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Recap / Avatar: The Last Airbender "The Storm"

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Aang tells Katara his story.
"You will learn respect, and suffering will be your teacher."

The group is in need of money, so Sokka decides to help out a fisherman who is willing to pay him to help him on his next fishing trip, even though a storm seems imminent. The fisherman recognizes Aang as the Avatar "who turned his back on the world". Aang runs away in guilt, but Katara manages to track him down. Aang reveals to Katara that the monks at the Southern Air Temple wanted to send him away to the Eastern Air Temple to separate him from Monk Gyatso, the only person who cared about Aang as a person instead of as the Avatar. This led Aang to run away from home and (eventually) seal himself in the iceberg. Meanwhile, on Zuko's ship, Zuko's crew begins to question his leadership, until Iroh enlightens them on how the prince was scarred in a duel and was then banished from the Fire Nation, by his own father.



  • Abusive Parents: So, Fire Lord Ozai has no problem with taking a blow-torch to his son's face. No wonder the kid's messed up. And much like many real children who have faced abuse, Zuko continues to blame himself and look for his father's approval.
  • All Animals Are Dogs: Appa shakes himself like a dog to get the rainwater out of his fur.
  • Angst: This really isn't so uncommon to get it from Zuko, but when Aang's lurking in a cave crying, you know something has to be up.
  • Artistic License - Meteorology: To escape the fury of the storm, Iroh suggests they turn the ship toward the storm's eye. According to NOAA (last paragraph), any experienced mariner should know better than to go anywhere near the eye. It's pretty clear the resident member of the brass on board is not an admiral. And yet the eye turns out to be as calm as it would be if the storm were over land.
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  • Backstory: The viewers finally get to learn more about Zuko and Aang's lives from before we first meet them.
  • Bad Dreams: Katara notes that Aang has a lot of nightmares lately.
  • The Cameo: Mark Hamill as the Fire Lord. Also, Zhao can be seen along with a girl we've never seen before, one who seems to be more than happy to see Zuko get burned...
  • Campfire Character Exploration: Half of the episode is devoted to discussing Aang's backstory around a camp fire. The other half is Iroh revealing Zuko's backstory to his men sitting around a Trashcan Bonfire.
  • Catapult Nightmare: When Aang wakes up from his dream at the beginning.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Zhao's reaction to the younger Zuko being struck down by his father proves his vindictive hatred toward Zuko goes back farther than we thought.
    • Zhao can be seen along with a girl we've never seen before, one who seems to be more than happy to see Zuko get burned...
  • Chekhov's Skill: Iroh discreetly redirects the storm’s lightning to stop a crashing wave. Now why would he need to know how to do that?
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Ozai not only attempted to fight his 13-year-old son because he dared to contest a plan from a general, but Ozai then scarred and banished Zuko for refusing to fight.
  • Dramatic Thunder: The storm underscores the reason that Aang ended up in the iceberg.
  • Establishing Character Moment: That girl's evil smirk, identical to Zhao's, as they watch Zuko getting scarred.
  • Foil: The episode is about both Aang and Zuko's backstories being brought into the light. But whereas Aang's backstory reveals him to be Secretly Selfish for a hero, Zuko's backstory reveals his motive for hunting the Avatar to be secretly sympathetic for an antagonist.
  • Foreshadowing: When Zuko tells Lt. Jee that the safety of his crew isn't important, Iroh tries to settle things by telling Jee that Zuko didn't really mean that. The reveal of Zuko's backstory later in the episode, specifically the "offence" he was banished for, confirms that Iroh wasn't lying about that.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Used for the moment when Ozai gives Zuko the scar.
    Iroh: ... I looked away.
  • Impossible Task: Zuko was given this by his father as a part of his banishment: Defeat an all-powerful Physical God and bring him back to the Fire Nation. Said Physical God has also not been seen in nearly 100 years.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: The old fisherman when he calls out Aang for running away and getting himself frozen in ice for 100 years: That single action allowed the whole war to grow out of all proportion. However as Katara pointed out, the Fire Nation massacred the Air Nomads shortly after, meaning it is possible Aang would have been wiped out then.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • The whole crew's been complaining what a complete douche Zuko is, while that very day he goes on to risk his life in order to save that of the helmsman. And then of course, there's the reason he got the scar...
    • Also the Fisherman. He may be a rude cheapskate, but in the end, he acknowledges that if Aang weren't there, the fisherman would've drowned and sincerely thanks Aang for saving him.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Iroh has no problems with eating and hanging out with the crew. Zuko, however, sees them only as servants—but that doesn't stop him from risking his life to save them.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: For speaking out against needlessly sacrificing the lives of inexperienced but loyal Fire Nation soldiers, and refusing to fight his father in a duel, Zuko's father permanently scarred his face and banished him from the Fire Nation to complete an Impossible Task.
  • Origins Episode: This episode delves into Aang and Zuko's backstories.
  • Picked Last: Jinju, when picking teams for the air scooter game.
  • Secretly Selfish: When Aang tells Katara about how the Air Nomads were going to separate Aang from Monk Gyatzo, she sympathizes that Aang was allegedly sent away. Aang uneasily reveals that's not what happened: in reality, he ran away from home.
  • Shadow Discretion Shot: Inverted when Zuko gets his scar. It's a bright light discretion shot instead, showing Iroh's wince and a girl's smirk.
  • Sour Outside, Sad Inside: It's revealed that underneath Zuko's angry exterior is a young teenager dealing with a lot of pain, desperately trying to win his abusive father's love.
  • A Storm Is Coming: The metaphorical storm is the oncoming war. The literal storm mirrors the one when Aang ran away and froze himself into a Human Popsicle.
  • Stunned Silence: Zuko's crew are appropriately horrified upon learning that his scar was caused by a merciless Ozai in an Agni Kai. The only responses come from Jee quietly saying that he thought Zuko's scar was from a training accident and him realizing why Zuko is so obsessed with capturing Aang.
  • Too Qualified to Apply: A flashback shows that after Aang was publicly revealed to be the Avatar the other airbender kids stopped playing competitive games with him because they felt he'd have an unfair advantage, even though his actual level of ability hadn't changed.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: The Whole Episode Flashback contrasts Aang and Zuko's backstories. While both the Gaang and Zuko's ship get caught up in the same storm, the two groups don't meet until briefly at the end, where Aang and Zuko share a Meaningful Look.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Zuko, while a bit impulsive and impatient, thanks his uncle for allowing him into the war chamber and speaks out against sacrificing soldiers lives in order to achieve victory, which leads to the events that resulted in his banishment.
  • We Have Reserves: The basis of the plan that Zuko speaks out against.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: The true reason for Zuko's desperation to capture Aang becomes clear.
  • Wham Episode: We learn about both Aang and Zuko's pasts, along with the devastating reveal that Zuko had to fight his own father. And for those who still didn't pick on the hints that Zuko's father is the Fire Lord himself, this episode pretty much confirms it.
  • Wham Shot: Iroh redirecting a bolt of lightning.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • The old fisherman chastises Aang for running away when the world needed him most.
    • Pre-series Zuko gives a "What the Hell, Villain" version of this trope, to a Fire Nation general when said general suggests using rookie soldiers as decoy while he and the experienced troops attack from the rear.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: This episode features many flashbacks from the lives of both Zuko and Aang.

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