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Recap / Avatar: The Last Airbender "The Avatar and The Fire Lord"

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The lifelong relationship between Roku and Sozin is explored for Aang to see.

"Born in you, along with all this strife, is the power to restore balance to the world."
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The sixth episode of the third season of the show, 'The Avatar and the Fire Lord' explores how Aang and Zuko both learn about the strong and close childhood friendship of Avatar Roku and Fire-lord Sozin. Sozin suggested to Roku that, as the pinnacle of civilization, the Fire Nation should control the destiny of the entire world to ensure universal prosperity. As Roku was the Avatar, he knew the importance of balance between all people and disagreed. When Sozin later greedily took an Earth Kingdom colony, Roku defeated him in battle and threatened to kill him if he again tried to do anything that crossed that line. When Roku's island volcano erupted years later, Sozin came to help. But, at the last moment, when Roku was overcome by volcanic gases, Sozin realized that he could rule the world if he let Roku die, and he abandoned him. Roku then died from the lava and was reincarnated as Aang. In his prison cell, Iroh tells Zuko that as the great-grandson of both Roku and Sozin, he alone has the ability to resolve their endless conflict and restore order and peace to the world.

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At the end of the episode, Toph asks if friendships can transcend lifetimes where both Aang and Katara acknowledge and accept Toph's intuition (implying that Aang's next incarnation, Korra, will befriend both Katara and Toph).


Tropes:

  • Always Chaotic Evil: Toph believes this of the Fire Nation (or at least the Fire Lord's descendants) when she learns from Aang how Sozin betrayed Roku and started the 100-year war. Aang disagrees, and believes that anyone could do great evil or good, no matter where they are.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Sozin tries to order around the most powerful bender on the planet. It...doesn't go so well for him.
  • Continuity Nod: While witnessing Aang doing his business, Sokka notes that the Spirit World does not in fact have toilets. He'd know.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Sozin "vs" Roku...if you can even call it that. Roku effortlessly dodges the only attack Sozin gets a chance to launch, then responds by levelling half of Sozin's palace and leaving him dangling from a rock pillar by his own cape.
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  • Double Consciousness: Zuko is the great-grandson of both Fire Lord Sozin and Avatar Roku.
  • Dramatic Irony: Sozin's final flashback has him obsessively searching for Aang. As Sozin's narration expresses certainty that the Last Airbender is out there somewhere, viewers see his ship pass over a certain sphere of ice.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: The way Sozin leaves Roku to die. It's even worse when moments earlier, Roku saved Sozin from dropping into lava. What an Ungrateful Bastard!
  • Invisible Writing: Zuko received a note with a secret message written in invisible ink which was revealed with heat.
  • I Should Have Done This Years Ago: Roku has come to have this sort of attitude about killing Sozin. Roku being too hesitant to kill Sozin resulted in the current situation the Gaang is in.
  • Kneel Before Frodo: When Roku is revealed to be the new Avatar, the entire hall of people bow down to him.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Iroh sends a note to Zuko telling him to learn about his great-grandfather's death to learn more about himself. Zuko looks up how Fire Lord Sozin died and learns nothing new from it. When he comes and complains about that to Iroh, Iroh tells Zuko that he meant Avatar Roku, whom he now reveals was Zuko's maternal great-grandfather!
  • Missed Him by That Much: At one point while he's on a ship searching for the Avatar, Sozin's ship passes directly over the sphere of ice that Aang bent himself and Appa into.
  • Murder by Inaction: Sozin decides not to rescue Roku from the volcano which equals to killing him.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Herod!: Sozin knew the next Avatar would be an Airbender and ordered them all wiped out. Much to his irritation, everyone but Aang was killed, so he spent the rest of his life searching for him.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted, it looks as if Aang is doing this while in the spirit world, much to everyone else's discomfort.
  • Not So Above It All: The sage and dignified Roku admits that being the Avatar doesn't hurt a young man on the dating scene.
  • Not So Different: Seeing his hopeless first attempt to talk to his future wife, Roku reflects on how love can be so challenging. Despite being younger than Roku in the flashback, Aang concurs.
  • Odd Friendship:
    • Aang is stunned that Roku and Sozin were once best friends.
    • Roku describes his Earthbending teacher as an uncompromising, stubborn man that he was nonetheless very close to.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Roku destroyed a fair lot of the Fire Nation's royal palace just to deliver a message to Sozin. It didn't seem to require much effort of him.
  • The Power of Friendship: Though warning him to behave, Roku chose to spare Sozin out of respect for their friendship. This came back to bite him hard, as well as numerous innocent lives.
  • Red Herring: When Zuko read the note mentioning the history of his Great-Grandfather, he figured it would be about Sozin. It was really about Avatar Roku.
  • Shoot the Dog: Averted. Because of their past history, Roku doesn't kill Sozin after his first invasion of the Earth Kingdom. This act of mercy later results in Roku's death, the extermination of the Air Nomads bar Aang, the genocide of the Southern Water Tribe's benders, untold deaths, and a century of carnage and war.
  • Single Line of Descent: Subverted and lampshaded; Zuko has more than one great-grandfather.
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs: When Roku meets Sozin after he becomes Fire Lord, he says that he would expect to be shown respect befitting a Fire Lord, but will make an exception for his friend. When Roku arrives and attacks Sozin, Sozin angrily demands respect after Roku addresses him without his title.
  • Title Drop: The end of Sozin's will, describing his failed quest to find and end the Avatar.
    Sozin:I know he's hiding out there, somewhere... The Fire Nation's greatest threat. The last Airbender.
  • Totalitarian Utilitarian: Sozin's entire motive for his expansion is to spread the Fire Nation's advanced technology and enlightened values to the rest of the world, for the benefit of all. However, he will need to conquer everyone else to make them agree that his way is better.
  • Tragic Villain: Though he is ultimately a villain, Sozin is humanized through his friends, and shown to have good (if perhaps misguided) intentions behind his country's expansionism. His final fate is also tragic: while he is successful in attaining many of his political aims, he becomes in the end a lonely and disillusioned old man, who sacrificed his friends and personal happiness for the great cause he championed.
  • Undying Loyalty: Fang to Roku. He never left his master, even after he attempted to Shoo the Dog from the island's destruction. What solidifies this is Fang's willingness to die with Roku.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Roku and Sozin, the latter especially.
  • Was It Really Worth It?: Sozin asks himself this at the end of his life. He finds himself filled with regret and decides it wasn't worth it.
  • We Can Rule Together: At first, Sozin asks Roku to help him spread the Fire Nation's advanced civilization to other countries. However, he refuses to even listen to him beyond the first sentence.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Sozin wanted to spread the greatness and advances of the Fire Nation throughout the entire world. He just unfortunately went about it in the worst way possible. The well-intentioned part was more or less dropped by his successors, who are now simply on an imperialistic war of conquest.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Roku and Sozin.
  • Wham Line: "Your mother's grandfather was Avatar Roku."
  • What You Are in the Dark: As the volcano gets out of control, Sozin sincerely tried to help Roku, but then he saw the Avatar felled by some volcanic gas and left completely helpless. Sozin came to the conclusion that all his problems would go away if his best friend was left to die.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Not quite whole episode, but a very large portion of the episode is a flashback dedicated to showing the bond that once existed between Roku and Sozin, and how it was shattered.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math:
    • A common complaint many have with this episode. If Sozin really was the same age as Avatar Roku, the age gap between himself and his descendants is quite large. Word of God said that he was roughly 82 when his son Azulon was born. Granted, this is technically possible but it is still quite strange.
    • A similar problem occurs with Roku's descendants.

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