“Return to Omashu” is a good but not great episode. It is the sort of episode that introduces a lot of important ideas and characters, but because it’s an introduction we don’t really experience either story fully. They are connected stories but are very different in theme and style.
The episode was directed by Ethan Spaulding and written by Aaron Ehasz and Elizabeth Welch Ehasz.
The story picks up where we left off with Aang and Team Avatar seeing that Omashu has fallen to the FIre Nation. From here Aang insists they mount a rescue of his friend Bumi as elsewhere Azula recruits two of her friends to hunt her Uncle and Brother and in doing so runs into Team Avatar in Omashu.
The Pros: Team Avatar – The drama between Avatar is great as we see Sokka and Katara focused on the mission where Aang puts them all at risk for his childhood friend. In the process he reveals himself to probably his most dangerous enemy yet as the Trio is able to neutralize all of them is given the chance.
The Trio – All the members of the Trio are fascinating. Be it the sociopathic Princess Azula, the bubbly Ty Lee or the apathetic Mai. All of their personalities contrast and make for an interesting dynamic with Azula as the clear leader.
Ty Lee – Has given up her life of nobility and is devoted to her time in the circus until Azula blackmails her into joining by making her circus life so dangerous. In this you really see how their relationship is. She is a submissive to Azula’s domination.
Mai – Mai is apathetic and just wants to die since she doesn’t care about anything and is bored. She still has caring on some level though and tries to save her little brother. She also has feelings for Zuko which are revealed when Azula mentions him.
Azula – Azula is a great antagonist! She never really loses she just adapts and strikes again. Her Trio is not bender heavy with only her being a Fire Bender and is better for it as their skills compliment one another. After Aang reveals himself during the prisoner exchange she decides to make him the target along with Zuko and Iroh.
Okay: Escape from Omashu – The people pretend to be sick like Sokka pretended to be sick to escape the Fire Nation soldiers. During it Mai’s brother gets carried away with them but eventually brought back by Aang. Okay plan but too comedic given everything going on.
King Bumi – Bumi should have taught Aang. The longer he waited the longer his people would suffer. He waited because it was he wanted and it discounts the needs of his oppressed people. This makes him human but also just didn’t work for me. A leader is responsible for their people.
This episode was good and the Trio is one of my favorite parts of “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” but it does have obvious problems and the switching in tones just didn’t work for me. It couldn’t decide what it wanted to be. Still good at least though.
Final Score: 8 / 10