The redemption arc is likely one of the most typical tropes in leisure. At this level, it’s turn into one thing followers count on – if a villain is launched, there’s a good probability that villain might be redeemed in some unspecified time in the future. Few properties, nevertheless, have managed to write as efficient a redemption arc as Avatar: The Last Airbender did for Zuko.
It’s all within the setup on the subject of Zuko. Though the primary season of Avatar: The Last Airbender introduces Zuko as one of many primary antagonists, the present by no means actually presents Zuko as the last word antagonist. If something, he all the time feels just like the short-term villain on the way in which to the “big bad.” This notion is confirmed false by the truth that Zuko, finally, sticks round for the whole lot of the present’s run. But the seeds of the character’s redemption are planted in each the framing and the time the present takes to develop his character.
As Team Avatar types, Zuko is offered by the storytelling as the opposite facet of the coin, the one making an attempt to foil them at each flip. That, greater than something, makes Zuko the “villain” of the primary few seasons. And but, Zuko proves to be, at each flip, an ineffective villain at greatest. He’s by no means actually dedicated to villainous acts, his solely north to seize the Avatar, not for glory, or perhaps a need to cease him from reaching his full potential, however as a result of if he does, he can lastly go dwelling.
For some time, this need stays unexplained, as Zuko pursues Team Avatar and Uncle Iroh finds methods to waste time. But the depth this suggestion offers the character permits followers to provide him extra of the good thing about the doubt as they comply with each side of the journey. Soon, followers are offered with the complete story. Fire Lord Sozin – Zuko’s father, and the true villain of Avatar: The Last Airbender – despatched his teenage son on a idiot’s quest at a really younger age, after Zuko didn’t dwell as much as his inconceivable beliefs. Capture the Avatar, who hadn’t been seen for 100 years, or by no means come dwelling once more.
The setup for Zuko’s reasoning, and the truth that the present doesn’t lead with it or comply with only a linear path, as a substitute permitting Zuko to develop, study, mess up and take a look at once more, implies that by the point viewers totally perceive the depth of his ache, it’s onerous to not be on his facet, a method or one other. But even with how nicely the present carries the storyline as much as the purpose the place the viewers lastly perceive Zuko, it’s what the present does after that really units his redemption arc aside. Because a “villain” should not solely be redeemed within the eyes of the viewers. If his redemption goes to work, he should be redeemed within the eyes of the opposite characters.
For Zuko, that doesn’t simply imply altering course, it means admitting his errors. It means apologizing. And it means working onerous at making amends with each member of the crew. It isn’t a straightforward factor, and the present doesn’t current it as such. Relationships aren’t repaired immediately. But they’re repaired, by time and constant, dedicated makes an attempt on Zuko’s half.
Perhaps as essential as that, Zuko’s reasoning for turning his again on the whole lot he grew up believing, the whole lot he thought he needed, isn’t about another person. It’s about his personal progress, and his personal realization, not simply concerning the individual his father is, however concerning the individual Zuko needs to be. Zuko doesn’t fall in love and all of a sudden decides he needs to be a great individual. Zuko doesn’t lose his Uncle and understand that he should turn into the person his Uncle needs him to be. No, Zuko lastly understands who Zuko needs to be, and decides to work in the direction of that.
This implies that when he lastly approaches Team Avatar, wins over Aang, and begins educating him Firebending, the overwhelming sense is that issues are lastly coming collectively the way in which they need to have. The identical applies to Zuko serving to Sokka rescue his father from the Boiling Rock, and later serving to Katara discover the Fire Nation soldier accountable for killing her mom. Yes, these are all issues Zuko does to be favored. But they’re additionally issues Zuko does as a result of he is aware of they’re proper. And that’s a part of what units his redemption arc aside.
In the tip, it might be mentioned that Zuko wins, although maybe the higher studying is that Team Avatar wins, and by the tip of the present, Zuko is as a lot a part of Team Avatar as the remainder of them. But the reality is that Zuko’s whole storyline – and his redemption arc – are arrange in a method that makes followers really feel like they gained. They bought the completely happy ending, they usually bought to go on a journey of forgiveness, of progress and of friendship profitable above the whole lot. There aren’t many redemption journeys like that in leisure. That may not be the one factor that makes Avatar: The Last Airbender price a watch, nevertheless it’s actually excessive on the listing.