Smoke and Shadow Part 2 Spoiler Review

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To finish up the site’s coverage of “Smoke and Shadow Part 2” this is my full spoiler written review. If you are looking for more thoughts on this book then make sure you listen to our super in-depth Podcast Review and my spoiler video review.

Finally this is a spoiler review, I will be talking about all of the big moments in this book, so if you do not want to be spoiled, make sure to read the book yourself before you read this review.

Smoke and Shadow Part 2

SmokeandShadow2

Written By – Gene Luen Yang
Art By –  Team Gurihiru

Having now discussed this book with my podcast co-hosts I have an even greater appreciation for this book. I really liked it as you can probably tell from my non-spoiler review, but discussing it in depth with 3 other fans really highlighted how well things are written and set up in this book. I often say that it is easy to forget the middle part of a 3 par series, but this one really does stand out on it’s own. It has reveals of its own that are good and present other questions for part 3 to cover, it covers some great Fire Nation early history that will definitely get Avatar Lore fans talking and ends with the return of everyone’s favourite ATLA villain, Azula.

I will start at the end with the big last page reveal that the main Kemurikage is in fact Azula. Zuko, Aang, Suki and Ty Lee manage to corner Azula during the kidnapping of Kiyi, though it appears that the other 2 get away with Kiyi. She still has her mask on, but she uses her lightning bending so it is not in doubt that it is her. This reveal is not where we find out that the Kemurikage kidnapping the children are humans and not actual spirits, that happens earlier in the book with the history that I mentioned above.

It is a confusing reveal because in many ways it does not make much sense for Azula to return in this way, she left in The Search leaving behind evidence to get Zuko off the throne and returns part of a plan to get Zuko off the throne. Part 3 will have to explain what happened to Azula between The Search and now and how she took on the guise of a Kemurikage and joined with Ukano to engineer this situation. I was not at all shocked to see Azula be the big reveal at the end, the surprise for me was that she was one of the Kemurikage, I expected her to be a 3rd party entering the conflict just based on her running off on her own.

The other thing with Azula is that her returning really complicates the story. Even without her involved in this series at all there is so much going on with Azula, Ukano, Mai, Zuko, Kei Lo and all of the various relationship issues. Now that she is back there are so many potential issues to also be covered in part 3. The main one that most would agree needs to happen is for Azula and Ursa to have another scene together, Ursa ultimately is the root of Azula’s issues so she is the most important person for Azula to resolve issues with. In the Search and even this series so far they have definitely made an effort to contrast how good Zuko’s relationship with Kiyi is compared to how really bad his relationship with Azula is, so this book ending with them facing off again could lead to some great moments.

The other thing with her is that in Part 1 they very much foreshadowed Mai and Ty Lee meeting Azula again, and their “betrayal” of her in ATLA was in many ways the key moment that lead to her downward mental spiral so a scene between these former friends is something that I think needs to happen also. There is a lot to cover, but I think how this book ends marks a shift in the focus of the story, the Kemurikage mystery is just a cover for Ukano to slander Zuko and make him look like an ineffective leader unable to counter these “spirits” kidnapping the youth of the Fire Nation. That is no longer a mystery and soon Ukano’s involvement in the planning of this will be revealed to all, so the focus of part 3 has to be dealing with Azula and saving the children. Part 3 has A LOT to resolve, but this series has been so well written in the first 2 parts I think Part 3 will resolve everything effectively.

Moving from one villain to another, Ukano. I had a decent amount of sympathy for him in Part 1 because it seemed like he was being manipulated and blackmailed into doing what he was doing, though he still prioritised his society over his family and even emotionally manipulated Mai to make her doubt Zuko. Part 2 really showcases much more of his manipulative side and really lowers the sympathy for him drastically. The key point is that he is revealed to be completely in on the Kemurikage kidnappings, he is aware that they are happening and even seems to be the one picking the children who are kidnapped, the reveal is exceptionally well done, as we just randomly cut to a secret room filled with children including Tom-Tom and suddenly Ukano walks in in complete control saying that it won’t be much longer until they can go home.

Early on in the book he is demanding that Zuko introduce a curfew and start a task force to stop future kidnappings, but nearly everyone else thinks this is a bad idea as it would cause mass panic. Rereading the book knowing that he is in on it gives the early scenes so much extra meaning, he knows exactly what he is doing, trying to make Sung (The investigator from the preview) doubt Zuko’s decisions and then having Sung’s child kidnapped to get Sung more onto his line of thinking. It is a genius plan to defame Zuko, make it seem to the Fire Nation public that Zuko is doing nothing to protect them while Ukano has all of the solutions, including converting his “New Ozai Society” into the “Safe Nation Society” which somehow manages to prevent the kidnapping of a child and instantly gets the people supporting Ukano and doubting Zuko. All the while Zuko is investigating the Kemurikage himself with Aang, Mai and Kei Lo, trying to solve the real problem. The conflict is really well written, revealing a lot, but leaving some things for Part 3. For instance we do not know for sure who the mastermind behind this plan is, is it Ukano giving the orders to Azula as the Kemurikage, or is Azula behind it all and controlling Ukano. They constantly mention that Ukano is afraid of the Kemurikage, we know this from the scenes from Part 1. The key thing is that with Azula in her mental state at the moment, I am not sure if she could have come up with such a complex plan, but it seems like in Part 1 that the first scene is them appearing before Ukano for the first time which suggests they are in charge completely, but Ukano also seems to be benefiting from the plan. I am more and more beginning to think that Ukano has got himself in far too deep, he has some level of control over the plan right now, but the second Azula wants to do something he cannot stand up to her.

My only issue with this plan is that we don’t fully know the endgame, it seems like it is meant to lead to Zuko being replaced as Fire Lord, but by who? I assume Ukano wants Ozai back in charge or perhaps even himself, but Azula may also want to be in charge herself. Again part 3 can confirm what their plan is.

Mai continues to be a big focus of the series and I really love what they do with her in this book. Yes some of the focus is on the romances with Kei Lo and Zuko, but through this and more we really get to go in-depth on how Mai feels in this situation and for a character who is not the best at showing her emotions seeing her struggling with her feelings is very interesting.

