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Recap / Avatar: The Last Airbender "The Runaway"

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Toph's tremor senses prove essential in the con artist trade.

"It really seems like, my whole life, Katara's been the one looking out for me."

Open to a Fire Nation courtyard, with Toph bound inside a net, being taken away by Fire Nation soldiers. Katara stands proudly over her, and cruelly announces that she brought it on herself. Flash back several days.

The Gaang is beginning to run low on money and supplies. Toph manages to acquire money by beating a cheating gambler at his own game using Earthbending. Toph quickly begins to realise how easy it is to gain money this way, and with Sokka's and Aang's help, they quickly begin a system of cons, using various forms of bending and disguises to earn money. While this allows them to gain extra supplies, such as maps, armour for Appa, and a messenger hawk, Katara harbours doubts about how safe and ethical the operation is. Her suspicions are only confirmed with the discovery that Toph is now wanted by the Fire Nation, under the alias of "The Runaway." The two girls butt heads; Toph accuses Katara of being too motherly and acting like she's better than the rest of them, while Katara accuses Toph of being out of control, simply because of the problems with her own parents.


Finally, Toph sees Katara's point, and concedes. Katara, however, wants to prove that she can have fun too, and proposes the ultimate con - hand Toph into the Fire Nation (as seen in the opening), get the reward, and then let Toph break out of the metal jail house. Easy.

Unfortunately, it's all been a ploy on behalf of Combustion Man, who captures both Toph and Katara, placing them in a wooden cell. Now it's up to the rest of the team, as well as Katara's sweat and ingenuity, to escape.



  • Bathing Beauty: Katara is shown bathing in the river, as opposed to more masculine characters like Toph, Sokka, or the Combustion Man.
  • Bullet Time: Used during the shell game, to help illustrate Toph being able to sense the barker flipping the pebble(s) into his sleeves.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Sokka to Aang - on an attempted sneak attack.
    *A blindfolded Aang whomps him with an earth pillar*
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Averted. The Gaang gets away with 99% of their cons, and even then, the emphasis isn't that its morally wrong, but that they were drawing attention to themselves.
  • Captain Obvious: Subverted when Toph realises "It's a trap".... while sitting in a cage.
    Toph: Wait, it's a trap!
    Katara: Really? No kidding? Is that why we're sitting in a wooden cage right now? [...]
    Toph: Not for, us, Katara. We're the bait.
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: When Combustion Man has Aang unconscious lying before him, he goes for a finishing move but is stopped in his tracks by Katara behind him, who puts an ice block around his head.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: All the kids are once again barefoot in the (chronological) opening scene. Katara is the only one to remain consistently barefoot throughout the episode, up until after she takes a bath. Then she puts on her sandals.
  • Eureka Moment: When Katara and Toph get locked in a wooden cage. Toph's earth-bending was useless on it, and Katara didn't have any water to use, or so she thought. She managed to break them both out by water-bending her own sweat.
  • Flopsy: One of the scams pulled by Toph and Sokka.
  • Foreshadowing: Katara breaks herself and Toph out of a wooden cage by exercising and bending her sweat. Bending bodily fluids would be the main focus of the next episode.
  • Forged Letter: Sokka attempts to pull this in order to patch things up between Katara and Toph. He writes a fake apology letter and sends it to Katara, via messenger hawk. It fails hilariously, after she reads it and points out a rather obvious oversight in her brother's plan:
    Katara: (shouts, while pointing at fake apology letter) "I know this is from YOU, Sokka! TOPH CAN'T WRITE!!"
    • Even better: Aang's next suggestion is to try the same plan... except the forged letter is from Katara. Sokka has to point out there might be a similar flaw there.
  • Forgot the Disability: In attempt to reconcile Toph and Katara, Sokka and Gang try and use Sokka’s new messenger hawk to Katara with an apology letter signed from Toph. This attempt fails flat when Katara points out that Toph is blind and therefor cannot read of write. Later, Katara tries confronting Toph with a wanted-poster of her, only for Top to point out that she cannot see what is on the paper and thus has no idea what she is getting at.
  • Gilligan Cut: Aang gives Katara his Avatar promise that they won't pull any more scams. Cut, and we get a montage of them scamming.
  • Godiva Hair: While Katara is bathing.
  • How We Got Here: The episode begins with Katara betraying Toph, than flashbacks to explain how it happened.
  • Idiot Ball: Aang and Sokka send a Forged Letter to Katara from Toph, completely forgetting that Toph is blind and cannot write. This is lampshaded by them after the plan backfires:
    Aang: I can't believe we forgot Toph can't write.
    Sokka: Yup, we're idiots.
  • I Resemble That Remark!: Katara denies acting motherly towards the rest of the group. She asks Aang for his opinion, adding "Stop rubbing your eye and speak clearly when you talk.", to which Aang responds "Yes, ma'am!".
  • Karmic Thief: Toph tries using the "cheating a cheater" as a way to justify conning at first to Katara.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: Most of the Gaang being con artists.
  • Little Miss Con Artist: Toph.
  • Mud Wrestling: Toph (an Earthbender) and Katara (a Waterbender) have an angry sparring match, with mud as the inevitable result.
  • Mythology Gag: The Hawky vs. Momo rivalry has its roots in the unaired pilot in which Zuko has a pet hawk.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Toph's justification for her operation.
    Katara: So, she cheated.
    Toph: Hey! I only cheated because he was cheating. I cheated a cheater — what's wrong with that?
  • The Runaway: Toph officially receives this title from a wanted poster.
  • Shell Game: Toph finds out she can scam street magicians by playing this game. Because her earthbending Disability Superpower lets her sense where the pebble is, she can get it right every time. She even puts it back under a shell when a con artist tries to stealthily put it in his sleeve.
  • Super Dickery: The opening.
  • Tailor-Made Prison: Combustion Man puts Katara and Toph in a wooden cell. But Katara still is able to get out by running in place until she sweats, then forming it into a whip.
  • Team Mom: Toph really doesn't appreciate Katara being this. That is until Sokka mentions her history and how she took on a motherly role at an early age.
  • "Test Your Strength" Game: As part of one of her scams, Toph hits a high striker, sending the weight flying into the air to the amazement of the audience.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: Finally Toph gets her own poster.
  • You Are in Command Now: Towards the end, Sokka puts Appa in charge of the Gaang... Which is whittled down by then to just him, Hawky and Momo.
    Momo: *growls at Hawky*
    Hawky: *growls back*
    (Hawky and Momo are cowed into silence)
    Appa: *satisfied snort*
  • You're Not My Father: Toph shouts at Katara that she is not her mother.


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