Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Fortuneteller   Rewatch 
April 2, 2015 5:10 AM - Season 1, Episode 14 - Subscribe

Aunt Wu foretells everyone's future, from Aang's battle that will determine the fate of the world to whether Katara should have mangoes or papayas for breakfast. But why is that volcano producing so much smoke?

And yes, Sokka's science can explain why it rains.

In "I haven't heard this voice before, but I will", Jessie Flower is the voice of Meng, Aunt Wu's assistant. She later voices Toph.
posted by Katemonkey (12 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I know it's ridiculous and it's fluff with a moral stuck in the middle, but I love this episode.

It's so good at adding even more depth to the characters. Aang really likes Katara. Katara wants to be reassured that she's doing the right thing, because she doesn't have all the answers. And although he's a giant dork, Sokka's got something going on in that head of his.

And I love the "changing the clouds" plan. Much like "The Great Divide", I really like it when Aang realises that in order for change to happen, he has to sometimes fudge things. Because he's the Avatar, he's supposed to bring balance to the world, and if it requires getting a little sneaky? Sneak away, baby.
posted by Katemonkey at 5:16 AM on April 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

And after I've complained a bit about the mid-first-season village-of-the-week wanderings, I have to say that this is one of my favorite episodes. So much of the humor is dependent on the fact that we know them all really well.

Sokka, looking forward to a life of self-inflicted struggle and anguish, keeps on that path by trying to convince the cheerful townsfolk of how their prophesies are self-fulfilling, using his science.

Katara, who tries so much to be the grownup and keep the group together, but who really wants a mother figure to just tell her what to eat for breakfast, even if she doesn't like the answer.

Aang, with so much responsibility and yet still SO TWELVE OMG trying to impress Katara by pretending to be cool.

And there's a lot of fun little touches, like Meng's romanticized vision of Aang, and Sokka hurting himself, and the clever fix they come up with to save the townsfolk. It's a lovely light little gift of an episode.
posted by tchemgrrl at 7:07 AM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I liked that the "volcano explosion imminent" is just a GIANT FRICKIN' SKULL. Sometimes (the) god(s) is/are* subtle, sometimes not.

* What are the religious beliefs in this fictional world?

I think Katara found the fortune teller to be a source of comfort that was more and more reassuring. The world is big and scary and full of uncertainty, but suddenly there's a person who can tell you the future? TELL ME EVERYTHING! Then the future isn't so scary, especially when you've lost your parents in an on-going war, a war which you are now involved with and have actively participated in on various (small) fronts. Yeah, I'd like to know the future if I were her.

On the topic of knowing the future, I'd like to point out that while the calm man wasn't actively defending himself from the platypus bear, he was dodging its potentially fatal swings of the paws, which put him in an active role of ensuring his own safety. In other words, there's no way to take no role in creating your future, because even not acting is making a choice.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:10 AM on April 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

"Can your science explain why it rains?"


This is an excellent Sokka episode. I'm not so much interested in the Aang/Katara relationship (at this point, anyway), but I did like Meng's sadness at not having manageable hair. (I feel ya, kid.) Aang and Katara's joint bending of the clouds was the best example I've seen of bending being beautiful rather than mostly practical or destructive.

I am not sure of best animal between the taunting fish, the platypus bear, or the town's geese, so I guess it'll be a 3-way tie this time.
posted by minsies at 10:11 AM on April 2, 2015 [4 favorites]

Oh man Sokka was A+ in this episode. I wanted to punt the villagers...and yeah, even Katara to an extent (don't eat the damn papaya if you don't want to!) but Sokka was the best.
posted by angeline at 12:41 PM on April 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

Long thoughts here, short thoughts below!

"Aw...I hate papaya!" (Thank you Angeline for reminding me of that line as I post).

One of the best parts about "filler" episodes which don't advance the plot, is that most of the time the writers do use them to advance the characterization of our gang. In this instance, they nudged the romance between Aang and Katara forward, providing Katara the first moment so far when she truly starts to consider Aang as part of her future, not just a friend. It was also a golden episode for Sokka, laying his own character out as someone who relies on common sense and logical reasoning, which supports his ability as a planner and strategist. This is yet another episode where he comes up with a plan. I need to start cataloging these, as it never really sunk in until this rewatch how often he does it.

