Previously, Azula made the Zuko-puppet dance, Aang got lightning'd in the back, and DANCE PUPPET DANCE. Funny how only one of those involved the title character of the show.
Oh but look, there he is, alive and - hair? He sits up, asking no one in particular what happened, and a cursory glance around the room reveals that he may not be in the friendliest of territories. He tries to use his glidey stick to make his way down the corridor, staggering wildly, and Airbends at a couple of guards before making a...limp for it. The air blast was by no means one of his strongest, and the guards (one of whom is suspiciously short) run after him. "Stop! Please!" ...did the Fire Nation guard just say "please"?
He makes it onto the deck of the ship, where he finds a Fire Nation soldier...petting Momo. Momo jumps on his head, and Toph (!) calls from the side that that's gotta be him. Katara: "Aang! You're awake!" Aang: "Are you sure?" Katara tackles him in a hug, telling him he's "finally awake". Sokka, in full Fire Nation armor, hugs him as well, and this is all just a little too much for poor Aang. Toph: "Watch out for that - " Aang: "*bang*" Toph: "Ooh. Deck."
Different ship. Zuko is staring out at the ocean in an appropriately brooding manner. Mai walks up and asks if he's cold and holy crap is she smiling? He says he's got a lot on his mind. "It's been over three years since I was home. I wonder what's changed. I wonder how I've changed." Mai: "Bored now. Let's make out." And they kiss, and then she walks off, and...that happened. Huh. Victorious Childhood Friend?
Back to that other ship. Aang wants to know why he woke up in Bizzaro world. Katara tells him he got hurt pretty bad - that part he seems to remember. Katara: "I like your hair." Aang: "HAIR?! ...is it ginger?" Hakoda walks up and asks if they're okay. Katara: "We're FINE, dad." He introduces himself to Aang as Sokka and Katara's father, an act Katara points out is completely redundant considering she just called him "dad", and he and Aang do that Water Tribe forearm-grab thing. Katara: "Okay fine yes YOU CAN GO NOW." You'd think she'd be happy to see her dad after all this time, but nooo, she just wants to talk about Aang and his hair. He walks off, and Aang asks if Katara is mad at him. Katara: "No, not at all. Why would you say that?" Aang: "...it's good to know that in these troubled times, you will continue to send completely mixed signals. It's a comforting constant in my life." He grabs his stomach, wincing, and Katara says they need to go upstairs for a healing session. Oh, is that what they're calling it these days?
Yeesh, that looks bad. Katara gives him the Waterbender version of a deep-tissue massage, and something about the spiritual shenanigans going on reminds Aang (and, conveniently, the audience) of what went down the last time he was awake. Specifically, the glowy Avatar parts. Katara says she can feel a lot of energy twisted up in there, and tries to pull it loose. Apparently she succeeds, because Aang's spine arches and he remembers getting himself dead in the city below Ba Sing Se. "I didn't just get hurt, did I?! It was worse than that. I was gone." Dead, Aang. The word is dead. You've used it on this show before, why are you trying to skirt the issue now. ...okay, actually, I can see it being pretty hard to say "I was dead". Let's just hope this trend doesn't continue. Aang: "You brought me back." Katara says she doesn't know what she did, she just used the oasis water Pakku gave her way back when.
Back in the good 'ol Fire Nation, Li and Lo are doing their creepy thing for the soldiers, describing how Azula got into Ba Sing Se, took down the King, found Zuko, discovered a cure for cancer, ended world hunger, and defeated the Avatar all by her lonesome. "Azula's agents quickly overtook the entire city - " They're talking about the Dai Li here, wouldn't do to admit that the Earth Kingdom turned out some pretty maniacal motherfuckers of their own - "and went to Ba Sing Se's great walls and brought them down!" I want to make a Gorbachev joke, but I'm too busy wondering about the impact this had on the Dai Li agents themselves. They've already proven they'll work for the most intimidating person in the room, but there's gotta be some sense of national or cultural pride involved there. Ba Sing Se's walls are kind of a big deal to the Earth Kingdom. Tearing them down...that's gotta fuck with your mind a little. They go on to describe how the Fire Nation troops swarmed through Ba Sing Se, and we see them marching past the tea shop Iroh and Zuko worked at (oh hai Jin). Ying, baby Hope, and the dude I now know is named Than kind of wince as they get marched past. Man, how much does that have to suck for them? Everything they went through to get there, to be safe, and now this. I want to hug them. Li and Lo announce that the heroes have returned home, and while Zuko does cut a pretty impressive figure in his official dress, he looks less than happy to be there.
