- This article is about the episode. For the titular character, see Zuko.
|"The Blue Spirit"|
|Image gallery (27)|
Zhao is promoted to admiral and enlists the help of a group of professional archers called the Yuyan Archers. Meanwhile, Sokka and Katara become sick due to being exposed to a storm previously, so Aang goes to an herbalist to find a cure. After finding it, Aang is caught by the Yuyan Archers and imprisoned by Zhao. A warrior with a blue mask rescues him, and they escape together. Aang discovers the warrior is none other than Zuko and wonders if the two of them could be friends. Zuko attacks, but Aang escapes and cures his friends.
The episode opens with a messenger hawk approaching a Fire Nation fortress, Pohuai Stronghold. Archers are practicing their highly advanced skills while Commander Zhao and Colonel Shinu are observing the training. Colonel Shinu denies Zhao's request to use the now identified extremely talented Yuyan Archers in Zhao's quest to capture the Avatar, referring to it as a "vanity project" for Zhao rather than part of the real Hundred Year War. However, at that moment, a hawk arrives with news from Fire Lord Ozai that Zhao has been promoted to admiral. With his newfound authority, he informs Colonel Shinu that his request is now an order, and Shinu bows in submission. A figure clad in dark clothes and a blue mask watches the conservation intently from the roof above them.
In the ruins of Taku, Katara is caring for an ill and delirious Sokka, who is talking nonsense, as he believes Appa can talk and that he can earthbend. According to Katara, this illness has resulted from his exposure to the storm that he was recently caught in. Aang comes back from an unsuccessful hunt for ginger root, but returns with a map to a herbalist institute on a nearby mountain. Katara states that Sokka is not in any condition to go there, declaring that all he needs is some rest, just as she begins to cough herself. Despite Katara's protests that she is fine, Aang realizes she too will be as delusional as Sokka in a few hours and decides he must travel to the herbalist alone. However, lightning flashes across the sky, so Aang decides to go by foot instead of using his glider and begins running very fast with the aid of his airbending.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Jee is going over a map with Prince Zuko to make plans to continue the search for the Avatar. Suddenly, the ship is overshadowed by a large Fire Nation Naval ship, spurring Zuko to wonder what they want. Uncle Iroh, in the middle of a Pai Sho game, jokingly speculates that they want to play Pai Sho, but it is revealed that it is to inform Prince Zuko and his crew that all information regarding the Avatar is to be reported to Admiral Zhao, revealing the recent promotion of Zhao to all present crew members. Zuko informs the Fire Nation soldier he has no information to give to Zhao and commands them to get off his ship and let them pass. Zuko and his crew are promptly informed that Zhao is not allowing passage in or out of the area. Again, the soldiers are told to get off the ship by Zuko. Iroh, seemingly indifferent to the conversation, declares that he has won the pot in his Pai Sho game, but encourages his opponents in an effort to get them to play again.
Fire Nation lookouts are hiding in something similar to a duck blind, reading the wanted poster for the Avatar. One soldier doubts the validity of some of the claims as Fire Lord propaganda, but as Aang speeds by, knocking everything and everyone around, the soldier realizes the claims are true and blows a signal horn to spread the news of the sighting of the Avatar.
Aang finally reaches the herbalist and tries to relay his problem, but the herbalist is distracted by gathering ingredients, and she begins to also tell Aang stories about her life, causing him to become very impatient.
At this time, Iroh is asking Zuko if he is all right, as Zuko has not given the crew an order in over an hour, to which Zuko declares that he does not care what they do. Iroh tries to build up Zuko's confidence by saying he can still capture the Avatar before Zhao, but the prince questions how, as Zhao has a much wider array of resources. Zuko continues by voicing despair at the idea that he may need to face losing his honor, throne, and country.
When the herbalist finds the final ingredient, Aang grabs the bowl and says thanks, but the herbalist swats him away and grabs the bowl back, explaining that the mixture is not a cure, but rather dinner for her cat, Miyuki. She instead explains to Aang that all his friends need to do is suck on some frozen wood frogs from the swamp below, going on to say that the skin has medicinal properties, but only when the frogs are frozen. As Aang departs for the swamp below, two arrows pin the cuffs of his boots to the ground. He deflects several other arrows with airbending and begins to free himself. Once free, a chase begins between the Yuyan Archers and Aang. Aang manages to evade the Yuyan down the side of the mountain and through the forest, but in the swamp, while he is distracted with gathering the frozen frogs, he is finally captured by the archers.
