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Author Topic: ASN Wants Your Episode Reviews!  (Read 47638 times)
Acastus
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« on: Jan 13, 2007 02:15 pm »

Many members have asked how they can pitch in to help ASN. One cool way to do this and get a chance to have your unique contribution posted on the mainsite is to submit an episode review!

Here are a few guidelines to follow when making your review:


1) Submitting a review does not guarantee acceptance. If it is too short (try for more than a good-sized paragraph) or poorly written, we might not use it. Please don't submit lists of bullets either, use prose.

2) Clearly identify the episode you are reviewing and give it a grade scale rating (e.g., A, B, C+, etc.), with F being poor and A+ being unbelievably awesome.

3) Although we may edit reviews for spelling, grammar, and punctuation, please make an effort to write properly so it's less extra work for us.

4) Please don't recap the plot. You may refer to plot points or action as much as necessary to substantiate your review, but don't summarize the episode. If everyone goes over the plot in their reviews, review pages will contain a whole lot of redundant information.

5) Lastly, no hate or character flaming and please don't turn your review into an essay on shipping. If you do, your effort will likely be wasted.

6) Added 1/17, please don't make submissions more than 750 words or so. We never thought people would write so much, but they have! While the effort is very admirable, huge reviews, even if very well written, can turn people off from scrolling down to read other people's reviews. We'd like to shoot for reviews in the 500 - 750 word range.


So, let us know what you do and don't like about different episodes. If you need an idea for how to write, please check out some of the staff reviews, notably Nat's review of The Tales of Ba Sing Se, Acastus' review of The Blind Bandit and Savitri's review of Avatar Roku: Winter Solstice Part II.

When you're done, please post your review here. We'll contact you by PM or leave in your submission post if your review is accepted.
« Last Edit: Apr 24, 2012 02:09 am by Icy_Ashford » Logged
katara1018
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« Reply #1 on: Jan 13, 2007 02:53 pm »

so do I write my review in the forum? O_o  here? With this post? O_o



[EDIT: Please read the first post in its entirety before asking questions. Any more posts like this that clearly demonstrate the user hasn't bothered to read the first post will be deleted without comment ~ Acastus]
« Last Edit: Jan 13, 2007 03:02 pm by Acastus » Logged


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« Reply #2 on: Jan 13, 2007 02:58 pm »

Episode 103: The Southern Air Temple

Rating: A

One of the first episodes of our beloved show. The main action in this show happens during Zuko's side of the episode. Some depth is revealed to us about Zuko, mainly how he recieved his scar. Commander Zhao is introduced as the main antagonist of season one. Commander Zhou and Prince Zuko have a fire dual, or an Agni Kai which is one of my favorite action scenes in the whole series. The Agni Kai portrays honor, as well as the influence of martial arts that is used throughout the show and is the basis of all the bending styles. It's really the first showcase of bending we see that lasts more than a few seconds. The other key part to the Agni Kai is honor, which plays a key role in fire nation life. It is brought up when Zhao attacks Zuko from behind after the Agni Kai. Iroh comments, "Even in exile my nephew is more honorable than you." This brings us back to our Asian roots of the show where honor played an important role in their lives.

During Aang's section of the episode he learns that his emotions are a dangerous thing. This is made clear when he goes into the Avatar State after he notices the corpse of Monk Gyatso. Another main character is introduced in this episode, Momo. He is the Avatar's pet lemur, and is the last living remains of the Southern Air Temple.
« Last Edit: Jan 14, 2007 08:53 am by jman1009 » Logged


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« Reply #3 on: Jan 13, 2007 04:30 pm »

Ah, I got it now Wink

Episode: 216 'Appa's Lost Days'
Rating: B

This episode was focused on Appa, and his long days away from Aang. He had to go through a lot of things while roaming around the world looking for his guardian, such as being forced to perform in a fire nation circus and meeting a mysterious Guru in the Eastern Air Temple.

It began from the scene of where Appa was last seen in an episode, which would be 210 and 211, 'The Library' and 'The Desert'. Appa is seen being dragged away by sandbenders and is then pawned to a circus, where he would forcibly perform in strange ritual clothes in a circus owned by the fire nation. A little boy, who reminded Appa greatly of Aang, brought Appa to force himself out of the circus and find Aang.

Suki also played a small role in this episode, along with the other Kyoshi Warriors, as she attempted to help Appa on his search, but was promptly stopped by Azula, Mai and Ty lee, prepared to make enemies of any friends of the Avatar in her path. It is still unknown what has happened to Suki and the other Kyoshi Warriors after this episode.

Near the end, Appa meets up with a mysterious monk, Guru Pathik. He claims that Appa and Aang have a special bond that was made the second that they had become boy and bison. Because of this, Appa and Aang are connected no matter where they go. Appa is then able to journey to Aang's direct location, in the Upper Ring, where the two would be able to meet once more, but is captured by Long Feng, head of the Dai Li instead.
« Last Edit: Jan 13, 2007 04:32 pm by Quadgurl » Logged


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« Reply #4 on: Jan 13, 2007 04:45 pm »

Let me remind you all of Guideline #4:

4) Please don't recap the plot. You may refer to plot points or action as much as necessary to substantiate your review, but don't summarize the episode. If everyone goes over the plot in their reviews, review pages will contain a whole lot of redundant information.

We're not looking for reviews that merely restate what happened in the episode, but rather, opinions about the episode.  Check the examples for what we're looking for.
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« Reply #5 on: Jan 13, 2007 04:52 pm »

Episode 208: The Chase
Grade: A+

It's almost the midpoint of the second season and so much is happening to the gang.  Episode 8, The Chase, premiered after the exclusive Zuko episode.  This is the time we learn more about the team's latest addition, earthbender Toph Bei Fong, and how the trio adapts to having a new member.

The early dispute between Katara and Toph evolves into a problematic issue before they go to sleep.  At this point, many viewers were not pleased with Toph's attitude.  Although Katara is right about teamwork, Toph isn't entirely at fault.  She was raised and treated like a helpless little girl from all and had no true friends.  Leaving home for the first time, to finally be independent, was a major change in life she had to experience.  She was never expected to help anyone else, as the one person who "needed" help the most was herself.  Like Toph stated, "I don't understand, what's the problem here?"  Most of this was overlooked by fans, but I truly enjoyed the argument.  It added dimension and flavor to the episode, proving that not all is peachy perfect between the group of friends.

