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Recap / Avatar: The Last Airbender "The Winter Solstice Part 1: The Spirit World"

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Aang encounters Roku's dragon, Fang.

"You're the spirit of this forest. Now I understand."
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Aang finds himself in a small Earth Kingdom village that is being attacked by a monster from the Spirit World. One night, this monster (named Hei Bai) captures Sokka. Aang decides to go after him. But after Aang is knocked out, he accidentally ends up in the Spirit World. There, he is told that Avatar Roku has a message for him. Aang proceeds to calm the attacking beast, restoring peace to the village. Meanwhile, Iroh gets captured by the Earth Kingdom. The soldiers who captured him wish to take him back to Ba Sing Se to face justice, the city Iroh laid siege to for 600 days during his youth as a Fire Nation general. This causes Zuko to stop his chase for the Avatar and to instead go after Iroh.


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Tropes:

  • Back-to-Back Badass: Zuko and Iroh before battling the three captors at the end.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Zuko leaping into the frame and kicking a boulder aside before it can crush his uncle's hands.
    • Sokka tries to do this for Aang, but gets kidnapped instead. The thought was appreciated though.
  • Bilingual Bonus: "Hei Bai" in Chinese means, "Black White".
  • Curb-Stomp Battle
    Earthbender: Surrender yourselves! It's five against two — you're clearly outnumbered.
    Iroh: That's true... but you are clearly outmatched!
  • Dude In Distress: Hei Bai captures Sokka who has to be freed by Aang.
  • Empathy Pet: This episode questions what Appa's true relationship with Aang is. It is just a normal A Boy and His X? Or is there a special bond, like with Roku and his dragon? Do all Avatars have this 'Animal Guide'?
  • Exposed to the Elements: Iroh spends the entire episode in a loincloth. Then again, he can probably keep himself warm...
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  • Exposition Beam: The dragon sends these to Aang's forehead which teaches the boy about the calendar and the deadline he has to beat.
  • Flash Step: Hei Bai uses this while trashing the village.
  • Friend or Idol Decision: Zuko has to chose between the chance to track down the Avatar, or to save his Uncle Iroh. He choses the latter.
  • Gaia's Lament: At the beginning of the episode, the Gaang come across a forest that's been burnt to the ground.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: Hei Bai blames the villagers for what happened.
  • Hope Bringer: Once Aang realizes what Hei Bai is, he calms it down by assuring it that the forest will grow back.
  • Nature Spirit: Hei Bai turns out to be the spirit of the forest. The devastation done by the Fire Nation is the reason why it went on a rampage. Unfortunately, it didn't realize who was really to blame.
  • No-Sell: Sokka tries to attack Hei Bai.
  • One-Winged Angel: This is the first of Hei Bai's forms that we see.
  • Panda-ing to the Audience: Hei Bai's calmer, friendlier form is a panda.
  • Plot Coupon: The acorn.
  • Retired Badass: Where to start. There were always hints that Iroh was awesome, but this is where it first becomes clear. His nickname is 'The Dragon of the West'? He laid siege to the city of Ba Sing Se for 600 days straight? He can see the spiritual forms of Aang and the dragon when no one else can? Oh, and don't forget; this old, over-weight man can manage to escape four young and fit Earthbenders naked and chained all on his own.
  • Scenery Censor: When Zuko ordered Iroh to get out of the hot springs, he effectively used his hand to cover his uncle's nether-regions.
  • Trail of Bread Crumbs: General Iroh drops one of his slippers for Zuko to find.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: The A story is Aang's attempt to stop the Hei Bai, while the B story is Zuko's rescue of his uncle from the Earth Kingdom troops. There's a little interaction, as Iroh can see Aang in spirit form flying on the dragon (the only person in the physical world in this episode who can), while Zuko can see Appa flying in the distance, but chooses rescuing Iroh over another attempt to catch the Avatar.
  • Wham Line: The episode ends with Aang informing his friends that he has to contact Avatar Roku during the winter solstice, which is the next. Oh, and did he mention the place he has to do it is in the Fire Nation?
  • You Must Be Cold: The village elder covers Katara with a coat when she sits outside in the dark waiting for her friends to return.

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