Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Western Air Temple
September 21, 2015 12:56 PM - Season 3, Episode 12 - Subscribe

In the aftermath of the failed mission against the Fire Lord, Team Avatar regroups at the Western Air Temple, while Zuko struggles to find a way to convince them that he's no longer their enemy. While the Fire Nation prince desires to help the Avatar, his decision from the recent past leads to danger to Aang and everyone else.
posted by Atreides (13 comments total)
Badass Katara (in the final scene) is so very badass.

Still super-curious where Iroh has gotten to…
posted by mbrubeck at 1:58 PM on September 21, 2015

Hello ... [raises an arm in greeting] Zuko here, but I guess [rubs his hand against the back of his head nervously] you probably already know me, sort of. Uhhh ... so, the thing is I have a lot of firebending experience, and I'm [places an arm on his chest with pride] considered to be pretty good at it. [He continues smiling.] Well, you've seen it, you know, when I was attacking you. [His eyes widen.] Uhhh ... yeah, I guess [places his fingers against his forehead in embarrassment] I should apologize for that. But anyway, [waves an arm to the side dismissively] I'm good now. [Clenches both fists and places one on his chest while the other arm is raised.] I mean, I thought I was good before, but I realize I was bad, [he gets visibly uncomfortable and drops his arms into a slouch] but anyway, I think it's time I joined your group and taught [straightens up with a sincere expression on his face] the Avatar firebending.

[A badgerfrog croaks at him.] [Shouts] Well, what's your answer? [The badgerfrog hops on his head before hopping away.] Yeah ... that's what I'd say, too. How am I supposed to convince these people that I'm on their side? What would Uncle do?

[Imitating Iroh.] Zuko, you have to look within yourself to save yourself from your other self. Only then will your true self, reveal itself. [Normal voice.] Even when I'm talking for him I can't figure out what he means. What would Azula do?

[Imitating Azula.] Listen, Avatar, I can join your group, or I can do something unspeakably horrible to you and your friends! Your choice! [Normal voice. Stops and sits down.] I guess I'm just not that good at impersonations.

[A badgerfrog jumps in front of him as he sits and croaks.]

Teenage indecision over how to become friends with your former enemy, at its best.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:06 PM on September 21, 2015 [4 favorites]

Despite my nearly bulletproof embarrassment squick, I love the heck out of this episode. My favorite setting in the Avatar world! Awesome fight scene where Sokka and his boomerang save the day! Katara being terrifying and awesome and headed to a dark place all at once! Finally seeing what Zuko is like out from under his father's thumb, and he's an even bigger dork than he was in Ba Sing Se! Appa as character witness! Team Avatar finally asembled! With one last-minute addition waiting in the wings. And it only gets better from here.
posted by bettafish at 4:55 PM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh, and favorite line/meme seed: the not-as-big-a-jerk-as-you-could've-been award.
posted by bettafish at 4:58 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh, Zuko. You make my heart hurt.
posted by Mrs. Davros at 9:24 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I loved the upside-down temple design, so amazing
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:50 AM on September 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best animal: Zuko's badgerfrog.

This is the only time I have ever liked Zuko, and not because he's trying to be good or join the Gaang, but because he seems like an actual person here. An actual person who talks to frogs when he's rehearsing his introduction, even.

I didn't think we'd see combustion man again (though he's obviously needed as a plot device to get Zuko into the Gaang). He did require what looked like a very literal kill switch - I'm glad to see the last of him.

Zuko sweating before Katara speaks was a nice touch. I didn't think her speech at the end was necessary after that detail.
posted by minsies at 11:23 PM on September 25, 2015

The backgrounds were painted so beautifully here. At times, the animated characters seemed too out of place on the gorgeously carved fountain and rocks.

Zuko is trying so darn hard! That is so humbling, yet refreshing, to see him acknowledge the mistakes he's made. And there are so many of them. Oof. I'm glad Appa gave him the warm welcome, and a little disappointed in Katara for that last threatening speech she gave him. *sigh*

So, if his name isn't really Combustion Man, and it isn't Sparky Sparky Boom Boom, then what is it? Melvin?
posted by jillithd at 12:02 PM on January 6, 2016

Appa's welcome is SO ADORABLE.

jillithd, I can't remember -- is this your first time watching? I think that Katara's behavior is entirely understandable if not quite up to her usual ethical standards. She made an effort to reach out to an enemy, and just as he seemed to be reaching back he reverted to type -- and directly contributed to the fall of Ba Sing Se and the serious injury of her best friend/crush/hope of the world. Aang would have died if not for Katara's skills and her spirit water (which she almost used on Zuko! what if she'd done that and then he'd helped Azula anyway, she must have asked herself). So she has more reason to be wary of Zuko than anyone else in the Gaang, and a lot of anger that she hasn't allowed herself to express because she represses her negative emotions all the time in the name of being Team Mom.

There's stuff in later episodes that put her mindset into even better context, but I don't want to spoil it for you.
posted by bettafish at 1:03 PM on January 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Er, on looking at your comments it looks like this is a rewatch for you, so -- /waves generally in the direction of The Southern Raiders.
posted by bettafish at 1:05 PM on January 6, 2016

You make great points but I can still be disappointed in her, though. She's not perfect - no one is - but, like you mention with the Team Mom (my comment here from The Desert on that exact topic), I think I see a lot of me in her, so I am disappointed in her/me for not being the better person. For not being more caring mom and being too much Mama Bear mom.

It's totally understandable her fierce desire to protect Aang.

I had to take a few-month break from watching these because life, so maybe I am more sympathetic to Zuko because his redemption story is so much fresher for me than his, um, pre-redemption story where he hurts Katara and breaks her trust. Or maybe there is too much me in my thoughts about Katara. :/
posted by jillithd at 6:46 AM on January 7, 2016

I hear you, jillithd. For me, Zuko is my perpetual favorite because of his great character arc (and later adorkability), but I love Katara too -- because of her flaws as much as despite them -- and I find myself protective of her even when her behavior's not ideal because some swathes of fandom come down so hard on her for this one time when she wasn't absolutely perfect -- less so now than in 2008, since it is thankfully no longer a la mode to write season 3 fic which boils down to "what an irrational b-word that Katara is to poor precious Zuko who has never done a thing wrong in his life," but it's still occasionally a thing and it makes me sad.
posted by bettafish at 7:30 AM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

So I am going through this on my first watch and Zuko doing impressions is one of the best things this show has ever done. (Some other highlights include Toph being the best Earthbender in the world, Katara unleashing her full potential at the end of season two, and Detective Sokka.)
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 3:37 PM on October 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

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