Book 1, Episode 4: “The Warriors of Kyoshi”

If you are wondering why this blog is late for the second week in a row, blame the platypus-bears. They stole my notes and I only just got them back. Can I say a platypus-bear ate my homework?

  • This episode introduces two new things to us. The first is Suki, who will remain an important character throughout the series. We also meet our friend, the guy who foams at the mouth whenever Aang does something amazing.
  • The biggest takeaway from this episode is the feminist theme put at the forefront of the plot. Not only does it exist in Sokka’s storyline but also in Aang and Katara’s a small bit. I love how the show effortlessly weaves this theme in through dialogue and organic character interaction. Sokka’s comments in the beginning of the episode about girls sewing and guys fighting isn’t far off from what is implied in our culture. I grew up believing this idea…or at least hearing this idea a lot. I shouldn’t say I believed it as from a young age I have been adamant about doing what I want despite my gender or age. When the Kyoshi warriors reveal it was they who took down Team Avatar, Sokka can’t believe he got his butt kicked by a girl! He then goes even further with his sexism by referring to the Kyoshi warrior practice as dancing lessons (and no, he isn’t using dancing as another way to say bending or fighting). By the end of the episode, we see Sokka taking steps toward ridding himself of these bigoted thoughts. At the end, when he apologizes to Suki for treating her as a girl instead of a warrior, she corrects him and says, “I am a warrior. But I’m a girl too.”
  • Sokka’s character growth is top notch in this episode. He starts out as very close-minded and sexist. While he will still show signs of his sexist attitude throughout the show, this episode greatly humbled Sokka and is sending him in the right direction. We see Sokka exclaim that he is the best warrior in his village and when asked to show off his skills, he is immediately taken down by Suki. This experience humbles Sokka and he asks for lessons from Suki. These are lessons he will take with him as Team Avatar journeys on.
  • Sokka and Suki blooming relationship is one that I actually adore. While this episode only hints at things and doesn’t give us much, it shows us the chemistry these two have with one another (chemistry Aang and Katara don’t have I will add). When Sokka is able to momentarily take down Suki, she tries to act like she let him do that on purpose but Sokka yells, “Admit it! I got you!” The dialogue is playful and believable. It makes sense that Sokka would like Suki for her patience with him and he respects her capabilities, and it makes sense that Suki would like Sokka for his fun and playful attitude. They really are a cute match.
  • One big question I have about this entire show is – how do people not realize that Aang is not only an Airbender but the Avatar? I mean, I know lots of people think the Avatar is gone and also believe all of the Airbenders to be gone but don’t the older folks recognize the tattoos and outfit Aang wears? The Kyoshi islanders are so hesitant to believe Aang is the Avatar until he shows off his Airbending skills. I know this is a plot device because not every single character can know who Aang is and this would create entirely new conflict on the show but it still kind of bothers me.
  • There is a lot of neat little details about bending and culture in this episode. For example, in the beginning, we see Zuko meditating and as he breathes, the fire breathes with him which I thought was really interesting. When Sokka is training with Suki, she explains the technique of a Kyoshi warrior isn’t about strength but using their opponent’s force against them. She tells him to loosen up and think of the fan as an extension of his arm. This really shows how the showrunners stayed rooted in martial arts traditions. When Sokka dresses in the Kyoshi warrior outfit, Suki explains that “the silk thread symbolizes the brave blood that flows through our veins, the gold insignia represents the honor of the warrior’s heart.” We also see a bit of the difference between Water and Earth Kingdom culture when the gang sits down to eat. Katara almost seems hesitant to eat the food presented to her.
  • According to the Avatar State podcast, the spelling of Kyoshi is a level of martial arts but the pronunciation the show uses means “pure.” Suki means “like.” This is cool because it is clear Sokka likes her.
  • We once again see how the war is touching the nation. In the beginning, the Kyoshi islanders believe Team Avatar could be spies for the Fire Nation. One character, Oyaji, even says that Kyoshi has stayed out of the war and intends to keep it that way. When Zuko arrives searching for Aang, the war is brought to them when houses are set aflame including the statue of Avatar Kyoshi which the villagers just repainted in honor of having the Avatar stay with them.
  • We see a bit more of Katara’s waterbending in this episode. She practices it a bit and then uses it to save Aang from the Unagi. This episode I believe is the first to introduce the concept of using waterbending to put water out of a person’s lungs.
  • The plot thread of Aang’s fame getting to his head is an overused one but greatly repurposed in this episode. It is actually really funny. Fangirls chase Aang all over the place. Katara and Aang go at each other in one scene that is hilarious banter between the two of them. My favorite scene of the entire episode is where Aang is being painted and every time the painter looks up, a new girl is standing with him!
  • The perception of Aang is really observed in this episode. In the beginning, Iroh tells Zuko that the Avatar has been seen but is impossible to track. This leads Zuko to believe that Aang is a master at evasive maneuvering when in actuality, Aang has no idea where he is going and guessing along the way. When the fangirls chase Aang, he acts like he is super talented and has it all together when really, this is not true.
  • The actual Aang really shines in this episode. When Aang realizes he was wrong to stay in Kyoshi for a long time, he uses the tools available to him to make things right. When he sees the destruction Zuko brought as a result of trying to capture Aang and thus bringing Kyoshi into the war they never wanted to be apart of, Aang jumps off of Appa and uses the dreaded Unagi to spray water all over the island and put all of the fires out. Then the trio flies away to lead Zuko away from Kyoshi. Good on ya, Aang!
  • To conclude, this was another great episode. I really enjoyed the character development and the themes presented. Plus, we got to meet Suki for the first time! It is an overall strong episode…which is crazy to think about as it is still really early on in the show!

That is it for my thoughts on Book 1, Episode 4 of the Last Airbender. If you like what you read and want more, be sure to click the follow button on the right for email updates when new content is posted. I also invite you, dear reader, to let me know what you loved about this fourth episode! Let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading and here we exit The Secret Tunnel for this week of September 26th 2016.

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