Chapter Nineteen:
The Siege of the North (part 1)

Written by: John O'Bryan
Head Writer: Aaron Ehasz
Directed by: Lauren MacMullan

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   Chief Arnook: Jon Polito   Master Pakku: Victor Brandt
Princess Yue: Johanna Braddy   Hahn: Ben Oiskin

Episode Recap

We’re at the Northern Water Tribe City with its splendid structures made completely out of ice. Katara is challenging a tentative opponent who creates an ice ball to shoot at Katara. With one move, Katara changes the ice to water and bends it back towards her opponent who gets trapped within a tower of ice shards.

Master Pakku, who has been watching Katara’s skills, asks the row of male water benders if they cared to face Katara once more. They all decline. He praises her for her fierce determination; her advanced bending, and tells her that she can do anything if she puts her mind into it. He ends with saying, “Raw talent alone is not enough.” At this, he glances at Aang who is busy playing with Momo. When Master Pakku asks if Aang has learned anything, Aang responds by showing them a trick. He creates a snowman of himself and the two waterbenders gaze in a bemused expression.

Sokka and Princess Yue are enjoying each others company inside the city of the North Pole. Sokka is talking about the primitive nature of his village and Princess Yue responds with surprise when he tells her there are no ice buildings. They stop in the middle of the bridge, and Princess Yue has this forlorn look on her face when she tells Sokka that what they are doing is wrong. In response to her downcast face, Sokka leads her to Appa.

When Sokka approaches, Appa pounces on him and at this, Princess Yue giggles in amusement. Together, they get onto Appa and take off into the air. The lift-off takes Yue by surprise and when they’re in the air, Princess Yue asks, “Is it always this cold in the sky?” Sokka gazes at her and says, “Not when you’re with someone.” Princess Yue blushes and gazes into Sokka’s eyes. They almost kiss, until they both realize what they are doing is wrong.

Snow is falling gently down from the sky, but the snow begins to turn black. The North Pole inhabitants all look in horror at the black snow, and the waters in the fountains turn black. At closer glance, Sokka realizes the black snow comes from the soot of fire navy ships. He recognizes it from the time his village was attacked.

The fire navy ships are approaching at a fast pace, and Admiral Zhao is reveling in the history he is about to write. Beside him, Iroh warns him, “Be careful what you wish for admiral. History is not always kind to its subjects.”

In the hallways of the ship, Iroh meets with Zuko once again for a brief conversation.

Water tribe people gather at the sound of a large drum, and are rushing up the steps to the temple. Sokka runs up the steps with Princess Yue holding his hand and follows close behind. He turns around when Princess Yue holds him back to tell him that they shouldn’t see each other again, because she likes Sokka too much and it gets too confusing for her to decide on what to do.

The two part ways and we are taken to the temple where the war ceremony is taking place. Yue’s father Chief Arnook is giving a rousing speech, warning the people that some of them may not return after this meeting. When Chief Arnook asks for volunteers for a dangerous mission, Sokka is the first to stand up with a look of determination on his face. He approaches Arnook, who marks his forehead with three red wavy lines. As Sokka walks off the stage, Yue glances at him. When Sokka looks back somberly, Yue glances back at her people with a tear silently passing down her cheek.

It is daybreak, and Aang waits in the impending silence for the approaching fire navy. Chief Arnook joins Aang, talking about the silence and the war. Since Aang was not there for the war that took place against his people, he states, “I’m going to make a difference this time.”

Water tribesmen are assembled at the front when the first fireball is launched. The attack begins and Aang and Appa take off into the sky together. Aang lands on one of the navy ships where he takes out all the catapults while being attacked by men with heavy long-poled sludge hammers that can kill someone or crush a body part with just one blow. One wicked-looking man who has these hammers chained to armlets manages to tie Aang to a catapult. But just in the knick of time Appa arrives, breaking the chains and sending the man overboard. Boats carrying Waterbenders come up to the side and freeze the ship into place along with its crew. Aang and Appa soar through the skies, but encounter endless rows of fire navy ships.

