The Dai Li felt like a threat again this episode! Though I didn’t really like the slapstick elements or the Earth King. Besides these two issues though this is a good episode at setting up the Finale of “Earth” and giving a darker tone to the events that are to come.
The episode was directed by Ethan Spaulding and written by John O’Bryan.
The story involves a last ditch effort by Team Avatar to warn the Earth King about the Dai Li and the threat of the Fire Nation and the War. They succeed in reaching him but must confront Long Feng and reveal the war before the Earth King loses patience. Zuko also faces a Fever Dream where his identity as the Son of the Fire Lord faces the freedom and morality of Iroh who is beyond being a member of the Fire Nation.
The Pros: The Dai Li – The Dai Li feel like a threat again and we see them in full force keeping Team Avatar away from the Earth King. It is only because most of the Team are Bending Masters that they get to him and even though they reach him Long Feng is able to trap them when he convinces the King to get them to surrender.
Long Feng – This is where we see the intelligence of Long Feng, from him easily controlling the Earth King, from destruction of the Fortress underneath Lake Laogai and the fact that the Dai Li are still loyal to him after his is locked up in prison. He is a great secondary antagonist to Azula.
Team Avatar – Team Avatar is at their best and we see where their hearts are too. From Sokka and Katara getting a letter of where their father is and going to visit him, Toph wanting to visit her Mom and the Guru at the Air Temple…pulling Aang back to one of his homes. This is after they defeat the Dai Li showing just how much mastery they have over the Elements and their noble nature in how they are able to convince the Earth King of the Dai Li Plot and War with the Fire Nation.
Zuko’s Dream – Zuko’s dream is wonderful showing the conflict within him with the Blue Dragon with the voice of Azula asking him to die and sleep while the Iroh Red Dragon commands him to fight on. He is in torment and we have no idea where he ends up in his crisis of identity of being the son of the Fire Lord. It is a great nightmare.
Return of the Trio – The Trio is back pretending to be Kyoshi Warriors! It was this scene and others that show just how dangerous this group is and that they do no need an army to conquer cities.
Toph’s Capture – The two Earth Bending Masters that Toph’s parents sent capture her with a false letter and put her in a metal cage. This had good payoff in it showed Toph’s care for her parents and how smart they are as mini-antagonists.
The Cons: The Earth King – The King is really bland and has a pet Bear. I had no idea what his desires and interests were so it was hard to take him seriously as a leader of a nation. Wish Azula would just finish this guy off.
The Humor – The humor feels stiltled this episode from Long Feng’s robe being blown up to show Appa’s bite mark to the slapstick nature of the “Trial” it was a shame it was presented this way as it broke the entire dark tone of the episode.
This was a good episode but the Earth King and humor really bring it down. Still it is setting up a good finale…and it was awesome to see Team Avatar in all their Bending mastery in one of the best action sequences of the series.
Final Score: 8 / 10