So I was kusoma a post on tumblr that got me thinking. Basic gist is that someone alisema Azula couldn’t do anything on her own. My initial thought was to dispute that but then I kind of thought about it and realized this person was kind of right. But not just about Azula. After really thinking about it I realized that none of the characters really can! Hear me out guys; I’m not saying that the Avatar characters are useless on their own, but they are so much stronger when they have others to help them out. In fact I’d like to argue that this is an intended theme in Avatar. Like these characters are strong kwa their lonesomes. But goodness they are so much stronger together. Not only are all of the Avatar characters are at their best when they are with Marafiki and lovers but I would like to say that they are all at their worst when they are alone. From start to finish it was pretty clear that these characters were never meant to accomplish anything huge totally on their own. And no, this isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact I think it’s kind of amazing. There are so many shows and sinema that feature characters doing everything unassisted and the main character defeating the bad guys on their own, but in Avatar we have many characters who know they are at their best when with others. And it really works because Avatar is about a war and war isn’t something that one person can be in alone, no matter how far the person is from the front lines.
So lets get started shall we? Zuko, Aang, and Azula are my biggest examples of this. So I’ll start with Aang because his solitude had the most profound affect on the world of Avatar. One of the biggest catastrophes happened because Aang ran away. He found out that he was the Avatar and instead of relying on the monks and his other Marafiki for support he took off on his own and found himself trapped in the iceberg. Because of this the war had a chance to get awful.
In fact, all of Aang’s worst mistakes seem to have been when he chose to try to face things alone. The only exception being his parts during the comment, but even then his Marafiki were helping from afar. Times like when he ran away during the awakening; he ran off to go fight the moto Nation alone in the middle of a storm. This only left him helpless and venerable and feeling zaidi useless and ashamed than he had before. He didn’t really have an ounce of fight left in him and barely weathered the storm kwa his lonesome. kwa the end of the episode, the rest of the gaang are kwa his side again and pull him into a group hug. Thus a tone of hope is set once again.
There was also that that time in season one when he thought Sokka and Katara would leave him if they found their father. I believe that this episode was ‘Bato of the Watertribe’. For much of the episode when Katara and Sokka were interacting with Bato, Aang felt alone and jealous. This prompts him to hide information about Hakoda’s rendezvous point, further isolating him. The zaidi alone Aang felt the weaker he was. He ended up getting cornered kwa June, Iroh, and Zuko alone for a little bit. He almost lost, if I recall correctly, and was saved kwa the surprise appearance of Katara and Sokka.
Aang also had the opportunity to work with Zuko early on. I’m talking about The Blue Spirit. Aang probably wouldn’t have made it out of Zhao’s grasp without Zuko. Which is pretty wild because the onyesha is displaying that even working with an foe to defeat a common enemy is zaidi effective than barging into a fight alone.
So speaking of Zuko: of all of the characters he seemed to have had the most alone time. But even season one Zuko always had help from Iroh and the closer he was to true solitude the worse he got. Zuko was arguably at his weakest when he mgawanyiko, baidisha ways with Iroh, even then his uncle was tailing not too far behind him. So let’s just start with Zuko alone. Obviously we see that he’s capable of handling himself, but he’s having a much rougher time; he went hungry zaidi often and got angry zaidi quickly. Iroh wasn’t there to keep his anger in check.
The Chase is another good example. For most of it, Iroh was not with him. When he went up against Azula and Aang I’m wanting to say that he Lost quicker than he ever had–and not just because he was fighting two people at once. In general he was uigizaji far zaidi impulsively than he would have normally. Without guidance from Iroh he was very lost. Like all of the other characters, he needs companionship to be at his best.
This is shown again in that episode where Zuko is trying to jiunge Team Avatar. He was very alone and very awkward.The longer he spent alone the zaidi frustrated he seemed to get. Zuko only started to become his best person after he found himself a whole group of people who cared about him.
Zuko is amazing for proving how important friendship is in getting things accomplished because he has worked on so many teams. Like about that episode where he teamed up with the Freedom Fighters. Allied with the group he was able to get himself, Iroh, and others better chakula than the gruel they had initially been forced to eat while traveling to Ba Sing Se. On his own he probably wouldn’t have been able to do so.
Hell he even worked better with Azula than he did on his own. When the two of them fought together in Crossroads of Destiny he was kicking major ass. Point is, no matter who he is working with, Zuko is always much better at what he does when he is working with another person over working solo.
Now that Azula has been brought up let’s talk about her. Because she has perhaps one of the most interesting connections to this theme, and in a very different way than Zuko. What the two have in common is that (surprise!) Azula is also at her best when she has people to help her out. Just like all of the other characters Azula can definitely handle herself on her own. Azula was totally on her own in The Chase so I feel like it’s objectively wrong to say that she can’t do anything kwa herself. That whole fight was she kwa her lonesome and she was kicking punda up until she found herself crazily out numbered. She worked mostly solo (with some help from the Dai Li) in siku of Black Sun. Eventually though she was totally on her own and she still won that battle.
But lets back up again; she still had the Dai Li. If they weren’t there, she probably wouldn’t have gotten as far. In general Azula has these huge elaborate plans that a single person cannot possibly hope to execute alone. Azula is well aware that she needs support; she was the one who confessed to needing Zuko in the Crossroads episode. And kwa God, were they a force to reckon with!
Just like Zuko, Azula is willing to work with people she doesn’t like, people like Long Feng. To a point she needed him. Without his support and the Dai Li he controlled, her plan would never work. Bonus; Long Feng is another character who can’t do things alone–he realized that he needed help from Azula just as much as she needed his assistance.
Azula is also the one who outright vocalizes that, “if I want to catch my prey, I must be agile, nimble. I need a small, elite team. It’s time to visit some old friends.” And thus Mai and TyLee come into the picture. It took until typing this to realize that one of Azula’s biggest (and most overlooked) strengths is that she realizes that she needs help, which was something that season 1 & 2 Zuko didn’t and it really hurt him.
Azula relied a lot on Mai and TyLee and they relied on her as well. The Drill and The Chase demonstrate this pretty well. So lets start with The Chase; for the first half of the episode all three were fighting very closely together–literally side kwa side. They were dominating it at that point. Though they put up quite a fight, Mai and TyLee Lost their battle to Sokka and Katara after splitting up. Naturally this left Azula alone; as mentioned before she was just as hard to defeat as her Marafiki but when it came down to it, she had to surrender. Now imagine if Mai and TyLee had been there and the playing field were zaidi level.
And then wewe have the Drill. This was probably one of Azula’s harshest defeats (save for the final agni kai). The missing link was Mai. TyLee was all alone and unable to handle Sokka, Katara, and Toph. Between the fact that Katara had zaidi support and teamwork on her side and the fact that TyLee was alone, she was pretty easy to handle. Azula fared better but it was zaidi of a one on one. In the end, having no assistance she ended up losing despite a pretty tough fight. Have another bonus: Aang wasn’t completely alone during that battle, he had help from Momo! While that sounds silly, Momo was the one who flew him back atop the drill after Azula slid into him and knocked them both off. Momo carrying him back to the juu was what gave him the time to deliver the final blow–Azula was still climbing whilst he did that. Like Momo is the reason he beat Azula to the juu of the drill. Literally even animal companionship is zaidi effective than going solo in the Avatarverse.
Where as in Omashu Azula, Mai, and TyLee made much zaidi progress. The trio was all together and they came much closer to capturing Aang than they had in the other two episodes. They were also working together in Ba Sing Se; this is what led to its downfall. Not just Azula alone, but Azula with help from Mai and TyLee. While Azula was the one with the master plan and doing most of the work she needed Mai and TyLee to spring the trap in the first place…and to keep Katara at bay when she made an appearance.
So then we get to the Boiling Rock. Things where actually going pretty well for Azula in the beginning. She, Mai, and TyLee were fending off Team Avatar rather expertly. It wasn’t until Mai turned on Azula that things went south. Which is where lack of companionship comes in. Among other things, her lack of support and friendships were part of why Azula fell so far back in the end. She had zero companions nor support. Again, Azula can accomplish a lot kwa herself, she’s a strong character. But she took a huge blow in losing people to help her out. Remember when I alisema that one of Azula’s biggest strengths was knowing when she needed other people? She completely loses this during Sozin’s Comet. In this episode she decides that she’s a strong independent firebender who ain’t need no help. Not only did she sever her connection to Mai and TyLee but she rid herself of the support the Dai Li provided as well as that of the twins and even her servants. She literally had no one standing kwa to step in if things took a bad turn. And the took a bad turn alright. Had she not banished her guard personal Zuko and Katara probably could have been stopped before they started.
