North and South Part Two is the second installment of the North and South trilogy. It was released in comic book stores on January 25, 2017, and on February 7, 2017 in mass market retailers.
After attempting to kidnap Katara and Sokka, Southerner Gilak leaves a haunting note for Hakoda: "Soon you will see the truth, chieftain". The vow leaves everyone on edge–including Katara, who remains wary of the two tribes' integration. As Northerner Malina announces a partnership with the company owned by Toph Beifong's father, her own brother comes forward to defame her. Have Katara's worst fears been confirmed?
The morning after Katara and Sokka's return to the town, Hakoda and three of his officers investigate the Fire Nation shipwreck themselves, searching for Gilak and his group of dissidents. They find the wreck and the caverns beneath it abandoned but discover that Gilak has left a message for them to find, which reads, "Soon you will see the truth, chieftain."
Malina and Maliq meet Katara and Sokka outside their factory, the former two intending to give the latter two a tour of the facility. As Maliq goes into an explanation of their mission and reason for coming to the Southern Water Tribe, Katara and Sokka tune him out, discussing between themselves the implications of Hakoda and Malina's budding romance. Sokka, while somewhat off-put by the image of his father kissing Malina the previous night, maintains that Hakoda should be able to choose what he wants, while Katara holds strongly against it, unwilling to entertain even the thought of Malina becoming their stepmother. Maliq, finishing his speech, asks them to share any inquiries they might have and is distressed to realize they have not heard a word he has said. Malina summarizes his speech into a single thought for them: They have found oil underneath the thick ice and are planning to extract it. She cites it as the foremost path to "lifting up the South", a phrase to which Katara takes offense.
Maliq passionately explains that the sheer amount of oil under the ice will usher in a new age of machinery in the world, allowing machines to become a part of people's everyday lives. He responds to Katara's skepticism by saying that, as a bender, she has no way of knowing the advantages benders hold over nonbenders, and that the use of machines can, at last, bring equality among them. Sokka joins in the conversation, leading to an exchange about the machines used at the Earthen Fire Refinery, which in turns leads to the revelation that Malina and Maliq are business partners with Earthen Fire Industries. Malina tells them that the company is sending a representative to help them and, pointing at a coat-clad, shoe-wearing Toph walking toward them, identifies her as the person in question. After Sokka and Katara greet her excitedly, Toph speaks with Malina and Maliq, telling them that she looks forward to working with them. Malina and Maliq tell Katara and Sokka that they are having a festival in town that evening and insist that they come as guests of honor. Upon learning that there will be food at the festival, Sokka wholeheartedly agrees to go, to the displeasure of Katara.
The festival takes place that night in the town square. Wandering around, Katara, Sokka, and Toph find a high-striker booth. When Sokka excitedly mentions it to Toph, referring to it as "the poundy-poundy game", Toph resolves to beat it, and the two leave Katara behind. She is approached by Pakku, who introduces two young waterbending students of his to her, Siku and Sura. However, they deny that they are waterbenders and run off a short ways, where, believing themselves to be out of Pakku's sight, they waterbend openly. Watching them, Pakku tells Katara that he found the girls in a village far removed from the sea and wonders why they want to keep their abilities to themselves, considering they are very talented for their age.
Outside the walls of the town, Hakoda and his forces have set up a blockade to defend the festival from Gilak's forces. In the distance, Gilak observes the perimeter through binoculars. Remarking that Hakoda's actions are utterly predictable, he rallies his troops around a large metal drill and tells them to prepare for action. Meanwhile, Katara, seeking out her father, talks with him about Malina and expresses her doubts and deep-rooted distrust of her. Hakoda assures her that he has not been blinded by his emotions since, as she has discovered for herself, "the right kind of love ... doesn't blind you. It actually helps you see." At that moment, Katara looks up and sees Appa descending toward them and, excited, runs to meet Aang.
