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The Subtle Sokka And Yue Detail You Missed In Avatar: The Last Airbender

It's been said before and it'll be said again, but Avatar: The Last Airbender's greatest strengths are its characters and the relationships between them. From Aang (voiced by Zach Tyler Eisen) to Zuko (voiced by Dante Basco), the main cast is fleshed out to the point where it starts to feel like a real group of people, never mind the fantastical world they inhabit. Side and one-off characters are treated with great care as well, enhancing the series' unique atmosphere with their presence.

Sokka (voiced by Jack De Sena) stands as one of the show's most beloved characters, a constant source of comedic relief and a pillar of thorough character development. He may not always be Team Avatar's most subtle member (even in light of his lack of flashy bending abilities), but Sokka's transformation from outright goofball to budding leader takes time and has quite the payoff. There's a lot going on under all his flamboyance and bravado, to say the least.

That attitude shines in his relationships. When he strikes up a romance with Princess Yue (voiced by Johanna Braddy) of the Northern Water Tribe, he stumbles a lot (literally, at one point) in trying to impress her, but his more considerate side, the side of him that's maturing, steals her heart. Their relationship takes a dramatic and unexpected turn in the first season finale, preceded by an interesting detail — recently pointed out on Reddit by u/comrade_batman — that pops up again later in Sokka's life. Yue's story is essential to fully understanding this bit of foreshadowing.

Princess Yue and the moon

Viewers may have initially found it a bit strange that a young woman like Yue sports pure white hair, but the reason is intentionally left unmentioned until late in the game. Admiral Zhao (voiced by Jason Isaccs) and the Fire Navy successfully invade the Northern Water Tribe, allowing Zhao to accomplish his true goal: locating the mortal form of the Moon Spirit, a koi fish. Its capture leaves waterbenders powerless and turns the moon a violent red, causing both Aang and Yue to feel faint. As the Avatar, it makes sense that Aang would share the distress of a spirit in danger, but Yue? This is when the story of her white hair comes into play.

As Yue explains to Team Avatar, she was a sickly child — so sickly, in fact, that the Northern Water Tribe's best healers didn't think she was going to make it, and admitted as much to her parents. Her father pleaded with the spirits to save her, going so far as to bring her to the Spirit Oasis where the Moon Spirit resides. Dipping her in the pool there turned Yue's hair permanently white, an infusion of life from the spirit. "That's why my mother named me Yue," she concludes. "For the moon."

They eventually catch up to Zhao, both Aang and Iroh (voiced by Mako Iwamatsu) attempting to convince him to let the Moon Spirit free. The moon maintains a fundamental balance that affects all the world, so killing it would be foolish... but kill it Zhao does. Iroh, however, recognizes the Moon Spirit's touch on Yue, and she bravely suggests that she may be able to return the gift of life it gave her as a baby. Sokka tries to stop her, of course, but Yue is resolute. She restores the Moon Spirit, dying in the process and becoming a spirit herself. Sharing one final kiss with Sokka, she ascends toward the moon, her duty fulfilled.

A transcendent love triangle

A mere day before Yue's sacrifice, and before Team Avatar hears her tale, she and Sokka meet on a moonlit bridge overlooking one of the Northern Water Tribe's many canals. Having heard Katara (voiced by Mae Whitman) deride the tribe's arranged marriage customs earlier, Yue's not in the best mood when Sokka arrives. He persists, however, stating why he thinks she's been so weird around him lately: the class disparity between them. When he turns away despite Yue's protests, she spins him around and kisses him to let him know his feelings are indeed reciprocated. The real problem, she reveals, is that she's engaged, proving it with a betrothal necklace that'd been well hidden under her collar up to that point.

Most of the scene is framed with a certain celestial body floating just between them: the moon. Knowing Yue's past and eventual fate, the moon's placement here serves a greater purpose than a beautiful backlight. No matter their feelings for one another, destiny puts up a wall between them — literally. That the dark side of the moon faces Sokka is no coincidence, signifying the inevitable void Yue's death will cause in his life. The moon's white sheen facing Yue is equally as significant, highlighting her hair and emphasizing her connection with the Moon Spirit without first-time viewers even realizing.

Come season 2, Sokka is briefly reunited with Suki (voiced by Jennie Kwan), a love interest of his who he met long before Yue. She helps escort Team Avatar and their fellow travelers across the Serpent's Pass, an ocean pathway as dangerous as its name would imply. Sokka's insanely protective of Suki despite knowing she's fully capable of taking care of herself, and so she brings it up to him one night. In response, he alludes to what happened with Yue, not wanting to ever lose a loved one like that again. Suki comforts him, admitting that Sokka having to leave her in the past wasn't easy, either. They lean in for a kiss, but Sokka can't do it.

Echoing the conversation with Yue on the bridge, the moon looms between Sokka and Suki for a majority of the scene. Of course, it's taken on a new meaning for him now: Yue is the moon. Kissing Suki with Yue "watching" would, in his mind, disrespect the woman she was and the feelings he had for her. Him standing on the moon's bright side reflects his lack of closure even further, Suki left on the dark side of the moon as he once was when speaking with Yue. It isn't until the sun comes out that the two of them make up for lost time, kissing before they must depart once again. Sokka finally comes to terms with the fact that, though Yue is always with him in a sense, she really is gone — and Suki's not.

Hidden character details like this are spread throughout Avatar, but it's up to viewers to find and interpret them in their own ways. That attention to detail is yet another reason the show is so timeless.