Once captured, Aang is brought back to Pohuai Stronghold, where his arms and legs are secured to two posts. Zhao enters the room and begins to taunt Aang by reminding him he is the only airbender left in the world. However, unlike his people, Zhao explains that Aang will not be killed, as the Avatar would simply be reborn, and it is not in the Fire Nation's best interest to have to search for the Avatar again. In a rare instance, Aang's anger and frustration causes him to use airbending in an aggressive way rather than defensive act as he forcefully blows Zhao to a wall. Zhao attempts to further break Aang down by telling him there is no escape and no one will rescue him.
At this time, Momo returns to the still very ill Sokka and Katara, not with the filled water skin, but a sleeping mouse. Katara pleads Momo again to get her and Sokka some water, and Momo departs, while Katara wonders what is taking Aang so long.
Outside the Fire Nation fortress, the same masked figure from before, who was spying on Zhao and Shinu, waits. He hides in a supply cart to sneak into the fortress, but when the guards inspect the inside, he stealthily moves to the underside of the carriage, hanging underneath. The guards go on to inspect the underside, but again, he is able to avoid been seen by hiding inside the cart again. Zhao addresses the troops and informs them he has captured the Fire Nation's last obstacle to victory, the Avatar. He foresees the Fire Nation will take the Earth Kingdom city of Ba Sing Se that year with the strength of Sozin's Comet.
The frozen frogs Aang gathered begin to thaw out. The masked figure works his way to Aang's location and manages to subdue the guards in front of the room, freeing Aang from his chains, much to the young Avatar's surprise. While trying to gather the runaway frogs, Aang is pulled away by the masked stranger, who does not talk to him.
Back with Katara and Sokka, Momo has brought many items from fans, to pottery and jewelry, even a tiara on Katara's head, but not water. Katara pleads for Aang's swift return. Sokka still has delusions, and thus asks Katara who this "Aang kid" is while referring to her as "Your Highness", annoying her.
The masked stranger and Aang sneak out via what appears to be the sewer or drainage system of the fortress. On his way to see Aang in his prison cell, Zhao is dictating to his assistant his speech and testimonies from a high-ranking officer, as it is to be sent to the Fire Lord. Zhao soon discovers the bound guards and empty cell, with the exception of one frog. An alarm is set off, and the attempt by Aang and the masked figure to scale the wall is thwarted when the rope they are using is cut by a guard; however, Aang breaks the fall with airbending. The masked figure points to the open gates and they make a run for them, but Zhao orders the gates to be closed. Aang uses airbending to clear away several guards blocking the exit, but the masked figure is unable to keep up with Aang and gets caught battling with guards that have surrounded him. Aang stops, realizing that the stranger is in trouble. Thinking quickly, he breaks off the spearhead of a nearby guard, utilizing the stick as a staff, and uses airbending to clear off the guards attacking the masked figure as well as to throw the masked figure up onto the first of the fortress walls.
Aang uses the stick from the spear in a helicopter fashion and lifts the masked figure from one fortress wall to the second as the masked figure fends off attacks with his broadswords. More guards come up to attack the duo on the second wall, and in the process, the stick Aang had used previously is lost. The masked figure throws one guard over the wall, and Aang airbends the rest away. More troops use bamboo ladders to scale the wall, but again Aang blows them off. He takes the ladders and calls to the masked figure to get on his back. They use the three ladders like stilts to go from the second wall to the third and final wall. However, a soldier manages to light the last ladder on fire, forcing Aang and the masked figure to jump off in hopes that they will make it over the wall. However, their grip does not hold, and both fall to the ground just in front of the main gate.
As firebenders come to attack the duo, Aang pulls the masked figure behind him and blocks the benders' attacks with airbending. Zhao tells the men to stop, for the Avatar needs to be captured alive. Suddenly, the masked figure puts his broadswords to Aang's neck, threatening to kill him, and a standoff begins. Zhao orders the gate to be opened, and they let the pair out as the masked figure takes Aang with his swords still around Aang's neck. With the two slowly edging out, Zhao goes onto higher ground and has an archer knock out the masked figure with a single shot.
After the masked figure falls to the ground, Aang sees a small part of the face below, creating a dust cloud as cover while he removes the mask to reveal Zuko. At first, Aang is shocked and afraid, beginning to run, but stops to look back at Zuko. As the dust clears and the guards approach the area, both Aang and Zuko have escaped, which frustrates and infuriates Zhao.
