Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Cave of Two Lovers   Rewatch 
May 21, 2015 5:10 AM - Season 2, Episode 2 - Subscribe

Aang, Katara, and Sokka make their way to Omashu, but have trouble going by air. Luckily, a group of wandering musicians tell them about an underground route. A...


Meanwhile, since Iroh can't tell if a plant is delectable tea or deadly poison, Zuko learns how life can be when the Fire Nation destroys your family (and you're not the Fire Prince).

Noteable points:
The first appearance of badgermoles
The story behind the city of Omashu
And Aang would totally choose to kiss Katara instead of dying.
posted by Katemonkey (18 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I love this episode for everything about it.

But mostly for


posted by Katemonkey at 5:12 AM on May 21, 2015 [5 favorites]

This was such a great episode! I love how both teams ended up at the end via different routes. Poor Sokka! As a detail-oriented planner, I totally understand his complete frustration with those damn hippies nomads.

posted by jillithd at 6:14 AM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

My husband and I were trapped on a bus this weekend and it was taking forever. I was whining and he sang, "Don't let the bus ride get you down, [chaiminda]!" By far the most quoted episode in my house.

Other favorites:

Sokka: I hate to be a wet blanket, but Katara's busy, so...

Fire Nation Soldier: Don't go in there! Haven't you heard the song?
posted by chaiminda at 7:22 AM on May 21, 2015 [6 favorites]

Best animal totally goes to the badgermoles, because badgermoles! (Are there other animals who can bend?) Appa gets an honourable mention for the hair braiding and how much he wanted to get the hell out of that cave. (Sorry, wolfbats! You are not for me.)

I am pretty sure Chong says "the tunnels, they're a-changin'", which I really appreciated. (I guess Dylan doesn't have to approve that kind of derivative usage.)

I wasn't that interested in Zuko and Iroh this episode, though I was mad at Zuko for stealing that chocobo. I guess there's a good chance that will come back to bite them.

Oh, it's a real legend.
posted by minsies at 10:29 AM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

(minsies, technically there are two last airbenders, the other being Appa. We will also meet the animals who taught firebenders their art in season 3. Waterbenders are the only ones who didn't learn bending from an animal, unless you count the Moon's fish form.)

I remember this episode being filler, but it was great! Lots of humor, lots of worldbuilding, lots of little character moments and then that helluva cliffhanger. Budding awkward Kataang, Sokka the put-upon, Appa and Momo showing more personality than they get to most episodes, Lee and Mushi the comedy duo and their silent routine.

Having Song not raise the alarm was an interesting choice -- it gave a generic "sweet village girl" character a sense of inner life. I wouldn't have minded seeing her again. Or the hippies, for that matter!
posted by bettafish at 11:48 AM on May 21, 2015

Oh, and I love that the show is established enough now that we can cover the attempted flight to Omashu in, like, three seconds.
posted by bettafish at 11:50 AM on May 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh man! This is definitely a highly quotable episode. I always find the first ep of season two to be annoying (someone should have clocked that General a good one way earlier in the episode), so this one ends up being a palate cleansing delight.

"I remembered the line! *strikes ominous chord* AND DIE."
posted by angeline at 11:50 AM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Here's the long thoughts! Short thoughts below!

This is a great episode and the second time the gang had the expectation of safety and support ripped away from them by the conquest of Omashu.

(Are there other animals who can bend?)

Yes! The pantheon of original benders goes to air bison, badger moles, and WAIT UNTIL SEASON THREE (if you want the spoiler, just Memail me). Water benders get stuck with the moon, which isn't cute nor furry nor even something you can try to hug.

I dug the Zuko stuff much more this time around than previously. We get to see the conflict inside Zuko begin to emerge concerning his identity. Prior to the betrayal by Azula, Zuko clung to his identity as the son of the Fire Lord, and that desire is what spurred him to relentlessly hunt for the Avatar. While he signified his figurative cutting of ties by physically cutting his hair at the end of the last episode, this is the first time we get to see a Zuko who has symbolically severed himself from the identity he has known since birth. On top of that, he's exposed to the suffering caused by the Fire Nation, something he appeared either to never bother thinking about or was incapable of considering prior to his shedding of identity.

