I have reviewed the last four episodes of the series. I hope you find these usable and well-done. Message me if you want me to modify anything.
Avatar Episode Reviews
Episode: 318, Sozin’s Comet: The Phoenix King
The first part of the Avatar series finale is likely overshadowed in the collective memory of us fans, well, because the rest of the four-part finale is packed full with fan-service and awesomeness. Nevertheless the episode stands out amongst its preceding chapters as it adds dynamics to the finale and provides an interesting exposition to the epic conclusion of the story we grew so attached to in our viewing experience.
Several of the most attractive aspects of this exposition include the plot thickening that Zuko presents to the group when he tells them all of his father’s plan. The way in which Zuko brings this up is incredibly entertaining and appropriate of his character: rather than berate the group for ignoring the impending doom of the Comet’s arrival or explain the need to fret, he attacks Aang, full on. This chase scene, coupled with the training the group undergoes in preparation for a joint assault on The Firelord and the Royal Palace, sets the precedent for the action to come.
Another one of the demarcating characteristics of this episode in particular is the smattering of jokes the writers peppered into this episode. Whereas the mood in each of the consecutive segments of the finale is increasingly emotional, tenebrous, and apocalyptic, this episode begins with a beach party – a gratuitous opportunity to show off the characters in their swim gear one last time – and proceeds with Toph’s Melon Lord line and a quite humorous search for Aang.
To address Aang’s character development: his issue with violence is founded in previous episodes and absolutely logical here. The argument he has with the group about what seems to be an imperative to kill Ozai and his reluctance to do so makes perfect sense in serving as an impetus for his disappearance and subsequent soul searching.
Overall, the expository nature of this episode leaves the viewer wanting, which is ideal for dragging he or she into the rest of the finale. This episode brilliantly sets up those to come. Nevertheless, as a sort of overture, this episode doesn’t exactly fulfill the viewer, and as such I cannot rate it as highly as I would its sister segments. A solid episode, an excellent entrée, yet nothing compared to the main course.
Episode: 319, Sozin’s Comet: The Old Masters
I am trying to be unbiased in rating this episode, because I was one of the fans who absolutely died when the assembled members of The Order of The White Lotus revealed themselves to Zuko and friends, seeking out Iroh as the last hope against Ozai. Nonetheless, it is important to stay detached from these overpowering feelings, and this is quite more easily accomplished now that the series has been over for so long. Regardless, there are some problems with this episode.
The return of many beloved secondary characters – especially June’s role in finding Iroh and The Order – is undeniably one of the greatest features of this episode, yet many fans had problems with the plot, namely the introduction of the deus ex machina of The Lion Turtle. By some mysterious, ancient power, Aang is summoned in a trance to this massive, island-sized creature, where he finds himself the next morning with no recollection of ever arriving there. Marooned with Momo, he seeks assistance from his past lives in attempts to resolve his inner conflict. Aang’s trusted advisor, Roku, laments his own part in failing to preempt the War, and Avatar Kyoshi expresses her preference for directness and force as well. The official introduction of Avatar Kuruk (Water Tribes) and Avatar Yangchen (Air Nomads) is absolutely delightful, yet they both concur with the previous sentiment.
Aang then realizes the “island” he is on is moving when he notices a shoreline growing in the horizon. He investigates, discovers the Lion Turtle, and is provided with a bit of arcane wisdom, which isn’t obviously intelligible at first. Nevertheless, as is revealed later, the Lion Turtle functions as a perfect solution to the unsolvable dilemma, telling Aang just what he needed to hear, and this seems contrived, and it upset quite a few fans.
In my opinion, this deus ex machina makes sense, though it isn’t exactly creative genius. Aang most clearly has the forces of the universe on his side throughout the entire series. After all, the slightest chance saved him from certain death one hundred years ago and preserved him, almost saving him for this future purpose. Perhaps, then, this encounter with the Lion Turtle was predestined, scripted from Aang’s birth. This idea of fate seems not entirely unfounded.
In any event, to further critique the episode: though it presents highly emotional and watchable material – Zuko’s reunion with his uncle and Aang confiding in his previous incarnations – as well as valuable character development, the episode, again feels like a preamble and leaves the viewer on the edge of their seats. As a note, this can be both a good and a bad thing, but after two episodes of preparation the average viewer is more than ready for the action. The continued build-up, coupled with the deus ex machina issue, makes this episode slightly less scintillating than the concluding chapters.
Episode: 320, Sozin’s Comet: Into the Inferno
A fan favorite, this episode is loaded with action, which is admittedly one of the most attractive aspects of the series overall. This episode shines in its display of not only more action in one episode than ever before, but also in its presentation of an indisputably eclectic array of battles and duels. Yet the much-anticipated arrival of The Comet brings more than just breathtaking bending.
