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Recap / Avatar: The Last Airbender "Return to Omashu"

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Omashu under Fire Nation rule.

"There really is no fathoming the depths of my hatred for this place."
Mai note 
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Aang, Katara and Sokka head to Omashu to ask King Bumi to teach Aang earthbending, only to discover upon their arrival that the city has fallen to the Fire Nation. Meanwhile, Azula decides to get rid of the royal procession and assemble a small, elite team of fighters to capture Zuko and Iroh. She chooses two old school friends to help her: Ty Lee, who is currently part of the circus and Mai, whose father was recently appointed governor of Omashu.


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Tropes:

  • Answer Cut:
    Azula: It's not just Zuko and Iroh anymore. We have a third target now.
    (Fade to Aang.)
  • Badass Normal: Ty Lee and Mai both get their introductions as this in this episode, fighting the Avatar gang.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Sokka comes back on Appa just in time to boomerang a knife out of Mai's hand after Ty Lee has disabled Katara's bending.
  • Bittersweet Ending: With King Bumi in captivity (by his choice), Aang will have to find a different Earth-bending master to teach him. So Omashu remains under the Fire Nation's rule. For now anyway. But not only have King Bumi's subjects escaped their captive city, Aang gives Tom-Tom back to his family safe and sound.
  • Chase Scene: A chase scene ensues between Aang, riding Bumi's ark, and Azula.
  • Cheerful Child: Tom-Tom, on account of being a toddler. Not even hurtling across Omashu on one of the delivery carts terrifies him. In fact, the only time he cries is when he's not allowed to chew Sokka's club.
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  • Chekhov's Gun: The pentapox disease Sokka uses to scare off the Fire Nation guards.
  • Children Are Innocent: Tom-Tom, though the leader of the Omashu resistance argues he won't be innocent when he grows up.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Ty Lee.
  • Construction Zone Calamity: The Prisoner Exchange is placed at a construction site. Guess why.
  • Continuity Nod: In the flashback of Bumi surrendering, the jingle that played back in his last appearance makes a reappearance.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Azula just happens to come to recruit Mai in Omashu at the same exact time the Gaang is visiting the city.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Katara around Tom-Tom.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Azula temporarily serves this role to Mai, since Mai is technically supposed to be the one leading the negotiations with Aang, Sokka and Katara.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Mai.
  • Egopolis: Azula renames Omashu as New Ozai.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Ty Lee's silliness, cuteness, and playful nature are all shown in her first scenes at the circus, while her deadly chi-blocking ability is revealed near the end of the episode. Her Hidden Depths are also hinted at.
    • Mai is shown to be deadpan, stoic, and quiet, and a dangerous Knife Nut.
  • Finger Poke of Doom: Bumi can earthbend with just his face.
  • Foreshadowing: Notable on rewatching - Mai mentions Ty Lee told her she was running away to the circus, whereas Azula clearly tracks her down and has to fake stumbling on her by accident, a sign that Ty Lee isn't as ditzy as she appears, and closer to Mai than Azula.
  • Genki Girl: Ty Lee.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Ty Lee and Azula witness a difficult platypus-bear leaving an egg behind when it's dragged away by its handlers.
  • Grotesque Cute: The Pentapus.
  • Irony: Azula told Mei's dad she would take control of the trade because she's certain he would only mess it up. Yet, for all her competency and cunning, the trade does not go as planned (it was called off on principle that Tom-Tom wasn't worth as much as King Bumi) because of Azula herself.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: As the Fire Nation army were advancing on Omashu, King Bumi... surrendered without a fight. As he explains to Aang, it's one of the Jings - waiting and listening for the right moment.
  • La Résistance: Omashu has one with the goal to rid the city of the Fire Nation. Part of the Gaang’s objective is to get them all out of Omashu.
  • Lies to Children: Bumi mentions off-hand that his description of positive, negative, and neutral Jing is a gross oversimplification. There are actually 85 types, for one thing.
  • Meaningful Rename: On arrival, Azula declares Omashu will be renamed "New Ozai".
  • Never Say "Die":
    Sokka: We don't even know if Bumi's still-
    Aang: What? If he's still what?
    Sokka: ...around.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Aang saves Mai and her family from being hit by a speeding pile of bricks. In response, Mai tries to fill him and his friends full of knives.
  • Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: Mai laments, "This place [Omashu] is unbearably bleak. Nothing ever happens." Cue the assassination attempt.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Azula's invitation to Ty Lee to join her on her quest is very friendly, and she very obviously won't take no for an answer.
  • Oh, Crap!: Ty Lee's blink-and-you-miss-it series of expressions between the point she hears Azula approach and the point she starts smiling is revealing.
  • Pass the Popcorn: Mai's reaction to the "Pentapox" plague is to watch, while eating some fire flakes.
  • Perky Female Minion: Ty Lee.
  • Prisoner Exchange: Tom-Tom for King Bumi.
  • Secret Passage: The gaang sneaks into Omashu via the Absurdly Spacious Sewer system.
  • Ship Tease: "It'll be interesting seeing Zuko again. Won't it Mai?"
  • The Snark Knight: Mai.
  • Sniff Sniff Nom: Tom-Tom tries to nibble Momo's tail and Sokka's club. The former is how he winds up outside Omashu in the first place.
  • Squishy Wizard: Katara’s a waterbending master, but the second Ty Lee disables her bending, she’s completely helpless. Mai lampshades this:
    ”How are you going to fight without your bending?”
  • Straying Baby: Tom-Tom likes to go on adventures by himself and naturally comes out unharmed.
  • Tempting Fate: Aang says he has a "good feeling" about the trade. Smash Cut to Azula arriving at Omashu.
  • That Wasn't a Request: Azula's tone makes it clear to Mai and the audience when she wonders aloud if trading Mai's brother for King Bumi is really a "fair trade" that she is not asking.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: All over Ty Lee's face when Azula casually mentions she'll be watching the circus performance.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Azula very quickly shows the Gaang that she is easily the single most dangerous enemy they've ever faced.
  • What You Are in the Dark: The leader of the resistance warned Aang that Tom-Tom would grow up to be just another vicious fire-bender one day. On that note, Aang and his allies could've kept Tom-Tom to avoid that fate, but return him safely to his parents on the principal that they were his family and missed him so.
  • Wheel of Pain: Flopsy is forced to work it until Aang frees him.
  • With My Hands Tied: Because "they didn't cover my face!"
  • You Don't Want to Catch This: Pentapox! "Didn't your cousin Chang die of that?"
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: Bumi isn't Aang's earthbending teacher, but someone else, who he'll have to find without his best friend.
  • You Were Trying Too Hard: The philosophy behind Neutral Jing, "when you do nothing!"
  • Zombie Gait: Played with. The Pentapox "infectees" all walk together towards the city gates, shuffling, groaning, and stretching out their arms. Granted, they're all fooling, but it's a fairly convincing fake Zombie Apocalypse.

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