Sozin's Comet: The Final Battle

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"Sozin's Comet: The Final Battle"
Avatar: The Last Airbender episode
Sozin's Comet DVD cover.jpg
The book adaption of Sozin's Comet: The Final Battle.
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 58–61
Directed by Ethan Spaulding (1)
Giancarlo Volpe (2)
Joaquim Dos Santos (3 & 4)
Written by Michael Dante DiMartino (1, 3 & 4)
Bryan Konietzko (3 & 4)
Aaron Ehasz (2)
Featured music Jeremy Zuckerman
Production code 318–321
Original air date July 19, 2008 (2008-07-19)
Running time 120 minutes (88 minus commercials)/112 minutes (80 minus commercials) (rerun)
Episode chronology
← Previous
"The Ember Island Players"
Next →
"Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise"
List of Avatar: The Last Airbender episodes

"Sozin's Comet: The Final Battle" is the series finale for the Nickelodeon television series Avatar: The Last Airbender. It was directed by Ethan Spaulding, Giancarlo Volpe, and Joaquim Dos Santos, and written by Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko, and Aaron Ehasz. Although the finale is split into four episodes, it aired as a two-hour four-part movie on July 19, 2008. Before the week of July 14–19, no episodes had been shown since November 30, 2007.[1] The Saturday airing of Sozin's Comet acted as a climax to a week of ten new episodes that concluded Avatar's third season.[2]

The finale focuses on series protagonist Aang's non-violent personality and his reluctance to kill Fire Lord Ozai.[3] The finale also follows the exploits of many of Aang's friends and allies, including Sokka, Toph and Suki's struggle to destroy a Fire Nation airship armada, Zuko and Katara's battle against Zuko's sister Azula, and Iroh, King Bumi, and the Order of the White Lotus' attempt to liberate Ba Sing Se.[4]

Sozin's Comet received positive reception from critics and fans alike. The initial showing averaged 5.6 million viewers, a 195% increase in ratings compared with ratings from mid-July 2007.[5] The premiere of episodes 52–61 throughout the week of Sozin's Comet's release received over 19 million views,[5] of which 5.6 million were from the premiere of Sozin's Comet.[6] At the 2008 Annie Awards, the director of the third part of Sozin's Comet won an award for "Best Directing in an Animated Television Production".[7]

Although "Sozin's Comet" is the series finale, Avatar: The Last Airbender has continued as an ongoing graphic novel series, taking place after the finale and before the sequel series The Legend of Korra, which has been published by Dark Horse Comics since January 2012, with each annual story arc split into three parts.

Plot[edit]

Part 1: "The Phoenix King"[edit]

Aang suddenly abandons his Firebending lesson with Zuko to have a beach party, causing Zuko to attack him in his frustration. Aang explains he plans to challenge Fire Lord Ozai only after Sozin's Comet and its enhancement of Firebending have come and gone, due to his own self-perceived lack of Firebending skills at the moment. When Zuko tells the group Ozai plans to use the comet's power to burn down the Earth Kingdom, Aang resolves to face him before the comet arrives. Sokka decides to have a simulation fight against a scarecrow, but Aang refuses to kill it due to his pacifistic nature and non-violent upbringing,[8] and even berates his friends as they tell him that he may eventually have no choice but to kill Ozai.

That night, Aang sleepwalks to an island not to be found in the morning. After the group fails to locate him, Zuko takes them to June, a tracker who might be able to locate Aang. Meanwhile, Fire Lord Ozai proclaims himself to be ruler of the world, under the title "Phoenix King", and declares Azula to be the new Fire Lord, setting off to burn the world and rebuild it under his new order.

Part 2: "The Old Masters"[edit]

Zuko's tracker, June, is unable to locate Aang, but he is reunited with his uncle, Iroh, who reconcile with each other after Zuko's betrayal in Ba Sing Se. He and several other characters (Katara's Waterbending master Pakku, Aang's first Firebending instructor Jeong Jeong, Aang's Earthbender friend King Bumi, and Sokka's swordmaster Piandao) are part of an otherwise non-aligned group known as the "Order of the White Lotus", which plans to liberate the Earth Kingdom capital, Ba Sing Se, from Fire Nation rule. Zuko and Katara decide to fight Azula in the Fire Nation capital while Sokka, Toph, and Suki attempt to destroy the airship fleet.

Meanwhile, Aang awakens on a floating island. Frustrated with his inability to find a way to defeat Ozai without killing him, he asks four of his past lives for advice. Unsatisfied with their answers, he asks the island for help. The island, which is actually a giant "lion-turtle", provides Aang with the power of energybending and leaves him on the Earth Kingdom shores.