Another part of the episode that I enjoyed was when Toph decides to temporarily leave the group. The characters' thoughts and actions are obviously affected by their lack of sleep, a realistic experience that many can empathize with.  Who could hate the peaceful moment that Toph and Iroh shared, which would later be of much significance, anyway?

The importance of teamwork is indisputable when Mai and Ty Lee catch up with Katara and Sokka.  Sokka is able to assist Katara by defending against Mai's arrows with his club.  The targets are quickly traded, having Mai pursue Katara while Ty Lee faces Sokka.  Our heroes lose the match, but are rescued once again by none other than our favorite air bison, Appa.  This single minute (yes, I checked to make sure) was perhaps one of the coolest scenes yet, which is hardly surprising.  Has any "rematch" in Avatar ever failed to please?

One brief moment that stood out to me, but not in a bad way, was Azula's introduction to Aang.  She offers a glimpse of her dark sense of humor, but proves to have one nonetheless.  This little detail actually contributes to her character.  When Zuko unexpectedly arrives at the scene, the tables are completely turned.  An intense three-way battle engages between the Avatar and two firebenders, leaving viewers on the edge of chairs.  The animation was dynamically spectacular with almost no flaw.  I loved it when Zuko followed Azula up some stairs, but fell through the floorless building (finally a lighthearted moment in all of this tension).  It is apparent that Azula is quite a formidable opponent, but fortunately for us, Katara and Sokka arrive to help Aang.  Even Toph reaches them, but it is not enough until Iroh and Zuko corner Azula.

That one moment with the gang, teamed up with Zuko and Iroh, was the highest point yet in all of Avatar.  Azula takes the single opportunity to shoot a blast of blue fire towards Iroh, the one character who didn't entirely focus on Azula (only because he learns that Toph was with the Avatar and friends).  The episode ends with an unbelievable cliffhanger.  Perhaps the worst thing in the entire episode was when Zuko yelled at the gang to leave, which just sounded a bit off.

The dramatic title is perfect and the episode passed my expectations and beyond.  Without a doubt, this was the best episode for its time.


[Well done! Loaded onto the mainsite ~ Acastus]
« Last Edit: Jan 14, 2007 12:48 pm by Acastus » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: Jan 13, 2007 04:57 pm »

Quick question: are you willing to accept more than one member review per episode, or after someone's review (or a certain amount of them) for an ep has been accepted/posted should we consider it "taken" and review another one instead? Or, at the least, would reviewing an unreviewed episode be more to your guys' preference, or does that not matter?
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« Reply #7 on: Jan 13, 2007 04:57 pm »

Episode 209: Bitter Work

Rating: B+

It has been almost half a season now, but in this episode, the time has finally come for Aang to learn earthbending from his new earthbending master, Toph. Will Aang be an earthbending prodigy, like he was with his waterbending, or will this be a different kind of ordeal alltogether? Let's find out!

Well, to be quite honest: earthbending won't go as easy for Aang as waterbending did. I remember being disappointed in that, because in my opinion, Aang got the hang of waterbending way too fast. Heck, he even surpassed Katara at one point, which to me, was just plain silly. But this episode doesn't suffer from such an unlikely occurance. Though Aang starts out positive, thinking that earthbending will be a walk in the park for him, Toph manages to crush his initial enthousiasm under an avalanche of hard training.

It's very interesting to see this happen, as, when you think of it, Aang never really walked into any hardships along the way before. But it's just as Katara points out: if fire is the opposite of water, then earth would be the opposite of air. Not only is this true for the bending that Aang will have to master, but it's also true for the personalities of Aang and Toph. Both don't get along very well at the start, because Aang's just too nice a guy, and Toph is simply too hard on him. It is the diffence between the two that provides much of this episode's refreshing narrative.

But we shouldn't forget about Zuko and Iroh as well. While Zuko tries to master lightning, like his sister Azula, Iroh clearly tells him that his state of mind an his emotions are in tumoil, hence he can't master lightning. This is of course very hard on Zuko, and it also means that his sister is not only more talented at firebending, but also emotionally much stronger. Eventually, Zuko then learns a move from Iroh to redirect lightning, but when his uncle refuses to shoot lightning at him so that he can practice, Zuko finds himself a thunderstorm, and challenges it to strike him. It is one of the strongest emotional scenes in avatar yet, along the likes of Aang finding monk Gyatso's corpse in 'the southern air temple'. This scene respresents the inner turmoil and anger Zuko's currently in, and it is almost painfull to watch how the lightning doesn't strike him down-yet.

Meanwhile, amongst all the serious bending problems, is our comic relief Sokka, who's been trapped in a hole in the ground from which he can't get out. These scenes, in which Sokka tries to rethink his life as a meatloving sarcasm guy, with a little adorble cow-thing next to him, are possibly one of the funniest scenes you'll ever see in Avatar. It also gives the viewer a break from the quite serious plot of the rest of the episode, which is needed to keep things in balance.

Aang eventually finds Sokka, and defends him from a giant beast that seems to be the mother of the young cub that accompanied Sokka. Toph then reveals herself to have been watching all that time, and Aang finally snaps. He confronts Toph about her behaviour, and Toph compliments him for this. He finally seems to have developed some backbone, something that Toph truly respects. The two finally seem to get some mutual respect between another, and Toph then tells him to earthbend, which he does with succes.

All in all this episode does something what Avatar as a series has been lacking for quite a while: Aang having to struggle to learn something (we don't count 'the Avatar state', as it wasn't something that Aang was supposed to learn at that point). It is also very nice to see some other personalities, like Toph, bringing some fresh air to the group, which they needed very much. This episode is all about the bitter work both Aang and Zuko face, and allthough only one of them succeeds, it is indeed very enjoyable to see someone struggle to accomplish something hard, like anyone should in real life. I'd give this episode an 'A', but it isn't quite as epic like 'The Siege of the North' or as emotionally loaded like 'The Storm', but otherwise, it is a very nice episode, that does a really nice job in teaching Aang how to earthbend.


