Book Three: Fire || Chapter Thirteen: The Firebending Masters

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Welcome to the fifty-third installment of the Avatar: The Last Airbender rewatch! Episode 3.13 is the first of our life-changing field trips, gives Zuko and Aang some bonding time, and proves that firebending is more than just melting people’s faces off.

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.

Note: I would like this rewatch to remain spoiler free for The Legend of Korra. Please choose your comments wisely. If you wish to discuss Korra, you can do so on these posts.

Summary
Zuko reassures Aang that firebending isn’t something he should fear—and then warns him that if he doesn’t respect firebending, it will chew him up and spit him out like an angry komodo rhino. He then orders Aang to produce as much fire as he can, but Aang can only produce a small amount of smoke. A disappointed Aang asks for a demonstration.

Zuko warns Aang to take a couple steps back for the demonstration, but Zuko is only able to produce a small amount of fire. Aang claps dutifully while Zuko is dumbfounded at his poor performance. Zuko tries and fails repeatedly to produce any significant flames, and Aang suggests that perhaps the altitude is causing the problem.

No matter what Zuko does, he cannot firebend like he used to. A bored Aang finally comments that the last one felt hot and calls him hotman, much to Zuko’s annoyance. Sokka comes by and asks the two “jerks” how their “jerkbending” is going. No one but Sokka is amused by the joke.


Very impressive, Zuko.

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That night Zuko lurks at the edges of the camp while everyone else enjoys the campfire. He finally comes into the light and announces that he has very bad news: he’s lost his firebending. Katara laughs at the irony that Zuko has lost his firebending when they actually need him to firebend as opposed to all the times in the past when he was attacking them. Zuko confesses that his firebending isn’t so much lost as weakened, and Katara snidely suggests that Zuko is not as good as he thought he was.

Zuko says his change of sides might have caused the change in his power. Katara thinks that’s ridiculous, but Aang is more inclined to believe Zuko. Aang theorizes that Zuko’s firebending comes from rage and now he doesn’t have enough anger to fuel it like he used to. Sokka immediately jumps on the opportunity to harass Zuko and begins poking him repeatedly with a stick.

Zuko yells at Sokka to stop it, but then he admits that he doesn’t want to rely on hate or anger anymore. Toph suggests that Zuko go back to the original source of firebending. Sokka asks if this means Zuko gets to jump into a volcano, but Toph shuts him down.

Toph explains that the original source of earthbending was the badger moles. When she was little, she ran away from home and hid in a cave. There she met the badger moles, and they bonded with licks and their blindness. From them, Toph learned earthbending as an extension of her senses instead of just as a martial art. Earthbending was the way badger moles interacted with the world.


How is this not the most adorable thing you’ve seen all day?

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Aang is impressed by Toph’s story and shares that the original airbenders were the sky bison. Zuko tells everyone this isn’t helpful as the original firebenders, the dragons, are extinct. Aang is confused as Roku had a dragon and there were still plenty of dragons when he was growing up. Zuko snaps that the dragons aren’t around anymore, and Aang quickly backs off.

Zuko considers that there might be another way: the first humans to learn firebending were the ancient Sun Warriors. The Sun Warriors died out thousands of years ago, but their ruins aren’t very far from the Western Air Temple. Zuko thinks that they might be able to learn something from what’s left of their civilization.

Aang says that the monks told him that the shadows of the past can be felt by the present. Sokka is skeptical that they’ll be able to pick up Sun Warrior energy by wandering about the ruins. However, Zuko points out that if he doesn’t find a new way to firebend, Aang will need to find a new teacher.


Dubious Sokka is Dubious but not actually petting Toph.

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Aang and Zuko head out on Appa the next morning in search of the Sun Warrior ruins. Zuko is disgruntled by how Appa doesn’t fly as fast as he thought he did, and then gets annoyed when Aang points out that he and his friends generally start their missions with a more up-beat attitude. Eventually they come to the (surprisingly well-preserved) Sun Warrior ruins. They land Appa and head through the ruins on foot.

