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Recap / Avatar: The Last Airbender "The Chase"

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Azula fights off the combined might of Aang, Katara, Toph, Sokka, and Zuko.

"Well, look at this. Enemies and traitors all working together."
Azula
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Conflict: The Episode.

Spring has sprung, and the Gaang, newly augmented by Toph, travel on Appa. When they make camp for the evening, Katara and Toph begin to bicker: Toph refuses to help with chores. "I carry my own weight" is Toph's excuse. Then they're disturbed by the advent of a large metal train-vehicle-thing containing Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee, and have to flee without sleep. Zuko pursues them, and Iroh him, all leading to one big brawl at the end.

This episode is a step away from standard Avatar fare in that it doesn't really have a single overarching goal that Aang and his friends are trying to accomplish (besides "survive"); it just throws all the show's main characters together and lets them bounce off each other. It is driven solely by character and evolves much more organically.


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Tropes:

  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: This is one of the most action packed episodes of the series up to this point. The episode is devoted entirely to chase scenes, fight scenes, and arguments. The one big exception is Iroh and Toph's quiet chat over tea.
  • Actually Pretty Funny:
    • Aang can't help but laugh when Azula mentions Zuko's Embarrassing Nickname: Zuzu.
    • Iroh chuckles at Toph's bluntness.
  • All Your Powers Combined: The Gaang and Zuko combine all their elements in one last ditch attack against Azula. It doesn't work, but hey, points for trying.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Did Iroh die from Azula's attack? You have to watch the next episode to find out.
  • Anger Born of Worry: Zuko screams and firebends at the Gaang rather than let Katara help Iroh.
  • Belly-Scraping Flight: Appa touches the top of the trees, which causes some plot-relevant breakage.
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  • Big Damn Heroes: Once again, it's Appa who frees Katara and Sokka from the clutches of Mai and Ty Lee.
  • Big "WHAT?!": Toph shrieks this out magnificently when she finally snaps.
  • Bits of Me Keep Passing Out: Sokka's fight with Ty Lee. Averted when she tries to knock him out with a nerve strike to the head and only ends up hurting her hand.
  • Bittersweet Ending: At the end, the Gaang finally manages to fend off Azula and company while Zuko and Iroh reunite, however Azula escapes and injures Iroh badly.
  • Blame Game: Katara blames Toph for delaying camp transitions. Aang tries to stop the argument, but Toph starts blaming Appa for leaving a trail for the pursuers to follow. Aang then blames Toph for weighing down Appa. Toph temporarily leaves the group.
    Toph: You're blaming me for this?
    Aang: No, she's not blaming you.
    Katara: No, I'm blaming her!
  • Chase Scene: The whole episode. Multiple characters all chase each other, and eventually branch off when it becomes clear that Appa's shedding is how Azula is tracking them. So after washing Appa off, Katara and Sokka take the bison to safety whilst Aang lays a decoy trail of fur.
  • Coming in Hot: When Appa passes out due to exhaustion and drops out of the sky into the forest.
  • Conflict Ball: Katara spends a lot of the episode needlessly antagonising Toph for not being a team-player, even when it's clear Toph tends to retaliate physically. Meanwhile, Toph blames Appa for the gang's predicament, and earlier pushes Sokka's buttons on not being as competent a fighter as the rest of the kids due to his lack of bending. All justified considering no one's sleeping and their exhaustion is not only pressing each other's buttons, but making things worse the longer they go without sleep.
  • Cool Old Guy: Iroh has been secretly following Zuko since they parted company to keep watch over him and gives Toph a lesson about the dangers of pride.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Ty Lee and Mai easily defeat the exhausted and sleep-deprived Katara and Sokka.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Toph doesn't like being babied. Given her parents and their controlling attitude, it's no surprise. Even Iroh politely pouring her some tea annoys her.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Or earn your sleeping ending. Everyone who was tired had to earn a night's sleep after the whole episode.