[Generally well done, but some spelling and capitalization problems. I deleted the second to last paragraph as it was almost all recap. Loaded onto the mainsite ~ Acastus]
« Last Edit: Jan 14, 2007 01:03 pm by Acastus » Logged

my Toph fanfic!http://forums.avatarspirit.net/index.php?topic=3697.0

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Acastus
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« Reply #8 on: Jan 13, 2007 05:15 pm »

Quick question: are you willing to accept more than one member review per episode, or after someone's review (or a certain amount of them) for an ep has been accepted/posted should we consider it "taken" and review another one instead? Or, at the least, would reviewing an unreviewed episode be more to your guys' preference, or does that not matter?

We'll accept more than one review per episode, but we will be less likely to accept new reviews on episodes that already have a ton of reviews.
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Ali Khan
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« Reply #9 on: Jan 13, 2007 06:06 pm »

Ali Khan's review of...

Book One: Water
Chapter Nineteen: The Siege of the North Part 1

Grade: A
Score: 7.7

"Nice try pupil Sangukh, a couple of more years and you might be ready to fight a sea-sponge"

These are the first words in what is undoubtedly an awe-inspiring chapter of the struggle against the Fire Nation. However, this will be no ordinary chapter, for it is a significant one, as in this very chapter the Northern Water Tribe is attacked by an enormous fleet led by Admiral Zhao. Their intent: "To destroy the last of the Water Tribe civilization."

Don't get a misconception, this may be Part 1 in an immense war between the Water Tribe and the Fire Nation but it is by no means a silence before a storm or a means of building tension before a final climax. This chapter, in itself, is an exhilarating, adventurous and exciting plunge into a cold, brutal war.

This chapter isn't solely about the war, the creators have flawlessly implemented a beautiful backstory of the romance between Sokka and Princess Yue (which began the chapter before). The story is touching, moving and romantic; one can become very involved with Sokka's emotional journey as he tries to persuade Princess Yue not to marry a man she doesn't love. It must be difficult to make a graceful love-story compliment a fierce war, but I can guarantee you won't be complaining.

Benjamin Wynn and Jeremy Zuckerman have always created great music for the series, but the music was outstanding in The Siege of the North Part 1. A slight change is made from the usual fanfare and a softer, higher pitched and elegant instrument is used to portray the delicateness of this chapter. Careful listeners will notice it is the same song being played in Chapter 18 aboard Zuko's ship, as Uncle Iroh was singing, "Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall, Four seasons, Four loves." This music is highly immersive and a welcome change to the brilliant fanfare.

Another notable use of music is when Sokka and Princess Yue discover soot falling from the sky and conclude that it is a sign that the Fire Nation is attacking, the music perfectly conveys danger and acts as a warning for the colossal army just over the horizon. You will also be paying attention to the music in the Oasis, during the actual war and as Zuko's infiltrating the Norhtern Water Tribe.

All Avatar fans will recognise a very intelligent shot at 7 minutes and 17 seconds into the chapter when the shot is being shown from behind Aang as he holds his staff behind his back and the camera swoops up to show the Sun, just like in the introduction to every chapter while Katara narrates, "But I believe, Aang can save the world". If you don't know what I mean, don't worry, you'll realize at 7:17.

The use of colour should also be discussed as this is one of the things the creators of Avatar have mastery over. The changes from brilliant blue and white to the darker, more threatening black and red are ingenious, used to create a smooth transition from the Northern Water Tribe to the Fire navy ships, respectively. It helps to create a suitable mood and correct atmosphere. From the grand and majestic home to the northern waterbenders to the intense atmosphere in the fire navy ships, the utilization of colour is brilliant.

Of course, we remain with Zuko and follow his sub-story as he attempts to stealthily infiltrate the Northern Water Tribe to capture Aang to finally regain his honour as the heir to the throne. His mission is shown different from usual; emphasis is really placed on his pain and suffering as he swims through icy cold water to reach and capture the avatar. We realize that it cannot be easy for a firebender (who has spent his whole life in warm conditions) to dive into and swim trough freezing water and we can feel his mental distress as he pursues the only method of not being recognized as a failure by his own father.

The way the war is shown is exciting and entertaining. Aang bravely boards the first Fire Navy ship that he comes in contact with (with help from Appa) and uses his airbending to eliminate the hammer-wielding soldiers on board. He then cleverly manipulates the catapults (which are shooting fiery boulders towards the Northern Water Tribe) so that they damage Navy's own ships. With help with some waterbenders, Aang trashes the ship, soars back into the air only to see that there is many, many more ships yet to destroy. For the first time, we truly see the huge scale of this war, this will be a difficult task for Aang.

It does, however, seem that some part of the story is missed when Zuko infiltrates the Northern Water Tribe because it is not shown how he makes it to the oasis without being caught and identified as a firebender, but you must understand that the whole story cannot be told in 23 minutes and some parts must be missed out to keep a good pace. I cannot as easily excuse that the scale of Zhao's army isn't truly shown, although there is a massive fleet, we don't get to see much of it or it's performance in battle. The makers of the show should have truly differentiated Zhao's fleet from a small company of 10 ships. Apart from that, the show is truly entertaining and worthy as the penultimate Chapter of the first Book.

The chapter is brought to an end with an exciting battle between Zuko and Katara and for the first time we see Katara's advanced waterbending (thanks to Master Pakku's training) being used against a true enemy. As always in a fight between Zuko and either Aang, Katara or Sokka, you never know who to root for. As bolts of fire and waves of water are thrown either way, you are drawn into an exciting fight. Some may be surprised that Katara wins but she is given a major advantage due to the time of day, we learn in this episode that waterbending is stronger at night due to moon being in the sky. However, the victory doesn't last. The fight is shortly followed by sunrise and Zuko is given the strength (by the Sun) to defeat Katara.

Zuko proudly announces to the unconscious Katara, "You rise with the Moon... I rise with the Sun" with the Sun visible over his shoulder. Zuko's last words before escaping into the ferocious blizzard with the Avatar (not able to resist as he is spirit is in the Spirit World) slung over his back. We are left thinking: Has Zuko won? Has the Avatar truly been captured? And what of the war? Now that the Sun has risen, can anything be done to stop the fire soldiers?

