Recap / Avatar: The Last Airbender "The Avatar Returns"
"I've spent years preparing for this encounter — training, meditating... you're just a child!"
"Well, you're just a teenager."

Aang and Katara return to the tribe's village, only to find that the children are the only ones happy to see them. The two are chatised for going into the derilict ship, and Sokka reiterates his accusation that Aang is a Fire Nation spy. Despite Katara's attempts to defend Aang, her grandmother ("Call me Gran-Gran.") makes it clear that the young airbender has worn out his welcome. Upset, Katara declares that she and Aang are going to the North Pole, but Aang, not wanting to cause a rift between her and her family, leaves her behind on Appa. While lamenting the loss of this new friend, Aang spots a Fire Nation ship going towards the village.

Fearing the worst, Sokka mobilizes the toddlers of the village and prepares for battle himself. The hulking ship arrives, and Prince Zuko demands that the village hand over the Avatar, but none of them know what he is talking about. Sokka makes a charge at Zuko, but quickly gets tossed aside — literally, at least twice. Zuko intends to make Sokka regret annoying him, but is interrupted by a wave of snow, courtesy of a penguin-riding boy with Air Nomad tattoos.

Aang: Looking for me?
Zuko: (incredulous) You're the airbender? You're the Avatar?
Katara: Aang?
Sokka: No way.

Aang and Zuko fight, and though the young monk can defend himself from Zuko and his squad, he realizes that the villagers are in danger from the crossfire. He surrenders, and Zuko takes him prisoner. Katara protests, but Aang, seemingly oblivious as to why they are taking him away, assures her that he will be fine and asks her to take care of Appa until he gets back.

As the rest of the tribe recover from the attack, Katara decides that she and Sokka should go save Aang. After all, Aang gave himself up to save the village! Luckily, Sokka may be hard-headed, but not hard-hearted, having prepared a canoe to chase after the warship. Gran-Gran gives the two her blessing, saying that their finding the Avatar means their fates are intwined with his. However, there's no way the siblings can catch up with the warship by canoe. Luckily, Appa appears to give them a lift.

On Zuko's ship, the prince takes Aang's staff, intending to give it to his father as a gift. Aang is taken to the ship's prison hold, but at the first opportunity, Aang uses his airbending to escape from his bonds and the guards. Time for his great escape!

Meanwhile, Katara and Sokka are crossing the ocean on Appa. Katara tries to get Appa to fly, trusting Aang's words, but Sokka's skeptical. Absentmindly thinking back to what Aang tried, Sokka says "Yip-yip." Much to his shock and amazement, Appa takes this as his cue and takes to the air!

Meanwhile, Aang's running rampant around Zuko's ship, trying to find his staff. He finds it- in Zuko's room, along with its occupant. The two fight again, but Aang is able to throw him off balance with some airbending and escape. Once out on the deck, Aang prepares to glide off, only to be caught by Zuko. Just then, a familiar shape appears in the sky. It's Appa!

Unfortunately, Zuko doesn't let up on his attack. Sending fireball after fireball, the prince forces the Avatar back, knocking him off the ship and into the water! As Aang begins to sink, something happens. His eyes and tattoos start to glow. A monstrous, heaving tornado of water appears from the sea, with Aang at the center. Landing on the deck, Aang knocks Zuko and his men away with the water. With that done, Aang stops glowing and he falls to his feet, winded. Appa lands and Katara and Sokka run to help Aang. While Katara goes to Aang, Sokka goes for his staff, giving Zuko a few good knocks in doing so. As the heroes fly away on Appa, Iroh appears on the deck to see what all the fuss is about. On Zuko's orders, the uncle and nephew send a giant blast of fire at Appa, which Aang redirects with his staff and airbending. The blast hits a wall of ice, causing it to crash into and halt the ship.

Iroh: Good news for the Fire Lord. The nation's greatest threat is just a little kid.
Zuko: That kid, Uncle, just did this.

Far away in the sky, Katara and Sokka talk to Aang about him being the Avatar. The world needs the Avatar to end the war, but Aang has no idea where to start. Katara recalls the legends that say the Avatar has to master the four elements, air, water, earth, and fire, and suggests that she and Aang go to the North Pole to find a teacher. And Sokka can come along to knock around any firebenders they encounter, which he admits to liking. Aang is excited at the prospects of this adventure, and they fly off.


  • Boomerang Comeback: Sokka's boomerang hits Zuko square on the back of the helmet, though this does little more than frustrate him.
  • Bullet Time: Several times during Aang's escape for Zuko's ship.
  • Butt-Monkey: Zuko's not off to the greatest start as a villain. First Sokka manages to dislodge his fancy helmet with his boomerang, Aang knocks him over with an otter-penguin, then later knocks him out with a matress, and he gets his ship badly damaged trying to stop the Avatar.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Aang, in the Avatar State demonstrates in less than a minute why the goofy twelve-year-old is feared by the entire Fire Nation.
    • Sokka's hilariously ineffectual (but heartwarmingly brave) attempts to fight off the Fire Nation ship also count. Props to him for seriously going for it, but he's so outmatched that Zuko & Co. don't even bother killing him.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Zuko arrives at the village wearing a helmet.
  • I Gave My Word: Not stated, but Zuko keeping his word to spare the village is a small display that there's more to him than there initially appears to be.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Aang's explanation for why he didn't tell Katara and Sokka he was the Avatar.
  • Insult Backfire: This happens to Zuko when he comments on Aang's age.
    Zuko: You're just a child.
    Aang: Well, you're just a teenager.
  • Mood Whiplash: Zuko's determined attempt to drag himself back onto his ship is undone by the comical sound effects that play when his head is hit.
  • Pet the Dog: Zuko keeps his word after he agrees not to harm the village if Aang surrenders.
  • Real After All: After the anti-climactic belly-flop last episode, this one shows Appa really can fly.
  • Squee!: Sokka, despite his prior scepticism and sarcasm, is impressed at Appa being able to fly.