Avatar: The Last Airbender Newbie Recap: Book One Finale “The Siege of the North,” Parts 1 and 2

THAT LAST MINUTE.

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Season Book One of Avatar: The Last Airbender: Completed. Aang and Zuko aren’t BFFs yet. When will this happen? I need it!

“The Siege of the North, Part 1”

The Waterbending Master” left us chilling (har) in the North Pole Water Tribe, which was just about to be attacked by Buttface Zhao’s Fire Nation army. In the meantime, Katara’s taken to beating every single waterbender in training exercises.

katara murder

Not included in the beatdowns is Aang, who’s been slacking off. Being able to turn oneself into a snowman is cute and all, but I can’t imagine it’ll be all that helpful when it’s time to fight the Fire Nation.

Sokka’s off being all friendly with Princess Yue, whom we learned last episode is engaged. The sparks, they are flying. But Yue says she can’t hang with Sokka anymore, because she likes him too much for them just to be friends. It’s an admirable, emotionally honest decision. Water Tribe women are staunch. I love them.

The romance is put on hold when Sokka sees Zhao’s ships off on the horizon. On one of those ships, Iroh grills a stowaway Zuko on whether he actually has a plan to capture Aang right out from under Zhao’s nose. He says he’s working on it. So no. Zhao also taunts Iroh about how he’s going to kick some major Water Tribe ass—it will be nothing like Iroh’s “legendary defeat” at Ba Sing Se (What happened?! I’m pretty sure this has been mentioned multiple times). Zhao, you are going to be defeated, and it is going to be so good.

ahs cackle

The Chief asks for volunteers for a dangerous mission, and of course Sokka’s the first one to raise his hand. He and a small group of fellow soldiers, led by an archetypal spoiled teenage jock named Hahn, will be infiltrating the Fire Nation army and hopefully assassinating Zhao. Sokka, who actually knows shit about the Fire Nation army, points out a glaring flaw: The uniforms the Water Tribe has procured are decades out of date.

i wear your granddad's clothes

Sokka gets thrown off the mission when he gets in a fight with Hahn, who happens to be Yue’s fiancé. The Chief, seeing Sokka is not a jock asshole with no respect for his daughter, gives him the task of protecting Yue during the battle.

But let’s go back to Aang! Determined to actually save a city this time around, he hang glides out to some Fire Nation ships and proceeds to bust up their catapults with the greatest of ease. At first I thought

it's a trap

…but nah, Zhao isn’t clever enough for something like that. This is just a plain siege: the Fire Nation, with hundreds of ships, up against a comparatively small number of ‘benders. Waterbenders get stronger when the moon’s out, so that’s in their favor… but Zhao, though kind of a dipshit, isn’t dipshitteous enough to fight at night. Aang angsts about not being able to do enough to save everyone because he’s just one kid, but dude, you have Katara and Yue on your side. They’ll figure something out. And, indeed, Yue mentions that there’s a super-spiritual oasis nearby, so maybe Aang should get his meditation on and ask the moon and ocean spirits, for some help. As long as Aang’s body stays where it is, everything will be hunky dory.

Oh, and there’s a moment where Katara and Yue totally look like they’re an angry ’90s singer-songwriter girl band.

angry girl band cover

Check out the new album from Katara+Yue, featuring their hit single “Everybody Stop Goofing Off Or So Help Me.”

Outside the oasis, night has fallen and the battle is on hiatus. It’s Zuko’s time to shine! Before he goes off to probably fail yet again at capturing the Avatar, Iroh hugs him and tells him he thinks of him as his a son. No, I’m fine!

twin peaks crying

Then there are SEAL TURTLES.

seal turtles

Zuko jumps into the seal turtle hole, despite the fact that he doesn’t know for sure it’ll actually take him where he wants to go. He doesn’t even know how deep it is! And it’s the North fricking Pole. There is like a 90% chance that he will die, and yet he does it anyway without even thinking twice. Zuko’s death wish causes me intense emotional pain. After almost dying several more times, he makes it to the oasis where Aang’s off gallivanting in the spirit world. Yue immediately runs off to get backup (because she’s smart), leaving Katara to keep Zuko from his habit of Aangnapping. Katara does pretty damn well, but then the sun rises, which makes her weaker and Zuko stronger.

So the episode ends in a pretty bad place: The Fire Nation army busts through the North Pole Water Tribe’s walls, and Zuko’s captured Aang and is carrying him through the frozen wildnerness. How will our heroes ever save the day?! Will the seal turtles help? Will Zuko finally succeed at something?

“The Siege of the North, Part 2”

Aang’s chilling in the spirit world, completely unaware of the fact that he’s been captured and Katara, Sokka, and Yue are flying around on Appa looking for him. Some trippy spirit shit happens, and Roku shows up to tell Aang that the moon and ocean sprits actually retired to the mortal world a while back. The only one who knows where they can be found is Koh, aka The Face Stealer, so called because if you show any emotion when you’re talking to him, he’ll still your fucking face.

since when am i in a horror movie

Meanwhile Zuko holes up with a unconscious Aang in a cave and proceeds to monologue about how no one understands meeeeee like the dork he is. The source of this week’s angst is his sister, who’s the perfect firebender while Zuko had struggle for everything he ever had. Zuko, that’s not because you’re a bad firebender. It’s because your dad’s a dick. You will realize. I have faith in you.

