Zuko's nightmare in "The Earth King":


"Zuko! Help meeee!"

One thing to keep in mind, though, in both this nightmare and throughout the episode of Zuko Alone, is that we're seeing Ursa as Zuko saw her. He sees her as the perfect mom, especially because she sacrificed herself for him. I think if people are putting Ursa on a pedestal, this would be why. We're led to believe that she's the best, but really, she's human, just like all of the other characters on the show, and it's one reason I love this series. People aren't one dimensional... Except Ozai, it seems... We really need more backstory on that guy.
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Antiyonder
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« Reply #54 on: Jul 06, 2015 06:10 am »

Nikkel: To be fair, when some people complain about Ursa's depiction in The Search being flawed, it's not so much that she made mistakes, but that her flaw was being passive.

1. I mean her early comment about moms biting back suggests that she had a more direct hand in killing Azulon.  The way she's depicted in the comic doesn't really feel as comparable to the Turtle Duck biting Zuko.

2. As pointed out by others, her chuckle at Iroh's joke doesn't really seem like it fits her personality in The Search.
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Yong Wing
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« Reply #55 on: Jul 14, 2015 12:48 pm »

Nikkel: To be fair, when some people complain about Ursa's depiction in The Search being flawed, it's not so much that she made mistakes, but that her flaw was being passive.

1. I mean her early comment about moms biting back suggests that she had a more direct hand in killing Azulon.  The way she's depicted in the comic doesn't really feel as comparable to the Turtle Duck biting Zuko.

2. As pointed out by others, her chuckle at Iroh's joke doesn't really seem like it fits her personality in The Search.

That's... actually a couple of very good points.

But then... how exactly does Iroh go from this cackling general who cracks jokes about burning cities to the ground to essentially being Gandhi later on? I mean, yeah, his son died, but could that really have been the straw that broke his back?


People aren't one dimensional... Except Ozai, it seems... We really need more backstory on that guy.

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Loopy
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« Reply #56 on: Jul 14, 2015 06:22 pm »

But then... how exactly does Iroh go from this cackling general who cracks jokes about burning cities to the ground to essentially being Gandhi later on? I mean, yeah, his son died, but could that really have been the straw that broke his back?

I believe that was his impetuous for change, but his journey after Lu Ten's death were what wrought those changes on him.

Ursa, however, just outright has a set of behavior in Zuko Alone that doesn't match with what The Search showed of her life both before and after those scenes. She didn't change as a person so much as get presented as a different character in two different works.
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Yong Wing
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« Reply #57 on: Jul 14, 2015 06:42 pm »

But then... how exactly does Iroh go from this cackling general who cracks jokes about burning cities to the ground to essentially being Gandhi later on? I mean, yeah, his son died, but could that really have been the straw that broke his back?

I believe that was his impetuous for change, but his journey after Lu Ten's death were what wrought those changes on him.

Ursa, however, just outright has a set of behavior in Zuko Alone that doesn't match with what The Search showed of her life both before and after those scenes. She didn't change as a person so much as get presented as a different character in two different works.

True. Honestly, I think it would've been more interesting if she'd wanted to go with Ozai and live in his palace and gradually become disillusioned with the idea of royalty. That was the part that really fell flat for me. It would've made a reunion with that guy from her village - Gah! Can't remember his name - if she'd essentially left for Ozai's palace desiring to be the queen and then coming back and going, "Know what? Monarchy politics sucks. I think I'll be a chimney sweeper." Or something.
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Loopy
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« Reply #58 on: Jul 14, 2015 08:32 pm »

Yeah, I think that would have worked much better. And it would have been another good instance of a Fire National finding her own honor in contrast to the Fire Nation way of life; Zuko started to change when he met the lowliest victims of the war, while Ursa would have started to change when she saw the highest warlords.
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luvavatar
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« Reply #59 on: Jul 14, 2015 10:15 pm »

