ATLA 1-14: The Fortuneteller

The Gaang finds a village under the titular person’s sway just as the nearby volcano is about to erupt.

Last time on Avatar: Zuko rescued Aang from Zhao.

 

Aunt Wu

The trio have made camp by a river.  There’s a seemingly smug fish splashing around near the shore, aggravating Sokka.  But Aang used the fishing line to weave a new necklace for Katara since she lost her old one.  When Sokka is snarky, the younger boy points out there’s no reason he can’t save the world and have a jewelry making business.

14SparklyKatara

As seen above, Aang briefly gets a pinkish, sparkly POV when he sees Katara wearing the new necklace and gets all awkward when she asks for his opinion on how she looks.

“Smoochie, smoochie.  Somebody’s in love,” calls out Sokka.  This causes him to get slapped in the face by the fish, which then swims away.  Katara thinks her brother is just being silly and unjustified in his comment.

But then they hear a roar and find a platypus-bear trying to attack a villager.  The man himself is blasé but the three each call out conflicting advice on how to get away.  Appa shows up to roar at the critter, which lays an egg before leaving.

The guy reveals that Aunt Wu, the fortuneteller of his village, told him he’d have a safe journey.  Before going he hands over a wrapped package she told him to give to any travelers he met.  Aang unwraps it- there’s an orange umbrella within.  With perfect timing, as it starts to rain.

Aang and Katara stand under it while Sokka attempts to use the egg to stay dry.  The teen is determined to be skeptical about someone actually telling the future and ‘predicts’ it’ll keep raining.  Seconds later it stops.  While the other two are further ahead, Sokka gets splashed when Appa shakes out his fur.

Arriving at the village, they go to see Aunt Wu.  Meng, her assistant, is instantly smitten with an oblivious Aang.  Sokka’s still grumpy (and hungry- the egg got broken on their trip) but Katara is hopeful.  A lady comes out, glad to hear she’ll know her true love when he gives her a rare flower.  Apparently Aunt Wu earlier predicted Meng would marry someone with big ears (which Aang has).  The girl returns with the snacks, which Sokka likes but Aang isn’t keen on.

Katara goes in for her fortunetelling.  Claiming he’s off to find the bathroom, Aang decides to eavesdrop.  Sokka lies back to enjoy the snacks… which are promptly stolen by Momo.  Aang’s delighted to overhear that she’ll marry “a very powerful bender” as he’s well aware that he is one due to being the Avatar and all.  When Aang returns happily, Sokka doesn’t want to know what he got up to in the bathroom.

Aunt Wu and Katara return to the waiting chamber.  She claims that she can tell that Sokka’s life will be full of “suffering and anguish”, “most of it self-inflicted”.  Aang goes back with her to the “fortunetelling salon” as the caption for a black-and-white sketch of it is called in the art book.  The caption goes on to say that “Aunt Wu’s fortunetelling method of choice is osteomancy, the practice of divining the future by throwing a bone in a fire and reading its cracks”.

Of course, the scene is dramatic as seen above.  Aunt We tells Aang, “Your destiny- this is incredible.  You will be involved in a great battle, an awesome conflict between the forces of good and evil.  A battle whose outcome will determine the fate of the whole world.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know all that already,” Aang shrugs it off.  “But did it say anything about a girl?”

14BoneReading

“A girl?  You want to know about love?”  I wonder if her confusion is just due to Aang’s blasé reaction to her initial reading or if it’s augmented by the fact most preteen boys aren’t interested in romance.

When Aang confirms that, she at first states she didn’t see anything but upon seeing his sad reaction she claims to have missed something and assures him if he follows his heart he’ll be with the one he loves.  She shakes her head in confusion as he darts off.

Cloud Reading

A frustrated Sokka kicks at a rock as they leave Aunt Wu’s place- the rock bounces off a sign and hits him on the head.  Both Katara and Aang are pleased with their predictions.  There’s a crowd forming in the village square as Aunt Wu is going to predict the village’s fate via clouds.  When Aang comments one looks like a fluffy bunny a nearby villager comments, “You better hope that’s not a bunny.  The fluffy bunny cloud forecasts doom and destruction.”

Sokka is not happy.  Apparently until Aunt Wu moved to the village two decades ago they had to climb the nearby Mount Makapu to ensure the volcano wouldn’t erupt in the near future.  The main goal of the cloud reading is to check on that.

Aunt Wu and Meng come out.  Meng tries to flirt with Aang, who then tries to flirt with Katara (both fail).  The cloud reading assures the villagers that the volcano won’t erupt this year.  Aang tries to confesses his feelings towards Katara to no avail.

Katara heads back to Aunt Wu’s to get another reading about who she’ll marry.  Sokka and Aang are out in the village; when he kicks another rock after failing to explain to a villager if he wears red shoes every day of course Aunt Wu’s prediction of him wearing red shoes when he meets his true love will come true, it hits a goose which then attacks the teen.