The Chapter ends more tensely than conclusively, it is an enthralling build-up to a dramatic finale and no doubt one of the best Chapters in the first Book.

... by Ali Khan.
If you would like, I will produce one for Book One: Water, Chapter Twenty: The Siege of the North Part 2.
Any changes needed?
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Acastus
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« Reply #10 on: Jan 13, 2007 06:17 pm »

^ This is too long. Check out examples for the length we're generally looking for.
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Nat
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I haven't given up hope yet. ;_;

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« Reply #11 on: Jan 13, 2007 06:33 pm »

Grade: A
Score: 7.7

In addition, does this actually mean anything?  Your grade and "score" don't seem to correlate very well.
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katara1018
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« Reply #12 on: Jan 13, 2007 07:45 pm »

Chapters 19 and 20 The Guru/Crossroads of Destiny

Grade: A

I just love this episode! It is definately one of the coolest episodes that I have seen so far. I really liked the part where Aang was in space and here he was trying to master the Avatar state and then here he was electrocuted by Azula and here Katara  made a big wave and wiped out all those people just to save Aang and here she used all of her Oasis water just to save Aang. I thought that that was really sweet. The ending was also very shocking!
 One thing that I didn't like about it was the fact that Katara was trying to heal Zuko's scar. Oh man! I can never keep my eyes open and ears open for that one. >.< But I am not Zutarian so that explains everything.
  What I also liked about it is that there are many Kataang moments in there. In some parts it made me want to cry, like the fact that Sokka got to meet his dad and when he was about to go into battle Aang showed up saying that Katara was in trouble, or the fact that Aang almost gave up his love for Katara and was almost killed.
  There was also some really exciting parts, like the fact when Toph learned to metalbend and also when everyone was fighting against the Dai Lee and the Fire Nation.
  The most shocking part of the episode was when Ba Sing Se was taken over by the Fire Nation. It makes you want to think about what will happen in season 3.
  In conclusion, this episode was a great way to end the season. Knowing what Katara did to save Aang and how Ba Sing Se was taken over. It was awesome! With all this action, adventure, and gourmet recipes *cough*onionandbananajuice*cough* it makes you even MORE anxious for season 3.

I give this episode a 2 thumbs up. Smiley

NOW ALL WE NEED TO DO IS WAIT FOR SEASON 3!!!!!!
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« Reply #13 on: Jan 13, 2007 08:25 pm »

Swanfly's review: Tales of Ba-Sing Sei

(I know there's one already, coincidentally by a person with a similar name to mine, but I have a review of my own)

Grade: C initially, B+ in the long run

This episode was one that took a while to adjust to. Initially, I did not like it that much at all, and even less so when I found that there was nothing tying this episode to the others--it was a "waste of an episode," as I put it. An enjoyable ride, kind of, but not one that I enjoyed.

However, when I rewatched it in January, I found it extremely enjoyable and entertaining.

Yes, it doesn't really accomplish anything plot-wise. Thus, when people are following the plot intently and waiting to discuss the recent developments and watch the change and be wowed by what happens, it is far from satisfying--but when you sit back and appreciate it as an episode, it is one that can make it to the list of your top ten favorites. Watching Katara and Toph relax for a change is a good way to admire the art and the writing of the episode; and who can't help grinning as Toph turns around and retaliates against the girls bullying her?

Iroh's tale is as touching as always, the centerpiece for the episode. His other exploits are as humorous as always, and the bittersweet ending is still one of my favorite moments of the entire series. There is something beautiful in the way that they have him return to the place outside the city where his son is buried to celebrate his birthday.

Sokka's tale is amusing again, but you have to know that it is there for humor. When the viewer stops looking for plot advances or meaning and simply enjoys the comedy of the situation, enjoyment doubles. The same applies to Aang's story--when the viewer knows that he is not going to be any closer to finding Appa at the end of the tale, it becomes easier to swallow and enjoy.

The controversial Zuko tale that put holes into every ship revolving around our favorite scarred prince is, perhaps, the most difficult one to settle down with. Anyone who has a passion for shipping in the Avatarverse will have probably hated this part of the episode, as the shipping instincts cause them to be defensive. But after the season finale, especially, this story is fairly enjoyable--it wasn't a ship to be, but Zuko had a night out with a girl. Something human was touched inside of him for a moment--but as we see when he returns to his room, it hasn't changed him much at all. His comment about it being a nice night is seen with a sad look--he isn't thrilled about what happened, but confused.

Momo's tail is, finally, a comic tale without words that is played out very well, finally culminating in the revelation of the footprint--showing to the viewer that Appa is, indeed, in Ba-Sing Sei, and that he will be found shortly.

Ultimately, this is an episode to be enjoyed. Some people will, of course, skip over it on their DVD collections or switch over to Cartoon Network, but when you want to relax and watch an episode, this is one of the best to do so with. It was a good way to express the passage of time, and a satisfying break from the action and cliffhangers of the other episodes.

The trick to enjoying this episode is to not expect anything from it--too many times, a scene, episode, or even an entire show can be made unenjoyable by demanding that it surpass your expectations, or even meet them. The episode is here--"be happy, and enjoy it." If you want to rush the story, skip this episode--if you want to laugh or just admire the art, this is one of choice.


[Looks good to me. Went with the B+, since we don't want multipled ratings on a review. Loaded onto the mainsite ~ Acastus]
« Last Edit: Jan 14, 2007 01:17 pm by Acastus » Logged
Katara_waterbender
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The water tribe rules!


« Reply #14 on: Jan 13, 2007 08:45 pm »

The Blind Bandit - Reviewed by Lauren on Sat Jan 13, 2006 at 8:45PM

Grade:  A+


When I first saw the previews for this episode, or rather, heard them, I was very excited.  I had high hopes for this episode and Nick didn't disappoint me.  I was almost in tears while watching it because it hit home for me.  Everyone who reads this review is probably wondering why. Well, I'll tell you. 

