December 1, 2006
"Book Three: Fire: The Awakening"
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Writer: Aaron Ehasz
Director: Michael Dante DiMartino
Azula betrays Long Feng and assumes leadership of the Dai Li. Zuko betrays his uncle's trust and chooses to attack the Avatar. Aang is fatally injured by Azula in battle, but Iroh intervenes and gives his friends enough time to escape. With the Earth King overthrown, Ba Sing Se is conquered by the Fire Nation.
The episode begins with Sokka and Aang both hurrying back to Ba Sing Se on Appa; as they fly along, they spot Toph, who is trying to get back to the Palace as quickly as she can. They pick her up and fly to Ba Sing Se, trying quickly to get there to see if Katara is all right. When asked if he had mastered the Avatar State, Aang lies to the others, saying that he has.
Meanwhile, deep underground, Azula---who has been given control of the Dai Li by Long Feng for the planned coup---works quickly to establish her position of leadership and make them fear and obey her. She tells them all that soon the Earth King will lock them away, just as he did to Long Feng. This inspirational fear is shown later on when one agent visits Long Feng, and when asked about Azula, says that she is both terrifying and inspirational.
Iroh and Zuko arrive at the Earth King's palace, on the esteem invitation they received to serve him tea. While waiting for the King, the two become somewhat apprehensive. A circle of Dai Li agents surround Iroh and Zuko, and it quickly is revealed to be a plot by Azula. Zuko takes a defensive stance; however, Iroh takes a different approach. He calmly asks Azula if she ever heard why Iroh earned the nickname, “Dragon of the West,” to which Azula just waves him off and says she has no time for lengthy anecdotes. Instead of a verbal narrative, Iroh sips at the tea before him and suddenly begins to breathe fire, attacking the Dai Li agents surrounding him and Zuko. The two begin their escape, dodging projectiles of earth fired by the Dai Li, and Iroh destroys a wall with a blast of lightning. He leaps out of the Palace, lands on the ground and tells Zuko that they must escape. However, Zuko decides that it is time to end this running away and turns to fight Azula. After Zuko challenges her to an Agni Kai, she turns him down and turns her back, and he is captured by the Dai Li.
Meanwhile, the gang arrives in Ba Sing Se and goes to see the Earth King, who tells them not to worry: Katara is fine, and after the meeting with the Council of Five, she decided to go with the Kyoshi Warriors still unaware that they are actually Azula, Ty Lee and Mai in disguise. When the team goes to their house, they find it empty and they realize Katara is indeed in danger.
As the gang searches the apartment, Toph senses someone at the door, but she soon knows who it is after a knock. She tells Aang and Sokka that it is an old friend of hers, Iroh. He tells them that Azula has captured Zuko, and he says that he needs their help. Sokka grows defensive; however, after Aang puts the whole image into perspective, Sokka changes his mind and the gang heads outside. Once there, they trap the captured Dai Li agent (caught by Iroh) in a pinch of rocks, and after Sokka’s questioning, the gang learn that Katara is being held in a secret underground cave
Katara stands in a dark, crystal-lighted cave when suddenly a light shows: Above, the entrance opens and Zuko is thrown down. When he first comes in to the cave Katara becomes defensive. She is initially furious to see him. She tells him that all he cares about is capturing the Avatar, and how spreading war and hatred is in his blood. When she says that he does not know the pain of the Fire Nation killing her mother, Zuko apologizes, and says that this is something they both have in common, softening her slowly.
Outside the Palace, the gang discovers that there is indeed a huge underground city, and decides that Toph and Sokka should go to warn the Earth King about the coup, and Iroh and Aang are sent to rescue Katara and Zuko. Traveling down a tunnel to this prison, Aang mentions that Toph says Iroh gives great advice and tea. He also tells him of the events of his meeting with Guru Pathik. When questioning his choice, and saying how he doubts his abilities without the Avatar State, Iroh suggests that Aang was very wise to choose happiness and love over power and perfection, which are both overrated in his opinion.
Outside of the palace, Sokka and Toph soon see General How, but before they can say anything, the Dai Li place him under house arrest. At that very moment, every general is arrested. The two make it into the Throne Room, and they reveal to the Earth King that the girls are not Kyoshi Warriors. Upon seeking Sokka, Ty Lee starts to flirt with him, but he says that he is involved with Suki. Ty Lee does not know who Suki is, which exposes them and Toph throws her to the side with some rocks. Mai, realizing that their identities were exposed, threw a hail of ornate shurikens at Toph, who blocked them with a wall of earth. Ty Lee begins to “fight” Sokka. However, the fighting is in vain, as Azula soon has the King at flamepoint. Sokka and Toph give up immediately, and are soon disabled by Ty Lee.
