Avatar: The Last Airbender: Siege of the North - Part I & Part II
April 20, 2015 7:18 AM - Season 1, Episode 19 - Subscribe

General Zhao's fleet arrives and begins its assault on the Northern Water Tribe. Aang finding himself overwhelmed by the Fire Nation's sheer numbers seeks help in the Spirit World to locate the ancient Moon and Ocean spirits. Zuko sets out on a secret mission to hunt down the Avatar, while the romance between Sokka and Yue draws to a bitter sweet end.

Quick notes!
  • This was Dave Filoni's last episode directing Avatar before leaving to work on The Clone Wars.
  • The fate of General ZhuZhao is revealed in Book 2 of The Legend of Korra.
  • This is Koh the Face Stealer's introduction to the Avatar universe, but not his last appearance!
  • The Panda Spirit returned from the earlier episode, "The Spirit World" part of the Solstice two parter.
posted by Atreides (16 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Hey, Sokka?

That's rough, buddy.

(I will have serious commentary later.)
posted by Katemonkey at 7:56 AM on April 20, 2015

I'm still behind on the last episode. -_-

I had serious qualms that the jerkface was named Han. This coincided with me rewatching Star Wars and Empire this weekend.

I absolutely loved the shift to grayscale when the Moon spirit was killed with the only color coming from the bursts of fire.

Stupid meditating monkey spirit.

Appa dropping the dude over the side of the ship. It was...somehow....SO CUTE.

Sokka. Yeah. I started imagining fan fiction of an older Sokka struggling to overcome something (like the capture of the Red Lotus) and somehow Yue's spirit helping him get through it. Hrm.
posted by Atreides at 9:51 AM on April 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

The Waterbending Master and these two episodes are a major level-up for the series, which they mostly sustain for the rest of the show.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 10:36 AM on April 20, 2015

"Hey, this is some quality rope!"

I agree with the cuteness of Appa dropping Chainsy von Hammers overboard. (He deserves all the sleep after helping Aang destroy a dozen ships, too.) I also like the turtle seals, even though they inadvertently helped Zuko out. However, best animal goes to Momo for his attack on Zhao's face. (If anyone deserved a face-bashing from Momo, Zhao did.)

I though Katara was going to attempt to heal the moon spirit fish, but obviously that wouldn't have been enough even if she had tried. I thought it was strange that she didn't react to the disappearance of the moon like Aang and Yue did, but maybe having a third character say something would've been overkill. It was weird having her in the background of that shot looking normal, though.

Koh is appropriately horrible, although I think Aang levelled up at least 5 or 6 times during that encounter. I like Aang when he's bending, but his feats of hardcore "I got this" are my favourite, especially when there's a crack in the persona (as he realises who the fish are, in this case) just before he gets away.

Sorry, Sokka. ) :

Oh, and sorry, Iroh. ) :

I'm not looking forward to seeing Zuko's sister.
posted by minsies at 11:16 AM on April 20, 2015


Note to anyone possibly in the company of an Avatar needing to enter the spirit world: don't talk!

Again with the beautiful animation of the Northern Water Tribe city! Especially when the Ocean Spirit merged with Avatar State!Aang. The flow of the water was just wonderfully rendered.

I hope someone fished Han out of the water after his failed attempt to attack "Admiral Choi". We never do see him again, do we?
posted by angeline at 11:17 AM on April 20, 2015

It astounds me how much gets packed into these 45 minutes. Even the lesser subplots of this finale pack in as much as full episodes from earlier in the season!

Zuko just keeps oneupping himself on the deathwish, doesn't he? Going ice diving into enemy territory without a map in the middle of the night -- Iroh was right to worry. (Oh, Iroh.) I also laughed when he shoved those poor turtle-seals. REALLY, ZUKO.

Yue is the protagonist of another story which intersects with the Gaang's right at the climax. Sokka mourns her, but her death is not about giving him a reason for the sads -- I draw attention to this because far too many creators don't hit that balance right, especially when it comes to female characters.

Koizilla, everyone. Koizilla! Or in the words of the Mary Sue folks,
posted by bettafish at 12:32 PM on April 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh! And Katara this episode, my heart.
posted by bettafish at 12:34 PM on April 20, 2015

Katara is great in this, particularly with the anime slow-mo move when she first encases Zuko. Too cool. It is a little weird how exaggerated the moon-sun water-fire power balance thing is in this episode, with Katara going from having a huge advantage to having her waterbending wilt in the face of Zuko's fire as soon as the sun comes up. I don't think it's ever like that again, is it? It comes up from time to time, and it's important in a few episodes in Book 3 (Day of Black Sun and The Puppetmaster) but those are special circumstances and it doesn't really seem like it has any huge tactical significance again from what I can remember.