I, like Toph, am visually impaired.  I can only see out of my left eye and not at all out of my right one.  This is due to a condition called ROP, Retina-opathy of prematurity. The way I look at it is, I have ROP, it doesn't' have me.  To put it in simple terms, ROP just means that my retinas were detached when I was born, due to the oxygen levels being too high on the venalator that kept me alive for the first fourteen months of my life.  Since then, I've always had trouble seeing, but it didn't' really start affecting me till I was five. 

I also LOVE writing stories.  Both original and fanfiction.  I've always used writing to express my feelings and it's never let me down yet.  My penname at fanfiction.net is Sifu-KataraRose.  I would really like it if everyone who reads this review would check out my stories.  I Think everyone would learn a lot from them. 

Anyway, back to the episode.  I was very happy with how it turned out and I was on the edge of my seat from beginning to
End.  In watching this episode, I found that I identified with Toph.

Another aspect of the episode that I really found to be true is how Toph's parents treated her.  In wanting to protect her, they kept her away from the world, instead of letting her experience it.  This in turn made Toph resentful of them and made her want to break away.  I felt the same way a few years ago, but thankfully, I'm able to spread my wings a little more now. 

I think Nick portrayed Toph and her disability very well.  They also portrayed her parents' reactions to their daughter's disability right on the nail. 

Apart from Toph's go get it personality, I like the fact of how Nick, or more specifically Mike and Brian created Toph's character and her name. Toph means drum in hebrew and the name matches up perfectly with the way Toph sees the world around her.  Like Toph tells Aang in the episode,  "Even though I was born blind, I never had a problem seeing. I see with earthbending." 

I highly recommend this episode to anyone who needs a real look at what having a disability is like and how different people deal with it.  It also has good humor, but most importantly, it teaches a good lesson.  Sometimes, you don't have to look with your eyes to truly see.  Seeing with your heart is the best gift of sight a person could hope for.  And I'm living proof of that every day.



[Edit: Please don't change the string title, and stick to the standard letter grade system, no A+++++'s allowed. Lastly, there's too much about you in this review. Make the review about the episode, not about you please ~ Acastus]
« Last Edit: Jan 13, 2007 09:18 pm by Acastus » Logged

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« Reply #15 on: Jan 14, 2007 12:10 am »

Episode review: City of Walls and Secrets
Grade: A-

"There is no war within the walls. Here we are safe. Here we are free."

Never before has a children's show fearlessly addressed social and political conflicts regarding a government that usurps the power of the people until now. I watched this disturbing yet thrillingly clever and well-structured episode of Avatar with strong impressions of 1984 and V for Vendetta echoing in my head.

City of Walls and Secrets makes the annexed city of Omashu look safe in comparison to the inner fraudulence of Ba Sing Se. The fans already know that this bustling metropolis has an enormous population, successful university, a king, a monorail system, and most of all, impenetrable walls that make it the last stronghold against the Fire Nation. But to the kids' astonishment, the city is no last Zion. Ba Sing Se is a gilded cage of lies and deception where freedom of speech is barred and citizens live in simultaneous luxury and fear.

When Aang and his friends are eager to find Appa and inform the Earth King about their new war information, they are once again faced with adversity and mistrust. Their perky tour guide named Ju Di could pass as a charming Stepford wife except for her overly enthusiastic smile and constant assurance that "everyone is safe" in Ba Sing Se.

Something is wrong.

Aang can't get any answers from people. People are always averting their eyes, stammering, or hushing up before cautioning the kids not to discuss the war with the Fire Nation.  Katara and Toph are impatient with Ba Sing Se's red tape rules and decide to take affirmative action by sneaking into the king's private party. This secret mission involves the usual witty and amusing quirks, Toph's aristocratic upbringing, swapped busboy uniforms, and clever Avatar tricks. They are distracted from their goal by the charismatic Long Feng (brilliantly voiced by Clancy Brown aka Lex Luthor from the Superman and Justice League series) who prevents the Avatar from meeting the king.

Long Feng fills the void after Admiral Zhao has left. His cold hard intellect and iron grip over the local citizens make him a worthy adversary to Aang and his friends, especially when they discover that he is the one controlling authority in the city rather than the king.  What's worse, Long Feng uses the Earth King's status and grandeurs as sedative to keep the citizens calm and under close surveillance. Anyone who disturbs this so-called "utopia" by mentioning the war with the Fire Nation will be arrested by his Dai Li agents. As if his malevolence wasn't enough, Long Feng blackmails Aang into being quiet for the sake of his missing bison.

The implications here are mind-boggling. This episode does not sugarcoat the conditions of the poverty-stricken refugees who suffer within Ba Sing Se's slums while other people live in wealth nor does it cover up the consequences of those who disobey the Da Li. It addresses the corruption within the city head on by showing the audience exactly what happens to wrongdoers in Ba Sing Se.

The first victim we see is Jet. Not surprisingly, he's drawn bipolar ratings from the fans for his biased hatred against the Fire Nation. But now his drastic methods of stalking Zuko and Iroh take him too far to the point where he falls into the clutches of the Dai Li. I almost expected to hear the agents chant "Big Brother is watching you" when they use their brainwashing techniques on Jet.

The ending that parallels Long Feng's lecture while Jet succumbs to the hypnotism is haunting. Avatar has been taking bigger risks in season two that only make it more compelling to watch as the story progresses. One can only anticipate what will happen next to Aang, his friends, or the ill-fated Jet as the series continues.


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« Last Edit: Jan 14, 2007 04:57 pm by Acastus » Logged


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« Reply #16 on: Jan 14, 2007 12:25 am »

Ah, I got it now Wink

Episode: 216 'Appa's Lost Days'
Rating: B

This episode was focused on Appa, and his long days away from Aang. He had to go through a lot of things while roaming around the world looking for his guardian, such as being forced to perform in a fire nation circus and meeting a mysterious Guru in the Eastern Air Temple.

It began from the scene of where Appa was last seen in an episode, which would be 210 and 211, 'The Library' and 'The Desert'. Appa is seen being dragged away by sandbenders and is then pawned to a circus, where he would forcibly perform in strange ritual clothes in a circus owned by the fire nation. A little boy, who reminded Appa greatly of Aang, brought Appa to force himself out of the circus and find Aang.

