Yue In Netflix’s ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender,’ Explained: Is Three-Tailed Fox Spirit Dead?

I can’t say that Netflix’s adaptation of Nickelodeon’s acclaimed animated series has done a very good job at retelling the story. If I’m being honest, we all saw this coming; the only time a live-action adaptation actually did a decent job was when Netflix released their adaptation of One Piece. Either way, Avatar: The Last Airbender still managed to remind us of the importance of these characters. I feel the original work was entirely out of this world. Not only did it show us the horrors of war, but also the importance of nature and balance in this world. Who would’ve thought that the series could tell us so much about our own world through its playful nature and its characters? The live-action adaptation does, however, portray themes that are quite important for this generation to remember lately. Princess Yue is one such character who reminds me of this theme of balance that the world requires.


Spoilers Ahead

Who Is Yue?

Princess Yue is the daughter of Arnook, the chief of the Northern Water Tribe, located at the north pole of this fictional world. The Northern Water Tribe is the only remaining stronghold of the Waterbender faction at war with the Fire Nation, who have successfully repelled all attacks by their enemies. Yue not only holds the position of princess but is also the spiritual leader of the people of the tribes. In the animated series, she was betrothed to Hahn, a warrior of the tribe, but the series has given her more autonomy, as she is granted the independence to choose her suitors. When Sokka first meets Yue, he assumes that, being a royal, Yue would be a snob, until he talks to her. Being the princess, Yue surely has her own responsibilities to the people, making her adopt a sophisticated demeanor towards them, but in reality, she is a normal girl who loves getting away from those responsibilities. This sense of enforced responsibility is something that makes her bond with Sokka as well. 


Why Does Sokka Recognize Yue?

During Team Avatar’s accidental journey to the spirit realm to find Hei Bai, the forest spirit, Sokka, in an attempt to escape the malevolent spirit, comes across a white, three-tailed fox spirit. Sokka engages in a brief yet amusing conversation with the fox before it walks into the forest. When he first meets Yue, Sokka immediately feels drawn to her. He feels as though they have already met before, which he finds really strange. Sokka notices the symbol on the jewel on Yue’s head, which the fox carried on its tail as well. Recalling the similarities between her and the fox, Sokka confronts the princess, who admits that it was indeed her in the forest. 

How Is Yue Connected To The Spirit World?

As an infant, Yue had gotten sick, and her parents were unable to find a cure for her. They eagerly prayed to the spirits, pleading with them to cure their daughter, until the moon spirit answered their prayers and finally cured her sickness. In doing so, the spirit left a fragment of its essence inside Yue, which is why the color of her hair changed as well. Yue is mostly human, but because of the essence she received from the moon spirit, she has the ability to astrally project herself into the spirit world. Having one foot in the spirit world is why she’s able to help the people of the tribe connect to their spiritual sides as well. She also loves traveling to the other realm, as she finds it magical and filled with mysteries unknown to humans. When Aang wishes to connect to Avatar Kuruk, seeking his guidance to defend the tribe from the Fire Nation’s assault, Yue stands by him at Kuruk’s shrine to help him connect to the other world. 


How Does Yue Feel About Sokka?

Given their unexpected encounter in the spirit world, Sokka was strangely drawn to Yue. Starting with their meeting at Agna Qel’a, Sokka couldn’t keep his eyes off Yue, partly because he felt a strange familiarity with her and partly because he was attracted to her. Yue, on the other hand, recognized Sokka from their previous encounter but chose not to reveal herself to him. It is quite uncertain how anyone would react in a situation like this. When Sokka finds out about Hahn being previously betrothed to Yue as a child but being turned down by the princess when she turned 16, he doubts that Yue would even be interested in him since she turned down a capable warrior like Hahn. After Sokka finally identifies her as the fox spirit, she discloses her secret to him, expressing how she loves venturing into the spirit realm. Seeing Sokka’s doubts about himself, Yue reaffirms his own abilities as an ideal warrior who really cares about his friends. She reveals that even though Hahn was an ideal suitor for him and that any girl would want to be with Hahn, she never felt any love for him, suggesting that she also likes Sokka. 

Throughout the arc that takes place at Agna Qel’a, it is quite clear that the Northern Water Tribe is a rather misogynistic society, especially seeing Master Pakku’s attitude towards Katara’s intention to take part in combat. Princess Yue had been betrothed to Hahn as a child, even though she was not interested in him. While Hahn was a respectful person, Yue still took the step to make her own decision to choose the person she wished to be with. When she comes across Sokka, she identifies him as being more deserving of her feelings, seeing his compassion and drive to help the world be a better place. 


How Does Yue Die?

During the Battle of Agna Qel’a, Chief Arnook appoints Sokka as Yue’s bodyguard, despite Sokka’s desire to fight on the frontlines against the Fire Nation. Respecting his orders to protect his lover, Sokka reluctantly agrees to the assignment. Amidst the chaos of battle, their flying lemur, Momo, sacrifices himself to save a child from falling debris. However, Yue uses her healing abilities within the sacred oasis to revive him. Meanwhile, Admiral Zhao arrives at the oasis accompanied by General Iroh and his crew, intent on killing the moon spirit to eliminate waterbending. In the ensuing confrontation, Zhao successfully slays the moon spirit, plunging the warriors of Agna Qel’a into helplessness and chaos. 

After the Avatar merges with the ocean spirit, transforming into a colossal being that wreaks havoc upon the Fire Nation fleet, Princess Yue comes to a realization. She believes that the ocean spirit’s fury will not be settled. It will relentlessly try to find the moon spirit, wreaking destruction wherever it goes. However, Yue also comes to recall that she carries the essence of the moon spirit. Despite Sokka’s protests, Yue resolves to sacrifice herself to bring back the moon spirit. She understands that this act will cost her life but believes it to be the only way to put an end to the ocean spirit’s wrath and restore harmony to the world. As the moon spirit returns to life, Yue fades into thin air. 


Yue’s sacrifice says a lot about her role in the series. Her life had been about challenging the norms of the society around her and bringing a balance to nature. She believed that her life had been a blessing from the moon spirit, and what she had taken eventually had to be given back. By doing so, she doesn’t only save the waterbenders but the entire world. In the animated series, Yue’s spirit continues to exist in the spirit realm. She even helps Aang connect to his past incarnations when he needs it the most. 

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Shrey Ashley Philip
Shrey Ashley Philip
A teacher, photographer, linguist, and songwriter, Shrey started out as a Biotechnology graduate, but shifted to studying Japanese. Now he talks about movies, advocates for ADHD awareness, and embraces Albert Camus.

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