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Episode 09

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In "The Swamp" the madness is runnin' wild, or is the titular wetland truly mystical? In "Avatar Day" we see the return of the one man too hot to handle and too cold to hold. That's right, The Blue Spirit is back. In "The Blind Bandit" we meet Toph, and we get some awesome nods to pro wrestling greats of the past. What a novel concept. [ 49:41 || 24.1 MB ]

The above is from: http://www.earth-2.net/podcasts/avatarthelastpodcast/episodes/avatar_009.mp3

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I really liked The Swamp episode. Up until this point, the bending disciplines have been pretty cut and dry. The swamp benders take it a step farther and show how water bending can be used in other ways. It also can be interpreted as different cultures in the avatar world. It is mainly asian fantasy, but I can see where other ethnicities can have a place in the avatar world. The swamp benders remind me of "country folk" in the bayou.

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See, I get what The Swamp was trying to do, and I definitely see the merit in that. It was important at this point in the series to start intoducing more creative forms of bending - and having the people living in the swamp to be all countryish was a nice addition. But I always find myself bored while I'm watching this episode, I'm not sure why because it does have a lot going on.

In "Avatar Day" we see the return of the one man too hot to handle and too cold to hold. That's right, The Blue Spirit is back.

This never ceases to amuse me, Kellen. Poor Zuzu. He needs hugs!

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Maybe you get bored because the action comes to a sudden stop. The team will think they are in danger, when actually its the humble swamp benders. So it's not like they pose a real threat. They were trying to protect their home, and not really hurt the team. They also seem to hop on board without any opposition. Other people they meet along the way are so oppressed by the fire nation, that they are reluctant to help. It has been a while since I watched this episode, so I can't really give examples by event. With this series, I find that I get just as much excitement from the filler episodes, because it adds to the story. I tend to rate these much higher than others.

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I wouldn't say that it's because the action comes to a stop - most of my favourite episodes of the series are character driven ones rather than action oriented ones. However I do think that you're right about the fact that the conflict in this episode comes to a stop, and that's probably why I think it's boring. The swampbenders are far too agreeable and the only part of this episode I find overly interesting is when they're chasing Appa and when Sokka has his vision of Yue - which are the parts that have the most conflict.

This might just be me, but if an episode moves the plot or characters along in any way, I don't count it as filler. In fact I'd go so far to say that Avatar has very few true filler episodes. It's only 61 episodes long, and they need to accomplish a lot in that time so to have a lot of filler would make the important episodes feel rushed (even though this has still happened). I'd say that the character development episodes are just as important as the action ones, just because Avatar as a series focuses a lot on people and why they act the way they do. It's very character driven and without spending the time to develop those characters the show would become stale and boring.

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I agree with your point about filler episodes. If an episode can give me just a little bit of story, and continuity, I will give it a pass even if it is not a very strong episode overall. I admit that I look at the series with 'avatar-colored' glasses. Even when I'm critical of an episode, it still compares favorably against most other cartoons on TV right now.

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What makes a bad episode for you?

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For me, its when a conflict resolution seems a little too convenient. Or cheesy dialogue and plot lines that have been done before.

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I do the opposite of the avatar coloured glasses thing lol. When an episode of Avatar is bad, I get annoyed with it and probably rate it lower than I should, because I know that this show can do better than say.. The Great Divide! When I rate the episodes I use my favourite few episodes as a starting point. For instance, if I'm thinking "Seige of The North Part 2 was a 9" then how much worse was whatever episode I'm rating than that one? That's how I measure it.

I agree about the convenient conflict resolution. Or the convenient conflict that could be easily solved but isn't, just for the sake of having some conflict! Bato of the Water Tribe does this and it irritates me more and more every time I think about it.

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