With the 15th year anniversary of the premiere of ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ coming up this week, I thought it was only right that I put down some of the most memorable and most epic moments of the series. If you have not watched the series, I highly recommend that you do before reading for there are spoilers ahead.
Aang’s Emotions Get the Best of Him
Episode: ‘The Southern Air Temple’
After his first encounter with Zuko, Aang along with Katara and Sokka travel to explore Aang’s former home, the Southern Air Temple. He learns of his people’s genocide at the hands of the Fire Nation upon finding the skeletal remains of his mentor and father figure, Monk Gyatso, and in his anguished state, inadvertently triggers his Avatar State. This moment is when the world is alerted to the return of the Avatar. (This episode also marks Momo’s first appearance.)
Friend or Foe?
Episode: ‘The Blue Spirit’
In an attempt to find a cure for Katara and Sokka’s illness, Aang finds himself captured by Admiral Zhao. A masked figure, only known as the Blue Spirit, helps Aang escape. While making their way out of the compound, Zhao has an archer send a single shot at the masked man, knocking him unconscious. This leads to Aang created a dust cloud so he and his savior can escape but he then removes his masked, revealing that the Blue Spirit is indeed Zuko. Initially afraid, Aang begins to run but then comes back to save an incapacitated Zuko. As he regains consciousness, Aang tells a story about Kuzon, someone he befriended in the Fire Nation one hundred years earlier, and wonders if he and Zuko could have been friends had they had met each other before the war. Zuko responds by attacking Aang with firebending, which Aang easily dodges.
To the Moon and Back
Episode: ‘The Seige of the North’
While in the Northern Water Tribe, the Aang and his friends are attacked by the Fire Nation. Zhao has planned, in an effort to render the Waterbenders powerless, to kill the Moon Spirit and he succeeds. (Don’t you just hate this guy?) Princess Yue (Sokka’s new girlfriend) tells the story of her birth in which she was stillborn and how the Moon Spirit touched her, giving her life. It seemed like Sokka couldn’t catch a break when his very FIRST girlfriend sacrifices herself by giving her life force back to the Moon Spirit in an effort to save her tribe and ultimately, the world.
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Episode: ‘The Southern Raiders’
Throughout the series, there has been a dark undertone stemming from the past of numerous characters. Specifically, Katara and Sokka. More specifically, the circumstances surrounding their mother’s death at the hands of the Fire Nation. This all comes to a head in the final season of the show when Zuko helps Katara find the man who killed her mother in an effort to gain her trust and acceptance as a part of Team Avatar. Once they track him down, Katara is ready to unleash all of her rage unto the man. He begs for his life, and out of pity and guilt, she grants him mercy.
Appa is Stolen
Episode: ‘The Libary – Lake Laogai’
This episode was more than just a moment as everything that happened in it occurred over the span of numerous episodes. Aang’s, long time companion and the team’s main means of transportation had been stolen and sold by Sandbenders. While Aang, Katara, and Sokka were in the Spirit Library looking for any weaknesses that the Fire Nation may have, Toph stayed outside with Appa when the whole building began to sink into the sand (this was done by the Knowledge Spirit and guardian of the Library, Wan Shi Tong).
During this time, Toph tried her best to slow down the vanishing building when Appa was attacked. Due to many things like Toph being a blind Earthbender, the fact they were in sand, and that the building was sinking, she was unable to save Appa and was even shown to be sad that she couldn’t do more to help. We’ll come back to Appa’s experience during this ordeal.
Episode: ‘The Storm’
In a backstory, Zuko’s reason for hunting the Avatar is finally revealed. In a flashback, Zuko has attended a war meeting with his father. Prince Zuko speaks out of turn and is forced to fight an Agni Kai with the General. Once in the ring, he turns to see that his duel will actually be with his father for he disrespected him in his court. He refuses and pleads that he meant no disrespect to no avail as the Fire Lord burns him, leaving a permanent scar on his eye and banishes him for perceived cowardice. This moment highlights the Fire Lord’s psychological issues and immoral norms in the Fire Nation.
Appa’s Lost Days
Episode: ‘Appa’s Lost Days’
After his abduction, Appa is traded to a Fire Nation circus where he is abused along with other animals by the circus trainer, but he is able to escape with the help of a small boy. He later unwillingly enters a fight with a boar-q-pine, and manages to win, though he is badly wounded in the process. While recuperating, Suki and the Kyoshi Warriors come across Appa and help him recover from his injuries, but they are later attacked by Azula and her team, forcing Appa to flee. He returns to his childhood home at the Eastern Air Temple where he encounters a mysterious guru. The guru tells Appa to find Aang in Ba Sing Se, but once Appa arrives in Ba Sing Se, Long Feng captures him using a bison whistle similar to the one that Aang has.
Episode: ‘Sozin’s Comet, Part 4: Avatar Aang’
Shrouded in mystery, the whereabouts of Zuko and Azula’s mother was never known. Knowing that his mother’s banishment was caused by his father, he decides to confront him in the series’ finale. After his father, the former Fire Lord Ozai, has been depowered and imprisoned, Zuko decides to go to his cell and ask one question that still gives viewers chills, “Where is my mother?”
A Mother’s Love
Episode: ‘The Beach’
This episode delves into the past of the Fire Nation’s finest: Zuko, Azula, Mai. and Ty Lee. While the most explosive part of this moment has more to do with Zuko and some inner reflection of why he has been acting the way he has since his return to the Fire Nation. BUT the most interesting part to me was when the moment reflection turns to Azula.
She keeps up a tough facade saying that she could sit there and complain about how her mother liked Zuko mom but she didn’t care. She then looks into the fire and says “My own mother… thought I was monster. She was right of course but it still hurt.” This is the one brief moment throughout the series where Azula lets her guard down and is vulnerable before returning to her manipulative, indifferent self. This is also a sign that their mother saw that Azula may have inherited some psychological issues from Ozai.
Out for Blood
Episode: ‘The Puppetmaster’
This episode was interesting because it introduced a new style of waterbending. Unfortunately, it was introduced in a dark way. The team arrives in a town where there have been many spooky disappearances. While there, Katara meets Hama, a seasoned Waterbender who teaches her secret waterbending techniques. The episode ends with Hama teaching Katara the art of bloodbending which is pretty self-explanatory. When Katara realizes that Hama is responsible for the disappearances, she refuses to learn, resulting in Hama then attacking her.
There are many more epic WTF moments that happened but the nostalgia is causing my eyes to tear up so I’ll stop here. Please tell us your favorite moments from ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ in the comments below!