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The villagers show their fury towards the iterations of the Avatar.

"That's why it's called 'justice': 'Cause it's 'just us'!"
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Aang, Katara, and Sokka come across an isolated Earth Kingdom village which celebrates something called "Avatar Day". However, upon visiting the village, the team finds that the villagers are of an anti-Avatar sentiment, claiming that Avatar Kyoshi had killed their leader, Chin the Great. Shocked and dismayed by this, Aang resolves to stand trial in Kyoshi's stead, and Sokka and Katara are left to find evidence of the previous Avatar's innocence.

Meanwhile, Zuko has donned his Blue Spirit identity, and is stealing from Earth Kingdom villagers. When Iroh confronts Zuko about this, Zuko decides to split from his uncle and find his own way in the world.

Aang manages to resolve the court issue by channeling the spirit of Avatar Kyoshi. To everyone's surprise, she pleads guilty to the charge of slaying Chin the Great... a megalomaniac conqueror bent on subjugating her people. When it became clear that diplomacy would not solve anything, Avatar Kyoshi separated her people's peninsula from the mainland, creating the "Kyoshi Island" territory seen in the first season, and sending Chin the Great plummeting to his doom. Deliberations are interrupted by a band of Fire Nation raiders, the "Rough Rhinos," who arrive and start busting up the town; Aang is sentenced to the "community service" of seeing them off. The final scene is of Aang, Katara and Sokka in the center of a no-longer-sarcastic Avatar Day. They still don't enjoy it, though.

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Tropes:

