Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Earth King   Rewatch 
July 16, 2015 8:02 AM - Season 2, Episode 18 - Subscribe

Now that Appa's back, will the Gaang take off and leave Ba Sing Se to the evil clutches of Long Feng, or will they introduce the Earth King to his people? And what letters has Long Feng been hiding from them?

Meanwhile, Zuko has an existential crisis that also manifests as a physical crisis. Will he "be the beautiful prince you were always meant to be"?
posted by Katemonkey (10 comments total)
Those dragons in his fever dream!

I feel like those letters were too convenient. Like, there must be some kind of play being made. And Toph confirms it, although I was thinking it was a Long Feng ploy at first.

The Earth King bothers me. A man with so much power and yet so little knowledge of the land and people he has power over. I just want to completely dismiss him but I can't because he's THE KING. And NO WONDER that the Dai Li have allegiances to Long Feng. Super skilled assassin/warriors like them would have a hard time following someone so child-like, and a much easier time respecting powerful people. (As we see again later.)
posted by jillithd at 8:12 AM on July 16, 2015

I'm with Sweetness.

Long Feng's "you know you can't trust domestic machinery" should've been a dead give-away to anyone about his lies, because if anyone was going to tout the superiority of everything from Ba Sing Se, it was him.

I was really hoping that Zuko was going to be turning into a butterfly after all that metamorphosis talk from Iroh. Maybe some kind of butterfly/dragon? Definitely something superior to a dragonfly.

Bosco nodding along with the Earth King's "that makes me the king fool" makes Bosco best animal.

The Gaang's entrance into the palace is spectacular, even with all of Katara's "sorry!"s dropping the tone a bit.
posted by minsies at 10:21 AM on July 16, 2015

Long thoughts here, shorter thoughts below!

The fight to reach the Earth King has to be one of the best examples of the team bending in the show so far. It's incredible that Toph, Aang, and Katara (Sorry, Sokka), pretty much walk through scores of the Earth King's men to reach him.

One of my favorite moments of Avatar is the yay! Aw...! Okay...? after they expose Long Feng as lying about Appa. I need to find that gif to adore it more.

AND GEEZUS. For those of you who have seen Korra did you catch Long Feng's initial description of who Team Avatar were? Sound familiar? Was the idea planted that earlier? HRM!

Zuko is officially a hero now. He's gone through his butterfly change and he can never go back. He's successfully made the transition from Villain to Hero, while for a bit, still retaining the "anti" prefix.

Good ol' Bosco.

The Earth King as a character is an interesting one. He's not an idiot, but he's been living in a bubble that placed him above everyone and everything else. The idea that no Earth King has ever been to the Outer Wall is an incredible statement and reveals that possibly a degree of his isolation isn't entirely Long Feng's intrigue, but part of the tradition of the throne. The throne room gets A++ for design. It might be my favorite throne room of the show. I mean. It has a GIANT BADGER MOLE. (The statues of which the guards decided were easily replaceable and convenient for hurling at intruders).

In our talks about Empire Strikes Back I realized as I watched this that one of heroes ends up in this episode encased in metal, while another departs to be trained by a wizened guru in a vine overgrown place. Heh.
posted by Atreides at 2:28 PM on July 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

The idea that no Earth King has ever been to the Outer Wall is an incredible statement and reveals that possibly a degree of his isolation isn't entirely Long Feng's intrigue, but part of the tradition of the throne.

Yeah, I would totally buy this being an established thing that Long Feng just happened to take advantage of. We don't get a lot of insight into Earth Kingdom nobility in either series, but all of the glimpses we do see (the Earth Kingdom party they sneak into, Toph's parents, King Kuei--who is at least well-intentioned, if clueless--and the examples that come up later in LoK) paint a completely unflattering picture of the culture in the upper echelons.
posted by Kosh at 2:48 PM on July 16, 2015

This is the episode that has Aang hilariously earthbending his rock handcuffs off for a moment to make some nonchalant gesture, yes? That never fails to crack me up.
posted by angeline at 3:59 PM on July 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

angeline, that was one of my favorite little moments of the episode! Also, the emotional gamut from "Yeah!" to "Awww!" to "Okay, that's a start" as the Gaang react to Kuei's pronouncements. Best action moment: Katara's combo vault-moat-and-whip-slam, with a close second for the earthbending escalator.

Season 2 is more-or-less bookended by Aang and Zuko having symbolic dreams about each other; if you take the darker interpretation of Dragon Azula's exhortations to "sleep," they've also both dreamed about Zuko's death as a possible/likely consequence of the paths they're on.

I think I've mentioned before that I like the use of lighting on this show, but it was particularly pronounced this episode so I'll say it again. The dusk lighting made the palace invasion even more intense, and then the sunset scene on the wall gave a visual-only cue to how much time passed over the course of the story.

Zuko is super bland-looking without his scar, but maybe that's just because he has no facial expressions in that scene.
posted by bettafish at 4:33 PM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

You know, it occurred to me when they mentioned the comet that comets are actually mostly ice. The idea that a comet would appear in the sky and make the Fire Nation more powerful is actually a bit weird. Especially since when the moon is strongest in the sky, the water benders are most powerful.
posted by dsquared at 8:20 PM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by Atreides at 6:57 AM on July 17, 2015

Appa saves the day! First, with the bite marks as proof of Long Feng's lies, then as an incentive to visit the outer wall to see proof of the Fire Nation's war against Ba Sing Se.

I feel like those letters were too convenient. Like, there must be some kind of play being made.

Optimism and Sokka's positive attitude had a good run in this episode. I'm worried about the next one.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:48 AM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

We should capitalize Positive Attitude, so it can join Sokka's Instinct as a distinct entity.

"So what does Sokka's Instinct have to say about Sokka's Positive Attitude?"

Honestly, it's quite feasible to say that Appa saves the world. Without Appa, Aang would not have reached the Northern Water Tribe in time to save it from Admiral Zhao (and thus, never met Master Paku, nor Katara learn enough to teach him and get the water bending scrolls). Likewise, without Appa, Azula might have captured Aang from the start and the Fire Nation would have successfully had time to drill through Ba Sing Se's walls given the head start to do so - removing all the time Appa saved them leading up to "The Library."

Appa, like Chewbacca, deserves a dang medal.
posted by Atreides at 9:00 AM on July 17, 2015

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