- This article is about the episode. For the object, see waterbending scroll.
Katara begins teaching Aang waterbending. To her fury, not only is he a fast learner, but he eventually surpasses her in skill. The group travels to a nearby town, finding a waterbending scroll at a store run by pirates. Determined to surpass Aang, Katara steals the scroll, causing the pirates to chase the group, though they manage to escape. Later, Zuko runs into the pirates. Zuko makes a deal with the pirates, saying that if the pirates capture Aang for him, he will find the scroll for the pirates. Zuko proceeds to capture Katara, and the pirates capture Aang and Sokka. A fight breaks out between Zuko's crew and the pirates when the latter learns Aang is the Avatar. During the commotion, the group escapes with the scroll.
Having received Avatar Roku's warning of the impending comet, Aang becomes anxious, worrying feverishly over the short time remaining for him to master the three remaining bending arts. In an attempt to settle Aang's fear, Katara offers to teach him what she knows of waterbending, to which he graciously accepts.
Meanwhile, Zuko is sparring with Lieutenant Jee when Iroh diverts the course of the ship to find a port. Having lost a white lotus tile for his Pai Sho game, he seeks to replace it so he can "get on with [his] life." Furious about the detour, Zuko vents his rage in a cloud of smoke and flame through his nose and mouth. As smoke suffuses the bridge, Iroh calmly declares that he is "lucky to have such an understanding nephew."
At a waterfall, Katara begins to teach Aang her knowledge of waterbending. To her displeasure, Aang immediately masters the lessons she gives him with little to no effort, despite the fact that it took her much time and practice to master them. While she tries to hide it, she begins to grow jealous of Aang's natural talent.
After Aang overdoes a waterbending move and accidentally washes away their supplies, the trio ventures into a nearby town to buy replacements, where Aang purchases a bison whistle on an impulse. They come upon a ship docked with a barker trying to attract business. The ship's crew is selling items that they acquired by "high risk trading". Searching their wares, Katara discovers a scroll featuring several waterbending techniques, only to find that the pirates are reserving it for a wealthy client in the Earth Kingdom. However; the captain offers it to them if they have two hundred gold pieces immediately available. Aang, stating to Katara that pirates love to haggle, offers them one copper piece. When this offer is laughingly rejected, he ups it to two coppers, angering the captain. Katara pleads with Aang to stop trying, telling him she thinks they are drawing too much attention to themselves. With a last, pirate-style, "Aye, we be castin' off now", Aang complies and they leave the ship. The Avatar and Sokka, out of earshot of the pirates, raise their objections to having to leave so soon, though Katara simply states that she does not feel comfortable.
As they walk away, the pirate crew suddenly begins to pursue them, brandishing weapons. Although Aang initially believes the pirates have mellowed to his haggling, he and his friends are forced to flee. During the chase, Aang airbends the cabbage merchant's cart toward some of the incoming pirates, destroying it in the process. Becoming cornered by the pirates, Aang uses his glider to escape, flying away as Katara and Sokka hang on. Returning to their camp by the waterfall, Aang and Sokka find that Katara has stolen the waterbending scroll and that the pirates were simply seeking to retrieve it. When Sokka objects to her theft, Katara regurgitates the pirates' nomenclature for theft at him. Sokka remains displeased, but Aang, laughing, says, "What's done is done; we might as well learn from it."
Meanwhile, Zuko and Iroh arrive at the same port visited by Team Avatar earlier that day. Much to Zuko's irritation, Iroh did not find a replacement white lotus tile, though purchased numerous trinkets and instruments for music night on the ship, which three of their troops are carrying. Overhearing a conversation between two of the pirates, Zuko discovers that they were tracking a bald-headed monk and a Water Tribe girl and whirls on them, demanding to know if the boy had an arrow on his head.
