Recap / Avatar: The Last Airbender "Sozin's Comet, Part 1 - The Phoenix King"
"I'm sorry, but it just didn't feel right. I didn't feel like myself."
The episode opens with a view of the Firelord's beach house. Aang is doing his firebending training in front of the house and he's doing well, but not well enough for Zuko, who tells him to be more ferocious. The training is interrupted when Katara offers refreshments. Although Zuko reluctantly allows Aang to take a break from training, he does complain that the others are being lazy. Sokka agrees that they have gotten somewhat lazy from sitting around the house all day, then suggests a beach party to get everyone out of their laziness.
Sokka enters the water with a splash, Katara starts ice surfing, and Aang makes a sculpture of Appa out of sand. Toph admires his sculpture, then uses sandbending to create a sculpture of Ba Sing Se, challenging Sokka to beat it with his sculpture. Sokka finishes his sculpture of a strange looking face, claiming that it is supposed to be Suki. While Toph and Aang are laughing over that, a burst of fire hits the sculpture and destroys it.
Zuko comes into view jumping off the cliff top and firing blasts of flame at Aang. Aang runs and hides behind his sculpture of Appa, asking what Zuko is doing. Zuko replies that he is teaching Aang a lesson, then destroys the Appa sand sculpture. Aang jumps away to avoid the blast and jumps up the cliff. Zuko fires several fire blasts after the airbender, then runs to the cliff and scales it himself.
Katara is shown surfing back to shore where she finds Sokka, Suki, and Toph by a pile of sand. When she asks what happened, Sokka says that Zuko has gone crazy, destroying the sculpture of Suki that Sokka made. There is a brief pause, and then Sokka adds, "Oh, and he's attacking Aang," before being pulled to his feet by Suki as the four of them run back towards the house.
Zuko is hot on Aang's heels, continuously firing blasts at the airbender. Aang runs up a large outcropping of rock and jumps into a palm tree right before the rock is hit with a fire blast. Zuko jumps off the outcropping, rolling to his feet as he lands and shooting another fire blast at Aang in the tree. Aang jumps from the tree just in time to avoid the fire blast and lands on the roof of the house. Zuko runs over to the house and climbs the side to get to the roof. As he pulls himself onto the roof, Aang tells him to get a grip or the airbender will blast Zuko off the roof. Zuko simply tells Aang to do it, then fires more blasts of flame at the airbender. Aang rolls to the side, slides down the roof, and grabs the edge of the roof to swing himself through a broken window into the attic.
While Aang hides behind a dresser in the attic, Zuko blasts through the roof and into the room where Aang is hiding. Aang kicks the dresser towards Zuko, who blasts the piece of furniture to pieces. Aang runs out of the room into the hallway, followed by Zuko, who firebends whips of flame around himself, setting the hall on fire. He then sends the tunnel of fire blazing towards Aang, who is overtaken by the flames. Aang airbends a safe spot for himself in the fiery tunnel, then, crying "Enough!", extinguishes the flames and blows Zuko out of the attic with a large air blast.
As Zuko picks himself up from the ground, the others come up behind him and Katara asks what is wrong with him, saying that he could have hurt Aang. Zuko's response is to ask what is wrong with the rest of them, given that they are having beach parties with Sozin's Comet only three days away. Zuko's question is greeted by an awkward silence before Aang says that he was actually planning on waiting until after the comet to face the Firelord, saying that he needs more time to master firebending. Toph chimes in saying that Aang's earthbending also needs some work. Zuko realizes that everyone else knew that Aang was planning on waiting and Katara explains that the whole point of fighting the Firelord before the comet was to stop the Fire Nation from winning the war. She then says that the Fire Nation essentially won the war when it took Ba Sing Se and claims that things can't get any worse.
Zuko says "You're wrong. Things are about to get worse than you can possibly imagine," and the scene transitions into a flashback initially narrated by Zuko. He explains that that he was asked to go to an important war meeting the day before the eclipse, saying how much he had wanted that. At the meeting, his father asked him for his advice on dealing with rebellions in the Earth Kingdom. He responded by saying that the people of the Earth Kingdom could endure anything as long as they had hope, but Ozai interpreted that to mean that he had to destroy their hope. Azula then suggested that Ozai burn the Earth Kingdom to the ground. Ozai was taken with the idea and decided to use the arrival of Sozin's Comet to implement it. Zuko says that he wanted to speak out against the plan and is ashamed that he didn't and the flashback ends. He goes on to explain how he had struggled to gain Ozai's love and acceptance only to realize once he had it that he had lost himself in the process of getting it.
