What Avatar: The Last Airbender episodes would you recommend for a Waypoint discussion?

#1

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?

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#2

I mean, there’s really only one episode they need to watch to get the gist of the show; The Ember Island Players!

Also, depending on how it turns out (I’m optimistic), perhaps the presumably more condensed Netflix version might be a good starting point for BG&RI?

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#3

I would give up my cabbage cart to see a real life Ember Island Players production.
Even if the Netflix show is good the original will always have stuff worth discussing, imo. The value is not really in the plot but in the scrumptious visuals and mastery of the 22 minute form.

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#4

I think S03E06 The Avatar and the Firelord is the most underrated episode of that show and I love it. Digs into the history of both Sozin and Roku and their friendship over the years, and how it all crumbles in a really terrible and dark way, and is kind of a major character moment for both Zuko and Aang. It’s a really tight episode that’s dense with satisfying revelations and really tragic moments. It’s just good tv all the way through

If not that episode, then yeah it’s Blue Spirit. God that one is such a ride

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#5

Oh I agree about the original being worth a look. I was just saying that for practical considerations they might be able to do a viewing of the entire season in the Netflix version. 6-8 vs 22 episodes is a much smaller ask.

#6

I think if there’s time in the 2 hour block, you have to include S2 Ep 15 “The Tales of Ba Sing Se” for the Iroh story alone.

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#7

That’s the exact episode I was going to suggest.

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