Zuko comments that the ruins are familiar and guesses that the Fire Sages’ temples are somehow based on the ruins. Aang is optimistic that since they’ve learned something about architecture, they’ll be able to learn something about firebending as well. Then he triggers a tripwire and nearly does a face-plant into a pit of spikes.

Aang’s airbending gets him safely to the other side. He is understandably shaken about the past trying to kill him, though Zuko’s focused on how well-preserved the booby-trap is after all these centuries. Aang thinks there are probably a lot more traps and wonders if this means they shouldn’t be here.

Zuko, however, runs on the wall to get across the spikes and teases Aang about losing his upbeat attitude. He then points out that people don’t make traps unless they have something worth protecting.


This is quite possibly the worst time ever to do a belly-flop.

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The two boys climb up a set of stairs and find a mural. Aang is confused as to why it looks like two dragons are burning one of the Sun Warriors—he thought they were friends. Zuko mutters about how the dragons had a funny way of showing their friendship and starts to walk away. Aang speculates that something happened to the dragons in the last hundred years that Zuko is reluctant to tell him about.

Zuko reveals that his great-grandfather Sozin began the tradition of hunting dragons for glory. If you could kill one of the ultimate firebenders, your firebending talents would become legendary. Doing so would earn a person the title of Dragon. He tells Aang that the last great dragon was killed by Iroh.

Aang is disturbed by this as he thought that Iroh was good, and Zuko admits that Iroh had the family tradition of a complicated past. Zuko urges Aang to move on.


I just thought this was a cool mural.

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The boys reach the tallest building only to find a door they cannot open. Zuko realizes that there is a solar calendar on the ground outside of the door, like the solar calendars in the Fire Sages’ temples. He guesses that the sunstone in the nearby pillar is the key to opening the door. Unfortunately, the sun, the sunstone, and the sunstone over the door probably only align correctly on the solstice.

Aang is dismayed by this news, but Zuko has a plan. He reflects the first sunstone’s light off his sword and gets it to light up the sunstone over the door. It takes a moment, but Zuko finally gets the door to open. Aang tells Zuko that no matter what everyone else says, he still thinks he’s smart. The two boys head inside the building.

Inside, they find a ring of Sun Warrior statues in different poses. The inscription on one of the statues calls the poses the Dancing Dragon, and Aang mimics the first pose. When he does, the tile he is standing on sinks slightly beneath his foot. Aang grabs Zuko and drags him to the start of the statues—they need to dance!


That’s right, Zuko, everyone thinks you’re an idiot.

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Aang and Zuko line up with the statues and start moving from pose to pose. As they do, the tiles on the ground sink beneath their feet. Aang realizes that the statues are teaching them some kind of Sun Warrior firebending form. They hit the end of a sequence, which causes a pillar to suddenly rise from the ground.

On top of the pillar is a golden-gemstone-dragon-egg-looking-thing. Aang is wary considering he almost died in a pit of spikes, but Zuko pulls the egg off the pillar anyway. Zuko barely has time to comment that the gemstone feels alive before he is thrown to the grate in the ceiling by a spray of green goo.

The doors close as more and more green goo floods into the room, which Aang tries to avoid. The goo is some sort of glue, and Zuko realizes he’s stuck. Aang grabs his glider and leaps atop the statues. He tries to airbend Zuko free but only succeeds in turning him around so his face is toward the open air.

The green goo rapidly fills the room, eventually ensnaring Aang’s glider. Aang leaps up to the grate and ends up getting his hands and feet stuck to it. Neither boy can move, but thankfully, the green goo stops once it has completely filled the room. Zuko is grateful they have air and suggests that if they’re calm they may be able to think their way out of this.


Good luck with that.

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Night falls and the boys are still trapped. Aang is sarcastic about Zuko’s need to pick up the gemstone, but Zuko points out that they would have never made it past the courtyard if Aang had been in charge. Aang shouts for help; Zuko points out that no one has lived here for centuries. Exasperated, Aang asks Zuko what he thinks they should do, and Zuko suggests they think about their place in the universe.

