Chapter Eight:
Avatar Roku (Winter Solstice part 2)

Written by: Michael Dante Dimartino
Head Writer: Aaron Ehasz
Directed by: Giancarlo Volpe

Voices provided by:
Aang: Zach Tyler Eisen   Katara: Mae Whitman   Sokka: Jack DeSena
Prince Zuko: Dante Basco   Uncle Iroh: Mako  Appa: Dee Bradley Baker
Admiral Zhao: Jason Isaacs   Avatar Roku: James Garrett   Shyu: Michael Yama
Great Sage: Clement Yon Fronckenstien   (village) Leader: Mike Hagiwara

Episode Recap

It is late at night and the moon is shining brightly. Aang is trying with all his might to drag Appa with little success. The day of the solstice has arrived and there is a long journey ahead of Aang. Aang does not want to endanger his friends by putting them in Fire Nation territory and also wants to know what the image of the comet Avatar Roku’s animal guide gave him means.

Katara and Sokka startle Aang and tell him not to go. When Aang still insists on going, Katara and Sokka step in front of Appa and Sokka says that he can’t go, that is, not without them :-D. Appa licks Sokka with delight and the companions are given provisions and take-off immediately in order to reach the temple at sunset on that very day. The village leader wakes up and decides to walk outside where he confronts Prince Zuko who pushes him down and asks him if he’s seen the Avatar.

The sun is rising behind Appa as they travel above the sea. Aang notices this and tells Appa to go faster. Hot in pursuit is Prince Zuko’s ship. He has his eye pressed to a telescope, searching the skies for the Avatar. His uncle is scolding him when he realizes Zuko is headed towards fire nation territory. “Have you completely forgotten that the Fire Lord banished you? What if you’re caught?” Zuko reasons that his father will understand since he is chasing the Avatar, but Iroh retorts “My brother is not the understanding type.”

After this is said, Zuko spots the flying bison, and orders the helmsman to go full speed ahead.

Katara is the first to see Zuko in hot pursuit. A fireball is catapulted upwards into the sky, aimed at Appa. Aang dodges it quite easily, but the rancid stench remains in the air, causing them to cover their noses.

Both Aang and Zuko spot the blockade, a line of ships marking fire nation territory. “Technically we are still in Earth Kingdom waters. Turn back now and they cannot arrest you,” Iroh wisely points out.

In the air, Aang suggests that if they go north, they can go around the blockade. Katara points out that there isn’t enough time and they decide to run the blockade. Aang urges Appa to go faster.

Zuko realizes the Avatar is not backing down, and so he follows suit. Iroh warns him that if the Fire Nation catches him, there is nothing he can do, and pleads him to not follow the Avatar. Zuko looks down and apologizes to his Uncle, then orders that they run the blockade.

In charge of the blockade, Commander Zhao stands proudly with his telescope and spots the Avatar and Prince Zuko’s ship. He orders his men to fire the catapults at the flying bison. One soldier points out that there is a Fire Navy ship is out there, and it may get hit. Zhao simply replies, “So be it. It belongs to a traitor.”

Many fireballs are shot into the air towards Appa, but Aang skillfully navigates Appa to evade the attacks. But some sparks land on Appa’s side, and Katara, Sokka, and Momo pat the minor burns on Appa’s fur. Aang asks if Appa is okay, and he grunts and flies high into the clouds.

One of the fireballs damages the engine of Prince Zuko’s ship, but he orders his crew to keep going.

Zhao orders the blockade to launch another round, and the fireballs blast through the cloudbank that Appa is flying above, taking Aang by surprise. They try to avoid them, but two fireballs collide in front of the group and the turbulence throws Sokka off of Appa and he plummets toward the water. Immediately, Aang turns around and Appa dives downwards. Katara reaches out her hand to grab Sokka’s and he is saved with Sokka’s tears streaming through the air.

Another fireball attack is launched, and Appa weaves through them while staying close to the water. As they near the blockade, Zhao readies a fireball that is aimed directly at Appa. When the alignment is right it fires, but at that moment Aang leaps off of Appa and kicks out air, shattering the fireball to pieces. He is thrown back onto Appa’s furry head and they pass the blockade successfully.

A solider asks Zhao where he thinks the Avatar is headed, but Zhao says he’ll bet a certain banished prince knows. Iroh points out that they are on a collision course, but Zuko’s sure that they can make it. Zhao contemplates for a bit then orders his men to cut the engines (meaning stop). Before the three ships are about to collide, the two blockade ships stop and Zuko’s ship passes through safely. Although his ship is still damaged, and the engines are releasing fumes of black smoke. Zhao and Zuko stare at each other, trying to read the other’s mind while Uncle Iroh strokes his beard in thought.

