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Recap / Avatar: The Last Airbender "The Guru"

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Aang attempts to master the Avatar State.

"There are seven chakras that go up the body. Each pool of energy has a purpose and can be blocked by a specific kind of emotional muck. Be warned: opening the chakras is an intense experience, and once you begin this process, you cannot stop until all seven are opened. Are you ready?"
"...I'll do whatever it takes."
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After splitting up in the previous episode, the characters find themselves in uniquely separate situations:

Aang, meeting with Guru Pathik, goes under an intense training regimen designed to open his spiritual pathways and allow him to gain control of the Avatar State. Sokka, after two years, is finally reunited with his father. Toph, having been tricked and captured by Xin Fu and Master Yu, is being carted off back to her parents' estate. Katara is helping the Earth King and his generals plan for the invasion, unaware that Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee have infiltrated the city and are making plans to take over. And Zuko, after going through a long night of fever dreams and wrestling with his subconscious, has come out of the experience uncharacteristically serene.


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Tropes:

  • Always Save the Girl: "Why would I choose cosmic energy over Katara? I- I love her!"
  • Badass Boast: After she figures out Metalbending, Toph exclaims "I am the greatest Earthbender in the WORLD! Don't you two dunderheads ever forget it!" And then beats it out of there surfing on an earth wave.
  • The Big Board: The Earthbender Generals and strategists plan the invasion of the Fire Nation on a huge board.
  • Bowdlerise: Out of all the chakras, the location of the water chakra is never mentioned, only that it deals with pleasure. This is because it's strongly associated with the sexual and reproductive organs.
  • Clip Show: Aang's lessons can feel like one, though there's still plenty of new material.
  • Extra-ore-dinary: Toph invents Metalbending.
  • Ironic Echo:
    Xin Fu: (to Toph) You might think you're the greatest earthbender in the world, but even you can't bend metal!
    (After she figures out Metalbending)
    Toph: I AM THE GREATEST EARTHBENDER IN THE WORLD! Don't you two dunderheads ever forget it!
    • Another one comes from Azula's line about how terrible it must be that you can't even trust in those closest to you. Flash forward to season 3 when Mai and Ty Lee betray Azula, which starts Azula's own Sanity Slippage. This may have been intentional, as Mai and Ty Lee look at each other briefly when Azula makes that claim.
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  • Locked Up and Left Behind: Once Toph escapes her metal cell, she shoves Xin Fu and Yu into it and deforms the cell (which they could barely fit in) so they're stuck inside. And Yu has to pee.
  • Meditating Under a Waterfall: Aang takes lessons from Guru Pathik in front of a waterfall.
  • My Significance Sense Is Tingling: While trying to release the final chakra Aang lets in cosmic energy and feels that Katara is in trouble. This leads him to leave his training and head back to Ba Sing Se.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Toph is being carried away, back to her parents, where she will be undoubtedly placed under even more restrictions than before she'd run away, in a metal container. Using her unique abilities to locate the earth elements within the metal, she invents Metalbending.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Katara sees Zuko serving tea and instantly runs to inform the authorities. If she had investigated further, confronted him herself or thought about the situation for more than a second, Zuko never would have been put in a position to turn to Azula's side to begin with. (And Aang probably would have finished his last chakra.)
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Toph's captors taunt her, saying that despite being the world's greatest Earthbender, even she can't bend metal. Toph's response? She invents Metalbending on the spot and breaks free.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Azula with Long Feng. While she doesn't pretend to be a complete idiot, she doesn't let Long Feng see her true intelligence and ruthlessness just yet.
  • Oh, Crap!: Katara's expression when she finds out the Kyoshi Warriors she informed were really Azula and her Quirky Miniboss Squad.
    • Azula has a subdued one upon learning about the invasion plan. She recovers very quickly, both keeping composure and coming up with a plan of her own.
  • Psychotic Smirk: Azula puts a subtle one on in the final shot as she's being led away by the Dai Li, knowing that Long Feng is playing right into her hands.
  • Shipped in Shackles: Xin Fu and Master Yu stick Toph in a metal box to transport her back to her parents.
  • Shown Their Work: In addition to the Avatar-world chakras roughly corresponding to their real element, locations, and responsibilities, Aang and Guru Pathik are also shown making the proper hand symbols for each chakra during meditation.
  • Staging the Eavesdrop: The first part of Azula's Batman Gambit to take over Ba Sing Se.
  • Symbolic Blood: After Ty Lee chi-blocks Katara, the water that Katara was bending from her waterskin spreads out on the floor like a pool of blood.
  • Tailor-Made Prison: Toph gets trapped in a steel cage, with her captors convinced that she can't escape because she can't bend metal. However, it does help her develop her new ability to metalbend.
  • Tempting Fate: Xin Fu told Toph "You might think you're the greatest earthbender in the world, but even you can't bend metal!" Guess exactly what skill does Toph proceed to invent before proclaiming herself the greater earthbender in the world?
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Sokka takes one look at Aang after he returns early and comments that this can't be a good sign.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Zuko, after coming out of his Angst Coma. He's also a lot more optimistic and cheerful.
  • Whole Plot Reference: Aang's training with Guru Pathik is largely a homage to Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, right down to Aang leaving before his training is complete because he senses his friends are in danger.
  • You, Get Me Coffee: Subverted when Sokka's father hands out order to his men to get ready for battle. When he comes to Sokka, the latter expect some minor task to be handed to him, but it turns out he is supposed to sail out together with the rest of the men.

 
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I am the greatest Earthbender

Toph declares herself the greatest Earthbender in the world after discovering Metalbending and defeating her would-be kidnappers.

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