A Sun Warrior steps into view and demands to know who is there. Aang and Zuko are both surprised, but they are let out of the trap so anteater-type-animals can lick the goo off of them. They are surrounded by a few dozen Sun Warriors who aren’t exactly happy to see them there.

The chief declares that since the boys tried to take their sunstone, they should be severely punished. Zuko insists that they came here to find the ancient origin of firebending, not steal. One of the priests does not believe them, so Aang tries to play his Avatar card. No one is particularly impressed.

Aang asks for the Sun Warriors to hear them out, and Zuko introduces himself as the former crown prince of the Fire Nation. He knows that while his people have distorted firebending to rely on anger and rage, he wants to learn the true, original way. Zuko confesses his surprise to see that the Sun Warriors are still alive and admits that he’s humbled to be in their presence. Both he and Aang bow respectfully before Zuko begs to be taught.

The chief informs the boys that they must learn from the masters Ran and Shaw. The masters will examine Zuko and Aang and read their hearts, souls, and ancestry—Zuko cringes at this last bit. If they are deemed worthy, Ran and Shaw will teach them; if they are not, Ran and Shaw will destroy them on the spot.


I was so excited to see that this wasn’t some inexplicably all-male culture! Look, there are women!

16

The next morning, the chief tells Zuko and Aang that they must bring Ran and Shaw a piece of the eternal flame. This fire is the very first one that dragons gave to mankind, and the Sun Warriors have kept it going for thousands of years. Aang and Zuko must both take a piece of the fire to the masters to show their commitment to the sacred art of firebending.

Aang reveals that he is not a firebender yet and asks if Zuko can carry his fire for him. The chief says no before drawing out a part of the flame. He splits the fire in two and tells the boys that the ritual illustrates the essence of Sun Warrior philosophy. The chief cautions them that they must maintain a constant heat and not make the flame too small or too large, or else they risk letting the flame go out or losing control of it.

Zuko accepts his bit of flame, and after a moment’s nervousness, Aang does the same. Aang is surprised to feel the fire under his control and compares it to a little heartbeat. The chief tells Aang that fire is life and not just destruction, and then he points to a distant mountain. The boys are to take their flames to the masters’ cave.


See, Aang? Fire isn’t evil!

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Zuko leads the way up the mountain with his flame, while Aang and his smaller flame lag behind. He tells Aang to hurry up, but Aang worries that his flame will go out if he walks too fast. Zuko points out that the flame is too small—it won’t go out if Aang gives it more energy. Aang is fearful that he can’t control a bigger flame, but Zuko reassures him that he can since he is a talented kid. Aang smiles and speeds up a little.

That evening, Zuko and Aang arrive at the top of the mountain. The Sun Warriors are waiting for them there, and the chief tells the boys that facing the judgment of the firebending masters will be dangerous. Zuko’s ancestors are directly responsible for the dragons’ disappearance, and Aang vanished and thus allowed the Fire Nation to wage war on the world. The dragons’ decline is both Zuko’s and Aang’s burden to share.

The chief takes some fire from both boys and passes them on to the priests. The fire travels from Sun Warrior to Sun Warrior as the ritual begins. Aang suggests that they leave—they’ve already learned a lot more about firebending than they knew before—but Zuko insists that they see it through to the end. He wants to see what’s so great about the masters.

Aang is nervous about the possibility that the masters will attack them; Zuko reassures him that as the Fire Prince and the Avatar, they will be able to handle any fight. Aang nods reluctantly.


Don’t worry, Aang! Surely no one could hold your disappearance against you…

16

Zuko demands for the masters to come out, and the chief signals the chanters to start their thing. The boys climb up the giant staircase while the chief and priests watch.

At the top of the stairs, the boys look left and right and see the caves in the mountainside. One of the priests acts as heralds for the boys, and the two of them present their fire to the masters on each side. The chief orders one of the men to sound the call, which causes some rumbling within the caves.