The rest of the Gaang expresses utter disbelief and horror at Ozai's plan and Zuko tells Aang "I know you're scared. And I know that you're not ready to save the world. But if you don't defeat the Firelord before the comet comes, there won't be a world to save anymore.” Aang asks Zuko why he hadn't mentioned his father's plan earlier. Zuko replies that he had thought that he didn't need to, since no one had told him that Aang was going to wait to fight the Firelord. Aang starts freaking out and is comforted by Katara, Sokka, and Toph, who remind him that he doesn't have to do it alone. The Gaang gathers in a group hug that Zuko joins reluctantly before they are all tackled by Appa.
The view shifts to the courtyard behind the house, where Zuko is giving Aang another lesson. Zuko tells the airbender that before he faces Ozai, he needs to know how to redirect lightning. Zuko then proceeds to show Aang the forms for lightning redirection, explaining how Iroh created the technique. Aang asks if Zuko has ever redirected lightning and, upon receiving an affirmative answer, asks what it felt like. Zuko explains that it was both exhilarating and terrifying, saying "You feel so powerful, holding that much energy in your body. But you know that if you make the wrong move, it's over." Aang replies that it wouldn't be "over over" since Katara could always use some spirit water to heal him, only for Katara to tell him that she used it all up after Azula shot him. Zuko then tells Aang that he'll have to take the Firelord's life before the Firelord can take his. Aang replies that he'll do that, but he seems very downcast as he says it.
The view shifts to a rocky hillside near sunset. There is a scarecrow-like figure at the top of the hill and the Gaang is gathered in front of it. Sokka outlines a plan to take out the "Melon Lord", giving Toph the role of the enemy forces. Toph positions herself in front of the Melon Lord while the rest of the Gaang waits at the bottom of the hill. At a signal from Sokka, he and Suki, along with Zuko and Katara, begin charging up the hill, opposed by stone soldiers and flaming rocks controlled by Toph. As they get closer to the top of the hill, Sokka yells for Aang to attack. Aang launches himself off of an outcropping of rock, flying through the air towards the Melon Lord with his staff held in an attack position. When he lands in front of the Melon Lord, however, he finds himself unwilling to "kill" the Melon Lord, saying that he didn't feel like himself when Sokka yells at him for it. Sokka then proceeds to unsheathe his sword and slice the Melon Lord's head in two, saying "There. That's how it's done."
The view shifts back to the courtyard behind the house, but now it is nighttime. There is a bit of teasing as Katara shows the others a drawing of a baby, assumed to be Zuko, that she found in the attic. Zuko, however, states that the drawing is of his father, not him. Suki then says that Ozai looks "so sweet and innocent" in the drawing and Zuko counters her by saying that "that sweet little kid" grew up to be a monster and "the worst father in the history of fathers." Upon hearing this, Aang says that Ozai is still a human being. The others are surprised by this statement, Zuko asking if Aang is going to defend Ozai. Aang responds that he agrees with the others that Ozai is a horrible person and the world would be better off without him, but goes on to say that there has to be another way. When Zuko asks what that might be, Aang jokingly suggests using glue to prevent Ozai from bending. Zuko sarcastically replies that then they could use the happy memories from Ozai's baby pictures to make him good again. Aang naively asks if Zuko really thinks that that would work and is deflated when Zuko says no. Aang goes on to say that killing goes against everything that he learned from the monks and that he can't just go around wiping out anyone he doesn't like. He is interrupted by Sokka, who says that Aang can do that because he is the Avatar and that if it is done in the name of keeping balance, he's certain that the universe will forgive Aang. Aang says that none of the others understand his position, even interrupting Katara and yelling at her when she tries to say something before he walks away in exasperation. Katara begins to follow him, only to be stopped by Zuko, who says that Aang needs some time to sort things out by himself.