With regards to the romance what I find the most interesting is that the 4 characters we have together for most of this book, Aang, Zuko, Kei Lo and Mai, they all pay off each other really well. Aang is very eager to avoid getting in the middle of any romance drama always eager to change the topic when drama looks set to happen, you have moments showcasing Mai and Kei Lo as a couple as well as an important 1 on 1 conversation between Mai and Zuko. Most telling is that nearly everytime there is a moment between Kei  Lo and Mai, Mai’s response is always directed at Zuko. He compliments Mai on how cute she is when she is pessimistic and Mai says aloud aimed at Zuko “I have been told”. There are a few other moments like this, but it is clear that Mai even with her current boyfriend is more focused on Zuko and Kei Lo even calls it out at one point. It is saved from being a big romance drama issue like early Korra by the fact that Kei Lo and Zuko seem to have a level of respect for each other. Zuko stood up for Kei Lo in part 1 when Mai doubted him and Kei Lo stands up for Zuko later on when he has to make the tough decision to suspend Sung for going against Zuko’s order.

The best romantic moment is definitely the 1 on 1 that Mai and Zuko have when Aang needs Kei Lo’s help opening up a door in the catacombs. it is awkward at first and then out of nowhere Zuko just tells Mai “I miss you” and Mai cannot believe he would say that out of the blue, you really get Mai’s true feelings throughout this scene as she explains how hurt she has been because of their two breakups, she then gives us her true thoughts on her relationship with Kei Lo, explaining that she knows he likes her a lot much more than she likes him, but that this is what she needs right now, not someone she deeply cares for who could hurt her like before. It is a great scene showing us for certain that she does still care for Zuko a lot, but does not want to potentially get hurt again and that she does like Kei Lo, but not as much she he likes her or I assume she likes Zuko. That is basically where we leave the romance stuff in part 2, it is a very telling scene. I am just worried about how they will resolve the romance stuff in part 3, Kei Lo for the most part seems like a really nice guy, are they just going to have Mai break up with him and get back with Zuko. I am not sure how you resolve this without Mai looking a bit bad for using Kei Lo. I still feel they may set up Ty Lee and Kei Lo as a ship based on Part 1, but they don’t interact here.

If I had one complaint about how the romance was done in this book it is that I feel that the writer has forgotten the nature of the Mai, Zuko break up in The Promise. Mai talks about how Zuko has broken her heart twice, the first clearly the letter from ATLA Book 3 and the second I think meant to be the break up from The Promise. The issue I have is that Mai broke up with Zuko and it was a scene done very quickly with not much set up, I get that from Mai’s point of view she broke off the relationship because she felt this way, but the scene from the Promise doesn’t really get that across all that much just that Zuko was going through a lot at that time. I am sure there is a plan to resolve things properly in part 3, but it is my one issue with the romance so far.

My biggest issue with the book overall is that the Ursa sideplot is not really advanced all that much, it just seems to repeat the same stuff from part 1 again. Kiyi again talks about Ursa’s cold hands which is how Kiyi is sensing that Ursa is afraid of being in the palace again, but she doesn’t realise yet that the coldness is caused by her mother being afraid. We continue to get Ursa being protective of Kiyi especially when she hears about the kidnappings. The fact that Kiyi is kidnapped at the end of the book does set things up for Ursa to search for Kiyi and potentially run into Azula. Like Azula, Ursa has a lot of things to be resolved in Part 3. Ursa has mentioned Azula in Part 1 and again the root of Azula’s issues relate to Ursa, Ursa has to fix things with Kiyi and also potentially Ozai who continues to not get mentioned. The New Ozai Soceity have not really made a move to try and free Ozai and Ursa has not realised that she perhaps needs to talk to Ozai and get over her fear of him and the palace. Perhaps I am asking for too much for all of these relationships to get attention, but I think something has to be done in relation to Ozai.

The last thing to talk about is the early Fire Nation history we get. Zuko’s investigation into the Kemurikage leads them to the Dragonbone Catacombs by way of a meeting with Fire Sage Shyu now called Great Sage Shyu. We know the history of the Fire Lords is contained here, but we learn a lot more about the catacombs that they are sealed off at anything prior to Sozin’s rule. We learn that even Zuko doesn’t know what any of the early history is. We get through the door and learn about the early Fire Nation when it was called the Fire Islands, each one ruled by a vicious warlord, the most powerful among them Toz. He demanded tributes from all of his territories and when one refused he kidnapped all of the children and they were never seen again, the mothers all died of sadness. Later the Kemurikage arrived and began to haunt Toz and his men, eventually they would begin to steal children. This led to Toz’s men abandoning him and his fall from power. We get this story from a scroll in the catacombs, later we meet an actual spirit Kemurikage who appears before Aang who tells them the next part. That they haunted the Fire Islands until they were all united into one nation, this happened because of the First Fire Lord who ushered in an era of prolonged peace in the new Fire Nation, she leaves telling Aang that between then and now they have never returned to the human world, revealing that the current kidnappings are not spirits at all. As a huge Avatar Lore fan, this section of the book was fascinating to me.

I love this history, learning that the fire nation a nation we usually consider the least spiritual has origins that are very spiritual and that the First Avatar was Avatar like bringing peace to a whole nation. No wonder Sozin sealed off the early history as he had become more like the evil warlords of the past than what the Fire Lords originally stood for. The Kemurikage explanation is interesting in that I don’t think we have been told the full story, my theory is that somehow the mothers that mysteriously died of sadness are related to the appearance of the Kemurikage who are revealed to all be women. Whether that be some sort of an origin story that somehow those mothers are the Kemurikage (We know humans can become spirits in different ways, it could be possible) or the Kemurikage as spirits have something to do with mothers and children, that they are the protectors of mothers and children. The first theory would kind of explain spirits meddling in human affairs. Overall the idea that these spirits are deeply integral to the Fire Islands becoming the Fire Nation is fascinating.

They are quite vague about where exactly in the timeline this is set compared to beginnings. The images we see do not include any bending so they seemed careful to separate this from the Beginnings origin of the Firebenders, it is not that they don’t work together, it could easily be the case that the Firebenders in time found their way to the Fire Islands. I assume that Toz’s downfall is pre Wan sealing the spirit portals as otherwise why would they be in the world.  The other thing would be the human war that Wan dies during, when does this take place is it the fire nation at this stage or people from the fire islands or is it just the firebenders. They don’t in anyway attempt to link these events to beginnings, but as fans we want to make all of these connections as much as possible.

So overall I adored this book, a lot of plot progression and character development, even some big reveals and twists. Well worth picking up.

 

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My name is Morgan Bannon, I am a 22 Year old Male from Ireland and I am the Site Super Moderator. I have watched and been a fan of Avatar since it premiered. I am also a news post writer for the site and host the site's podcast, The Avatar Online Podcast. My strength as an Avatar fan would be just a good knowledge of Avatar Canon and characters.

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Comments - 50 Posts

  1. Akira Said: Comment by Akira on December 16, 2015 at 10:17 am | Permalink
     

    so Mai likes Kei Lo because he likes her ?

