The best ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ episodes that we’ve seen

Noah Pasley

In the most recent batch of dreaded news for dedicated “Avatar: The Last Airbender” fans, creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko have departed from Netflix’s live-action series, according to a post Aug. 12 on DiMartino’s Instagram account. According to his statement, the decision to leave the Netflix project was hard but “necessary” for his happiness and creative integrity.

“I do my best to go with the flow, no matter what obstacle is put in my way,” DiMartino’s statement reads. “But even an Air Nomad knows when it’s time to cut their losses and move on.”

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Konietzko also wrote a statement on Instagram concerning the departure, adding that he and DiMartino “came to the belief that (they) would not be able to meaningfully guide the direction of the series.”

“When Netflix brought me on board to run this series alongside Mike (DiMartino) two years ago, they made a very public promise to support our vision,” Konietzko’s statement reads. “Unfortunately, there was no follow through on that promise.”

Both creators indicated that they are not done being involved in the Avatar universe, but it’s uncertain when their next project with the story will be. Until that day comes, here are my favorite five episodes from the original series, with spoilers.

Book 1, Episode 10: “Jet”

Admittedly, Jet isn’t a popular character nor is he one of my favorites, but this episode in particular gives the audience a new insight into how the Fire Nation’s war has impacted the people.

On the surface, Aang and his friends bear similarities to Jet’s posse: they’ve all lost friends and family to the Fire Nation, they’ve all been spurred to action to stand up to oppressive forces and they’re all just kids. Jet’s story introduces a new dynamic to the show: what happens when the good guy goes too far? For the first time, this episode shows that the Fire Nation isn’t the only evil at play.

Book 2, Episode 7: “Zuko Alone”

A small confession: “Zuko Alone” is the only episode I can remember having watched when I was a kid. But that speaks to its merit — “Zuko Alone” explores a new facet of Zuko’s personality: one that isn’t completely encompassed by his feelings of rage and disappointment.

In some small way, Zuko is detached from his fear of his father, Firelord Ozai, and for the better part of the episode, he’s taught a lesson about humility and compassion for those outside of his circle. Zuko is a charming underdog, and it’s not until his pride wells up that he experiences rejection in his new surroundings.

Book 2, Episode 9: “Bitter Work”

“Bitter Work” is a subtly clever episode with enough dimwitted humor to pass as kid’s entertainment but enough symbolism to make it enjoyable for older audiences. There are obvious parallels between Aang’s early struggles Earthbending and Zuko’s difficulty in mastering lightning. The episode is also emotional, with Zuko confronting the storm and his feelings about the world only to be met with silence.

Book 3, Episode 12: “The Firebending Masters”

“The Firebending Masters” is one of my favorite episodes, as it showcases the duality of Firebending as opposed to its villainous depiction earlier in the show. Aang and Zuko both have new realizations over the nature of fire, and the episode further develops what we know of Uncle Iroh’s history. Not to mention that the meeting with the Masters has a gorgeous display of colors that stands out to other animation in the series.

Book 3, Episode 13: “The Boiling Rock”

The Boiling Rock is a fitting episode to end on. Zuko and Sokka finally interact, something the show had been sorely lacking until Book 3, and we get to catch up with characters who have been absent for most of the season, such as Suki and Ty Lee. The episode also has one of the most surprising endings with Mei and Ty Lee betraying Azula and the nation they’ve lived so long in.

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Noah Pasley can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @PasleyNoah.