Paradigm Analysis by Shari Goodhartz
Act I sets up Jake as a paraplegic marine whose identical twin brother (Tom) has recently died while working as a scientist on the environmentally hostile-to-humans planet of Pandora, whose indigenous humanoid population is the Na’vi. A mining company, and its military escort, offers Jake free, state-of-the-art surgery to restore the use of his legs if he takes his brother’s place in a neuro-psychic link tank that allows him to “drive” a Na’vi avatar-body that incorporated Tom’s DNA, which only Jake can now use.
Plot Point I finds inexperienced Jake, in his Na’vi avatar, forced to stay overnight, alone in Pandora’s alien forest. Scientific team leader Grace doesn’t believe he’ll survive on his own against the pack of beasts that have already attacked him once, but she has no choice but to leave him behind till dawn.
Act II sees Jake being reluctantly rescued from the beasts by Na’vi female Neytiri, who receives a clear “sign” from the local plant-life that he has been chosen to help the Na’vi people in an important way. He is grudgingly allowed to stay with the Na’vi and train in their skills and customs. They are completely unaware that Jake is secretly gathering intelligence about them and reporting to the belligerent human Colonel each night.
After many challenges, the Midpoint grants Jake acceptance into Neytiri’s clan. He stands in the center of a circle of Na’vi, all reaching their hands out to touch each other’s shoulders to create a massive, living-mandala of tribal belonging.
The second half of Act II finds the Colonel using Jake’s intel to attack the Tree of Voices, a sacred biological repository of the ancestral spirits and wisdom of the Na’vi. At Plot Point II, Neytiri discovers Jake’s betrayal and utterly rejects him personally (they’ve become lovers and life-bonded partners), as well as his membership in her clan. Jake and Grace are tied up to await punishment.
Act III escalates the human military assault on the Na’vi Home Tree, which eventually leads to Grace’s death at the Tree of Souls while establishing the possibility that a human consciousness can be permanently moved into a Na’vi avatar. After many battles, the human military is defeated by the gathering of Na’vi clans, which were enabled by Jake’s masterful link with a giant Pandoran dragon. However his human body is left vulnerable to the vengeful malice of the humiliated Colonel in a powerful exo-suit. In the Climax, Neytiri kills the Colonel and saves Jake’s human body from the toxic Pandoran air.
The story is Resolved when most of the human colonizers are expelled from Pandora and Jake’s consciousness is successfully transferred into his Na’vi body.