The battle rages on outside, with the Fire Nation’s tanks up against the North Pole Water Tribe’s… water jets. Yeah. The tanks are winning. To keep it that way, Zhao is determined to wrap things up by the time the moon rises. He tells Iroh that in order to do that he has a plan that will “remove the moon as a factor.” I’m not quite sure what he’s up to yet, but it’s a good bet that it’s stupid. Zhao also references a past jaunt to the spirit world that Iroh went on. Wait, what?! Details! Give!

Oh, and then douchebag jock Hahn shows up and delivers an ’80s action movie quip before running at Zhao… only for Zhao to just step aside and let Hahn fall off the ship before he continues talking like nothing happened. Zhao. That is my favorite thing you have ever done. Not that there’s a lot of competition, but still. Brilliant.

Back in the spirit world, we know Aang’s getting close to Koh because creepy faceless monkey AHHHHHHHHHHH!

atla faceless monkey

Why is this so terrifying?!

Koh’s just as terrifying as you think he will be, because he’s a flipping scorpion demon who keeps switching faces and talking about how one of Aang’s past incarnations tried to kill him once. Aang, our normally beautifully expressive baby cupcake, manages to keep a stone-cold expression all the way through. Meanwhile, I’m more like:

GoT

Turns out the moon and ocean spirits are the koi fish Aang saw earlier in the underground oasis. Oh, and in order to take away the waterbenders’ power, Zhao plans to kill them, or at least the moon spirit. That’s his big plan: He’s going to KILL A FISH. And DELETE THE MOON. Because there’s no way that will not have consequences for everyone in the entire world. Seriously, Zhao. What is wrong with you?

dwight

Hei Bai—oh hey (bai) there panda spirit buddy!—whisks Aang back to the mortal world, where it turns out that “When he’s in the spirit world no one can move his body!!!!” thing was maybe a little bit overstated, since Aang’s spirit just shows up where his body used to be,  says “Huh, it’s not here,” and shooting stars over to its current location. That, in turn, leads Katara, Sokka, and Yue to where he and Zuko are. Katara, with moon power on her side, takes out Zuko in like two seconds. Aang insists that they bundle him up on Appa and take him back to the oasis, since to do otherwise would basically be condemning him to an icy death. Which, by the way, Sokka is completely OK with.

While they’re on the way, Zhao gets his hands on the moon spirit, which causes Yue to get sick because—surprise!—when she was an infant she was on death’s door until the moon stepped in and gave her some of that tasty, tasty life spirit. In the oasis Zhao is rants about how he’s INVINNNNNCIIBBBBLLLEEEE. Even Iroh’s completely reasonable arguments that The entire world kind of needs the moon to exist, you moron. Put the fish back or SO HELP ME have no effect. This is Zhao, all the time:

Sure, buddy.

Sure, buddy.

Zhao kills the moon fish, and Iroh goes medieval on some guards, which gives Zhao a window to escape. And Aang. Aang is pissed. And he bonds with the ocean fish and basically turns into an ELEMENTAL SPIRIT KAIJU.

spirit kaiju

And now a break for some TMS interoffice dialogue:

Susana: Do you want to use the word “Koiju” in your Avatar recap?

Me: *makes this face*

While Koiju Aang wails on the Fire Nation, Yue realizes that, since part of the moon’s spirit is in her, she can die to bring the moon back. It’s a very, very sad heroic sacrifice. Still, cool points to Avatar for not having her just be Sokka’s Love Interest. She had a duty to her people, and that was what drove her. As a motivator, her affection for Sokka doesn’t even compare.

Also, I have always been vaguely confused by that gifset floating around Tumblr where Sokka says his ex-girlfriend turned into the moon (“That’s rough, buddy”). And now I know… she literally turned into the moon. I don’t know what I thought it would be.

It’s confrontation time for Zuko and Zhao! There’s a brief fight, and then the moon comes back and a jet of water rises from the ocean and embraces Zhao in a loving hug. Zuko tries to save his life, but Zhao refuses to accept his help and presumably drowns as a result.

zhao immature

Everything’s hunky dory: The North Pole Water Tribe is saved. Zuko didn’t capture Aang, but at least he’s not dead. He even seems a little less enthusiastic about going after the Avatar, telling Iroh he’d rather just go and take the world’s longest nap right now, thanks. The Chief is sad about his daughter (kinda) dying, but he said when Yue was born he saw a vision of a beautiful young women turning into the moon, so at least he’s accepted and is proud of her sacrifice. Katara, Sokka, Aang, and Momo share a group hug. Master Paku even says he’s going to the South Pole water tribe to help them rebuild!

But wait! What’s this? Zuko’s father, in his Fire Nation palace? Giving Zuko’s sister (hi, Zuko’s sister!) an ominous-sounding “task” regarding her “failure” of a brother?!

zuko sister

IS THAT “AW YISS CHILD ABUSE” FROM “THE STORM“? The one who was actively digging Fire Lord Ozai challenging Zuko to a duel, scarring him for life, and banishing him? That was his sister?!

I am going to love this so much.

What will Team Avatar do if they get actual competent villains to go up against? Check back next week for my newbie recap of the first two episodes of Book Two.

Because I want to avoid being spoiled if at all possible, comments on this post are locked. Any spoilery discussion can be directed to Facebook; if there’s anything non-spoilery about the recaps you want to say to me, you can hit me up on Twitter. You can catch up on previous recaps here.

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