So I just finished rewatching Avatar: the Last Airbender. If you haven’t seen it before, WATCH IT. It is very good (it’s on Netflix right now). Even if you have watched it before, watch it again, especially if it’s been a while, because I apparently only remembered like half of it (I mean, I last watched it in 2012, so), and it is very very good.
Except for one thing that is really bugging me.
Spoilers heads up, for those who care.
So, during the third season, Aang supposedly can’t access the Avatar state because of what happened at the end of season two. But the thing is, this is literally never brought up until right before the battle, only mentioned literally that one time, and then he miraculously (no really, miraculously, by random chance) gets it unlocked in the middle of battle. So I have to ask, what was the point?
From a writing perspective, I can understand wanting to take away his “super powers” in order to raise the stakes for the final battle. Making it more difficult for him makes it more dramatic. However, the fact that this problem is never brought up beforehand, and then resolved literally through random chance just feels super sloppy to me, especially since whether or not he has access to the Avatar state doesn’t impact the internal struggle he is having over whether or not to kill the Fire Lord. It really is just a useless plot device that doesn’t really impact the story.
I honestly don’t think the final fight would have been any less dramatic if he had been able to use it from the beginning. In fact, I think it would have been more dramatic, and helped to visually emphasize his internal struggle more, if he had been able to use it from the beginning, but chose not to because he was worried about losing control (I know we supposedly resolved this problem in season 2, but like, we also never actually addressed it? He went into the Avatar state and then immediately got struck by lightning, and then we literally NEVER MENTIONED IT AGAIN until Aang says right before the battle that he can’t use the Avatar state).
His not being able to use the Avatar state, or maybe choosing not to,
would have had a much bigger impact if they had touched on it more
earlier in the season. Or y’know, given him his powers back through
something he did rather than through random chance. That’s just writing 101. Characters being active is always more interesting than having things happen to them.
Maybe I’m being nitpicky about this, but as a writer, Dues ex Machinas really really really bug me, and it is just so frustrating to see one thrown into the ending of an otherwise flawless show.