Apparently Aunt Wu has done an in-depth reading for Katara, ending with her peaceful death in her sleep after the birth of her third great-grandchild.  Out in the square, Sokka gets cocky when Aang asks for advice about girls.  Sokka thinks Aang is asking about the obviously smitten Meng when the younger boy is actually asking about his sister.  The teen suggests he act aloof to get and keep her attention opposed to being “too nice”.  I won’t begrudge him too much as he grew up in a village where the only other person near his age was his little sister.  Aang unwittingly succeeds with Meng but fails with Katara, who’s bummed after being told she’ll have papaya for breakfast tomorrow despite her dislike of it.

The lady from earlier receives a rare panda lily from a guy; their happy hug is interrupted by Aang asking where to find such a flower.  Sokka and Aang climb up the volcano to find another panda lily, despite the older boy wanting Aang to remain aloof.  Aang trusts what Aunt Wu told him about following his heart to Sokka’s aggravation.

Averting the Future

They reach the volcano brim where the panda lilies are… but the lava is clearly getting ready to erupt.  I have to wonder how the guy didn’t notice the situation; maybe he never learned the signs or got a panda lily from a point where the lava wasn’t visible… although surely it could have been felt.  Or maybe he didn’t think the volcano would erupt due to Aunt Wu’s prediction.

Aang grabs Sokka so they can glide down the volcano to arrive at the village.  Katara’s upset that Aunt Wu won’t do any more readings for her.  The volcano starts to emit smoke but Sokka still can’t convince the villagers.  Katara tries to back the two but the villagers remain unconvinced.

One even asks, “Can your science explain why it rains?”

“Yes!” goes an exasperated Sokka.  “Yes, it can!”

The villagers remain blasé but Aang has an idea.  The siblings stay outside while Aang sneaks into the house to read Aunt Wu’s cloud-reading book to learn the sign for “volcanic doom” so he and Katara can bend a cloud into that shape.

14Meng

Once inside, Aang encounters Meng.  The girl is sad that Aang has a crush on Katara instead of her but claims she gets it as Katara is a pretty bender whose hair is more manageable.  He assures her that someday she’ll meet someone who’ll like her back.  Meng then lends him the cloud-reading book.

Aang and Katara work together to bend the cloud into a skull shape; a happy Appa helps out.  Sokka leads out Aunt Wu to the cloud reading gazebo to see the cloud in question.  The teen has a plan to save the day: the benders will earth-bend a trench with all non-benders using shovels to help out as well.  It’s shown here that even in identical twins one can be a bender while the other is not.  Once the trench is done, the villagers must evacuate until it’s safe to return.

Ash and night fall at the same time.  The lava comes downhill and looks like it’ll overflow the trench and thus destroy the village anyway.  The trio backs up.  Aang uses air-bending to solidify the lava in an arc before it can destroy the village.

“Man… sometimes I forget what a powerful bender that kid is.”

“Wait, what did you just say?” Katara asks her brother.

“Nothing,” he replies, probably figuring she thinks he said something teasing about Aang again.  “Just that Aang is one powerful bender.”

“I suppose he is,” Katara occurs, her expression hinting that she might have realized Aang could be the man she’ll marry as he’s already a powerful bender before hitting puberty.

The next day, Aang returns the cloud-reading book to an impressed Aunt Wu.  Sokka is hopeful this taught the villagers a lesson about not relying too much on fortunetelling… but they still stand firm that Aunt Wu was right in saying the volcano wouldn’t destroy the village.  An angry Sokka has to be guided away by Katara.

Aang is now aware that Aunt Wu didn’t really see a girl in his future.    She assures him, “Just as you reshaped those clouds, you have the power to shape your own destiny.”

The Gaang leaves on Appa.  Meng seemingly cheerfully responds to Katara’s farewell but then grumbles “floozy” as they leave.

Hopefully Meng isn’t quite aware of that word means beyond it being an insult directed at women deemed disreputable.  Or maybe she’s letting vent to her true feelings after playing nice in front of her crush in hopes of redirecting his attentions towards her.

Conclusion

As always, this was an awesome episode.  Humor, heart, and action all in one gorgeous package!  Aunt Wu was voiced by Tsai Chin while Meng was played by Jessie Flower (the art book gives a spoiler about her returning to voice a major character next season).  There were drawings of them above the sketch of the fortunetelling salon.  The opposite page has four sketches- the left ones in black and white while the pair on the right are in color.  Clockwise: an image of the volcano and village, one of Aang and Katara cloud-bending on Appa, a sketch of the Gate and four statue pairs lining the path (and a close-up of the four designs), and a design of the trench and its location.

Interestingly, the statues each link an animal to an element.  Badgers for earth, fish for water, owls for air, and dragons for fire.  It shows that generally speaking there needs to be harmony between the four elements.  I wonder how affected this village has been by the war- there are still some earth-benders and they seem to not recognize Aang as the Avatar (to be fair, he didn’t air-bend before any of them).

Sokka clearly prefers reason and aloofness opposed to instinct and open affection.  Overall this episode implies that there needs to be balance between them, just like with the elements.  I’m not sure whether Aunt Wu is just that good at observation or if she actually has a bit of actual divination ability.  Let’s face it, that’s a possibility in a world where people regularly control the elements.  And maybe if she has similar abilities that’s why Meng is her assistant… she’s just still learning to use them.

 

Next time on Avatar: Sokka and Katara encounter their father’s friend Bato to Aang’s concern.

 

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