In a recent pod the crew discussed possibly doing a podcast on Avatar: The Last Airbender closer to the new Netflix series. Someone mentioned going through the early episodes of the show and leaving it at that, which I think would be a shame since the early episodes don’t quite show the series at its best, and the storytelling is simple and clean enough that later episodes can be enjoyed without all the context. So, what would be your program for two or so hours of A: TLA to best prompt a discussion of the series? I think this might be mine:
S01E01: The Boy in the Iceberg
S01E02: The Avatar Returns
S01E03: The Southern Air Temple
The first three episodes provide essential backstory and character setup, though the show’s growing pains are clear to see. In particular there are lots of forced gags and the animation isn’t as dynamic as it will become. But from the beginning the plot has a lot of momentum and episode 3 features moments as effecting and haunting as any in the series.
S01E12: The Storm
The first truly standout episode, this is where we really see Aang begin to challenge himself, while properly setting up the duality between him and Zuko.
S01E13: The Blue Spirit
A moody follow up that expands Zuko and Aang’s blossoming relationship and it has some of the best non bending fight scenes. I love how smarmy General (excuse me, Admiral) Zhao is and Momo really tries his dang best and it’s adorable.
S02E01: The Avatar State
People might get confused by skipping the first season finale but there’s plenty of exposition here. I recommend venturing into season 2 because it really is a big step up for the show on every level. Here we get nuanced discussions of Aang’s trauma and foreshadowing of his later character arc, excellent Sokka boneheadedness, and the gaangs first encounter with aggressive militarism outside of the fire nation.
S02E07: Zuko Alone
This might be my favourite episode. The present day sequence is a homage that expertly blends the samurai and western. The flashbacks are just terrifying and provide a child’s P.O.V on royal family intrigue, and the twinge of psychological horror that comes with the intense power dynamics, much better than a certain popular HBO fantasy adaption (imo).
So that’s my list! Obviously I’ve made a real effort to tease out Zuko’s arc, maybe I’m a bit biased. What’s yours? And what topics would you like to see discussed on the theoretical pod?