"Storm clouds are gathering, Aang."
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Sokka accepts a job from a local fisherman to make money, and the man cruelly accuses Aang of abandoning the world. In the large, ensuing storm, Aang recounts to Katara the events of his dark past. After being told he was the Avatar, Aang was ordered to be separated from his mentor, Monk Gyatso. Upset, Aang ran away from his home where he encountered a deadly storm, causing him to fall into the water, activating the Avatar State, trapping him within an iceberg. Meanwhile, Iroh tells the ship's crew Zuko's story. After speaking out of turn at a war meeting, Zuko was punished by being forced to fight an Agni Kai against his own father. His refusal resulted in him getting his scar and being banished for perceived cowardice. Meanwhile, Aang learns that Sokka and the fisherman are trapped in the storm; he rescues them, earning him the fisherman's respect. Zuko spots them, but lets them go, instead opting to escape the storm.
Aang has a dream in which he, Katara, and Sokka fly through clear, sunny skies; Sokka is using Aang's glider, Aang is riding on Appa, and Katara is riding a larger version of Momo. Katara says, "We need you, Aang", to which he responds happily, "I need you, too." Suddenly, the dream takes a dark turn and Aang, panicking as the sky blackens around him, finds himself alone on Appa. The form of his past guardian, Monk Gyatso, appears before him and asks him why he disappeared. As Aang replies that he did not intend to vanish, Gyatso's body dissolves into dust before him, and as the voices of Katara and Gyatso repeat the mantra "We need you, Aang", he and Appa fly into a deadly storm and plunge into the sea. Gasping in terror, Aang jolts awake, clearly troubled by the dream, though he does not tell the others. The next morning, Aang, seeing the perfectly clear skies above, remarks about how smooth their flying should be and Katara informs him that, since there is no food left, they will have to fly to the closest market. Sokka proceeds to dramatically tell them that he had a dream the previous night in which "Food eats people" and that it means they should avoid the market.
Meanwhile, in the sea, Iroh predicts that there will be a terrible storm and advises they alter their course for the sake of the crew, but Prince Zuko informs him that capturing the Avatar is more important than the crew's safety. When Lieutenant Jee hears this, he tells Zuko that he knows nothing about respect and calls him nothing but a "spoiled prince".
At a nearby harbor town, Aang, Katara, and Sokka stop by a market, only to realize they are out of money. They run into a fisherman and his wife, who are arguing over whether to go on a fishing trip or not due to the wife's claim that a storm is coming. When the wife refuses to go, the fisherman hires Sokka. However, when he finds out that Aang is the Avatar, he scolds him, accusing him of turning "his back on the world". Aang becomes upset, and despite Katara's attempts to defend him, he, filled with guilt, flies away into a cave. Katara reprimands the fisherman for his harsh words and goes after Aang, just as a horrible storm begins to brew.
The argument between Zuko and Jee continues to the point where Zuko and the lieutenant are about to fight before Iroh intervenes. Iroh suggests that everyone is tired, and they should go inside to have a bowl of noodles, but Zuko refuses the offer, claiming he does not require anyone's help in maintaining discipline on his ship.
As the storm worsens, Katara finds Aang in the small cave. Aang begins telling her the story of his childhood, beginning with the day the monks told him he was the Avatar. One century earlier, Aang is showing his friends how to use the air scooter technique that he developed himself at the Southern Air Temple. At that moment, Gyatso and the other elder monks show up, bringing Aang to their meeting room, where they reveal to Aang that he is the Avatar. They show him the four toys he picked when he was younger, which are identical to the four toys picked by previous Avatars. Gyatso comments that "storm clouds are gathering" and ends the meeting by saying they need him.
Back on Zuko's ship, Jee is sitting around a small fire with several members of the crew, badmouthing Zuko. Iroh enters the circle and begins to explain why Zuko is the way he is. Years prior at the Fire Nation Royal Palace, a younger Zuko appears with a happier, freer expression, a full head of hair, and no scar, complaining to his uncle that he wants to get into his father's war chamber. Although he initially refuses, Iroh allows him to join on the condition that he remains silent. When one of the generals suggests sacrificing the forty-first division as "bait", Prince Zuko speaks up in opposition against the general, stating that sacrificing a group of loyal soldiers is an act of betrayal. Zuko's father, Fire Lord Ozai, grows angry at Zuko's sudden outburst, demanding an Agni Kai to solve the matter.
