Also, something is up with my computer that's been keeping me from uploading images anywhere. Three browsers, no luck. So my apologies for my lack of caps.
Previously, Ozai was proud of Zuko based on Azula's word (which was of course a lie), Mai and Zuko played kissyface and Zuko tried to get advice from Iroh, and then he wound up hiring an assassin with a vagina on his forehead.
Ride ze shoopuff? Ty Lee is excited to go to Ember Island for the weekend. I'm not sure there's ever a time when Ty Lee isn't excited. But indeed, she, Azula, Zuko, and Mai are being ferried to Ember Island, a fact Zuko isn't too pleased about. "We're being sent away on a forced vacation." Azula tells him to get stuffed. So what if their dad wants to meet with his advisors alone, without anyone else around, and especially not his kids? That's certainly no reason for Zuko to be angry and agitated. No reason at all. Ty Lee asks if they have a house on Ember Island, and Azula confirms that they used to go there every summer as kids. Zuko: "That was...in the past. *vacant stare, music sting*" ...crap, none of you are going to get Kickassia references, are you. Don't care, it's staying in.
They get to Ember Island, where the Creepy Twins meet them in front of a dilapidated little...shack...thing. Once inside, Zuko comments that it smells like old lady. I think I just figured out that this is the equivalent of sending your kids to stay with Grandma for the weekend. Ty Lee spots a painting on the wall and asks who the women in the Playboy pose are. Lo and Li demonstrate. Zuko throws up in his mouth a little. Ty Lee loves the seashell bedspreads, while Mai thinks they look like the beach threw up on it. Lo and Li (whose tops keep slipping lower and lower, I swear) comment that the kids are upset that they were forced into this little vacation. "But keep an open mind, give it a chance, and it can help you understand yourselves and each other." They both said it, in their creepy swapping-lines kind of way, but I honestly don't know who said what so they get to share a set of quotation marks. "The beach has a way of smoothing even the most ragged edges." It also has a way of getting people dragged out by riptides and stung by jellyfish and...I'm not a fan of beaches, okay. Azula is bored now, and so Lo and Li - oh dear sweet baby Christ no PUT IT BACK ON. Mai covers Zuko's eyes, deciding to take the pain for both of them.
Elsewhere, Toph is telling Aang to stop being such a little nudist. Aang: "What? I'm wearing trunks." Toph: "I know! It's your tattoos I'm worried about!" Katara comments that there are walls all around them (which she should have known, unless having her feet in the water is messing with her perception), and they're perfectly safe. ...unless Aang decides to make use of a natural water-slide and go sliding out from behind said walls. Into a lake. Next to which two Fire Nation soldiers are posted. They see his tattoos and watch him jump up the cliff, and send a messenger hawk back to the capital to inform Ozai that the Avatar is not, in fact, dead. Whoops.
Le Beach! The kids have changed into their swimsuits (which I've heard are far more conservative than the original designs, if you can believe that). Zuko and Mai are sharing an umbrella and scowling at absolutely everyone. They're made for each other. Azula immediately stomps on a small child's sandcastle, and Ty Lee immediately gets hit on. By...Kevin? Ty Lee uses him as an unpacker, and then as a sunshade, 'cause men are mere playthings to her. Azula is displeased. Zuko sees a pretty shell and tries to give it to Mai. Mai wants to know what he's smoking. Zuko: "Don't girls like things like this?" Mai: "Maybe stupid girls." Zuko tosses it aside (angrily), and a dude grabs it up to give to Ty Lee. Ty Lee is thrilled by the gift. Ty Lee now has two followers. Next, the WORLD! Zuko tries to give Mai an ice cream, drops it on her, Mai is grumpy.
BUT NOW VOLLEYBALL. Azula sees an opportunity to be better than someone and jumps right on it. Ty Lee walks on her hands (disappointing everyone with the fact that she's wearing shorts under her skirt). Zuko whips off his shirt-robe-thing, disturbing a flock of doves, and amassing a group of fangirls to ogle his physique. This is the kind of lean, muscled look you get from starving half to death in the wilds of the Earth Kingdom for three months. Azula notices a weakness in one of the players and informs the others, and they set out on their epic quest to...win a game of beach volleyball. The ball rolls over next to these two douchebags at some point, and they seem impressed with Ty Lee and Mai's, uh, talents. They win, because Azula has the ability to turn the ball into a small meteor, and because she is her takes it waaaaaaaay too seriously. Douche One and Douche Two come over to invite Ty Lee and Mai to their party. Azula asks why she and Zuko aren't invited. I'm going to guess it has something to do with the air of "socially maladjusted" you two have got going there. She susses that the Ambiguously Douche Duo doesn't know who they are, which I have to admit surprises me a little. I mean, school kids here bow to Ozai's giant face every morning, you'd think there'd be portraits of his kids somewhere. (Okay, maybe not Zuko.) Douche One is appalled that they don't know who they are - "We're Chan and Ruon-Jian." ...ah. Yes. Of course. Everything makes so much sense now. (Ruon-Jian makes me think of Jamie somewhat.) Zuko makes a move to stab them both in the eye with his hatred, but Azula stops him and Chan relents. "Just so you know, some of the most important teenagers in the Fire Nation are gonna be at this party, so...try and act normal." Azula: "We'll do our best." You are creepy. You're so creepy your pupils have gone diamond-shaped. What is that.
