Welcome to the tenth installment of my Avatar: The Last Airbender rewatch! Today’s post will be covering “Jet.” Episode 1.10 includes mass murder attempts, undermining Sokka, and bad boys who are bad news.
Please note that while the summary will remain spoiler free (aside for everything up to and including the current episode, of course), the subsequent commentary (and comments) will not be. If you haven’t already seen the series, go do it now. This post will be waiting for you when you come back.
In a very red forest, Momo gets caught by a clever trap. Aang and Sokka free the lemur, but Sokka becomes alarmed when he examines the traps. They’re Fire Nation work, and the kids decide it’s time to pack up and leave.
However, Sokka says they can’t risk flying right now. Zuko keeps finding them no matter where they go, and it’s probably because Appa is so noticeable. Sokka claims his instincts tell him they should walk.
Katara challenges her brother’s leadership (ridiculing him because his voice still cracks), but Sokka insists he’s the oldest and a warrior, so he gets to call the shots. Katara says Aang should be the leader since he’s the Avatar. There’s some more arguing, but in the end Sokka and his instincts win out.
These traps are imports. Sure, they’re cheaper, but they fall apart as soon as you catch something.
Aang tries to be upbeat about walking, but it doesn’t take long to change his opinion. Katara and Aang start poking fun at Sokka and his instincts. While Sokka is annoyed, he does admit that walking is tiring and not fun, but at least they’re safe from the Fire Nation.
The kids then promptly blunder into an encampment of Fire Nation soldiers. Our heroes do the smart thing: drop their supplies and try to run like the children they are. Unfortunately, the soldiers are quick and create a large fire to block off their escape. Katara puts out a fire on Sokka’s shirt using the water from her water pouch. The soldiers surround the kids, effectively trapping them. Sokka tries to bluff their way out by promising not to hurt the soldiers.
One soldier scoffs at the bluff, at least until he drops to the ground. In short order a teenage boy and some heroic music leap down from the trees. The boy cushions his landing on a pair of soldiers and then uses his hook swords to throw another two to the ground.
In seconds the boy is joined in the ambush by other Lost Boy rejects. Katara and Aang team up to take on some soldiers, but Sokka’s fight gets preempted by the newcomer, much to his disappointment.
As the fight progresses we get to see the new kids in action, and the leader steals yet another fight from Sokka. It doesn’t take long for the Fire Nation soldiers to disappear, and the boy has (what he probably thinks is cool) his first interaction with an impressed Katara.
Aang is also impressed, but Sokka is annoyed. The boy then decides it’s time to introduce himself: his name is Jet, and the other kids are his freedom fighters (Sneers, Longshot, Smellerbee, Pipsqueak, and The Duke).
“And here’s my amazing band of
The freedom fighters rummage through the camp while Katara thanks Jet for saving them. He in turn thanks them for providing the distraction they had been waiting for. Katara makes a sarcastic remark about them relying on instinct, which her brother overhears. Jet points out that they’ll get killed if they do that, and Sokka isn’t too happy about what they’re saying.
The freedom fighters find blasting jelly and other supplies to take back to their hideout. Jet offers to let our heroes see it, and Katara jumps all over the invitation.
This would’ve been me at her age. Over a decade later, all I can do is laugh. And then give her a lecture.
Jet leads our heroes to a patch of forest and declares that they have arrived. Sokka gets yanked up into the canopy when he takes the rope Jet told him to hold. Aang gets up on his own via airbending, but Jet
the player very smoothly gets Katara to hang onto him as they are romantically pulled up into the trees. They even manage to drum up some dramatic leaf falling.
It turns out that the hideout is an amazing network of tree houses that even a Wookiee might admire. Katara and Aang certainly do admire its inherent awesomeness, especially when Jet claims that the Fire Nation can’t find their hideout.
Smellerbee takes the moment to interrupt and kick off our mini infodump. It turns out that the Fire Nation took over a local Earth Kingdom town a few years ago, and since then Jet and his freedom fighters have been harassing the troops—messing with supply lines, ambushing them, etc. Jet hopes to drive the Fire Nation out of the valley someday, and Katara thinks it is so~ brave~.
The conversation continues with Jet expounding upon the horrible things that have happened to him and his freedom fighters: burning towns, orphan-ness, etc. Jet reveals that the Fire Nation killed his parents when he was eight, so he and Katara have a little traumatic childhood moment bonding time.
Since when did this become a shoujo? All we need are the some sparkles and we’re set.
At the celebratory feast that night, Jet speechifies and does an excellent
Zuko Rufio impression. He praises the freedom fighters for their actions in the earlier ambush, but Sokka is the only one not getting into the mood. Jet gets a little hair-raising moment where he says the Fire Nation is dead wrong not to worry about them.
