Geek Couples: Aang and Katara (Avatar: The Last Airbender) - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Geek Couples: Aang and Katara (Avatar: The Last Airbender)

Only Alexander Wallace can bring balance.
She found him frozen in an iceberg, his eyes glowing like two small suns. He had a large tattoo on his head in the shape of an arrow, likewise glowing. He was accompanied by a massive, furry, multi-legged beast with a mark also in the shape of an arrow. She had gone out fishing with her brother to provide for her people, who dwelt at the bottom of the world. She could control the water, like much of her people, but her brother had no such abilities.

He found her as he woke up from a slumber of a hundred years. She was one of the first two beings that he had seen after he had fallen frozen in a mountain of ice. When he saw her, he was yet to realize that the world he had grown up in, played in and learned in was now gone forever. One of the nations that he had known had gone on a warpath, unleashing wrack and ruin on a world that he had been born to save.

She brought him back to her people, who nurtured him but were confused by him. It turned out that he could bend the air around him to his will, much as she could the water. They both learned that he was the last of his kind, as those monks and nomads that had raised him had their homes and cities razed by those that pursued him. He is captured by the crown prince of that ravenous empire, but he escapes. He then decides to go out into the world to learn the things that he had sworn to learn, and to save the world that he was born to save. She, and her brother, decide to go along with him. Along the way, she taught him the art of commanding the river and the sea.

Aang and Katara met under a fluke of circumstance, and ended up bringing themselves, and Sokka and several others, into an odyssey that would shake the ground upon which the four nations stood (in some cases, very, very literally). These three children (as they were quite young when their voyage began) were in many ways bargaining with things beyond their comprehension. They broke the corrupt regime of the Earth Kingdom and toppled the Fire Nation, vanquishing Fire Lord Ozai in the process. They withstood fire and sword, steel and stone, cannon and fist.

It becomes clear over the course of three seasons of Avatar: the Last Airbender that the two of them are slowly falling in love, albeit neither quite has the tools to express that, given their youth and inexperience. Multiple times Aang blunders with Katara, because she is still finding out what exactly it is that she wants, and where she, and her wants, fit in this quest.

Aang is something of a messianic figure for this world of four nations. Most messianic figures in our culture tend to abstain from that sort of attachment. Take Luke Skywalker, for example, the messiah of a Galaxy Far, Far Away; he has his temptations, and in the old canon he did eventually find a lover in Mara Jade, but in the original and sequel trilogies of the Star Wars saga he remains single, completely committed to the cause of restoring balance to the Force and to building a new Jedi Order. Or, take Jesus Christ, a messiah that so many people in our world so devoutly believe in; he is committed to saving humanity, having many associates but no lover (some believe that Mary Magdalene was one to him, but it is not a common viewpoint). In this regard, Aang is abnormal; we expect the saviors of humanity to be above things that are so human.

It is in that context we must view the relationship between Aang and Katara; he has had a massive burden foisted upon him by the reincarnation that governs his world, a burden that Katara (and Sokka, and many others) must share. Katara can’t help but wonder if her own desires can be squared with that mighty task.
But we must not neglect Katara’s own role in bringing about the salvation of that world; she is the one who taught Aang how to water-bend. Aang could not have succeeded in his quest without the teachings of others; indeed, much of that quest is in search of those who would teach him. She is not merely a teacher of bending, but also a therapist, a counselor, and a friend. She addressed his doubts and gave him human warmth in a time where there was little of that to go around.

Despite the armageddon that ensued from the arrival of Sozin’s Comet, against all odds Aang, Katara, and their compatriots won the day. During that, they came to an agreement: they loved each other. Their last kiss, the kiss that begins their real relationship emphasized by a soaring camera, is the last shot of the original series.
But that was not the end for them. Aang, already a Messiah, was also a Noah, a patriarch to resurgent Air Nomads, who would once more take their place among the four nations. Katara, despite being a waterbender, would be their matriarch (unlike Noah’s wife, she is named; the biblical matriarch goes without a name with the exception of the Book of Jubilees, accepted as canon by Ethiopian Jews and Ethiopian Christians but by nobody else). In this manner, Katara is revealed as a savior herself, not only of the Air Nomads but of the proper order of the universe.

Aang and Katara are therefore a savior couple, a messianic couple, a hero couple. It is rare that we get two characters that serve this purpose, but Avatar: the Last Airbender has broken that mold. It was a bold decision, and the right one to make; had it not been made, we would not have had something so wonderful as these two.

Alexander Wallace is an alternate historian, reader, and writer who moderates the Alternate History Online group on Facebook and the Alternate Timelines Forum on Proboards. He writes regularly for the Sea Lion Press blog and for NeverWas magazine, and also appears regularly on the Alternate History Show with Ben Kearns. He is a member of several alternate history fora under the name 'SpanishSpy.'

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