At dinner, Zuko asks Azula why she didn't tell them who they are. ....I dare you to diagram that sentence. Azula says she's "intrigued", which is probably a good cue to start running for the hills. Azula: "I'm so used to people worshipping us - " Ty Lee: "They should." Got a little something on your nose there, hon. Azula says she wants to know what it's like to be treated like a regular person. The Creepy Grandma Twins start some weird haiku thing about Ember Island giving everyone a fresh start, then do a hand jive and cheer "To the party!" I...okay.
Suddenly, aerial combat! The messenger hawk from earlier gets overtaken by a vulture-looking thing and tied up in its own cords. The vulture follows it down, stealing the message out of the holder, and takes it to its master. ...oh hey, Vagina Forehead Assassin, how you doin'. He reads the message and then sets it on fire. WITH HIS MIND.
Party time! Azula (with inexplicably long hair, but at least it's black this time) and company are the first there, because Azula heard Chan saying the party was "from dusk 'till dawn". Chan shrugs at the crazy lady and lets her in, warning the group that his dad's an admiral that has no idea he's having a party. "So don't mess anything up." Azula's expression goes straight into "I am going to wreck his shit" mode. She then proceeds to try to flirt. ...you heard me. "That's a sharp outfit, Chan. Careful, you could puncture the hull of an empire-class Fire Nation battleship, leaving thousands to drown at sea! ....because...it's so sharp!" Chan: "...I'mma go over here now." Meanwhile, Zuko gets his jealous all over Ruon-Jian, asking Mai what she thinks of him. Mai: "I don't have any opinion on him. I barely know him." Zuko: "You like him, don't you." Mai just rolls her eyes and walks away. Probably the best response.
Once the party starts, Ty Lee gets mobbed by boys fighting over which one she met first. Ty Lee: "It doesn't matter which one I met first! I like you all!" Square-Headed Guy: "Yeah, but which one do you like." Ty Lee: "I...I...AAAAH. *Hyuugas everyone, runs away*" She runs to Azula, lamenting that boys like her too much. Azula has no sympathy for her. Azula: "Boys like you because you're a whore." Ty Lee: "I cry at you." Azula: "....oh, fine, fine, knock that shit off, I didn't mean it. I only said it 'cause I'm jealous." Ty Lee: "Bitch say what." Azula is jealous of Ty Lee because her milkshake brings all the boys to the yard, but Ty Lee insists that Azula is the most bestest person ever. Azula agrees, but laments that boys seem to think she's going to kill them in their sleep. The mind-breaking thing here is, I think Azula is actually being sincere. Azula wants a boy to tell her she's pretty. Ty Lee, after reminding Azula that she probably would try to kill them in their sleep, tells her that if she wants a boy to like her, just laugh at everything he says even if it's not funny. Azula: "That sounds really stupid and shallow. ...let's try it!" Ty Lee puts on a dude-voice . "Hey there, sweet
NEWS FLASH: Mai is bored and grumpy. She's also somewhat hungry, and sends Zuko to get food for her.
Elsewhere, Azula is ready for Chan to give her a tour of the house. This of course pretty much just means taking her out on the deck and making out with her, because HE KNOWS NOT WHAT HE DOES. Chan: "Is this your first time....................................
Food get! Zuko is headed back to Mai with some dumplings or something when the plate gets knocked out of his hands. "Watch it! That food was for my cranky girlfriend!" Who is speaking with Ruon-Jian. Zuko: "THAT CHEATING WHORE." He runs over and flings Ruon-Jian out of the way. Ruon-Jian defends his hair's honor, and Zuko palm-strikes him ACROSS THE FUCKING ROOM what the hell was that. Mai calls him out, saying he's just angry at everything all the time. Zuko counters that at least he feels something, as opposed to Mai, who is "just a big blob!" That's the last straw for Mai, who just says "It's over" and walks away. Oh my god, you guys, I don't think they're like dating anymore! Chan kicks Zuko out for breaking a vase and Zuko stomps out while Ruon-Jian mocks him for being single.