Ship of Subterfuge. Sokka is filling Aang in on what happened while he was sleeping off the whole death hangover he had going. They made it back to Chameleon Bay, where the Water Tribe guys were still hanging out. The Earth King decided that the middle of a war was the perfect time to travel the world, and rode off on Bosco's back to probably get himself killed in a bar brawl somewhere. When the Fire Nation made it into the Bay, rather than trying to fight them all off, they captured one and took it for their own. Apparently it's worked pretty well as a disguise, as none of the ships they've seen have bothered them. Hakoda says they've been working on a modified version of the invasion plan, which Katara cuts in to point out is Sokka's invasion plan, thankyouverymuch. "We won't be able to lead a massive invasion without the Earth King's armies, but the solar eclipse will still leave the Fire Nation vulnerable." Sokka says they'll lead a ragtag team - his words, not mine - of their friends and allies directly into the capital. "We already ran into Pipsqueak and the Duke!" The Duke is the cutest thing ever. Sokka: "And the best part is the eclipse isn't even our biggest advantage! We have a secret! ....you!" Aang is confused and afraid. Sokka: "The whole world thinks you're dead. Isn't that great?!" See, Sokka can say it. And, wait, does this mean we're back to square one? Is Ozai going to send some new schmuck out looking for some poor Water Tribe newborn?
Aang is concerned. "How is this great? This SUCKS." Sokka: "But...now the Fire Nation will leave us alone." I am briefly distracted by Aang's disappearing, reappearing glidey stick. Aang: "NO. THIS SUCKS." Another FN ship somehow surprises them despite being the only other thing on the water, and Aang decides he will handle this Avatar style. Aang's torso: "Sit the fuck down." It takes Katara yelling at him not to blow their cover to get him to ease down as Hakoda says he and Bato will take care of it. As they hide, Aang mutters that he hates not being able to do anything. Toph: "Hopefully you won't need to."
They're boarded and Hakoda and Bato (who are still extremely Water Tribe-looking, even in Fire Nation helmets) are yelled at for being off-course. "All Western Fleet ships are supposed to be moving towards Ba Sing Se to support the occupation!" ...you sound familiar, unnamed Fire Navy guy. Why do you sound familiar? ...oh! It's because you're Mark Hamill. Carry on. Hakoda bluffs that they're from the Eastern Fleet and are delivering cargo (geeze, I know Aang has a lot of baggage, but calling him cargo is a little harsh). Mark Hamill complains about the lack of communication from Eastern Fleet's admiral, and Hakoda promises to send two hawks next time just in case. One of the soldiers with Mark Hamill tells him that the admiral's been on leave for the past two weeks. Mark Hamill: "WHY DOES NO ONE TELL ME ANYTHING." He gets the inkling that these guys might not be entirely genuine in their intentions, and orders them to sink the ship. Toph hears them, 'cause she's Toph, and Bends the metal ramp out from under them. Katara uses the water between the two ships to push them apart, and the Good Ship Subterfuge takes off at a speed a coal-powered ship should not be able to achieve that quickly. Especially not when it's just Pipsqueak and The Duke working the engines.
Hey look, Zuko's home now. He's sitting next to the duck pond when Azula walks up. The ducks freak out and run for it. She says he looks "downcast". "Has Mai gotten to you already? Though actually, Mai has been in a strangely good mood lately." Excuse me while I go bleach my brain clean of the implication that Zuko got laid. Zuko says he hasn't seen his dad yet. "I haven't seen him in three years. Since I was banished. That's when I got my scar, too, for all you new watchers out there." He's still stuck on not having caught Aang, going back to his old "capture the Avatar" catchphrase, but Azula points out that Aang's dead. "Unless you think he somehow miraculously survived?" Zuko, showing a refreshing bit of sense, flashes back on Katara's magic water. He displays another bit of sense by not revealing this information to Azula. Oh, Zuzu. I knew you had it in you.