Part 3: "Into the Inferno"[edit]

The Comet appears in the sky, and Azula's coronation takes place. Azula banishes nearly all of her subjects (including her Dai Li agents) in fear of betrayal, haunted by the actions of former friends Mai and Ty Lee in "The Boiling Rock, Part 2". Her paranoia and loneliness begin to drive her insane. Before she is crowned, Zuko and Katara arrive. Zuko accepts Azula's challenge of an Agni Kai, or "fire duel", because he feels that something is wrong with Azula and he does not want Katara injured. Just as Zuko is on the verge of defeating Azula, she shoots a bolt of lightning at Katara instead of Zuko. Zuko throws himself in front of her and intercepts the lightning, preventing Katara from getting hurt, but he gravely injures himself after he fails to correctly redirect the lightning.

Meanwhile, Sokka, Toph, and Suki hijack a Fire Nation airship, and use it to destroy many others, effectively stopping Ozai's plan of incinerating the Earth Kingdom. In Ba Sing Se, the Order of the White Lotus, led by Iroh, lays siege to the Fire Nation forces within the city, with the sole intention of re-conquering it in the name of the Earth Kingdom. Aang reappears and begins to duel the Fire Lord. However, when Aang successfully redirects lightning he intentionally aims it into the sky to avoid killing Ozai. Because of Aang's pacifism, Ozai begins to gain the advantage.

Part 4: "Avatar Aang"[edit]

Zuko lies on the ground twitching as Katara and Azula fight. After several minutes of running, Katara freezes Azula and chains her to the ground. Katara then uses her waterbending to revive and heal Zuko. As a result of her defeat by two people she considers less than worthless, Azula's mind finally snaps and she screams and sobs in fury, breathing blue fire out of her mouth, yet unable to escape her chains.

After a fierce battle, Ozai slams Aang into a rock, hitting the scar on his back from Azula's lightning in the previous season and inadvertently releasing his locked seventh chakra, allowing Aang to enter the Avatar State. With the combined power of his past lives, Aang quickly overwhelms Ozai. Once Ozai is subdued, Aang refuses to kill him, instead locking him down with earth; understanding the lion-turtle's meaning, he uses Energybending to strip Ozai of his Firebending powers, removing his ability to wage war. Then Aang raises and lowers the nearby ocean to undo the damage from the Fire Nation; Sozin's Comet vanishes beyond the horizon afterward.

The Order of the White Lotus liberates Ba Sing Se in the name of the Earth King. During his coronation, Zuko promises to aid the world in the postwar reconstruction. Sometime after the ceremony, Zuko visits Ozai's prison and demands he tell him the location of the banished Ursa, Zuko's mother. Zuko and Mai finally reconcile. Ty Lee joins the Kyoshi warriors, having bonded with them in prison and shared some chi-blocking techniques. A final scene depicts the main cast gathered in Iroh's new tea shop, the Jasmine Dragon, and with Aang and Katara officially confirming their genuinely strong and close romantic relationship with a loving hug and passionate kiss.

Production[edit]

A new elemental bending technique, energybending, is introduced. The blue and orange-colored illuminations represent the intense struggle between purification and corruption; a recurring theme within the series.

Co-creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko wrote the majority of the finale; DiMartino wrote parts one, three, and four, and Konietzko assisted with parts three and four. Aaron Ehasz, co-executive producer and head writer of the show, wrote part two. Ethan Spaulding directed part one, Giancarlo Volpe directed part two, and Joaquim Dos Santos directed parts three and four.[9] Dos Santos was nominated for an Annie Award for his directing of part three, "Into the Inferno".[7] Although Sozin's Comet was originally written as a three-part story, the creators noticed that the length had grown beyond what they had predicted from the initial script. To avoid pacing issues, they split the final part in two, adding several scenes to fill the remaining time.[10]

Although Avatar is not considered anime because of its American origin, Tasha Robinson of the SciFi Channel observed that "Avatar blurs the line between anime and [US] domestic cartoons until it becomes irrelevant."[11] An IGN reviewer commented that Sozin's Comet "had that classic anime-look that I've always loved to see when watching old anime movies. The story through the animation was perfectly done."[3] The special's music was written and composed by "The Track Team", led by Jeremy Zuckerman.[9] However, unlike past episodes, a music track produced by a live orchestra was used, rather than one in midi format.[10]

