"You will learn respect, and suffering will be your teacher."
In the twelfth episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender
, the heroes find themselves critically short on money, forcing Sokka to take a job with a cranky old sailor. The sailor immediately recognises Aang and angrily insults him, saying that if it wasn't for his cowardice, he could have prevented the war. A shocked Katara tries to defend her friend, but Aang flies away.
Meanwhile, on his warship, Zuko is dealing with some apparent "insubordination" as the Captain finds himself losing patience with the Prince's disregard of anything that is not the Avatar. When Zuko refuses to stop even for an oncoming storm, risking the crew, a fight nearly breaks out.
Soon the storm arrives, and forces both our heroes and villains to take cover — and as they take shelter, they both tell a story about their pasts. Aang reminisces to Katara about his childhood, and how the revelation that he was the Avatar lost him all his friends and freedom, eventually causing him to run away. Meanwhile, Iroh explains to the ship's crew the story of Zuko's scar and banishment, and the truth about his obsession of finding the avatar.
A hundred years ago, Aang was just another monk at the Southern Air Temple when the head monks called for him, revealing his true identity as the Avatar. Traditionally, the Avatar's identity is not told until their sixteenth birthday, but the monks have seen signs that war is coming. The world will need the Avatar sooner than usual. If the pressure were not bad enough, Aang's friends also began to exclude him from their games, because the Avatar would have too great of an advantage. While Monk Gyatso tried to give Aang a normal life, the other monks thought Gyatso was being overprotective, and that Aang should spend his time training for the war to come. Finally, the other monks decided Aang should continue his training at another Air Temple, away from Gyatso and all of his friends. This was too much for Aang to bear, and he ran away. As he fled, Aang was caught in a storm, and in self-preservation froze himself and Appa in an iceberg for the next hundred years. Aang explains that his actions led to him disappearing from the world when it needed him, which he feels incredible guilt for.
Aang: The fisherman was right! I did turn my back on the world.
Katara: You're being too hard on yourself. Even if you did run away, I think it was meant to be. If you had stayed you would have been killed along with all the other airbenders.
Aang: You don't know that.
Katara: I know it's meant to be this way. The world needs you now. You give people hope.
Meanwhile, Iroh recalls the Zuko of two years ago. Zuko was once a eager young boy, excited to assume his duties as prince. His troubles began when he tried to get into a war meeting in the Fire Nation palace. Iroh allowed him to watch, but warned him not to speak out against the generals. During the meeting, one general proposed a plan that involved using a division of new recruits as bait. Zuko couldn't help but speak out against it, but even though he was right, it was not his place and he had shown disrespect. An Agni Kai was declared, and Zuko accepted, declaring he was not afraid of the general. However, as he stepped into the ring, Zuko realized his mistake: because he had spoken out of turn in the Fire Lord's war room, it was the Fire Lord
he had disrespected. Zuko would not fight his own father and immediately surrendered. For refusing to fight, Ozai attacked his own son, scarring his face, and banished him. Zuko's exile would not be lifted unless Zuko fulfilled an impossible task: capturing the Avatar, who had not been seen for over a hundred years.
Lieutenant Jee: So that's why he's so obsessed. Capturing the Avatar is the only chance he has of things returning to normal.
Iroh: Things will never return to normal. But the important thing is, the Avatar gives Zuko hope.
The fisherman's wife approaches Aang and Katara, telling them that Sokka and her husband are caught out in the storm. The pair go off on Appa to save them, as Zuko's ship is also caught by the storm. As crews of both ships are saved, Aang and Zuko catch each others' eyes. Rather than chase after the Avatar, though, Zuko orders the ship be moved to safety, and Sokka and the fisherman are removed from the storm.
Zuko apologizes for his earlier actions, and the fisherman apologizes for accusing Aang of abandoning the world. Both apologies are accepted, and the storm ends.
- Abusive Parents: So, Fire Lord Ozai has no problem with taking a blow-torch to his son's face. No wonder he's messed up. And much like many real children who have faced abuse, Zuko continues to blame himself and look for his father's approval.
- Angst: This really isn't so uncommon to get it from Zuko, but when Aang's lurking in a cave crying, you know something has to be up.
- Artistic License - Meteorology: To escape the fury of the storm, Iroh suggests they turn the ship toward the storm's eye. According to NOAA, any experienced mariner should know better than to go anywhere near the eye. It's pretty clear the resident member of the brass on board is not an admiral. And yet the eye turns out to be as calm as it would be if the storm were over land.
- Back Story: The viewers finally get to learn more about Zuko and Aang's lives from before we first meet them.
- Catapult Nightmare: When Aang wakes up from his dream at the beginning.
- Chekhov's Skill: Iroh redirecting lightning. It's played as a joke here as it leaves his hair sticking up, with a look on his face like he wasn't sure if it would work, but later becomes very important.
- Creepy Child: A black haired girl smirking at Zuko getting scarred.
- Dramatic Thunder: The storm underscores the reason that Aang ended up in the iceberg.
- Gory Discretion Shot: Used for the moment when Ozai gives Zuko the scar.
Iroh: ... I looked away.
- Jerkass Has a Point: While he's very unkind about it, the old fisherman is right when he points out that the present war has lasted as long as it has due to Aang running away and getting himself frozen in ice for 100 years.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The whole crew's been complaining what a complete douche Zuko is, while that very day he goes on to risk his life in order to save that of the helmsman.
- Nice to the Waiter: Iroh has no problems with eating and hanging out with the crew. Zuko, however, sees them only as servents- but that doesn't stop him from risking his life to save them.
- Not So Different: This is the episode that begins to establish this for Aang and Zuko, as we see what painful backstories they both have and how they're both trying to find redemption for their past mistakes.
- Origins Episode
- Picked Last: Jinju, when picking teams for the air scooter game.
- Shadow Discretion Shot: Inverted when Zuko gets his scar. It's a bright light discretion shot instead, showing Iroh's wince and a girl's smirk.
- A Storm Is Coming: The metaphorical storm is the oncoming war. The literal storm mirrors the one when Aang ran away and froze himself into a Human Popsicle.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Zuko, while a bit impulsive and impatient, thanks his uncle for allowing him into the war chamber and speaks out against sacrificing soldiers lives in order to achieve victory, which leads to the events that resulted in his banishment.
- We Have Reserves: The basis of the plan that Zuko speaks out against.
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: The true reason for Zuko's desperation to capture Aang becomes clear.
- What the Hell, Hero?: The old fisherman chastises Aang for running away when the world needed him most.
- Whole Episode Flashback: This episode feature many flashbacks from the life of both Zuko and Aang.