Aang is sitting on a balcony, meditating in front of some candles. Momo glides up to Aang and touches the airbender's lap. Aang notices the lemur and asks if he knows what Aang should do. The view changes to show Aang asleep on the balcony, then shifts to a view of the house from the ocean. The view zooms out to heavy drumbeats, eventually framing the house with some branches and leaves before cutting back to Aang. Aang partially opens his eyes and sits up. Heavy chanting begins in the background as the view sweeps up to reveal a forested island sitting in the ocean visible from the balcony. Aang stands up, steps over the table holding the candles from his earlier meditation and jumps over the railing on the balcony. Momo wakes up and looks at Aang before jumping to the balcony railing and flying after Aang. Aang walks down to the beach as Momo flies around his head. Although Aang's eyes are open, they are heavily lidded and he appears to be sleepwalking. The view shifts to a trail of footprints in the sand, then pans up to show Aang and Momo approaching the water's edge. Aang wades into the water, still looking like a sleepwalker, and begins to swim once the water reaches his chest. Momo waits on the beach for a little, then flies after Aang, who is swimming out to the forested island. The chanting ends abruptly and the screen fades to black.
The ocean is seen the next morning. The view sweeps over to a view of the courtyard, where everyone is gathered around Appa, packing his saddle for a journey. Sokka declares that they have everything but Toph contradicts him, asking where Aang is. The others exchange surprised looks and then everyone runs off to look for him. The view shifts to inside the house, with the Gaang running up the steps while calling for Aang. Katara, Sokka, and Suki head out of sight in one direction while Zuko and Toph go in the other direction. Zuko and Toph are shown to have found nothing before the view changes to the balcony where Aang was the night before. Aang's staff is lying against the balcony railing as Sokka walks onto the balcony. He is surprised to see the staff as Suki and Katara enter the balcony. Sokka comments on how strange it is that Aang left his staff and Zuko announces that Aang is not in the house. Zuko then suggests checking the beach. The view follows Zuko's gaze as he looks out towards the ocean, stopping at the same view from the balcony that was shown last night. There is no island in sight.
The view shifts to the beach, The Gaang is gathered near the water's edge, looking at the trail of footprints leading into the water. They take turns suggesting the usual reasons for Aang disappearing, but each suggestion gets shot down by the evidence they have. Concluding that Aang must still be somewhere on Ember Island, the Gaang decides to split up and look for him. Sokka takes Appa out to circle the island while Katara and Suki go into town to look for Aang. A crowd is seen surrounding someone in Air Nomad colors and they are chanting "Aang" over and over. Suki and Katara are shocked to hear Aang's name and break into the crowd only to discover Actress Aang from the play in the previous episode. Zuko and Toph are shown walking along the beach while Toph talks about her childhood before Zuko says that they need to focus on finding Aang.
In front of the beach house, Zuko, Toph, Suki and Katara are sitting dejectedly on the steps. Appa comes into view as he lands and Sokka correctly guesses that none of them found Aang either. There is a bit of humor as Toph notices that Momo is also missing and Sokka assumes that the lemur has been eaten by Appa, going so far as to climb into Appa's mouth in search of him. Zuko states that they have a real problem with Aang missing and Sozin's Comet only two days away. Katara asks him what they should do and Zuko replies that he doesn't know. The others continue to look at him expectantly and he asks them why they are all looking at him, only to be told that he is their expert on tracking down Aang. The view shifts to show the ocean near sunset with Appa flying towards some rainclouds. Sokka asks Zuko why they are heading to the Earth Kingdom, given that Aang can't possibly be there and Zuko says that they need to trust him.
The view changes to show the harbor plaza at the Fire Nation capital. There is a ship docked at the end of the pathway that leads from the caldera and there are several large groups of people gathered on either side of the red carpeted path. A palanquin is shown being carried past prostrated Fire Nation citizens before the scene shifts to a view of Ozai's face, showing that he is inside the palanquin. The view shifts to an overhead one of Ozai's palanquin as it is carried down the carpet before sweeping up to show another palanquin being carried down the carpet some distance behind Ozai's. The view changes to the inside of the second palanquin to show Azula looking impatient. Azula orders the palanquin bearers to speed up and they do, but they are visibly struggling with the weight. Azula's palanquin is then shown moving quickly towards the dock, while Ozai's has already reached it. A crownless Ozai exits his palanquin and walks up the steps to the dock. Azula comes up behind him and kneels, apologizing for her lateness before asking if everything is ready for their departure. Ozai tells her that there has been a change of plans, explaining that he has decided to lead the airship fleet by himself while Azula stays in the Fire Nation. Azula protests this decision, even going as far as to say that Ozai can't treat her like Zuko, saying that she deserves to come along because it was her idea. Ozai then tells her that he needs her to watch over the Fire Nation and that it is a very important job that only she can be trusted to do. Azula brightens at this and Ozai goes on to say that he has decided to make her the new Firelord as a reward. Azula is pleased by this, say that it seems appropriate, but asks what will happen to Ozai. Ozai announces that he is being reborn as the supreme ruler of the world and from now on, he will be known as the "Phoenix King". As he says this, two Fire Sages place an elaborate cape and helmet on him.
