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Skud's thoughts about Iroh - Printable Version

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Skud's thoughts about Iroh - Skud - 10-02-2019

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.