During the San Diego Comic-con, it was announced that a reunion between Zuko and his mother, Ursa, had been arranged and made into a storyboard. However, it was dropped just before the finale was finished, as requested by show co-creator Michael Dante DiMartino, who felt that it resolved Ursa's disappearance in an unsatisfactory way and that wasn't the way the story should be told.[citation needed]

The cast of Sozin's Comet includes all of the key characters from season three. Protagonists Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Toph are voiced by Zach Tyler Eisen, Mae Whitman, Jack DeSena, and Jessie Flower respectively.[12] Iroh is voiced by Greg Baldwin and Zuko is voiced by Dante Basco.[13] Grey DeLisle and Mark Hamill voice the two antagonists, Azula and Fire Lord Ozai, respectively.[12] The co-creators also lend their voices to two minor characters in the third part, "Into the Inferno".[10]

Avatar: The Last Airbender borrows extensively from East Asian art to create its fictional universe.[14][15] Four "bending" arts exist in the universe; they are based on different styles and variations of Chinese martial arts: Baguazhang for Airbending, Hung Gar and Southern Praying Mantis for Earthbending, Northern Shaolin for Firebending, and T'ai chi for Waterbending.[16] Additionally, series borrows heavily from the Taoist concept of balance and order. The Avatar, an incarnation of a divine being,[17] is supposed to maintain the world's order.

Nickelodeon originally broadcast Sozin's Comet from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm EST on July 19, 2008.[18] Just ten days later, on July 29, the "Book 3: Fire – Volume 4" DVD was released, which contained the four episodes as well as episodes 56 and 57, audio commentary from the series' co-creators, cast, and crew, and a comic book.[2]

Reception[edit]

The Lion Turtle's artistic design was praised, but the difficulty in understanding his voice is among the few criticisms directed at Sozin's Comet.

Sozin's Comet received many positive critical reviews; Ed Liu of Toon Zone stated that it made Avatar "one of the finest animated television series ever made",[18] and IGN stating that this "film" deserved an Academy Award.[3] Toon Zone praised the skill of the animation directors in designing the sweeping movements of the battle scenes, as well as the slower scenes, "including one moving reconciliation and the quiet coda that ties off many of the remaining loose ends of the series".[18] IGN reviewer Tory Ireland Mell wrote that she would "put it in the top ten films of all time". She also praised the artistic skill of the designers, stating that the "whole dark tone was gorgeous to look at", especially the "art of the Lion Turtle". She thought that Sozin's Comet lacked plot holes, as well as unnecessary plot devices, stating that the "story moved and kept us moving right along with it from beginning to end". She gave Sozin's Comet a 10 out of 10 "Masterful" rating.[3]

Sozin's Comet has received its share of criticism as well. Reviewers commented about the difficulty in understanding the voice of a new character: the Lion Turtle.[18] The Lion Turtle was designed by Bryan Konietzko and character designer Jae Woo Kim. Bryan Konietzko disliked how the Lion Turtle turned out; he felt that the art was not up to standards of the original design he had received.[19] CraveOnline felt that because "the series was for children, the writers were at a loss of ideas to work around the murder angle," and the decision not to kill the Fire Lord introduced "so many convenient plot twists [that] set us up for a humongous deus ex machina that allows the Fire Lord to be thwarted without dying".[20]

The premiere of Sozin's Comet averaged 5.6 million viewers, 195% more viewers than Nickelodeon had received in mid-July 2007.[5] During the week of July 14, 2008, it ranked as the most-viewed program for the under-14 demographic.[21][22] The premiere of episodes 52–61 throughout the week of Sozin's Comet 's release received a total of 19 million views,[5] and Avatar reached Neilsen's list of Top 20 Cable Results for the week ending June 20, 2008 four times.[6] It also appeared on iTunes' top ten list of best-selling television episodes during that same week.[23] Sozin's Comet 's popularity affected online media as well; "Rise of the Phoenix King", a Nick.com online game based on Sozin's Comet, generated almost 815,000 game plays within three days.[24] A video game loosely based on the third season, Avatar: The Last Airbender – Into the Inferno, was released on October 13, 2008.[25]