Long Feng appears and immediately orders the Dai Li to arrest Azula; however, to his shock, they do not comply. Azula happily explains the situation to Long Feng; the Dai Li don't know which of them is more powerful. She guesses that he is lower class by birth, but had managed to get his power through incredible work all his life; however, she declares that she has “divine right to rule,” and confidently takes the Earth King's throne. Long Feng surrenders, bowing to Azula, admitting how she beat him at his own game.
Down below in their prison, Katara apologizes to Zuko for how she yelled at him, and tells him that for a long time, whenever she saw the face of the enemy, she saw Zuko’s face. He turns away, touching his scar, assuming she was referencing his scar; a mark he feels that was once symbol to his banishment, and to his “destiny” of chasing the Avatar forever. However, he has gained Katara's trust to the point where she offers to heal his scar using the water from the Spirit Oasis. However, before she can do anything, Aang and Iroh show up, both of them embracing Katara and Zuko, respectively.
Zuko and Aang exchange glares, and Zuko grows angry that Iroh was with the Avatar, and Iroh sends Katara and Aang off to help Sokka and Toph. Iroh then explains to Zuko that he is a different and changed man, stronger and wiser than ever before. He tells Zuko that he is time for him to choose good. However, a mass of crystals entraps Iroh, and Azula emerges. She says that she expected this sort of treachery from Iroh, but not from her brother. She begins to feed him tales of how this is the most glorious day in Fire Nation history, and that if he joins her, Zuko will gain back his father’s love and honor. Iroh begs Zuko to not listen to Azula, telling him that the kind of redemption Azula is offering is not the redemption for him, but Azula continues to plot, telling Zuko how she has planned everything, and that they will only win if he joins her. Iroh begs even more, for Zuko to look deep inside his heart and see what he truly wants. Azula sends the Dai Li away, and tells Zuko that he can chose whatever he wants, and she walks away; leaving him to ponder the two sides of the coin.
Aang and Katara rush to save Toph and Sokka, however, Azula fires a bolt of fire at them. A battle ensues between Aang, Katara, and Azula, and just as Aang and Katara have her cornered Zuko shows up. After a brief moment of dramatic tension, Zuko begins fighting on Azula's side, to everyone’s amazement. In the midst of the battle, the two pairs switch off, with Zuko now fighting Katara, both using element whips on opposite sides of a river. Katara expresses her angry disappointment in Zuko, how she thought he had changed. He replies inscrutably, "I have changed." Aang and Azula charge at one another, Azula sends a blast of fire, sending Aang soaring into the air.
Back in the Palace, Ty Lee is trying to teach Bosco the Bear how to walk on his front legs, but soon she is trapped by Toph. Toph and Sokka take a fighting stance against Mai, who in her nonchalance says to take the bear and the King reunites happily with his pet.
Underground, the fight continues on, with Katara taking on both Zuko and Azula but she is knocked out when Zuko and Azula both Firebends and Katara hits slams into crystal rock., before Aang manages to stand back up from being thrown earlier. He slams into the ground, creating a tidal wave of Earth barreling towards Azula and Zuko, but he is stopped by the Dai Li. Soon they are joined by dozens of Dai Li agents, and Katara assumes the Octopus stance (Water shaped like a Octopus). Horribly outmatched, Aang realizes there is no other choice and does the only thing he can think of---creating a quick crystal shelter with Earthbending, he meditates, and decides to try to release his attachment to Katara in order to enter the Avatar State. He then rises into the air, but before he can let go of Katara and gain control of the Avatar State, Azula shoots him down with a lightning bolt to the back. At that moment, the Avatar Spirit falls from the plane of existence. As Aang falls back to the ground, Katara creates a huge wave by Waterbending, and manages to scatter the Dai Li, Zuko, and Azula; and catch him before he hits the ground. Holding him in tears, she is defenseless, but Iroh suddenly appears. He tells the two to escape, and that he will hold off Azula and the others as long as he can. Once they escape, Iroh surrenders himself to the Dai Li and glances at Zuko, quickly turning his head in shame.
The entire group manages to escape and while flying away on Appa, Katara uses her Spirit Oasis water to heal Aang, who initially appeared dead. With a quick flash of light, nothing occurs, and Katara begins to cry and holds Aang close. Then Aang’s tattoos glow shortly and he opens his eyes and smiles at her. Overwhelmed and relieved that he is okay, Katara embraces him closer.