  • All-Powerful Bystander: During Kyoshi's explanation of what happened, a map is shown of Chin's conquest, which includes the entire Earth Kingdom (except Ba Sing Se). At no point does Kyoshi actually try stopping Chin until he gets to her home... and then all she does is tell him to shove off.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The wheel of punishment includes such sentences as mauled by bears, boiled in oil, and community service.
  • Audible Gleam: Sound effect when Aang stands on the shoulder of his straw puppet and removes his hat to reveal himself to be real thing.
  • Audience Murmurs: The crowd murmurs when the Surprise Witness is presented.
  • Awesome by Analysis: Well... kind of. Sokka manages to find considerable pieces of evidence that support Aang's defense, only for Katara to finish his sentences every time.
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  • Breather Episode: For the Gaang, at any rate. No Azula, just some angry locals and the Rough Rhinos.
  • Bubble Pipe: Sokka gets one for his Sherlock Holmes impression.
  • Bullying a Dragon: The entire episode revolves around a town of non-benders, with no non-bending warriors, threatening the Avatar, not pausing to consider just how stupid an idea that is. When Aang fights off the Fire Nation at the end of the episode, he shows that if it weren't for his good nature he could have just whipped them at the start. Or, you know, let the Rough Rhinos decimate their town.
    • Chin in the backstory. He picked a fight with Kyoshi, flat out threatening her to her face.
  • The Bus Came Back: Averted; despite the return to Kyoshi Island, Suki does not reappear, having decided to take part in the war, thanks of the Gaang's last visit, along with the rest of the warriors.
    • But the head of Kyoshi Island does return. As does Koko, Aang's fangirl, and Foamy Mouth Guy.
  • Clear My Name: Aang decides he has to clear the Avatar's name when the citizens of a town accuse Avatar Kyoshi, one of Aang's past lives, of murdering their leader 370 years earlier. Of course, it was subverted when Kyoshi herself confessed to the murder (though under the circumstances, it would be considered more either an accident or self-defense).
  • Courtroom Episode: This episode is structured around a court case proving a former Avatar not guilty of a crime committed 370 ago.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: Katara's idea of having Aang wear Kyoshi's clothes to summon her spirit. It does work, only for Kyoshi to admit her guilt.
  • Detectives Follow Footprints: Sokka uses his magnifying glass to inspect the tiny footprint believed to be Avatar Kyoshi's. In the end, though, the footprint is revealed to actually be Chin the Great's.
  • Dirty Coward: Mayor Tong. After celebrating a holiday dedicated to hating the Avatar, imprisoning the current incarnation of said Avatar, refusing to listen to evidence proving Aang's innocence, and sentencing him to be boiled in oil, all with the most Smug Snake demeanor you can imagine... Fire Empire troops show up, he squeals and hides, and begs Aang to save them. Mere seconds after sentencing him, mind you.
  • Disorganized Outline Speech: Aang's defense.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The Chin 'justice' system apparently has the potential to sentence people to fates such as "boiled in oil" and "torture machine" for any and all offenses. Conversely, there's a chance that any offense will result in nothing but community service.
  • Easily Forgiven: Aang only needed Tong to pardon him with Community Service before he readily forgave the villagers and went to work saving their home from the Rough Rhinos. Anyone else in Aang's place would've destroyed the village from the moment their malicious resentment of the Avatar was made apparent.
  • Expy: The arrogant Jerkass Mayor Tong greatly resembles Chi-Fu in both appearance and personality, and even shares his voice actor.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Both the man plot and the B story take place in the span of roughly 12 hours, from pre-dawn until twilight. Specifically, it all takes place on Avatar Day.
  • Eye Scream: When the torch carrier throws the torch into the straw Aang's eye. The real Aang winces sympathetically.
  • Face of a Thug: During Aang's stay in prison, he ends up meeting some very big, very imposing prisoners who he befriends almost immediately. They even give him some relationship advice for Katara. One of them even gets emotional.
  • False Confession: Kyoshi readily admits to killing Chin. Though as Aang later points out, Kyoshi did not actually kill him. Chin died because he refused to step back from the cliff as it was about to crumble out of pride. However Kyoshi does not see the difference between killing him directly or indirectly, and would have struck him down directly if she had to.
  • Faux Horrific: Aang is briefly scared by an old man. He's not particularly menacing, or ugly, he just says "now look at us!" and Aang screams.
  • Foil: Chin's village is this to Kyoshi Island. On one hand, the Kyoshi Islanders greatly respect and revere the Avatar, recognizing all the help he's done for them. On the other hand, Chin's village despises the Avatar over one petty crime that wasn't even a real murder, willing to execute the Avatar despite him being the key to stopping the fire nation.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The Gaang's plan to attempt to summon Kyoshi's spirit through Aang's body using her clothes, which are still tied to her spirit. It works, but unfortunately, she confesses to "murdering" Chin.
  • History Repeats: 370 years ago, Chin tried to go up against Kyoshi, despite he was a small man facing the Avatar. It went as well as you'd expect. In the present, the village that was built in his honor continually antagonize and persecute Aang, despite that they are but non-bending villagers and he's the Avatar. Apparently, they have learned goose egg from history. (See Bullying a Dragon).