The view changes to an overhead view of a three story building in a forested area. There is a group of people walking towards the building and the colors of the group seem to indicate that it is the Gaang. The view shifts to the inside of the building and shows some of the patrons before sweeping over to a door. The door opens and Zuko walks in, followed by the rest of the Gaang. As she looks around warily, Katara asks Zuko why he brought them to this tavern. Zuko responds by saying "June" and lifts his arm to point to someone. The view shifts to show June, the bounty hunter from "Bato of the Water Tribe
". She is sipping her tea as a large man lunges at her, but she stops him effortlessly with one leg, awing the crowd. From out of sight, we hear Sokka remember her as "that weird bounty hunter with the giant mole". As June gets out of her seat to avoid another opponent, Suki comments that June's skin is flawless. June dodges the new opponent as Sokka explains that he meant the "giant mole creature" that June rides. The view shifts back to the Gaang standing in front of the open door and Zuko explains that June's shirshu can track Aang's scent anywhere in the world, saying "It's the one shot we have of finding him." The view then shifts back to the fight. June tosses her teacup into the air and proceeds to throw her opponent over her shoulder and into a table in the corner of the tavern. She then catches her teacup out of the air and takes another sip. The view shifts back to the Gaang and Toph says that even though she doesn't know who June is, she likes the woman.
Aang and Momo are asleep in a forest. The view shifts to show Aang's face as Momo licks it. Aang stirs and begins to wake up. He greets Momo as he sits up and rubs his head, saying that he just had the strangest dream. As he opens his eyes, he breaks off in surprise as he views his surroundings. The view sweeps over to the ocean as eerie chanting music plays in the background. The view shifts back to Aang and Momo, showing the shock on Aang's face before shifting to a view of the forested island that appeared off the shore of Ember Island. The view pulls back a little before changing to an overhead view of the island, showing that it is in the middle of the ocean with no other land in sight. Aang is heard asking "Where are we?" right before the music ends and the view fades to white.
- Abdicate the Throne: Ozai hands Azula the title of Fire Lord... so he can adopt the even greater self-created title of Phoenix King.
- Apathy Killed the Cat: The Gaang never bothered to tell Zuko they planned to wait until after the comet to move on Ozai. Zuko made the assumption the Gaang had a plan to deal with his father during the comet instead of mentioning the genocide plan the guy had in mind, not knowing the group was intending to wait for it to pass.
- Avengers Assemble: After Aang is reminded he is not alone, Sokka announces "Team Avatar is back!". Cue a shot of each member and their respective element/weapon called out.
- Back for the Finale: June
- Beach Episode: Subverted. Sokka throws a beach party that Zuko quickly breaks apart.
- Bullet Time: When Zuko's fire tunnel catches up to Aang.
- Call Back: Actress!Aang and Actor!Toph return from the previous episode, much to Katara and Suki's annoyance.
- Calling the Old Man Out: In a way with Azula when Ozai refuses to allow her to come along with him on his conquest, thinking he's treating her like Zuko. The irony is that's exactly what's happening.
- The Coconut Effect: The violence of Sokka chopping the melon is particularly meaningful for the audience, as violence against melons is very often used in media as a sound effect for brutal acts of violence against humans.
- Continuity Nod: As the Gaang enter the seedy bar to find June, the dance party music from "The Headband" can be heard playing.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Zuko goes back to being a stern instructor, even when Aang would rather goof off.
- Evil Laugh: Toph gives one while pretending to be Melon Lord.
"I AM NOT TOPH! I AM MELON LORD!! MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!"