Meanwhile, in the palace Zuko frets over betraying Iroh. However, Azula reassures him by telling him that it was actually Uncle that betrayed them, not the other way around. Zuko then asks Azula about returning to the Fire Nation, raising his doubts about being accepted and having his honor restored since he does not have the Avatar. Azula again reassures him by saying that he has restored his own honor, though Zuko still seems unsure. Azula is firmly in control of the city, and as the Earth King, Bosco, Momo, Toph, Sokka, Katara, and Aang fly atop Appa's back over the Outer Wall and out of the city, the Earth King looks back and sadly proclaims, "The Earth Kingdom... has fallen."
Production Notes Edit
Series Continuity Edit
- In this Episode the First Part of Zuko's Dream, shown in The Earth King, is fulfilled when Zuko has to choose between following his Uncle Iroh's path or Azula's. The Argument bore great similarities to the Dream Argument between the Red and Blue Dragons.
- The way Katara holds Aang at the end of the episode mirrors the way she held him in "The Boy in the Iceberg" after freeing him. Aang smiling at her can also be connected with when he gasped after seeing her for the first time, as well as her smiling at him thankful that he's alive mirroring with her reaction from seeing him for the first time.
- Zuko mentions his mother to someone for the first time in the series.
- This episode shows the witness of Iroh's betrayal to the Fire Nation, the same thing happened in The Siege of the North, Part 2.
- The praying mantis style of earthbending is shown a lot in this episode. For example, when Aang and Iroh are in the tunnel Aang flicks his wrists inward. Toph does the same when she creates the hole.
- When Aang, Sokka and Toph return to the apartment, the damage Toph did to the house is still being repaired.
- When Sokka asked Aang if he had mastered the Avatar State, Aang lied and said he had. Toph should have sensed him lying, though she may not have noticed, due to them flying on Appa, and not on solid ground at the time.
- When Aang emerges from the crater while Zuko and Katara are fighting, his clothes are fairly clean, but when Aang faces Azula his clothes are suddenly tattered and blatantly dirty, though this may be because Zuko's attack was so powerful his clothes ripped and got dirty from landing hard in the crater.
- When Aang rises from the crystal shell in the Avatar State his belt is missing in the first frame.
- At the end, when Azula explains to Zuko that he had restored his own honor, Zuko stands beside Azula sitting on the throne and you can see Zuko's mouth moving as well as Azula's as Azula speaks.
- When Aang enters the avatar state and rises up in the air, the back of his head isn't glowing.
- When Long Feng confronts Azula, there are only two Dai Li agents with him, none behind him, where as in the next scene, there are at least five rows of agents.
- When Katara was fighting Azula her entire body except her head was covered in water, and then when she caught Azula's arm and leg, her arms are only covered in water.
- When Katara trapped Azula using her waterbending, Azula's bangs were shown to be sliced by the attack. In the next few frames, they are her regular length.
- Even though Azula says the Earth King and the five Generals must be taken out simultaneously Sokka and Toph reach the Earth King after seeing the coup take place, which means that the coup wasn't at the same time as the Earth King was taken later than the five Generals.
- Katara uses the octopus fighting form for the first time.
- Katara manages to outclass Azula, the firebending prodigy, twice in the series: here in the Crossroads of Destiny and again in the series finale, the first time it was nighttime, meaning Waterbenders would have a natural advantage over Firebenders, but in the second time, Azula had the power of Sozin's Comet enhancing her Bending, further stressing the significance of Katara's skill.
- Some satellite services (such as DirecTV) will list this and the preceding episode in the guide as 'The Guru; The Crossroads of Destiny'
- During Katara and Azula's fight, Katara entangles Azula's arm and leg. Zuko then saves Azula with the firebending move she does in the opening credits.
- The way Katara holds Aang after he is struck down by Azula's lightning greatly resembles La Pieta, a famous sculpture of the Virgin Mary holding Jesus after he is brought down from the crucifix. The best known version is by Michelangelo.
- While riding on Appa back to Ba Sing Se, Aang lied to Toph and Sokka about mastering the Avatar State. Toph would've sensed him lying and his Sound Chakra would've locked also. Of course, it's possible Toph did not sense this because she is not on earth.
- This is the first time Aang uses the Avatar State without bending any element.
- When Katara was using the octopus form against the Dai Li. Her appearance is closely like Hama when she was in prison.
- The Dai Li Agent with the scar on the left side of his face, which Azula stops to face during her speech to mention how she will fix any disloyalty, is the same agent that is questioned by Iroh, Sokka, Toph and Aang. This possibly suggests that as Azula being a "people person", she knew that particular Dai Li Agent would be a problem.
- In this episode, Katara becomes the first, and only person to touch Zuko's scar.
- This is the first time anyone of Team Avatar calls Iroh by his name.