Katara praises his speech, and Jet commends her and Aang on their bending. She tries to be modest and reveals that Aang is the Avatar, which Jet accepts with very little fanfare. Jet tries to smooth talk the two of them into helping, but Sokka jumps in and says they have to leave tonight. Jet, being Jet, instantly knows how to play Sokka and says he wanted him for an important mission. This is enough for Sokka and his battered ego to stop and listen.
I would admire you for your cunning, but I’m too busy being skeeved by your sliminess.
The next morning finds Jet, Sokka, and assorted freedom fighters in the trees, lying in wait above a trail. Sokka does a neat little trick with his knife and the tree to sense vibrations in the ground and soon enough hears someone coming. Jet uses birdcalls to signal his team.
Sokka spots an old man coming down the trail and tries to call off the ambush. Jet leaps down anyway and confronts the old man. The man tries to talk his way out of a beatdown, but Jet knocks his cane away and Pipsqueak keeps him from running.
Jet becomes increasingly unhinged while the old man begs for mercy. But when Jet is about to kick the helpless man, Sokka leaps down and stops him. Jet goes on a rant about how the man is from the Fire Nation and that the Fire Nation killed Sokka’s mom.
Smellerbee loots the old man while Sokka tells Jet that this doesn’t feel right. Jet counters that it is what has to be done, and he leaves with his group. Sokka follows them reluctantly, leaving the old man behind.
Right. Totally stable. Not unhinged at all.
Sokka broods at the hideout before announcing that it’s time to leave. Katara doesn’t believe it when her brother says that Jet is a thug. Sokka insists that Jet is messed up—after all, he did beat and rob an old man.
Katara goes to Jet to hear his side of the story, and she is annoyed when she finds out that Sokka didn’t mention that the old man was Fire Nation. Sokka says the man was a harmless civilian, but Jet claims the man was an assassin. He produces a knife that has a secret vial of ominous red liquid inside and says the man was sent to eliminate him. While Katara accepts this explanation, Sokka still doesn’t believe this story. He insists that there wasn’t a knife and storms off to go back his supplies.
Jet immediately begs for Katara and Aang to stay. He claims that the Fire Nation is planning on burning down their forest. If the two benders can fill the reservoir with water, they’ll be able to fight the fire and save the valley.
Aang and Katara go to tell Sokka they’re going to help Jet. Sokka doesn’t believe that Jet is trustworthy, and Katara thinks that Sokka is jealous of Jet. When Sokka tries to reference his instincts, Katara claims that her instincts are telling her to help Jet. Aang sides with Katara.
Jet, your sheep’s clothing is slipping.
Sokka is woken up in the middle of the night by Jet’s voice. He follows the freedom fighters and their cart of blasting jelly to the reservoir. Once they reach the bluff, Jet orders his people not to blow the dam until he gives the signal. If the reservoir isn’t full, there’s a chance that the Fire Nation soldiers might survive.
The Duke is concerned about the people in the town, and Jet says that they’re the price for ridding the area of the Fire Nation. Unfortunately, Sokka is captured by Pipsqueak and Smellerbee. They drag him to our resident Well Intentioned Extremist.
Sokka confronts Jet about his plan to murder innocent people, and Jet is entirely unrepentant. Jet tries to smooth talk Sokka about the demands of war, but Sokka throws it back in his face. He knows now that Jet will do anything to get what he wants.
Jet tells Smellerbee and Pipsqueak to take Sokka for a long walk—he can’t risk Sokka warning Katara and Aang about the real plan.
“Don’t worry, The Duke. There’ll only be a dozen or so kids your age or younger that’ll drown. Two dozen, tops.”
Jet leads Aang and Katara along the riverbank. Katara tries to apologize for her brother, but Jet claims that Sokka already apologized and is out on a scouting mission.
A steam vent erupts under Aang, and Jet tells the two benders that they need to get the water out from the ground and into the reservoir. Katara is uncertain since she’s never tried to bend water she can’t see, but Jet reassures her that she can do it.
Aang and Katara work together to get the water from the first vent going into the river. When Katara says they’ll meet Jet at the reservoir, he tells them to meet him back at the hideout instead.
Just how many bases are you trying to get to today, Jet?
Aang calls a stop to the bending since they have several geysers going. Katara decides they should meet up with Jet at the reservoir since they finished early.
We cut to Sokka, Smellerbee, and Pipsqueak. Sokka demands to know how they can stand by while Jet destroys a town. Pipsqueak says that they do what Jet says and everything turns out okay.
