I don’t know how many times it’s been pointed out before, but the parallelism between these two scenes is so powerful, and it’s one of my absolute favorites in the whole Last Airbender series, because it so clearly represents Katara’s development, as a bender and as a healer.
For a quick read, I’m doing it checklist style:
- Both scenes show her healing the only two guys in the entire series who betrayed her or destroyed her trust, proving she will heal anyone, regardless of her personal feelings towards them.
- Both scenes mirror each other. Look at Katara’s hands on Jet’s chest, and then on Zuko’s. Also note the angle of their faces. Katara is on Jet’s right and on Zuko’s left.
- The most important part, for me, are their expressions. Jet and Zuko both have the soft, gentle smile that looks similar, but the context couldn’t be any more drastically different. Jet’s expression says “Hey, it’s okay, you did your best, but we’re out of time and you’re more important. Go ahead. It’s okay. I’ll be okay.” Zuko’s, on the other hand, is overpoweringly simple. “I’m alive and it’s all thanks to you. Thank you.”
- But the difference in Katara’s expression at the end is what really gets me. With Jet, it’s filled with so much surrender and remorse, and you can literally see her torn as she has to once again put the fate of the world - Aang’s safety - before her own personal preference. With Zuko, a successful healing, she is literally crying from relief and happiness. If she failed to heal him, it would be the exact same scene all over again.
- I image it killed her as a healer, to walk away from Jet, unable to do anything.
- I bet that when she was healing Zuko, she was replaying that scene in her mind; that time when she could have healed Jet, could have saved him, if she had been more powerful or more skillful, more … something. Her expression of relief and happiness at the end obviously means “Yay, I saved you. Yay, you’re alive. Oh gosh, I can’t believe you did that for me you literally could have died back there you’re such an idiot and it’s a good thing I was able to heal you oh gosh you’re alive”. But I feel like a tiny, tiny portion of it means "I did it. I saved you."
- As a healer, that’s gotta be pretty intense feeling to have.