Joaquim Dos Santos won the "Best Directing in an Animated Television Production" caption in the 2008 Annie Awards for his directing in "Into the Inferno".[7] Additionally, music editor and composer Jeremy Zuckerman and the sound editing team were nominated a Golden Reel award for "Best Sound Editing in a Television Animation" for their work in "Avatar Aang".[26]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Season 3". Avatar: The Last Airbender. IGN. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  2. ^ a b "Nickelodeon's Avatar Kicks Off Action-Packed Week of Premieres Beginning Monday Culminating with Stunning TV Movie Saturday". San Francisco Examiner. 2008-06-30. Retrieved 2008-07-23. 
  3. ^ a b c d Mell, Tory Ireland (2008-07-22). "Sozin's Comet Review". IGN. Retrieved 2008-07-23. 
  4. ^ Director: Ethan Spaulding; Writers: Elizabeth Welch Ehasz, Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko (2008-07-19). "Sozin's Comet". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 58–61. Nickelodeon.
  5. ^ a b c d "Nickelodeon's Avatar: The Last Airbender Hits All-Time Series High". News Blaze. 2008-07-22. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  6. ^ a b =Seidman, Robert (2008-07-22). "Nielsen Ratings: Weekly Top 20 Cable TV Ratings for Week Ending July 20, 2008". Nielsen Media Research. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  7. ^ a b c "2008 Annie Awards: For Your Consideration". Annie Awards. Retrieved 2008-12-02. 
  8. ^ Stewart, Susan (2008-07-19). "Though Raised by Pacifists, Destined to Battle for Peace". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-16. 
  9. ^ a b Mell, Tory Ireland (2008-07-26). "Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko talk Airbender". IGN. Retrieved 2008-07-28. 
  10. ^ a b c DiMartino, Michael Dante and Bryan Konietzko, "Sozin's Comet: The Phoenix King". The Complete Book 3 Collection, Paramount Home Entertainment. Audio commentary, disc 4. Released on September 16, 2008.
  11. ^ Robinson, Tasha. "SciFi Channel Anime Review". SciFi. Retrieved 2006-10-16. 
  12. ^ a b "Avatar: The Last Airbender Cast and Details". Tvguide.com. Retrieved 2008-11-26. 
  13. ^ Fries, Laura (2005-02-21). "Avatar: The Last Airbender Review". Variety TV. Reed-Elsevier Inc. Retrieved 2008-05-30. 
  14. ^ Lasswell, Mark (2005-08-25). "Kung Fu Fightin' Anime Stars, Born in the U.S.A.". The New York Times. Retrieved 2006-12-02. 
  15. ^ "Interview With The Creators". NickSplat.com. 2005-10-12. Archived from the original on 2007-12-17. Retrieved 2006-12-02. 
  16. ^ "Nickelodeon's Official Avatar: The Last Airbender Flash Site". Nick.com. Archived from the original on 2009-03-18. Retrieved 2009-03-18. 
  17. ^ Britt, Aaron (2008-08-08). "On Language — Avatar — NYTimes.com". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2009-03-18. Retrieved 2008-11-30. 
  18. ^ a b c d Liu, Ed (2008-07-18). ""Sozin's Comet" Produces an Epic Season Finale for "Avatar the Last Airbender"". Toon Zone. Retrieved 2008-07-23. 
  19. ^ DiMartino, Michael Dante and Bryan Konietzko, "Sozin's Comet: The Old Masters". Avatar Season 3 Box Set, Paramount Home Entertainment. Audio commentary, disc 4. Released on 2008-09-16.
  20. ^ Vasquez Jr., Felix (2008-07-22). "Sozin's Comet: The Avatar's Story Ends". Crave Online. Archived from the original on 2009-03-18. Retrieved 2008-07-24. 
  21. ^ Diaz, Glenn L. "19 Million Tuned in for Special 'Avatar' Week". Buddytv.com. Archived from the original on 2009-03-18. Retrieved 2008-11-30. 
  22. ^ Luna, Kyle. "Nick's 'Avatar' Animation Series Finale Scores Big Ratings". Animationinsider.net. Archived from the original on 2009-03-18. Retrieved 2008-11-30. 
  23. ^ "iTunes — Sozin's Comet". Apple Inc. Archived from the original on 2009-03-18. Retrieved 2008-07-24. 
  24. ^ Ball, Ryan (2008-07-23). "Nick's Avatar Hits Ratings High". Animation Magazine. Archived from the original on 2009-03-18. Retrieved 2008-07-24. 
  25. ^ "IGN: Avatar: The Last Airbender-- Into the Inferno (Avatar: Into the Inferno)". IGN. Retrieved 2009-03-14. 
  26. ^ "56th Golden Reel Awards Television Nominees - Best Sound Editing in a TV Animation" (PDF). Motion Picture Sound Editors. Archived from the original on 2009-03-18. Retrieved 2009-01-31.