Full spoilers observe for Avatar: The Final Airbender.What number of TV exhibits are you able to title off the highest of your head that had an ending that met your expectations or appreciation of what got here earlier than? As a rule, we run right into a sequence that overstays its welcome. Maybe its story will get stretched to absurdity to fulfill the demand for extra seasons (see Misplaced). Perhaps its characters, perpetually upping the ante in shenanigans or drama, stray from their story arcs, turning into exaggerated parodies of their previously endearing selves (assume Andy in The Workplace, or Andrea in The Strolling Lifeless). And typically exhibits pull a Dexter, and… properly, all of us bear in mind Dexter.
It’s why exhibits like Breaking Dangerous and Recreation of Thrones are appeared upon so fondly — not simply due to their tight, condensed, expertly paced tales, however as a result of their characters have constant objectives or motivations from the primary episode of the present to the final. These had been exhibits the place the creators got the liberty to inform the story they needed to share, however with an typically underappreciated liberty in that they may accomplish that in nonetheless many episodes they felt had been wanted.
Avatar: The Final Airbender demonstrated this notably properly when it ended over 10 years in the past (on July 19, 2008). It was a present that had a clearly outlined conclusion in thoughts with its three-season construction (every named for the respective component Aang would study to grasp), and an ending that will include Sozin’s Comet — a deadline that the protagonists needed to meet as a way to defeat the Firelord, teased again within the first season. Its four-episode end benefited drastically from this construction, turning into probably the greatest sequence finales of any present ever. There are a lot of the explanation why, however it boils right down to the fruits of three issues — bringing its story full-circle, the growing high quality of its presentation, and most significantly, the way it offered an immensely satisfying conclusion for its characters.
Avatar: The Final Airbender began off by means of and thru as a child’s present. Aang was goofy and fun-loving, Sokka was comedian aid, and even all of the anger and hate expressed by Zuko was tempered and juxtaposed by his lazy uncle Iroh’s one-liners and rimshots. However because the present went on, the characters started to expertise the fact of the war-torn world they had been residing in. Aang was pressured to just accept his duty of being the Avatar. Sokka, after continually getting his butt handed to him, realized he had lots to find out about preventing and the world round him, and slowly set about rebuilding his confidence. Zuko, who over the course of his travels skilled essentially the most change, started to query the person he was turning into beneath the shadow of his father.
The present’s evolution into one thing that tackled extra grownup themes was addressed splendidly at first of the finale with a seashore celebration, which harkened again to the tone of the primary season, reminding us of the carefree youngsters the characters was. Why develop up and be pressured to face your fears when you may drink watermelon juice or make Appa-themed sandcastles as an alternative, staving off the fact for just a bit longer of the Hearth Nation burning the world to the bottom?It isn’t lengthy, although, earlier than Zuko reminds Aang that whether or not or not he desires to consider it, he has to kill the Firelord earlier than the comet comes, which ultimately units the occasions of the finale in movement. A conflicted Aang goes off to confront Ozai, as a result of regardless of his duty to convey stability to the world because the Avatar, he doesn’t see himself as a killer. Zuko and Katara head off to reclaim the Hearth Nation from a power-mad Azula. In the meantime, Sokka, wanting to assist however all the time uncertain of learn how to go about it, heads out with Toph and Suki, scrambling to combat what and the place they will.
The present additionally introduced again fan-favorite characters from earlier seasons with the twist that all of them belong to “The White Lotus” — a secret society of the previous guard devoted to conserving stability on this planet with members like Grasp Pakku, Bumi, Jeong Jeong, and Piandao. Its call-backs like these that not solely permit us to recollect what number of characters we’ve met over the course of the present, however that additionally reinforce the significance of the worldwide battle they’re waging, giving further weight to the battles to come back — which might be one of the best of the sequence by the best way.
Just like the characters turning into higher benders over the course of the story, the animators too improved their very own craft with extra unbelievable and elaborate combat scenes. That development is rarely made extra clear than within the finale. With the glow from Sozin’s Comet portray the complete sky with an orange, hellfire hue, Aang takes on a fully-realized Firelord. Whereas the heart-pounding orchestral rating performs, Ozai jets in the direction of him, hammering house that there’s no operating from this combat. Even with large boulders, an unlimited lake, and his personal infinite provide of air empowering Aang with all 4 parts — what we’d been ready years to see — he’s nonetheless outmatched.
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In the meantime, over within the Hearth Nation, Azula challenges Zuko to an Agni Kai, and we’re handled to one of the best bout from the complete sequence (together with the sequel sequence The Legend of Korra). Azula’s prodigious mastery of her energy is represented by the blue flames which dance off of Zuko’s vivid orange blasts. And Zuko’s tenacity is obvious, the results of the newfound inspiration he obtained from dragons — the unique Firebenders. His blows roar with a sound like an exploding gasoline leak, however he’s calm and picked up, a mirrored image of the peace he’s made together with his previous. It’s visually wonderful stuff, with the solemn music of “The Final Agni Kai” completely encapsulating the tragedy of two siblings on totally different paths converging for a closing confrontation.
Whereas anybody can watch the finale and respect it on a creative degree, it’s elevated to one thing extra by giving every character moments that problem them, reveal their strengths, and produce a satisfying closure to their particular person tales. Katara and Zuko defeat his sister, Azula (a power-hungry sadist who ends her journey in a properly of her personal madness). Curiously, she’s the incarnation of all the things Zuko had initially all the time needed to be. Iroh realizes that his imaginative and prescient of taking Ba Sing Se from the Earth Kingdom was to not conquer it, however to reconquer it again from the Hearth Nation. Sokka (who in my view is the true hero of this finale) takes out the whole lot of the Hearth Nation fleet with nothing however persistence and ingenuity, shelters Toph from falling particles — sacrificing his area sword and boomerang to avoid wasting her — and manages to spare a second to kiss Suki, lastly totally assured of his skills. And naturally Aang, who after struggling to convey himself to take a life, is ready to faucet again into the Avatar State and dominate Ozai, discovering a technique to defeat him by taking away his bending. He embraces his future because the Avatar whereas remaining true to the individual he strives to be, an achievement which resonates with the title of the ultimate episode: “Avatar Aang.”
Should you can’t inform, I cherished Avatar: The Final Airbender. It was a type of exhibits that I didn’t even notice my mates had been into on the time, as a result of none of us had been prepared to confess we had been watching a cartoon, which is why I’m all the time grateful seeing it nonetheless talked about in the present day with such admiration. One of many causes many look again on it as so successful is as a result of we had been capable of stroll away with no main lingering questions (although to be truthful, they may’ve at the least instructed us in Korra if Zuko discovered his mother!). It did all the things a finale ought to do; it offered an exciting climax, concluded story arcs with earned confrontations, and gave us closure for the characters — characters which many people on this age of the web grew up with.
The finale is maybe greatest summarized by contrasting it with a quote from Iroh: “I used to be by no means offended with you. I used to be unhappy, as a result of I used to be afraid you had misplaced your approach.” Avatar: The Final Airbender by no means misplaced its approach, or its place in our hearts, even now over 10 years later.
Learn concerning the Netflix live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Final Airbender proper right here. And what did you consider the unique sequence? Let’s focus on within the feedback!