- This article is about the episode. For the celestial event, see winter solstice. For the titular character, see Roku.
"I have to talk to Avatar Roku to find out what my vision means! I need to get to the Fire Temple before the sun sets on the solstice."
Aang travels to the Fire Temple to speak with Avatar Roku on the winter solstice. In addition to being chased by Zuko, a Fire Nation blockade led by Zhao attacks them but does not manage to stop them. Arriving at the temple, Aang is shocked to learn that the five Fire Sages which tend the temple are no longer the Avatar's allies. However, one sage who remains loyal, Shyu, helps Aang to reach the sanctuary where he is to speak with the past Avatar. Roku informs Aang about Sozin's Comet, which gave the Fire Nation the power to start the war one hundred years prior and will give them power again to finish it upon its arrival at summer's end. Aang defeats Zhao, Zuko, and the sages when he manifests the spirit of Roku, who destroys the temple.
On the morning of the solstice, Aang, having packed his things on Appa, attempts to convince Appa to fly; the flying bison, however, is acting stubborn, refusing to move. Aang tries to tell Appa that Katara and Sokka are not going with them, as he does not wish to endanger his friends' lives. The Avatar intends to make the journey to the temple alone. After pulling hard on the reins and being thrown to the ground by their tensile force, Katara and Sokka, as well as a group of villagers from Senlin Village, stop him, believing that a trip to the temple is not necessary. Aang adamantly states that Avatar Roku can tell him the meaning of his vision of a comet and that this is the only way to learn its meaning. Eventually, the siblings decide to let Aang go, on the condition that they accompany him. The village leader gives Aang a few supplies and tells him that, since it is a long way to Avatar Roku's temple, if they want to get there before the solstice is over, they must leave immediately. When Aang tries to thank him for his kindness, the leader cuts him off mid-sentence, yelling at him to leave that instant; Aang does so. Later in the day, there is a knock at the door of the leader's house; he opens it to find Prince Zuko before him. Zuko forces the man back through his door, demanding to know where the Avatar went.
Later in the day, as Appa flies through the sky, Katara spots Zuko's ship trailing them. Down on Zuko's ship, Iroh scolds his nephew over his decision to willingly enter Fire Nation waters in pursuit of the Avatar. He reminds Zuko that he was banished from the Fire Nation and risks being arrested if he continues. Zuko tells him that his father will understand that he is chasing the Avatar, to which Iroh responds that Zuko is giving Ozai too much credit as he is not the understanding type. Back on Appa, Katara and Sokka watch as a catapult is readied on Zuko's ship. The catapult's missile is set on fire and hurled skyward at Appa, who barely dodges the shot. Zuko orders the catapult to be reloaded, but subsequently sees in the distance a blockade of Fire Nation ships in the way. Iroh tells Zuko that since he is still in Earth Kingdom waters, there is still time to stop. Zuko refuses to turn away and gives the order to "run the blockade".
The man commanding the blockade is none other than Zhao; looking through a spyglass, he recognizes both Appa and Zuko's ship and orders his ships to fire on the Avatar. When one of his men tells Zhao that there is a Fire Nation vessel in their line of fire, he casually states that it belongs to a traitor and gives the attack order again. As a firestorm of shots from dozens of catapults are fired toward Appa, Aang prepares to dodge the barrage of attacks as the first few whiz by Appa. Zuko is not as lucky, as one of the shots connects with his own ship, causing the ship to smoke heavily. One of his men yells that the engines are damaged and that they will need to stop to repair them, but Zuko refuses to relent, continuing to order the ship forward.
As Aang continues to dodge a swarm of shots, the force of a blast created by the collision of two fireballs knocks Sokka from Appa's saddle, sending him plummeting. Appa dives down and catches him mere feet above the water, then directs Appa to charge right down the middle toward the blockade. Zhao takes a final point-blank shot and Aang, but Aang fearlessly throws himself off Appa's head directly at the fireball, destroying it with airbending. As they soar past Zhao and his blockade, Aang expresses his excitement over reaching the Fire Nation, while Katara and Sokka barely speak, having been thoroughly shaken by their encounter with Zhao. Less than pleased with the fact that the Avatar broke through the blockade, Zhao knows he has to follow him, but does not know where he is going. However, as Zuko's ship approaches, he allows Zuko to pass through the blockade untouched, realizing that he can simply follow the ship to the Avatar.
