"I've always known that I would have to face the Firelord, but now I know I need to do it alone."
The first episode of the third season, 'The Awakening' deals with Aang's return after his lightning-induced coma from the previous season's finale. He has to deal with letting the Fire Nation win another battle, and disappearing from the world again
. Emotions run high for other members of the cast; Katara deals with her abandonment issues, both in regards to Aang and her father, and Zuko returns to the Fire Nation, only to discover that it's not quite what he expected it to be.
- Asleep for Days: Aang was unconscious for long enough for his hair to grow out.
- Stated in-episode that he was out cold for several weeks after the events of the previous episode.
- Back from the Dead
- Brought Down to Badass: Side material mentions that due to the events of the previous episode, Aang is unable to enter the Avatar State, but is still capable of using his elements.
- The Bus Came Back: The serpentine creature from The Serpent makes a return, causing trouble for the Fire Nation.
- But for Me, It Was Tuesday: After finding out that Azula gave him the credit for killing the Avatar, Zuko barges into her room, demanding, "Why'd you do it?" Azula's response? "You're going to have to be a little more specific."
- Calling the Old Man Out: Katara to Hakoda about his decision to leave her and Sokka to fight in the war.
- This is an interesting one as she fully admits that she knows that he had to leave and didn't do anything wrong but still feels angry and hurt by it.
- Continuity Nod: In "Zuko Alone", a young Zuko demonstrated that Azula 'feeds turtleducks' by throwing rocks at them. When she approaches the duck pond in this episode, all of the turtleducks flee immediately.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: As if it wasn't hammered in enough in the second season finale, Azula sees right through Zuko's No One Could Survive That lie, and concludes that Aang did survive. She gives Zuko credit for killing Aang so that, when Aang does come back, Zuko will be the one to face their father's wrath.
- Genre Savvy: The approaching Fire Nation ship quickly suspects that the cast's ship is Dressing as the Enemy when the captain notices some discontinuities and plans to sink the ship. Thankfully, Toph learns this as soon as he says it.
- Group Hug: At the end of the episode, when Aang's friends find him, everyone (including Momo and Appa) joins in a group hug.
- Leeroy Jenkins: Aang, feeling that he needed to regain his honor, left in a rather reckless manner to face the Fire Nation alone. Fortunately, he sees his mistake before it's too late and agrees to keep his identity a secret from the world.
- My Greatest Failure: Avatar Roku feels this way towards the fact that he failed to see the war coming.
- Never Say "Die": Aang "didn't just get hurt"— he "went down" and "was gone". Understandable, given the demographics.
- It's interesting where they draw the line— it's okay for people to think or believe the Avatar died, and it's implied to have been the case, but Nickelodeon doesn't let him or Katara officially confirm it.
- No One Could Survive That: Zuko tries to tell Azula this when she asks him if he thinks the Avatar could have "somehow miraculously survived" his apparent death last season. She doesn't believe him for a second.
- Relationship Upgrade/Victorious Childhood Friend: Zuko and Mai.
- The Reveal: Fire Lord Ozai, the dreaded tyrant and Big Bad, is a handsome man of about forty. Word of God is that Ozai looks this way because his evil should be seen in his deeds, not his face.