I started to watch Avatar: The Legend of Aang some weeks ago (shame on me) and ‘till now I’ve just completed the Book of Water. But I had seen so many random episodes on tv that I know some details about the histories; I know, for example, that Zuko has a redemption.
Being aware of this, uh, piece of information, I began to watch the Book of Water. And then I saw Zuko on his starting point and tried to relate him - unsuccessfully - with the Zuko I had seen on that random episodes of the books of Earth and Fire. His change is amazing. But that’s not exactly my point.
It happens that Avatar is a Nickelodeon cartoon, directed to children. And I always get fascinated when I realize there’s round and deep characters on this kind of media. In some ways, at first they seem simple, but as you begin to realize the magnitude of the history things change. Suddenly hits your mind the fact that you’re watching the history of a war, of a boy who, as if were not enough to have the responsability to save the world, yet realizes that his people died helpless. And in the middle of all is Zuko.
On the episode The Deserter, the master of firebending says to Katara that he wanted to be like her, because water can heal, but fire only causes destruction and pain; he says that controlling fire is a burden for those who can dominate it. And then I think of Zuko, right there on the beginning, young and powerful. A boy who only wanted to join the council of war of his own country, but opens the mouth at the wrong time. But for the right reasons. And during all the Book of Water, among all attacks of anger and the obsession of taking Aang, this same Zuko’s still there. Already broken and tired, at only sixteen, but still with the ability to understand what’s right.
Zuko and Sokka could be at the extremes of a line, but they’re not opposite in everything. The daddy issues approach them as characters; Zuko continuously risks his life, confronts the Avatar, creates every kind of situation on his desperate search for have his father’s love back, for what he calls taking his honor back and be allowed to return to his country - the same he wanted so much to know and help when entered the war council. Sokka searches for his father on other ways and for other reasons, has a pronounced issue with this lack and the sense of powerlessness front of the fact that he couldn’t go to war with the men of the tribe. The two of them have remarkably similar life histories, except for the little detail about being at opposite sides of the conflict - and yet they converge on what, after all, is what they recognize as right: helping the Avatar.