    Reply

    Airspeed Prime Reply:

    No, what they are going for is that Mai really likes Zuko, but that is a relationship that has hurt her a few times. She has some feelings for Kei Lo, but they are nowhere near as strong as those for Zuko or Kei Lo’s for her, but for Mai at this point this is the type of relationship she needs, where someone deeply cares for her, but she is not as invested and thus if anything goes wrong she won’t be hurt.

    It is playing on the fact that Mai is not the most emotional character in the sense that it takes a lot to get her emotional, Zuko is one of the few characters that really gets her to express her feelings and as someone who is not used to usually showing so much emotion she is very affected by her break ups with him so now to protect herself she is in a relationship that she has control over, but is not really following her true feelings.

    I assume the Mai Zuko reunion will involve Mai needed to accept that even though her relationship with Zuko sometimes hurts, the fact that it does hurt her so much, shows how much she cares for Zuko and if they can make it work it would be the most fulfilling relationship for her. It could lead to some really deep emotional development for Mai as a character.

    Reply

    Pet Reply:

    i wouldn’t be surprised if Tom Tom and Kiyi were the ones who will bring Mai and Zuko together

    Reply

    Jeff Reply:

    So Mai said that she will never get hurt again a have some bad feeling for part 3

    Reply

  2. Mark Said: Comment by Mark on December 16, 2015 at 10:45 am | Permalink
     

    Said it before, I’ll say it again: I don’t mind Azula being WITH the Kemurikage since her mental state leaves her vulnerable to suggestion from other people like them, but Part 3 had BETTER show that the whole thing isn’t her plan since that would make literally NO logical and literary sense for it to be given that mental state.

    Reply

  3. Zod Said: Comment by Zod on December 16, 2015 at 1:13 pm | Permalink
     

    is Kei Lo a really nice guy or is there something strange about him

    Reply

    Airspeed Prime Reply:

    Seems like an honestly nice guy, I have some minor suspicions about him, but I may be reading to much into some of his dialogue since we don’t know him incredibly well.

    Reply

    Uma Reply:

    So anything is possible, we must see what will happen in Part 3

    Reply

    Andy Reply:

    I have read the second part of smoke and shadow and I noticed some foreshadowing in dialogues which may appear in the third part of the comic like when Mai was impressed by Kei Lo’s criminal abilities and he told her: ” Stick Around Maybe You’ll Find out” plus the scene where Mai told Zuko she won’t Ever Let herself Get Hurt again I have a feeling that there will be some disappointing surprises for Mai

    Reply

    Airspeed Prime Reply:

    Yup, lines like that and how quickly he figured out the dragon locks make me think that Kei Lo may be hiding something.

    I like that he could go either way, he could have a big reveal and have fooled us all or he could be the nice guy he seems to be and have an arc about belonging.

    G Reply:

    to tell the truth that what happened in the Rebound and what is happening now in first and second parts of Smoke and Shadow It may be a reference to the famous proverb: ” Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me “

  4. Stev Said: Comment by Stev on December 16, 2015 at 1:53 pm | Permalink
     

    So is Ukano or Azula the master maids of this Kemurikage act and child kidnapping or maybe somebody else

    Reply

    Airspeed Prime Reply:

    We don’t get this revealed to us just yet. Part 2 suggests it is a combination of Ukano and Azula, though it is clear Ukano fears the 3 Kemurikage. There are definitely a lot of details to be revealed about the origins of this plan.

    Reply

    Mark Reply:

    Also, we have no idea who the other Kemurikage are and where they came from. One or both of them may have more to do with this plan than Azula.

    Reply

  5. robin Said: Comment by robin on December 16, 2015 at 2:11 pm | Permalink
     

    despite Mai’s feelings for Zuko she begins to doubt him ?

    Reply

  6. Ken Said: Comment by Ken on December 16, 2015 at 4:08 pm | Permalink
     

    I have feeling that Zuko could be in danger in part 3

    Reply

  7. Edmon Said: Comment by Edmon on December 16, 2015 at 4:59 pm | Permalink
     

    so everyone is blaming Zuko for everything even Mai blames him for what happened between them i know that Zuko is not perfect but it’s really not fair

    Reply

  8. meon Said: Comment by meon on December 16, 2015 at 6:00 pm | Permalink
     

    what if this dressed up Kemurikage is not Azula really ?

    Reply

    Airspeed Prime Reply:

    We know from the preview for Smoke and Shadow Part 3 that Azula returns and threatens the Fire Nation leaving Zuko to deal with her. Seems needlessly complicated to have a fake reveal of her in part 2 to have a proper reveal later.

    Reply

  9. CJ Said: Comment by CJ on December 16, 2015 at 6:02 pm | Permalink
     

    Have to say I’m slightly disappointed in the direction this comic is going. What’s funny is that I had the opposite effect you did- rereading it made the concerns I had stand out more.

    Ukano being ‘the head’ of the Kemurikage makes no sense because 1) he was threatened by them in his bedroom, 2) was ‘attacked’ by them after not dethroning Zuko one month later.

    I’m assuming they agreed to team up then? Otherwise, the scenes seem out of place from Part 1.

    I really don’t like Azula leading the Kemurikage if that’s where this ends up going, she’s not in the mental capacity to be doing that. Makes total sense if she was coerced to help, but the lead no way. I’ll be very disappointed if she ends up being the main villain. Otherwise, she might have an anti-hero heel-face turn then?

    Kei Lo seems to be nothing more than a hindrance delaying Mai and Zuko back together. I don’t mind Mai dating someone else and realizing she’s not over Zuko, but Kei Lo just doesn’t have any depth. I feel like I really don’t know anything about him. His reasons for liking Mai don’t really seem that healthy as pointed out while browsing ASN. I also agree with your point about The Promise- both Mai and Zuko are to blame for their breakup.

    I doubt Ursa would want to talk to Ozai, but giving him a role as you said would be interesting. Does he even know what the NOS is up to? I also agree with your point about Ursa- I want to know what her thoughts are on Azula.

    The lore was somewhat interesting, but it wasn’t as extensive as I hoped and in some ways a little too convenient plotwise. Maybe my expectations were too high, because I was more interested in the lore than the love triangle.

    Also, ‘society’ is spelled wrong in the Safe Nation Society. Just FYI. 🙂

    Controversial opinion: I think the fanfiction about this comic I started reading last night is way more interesting, but to each his own.

