Few animated series have been as rich and complex as Avatar: The Last Airbender. Showcasing emotionally deep characters and thrilling story arcs, the show was beloved by many and has spawned the popular sequel The Legend Of Korra (its new season airs June 27), plus an ill-received live-action film. The following are ten of the best episodes from Avatar: The Last Airbender.
10. “The Spirit World (Winter Solstice, Part 1)” While the early episodes were entertaining it was this first season story that really began embellishing the show’s mythos with airbender Aang’s spiritual meeting with the previous Avatar.
9. “The Blue Spirit” Aang’s primary antagonist for the first season was exiled Prince Zuko who was wracked with anger and confusion. While previous episodes in the first season showed Zuko’s ambiguous nature, this one had him assume more of an anti-heroic role.
8. “The Southern Raiders” By the time this third-season show aired, Zuko had reformed and joined Aang’s quest to defeat his own father and bring peace to the four elemental nations. While Aang had accepted Zuko, his companion and love interest Katarra had not. She hated the Fire Nation (Zuko’s tribe) for killing her mother and took it out on Zuko. In this episode she confronts her feelings and we learn about what happened to her mother.
7. “Appa’s Lost Days” Aang’s beloved flying bison Appa was stolen during the second season. This episode shows what happened to Appa after he was abducted by the sandbenders. Add extra points if you are an animal lover and hate seeing animal cruelty.
6. “The Crossroads Of Destiny” The final episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender’s second season brings Aang and his companions to their most imperiled state. Their mission to protect the Earth Kingdom city of Ba Sing Se from the Fire Nation fails, Aang is mortally wounded by Zuko’s evil sister and Zuko does a heartbreaking about face and strays from his redemptive path by throwing his lot with his father’s forces.
5. “Sozin’s Comet, Part 2: The Old Masters” The second episode in the show’s final four-part arc has several popular characters encountered by Aang and friends throughout the series meet up with our heroes to defeat the Fire Nation. What really drove this episode were Zuko’s reunion with his kind Uncle Iroh and Aang’s torment over the idea that he has to kill Fire Lord Ozai in order to bring peace and freedom to his world. His spiritual meetings with previous Avatars were very illuminating into his nature.
4. “The Day Of Black Sun, Part 2: The Eclipse” In the show, there was a prophecy that the Fire Lord would be weakest during an eclipse (because firebenders derive their power from the sun). Aang, his companions and allies make an ill-fated attempt to attack the Fire Lord and his forces in this third-season episode. This one also marks the point where Zuko completely turns against his father and decides to aid Aang.
3. “Zuko Alone” Aang and his companions do not appear in this second-season episode which seems a lot like a western. By himself, Zuko arrives in an Earth Kingdom village as a mysterious stranger and assumes a heroic, lone gunfighter type of role against thuggish soldiers. Viewers also see flashbacks to his younger days and see his troubled family life. Though revered by villagers, the episode’s outcome is rather depressing for this anti-hero.
2. “Tales Of Ba Sing Se” This second-season episode is really a series of vignettes about each major character. While the stories were amusing and presented interesting looks at the characters during quiet moments, the standout was Uncle Iroh’s tale. Throughout the series Iroh is shown to be a gentle, light-hearted, wise man who counsels Zuko and teaches his nephew right from wrong. In the story, Iroh travels solo around the city and humorously interacts with several citizens. At the end of the story, the mood changes dramatically as Iroh tearfully sings a song for his dead son during the anniversary of his son’s birthday.
1. “Sozin’s Comet, Part 4: Avatar Aang” This is the final episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender and it goes out in a blazing glory. Aang and his friends have a final battle with the Fire Nation and Fire Lord Ozai. The airbender embraces his destiny and mission and becomes a fully realized Avatar during his fateful, spectacular battle with Ozai. The animation was amazing, awe-inspiring and a bit frightening as viewers witnessed the true nature of an Avatar’s powers. Also many of the other characters confronted their enemies and most plot points were resolved except for one -what happened to Zuko’s mother; this seemed to tease viewers of another story (which was alluded to in the first episode of The Legend of Korra), which has yet to be told.
Great list. Got me thinking about my own. The Cave of Two Lovers would definitely make my list, if only because I occasionally find myself humming “Secret tunnel…”