Meanwhile, Appa spends hours flying through the air. It is almost dusk when he finally makes it to the crescent-shaped island where Roku's dragon, Fang, took Aang when he was in the Spirit World. When they land, Appa takes a well-deserved rest while the others enter the temple. It is empty when they enter the temple's first room; however, five men dressed in red robes suddenly appear behind them. They tell Aang that they are the Fire Sages, the guardians of the Avatar's temple; upon hearing this, Aang reveals himself to them as the Avatar, thinking that they will help him. Unexpectedly, however, the sages proceed to attack him. Aang blocks the attacks and the group runs from the five sages, going down many different halls until they reach a dead end. As they turn around to face the open hallway, they find one of the sages in front of them, blocking their escape. Aang prepares to fight him, but the sage shortly explains that he is on their side. At first, they do not believe him, but when they hear the others approach, the sage opens a secret passageway, allowing them to escape from the other sages.
Meanwhile, on his damaged ship, Zuko is confused as to why Zhao let him pass. Iroh states that Zhao wants to follow him, knowing that Zuko will lead him to the Avatar. Believing his uncle to be right, Zuko muses that if Zhao wants to follow their trail of smoke, he can do just that.
Back at the temple, the friendly sage tells them that his name is Shyu. He goes on to say that when Avatar Roku died, the other sages, including his grandfather, waited for the new Avatar to appear, though that never happened. When Fire Lord Sozin started the Hundred Year War, he forced the sages to serve him; only Shyu's family remained loyal to the Avatar. He explains that when the sages found out Aang was alive, Shyu knew that he would have to betray the others in order to help Aang. They eventually arrive on a higher level of the temple, where a huge door is located. Shyu tells them that it must have recently been closed and that only a fully realized Avatar or five fire blasts from five different firebenders can open it. None of them know how to open the door, but Sokka begins to formulate a plan.
In the meantime, Zuko embarks a smaller vessel and orders his uncle to continue their northern course, explaining that while Zhao will follow the smoke trail, he can use it as a cover to sneak away. From a distance, Zhao keeps track of Zuko's ship via a telescope.
Sokka reveals his plan; he makes five small oil-based lamps and places one in each of the five holes in the door. He has Shyu light the fuse and they stand back, taking cover as the explosion of the grenades rips through the room. Aang rushes to the door, though finds it has not opened and begins to assault it with waves of air in frustration. As Sokka expresses his confusion as to why the door did not open, Katara states that even though the plan did not work, it looked as though it did. The group is confused by the cryptic nature of her statement.
Moments later, Shyu yells to the other sages to come to the door; he states that the Avatar has entered the room. They do not know how he could have done so, though Shyu points out the burn marks on the door and a moving shadow coming from the other side. The sages combine their firebending and open the door, only to discover that the shadow was Momo, who had crawled through the pipes. Each of the four sages are subsequently grabbed by Shyu, Katara, Sokka, and Momo, and Shyu yells for Aang to enter the chamber, but there is no answer from him. Suddenly, Zuko, restraining Aang, appears from behind a pillar, stunning the rest of Team Avatar. The Fire Sages use this opportunity to break free and restrain their captors. Zuko tells the sages to close the door immediately. Aang turns to see the others being tied to a pillar and, catching Zuko off guard, struggles free from him and makes as though he would rescue Katara and Sokka. When Katara yells at him to leave them, he vaults over the heads of two of the attacking sages and through the closing doors of Roku's sanctuary. As the doors seal, a bright light emanates from the room and dies away.