    Reply

    Airspeed Prime Reply:

    With regards to Ukano, the scene at the end of Part 1 is very interesting because it marks a key shift in things. In Part 1 Ukano cannot dethrone Zuko on his own with just the New Ozai Society clearly confirming that the first scene in part 1 is them appearing before him for the first time, the 1 month thing is interesting in that it appears as if he doesn’t even make an attempt to do anything, I assume things happen in this month that we do not know about, because afterwards in part 2 he is fully in on things including Tom Tom’s kidnapping. Now if we assume Azula is the one talking the whole time and we know her mental state it is very easy for her to be quite inconsistent with how forgiving/threatening she is. Which would perhaps explain the threat to hurt his family and him then being in on it. Either Azula has a cleared mind than we think or one of the other Kemurikage is the cool head that keeps Azula focused. I do think Ukano started out being manipulated by the Kemurikage and he then become more in and part of the plan

    Part 3 definitely will have more to explain about the nature of the planning of things. It doesn’t make complete sense now, but there are key gaps to be filled in.

    As for Kei Lo, I like him, but he is quite basic as a character, mainly because he is only being focused on in a romantic sense. All we know about him is a quick backstory and that he can figure out stuff. I do think they will do something with him in relation to the whole “I wanted to belong to something, now I want to belong to someone” potentially have him realise the issue with this and find happiness without needing to belong to something or someone. It would be a simple, but effective arc for him if done right. Similarly to Ty Lee being able to accept not being 100% unique in “Sisters”, hence why I think that may be a ship they go for eventually based on the part 1 set up that Ty Lee likes Kei Lo.

    As for the lore, they told us what we needed nothing more, this book is very tightly written, if they had more room for movement with the pagecount I think they would have extended the history, but we were told enough for now. There is still the potential for the real spirit Kemurikage to return and reveal more info.

    Reply

    stefan Reply:

    How Azula has a clear mind quickly? I think it is possible for her to know about the Kemurikage the same way Mai did.

    It is interesting to see what is Ursa’s role in part 3 and her reaction to the events in part 2.

    Reply

    Mark Reply:

    We don’t know if she DOES have a clear mind or not, she seems to have been completely absorbed into this Kemurikage character she’s playing so she may have very well lost her identity.

    I think the turnaround for Azula will come when she removes the mask…mainly because it was quite literally foreshadowed by mysterious spirit-Ursa in The Search Part 2 (she said Azula has a great destiny, but won’t be able to see it until she “takes off her mask”, the mask of fear and intimidation she’s always worn…and is now embodied by a literal mask of fear and intimidation.)

  10. Marielli Said: Comment by Marielli on December 16, 2015 at 9:20 pm | Permalink
     

    I’m convinced that Kei Lo will come to realize that Mai loves Zuko more, and will then be the one to break up with her. That would be a fair resolution, as both characters certainly deserve happiness and deserve their best chance at love.

    Also i can’t help thinking Kiyi and Tom Tom will be instrumental in getting Mai and Zuko back together. They might even end up being childhood sweethearts like their older siblings were once 😀

    Reply

    stefan Reply:

    Kiyi is older than Tom-Tom.

    Reply

    Marielle Reply:

    And Katara is older than Aang. Your point?

    Reply

    Limonlimon Reply:

    Katara is older than Ang.

    Reply

    stefan Reply:

    Yes, it is possible. At least, they will be good friends. Come to think of it, Zuko is older than Mai.

    Reply

    stefan Reply:

    Yes, it is possible. At least, they will be good friends.

    Reply

  11. Q Said: Comment by Q on December 17, 2015 at 2:55 am | Permalink
     

    from what I could observe Mai is struggling with her own feelings

    Reply

  12. Jin Said: Comment by Jin on December 17, 2015 at 3:37 am | Permalink
     

    I have a bad feeling that eventually Mai will tell Zuko that her father is
    responsible for the attack on his family and will be angry at her

    Reply

    Igor Reply:

    I’m starting to feel really bad for Mai here, it feels like they’re prepping her for a huge kick. Like what if Kei Lo decides he wants to tell Zuko that Ukano is in charge of the New Ozai Society? What will Zuko do when he finds out Mai lied to him and protected her father who straight up tried to murder the Fire Lord’s family? What will he do if he learns this after he learns Ukano is also working with the Kemurikage? What if Mai is pushed to Ukano’s side more but then finds out how Ukano is with the kemurikage chicks (including possibly Azula) and that this whole time he’s had Tom Tom himself? You also got this thing where Mai is becoming more grey in terms of allegiance. Before she was manipulating Kei Lo for “for greater good”, now she’s protecting her dad against Zuko while still trying to help Zuko even though Kei Lo’s telling her she should have told Zuko the truth, and you got Ukano teasing her about how she’ll soon come to her senses and realize the dark side is stronger than the light. I’m scared

    Reply

  13. stefan Said: Comment by stefan on December 17, 2015 at 4:30 pm | Permalink
     

    How Azula with her mental issues organized and led The Kemurikage in such a short time! Where the costumes and other ther stuff were made? Who are the people who are wearing the Kemurikage costumes if they are not members of New Ozai Society.

    Reply

  14. raavaspirit96 Said: Comment by raavaspirit96 on December 28, 2015 at 4:11 pm | Permalink
     

    I’m just gonna say it. Mai and Zuko aren’t getting back together. Unpopular opinion but I’m pretty sure the writers are setting something up with Zuko and Suki.

    I didn’t suspect anything untill smoke and shadow but guys… if you go back and read their dialogue since the promise they have certain interactions that are kinda stange. Like over the top caring for each other stuff, unless it’s Romanic. Why is Suki’s concern for Zuko enthasised all the time? What was the point of Kiyi asking if Zuko thinks Suki is pretty? The heartfelt balcony scene before Kiyi gets kidnapped could’ve been with Aang but nope had to be Suki. Writers won’t waste story time on stuff like that unless they’re tryna hint at something. The kind of hints you look back at when you know something will happen and suddenly you see what the writers were truly getting at.

    Reminds me of how subtle Korrasami was until the end and you know how Bryke likes parallels. It’s the ship you think won’t happen cause no way…then BAM! You didn’t see it coming. Izumi’s mother is unknown thus far? Hm.. Mai is too obvious. I just think y’all are being deceived similar to how Zutara and even Makorra fans were. I like Maiko and even Sukka or whatever but be perceptive, not every relationship set up at the end of Atla will last. Mai and Zuko love and miss each other cause they were childhood sweethearts and they’ve been through a lot, does’t mean they can’t move on – it’s a realistic portrayal of life. I guess part 3 will settle it, but keep this possibility in mind

    Reply

    Airspeed Prime Reply:

    Here is the thing though, in Team Avatar one of the least developed interactions was Zuko and Suki, so I completely understand the want to have that developed here and it makes sense with the Kyoshi Warriors becoming Zuko’s guards. It means with Aang, Sokka and Katara being the always on Team Avatar not living in the Fire Nation, Suki gives him a friend nearby to discuss things with.

