ATLA1-20: The Siege of the North II

Zhao’s plan to take out the moon backfires.

Last time on Avatar: Zhao’s fleet attacked the city and Zuko kidnapped Aang.

 

Seeking Aang, Who’s Seeking the Spirits

There are still fireballs attacking the city.  In the spirit oasis, Katara is upset but her brother assures her and reminds her they need to focus on finding Aang.  She tells the worried Momo to stay in case Aang comes back.  Yue, Sokka, and Katara all get on Appa to follow the path left by Zuko in the snow.

In the spirit world, which deliberately has warmer hues than the rest of the landscapes, Aang first encounters a prickly monkey monk who tells Aang to follow a ball of light.  Aang briefly catches it before the branch he’s on breaks and he lands in the water below as it flies off.  His reflection is Roku.

The ice cracks under Zuko’s feet but he manages to get himself and Aang across before it fully collapses.  The teen spies a cave in a distance to act as shelter while there’s a blizzard.  Once in the cave, he uses rope to tie up the other boy.

Aang explains the situation to Roku, who rises up to reveal that actually those two spirits long ago crossed into the mortal world somewhere.  The “very dangerous” spirit Koh, “the face stealer”, is the only one who might know where they are.  Aang must show no emotion or Koh will steal his face which is why he’s called that.

Appa is flying across the snowy landscape as the group searches for the duo.  Zuko is currently making a fire and talking at Aang.  The commentary flat-out says Zuko is talking so much because no one is listening.

20Zuko&Aang

Going to the cave entrance, he brings up his sister, an adored “fire-bending prodigy” and states, “My father says she was born lucky.  He says I was lucky to be born.  I don’t need luck, though.  I don’t want it.  I’ve always had to struggle and fight and that’s made me strong.  It’s made who I am.”

Battle is being waged in the city versus the two types of benders.  Iroh is worried about the full moon about to rise, while Zhao wants to remove the moon as a factor.  Hahn shows up, calling Zhao “Choi” but Zhao easily throws the youth overboard.

Still images show as Zhao explains that as a young man he found a hidden, underground library full of forgotten lore… including where and who the moon and ocean spirits are.  He views it as his destiny to destroy the moon.  It’s brought up that Iroh once journeyed into the spirit world and there are evidently widespread rumors about it.  Zhao is determined to fulfill his ‘destiny’.

Aang reaches Koh’s cave, seeing a faceless monkey spirit, and heads down a passage where the spirit tries to scare him by sneaking up on him.  Koh recognizes him as the Avatar and reveals that a previous incarnation tried to kill him for stealing the face of someone he loved, switching his face to that of a woman.  And yes, Koh keeps trading out faces.  For your sakes, I will not show an image of Koh because he is one creepy creature voiced by Erik Todd Dellums.  Aang’s body is still in the cave with Zuko.

The trio continues to search on Appa.  Katara is worried the duo will end up ‘lost’ in the blizzard, which is an oblique way of saying they might die.  Sokka reasons, “They’re not going to die in this blizzard.  If we know anything, it’s that Zuko never gives up.  They’ll survive, and we’ll find them.

Koh continues to be creepy.  Aang makes his request.  Apparently the spirits are named Twee and La, push and pull.  I don’t know if those are accurate translations in another language.  Koh first reveals that they actually need his help as “someone is going to kill them”.

Then it’s explained that Aang has already met them before Koh continues an extended metaphor that ends with “yin and yang”.  Aang is elated that he now knows who they are but manages a blank face by the time Koh turns to face him.  Koh is certain they’ll meet again, but he might be referring to the Avatar in the general, though.

Aang exits the cave and Hei Bai is here to guide Aang back to the physical world.

The attack is continuing in the Northern Water Tribe as the moon rises.  This increases the power of water and decreases the power of fire.  Master Pakku in particular does a lot of impressive moves.  Zhao wants to go fishing.

Hei Bai brings Aang back to the portal and helps him through.  When the monkey monk goes “good riddance” Hei Bai goes into its ‘Hulk’ mode briefly to do a beam attack at the other spirit.

Moonfall, Moonrise

Spirit Aang sees Momo and then somehow zooms across the tundra as a beam of light.  Katara, equally baffling, can sees this and sends Sokka after him.  When Aang wakes up, Zuko says, “Welcome back.”

Aang blows him across the cave and tries to ‘inchworm’ his escape to Zuko’s annoyance.  But then Appa and the trio show up.  There’s a brief rematch between Katara and Zuko (I think Zuko missed the memo that it was night again).  Sokka approves of the rope’s quality as he cuts Aang free; clearly he and Samwise would get along.  The four get onto Appa and Aang decides they can’t leave the unconscious Zuko behind.

“Sure we can,” Sokka scoffs.  “Let’s go.”

“No, if we leave him, he’ll die.”

Aang gets off Appa’s head to drag Zuko over.

“Yeah, this makes a lot of sense,” grumbles Sokka.  “Let’s bring the guy who is constantly trying to kill us.”

As the two fish circle each other, Zhao puts the white one in a bag, causing the moon and the landscape to turn red.  The water-benders are greatly weakened and the fire-benders strengthened.  Both Yue and Aang are spiritually impacted as well.