The companions ride onwards and the sky begins to turn peach-colored. Appa arrives at the temple and is rewarded with a well-deserved rest. The three companions and Momo walk along the path towards the temple that looks abandoned. They approach with caution and make a mad dash through the entrance.

Once inside, Sokka hears a noise. The companions turn around and see five men dressed in red robes and pointy red caps. They call themselves the fire sages, guardians of the temple of the Avatar. Aang steps toward them and says, “Great, I am the Avatar.” The leader says he knows then attacks with firebending. Aang blocks the attacks with airbending, then tells Sokka and Katara to go on ahead. Turning back toward the fire sages, Aang does a sweeping airbending kick that knocks all of the sages to the floor, then dashes after his friends. The leader stands up; saying “If the Avatar contacts Roku, there’s no telling how powerful the boy will become.” He then orders the others to spread out and find him.

Katara and Sokka (with Momo hanging on his back) are running through the passageways when they meet up with Aang. One of the sages finds and follows them until the trio gets cornered in a dead end. The sage walks up to them and says he does not want to fight, and that he is a friend. The three don’t believe him, but are startled when he kneels down before Aang. He says he knows why the Avatar is here, and that he can take them to Roku. When Aang asks “How?” the sage proves it by lifting a lantern on the wall with a hole behind it. He exerts firepower into this hole, which opens a secret passageway. Aang and the others are still unsure, but the sound of other fire sages causes them to hurry through the passageway and the sage (known as Shyu) quickly closes it behind them.

Meanwhile, Prince Zuko’s ship is still sailing. Gripping the rails in frustration, he asks his uncle what Zhao is up to. Iroh tells him that Zhao wants to follow them, since they are both after the same prize; the Avatar. “If Zhao wants to follow our trail of smoke, then that’s exactly what I’ll let him do.”

At the moment, Aang and his companions are venturing through the underground passageways with magma flowing alongside them. Shyu begins to explain the happenings of the past 100 years; “Many generations of fire sages guarded this temple before me. In the past the sages were loyal only to the Avatar. When Roku died, the sages eagerly waited for the next Avatar to return; but he never came. When Fire Lord Sozen began the war, my grandfather and the other fire sages were forced to follow him.” He concludes, “I never wanted to serve the Fire Lord. When I heard you were coming, I knew I’d have to betray the other sages.” When Aang thanks Shyu, Shyu gives Aang a benign smile.

Shyu, Aang, and his companions ascend up spiral staircases to the door where Avatar Roku’s statue stands. The doors are closed and Shyu tells them that the only way to get through would be to have a fully trained Avatar or five simultaneous fire blasts. This gives Sokka an idea, and a lantern above his head helps represent this.

Meanwhile, Zuko takes his plan into action. “Zhao will follow the smoke trail while I use it as cover.” A small boat is set into the water, which Zuko will be taking to the fire temple. Not too far behind, Zhao watches Zuko’s ship from a telescope and frowns.

Sokka crouches on the floor as he fills animal skin casings with the lamp oil. He explains the plan, which is for Shyu to light five of these simultaneously once they are set in the door, and “Ta da! Fake firebending.” Aang, Sokka, and Katara take cover behind statues while Shyu lights the bags placed in the mouths of the dragon heads. All five explode at the same time and Aang rushes to the door to find that it is still locked.

In frustration, Aang slashes out with his airbending against the door. Katara stops him and Sokka runs a finger against the door, observing the black dust formed on the doors. “I don’t get it. That looked as strong as any fire blast I’ve seen.” This time Katara comes up with the idea, “Sokka, you’re a genius.” When Aang points out that the plan didn’t work Katara replies, “Yes. The plan didn’t work. But it looks like it did.”

The Fire Sages arrive as expected by the noise from the explosion. Shyu points out the black soot on the door and the shadow of a figure moving back and forth behind the door. Katara, Sokka, and Aang are hidden and the Sages unleash their firepower to open the door. One of the dragon heads spins upward while the other four lower, and the door opens. But they are surprised to see the Avatar’s pet lemur standing in the doorway. The great sage realizes that they’ve been tricked, and Momo, Katara, Sokka, and Shyu hold down the sages before they can react.

Shyu calls out for Aang to take his chance, but Aang doesn’t appear. Katara calls out once more and Prince Zuko is seen holding Aang’s arms behind his back saying, “The Avatar’s coming with me.” The other sages take this opportunity and manage to take hold of their individual captor instead. Zuko orders the sages to close the doors, and Aang turns his head to see Katara and Sokka being chained to one of the statues. Aang manages to get out of Zuko’s grip and kicks him down the stairs, then leaping from shoulder to shoulder dives headfirst through the thin opening in the door.