Zuko regains consciousness, and Aang tells him of a story about his friend from one hundred years earlier, named Kuzon from the Fire Nation, and wonders if he and Zuko could have been friends if he had known him back then. Zuko responds by attacking Aang with a fire blast, which Aang easily avoids by hopping from tree to tree, leaving Zuko on a bed of leaves.
Aang goes back to the swamp to collect frozen frogs, as Zuko heads back to his ship. His uncle asks him where he has been, to which the Fire Nation prince simply replies that he is going to bed and asked for no disturbances. The Avatar subsequently returns to his friends, puts the frogs into their mouths, and sits down on Appa's tail to rest. Sokka asks Aang if he made any new friends, to which Aang responds that he does not think he did and turns on his side. At the same time, Zuko looks at the Fire Nation flag and also turns away to his side. Sokka and Katara begin to feel better, but are shocked as they realize they are sucking on frogs and quickly spit them out, disgusted and confused.
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- Main article: Transcript: The Blue Spirit
- Main article: Writing in the World of Avatar
- Zuko disguises himself as the Blue Spirit for the first time, although the name is not actually mentioned in in-episode dialogue or text until "The Waterbending Master". He adopts the same identity in "The Swamp", "Avatar Day", and "Lake Laogai".
- A wanted poster for the Blue Spirit is prominently placed next to the festival poster in the beginning of "The Deserter".
- In the episode "The Western Air Temple", Zuko refers to the events of this episode, saying that Aang had once suggested that they could have been friends. Aang also makes reference to these events when Team Avatar is deliberating whether or not to accept Zuko.
- In Zhao's victory speech, he states that the Fire Nation will finally breach the "impenetrable" walls of Ba Sing Se and use Sozin's Comet to burn the Earth Kingdom capital city to the ground. This has a couple foreshadowing elements for later events in the series:
- The Fire Nation successfully penetrates the walls of Ba Sing Se in the episode "The Drill", but ultimately fails to invade and take over the city. Instead, it is because of Princess Azula infiltrating the city and instigating a coup that the city is finally conquered by the Fire Nation.
- The speech hints at the events of the third season finale, where in "Sozin's Comet, Part 1: The Phoenix King" it is revealed that Phoenix King Ozai's plan is to indeed use the comet's firebending-enhancing power to destroy Ba Sing Se and literally burn the Earth Kingdom to the ground to win the war once and for all.
- When Iroh plays the tsungi horn as Zuko returns, the bejeweled monkey statue that he was eyeing in the pirate's store in "The Waterbending Scroll" can be seen. It can also be seen in "The Runaway" while Sokka and Aang are contemplating how to get Toph and Katara to be friends again.
- In "The Western Air Temple", Aang and Sokka refer to the events of this episode, with Sokka claiming that the frog gave him a wart on his uvula, which he called his "throatal flap". Katara insists, however, that it was psychosomatic, meaning it was all in his head.
- During "The Ember Island Players", in the scene where the Blue Spirit rescues Aang, the enemy he faces is Zuko rather than Zhao.
- A copy of the Blue Spirit mask appears on a merchant's cart in the beginning of the episode "The Swamp". Zuko keeps this particular copy and later disposes of it in the episode "Lake Laogai", where it sinks to the bottom of the lake.
- Zuko cooperating with Aang foreshadows him joining Team Avatar in the third book.
- It becomes a running joke in the series that none of the population outside Team Avatar, Admiral Zhao, and Uncle Iroh knew Zuko and the Blue Spirit were one and the same, such as in "The Ember Island Players".
- The crown which Momo brings to Katara when she tells him to search for water makes a reappearance in "The Swamp".
- The idea of sucking on frogs for medicinal purposes very likely traces its origin to real-world toads such as the Colorado River toad, which secrete a psychoactive hallucinogenic venom through their skin. In the 1970s, rumors were widely propagated of hippies and other teenagers sucking on or licking these toads to get high, but these rumors were never found to be true. Also, the practice would not actually work for humans, because the human digestive system cancels out the venom – it would have to be injected, inhaled, or smoked in order to have an effect.
- The scene in which Aang asks Zuko if they could have been friends if they knew each other back then is almost exactly the same as Session 8 "Waltz for Venus" from Cowboy Bebop in which Roco asks Spike "If I had met you earlier in my lifetime, do you think that we would've been friends?" This comes to no surprise, as the creators are big fans of that show and would later name Wulong Forest after the show's currency.