One thing I looked up, which I reckon is a touch by Studio Mir, but the presence of the goose over and over. In at least Chinese and Korean cultures, the goose is tied to weddings as a symbol. Given the focus on Aang and Katara's romance, not to mention the prevalent attention given to romance be it Meng for Aang or the guy with the red shoes, etc...etc..it doesn't seem just a coincidence. I love those people at Studio Mir.

I loved the way Aang shrugs off the prediction that the sake of the world will rest on his shoulders, not only for the comedic sense, but also as shorthand emphasizing that Aang has come to terms with his role as the Avatar. Significant, if only because we are only an episode removed from 'The Storm.'

By the way, in our ongoing fascination with Avatar animals....was that a "normal" goose?!

Jessie Flower, hurray! Though, I wonder how much of the episode was really reliant on the Meng storyline. She definitely served to mirror Aang's own crush on Katara, but unlike Aang, the center of Meng's crush doesn't start to consider her at the end of the episode (floozy). (As is, I write this removed by two nights and a day, my mind is already going fuzzy.....blarhg!)

Also impressive, Aang stops the lava in a non-Avatar state. He truly is a gifted and powerful airbender. If skill grows with age, one can only wonder how much stronger he became as Aang grew older.
posted by Atreides at 9:50 AM on April 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

I believe the geese are turkey geese. They look like they have weird turkey like wattles going on.
posted by angeline at 11:07 AM on April 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Anyone notice that the guy attacked by the platypus bear seemed to be Water Tribe? His clothes were cut in an Earth Kingdom style, but in pure Water Tribe colors. The villagers seemed to include some women in blue-and-pink/purple robes, and some folks in a sort of blue-green turquoise color, too. I wonder if the town is supposed to have a population of mixed population? Maybe the turquoise color on some people is supposed to show that they have both Earth Kingdom and Water Tribe in their families? I don't recall any other characters in Avatar or Korra showing mixed ancestry that way.

Though it seems like if this wardrobe color thing was a conscious decision, it may have been added at a late stage of development after the script was set: it seems to me that meeting someone from the Water Tribe while wandering far from home in the Earth Kingdom would elicit some comment from Sokka and Katara: there just aren't that many of them. Not having it come up at all in dialogue seems odd.

"Thes people need some sense screamed at them." --Or whatever Sokka's exact wording was, I can't recall it right now... GOLD. Sokka's frustration with illogical behavior, Aang's being Momoed by the girl he likes, Katara's obsessive anxiety about the future, this episode shows why "filler" episodes are necessary: shows without them tend to focus too much on plot while letting characterization lag. I really, really wish The Legend of Korra had a normal, er, "season structure" or whatever you'd call it, so there could have been more leisurely episodes like this, exploring some corner of the world while the characters show a bit more of who they are.

I recall reading about this episode somewhere where the birds were referred to as turkey-geese or turkey-ducks or some such: they look more duck than goose to me.
posted by crake at 5:13 AM on April 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Dang, I should read more carefully before posting... Atreides said what I did about filler episodes AND knew who Meng's voice was.

I had no idea it was Jessie Flower, but I couldn't help but notice it. Her voice acting is so good that when I first saw this episode I wondered if Meng was going to be a recurring character, since she stood out from the crowd so much.
posted by crake at 5:25 AM on April 4, 2015

I was super impressed by Aang's ability to stop that lava flow. No fear from him at all - just power and knowledge that he could handle it, no problem.
posted by jillithd at 8:09 AM on April 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I fell behind on this re-watch but I'm catching up now.

I liked how everything Aunt Wu foretold came true at least in a literal sense, even in cases where she appeared to be wrong. (Were there any predictions that were proven false?)
posted by mbrubeck at 12:11 PM on May 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

While a part of me wants to say there may have been one, but the number of actual predictions that came to pass, as in the event occurred as planned or not, were actually quite few. As Sokka pointed out, most of her predictions were self fulfilling, such as "you will meet your one true love while wearing red shoes, so wear red shoes."
posted by Atreides at 7:11 AM on May 13, 2015

« Older Firefly: The Train Job...   |  Podcast: Reply All: #18 Silenc... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments