Ahead of 2010’s blockbuster-to-be, The Last Airbender, we’re revisiting the Peabody-winning cartoon serial from which it got its name, Avatar.
5. The King Of Omashu
So, maybe the end to episode four was a bad omen? Last week’s The Warriors Of Kyoshi was a blast, aside from a hurried ending that left a bit of an’oh, okay’ feeling in my mouth. The effects of that ending carry over to The King Of Omashu, the series’ first throwaway episode.
Maybe I’m just a bit harsh on it as important stuff does goes down in the episode. We are introduced to Earthbending and its pretty cool stuff, especially when characters are making quicksand or tearing bits off of walls or seemingly phasing through the ground. And we encounter the Earth Kingdom city of Omashu, as well as its king (who – you guessed it! – becomes increasingly important as the show goes on).
Aang, Katara and Sokka arrive at Omashu and while the brother/sister team face a bit of culture shock (“They have buildings here that don’t melt!”), Aang promises them that Omashu is one of the friendliest places in the world. Within minutes, however, he’s disguised himself as an old man by the name of Bonzu Pipinpadaloxicopolis and is getting the gang in trouble.
Omashu is a pretty interesting place, design-wise. Throughout the city, there are slides and tunnels making up the city’s delivery system, making it look like an exquisitely mangled Mouse Trap board. The Omashu delivery system is intended for mail, true, but also for slides. Omashu strikes me as the most economical city in the world, a city centered pretty much entirely around communication, but nobody really wants a bunch of kids flying through your house on a stone cart, do they?
Our heroes decide to slide through the city using the delivery system, an act Aang recalls from his first youth. While training as a monk, his friend Bumi mentioned to him to slide through the city and to open his brain to the possibilities in life.
So, yeah, I’m not going to fool around any longer – Bumi is the King of Omashu, something that a blind, deaf, and dumb person could have figured out in about a second. Because he’s an eccentric old fool who laughs at his own awful jokes, he takes Aang prisoner (upon discovering he is the Avatar) and challenges him to a series of acts that will guarantee his safety and the safety of his friends.
And that is pretty much it. Not that you had any doubt, but Aang wins the challenges, saves his friends (even though they weren’t really in trouble) and is reunited with his old friend.
I had a problem last week with the Fire Nation storyline encroaching on both of the Team Avatar storylines, but if I’m being honest, the more downbeat Zuko moments were needed. It was neat seeing Omashu and meeting Bumi, but the whole ‘doing a bunch of challenges set by the bad guy’ is up there with ‘find the bad guy before he kills someone in ten minutes’, as far as Saturday morning clichés go, and I’m really not interested in that at all. Not trying to sound like I’m on a downer, but this episode did make me want the show to follow the king’s example and think like a mad genius! Because this was a bit too languid by Avatar status.
At one point, a question is directed towards Aang: “What’s the point of tests if you don’t learn anything?” Well, at least we learnt about Earthbending. On to the next one!
Good Sokka/Katara moments were dry on the ground in King Of Omashu, but we did get this gem: “Rocky! Y’know, because of all of the rocks!”/”We’re gonna keep trying, but that is a good backup”
That “refurbished chambers” bit was pretty funny too, I’ll say that.
Hello, Cabbage Man!
It was a bit weird seeing a pretty plain hare/rabbit in Avatar‘s world of wacky animal hybrids (Flopsy!)
Did anybody find the visuals a bit different? The main characters looked a little skinnier or something. I may have been watching with crazy glasses.
On the DVD extras, it’s claimed that Omashu’s number one trade resource was in making weapons for the war. That would be interesting to check out.
Read our recap and review of episode 4 here.