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Recap / Avatar: The Last Airbender "The Crossroads of Destiny"

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Zuko makes the fateful decision to join Azula and attack Aang.

"It's time for you to choose. It's time for you to chose good!"

With Long Feng released, Zuko prepares to capture the Avatar. Before he can do so, Azula takes control of the Dai Li (and hence Ba Sing Se), explaining that they admire her brutal discipline. She has Zuko imprisoned. When Aang attempts to free Katara, Zuko is told by his uncle that he must choose between himself and Azula. He chooses to help Azula attack the Avatar. Aang realizes that he must let go of Katara in order to save her and fulfill his destiny, but the Fire Nation princess zaps Aang with lightning while in the mightily powerful Avatar State, putting the Avatar near the brink of death. Iroh delays to allow Aang's friends to escape along with the Avatar's comatose body. Katara uses the mystically enchanted spirit water to save Aang as they flee from the now-fallen Earth Kingdom's largest city, Ba Sing Se, with the now deposed Earth King Kuei.



  • Badass Boast: Following her turning the Dai Li against Long Feng and his acknowledgement of her victory over him, Azula gives one of the most memorable in the series.
    Long Feng: You've beaten me at my own game.
    Azula: Don't flatter yourself. You were never even a player.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The second season ends with Azula absolutely crushing the heroes, taking over Ba Sing Se within 48 hours, turning Zuko away from his Heel–Face Turn, and killing Aang, until he gets better. Really, the only positive thing you can say for Team Avatar is that they got away with their lives.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: Long Feng admits this to Azula.
  • Behind the Black: During the final confrontation, Aang charges forward on a hill of earth but then an Earthbender soldier jumps in from behind the black and makes Aang fall.
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  • Big Damn Heroes: Iroh appears to fight off the Dai Li, Zuko and Azula. He blocks the way to allow Katara to escape with Aang.
  • Cardboard Prison: The Dai Li lock Toph, Sokka and the Earth King in a cell, and once they're gone, Toph kicks the door down with metalbending.
  • Character Witness: Iroh is not welcomed by the Gaang, until Toph explains how nice Iroh was to her when they first met.
  • The Chessmaster: Azula. Pretty much every part of her plan goes flawlessly.
    Azula: I've plotted every move of this day, this glorious day in Fire Nation history.
  • Close-Call Haircut: Katara gives Azula a minor one during their fight.
  • Clothing Damage: Aang and Katara's outfits take damage during their fight with the fire siblings. Surprisingly, not from being burnt, just scratched and torn.
  • Combat Pragmatist: One of the reasons Azula wins so handily at the end, is that she does not fight fair.
  • Commonality Connection: Katara and Zuko have a moment of bonding over the fact that they both lost their mother.
  • Continuity Nod: Doubling as a Funny Background Event, the wall of Team Avatar’s house that Toph knocked over a few episodes ago is being rebuilt and is covered with scaffolding.
  • The Corrupter: Just when Zuko is ready to make his Heel–Face Turn, Azula uses just the right words to bring her brother back to the Fire Nation's side.
  • Darkest Hour: The ending of the episode is the darkest moment thus far for the heroes.
  • Death Glare: Aang, Aang of all people, shoots Zuko one when he hugs Katara in the catacombs. Zuko returns it.
  • Downer Ending: So, to summarise, the season ends thusly; The Earth King is de-throned, Aang loses his connection to the Avatar State, Zuko subverts his heel face turn to betray Retired Badass Iroh, who is imprisoned, Aang is near-fatally wounded, and the one last great stronghold of the Earth Kingdom falls to the Fire Nation.
  • Drama Bomb: All of the buildup of the previous 6-7 episodes finally lands with the force of nuclear explosion.
  • Easy Evangelism: Azula is a charismatic villain, but her taking over the Dai Li came off as a little rushed. Completely averted with her conversion of Zuko, which was very organic to previous character development.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Zuko's betrayal of Iroh, resulting in his uncle being imprisoned.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Just after Azula blasts Aang, we see Zuko looking shocked at what's happened.
  • Eviler Than Thou: Long Feng's Magnificent Bastardry just can't compete with Azula's, and she rubs it right in his face.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Azula vs. Long Feng, though Azula wins pretty quickly.
  • Face Palm: Iroh when Zuko chooses to confront Azula instead of running away.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: Katara rides a gigantic wave of water over Zuko and the Dai Li in order to catch Aang's falling body.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Subverted. In the last two seasons, Zuko has had to face the reality that he was banished for no good reason, that his father and the Fire Nation is unjust in their actions, that the war is harming good people in the Earth Kingdom and that he can choose his own destiny. Finally, after two seasons, it's time for him to change sides and join the Avatar. Over the previous two episodes, he has been so thoroughly set-up for a Heel–Face Turn that practically the only thing not done is a public announcement of his turn (which was done if one counts the episode's trailer). Shame he missed the memo and decided to go with Azula, anyways.
  • Hero Killer: Once again, Azula. She nails Aang in the back while he's midway through entering the Avatar State and actually succeeds in killing him, until he's brought back by Katara.
  • Hope Spot: When Aang enters the Avatar State voluntarily for the first time.
    • Before that, when Zuko arrives between the battle when Azula and Aang with Katara, just after Katara and Zuko spent a moment trapped in the cave.
  • Instant Armor: Aang does this with the crystals in the catacombs.
  • Internal Homage: The framing of the scene when a fatally-wounded Aang regains consciousness in Katara's arms harkens back to when Aang was freed from the iceberg and wakes up in Katara's arms.
  • Know When To Fold Them:
    • When she realizes she's the only one between the Gaang and Bosco, Mai doesn't even bother to stand up.