    Look at the scene between them in part 1, I initially thought it was a Zuki scene, but in reality it is Maiko scene. Suki is offering to let Zuko know where Mai is staying, so he can go talk to her. In part 2 their scene which you mention is heartfelt is her just listening to him talk about a moment he and Mai had with Tom-Tom, so it is more of a heartfelt Maiko moment than Suki and Zuko, she only says a few words, it is mostly Zuko talking. I could perhaps get people thinking Zuki is a thing if it were not for the fact that nearly all of Zuko and Suki’s scenes together are him talking to Suki about how much Mai means to him, beyond the fact that him saying this to her showing that they are now one of the closer friendships among Team Avatar I don’t think there is any real romantic development between the two.

    Not to mention the numerous number of scenes of Mai and Zuko separately showing how much they still care for each other.

    Reply

    Shadow'sEmber Reply:

    I actually agree with you raava, because the narration, character dynamics, and dialogue in Part 2 give more evidence why Mai and Zuko are ill-suited for each other rather than prove they are true soulmates who should spend eternity together. Of course, hardcore shippers don’t really pay attention to these writing techniques, and from personal experience what Yang is doing something similar to what I have done in the past with my published works. You slowly create chemistry between two characters, while showing why the other couple doesn’t work.

    I’ll take it a step further and say Mai is better off with Kei Lo, although Kei Lo is definitely not the ‘one’ for her. Zuko is better off with an OC or Suki, because Maiko has shown their lack of trust and communication does not bode well for long-term stability. These relationships never last, because without trust, you cannot have emotional support, which is something both Mai and Zuko don’t have in each other.

    Now…whether Bryke and Yang actually execute the narration and dynamics they have set up or appease the shippers by placing the two together, time will tell. Their interactions are really unhealthy, so if they do get back together (or at least right away), it will not make any sense to me.

    I have a very, very hard time believing Zuko will forgive Mai for lying about her dad’s involvement in the NOS. This isn’t simply lying about visiting your father in jail, this IS treason. Not only that, but because of Mai’s dishonesty, his sister is now kidnapped which will really hurt Ursa. Family is Zuko’s berserk button, there’s no way he’s going to take it well.

    You would have to make Zuko completely OCC for him to make up with Mai by the end of Part 3. He has major trust issues and this is the worst thing you could have done to him. I don’t have a problem with Mai and Zuko eventually getting back together, but if it happens at the end of Part 3, that is terrible writing that is catered towards shippers rather than proper execution. If you push a narrative and dialogue exemplifying why two people don’t work, then you need to stay with it.

    [The heartfelt balcony scene before Kiyi gets kidnapped could’ve been with Aang but nope had to be Suki]

    Yup- Aang is supposedly his best friend and yet he asks Suki, someone who he has really grown to confide and trust in. Notice how he has no problem opening up to Suki, and yet he wasn’t able to open up to Mai which caused their breakup. This is good evidence to suggest again it isn’t just Zuko not opening up, its incompatibility between Mai and Zuko.

    The thing is, although its been claimed Zuko has a communication problem with others- its his communication with Mai. This is something that was shown during Part 2 and also canon: Mai and Zuko have different communication styles, that impact their differing emotional needs. The end product is that their lack of communication causes trust issues, and disagreements commence.

    People say that Mai’s apathy and blunt persona helps calm Zuko down, and you know what? It does to a point, and certainly helps him see he isn’t the only one with problems. You know what it doesn’t do? Provide emotional support. So its no surprise then that Zuko doesn’t fully open up to her. He’s a victim of verbal and physical abuse- he needs emotional reassurance and Mai simply doesn’t provide him that.

    If you lament about your father’s past abuse and the response you get is; “I didn’t ask you about your life story. I asked if you were cold.” Yeah, its meant to be teasing, but you could tell by Zuko’s body language in that scene he didn’t like it so much. It creates a dynamic where Zuko becomes reluctant to fully open up to Mai, because it comes off as dismissing in some ways.

    Then its not surprising he didn’t open up to her during The Promise. Because: 1) he doesn’t want to burden others, so if he doesn’t tell Iroh he’s not telling Mai, 2) she has shown no interest and politics, so why would he feel she would be receptive, 3) afraid of getting his feelings shut down.

    [I like Maiko and even Sukka or whatever but be perceptive, not every relationship set up at the end of Atla will last]

    Co-signed: that’s the one thing I liked about LoK- it humanized the Gaang a bit by making their relationships not perfect (Aang not the best father, Toph not having her baby daddies in the picture). Its not realistic for everyone to marry their first love, especially one that’s so unstable like Maiko is. People I know IRL that had Maiko-like relationships went through the same up and downs, and eventually went their separate ways.

    I’m fine with Zuki if it happens, because Suki’s temperament is actually more compatible with Zuko than Mai is. She’s level headed enough not to coddle him, yet provides the emotional support he needs. There is potential between these two, and whether they would get together really comes down to what Bryke and Yang want. It wouldn’t happen in SS obviously, but with Sokka not around, I wouldn’t quite rule it out just yet.

    [In part 2 their scene which you mention is heartfelt is her just listening to him talk about a moment he and Mai had with Tom-Tom, so it is more of a heartfelt Maiko moment than Suki and Zuko,]

    Its not really a Maiko moment though- Zuko spends 0 time discussing his longing for Mai or regretting what happened to between them. If he did, then its a Maiko moment. This is a straight up Zuki friendship moment where Zuko is upset for Tom-Tom. He’s not discussing Mai at all, he is talking about how worried he is for Tom-Tom and whether being kidnapped will traumatize him or not. Zuko loves children so this is his worry about whether Tom-Tom can still be happy after all of this.

    [nearly all of Zuko and Suki’s scenes together are him talking to Suki about how much Mai means to him]

    There’s…one? He’s not really talking about how much ‘Mai means to him’ either, that’s never been discussed between Zuko and Suki. Your misleading your readers here a bit.

    He asks her where Mai lives- the rest are not Maiko related at ALL in Smoke and Shadow. The other scenes include asking about the decoy, Kiyi asking if he thinks Suki is pretty, the fight scene together, the balcony talking as friends about Tom-Tom, fighting the Kemurikage side by side, etc.

    I could also cite The Search and The Promise too for more scenes that aren’t Maiko related: watching him leave the palace to visit his father jail, telling him to go back to bed, happy that’s he more upbeat, saying he’s lonely during the conflict, etc.

    [Not to mention the numerous number of scenes of Mai and Zuko separately showing how much they still care for each other.]

    I wouldn’t call passive-aggressive name calling and shouting by Mai to be healthy though and Zuko’s jealousy, let alone caring. These scenes just further show the dysfunction between the two. Mai seems to have moved on more than Zuko because everything she directs towards him is bitter frustration, and Zuko is in his feelings as usual. These scenes show once again their communication and trust issues are coming to head.

