The Last Airbender villain wasn’t the Fire Lord

Aang and the gang bring Kuei to Lake Laogai to prove his “most loyal attendant,” as Long Feng once referred to himself, disloyal. All evidence of the underwater facility, however, is found destroyed — undoubtedly the work of the Dai Li under Long Feng’s direction. But there’s more evidence: The Fire Nation drill previously used in an invasion attempt. No excuse can cover that up, and Kuei has Long Feng arrested.

Even imprisoned, though, the man still has a few tricks up his sleeve. Having learned of Azula’s search for Aang through Dai Li spies, he strikes a deal with her: Use the Earth King’s trust in her (since she’s disguised as a Kyoshi Warrior) to keep the monarch off balance, and he’ll get her the Avatar. Working behind the curtain is standard practice for Long Feng, as attested by his arrogant smile.

Yet Long Feng soon finds his confidence misplaced. After release from incarceration, he orders the Dai Li to arrest the Fire Nation princess and wrest control back, but their loyalties have shifted, and Azula both literally and symbolically takes the Earth Kingdom throne. All he can do is admit defeat, and so he does.

Following Long Feng’s twists and turns was as engaging for the audience as it was enraging for Team Avatar. The enmity he presented was subtle, careful, and planned — much the opposite of Ozai’s power-flaunting ways — making him truly an Avatar: The Last Airbender villain for the history books.

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