Suki also played a small role in this episode, along with the other Kyoshi Warriors, as she attempted to help Appa on his search, but was promptly stopped by Azula, Mai and Ty lee, prepared to make enemies of any friends of the Avatar in her path. It is still unknown what has happened to Suki and the other Kyoshi Warriors after this episode.

Near the end, Appa meets up with a mysterious monk, Guru Pathik. He claims that Appa and Aang have a special bond that was made the second that they had become boy and bison. Because of this, Appa and Aang are connected no matter where they go. Appa is then able to journey to Aang's direct location, in the Upper Ring, where the two would be able to meet once more, but is captured by Long Feng, head of the Dai Li instead.

I guess I'm supposed to review it, then:

Rating: B
Review: This was such an interesting episode. It showed what was happening to Appa while taking the focus off of the gAang. And what's even more interesting is that they correlated both the Appa scenes and the gAang scenes so they seem connected. One example was when Iroh and Zuko were both on the refugee boat to Ba Sing Se, and when Iroh saw Appa flying overhead. Not only that, but also how Appa and Aang's dreams were also connected, whereas they shared the same dream on the same night. And let us not forget the ending, Appa's capture in Ba Sing Se by Long Feng, where the mysterious giant pawprint from the end of the Tale of Momo from 'Tales of Ba Sing Se' all came together.

I was also quite glad to see Suki and the Kyoshi Warriors once more, along with Azula, Mai and Ty Lee. What better to make a scene of them than together, fighting against each other. And how the scene ended was such a cliffhanger, I couldn't wait to see more.

The guru from the Western Air Temple was quite an interesting character, too. He had a massive amount of patience, willing to lay on his back for days at a time just to gain the trust in Appa, who had already gone through so much, whether it be him being captured by Sandbenders, pawned for a Fire Nation circus and being forced to perform while getting very little food, or being forced to live in a tiny shelter for several days. The music that played while the scene took place in the Western Air Temple gave it a very ancient feeling, as if it were actually a scene of a guru from India thousands of years ago.

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« Reply #17 on: Jan 14, 2007 01:47 am »

Episode: The Desert
Grade: A+

The Desert capitalizes on the idea of suffering = drama and puts our heroes in the direst of situations. No longer are they facing the Fire Nation, but rather the environment itself. They were literally going up against the elements.

Strangely enough, Katara, who would probably suffer the most, fares the best. This episode was truly a showcase for this strong woman (enough though she is only 14), whose caring and motherly qualities were tested to their limits. She takes charge of the group and literally saved them from becoming dried-up bones within the sand pit. At all points in this episode she stayed strong and determined, even when it seemed hopeless.

Toph's bending was severely limited within the desert as well. Unfortunately, we did not get that much screen time devoted her. Still, there was development to be had, which is most apparent during the first few seconds of the episode. For the first time since her debut, she sounded vulnerable. Of course, she had every reason to be, considering her lack of "Earth-sight", as well as the guilt over loosing Appa; it was the first time she faced such a challenge.

No Avatar episode would be complete without humor, and Sokka brings forth one of the best comedic scenes the series has ever delivered. From "it's the quenchiest!" to "friendly mushroom!" the writers exploited the vocal talents of Jack Desena to their fullest, and had me laughing my butt off.

However, the focus was on Aang; this 2-parter isn't called "The Fury of Aang" for nothing. The animation, once again, was used to illustrate the inner struggles of the characters; this was apparent given that most of the episode took place in the dark, or near dark. Accompanying this is the darkening of Aang's character, no doubt amplified by the heat of the desert. Some of the fandom, however, saw Aang as just throwing a tantrum. All doubts of this were removed from my mind when he sliced that buzzard-bee in half. Given his religious upbringing, in which killing without the need was prohibited; his actions in this episode made it clear just how angry he truly was. For the first time in the series, Aang was hurt too close to home.

Before we get to the end, I just like to touch on Zuko and Iroh's story. Compared to Aang's, their's was, unfortunately, merely a way for the characters to get to Ba Sing Se. Still, we got to revel in the wisdom Iroh, and touched base with Toph's pursuers. In the grand scheme of things however, their B-story was merely there to set up the end of the season.

One of the themes of Avatar is that of balance. If anything, this episode was as out of balance as one can get. True, there were both drama and humor, but the former vastly surpasses the latter. The heat never gave way to the cool, and the anger never subsided into calmness. So what happens when a system become unbalanced? Well, as shown by the end of this episode, the system implodes.

The end of the "The Desert" is one of the most powerful scenes in the series. I can go on and on about it, but I'll just stick to the specifics for now. As all know, Aang finally got to the breaking point, and "glowed-it-up". Notice that he did it when it was mentioned that Appa was muzzled, basically denying him freedom and the right to a voice, a thing I'm sure was precious to the free-loving Air Nomad race. The core of this scene, however, takes place after this.

As the choir in the background ramped up, and the dust and sand went flying around Aang and the others, only one was stationary. Katara remained rooted to the ground, only moving when Aang seemed to move out of her reach. I'm sorry if this is starting to sound shippy, but there is no way around it. The bond between Katara and Aang was cemented the moment she grabbed his arm; the music changed; the screaming choir transformed into that of a lone, female voice trying to get through the chaos. Upon close look, we saw tears streaming out of Aang's glowing eyes, and it hits home just now sad, not angry, he was. Panning up, we see Katara, eyes tightly shut, resolute in holding onto Aang, even if it meant the loss of her own life. At the end, she calmed Aang down, and we finally see that he was just a boy that lost his best friend and one of the last vestiges of his people.

The themes of friendship, of togetherness, and of loss are commonplace and sometimes are even considered cliché. Avatar, on the other hand, takes these well-tread subjects and transforms them into a half-hour of great television. I can't say I'm surprised.

---

(I hope this isn't too long; I had to cut more than a third of it)



[Okay, I went with it with only a few edits. Loaded. ~ Acastus]
« Last Edit: Feb 03, 2007 02:14 pm by Acastus » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: Jan 14, 2007 05:34 am »

Episode 109: The waterbending scroll

Rating: D-


From the very beginnning of Avatar, the creators of the show have been emphasizing that bending isn't just a magic trick. Bending requires skill as well as condition, and there are limits to what a bender can do with his or her powers, so things don't get ridiculous. That is a great thing to do in my opinion, because there are enough shows allready in which whole mountains are thrown at people with little to no effort at all. So why am I telling you this?