Ship of Failed Subterfuge. The other ship is throwing flaming loogies at them, chipping away parts of the hull. Toph takes a stance and yells "load the Toph!" Which is kind of amazing. Pipsqueak sets a boulder in front of her (did they just bring a boulder with them when they left Ba Sing Se?) and she starts firing bits of it at the other ship. Her ability to aim is a little off-putting until you see The Duke moving her arms from behind. They've been practicing this! That's kind of awesome! Aang tries to go help, but Sokka stops him. He starts banging his head against his glideystick. Sokka: "Welcome to my world."
The other ship fires a harpoon into the bottom of the ship, ripping out a chunk of the hull. Katara does the breath-ice thing, somehow managing to make it reach all the way to the breach, closing it up with ice. Wouldn't the temperature of the ocean water melt that pretty much immediately? I'm just saying. She gives them some cover with a massive cloud of steam, but the problem with this kind of cover is that you can't see them, either. Flaming Loogie Out of Fucking Nowhere destroys their rock stash, and Aang says he can't just do nothing and runs out onto the deck, but Sokka grabs him by the glideystick and points out that he's still hurt, and that he has to stay secret. "Just let us handle this." Aang: "Motherfucker don't touch me."
A gust of wind gets rid of the rest of their cover, and Katara puts out a small fire while Toph asks how they're doing. Sokka: "Things couldn't get much worse." Seadramon: "OH HAI SOKKA." Sokka: "The universe just loves proving me wrong, doesn't it?" Toph: "You make it too easy!" She's got a point, dude. You do kind of ask for it. A flaming loogie gets Seadramon in the eye, and he decides that Ship of Subterfuge is not the target he's looking for just now. He goes after the other ship, going all boa constrictor on it and letting Ship of Subterfuge get away. Sokka: "Thank you, the universe."
They dock, and Aang is staring at the ceiling in a kind of stupor when the others ask if he wants to go into town for some food. Sokka gives him a headband to hide his arrow with. Aang is bothered by this, saying he's not going out if he can't wear his arrow proudly. Sokka tells him to be practical, and Katara kicks him and Toph out of the room. She tells Aang she knows he doesn't want people to think he's dead because then they'll think he failed. Aang: "The problem is, I did fail." When Katara tells him everything that went wrong at Ba Sing Se can still be fixed if the invasion is successful, he goes into a heroic spaz attack, ripping the Fire Nation banner off the wall. "I don't want you or anyone else risking your lives to fix my mistakes!" He says he knows now that he has to face the Fire Lord alone, and when Katara tries to disabuse him of this notion, he tells her to leave. She asks if there's anything he needs, and we get one of these shots as he says he needs to redeem himself. "I need my honor back." Oh no you don't. We just got Zuko to knock that shit off, don't you start.
Speaking of which! Zuko is headed for his meeting with Flo, and he takes a deep breath before heading into the throne room to face his dad. Who, as is tradition, has no face.
And then we cut back to the Ship of Subterfuge. I had hoped we'd move away from the fifteen-second asides in the new season, but clearly I was wrong. Katara comes down the corridor with a tray of food (they're back from town already?) to find Aang's room empty. She drops the tray and runs for it, and now we see that Aang has run away, flying over the ocean in the middle of a storm. Does this seem familiar to anyone?
HEY LOOK IT'S ZUKO AGAIN. He kneels in front of his dad, who says "the weight of [his] travels has changed [him]". So he is a butterfly! Zuko looks up and HOLY SHIT OZAIFACE. I can't figure out which one takes after him more. Zuko's got his jawline, but Azula inherited the vaguely unhinged look in his eye.
Aang gets the epic music as he flies over the ocean, his wounds and the headwind making it difficult to stay aloft. Katara runs up onto the...balcony? I guess is what it's called? Anyway, Bato says he'll leave Hakoda and Katara alone, and Katara tells her dad that Aang left. "He has this ridiculous notion that he has to save the world alone, that it's all his responsibility!" Hakoda: "Maybe that's his way of being brave." Katara yells that it's not brave, it's selfish, and yes the world needs him but they need him too, that they could help him. "How could he just leave us behind?!" Hakoda: "...you're talking about me, too, aren't you." Katara says they were "lost" without him, because this is a prime time to have this particular conversation, and hugs him as he apologizes. Katara feels abandoned, Hakoda missed his kids, AANG IS DROWNING SOMEWHERE YOU GUYS. I might let this slide if we hadn't already established that opening his glider fucks him up. They have larger concerns right now, is all I'm saying.