  • Enemy Mine: Zuko works alongside the Avatar for the first time in the series (not counting his earlier Blue Spirit stint). Well, sort of. He does spend most of the fight attacking Azula, but only because he still wants to capture Aang himself. By the end of the fight it's all five bender protagonists (and Sokka) vs Azula, and she still pulls off a draw.
  • Exhausted Eye Bags: The Gaang develop them due to being sleep deprived.
  • Exhaustion-Induced Idiocy: The Gaang keeps passing around the Idiot Ball and Conflict Ball in part because they're sleep-deprived, and Azula's continued pursuit of them is running them ragged.
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • Somehow, Katara doesn't realise that Appa's shedding fur until Aang outright tells her, even when there's a large pile of fur all around them.
    • Averted later when Azula's group finds the false trail that Aang has created to lure them away. Azula sees the trail leading off in one direction and a bunch of broken trees (which Appa had accidentally smashed into) directly opposite it. She guesses the intended trick, so she opts to follow the false trail while telling Mai and Ty Lee to go the other way.
  • Foreshadowing: Zuko joins forces at the end against Azula. He also is the Firebender in their representation of the four elements.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Careful analysis of the Gaang's attack on Azula shows the first thing she does with her bending is deflect Sokka's boomerang before anything else. Azula clearly has her priorities in the right order.
  • Ghost Town: The showdown is set in a abandoned town in the middle of nowhere.
  • The Glomp: Ty Lee, ever the bubbly one, enthusiastically hugs Mai when the latter guesses the correct term for bunches of fur.
  • Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: Aang tries to get the better of Azula by getting her to chase him into a building's second floor that doesn't actually have a floor. She barely avoids falling, only doing so later as part of the ongoing fight. Zuko isn't so lucky; he simply runs right in and falls.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • After creating the false trail and finding the Ghost Town, Aang sits down and meditates out in the open (presumably for some well-needed rest) while waiting for Azula's arrival.
    • After Iroh is injured, Zuko angrily refuses to accept help from people he still views as his enemies.
  • Hope Spot: Sokka says they can escape Mai and Ty Lee if Appa can just get to the other side of the river. They manage to do so, but Mai and Ty Lee manage to cross the river themselves immediately afterwards.
  • Idiot Ball: It takes the sleep-deprived group an awfully long time to figure out that Appa's shedding is leaving a continual trail.
  • Ineffectual Loner: Toph, who values her independence too much to help others or let herself be helped.
  • Informed Attribute: Katara claims Toph's been selfish since she joined. We only have her word for it, since she's only been in one episode prior.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Toph, a twelve-year-old girl, forms a bond with Iroh, a man old enough to be her grandfather.
  • I Resemble That Remark!:
    Aang: (to Katara and Toph) Okay, you both need to calm down.
    Katara: (with a crazed expression and bloodshot eyes) Both?! I'M COMPLETELY CALM!
  • I Surrender, Suckers: When Team Avatar, Zuko, and Iroh have Azula surrounded, she surrenders, but when Iroh lets his guard down to check on Toph, Azula takes advantage of it and nails him with a fire blast.
  • Jerkass Ball: Katara holds it against Toph because she won't help them set up camp. And Toph herself, for refusing to be a team player in the first place.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: While Toph really is being egotistical, she is the first to notice and point out it's Appa's fur that's leading Azula to their track. And while she's being obnoxious about it, she's right that she's carrying her own weight (getting her own food, setting up her own sleeping area, etc.) rather than lazing about and expecting others to do stuff for her.
  • Kick the Dog: Azula shoots Iroh with fire right after saying she surrenders.
  • Let's Get Out of Here: Katara says this when the group sees Azula approaching.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Subverted by Toph's meeting with Uncle Iroh: Instead, they have tea and a pleasant chat.
  • Mêlée à Trois: The Aang vs. Azula vs. Zuko duel.