Zuko heads up the beach, angsting quietly in the moonlight, and winds up at a small house nestled in the edge of a hill. He stops and looks out over the sea, and we get a couple of those sepia-toned flashbacks we're all so fond of. He heads up to the house (his hair emo-ing softly in the night air) and kicks the door in when he finds it locked. There's a portrait on the wall, of the royal family when Zuko and Azula were but wee things. If I have to gauge these things by eye, I'm going to say this is about the same time as Zuko's flashback-dreams. So, y'know, right before his life went entirely to shit. Ozai's hand is on Zuko's shoulder in the portrait, his face much kinder and softer than we've ever seen it in the present. (You know, the whole twice we've seen it. ...shut up.) He looks over at the image of his mother, and remembers being there as a baby, his mother holding his hand up to a small disc. And there it is, on the table, a small clay tablet with his baby-sized handprint in it. He lays his hand over it - it nearly covers the entire thing now. How much he's grown.
Hey look, it's those guys! You know, the main characters of the show? They had a thing going at some point, didn't they? Indeed, a big metal boot (with springs, yay articulation) is headed their way. Toph, sleeping on the ground as she does, notices it first. "Guys, you're all going to think I'm crazy, but it feels like a metal man is coming." Oh...oh does it, now? (I am the most mature.) Aang gets hit in the eye with some reflected moonbeam, and Sokka gets...he...he gets.....sorry, I got a little distracted by hair down!battle ready!Sokka. Ahem. Sokka gets ready to fight while Vagina Head Assassin does some extreme breathing exercises before SHOOTING A LASER OUT OF HIS FACE. It doesn't hit the Gaang, but hits the side of the boulder they were sleeping behind and EXPLODES IT, sending them flying. Toph catches herself and does a kind of reverse avalanche up at him, but he lasers through that too, Aang just barely managing to block it with an air blast. I should point out that there's absolutely no music here, no tense battle theme or anything. Just rocks and explosions, and it gives it that "dead of night" feel without over-dramatizing everything. Katara sends a wave up at him from a nearby lake, but he lasers that, making a rush of steam that is apparently not superheated because otherwise none of the Gaang would still have skin.
BUT ENOUGH OF THAT, ZUKO HAS EMOING TO DO. He's sitting on the porch with the tablet when Azula walks up. "I thought I'd find you here." Zuko: "Those summers we spent here seem so long ago now. So much has changed." Azula: "...come down to the beach with me. Come on, this place is depressing." She leads him down to a circle made of what looks like driftwood, where Mai and Ty Lee are already gathered. Mai calls out to Zuko, who only replies "Where's your new boyfriend?" Zuko, you derp. He sits next to her, asking if she's cold and trying to put his arm around her, but she smacks his hand. Ty Lee says she's freezing. Zuko: "I'll make a fire." Ty Lee: "But...but I wanted cuddles." Zuko: "There's plenty of stuff to burn in there." And he looks up at the old beach house.
SUDDENLY EXPLODING VAGINA HEAD ASSASSIN. Sokka asks (screeches) how they can beat someone who can blow things up with his mind, and Aang says they can't and runs off to be a distraction. He leaps over the canyon and into what I swear to god looks like the Thunder Plains. Exploding Vagina Head Assassin follows him, blowing up various rock formations he tries to hide behind. Quick, Aang! Press X to dodge! If you do it 100 times you get a Celestial Weapon! Aang Earthbends part of a tower at him, and he - sing it if you know the words - blows it up, following it with a blast at Aang himself, but he makes an air shield and uses the blast to propel himself across the valley. He punches through a tower instead of slamming into it, and by the time EVHA gets here, he's gone. He searches for Aang, who has cleverly hidden himself inside a rock wall, but EVHA is no fool. He knows rocks don't have eyes! Aang, in a suit of rock armor, lets himself get blasted into the air, and when he releases the rocks around him he drops into Appa's saddle. Conveniently. Toph: Well, that was random." Katara: "I don't think so. I get the feeling he knows who we are." Really? Whatever could have given you that idea? The fact that we went after Aang instead of the bison full of your stuff? The fact that a regular bandit would have fucked off after seeing Appa anyway? The fact that you are the heroes of this show and therefore nothing that happens to you is ever a coincidence ever? Really, your insight is astounding.
