“Avatar: The Last Airbender” does Finales really well. In the 1st Part of this 2 Part Finale we get the building of relationships, specifically of Princess Yue and Sokka as well as Aang’s relationship to his Team and establishing the threat of Admiral Zhao and the Fire Nation really well. The build is constant and doesn’t stop until the end in the Finale Part. This is the review of the First Part though so I will focus on that.
“The Siege of the North Part 1” was directed by Lauren MacMullan and written by John O’Bryan.
The episode begins with Yue and Sokka dating and getting to know one another better when all that is interrupted with the arrival of Admiral Zhao’s fleet. Aang attacks and manages to destroy 12 ships but not before he realizes just how outmatched he is and that he needs to find another way if he is going to win, which leads to him seeking out the Spirit World for help. Elsewhere Zuko infiltrates the the Northern Water Tribe to capture Aang and Sokka meets Yue’s betrothed.
The Pros: Iroh – Iroh is the word of warning to Zhao as Zhao sees them as making history and ending Water Nation culture for good after this battle. Iroh treats Zhao with empathy though as he remembers all he has lost and that history is not always kind to it’s subjects.
Admiral Zhao – Zhao does a good job in his attack and we see his arrogance on full display when he is attacking. His true colors and depths he’s willing to go for victory are not witnessed until next episode though.
Master Pakku – The guy has calmed down a lot and considers Katara his best pupil. We see him congratulate her and this plays a part later in Part 2 as in Part 1 she is largely shown to be the focused one to Aang’s crazy which deeply annoys Master Pakku.
Chief Amook – We never get why he likes Hahn but he continues to trust Sokka, both having him prep his troops for infiltrating the Fire Nation’s army and also when he asks Sokka to protect Yue.
Sokka – Sokka is shown to have class as he stands up to Hahn’s objectification of Yue and only seeing her for the benefits he’ll get from the relationship and his sensitivity whenever he is with Yue. They are friends who became very quickly more than friends by sharing one another’s worlds.
Princess Yue – Princess Yue is the woman trying to make her own path in a world where most of her decisions have already been made for her. Sokka is that freedom to take a different path and it puts so much conflict on her. Her focus on having a different path that still looks after her people is in becoming a member of Team Avatar too, as she brings Aang to the Spirit Oasis where Tui and La are and tells the story of how the Ocean and Moon Spirits are Yin and Yang and keep the world in balance as they are constantly pulling and pushing against each other as well as the story of how the Moon was the first Waterbender and taught it to the Northern Water Tribe.
Katara – Katara is the cool headed one to Aang’s lack of focus and energy and we see her treated with the respect she’s earned as Pakku’s best pupil. We also see her being Aang’s protector and defeating Zuko until the sun rises and Zuko’s bending, which is now stronger, knocks her out.
Zuko – We see Zuko’s drive and intelligence again when he infiltrates the North. For one he notices that the Turtle Seals need air when they went into a cave so follows them which eventually leads him to the North. He then manages to defeat Katara showing how much he has advanced, and we see his Pride when he describes his people as the Sun before he takes Aang who has passed into the Spirit World.
Aang – Aang feels pretty powerless this episode. He defeats 12 ships but Zhao’s fleet is so large he feels like there is nothing he can do. This leads to Yue taking him and Katara to the Spirit Oasis, where he meditates into the Spirit World when he is the Yin and Yang in the Fish swimming in unison.
The Cons: Hahn – Yue’s betrothed is a dick, there is nothing to like this guy which I see as bad writing. He can be imperfect without making Sokka look good by default. The guy is a tool and is a character who no one is rooting for. He’s arrogant, doesn’t listen to anyone and we never get the reasons why he was betrothed. What does Yue’s family get out of this? They’re already the leaders of the Northern Water Tribe.
Northern Water Tribe Politics – See Hahn, Yue keeps saying that Sokka doesn’t understand, but we aren’t given any reasons to understand either. It just makes the drama feel contrived, especially since Yue has a much bigger destiny in store.
This was a really good episode, except for how Hahn is a needlessly shallow antagonist and that the politics behind his character’s existence are never explained. The ominous ending is wonderful though with Zuko leaving into the snow carrying Aang who has left his body and is still in the Spirit World. The moments with Sokka and Yue are great too, as well as the Zuko moments where we see just how much of a threat he really is.
Final Score: 8.6 / 10.