Having a new-found interest in the relationships and their developments in this show, plus character development in general, I decided to watch The Storm last week.
As most of you fellow Avatar fans know, the episode began with Aang having a nightmare, abandoning his friends as he went towards a storm. He refuses to talk about it. When the Gaang makes it to a pier, Aang is called out by a fisherman for turning his back on the world. Distraught, Aang runs away.
Zuko, meanwhile, was in yet another bad mood, refusing to change course away from an incoming storm.
This led to some interesting backstory in this episode, all in the middle of a raging storm.
After Katara comes up to the cave where Aang is hiding, we finally get to see where he came from. This was a great backstory, him just unsure of his destiny, and now finding himself deserted among his own people. All he was left with was Gyatso, and soon he lost him as well. He also reveals how upset he is for turning his back on the world. However, he found himself able to pour this all out to Katara, finally leading the two to a deeper connection than in the preceding 11 episodes.
For Zuko, we see what he has gone through, which started with a war meeting three years ago, when he spoke out of turn. We learn of his failed duel with his father, Ozai, that resulted in his scar. All spoken in a magnficent tale by Iroh. All Zuko has left to hope for is the Avatar, to regain his honor (There's that word again....).
Suddenly, all that was told comes into play, when we find out that Sokka and the fisherman are caught in the storm. With Katara, Aang pulls off a magnificent rescue, only for all to be caught in a massive wave. Aang engages his Avatar State, bringing them all up to safety.
Elsewhere, Zuko's ship hits a rought spot in the storm, and the Helmsman is left dangling. After meditation, Zuko realizes how wrong he was to put the crew's safety below finding the Avatar. He works to rescue him. He then passes on a chance to get Aang, instead deferring to find safety. In this sequence, we see the first use of lightning redirection, as performed by Iroh. More importantly though, we see some big Zuko development.
Afterwards, the fisherman forgives Aang, saying if "[Aang] weren't there, he wouldn't be either." Aang realizes how much he is needed now, which leads to Katara assuring him his nightmares are over.
Overall, a magnificent episode. This is key to developments of Aang, Zuko, and Kataang. In my opinion, this is the first real "Kataang" episode, as this is where they establish their first deep connection. Katara sees Aang as well...Aang. Aang finally is able to have someone to trust and open up to, relieving his regrets. Also, he is now able to see he is just as needed now as he was 100 years ago, and that the past can't be changed. As for Zuko, we see that there is some good in this banished Prince, after coming off as simply an honor-and-Avatar-obsessed jerk for the first episodes.
Score: 10/10...well done, Bryke!