Television Review: ATLA- The Avatar and the Firelord

Avatar: The Last Airbender
The Avatar and The Firelord

Avatar the Last Airbender, created by Michael Dante Dimartino and Bryan Konietzko, is one of my favorite television shows ever, just for the basic idea that it holds the simplicity of a children’s show, yet hidden beneath is something much more profound and amazing. This show is about the idea that one person, no matter how small, can change the world; it’s the idea that no matter how much adversity is thrown at you in life, you can overcome it and make something beautiful. “Water. Earth. Fire. Air. Long ago, the four nations lived together in harmony. Then, everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked. Only the Avatar, master of all four elements, could stop them, but when the world needed him most, he vanished. A hundred years passed and my brother and I discovered the new Avatar, an airbender named Aang. And although his airbending skills are great, he has a lot to learn before he’s ready to save anyone. But I believe Aang can save the world” (Opening sequence.). This is the whole premise to this television show, however, there is a lot more buried beneath the surface.

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I believe that the goal of the creators to create this show was to express what could be going on in our world today, our past as well as our future. The whole show, especially this episode was crucial in showing what power and greed can do to people, even the best of people. The intro stated that there were four nations that lived in peace, separate yet together, and that’s what made this world special, that people could be different, and still get along. The problem came however that with delusions of grandeur, one nation wanted to be above all the rest and take over the other nations. This is what started the war. The episode, The Avatar and The Firelord was very important to see how exactly the war came to existence. During the entirety of the show, we are to presume that the Avatar and the Firelord are sworn enemies, however, we discover that actually, more than a hundred years earlier, the Avatar and the Firelord were actually best friends, they were both fire benders and they even shared a birthday. Over time Sozin, the Fire Lord, wanted to commence plans to share what he thought was peace, wealth, and prosperity of his nation, and expand it into the other three nations. Roku, the Avatar, being that it was his job to provide balance and unity within the world, refused to have him destroy the sanctity of the separate nations. Later Roku discovers that Sozin went on with his plans anyway and Roku defeats but spares his life, in the name of their past friendship. Sozin questions Rokus loyalty to the Fire Nation but as the Avatar, it is his duty to preserve all the nations, not just his own. Twenty-five years later, not having seen each other for that long time, where Roku and his wife are living, on their own island, a volcano erupts and Roku has to fight all the elements to stop it, however it is too much for one man, even the Avatar to deal with. Surprisingly, Sozin shows up and helps him, however, when Roku accidently breaths in some toxic gas, Sozin leaves him there to die so that his vision of the future can be a reality. Sozin then, knowing the next cycle in the Avatar, goes to all the airtemples and kills all the airbenders, so that the next Avatar will not interfere with his plans, the only problem was that the next Avatar, the last airbender, somehow escaped and lives on. This story of the past was told to the young Avatar as well as the new fire prince as a way of trying to make sense of the past so that the world could one-day return to a time of peace. The point of this story was to show that “anyone’s capable of great good and great evil” (Quotes.). This was shown because just like Sozin, Roku was of the Fire Nation too, they were best friends, yet they ended up with totally different stories. The point was that “Everyone, even the Fire Lord and the Fire Nation, have to be treated like they’re worth giving a chance” (Quotes.). This was a story about friendships transcending lifetimes and that discovering your past can help bring balance and unity to the future.

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The importance of the background and setting of this story is crucial to everything that’s going on, the characters as well. In the beginning of the episode, Aang, the last airbender, goes on a vision quest to discover his past as Roku. The piece of symbolism I think that was important was the island that Roku takes Aang to. At first it looks like nothing, but buried beneath the surface is an entire story, literally because the volcano covered the village that was once there. Aang, being an airbender, was a simple monk, who originally lived at the Southern Air Temple. The colors for each nation is represented of their culture, therefore relevant to the effect of the story. As an airbender, he lived on a mountain with clouds everywhere, and his color was of white, for air. The Northern Water Tribe was located in the north pole, and thus their color was blue. The Earth Kingdom was all rock and stone, and their color was green. And finally, the Fire Nation lived on islands surrounded by volcanos, their color was red. The backgrounds showing these apparent colors was very important to show that there are in fact four separate nations. For this episode in particular, fire and the color red was a very important theme for this story. In the beginning, inside Aangs dream, he and Roku are surrounded by flame, a good representation for the fact that Roku is of the Fire Nation and that Aang needs to learn firebending because he is the Avatar. Zuko, the prince of the Fire Nation wakes up and discovers a message that can only be seen through the light of fire. Zuko and Aang, being the fire prince and the Avatar, are at odds at this point, and now both are trying to discover the hidden truth of their past. Another great symbol used in this episode was that of a powerful comet that was used to start the war. The elements were a powerful symbolism for the entire episode. Both Aang Zuko discover the stories of the past however is not complete for Zuko. The most intriguing part of that episode was the realization that what Zuko needed to find out, to help bring balance not only to his life but to the world, is that his great grandfather, was Firelord Sozin, however, on his mother’s side, Zuko’s great grandfather was in fact Avatar Roku. This is why the goal of the creators was about showing the differences between Roku and Sozin, so that the realization would mean so much more, that everyone is capable of choosing between good and evil, which means that the war can be ended if two people can settle their differences and come together and make the world balanced again with peace.

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References
Opening sequence. (n.d.). Retrieved February 01, 2017, from
http://avatar.wikia.com/wiki/Opening¬_sequence
Quotes. (n,d,), Retrieved February 01, 2017, from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1117701/quotes

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