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Recap / Avatar: The Last Airbender "Sozin's Comet, Part 3 - Into the Inferno"

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Their powers enhanced by the comet, Zuko and Azula engage in an Agni Kai for the right to be Fire Lord.

"I’m sorry it has to end this way, brother."
"No, you’re not."
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Azula's mental stability, undermined by the betrayal of her childhood friends at the Boiling Rock, begins to deteriorate as her coronation as Fire lord approaches. Zuko and Katara confront her right when she is about to be crowned Firelord, but Azula challenges her brother to an Agni Kai. Zuko, although initially winning, is gravely injured when Azula throws lightning at Katara which he dives in the way of. Aang duels Ozai without result, still unwilling to kill him. Sokka, Toph, and Suki attempt to halt the Airship fleet but are soon separated, while the Order of the White Lotus battles for Ba Sing Se's freedom.


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Tropes:

  • Acoustic License: Suki and Sokka can understand each other airborne over quite a distance when their Zeppelin breaks apart.
  • Airship Fu: How Sokka takes out most of Ozai's air fleet.
  • Big "NO!": Zuko lets out a slow-motion "No!" when Azula attempts to strike Katara with lightning.
  • Blue/Orange Contrast: Zuko's Orange vs. Azula's Blue Fire during their Agni Kai.
  • Bullet Time:
    • Ozai uses lightning against Aang. Slow-mo happens to emphasize that Aang decides not to redirect it at Ozai at the last second.
    • It is also utilized when Zuko taunts Azula to use lightning-bending. She does, and the animation slows down when she realizes that Zuko can redirect it...but Katara can't. Cue Big "NO!" and Taking the Bullet.
  • Call-Back:
    • During Zuko's lightning redirection training, Iroh warns Zuko not to channel the lightning through the heart which happens when he redirects Azula's shot at Katara.
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    • The fight between Zuko and Azula is also a culmination of what Zuko learned from his journey. He even uses Zhao's hand motions to dissipate one of Azula's attacks, and even Azula's own massive fireblast from the episode "Crossroads of Destiny" to deflect another one.
  • Charge-into-Combat Cut: Used once or twice to switch between the Aang/Ozai fight and the Zuko/Azula fight.
  • Comet of Doom: Sozin's Comet heralds a brutal Fire Nation invasion plan.
  • Cruel Mercy: Azula shows forgiving mercy towards her servant for a minor mistake....by banishing the poor girl. However, bear in mind that this is a relatively lenient sentence when compared to her original intent to have the girl punished for treason.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Azula banishes her servant for giving her cherry without the pit taken out. She also fires the Dai Li for taking 5 minutes to reach her.
  • Disturbed Doves: When Ozai begins his attack. Justified because he's burning down their home.
  • Field Power Effect: Sozin's Comet gives firebenders one hundred times their normal strength.
  • Flaunting Your Fleets: A side pan from the airship captured by Sokka, Toph and Suki over to Ozai's airship.
  • Force and Finesse: The Agni Kai. Azula does bring out the tricks, to be sure, but she is on the offensive from the start with little thought to strategy, while Zuko is patiently standing his ground and deflecting Azula's attacks with calculated defensive techniques. His entire strategy is to bait her into using lightning, which he has learned to redirect and would be something that she knew about but have no way to counter.
  • Futile Hand Reach: Sokka and Suki uselessly reach for each other when their airship breaks apart and separates them.
  • A God Am I: Ozai is really power-tripping.
    Ozai: I have all the power in the WOOOOOOOOOOOORRRRRRRLLD!!!
  • Grapes of Luxury: Azula tries this out at the beginning of the episode, though with cherries instead of grapes. Finding a pit in one cherry leads to her paranoia and slip into insanity.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Zuko takes the lightning meant for Katara.
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: It's strongly implied that Azula felt unloved by her mother because of how she was raised. She also feels betrayed by Mai and Ty Lee who may have unintentionally triggered Azula's downward spiral.
  • Important Haircut: Azula decides to cut her bangs which underscores her Sanity Slippage.
  • Instant Armor: Toph with a metal airship door and Aang with rocks.
  • Interesting Situation Duel: Zuko Vs. Azula are two firebenders under the influence of Sozin's Comet; so we end up getting quite a spectacle of cerulean and crimson fire throughout their Agni Kai.
  • I Will Show You X: When Zuko taunts Azula for not doing her usual lightning bending.
    Zuko: No lightning today? What's the matter? Afraid I'll redirect it?
    Azula: Oh, I'll show you lightning!
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Azula, when banishing the Dai Li, justifies it by pointing out how they betrayed Long Feng to join her. While she's definitely paranoid, she has a point. If the Dai Li was willing to betray their long time leader who, until Azula's infiltration, had their absolute loyalty, even after Earth King Kuei ordered his arrest, who's to say they wouldn't eventually turn on her, too?
  • Killing Intent: Played straight. Azula takes a potshot at Katara with lightning, but knowing full well that Zuko would jump in front of the shot with little reaction time and thus get badly hurt (if not killed) by the shot. It looks like it's an attempt to kill Katara, but it was a ploy to get at Zuko whose defenses she couldn't crack in the fight.
  • Kubrick Stare: Azula has a lot of downward-looking glares in this episode, to emphasize her Sanity Slippage and increasing alienation from those close to her. A lot.
  • Meaningful Echo: Sokka suggests using an "Airship Slice" to take out the airship fleet, echoing both his suggestion that Aang use an "Airbending Slice" to break out of jail in the episode "Avatar Day" and his cheering on of Aang moments earlier.
