Avatar: The Last Airbender Book 2: Earth
Welcome back to my review of Avatar: the Last Airbender! hopefully you've already read my review of book one, water. if not, go back and do that, comment, and come back here. if you have, then continue on! As with the previous review i'll give my thoughts on any characters new to the series that pop up in book 2, my five favorite episodes, and my overall opinion of the season
Toph: one of the top 5 characters of the series, Toph is pretty much all around awesomeness. Her blindness adds a really cool aspect to the character since she sees by vibrations in the earth (the animation for which is awesome!) and also leads to some really funny lines in both seasons 2 and 3, including the great line that closes out the series (well, sorta. you know what i mean). Her sarcastic remarks and aloof demeanor are great and she's just another great character
Azula: the fact that she's NOT my favorite character (she's number 3 behind Iroh and Aang) speaks volumes to the strength of the characters overall in Avatar because she's frankly quite amazing every scene she's on the screen she's just a magnetizingpresence. The way she treats those around her (including her "friends") is fun to watch, and she's got the super cool Blue fire that she bends. Her lightning powers are great, and she makes the perfect villain in all aspects. even the way she talks is awesome and hilarious ("Hair, prepare to meet your DOOM! hahahaha").
Long Feng: not as cool as Azula, but still a very interesting different kind of foil for the avatar. Both openly evil in front of the avatar and yet very sneaky and sly so that the earth king doesn't know what he's up to, it's a shame that he never gets a whole lot to do once his plans are revealed to the earth king by Aang.
Mai: basically an anti-character who feels nothing, i don't have much feeling at all towards her in season 2, but i loved her in season 3 as she and Zuko make a really cool pairing that brings out the best aspects in both characters
Ty Lee: she cracks me up, and it's funny watching her paralyze sokka and hit on him at the same time. her backstory (revealed in season 3) is also interesting and adds some needed depth. her turning on Azula in The Boiling Rocks was definitely her high point in the series.
Earth King: Although somewhat lame, he's very very funny, especially when he's with bosco the bear (i love that in Avatar world, it's weird to have just a bear, lol). honestly, there's not too much to say, but i do like him in the few episodes he's in.
Jet: i'll be honest, here's probably the only character that i didn't end up liking. he's arrogant, rude, and honestly even in Lake Laogai i didn't really feel the pain of his death, though the one brief moment where Toph walks away and says "he's lying" finally brought the desired impact, just not as much as it probably should have
5. Zuko Alone: although probably slightly overrated by fans of the series, much like The Blue Spirit of season 1, it's still a great and powerful episode that digs into Zuko as a character and shows just what makes him tick. The scene at the end with the family he befriended yelling at him to get away even though he's saved the town is just heartbreaking and so well done. i will say, that had i cared enough about Jet, Lake Laogai would be here, instead i'd place it just behind at 6.
4. The Desert: Loved how it showed team avatar in a different setting wandering through the desert with no water and no Appa, Aang's emotions felt real and earned and his reaction toward the sand-benders (who totally remind me of the Tusken Raiders from Star Wars) is very cool to watch unfold. Also, Momo and Sokka on cactus juice! such a great comedic change of pace for a fairly dramatic episode overall
3. The Earth King: gotta love this episode, which action-wise is probably the best of season 2. Seeing the avatar and his team just slicing and dicing their way through the Dai Li in order to get to the king is just a whole lotta fun to watch. Also loved the Earth King's reasoning for listening to Aang, "Well, Bosco seems to like him, so he can't be all bad!" and of course, it's the end of Long Feng's rule over Ba Sing Se.
2. Crossroads of Destiny: A stark contrast to the previous season finale in which Aang channels the moon spirit and defeats the fire nation navy, the triumph of evil over good and the defeat of Aang by Azula thanks to Zuko becoming evil once again is very well written and it's just a powerful episode overall. Highlights for me are the fight between Azula/Zuko and Aang/Katara and the final defeat of Long Feng due to Azula just talking him down.
1. City of Walls and Secrets: Technically speaking, Crossroads of Destiny is probably the better episode, and it has a bit more importance as the season finale. and yet, there's just something about the very creepy vibe of this episode that i just absolutely love. The scenes of the avatar interviewing people trying to find appa, and seeing them clam up as joo dee shakes her head no are very cool. And of course Long Feng threatening team avatar with the safety of Appa to keep them silent is just so evil and awesome. my 2nd favorite episode of the series.
Truthfully, having had season 1 finish off on such a great note, i was hoping for a little bit more from the beginning of season 2. yet although there were episodes here and there that were really good, including The Blind Bandit, Zuko Alone, the Library and The Desert, it felt that for the first 12 or 13 episodes of the season that it was just kind of treading water and not going anywhere. episodes like The Avatar State did nothing for me, and i downright hated Avatar Day. Of course, once the season hit City of Walls and Secrets, it picked up big time as Aang had to worry about getting to the earth king with the news of the eclipse and also about Long Feng and the Dai Li keeping them in line in Ba Sing Se and of course finding Appa (though honestly, that took WAY too log to resolve) not to mention Azula and the fire nation preparing to attack Ba Sing Se. Add in the final battle with Azula's victory and Aang's near death and it adds up to a great finish to the season. But, while the second half of the season or so would get a 9.5 from me, the first half really brought down the season as a whole and made it my least favorite season overall of the show, if just by a bit. in the end, i give season two a 7.6/10