    Everything from Mai’s end is contempt and anger- she’s disgusted with herself for letting her heart get broken (although I find this blatant hypocrisy), and is incredibly toxic. If unhealthy teenaged angst is equivalent to caring, then yeah I guess you are right. She’s way happier and pleasant when around Kei Lo, which speaks volumes.

    You aren’t wrong when you say they still care, but is it the right kind of care that’ s conducive for restarting a relationship? Not really.

    Again, nothing against the Maiko pairing, but the if the narrative is to prove they belong together, then its unfortunately ineffectual.

    Reply

    Airspeed Prime Reply:

    With regards to the Maiko lack of trust and communication, for me it goes back to the break up in The Promise which takes place a year after ATLA. So they were together for a year with no problems mentioned to us, in fact the comics have had both reference a few dates we had not heard about before between the two. The break up happens with Mai breaking up with Zuko because he is keeping things from her, but at this stage in the timeline, he has resolved most of his issues and I assume by the end of Smoke and Shadow mainly dealing with Azula he will be past basically everything that was distracting him back in The Promise. I really hope part 3 brings up the break up and expands on things more, mainly Mai’s feelings on it. The nature of their break up for me does not represent a fundamental flaw in them as a pairing as IMO Zuko has developed since then and I think Mai also had some development to do between then and now.

    I feel it is important to bring up that Ukano’s manipulation of Mai has to some degree affected her view of Zuko at this stage, before they had had a chance to talk properly 1 on 1 with no crazy issues going on, all of her jabs towards Zuko are after that Ukano scene. He made her feel like Zuko didn’t care about her and just pushed her aside, and while clearly he was not 100% focused on their relationship he had a lot going on with adapting to being a leader dealing with a big issue and the lingering issue of his mother and what happened to his sister. At that stage there was an issue in their relationship, but not something that could not be developed past and fixed. So I don’t see Mai’s little jabs as a thing showing how flawed the Maiko relationship is, instead I feel it more highlights that Mai is not as invested in her relationship with Kei Lo. I think the book more highlights the unhealthy-ness of her relationship with Kei Lo in that she says she is not as invested as he is and is just willing to accept it for the fear of getting hurt.

    I really do feel like the Kei Lo/Mai relationship is more setting up character development for both characters rather than it being a ship that will last. Kei Lo’s whole thing about first wanting to belong to something and now wanting to belong to Mai, I think he for sure will realise in part 3 the problem with his need to belong and see that he cares for Mai much more than she likes him, if they don’t have some crazy Kei Lo twist and just keep him as this nice guy I can perhaps see him helping Mai to better understand her feelings for Zuko. Something along the lines of “I hope one day I can find someone who cares for me the same way you care for him”. With Mai I think they will definitely hit on some big emotional development, that because of the way she was raised she is very restrained with her emotions and connect that to what she says here in Part 2 that at this stage she wants to avoid a relationship that she is invested in in case she gets hurt. For her to in any way open herself up like that is huge and it seems like Zuko and now her Brother are 2 of the only people who can draw intense emotion from her. I feel her accepting that being in such a close relationship sometimes means things can get intense will be her big arc and for her character type that is a big thing.

    As for Suki and Zuko. I agree that their scenes highlight their friendship and I really only say that the scenes are more Maiko than Zuki because I personally don’t think the Suki Zuko scenes are romantic at all, they are perhaps not Maiko scenes at a base level, but to some extent they are as him remembering a date they had or her letting him know that she will tell him where Mai is when he asks are scenes between Zuko and Suki that to some extent show that Suki thinks they will get back together and that Zuko misses his relationship.

    As for why Zuko doesn’t talk about it to Aang, we have seen Aang be very uncomfortable about any of this romance stuff between the trio, not to mention that he is not that experienced with relationships and probably not the best person to talk to about romance stuff. Finding someone you know you will be with forever at 12 is not the common example of a relationship. I can understand why he goes to Suki for talk about more romance focused feelings as she is closer to his age than Aang, same reason Sokka and Zuko brought up girlfriends on their trip, but it was not mentioned during his fieldtrip with Aang.

    I really don’t agree that Mai has moved on from Zuko. Rebound and the early parts of SAS P1 both highlight that she misses Zuko and is in fact using Kei Lo initially to gain info about the New Ozai Society solely to help Zuko. She only begins to make those remarks after Ukano’s manipulation to turn her against Zuko.

    I will fully admit that I really like the Maiko relationship and that I do expect them to get back together at some stage. I feel reasonably confident that it will happen in part 3, just because I feel it would be so unnecessary to keep them apart for so long and just keep the inevitable from happening. Because the next series looks to be Water Tribe focused and I would assume Zuko takes the backseat again after being the focus of 3 series at that stage, so unless they have it be a small subplot of them gradually getting back together it looks like a full series or two of not addressing them if they don’t reunite in part 3.

    For sure Zuko and Mai need to have a talk 1 on 1 and address their break up back in The Promise and how much has happened since then, how much both have developed. I just feel that the problems that led to their break up are not so serious (as serious as you are suggesting) that a few well done scenes could not resolve things effectively.

    Finally as for the point you both made about not wanting/assuming all of the set up ships from ATLA to just happen and be endgame by default. I definitely agree with the general point that just because it was a thing in the show it doesn’t mean it simply has to happen and be endgame in the comics. In this case I don’t have much of a problem because we are dealing with what, 3 ships when we really get down to it: Katara and Aang, Zuko and Mai, Sokka and Suki. And with Sokka Yue did happen between his first and second meeting with Suki. So in terms of these specific ships I don’t have too much of an issue with them all being the ultimate ships, they are all unique in how they came together and their journey that we know of so far. If all 3 were just the Katara and Aang type of relationship I would absolutely agree, but they are all different so I don’t have much of an issue here. It is not like we have like 10+ pairings all set up from ATLA that all seem to be happening, it is just 3, 1 we know happens (Kataang), the other 2 we assume with most agreeing that Maiko has more endgame evidence than Sukka, though mainly due to a severe lack of Sokka and Suki info at all from Korra.