- Foreshadowing: When commanded to firebend, Aang bends from his hands and mouth. Ozai will do the same thing in Part 3.
- Funny Background Event
Zuko:"Why are you all looking at me?"
Katara:"Well you are the expert at finding Aang."
- Said while Sokka gets himself out of Appas mouth. (He put himself in.)
- Group Hug: The Gaang gathers in a group hug that Zuko joins reluctantly before they are all tackled by Appa.
- Gory Discretion Shot: When Sokka "kills" the Melon Lord, to emphasize Aang's horror at the idea of killing someone.
- Jerkass Ball: When faced with the possibility of having to kill the Fire Lord, Aang becomes incredibly hostile towards everyone else.
- Kick the Dog: Azula, who has been nothing but loyal to Ozai is finally rewarded by being appointed Fire Lord...just as Ozai proceeds to make that title useless and redundant by crowning himself Phoenix King, supreme ruler of the world.
- Lampshade Hanging: Toph chooses to go with Zuko to find Aang. Her reason:
"Everyone else went on a life-changing field trip with Zuko. Now it's my turn."
- Large Ham: Toph as "Melon Lord"
- Never Say "Die": Given that this show usually doesn't shy away from it, hearing everyone say "taking [Ozai's] life" rather than saying "kill" is somewhat jarring.
- Ominous Buddhist Chanting: When the mysterious island is present.
- Omniscient Morality License: Sokka tells Aang that he has this with regards to killing Ozai.
- Orifice Invasion: Sokka crawling into Appa's mouth because he thinks that Appa ate Momo.
"Get out of the bison's mouth, Sokka."
- Poor Communication Kills: You should have mentioned that your father was going to go burn down the Earth Kingdom immediately once the comet appears, Zuko. And y'all could've kept Zuko in the loop, everyone else in the Gaang.
- Reality Ensues: After an entire show's worth of building up the importance of training Aang before the Sozin's Comet deadline, the Gaang's initial plan of letting it pass is rather pragmatic. Aang simply isn't ready, and since the Fire Nation has pretty much taken over the whole world at that point the deadline is meaningless. Too bad the Fire Nation's new genocide plan forces the Gaang back into action.
Aang: Maybe we could make some big pots of glue, and then I could use gluebending to stick his arms and legs together so he can't bend anymore!
Zuko: Yeah! And then you can show him his baby pictures and all those happy memories will make him good again!
Aang: Do you really think that would work?
- Shout-Out: The above-mentioned conversation between Aang and Zuko may possibly be one to Xiaolin Showdown, another cartoon with elemental warriors as its focus. When brainstorming plans to defeat the Big Bad of the season, who has actually already taken effective control of the world, someone suggests dumping a bucket of glue on her.
- Skewed Priorities: After Zuko attacks Aang to get him to train, Sokka gives us this:
Katara: "What happened?"
Sokka: "Zuko's gone crazy! I made a sand sculpture of Suki and he destroyed it! [beat] Oh, and he's attacking Aang.
- Teach Him Anger: Zuko repeatedly attacks Aang to try to force him into retaliating aggressively instead of running away as usual.
- Terrible Artist: Only with sand sculptures instead of drawings. While Aang can make a pretty decent Appa and Toph can make an amazing miniature Ba Sing Se (complete with miniature Earth King and Basco), Sokka's attempt at sculpting Suki ends up looking more like a weird anemone than a human face. Suki still thinks it's sweet, though.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: The reason Aang has such trouble with the idea of killing Ozai.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Katara finds a baby picture of Ozai.
Zuko: That sweet little kid grew up to be a monster, and the worst father in the history of fathers.
- "Well Done, Daughter!" Gal: Turns out Azula's no better than Zuko when it comes to daddy's approval. The minute it looks like he's not giving her the respect she wants, she wigs out. It takes some flattery and smooth words from Ozai to calm her down.
Azula: You can't do this! You can't treat me like Zuko!
- Wham Episode: Aang learns about Fire Lord Ozai's plans to destroy Ba Sing Se and fight the Fire Lord. Aang disappears and finds himself on a mysterious island.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Katara scolds Zuko for trying to hurt Aang, but Zuko gives her and the others one of these for lazing about when the Comet was to arrive.
- Worst Whatever Ever: Toph calls her time with Zuko "the worst field trip ever". Zuko calls Ozai the worst father ever.