|"The Avatar State"|
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Aang and his friends rest at an Earth Kingdom outpost after their journey from the North Pole. They are to be escorted to Omashu, where Aang intends to find King Bumi to teach him earthbending. General Fong, however, inspired by Aang's battle-determining actions during the Siege of the North, suggests that Aang defeat the Fire Lord and end the War immediately by triggering the Avatar State. After many failed attempts, the general finally succeeds in triggering the Avatar State by faking Katara's death. Aang nearly destroys the base in anger and the group decides to go to Omashu alone. In the meantime, Zuko and his uncle are visited by his sister, Azula, who has come bearing a message from the Fire Lord, requesting their return home. Zuko and his uncle discover Azula's summons to be a disguise in order to imprison the pair and escape.
In a dream, Aang sees himself in the Avatar State causing devastation and threatening his friends. Aang gasps awake, realizing he was only having a nightmare. He is in a hammock on a Water Tribe ship with his friends; he climbs up to the ship's deck, and Katara follows to comfort him. Aang confides in her about his nightmare, and that the power of the Avatar State is terrifying both for him and those close to him. The next day, Pakku gives them parting gifts for their journey to the Earth Kingdom base, where they will be escorted to Omashu. Katara receives a necklace filled with water from the Spirit Oasis, Aang receives waterbending scrolls, and Sokka simply receives a farewell, disappointing him.
Elsewhere, Iroh is relaxing and getting a massage at a beautiful spa resort. Zuko however, is unhappy, realizing it has been three years to the day he was banished from the Fire Nation. He desperately wants to reclaim his honor, the throne, and his father's love.
At sea, a Fire Nation ship carrying Princess Azula is arriving in the Earth Kingdom to capture her brother and uncle. She threatens the ship captain's life when he warns the tides will not allow them to enter the port on time.
Aang and his friends arrive at the Earth Kingdom base and are greeted with every honor, as their deeds at the North Pole have become well-known. General Fong remarks on how Aang single-handedly destroyed a Fire Nation fleet. Fong believes with such power, Aang is ready to face the Fire Lord and end the Hundred Year War now. Panicked, Aang believes that he is certainly not ready and explains he was only able to do what he did because of the Avatar State, which he cannot enter willingly. After showing Aang the earth army infirmary, housing all the soldiers who were hurt by the War, Fong convinces Aang to aid him in his plan – Fong will help Aang master the Avatar State.
On her ship, Azula is practicing lightning generation, a highly advanced form of firebending. Her royal advisers, Lo and Li, watch her progress and remark she is close, but not perfect. Azula angrily remarks that "almost [perfect]" is not good enough and continues practicing, sending a bolt of lightning into the sky. Iroh wakes and looks outside in concern upon hearing thunder.
That night, Aang confesses to Katara that he has accepted Fong's proposal to go into the Avatar State. While Sokka agrees, Katara is very much against it, believing Aang needs to keep mastering the elements the right way. Aang tells her to be realistic, but she becomes mad and walks out of the room, refusing to be a part of the plan. The next day, Fong begins to put Aang through tests to try to trigger the Avatar State. First, he serves Aang a special herbal tea which increases energy ten-fold in soldiers, but it only gives Aang an energy-rush. The tea could possibly have contained caffeine, a substance that was not well known until more modern times. Sokka tries to scare Aang into the Avatar State, but it does not work. Fong organizes a ritual, where Aang wears clothing from all four nations and is bathed in all four elements, but it just makes him sneeze.
Azula finds Iroh and Zuko at the resort and pays them a friendly visit, though the both of them are suspicious of her intentions. She tells them the Fire Lord regrets banishing his son and wants Zuko to come back home. Zuko is dumbstruck by the news, and Azula departs to pick them up to go home the next day.
At sunset, Katara confesses to Aang that when he is in the Avatar State, it worries her greatly to see him in that much rage. Aang realizes this, but still believes what Fong is doing is right. Every day the War continues, and more and more people die; Aang believes that is his fault for being one hundred years late. Katara tells him she will not come to watch their attempt to induce the Avatar State anymore.
That night, Zuko is overjoyed by the news that his father wants him to return home. Iroh is suspicious of the news and warns Zuko that things are never what they seem in their family. Zuko angrily tells his uncle that he is a lazy, selfish old man, who is jealous of his younger brother.
Aang has more nightmares about the Avatar State and awakens. He decides Katara is right and hopes General Fong will not be angered by his change of heart.
The next day, Zuko sets out to the port alone. Iroh joins him later, telling him family must stick together. Zuko smiles happily, but as they head for the ship, Iroh casts a wary eye toward it.
Aang explains to the general that he does not want to go through with the plan anymore, believing the Avatar State can only be triggered when he is in genuine danger. Fong starts to attack Aang with earthbending and orders his soldiers to start attacking as well, still bent upon inducing the Avatar State. Aang barely manages to dodge all their attacks and tries to persuade them to stop attacking, but to no avail.
At the port, Azula warmly welcomes her brother and uncle. As they begin to depart, the ship's captain accidentally reveals it was all a set-up. Azula's true purpose was to return Zuko and Iroh to the Fire Nation to be imprisoned. Iroh fights the ship's guards as Zuko confronts Azula.
Katara and Sokka realize what is happening and help defend Aang. However, General Fong captures Katara with earthbending and begins to lower her into the ground in another attempt to induce the Avatar State. As Katara continues to sink, Aang begs for Fong to release her. Instead, Fong completely buries her. Enraged, Aang enters the Avatar State to Fong's delight, but begins to destroy everything in sight.
Zuko fights Azula, but he is no match for her. She taunts him, saying their father considers him a miserable failure and would rather Zuko rot in prison than be out in the world embarrassing the Fire Nation. Azula prepares to strike him with lightning, but Iroh interrupts her and redirects the blast into the cliffside.
