Avatar: The Last Airbender: Appa's Lost Days   Rewatch 
July 9, 2015 8:47 AM - Season 2, Episode 16 - Subscribe

Get your hankies out - we find out what happened to Appa between The Library and Tales of Ba Sing Se.

Includes a trip to the circus, Kyoshi warriors, a guru, the evil of Long Feng, and flashbacks that will break your heart.
posted by Katemonkey (20 comments total)
posted by Katemonkey at 8:50 AM on July 9, 2015

This is the circus, home of fear and danger.

You are only right about one thing, horrible circus people, and it is that. Ugh, circuses.

Thank goodness Guru Pathik, Suki and Iroh were around to balance the horrible humans (and animals). If any A:TLA episode were to give me nightmares, this would be it.

It wasn't quite clear what happened in the last scene - I had to double-check in the transcript to see that Appa had been captured. Something about the slab animation wasn't obvious to me, for whatever reason. (I may have been just desperately hoping he'd evade Long Feng.)

But: BABY APPA! Other sky bison! Mommy or daddy sky bison! You are all best animals.
posted by minsies at 9:36 AM on July 9, 2015

minsies, I was specifically thinking of you when watching this ep; I was remembering you worrying about animal pain right at the beginning and wondering if you made it.

Welcome, Guru Pathik. I'd forgotten he was in here, and cripes, we need a little ray of hope in this ep, don't we?
posted by tchemgrrl at 10:04 AM on July 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

I made it, but I gave my dog the biggest hug after I'd finished watching it. He's about to get another one, and he has no idea!

None of the last couple episodes have made me cry for whatever reason; in this case, it was probably because I had mostly noped on out of what I was watching once I saw Appa being captured by the sandbenders again. I kinda watched the whole thing out of the corner of one eye.
posted by minsies at 10:12 AM on July 9, 2015


The most upsetting part for me is when the Kyoshi Warriors find him! SO CLOSE!

Well no maybe the most upsetting part is the boarcupine, who gets NO POINTS for being a good animal AT ALL. Nul point!

Or the terrible circus...

Can't decide. It's all sad making.
posted by angeline at 11:38 AM on July 9, 2015

And then Suki has to scare Appa away with the flaming torch! Talk about insult to injury for poor Appa!
posted by jillithd at 1:15 PM on July 9, 2015

Long thoughts here, shorter thoughts below!

I feel as if an alternate title might have been, "Appa's Very Bad Month," as the majority of it falls into one bad thing happening after another, be it the bisonnapping, being drugged, sold to an evil circus (same one that Ty Lee was at!), then escaping only to find Aang and the library gone, then eating thorny fruit, being chased by buzzard wasps, running into a territorial and a bit of a jerk porcuboar or whatchamacallit, and when he finally gets a break, Azula shows up to ruin the party. And that's all before being earth bended into an UNDERGROUND PLACE. Aang had promised that he'd never have to go underground again, and there's where the poor guy ends up. Thanks a lot, Long Feng, or should I say, Jerk Feng?

The episode is also neat in that it drops foreshadowing for three future events that arise from Appa's interactions with different people in it. I won't go into spoiler world, as one of them is a wonderful plot twist that arises from the events of this episode, but it puts up those sign posts so they don't happen simply out of no where.

I also appreciated how they opted to tell us Appa's story instead of simply relying on the whole word of mouth, "Oh, he's probably in Ba Sing Se now..." and then just showing his paw print to confirm that almost reflective admission.

This is the second episode in a row, also, to show us sad animals behind bars. Don't put your animals behind bars, people. I'd like to think Appa's defiance at the circus resulted in the other creatures making their own break for it.

Suki is awesome. I think I expressed that opinion in the last thread.

I believe we only have one air temple left to visit now, and that'll have to wait until next season. Southern. Northern. Eastern. Western.
posted by Atreides at 2:48 PM on July 9, 2015

Yeah, I was watching this episode like, "Oh god, I forgot how upsetting this was, not gonna cry not gonna cry, OH NO I TOLD MINSIES THEY MIGHT LIKE THIS EPISODE WHAT WAS I THINKING I'M SO SORRY!" So, uh... my bad?