Flo is pacing in front of Zuko, telling him how proud he is that Zuko and Azula captured Ba Sing Se, that he chose the Fire Nation over Iroh, and he is most proud that Zuko "slayed the Avatar". ...two things. One, shouldn't that be "slew"? Two, why is Azula telling li - oh. Wait. Azula always lies. Never mind. Zuko asks what Flo heard, and Flo tells him that Azula said she was "amazed" at his "ferocity". Uh...huh. Okay, sure, why not.
Elsewhere, Aang, in the middle of his fight with gravity, finds a Fire Nation blockade. He takes a really deep breath and dives, going under the ships. Should someone with a severe injury to their torso really be holding their breath like that? I mean, just breathing normally has to hurt like a bitch; I can't imagine keeping your lungs expanded that long would do you any favors. He floats on his glideystick for a moment before finding a convenient piece of driftwood. This is Aang's idea face. This is Aang's idea. Not that I think this is any better for his wound, but it does look pretty bitchin' and kind of familiar. Until he hits a wave wrong and goes sprawling into the sea, that is.
Fire Nation. Zuko marches into Azula's bedroom (wait what) and demands to know why she did it. Azula: "You're going to have to be a little more specific." Yeah, I bet. I'm just surprised she sleeps in human form, and doesn't revert to her natural, demonic form to hang from the ceiling like a bat. Zuko wants to know why she told Flo that he's the one that offed Aang, and she says she did it because Zuko had seemed so worried about getting his honor back. Yes, Azula was being selfless and altruistic. Now I'd like you to come take a look at this bridge I've got for sale. Azula: "I was happy to share the glory." Zuko: "You're lying." Uh, yeah. Azula asks what she could possibly gain from Zuko having defeated the Avatar, and I notice that her hair is a lot longer and browner when she's not all evil'd up. She'd be almost cute if I didn't think she was planning to eat my liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti. Azula: "Unless, somehow, the Avatar was still alive? All that glory would suddenly turn to shame and foolishness. But you said yourself that was impossible." And now she's trying to seduce her brother. I don't think we need to get into that aspect of royal lineage on this show. She lays down and he walks out, leaving the door wide open (rude). Azula calls after him: "Sleep well, Zuzu." My god, child, but you are creepy.
Out in the ocean, Aang's glideystick is floating away. Aang: "WIIIIIIIIIILSOOOOOOOON!" He and his driftwood get washed under, and he decides that he almost died once in the ocean, might as well finish what he started. Luckily, Roku comes along to smack some sense into the boy. He says Aang hasn't failed, to which Aang responds with a long list of things he's failed at. Roku: "If anyone is to blame for the state of the world, it is me." Take notes. "I believe you are destined to redeem me." There's that word again. Aang is unsure, and there is a bright light from above, and - Jesus?
No, wait, it's Yue. Yay! She tells him he can't give up as the rain stops (did she do that or is there a rain spirit she's calling in favors from?) and Aang immediately agrees with her. He Waterbends himself a wave, hops on his driftwood surfboard, and Yue gives him a little gravitational push as she fades back into the moon itself.
Aang lands on what is apparently an active volcano, laying not fifteen feet from red-hot lava, and I think I broke a tooth in frustration. Lava does not work that way, dammit. The next morning Momo jumps on his chest and licks him awake, and he sits up to find the others running up to him for a group hug. I'm not even going to try to figure out how they found him. Maybe Yue told them. Aang says he has "so much to do", and Katara says he'll have their help. Toph: "You didn't think you could get out of training just by coming to the Fire Nation, did you?" Sokka explains that they'll meet back up with Ship of Subterfuge on the Day of Black Sun.
Something bumps against the rock behind Toph and she reaches back to find Aang's glideystick. Aang: "Wilson!" It's battered and broken and pretty much unusable at this point. It makes Aang (and me) have a sadface. "It's okay," Aang says. "If someone saw it, it might give away my identity. It's better for now that no one knows I'm alive." But...but...glideystick. He jumps up to a little outcropping of rock (that still has red-hot lava flowing down it, oh look there went another tooth) and jams the glideystick into the top of it. He jumps away as it catches fire, and we close out on the flames.
The flames that prove convection is very much in effect, and OH LOOK THERE GO ALL MY TEETH. I HAVE NO TEETH NOW. THANKS, SHOW.