Aang is scared by the rumbling and looks around anxiously to see what has happened. When he goes back to the presenting pose, he realizes that he let go of his flame. Aang tries to get Zuko to share his fire with him, but in the ensuing scuffle, Zuko ends up letting his flame go out as well.

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The caves rumble again, and a red dragon flies out of one of them. It circles the boys for a moment or two before it is joined by a blue dragon. Zuko realizes that the dragons are the masters, and Aang asks if he’s still sure they can take on the dragons. The ex-prince insists he never said that.

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The priest below is gleeful at the prospect that the masters will soon be getting a meal, though the chief reprimands him for it.

Aang watches the dragons for a few seconds before he whispers to Zuko that he thinks they need to do the dance with the dragons. Zuko isn’t sure why these circumstances demand dancing, and Aang says that he thinks the dragons are waiting for something, so it wouldn’t hurt to try it. Zuko sullenly agrees, and the two of them begin the Dragon Dance. Ran and Shaw join in.

16

When they finish the Dragon Dance, Ran and Shaw hover in the air on either side of the boys. The chief announces it is judgment time. After a second or two of terror from the boys, Ran and Shaw blow fire at them.

Zuko and Aang are enveloped in a swirl of multicolored flames. As he gazes into the fire, Zuko murmurs that he understands.

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Ran and Shaw disappear into their caves, leaving Zuko and Aang behind. The boys walk down the steps while Zuko talks about how beautiful the fire was—there were colors in it he had never imagined. Aang calls it firebending harmony, and the chief reveals that the dragons gave them visions of the meaning of firebending.

Zuko is still hung up on the fact that Iroh had told him he had faced and killed the last dragon. The chief reveals that it wasn’t a total lie—Iroh was the last outsider to face the masters. Ran and Shaw judged Iroh worthy and passed the secret onto him. Zuko realizes that his uncle lied to protect the masters so no one else would hunt them.

Aang admits that ever since he hurt Katara, he thought firebending was just destruction and he was too afraid and hesitant to learn. However, now he knows that it is really energy and life. Zuko agrees with the description and says firebending is like the sun inside of him.

Zuko reveals that for so many years his purpose was hunting the Avatar. When he joined Aang, he lost his inner fire, so his firebending was weak. Zuko says he has a new drive: helping Aang defeat Ozai and restore balance to the world.

Zuko demonstrates his renewed firebending power, and Aang shoots his own blast of fire for the first time.


Ran and Shaw were much better teachers than Jeong Jeong.

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The chief ruins the happy moment by announcing that since the boys know that the Sun Warriors exist, they will have to be locked up. Aang and Zuko are shocked, and then relieved, when the chief says it is a joke—and then warns them not to tell anyone.

Aang and Zuko demonstrate to the rest of our heroes and the hangers-on the firebending technique they learned from the dragons. Everyone but Sokka applauds, and Sokka comments that it’s a great dance. Zuko insists that it is a firebending form; Sokka counters that they’ll just tap-dance their way to victory over the Fire Lord.

An angry Zuko informs Sokka that it’s a sacred firebending form that’s thousands of years old. However, when Katara snidely asks what the form is called, Zuko has to admit that it’s named the Dancing Dragon. Everyone has a nice giggle at that.


Your face has gotten so much more expressive ever since you joined the good guys.

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Commentary
After the craziness of the last five episodes, it’s nice to return to a story that’s far more straight-forward and easier to write commentary about. “The Firebending Masters” is the first of the three life-changing, Zuko-sponsored fieldtrips—and it’s the weakest of them in my opinion. Not that the episode is bad, mind you, but it is simply not nearly as awesome as “The Boiling Rock” or “The Southern Raiders.” I’d almost forgotten this episode existed to the extent that several of the jokes caught me by surprise and made me laugh.

The first thing I want to touch on for this episode is how Zuko is far from integrating with the rest of our heroes. Aang is genuine about accepting Zuko and treats him like another part of the group, but that’s as far as the familiarity extends. Zuko doesn’t seem to have gone to much effort to mingle with the rest—though whether or not that would have been different if Katara hadn’t threatened to kill him is a matter of debate. Regardless, Zuko ended up skulking around the campfire instead of joining the rest of our heroes and the hangers-on, and no one seemed inclined to invite him any closer.

