“The Swamp” is a great episode and it is a place we will later return to in “The Legend of Korra.” It is a area connected to the rest of the world and also our characters showing where they are in their heads at this time in who they miss or are seeking. It’s really well done and has some great philosophy and some fascinating minor characters.
The episode was directed by Giancarlo Volpe and written by Tim Hedrick.
The story involves the swamp calling to Aang and in the process trapping and isolating all the members of Team Avatar with their fears. From here the story unfolds as Appa and Momo attempt to escape some hunters who make the swamp their home as well. Elsewhere Zuko and Iroh are beggers in a Earthbender town trying to lay low so that Azula and the Fire Nation doesn’t find them.
The Pros: The Swamp – The swamp is made up from the vines of a giant tree and has called others to it in the past. For example the Swamp Folk who make it their home are all Waterbenders. It is a place of unknown too and reveals peoples’ fears, desires and connections to themselves. Aang sees a laughing Toph who he has yet to meet, Katara sees her mother who is dead and Sokka sees Yue and from her that he failed to protect her. The power of the swamp is really well done as it gives all our characters their “Dagoba Moments” (Luke facing his father and himself at Dagoba in “Empire Strikes Back.”
The Swamp People – The swamp people are hunters and are great waterbenders who are comedic but are greater than their appearances as their leader protects the swamp and teaches Aang about how everything is connected. He’s a great character as is his family.
Sokka – Sokka is carrying his guilt with him over his inability to save Yue and we see his skepticism too as he doesn’t believe in anything supernatural about the swamp. He could be right too as the swamp is largely just revealing people’s fears or desires which are inside the person anyway.
Katara – When Katara is alone her desire to be with her mother is revealed and after the loss she feels again of realizing she’s gone we see her fight the Swamp Guardian and be the one to defeat it as she turns the water into saws of ice that cut through the vines revealing the man underneath. She is quiet in this but based off her reaction I’d say she has a lot of anger for the Fire Nation that she hasn’t got to fully express for the murder of her mother.
Aang – Aang wants to go to the swamp because it is calling and Bumi told him to listen to the Earth and that is how he will find the Earthbending Master but this leads to trouble and him almost losing Momo and Appa to hunters. It is only after they defeat the Swamp Guardian that he realizes the laughing girl could be the one he is seeking for the Earthbending Master. In this we see that he is very self involved currently as he doesn’t reach out to Katara or Sokka given the pain they just went through.
This is a great character episode and I actually enjoyed the Swamp People. The mystery of a swamp with the fog and hidden things under water is a great metaphor for facing the self and we see that when Team Avatar, specifically Katara and Sokka have to face what they’ve lost. It’s sad and powerful, much like the truth of reality. So glad we return to this place with Korra later.
Final Score: 10 / 10