Inside the cave, Aang tells Katara about the aftermath of the announcement. After being revealed that he was the Avatar, Aang is ostracized by all his friends, claiming his powers give him an unfair advantage in any game they play. Likewise, with a war looming on the horizon, the monks train Aang extra hard, putting more pressure on him than ever before. Aang only manages to find comfort with Gyatso, playing Pai Sho with him and keeping him company, much to the chagrin of the other monks, who believe Aang should be training even harder.
Iroh continues his story to the crew, with Zuko believing that he is going to fight the general he spoke out against. However, as the Agni Kai begins, it is revealed that his opponent is the Fire Lord himself. Upon realizing this, Zuko cries and tells his father that he "only had the Fire Nation's best interests at heart", and asks for forgiveness. Ozai, however, demands that Zuko fight for his honor. Zuko falls to his knees and ignores his father's orders to fight, pleading for forgiveness. As Zuko raises his head to look at his father, crying, the Fire Lord states that "[Zuko] will learn respect, and suffering will be [his] teacher". The screen lights up as Zuko screams and Ozai burns him.
Consequently, after Aang learns that the monks are planning to separate him from his guardian Gyatso, he decides to run away along with his sky bison, Appa. Aang is caught in a horrible storm and plummets beneath the ocean with Appa, but as he is about to drown, he goes into the Avatar State and traps the two of them in an air pocket, which promptly freezes. Aang and Appa become trapped inside for the next one hundred years. Aang claims that he abandoned the world by running away, but Katara convinces him that "it was meant to be", and that he "gives people hope". It is at that point that the fisherman's wife approaches them, claiming that her husband and Sokka are still missing. Determined not to let anyone down again, Aang volunteers himself to the rescue, with Katara following closely behind.
Iroh explains that Prince Zuko was banished because his refusal to fight was seen as "shameful weakness", and that the only way to redeem himself and for life to return to normal is by capturing the Avatar, adding that the Avatar gives Zuko hope. At that moment, lightning strikes the ship. In a move of true selflessness, Zuko saves the helmsman with the help of Jee. While Zuko and the lieutenant are attempting to save the helmsman, Iroh is shown redirecting lightning away from the ship.
Meanwhile, Aang and Katara find the fisherman and Sokka, pulling them out just before the boat sinks. They try to take off on Appa, but are engulfed by the waves. In the same way as in his flashback, Aang goes into the Avatar State and forms an air pocket with airbending to save the group, only this time, they fly to safety. When the trio and the fisherman emerge from the water, they are in the eye of the storm. They appear close to Zuko's ship, which happens to be navigating through the eye of the storm as well. Zuko allows them to fly away, deciding that it is more important to help his crew get to safety, and goes on to apologize to his uncle.
Back at the cave, the fisherman reunites with his wife and thanks Aang for saving him. Aang also declares that he is done dwelling on the past and accepts that the events that have happened to him were "meant to be", and the storm clears.
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- Main article: Transcript:The Storm
- Main article: Avatar Extras for Book One: Water
- For a split second at the end of Aang's dream, there is a brief silhouette of Fire Lord Ozai. This nightmarish image of Ozai is first seen in "Winter Solstice, Part 2: Avatar Roku" when Aang learns about Sozin's Comet and again in "The Guru" when Aang must confront and overcome his greatest fear: fighting the Fire Lord.
- This episode reveals how Aang was trapped in the iceberg, where he was initially found in "The Boy in the Iceberg".
- This is the episode that revealed how Zuko got his scar and why he was banished from the Fire Nation.
- This is the first of three times in the series where Aang has continuous nightmares. The second time is in "The Avatar State" and the third time is in "Nightmares and Daydreams".
- This is the first episode in which Azula, Zuko's sister, appears, though she is only briefly seen smirking with a fist up in excitement in the crowd during the flashback of Zuko's Agni Kai with his father. Zhao is also seen smirking just as Iroh turns away.
- This episode marks the first time lightning redirection is used.
- During one of Aang's flashbacks to his life before being trapped in the iceberg, two airbenders are seen playing the Avatar World's own version of "Rock, Paper, Scissors", the difference being that the four elements are used instead of the familiar stationery. In the three rounds seen playing, two hand forms were shown: a pound fist later revealed to represent earth, and what looked like a "stop" hand or a "eight trigram palm" from Baguazhang. This game is seen again in "City of Walls and Secrets", when it is played by Aang and Sokka. As revealed in the later episode, earth appears to beat fire, which had the hand emulating flames or what looked like a dragon grasp from Northern Shaolin style.
