Avatar: The Last Airbender: Return to Omashu
May 25, 2015 5:53 AM - Season 2, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Aang refuses to leave the Fire Nation occupied city of Omashu without finding his friend, King Bumi, and Team Avatar infiltrates the city and invent a deadly plague. Azula, under the advice of Li and Lo, leaves the royal procession behind and heads off to form her own team of elite fighters to hunt down Zuko and Iroh consisting of childhood friends, Mai and Ty Lee. Also, two platypus bears.
posted by Atreides (14 comments total)
It's good to see that the Omashu delivery system is still functioning.

Azula, Ty Lee, and Mai are a very potent trio - I like that the show isn't afraid to set a group of females together and have them serving as the antagonists. I don't like Azula much on her own, but Ty Lee and Mai are good for balance. (Unrelated side question: Do Azula's twin old women always rhyme?)

Best animal goes to the purple pentapuses, but super honourable mention status goes to Flopsie, who is the best goat gorilla ever ever ever. (You're a good boy Flopsie, yes you are!) I felt very sorry for Momo - it looked like Tom-Tom had a death grip on his tail for about half the episode.

The neutral jing conversation betweeen Bumi and Aang was interesting, especially since Aang had interfered with the resistance's boulders at the beginning of the episode. If he hadn't reacted to that, things might've been a little different (although Azula would've still ended up in Omashu and the resistance still wouldn't have known where Bumi was). Sure, he has to learn the rest of the bending, but developing his patience just a little bit will make a big difference, too.
posted by minsies at 9:17 AM on May 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Apparently the universe converses in flaming nets and wild animals. Or, Azula calls louder than fate.

No, bad Fire Nation Baby!
posted by filthy light thief at 10:24 AM on May 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

So much happens in this episode, and it takes me a few minutes to remember that, yes, all of this happens. Yes, we get to see Ty Lee at the circus. Yes, we get to meet Mai's family and little Tom Tom. Yes, the Fire Princess and friends gets to fight the Avatar and friends, and we learn she won't make deals the way others would.

Yes, we get to learn about jing, and the negative jing, the retreating, the taking away of airbending, the positive jing, the fighting, the explosion of firebending, and the push and pull, the tidal flow of waterbending, and neutral jing, the waiting, the knowing, the quick upthrust of earthbending.

SO MUCH. And it's so great, because it all flows together so well together!
posted by Katemonkey at 10:37 AM on May 25, 2015 [4 favorites]

Bumi is still a mad genius. And he can earthbend using just his face.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:39 AM on May 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

A good episode and pretty much the launch point for the rest of the season, now that the plan to go to Omashu and learn earth bending has completely gone to pot. We have our new antagonists introduced and the mission for Aang clearly defined, "Find an earth bending master who waits before taking action..."

I haven't read to see if my theory is right, but I'm betting the initial fight between Aang and Azula on the scaffolding probably was born in the initial fight between Aang and Zuko in the unaired Avatar pilot (linked on our anniversary post on the Blue).

Sibling action! Katara creates Pentapox, Sokka makes it an epidemic!

I appreciated how Mai was introduced on her own at first before Azula went hunting for her. Ty Lee is one of those characters that I initially wasn't very fond of, but thanks to the show's writers, learned to appreciate quite a bit (thank you "The Beach" !). We learn that Azula went to school with all three, but in the manner she literally burned Ty Lee's dreams of staying with the circus, reveals how much Azula cares for the happiness of her friends.

Also...Mai's reaction to Zuko's name. OooooOOOOoooh.

Longer thoughts here, for those interested.
posted by Atreides at 2:18 PM on May 25, 2015

Is it okay if I come in here and obnoxiously bouncyclap because MAAAAAI AND TY LEEEEEE AT LAAAAAAST I love them.

This episode really does pack in so much though! I was reading the last episode thread and thinking didn't we meet Ty Lee in that episode? Surely they didn't cram so much action into the next one...but they did, and it was all very neatly done.

And man I love the Omashu delivery system. Not saying I'd ever RIDE it, mind you...
posted by angeline at 3:31 PM on May 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

I won't have time to watch the ep until tomorrow, but I just want to take a moment to observe that Mai is an awesome character who owns one of the crowning moments of the entire series. Howver, it drives me up the wall that Bryke chose to transliterate it as Mai instead of Mei because no child raised on ATLA will ever say my name right now aaaaaargh
posted by bettafish at 4:23 PM on May 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

They are just so evil and capable and emotionally disconnected, those henchgirls of Azula. FWING! fistfuls of sharp knives like nobody's business. And the pressure-point de-bending trick is just so frustrating to see happen! And Ty Lee does it so cheerfully!

I don't think my kid was ever that happy-go-follow-Momo when he was that age. It definitely reminded me of Mindy and Buttons from Animaniacs.

Bumi earth bending with his face is fantastic. As if that crazy old man could have gotten even crazier!
posted by jillithd at 9:03 PM on May 25, 2015

A thing I noticed on this particular watch was the meaning of Ty Lee's disappointed/nervous face when Azula said she'd watch the show. It's not because she thinks it's a low-class place, or that Azula will merely be rude. It's because Azula has probably lit Ty Lee's hair on fire more times mid-handstand than anyone can count, and Ty Lee knows that whatever the universe says, Azula can speak louder.

I like that it takes a while to get a handle on Azula's gang. They seem really different at first, but they share an emotional veneer that may not have anything to do with what's going on below (The Royal Fire Academy must be quite a place). It made them seem kind of one-note to me through the first watch or two, but they're more rewarding on a rewatch.
posted by tchemgrrl at 8:56 AM on May 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Bumi is still a mad genius. And he can earthbend using just his face.

A question on this: I know this is supposed to be impressive, but earlier Iroh told Zuko to remember his breath of fire. Is fire (and air, I'd guess) easier to work with breath?
posted by filthy light thief at 12:28 PM on May 29, 2015

Breathing makes sense as a natural part of air bending technique. We also later learn, if we haven't yet (it would have been in "The Deserter"), that some Fire Bending techniques originate from within the Fire Bender (or something like that). Earth Bending, however, has always involved and generally in the future involve, the use of one's feet/legs/hands/arms in some way or another. We will eventually meet one of the greatest Earth Benders of all time, and I don't think we ever actually that person bend with their face. The same is true for water bending.

That Bumi can earth bend with his face is downright incredible.
posted by Atreides at 2:23 PM on May 29, 2015

It seems a trope I run into with some mild frequency in fantasy lit involving folks with special "magic" powers is "If I Can See It, I Can Affect It With My Gift". That may be Bumi's advantage, do you all think? I've just assumed that was the aim with that line.
posted by angeline at 6:50 PM on May 29, 2015

I mean not that ALL earthbenders could do that, obviously you'd have to be fairly powerful in the first place to even think about doing it.
posted by angeline at 6:50 PM on May 29, 2015

It seems a trope I run into with some mild frequency in fantasy lit involving folks with special "magic" powers is "If I Can See It, I Can Affect It With My Gift". That may be Bumi's advantage, do you all think? I've just assumed that was the aim with that line.

It's definitely something like that, as general rules at this precise time in the Avatar world is one needs a connection to the earth to bend it. Bumi is performing the bending without being directly connected outside of his own exposed face. In this moment in time, the best way to shut down an earth bender is to drop them in a metal box (a wood box would work, too). Bumi's ability to bend with his face in this predicament is outright fantastic.
posted by Atreides at 2:06 PM on May 31, 2015

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