Avatar: The Last Airbender Episode 7 runs a frustrating race to the finish line

Netflix's live-action Avatar remake continues to attract and repel at the same time.
Appa takes flight through couldy skies with passengers Aang (Gordon Cormier), Katara (Kiawentiio) and Sokka (Ousley) on his back.
Appa takes flight through couldy skies with passengers Aang (Gordon Cormier), Katara (Kiawentiio) and Sokka (Ousley) on his back. /

I feel like I'm saying this for every episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender, but it's true: "The North" has things I really liked and moments that I despise. This time, Team Avatar arrives at the Northern Water Tribe.

I'll start with the stuff that I enjoyed, which again has to do with Ian Ousley's performance as Sokka. This was perfect casting in my opinion. He's nailed the delivery and comedic timing all season, and now his scenes with Princess Yue are among my favorites for him. There's great chemistry between the actors and their relationship just clicks well on camera.

The show changes Yue's character in a few little ways that I enjoy. As a person with part of the moon spirit inside of her, she has the ability to enter the spirit world in her dreams. We even saw her take the form of a three-tailed fox and speak with Sokka in the previous episode. This means that Sokka and Yue have a connection even before he arrives at the Northern Water Tribe, so the relatively rapid development of their romance make a bit more sense. Also Yue can waterbend in the live-action show, which if you subscribe to the fan theory that she was supposed to be the Avatar after Aang makes a lot of sense.

As for Katara, her arc in the live-action remake is pretty similar to the animated version. As a novice water-bender, she was expecting to find a master at the Northern Water Tribe who can teach her, until she learns the sexist custom that female water-benders are only allowed to learn healing. This puts her at odds with the tribe's top water-bender Master Pakku, which culminates in a one-vs-one duel they have. Prior to the duel, we get a great scene of Sokka encouraging her and validating her decision to help Aang earlier in the season. It was just really nice to see Sokka instill Katara with confidence. Usually, their sibling rivalry stops that from happening.

Avatar: The Last Airbender Episode 7, "The North"

Now for the bad stuff. When the group arrives they are greeted by Pakku and Chief Arnook, and Aang admits that he hasn't begun learning any of the other elements yet. This made me realize that we have gotten no scenes of Katara teaching Aang water-bending all this season, which makes no sense from a writing standpoint. I understand that this first season of the show did not have a timetable element like the animated show did with Sozin's comet, but for the love of god why would they make it so Aang made zero progress on mastering the other elements? Wouldn't having the vision of the Northern Water Tribe being destroyed be motivation enough for him to at least start learning water-bending? Especially while he was traveling with a water-bender.

We also get a scene of Aang contacting Avatar Kuruk, the last water-bending Avatar, who tells him that mastering the Avatar state requires the user to first master all four elements. It just made me feel extremely unsatisfied and question what the heck did Aang learn this season. Every time he spoke to the other Avatars, they cautioned him against friendship and that the Avatar needs to walk alone. Okay, well Aang did the exact opposite and seemingly came out on the other end worse because of it. This is somewhat consistent with the original show as Aang routinely finds his own path, but it usually works out, more or less. On top of all that, Kuruk is unable to help Aang manifest the Avatar state because of long-term damage to his soul, so now Aang just looks foolish and unhelpful.

I just don't understand the other Avatars barking up this "going it alone" thing, then Aang opting to not take their advice because of his friendships with Sokka and Katara. But he doesn't has his closest friend to help him learn the one thing he should have learned this season. It felt like a major misstep in the writing and it only gets worse from here.

Episode Grade: C-

atla 8. The Avatar: The Last Airbender season finale is kind of a mess. dark. Next

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