Aang, now safely sealed in the chamber, looks up to see the statue of Avatar Roku and wonders what to do next, while outside the doors, Zuko and the four sages attempt vainly to open them. One of the sages states that Avatar Roku must have sealed the door, apparently not wanting them to enter. Aang, becoming slightly upset, calls out to Roku for help as the sunlight from above the door spreads over the statue's face; its eyes glow white and a gust of cloud and smoke spirals around Aang. When the clouds dissipate, he suddenly finds himself on a desolate mountaintop; before him stands the apparition of Roku. Roku greets Aang with a smile, asking what took him so long. Back outside the doors, Zuko asks Shyu why he helped Aang and he says that it once was, and still is, the Fire Sages' duty to help the Avatar. Zuko and his captive are unpleasantly surprised by the sudden appearance of Zhao and a group of soldiers accompanying him, who orders his troops to arrest the prince. When Zuko angrily taunts Zhao with the fact that Aang is locked away from him in the sanctum, he tells him that he will simply wait for the Avatar to come out.
Roku begins to tell Aang why they had to meet and elaborates on the significance of the comet in his vision. He states that about a hundred years prior, a comet appeared in the sky, which greatly amplified the abilities of firebenders. Fire Lord Sozin used that power to start the Hundred Year War, dealing "a deadly first strike against the other nations." He tells Aang that, by the end of summer, the comet will return and, if left unchecked, Fire Lord Ozai will use its power to conquer the world. He adds that Aang must master the elements of water, earth, and fire before summer's end, for that is the only way to save the world from its imminent destruction. Aang is shocked by Roku's revelation, not thinking he is capable of mastering the elements in such a short time, but Roku has confidence in him, telling him that he has done so in the past. As the solstice nears its end, Aang points out that he will not be able to return to the Fire Temple if he has more questions for Roku, who reminds Aang in response that, as an Avatar, he is a part of him, promising that Aang will find a way to talk to him should the need arise. In parting, Roku states that a great danger is waiting for Aang at the temple and offers his help, though only if Aang thinks he is ready. Speaking with the voices of his past lives, his eyes and tattoos blazing white, Aang replies that he is.
Outside the chamber, Zhao and his soldiers are ready to attack Aang when he emerges from the chamber. With a flash of light and a billow of smoke, the door opens and they firebend at the figure behind the door, only to find, to the amazement of Shyu, that it is not Aang who stands before them, but Roku himself. The Avatar takes control of their fire and sends it back at them with great force, knocking his attackers backward and melting the chains holding Katara, Sokka, Shyu, and Zuko, releasing them; Zuko takes this opportunity to escape to his own ship. As the turncoat sages flee desperately from Roku's unchecked wrath, Shyu tells Katara and Sokka to escape as well, since Avatar Roku is going to destroy it. They refuse, however, unwilling to leave without Aang. Roku splits the ground, bending up the magma from the volcano below and bringing it up into the temple. Zhao and his men retreat to their ships as the temple begins to crumble.
As the sun sets, marking the end of the solstice, the ray of sunlight moves away from the face of Roku's statue and the light from its eyes fades. Roku exhales, his work complete, and is wrapped once more in a whirling cloud of smoke. When the dust clears, an utterly spent Aang remains. He collapses to the floor and is picked up by Katara and Sokka. As the temple falls apart around them, they realize they have no way to escape, as all the exits, save for a hole in a wall which opens onto thin air, are blocked by lava and debris. At that moment, Appa and Momo, now wearing the Great Sage's hat, appear and the group jumps through the opening into Appa's saddle. As they fly away from the temple, it collapses.
Looking up from the deck of his ship, Zhao sees the Avatar flying away from him. Enraged at his failure to capture both Zuko and the Avatar, he states angrily that all he has are five traitors in his custody, referring to the five Fire Sages standing before him. The Great Sage tries to convince Zhao that only Shyu helped the Avatar, but the commander ignores his plea, ordering that all five be thrown into the prison hold.
Zuko, safe on his own ship, also watches as the Avatar flies away. That night on Appa, Katara and Sokka kneel around Aang, comforting him.