  • Mexican Standoff: At the beginning of the Mêlée à Trois, Zuko keeps looking back and forth from Azula to Aang, seemingly trying to decide which one to attack. Ultimately, he decides on Azula, but doesn't go out of his way to keep his attacks from hitting Aang as well.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg:
    • "Three on three plus Sokka."
    • The Avatar Extras call back to this joke. "This is the first time we've seen all four elements attacking at once." A beat later, it adds, "...Plus Sokka."
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Aang and Katara do this (mostly Aang) when they cause Toph to leave the group. Sokka even calls them out on it:
    Sokka: Yeah, you two were pretty much jerks.
    Katara: Thanks, Sokka.
    Sokka: No problem.
  • No-Sell: In the otherwise one sided battle, Ty Lee tries to disable Sokka's head - and winds up almost breaking her knuckles.
    Sokka: Good try, but no.
  • Not So Above It All:
    • Katara is initially unnerved by Aang, Sokka and Toph playing around with Appa's fur. Then she laughs anyway.
    • Sokka stays well clear of the group's bickering... but is left seething when Toph makes a jab at his lack of bending.
  • Not So Different: Iroh talks to Toph about Zuko's pride and unwillingness to admit he needs anyone. It helps her take stock of her own behavior.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Katara and Sokka try to outrun Mai and Ty Lee by going over a river. Then their riding lizards just start running across the water.
    • While fighting Aang in the ruined town, Azula nearly falls down a hole. It's one of the very few occasions when she loses her composure in favor of surprise and terror. Then later Zuko when he really does fall into said hole.
  • One of the Boys: Toph shares Aang and Sokka's sense of humour, dashing Katara's hopes of common ground with her.
  • Only Sane Man: Sokka, being the only one of the Gaang to not succumb to the Conflict Ball in any way. He all but lampshades this later on; see My God, What Have I Done? above.
  • Pinned to the Wall: Karata gets her sleeves pinned to a tree by Mai's knives.
  • Reality Ensues: Everyone needs their sleep, even people with special abilities and giant flying animals.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: Azula proves exceptionally competent at hounding the Gaang. It becomes less scary when you realize A, she's tracking Appa's shed fur; and B, she's in a Fire Nation traintank, which is a machine and therefore doesn't tire (unlike Appa).
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Aang is fully prepared to get into a Mêlée à Trois against both Zuko and Azula... until Azula flattens Zuko (who can match Aang blow-for-blow) with a single hit, at which point Aang realizes that this is a fight he can't win and tries to make a run for it. Azula doesn't let him get far.
  • Ship Tease: After everything's over, Ty Lee asks Mai if she thought Sokka was cute.
  • Showdown at High Noon: In keeping with the previous episode's Western theme, the climatic showdown with Azula takes place in an abandoned town.
  • Thwarted Coup de Grâce: When Aang is defenseless and Azula is about to deliver a final blow, Katara shows up and pulls her arm back.
  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot: Azula has her Fire Nation vehicle, all Zuko has is an ostrich-horse, and he still manages to catch up with everyone at the end. Also, Aang was moving in a different direction from Katara and Sokka, but the latter two manage to catch up with him in time to stop Azula from finishing him off. Not to mention Toph and Iroh, who were on foot.
  • Victory Is Boring: Trope Namer episode. Mai says it word-for-word after she and Ty Lee effortlessly defeat a weary Sokka and Katara. Though said victory turns out rather short lived when Appa proceeds to blast them both away.
  • Wall Jump: Aang uses airbending to jump from wall to wall in an alley during the fight with Azula and Zuko.
  • Wild Goose Chase: When the group notices that Azula is following Appa's fur droppings, they try to misdirect her, though the plan doesn't exactly pan out.
  • You Can Run, but You Can't Hide: Azula mentions to Aang during their confrontation that he can run, but she'll catch him. Turns out he had no intention of running, but is going to stand and fight.

 
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"I'M COMPLETELY CALM!!!"

Aang tries to calm Katara down after an argument with Toph. Katara doesn't take it well.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (19 votes)

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