- When Katara gives Momo her pouch for water, Momo later comes back without it. Instead, he returns with a meadow vole, which means he had left it somewhere. However, Katara has it in later episodes.
- When Momo is sent to get water, he brings back various objects. These objects are seen scattered around Appa when Aang returns, but when he and his friends wake up, all of the castoffs have disappeared.
- While the four soldiers are guarding the entrance to Aang's prison cell, a Fire Nation uniform helmet haphazardly rolls across the corridor floor, landing before their feet. However, when the scene cuts to a wide-view of the corridor several moments later, the helmet is nowhere to be seen.
- As Aang and Zuko are utilizing the final bamboo ladder as a stilt to traverse the courtyard, a soldier sets the ladder ablaze, forcing them to abandon it. The ladder should have subsequently collapsed to the ground; however, it simply disappears.
- When Aang gives Sokka and Katara the frozen frogs, Katara still has the crown that Momo brought on her head, but the next scene of her spitting out the frog shows her without the crown.
- Zhao's speech makes it appear that, in the Fire Nation, both men and women can be in the army.
- This is Michael DiMartino's second favorite episode out of three because of the mysteriousness of the Blue Spirit involved. He also likes the episode for its use of action and the surprising twist at the end.
- The tsungi horn is played whenever Prince Zuko switches to his Blue Spirit alter ego. The instrument used for the sound effect is the Duduk, which the Tsungi horn is based on.
- This is the first episode in which a character gets sick.
- In the Avatar Extras bonus commentary, one of the commentary bubbles states that this episode was originally called "The Red Spirit", with the mask being red, appropriately. During some airings of this episode, the title is mistakenly given as "The Red Spirit" and still appears as so on program guides of several broadcasting networks, such as DIRECTV.
- In the film prequel manga "Zuko's Story", Zuko was robbed by a thief named Hong Shen who posed as the Red Spirit, taking on a Robin Hood-esque persona. The Red Spirit's mask design and clothing were identical to those that Zuko wore in the show, although Zuko's Blue Spirit persona corresponds to what it was in The Last Airbender. Incidentally, Mike and Bryan got the idea of Zuko basing his Blue Spirit persona on a preexisting figure during a post-season two interview.
- In production, the creators dropped the Red Spirit idea because the initial design made Zuko look like "an ancient Korean version of Spiderman", and, as addressed by Anthony Lioi, made it appear as though he was associated with the Fire Nation, giving away his identity too easily.
- In the Avatar Extras bonus commentary, when Aang is running up the stairs to the herbalist, one of the commentary bubbles states that the movie "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" is used as reference for that scene.
- In the Avatar Extras bonus commentary, one of the commentary bubbles states that the mask Zuko wears when he is the "Blue Spirit" is actually an Earth Kingdom theater mask similar to the two frowning and smiling masks displayed in real life acting theaters.
- In the Avatar Extras bonus commentary, when Aang jumps off the cliff is running from the Yuyan Archers, one of the commentary bubbles states that the movie "Rambo" was used as reference for that scene.
- This is the first time a character goes by another alias to achieve a plot-twisting goal. The second is in the episode "The Painted Lady" from the third season, when Katara dresses as a local spirit to help and save the Fire Nation village of Jang Hui.
- In The Last Airbender, the Blue Spirit mask also comes with hair, unlike the one in the television show.
- The small speech given to Zuko by Aang, which he repeated later on, is a slight foreshadow into how the relationship between the two will end up by the end of Book Three.
- In "The Siege of the North, Part 2", one of the faces worn by Koh bears a strong resemblance to the Blue Spirit mask.
- It was revealed in The Search Part 1 that Ursa kept a collection of theater masks hidden behind a painting, one of the masks being identical to the mask of the Blue Spirit.
- The Search Library Edition elaborated on this passing illustration, revealing that the mask in Ursa's room was truly the one Zuko wore in "The Blue Spirit". He found it there when he went looking for clues as to where his mother had gone.
- As Nickelodeon only ordered thirteen episodes of the original series, the creators designed this episode knowing that they needed something exciting, along the lines of a series finale. As a result, knowing that they had created a rivalry between Zuko and Zhao, they thought that "if Zhao captured Aang, no one would be more motivated to rescue him than Zuko".