  • Midair Collision: "AIRSHIP SLICE!" (That is, steering airships into each other to make them crash.)
  • No OSHA Compliance: Averted. Fire Nation troops on the airships have safety tethers to keep them from dropping to their death should they fall of the catwalk. Ozai isn't using one, but he's just that cocky. (Also, he can use his firebending to fly.)
  • Oh, Crap!: Ozai's face screams this when he sees Aang channeling his lightning and looking like he's going to redirect it at him.
  • Orange/Blue Contrast: The Agni Kai — it's Zuko's fire (orange) vs. Azula's (blue).
  • Parallel Conflict Sequence: The fight scenes between Azula versus Zuko/Katara and Ozai versus Aang play out simultaneously.
  • Playing The Heartstrings: The Agni Kai opens with a very somber string piece before it cuts away. When it cuts back, the audio is muffled as a piece of Sad Battle Music plays over it all.
  • Prepare to Die: Said word for word in Ozai's "The Reason You Suck" Speech. Has a bit more weight behind it than usual because he is totally capable of carrying out his threat, and then he tries to make good.
  • "Psycho" Strings:
  • Punch-Clock Villain: The crew of the airships behave this way. When Sokka (pretending to be the captain) invites them for a birthday celebration, we get a brief scene of the crew meeting each other and wondering whose birthday it is before they're promptly dropped into the ocean.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: Azula rages at her hallucination of her mother in a mirror as she realizes that she is completely alone and unloved, thus also clearly raging against herself.
  • Reality Ensues: Cutting your hair with scissors (even if it's just your bangs) doesn't look as stylish as you'd expect. Fittingly, Azula tries to cut her bangs, but it only makes her look more deranged.
  • Sad Battle Music: The somber soundtrack for Zuko and Azula's Agni Kai, driving home that these are two teenage siblings in a fight to the death.
  • Sanity Slippage: Azula continues on this path from the previous two parts, after losing her partners in crime in earlier episodes due to her actions, as well as seen as being betrayed by Ozai. She fires people for trivial reasoning, such as firing a servant for finding a pit in a cherry she was eating (which the poor girl has no control over!) gets her exiled, as does the Dai Li after taking 5 minutes to arrive at Azula (though her concerns are more about treachery, as they were all traitors to the Earth King, so her reasoning is at least understandable). When she's trying to prepare herself for her coronation to become Fire Lord, she has a conversation with Ursa, which the later wide shot reveals that Ursa was never there.
  • Scenery Gorn: The comet-enhanced firebending is used to make some of the most horrifically beautiful and eye-catching visuals in the series.
  • Shirtless Scene: Ozai throws off his robes and burns them to allow him to fight Aang without anything to slow him down.
  • ShoutOut: The nickname of "Captain Boomerang" gets briefly used here by Toph to describe Sokka.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Aang tells Momo, his silly lemur friend, to leave just before engaging the Fire Lord in a battle for the destiny of the planet.
  • Slasher Smile: Azula and Ozai get some pretty psychotic grins in this episode — Azula when fighting Zuko, and Ozai while relishing in the power brought about by the comet.
  • Slipknot Ponytail: Happens to Azula during the Agni Kai, with her hair coming loose from her already messy updo. Since Azula has never let her hair down in public before this point and she already cut off her bangs beforehand, it serves to make her look even more unhinged.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The sad violin piece playing during the Agni Kai only underlines the fight's ferocity and senseless destruction, as well as the underlying sadness of a battle to the death between two siblings.
  • Taking the Bullet: Zuko takes a lightning bolt from Azula that was meant for Katara.
  • Tanks for Nothing: The Fire Army tanks are junk after the Old Masters are done with them.
  • Tempting Fate: One mook is overjoyed that the airship captain remembered his birthday. Cue the Trap Door opening.
  • Third Act Stupidity: Again, Azula banishing all her minions. By this time, she's completely bonkers.
  • Trap Door: Sokka tricks the crew of a Firebender Zeppelin to gather in the bomb bay. He then opens the bay shaft and the crew drops hundreds of meters down into Soft Water.
  • Tuck and Cover: Sokka throws himself over Toph to protect her from debris raining down from a crashing airship.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Azula. Starting with an overreaction to sloppiness, then escalating to total paranoia and now it's reached total raving madness.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The Earth Kingdom's army is nowhere in sight anywhere in the battle for Ba Sing Se. Considering that ongoing rebellions by the Earthbenders had caused Ozai enough grief to prompt his plan to raze the continent, their absence here is baffling.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: The Fire Nation soldiers in the ship Sokka takes command of has a bunch of them act like Punch Clock Villains, with one pair conversing in how they've never met up in the very large ship, and seem genuinely friendly with each other. When Sokka says it's someones birthday as the reason they're all in one gathering, one of the soldiers even shows delight that the captain remembered, only to be unceremoniously dumped into the ocean.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Having cut ties with his abusive father, trained with the Sun Warriors, and found his path in training Aang and befriending the rest of Team Avatar, Zuko is more mentally and emotionally centered than he's ever been in his life. Azula, by contrast, is in the middle of a nervous breakdown. Zuko lampshades this before their Agni Kai, saying that for some reason, he's sure he can take Azula by himself as she's off.

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