Katara is the most outwardly hostile toward Zuko, which comes as no surprise. She is marvelously snippy at him and takes every opportunity she can to remind him that she doesn’t trust him. I’m guessing she thinks that if she continues to remind Zuko of how much she dislikes him and would like to kill him, he’ll have fewer problems making sure this “transformation” of his sticks. Or else she’s trying to remind herself that it is totally going to be okay to drown Zuko if he looks at Aang funny for more than two seconds.

Her hostility goes a step behind snippy words—she takes advantage of every opportunity she can to bring him down a peg or two. When Zuko confesses that his power has been severely weakened, she claims Zuko isn’t as good as he thought he was. Katara even goes so far as to ridicule him for losing his powers now when it’s a severe problem for our heroes. She only accepts his theory when Aang decides it’s plausible.

And Zuko doesn’t even try to defend himself from the things Katara says (though he does try to explain his theory on why his firebending went wonky). His humility and his acceptance of how she treats him is a marvelous thing, especially when you compare him to his season one self: the prickly, proud prince, who couldn’t let Zhao’s insults go unchallenged or lost his temper whenever Azula said snide things to him or treated Iroh with a great deal of contempt. Zuko has grown tremendously, and he certainly knows he earned every ounce of Katara’s suspicion and disdain. However, Zuko will eventually stand up for himself in “The Southern Raiders.”

Contrast Zuko and Katara’s interactions with Zuko and Sokka’s. While Sokka isn’t as vicious as Katara is, he does show Zuko some measure of acceptance by teasing him like he would the rest of his friends. Sokka’s sarcasm and physical humor are consistent with Zuko, though I think they’re a bit sharper than with the original group. He goes out of his way to call both Zuko and Aang jerks and refer to firebending as “jerkbending,” and he seems quite enthusiastic about the prospect of Zuko needing to jump into a volcano. Of course, there’s also the whole ooooh-let’s-see-if-we-can-provoke-Zuko-into-a-rage-so-he-can-firebend sequence that was rather ill-conceived. Who wants to do a test where winning means an angry person throws fireballs in your face?

Sokka and Zuko seem to see each other more as peers, if of the still-not-quite-sure-what-to-do-with-you variety. We’ll get to see their relationship and teamwork develop next week, so that’s where I’ll leave this topic for now. What matters most is that when Sokka takes the opportunity to tease Zuko, Katara isn’t that far behind—and she has her knives sharpened.

The first time I watched this episode I was a bit dubious about the explanation for the weakening of Zuko’s firebending powers, but I’m far more sold on the idea this time around. All the way back in the very first episode, in the very first scene, we had a demonstration of how someone’s emotions can influence their bending. Season one Katara’s bending strength was amplified by her annoyance at Sokka so that she accidentally broke open the iceberg Aang was frozen inside of. This has toned down in latter episodes—if only because Katara is an amazing fighter and actually knows what she’s doing now, so it’s difficult to distinguish between her emotions amplifying her bending and when she’s just being awesome—but it was still an important part of our introduction to bending. Aang’s Avatar State has been triggered by extreme emotions more often than it has been triggered by deadly situations.

So the extreme weakening of Zuko’s firebending powers makes sense within the context of the world, and it absolutely makes sense on a character level. Up until this change of heart, a large part of Zuko’s character was defined by rage, shame, desperation, and other extremely negative emotions. His life revolved around those emotions, and they drove him to all kinds of terrible decisions. Since making his decision on the (or just before) the Day of Black Sun and confronting Ozai, Zuko has come to terms with all of those emotions, and he no longer has to rely on them to keep going.

In fact, Zuko flat out says that he doesn’t want to rely on hate or anger anymore, and that ought to be a huge clue to Katara the rest of our heroes that Zuko has really changed. He truly became a new person when he actively chose not to go back to letting those negative emotions define his existence. Going to the source of firebending is crucial then, not just for Aang, but for Zuko, too. It’s his key to staying on the good side.

