Chapter Seventeen:
The Northern Air Temple

Written by: Elizabeth Welch Ehasz
Head Writer: Aaron Ehasz
Directed by: Dave Filoni

Voices provided by:
Aang: Zach Tyler Eisen   Katara: Mae Whitman   Sokka: Jack DeSena
Appa/Momo: Dee Bradley Baker   Teo: Daniel Samonas   Mechanist: Rene Auberjonois   Emissary: Kristoffer Tabori   StoryTeller: Clyde Kastatsu

Episode Recap

Aang, Katara, and Sokka are sitting around a campfire with some other Earth Kingdom people, while listening to a storyteller. They are clearly far north, as Katara and Sokka have donned their fur lined coats. A storyteller speaks of the “Airwalkers” who laugh at gravity, making Aang think of the Airbenders. Aang approaches the storyteller and says it must have been a hundred years ago that the storyteller’s great grandpa had seen the Airbenders. But the storyteller gruffly points to a cheerful old man behind him and says that his great grandpappy had seen the Airwalkers last week, much to Aang’s surprise.

We next see the gang on Appa, flying though a snowy mountain range above the clouds. They finally approach the Northern Air Temple, which has gliders flying around it. At first they are excited, but after a hard look, Aang declares that although they may be gliding, you can tell by the way they move that they are not Airbending. “These people have no spirit,” he says disappointedly.

Just then, one cheerful boy on a glider swoops down close to them, and Katara notes that he seems pretty spirited. He flies on ahead of Appa, then looks back at Aang as if challenging him. Aang smirks and takes off on his glider after him. Meanwhile, other gliders start whizzing around Appa, forcing them to quickly land at the temple. Some of the kids outside the temple cheer on the boy, Teo, telling him to “show that bald kid how it’s done!”

In the sky, Teo and Aang try to out-glide each other, but they’re evenly matched. Teo compliments Aang, but Aang brushes it off with an “I know" and that he can do more than fancy gliding. Then Aang flies toward the temple wall, and jumps off his glider! He runs across the wall for a while before air scooting to the edge, then jumps back onto his glider and flies back to Teo. Teo is impressed, and shows off his own special trick. Unplugging a sack of smoke in the back of his glider, Teo begins to draw something in the sky while gliding. When he’s done, it’s Aang’s face looking grumpy, which reflects Aang’s expression after he sees it! ^^

When they land, the boy, introducing himself as Teo, greets them. He realizes Aang is the Avatar, making Aang not as grumpy. However when Aang enters the temple, he is shocked. The Air Temple he remembered visiting 100 years ago is now covered in pipes and machinery. Later in the tour, he even sees part of the temple being demolished! This makes Aang very angry. Then the gang meets Teo's dad: the mad inventor. He tries to explain to Aang that progress is moving forward and he was improving the place, but Aang is still a little ticked. Then Teo tells Aang about the inner sanctuary, a place sacred to the Air Monks that can only be opened by Airbending. When they approach it however, Aang decides not to open it; this is the only part of the Temple that is unchanged, and Aang wants to keep it that way. “I completely understand,” Teo responds.

Meanwhile, the mad inventor is showing Sokka around. They go deep into the fortress, and Sokka is led to a natural gas deposit. A problem is presented to Sokka: there have been leaks of natural gas, but gas being colorless and odorless, makes it near impossible to find the gas leak. Sokka tries to think of a way to identify where the leak is, but comes up with nothing.

Outside Teo is explaining gliding to Katara, saying how the wind will support something inside and that something takes over when you fly. Aang says that something is spirit, and he agrees. Then we see Katara trying out one of the gliders. At first she is afraid, but soon she enjoys the thrill of gliding. Aang comments that even though Teo isn’t an Airbender, he has the spirit of one. After they land, Aang decides to show Teo the sanctuary.

Sokka is now in the mad inventor's study. He knocks over a model of a hot air balloon. It is supposedly an old model, and they have never figured out a way to make it work. Sokka remarks on the bad smell of rotten eggs in the room. He says, “How can something so small you can hardly see it, make such a big smell?” Realizing what he has just said, he looks up and the two of them say in unison that that is the solution to their problem! They are going to put rotten eggs with the gas, so that whenever there is a leak you will smell it and find the leak easier. Suddenly an alarm bell goes off and the mad inventor leaves the room.

Aang, Katara, and Teo are just outside the Air Sanctuary. Aang opens the door with Airbending and stares in shock. Inside is Fire Nation equipment and war machines! When they hear someone approaching, they turn around to see Sokka and the inventor. Aang immediately bombards Teo’s father with accusations and angry comments about the contents of the room. He explains that the Fire Nation found them in the Temple a year after they moved in and only let the people stay there if he would make them war equipment. In the background a whistle goes off, signaling that a Fire Nation emissary is there to collect the machinery. When Teo's dad goes to see him, Aang and Teo follows along. Aang blasts the Emissary with air and tells him that they will be receiving no more machinery. The Emissary then announces that the Fire Nation will destroy the temple to rubble, and departs.

Many people gather in the inventor’s study. Sokka has found a way to make the war balloon work -- the solution was a lid to release the hot air as needed. He then shows them the four different kinds of bombs they have: stink, slime, explosive, and smoke.

Out in front of the temple where everyone is assembled, they see the first ranks of fire nation soldiers coming. The gliders, led by Aang, attack with their bombs. Katara and Momo are on Appa tossing more bombs to those who need them. Then out of nowhere, chains fly up and hook onto the cliffside… Hanging from them are Fire Nation tanks! When Aang dislodges one of the chains to make the tank fall, it shoots another chain up. The tanks seem unstoppable, and Sokka has still not arrived with the war balloon!

Katara and Teo are flying side by side thinking of ways to stop the tanks. He mentions a counterbalancing system that uses water. Hearing this, Katara flies down and begins freezing the water inside the tanks, causing them to fall apart. She does this to a few, but then realizes there are too many for her to possibly stop alone, and flies off on Appa.

The tanks are now attaching themselves to the main part of the temple where the civilians are, and a giant balloon takes to the air. It has the Fire Nation insignia on it, since it was developed by Teo’s dad for the Fire Nation, but the inhabitants of the temple know it is Sokka and Teo's dad. They drop a couple massive slime bombs on the Fire Nation soldiers and tanks, but the quickly run out. Then they smell rotten eggs, and realizing it is a natural gas leak they drop the only bomb they have left: their engine. An enormous boom is heard, and when the smoke clears there is a gigantic crater around the temple. The Fire Nation is retreating! However the balloon is now speeding towards the ground, having lost its engine.

Aang flies after them and rescues them with help from Sokka. Back at the temple everyone is rejoicing in their victory. Sokka says that as long as they control the skies, they have an advantage on the Fire Nation, however Teo’s dad looks away with downcast eyes. At the bottom of the mountain in the forest is the Fire Nation Emissary with the deflated balloon. A couple of soldiers are filling the balloon with hot air from their firebending as the Emissary says, “This defeat is the gateway to many victories.”

-- Recap by Laladoink