Log in

Winter Solstice from a Season 2 Point of View - Avatar: The Last Airbender Meta
The who, the what, the how, and the why not?

YAWMIN posting in Avatar: The Last Airbender Meta
User: avatar_meta (posted by yawmin)
Date: 2006-12-14 23:40
Subject: Winter Solstice from a Season 2 Point of View
Security: Public
I just rewatched the Winter Solstice episodes and instantly started to write this. I know a lot of people have their theories about Zuko and what's going on with his character now. Here's just another pebble to throw into the lake...

This meta will discuss:

- Zuko S1 vs. S2
- Zuko's true nature, and how it hasn't changed
- The search for Zuko's mother
- Why what happened at the end of season 2 maybe wasn't that bad (GASP!)
- The true motives of Iroh (albeit, vaguely)

As I stated before in my word vomit after the finale, in "Winter Solstice Part I" Zuko has been given the choice on either chasing after the Avatar or chasing after Iroh, and he chose Iroh with very little hesitation. But I wanted to go back and review, to try and figure out why he willingly turned his back on his uncle in the season 2 finale.

Iroh's abduction was before Azula even appeared, before Zuko finally understood that THINGS COULD NEVER GO BACK TO THEY WAY THEY WERE. So, seeing as he has "betrayed" Iroh to come into the good graces of his father at the end of S2, I'm still having some difficulty believing that Zuko is being as... naive as he appears? While it may have pained Zuko to let his uncle to be captured, as he was angsting about at the end of the episode, I really believe that this is a plan of some sorts. It may not be a ruse between Zuko and Iroh, but Zuko doing this on his own. Think about it, if he plays along with Azula, he will be in a perfect position to A) Keep an eye on Iroh and make sure he's safe and B) Be where he needs to be for the final battle. He can't join Aang's group (for now), because he will be seen a traitor by his people, and they will never accept him as a true prince, much less future king.

It's rumored that in the third season Zuko will be going to look for his lost mother. He couldn't do that with Aang and the gang traveling along, because it's going to be in Fire Nation territory. Whether she's going to be alive or not is a different story. I, for one, think she's dead-- sacrificing her life instead of Zuko's during the events of the flashback (Zuko Alone - chapter 27 S2E7). But if Azula DOES always lie, then maybe the Fire Lord never demanded the life of Ozai's first son. But the disappearance of Zuko's mother the same night is a bit suspicious if you ask me. Not to mention that no one looks for her after the fact (that we know of). Whether she is alive or not will determine Zuko's path also, because if she's dead- he will most assuredly turn against his father for good.

An artist on DA I like also wrote about some other interesting theories of hers, which opened my eyes to some of these conclusions. I also love her ideas about Zuko's "metamorphosis"--or lack there of (Earth King - chapter 38 S2E18). It's similar to the speech that Bill told Beatrix in Kill Bill vol.2-- "You would've worn the costume of Arlene Plimpton. But you were born Beatrix Kiddo. And every morning when you woke up, you'd still be Beatrix Kiddo... [Arlene Plimpton] That's you... trying to disguise yourself as a worker bee." Zuko tried to fit in- he tried to lead the happy life. He even creeped us all out when he was smiling and wanted to eat what Iroh was cooking the morning he woke up from the "metamorphosis." But Zuko and Iroh trying to lead "a normal life" led them straight to Azula, and they were living in such delusion that they didn't even realize they were walking straight into a very obvious trap. When Azula caught up to him again, I think that Zuko finally came to the conclusion that there was no escaping his ties to the Fire Nation. He couldn't be Li, because inside he was Prince Zuko, the crown prince of the Fire Nation. He may have been banished, but there will be a day when he will be able to reclaim his throne-- we have seen this in several examples of foreshadowing. This is also why Iroh continues to call him Prince Zuko. Because, even though Iroh wants Zuko to grow and change as a person (and at least let go of some of his hate), Iroh also wants Zuko to come into his birth right. Even more than that, these experiences of living in poverty are strong lessons that Zuko will have under his belt when he does take the throne, and will have a much better understanding of his people than any of the Fire Lords that have had the throne in the last hundred years. Not to mention, he has lived with people of the other nations now, and does not look down upon them any longer. He has seen what terrors the war has done to the other side. Yesterday I was watching "Bato of the Water Tribe" (S1E15), and it amazed me how much Zuko has changed since then in his attitude alone. He doesn't talk down to people any longer, and doesn't refer to people as "peasants" as he did in season 1.

Whether Zuko will ever be "good" in the sense that Iroh wants him to be is questionable. Iroh wants something that's impossible for Zuko to do, and when he tried to, it made him sick. Zuko cannot help what upbringing he has had, and he will always stay true to his roots, as we have seen numberous times-- however, he also has strong morals and honor, which is something that everyone from the Fire Nation's royalty/military we have been introduced to so far has lacked, save Iroh. But his honor could also be his downfall, like it could have been during the Agni Kai in "The Southern Air Temple" (S1E3).

I'm not as angry as I was about Zuko's decision at the end of S2. What will make me angry is that if he was only doing this for his father's approval, and not for something else in a much bigger picture.

I also want to point out something that has already been pointed out a million times I'm sure, but notice that Zuko never actually did any damage to anyone in the cave. It was Azula and Azula only. The only thing Zuko did was run interference. He could have taken the Avatar out right then and there, but he didn't. Because he's starting to finally see the bigger picture.

There are many other issues that happen in these two episodes that have come into play for season 2 (and are still foreshadowed for season 3), but they have little to nothing to do with Zuko, so they will have to be saved for another session.
Post A Comment | 1 Comment | Share | Link

User: zuppi
Date: 2006-12-15 10:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I really like this post, it raises some interesting points but personally I have a differing opinion on things.

First of all, I'm not sure if I view Iroh's captures as comparable. In the first instance (Winter Solstice Part I), Zuko is indeed searching for the Avatar (his life goal at that point of the story) and so it would seem logical that he would ignore Iroh's capture and continue after Aang. However, Iroh was a great asset to him at this point. He was a war veteran and although he was retired, Zuko did receive good advice from him (whether or not he listened to it). He was also against a much smaller band of Earthbenders and at this point in the story was much cockier and more sure of himself.

When Iroh gets captured in the season finale, Zuko had already chosen sides. I honestly don't think he expected Iroh to fight against him. He didn't side with Iroh (even thought we know he feels guilty about it) because Azula was offering him everything he wanted* and the odds were severely stacked against him.

I really don't believe that Zuko has some kind of plan because a) we know he makes rash decisions without thinking about the consequences and b) as much as I love the boy, he's pretty thick. I don't think it would occur to him to be so underhanded. He's honest and honourable, however misplaced such notions are placed.

I agree with you regarding Happy!Zuko, it wasn't real. As much as we would like to believe it, it's very hard to escape one's upbringing. While Zuko has matured as the season went on, I don't think he's ready to betray his people (as he would see it) and join the Gaang. I just don't think he's capable of seeing the bigger picture in that regard. I do believe that he will eventually become Fire Lord and all his trials will stand with him, making him a much better leader than they've ever had before.

Perhaps I'm less optimistic than others but I never expected Zuko to side with the 'goodies'. It would have been a betrayl of his character and everything he believes. I do think that eventually he will come around to their way of thinking but I think he has some way to go before that happens.

*1- I'm off the opinion that Zuko foolishly hopes (believes may be too strong a word) that he will be allowed to return to the Fire Nation.
Reply | Thread | Link

my journal
October 2009