Recap / Avatar: The Last Airbender "The Beach"
"I'm angry at myself!"
A fairly typical Beach Episode
, except for the fact that it's the villains
that we get to know better: Zuko, Azula, Mai and Ty Lee retreat to the royal beach house on Ember Island for a well-earned vacation. The four attempt to socialize with other Fire Nation teenagers, with decidedly mixed results, and then end with the traditional heart-to-heart around a beach bonfire. In the secondary plot, Combustion Man attacks the Gaang for the first time.
- Aerith and Bob: Ruon-Jian. It's pronounced "Ron Jon," like the surf shop.
- Adorkable: Azula at the party, jarringly.
- Armor-Piercing Question: "Who are you angry at?" After much prodding, Zuko answers with the above quote.
- Bare Your Midriff: Almost every girl at the beach, particularly Azula and Ty Lee.
- Fans who got a tour of the studio claimed to have seen concept art of the swimsuits that were far more revealing, possibly as a ploy to get the Nickelodeon execs to accept these still fairly daring designs instead.
- Beach Episode: It's even in the title!
- Brain Bleach: Zuko, and the audience, have this reaction to the Fan Disservice mentioned below.
- Chekhov's Skill: Aang using rock armor, from his training with Toph to fend off the Combustion Man.
- Could Say It, But...: Both Mai and Azula's revelations about what hurt them come out in this format.
- Crazy Jealous Guy: Zuko comes off as one when he shoves a guy several meters into a wall (and breaking a vase) for talking to Mai.
- Disturbed Doves: Zuko calls some just by taking off his shirt. For a Kuai Ball Game.
- Don't Explain the Joke: Azula's cringeworthy attempt to compliment Chan on how "sharp" his clothes are ends with her doing this.
: That's a sharp outfit, Chan. Careful, you could puncture the hull of an empire class Fire Nation battleship leaving thousands to drown at sea. [Beat
] Because...it's so sharp.
- Dude Magnet: Ty Lee to her surprise.
- Dysfunction Junction: Turns out the fire team are four pretty screwed-up teenagers, and that makes them who they are.
- Emotions vs. Stoicism: Zuko and Mai's fight is basically this trope. Zuko is all emotion and he lets his temper and impulses get away from him. Mai is all stoicism to the point where she doesn't care about anything and can't express any emotion. Eventually they come to understand each other, with Zuko learning to think more calmly and rationally and Mai learning to be more free to express her feelings.
- Epic Fail: Azula manages to get a kiss, but her attempt to seal the deal afterwards is a spectacular example of this. Her earlier attempts at flirting were likewise fairly atrocious.
- Estrogen Brigade: Zuko has in-universe fangirls here.
- Everyone Has Standards: Mai, whose apathetic demeanor doesn't rub well with Ty Lee's bubbly and optimistic personality, tells Zuko to lay off her when he verbally attacks her over it (ironically in an attempt to defend Mai).
- Fan Disservice: Lo and Li in their bathing suits.
- Fanservice: Quite a lot.
- Ty Lee and Mai are depicted barefoot in this episode for the first time.
- Favors for the Sexy: Ty Lee gleefully milks this trope for all its worth.
- Finger Poke of Doom: Zuko sends Ruon-Jian flying across the room with just a palm strike.
- Freudian Excuse: All four of the fire team tell theirs. Mai and Azula both deny that they have one, before going into it. Mai also calls out Zuko on his, pointing out that even though, yes, his life has been pretty terrible, it doesn't excuse how he's been acting.
- Though in Zuko's case, he believes that most of the problems in his life are resolved, but he's still just as moody and conflicted as ever, if not more so. In fact, angsting about his father's approval doesn't even come into it, and he realizes his anger comes from something else.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Toph telling Aang not to "expose himself." She was of course talking about his tattoos, but Aang replies, "What, I'm wearing trunks."
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Zuko's temper, never that great at the best of times, is even worse than usual in this episode, compounded by his internal angst, feeling snubbed by Ozai in getting sent to Ember Island, to Mai's attitude. Towards the end he finally gets called out for his constant flaring up at the slightest provocation.
- Huddle Shot: Used when Azula gathers her team to beat the opposition at a game of kuai ball.
- Idiot Crows: A dove version flaps by Chan's head after he's stunned by one of Azula's pickup lines.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Played with. Azula doesn't want to be normal, she loves the attention and praise she gets from being Princess, but she doesn't tell Chan and Ruan-Jian who she and Zuko are out of a sudden desire to see what it's like to be normal.
- I Just Want to Be Special: Ty Lee is one of a family of seven sisters, all of whom look a lot like her. It's not hard to see why she wants to stand out.
- Innocently Insensitive: Ty Lee warns Zuko that being constantly angry is bad for his skin. She realizes a second too late that this is a really stupid thing to say to a guy whose father burned off a third of his face.