I don’t have a ton to say about the bulk of Aang’s life-changing fieldtrip with Zuko. I was amused by the two traps that we saw, and my favorite comedic moment was when Zuko suggested they contemplate their places in the universe. The Sun Warriors seemed pretty cool, though I question the ability of an (albeit small) civilization to stay hidden so long when 1) their ruins appear to be in prime living condition for new inhabitants and 2) their island seems like a pretty nice place to live. Granted, the Fire Nation seems to be made of a lot of easily-habitable-and-yet-strangely-not islands. You’d think they’d settle the uninhabited land they already had before they went off to conquer the rest of the world.

However, there are a couple of smaller moments that I’d like to talk about briefly. The first is the revelation about the dragons’ extinction. Sozin, apparently in addition to wanting to conquer the world, also enjoyed hunting for sport. And by hunting for sport, I mean setting up a system by which you essentially guaranteed the extinction of an entire species (that has some degree of intelligence). I’m assuming that this hunt was at least somewhat in the dragons’ favor as the way Zuko talks about it implies that you went and fought the dragon with just your firebending. (Otherwise, why would your firebending talents become legendary if you simply snuck up on one and shanked it with a sword while it was sleeping?)

I wonder how many firebenders that are still alive have earned the title of Dragon. Back in Ba Sing Se, Iroh had implied that Dragon of the West was his nickname because he could breathe fire from his mouth, but Zuko’s story here implies that he earned the title for killing the last great dragon. It’s probably a combination of both (though only the former happens to be true, not that anyone knew it at the time). That does put a new spin on Azula’s casual dismissal of Iroh’s question of if she knew how he had earned that nickname, though—dude, Azula, if the man has earned the title Dragon (thereby implying that he killed one of the last dragons!), perhaps you ought to be a bit more wary of him!

I did like the little touch of Aang being disturbed about Iroh killing the last dragon. Between the brief alliance they had in Ba Sing Se and what Aang learned from Katara about what happened while he was mostly dead, Aang had reclassified Iroh as a good person. (It’s a bit difficult to call someone evil when that person risks his life to buy time for you and your friend to escape certain doom.) Finding out that a good person had made a species extinct isn’t something Aang’s used to. Family traditions of complicated pasts aren’t something Aang has had to confront, and Zuko definitely needed a hug after that conversation.

The second small moment I’d like to talk about is when Aang and Zuko take fire up to the top of the mountain. I’m sure there are all sorts of Olympic real-life religious parallels we could draw from that situation, and I’m not going to dive into any of that. In-universe it clearly is a religious event for the Sun Warriors and Zuko was even awed and respectful about being able to participate. The Sun Warrior chief even went so far as to explain how the ritual related to their bending philosophy about putting in as much energy as necessary to keep the flame steady.

What impressed me most was how surprised Aang was when he accepted the fire. Pretty much all of Aang’s interactions with fire before this moment have been dangerous, dull, or painful, and this is the first moment when Aang is able to see fire as something more than just a tool of destruction. I loved that he described the flame as a little heartbeat.

Perhaps the moment I loved second best in this episode was when Aang fell behind on the trek up to the top of the mountain. Aang was anxious about his small flame going out if he walked too quickly, and he was scared that if he made the flame too big he wouldn’t be able to control it. So Zuko reassured Aang that he could control the fire he made because he was a talented kid. Let me tell you, I initially expected Zuko to take more than a couple pages out of Toph’s lesson plans, so I was beyond happy that Zuko was a teacher who could use positive reinforcement. Aang and Zuko both need people to believe in them, and it was very sweet to see that Zuko could recognize when Aang needed encouragement.

The last items I wished to touch on were Ran and Shaw and the vision they gave Aang and Zuko. Ran and Shaw were awesome—emphasis on the awe—and I loved how they were great and terrible and majestic. Major points to Aang and Zuko (and Iroh, retroactively) for facing them and being deemed worthy to learn about firebending. The Dragon Dance, with both humans and dragons participating, was stunning. I can only imagine what it would have looked like had Zuko and Aang been able to hang onto their pieces of the eternal flame.