That’s when Sokka spots more Fire Nation traps. He quickly makes a disparaging remark about Jet’s leadership and then runs straight for the traps. Smellerbee and Pipsqueak rush after Sokka, but they both get caught.
Take note, Jet: This is what subtle(r) cunning looks like. Also, it’s missing your signature evil.
Aang and Katara reach the bluff overlooking the reservoir. They spot Jet and his group setting up the barrels of blasting jelly—and that’s when Aang realizes that Jet is going to blow up the dam. Before Aang can ready his glider so he can warn the people, Jet appears and steals the glider.
The teenager admits to his plan and tries to defend his reasoning by bringing up Katara’s dead mom. Katara quickly points out that killing innocent people isn’t the answer, but Jet still tries to get her to understand him and his broken reasoning. When Jet says he thought Sokka would understand, Katara demands to know where her brother is and starts to cry.
Instead of answering, Jet touches Katara’s face. She repays his manipulative gesture with a water whip to the gut. Aang tries to get his glider, but Jet grabs it before he can. When the airbender declares he won’t fight Jet, the teenager says he’ll have to if Aang wants his glider back.
Jet and Aang take to the trees for a very cool chase/fight sequence. Aang manages to knock Jet off balance with airbending, which causes him to drop the glider. The two boys throw themselves after it, but Jet is a vicious cheat and slams Aang into a thick branch on the way down. Aang hits into the ground near his glider, and Jet moves in for the kill.
Which is a huge stream of water slams into Jet from the nearby stream. Katara throws blast after blast of water at Jet until she is finally able to freeze him in place against a tree trunk.
I can’t be the only one who cheered the first time I saw this happen.
Katara yells at Jet a little, but the teenager doesn’t care. Instead, he gives the bird whistle signal to blow the dam. Aang tries to fly down to the dam, but his glider was damaged too much during the fight. Katara runs to him when he crashes into the ground.
Aang points out that Sokka is still out in the forest somewhere, and Katara begs her absent brother to do something. Unfortunately, Sokka isn’t there to stop Longshot’s arrow from igniting the blasting jelly. The dam explodes, and all the water in the reservoir rushes down into the valley and floods the town.
The Earth Kingdom Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Warning effective from five seconds ago until you grow gills.
Our two benders watch the town flood, and Katara immediately turns on Jet and calls him a monster. Jet, however, counters that today was a victory—the Fire Nation is gone and the valley is safe.
That’s when Sokka appears on Appa and declares that the valley will be safe from Jet. Sokka reveals that he warned the villagers of Jet’s plan and that they believed him when the old man stepped forward and vouched for him. Everyone—soldiers and townspeople—were able to get everyone out of the village in time.
Jet is enraged about this turn of events. He calls Sokka a traitor, only for Sokka to tell Jet that he became the traitor when he stopped protecting innocent people. Jet tries one last time to sweet talk Katara into helping him, but she doesn’t even turn around when she tells him goodbye. Our heroes depart on Appa, leaving the Jet-sicle behind.
Katara asks Sokka if it was his instinct that led him to the village instead of the town, and Sokka gloats. But only for a moment, because Aang points out that he’s steering Appa in the wrong direction.
Sokka’s triumphant moment cut short in three, two, one–
I had totally forgotten how psychotic Jet was until I rewatched this episode.
I remembered his horrific plan and his pseudo-then-combusting friendship with Zuko in season two. I certainly recalled his semi-undeserved (and alarmingly brutal) Redemption Equals Death in “Lake Laogai” as well. But I spent most of this episode making variations on the D: face and muttering about his craziness.
Jet is a fascinating foil for our heroes precisely because of his completely opposite reaction to similar circumstances. Sokka, Katara, and Aang have all lost parental figures because of the Fire Nation (some to death, others to running off to war), and yet they somehow manage to retain some amount of basic human decency that Jet left behind without a second glance. Our heroes don’t think it’s okay to drown civilians, but Jet thinks the innocent are a necessary sacrifice for the bigger plan.
(This is fascinating to me because Zuko earned his face burning and exile because he objected to sacrificing a division of Fire Nation soldiers for the greater war effort. We’ll see this flashback in “The Storm,” and I take no small amount of glee imagining what Jet would do if he ever found out that the prince of the Fire Nation had a better grasp of humanity than he did.
Zuko can be hot tempered, yes, but it will be Jet’s own obsession and anger issues that lead to his downfall in season two.
It’s also interesting to note that our heroes never object to drowning the soldiers in this episode. Apparently if it had just been a garrison, Katara and Aang would have happily filled the reservoir to the top. This bothers me a little, not because I’m opposed soldiers dying in wartime but because Aang goes into full-on crisis of faith mode at the prospect of intentionally setting out to kill Ozai in order to save the world at the end of season three. Aang, please keep your sanctity of life standards consistent throughout the series.)
