Recap / Avatar: The Last Airbender "The Northern Air Temple"

"I laugh at gravity all the time. Heh heh, gravity."

As our heroes approach the North Pole, they hear rumours of flying people - not from the past, but still living, over at the Northern Air Temple. However, upon arriving, they discover not air benders, but ordinary refugees who have used technology to fly and do other amazing things. All this invention comes at a cost, however, often destroying the original architecture of the temple, and Aang finds himself distressed to see his heritage being destroyed. As he tries to come to terms with how much things have changed, the Fire Nation continue to advance, seeking out the refugees' technology.


  • Acoustic License: Aang and Teo can easily understand each other talking from glider glider in mid-air.
  • Berserk Button: Aang did not take kindly to how the refugees changed the temple.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The heroes manage to drive the Fire Nation troops away from the Northern Air Temple, but the Fire Nation now has a working prototype of a war balloon. Judging by the Mechanist's worried expression at the end of the episode, he seems to have realized the implications of this.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The war balloon.
  • Eureka Moment: How Sokka gets his idea to use rotten eggs as an alarm system.
  • Fingore: At one point, the Mechanist mentions how it only took him three tries to get his finger-safe knife sharpener right. He then pulls out his left hand's three prosthetic fingers and throws them at Sokka.
  • Foreshadowing: Take a good look at the plans the Mechanist is working on... Also take note of the Fire Nation commander's interest in the balloon wreck.
  • Gadgeteer Genius/Reluctant Mad Scientist: The Mechanist, we also get to see some of Sokka's talent for devices as well.
  • Gunship Rescue: How the ending battle is won.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Averted with Teo, who might be an excellent pilot, but this is never suggested to be because he is paraplegic, nor does anyone seem to consider him in any way unusual. The only notice anyone takes of Teo's handicap is when Sokka is impressed by his "glider chair".
  • Inspired by...: Sokka and The Mechanist's idea of adding the scent of rotten eggs to the gas to identify the source of the leak is similar to the real world process of adding ethanethiol to otherwise odorless LPG to make it detectable for humans. In fact, many of the Mechanist's inventions are inspired by real life. People told time with grooved candles before clocks (albeit not ones with gunpowder spaced along the fuse); hot air balloons have similar vents to those proposed by Sokka.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The Fire Nation grabs the wreck of the war balloon and manages to make it work.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Aang is infuriated by the refugees' appropriation of the nearly extinct Air Nomads' culture.
  • Protect This House: This episode is about protecting a temple.
  • Steam Punk: This aspect of the show is really amped up in this episode.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The mountain is full of methane pockets. One of them is right beneath the Fire Nation's forces. Guess what happens?
  • Swallowed a Fly: When Katara tries out a glider.
    "How do I land this—Ackk! Bug! BUG! That was a BUG!"
  • Tempting Fate: After their victory, Sokka declares that so long as they own the skies, the Fire Nation will be helpless. Unfortunately, they neglected to destroy the war balloon, which proves to be a major problem much later on.
  • Those Magnificent Flying Machines: The aesthetic of the flying machines is reminiscent of this trope.
  • Wham Line: Sokka's "You make weapons for the Fire Nation?"
  • White And White Morality: Aang versus the refugees. It's a morally complex situation where no one is really right or wrong.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: After hearing about flying people at the temple, Aang is naturally crushed to learn all their flying is done with mechanical assistance.