I speak of Azula’s character development, of course, though character deterioration may be more apt. With the Comet’s arrival and her father’s decision to name her the new Firelord, Azula begins to really crack under the pressure. Whereas previously her suffering wasn’t exactly clear, in this episode her paranoia is glaring the viewer dead in the face. She ditches all her security guards and servants suspecting betrayal. Megalomaniacal and deluded by her new station, she is a totally different persona. Once calculating and perfect, she now exhibits countless flaws and devolves into emotional meltdown. The scene where she hallucinates her mother presence in the palace is chilling. Nevertheless, when Zuko comes to challenge her we are provided with a rare exhibition: an Agni Kai fueled by The Great Comet. Not only that, but Azula’s insanity makes for a refreshing twist to the fight, thrilling many who love to hate the perfect princess. The music accompanying this duel is possibly the best of the series.
Other exemplary aspects of this episode: Toph, Sokka, and Suki commandeering the air ship to destroy the others and prevent The Fire Nation from decimating the lands of The Earth Kingdom. This is one of the most unexpected kinds of action you find here, reminiscent of the GAang’s successful takedown of The Drill. Sure there’s bending involved, but this part of the finale is more about successfully executing a plan against all odds. One of the things I’ve always admired about this series is the storytellers’ collective ability to juggle so many different plot strains in one episode, and this episode provides a prime example.
My personal favorite part of this episode is the actualization of Iroh’s destiny. A spiritual and learned man, alongside his international league of extraordinarily hardcore gentlemen, Iroh brings to fruition a prophetic vision of conquering Ba Sing Se, capital of The Earth Kingdom. Yet, true to his character, he reconquers it in the name of its rightful inhabitants. Amazing comet-fueled Firebending and masterful bending displays from our favorite old people aside, this part of the episode was awe-inspiring. An international coalition acted against the jingoism of The Fire Nation and worked to assist the Avatar in his duties: this gives the viewer hope.
Overall, this episode is obviously a masterpiece. The animation is painstakingly seamless, the action is eclectic and pervasive, and the concluding drama of the episode is as alarming as it is compelling. Excellent episode, plain and simple.
Episode: 321, Sozin’s Comet: Avatar Aang
The concluding chapter of this enrapturing tale that attracted millions of viewers and fans is one of its best. I’d say the conclusion doesn’t leave its fans wanting, but Avatar is such a loveable story, set in such a well-crafted fantasy universe that us fans never want to leave. The final chapter does, for the most part, provide the closure and finality you’d expect from a finale and the result is universally moving.
One of the things I’ve always adored in the series is the theme. This isn’t a typical tale of good versus evil or surmounting adversity. Yes, that is the backdrop here, but the themes of Avatar are transcendent. This tale is about personal growth in adventure, the preeminence of universal justice, and the power of love, serenity of spirit, and hope. Despite the colossal misfortune of Aang’s loss, the scars The Fire Nation dealt the world, the impossible task at hand, and the series of events presented in the preceding episodes, Aang, in all his innocence, prevails. It is impossible to not empathize with the characters. By time the dust settles and the action has ceased, the episode allows its viewers to finally stop holding their breath, release a few tears, and sigh, “We did it! It’s over, we won.”
To address the specifics, “Avatar Aang” is a perfectly balanced episode. Drawing all battles to a close with remarkable flair, Aang basically “glows it up and stops that Firelord,” and Katara tags in for Zuko to finish off Azula. The initiation of Aang’s Avatar State rampage is another much disputed happenstance: its convenience screams contrivance, yet I beg to differ. Aang was running on so much adrenaline in this fight that his Avatar State defense mechanism was long overdue in this fight; any contact to his scar would have done the trick, and perhaps his interaction with the Lion Turtle helped to initiate the chakra unlocking process.
The two action sequences in this episode were flashy and epic, and their conclusions were truly awing. Katara’s victory – her finishing more is tactical brilliance – and Zuko’s recovery is relieving. Aang’s success in taming the Avatar State and unlocking the secret of “energybending” is to be expected of the prodigious Avatar, and for me there was almost no other way of ending it. Aang’s spirit soars: his purity is beautiful and untouchable despite the tragedy that befell him and his people. When Aang found his nonviolent solution and sucked all of Ozai’s immense power directly into the Avatar Spirit, I could do nothing but rejoice. It was the most deserved ending.
The rest of the episode is an overflowing fount of emotion. Zuko’s promise to the world is beautiful and hopeful: his coronation, ideal. We’re teased for a bit with the prospect of finding Zuko’s mother, but it slips away as the scene changes to a calm, twilit gathering in Iroh’s Ba Sing Se teashop, The Jasmine Dragon. I cannot imagine a more perfect ending: the sky ablaze, the characters reunited and finally at peace, and Aang and Katara, together at last. A picture perfect ending to the greatest animated series ever to grace American television.