- Instant Armor: Aang uses the assemble-rocks trick he learned from Toph whilst dealing with Combustion Man.
- Insult Backfire: Ty Lee claims this about Zuko calling her a "circus freak".
- I Was Quite a Looker: Li and Lo provide the page image, posing in front of a painting of them in their youth..
- Kick the Dog: There is a LOT of mean-spirited and spiteful lashing out in this episode as the fire team's suppressed emotional baggage comes up.
- Also, before that Azula makes her presence on the beach known by stomping some kids' sand-castle.
- Large Ham: Azula was in particularly fine form this episode.
- Literal-Minded: When Azula hears the words "from dusk 'till dawn", she takes it to mean the party really lasts that long.
- Little "No": Asked if it's his father that he's so angry about, Zuko says "No!" in a startled, pleading way - he's so desperate for Ozai's approval that being angry at him is unthinkable.
- Mood Whiplash: We go from the Fire kids and their attempts to have a normal day at the beach to the Gaang nearly getting blown to pieces by Combustion Man, to the Fire kids trying to fit in at a party, to them somberly dwelling on their issues... to them busting up the house the party's at for fun.
- Mr Fan Service: Zuko.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: The Combustion Man intercepts a letter to the Firelord revealing that the Avatar is still alive (and his general location.) As dangerous as the hitman is, things would have been vastly worse otherwise.
- No Guy Wants an Amazon:
Azula: For some reason, when I meet boys, they act as if I'm going to do something horrible to them.
Ty Lee: But you probably would do something horrible to them...
- Although it's really more like "No Guy Wants The Sociopath"; it's not Azula's fighting skills that scare the boys off, it's the fact she's Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training and her malicious persona shines through, making her come off as creepy, menacing and awkward all at the same time.
- No Social Skills: Azula. She has an amazing capacity to lead, to subvert loyalties, to understand other people and sway their opinions and is overall a master of manipulation...but normal social interactions are UTTERLY beyond her. Although she refused to admit it, she is quite insecure about it as well.
- Not So Above It All: Azula shows this big-time. Mai is a lesser example.
- Oh, Crap!: When the Gaang notices the scary hitman with metal limbs who can shoot fire with his mind.
- Parasol of Prettiness: Mai takes one to the beach with her (and has Zuko carry it).
- Pet the Dog: Azula apologizes for accidentally upsetting Ty Lee in this episode, and even brings Zuko back from their family's former home when he wanders off. She also is surprisingly mild about it when she asks Zuko if she's the one he's angry at, as if the prospect is actually upsetting to her.
- Sarcastic Clapping: Azula does this when Zuko and Mai make up, before sarcastically congratulating them all on their "performances" of their sob stories. However, by this point it's quite clear that she's using her sarcasm as a defence mechanism.
- Scarily Competent Tracker: Combustion Man
- Series Continuity Error: Toph tells Aang he needs to cover up. Toph.
- Serious Business: Azula's reaction to winning a game of kuai ball. It's obvious that despite being a brilliant commander, she can't turn that mindset off.
Azula: YES! We have defeated you for ALL TIME! You shall never rise from the ashes of your shame and humiliation. <beat> Well, that was fun.
- Sherlock Scan: Azula notices that one of the kuai ball players hesitates with her left foot, and suspects it's due to an old injury that weakens her left side in the game. Whether or not she's right is unclear, as the game is such a Curb-Stomp Battle it doesn't make much difference whether they exploit that weakness.
- Shirtless Scene: Zuko gets one with Disturbed Doves.
- Shout-Out: Everyone asking Zuko what's really bothering him is similar to the one in The Breakfast Club.
- Skirt over Slacks: Azula and Ty Lee with their bikinis.
- Squee!: Zuko's Estrogen Brigade during his Shirtless Scene.
- Stepford Snarker: Both Azula and Mai are revealed to be this.
- Stunned Silence: After Azula announces her plan with Chan to become "the strongest couple in the entire world." He doesn't seem that enthused◊.
- The Tease: Azula calls Ty Lee this.
- Trash the Set: At the end of the episode.
- Tuckerization: Chan got his name from an Avatar writer, May Chan.
- Villain Episode: The A-plot of this episode centres on Zuko, Azula, and her minions.
- Villains Out Shopping: Although it's a wonder how nobody appeared to know that Zuko and Azula were the prince and princess of the Fire Nation. Maybe it's down to having no television or tabloids, and official paintings of royals are often highly idealized.
- We Can Rule Together: Azula suggests this to Chan. As a pickup line.
"Together, you and I will be the strongest couple in the entire world!"
- You Monster!: Azula thinks that her own mother thought of her as one.
Azula: She was right, of course, but it still hurt.