This is my favorite Suki appearance so far; seeing her away from the Gaang gives a chance for her bravery/compassion/leadership to shine. And then her heroic sacrifice at the end! Definitely one of the worst cliffhangers in a series that has a ton of "omg aaaaaah YOU DID NOT" cliffhangers because you genuinely don't know how that's going to turn out for her.

I think this is the first time we've seen Iroh actively impeding Zuko's quest (as opposed to having other and more urgent priorities).
posted by bettafish at 2:54 PM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Atreides, can you message me with the three things, because I'm not entirely sure we're thinking of the same three (plus I can only think of two).

The porcuboar is officially a boar-q-pine, which I mention not to nitpick but because it's hilarious.
posted by bettafish at 2:56 PM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also, Appa with bedhead is so cute.
posted by bettafish at 2:57 PM on July 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

I completely agree. Sorry Toph, Appa wins bedhead of Avatar.

That's a good note on Iroh. He's never been a proactive member of Zuko's capture of the Avatar, but he at least participated and offered his advice in the matter. Very soon, Iroh will take steps that will go even farther, and it's nice to see this gradual escalation.
posted by Atreides at 7:04 AM on July 10, 2015

At this point, Azula and her gang are getting a bit annoying. For a show that does characters so well, these three seem pretty flat. Every time they show up and kick ass. Ty Lee jumps around and does her magic punches! Mai throws, like, a million daggers! Azula shoots lots of blue firebolts! (Accompanied by appropriately arrogant and corny zingers -- "don't you know that fans make flames stronger?") It's getting a bit old at this point.
posted by dsquared at 8:22 PM on July 10, 2015

dsquared, the Dangerous Ladies definitely get more development further down the line, though not immediately.
posted by bettafish at 5:34 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

As bettafish says, they definitely get some love. I wonder, too, if that loves arises in part because the writers realized that the trio were being under represented in terms of development. Azula, at least has the benefit of the flashbacks in "Zuko Alone," but Mai and Ty Lee only have bread crumbs to rely upon.
posted by Atreides at 7:24 AM on July 13, 2015

This is the most "animalistic" we've seen Appa so far, and I really felt for him turning into a semi-wild animal after a series of abuses at the hands of people. The animation was really well done to convey that this was a changed Appa.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:38 AM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

I didn't think about it, but you're right, even with just his character design. When he's at his absolute pits, he's dirty, in need of groom, and at the worse, his own appearance distorted by the quills sticking from his hide. We're being shown that this is not the Appa we know, but a different Appa with a different appearance and different personality. Only once his appearance is restored, does Appa finally return to being more like the air bison we know. His brief distrust of the guru is kind of highlighted by his bed head, which he shakes away and Appa is fully returned.
posted by Atreides at 9:54 AM on July 13, 2015

bettafish: I've finished the series, so I do know that those characters get better. My above comment is what I thought when I first watched this episode. I think those three eventually are developed and resolved well, but I do wish the writers could have worked to make them as complex and interesting as so many other characters. I mean, at this point, Appa is a better developed character than Mai.

(OTOH, sometimes I step back and remind myself that the target age for this show is around 8. All things considered, it's totally unreasonable how good this is.)
posted by dsquared at 6:15 PM on July 13, 2015

I think it has less to do with the show's target audience, and more that it has a runtime of 22 minutes per episode and a main speaking cast of six people across two parallel storylines with almost another dozen minor or recurring characters.

I did feel on first watch that Team Azula was underdeveloped, but on the other hand the revelation a few eps from now is more effective for not having known what they've been up to. IMO next season's exploration of the psychological damage of growing up in the Fire Nation is also more effective because Mai and Ty Lee were pretty one-note characters up to that point, but I'd rather talk about that when we get to those eps in the rewatch and they're fresh in my memory! Plus it's been seven (?!) years, so I might feel differently now.
posted by bettafish at 3:47 PM on July 14, 2015

Semi-related randomness from 'round the 'net:
* Yip yip!
* ozai’s angels off 2 capture the avatar (found this tumblr via this minimally animated comic)
posted by filthy light thief at 10:23 PM on July 16, 2015

I'm going to drown in fan produced stuffs thanks to these rewatch threads. Argh.
posted by Atreides at 6:54 AM on July 17, 2015

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