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A Meeting of Rivals

This was a VERY flawed scene in the actual film. It's only half a scene. Zhao's chewing out of Zuko has no buildup, when it really should have been triggered by something.

What we're left with gives us very little character developement or intrigue. 

I tried to give more depth by having Zhao try to work at Zuko during the course of the scene, in particular a brief mention of Azula.

Also, unlike the film, the Agni Kai Duel takes place, just in a different scene.

The Legend of Aang: A Meeting of Rivals


ZUKO’S DAMAGED SHIP is seen outside, as the camera moves through a small tavern to ZUKO and IROH sitting at a small bar.

ZUKO stirs his drink with his finger as IROH looks at him. IROH puts his hand on ZUKO’S shoulder, catching him off guard.


Don’t blame yourself, Zuko. No one could have anticipated what happened.


The ship worries me more than anything. Let’s hope it gets repaired quickly.

ZUKO turns to look at it through the doorway, but sharply turns back, spilling his drink slightly.


What’s wrong?


Keep your eyes forward.

IROH looks behind him slightly, ZUKO noticing.


(harsh whisper)

I said keep your eyes forward!

IROH snaps back into place, but they both peek over their shoulders in unison.

ZHAO walks into the tavern, and shakes hand with a couple of soldiers in there.

     ZUKO (O.S.)

Commander Zhao.

ZUKO turns back, IROH carrying a great deal of contempt in his eyes.

               ZUKO (CONT’D)
Of all the people I didn’t want to meet on this voyage…

ZUKO quickly glances over his shoulder before grabbing IROH’S shoulder.


(Sotto Voce)

Don’t you say a word! The last thing we need is someone high up interfering-


Interfering with what?

ZUKO winces as ZHAO casually seats next to him. ZHAO offers a hand, and ZUKO cautiously takes it.


It’s General now, by the way.

ZUKO widens his eyes briefly, and turns to face front. There is an awkward silence for several moments until ZHAO turns next to him, facing IROH.


General Iroh. How hallowing it is to be in your presence once again.


You need not refer to me as General anymore.


It is unfortunate. But your family loyalty is admirable.

ZUKO nods turning away.


I saw your damage, by the way. Ferocious. What might have happened?

ZUKO opens his mouth to speak, but stops, his mouth hanging open. He turns to IROH, who, sensing what is about to happen, shaking his head quickly.


U-uncle… You tell him.

ZHAO turns to IROH. IROH’s lip quivers, his eyes shooting around the room.


Well, General?

IROH looks back to ZUKO. ZUKO sighs.


We crashed.

ZHAO whips back around, his face covered in false shock.


You didn’t!

ZUKO nods once again.

         ZHAO (CONT’D)

That’s life at sea for you.


How is life back home?


Fair. Not as exciting as it once was before you left.

ZUKO tilts his head, slightly agreeing with him.

          ZHAO (CONT’D)

Your sister has become something of a celebrity, I will say.

ZUKO’s face fades.

                ZHAO (CONT’D)
Even your father himself cannot stop himself from bragging on her on occasion.

ZUKO doesn’t turn his head before he speaks.


Have you come here simply to rub my misfortunes in my face?

ZHAO softly chuckles.


Certainly not. This is the first of many stops on my quest. I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but the Avatar has finally chosen to show himself.

ZUKO fakes surprise.


You’re joking.

ZHAO shakes his head.


Surprising that you weren’t the first to hear.

ZUKO softly chuckles as well.


Wrong place, wrong time I suppose.


Well, the time is now, shall you join us for a drink?

ZUKO stands up from his seat.


No thank you.


Oh, we have some time to spare. Why not?

ZUKO sighs in defeat.


Come. They’re on me.


I’d prefer not to.

He begins to walk away.


Why not?


I don’t drink.


ZUKO stands outside the tavern, looking nervously at his ship while also glancing inside. He sighs and walks back inside.

The original downbeat atmosphere has been replaced with a raucous one. He walks to find a large huddle of people, distressingly gathered around the same spot where he left IROH and ZHAO to their business.

He attempts to part the crowd, and finds IROH and ZHAO still seated at the table with a new surrounding of people, all singing the same song. ZUKO is agog, and attempts to move forward, but the crowd closes in on him.



It's a long, long way to Ba Sing Se

But the girls in the city they look so pretty

And they kiss so sweet, you've really got to meet

The girls from Ba Sing Se!

ZUKO attempts to work his way around the crowd, coming up behind one of the crowd members.




Zuko! Why don’t you join us!


Uncle, we have a schedule to keep! Might you hurry this-?

His thought is interrupted by the crowd member shoving past him to join the song. ZUKO groans and seats himself at the bar. ZHAO scoots over to him, a taunting grin on his face.


I must admit, a thirteen year-old seems like a near-even match for you.

ZUKO places his head in his hands.


Who told you?


Oh, I forget. I’m much more impressed by the fact that you lost.


Yeah, perhaps I’m not the one to go after him anyway.

ZHAO is surprised by ZUKO’s remarks, but still beckoning a continuation.


After all, who better to retrieve him than Lord Ozai’s personal lapdog?

ZHAO is now shocked by ZUKO’s remarks, almost chuckling slightly in disbelief. He soon notices a drink sitting on the table next to him. He quickly adjust his posture enough to spill the drink onto ZUKO’s lap.


Oh! Forgive me!

ZUKO groans and simply stands and walks to IROH. He shoves a few patrons aside to reach him.


Uncle! It’s time to go.


Oh! Must we? We’re having such a...

(adjusts his eyes)

…wonderful time.


We have a schedule to keep, if you don’t remember. So-

Another patron attempts to get to IROH, but ZUKO lashes out, grabbing his belt and throwing him into a table. To his shock, however, it turns out to be ZHAO.

Several members of ZHAO’s crew begin to swarm him, some breaking bottles and holding them against him.

ZHAO stands and walks toward ZUKO.


That was very… unsporting of you, my prince.


Shouldn’t faze you that much, unless you’re as weak as I remember.

ZHAO gives a hurt chuckle. He gives ZUKO a small shove away, as ZUKO walks forward, a flame in his eye. He attempts to throw a punch, but ZHAO stops his fist.


Now… Now… There’s a way to settle this like gentlemen.

ZUKO shakes his head. ZHAO stretches his hand in a “go on” sort of way.


Fine. Agni Kai. My ship. Two hours.

ZHAO smiles and parts the members of his crew as he walks away.

ZUKO gives a displeased look to IROH.



Great. Now we’re three hours off schedule.

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