At the waterfall, Katara and Aang begin to practice waterbending. One of the first techniques they try is the water whip, a simple technique where water is formed into an elongated shape and snapped at the target. Katara attempts to perform it first, only to become embarrassed as she strikes herself and Momo in her first attempts. When Aang plays the role of teacher, explaining to her how to shift through the stances and succeeding in his first attempt, Katara grows offended, her jealousy of Aang's talent getting the best of her. She launches into an angry rant in which she reprimands him, insulting his "infinite wisdom" and sarcastically claiming that they should dispose of the scroll because Aang apparently does not need it. Ignoring a quick glance of disapproval from her brother, she suddenly realizes that her outburst has driven Aang to the verge of tears; she apologizes to the Avatar for her rant and to Momo for striking him. Regretting her actions, she gives the scroll to Aang, saying she wants nothing to do with it. That night, however, she succumbs to temptation and slips away with the scroll to study the technique again while her brother and Aang sleep.
Zuko, in the meantime, has joined forces with the pirates to hunt down Aang. When asked by a pirate if they need to search the woods, Zuko replies that, since they stole a waterbending scroll, they will be near a source of water. As they search, they find Katara practicing the water whip and ambush her. Zuko ties her to a tree, threatening to hurt her and Sokka unless she divulges the whereabouts of the Avatar. After her initial refusal, he reveals to her that he has her mother's lost betrothal necklace, the last tie that she has to her mother, and he attempts to convince her to exchange Aang's freedom for her memento. After she firmly refuses a second time, however, the pirates, seeing the interrogation as a waste of time, demand the scroll. Zuko, using the scroll as collateral, threatens to destroy it by lighting a fire underneath it to force the pirates to go search for Aang, something they begrudgingly comply with.
At the campsite, Sokka wakes up and immediately notices that Katara is missing. Looking through his bag, he realizes the scroll is also gone and tells a waking Aang that Katara ran off with the scroll. Commenting that it would just be a matter of time before trouble would follow them due to her actions, the pirates ambush the two; while Sokka is able to evade an immediate capture, Aang failed to airbend a net away and is quickly captured. As he is dragged away, the pirate with whom Sokka was battling follows the Avatar, leaving Sokka to call after them, asking if he is not good enough to be kidnapped, resulting in his own capture.
Bound by their hands and, in Aang's case, arms, Sokka and Aang are taken to the river's shore, where the pirates regroup with Zuko and his soldiers, who had been guarding Katara while she was bound to a tree. Commenting on the pirates' success, Zuko approaches them with the waterbending scroll. Katara tries to apologize to Aang, claiming responsibility for their situation, though Aang brushes it off. Zuko and the pirates try to make the trade, scroll for Avatar, though neither side wants to exchange their collateral first. Sokka subsequently asks the pirates if they really are going to hand over the Avatar for a "piece of parchment". As they are surprised by the revelation that Aang is the Avatar, Sokka adds that they could likely make more money trading Aang on the black market or by handing him over to the Fire Lord himself than by exchanging him with Zuko for one scroll. Convinced, the pirate captain calls off the deal, telling Zuko to keep the scroll as he turns and walks away from the firebender. Outraged, Zuko and his soldiers attack the pirates.
Taking advantage of the distraction the fighting has created, Aang, Katara, and Sokka escape. Katara and Aang use waterbending to get the pirates' boat into water and sail away. Zuko laughs at this, but the pirates, except for their leader, steal Zuko's smaller ship in turn and start chasing after them, infuriating Zuko. Team Avatar battles the pirates aboard the pirate ship, with Katara successfully performing the water whip upon re-attempting it. However, the ship is fast approaching a towering waterfall. Aang and Katara manage to use waterbending to stop the ship, but the pirates ram into it with Zuko's boat, sending them falling over. Suddenly, Appa, who has heard Aang's bison whistle, appears and catches them, saving them from plummeting to their deaths.
Back on shore, Iroh discovers, to his amusement, that his "lost" white lotus tile was simply tucked away in his sleeve the entire time. When he produces it for Zuko with a great smile on his face, the prince, enraged, snatches it from Iroh's hand and hurls it over the waterfall; tumbling, it strikes one of the pirates far below on the head.
On Appa, Katara gives Aang a full apology and Sokka reveals that, during the chaos, he was able to regain the scroll. Before she can take it from him excitedly, he asks what she has learned from their encounter, to which she replies that she learned to never steal. Upon reclaiming the scroll from her brother, she quickly adds, "Unless it's from pirates!". As Appa flies away, Aang and Katara laugh.
