Avatar: The Last Airbender: Bato of the Water Tribe
April 6, 2015 6:40 AM - Season 1, Episode 15 - Subscribe

The gang unexpectedly crosses path with Bato, a member of Katara's and Sokka's tribe and part of their father's war party. Their excitement at the reunion stirs emotions within Aang that leads to conflict. Elsewhere, Zuko and Iroh meet the bounty hunter June, whom they hire for her ferocious and unrelenting animal companion, part mole and part something else, with the ability to track down anyone by their scent over a continent. In this case, scent target Katara.

Note: June totally whips Ryu from Street Fighter at the bar.
posted by Atreides (15 comments total)
An episode where I don't love Iroh! He was kinda creepily in love with June - especially at the end where Zuko even comments on it.

I don't really understand the geography of that episode, either. If Sokka, Katara and Bato were all leaving the town - presumably to go to his ship - how did the guardian nun lady reach and warn Aang at Bato's boat without going past Sokka, Katara and Bato?

June and her mole creature were pretty awesome, though. As was the ice dodging scene!
posted by jillithd at 8:13 AM on April 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, Iroh was such a dirty old man in this one! Not among my favorite Iroh moments. Though I always feel a strange little fondness for his moment with Aunt Wu. Maybe because it's the one moment in the episode he seems genuinely Iroh-like!

And poor Aang. Right after the reminder of what a powerful bender he is, we get the reminder that he's also still just a kid, and essentially an orphan. No wonder he's so desperate to hang on to the only family he has in this world!
posted by angeline at 8:28 AM on April 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

I was also super disappointed with Iroh. Stealing stuff, snuggling with a paralyzed non-consenting woman. Ick. He gets a Stewed Sea Prune for his behavior.
posted by tchemgrrl at 9:50 AM on April 6, 2015

Long thoughts here, short thoughts below!

Separation anxiety is definitely what drives Aang's actions in this episode and it's what got him in trouble in the earlier "The Storm." Him overcoming this fear of being alone is part of him growing up and becoming the Avatar.

Iroh...this was a fantastic episode for Iroh, even if he pretty much had the least amount of screen time of all the primary characters. I loved his interaction with the Fortuneteller and the snippets of moments, be it the theft of the perfume (contrasted in Book 2 over a theft by Zuko), and of course, his crush on June.

Noteworthy, too, is the obvious increase in Katara's abilities. She's controlling much larger bodies of water now than she was just a few episodes back. Her abilities as a water bender are basically growing exponentially compared to her previous attempts prior to meeting Aang (and receiving that scroll).

I also found it fascinating that in the episode that touches upon self fulfilling prophecies, Aang manages to make his fear of separate come true by trying to prevent it from happening.

And Miyuki, are you in trouble with the fire nation AGAIN?
posted by Atreides at 9:50 AM on April 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I guess Miyuki is a hybrid cat after all. Part cat, part troublemaker.

No, wait, that's still just a plain ol' cat.
posted by angeline at 10:18 AM on April 6, 2015 [4 favorites]

Yeah, Iroh's pretty gross w/r/t June. I liked his moment with Aunt Wu and his perfume theft, though.

June's mole-creature mount was neat, but having to watch an animal be whipped that many times was a low point in the series so far for me (though obviously June's not supposed to win any person of the year awards for her work as a bounty hunter). Appa wins best animal for his defense of Aang, especially when he knocks June and the mole creature out against the wall of the building.

I felt like the separation of Aang from Katara was done more for plot reasons rather than for legitimate Katara and Sokka are pissed off at Aang reasons. (Yes, they are angry, but I don't think at this point the fact that he was feeling ignored and made a stupid decision based on only hearing part of a conversation would've resulted in the party splitting except to give Aang time to be warned by the perfuming women.)

Baby Sokka is very cute (but that was only 2 years earlier?). Like in the previous episode, he's the one who comes up with the plan.

And I totally thought that was Ryu.
posted by minsies at 11:23 AM on April 6, 2015

On the Avatar wiki page for June, it notes that she's a bit more lovey on her mole mount the next time she appears. But yeah, it stood out to me when I was watching this time along, and it was also a bit painful to see Appa hit by the whip and the mole mount's tongue.

The time between little Sokka and current Sokka had to have been a while. We learn from Bato that the trial generally happens when you're 14, which places Sokka's age at 14 and change or even a little older. In short, the men have been away at war for a number of years.
posted by Atreides at 2:52 PM on April 6, 2015

But the opening credits of the first episode, didn't Katara say then that the Water Tribe men had left two years previously?

Unless the flashback was just to some other impending battle when Sokka was younger, a battle that stayed local. But I admit I always assumed the flashback was for when the men left for their long journey, and I too have always been puzzled as to why Sokka looks so much younger than the 14 he would have been when that happened.
posted by angeline at 3:58 PM on April 6, 2015

Ah, sorry, he would have been 13 two years prior to the events of Avatar - according to the Avatar Wikia, Sokka was born in 84, and Aang awakened in 99, so during the first season of Avatar, Sokka was 15 (I thought he was 16). Still. That flashback Sokka looked pretty young, younger than 13 to me.
posted by angeline at 4:02 PM on April 6, 2015

I really like this episode for Aang's jealousy and anxiety over being separated (oh baby! you probably have separation anxiety your whole life and I love you), but mostly for Sokka and how he's trying to navigate masculinity and identity, just like navigating those rocks, and he can't do it the way his father and his father's friends have done it for generations, he has to go his own way. And I love that.
posted by Katemonkey at 12:44 AM on April 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

But the opening credits of the first episode, didn't Katara say then that the Water Tribe men had left two years previously?

You're right. I think this is pretty much a goof in the writing or animation.
posted by Atreides at 7:42 AM on April 7, 2015

I dunno... actual 13 year old boys can definitely look young in real life. (TV, on the other hand, tends to cast adults in teenage roles.) My nephew is almost 12 and still looks, talks, acts quite young. I don't think this was that far fetched.
posted by jillithd at 7:51 AM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

June is my favorite, and she is disgusted with Iroh being a perv and completely unimpressed with Zuko.
posted by emjaybee at 8:59 AM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I liked the nuns a lot. I mean, I would have a wild headache spending too much time at an abbey whose principal export is perfume, but I liked the idea of it!

And yeah, I think at my age maybe I just don't remember what 13 year olds look like, how young they can look. Also, I might be beanplating the issue. Let's talk about how apart from her occasionally heavy whip hand, June is extremely cool.
posted by angeline at 10:02 AM on April 7, 2015

June is my favorite, and she is disgusted with Iroh being a perv and completely unimpressed with Zuko.

June is pretty much unimpressed with anyone, as far as I can tell. She's great.

Iroh's consent lapse is played for laughs. I think works with someone who's as apparently invulnerable as June, but I can see why some would call it over the line of acceptable. It can also function as a callback to remind us how we were introduced to him -- he's not just a figure of great wisdom, he's a man who warmly embraces the opportunities and pleasures that come his way and this is one thing that makes him not without his own complications.

Ditto with Aang. He's sometimes charged (particularly when compared to Korra) of being just an empty boy scout. This is one of those episodes that I think put that to lie. He's utterly sympathetic here but still squarely in the wrong until he comes clean.
posted by weston at 1:40 PM on May 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

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