So I recently became obsessed with Avatar again because of a random post I saw while scrolling through Tumblr at work (which I shouldn’t be doing). That one post took me down a rabbit hole of meta that’s left me jaded towards this series that I’ve loved and revered for years.
I am angry. Angry that the show’s creators, Bryan Konietzko and Mike DiMartino (collectively Bryke), are praised as gods for their work on A:TLA when all the good aspects of the series can be credited to the writers, especially head writer Aaron Ehasz. Not only did the writers make Toph and Azula girls when Bryke originally wanted them to be male, they gave Sokka and Katara actual character development and nuance. Most importantly, they handled Zuko’s stunning character arc and almost created a perfect narrative for the entire series, but the dynamic duo of Mike and Bryan ruined any chance of that happening with their insistence on Aang “getting the girl.”
Here’s a good introductory post for all this madness.
Okay, I know this is going to sound like just some shipping nonsense, but the series would have been phenomenally better had Aang not ended up with Katara. The sole reason he could not master the Avatar State was because he could not let go of her, and when he tried (in “The Crossroads of Destiny”), he failed and was shot by lightning.
That’s because Aang didn’t learn and never learned that his “love” for Katara wasn’t actually love but an infatuation and that by not letting go of her (he never had her in the first place either), he was being selfish for not prioritizing his duties as the Avatar over personal feelings and desires.
Aang never learns that he must practice selfless love for the entire world to truly master the Avatar State and be the Avatar the world needs him to be; instead he hangs on to selfish, entitled delusions that Katara is “the Avatar’s girl” and that deviating from his black and white air temple morality would be worse than allowing the genocidal Phoenix-King-of-Getting-His-Butt-Whooped to live.
If you want more details about all that Avatar State junk read this post. I don’t fully agree with some of the theories thrown out, but the meta definitely got me thinking.
Had there been a season 4 like originally planned, we would have seen Aang deal with the aftermath of taking away Ozai’s bending and finally mastering the Avatar State (without the help of the most deus ex machina rock placement in the entire universe).
We’d also get to see the rest of the Gaang go home to rebuild their nations (Update: trying to find a replacement link so bear with me): Zuko leading the Fire Nation into an era of peace and friendship with the other cultures, Katara dismantling the patriarchy in the Water Tribes, Sokka bridging connections between the North and South, Toph reconciling with her parents and sharing metalbending to the world, Iroh actually staying in the Fire Nation to help Zuko out because god does that boy need help ruling an entire nation, Zuko finding his mom (I refuse to accept those trash comics), Sukki going back to Kyoshi Island and Ba Sing Se to help rebuild the Earth Kingdom, Aang finding other airbenders who’d been in hiding for the past century (instead of the utterly convenient Harmonic Convergence ridiculousness from Legend of Korra), Sokka and Sukki having an adorable relationship, and Zuko and Katara growing closer as friends (romantically too).
Here a few more really good meta posts:
- It’s Called the Cave of Two Lovers
- About “The Southern Raiders” episode
- “That’s something we have in common”
- Katara Appreciation Post
- Katara Characterization
For anyone not as invested in Avatar as me, this little rant may seem silly and over-dramatic. It’s just cartoons! Well, no. The show was an integral part of my childhood; I spent a week marathoning the show with my mom and brothers to prep ourselves for that epic finale of our favorite show. Avatar has strong, diverse, complicated female characters that are inspiring. It has an emotional, angsty teenage boy who went through years of trauma and struggle and comes out a strong, caring, and loving leader of an entire nation. Its main character is a fun-loving, carefree, peaceful boy who encourages everyone to love and enjoy life.
This show was amazing, so it broke my heart to have the illusion shattered. If any of you want to talk Avatar meta, watch the series, or rant about how we could have had it all with Zutara, just hit me up. I’m always down to over-analyze fictional characters.