I'm telling you this because in 'the waterbending scroll', the creators of the show seem to have lost track of it completely. The plot can be summarized like this: Katara tries to learn Aang to waterbend, which he does without any problems. Oh yeah, and they steal a waterbending scroll from a bunch of scurvy pirates, let's not forget about that.

Where to begin? Oh yeah, Katara and Aang figure out that while traveling to the North Pole, perhaps Katara can teach Aang the waterbendnig she knows allready (well, THAT only took them half a season to figure out, but okay, I can accept that). At first, we notice that Aang doesn't have any trouble at all with waterbending. He does everything correct in one try! He even does a move Katara hasn't mastered yet! Now, for me, this is unacceptable. I remeber learning how to ride a bicycle. It seemed so easy, but it was HARD! Took me several weeks to get it down! But here is Aang, learning waterbending from someone who hasn't even figured it out herself yet, and he turns out to be a waterbending prodigy! Avatar or not, it is infuriating. Katara agrees, by the way, she becomes jealous of Aang.

Now I can see why Katara would be jealous at Aang. We don't know that part of her personality yet, but it seems logical. What doesn't seem logical at all, is the thing that happens next. They visit some pirates, find a waterbending scroll and discover they can't afford it. So what does sweet, caring, loved-by-many Katara do? She manages to steal it! Even Sokka, her own brother, can't believe it. And so can't I! This show has put so much effort into creating realisitic characters, and the development of them, and here, Katara does something that seems totally unlike her. If it was Sokka, I might have believed this, but from Katara, that seems very unlikely. Oh, and Katara gets jealous of Aang again, who masters the technique from the scroll much easier then her. But that hardly surprises me anymore.

I could tell you all about Zuko's alliance with the pirates, and them trying to recover the waterbending scroll, but I won't. You might as well insert a random fight with lots of waterbending by Aang and Katara here. It seems that when it comes down to fighting, they both are suddenly equally amazing at waterbending, so let's forget all about the rest of the episode and forget it ever happened. The rest of Avatar is way better then this episode anyway. 

(sidenote: wouldn't it be fun to rate in lotus-tiles? 1-5 perhaps? This one gets 1 lotus tile, sadly. Oh, and I don't hate the show. Just being honest about this episode, read my review for Bitter Work, which is way better anyway.)
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« Reply #19 on: Jan 14, 2007 06:27 am »

Ep 219: The Guru

Score: A

    The Guru ranks high among the forty episodes produced for the series so far. Giancarlo Volpe directs an incisive and well-paced story, one that focuses on the heroes after they disband to pursue individual goals.  Unlike Tales of Ba Sing Se, a strong pace is maintained for the entire twenty four minutes. The main theme of this episode is the personal growth of the main characters. Aang receives insight into what it means so be an Avatar from a wise Guru. Sokka's confidence is strengthened when he is reunited with his father. Capture by the bounty hunters drives Toph past her own limits, revealing a new power. Zuko seems to have emerged from his fever with a brand new appreciation for the good things in life. The notable exception to all this is Katara.  If this were broken into individual stories ala Tales, her story could be entitled Katara's Bad Day.

    The titular character of this episode, the enigmatic Guru Pathik, was briefly introduced to us at the end of Appa's Lost Days. Here he is central to the main storyline. He is a fascinating character, possessing an almost supernatural wisdom and tranquility, with a lighthearted sense of humor. The character of Guru Pathik is clearly influenced by the Aesthetics of East India. His introduction adds yet another flavor to the blend of eastern influences in ATLA.

   As he assists Aang in resolving his inner conflicts, Guru Pathik offers tantalizing insights into key concepts in the series itself. We learn that the nature of the avatar universe may not be quite what we believe. This theme of revelation parallels scenes involving the other heroes. Toph finds metalbending not as impossible as is generally accepted. Katara discovers she is far from secure inside the high walls of Ba Sing Se.  Sokka, long under the conviction he was left at home due to his immaturity, learns otherwise from his father. And Aang discovers that the full might of the avatar state comes at a powerful and unexpected price.

    Special mention must be made of the visual presentation in The Guru. The story unfolds in a large variety of locations, all of them beautifully rendered. The most striking of these are the natural vistas of the Eastern Air Temple.  Powerful waterfalls, misty valleys and tranquil shrines, these backgrounds lend a solemn, mystical air to Aang's spiritual journey.  The monochromatic dreamscapes of Aang's mind seem to pay homage to Yimou Zhang's use of color in the movie Hero.  Katara, lying helplessly as the false Kyoshi warriors gather around her, stands as one of the most powerful images in the series.   

     My only criticism concerning this episode was Nickelodeon's decision to air it as a "movie feature" with Crossroads of Destiny. The Guru stands better on its own, and the cliffhanger ending is more effective without an immediate continuation of the story.


[Looks good. Try to avoid acronyms, though. Loaded onto the mainsite ~ Acastus]
« Last Edit: Jan 14, 2007 01:30 pm by Acastus » Logged


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« Reply #20 on: Jan 14, 2007 06:46 am »

Episode 220: "The Crossroads of Destiny"
Score: A+

The last episode of Season 2, "The Crossroads of Destiny" contrasts with the last episode of Season 1 ("The Siege of the North, Part 2"), as it leaves us with no resolution, no happy ending, and an ominous set-up for the start of the next season.

A dark episode for the most part, both visually and emotionally, "Crossroads" is bathed in tones of green -- a color which is associated with the Earth Kingdom. The predominant dark green undertones almost foreshadow the doom and gloom that is to come at the end. Azula, whose station as the Fire Nation princess makes her awash with red tones, now wears green from head to toe. Her new attire matches (with some slight differences) that of the Dai Li, who have been put at her command by an unsuspecting Long Feng. She has taken Long Feng's position as Leader of the Dai Li, and later on she also takes possession of the Earth King's throne by organizing a "swift and decisive" coup. She is both "terrifying and inspirational" -- traits that are echoed in the sort of theme song that plays in the background whenever she arrives on scene. Her ruthlessness and cunning reaches a climax as she shows Long Feng that he is the one who has been double-crossed, literally making him sweat. Long Feng is told that he does not posses the "divine right to rule", at which point he realizes that he has been "beaten at [his] own game". His remark is quickly retorted by Azula with the most chilling line in the entire episode: "Don't flatter yourself; you were never even a player".