    As a final point, I just think it is great that we can discuss this relationship in such detail with most of the focus being on content from the comics. That we can both have so many points to make on opposing sides and neither of us stretching is fascinating and great set up for part 3 🙂

    Reply

    Marielle Reply:

    I must say, I love how people criticize Maiko as if trusting relationships can be built in a day, as if “healthy” couples have never once doubted their partners, as if disagreements aren’t part of the normal progression of a relationship, as if on-again-off-again relationships have never and can never work out, as if Mai didn’t break up with Zuko when she felt like she was getting the short end, as if it’s not Suki’s job to look after Zuko as a bodyguard and friend, as if every girlfriend has to be a fawning mother figure, as if Mai wasn’t a minor character and that most criticisms about her couldn’t be chalked up to the fact that her character development wasn’t part of the main story line and therefore had to be omitted, as if the onus is on EACH OTHER to provide emotional support when clearly they have to work their issues out alone and not use their partners as an emotional crutch, as if Mai and Zuko’s issues would magically be solved if they’re paired with other characters…. I could go on and on.

    Flow Reply:

    Why would zuko even want to return with her after she covered up for her father? She’s protecting a traitor, thereby making her a traitor, and leading to the kidnapping of her brother AND his sister, as well as several other children. There’s literally no reason for zuko to want to return with mai. If anything, he should charge her with treason, but he won’t..

    Airspeed Prime Reply:

    Uh, I don’t know, because he deeply cares for her. I think Zuko is mature enough to understand to some degree why Mai was protecting Ukano. Also you have to give context to Mai protecting Ukano, when she did it she just saw Ukano as the leader of a fairly weak, but somewhat dangerous political faction. It is only after this that the kidnappings happen, which she would have no reason to believe her father would be involved in the kidnapping of his own child. In part 2 she is blaming herself for not being able to protect Ukano, he completely guilts her over this. And at the end of Part 2 she knows he is hiding something.

    We as readers know the full truth about Ukano, but the other characters just know that he opposes Ukano and Mai+ Kei Lo know he is the leader of the New Ozai Society, which have changed their name to the Safe Nation Society leaving know obvious connection as the NOS wore masks.

    You are making Mai out to be some sort of villain, when Ukano and the Kemurikage are the actual bad guys. She was wrong to hide what she found out about her father, but the situation is complex and she is not yet aware that he is the one behind the kidnappings which is the biggest issue.

    Flow Reply:

    But she knows Ukano tried to kill him and his family, the same day he returned with them in how many years? And when he asked her directly she straight up denies it.

    Also, I know Mai isn’t the villain, and no repercussions will happen to her, but she’s responsible for aiding the villains and she *should* be punished, realistically. Zuko is the fire lord and he shouldn’t show weaknesses as a leader…

    But yeah… They’re most likely going to get together again, even with everything that’s happened between them, because third time’s the charm, and true love conquers all, even if it’s extremely unhealthy, right? Drama for the sake of drama. Anyways, rant over. Sorry about that.

    Also, just wanted to say Zuko has fault in it, too, but that’s another rant and I don’t want to keep going right now as I’ve written enough already. Good day. 🙂

    Airspeed Prime Reply:

    Zuko I think at this stage given his own past and all of the mistakes he made, would understand why Mai did what she did. If you really want Mai to be punished, then why wasn’t Zuko punished for his role as a villain in the early parts of ATLA. Sure he redeemed himself and put himself through a lot to make up for it, but there was no authority to punish him for what he did.

    If he decided to punish Mai for what she did, I think it would really go counter to a lot of his development in ATLA as well as the comics.

    As stated above by another poster, just because they have had disagreements and some arguments doesn’t make their relationship inherently unhealthy. It just shows that like most relationships it is not perfect, especially in the situations they are both in at the moment and during ATLA.

    I have been very critical of Korra for having romance drama for the sake of drama, but I feel Smoke and Shadow is actually using this odd situation with Mai, Kei Lo and Zuko to develop all 3 characters and address the issues in the Mai/Zuko relationship. Mai especially is benefiting as a character from this focus in that yes her relationships with Kei Lo and Zuko are being addressed, but also her as an individual.

  15. Tumas Said: Comment by Tumas on January 2, 2016 at 2:08 am | Permalink
     

    There isn’t much to add to the above, but I will say I am pleasantly surprised by how well-handled Aang and Katara’s goodbye is. Their expressions when Katara tells him, “Nothing to be sorry about. It just comes with dating the Avatar”, hints at something deeper going on. Both Aang and Katara have to give up something personal for Aang’s duties to the world but push forward nonetheless. It’s something which is true to characters and is given so much weight if one considers their eventual marriage and their non-airbender children’s skewed perception of Aang as an uncharacteristically bad father in ‘Legend of Korra’.

    Reply

  16. wero Said: Comment by wero on January 7, 2016 at 8:20 am | Permalink
     

    I noticed something very interesting on the website Goodreads it’s about Smoke and Shadow and his Rating and it looks like the first part has 4.33, second part has 4.26 which is not so bad but the third last part is up to 4.56 and originally it only had 4.50 which surprised me could it be the last version of Smoke and Shadow has some interesting conclusions

    Reply

    Airspeed Prime Reply:

    Most(If not all) of the reviews on that site are from people who have not read the book yet. It is just a hype thing to 5 star a book you are excited for.

    Reply

  17. Bin Said: Comment by Bin on January 8, 2016 at 3:05 am | Permalink
     

    I think in some interview Gene Yang said that the Kemurikage were supposed to be counterparts to the Kyoshi Warriors

    Reply

  18. yodabear Said: Comment by yodabear on February 29, 2016 at 10:25 pm | Permalink
     

    I’m disappointed by the way this maiko situation is being executed so far. I’m a fan of your reviews btw, you’re very level headed and most of your predictions/ thoughts are well justified. But I’m surprised you still think Mai and Zuko will get back together lol.

    Yes they still care about each other but we’ve seen no progression in their relationship yet. A lot of people are dismissing some major issues in order to formulate an understanding of how Mai and Zuko will get back together. I think your judgment of romance in this comic may be clouded by that assumption. Similar to some makorra shippers before the book 4 finale… probably not that extreme though. At least they had development. As for maiko? Interactions between them in part 2 don’t work in their favour. Mai x Zuko contrast other healthy relationships in the avatar universe. Not only momentarily but thematically as well. They’re almost like an outlier to what bryke/ yang usually aim for, mainly cos nothing has been solved yet, or even hinted to be. If maiko does happen in part 3, it’ll come at the price of poor writing. If you’re interested in the reasoning for my points, here are a couple of posts (essays) on tumblr that do all the explaining for me 😉

    http://raavaspirit96.tumblr.com/post/139696771306/will-maiko-be-endgame-so-a-lot-of-fans-believe

    http://madamebomb.tumblr.com/post/135561159651/we-need-to-talk-about-maiko

    Reply

    Airspeed Prime Reply:

    At the end of the day right now we don’t know what will happen. So my opinion on Mai and Zuko is just as valid as yours, I am not going to say I am disappointed in your opinion just because I don’t see it your way.

