Because fans should be critical, too

Retrospective: Episode(s) Analysis Format

(Once again taking a page out of the book of everyone’s favorite Russian music reviewer George Starostin, the format for the episode analyses is a variation on that of his Important Album Series. For example, here is his write-up on Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon.)

B.A.S.S. Line:

This will include a very brief summary of the episode(s) in discussion.

Key Points:

  1. This section will focus almost exclusively on the narrative aspects of the episodes. This includes character, plot points, locations, etc., in no set order.
  2. New characters, new locations, and any new insight into the mythology and inner workings of the Avatar universe are detailed here.

High Points:

  1. This is where things get more subjective, in which I elaborate on the effectiveness of the storytelling, action set pieces, animation, music, voice acting, editing, etc.

Low Points:

  1. Same as “high points,” but for moments and choices I thought didn’t work as well.

Random Points:

  1. This section is reserved for any loose observations or thoughts that have no place in the previous ones.
  2. This section will be a bit of a wild card (and likely the most subjective of all), as it deals more so with the “meta” of Avatar and Korra than with the mythologies of either show.


Finally, any final thoughts on the episode(s) will be put in this section.


Keep in mind, too, that none of this is set in stone. As the series progresses, previous reviews can be revised and amended in light of new connections between episodes, and new information and insights about the series. This will be an experiment as well as a retrospective, which means it’s just as liable to reveal new layers to both shows as it is to crash and burn into chaotic nonsense.

Any thoughts? Suggestions? Concerns? Let me know. In the meantime, let’s get started and see what happens!

Next week: Avatar: “The Boy in the Iceberg” & “The Avatar Returns”


5 responses

  1. Ian

    This sounds like a good format as it will keep everything Concise. I will try to use the basics of the format to do my responses as well, which will be good for me as I’m known to ramble. Do you think it would help discussion to have a section dedicated to questions about the episodes themselves? Like if there are moments or parts you are neutral towards but know others really enjoy, or really hate, to discuss why this character or this scene evokes such a reaction in the fan base or among the average viewer.

    Either way can’t wait to get started!

    March 26, 2017 at 12:32 am

  2. Jacob

    Hello, Marshall! I just found out you have new retrospectives planned, and I just wanted to say thanks for doing them again! I have really liked and appreciated your earlier ones and, as I consider Avatar: the Last Airbender my favorite TV show (best record: 41 episodes in a sitting), I’m very psyched for some new material on it.

    The new format, by the way, looks great!

    March 27, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    • Thanks, Jacob! Hopefully this retrospective is an improvement on my past reviews, especially since I plan to compliment my own opinion with actual research.

      April 6, 2017 at 11:56 am

  3. Rosemont

    Sorry to derail the topic a bit, but I was really infuriated by a recent video by the former Nostalgia Chick, Lindsay Ellis, who released a video called “Is Beauty and the Beast about Stockholm Syndrome?” It felt like an exercise in internalized misogyny, a need to defend her personal interests instead of thinking about whether or not one should show this to their kids, if not the sort of apologism that she was trying to debunk. It feels like she’s got Stockholm Syndrome for this film, ironically.

    It feels like both her and her former male counterpart are such Disney apologists that their nostalgia and love of pretty, grand animation and storytelling blinds them from criticisms raised by legitimate sources (and not just tired jokes like Ms. Ellis claims). Though the topic has been around for a long time, I think it doesn’t really matter whether or not the romance in the film fits the EXACT definition of the condition or if the woman actually makes the man change. The film still claims, keeping in mind that it is targeted at impressionable little girls, that an obviously dangerous man can change at all. It is still about a woman who HAS to fall in love (and who all who live in the castle want her to fall in love) with a man who threatens both her and her father the first time they meet, not to mention that he is still controlling and dangerous for the first half of the film. Lindsay even says that the story is not Belle’s story, because she is already “actualized” as a person, unlike the Beast. That to me reveals how uninteresting she is, for if she has nothing to learn, then how can she grow? That doesn’t sounds like strong characterization, it sounds like the old idea in fiction that “women shouldn’t be flawed, women must be already perfect, so we must put them on a pedestal,” which explains so many shallow “strong female role models” who stood next to their more interesting, complex, funnier, and popular male counterparts in media.

    Making Belle a bookworm is a pretty shallow concession to modern American feminism considering this film was intended for American audiences in the 1990s, not to a medieval audience when women reading might have been more groundbreaking. Even the female screenwriter, who grew up during the women’s lib movement, had to deal with sexist script revisions such as “have Belle bake a cake instead of creating a map with all the places she wanted to travel to one day.” The 1991 film’s “feminism” was a bandaid to a fundamentally outdated fairy tale (created in a time where girls were stuck in arranged marriages to much older and presumably uglier men) with an unequal relationship dynamic founded on forced arrangements and kidnapping that has no place among today’s youth. Many claim that Belle is a strong character because she “stands up” to the Beast’s temper tantrums. Yet do we really want and expect women to just “stand up” to abusive men, rather than leave forever and not come back just because the guy “saves you once”?

    A much better moral with a similar premise of a young man with anger issues (claiming to have changed) trying to court a curious girl lies in a recent Disney TV show “Star vs the Forces of Evil,” when the male co-star warns his best friend: “All I’m saying is guys like Tom never change.” No matter how much Tom tries to control himself because of his ex-girlfriend, her presence alone is not enough to make him become a better person or “cure” him. His “love” for her is not enough to truly make him change. Not even his own life-coach can truly change him.

    This brings me back to Korra because I think the popularity of such a romantic dynamic is indicative of a culture wide problem: tortured, brooding bad boys/men in power who can change or soften up are ideal partners. Why else would the male writers first cast Mako as Korra’s intended, instead of the much nicer and approachable Bolin, if not to appeal to what they THINK girls are into? First little girls grow up with Beauty and the Beast, then it’s Twilight (& other YA novels) in their teens, and now Fifty Shades in adulthood. Not to mention other stories such as Phantom of the Opera, which seems more popular among women than men. A side effect of this phenomenon is that some men in real life grow up becoming disgruntled because women “only love bad boys, not nice guys.” This upholding of such stories, gaining prestige by winning film awards and making history, has bad (but not equally bad) effects on both genders.

    March 29, 2017 at 5:27 pm

  4. Rosemont

    Regarding my last comment, this is the article that inspired me to write:

    March 29, 2017 at 7:52 pm

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