When he steals the ostrich horse at the end, it's really part of his internal battle over identity. Is he the Fire Lord's son, the heir of the Fire Nation, who would without thought take the property of a middling Earth Kingdom villager or is he the person who is shocked by the pain suffered by a kind soul like Song, the woman who showed him her burnt leg and spoke of her father being taken away by Fire Nation troops? As this season and the next progresses, this conflict over identity becomes a central element of Zuko's story on his journey to becoming the other hero of the show.

And yes, the whole romance thing was cute with Katara and Aang....just not as fascinating as Zuko!

Iroh was wonderfully Iroh. I loved how he was ashamed of his own inability to take a stand with Zuko over the Ostrich Horse and lowered his head. The white jade plant tea. Oooooo' Iroh!

Appa had some great characterization in this episode. It's probably the best until "Appa's Lost Days."

A lot of great lines in this episode, too!
posted by Atreides at 11:52 AM on May 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Zuko's face-heel turn is the most interesting one I've encountered, precisely because it's not a turn in the sense of a single movement or epiphany. Right now he's distanced himself from his father just enough for self-preservation -- it's not even a real rejection, only pure necessity -- but without being the Fire Lord's heir he has literally no idea what to do, how to interact with people, or even what he values aside from survival itself. Not only is he nowhere near joining the other side, he's a couple of choices away from becoming a desperado, or an extremist like another dual sword wielder we've met. Or at least, that's what it seems like on the surface.
posted by bettafish at 12:18 PM on May 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

Oh! I hadn't even considered that Appa was an airbender. Had that been made explicit in the show so far? I may just be an idiot.
posted by minsies at 12:26 PM on May 21, 2015

Nah, I don't think it's ever explicitly stated onscreen! Or if it is, not until much later.
posted by bettafish at 12:36 PM on May 21, 2015

I don't remember it being explicitly stated until the episode where we find out about the first firebenders in book three, but I could be wrong?
posted by angeline at 12:50 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh, thank goodness.
posted by minsies at 12:55 PM on May 21, 2015

It's definitely stated in the Third Season. I have a nagging feeling, which I think is wrong, that there's some reference earlier, tho'.
posted by Atreides at 1:40 PM on May 21, 2015

I hadn't thought of Appa being an airbender, but it makes sense. If not for bending, how could a huge, wingless animal fly through the air? He's not flapping his tail in any convincing way, so there has to be other forces at work. Even if air bisons were somehow naturally buoyant, there is still the issue of how he propels himself forward.

Best pseudo-animal: Aang's water octopus.

I like that Sokka is still relaxed and laid back, even though his interests in order and organization are more clear. It's like we're watching him grow up from being a strong-headed youth who thought he could take on the Fire Nation single-handedly, or at least defend his village against outside attackers, while still being a silly kid at times, to a more mature young man who has found a better balance between relaxation and focus on goals.

I loved the scene where Momo and Appa were reunited, and Momo told Appa all about the adventures they just had.

Best visuals of the episode: the flashback/story of Oma and Shu.

I am pretty sure Chong says "the tunnels, they're a-changin'", which I really appreciated. (I guess Dylan doesn't have to approve that kind of derivative usage.)

I heard that, too! I'm glad it wasn't just me. (It's also captured in the transcript.)
posted by filthy light thief at 8:35 AM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

I am just here to say that I, as a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Madison, 100% approve of any episode with a bunch of hippies whose songs convince GIANT FRICKIN' BADGERS to help them.

(Also, I started watching this show because of a MeFi thread and have been amazed at how good it is. I'm not done yet and already I can't wait to rewatch it when my 4-year-old son is old enough to appreciate it.)
posted by dsquared at 5:56 PM on May 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

Dsquared, my 4 year old does these amazing made-up bending forms after watching some episodes, which is hilarious to me because we've called him our little earth bender since before he could walk. He doesn't quite pick up the bigger picture stuff but it's an interesting process. (He particularly likes the comics, especially The Search. Wait till later though as there are series-shifting spoilers.)
posted by tchemgrrl at 7:42 PM on May 22, 2015

This was the first episode of Avatar I ever saw. Absolutely love it. I am always so impressed with how this show balances serious high-stakes fighty times with warmheartedness and comedy (not always in the same episode).
posted by stompadour at 7:14 AM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

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