Is this episode the first time the incident with Iroh's son at Ba Sing Se is alluded to? (The line where Zhao is talking about doing better than his failure at Ba Sing Se and Iroh says he hopes so.)
posted by Kosh at 1:47 PM on April 20, 2015

It's the first time Iroh's son is mentioned, the third (?) time that the Siege of Ba Sing Se is alluded to. The two aren't connected until much later in the game.

Here's a question: we've seen the environmental strengths/weaknesses of Earth, Water, and Fire at this point, but when is Air weaker, if ever? Does the show ever mention that?
posted by bettafish at 1:57 PM on April 20, 2015

It seems to me in season two they sort of cover that a little, in that Aang is having a very hard time with earthbending for a while because Earth is Air's natural opposite. But they don't really say that one's stronger than the other due to conditions such as Water and Fire face. Hmm.
posted by angeline at 2:11 PM on April 20, 2015


>it doesn't really seem like it has any huge tactical significance again from what I can remember.

My pet theory is that it's also a spring tide, and that waterbenders are more powerful near the poles and/or the embodiment of the original waterbending spirits. Zhao is too confident in his plan to take those things into consideration.

I agree that this ep feels like a real leveling up. The loss of the moon is horrifying and such high stakes. While we're cheering at the Fire Nation defeat, Aang's transformation into the ocean monster is pretty horrifying too. (And ugh, no Koh, no thank you AT ALL. On a related note, I hope we can go slightly off topic to discuss The Search when this series is over.) And everyone is having all kinds of feelings, including me. Onward to season two!
posted by tchemgrrl at 7:26 PM on April 20, 2015

I am definitely in favor of looking at the post-series comics at some point.
posted by bettafish at 12:54 AM on April 21, 2015

Okay, serious thoughts.

I've been trying to get a few people in Avatar recently, and this is where they go from "Yeah, yeah, this is kinda cute" to "Holy smokes, did you just see that?"

If it didn't require you knowing the entire backstory, this is what I would show people right after "The Boy in the Iceberg". It has everything from Sokka suddenly going from being that ridiculous Southern peasant to someone who actually has detailed enemy knowledge, to Yue and the water spirits, to Katara's eyes being two pools of blue in the greyscale world without the moon, to Aang going into the spirit world and meeting Koh, who was so goddamned memorable that it seems like every time they brought in a new Big Bad on Korra, there would always be at least one fan who would say "Is it Koh? Is Koh coming back?", to goddamn Water Spirit Kaiju with a tiny Aang in the middle.

It's why people gush about this show. And it's wonderful.

As an aside holy smokes I wanna do this cosplay so bad (Source). Get me some felt stat!

So we're taking a brief break from the two-per-week schedule, and we'll start up again with "The Avatar State" on Monday, May 18th. How does Book 2 start? Wait and see!
posted by Katemonkey at 3:43 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Not just the reference to Iroh at Ba Sing Se, but they totally just NBD slipped in a reference to Iron actually visiting the Spirit World! Whoa, I never noticed that before! (So thankful to this group rewatch to catch these things now!) I guess that gives us another clue to why Iroh could see Roku's dragon spirit a few episodes back!

I also loved the black and white when we lost the moon, with just the splashes of fire and the Ocean Spirit to color the world. Brilliant use of color.

And the musical score when Aang is in the Ocean Spirit. Such dispair and anger in that sound. Because the Ocean Spirit's love and partner of millennia was just brutally killed! Augh!

I only wish I could watch it again for the first time, to see Zuko with empty Aang trudging through the blizzard and wondering where he was trying to go. And the Yue rebirth. And the moon going RED.
posted by jillithd at 1:34 PM on April 25, 2015

Not just the reference to Iroh at Ba Sing Se, but they totally just NBD slipped in a reference to Iron actually visiting the Spirit World! Whoa, I never noticed that before! (So thankful to this group rewatch to catch these things now!) I guess that gives us another clue to why Iroh could see Roku's dragon spirit a few episodes back!

I'd missed that, too!

Still haven't had a chance to do my longer commentary...but soon!
posted by Atreides at 7:11 AM on April 27, 2015

Hey, season two is a go!
posted by Atreides at 6:10 AM on May 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

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