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March 17, 2006
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Director: Giancarlo Volpe
Aang and friends are to be escorted to Omashu, where King Bumi can teach the Avatar Earthbending. But General Fong suggests that Aang defeat the Fire Lord and end the war immediately by triggering the Avatar State. Zuko and his uncle are visited by Azula, who has come to bring them back home. After many failed attempts, the General finally succeeds in triggering the Avatar State by faking Katara's death. Aang nearly destroys the base in anger and the group decides to go to Omashu alone. Zuko and his uncle escape Azula and become outcasts, realizing they are to be imprisoned in the Fire Nation.
In a dream, Aang sees himself in the Avatar State causing devastation and threatening his friends. Aang gasps awake, realizing he was only having a nightmare. He is in a hammock on a Water Tribe ship with his friends. He climbs up to the ship's deck, and Katara follows to comfort him. Aang confides in her about his nightmare, and that the power of the Avatar State is terrifying both for him and those close to him.
The next day, Pakku gives them parting gifts for their journey to the Earth Kingdom base, where they will be escorted to Omashu. Katara receives a necklace filled with special water from the Spirit Oasis, Aang receives Waterbending scrolls, and Sokka simply gets a farewell, disappointing him. Elsewhere, uncle Iroh is relaxing and getting a massage at a beautiful spa resort. Zuko however, is unhappy, realizing it has been three years to the day he was banished from the Fire Nation. He desperately wants to reclaim his honor, the throne, and his father's love.
At sea, a Fire Nation ship carrying Princess Azula is arriving at the Earth Kingdom to capture her brother and uncle. She threatens the ship captain's life when he warns the tides won't allow them to enter port on time.
Aang and his friends arrive at the Earth Kingdom base, and are greeted with every honor, their deeds at the north pole have become well-known. General Fong remarks on how Aang single-handedly destroyed a Fire Nation fleet. Fong believes with such power, Aang is ready to face the Fire Lord and end the War now. Panicked, Aang believe he's certainly not ready, and explains he was only able to do that because of the Avatar State, which he can't enter into willingly. After showing him the Earth Army infirmary, housing all the soldiers who were hurt by the war, Fong convinces Aang to aid him in his plan: Fong will help Aang enter the Avatar State.
On her ship, Azula is practicing lightning generation, a highly advanced form of Firebending. Her royal advisers, Lo and Li, watch her progress and remark she's close, but not perfect. Azula angrily remarks 'close to perfect' isn't good enough, and continues practicing, sending a bolt of lightning into the sky. Iroh wakes and looks outside in concern upon hearing thunder.
That night, Aang confesses to Katara that he accepted Fong's proposal by going into the Avatar State. While Sokka agrees, Katara is very much against it, believing Aang needs to keep mastering the elements the right way. Aang tells her to be realistic, but she gets mad and walks out of the room, refusing to be a part of the plan. The next day, Fong begins to put Aang through tests to try to trigger the Avatar State. First, he serves Aang a special herbal tea which increases energy ten-fold in soldiers, but it only gives Aang an energy-rush. The tea could possibly have contained caffeine, a substance that wasn't well known until more modern times. Sokka tries to scare Aang into the Avatar State, but it doesn't work. Fong organizes a ritual, where Aang wears clothing from all four nations and is bathed in all four elements, but it just makes him sneeze.
Azula finds Iroh and Zuko at the resort, and pays them a friendly visit, though the both of them are suspicious of her intentions. She tells them the Fire Lord regrets banishing his son, and wants Zuko to come back home. Zuko is dumbstruck by the news, and Azula departs to pick them up to go home the next day.
At sunset, Katara confesses to Aang that when he is in the Avatar State, it worries her greatly to see him in that much rage. Aang realizes this, but still believes what Fong is doing is right. Every day the war goes on more and more people die, and Aang it's all his fault for being 100 years too late. Katara tells him she she won't come to watch their attempt to induce the Avatar State anymore.
That night, Zuko is overjoyed from the news that his father wants him to return home. Iroh is suspicious of the news, and warns Zuko that things are never what they seem in their family. Zuko angrily tells his uncle he's a lazy, selfish old man, jealous of his brother. Aang has more nightmares about the Avatar State, and awakes. He decides Katara is right, and hopes General Fong won't be mad that he's changed his mind.
The next day, Zuko sets out to the port alone. Iroh joins him later, telling him family must stick together. Zuko smiles happily, but as they head for the ship Iroh casts a wary eye towards it. Aang explains to the General he doesn't want to go through with the plan anymore, believing the Avatar State can only be triggered when he's in genuine danger. Fong starts to attack Aang with Earthbending and orders his soldiers to start attacking as well, still bent upon inducing the Avatar State. Aang barely manages to dodge all their attacks, and tries to persuade them to stop attacking, but they refuse.