Back at the base, Fong releases Katara, informing Aang that her disappearance was merely a trick to trigger the Avatar State, but Aang doesn't respond and continues to destroy the base. Avatar Roku appears to Aang, releases him from the Avatar State and explains exactly what the Avatar State is, and that if an Avatar were to be killed while in the state, the Avatar would cease to exist. When General Fong is still gleeful over having induced the Avatar State, Sokka knocks Fong unconscious, and he and the rest of Team Avatar depart on Appa for Omashu on their own with no intervention from Fong's shell-shocked soldiers.
Azula warns Fire Nation citizens in a colony that "anybody who harbors these traitors (Zuko and Iroh) will face the wrath of the Fire Lord."
Zuko and Iroh, having escaped from Azula, stop to rest near a small creek. As a symbol of severance from their family and the Fire Nation, the pair cut off their top-knots and send them down the creek.
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- Main article: Transcript:The Avatar State
- Main article: Writing in the World of Avatar
- The significance of the dagger Zuko and Iroh use to cut off their topknots is examined in detail in "Zuko Alone".
- The line of Avatars that disappear while Roku is warning Aang reappear, in reverse of how they disappear in this episode, in "Sozin's Comet, Part 4: Avatar Aang" when the final chakra is finally unblocked and Aang masters the Avatar State.
- Lightning generation is first introduced, though lightning redirection was first suggested in "The Storm".
- This is the second time that Aang has been getting nightmares, the first being in "The Storm".
- This is the first time that Aang entered the Spirit World without meditating.
- This is the first known time that an Avatar went into the Spirit World while in the Avatar State.
- This is the first time Avatars Kuruk, Yangchen, and the unnamed fire Avatar are shown.
- This is the first time Sokka is seen with his hair down.
- This is the last time Zuko is seen in the present with the hairstyle he wore throughout season one.
- Iroh is seen redirecting lightning for the second and final time. He would later teach the skill to Zuko in "Bitter Work", who in turn, would teach it to Aang in "Sozin's Comet, Part 1: The Phoenix King".
- This is the first episode in which Azula is seen speaking. The character had brief appearances in "The Storm" and "The Siege of the North, Part 2" without any lines.
- During Aang's first dream, he is seeing the events that took place while he was at the Southern Air Temple, but the dream is shown occurring at the Northern Air Temple.
- While Aang is dreaming at the start of the episode, one can see that his shadow has a faint arrow tattoo on its head, the same Aang has to represent mastery over airbending.
- In Aang's dream, while fighting Zuko, Aang is in the Avatar State, but toward the end of the dream, his tattoos and eyes are not glowing like they should be.
- When Aang, Katara and Sokka are in the general's quarters for the first time, there are only two guards on either side of the door. When the camera zooms in on Aang, there are about ten soldiers behind him. This happens every time the camera zooms in or out.
- During the ritual to trigger the Avatar State, the oracle threw in one of the torches in the background into the bowl. After the scene returns to the oracle, the torch was back in place.
- When Katara is talking to Aang about what happened when they went to the Southern Air Temple and saw Monk Gyatso's skeleton, it cuts to a close-up of her face. During the close-up, the Water Tribe insignia on her necklace is missing.
- During Aang's last dream, while he is fighting on Zuko's ship, it is a new Fire Nation cruiser instead of the older variant.
- As the captain asks if they are ready to go, the red spike on the front of his helmet turns gray in a few frames.
- When the captain tries to plead with Azula, after revealing the set-up, his mouth is not moving.
- At the time Sokka tries to get on top of a ostrich horse, its saddle appears to be a simple seat on its back with the area under it exposed and showing its fur color. For a split-second, however, it turns green implying the saddle fits around its entire body. It soon changes back to the original brown.
- When Azula and Zuko are fighting, Azula hits Zuko on his head and three scratches appear on Zuko's right temple, but in the next scene, he no longer has these marks.
- When Azula grabs Zuko's hand during her and Zuko's fight, she has no Fire Nation hair clip. The clip reappears in the same scene.
- When Aang is in the Avatar State and crashes to the ground to destroy everything around him, Katara does not get thrown out of the way like everything else.
- During the line-up of Avatars that appears during Roku's talk with Aang, the airbending Avatars' eyes are glowing, but not their tattoos.
- When Zuko cuts his top-knot, part of the red cloth still remains. In the next shot, it is gone.
- When Zuko's top-knot flows down the river the bottom of the ponytail holder flickers on and off.
- This is the first episode where Sokka's shirt is sleeveless.
- This is the first episode where Aang is seen earthbending, albeit in the Avatar State.
- In this episode, Aang performs a similar move with airbending that he used to raise himself with waterbending in "The Avatar Returns".
- This episode had four writers involved in the writing process, which is more than any other episode had until "Tales of Ba Sing Se".
- This is the first episode where Katara is considered an official master of waterbending, following her training of the art at the North Pole.
- In the scene where Azula's ship captain accidentally reveals that Zuko and Iroh are prisoners, the creators originally planned on Azula vaporizing the man on the spot, but later decided that was "a little harsh".
- In the beginning of the episode, Pakku is wearing different clothing due to a warmer climate.
- The statues that Avatar Kyoshi earthbends are similar to the statues used by the Earth King's Royal Guards against Aang and his friends when they were trying to infiltrate the Earth Kingdom Royal Palace.
- This is the second of three episodes in the series to have a name that starts with "The Avatar"; "The Avatar Returns" and "The Avatar and the Fire Lord" are the other two.
- Zuko cutting his hair parallels the story of Buddha, who, when starting his journey of self-discovery and enlightenment, cut off his hair beside a river.
- The writing on Zuko's knife reads " ", which means "Never give up without a fight."