Sunday, January 25, 2009

Avatar: The Last Airbender - Season 3

Thanks to a few issues I thought Avatar's third and final season was probably the weakest, but still provided a satisfying conclusion to the story and was certainly worth watching. As Aang and his friends get closer to their goal of ending the war, things get more serious and start to weigh pretty heavily on them, as the overall tone shifts slightly. The main characters aren't as kind-hearted and fun-loving as they were when their journey started, which is an obvious thing to happen over time with the future constantly weighing on you, it just isn't used effectively to improve anything. There's still plenty of nice moments and cool action scenes, it just isn't as fun to watch overall. There's one scene in particular that illustrates how the characters could have been handled better, when several antagonists are at a campfire on the beach. They all have things from the past that affected them and drove them towards their current place in life, which is fine and all but the awkward way they all whine about what happened to them in turn just wasn't well written and is kind of hard to watch.

I also have an issue with the pacing for the whole season. There are two big events that occur, halfway through and at the end. That's fine, but because of how everything plays out in relation to these big events, it feels like the first half is filler and too much is forced to be crammed into the second half. Each season, or "book" is named after the element which Aang must master, but he really doesn't spend much time learning about fire like he did water and earth, we're just to take it as read that he did. Either his fire teacher should have been established before the first event, or if they wanted to have it happen like it did (which was pretty appropriate to the story), the first event should have happened sooner. Despite my problems with the season overall, the individual episodes still adhered to the series' high standard of quality, and after a fairly humorous (and really meta) recap, the finale really was everything it should have been. Really impressive action and exactly the ending the story and characters deserved. Besides a couple loose ends left hanging, it was pretty much perfect. And so ended the surprisingly good series, which taking into account the whole picture, is probably the best thing Nickelodeon ever produced.

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