She reveals that she owes the moon spirit her life; as a newborn, she was basically in a coma and the healers couldn’t do anything for her.  Chief Arnook pleaded with the spirits and that night put her in the spirit oasis pond.  This causes her hair to turn white, but her eyes opened and she cried for the first time.  Ergo her mother named her after the moon.

“I am a legend now,” Zhao claims.  “The Fire Nation will, for generations, tell stories about the great Zhao who darkened the moon.  They will call me Zhao the Conqueror.  Zhao the Moonslayer!  Zhao the Invincible!”

Then Momo attacks Zhao’s head just as Appa and the others arrive at the spirit oasis.  Aang is worried as Zhao claims it’s his destiny to destroy the moon and the Water Tribe.  He points out that the moon’s destruction will put the whole world out of balance.  Iroh concurs with Aang that the Fire Nation needs the moon as well and threatens Zhao.

Zhao puts the moon fish back into the pond but then fire-bends at it.  Everything goes greyscale.  As Iroh fiercely fights the other soldiers, Zhao bolts.  Everybody’s scared and Yue’s irises still have color.  Appa’s back shows that Zuko has left as well.

Iroh picks up the fish and Yue despairs.  Determined, Aang goes into his Avatar state and enters the pond.  Iroh puts out his hand to keep Katara from approaching Aang at that moment.  Aang sinks into the pond as the fish’s eyes glow.  The water around him/them starts to glow blue.  Koizilla (its canon name) emerges out of the spirit oasis.  The water-benders bow down while the fire-benders go on the offensive, confirming to Koizilla who to attack.  Some fire-benders just flee.

Zhao is running when Zuko shows up, angry the other man tried to have him killed while Zhao is surprised that Zuko is still alive.  But Zhao knows that Zuko is the Blue Spirit; time for a fire versus fire fight.

Iroh and Yue are still upset.  Sokka half-attacks her.  Iroh realizes that part of the moon spirit is in Yue and she thinks she might be able to give it back.  She feels this is her duty so she touches the moon fish and collapses.  Sokka touches her neck and says that “she’s gone”.

20Koizilla

Koizilla reaches the ocean to start taking out the fleet easily.  Everything is greyscale except where Koizilla is, which is blue.

Yue fades away and the moon spirit is alive again, Iroh putting it back into the pond.  As the new moon spirit, Yue briefly appears before Sokka for a final kiss and some reassurance.

Aang is put back on the city wall as Koizilla retreats back towards the spirit oasis, glad that the moon is back.

Zuko versus Zhao continues, the latter upset to see that the moon is back.  Koizilla captures Zhao on its way back; Zuko tries to save him but Zhao opts to refuse that aid and sinks into the water with the last of Koizilla.  The creators seem to be under the impression that Zhao was too proud to accept said help from anybody, let alone the banished prince.

Later, Pakku tells Katara he will be leading a mission to the South Pole to help rebuild their sister tribe and wants Katara to take over as Aang’s water-bending master.  The creators agree that Kanna will probably slap Pakku when he shows up at her house and that she’ll be an even tougher opponent than Katara was.

Chief Arnook tells Sokka, “The spirits gave me a vision when Yue was born.  I saw a beautiful, brave young woman become the moon spirit.  I knew this day would come.”

Huh, that might be the other reason Arnook accepted the betrothal between Yue and Hahn- he knew it wouldn’t ever come to fruition, so why make waves?

“You must be proud,” comments Sokka as they gaze up at the moon.

“So proud,” he agrees.  “And sad.”

Iroh and Zuko are floating away on a raft.  Zuko is so tired he doesn’t even want to go after the Avatar.  Iroh comments how a man needs his rest and the teen lies down.

Katara is worried for Aang and they hug.  Momo joins in as Sokka is nearby.  Appa floats up and they all stare up at the moon.

In the Fire Nation, Ozai has a task for Azula as Iroh is a “traitor” and Zuko a “failure”.

Conclusion

Apparently the showrunners wanted the battle to be even more impressive, but honestly I think they did a great job with it.  This is an epic finale that’s the perfect blend of wrapping up all the major plot threads of this season while setting up for season two.

Watching Avatar: the Last Airbender is a joyous experience.  It’s wonderfully plotted and it combines perfectly action, humor, and heart.  There were only a few funny bits here as this was a serious finale, but they weren’t out of place when they did occur.  Zuko’s speech was heart-breaking.  Yue’s fate was predicted by her devotion to duty over self and while sad was also honorable.

Zhao’s pride and ego ended up being his tragic flaws.  The sequel series Legend of Korra strongly implies that the Gaang among others more or less wiped him from history, aware that would be the worst thing they could ever do to him.  Iroh and Zuko are now even less accepted than the Fire Nation and the latter’s sister will play a larger role in the next season.

The art book contains multiple images of Northern Water tribe structures.  There’s also artwork of Iroh’s, Zuko’s, and the mercenaries’ appearances for these episodes.  There sketches of how the tanks and trebuchets work, as well as an image of the spirit world.  The next pair of pages is devoted to sketches of Koizilla and the related storyboards.

There’ll be a Book of Water summary before I move onto Book of Earth.

 

Next time on Avatar: A general wants Aang to gain control of his Avatar State to wield it against the Fire Nation.

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