The Way Of Water Doesn’t Redeem Jake Sully And That’s The Point

Jake Sully’s arc isn’t terribly complicated, as he himself is not terribly complicated. At the start of “Avatar,” he’s bitter and perhaps too prone at following orders. When his superior officer Col. Quaritch (Stephen Lang) tells him that the Na’vi are to be treated as hostiles, he takes it at face value. He eventually learns not to trust his military-minded superiors … but retains his capacity for military violence. Jake’s skills as a gun-toting killer ultimately aid the Na’vi in fighting off the invading human forces who want to strip-mine the planet. Jake goes from being a military wonk to a military leader for another nation. In brief, his character growth is that he jumps ship and gets a promotion. 

In “Avatar: The Way of Water,” it’s somewhat refreshing to see that Jake Sully is just as curt and military-minded as he always was. Now permanently occupying the body of a Na’vi, Jake and Neytiri have spent the last decade blissfully married in the forest, and have had several children together. Jake, however, is not a placid nature-lover. He is a still a jarhead marine. His sons call him “sir,” and he has trained them to respond to him as they would a drill instructor. He remains handy with weapons (beyond the need to hunt for food), and doesn’t really have an enlightened mind. 

Indeed, it is Jake’s instincts toward military tactics that drive the plot of “Water.” He’s certainly ready to fight at a moment’s notice, but his violence-forward leadership ultimately only increases the ire of the technologically advanced humans. No stealth. No diplomacy. Nothing quiet. Jake’s Marine mind gets him in trouble. So much for his redemption.

It is Jake’s kids who prove to be more open-minded.

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