Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Blind Bandit   Rewatch 
June 4, 2015 9:24 AM - Season 2, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Aang searches for his Earthbending Master. Could an earthbending tournament in Gaoling hold the answer? The Boulder is over his conflicted feelings!

Everyone get on the Avatar hype train - Toph is in the house!

Also, The Boulder was originally supposed to be voiced by Dwayne Johnson. Alas, he could not be there, so Mick Foley stepped in and did his best Dwayne Johnson impression. So, yes, The Boulder was supposed to be The Rock.

Also: waaaaater triiiiiiiiibe!
posted by Katemonkey (17 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Avatar Hype Train departing for Ba Sing Se! All aboard!

I love Toph. I love the earthbending tournament. I love that we saw it again in Book 4 of Korra. I love The Boulder. I love how there's just so much under the surface when it comes to the Beifongs and Earth Kingdom aristrocracy.

This is where occasional fans suddenly go "Oh. OH. YEAH."
posted by Katemonkey at 9:27 AM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

This episode to the end of the season is such an amazing run.
posted by kmz at 9:34 AM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

Sokka gets wrestlerockfightmania! The return of the earthbending badger as a stage cleaner! And who brings an air canon to a rock fight and expects to get away with it?

Also: waaaaater triiiiiiiiibe

Soooo good! The head roll and everything.

Which brings us to: super deformed Bending Battle!
Aang: What's that supposed to be Sokka?
Sokka: This is BOOMERANG! *Flick*
Aang: Ow, my arrow!
posted by filthy light thief at 10:05 AM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Earthbending badger as the cleanup crew is best animal, of course. If there had been an actual flying pig (rather than a flying pig in flashbacks or a tapestry), it would've won, but too bad, pigs! (Momo in Sokka's bag is a close second.)

Mr minsies was eyeing me during the Sokka's dithering about his bag purchase, because that was a very accurate representation of me buying anything (including the buyer's remorse afterwards).

I probably shouldn't be surprised at Toph's dad's reaction (it needed to be there to push Toph's story forward with the Gaang), but oh, man, bad dad. Her parents were surprisingly chill about the mess Aang sneezed all over their walls, though.

It was good (in a way) to see Toph get hit in the head with the belt, just to show that she's not infallible. Of course, Aang had also airbended her out of the ring, but anyway.

How many people are after the Gaang now? Zuko, Azula and her crewla, the Beifongs' hired help ... is there anyone else?
posted by minsies at 10:25 AM on June 4, 2015

Well, anyone who wants the Fire Kingdom's ransom, probably including the pirates (but the Avatar wiki tells me we won't see their captain again, and thus we probably won't see the crew).
posted by filthy light thief at 12:08 PM on June 4, 2015

The Fire Nation heel is pretty great. All the nations are pretty xenophobic. Is it because the world is out of balance after 100 years without the Avatar, or was it always like this?

Avatar feminism in heavy rotation in this episode: 1) Toph tries to insult Aang by calling him a girl, Aang doesn't even react to it as if he is in any way insulted. 2) Katara's feminine wiles involving icing two guys perpendicular to a wall. 3) Sokka being the one in the group super into shopping and accessories (watch him polish that giant belt, he loves that thing.) 4) Toph tophtophtophtoph OMG Toph my very favorite. She's attempting to balance her perceived weakness and desire for respect and I feel like that is about half the conversations I've been having with female colleagues lately. She's kind of a brat, but she's been so sheltered. It doesn't take long for her to figure out how to deal with humans who aren't paid to care for her.

> is there anyone else?

Based on the wanted poster, the entire world, but only those folks specifically right now.
posted by tchemgrrl at 12:12 PM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yeah, sorry, definitely should've specified - actual people we've been introduced to in the show so far. Sounds like there's a consensus anyway!
posted by minsies at 12:22 PM on June 4, 2015

TOPH. I love Toph. Toph is the peppery addition the Gaang needed to be complete at its core, and not just because of her earthbending.

"My daughter is blind! She is tiny and delicate and fragile!" Ha. Oh, Papa Bei Fong. We all know who is the truly blind one here. I'm always amazed that Toph got away with so much under her parents' nose when they kept such tight surveillance on her!

