By waezi2 13 Comments
Oh my, Avatar is trending!
This has probably been done a hundred times before, but Avatar is trending and I have been called an “intellectual” so many times that I feel like sharing my thoughts in general:P
Even though Azula only says it to taunt Zuko, she was right when she said it was the showdown that was meant to be. They have been enemies their entire life and a final clash was unavoidable.
Their battle has been long and started at the first episode of season 2(OR Book 2 if you prefer).
Zuko was a threat to Aang and his friends since he was a great firebender with command over a small group of soldiers. But when we are introduced to Azula, we see that he is nowhere close to being an amazing one. His sister mops the floor with him since she is a naturally gifted bender as well as a much more skilled fighter unlike her brother who has no patience and keeps wasting his breath despite breathing being essential for a firebender.
But a thing that is worth noticing is that Azula often let her men do the fighting for her. Either to tire out her opponents or to simply evade conflict. Kind of odd since she is so powerful and has mastered many bending moves Zuko probably don’t have the talent for, including the ability to summon LIGHTNING. She could end a fight in seconds and save time.
But it is my theory that Azula is actually horrible at conflict. She is mentally unstable and her life is build around pleasing her father. She plans ahead and is always two steps ahead since she HAS to be, or she would panic. She needs to be in control of a situation, or it makes her uncomfortable. She relies on her massive firepower(pun not intended) and her agility to either crush her enemies quickly OR send them fleeing for their life. She dominates.
But unlike Zuko, she doesn’t improve. Zuko changes his fighting style as he realizes that he may never become the most powerful firebender, but he can be a very skilled one. AND he get’s allies, something that used to be Azula’s advantage. The fight when Sokka and Zuko escapes the Boiling Rock shows how much Zuko has improved as he is much more focused and manage to fight her to a standstill with aid from Sokka since they take advantage of the limited space that is NOT in Azula’s favor. And sure, she is still focused, but it is clear how much it ANNOYS her that she can’t just humiliate Zuko the way she used to.
Their next clash at the Air Temple shows how much they have both changed. Azula has experienced a lot of stress after her two “best friends” turned on her and it affects her as her fighting stance changes and becomes more aggressive. She still dominates Zuko, but not the same way as before. She is not as smug as she used to be as she realizes that she has to take Zuku serious now that he has made a fighting style based on timing.
But enough of the build up. Let us talk about the agni kai for the crown.
When Zuko and Katara crashes her crowning, Azula realizes that she can’t take on both of them OR that it will at the very least be difficult. So she challenges Zuko to a fire duel, first one to burn the other wins. Azula has never been interested in a fair fight where she had no advantages, even declined challenges despite being a dishonorable thing to do by Fire Natio standards. But she is out of options and therefor tries to split up Zuko and Katara in order to make a big problem into two smaller ones she can solve one at a time. Zuko knows, but he still accepts the challenge since he has gained wisdom and therefor can see that Azula is about to blow a fuse AND that a one-on-one fight is the best way to keep more people from getting hurt.
Two things makes this fight interesting(beside the awesome action): First of all, their roles have shifted completely since season two. Azula is now the mental mess with a temper, Zuko is the calm and collected fighter. But what is VERY special about the fight is the music. It is not glorious or action-packed the way it is when Aang confronts Ozai. Azula and Zuko’s fight theme is... sad. which makes sense since this is the final battle against brother and sister. these two should be close, they should be more than good friends, they should be family. Zuko knows this as he tells Azula that she is lying about being sorry that it has come to this.
This fight could have and SHOULD HAVE been evaded.
Anyways, the actual fight:
Azula fights aggressively now. She has much better and advanced attacks compared to Zuko who struggles to either evade of block the powerful flames. He has to be focused ALL the time or he will get burned. But it annoys Azula who has completely lost it, so she keeps attacking wildly...
... Which results in her panting.
Azula breaks a golden rule of agni kai: she wastes her breath. She is panting because she went on to strongly and she is already low on gas.
Zuko sees an opening and makes a simple but effective and precise attack.
Azula uses her ability to fly at high speed by using her bending as a jet-pack as she bombards Zuko with smaller attacks this time. It’s impressive that she can do it from a technical point of view, but it is downright stupid during an agni kai. Beside breath, the stance is essential. Removing herself from the ground makes her unbalanced AND she wastes stamina when she flies. It is almost TOO easy for Zuko to knock her over, and Azula is once again panting as she can do nothing but stare angrily at Zuko who used the classic rope-a-dope tactic.
Zuko is now the one taunting Azula as he tells her that he DID notice that she did not use her lighting that is usually her triumph card. Azula knows that Zuko can now redirect lighting, something that is dangerous since creating lighting require a lot of energy and precision. She is vulnerable after using it, so that would mean she would be unable to defend herself as Zuko throws her attack right back at her.
Buuuut Azula has gone coco for cocopops at this point and creates lightning simply to spite Zuko.
But she apparently has a moment of clarity as she probably realizes that she made a big mistake. She takes a moment to what I can only assume is considering her options which would be a) attack Zuko anyways and hope he won’t redirect the attack(unlikely), b) shoot the lighting into the air so it can’t be used against her even though she would have wasted energy for nothing... or c) aim at Katara instead, knowing that Zuko would jump in front of the attack and he would then take the whole attack since his stance is off.
For the record, Katara is NOT stupid here. She watched the fight in case she had to step in(like Iroh did in Zuko's duel in book 1), like if Azula had laid a trap. And how should she be able to evade fricking lightning? Zuko could only jump and take the attack because he was focused on Azula and therefor noticed in time to save his friend.
So Katara now have to fight Azula herself. And Azula is even more crazy now that she has “defeated” her brother and she just lashes out attacks left and right. And unlike Zuko, Katara is JUST a waterbender, she doesn’t have the raw power to fight her one-on-one like Zuko did. Sure, Azula’s attacks are sloppy, but she only have to hit Katara ONCE to kill her. So Katara fights smartly and makes one of the most creative waterbending attacks in the show.
So, Zuko finally defeated Azula with help from Katara.
This is a hollow victory since Azula finally collapse and cries like the abused child she really is. For the first time in her life, she wasn’t perfect. She has been defeated and her dream of being Fire Lord has been washed away by her useless brother and a Water Tribe peasant. It is simply too much for one little psychopath to bear.
And Zuko and Katara just looks at this poor monster with pity. There is no satisfaction gained from defeating Azula.