- Written by:
- Directed by:
- Also starring:
- Additional voices:
- Jack Angel
- Dee Bradley Baker
- Dante Basco
- Jim Meskimen
- James Sie
- Main article: Transcript:The Waterbending Scroll
- Main article: Writing in the World of Avatar
- Main article: Avatar Extras for Book One: Water
- In "The Desert", it is discovered that Iroh's white lotus tile holds significance outside of being a significant piece in the game of Pai Sho, as the piece is also a symbol for the Order of the White Lotus, of which Iroh is a Grand Lotus.
- In "The Library", Katara surrenders the waterbending scroll to Wan Shi Tong to be admitted to his library. The Knowledge Spirit finds the illustrations on the scroll to be "quite stylish".
- This is the episode where Aang purchases his bison whistle, which appears in many later episodes to call Appa and other animals, such as in "The Desert" and "The Tales of Ba Sing Se".
- This is the first episode where the ruby encrusted monkey statue is seen. It also appears in the episodes "The Blue Spirit" and "The Runaway".
- The pirates that Prince Zuko hires to capture the Avatar are again hired by Admiral Zhao in the episode "The Waterbending Master" to kill Zuko. Some of the pirates are hired again as actors to portray themselves in "The Ember Island Players".
- This episode marks the first time Katara uses the water whip.
- This episode foreshadows the fact that Katara will end up being Aang's waterbending teacher.
- This is the first time Aang uses waterbending along with someone else, as all the previous times he was using it alone in the Avatar State.
- When Aang, Sokka, and Katara watch Appa splash into the water, there is no branch on the ground near them. However, when Aang is dressing himself, there is a small branch lying next to him, which he offers to Sokka to clear Appa's toes.
- When Katara is attempting to form a powerful wave while teaching Aang, she fails and her attempt falls into the water. As she leans over in defeat, 'ghosting' duplicates of her movement appear.
- Early in the episode, Sokka declares that the team is almost out of "the money that King Bumi gave [them]." In actuality, the money was given to them not by Bumi in Omashu, but by the inhabitants of Senlin Village.
- When Katara takes the waterbending scroll out of the shelf, it was originally on the second row, right in the middle. However, afterward when the pirate captain puts the waterbending scroll back, a thicker scroll has suddenly appeared in its previous place.
- When Katara says, "Aang, can we get out of here? I feel like we're getting weird looks", her mother's necklace can be seen around her neck, despite the fact that it was currently under Zuko's possession.
- When the pirates are chasing the gang, there is ice in the walkway. When the overhead view is shown, there is no ice.
- When Katara and Sokka escape with Aang on his glider staff, Momo is not seen flying with them.
- When Katara says, "These are real waterbending forms; you know how crucial it is for Aang to learn waterbending", the waterbending scroll is much thicker than before.
- When Zuko is talking to Katara after she is captured, Zuko's belt buckle changes colors multiple times throughout the scene.
- When Zuko is threatening to burn the scroll and lights a fire under it, the fire is in contact with the scroll, which would easily cause it to catch fire.
- When Zuko is coming out from the smoke, he puts the scroll in his belt. When he is fighting, it disappears, but reappears in the next scene.
- The pirates crash down a waterfall even though they came upriver from the seashore village earlier. There is no visible way they could have gotten their ships over the waterfall on the way up.
- When Iroh pulls the lotus tile out of his sleeve, the image of the flower takes up the entire tile. However, when he proudly shows the tile, there is a brown rim surrounding the flower image.
- This is the first episode in which Aang waterbends outside of the Avatar State.
- Prince Zuko makes a deal with the pirates to track down their scroll in exchange for their help in capturing Aang. Coincidentally, Dante Basco, the voice actor for Zuko, played the character of Rufio, leader of the Lost Boys, in the movie Hook.
- This episode is one of two episodes in which Zuko laughs, the other being in "The Headband". Zuko rarely laughs in the series because he is often angry and ill-tempered.
- This is the second episode where the cabbage merchant appears.
- This one of the few episodes where graphic censoring is done; when the pirates are riding away in Zuko's boat, one of the pirates is about to drop his pants to moon Zuko. The first instance of censoring was in "Winter Solstice, Part 1: The Spirit World", when Iroh stands up from the hot springs naked and Zuko's hand censors his uncle's nudity.