I liked it when it was an arranged marriage as opposed to basically a kidnapping for a eugenics project, which kind of makes no sense seeing as Azulon had absolutely no intention of making Ozai or his offspring be the heirs of the throne. I would have liked it if Ursa wasn't living in some remote village, hidden from the Fire Lord and his family, but as a noblewoman in a powerful family that was nearly as influential as the royal family. Perhaps even have a better way to show how Ozai was able to usurp the throne. I mean how does Azulon dying suddenly revoke Iroh's birthright? Perhaps have Ursa's father be the royal magistrate who oversees the lineage and basically helps with a forgery to make it so that Ozai would be Azulon's successor.
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Maivry
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« Reply #60 on: Jul 15, 2015 03:24 am »

You raise a good point. I can't remember, was it indicated whether Azulon was the one who initiated the specific arrangement, or Ozai? Because Azulon obviously wasn't willing to entertain the idea of making Ozai his heir, so it wouldn't make sense for him to choose Ursa for the given reason, as you say. But Ozai could easily have been ambitious way back when he got married. His father could have given permission without fully understanding the implications, I suppose.

Yeah, I think that would have worked much better. And it would have been another good instance of a Fire National finding her own honor in contrast to the Fire Nation way of life; Zuko started to change when he met the lowliest victims of the war, while Ursa would have started to change when she saw the highest warlords.

This sounds like a good fanfic premise.
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luvavatar
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« Reply #61 on: Jul 15, 2015 05:57 am »

Azulon initiated the arrangement, supposedly because the Fire Sages stated that such a union would strengthen his bloodline. However seeing as he seemed highly uninterested in Ozai and his offspring when he was depicted in the show this really didn't make much sense.
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Loopy
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« Reply #62 on: Jul 15, 2015 05:11 pm »

My take is that Azulon was trying to make use of Ozai's bloodline since he saw it as otherwise going to waste, and didn't want to risk it with Iroh's bloodline in case the merging of the Royal Family and the Avatar produced half-human spirit monsters. And when Azulon saw that Zuko wasn't born spitting fire and flying around on wings of lightning, he gave up on Ozai's whole side of the family.

But this is just my headcanon.
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FireGuardian89
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« Reply #63 on: Jul 15, 2015 09:59 pm »

I definitely don't think she should have stayed dead, but something I've struggled with is the fact Ursa tells Zuko right before she leaves "never forget who you are," but that is essentially what she does when she visits the Mother of Faces.

But on the flip side, I always thought Zuko put his mom on a pedestal and the story line in The Search showed her to be flawed and human, which I liked. I didn't feel her characterization in this particular comic really matched her portrayal in the show, which was another thing I struggled with. The comment Antiyonder made above about her laughing at Iroh's comment is one example. As for Iroh, I think Lu Ten's death really changed him and whatever happened to his wife/partner could have as well, (I really, really want to know the answer to this) and slowly but surely his belief systems changed.

Or maybe the writers intentionally wanted to have a discrepancy so the reader is forced to make their own conclusions about her for a more ambiguous characterization.

I totally agree with the arranged marriage between Ozai and Ursa making more sense than the Avatar bloodline plot.
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Antiyonder
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« Reply #64 on: Jul 16, 2015 04:00 pm »

Also, if Zuko's line in EiP is to be taken as a fact rather than nostalgia, he and the entire family was legitimately happy.

But the way that the comics (notably The Search) further increases Ozai's villainy, it makes such a moment harder to see ever happening.
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Nausicaa
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« Reply #65 on: Jul 17, 2015 01:58 am »

Before the comics came out, I assumed that Ursa was alive, but hiding in the Earth Kingdom under an alias.

Personally I would have preferred it if she hadn't lost her memory, and actually began to try to contact her children once the war was over. (Or, alternately, stayed silent out of fear that they'd reject her for leaving).

I also would have preferred it if she'd agreed to the marriage rather than been forced into it.
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KatrinaKadabra
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« Reply #66 on: Jul 30, 2015 03:23 am »

True. Honestly, I think it would've been more interesting if she'd wanted to go with Ozai and live in his palace and gradually become disillusioned with the idea of royalty. That was the part that really fell flat for me. It would've made a reunion with that guy from her village - Gah! Can't remember his name - if she'd essentially left for Ozai's palace desiring to be the queen and then coming back and going, "Know what? Monarchy politics sucks. I think I'll be a chimney sweeper." Or something.

