Book of Earth Summary

It’s time to discuss the second season of Avatar: the Last Airbender!

 

In the season finale, Zuko’s decision shifted the course of the war (and not for the better).

 

Characters

In “The Guru”, Aang came to terms with being the Avatar and the loss of the Air Nomads as well as realizing that he’s in love with Katara.  At this point, he’s learning both water and earth bending, but isn’t yet a master of them like with air.  Playful and easy-going, Aang doesn’t always take his responsibilities seriously but he is learning to do so.  He was very distraught when his sky bison Appa was stolen, as was the flying lemur Momo.

Katara’s feelings for Aang are murkier, but the teen has become a water-bending master and continues to teach Aang.  This season she largely had a supporting role, being the ‘mom’ of the Gaang- nurturing and protective.

Sokka is clever and creative, but doesn’t always utilize his talents in an intelligent manner (see: cactus juice).  While a good fighter, I will acknowledge he’s probably the least skilled of the Gaang.  The teen is also determined and will presumably go back to being pessimistic after his bout of optimism once they found Appa.

Toph Bei Fong, a blind preteen, joined the group to have more freedom as well as teach Aang earth-bending.  She uses her abilities to ‘see’ and detect lies; to top it off, she figured out how to metal-bend in the two-part finale.  Brash and outspoken, Toph is largely comfortable with who she is… but handling social interaction isn’t her forte, and often reveals a vein of insecurity in her personality.

Zuko wandered the Earth Kingdom as a refugee this season (sometimes with his uncle, sometimes not).  His craving for honor and respect repeatedly get him and others in trouble (“Zuko Alone”, “The Crossroads of Destiny”).

Iroh continues to be largely awesome, but not perfect (he fire-bent his tea once and then tried to mold Zuko into someone else).

Azula is devious, manipulative, and skilled at fire-bending as well as combat.  She ‘recruits’ two childhood friends to assist her- the dour, knife-throwing Mai and the bubbly, chi-blocking acrobat Ty Lee.  It’s interesting that she chose two non-benders.  There are a couple of possibilities: Azula respects that non-benders (or at least these two) have useful talents, Azula knew she could best control/predict them, Azula wanted to ensure she was the best fire-bender around, or Azula genuinely wanted to spend time with her friends.  Maybe it’s some combination of the above?

Fire Lord Ozai has been held back to be the ‘big bad’ for the final season.  Long Feng was conniving, but he was also overconfident and didn’t think through all the possibilities, so he was easily outgunned by Azula.

Jet reappeared in a mini-arc, along with Smellerbee & Longshot.  Despite his best efforts to turn over a new leaf, his obsession with proving that Zuko and Iroh were fire-benders led him to be brainwashed by the Dai Li.  Shortly after being used as bait for the Gaang, Jet’s mind was cleared… but he ultimately was defeated by Long Feng.

Plot

The first half of the season was largely the Gaang (and Zuko & Iroh) traveling through the Earth Kingdom, with both groups ending up going towards the metropolis of Ba Sing Se.  The journey was essentially covered in a two-parter, with Ba Sing Se being the core setting for the last seven episodes of the season.

It makes sense that the setting was more stable, as earth is that compared to the other elements.  Like I said in the summary post for season one, this show masterfully merges action, humor, and emotion.

The art book spotlight this time is on the calligraphy used in the show, which was done by S. L. Lee.  There are quite a few neat facts tucked away in the captions, while the images themselves are lovely (just like most of the show when it’s not being silly).

This DVD case features the sprawl of Ba Sing Se in green hues. It’s hard to believe I’m already two-thirds done with the series. It also came with an exclusive bonus disc. I didn’t watch “Interview with Creators and M. Night Shyamalan” because it’d be hilarious/sad in hindsight but the bit with Bryan & Sifu Kisu was great in recapping the martial arts used for the elements as well as acknowledging that all the effort put into the action scenes comes across in the episodes themselves. I don’t go into a lot of detail regarding the fight sequences, but that’s because I lack the words to describe their awesomeness. The trio of ATLA super deformed shorts are hilarious… even if Sokka is even more of a ‘chew toy’ than usual in them. Poor Sokka.

Book of Fire sparks to life with everybody dealing with the fallout of Ba Sing Se’s fall (heh, puns).

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