    Ultimately the key point with their relationship is that they have not really had a chance to just talk to each other and address what their relationship is at this point, there has been so much going on that at best they have had a few moments together since The Promise. I agree that Part 3 right now seems nearly impossible to bring together effectively with so much in addition to Maiko to resolve. I think we have yet to really see them address the problems they had and what led to their break up, address that they have both grown as people etc. This has been the case with a lot of the plots heading into the part 3’s so I have some level of faith that Gene Yang can write the relationship stuff however it goes down effectively.

    Yes, I admit I am a fan of the Maiko ship as ultimately I think they work very well as a couple. As for your post it is ultimately a matter of how we have both read it, you read the scene of Mai putting the Zuko picture away as an end to their relationship. I more see it as Mai putting it away to focus herself on finding her brother, you can see once tom tom is kidnapped she blames herself heavily for it and when she notices that Zuko is drawing a lot of her attention she is annoyed with herself, not for thinking about Zuko, but for doing it at this important time.

    The reason I think a lot of people including myself in part mention Zuko talking to Suki about Tom-Tom as being a moment showing a Maiko focus is because 1/ He does mention a previous date they had that went well even with Tom-Tom present.
    2/ Because it is one of the clearest set ups for something that will probably happen in Part 3. We will see Zuko very passionate about getting Kiyi and Tom-Tom back. I think they could do some very good Mai and Zuko stuff with them searching for their siblings. Mai has not met Kiyi and perhaps doesn’t know how much Zuko seems to care for Tom-Tom and she seems to be more and more thinking he is not caring about people’s feelings, so that would be positive.

    Again I agree with you that what needs to happen is that Mai and Zuko need to have a very important talk about their break up and what has happened since. I just read the first 2 parts a little bit more positively for Maiko than you do.

    I think yes most fans assume they will get back together, I do too. The reason though is because we have been led to believe this is happening. The Free comic Rebound made it clear from Mai’s side, we now know Zuko feels the same. I just feel that we have gone basically 3 whole series of comics now of the two separated without really going into a lot of specifics about their break up, we now have a comic in the process of doing something with the characters and their relationship. I just feel it is now or never, end SAS P3 with them back together or making progress towards a reunion otherwise where are you going to fit it in/ reveal who Zuko ends up with(We already have enough blank spots on our main character’s family trees I would really like to have Izumi’s mother filled in at least). The next series looks to be almost 100% water tribe and if you will have a fire nation plot to go back to it is probably Azula whatever they do with her.

    Reply

    yodabear Reply:

    I didn’t say I was disappointed in your opinion, but in how Yang has chosen to approach the romance if the intent is to show why maiko should be together. I found the notion, coming from you surprising. I respect your opinion though, that’s why I’m here. I suppose I am less positive about it than you are. It’s admittedly a bit of a waste to set the love triangle stuff and add more serious relationship problems for Mai and Zuko (instead of beginning to solve them) if they’re gonna be endgame so easily you know?

    Honestly, your reasons for why you think maiko will happen are more subjective than evidential. I’d like to think rebound and S&S were made to actually progress characters and the story. Not as a tool that’s used to, essentially, restart a past relationship than hasn’t developed.

    I think character conflict in S&S is slightly more complex than what we’ve seen in the other comics. Its not like the conflict we see between the gaang/ families (excluding Zuko’s) which can be brushed of by the end of an episode/ book trilogy. I think I’ll take a bit more effort to sort mai & Zuko out. Not that it can’t be done. I can’t see how it’ll be believable, since a stable foundation for maiko to work hasn’t been shown yet. Without this, it doesn’t matter what plot device is used to bring them together (such as Kiyi and Tom-Tom) there is still some fundamental problems. Even if they have that talk and suddenly change to be a compatible couple, it’ll be like nothing we’ve seen before, between the two of them. If there was one hint prior to prove otherwise, then fair enough.

    Btw, those aren’t my posts, so I take no credit. I like maiko too, at least the potential. I don’t mind who gets with who as long as it’s written convincingly and if it makes sense. Maiko isn’t making a lot of sense to me right now. Anyway I do get where you’re coming from. Yang has proven to be a decent writer for avatar. It’s not easy with the limited space he has so whatever happens I’m sure it’ll turn out okay, even if it seems off so far. And I’d love to see more Azula after north and south! Along with a much needed time skip.

    Reply

    Airspeed Prime Reply:

    I think our main point of disagreement is just that I don’t see these “fundamental problems” or at the very least don’t consider these issues to be so large that they cannot be overcome in SAS P3.

    At a base level they broke up during a very crazy time in Zuko’s life when he had a lot going on, before that we know they were together for a year with no major issues mentioned though SAS does have the characters reference a couple of dates that they seemed to enjoy. Mai breaks up with Zuko basically because Zuko is so distracted by everything else he is not including her and keeping things from her, I don’t think the events of the promise featured their relationship or Mai enough to really suggest that this is a fundamental relationship problem.

    It does highlight growth needed for both characters, Zuko of course becoming a better leader, trusting his own decisions more, finding his mother and now dealing with his sister. Just resolving his list of unresolved life issues basically. An apology is needed from Zuko to Mai for what happened the break up which is why I badly need their talks in SAS 3 to mention it.

    With Mai I think SAS 2 highlights what her issue was and still is to some degree. She describes her relationship with Kei Lo as one where she knows he likes her much more than she likes him and she feels this is the type of relationship she needs at this point, because she does not want to get to invested in the relationship in case she gets hurt like with Zuko. For Mai as a character who doesn’t usually show much emotion this is a big deal, this is her retreating into what she was before. I really feel SAS 3 will try to do something along the lines of her realising that her relationship with Kei Lo if that is how she feel about it is unhealthy and that for her opening up to someone enough that she could potentially get hurt shows how much she cares for Zuko. her accepting that with the positives of their relationship also sometimes comes some issues, but that they are close enough together to get past them. Again this is just my read on where I see them going, just like I feel they will use Kei Lo’s thoughts on their relationship to develop him, he feels like he needs to belong to someone, when I think he will need to learn to be fine on his own and find a relationship where the feelings are fully mutual.

    I feel with Mai they may also have her realise how much Zuko was going through back then because of how much she has going on at the moment with her own father and family life.

    If the big issue they are going to tackle is how honest they are with one another, I think they have set up things reasonably well. I think it is an issue they can get over and do good things with in SAS P3.

    It is just one of those things where I just think if they don’t have them get back together then why such focus on the two of them. Why draw this out so much, why have Rebound be a thing, why the little glances into each other’s eyes, why the remembering of past dates. Why come back and even touch on them as a couple after 3 series.

    I suppose we will see in 29 days 🙂

 

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