Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Southern Raiders   Rewatch 
October 1, 2015 9:14 AM - Season 3, Episode 16 - Subscribe

To get on Katara's good side, Zuko agrees to take her to the man who was responsible for the raids on the Southern Water Tribe. Will Katara's need for revenge outweigh her essentially good nature?
posted by Katemonkey (7 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Zuko is making some pretty spectacular leaps lately.

Again, not many animals, though there are a lot of mentions of them (sea ravens, two-headed rat viper, Whale Tail island ...). No real signs of Momo here, either, so best animal goes to Appa again for his flying and swimming.

Was it a full moon when Katara was bloodbending, or is she just that powerful?

So why don't you take my mother? That would be fair.
posted by minsies at 9:46 AM on October 1, 2015

They do have Appa's silhouette before a full moon on the flight to the Fire Nation ship.
posted by Atreides at 10:00 AM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm quite a bit behind on my longer responses, but I got tired of not writing them as a self imposed block to participating in the discussions...so here's my quicker thoughts?

We have Zuko getting his hat trick in going off on paired adventures with members of the gang (Sorry, Toph), and it's partly as a result of how different Zuko and Aang are. Zuko is perfectly fine aiding Katara in seeking revenge, probably because in the world where he grew up, revenge or at least avenging wrongs to one's family was not that alien an idea. They have a ritualistic combat, after all, over honor, so it's not surprising. Obviously, Aang with his nomadic monk background opposes revenge, seeing it as just another continuation of a series of wrongs, rather than anything healthy. To Aang's credit, he steps back and let's Katara go, trusting her to make the right decision in the end.

The level of Katara's anger, as Zuko seemed to correctly associate as being focused on him, was incredible. How incredible? She blood bends without hesitation. The last time she did so, the act which was rightfully done in self-defense, left her sobbing. This time, she virtually tortures a dude. It's really a "Black Willow," type of moment. If Katara were to become evil, this would have been one of the big stepping stones along that path.

Then what of her mother's murderer? He's no longer this helmeted and visored villain, but something of a caricature of an old man living with his complaining, uncaring and even older mother. All he has is his garden, something his mother mocks. He's almost sympathetic, and perhaps if he had truly been the monster that Katara had built him up to be, and fought back, it's remotely possible Katara might have exacted revenge. Probably not, but his present shape didn't hurt his survivability chances. Her water bending was awesome.

This was a fantastic Katara episode.

Also, RIP her mother. Sacrifice.
posted by Atreides at 11:28 AM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

See those flowers Sokka is holding the morning after the tent scene? Looks like he got lei'd. (They made the pun, not me!)

Zuko's rear guard action was epic and shows that there's no way this kid is ever going to learn any sense of self-preservation. Yikes. The way Basco and DeLisle played their lines was great, too -- Azula's veneer of urbane control is ripping away, and Zuko is both genuinely afraid of and frustrated by his sister's near miss.

Mae Whitman's performance is absolutely outstanding, like should-have-been-nominated-for-an-Emmy outstanding. This episode does so much for Katara's character and I had to hold back tears watching her work through the depth of her long-repressed rage. The flashbacks felt like a superhero origin story -- Katara is the protector she is because of the guilt she feels over having been unable to save her mother. Maybe I'm reading too much into things, but I have this intuitive sense that when male superheroes have dark origin stories they're usually framed as failure (I should have done something or been able to do something) whereas the female equivalent is about helplessness (something bad happened to me), so it's neat to see Katara getting this revenge/closure arc which is also about her coming into her full potential.

Which is, for the record, both gorgeous and terrifying. She stopped the rain. Holy crap!

The previous Zuko field trip episodes have wrapped up pretty nicely at the end, which I think gives it more of a punch when the episode's heartwarming moral collides with the big picture. Z was seriously a brat about "Guru Goody-Goody's" sense of forgiveness for someone who's only alive because of that forgiveness, but he raises an important question that Aang's going to have to spend a lot of time working through.

A tumblr post (sorry, can't find the source right now) summarizing Zuko's reaction to Katara's bending.
A somewhat less flippant post from avatar-symbolism comparing Aang and Katara's moral disagreements in The Avatar State vs The Southern Raiders.
posted by bettafish at 2:50 PM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think things would have gone differently for Yon Rha if Katara hadn't found the ship's captain first, because she vented some anger (and was able to see what that looked like on a random dude) before finding her true target. She could have killed the captain as a general act of war against the Fire Nation, but he was just some guy, in the wrong place at the wrong time, and she isn't trying to destroy the Fire Nation the same way the Fire Nation is trying to conquer the world by knocking down anything that stands it its way.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:00 AM on October 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is a powerful episode, and far darker than usual. If last season was The Empire Strikes Back, this episode is a pretty great Return of the Jedi moment for Katara. She even gets a new black outfit.

Also, just how craven are Fire Nation captains? Both Yon Rha and his successor are willing to sell out anyone and everyone to save their own skins...
posted by mbrubeck at 2:30 PM on October 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

The way Zuko and Katara sneak into the boat and get their mission done was amazing. They are stealthy!

I LOVED the animation of Katara stopping the rain. Equally so, Zuko's bug eyed reactions to how powerful of a bender Katara really is. If Zuko underestimated Katara's powers before he saw her blood bend the captain, he certainly won't make that mistake again.

I liked how they tried to make Yon Rha sympathetic, but made sure to break the spell by having him offer up his own mother. Not so sympathetic after all.
posted by jillithd at 11:28 AM on January 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

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