Apr 22, 2010

[TV] Avatar: The Last Airbender - Book Three: Fire

Avatar: The Last Airbender - Book Three: FireI know I've stated this cliche before, but it tends to be very true more often than not - all good things must come to an end. This seems especially true with the TV shows that we really come to love and hold dear.

For the most part it may be for the best - quitting while they're ahead, to borrow another overused phrase. As much as a show can reach some pretty amazing heights, it can just as quickly crash and burn once the writers run out of fresh ideas, actors get too full of themselves and demand too much for their participation. So it isn't always a bad thing when a show decides to close the books, now matter how "early" it appears to be.

But still, it saddened me to see this particular series end.

The third and final season of Avatar: The Last Airbender was Book Three: Fire, which is the last element left for Aang the Avatar (Zach Tyler Eisen). It has a darker tone that the prior seasons and the once happy crew of Katara (Mae Whitman), Sokka (Jack DeSena) and Toph (Jessie Flower) are now faced with more dire conditions.

Screenshot of Katara healing Aang from Avatar:...Image via Wikipedia
At the end of Book Two, the Earth Kingdom capital of Ba Sing Se has fallen to the strategem of Princess Azula (Grey DeLisle). Aang has been badly injured in the last fight while Katara, Sokka and Toph barely managed to escape with their lives on Apa. Thus the season begins with Aang waking up to find himself on a Fire Nation ship being manned in secret by members of the Southern Water Tribe. And so begins their journey to figure out how to defeat the Fire Lord, something that involves Aang finding a firebending master to teach him.

Meanwhile, Prince Zuko (Dante Basco) is finally back home in the Fire Nation and once again in the better graces of his father because of the assumed death of the Avatar. Despite finally getting what he had been yearning for for so long, he feels worse than ever. Plus his Uncle Iroh (Greg Baldwin) remains a prisoner because of his treachery against the Fire Nation. Thus Zuko is left to determine what his true path is despite the many confusing choices presented to him.

This last season of the show certainly felt a bit rushed at some points, and I guess that's natural given the challenge of tying up all the storylines. And yet despite that sense of urgency present in the series, this did not translate into the story being lacking overall. In fact, they managed to bring together many of the more memorable characters and story plots raised over the course of the past two seasons. It's quite a trick to tie so many elements together into a generally coherent whole and thankfully it didn't end up feeling too forced or strange.

The final ending could have used a bit more work since it did seem a bit too much like a Western superhero series instead of the more Eastern tone most of the fights had maintained in the past. Plus we got to see some great progress in the fighting styles of the likes of Katara and Toph and even Sokka was given a way to redeem himself from just being a comedic bonus to the group.

Book Three: Fire of Avatar: The Last Airbender was a fitting enough end to this amazing animated series. It gets 5 elemental bending affecting cosmic events out of a possible 5.

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2 comments:

ShatterShards said...

I love the episode on bloodbending. It was fascinating that they introduced a negative side to an elemental art so pure as to promote healing.

Considering that the US writers' strike happened midway through the third season, to the point that they had to stop production, the final output is superb.

I'll wait for your review of M. Knight's adaptation of Book 1.

rOckY said...

@ShatterShards:
I know exactly what you mean! The bloodbending episode was even more of a game-changer than the metalbending episode before.

And yes, the strike took a lot of good geeky shows with it and it was more than fortunate that the show survived that. Then again, it just speaks of the quality of the series overall.

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