What drives really drives the point nyumbani is just the whole dynamic of the fight. It was a one on one and both were pretty evenly matched to begin with. But in the end Zuko fell. Which is where friendship comes in. Unlike Azula, he was never truly alone during that fight. If worse came to worst (and it did) Katara was willing to step in. Ultimately, the fact that Zuko had Katara were together is what led them to victory. What’s wilder is that (however minor) this is another way he and Azula swapped roles. Zuko admitted that he needed help to defeat Azula; legit when Azula decided that she didn’t need other people, Zuko realized that he did!
So lets take it a bit further and look at The Search. This is another instance where Zuko and Azula realized they needed each other and ended up working together. Zuko needed Azula for information and she needed him for physical freedom. While they were kusoma the same book, they clearly weren’t on the same page. Zuko accomplished his goal of finding his mother because he had the gaang on his side. Once again, Azula was alone so she didn’t fare that well.
Azula didn’t start to get it together until Smoke and Shadow. What’s different about S&S? She had Marafiki (or at least a team) again. She found the Kemurikage. Together these ladies terrorized the town and Azula had her first victory in awhile. Not only that, but she was in a much better place mentally–probably because she found people like her that she could connect with.
I won’t just leave it at Azula though. Mai displays this need for people. Arguably her strongest moment happened during the Boiling Rock. Her companionship with Zuko pushed her to act and TyLee helped her get through the encounter. Even a zaidi minor character like Mai serves to highlight how important companionship is in Avatar.
And how about Toph? I can’t leave her out because she had the most in your face example of this. Teamwork > solor is literally a huge theme for bryke; they make a point of explicitly saying that people don’t have to fight alone and they do this with Toph and Iroh. “Toph: I know what you’re thinking … I look like I can’t handle being kwa myself.
Iroh: I wasn’t thinking that.
Toph: wewe wouldn’t even let me pour my own cup of tea!
Iroh: I poured your chai because I wanted to and for no other reason.
Toph: People see me and think I’m weak. They want to take care of me, but I can take care of myself, kwa myself.
Iroh: wewe sound like my nephew, always thinking wewe need to do things on your own, without anyone’s support. There is nothing wrong with letting the people who upendo wewe help you. Not that I upendo you, I just met you.
Toph: So where is your nephew?
Iroh: I’ve been tracking him actually.
Toph: Is he lost?
Iroh: Yes, a little bit. His life has recently changed and he’s going through very difficult times. He’s trying to figure out who he is and he went away.
Toph: So now you’re following him.
Iroh: I know he doesn’t want me around him right now, but if he needs me, I’ll be there.”
I had to post all of the dialog because pretty much all of it is important. It starts out with Toph wanting to do everything kwa herself and Iroh quickly telling her that she doesn’t have to. “Always thinking wewe need to do things on your own, without anyone’s support. There is nothing wrong with letting the people who upendo wewe help you.” Is probably the most crucial quote regarding the companionship theme. It really doesn’t get any clearer than that. This is kind of why when I saw the maoni on how Azula can’t do things alone I started dwelling on it. Because Iroh is right; though a character like Azula can do things on her own; she doesn’t have to and shouldn’t have to. I think that this moment is where admitting when wewe need a shoulder to cry on becomes such a big theme.
My final main example is the entire episode ‘Great Divide’. I know you’re all probably laughing because this one is filler™ but it really does demonstrate how important working together is. The whole time those two groups (I can’t remember their names at the moment) were feuding it up and this only served to set them back. It was only when they came together and started to depend on each other that they made it out of the canyon.
So looping it back to the original statement that prompted this speculation. I don’t think that Azula was any less capable than the other characters at all. Sure there is a lot she couldn’t do on her own. But she did accomplish a lot kwa her lonesome. All of the characters have. One of the huge themes of Avatar is that wewe don’t have to go into things on your own and that teamwork (cliche as that is) accomplishes much zaidi than a one man army. This is why Azula crumbled in the end; because she pushed everyone away and was forced to take on things that would break the most independent person. Things no one should have to handle alone. While she has done a lot single handedly, she’s no different than the other characters in that she was at her best when she had people to rely on.