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Recap / Avatar: The Last Airbender "The Blue Spirit"

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The Blue Spirit is surrounded by Fire Nation soldiers as Aang runs for the gate.
"If we knew each other back then, do you think we could have been friends too?"
Aang to Zuko
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Sokka suffers from an illness due to his exposure to the elements during the storm. When Katara begins to contract the illness as well, Aang goes to a nearby herbalist institute in hopes of finding a cure for his friends. On his way to collect the remedy the herbalist recommends, Aang is kidnapped by a group of Fire Nation Yu-Yan archers, commanded by the newly promoted Admiral Zhao. However, a masked marauder, the titular "Blue Spirit," rescues Aang from Zhao; the "Blue Spirit" is knocked unconscious during the escape, and Aang discovers that he is Prince Zuko. Aang offers him friendship, but departs when he is rebuffed.


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Tropes in this episode include:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: The Blue Spirit cuts through the chains and shackles holding Aang with his swords.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The sewers at the fortress are huge, making it easy for the Blue Spirit and Aang to escape.
  • Arrow Cam: When the Blue Spirit is struck down by the Yu-Yan archer.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Aang and the Blue Spirit protect each others backs while mowing down dozens of enemy spearsmen and archers.
  • Badass Normal:
    • The Blue Spirit outfights and outwits quite a few firebenders while freeing Aang, with nothing but his swords and a bucket of water.
    • The Yu-Yan Archers are a ridiculously skilled group of marksmen who are able to capture the Avatar alive, without a scratch on him.
  • Becoming the Mask: Aang hoped that Zuko would have become this. It didn't quite work that way.
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  • Bittersweet Ending: Aang is rescued from Zhao and both Sokka and Katara get better, but Aang's attempt to connect with Zuko and maybe even forge a friendship fails.
    Sokka: Aang, how was your trip? Did you make any new friends?
    Aang: No, I don't think I did.
  • Blah Blah Blah: What Momo hears when Katara speaks to him.
  • Brought Down to Badass: The Blue Spirit is actually Zuko, who just isn't using his firebending to avoid revealing his identity.
  • Ceiling Cling: The Blue Spirit does this to evade the guard inside the fortress.
  • Chirping Crickets: Done with a defrosting frog.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander:
    • Sokka's illness makes him more than a little loopy.
    • The herbalist counts as well.
      Aang: You're insane, aren't you?
      Herbalist: That's riiiiiiight.
  • Cold Sniper: The Yu-Yan Archers: always silent, unfazed by pressure and emotion, with legendary accuracy and extremely effective.
  • Combat Pragmatist: When Aang and the Blue Spirit are cornered, Zhao gives the order to his men to leave the Avatar alive. Cue the Blue Spirit immediately holding his swords up to Aang's throat, effectively taking him hostage.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Iroh playing the tsungi horn in front of the jewelled monkey statue, both bought in "The Waterbending Scroll."
    • Both Sokka and Katara get sick after surviving the storm.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Zhao receives word of his promotion to Admiral just as he's trying to recruit the Yu-Yan Archers, allowing him to make his request an order. How lucky can a guy get? Played with though, as there's no established reason why the original commanding officer of the archers should have outranked Zhao (though they may have been equally ranked). The writers could have given Zhao the authority from the beginning, simply by making the original CO someone lower ranked than Zhao. They created a contrived problem, and moments later presented a contrived solution.
  • Defiant Captive: After Zhao makes it clear he will keep Aang alive to prevent another long search for the Avatar, Aang spitefully knocks him down by blowing a gust of wind at him.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Katara and Sokka are sick and feverish after being out in the storm from the previous episode, and Momo and Appa are left to look after them as Aang goes out by himself to get some medicine. It predictably goes wrong and he ends up captured by the Yu-Yan Archers, necessitating the Blue Spirit's rescue.
  • Dramatic Unmask: Aang is shocked to see Zuko beneath the mask.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: This episode contains several relatively normal-looking animals, in contrast with the series' normal Mix-and-Match Critters. Miyuki is a Persian-looking cat, Momo brings a dead mouse, and the frogs just seem to be regular frogs.
  • Elite Mooks: The Yu-Yan archers. They take down the Avatar, albeit one that has barely begun his training, with ridiculous ease.
  • Enemy Mine: Zuko helps Aang escape from Zhao so that Zuko himself can capture the Avatar.
  • Face Palm: One of Iroh's opponents make this expression when he makes a winning move in a game of Pai Sho.
  • Fights Like a Normal: As the Blue Spirit, Zuko relies on normal fighting skills in order to keep his identity a secret from Zhao, Aang, and the audience.
  • Find the Cure!: Aang goes in search of a cure for Sokka and Katara’s fever.
  • Foreshadowing: The Blue Spirit throws a knife. His girlfriend probably taught him that move...