In addition to his totally broken moral compass, it’s obvious that Jet thinks he is cooler than his hook swords. His interactions with Katara are just dripping with his overinflated self-importance and ego. Most of the time he poses like an angsty bad boy, and I’m pretty sure he spent the entire walk concocting how to get Katara up into the hideout with him.
Even though I’m not a huge fan of Jet, I still find myself trying to figure out why the boy ended up so damaged. He was a charismatic and broken teenager, and he managed to cobble together a group of kids who were so fiercely loyal to him that two of them follow him all the way to Ba Sing Se and (presumably) die protecting him as he struggles through his final moments.
Jet’s story is a tragedy, and it’s one of his own making. I’m looking forward to comparing him and Zuko once we get into season two.
Speaking of the future, this episode had tons of important plot seeds in it. Sokka points out in the first couple minutes that the reason why Zuko keeps finding them is that Appa is too noticeable. (He is, after all, the only flying bison we see in the entire series aside from flashbacks.) In “The Chase,” Azula is able to track down our heroes for exactly that reason: what other animal drops a trail of fluffy fur from the sky?
Another bit of foreshadowing comes with Katara and her bad luck with bad boys. She trusted Jet and gave him every benefit of the doubt despite all of Sokka’s warnings. (Also, Jet was pretty and charming and that was a bit distracting. Sometimes it happens.) Katara will give another bad boy a chance—Zuko, in “The Crossroads of Destiny”—this time in spite of everything she has seen him do. And once again, Katara got her trust thrown right back in her face.
It comes to me as no surprise that when Zuko shows up all repentant in “The Western Air Temple” that Katara threatens to kill him if he betrays them again. After all, she did attack Jet almost immediately when they ran into each other in “Lake Laogai.”
The last significant piece will be delayed all the way until season three’s “The Southern Raiders.” Katara, having finally acquired the knowledge of which group of soldiers was responsible for her mother’s death, decides it’s time for revenge. Aang point blank tells Katara that she sounds like Jet, and she tries to justify her bloodthirstiness by claiming she’s going after a monster, not the innocent. Zuko, unsurprisingly, is on Katara’s side in this debate.
However, in the end what will elevate Katara and further condemn Jet is the fact that Katara won’t even bring herself to get revenge upon the guilty.
There was some uncertainty for a while, though.
I had one last significant piece of insight in this episode, and it was all about Sokka’s dignity problems. Sokka and Aang are played up for laughs the most out of our plucky band of heroes, yet Aang doesn’t seem to be undercut as much. The difference, I think, is that Aang chooses to do goofy things and Sokka is usually someone’s victim. Aang decides to wear the goofy disguise in Omashu, hang upside down off of Appa’s horn, etc., while Sokka gets humiliated by Zuko, stuck in pretzel formations by pirates, captured by his ponytail, and so on.
It’s the difference between acting and being acted upon that makes Aang a fun-loving, playful character and Sokka an incompetent teenager most of the time. Despite Jet stealing his kills and Katara being snarky at him, Sokka did manage to have an awesome on-screen moment of bravery in this episode when he moves to stand between the Fire Nation soldiers and Katara and Aang.
And to close us out, here are all the insignificant insights, observations, and questions:
- How does Sokka know Fire Nation metalwork? Does it have a MADE IN FIRE NATION stamp on it?
- While I was watching the episode, my roommate had an excellent observation/question: Does Sokka’s necklace have any significance? We will find out later that Katara’s necklace is a betrothal necklace, but I don’t think Sokka’s is ever talked about. My roommate also observed that Sokka doesn’t kiss and tell. He can be quite the gentleman.
- Why are the kids carrying the supplies? Can’t Appa continue to carry them? Or does walking and being a pack horse put more of a strain on Appa than flying?
- Hello, Sneers! Congrats on being the only named freedom fighter who doesn’t ever speak.
- Dear people on patrol: Learn to start looking up every now and then. You’d save yourself a whole lot of heartache if you considered the possibility of ambushes from the canopy. Thanks.
- Sokka, how did you learn your tree vibration trick? Unless there was another spirit oasis lurking near the South Pole, there weren’t any trees for miles.
- Hello, water pouch! I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to see that Katara finally has one on her person. Now that she’s starting to learn more and more waterbending techniques, I think it’s great that she has the foresight to carry water with her almost all the time. Nicely done.
And we’re all out of anything interesting now. Come back next Monday so you can see me hate all over Book One: Water || Chapter Eleven: The Great Divide.