- Written by:
- Directed by:
- Also starring:
- Additional voices:
- Dee Bradley Baker
- Dante Basco
- Jack DeSena
- Clyde Kusatsu
- Mae Whitman
- Michael Yama
- Main article: Transcript:Winter Solstice, Part 2: Avatar Roku
- Main article: Avatar Extras for Book One: Water
- This episode introduces Sozin's Comet, a returning comet which will give the Fire Nation Army the power to conquer the territory still not under its control. The comet returns once every hundred years and greatly increases the power of the Fire Nation's firebenders. Aang must master water, earth and fire before the comet's arrival, or he will be unable to defeat the Fire Lord, meaning the Earth Kingdom and Water Tribes will completely lose the War. This is a turning point, as Aang now has learned that he has a time limit to fulfill his destiny.
- As of this episode, Aang and his friends have been to each of the four nations.
- When Zuko confronts the Senlin Village leader, Iroh is still not wearing any clothes, referring to the events of "Winter Solstice, Part 1: The Spirit World."
- At the end of "Winter Solstice, Part 1: The Spirit World", there was a crescent moon, but in the beginning of this episode, which takes place the very same night, the moon is full.
- After Iroh states that they are on a collision course, Zuko begins to talk, though Iroh's mouth continues to move as if he is still talking.
- After Zhao orders the captain to let Zuko's ship pass, the captain begins to talk, but Zhao's mouth continues to move as if he is still talking.
- In two scenes, Zuko's ship is seen as a newer Fire Nation cruiser, instead of the older model.
- When the light hits Roku's statue, sunlight comes from above the door; however, in the next scene when Zuko and the Fire Sages try to open it, there is no spot for the light to pass.
- The pillars' locations of where Sokka, Katara, Shyu, and Zuko are chained continually change, or they simply disappear from the pillars. In the first scene of the doors closing and Sokka and Katara being captured, they are chained to the pillar directly to the right of the doors. However, when Zuko is confronting Shyu, who is not chained yet, before Zhao appears, Sokka and Katara are chained to the pillar directly to the left of the doors.
- Zhao comes in with three firebending soldiers on each side, therefore giving him six guards. However, both when he first stands directly in front of the sanctuary's doors and when they all fire after the doors open, he has four guards on either side, even though right before they fire, there are three on either side again. There are also more guards behind him during the attack. It can be determined the firebenders standing beside and behind Zhao are his guards because the other four Fire Sages are behind the ones attacking and watching from a different spot.
- In the first scene wherein Zhao stands directly in front of the doors, with Zuko chained to one of the pillars, Zuko is on the pillar directly to the doors' right, and Shyu, Sokka, and Katara are all chained up to the pillar directly to the doors' left. However, in this scene, when Zhao readies his men to fire, the first view of his soldiers showing the pillar directly to the right does not show Zuko or any of his chains.
- When Avatar Roku shows Aang the vision of the danger outside the walls, Shyu, Sokka, and Katara are now on a pillar to the right of Zuko's pillar, which is still directly to the doors' right, but when the doors open and Zhao orders his men to fire, the scene of the soldiers firing near the front of the pillar to the doors' right does not show Zuko at all once again. When Avatar Roku appears instead of Aang, Shyu, Sokka, and Katara are once again chained on the doors' direct left pillar, and Zuko reappears on the doors' right pillar.
- When Avatar Roku hits the floor of the temple before he destroys it, his voice is actually Shyu's voice.
- This is the first time Fire Lord Ozai is shown, albeit as a silhouette only.
- This is the first episode in which another Avatar manifests into Aang's body, the others being "The Deserter" and "Avatar Day".
- This is the first time the Buddhist chant, "Na Mo A Mi Tuo Fo Shin Di", is heard. The chant can be faintly heard again before Aang merges with La in "The Siege of the North, Part 2". It is later heard in "Sozin's Comet, Part 1: The Phoenix King" when Aang meditates, when he meets the lion turtle in "Sozin's Comet, Part 2: The Old Masters", and finally when Aang begins to energybend Fire Lord Ozai in "Sozin's Comet, Part 4: Avatar Aang".
- According to the title of this episode, this is the first day of winter in the Avatar World.
- This is the first time that Aang speaks while in the Avatar State, when he states that he is ready to face the threat of Zhao and his soldiers in Avatar Roku's temple.