I’m really glad that the show left the firebending vision vague—but still beautiful. There were colors in it that Zuko had never imagined, and he described the sensation like the sun inside of him. Aang called it firebending harmony, and he realized that fire was really energy and life. These descriptions don’t mean much on their own, but put together, they make for what is pretty much the closest thing to a rapturous experience we’ve seen in the show so far.

The vision provides both Aang and Zuko with important lessons that they need in order to continue. Aang learns that while it sucked when he accidentally hurt Katara, firebending is more than just destruction. His hesitancy and fear was keeping him from learning what energy and life were really like and from truly being the Avatar. Zuko was able to make his destiny—helping Aang defeat Ozai and restore balance to the world—into his source of power.

  • Okay, the “lost my stuff” joke is very, very lame. Why did you even try that, show?
  • How could the altitude possibly be the problem with Zuko’s firebending? Do you even know how high above sea level you’d have to be before fire starts acting noticeably wonky? I don’t. Your campfire seems to be just fine.
  • It’s interesting that all the elements but water have animals as their original benders. Earth, air, and fire had badger moles, sky bison, and dragons respectively. The original waterbender is the moon, though the moon and ocean spirits did end up living in the mortal world as fish.
  • Since when did Zuko become the Prince of Persia? XD Have we ever seen him do this running-on-the-wall skill before? I know we’ve seen Aang do similar moves with his airbending to help him. Is Zuko just that awesome? What kind of question is that?
  • Actually, Zuko, I can think of a lot of reasons people would build traps besides protection. Because they think it’s hilarious. Or because they want to challenge themselves to see if they can actually do it. Or they’re fans of the Indian Jones movies. Or whatever.
  • You probably noticed it in my summary, but I substituted killed for the more family-friendly conquered because the latter is lame.
  • Right, while Zuko suggesting that they think about their place in the universe is hilarious—why hasn’t Appa started searching for them or anything? You’d think he would have separation anxiety re: Aang what with how long they were separated in book two.
  • I am confused. Why does the chief call the egg thing a sunstone? It doesn’t look like either of the sunstones that serve as the locking mechanisms. I still think it is a dragon egg.
  • Monkeyfeathers = probably one of my favorite curse words ever
  • I loved the little backhanded compliment to Zuko about his intelligence. He looked so pleased that Aang thought he was smart—and the he realized what Aang had implied everyone else thought of him.

That’s one life-changing field trip out of the way, but next week’s adventure is going to be a lot more fun. Come back on Monday for Book Three: Fire || Chapter Fourteen: The Boiling Rock, Part 1. Next week will be a double-episode week, folks, so stay tuned!

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6 thoughts on “Book Three: Fire || Chapter Thirteen: The Firebending Masters

  1. The Sun Warrior village actually isn’t in the Fire Nation archipelago, as you can see on this map.

    Other than that, I don’t really have much to say, except that this is one of my favorite episodes.

    1. That is an awesome map! I think the ATLA world in general falls under the “most people have no sense of scale” problem, though. If Zuko and Sokka could get to the Boiling Rock–close to halfway to the Fire Nation capital–in just twenty-four hours, why did it take our heroes weeks to get to the Fire Nation capital from—well, pretty much anywhere on the globe? And only two days for Zuko and Katara to get from the area around the Western Air Temple all the way down to Whale Tail Island in “The Southern Raiders”? Either there are a lot of days the show just skips over within the same episode without indicating the passage of time or else our heroes are occasionally capable of teleporting when the plot demands it.

      It is a fun episode, and it’s really nice to see that firebending can be a positive force in the world.

  2. For my part, I’ll note that modern analogies to the Fire Nation don’t always settle all their own space perfectly before invading other nations to “bring our greatness” to them…

  3. All I can think about is that Aang is doing his Dragon form wrong. It’s kind of driving me crazy. Like when I see Toph lift up her heel in her bow stances. Zuko’s got a good guard palm though. Too much Kung Fu ruins tv.

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