A blue light shines vibrantly, sealing the door shut. Inside, the light from the ruby gem window is hitting the chest of Avatar Roku’s statue. Aang stands up, wondering why nothing is happening. Outside, Zuko and the other four sages try to firebend the door open, but it doesn’t work. “Avatar Roku doesn’t want us inside,” the leader of the Fire Sages states. The sun is setting now, and Aang is growing frantic since he still can’t talk to Roku. But the light from the window rolls over the statue’s face, and the eyes of Roku light up. After a flurry of dust, Aang finds himself in a mountainous area with Avatar Roku standing before him. Avatar Roku says it’s good to see him, and Aang bows respectfully.

Prince Zuko is interrogating Shyu and asks, “Why did you help the Avatar?” Shyu responds, “Because it was once the sages’ duty. It is still our duty.”

Commander Zhao is heard applauding, and comments on what a “moving and heartfelt performance. I’m certain the Fire Lord will understand when you explain to him why you betrayed him.” The great sage bows in respect, and Zhao turns his attention to Zuko, saying it was a noble effort but his smokescreen didn’t work. Zuko glares as Zhao continues on to say that the Fire Lord will be pleased that he has captured two traitors in one day. One of the Fire Nation guards comes up and holds Zuko’s arms behind his back, and Zuko says “You’re too late Zhao. The Avatar’s inside and the doors are sealed.” Zhao smiles maliciously at Prince Zuko and says, “No matter. Sooner or later, he has to come out.”

Behind the sealed doors, Avatar Roku tells Aang that he has something very important to tell him. Aang asks if it is about the vision of the comet, and Avatar Roku explains. “One hundred years ago, Fire Lord Sozen used that comet to begin the war. He and his firebending army harnessed its incredible power and dealt a deadly first strike against the other nations.” After a few more questions from Aang, especially what the comet has to do with the war now, Avatar Roku continues.

“Sozen’s comet will return by the end of this summer, and Fire Lord Ozai will use its power to finish the war once and for all. If he succeeds, even the Avatar won’t be able to restore balance to the world. Aang, you must defeat the Fire Lord before the comet arrives.” But Aang says that he hasn’t even begun training in water, earth, or firebending yet. Avatar Roku tells him that “Mastering the elements takes years of discipline and practice. But if the world is to survive, you must do it by summer’s end.”

Outside, Zhao and his men prepare to attack, while Zhao orders them to unleash all of their firepower as soon as the doors open. Still tied to the statues, Katara worriedly asks how Aang is going to make it out of this, and Sokka asks back “How are we going to make it out of this?”

Back inside, Aang asks even more questions; fearful that he may not be able to master all the elements in time. But Roku calmly reassures him by saying, “I know you can do it Aang. For you have done it before.” Roku goes on to say that the solstice is almost over, and they must go their separate ways. Aang asks how he will be able to talk to him again if he has more questions and Roku replies; “I am a part of you. When you need to talk to me again, you will find a way.” The two avatars close their eyes and Roku tells Aang about the great danger awaiting him outside. “I can help you, but only if you’re ready.” Aang’s tattoos and eyes begin to glow, and in his Avatar voice he says, “I’m ready.”

The doors open, and Zhao and the other soldiers unleash their firepower straight at the figure standing. The fire is spiraled into a sphere and Zhao is shocked to see Avatar Roku standing amidst it. Avatar Roku then sends the flames back at them, knocking the soldiers down and disintegrates the chains tied around Sokka, Katara, Shyu, and Prince Zuko. Sokka, Katara, and Shyu look in amazement as they are unhurt, and as soon as Zuko is free, he runs to the exit.

Magma from the underground passageways erupts at Avatar Roku’s will and he splits the temple floor into two. Shyu warns the companions that Avatar Roku is going to destroy the temple, but they refuse to leave without Aang. Fire soldiers are rushing down the stairs as the temple falls apart and Sokka and Katara hide behind one of the statues.

Avatar Roku ends his attacks just before the sun’s light passes above the statue of Avatar Roku. The statue’s eyes stop glowing and dust rushes towards his figure, and in its place stands Aang. Katara and Sokka help him up and Aang asks where Shyu is, but they don’t know. The stairs are flooded by magma, and their only other escape route is a hole in the wall that overlooks the ocean hundreds of feet below. But Momo who is wearing a fire sage hat and Appa come to their rescue. They jump off onto Appa’s back right before the temple tilts over.

Zhao watches in fury as the Avatar escapes yet again, and grumbles about how Prince Zuko got away too. But he does have five traitors, saying this as he looks at the fire sages including Shyu (nooo!!!! ~_~). The great sage interrupts, saying that only Shyu helped the Avatar. Zhao snaps at him to save it for the Fire Lord because “As far as I’m concerned, you’re all guilty!”

Zuko is also watching the Avatar through his telescope, but with more of a we’ll-meet-again type of look.

Appa is soaring through the darkened skies as Katara, Sokka, and Momo come over to Aang and comfort him while they head towards the full yellow moon.

-- Recap by Daxiaoqiao