Avatar: The Last Airbender completely botched its most iconic romantic storyline

Kayla Harrington
Aang and Katara in Avatar: The Last Airbender

Netflix’s adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender seems to have ruined one of the original series’ most iconic romantic storylines.

Despite receiving some backlash for changing major points from the source material, Netflix‘s adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender continues to see some success from fans.

The show follows Aang, a preteen air bender who is fated to be the Avatar, master of the four elements and bringer of peace. Though he disappeared 100 years ago, he returns to a new, war torn world that he must now save at all costs.

The Netflix series does have some of the heart of the original, though its lacking in some places, but one area where they truly dropped the ball has to do with one of the most iconic romantic storylines in the original show. Warning: spoilers ahead!

Netflix’s Avatar completely botched the Secret Tunnel storyline

In “The Cave of Two Lovers” (Season 2, Episode 2), Aang, Sokka, and Katara meet a group of Earth Kingdom nomads who assist them on their journey to the Earth Kingdom city of Omashu via underground tunnels.

Once in the tunnels, Sokka and the nomads are separated from Aang and Katara, leaving both groups to find their own ways out of the cave.

Aang and Katara, who at this point are at the beginning of their series long romance, soon discover the cave was built by two lovers, Oma and Shu, who learned earth bending and created the labyrinth of tunnels in order to meet in secret as they were from feuding towns.

After being stuck at several dead ends with a torch that was quickly burning out, the pair share their first kiss and are guided out of the tunnels by following glowing crystals that only showed themselves when the torch burnt out as “love is brightest in the dark,” which was the saying of the two lovers.

This moment between Aang and Katara cementing their blossoming romance in what became one of the most defining romantic storylines in the series.

However, the Netflix adaptation episode “Into the Dark” (Season 1, Episode 4) completely took the premise of the two lovers and applied to Katara and Sokka’s fraught sibling dynamic.

Instead of traveling to Omashu, the siblings used the tunnel to try to rescue Aang from Omashu’s king and his former friend Bumi, who was keeping Aang trapped in the palace in a very uncharacteristic event.

When they become trapped in the same situation Aang and Katara found themselves in the original series, the siblings declare their love for one another and are guided out of the tunnels by the badgermoles who helped create them.

While it’s not unheard of for an adaptation to make changes and deviations from the source material here and there, Netflix’s decision to completely change the outcome of the Secret Tunnel storyline is a bit baffling for several reasons.

For one thing, the adaptation writers have backed themselves into a bit of a corner by making the city of Omashu only accessible using these tunnels as one of the big reveals in the animated series was that the gang realized that the Fire Nation had overtaken the city when exiting the tunnels on the outskirts of Omashu.

If the show follows Book 2 (Earth) in their second season, they will have to figure out how the Fire Nation could overtake Omashu using earth bending practices, which they are not known to use.

And secondly, this change completely changes the course of Aang and Katara’s relationship, which becomes a big part of Book 3 (Fire).

It could be said that Netflix wanted to focus more on the pair’s friendship rather than any hint of romance but, seeing as Aang and Katara eventually get married and have three children, their romance will have to be addressed at some point.

Sending a pair of siblings into the lovers’ cave in order for them to state they love each other was a bit of head scratching moment for the otherwise decent adaptation, so one could only hope Netflix will somehow rectify these blunders in Season 2.

About The Author

Kayla is a TV and Movies Writer at Dexerto. She's huge fan of Marvel (especially if Wanda Maximoff is involved), shows that make you laugh then cry, and any cooking show found on the Food Network. Before Dexerto, she wrote for Mashable, BuzzFeed, and The Mary Sue. You can contact her at kayla.harrington@dexerto.com