Avatar: The Last Airbender Double Episode Review
Two more episodes of Avatar, for a grand total of five so far. Five more to go before we get to the dreaded halfway point and season hiatus!
I KNOW SWORD-FU!
Sokka's Master is a pretty refreshing installment, finally addressing 'Boomerang Guy' Sokka's final realization that he has to improve himself to become more useful to the gang. After having to sit back (again) while the others defeat a crisis with their bending powers, Sokka resolves to get stronger. On a suggestion from Katara that they go shopping to cheer him up, Sokka eventually decides on finding a teacher to help him learn battle skills- a nice way by the by to reveal where Toph actually got her mad bending knowledge...
Anyways, the local swordmaster, Piandao, soon accepts this strange youth as his student despite having no references or offerings, and we go through a pretty hilarious and sped-up training segment with Sokka showing off as much resourcefulness as he does actual sword-fu. In the end though, Sokka's admiration and gratitude for his teacher is so much that he can't avoid not telling the truth about his true identity...
A very cool episode, if only for the fact that from here on in, Sokka should KICK arse, given as how he's been taught combat from a guy who apparently beat 100 soldiers single-handedly (according to the Nick website). The action and animation throughout this ep is pretty slick and cool, and the climactic swordfight between Sokka and Piandao is quite awesome- certainly right up there with the series' best action scenes.
Other than that- once again, cool humor from the rest of the troop, with a focus on the fact that Sokka is actually the comedian of the group, and no one else. Toph's little crush on Sokka gets a li'l bit more prodding, and finally we see a big development on General Iroh's side as well- intriguing, to say the least. All in all, a pretty good episode and my favorite so far in the season.
BAD GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN
The Beach has been the talk of the Avatar fandom world ever since word of it came out from the last San Diego Comic Con. A 'fan service' episode focusing mainly on the Ozai Angels (Azula, Mai and Ty Lee) and Zuko as they go on a short vacation. Just having the evil (but admittedly hot) Azula and the limber Ty Lee in swimsuits is worth the price of admission, but well, this episode is surprisingly entertaining and insightful as we see new sides to our resident antagonists. Azula, for example, has been so far unbeatable in battle and the most formidable female villain in US cartoons in recent memory, but this comes at a price- NORMALCY. On the other hand, the perplexing romance between ever-angsty Zuko and the indifferent kunoichi Mai continues and heads into some rocks. I don't know about some fans' opinions out there, but I think they make a perfect couple. Ty Lee is, as always, a chirpy glow in the midst of all the negativity from her comrades, and even gets to have not one, but two crying scenes. There's a bit more of Zuko anger, and he finally vocalizes what has been brewing inside him without a doubt since the start of the season- perhaps a bit too much spoon-feeding, but perhaps it needed to be said.
In the end, 'The Beach' reveals stuff about our villains- just enough to make us kinda-sorta like them a little bit more if you didn't already, but not enough to make it hurt when they inevitably get a beatdown from the Avatar and friends. It's a bit of a twisted little vignette that comes complete with a Fire Nation-type happy ending, that is simply unique. Great stuff, and certainly a cool installment along the lines and flavor of the similar 'Tales of Ba Sing Se'.
On the Avatar's end, the Gaang gets the short end of the stick this ep, as Aang's carelessness leads to him getting spotted by some Fire Nation sentries. However, it seems that the group's general incognito status won't be changing anytime soon as the only one who gets the message is the new character known as The Combustion Man (from the Nick website), the tattooed assassin hired by Zuko. Armed with a unique style of firebending, CM looks to be a formidable opponent. However, I found it cool that Aang isn't shown to be overly weak or kicked around too much; he's actually showing more expertise in the use of earthbending as well in the short but sweet segment between him and the assassin. Hopefully this bodes cooler action in future installments.
That's that for this week! Next episode: The Avatar and the Fire Lord!