They embrace, and Katara asks if he was able to calm the spirits in the Fire Nation, to which Aang replies that it was Azula, not spirits, who was creating chaos. He assures her that everything is all right, as the Kyoshi Warriors are assisting Zuko, and greets Hakoda with a bow, which Hakoda returns. Aang asks about the blockade set up around them, and Hakoda tells him, without specifics, that he has the situation under control and suggests that the two visit the festival. As they walk away, Katara asks Aang if Hakoda has always been kind to him. When Aang answers "yes", Katara responds that she should be kind to Hakoda in turn.
They soon find Sokka and Toph, who has collected a large number of stuffed animal prizes from the game booths. After a short time, Katara spots Malina in the crowd and calls out to her to wait. She thanks her for inviting her and Sokka to the festival. As she tells Katara to think nothing of it, Malina notices Aang, who is using airbending to win a game at a nearby booth, and is shocked to realize that the boy is the Avatar. Katara offers to introduce her to him, and she wholeheartedly accepts, but at that moment, Maliq finds them and informs his sister that it is time for them to make an announcement to the crowd. Katara promises to introduce her after the speech. While Toph and Sokka go on playing booth games, Aang quickly notices the faces of the crowd turned toward the central stage and realizes that someone is about to speak.
Malina begins by introducing herself and Maliq to the crowd and tells them that the Southern Reconstruction Project will elevate the South to the level of the other nations of the world by utilizing its natural resources. As she continues, introducing Toph and their partnership with Earthen Fire, Toph senses an object rising toward them through the ice beneath her feet; the shoes she has been wearing have muffled her seismic sense, keeping her from sensing it any sooner. When Malina asks Toph to say a few words to the crowd, the earthbender screams at them to flee for safety. Seconds later, as the crowd scatters, Gilak's drill bursts from the snow. A number of his soldiers emerge from within it, while Gilak and Thod, who holds Maliq's briefcase, stand atop the steel machine, all of them glaring at Malina and Maliq.
His sword drawn, Gilak addresses the crowd, identifying himself as a loyal member of the tribe, someone who has lived with them and shared in both their triumphs and losses. He points at Malina and Maliq and accuses them publicly of attempting to "subjugate and humiliate" the Southern Water Tribe and its people. He reveals to them the recent discovery of oil and asserts that the siblings are seeking to steal the oil for the benefit of the Northern Water Tribe. When Malina angrily denies the accusation, Gilak raises the briefcase for all to see and cites the information it holds as proof of his claims. Having read every document within, he has deduced that their plan is to make the Southern Tribe a glorified colony under the control of the North by controlling the oil's every move from beginning to end. Once more, Malina denies the claim, but after a moment of silent hesitation, she drops her gaze to the stage and admits to the crowd that, at the beginning of the project, they planned to give control of the oil to the North.
She says that they doubted the readiness of the southern Tribe to use their newfound resource responsibly. She soon came to the realization, however, that the tribe was more than ready for the task and that she was wrong. Suddenly, Maliq interrupts her, informing her, with a touch of anger in his voice, that giving the oil to the North is still the plan. As he believes she is wrong to trust the Southerners with anything at all, he has gone ahead with their original blueprints. As a follow-up to this statement, he launches into a rant against the Southern Water Tribe: he blatantly vilifies the South's culture and society at every turn, labeling them as "backward" and "mired in the past", and states plainly that they are not "an actual civilization", utterly incapable of formulating a "cohesive set of laws" to govern itself.
While he speaks, Malina repeatedly tries to gently silence him, horrified by his words. At long last, she screams in her brother's ear, bringing him to a stop. Turning to the crowd, she apologizes for what their crew has done, assures them that the two of them are resigning, and that they will leave the South on the first ship in the morning. Her apology falls far short, however, of satisfying Gilak, who orders his troops to attack the defenseless siblings on the stage. As they charge forward, weapons bared, the terrified crowd scatters.