- This is the second time Monk Gyatso is seen talking in a flashback. The first was in "The Southern Air Temple".
- When Zuko and Iroh are arguing about the storm, right before the picture cuts to the close-up of Iroh's face, Zuko's ponytail disappears.
- In the scene where Zuko tells Lieutenant Jee to show respect, he is wearing his usual turtleneck-like garment under his armor, but in the next few shots it disappears.
- When Aang is hiding in the cave, Katara's shadow should have blocked the shadows of the rain on Aang, but it did not.
- Appa entered the cave with Katara even though he generally hates going underground or in tunnels.
- When a soaked Appa walks into the cave where Aang is hiding, his muzzle is white instead of the usual gray.
- In various camera angle switches, both Aang and Katara are seen in separate scenes nearly pressed up against the rock wall. However, after the camera changes, they are suddenly sitting a good distance from it.
- During Aang's story, in the shot when he is on the air scooter asking if he cannot play, there are six boys standing around him but in the next shot where he walks away, there are only five.
- The scene with Monk Gyatso finding the note is shown despite it being impossible that Aang, narrating the story, would know about it, as he was not actually present when it happened.
- In a few scenes, in particular when Aang briefly enters the Avatar State in his anger, Katara's lower kimono no longer has slits that begin at her hips. Instead, it resembles a complete dress with no separation.
- In the scene where Zuko is begging his father for mercy, many of the Agni Kai's spectators are shown wearing green, blue, and yellow, which is unusual seeing that they are Fire Nation citizens.
- When Iroh tells the soldiers about Zuko's scar, the soldiers believe it was a training accident and seem to be unaware of the events that occurred during the Agni Kai, even though the whole arena was crowded with people. Furthermore, even some people in the Earth Kingdom seemingly know how Zuko was banished and how his own father burned him, so it is strange that the soldiers do not know about it.
- While Aang and Appa are in the ocean, Aang is on top of Appa and goes into the Avatar State. A moment later, Appa is above him instead.
- When the old fisherman's wife is telling the fisherman to give Aang an apology, her hair-clip is in her bun, but usually it is in the rest of her hair.
- No one is seen drying off or even having wet clothing during all the times that people get wet in this episode.
- This is the favorite episode of Zuko's voice actor, Dante Basco. During the scene where Zuko faces his father in the Agni Kai, Basco worked with Mark Hamill and relates the scene to those in Star Wars in which Luke Skywalker (Hamill) faces off with Darth Vader.
- This is Michael Dante DiMartino's third favorite episode because of how the story goes deep into both Aang's and Zuko's pasts.
- Zuko is seen crying for the first time during this episode.
- When the gang and the fisherman are struggling in the storm, a strange white blob flashes onto the background.
- When Aang asks Gyatso if the Council might have made a mistake when they said he was the Avatar, Gyatso says that, "The only mistake they made was telling you before you turned sixteen", meaning that Avatars are not made aware of their status until their sixteenth birthday. This is further shown in the episode "The Avatar and the Fire Lord", when the Fire Sages told Roku that he was the Avatar on his sixteenth birthday. Avatar Korra is an exception to this rule, since she discovered she could bend multiple elements on her own before she was old enough to have been trained.
- This is the first time Aang goes into the Avatar State twice in the same episode. Once in the cave, when he goes into the Avatar State for a split second, and again when he forms an air pocket around Appa.
- The title of this episode, "The Storm", is one of many titles that have multiple meanings; this one has at least three. It refers to the actual storm in which the characters get caught, to the reasons for Aang's "stormy" feelings of guilt and shame, and to Zuko's "stormy" history of how and why he was banished.
- This episode explores the emotional stress that is placed on the Avatar, serving as the first of many episodes that has Aang reluctantly confront his duty as the Avatar.
- When Sokka wakes up from his dream early in this episode, he says, "Momo could talk. You said some very unkind things." This is referenced later when Momo talks and says unkind things in Aang's daydream in "Nightmares and Daydreams".
- It is shown that the four toys Aang chose that determined his destiny are a clay turtle, a string-powered propeller, a wooden hog monkey, and a wooden hand drum. This method is akin to the one used in determining the next incarnation of a Tulku Lama in Tibetan Buddhism.
- The watermelon that the merchant tried to sell to Katara made a "swishing noise", which resembles the merchants of China in the early 1900s who would try to make their melons sound heavier by injecting them with foul water from a river or one of the creeks.