Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Headband   Rewatch 
August 20, 2015 7:48 AM - Season 3, Episode 2 - Subscribe

Aang infiltrates the Fire Nation, by way of a snazzy headband and getting busted for truancy. And when he discovers that the mean preacher teachers ban dancing, it's up to Aang to show all these Fire Nation kids how to kick off their Sunday shoes.

Meanwhile, Zuko goes on a picnic, yells at his uncle, and meets a mysterious stranger with an awesome tattoo.

Also introducing "Flameo, hotman!" and Mr. & Mrs. Wang Fire. Reintroducing the tsungi horn, which Aang can play, but nowhere near as good as Iroh.
posted by Katemonkey (10 comments total)
I occasionally see a gifset on Tumblr depicting Aang's evasive encounter with the school bully and it's captioned something like, "Aang's fighting style is basically one big nope."


Sometimes in a rewatch I'll think of skipping this episode, because it feels a little like a filler episode somehow. But then I remember Wang Fire and Aang's tsungi horn enthusiasm and I watch it anyway because awesome.
posted by angeline at 9:21 AM on August 20, 2015

Greeting a fellow fan with "Flamey-o, my good Hotman!" is always a good idea. And Wang Fire is so dumb that it circles right back around to greatness.

My other favorite quote of the ep:

Aang: So you must be one of those popular kids I've heard about!
Popular kid: Yeah, that's right.

Sometimes it's nice to not have too much character development, even when it's basically lampshaded like that.

It's interesting that Aang throws himself so much into what is very much his pre-Avatar life, after struggling so much with the idea of hiding himself in the last episode. It's a nice little vacation from the heaviness.

Until the last 30 seconds. Hello again, Creepy Eyeball Forehead Man. I did not miss you a bit.
posted by tchemgrrl at 9:27 AM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best animal: enemy birds, of course. Momo's cave hopper snack is a close second. (I don't know how the Gaang got Appa into a cave again.)

I wouldn't have thought that Footloose and Spartacus were two great tastes that taste great together, but here's proof of that.

This is a delightful episode, even with Zuko being as volatile as ever. He gets one of the best lines of the episode, anyway: You're so beautiful when you hate the world.

I feel terrible, but I laughed when Azula called Iroh "Uncle Fatso". I don't think I really have any excuse for that.

(I also laughed too much at Wang Fire and Sapphire Fire.)
posted by minsies at 9:40 AM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Cave Jivin' (aka the Kataango)
Scarf Dance, from a deleted scene in which Sokka would be dancing. One of my favorites on the soundtrack!
Season 3 trailer music

The humor in this episode is fantastic -- I can't quote favorite lines or I'd end up reproducing the entire script -- but it's just as important that we finally get to see what life is like for ordinary Fire-folk, and that they're just as subject to cultural propaganda as those of Ba Sing Se and to a lesser extent the Northern Water Tribe. I have to give Aang a lot of credit for keeping his cool with all that "Air Nomad army" stuff, because I? Would have blown my top and gotten sent to the coal mines.

Zuko hiring Combustion Man may be the most ill-advised thing he's ever done (worse than Crossroads of Destiny, IMO), but dating Mai might be the best. They are implausibly, emodorably cute together.
posted by bettafish at 5:39 PM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

This episode made me want to take tai chi classes so I could do tai chi dance.

I'm sad that tai chi dance is not a real thing. I would sign up for that so fast. Leave the mysticism, bring the music..ism.
posted by curious nu at 9:17 PM on August 20, 2015

Wang Fire. "Hotman. Hotman. Hotman." "Flameo." "I can't. It's permanently attached to my face."

I fucking died when this first aired. It was everything I never knew I wanted from the Fire Nation episodes.

Flameo, sir. Flameo.
posted by Sokka shot first at 7:15 AM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Any show that tells people it's OK to dance and have fun is good by me. This episode had some great lines on that topic:
[Music teacher] I know sometimes we're so ruled by our love for our nation that we can't control our own bodies. If you must, you may march in place quietly next time the urge hits you.
- and -
[Aang, to Appa] I know, you got fancier feet than anybody. And six of 'em!

Also, BEST ANIMATION EVER! The animators must have had a lot of fun on this one.

(I am a fan of secret rivers)
posted by filthy light thief at 7:33 PM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Longer thoughts here...

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Fire Nation 1.0.

Indoctrination begins in school with every good Fire Nation child swearing their lives to the Fire Lord and his will. The only worthwhile things taught are those things which benefit the Fire Nation on its great mission. Even the Meat Eats Meat.

I really appreciated the humanization of the Fire Nation in this episode, which while happening sporadically in the earlier seasons, came full blast here. It also doubled down on the allusion to wartime Imperial Japan, with a full on riff later on this season when we learn the particular why the Fire Nation sets off to war in the first place.

Katara, she's young so we try not to sexualize her. But yes, I think it's fair to say that Katara's Fire Nation outfit was intended to remind us that our heroes are continuing to grow and age. Her reveal reminded me of Ginger's reveal (a bit less bombastic than Ginger's) in Korra in Season 2 of that show, as it was entirely a glamour shot. Likewise, every other girl who should have been about the same age as Katara was dressed in much less revealing clothes or school uniforms (the only women who dressed like Katara in the episode were adult women). We get a strong push on the romance between Aang and Katara, which also sort of perplexes me with the whole detachment from Katara that Aang had to do to enter the Avatar State at the end of "Crossroads of Destiny." Was that temporary? Is it just that Aang is ready to deal with the loss of her if it happens? As the Guru put it, it seemed as if he was supposed to set aside his love for her, and at the least ,he's definitely still attracted to her.

Aang's fighting style is a toss back to Season One when he first fights Zuko in hand to hand combat a couple times, classic Air Bender strategy, evade and use your enemy's force against them. ... (Gosh, who said that? Someone did...)

Outrageously, in a convo with Katemonkey, she referred to this episode as the Footloose episode. I NEVER MADE THAT CONNECTION. (The role of John Lithgow will be played by an older Asian gentleman headmaster).

Azula looking out for Zuko. What? Hrm.

Zuko and Mai. That's gotten heavy fast.

And ladies and gentlemen, I introduce you to Sparky Sparky Boom Man. Eerf.
posted by Atreides at 1:01 PM on August 26, 2015

We haven't heard Uncle Iroh speak since the since the end of book 2. He is voiceless. It feels like a fitting observance of Mako’s passing.
posted by mbrubeck at 7:56 PM on August 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

I think Aang going to Fire Nation school also helps him learn how much the Fire Nation has changed since he was there 100 years ago. I agree that it really helps to humanize the people there, which is so important. But in order to be the Avatar now, he needs to know each of the separate nations as they are now.
posted by jillithd at 9:03 PM on November 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

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