That would have been really cool, actually! (And this coming from someone who enjoyed The Search quite a bit as it was.) I like the fact that the comics broke the image of Ursa being this angelic person that Zuko saw her as in the series. But adding that level of depth to her would have been all the better.

I re-watched Zuko Alone recently and I don't her behavior was that different than it was in the comics. But I can see the argument that the differences are there.

I'm glad Ursa got reunited with Zuko. I wish the comics would have put some more friction between them at the end, but that's what I've got fanfiction for. Smiley
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Antiyonder
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« Reply #67 on: Jul 30, 2015 06:35 pm »

I still question whether the episode really idealized her that much considering how again she laughed at Iroh's joke, and also was implied to have directly killed Azulon rather than merely giving someone else the proverbial gun.

If anything, the only thing the comic did was make her flawed in the timid/scared sense.
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Loopy
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« Reply #68 on: Jul 30, 2015 06:45 pm »

Yeah, that's what I've argued in my essay. Gene Yang even tried to erase Ursa's culpability in leaving Zuko and Azula in Ozai's care, by having her first demand they go into exile with her, and then accepting it passively when Ozai refuses her and instead claims that they'll be his hostages against her exile. The story even leaves us with the impression that Ursa believed that Ozai would hold to his word, which is quite a stretch considering they're plotting kinslaying.

But then, if Ursa weren't a persecuted saint, Zuko wouldn't be able to have his sunny, smiley reunion with his mother.
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NeeNee
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« Reply #69 on: Jul 31, 2015 12:06 am »

Would anyone really have blamed her if she killed the old goat to protect her child though?

Also, Ozai taking good care of the kids would have been more believable if they showed him struggling with his father's order. But then they threw in that whole 'he's not mine' plot...
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Loopy
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« Reply #70 on: Aug 02, 2015 10:56 pm »

Would anyone really have blamed her if she killed the old goat to protect her child though?

Probably not out-of-universe, but Aang at least would say that poisoning father-in-laws is not a good solution to bad situations. Cheesy

That's actually why I consider the changes to Ursa to be so unnecessary. Maybe there's some semi-sexist situations in play where Zuko can't accept Ursa back as his mother unless she's a paragon of virtue and has only "soft" flaws like not being able to handle her painful memories. Or maybe the comics in general are trying to present a more simplified morality so that they better play to the kiddies they're being marketed at. It's just weird every moral situation is so extreme in this comics, when the original cartoon was much more nuanced. (Yes, even Aang. Yes, even in the finale.)
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KatrinaKadabra
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« Reply #71 on: Aug 03, 2015 02:52 pm »

First time reading your essay, Loopy. Really insightful. I don't agree with everything, but I see your points. I think the biggest one that hit home for me was that I can't picture the comics version of Ursa laughing at how Iroh is burning cities down. That was something that felt a bit off while I was re-watching the episode, but your essay pointed it out more.

I felt like Ursa's choice to erase her memories wasn't that she hated them all, or even most of them. It was because the life she was living, constantly worrying about their well-being, was torture for her. Someone offered her a way to end the pain, and she went for it because all she could think about what how much she was hurting in the moment. It was selfish, to be sure, but it wasn't a calculated decision, either. Now, this could have been shown much better than it was. For example, if she really was that miserable, then just being with Ikem wouldn't ease that pain entirely, only give her a chance to push it away once in a while. But the scenes of her and Ikem together imply she's totally happy with him. I think it's a flaw, but with a better build-up, I could see Ursa making the choice she does and still being in character.

I got the impression that Ozai told Zuko that Ursa "did vicious, treasonous things" purely because he wanted to ruin Zuko's image of his mother as a good person, so I'm fine with the idea that Ozai delivered the poison. And when Ursa says in the comic that the poison is his to do with what he will, she knows perfectly well he's not going to sit it on a shelf for decoration. She's as much a part of Azulon's death as Ozai is, even in the comic's version of things. In fact, it didn't seem to occur to Ozai to murder his father until his wife suggested it.

