I’ve wanted to complain about these for a while, but haven’t really found an excuse. before i start i want to make it clear that i haven’t read the comics and don’t know what any fan consensus is on these is either.
The Southern Raiders:
this episode is just plain awful. the plot can be summarised as “zuko wants katara to stop hating him and tells her where the guys that killed her mother are, then she gets overly bloodthirsty and kills a boat. they find some old man and then doesn’t kill him because he wasn’t worth it… which doesn’t really help the dead guys on that boat”. of all the episodes of TBAG i’ve watched, every single one had a better plot than this. at least in those the at least pretend to have conflict and a resolution, this just has “i want to kill this guy” followed by “actually no, I’ve changed my mind, i don’t” with no transition between them.
not only that but if it isn’t hideously out of character then it sure fooled me. as stated above katara becomes ridiculously bloodthirsty with the drop of a hat, despite the fact that she’s shown no signs of being that way.
The Ember Island Players:
unlike southern raiders this is not really a bad episode, i can understand that it was probably made just so the voice actors and writers could poke fun at each other’s little quirks. what i didn’t like was the b-plot.
the b plot of course being that some comment is made in the play about katara loving aang as a younger brother as opposed to romantically and naturally aang feels pretty insecure because of this. and here’s where the stupid starts…
well does anyone remember beast machines? the transformers series that came after beast wars and annoyed everyone because of the changes that they made to the main characters? for those of you who didn’t catch it when it was initially on or watch it later like i did (apparently discovery family in America is re-running it this November (2015))here’s the relevant point: the character of silverbolt in beast wars is as his voice actor describes him “strong, proud, brave and smart as a sack of hammers”, but he’s also more importantly to this romantically involved with the anti-villainess blackarachnia(maybe anti-herione is a more accurate term but villianess seems much more appropriate here). however when beast machines starts silverbolt’s spark (transformer soul… or not, considering it can be violently ripped from their bodies) is taken and placed in the body of a generic drone and corrupted to become jetstorm, who was kind of a dick but that was the point of his character. we’re given a bit of a tease at one point when blackarachnia brings his personality back for a minute and he’s the same as before but then when he gets brought back for real he becomes all emo, and a ninja and decides that he’s not talking to blackarachnia for the rest of the war because… well i reckon the real reason was that somebody kidnapped the mainframe writers and forced them to watch puppies die until they became jaded shells of their former selves but that’s just a theory.
anyway, guess what katara’s comforting response to aang worrying about their relationship. i’ll give you a huge hint: i didn’t do that whole paragraph about the changes to silverbolt in beast wars exists because i got distracted by tfwiki.
and y’know this guy is going to fight freaking Mark Hamill next episode, dude needs some reassuring.
don’t you love it when this great 3 season epic is resolved with a random lion-turtle ex machina who doesn’t even demand that aang do prove any great responsibility for the great power of heart-bending, a lion turtle ex machina with serious mumble problems.
also the avatar state returns, you know, the even bigger deus ex machina.
and also… let’s see, what else… oh yeah! remember that prison full of the guys from the day of black sun invasion and Kyoshi warriors? and remember that airship full of fire nation locker rooms and supporting characters, including one mr Hadoka water-tribe who just so happens to have previously stated that he knows where the prison is and has previously demonstrated that he has no issue with subterfuge? well apparently the show didn’t.
all of this said this was not a bad finale, it just fell down for me in some key points.