    • Iroh attacks to buy Katara time to escape with Aang, but once she's gone, he simply stands there passively and waits to be restrained.
  • Knuckle Cracking: Toph does this before crushing the metal cell door.
  • Locked in a Room: Subverted with Zuko and Katara.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Azula. Not only does she complete her coup of the Earth Kingdom, she wrestles control of the Dai Li away from Long Feng and persuades Zuko back to her side, all before taking a proper stance. To say she brought her A game here would be an understatement.
  • Moment Killer: Katara and Zuko have one but then Aang comes in for the rescue and the moment is gone.
  • Mood Whiplash: In-between the serious discussion of Zuko's choice, and Azula's manipulations reaching their peak, there's Toph and Sokka "rescuing" Bosco.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: In the final scenes of the episode, Zuko is almost in shock over his own decision to betray his uncle.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: Aang getting shot just before mastering the Avatar State.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailer for the episode seemed be guilty of Trailers Always Spoil, leading all viewers to believe that this would be the episode where Zuko joins the Gaang. It turned out the trailer was not giving away the twist but successfully tricking viewers into expecting the opposite of the twist they got.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Long Feng discovers too late that the teenage princess he thought he could manipulate and easily betray was in reality the most cunning and dangerous individual in the game.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Toph opens the door to her old friend. When Aang and Sokka see that it’s actually Iroh, they promptly freak out.
    • During the final fight, Aang when Zuko looked at Azula and then him. He knew what Zuko's decision would be.
  • Out-Gambitted: Azula led Long Feng to think she was less intelligent than she really was. He falls for it and pays dearly for it.
  • Overly Nervous Flop Sweat: Long Feng sweats a lot when Azula takes his place.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Since he knows the feeling, Zuko offers Katara his condolences about losing her mother.
    • Azula actually tries to do this for Zuko when it's all over, saying he deserves credit for helping with this victory and that he restored his lost honor on his own. Of course, considering what he had to do to get to this point, this probably makes him feel even worse.
  • Pietà Plagiarism: Katara cradling Aang after the above Negated Moment of Awesome.
  • Please Wake Up: A silent variation on this trope happens at the end. Having lost all hope of resurrecting Aang, Katara holds his body close and lets out an anguished cry. Thankfully, the spirit water kicks in moments later.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner
    Iroh: Did I ever tell you how I got the nickname the Dragon of the West?
    Azula: I'm not interested in a lengthy anecdote, uncle.
    Iroh: It's more of a demonstration, really.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Mai makes it clear she's completely uninterested in fighting Sokka and Toph for Bosco, even after Toph's contained Ty Lee. She doesn't even get up from her seat.
    Mai: Just take the bear.
  • Ship Tease:
    • The former page image for the trope is Katara touching Zuko's scar as they consider healing it. Which was first shown in the episode's trailer. Which centered almost entirely around the two of them being Locked in a Room. To name all the moments, big and small, would simply take too long.
    • That being said, the Zutara tease is immediately followed by more Kataang tease. When Aang and Iroh bust into the cavern holding Katara and Zuko, Katara immediately moves away from Zuko to embrace Aang. As a mortally wounded Aang falls through the air, Katara goes into Unstoppable Rage and knocks all enemies aside to catch Aang and cradles his body (albeit in pose referencing The Pieta, which is a mother and son). Katara then uses the special water from the Spirit Oasis that she initially offered to Zuko on Aang instead, and after Aang awakens, the two smile joyfully at one another and Katara hugs Aang once more and keeps holding him as they fly away.
  • Slipknot Ponytail: Happens to Katara during the climactic battle. It even knocks the beads from her loopies...
  • This Is the Part Where...: "Now comes the part where I double-cross you."
  • Tired of Running: The reason Zuko stays and challenges Azula.
  • Title Drop:
    Iroh: You're not the man you used to be, Zuko. You are stronger and wiser and freer than you have ever been. And now you have come to the crossroads of your destiny. It's time for you to choose. It's time for you to choose good.
  • Took a Level in Badass: While by no means weak, Katara went head to head against Azula and nearly won before a timely interruption by Zuko. To put that into perspective, Azula has previously knocked out Aang in The Drill and would moments later strike him down.
    • Zuko as well. He is able to hold his own well against Aang and later Katara.
  • Transformation Is a Free Action: One of the most pointed aversions in fiction. Aang unlocks his final chakra, accesses the Avatar state, starts glowing and levitating... and Azula shoots him in the back with a lightning bolt, leaving him clinically dead until Katara resuscitates him with the spirit water.
  • Twist Ending: What have we learned today? Never Trust a Trailer.
  • Two Roads Before You: Zuko must choose between Azula and Iroh.
  • Under City: Old Ba Sing Se.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Azula shooting Aang makes Katara go crazy like we've never seen before. She waterbends a massive wave, knocks down everyone in the room, and catches Aang's lifeless body before it falls to the ground.
  • Villain Team-Up: Azula and Long Feng, though it doesn't last long.
  • What Are You in For?: When they find themselves locked up together, Katara asks Zuko why he was put in custody.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Perhaps one of the greatest aversions of this trope, as Azula wastes no time doing this the moment Aang enters the Avatar State.
  • Worthy Opponent: Subverted. After admitting defeat, Long Feng believes he and Azula to be this to each other. She nearly laughs at the very notion.


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