“Bato of the Water Tribe” is a great episode for Team Avatar. In this episode we get to see Aang’s selfishness and more humanization of Katara and especially Sokka, as well as how outside of everything Aang is, both as the Avatar and the Last Airbender. He has no people while this episode is all about the Southern Water Tribe.
The episode was directed by Giancarlo Volpe and written by Ian Wilcox.
The story involves Team Avatar meeting Bato of the Southern Water Tribe who was dropped off at an Abbey by Katara and Sokka’s father so he would recover. It is here that Katara and Sokka are given the chance to meet their father again when they hear a message is being sent where to meet him. It is with Bato they explore their heritage while Aang deals with being an outcast, at first stealing the message when it was delivered. Around this time Zuko hires a Bounty Hunter named June to help him capture the Avatar.
The Pros: Bato – Bato is a great mentor to Sokka and Katara in this episode. He tells them stories of their father and the adventures the two of them had together as well as helping them go through a coming of age ceremony called Ice Dodging. He also knows they are young and is forgiving of Aang when Aang takes the message but returns it later. He is an adventurous guy who cares deeply for his friend’s kids.
The Abbey – The nuns are pretty stubborn and strict but have more to them too. For example when June arrives with Iroh and Zuko they use the perfume they make to blind her Shirshu Nyla which leads to the final victory over Zuko, Iroh and June.
June – June doesn’t take crap from anyone and is tougher than all the men in the bar. She is great in how she doesn’t care about anything but money and Nyla and does a great job holding her own in the battle against Team Avatar, nearly defeating them (she captures Sokka and Katara). Before finally losing at the end of the episode.
Iroh – Iroh is both wise and horny. He makes the moves on June when she isn’t interested (creepy) but also when they pass through where the Fortuneteller is tells her he has no more mysteries but one he doesn’t want to know (death). He is calm throughout the whole of the events and sees it mostly as a great adventure.
Zuko – Zuko is driven this episode and his buying June to help them was a smart move. They probably would have won if they had troops. This is an obsession episode and Zuko makes stupid moves because of his obsession. For example, Firebending down a well when Aang jumps down it, which causes the pressure to explode which defeats Zuko in the end because of how it weakens him before Nyla’s paralyzing venom hits him when she is blinded.
Ryla versus Appa – Appa rocks! It takes a lot of venom to knock him out and he takes out Ryla and June a few times before he is finally defeated.
The Battle – The Battle between June, Zuko against Team Avatar is awesome! Every so often we see Iroh stealing some perfume or acting like a troll but a lot of it is flowing action and Team Avatar getting the Nuns involved in the fight which leads to Ryla’s defeat and the defeat of Zuko and June.
Katara – Katara is shown to be really connected to her people in this and goes through the Ice Dodging initiation ceremony with Sokka and Aang. She also leaves Aang after his stealing of the message even though she is conflicted at first. Family is extremely important to her, as is trust which Aang loses for a while this episode. He does return her necklace at the end and she sees him atone after that moment.
Sokka – Sokka has always wanted to be the warrior and to fight with his father against the Fire Nation. We see it this episode in his excitement of retracing his father’s footsteps on the beach and hearing the stories from Bato and in the past when he is in full warrior’s attire and pleading with his father to come with them. It is this devotion to his people that leads to him helping Aang again though, even after the betrayal. He knows that is where he is needed the most as Aang needs support and shouldn’t be alone.
Aang – Aang is shown to still very much be a child in this. He steals the message because he’s afraid of losing Sokka and Katara which leads to him losing them for a while anyway because of that betrayal of trust. He atones though and when he is made an honorary member of the Southern Water Tribe, he admits his guilt and wrong and erases the mark. Aang is the outsider and he feels it in this episode as Katara and Sokka are with a member of their tribe, while his tribe is all gone. This is what leads to his selfish action, his fear of being alone.
This was an amazing episode. Whether it was June retracing the last few episodes on Rylah, Aang growing more, or Sokka and Katara getting to know their father and people better…it was an episode that had everything. My only issue with it would be the Abbey could have been explored better and I wish Bato could have talked to Aang one on one. We never got his thoughts on the Avatar, which was a shame.
Final Score: 9.7 / 10.