I need to find the gifset of the Katara and Sokka cosplayers who reenacted the "I've got my eye on you" scene. That's what finally got me to sit down and watch the show, and I laugh every time I see it now.
posted by angeline at 1:34 PM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

Even better: video!
posted by angeline at 1:36 PM on June 4, 2015 [4 favorites]

Hah, that's fun. I like that Korra has also gotten more sassy as the show has progressed. She wouldn't have done that in the first season.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:31 PM on June 4, 2015

Thank you, thank you, thank you to head writer Aaron Ehasz for convincing Bryke to make Toph a girl. Originally she was supposed to have the same personality, but be a macho 16-year-old boy to contrast with Sokka's nerdiness, and that might not have been terrible but it would have been so much less good and less interesting than what we got.

(Toph's original design is the earthbender in the opening and had some influence on the design of Bolin in LoK.)

Another interesting bit of trivia: Toph's bending style is based on the Chu Gar Southern Praying Mantis style of kung fu, which according to episode commentary was created in the Tang dynasty by a blind woman. (I can't find another source for that, though.) Most earthbenders use Hung Gar.

The storytelling during the Bandit-Boulder fight, from the moment Aang recognizes Toph onwards, is just masterful. I had to rewatch it three times just to admire it -- not just beautifully animated, but so much information without a single line of dialogue!

Katara was probably my least favorite of the main cast -- still a character I liked, but no. 5 -- in my first watchthrough, and this time around I have no idea why. I think she's managed to eclipse my adoration of Aang!
posted by bettafish at 4:26 PM on June 4, 2015 [5 favorites]

TOPH! So awesome. And Mick Foley as the voice of The Boulder. Love it.
posted by jillithd at 5:49 PM on June 4, 2015

I'm just here to hop on the "Sokka's whispered water triiiibe line is the awesomest thing ever" bandwagon.

hop hop hop
posted by dsquared at 6:11 PM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]

So I don't have sources, but here are some of the wonderful fan theories I know about the Beifongs and Earth Kingdom in general.

One theory is that earthbending might be great for farmers and Omashu delivery people and the Dai Li, but Proper Gentlemen and Ladies do not earthbend heavily. So not only is Toph breaking the rules by earthbending despite her "disability", she is also breaking the rules by earthbending despite her status.

Another theory is that Lao Beifong is actually siding with the Fire Nation rather than the Earth Kingdom. He's not actively working for them, but it's just much easier to have Fire Nation stuff around and, y'know, not complain when they do things, and pay your Fire Nation taxes, and...yeah.

There was another bit I saw in a piece of fanfiction that sort of extrapolated that Earth Kingdom women had their feet bound, much like Imperial China. And that Toph pretended to be more frail than she was so that she wouldn't have her feet bound, since her feet were the way she understood the world.

I also like comparing how Lao and Poppy raise Toph with how Toph raises her girls and how Suyin raises her kids. They really did a fantastic job subtly showing how everyone has problems parenting . (And man, am I ever with Lin in the "nope nope nope, not happening" crowd.)

So...um...I really really like Beifongs. And Earth Kingdom. Even though I am totally a swampbender by heart.
posted by Katemonkey at 12:52 AM on June 5, 2015 [2 favorites]



posted by Atreides at 6:51 AM on June 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Thank you, thank you, thank you to head writer Aaron Ehasz for convincing Bryke to make Toph a girl. Originally she was supposed to have the same personality, but be a macho 16-year-old boy to contrast with Sokka's nerdiness, and that might not have been terrible but it would have been so much less good and less interesting than what we got.

What a lame alternate universe that would have been.
posted by edbles at 6:57 AM on June 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

In under a month, my thoughts on the episode!

As I look over the thread, tchemgrrl did a much better job of pointing out ATLA's attack on gender stereotypes. If I ever have a daughter, I cannot wait to sit down and watch it with her. Same is true if I have a boy, though, for the same reason. Well then. I guess whatever child I end up with, they're going to be in for a sitting session!
posted by Atreides at 2:18 PM on June 30, 2015

« Older Firefly: Trash...   |  Podcast: The Adventure Zone: E... Newer »

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