This is going a bit off-topic, but as long as I'm on Ozai, I do wish they hadn't made him so evil-for-the-sake-of-evil. Punishing Zuko for his entire childhood because Ursa made him mad? Telling Ursa she was never going to see her parents again? He gained nothing from those things. I always thought he preferred Azula to Zuko simply because Azula was so skilled in firebending.

I liked Ozai in The Promise. I think his attitude that the firelord (whoever that is) is always right by virtue of being the firelord is fascinating. It gave him an interesting conflict in that he sometimes acted like he was still firelord, and other times acted like Zuko was. One of his fundamental ideas was constantly being challenged by Zuko's presence. (aka "The firelord is always right" vs. "my son can't possibly be right.")
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Antiyonder
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« Reply #72 on: Aug 03, 2015 04:30 pm »

I got the impression that Ozai told Zuko that Ursa "did vicious, treasonous things" purely because he wanted to ruin Zuko's image of his mother as a good person, so I'm fine with the idea that Ozai delivered the poison. And when Ursa says in the comic that the poison is his to do with what he will, she knows perfectly well he's not going to sit it on a shelf for decoration. She's as much a part of Azulon's death as Ozai is, even in the comic's version of things. In fact, it didn't seem to occur to Ozai to murder his father until his wife suggested it.

Ehh.  It doesn't work with that whole bit about a mother turtleduck biting back anyone who messes with her young.  That seems like a set up for Ursa to do the deed in a more direct fashion which ironically does a better job to dispel the perfect mom image.

Quote
This is going a bit off-topic, but as long as I'm on Ozai, I do wish they hadn't made him so evil-for-the-sake-of-evil. Punishing Zuko for his entire childhood because Ursa made him mad? Telling Ursa she was never going to see her parents again? He gained nothing from those things. I always thought he preferred Azula to Zuko simply because Azula was so skilled in firebending.

Not to mention that it doesn't mix well with Zuko's claim that he and his family were happy at one point.  I mean Ozai was never made to be anything other than a straightforward villain before hand, but the show didn't go as far as suggest that he did evil for evil sake, but was more selfish and power hungry.
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longman83
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« Reply #73 on: Aug 04, 2015 09:41 am »

I got the impression that Ozai told Zuko that Ursa "did vicious, treasonous things" purely because he wanted to ruin Zuko's image of his mother as a good person, so I'm fine with the idea that Ozai delivered the poison. And when Ursa says in the comic that the poison is his to do with what he will, she knows perfectly well he's not going to sit it on a shelf for decoration. She's as much a part of Azulon's death as Ozai is, even in the comic's version of things. In fact, it didn't seem to occur to Ozai to murder his father until his wife suggested it.

Ehh.  It doesn't work with that whole bit about a mother turtleduck biting back anyone who messes with her young.  That seems like a set up for Ursa to do the deed in a more direct fashion which ironically does a better job to dispel the perfect mom image.


Plus, by the time of the Black Sun invasion, with Zuko having declared himself a traitor by boldly disavowing Ozai to his face - why would the revelation that his mother was also a traitor be a bad thing to Zuko? If anything it would be quite the opposite.
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Nausicaa
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« Reply #74 on: Aug 04, 2015 11:00 am »

Would anyone really have blamed her if she killed the old goat to protect her child though?

Probably not out-of-universe, but Aang at least would say that poisoning father-in-laws is not a good solution to bad situations. Cheesy

That's actually why I consider the changes to Ursa to be so unnecessary. Maybe there's some semi-sexist situations in play where Zuko can't accept Ursa back as his mother unless she's a paragon of virtue and has only "soft" flaws like not being able to handle her painful memories. Or maybe the comics in general are trying to present a more simplified morality so that they better play to the kiddies they're being marketed at. It's just weird every moral situation is so extreme in this comics, when the original cartoon was much more nuanced. (Yes, even Aang. Yes, even in the finale.)

I do get the sense that the writer smoothed out some of Ursa's more questionable traits. And I agree with a lot of the stuff you said in your essay- it feels like TV Ursa had a completely different background to Comic Ursa.

Her attitude to the war in particular- I would have liked to see a version of events where Ursa is happy to see Zuko again, but maybe has some doubts about his attitude towards other nations/ the war.
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