Avatar: the last airbender will forever be a show that fully captured the hearts of millions of fans all over the world. Unfortunately, even a good thing can have bad sides, and for the beloved series; one very bad side was the season one episode The Great Divide Avatar.
Avatar: The Last Airbender may be a near-flawless show; but it would be crazy to think that this doesn’t mean it won’t spot a bad episode once in a while – but there was something about The Great Divide Avatar that just sucked.
No doubt the entire series is thought to be a fantastic one; a very neatly packed show that shows each episode was carefully thought out. Even the fillers seem to lead to some progression of the show’s main plot and the character arcs.
Sure, the Great Divide Avatar is pretty much very disliked, but it appears as though many of the fanbase have come to acknowledge that it was not so bad. It might be a weak spot in the show’s near perfect run; but it doesn’t do any damage to the show. For one thing, the creatures we see are very cool. Aang himself learned something about resolving conflicts; and we even got to see some of the best earthbending from the old tour guide.
The Great Divide Avatar is still hated, however. So, let’s see why this is so.
The Great Divide Avatar Is The Weakest Episode In The Last Airbender Series
The Great Divide Avatar has the lowest overall rating of the entire series; with an IMDb scoring of 7. Next to it is Avatar Day, with 7.5. But the Great Divide isn’t so bad, to be honest.
The problem is the episode is just really silly and goofy. The events therein are also quite forgettable; and it pales in comparison to all the other stellar series’ episodes. There is also the fact that it is a pretty strange episode; considering it does not teach kids any life lessons. ATLA at its core is still a kids’ show, so the absence of lessons is just off.
It Had Some Weird Tropes
The Great Divide Avatar has some really unpopular TV tropes; and it replays them over and over again. It made a lot of viewers unhappy. Having tropes isn’t necessarily bad; they are after all a big part of TV. Unfortunately when you repeat these sort of things; you overdo them and this can make fans very unsatisfied. It’s worse when the tropes in question are some of the most overused in TV history. No doubt this made the Great Divide Avatar very unlikeable
The Sibling Rivalry In The Great Divide Avatar Was Unbearable
One of the tropes we were just talking about is sibling rivalry. This trope was very much overplayed in The Great Divide Avatar. The episode sees Katara and Sokka mirror the extreme rivalry between the Gan Jins and the Zhangs; making them personifications of the water tribe sibling’s opposing personalities. As if that was not enough, the sibling rivalry trope was made further evident when Aang tells his story of the “actual” Jin Wei and Wei Jin. He tells the two warring clans that their forefathers were actually siblings; and that all their bickering was the result of a silly misunderstanding.
Fans had a huge aneurysm over the fact that Appa was barely used in the Great Divide Avatar. It kind of looked like the solution to the problem was very obvious. Why not have Appa take passengers on round trips, as opposed to him just airlifting the elderly people.
This whole debate bears some semblance to the Lord of the Rings issue; where fans wondered why the Fellowship didn’t use the Eagles. They have asked; why didn’t Appa just carry some of the food across to make it less dangerous?
It isn’t actually as clear cut as it seems. You have to consider the fact that The Great Divide is a really large expanse (it’s in the name after all). Crossing it took them a couple of days, so even with flying it would have taken Appa quite some time as well. And remember; the flying bison needs to rest every now and then; as flying takes a lot of his energy.
The Great Divide Avatar’s Side Characters Are Really Frustrating
Oh how annoying the side characters in the Great Divide Avatar were. Considering most of them were really old people; they acted like children for the bulk of the episode.
All they do is never listen, and create more mindless conflict. Even though they were warned not to; they brought food into the Great Divide. Their actions even cause a big rift between Katara and Sokka. The height of everything is when the first problems arise; and the tour guide injures his leg. They still don’t get their acts together, and end up making the situation even worse. They not only threaten their lives, but also the lives of others around them.
Team Avatar Acts Totally Out Of Character
One strange thing about The Great Divide is that Team Avatar behaves totally out of character. In fact, they are more like their characters in the Ember Island Players stage play.
It was such a weird switch from what we were used to. While it could be argued that at this stage of the series there wasn’t much character development; being at the tail end of season one, there had been serious room for growth.
Another fact is that the episode before this was “Jet”. It was a pretty intense episode, where Sokka and Katara shared some pretty deep trust issues and conflict with one another. Back to back episodes with the siblings having problems with each other was just too much.
The Great Divide Avatar Was 100% Filler
To be honest, no TV series could exist without filler episodes. There were some clear filler episodes in the series such as Nightmares and Daydreams; but each of these filler episodes seem to continue the story in one way or the other. It could have been through character development, or through a subplot like the Painted Lady or Avatar Day respectively; or even a direct lead to something like Zuko Alone.
Unfortunately, the Great Divide did not achieve either of these results. It is an entirely skippable episode; and it bears no consequence to the series whatsoever. We never see any consequences to Aang’s trickery in conflict resolution; and not even Sokka and Katara’s sibling issues are ever addressed again. We don’t even see or hear of the two clans in the show after that.
Know-It-All Katara Was A Pain
As earlier mentioned, the entirety of Team Avatar acted totally out of character. They act as extreme versions of themselves in order to go along with the plot of the episode. One person that really gets off the line is Katara. She sometimes acts a bit pushy and very much so like a know-it-all, especially in earlier seasons. It’s okay to point out that she is flawed, and that she continuously works on fixing this; but this episode brought the know-it-all Katara to its peak without making her likable at any point.
The Great Divide Avatar’s Brute Sokka
Just like Katara, we could say the same about Sokka. He acted brash and like a brute. He was lazy and just “hungry” the entire episode. At one point, he even says that he traveled with the Zhangs because of their food. This version of Sokka sounds more like the Ember Island play version of Sokka, that was just there for comedic relief the entire time. This version of Sokka was useless, far from the leader of the group, and also acted kind of like a know-it-all which made his conflict with Katara even larger.
One of the worst aspects of this episode is its resolution. In a bid to get the feuding clans to quit arguing and stop being so hostile to one another; Aang decides to tell them the story of the “real” Jin Wei and Wei Jin. You’d think this was something; only that this real story wasa complete lie. Aang makes it up, just to settle the fight and make it look like a simple misunderstanding. You could state that it’s more or less something ingenious; but the fact remains that he lied. What’s worse is that he gets away with it; with no repercussions whatsoever.
The thing is, kids watching the show will see the fact that the Avatar lied. It sends a pretty horrible message if we’re being honest. It does not sound like a very good way for Aang to handle his problems; and it sort of does teach kids that if they have problems or situations they want to get out of they can just lie. It certainly also does not speak well of the Avatar himself; no hero should lie.