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The Great Divide (Avatar: The Last Airbender)

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The Great Divide
Gan Jin vs. Zhang.png
"Eh, let's keep flying."
Ember Island Player Sokka
Series: Avatar: The Last Airbender
Part of Season: 1
Episode Number: 11
Air Date: May 20, 2005
Writer: John O'Bryan
Director: Giancarlo Volpe
Previous episode: Jet
Next episode: The Storm

"The Great Divide" is the eleventh episode of Book One (season 1) of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

The episode focuses on the main cast trying to cross the titular Great Divide, the world's largest canyon. When tensions arise, Aang tries to ease it by telling the "story" of the land's ancestors.

Bad Qualities

  1. While the episode is nowhere near horrible, Its plot is rather insignificant and weak to the series as a whole, being the only episode in the entire series that serves as filler much like Get the Hock Out.
  2. While episodes like Avatar Day and The Painted Lady are both filler episodes, at least the events of those episodes still hold up to the series, but this episode, on the other hand, barely has any impact on the series as a whole.
  3. It's quite clear that Aang is making up the story of the land's ancestors on a whim (and even if he weren't, it still doesn't make much sense).
  4. Aang gloating and lying about the fake story to the others was out-of-character. Not to mention that him not feeling bad about being dishonest is also OOC, as all the other times he lies in the show, he feels bad about it.
    • Furthermore, Katara being impressed with Aang lying about the fake story is just as out-of-character of her, since she'd normally call Aang out on his actions.
  5. Katara and Sokka are arguing over... the campfire and the tent. They are siblings with a year-long age difference, they know way better than fighting over something small like this.
  6. Both the Gai Jin and Zhang tribes are unlikable, as they fight over petty squabbles and they bring food despite the guide telling them not to bring any food.
  7. Several plot holes, such as why didn't Aang get Appa to get everybody out of the canyon to make it a less dangerous task or why can't the Guide just use his feet to earthbend if he had broken arms?
  8. Nonsensical, lackluster, bizarre, and inconsistent writing which makes the episode feel like an episode with a plot that belongs more fittingly for an episode of a filler show rather than Avatar: The Last Airbender which is well-written and has the charm and cleverness it had.
  9. Predictable ending where the Gan Jin and Zhang tribes learn from their mistakes, apologize and depart together.
  10. The episode teaches a bad moral: lying to other people is good if it gets them to stop fighting and arguing with each other. This is shown through Aang’s decision to lie to the Gan Jin and Zhang tribes to stop their feud with each other, which works.

Good Qualities

  1. The creators are aware of how bad this episode is. Avatar Extras even makes a little mention of this.
    • A later episode, "The Ember Island Players" pokes fun at this episode, with actress Aang mentioning the Great Divide in the play, but actor Sokka dismissed it and told the Gaang to keep flying.
  2. A few funny moments, such as Aang's reaction to the egg custard tart and Appa and Momo fighting over a melon.
  3. The Canyon Guide is a pretty entertaining character.
  4. Aang, Katara, and Sokka are still likable, despite the former two being briefely out of character.
  5. The animation and voice acting is still top-notch.
  6. To be fair, unlike "Bato of the Water Tribe", Aang lied for a good reason, explaining why he didn't feel bad about lying.


This episode received mixed reviews from audiences and fans, and was unpopular with fans due to its relatively insignificant plot and is the lowest-rated episode on IMDb. This fact did not go unnoticed by the creators and in the play in the episode "The Ember Island Players", the characters chose to fly right over the canyon without stopping, highlighting the inconsequential nature of the episode's events. Avatar Extras references it by saying, "This references an episode called 'The Great Divide'", immediately followed by, "That episode was not a fan favorite."

Additionally, in the third episode of the podcast Avatar: Braving the Elements, Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino admitted that the episode was terrible and that they were not happy with it. It's widely considered by many to be one of the weakest and lowest rated episodes of the show, alongside "Avatar Day" and "Bato of the Water Tribe".



  • Despite the episode not being fully referenced again in the series (and franchise in general) besides "The Ember Island Players", both tribes did end up returning in one of the Kyoshi spin-off novel series, The Rise of Kyoshi at an important minor role, due to the novel series first's main anti-villain, Jianzhu, being identified one of these two tribes, as well a bit more expending both the tribes' identity and history, including that one of the tribes were referred themselves as Ganjinese.[1]



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