Recap / Avatar: The Last Airbender "The Awakening"

"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.
  • As You Know: Lampshaded when Katara introduces Aang to her father.
  • Back from the Dead: Aang was Only Mostly Dead after Azula blasted him.
  • 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's Pass makes a return, causing trouble for the Fire Nation.
    • Yue briefly appears as a Spirit Advisor when Aang is floundering in the ocean, encouraging him not to give up.
    • Ying, Than and their daughter Hope briefly appear in a flashback to the fall of Ba Sing Sei. Jin and the tea house owner Iroh and Zuko worked for are also shown, hiding inside the latter's premises while Fire Nation troops march the streets.
    • Pipsqueak and The Duke return, having met up with the Gaang while they were leaving Ba Sing Se.
  • 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.
  • Clothing Damage: Continuing on from the previous episode, Aang's robes and Katara's outfit are still damaged. Aang's more so than Katara's, given his shirt is gone completely, and doesn't return for the rest of the series.
  • 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.
    • The island Aang washes up on is the same island the Fire Sage temple was located on, back during "The Winter Solstice". What little remains (which isn't much) can be seen in the establishing shots.
  • Convection Schmonvection: When Aang burns his staff, he walks barefoot across a lava field with the implication being that he's OK as long as he doesn't step on anything that's actually molten.
  • Creepy Twins: Azula's crones, Lo and Li, proclaiming her victory in perfect unison.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Once Azula and the Dai Li took down the walls of Ba Sing Sai, the city was quickly over-run.
  • Deus ex Machina: The serpent coming to the heroes aid.
  • Did You Just Have Sex?: Azula says Mai's been a strangely better mood since Zuko came back.
  • Dramatic Drop: Katara drops her tray with food for Aang when she notices that he is gone.
  • Evil-Detecting Duck: The turtle-ducks in the pond dash away when Azula comes close.
  • Failed a Spot Check: As Aang tries sneaking around the Fire Nation ship he's woken up on, he spots two Fire Nation soldiers, who notice him and try chasing him. Somehow Aang doesn't notice they're Pipsqueak and The Duke.
  • Fainting: Near the start of the episode, partially due to being physically weak from his injuries, and partially due to the shock and confusiong of being on a Fire Nation ship and seeing his friends Dressing as the Enemy, Aang passes out. His friends fill him in on the situation when he wakes up again.
  • Group Hug: At the end of the episode, when Aang's friends find him, everyone (including Momo and Appa) joins in a group hug.
  • Ironic Echo: Now Aang is the one talking about "regaining his honor". Just to ram the point home, a split shot of Aang's face fades to Zuko in the Fire Nation.
  • Jerkass Ball: Katara, aimed specifically toward her father, on account of his leaving to fight in the war. He doesn't hold it against her, though.
  • Leave Me Alone!: Aang wants to be alone with his anger. He later comes to realize that friends are there to support you.
  • 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.
  • Pose of Supplication: Zuko adopts this pose when meeting his father.
  • Put on a Bus: The Earth King, who escaped Ba Sing Se with the Gaang, is said to have gone off to explore the world incognito.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Zuko and Mai.
  • Rock Bottom: Sokka, again. This time it summons the serpent of the Serpent's Pass, something Sokka snarkily hangs a lampshade on.
    Toph: How are we doing?
    Sokka: Things couldn't get much worse. (Cue the serpent bursting out of the water) The universe just loves proving me wrong, doesn't it?
    Toph: You make it too easy.
  • 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.
  • Shoot the Bullet: During the ship battle, Toph counters a fire army bomb with an earth bomb so that both projectiles clash in mid-air.
  • Shout-Out: The Earth King's disguise as a poor wanderer involves him having one sandal and one bare foot. In Chinese mythology this is a characteristic costume of Lán Cǎihé, a Trickster member of the Eight Immortals.
  • Sneaky Departure: Aang feels he needs to regain his honor by fighting the firelord alone, and so he sneaks off the ship that the gang is currently hiding out on - though they find him and join him, leaving the ship behind, by the end of the episode.
  • So Proud of You: Fire Lord Ozai says as much to Zuko, for betraying his uncle, helping to (nearly) kill the Avatar, and destroy the last free city in the Earth Kingdom.
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: 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. But his glider is smashed beyond recovery.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Katara's waterbending has gotten even more impressive, given she manages to shove two warships apart with a small whirlpool, and prevent the ship from sinking just by freezing up a harpoon puncture.