Recap: Avatar: The Last Airbender "The Chase"

"Well, look at this. Enemies and traitors all working together."

Conflict: The Episode.

Spring has sprung, and the Gaang, newly augmented by Toph, travel on Appa. When they make camp for the evening, Katara and Toph begin to bicker: Toph refuses to help with chores. "I carry my own weight" is Toph's excuse. Then they're disturbed by the advent of a large metal train-vehicle-thing containing Azula, Mai and Ty Lee, and have to flee without sleep. Zuko pursues them, and Iroh him, all leading to one big brawl at the end.

This episode is a step away from standard Avatar fare in that it doesn't really have a single overarching goal that Aang and his friends are trying to accomplish (besides "survive"); it just throws all the show's main characters together and lets them bounce off each other. It is driven solely by character and evolves much more organically.

Tropes:

  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: This is one of the most action packed episodes of the series up to this point. The episode is devoted entirely to chase scenes, fight scenes, and arguments. The one big exception is Iroh and Toph's quiet chat over tea.
  • Anger Born of Worry: Zuko screams and firebends at the Gaang rather than let them help Iroh.
  • Bittersweet Ending: At the end the gaang finally manages to fend off Azula and company while Zuko and Iroh reunite, however Azula escapes and injures Iroh badly.
  • Bits of Me Keep Passing Out: Sokka's fight with Ty Lee.
  • Blame Game: Katara blames Toph for delaying camp transitions. Aang tries to stop the argument, but Toph starts blaming Appa for leaving a trail for the pursuers to follow. Aang then blames Toph for weighing down Appa. Toph temporarily leaves the group.
    Toph: You're blaming me for this?
    Aang: No, she's not blaming you.
    Katara: No, I'm blaming her!
  • Chase Scene: The whole episode. Multiple characters all chasing each other, and eventually a branch when it becomes clear that Appa's shedding is how Azula is tracking them. So after washing Appa off, Katara and Sokka take Appa to safety whilst Aang lays a decoy trail of Appa hair.
  • Conflict Ball: Katara spends a lot of the episode needlessly antagonising Toph for not being a team-player, even when it's clear Toph tends to retaliate physically.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Ty Lee and Mai vs Katara and Sokka. Then Appa gets involved.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Unfortunately, Azula figures out Aang's decoy, sending Mai and Ty Lee after the Water Tribe contingent.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Toph doesn't like being babied. Given her parents and their controlling attitude, it's no surprise. Even Iroh politely pouring her some tea upsets her.
  • Enemy Mine: Zuko works alongside the Avatar for the first time in the series (not counting his earlier Blue Spirit stint).
  • Failed a Spot Check: Somehow Katara doesn't realise that Appa's shedding fur until Aang outright tells her, even when there's a large pile of fur all around Appa.
  • Genre Savvy: A very-sleep deprived Sokka asks what'll happen if he falls asleep mid-chase and "something happens", before immediately noting that something always happens.
  • The Glomp: Ty "They're clumps!" Lee.
  • Idiot Ball: It takes the group an awfully long time to come up with the idea that Appa's shedding is leading a continual trail.
    • And after going to the trouble to lay a fake trail, no one notices that Appa still manages to crash through a treetop during his liftoff, meaning there's an obvious sign of which way he really went.
    • Justified, along with a touch of Conflict Ball, because the entire Gaang is sleep-deprived for the entire episode.
  • Implacable Woman: Azula really comes off as one in this episode.
  • Ineffectual Loner: Toph, who values her independence too much to help others or let herself be helped.
  • Informed Attribute: Katara claims Toph's been selfish since she joined. We only have her word for it, since she's only been in one episode prior.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Toph and Iroh.
  • I Resemble That Remark:
    Aang: (to Katara and Toph) Okay, you both need to calm down.
    Katara: (with a crazed expression and bloodshot eyes) Both? I'M COMPLETELY CALM!
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Azula pulls this right before she attacks Iroh.
  • Jerkass Ball: Katara holds it against Toph because she wont help them to build their camp. Aang grabs it also when Toph blames Appa.
  • Kick the Dog: Azula shoots Iroh with fire right after saying she surrendered.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Subverted by Toph's meeting with Uncle Iroh: instead, they have tea.
  • Mle Trois: The Aang vs. Azula vs. Zuko duel.
  • Mexican Standoff: At the beginning of the Mle Trois.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: "Three on three plus Sokka."
    • The Avatar Extras call back to this joke. "This is the first time we've seen all four elements attacking at once." A beat later, it adds, "...Plus Sokka."
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Aang and Katara do this (mostly Aang) when they caused Toph to leave the group. Sokka even calls them out on it:
    Sokka: "Yeah, you two were pretty much jerks."
    Katara: "Thanks, Sokka."
    Sokka: "No problem."
  • No Sell: In the otherwise one sided battle, Ty Lee tries to disable Sokka's head for no effect.
    Sokka: Good try, but no.
  • Not So Above It All: Katara is initially unnerved by Aang, Sokka and Toph playing around with Appa's fur. Then she laughs anyway.
  • One of the Boys: Toph shares Aang and Sokka's sense of humour, dashing Katara's hopes of common ground with her.
  • Oh, Crap: Katara and Sokka try to outrun Mai and Ty Lee by going over a river. Then their riding lizards just start running on the water.
  • Only Sane Man: Katara. For certain values of "sane." "I'M COMPLETELY CALM!"
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: The premise of this episode is quite similar to the premise of the Battlestar Galactica episode 33: tired protagonists are trying to run away from relentless enemies who inexplicably keep tracking them despite their best efforts, thus denying them any chance of proper sleep and making them increasingly stressed out.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: Azula. Holy crap Azula. It helps that she's Dangerously Genre Savvy and a Magnificent Bastard.
  • Ship Tease: After everything's over, Ty Lee asks Mai if she thought Sokka was cute.
  • Showdown at High Noon.
  • Team Mom: Katara.
  • Trail of Bread Crumbs: Appa's fur
  • Victory Is Boring: Trope Namer episode. For the battle when Mai and Ty Lee defeat Sokka and Katara.
  • Villain over for Dinner: When she leaves the camp, Toph happens upon Iroh, and they share some tea and give each other advice. Subverted in that Iroh is actually pretty nice, and not really a villain at all.
  • Wall Jump: Apparently, Aang can use airbending to jump from wall to wall in an alley in the deserted town.