Seeing the charge, Team Avatar jumps to the siblings' aid; while Toph and Sokka deal with the soldiers, Aang and Katara help Malina and Maliq escape from the city. At the city gates, Hakoda and his soldiers hear the noise of battle from within the town and, realizing Gilak has entered the city somehow, take off on foot toward the noise. Aang tells Katara to protect Malina while he handles the soldiers, and she quickly positions herself between them and the siblings, but an unexpected attack from Noa, who, along with his partners Kam and Soonjei, wants payback for the embarrassment she caused them the previous day, knocks her down. As Maliq drags Malina, who wants to make sure Katara is not hurt, away, Katara returns to consciousness to find Thod standing over her. He asks if she understands the meaning of the story he told her and clarifies the metaphor himself: the Northerners will never see them as anything but helpless underlings, and the only way to save themselves is to expel every last one from the tribe. He asks her if, knowing this, she will join Gilak's forces. It takes but one look at Aang, dueling the soldiers a short way away, for her to refuse Thod's offer. Disappointed, he abruptly attacks her, jabbing her shoulder joints with two fingers outstretched on each hand. As she topples backward, her arms paralyzed, a horrified Katara realizes that Thod is a chi blocker.
As Aang fights off the soldiers attacking him, two of them get close enough to him to grab his arms. They hold him in place as the drill suddenly bears down on them, but he kicks out behind him with his legs, flipping the tank onto its roof, and lands on his feet. He easily hurls the two away from him with a blast of air from either hand. At the same time, Toph and Sokka run to the stage, where Noa, Kam, and Soonjei are defending themselves against Gilak's soldiers. Toph, noticing Soonjei using earth gauntlets, promptly fashions the same thing for herself, albeit much larger than his, and knocks them all unconscious with a single punch, smiling widely the whole time. Sokka confronts a few of the soldiers, who give him the chance to help them find Malina and Maliq. When he refuses, they attack him with boomerangs, but Sokka easily dodges their boomerangs and defeats them with his own.
Katara, recovering from Thod's attack, counters him by waterbending without using her arms; swinging a leg at him, her arms flailing uselessly at her sides, she encases him up to his shoulders in ice and lets a soldier take him into custody. After asking him where Hakoda is, Aang comes back to her, and together they race for the city gates. At the same time, Malina and Maliq, who seem to have escaped cleanly, stumble through the snow just outside the gates. Out of nowhere, the boy and girl who stole Maliq's briefcase appear; the boy punches Maliq in the face, and he falls to the snow, stunned. While Malina tries to wake him, Gilak catches up to them. Malina desperately tries to convince him that they will have left the South by sunrise, but her assurance does not satisfy his bitterness, and one of his soldiers rushes at her with a drawn sword. When she defends herself by blasting the man in the face with snow, the other soldiers restrain her and Maliq by throwing a net over them, and the boy and girl, students of Thod, chi-block her.
Malina begs for forgiveness on behalf of the semi-conscious Maliq, but Gilak has made up his mind: labeling her and her brother liars and betrayers of their entire tribe, he intends to make an example of them to the world. He swings his blade downward but finds himself stopped mid-swing by Hakoda, who grabs his arm. Hakoda demands that Gilak relent, and Gilak, asserting the rightness of his actions, makes mention of the evidence in the briefcase. Hakoda retorts that he knew about the plan all along and allowed them to continue after Malina assured him that they had changed their minds. When Gilak insists adamantly that her words are nothing but a calculated lie, Hakoda cites Zuko as an example of someone whose intentions came to change over time. Now convinced that Hakoda is beyond saving, Gilak brands Hakoda a traitor and attacks him. Hakoda easily deflects the attacks and deals several painful blows of his own to Gilak, staggering him briefly.
As Gilak recovers, Hakoda recalls a wartime adventure the two of them had on Whale Tail Island, in which several Fire Nation soldiers ambushed him and Gilak came to his aid. They defeated the two guards together, as brothers-in-arms, which is the way Hakoda continues to view Gilak, no matter how things may have changed between them. Hakoda offers a hand to Gilak as a sign of amicability and forgiveness. Gilak shakes Hakoda's hand with his right but draws a knife from the back of his belt with his left and stabs Hakoda in the stomach.
Malina's scream of horror is not the only one; Katara and Aang have rushed through the city gates just in time to witness Gilak's treachery, and Katara, screaming as well, rushes to Gilak and raises a thick wall of ice shards around him, fencing him in. Seeing Katara, the boy and girl and the other guerrillas flee for their safety, but Aang quickly snares their feet in the snow with waterbending. As Hakoda's forces bind the rebels, Aang rushes to Katara, who is kneeling beside the motionless Hakoda. After staring disbelievingly at the body of her father, she begins to heal his wound. As Malina and Maliq, freed from the net, join them, Katara quietly urges her father to hold on.