  • Honour Before Reason: Aang goes along with being put in prison, and on trial for Kyoshi's "crimes" despite as Sokka points out he could just bust out of the prison and leave. Given the whole world is relying on him, no-one (except the people of Chin) would hold it against him.
  • It's All About Me: The villagers of Chin are perfectly willing to kill a minor in some pretty horrific ways, which would also screw over the rest of the world in the process, just over what one of his prior incarnations did several hundred years ago.
  • Jeweler's Eye Loupe: Sokka wears one when investigating the giant footprint of Avatar Kyoshi.
  • Just Eat Gilligan: Lampshaded, Aang could have escaped from Chin at any point he wished, and when the Fire Nation shows up, he shows that he could have escaped from his restraints at any time he wanted.
  • Kangaroo Court: Chin Village's legal system turns out to be this way. Evidence is not allowed, nor is anything resembling a defense. It is, quite literally, the mayor and the guilty party giving their sides of the story, then the mayor decides who's right. Yes, the same mayor vouching against the defense.
  • Lampshade Hanging: On seeing Sokka smoking his bubble pipe, a confused Katara asks where he got it from.
  • The Magnificent: Chin the Great, or as Kyoshi knew him, the Conqueror.
  • Mama Bear: Avatar Kyoshi was acting as one to her village when she created Kyoshi Island.
  • Mouth Cam: The scene where we see a spider has built a web in Sokka's mouth while he's sleeping.
  • The Napoleon: Chin the Great turns out to have been a megalomaniacal pipsqueak.
  • Nice Hat: In a nice touch, Sokka wears as part of his "Sherlock Holmes" get-up, not a Holmes (Western) deerstalker, but the traditional winged cap worn by Chinese magistrates who featured in old-time Chinese detective novels (see van Gulik's Judge Dee works).
  • Nostalgia Filter: Chin's village adores Chin "the great", to the point that they forget he was originally (and in reality) known as Chin the Conqueror.
  • Not Helping Your Case: Kyoshi briefly appears during the trial to confirm that she did in fact kill Chin. Though it also did waste time that kept Aang from being sentenced to death, long enough for the upcoming Fire Nation invasion...
    • Somewhat subverted, in that if not for the village being so far up their own ass, the revelation that Chin was a conquering villain and his death was an indirect accident would probably have acquitted Aang.
  • Not So Above It All: An almost wordless example. When Iroh questions where Zuko's been getting all these goods and treasures, Zuko rebels that it doesn't matter where they came from. Iroh gives him a look as though thinking "I know too well what that means..." But then he takes a bit out of a pastry Zuko most likely got from stealing, prompting him to get a satisfied expression as though deciding he'll let it slide.
  • Orifice Invasion: Momo grabs a spider out of Sokka's mouth at the beginning of the episode. Played for Laughs.
  • Serious Business: Sokka's the detective here, as he keeps reminding Katara. Eventually she gets annoyed enough by this to bludgeon him with his own pipe.
  • Shadow Archetype The Chin village to Kyoshi Island. Whilst Kyoshi Island greatly revere the Avatar as their founder and savior, Chin Village hates the Avatar for killing Chin and reducing their Empire to a measly town.
  • Shaped Like Itself: According to Mayor Tong, the reason everyone loved Chin the Great was "because he was so great".
  • Shipper on Deck: The prison Aang has to remain in is filled with several dangerous looking criminals... who are actually amiable with him and give him love advice with Katara.
  • Slipped the Ropes: Once Aang is imprisoned, he's "restrained" with his head and arms put through the holes of a wooden plank. Turns out the holes are way bigger than his head and wrists, so he releases himself easily, not that he escapes the prison.
  • Stock Punishment: The pillory Aang has to wear.
  • Surprise Witness: Subverted. They manage to get Avatar Kyoshi to appear, but she admits to killing Chin.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Chin picked a fight with an Avatar. Amazingly, Kyoshi doesn't directly kill him, he just happens to be screaming on top of a newly-created cliff, which crumbles underneath his feet.
    • The Chin villagers are also this, honestly, without a shadow of a doubt believing that imprisoning the Avatar and trying to execute him is a good idea, never once stopping to consider the possibility that killing him will screw them (and the world as a whole) over in the process.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: The A story is Aang's trial and attempt to clear his past incarnation's name, the B story is Iroh's failed attempt to talk Zuko out of stealing.
  • Vestigial Empire: Chin the Conqueror ruled almost the entire Earth Kingdom in the days of Avatar Kyoshi. Now, there's apparently only a tiny village left that remains loyal to his memory.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Chin. He's revered as a hero by the villagers despite being a conquering megalomaniac. Subverted, when the villagers hear Kyoshi's confession and are later saved from the Rough Rhinos by Team Avatar.
  • Wham Episode: A relatively small one, but the B story has Zuko and Iroh split up.
  • Wham Line: Two of them.
    Tong: Evidence? Hmph! That's not how our court system works.
    Kyoshi: I killed Chin the Conqueror.
  • Worst. Whatever. Ever!: What the Gaang thinks of the town at the end, almost said verbatim.
    • The town was previously known for their yearly festival, which (aside from celebrating their hatred of the avatar) was famous for their delicious fried pastries. Now that they don't fry their festival pastries (to honor that the avatar was not boiled in oil), they don't even have that going for them.

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