Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Awakening   Rewatch 
August 17, 2015 8:48 AM - Season 3, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Aang awakes for the first time in weeks with a painful scar in his back and in a Fire Nation ship. A quick escape attempt reveals his friends are aboard and a new plan to stop Fire Lord Ozai's and the Fire Nation's desire for world conquest. With the fall of Ba Sing Se a big step in that direction, Zuko returns home after three years in exile and is proclaimed a hero.
posted by Atreides (10 comments total)
I did not think Aang had hair, even though most of the other Avatars weren't bald. I just assumed that was part of his Avatarness, but all it takes is a few weeks being unconscious, and hey presto: hair!

Mai and Zuko kissing made me super uncomfortable, as did Katara's reaction to her dad. (Katara's reaction makes sense, but it didn't seem warranted at that point, considering that everyone had been on that ship together for several weeks. Surely her anger would've resulted in comments before then.)

Best animal goes to Bosco, because I'm pretty sure he's not going to show up again. The Earth King needs to have some adventures, though, and Bosco is defintely the bear for that. (The turtle ducks are a very, very close second.)

There was a lot of doubling down on the redemption stuff. At this point, I think Zuko has the harder path to follow since he has Azula to contend with. I'm not sure the rest of the Fire Nation has anything on her.

Also, Roku, finally. You did screw up, ya big galoot.
posted by minsies at 9:17 AM on August 17, 2015

A couple things that jumped out at me on rewatch. The dragon-shaped cloud to the left of the moon that Zuko kept staring at. A) Foreshadowing (for those who have seen the series to decide upon) and B) a visual cue that Zuko was thinking about his uncle, the Dragon of the West. It's tragic, but it feels like it took Zuko making the wrong decision to realize that he no longer was the person who makes that type of decision - but it's a whammy of a decision. This comes up later when we're shown that Zuko knowingly lies about a possible means by which Aang might have survived the lightning strike.

The flipping of two things: Aang is worried about his 'honor' something that was primarily a key note for Zuko, and for the second time, Aang runs away and into a storm...but unlike "The Storm," he's running away to BE the Avatar, not to escape it.

Then he gets his Luke on Hoth experience with Obi-wan Avatar Roku appearing before him when all seemed lost. By the way, Surfing Aang action figures will be available at toy stores near you.

The frustration that Katara has toward her father is somewhat out of character given the time they've spent on the ship, and only makes sense if it's a product of her no longer worrying about losing Aang. Once he awakes, appears to be okay, she's finally able to focus on her feelings...and that being her father's abandonment of her and Sokka.

Azula vs Zuko = Score One to Azula (not taking credit for Aang's death).

Bonus points to the Dai Li for doing what the Fire Nation could not, bring down the walls of Ba Sing Se. It makes a fascinating parallel to events in Legend of Korra later on.
posted by Atreides at 11:16 AM on August 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Katara's reaction made perfect sense to me. Like she says, she understands intellectually why Hakoda did what he did, so she doesn't think her negative feelings are justified and suppresses them into passive-aggressiveness. Then Aang abandons her "for her own good" and it all comes boiling up to the surface. Honestly, I wouldn't care if it didn't make any sense because Mae Whitman is a revelation in that scene.

(While we're talking voice actors, Zach Tyler Eisen is also fantastic this episode. Fandom likes to claim that Aang goes through no character development but he is such a different character here from who he was in the Boy in the Iceberg, in ways both good and bad sad.)

The juxtaposition between the Katara-Hakoda and Zuko-Ozai scenes shows how destructive the war has been to families on both sides of the conflict (key difference being that Hakoda's family's suffering has been externally imposed, whereas Ozai is the source of the misery in his own). Katara and Hakoda are arguing and Ozai is "welcoming" Zuko home, but the way the two scenes are set up I think you could plonk down a new viewer in front of the screen, show them just those few minutes, and they would still be able to tell which family was healthier. The repressed fear in Zuko's expression is heartrending.
posted by bettafish at 4:07 PM on August 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

This was a good opening episode for the season - a bit of backstory, a reminder of what happened while quickly moving ahead in the time that Aang was recuperating, and a whole new set of issues for everyone.

I did not think Aang had hair
- He shaved his head in at least one past episode, and here's a page on Air Nomad shaving tools on the Avatar wikia, showing Aang shaving his head.

Best animal goes to Bosco
- for joining the earth king in tearing off his old clothes to wander the world. Now he is a really plain bear.

Aang is worried about his 'honor' something that was primarily a key note for Zuko
- Which returns to the theme of Aang and Zuko (A and Z, I'm a goon) being more alike than they might realize or care to admit (at this point in the show). High expectations put on them both, and they both fall short, but they deal with it in different ways - Aang usually with optimism, Zuko with dogged perseverance.

Katara's reaction made perfect sense to me.
- Agreed, and I agree on her voice acting - sooo good. My first little cry of the episode. (Second was for the gaang getting back together in another flipped moment - Aang found in a ball of ice when he was trying to save himself when he ran away from his avatar responsibilities, and now Aang found on a volcanic island, when he was running (full-speed) towards his destiny.)

The juxtaposition between the Katara-Hakoda and Zuko-Ozai scenes
- Also showed the fathers with very different relationships to their kids - Hakoda as protective yet with belief in their abilities, allowing them to go off and work with Aang, while Ozai wanted to more directly shape Zuko and still holds high regard for abilities and strengths.

More thoughts:
Katara really leveled up her water bending - that was a massive wall of water that separated both the two Fire Nation ships, and she had other feats of water bending prowess in those scenes. Of course, Toph is a bad ass, with more metal bending and rock flinging to fight back in a very physical way (Katara's efforts were mostly defensive in those scenes against the other Fire Nation ship).
posted by filthy light thief at 8:19 AM on August 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

>The dragon-shaped cloud to the left of the moon that Zuko kept staring at. A) Foreshadowing (for those who have seen the series to decide upon) and B) a visual cue that Zuko was thinking about his uncle, the Dragon of the West.

I hadn't noticed the cloud but I had noticed the Iroh music cue. I love the layers on this show.
posted by tchemgrrl at 7:16 PM on August 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

I knew as soon as I typed something about Aang's hair I had probably missed or forgotten a point earlier when he had hair. Oops!
posted by minsies at 9:41 AM on August 20, 2015

A bit delayed, but thoughts on this episode here.
posted by Atreides at 4:10 PM on August 25, 2015

Azula shows off once again just much better she is at the game than Zuko. She even tells him exactly what she’s scheming. She knows he’d never guess it on his own, and there’s nothing he can do about it even after he knows.

Fire Lord Ozai's face is revealed for the first time (previous discussion from the start of Book 2).

I thought the strongest image of the episode was Aang’s glider burning.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:27 PM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

We can bury things, people. Bury them and then come back and dig them up!

The glider burning was very poignant, especially given how Aang was kind of freaking out a little when Toph was simply using it for a nut cracker in "Bitter Work."
posted by Atreides at 8:57 AM on August 26, 2015

I loved the scene of Aang water surfing. He feels so powerless and then is reminded he's The Avatar and has a bit of fun.
posted by jillithd at 8:58 PM on November 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

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