  • Grappling-Hook Pistol: Variation; the Yu-Yan Archers tie rope to arrows, fire them as a modern character would fire a grappling-hook pistol, and use them to Building Swing as a testament to their immense skill at archery.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: As their feverish delusions clear up, Sokka and Katara realize they're chewing on dethawing live frogs.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: The Yu-Yan Archers. Aside from being capable of Splitting the Arrow and Multishotting as described below, Zhao boasts that they could shoot a fly and pierce its body without killing it.
  • Insult Backfire:
    Aang: You're insane, aren't you?
    Herbalist: That's riiight.
  • Introverted Cat Person: The herbalist lives alone with her pet cat Miyuki after her peers left years ago.
  • Left the Background Music On: The atmospheric background music as Zuko returns to his ship turns out to be Uncle Iroh playing the tsungi horn.
  • Leitmotif: Zuko's tsungi horn theme first appears here.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • After a very intense escape full of action, we have a very quiet, melancholic and even sad scene with Aang reminiscing after a long-gone friend he had, wondering if he and Zuko could've been friends in different circumstances.
    • At the end of the episode, Aang sadly contemplating his failed attempt to befriend Zuko is contrasted with humor when Sokka and Katara realize they have frogs in their mouths and spit them out in disgust.
  • Multishot: During their training, a Yu-Yan Archer is shown shooting four arrows at once, each of them hitting the bulls eye of a different target.
  • New Era Speech: Zhao gives one to a raving crowd.
    Zhao: This is the year Sozin's Comet returns to grant us its power! This is the year the Fire Nation breaks through the walls of Ba Sing Se, and burns the city to the ground!
  • Ninja: The Blue Spirit. He stealthily sneaks into the fortress with very few guards seeing him. He effectively defeats the ones who do see him and binds and gags them.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Aang saves Zuko in hopes that it might somehow make them friends. All he gets for his trouble is Zuko blasting fire at him, and the likely prospect that Zuko will only continue to hunt him and his friends down.
  • Oh, Crap!: One poor group of Fire Nation soldiers sees Aang blast their companions off the next ladder over, then look up to see him standing right over them.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Zuko rescues Aang from the prison in order to prevent Zhao from getting the glory of capturing him.
  • Pinned to the Wall: Aang is pinned down to a tree trunk by the archers' arrows.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Zhao refrains from executing Aang because the boy's death will simply lead to a new Avatar emerging someday. Zuko becomes aware of this and exploits it to get out of the fortress.
  • Rain of Arrows: Going down on Aang.
  • Rank Up: Zhao gets promoted from Commander to Admiral at the start of the episode.
  • Save the Villain: Aang rescues an unconscious Zuko from Zhao's soldiers.
  • Sick Episode: Sokka is feverish and ill due to the rain. Katara later contracts his sickness. The plot revolves around Aang trying to cure them.
  • Splitting the Arrow: While the Yu-Yan Archers are shown at a firing range, one of them splits an arrow, then splits that arrow, and finally the third arrow in succession, so each is embedded in the other.
  • Stab the Scorpion: It looks like the Blue Spirit is about to kill an enchained Aang, but then it turns out he was using his swords to cut the chains and free him instead. Plays out as a Pseudo Crisis.
  • Starts Stealthily, Ends Loudly: When the sneaky escape of the Blue Spirit and Aang is foiled, they have to start an open fight with the guards.
  • Talking Your Way Out: Aang tries this... unsuccessfully.
    Aang: Untie me, and I'll fight you right now!
    Zhao: Uh... no.
  • Tempting Fate: As a guard in a small lookout reads Aang's "Wanted!" Poster, he notes that the Avatar can create tornadoes and run faster than the wind. The other guard dismisses it as Fire Lord propaganda, right before seeing Aang zipping by a la Road Runner, knocking down the lookout.
  • That's an Order!: Zhao gets to do this when a messenger hawk arrives just after Colonel Shinu has denied his request to use the Yu-Yan Archers.
    Zhao: News from Fire Lord Ozai... It appears I've been promoted to Admiral. My request is now an order.
  • Trick Arrow: The Yu-Yan Archers use rope arrows to pursue Aang down a cliff, and a net-arrow to trap him.
  • Two Aliases, One Character: The Blue Spirit is treated as an entirely new character until the unmasking scene.
  • Underside Ride: The Blue Spirit sneaks into the fortress by clinging to the underside of a supply cart. After the guards verify that there are no stowaways inside the cart, the Blue Spirit climbs into it just before they check underneath.
  • Villainous Rescue: Zuko kidnaps Aang from Zhao.
  • Waking Up Elsewhere: For Zuko as he awakes under a tree after being saved by Aang.
  • Wham Shot: When the Blue Spirit gets hit by an arrow and you can just barely see Zuko's scar from behind the mask.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Aang was the only one to discover the Blue Spirit was Zuko and could've left him to his fate. But after a moment of hesitation, he takes Zuko with him, saving him from being discovered as the Blue Spirit and healing his wound. While Zuko has a funny way of showing gratitude, no one can deny Zuko wouldn't be alive if it weren't for Aang.

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