At the port, Azula warmly welcomes her brother and uncle. As they begin to depart, the ship's captain accidentally reveals it was all a set-up. Azula's true purpose is to return them to the Fire Nation to be imprisoned. Iroh fights the ship's guards as Zuko confronts Azula. Katara and Sokka realize what's happening and help defend Aang. However, General Fong captures Katara with Earthbending and begins to lower her into the ground in another attempt to induce the Avatar State. As Katara continues to sink, Aang begs for Fong to release her. Instead, Fong completely buries her. Enraged, Aang enters the Avatar State to Fong's initial delight, then becomes horrified as Aang begins to destroy everything in sight.
Zuko fights Azula, but he is no match for her. She taunts him, saying their father considers him a miserable failure and would rather Zuko rot away in prison than be out in the world embarrassing the Fire Nation. Azula prepares to strike him with lightning, but Iroh interrupts her and redirects the blast into the cliffside. Fong releases Katara, but Aang is still destroying the base. Avatar Roku releases Aang from the Avatar State, and explains that if the Avatar is killed while in the state, the Avatar will cease to exist. When General Fong begins thinking of other ways to induce the Avatar State, Sokka knocks Fong unconscious, and the three of them depart on Appa for Omashu on their own with no intervention from Fong's shell-shocked soldiers.
Zuko and Iroh have escaped from Azula, and rest near a small creek. As a symbol of severance from their family and the Fire Nation, the pair cut off their topknots and send them down the creek.
Production Notes Edit
Main article: Writing in the World of Avatar
Series Continuity Edit
- The significance of the dagger Zuko and Iroh use to cut off their topknots is examined in detail in "Zuko Alone".
- The line of Avatars that disappear while Roku is warning Aang that should he die in the Avatar State the Avatar cycle would be broken, reappear (in reverse of how they disappear in this episode) in Avatar Aang when the final Chakra is finally unblocked and Aang masters the state.
- Lightning generation is first introduced, as is Azula's blue firebending.
- This is the second time that Aang has been getting nightmares, the first was when Aang was having them in The Storm.
- This is the first time that Aang entered the Spirit World without meditating.
- This is the first time that an Avatar went into the Spirit World while in the Avatar State.
- This is the first time Avatars Kuruk and Yangchen are shown.
- At the time Sokka tries to get on top of a Ostrich Horse, its saddle appears to be a simple seat on its back with the area under it exposed and showing its fur color, But for a split-second it turns green implying the saddle fits around its entire body but soon changes back to the original Brown.
- In Aang's dream, while fighting Zuko, Aang is in the Avatar State, but toward the end of the dream, his tattoos and eyes aren't glowing.
- During the ritual to trigger the Avatar State, the oracle threw in one of the torches in the background into the bowl. After the scene returns to the oracle, the torch was back in place.
- When the Captain tries to plead with Azula, after revealing the set-up, his mouth isn't moving.
- When Azula and Zuko are fighting, Azula hits Zuko on his head and three scratches appear on Zuko's right temple, but when you look at Zuko in the next scene, he no longer has the scratches on his head.
- When Azula and Zuko are fighting, Azula is shown with no Fire Nation hair clip, when she grabs Zuko's hand. The clip is then back in that same scene.
- When Roku is showing Aang what will happen to the Avatar cycle, while riding Fang, they both disappear, then reappear in the next scene.
- While Aang is dreaming, at the start of the episode, one can see that his shadow has a faint arrow tattoo on it's head, the same Aang has to represent mastery over Airbending.
- When Aang is in the Avatar State and crashes to the ground to destroy everything around him, Katara doesn't get thrown out of the way like everything else, this could be because Katara is the only person that can face Aang and calm him down when he's in the Avatar State.
- When Katara is talking to Aang about what happened when they went to the Air Temple and saw Monk Gyatso's skeleton, it cuts to a close-up of her face. During the close-up, the Water Tribe insignia on her necklace is missing, though it could be do to the lighting.
- When Zuko cuts his topknot part of the red cloth still remains. In the next shot, it is gone.
- In the opening scene, the top of Katara's dress changes from her season one outfit to her season two outfit.
- This is the first episode where Sokka's shirt is sleeveless.
- This is the first episode where Aang is seen Earthbending and Earthbending in the Avatar State
- Mirroring "The Avatar Returns", when Aang goes into the Avatar State and rises using Waterbending, in this episode Aang performs a similar move, with Airbending.
- In "The Avatar State" with "Extras", bonus commentary, it was pointed out that four writers worked on this episode, more then any other episode had.
- In "The Avatar State" with "Extras", bonus commentary, it was confirmed that Katara had mastered waterbending in the short time they were at the north pole.
- In the beginning of the episode Pakku is wearing different clothing due to a warmer climate.
- According to "Avatar Extras", In the scene where Zuko and Iroh are going onto Azula's ship and the captain calls them prisoners, the creators had originally planned on Azula vaporizing the captain on the spot but decided that was too mean.
- The statues that Avatar Kyoshi Earthbends are similar to the statues used by the Earth King's Royal Guards against Aang and his friends when they were trying to get to the Earth King.