SUDDENLY, FIRE. Zuko drops the portrait of his family into the flame, and as tiny!Zuko is burned away Ty Lee asks what he's doing, that she thinks he cares even when he says he doesn't, that she knows him. "No you don't! You're stuck in your little Ty Lee world, where everything's great all the time!" Mai tells him to leave her alone. He doesn't. "Look at me, I'm so pretty, I can walk on my hands, whoo!" He stands on his hands briefly before falling over into the sand. "Circus freak!" Azula's laughing now and Ty Lee has tears in her eyes. But they're angry tears. You heard me, Ty Lee finally done gone and snapped. "Go ahead and laugh all you want! You wanna know why I joined the circus?!" Azula: "Here we go..." Apparently Ty Lee is one of a set of septuplets, if I'm understanding this right, and she joined the circus to keep from forever being part of a matched set. Mai: "Guess that's why you need ten boyfriends, too." Ty Lee: ".....I'm sorry, what?" Oh come on, Mai, now who needs to leave her alone? She says Ty Lee has attention issues - mainly, feeling like the focus always has to be on her, from everyone, especially boys. Ty Lee asks what her excuse is, being an only child for fifteen years and having a dingy grey aura. Mai: "I don't believe in auras." Zuko: "Yeah, you don't believe in anything." Mai calls the rest of them high-strung and crazy, and Zuko says he wishes she would be high-strung and crazy for once instead of repressing everything. "She just called your aura dingy! Are you gonna take that?!"
Mai asks if they want a teary confession about how much her life sucked. Except for the part where it didn't. "I was a rich only child who got anything I wanted. As long as I behaved. And sat still. And didn't speak unless spoken to..." Azula chalks up her fear of expressing herself to her controlling mother, and Mai expresses herself right in Azula's face. "Leave me alone!" Zuko thinks that's hot. Mai: "Don't touch me! I'm still mad at you." Zuko: "My life hasn't exactly been easy either, Mai." Oh dear god, please don't let him get started. Mai says that doesn't excuse the way he's been acting, Which is true. Ty Lee tells everyone to calm down, because negative energy will give you bad skin. ...oh, Ty Lee. Zuko snaps that normal teenagers worry about bad skin, that he doesn't have that luxury. "My father decided to teach me a permanent lesson. ON MY FACE."
Ty Lee tries to apologize, but Zuko's on a roll now. "For the longest time I thought if my dad accepted me I'd be happy. I'm back home now, my dad talks to me - heh, he even thinks I'm a hero!" Azula is smiling now, which means Zuko is all of the screwed. "Everything should be perfect, right? I should be happy now. But I'm not! I'm angrier than ever! And I don't know why!" Azula says he needs to answer a very simple question: who is he angry at? Zuko: "Nobody! I'm just angry!" Mai repeats the question. Zuko: "Everyone! I don't know!" They list off a bunch of people - his dad, his uncle, Azula - and he says no to all of them, but the only one that gets me is when Azula asks if it's their dad. Because when Zuko says "no", it's the softest, most broken sound I've ever heard from him.
They badger him some more, pressing him to answer the question, and finally he breaks, the fire roaring in front of him. "I'm angry at myself!" The fire dies down completely, left to coals, and Azula asks why. Zuko: "Because I'm confused. Because I'm not sure I know the difference between right and wrong anymore." Azula: "You're pathetic." Mai and Zuko make up, and Azula applauds. "Well, those were wonderful performances, everybody!" Zuko says she wouldn't understand, because she's just so crazy. Perfect. He said perfect. I said crazy. Azula says he's right, she doesn't have a sob story. "I could sit here and complain about how our mom liked Zuko better than me, but I don't really care." Liked. Past tense. Oh god. Azula: "My own mother...thought I was a monster..." It's almost a touching moment, insight to what makes Azula tick, why she's just a freaking psychopath...and then: "She was right, of course, but it still hurt." Ty Lee says what Lo and Li said came true, that the beach helped them learn about themselves. "I feel all smoothed." Azula: "You know what would make this trip really memorable?" And then she puts her rape face on.
Knock knock, who's there, Breakfast Club! Azula tells Chan there's some bad news. Zuko: "Party's over." They start wrecking Chan's shit, smashing vases and cutting wall hangings (why does Mai have her knives now?) and Ty Lee circus freaking her way into sending some chandeliers crashing to the ground.
And then, as Chan sobs into the (probably stained) rug, the others pose happily in front of a bonfire. Because nothing says "bonding" like property damage.
Next time: Flashback tiems!
Happy holidays to you all, and I'll see you in the new year. (It might be April of the new year, but I'll see you.)