Jake Sully’s unique parenting style in Avatar: The Way of Water is analyzed by a professional therapist. The Avatar sequel continues Jake and Neytiri’s story from the original movie by expanding their family. Now introducing a new dynamic, the Sully family raises four kids – Kiri, Neteyam, Lo’ak, and Tuk – along with a foster relationship with Norm’s human child Spider.
In a reaction video with Cinema Therapy, therapist Jonathan Decker analyzes Jake Sully’s relationship with his children. In Decker’s analysis, he describes Jake’s “military” like style that comes across as “lopsided.” Jake more often prioritizes “toughness” over showing his kids that he loves them.
To make this connection, Decker draws out one particular scene in Avatar: The Way of Water wherein Jake scolds Lo’ak for carelessness while his son is “actually bleeding.” Check out the full quote from Decker below:
As Decker references, audiences can still like Jake because they “understand that” he is “falling into what he knows. The original Avatar covered the basis of Jake’s backstory by extensively revealing his military background. Under Quaritch’s leadership, Jake has seen a harsh military environment with strict power structures. As the patriarch of the Sully family, he is the colonel, the general of his family, and he acts as such.
Another motivating factor for Jake is likely the death he has seen throughout Avatar. Most significantly, Jake watched his beloved colleague Grace pass away underneath the Tree of Souls. With The Way of Water’s Kiri being a loose reincarnate of Grace (played by the same actor Sigourney Weaver), this loss likely affected Jake in Avatar: The Way of Water. He does not want his kids to suffer the same fate as Grace and countless others.
In some ways, Jake is correct in those concerns. Within the brutal war-torn water world, Jake’s eldest son, Neteyam, died at the hands of Quaritch in Avatar: The Way of Water’s ending, making his greatest fear come true. While Jake reconnects with Lo’ak by the end, the backdrop of Neteyam’s death will provide an additional challenge for Jake in Avatar 3 as his kids come of age and the Sully family continues to fight for Pandora.