The Avatar: The Last Airbender season finale is kind of a mess

After an entire season of gallivanting around the world, Aang seemingly hasn't learned anything in this lackluster season finale.
Avatar: The Last Airbender. (L to R) Gordon Cormier as Ang, Kiawentiio as Katara, Ian Ousley as Sokka in season 1 of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Cr. Netflix © 2024
Avatar: The Last Airbender. (L to R) Gordon Cormier as Ang, Kiawentiio as Katara, Ian Ousley as Sokka in season 1 of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Cr. Netflix © 2024 /

Here we are, the season finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender. The culmination of an entire season of multi-million dollar storytelling, and it fell short of my expectations.

Aang's character arc disappointed me the most. Not only did he not learn a single iota of water-bending this season, but we come to find out that he is still uncomfortable with the fact that he missed the last 100 years. When he merges with the ocean spirit in the middle of the episode, he says that this isn't his world and he doesn't belong. In my mind I was like, "oh he's still worrying about that!?" It just felt like Aang was lagging behind everyone else and that his character development was nonexistent. It's hard not to look at the original animated show and see that Aang's development is much further along at the same point in time.

We also know that there will have to be a significant time jump ahead of a potential season 2, because Gordon Cormier and the other actors will age between filming. Yet the end of this episode suggests that the gang is not going to stay at the Northern Water Tribe during this jump. Katara tells Pakku that Aang still has a journey and needs to learn water-bending, yet they are leaving the place where all of the water-bending masters are. They imply that Katara now knows enough to teach him, when we don't see her get any new training from the northerners. The last time we see Aang, he feels bad about the Water Tribe being half destroyed, yet they're about to leave when they could stay and help them rebuild.

Avatar: The Last Airbender Episode 8, "Legends"

As for the Fire Nation characters, the Zhao character assassination arc continued to absolutely grind my gears all the way till the end. Instead of Zhao learning about the ocean and moon spirits from Wan Shi Tong's library, he learns about the spirit oasis from the fire sages. So apparently the Fire Nation has had this sensitive information about the water tribe's capital Agna Qel'a for the entirety of the 100-years war and Zhao is the first one to use it. Okay then.

What makes this even more nonsensical is the fact that Zhao has been portrayed like an incapable leader the entire season and the only reason for his success is because of Azula. I get wanting to introduce Azula as a villain earlier, but I can't help but feel like they could have done it without Zhao looking like such a wimp. Iroh literally tells Zhao to his face that he doesn't think he's capable of leading the attack on the North, yet he was smarter than generations of fire-benders when it comes to strategy. Okay then.

I did enjoy Zhao turning Zuko's world upside-down and throwing Azula under the bus, which sets up some solid conflict for next season. They also left Zhao's fate up in the air as Iroh blasts him into a river and he disappears, but we do not see the ocean spirite snatch him up so it's unclear if he was taken into the spirit world or not.

From a technical standpoint, I liked the look of Koizilla. Much of the budget for this episode/season was likely spent on the destruction of the Fire Nation fleet. However, the other fight scenes were a bit toned down. When Iroh is threatening to stop Zhao from killing the moon spirit, he blasts one fire bolt at Zhao and the rest of his men just stand in the background. The fight between Katara and Zuko felt a bit lackluster as well.

The big cliffhangers toward the end are that Bumi was captured and Omashu is now under Azula's control. Also, Sozin's Comet was finally introduced in the very last scene, which means the rubber will hit the road in terms of there being a timetable for Aang. But if he continues at the pace he's on, he doesn't stand a chance.

Episode Grade: D

dark. Next. atla 1. Avatar: The Last Airbender Episode 1 is a mixed bag with rushed pacing and decent action

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