Later that night, while Aang and Toph wait outside, Kanna, Pakku, Katara, and Sokka sit in Kanna's hut at Hakoda's bedside as he awakens, weak and bandaged. Sokka and Katara are thrilled and relieved, and Kanna tells them to let Hakoda rest, asking that they come back in the morning. She remarks that something in the tribe is definitely wrong, as they have come to visit her twice in a span of two days. Suggesting the issue is the presence of a misguided opinion, she states that the person, whoever they are, needs to reexamine their beliefs. Sokka and Katara both offer up their own thoughts on which group it might be, but both of them cling to opposite sides of the argument: Sokka maintains that Gilak deserves to be in prison for his actions, while Katara asserts that Malina and Maliq should never have tried to take the oil from the ground in the first place.
Leaving the hut, Katara and Sokka rejoin Aang and Toph, the latter of whom assures Katara that, had she known her clients' true intentions, she would have refused to work with them. Moments later, they are joined by Malina, whose attempts to apologize are countered at every turn by Katara. Malina persists, however, telling them that she, Maliq, and their crew have been released and ordered to leave the tribe in the morning. She has come by to say her goodbyes to Hakoda, but Katara plainly tells her that she will not allow it. As Malina turns to leave, the door of the hut opens, and Kanna calls to Malina that Hakoda wants to talk with her.
As Gilak sits in his lonely prison cell, the female officer who searched the wreck with Hakoda walks up to the door, holding a food tray. She tells him she has heard of the accusations he made at the festival. As she slides the tray under the door and walks away, she tells him she never trusted the Northerners. Searching the tray, Gilak finds the key to his cell and smiles.
Library Edition reveals
The North and South Library Edition compiles all three parts of the North and South trilogy as well as interjects trivia- and production-based notes in the sidebar of many pages. These notes were written by Gene Yang and the Gurihiru team. The following are notable points from the Library Edition that pertain to North and South Part Two's early production phase and trivialities as attested by the aforementioned crew members.
- Gene Yang (author-perspective, storytelling trivia):
- Maliq's vision of an equal society in which machines remove the advantages benders inherently have over non-benders was meant to show the beginnings of the philosophy held by the Equalists (p. 88).
- By the time Yang and the Gurihiru team got to scripting this trilogy, they knew that it would be the last arc they would work with for Avatar: The Last Airbender. As a result, they intentionally included all the members of Team Avatar so that they could each be written and drawn one last time (p. 90).
- The central tension featured in this arc (along with several other arcs by Yang and the Gurihiru team) concerns the interplay between cultural identity and diversity. Specifically, Yang wanted to explore whether it was possible for economically and militarily "small" cultures to interact with "larger" cultures without losing their cultural identity (p. 114).
- This trilogy was meant to set up the conflict between the two polar Water Tribes heavily featured in Book Two: Spirits (p. 119).
- Kanna referenced the relationship between action and belief, which is a recurring topic in Eastern philosophies. Yang noted that this take is starkly different from the "unity of knowledge and action", which was the philosophy of Wang Yangming, a sixteenth-century Chinese general (p. 147).
- In the first draft, the key to Gilak's cell was hidden in a book. DiMartino suggested hiding the key under a bowl of food, which Yang found more natural (p. 152).
- Gurihiru (stylistic and artistic trivia):
- Given notes from the creators that airbenders do not need much clothing to keep warm in the poles, the Gurihiru team kept Aang's clothing relatively simple, consisting simply with long sleeves and a cloak. This design was meant to resemble the clothing worn by Tenzin in The Legend of Korra (p. 104).
- Since the scene in which Hakoda is defeated by Gilak was meant to have great dramatic impact, the Gurihiru team redrew the page several times in order to get the layout just right (p. 142).
- ↑ Avatar: The Last Airbender - North and South Part Two release date. Penguin Random House. Retrieved on August 8, 2016.