Her powers of deception are again apparent when she convinces Zuko, who is "at the crossroads of [his] destiny", to choose her over their uncle Iroh. She offers power and honor; Iroh begs of him to "choose good". Zuko at first heeds his uncle's advice to look inside and figure out what he really wants. The imagery that follows, when Zuko contemplates his decision, shows us a visual representation of his conflicted self: a confused young man, and a scarred and exiled prince. As he hangs his head it is apparent that he has decided his future.

In the great battle that eventually transpires, Zuko proves to be a formidable opponent, showing skills that he had never been known to posses. On the other hand, Azula shows weakness for the first time since her appearance. When she first enters the battle she is overwhelmed by the combination of Katara's waterbending and Aang's earthbending. The brief three-way fight comes to a stand-off that mirrors a similar occurrence in the episode "The Chase". In the latter, Zuko stands between two stronger opponents, Azula and Aang. In "Crossroads", Azula stands between Katara and Aang, and her face reflects something we've never seen in her before: fear. When Zuko enters the fight, the scales tip in favor of the Fire Nation siblings. The battle culminates as Aang falls to the ground, victim of a vicious and well-calculated lightning attack by Azula. Aang's possible death becomes a harrowing experience, both for the characters and for the audience. We are left with uncertainty about Aang's life (although it is later restored by Katara's healing oasis water), uncertainty about the Avatar state, uncertainty about Iroh's fate. The only certain thing that comes from the end of the episode is the fall of the Earth Kingdom -- an event foreshadowed by the dark green shades that enveloped most of the episode, and sadly declared by the Earth King as the last words of Season 2.

There was a bit of humor in the episode as well -- for example, Sokka and Aang's reaction when it is revealed that Toph is friends with Iroh, and Ty Lee's contorted entrapment when she's trying to teach Bosco to walk on his hands. However, these and other pieces of humor are overshadowed by the heavy emotional distress felt in the rest of the episode.

An episode that keeps the viewers on the edge of their seats throughout, "Crossroads" is an amazing send-off into the next chapter of the Avatar's journey. I wish I had some criticism to point out, but alas, this episode was perfect in my eyes.




I hope this wasn't too long. I got carried away. Sorry...

[Loaded  ~ Acastus]
« Last Edit: Jan 14, 2007 01:35 pm by Acastus » Logged


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« Reply #21 on: Jan 14, 2007 11:40 am »

Book 2 Episode 12 The Serpent's Pass A+
This episode had plenty of action and a great storyline, plus it was very enjoyable. Dramatic, Fun and full of action, this episode used plenty of everything.
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« Reply #22 on: Jan 14, 2007 02:40 pm »

Book 2 Episode 12 The Serpent's Pass A+
This episode had plenty of action and a great storyline, plus it was very enjoyable. Dramatic, Fun and full of action, this episode used plenty of everything.

WAAAAAY too short.  We won't at least a sizeable paragraph, and even that's really, really cutting it close.  Look at some of the other reviews in this thread for an indication of the length we're looking for.
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« Reply #23 on: Jan 14, 2007 03:01 pm »

Episode 118: The Waterbending Master
Grade: A

Seventeen episodes have passed, leading to The Waterbending Master.  Aang and friends finally reach the Northern Water Tribe in search of a waterbending teacher.  This episode ties everything together with action, romance, and humor while focusing on the dilemma of keeping tradition.

It begins with the long-awaited arrival at the North Pole.  Everything is picturesque and breathtaking, from the icy architecture to the numerous waterfalls.  Viewers immediately recognize the polar contrast from the Southern Water Tribe, which relatively lacks inhabitants and structure.  Sokka falls in love with Princess Yue at first sight, but the situation isn't as simple as it seems.

Zhao's flashbacks of the Blue Spirit certainly add rising action to the plot, as anything could happen from then.  Later, we once again see the pirates from episode 109, The Waterbending Scroll.  Unexpected cameos from minor characters are always a plus for me, so I was really impressed.

Master Pakku, a sarcastic and seemingly cold-hearted man, immediately refuses Katara's request to learn waterbending.  One can only imagine how Katara was feeling at that moment, after longing for this day her whole life.  This part of the episode brings in the issue of keeping or breaking tradition, a heavily discussed topic.  The Northern Water Tribe has many old customs, usually for good intention, but they are conflicting with contemporary society's demands and diversity.

Sokka's friendship with Yue becomes something a little more, but a big obstacle is evidently present.  Then, the most exciting part of the episode comes:  Katara's challenge against Master Pakku.  We see that her primary technique is the Water Whip, but she has to adapt to the unpredictable tactics of her opponent.  A good portion of the fandom argued about how unrealistic Katara was, but I think it was presented fairly-especially considering her defeat.  We all know that Katara is a very determined character with much potential, particularly when under emotional distress (as seen in the first episode with Sokka).

Then, we find out about Gran Gran and Pakku's marriage that was supposed to be arranged sixty years ago.  It's revealed that Princess Yue is also in an arranged marriage, leaving Sokka heartbroken and fans sympathizing.

I liked it when Iroh accepted Zhao's proposal, but I think it should have ended there.  One flaw with the episode is that we learn that Zuko survived the explosion too soon.  If this had waited until the first half of the finale, it would've left a much more dramatic ending to The Waterbending Master (and a nice twist in The Siege of the North Part 1).  The dismayed general sided with the admiral, leading dozens of Fire Nation ships right to the North Pole?  Yes, please.

Overall, this is a fantastic episode.  There's a nice balance of everything and we learn that so much is connected.


[Loaded ~ Acastus]
« Last Edit: Jan 17, 2007 05:53 pm by Acastus » Logged

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« Reply #24 on: Jan 14, 2007 03:04 pm »

i liked the reviews they were great
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