The Great Divide is… pretty good!

My new video about Avatar: The Last Airbender is out now!

Shain Slepian
3 min readJan 12, 2024

I gotta admit, in my last video, where I criticized Iroh, I was a little shook by the 20% dislike ratio. I guess it was more controversial than I thought. I know people love Iroh, and I guess it was a sensitive topic, and I upset some people. **apologetic** I didn’t mean for it to, it just sort of became, kind of offensive. And I’m really, really, really excited to tell you why The Great Divide is the best 22 minutes of television ever made. That’ll get the likes back!

No, that’s not quite true. But seriously, it’s a lot better than you think!

“The Great Divide” follows Aang as he tries to get two tribes who utterly hate each other to work together to cross a canyon called the Great Divide (the canyon its a metaphor, see?).

People dislike this episode for having a simplistic plot, not tying into the main story, and generally feeling kind of boring. But I think it’s a good time. There’s some experimentation with the animation style, a clever resolution to the immediate obstacle, some funny jokes, and as expected, fantastic original music.

But by far, the most serious critique of this episode has to do with the resolution of the central problem. The Great Divide ends with Aang getting these two warring nations to make peace, probably saving all their lives and making them a more stable people as a result. But he does it by lying.

One of the most common responses to this episode is that it’s completely out of character for Aang to lie. Why would a monk, who theoretically works to achieve enlightenment by pursuing fundamental truths about the universe, ever lie to solve a problem?

Well, the thing is, Aang’s character extends outside his status as a monk. And Aang as a fully-rounded character has no problem lying! He lies to get into Omashu, he spends a good chunk of season 3 pretending he’s a fire nation colonial named Kuzon, and he even lies to the Gaang about having mastered the Avatar state in the season 2 finale.

And what’s more, Aang lying was pretty unambiguously the right thing to do, both from the position of the characters inside the story and the writers in our world. Like, if we’d just stopped with that ridiculous, coincidental story about a game called redemption, this episode would have been far more annoying. We’d call it The Lion Turtle Effect, a total Deus ex Machina.

Within the story, Aang is actually being very practical. These tribes are completely unwilling to hear each other out and they are in the middle of trying to kill each other (as in, they clearly state their intention to fight to the death). Aang can’t spend the rest of his life following these idiots around to make sure they don’t genocide each other. With Aang’s revision of a history that has clearly already been corrupted, Aang ends the immediate conflict, prevents any potential fighting that could occur after he turns his back, and makes these two refugee groups more resilient to any Fire Nation soldiers they may face on the road.

But I’m not gonna stop there. I don’t just think Aang lying about the source of the enmity between the two tribes is complete consistent with his character. I actually think it’s the best part of the episode because its so deeply illustrative and revealing about his character.

Watch the full video here:



Shain Slepian

Shain is a screenwriter and screenplay editor. For more content, follow their blog and check out their YouTube channel, TimeCapsule.