Aug 17, 2009
Avatar: The Last Airbender “The Painted Lady” (part 1 of 2)
If season three of Avatar: The Last Airbender seems like a letdown, it’s only because season two was such a home run that it was pretty much an impossible act to follow. By and large, the show still had the same quality writing, acting, and artwork as in prior years, and now it had the added advantage of being the final season where all those slow boiling plot points could finally pay off. It quickly became quite a ride.
The second half of season two followed Aang, Sokka, Katara, and Toph on a long and arduous quest to deliver a key piece of intelligence to the ruler of the Earth Kingdom, who could use it to finally defeat the Fire Nation. In the end, they succeeded despite great costs, and as season three begins, the group enters the Fire Nation to make final preparations as they await the invasion.
Plotwise, this really wasn’t the best idea. For the first time, our heroes have nowhere they need to go, so for much of the season, we’re simply watching them sit around with time on their hands. However, the writers still managed to turn this into a positive, by taking the opportunity to do more character-based stories that further fleshed out our heroes, and also let us see how much they had all grown during their journey.
Plus, the Fire Nation characters easily took up the slack for more plot-heavy scenes. Azula remained as good a character as ever, and Zuko only improved as he went through the final phase of his development, which saw him become what was easily the show’s most evolved character by the time it ended.
This is despite the writers facing another major handicap when Mako, the voice of Iroh, died shortly after recording his lines for season two. Once again, they used this to their advantage, by having him only show up sparingly in situations where he was understandably silent. Eventually, they introduced Greg Baldwin as his new voice, who did quite a good impersonation of Mako’s work.
This final episode of The Worst of Avatar is “The Painted Lady”, the season’s third episode. Luckily, much like “Avatar Day”, the season got this embarrassment out of the way early, with the episodes that followed all being decent to spectacular. And right now, it’s the last episode in my way before I take on M. Night Shyamalan’s hideous mangling of the series, so here goes.