The Garden Gate

Full Version: Skud's thoughts about Iroh
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Occasionally I see people asking some good questions about Iroh. It should be obvious, but if you haven't guessed, I think Iroh's great Smile
We can get a lot of good answers by thinking through the world around Iroh and what things must have been like. Here's some of my thoughts...

Big Question: What was Iroh's plan, before the Avatar appeared?

Ultimately my answer to this is just "I don't know" or even "not much of anything." But here's how I got there.

First of all, we do not know when Iroh joined the Order of the White Lotus. It makes sense to me that it was after the events of his attack on Ba Sing Se. That's not too much time before Zuko's banishment but it is definitely long enough for him to rise through the ranks of the Order.

When Ozai sends Zuko after the Avatar, it seems like it's a joke. A wild goose chase that will send him endlessly wandering the world. These people believe that the Avatar is gone. The Avatar may even be considered a legend to some people in the world at the time of Zuko's banishment.

Iroh likely also thinks the Avatar was destroyed with the Air Nomads. At the least, he has never had any experience with the Avatar and may be unsure of what to believe. I think that when they do find the Avatar, it shakes Iroh up and forces him to solidify some things in his own mind.

As to Iroh's plans, we can't be sure. From events at the North Pole, we know that he did what it took to achieve his goals and preserve the world as it should be. Perhaps he felt quite defeated and had lost some hope for the world, which could be part of why he was happy to join Zuko. Whatever the case, it appears he was content to live exiled from the Fire Nation with Zuko.

Question: What exactly was Iroh trying to do when he joined Zuko in exile?

As we see, after the death of Lu Ten, Iroh cared for Zuko as if he were his own son. He accompanied Zuko in hopes of guiding, mentoring, and training him. And, think about it - Iroh failed at the siege of Ba Sing Se and had the throne stolen from him. He is quite likely somewhat uncomfortable in the Fire Nation and glad to leave, so it's not a big sacrifice for him to join Zuko. He takes the opportunity to be close to someone he cares for very much.

Question: Why didn't Iroh try harder (or at all) to turn Zuko away from Ozai before Book 2?

Iroh was trying, but not forcing it. He wanted Zuko to come to the conclusion on his own, and he was incredibly patient about it. We see him try to get Zuko to question his goals frequently, while lovingly supporting him. When Iroh eventually yells at Zuko, he's not necessarily trying any harder, he's just deciding it's time to be more aggressive.

Part of why he was trying so passively and patiently is what I have already mentioned. He may have lost some hope for the world. Witnessing the Avatar's return forced him to face himself and make some decisions of his own. I believe when we see Iroh confront Zuko strongly in Ba Sing Se, he is finally fully arrived in these decisions and from this point forward he takes the bold stand he believes he needs to.
Well, I think after failing in Ba Seng Si Iroh had joined white lotus and after a while became the leader. According to the rules, they shouldnt exposed themselves but Iroh joined the avatar side and then the red lotus came to being. White lotus was supporting freedom secretly and Iroh just broke one of the rules in order to bring balance to the world.
Late to the party but here are some of my thoughts  Smile 

I agree that Iroh probably accepted that the Avatar was dead prior to "The Boy in the Iceberg." I believe that Iroh even welcomed Zuko's banishment for two reasons. First, for the reasons you stated above - he was likely not just uncomfortable in the Fire Nation but maybe also feared for his life. Second, in a twist of irony, he may have recognized that Zuko's banishment is exactly what the young prince needed.

We know that Roku traveled the world learning about bending, but also about culture and people. Conversely, Sozin stayed behind in the Fire Nation and likely did not see much of the world. This led him to become power-hungry and to spread the Fire Nation's "influence." It is likely that Azulon and Ozai did not see much of the world either, unless it was via the military. Three generations of Firelords have confined themselves into this isolationist bubble where fear, ignorance, and hatred can take over. Thus, the war rages on for a century.

It could be that Iroh's campaigns in the Earth Kingdom showed him not only the brutality of war, but also the beauty in diversity between cultures. It may also be that he saw the face of Lu Ten in the faces of the Earth Kingdom soldiers, leading him to question the morality of his nation. This is important as it leads Iroh to respect life, diversity, and "balance" amongst the nations. When Zuko is banished, Iroh may have seen an opportunity to stop the cycle and to raise the heir to the Fire Nation through not only his own teachings, but also through the lessons world travel. By experiencing different cultures and speaking to people that have been affected by the war, away from the propaganda of the Fire Nation, Iroh hoped that Zuko would develop a soft heart and eventually end the war when it came to face his father again. Thus, Iroh joins Zuko in his banishment.

However, the sudden realization that the Avatar was alive must have come as a shock, similar to the rest of the world. So one question that I can't seem to answer is this: what would Iroh have done if Zuko caught the Avatar? We know that Aang is pretty good at escaping, but let's assume that at the North Pole, Zuko was successful in capturing the Avatar and somehow commandeered a ship to take him back to the Firelord. Would Iroh have allowed Zuko to take the Avatar to the Firelord, trusting in destiny? Or would he have physically stopped Zuko? If the latter, at what point would he have stepped in? We know he somewhat approved of Zuko going after the Avatar at the North Pole since he allows him to take the lifeboat into the city during the night. At that point, it's likely that Iroh knew he couldn't talk him out of it. But what if the battle was over and Zuko was halfway home with Aang as his prisoner?

A final thought on Iroh:

I think we as fans tend to glorify characters that always seem to do the right thing or say the right words. We tend to think of them as perfect and perhaps even godlike at times. This is especially true when they are a part of a super-secret, super-important society that becomes critical in the later stages of the series. However, while Iroh is quite the tactician and certainly deserves admiration for being one of the most level-headed characters of the series, he is still just a man. Perhaps he never had a plan at certain points and he just trusted what was right, all while being a normal human being. It shows that he is not unlike Ozai, Zuko, you, or me. That each of us have it within us to do what is right - and I believe that is his most important lesson.