Meanwhile, the men on the dangerous mission (including Sokka) prepare to take their plan into action, which is to board the ship in fire nation armor and take out the commanding officer. Chief Arnook shows a young man with fire nation armor on. At this, Sokka laughs out loud, and points out that the spiky shoulders are not part of the fire nation soldier’s style. He also points out that the commanding officer is Admiral Zhao and describes the man’s features and personality. Arnook is surprised by how knowledgeable Sokka is on details of the fire nation, and instructs the man in armor to show his respect to Sokka. When Sokka hears that the armored man is Yue’s fiancé, Hahn, a look of disbelief crosses his face. Just to let the readers know, Hahn is a self-absorbed, vain, conceited man. (He reminds me of Prince Charming from “Shrek 2”)

Twilight nears, and Iroh advises Zhao to anchor the boats and attack at daybreak, since the waterbenders' powers are strongest when the full moon shines.

On the balcony of the palace, Princess Yue and Katara gaze in worry at the approaching navy. When Aang arrives back, Aang states in defeat, “I can’t do it. There’s just too many.” When Princess Yue reminds him of his duty, Aang replies, “I’m just one kid.” Katara comforts Aang and assures Aang that they will figure out a way to defeat the enemies.

The night approaches and Zuko plans to take advantage of its cover. He is clad in a white outfit and is readying a boat when Iroh comes into the room. It’s really a sentimental moment. Iroh tells Zuko that Zuko is like a son to him, ever since his own son died. At this, Zuko faces his Uncle with a look of gentleness and bows in respect, and Iroh embraces him. As Zuko and the boat descends into the frigid water, Iroh gives Zuko last words of advice to stay warm in such a harsh environment.

The men on the dangerous mission sharpen their blades, Hahn and Sokka standing side by side (not a good idea). Hahn begins the conversation by talking about Princess Yue, but when he makes known the fact that he preferred the points he was gaining with the chief, Sokka insults him, calling him a “self-absorbed weasel.” Hahn responds back by insulting Sokka’s position in society. In anger, Sokka pounces on Hahn and the two wrestle each other to the ground. Chief Arnook enters at that moment, and separates to two, calling Sokka off the mission. Arrogantly, Hahn commands his troops to follow his lead and Sokka is left simmering.

Night darkens, and Zuko is navigating the boat swiftly past icebergs, advancing towards the city wall. He lands and takes cover, watching as guards patrol the border. At this moment, Zuko hears the baying of seal-turtles and observes these creatures diving into a hole in the ice. Coming to the conclusion that they are headed to a place that could get him into the city, he takes a breath and dives headfirst into the frigid waters.

Meanwhile, Princess Yue, Katara, and Aang gaze at the moon in its splendor. Princess Yue tells the other two about the story of the moon; how it pulled and pushed the tides of the ocean. The Water Nation’s ancestors observed this and learned the ways of Waterbending.

All of a sudden, Aang brings up the idea that they could contact the spirit world for help. At first, the three are troubled by how to get to the spirit world, since Aang got there by accident before. Princess Yue leads the two companions to the most spiritual place in the North Pole. When Princess Yue opens the doorway, Aang and Katara look in awe at an oasis. Surrounded by green grass, there is a gateway; behind that a waterfall, and in front, a small pond with two koi fish swimming around in a circle. Aang observes that there is a tranquil feeling in the oasis and sits down in the meditative position. Momo edges towards the pond and ventures forward to try and catch one of the koi, but Katara and Yue give him a reprimanding stare.

Zuko has survived the water and is shivering as he stumbles out of the water into a cavern. Taking Iroh’s words of advice into consideration, Zuko uses his fire breath to warm up. The seals are barking and Zuko commands them to stop barking, pushing them aside as he makes his way forward. Surprisingly they actually do stop barking, but start once more after he has passed. The sound of water reaches his ears and he comes upon a water passageway. With fortitude and strength, Zuko climbs against the down-pouring current.

At the same time, Sokka is busy sharpening his boomerang, alone in the weaponry room. Chief Arnook approaches him, asking him if he is alright. Sokka responds with dripping sarcasm and Arnook apologizes for taking him off the mission, but tells him that he wanted Sokka to protect his daughter. Instantly, Sokka’s expression changes to bafflement and he accepts the task willingly.

Zuko manages to get through the opposing current, and takes a deep breath at the top. He searches for an underwater passageway, and comes upon a cave to the side. When he ascends up to get a breath of air, he realizes the way is covered in ice. He controls his panic and begins to melt his way to the surface. Finally, he breaks through and takes a break to recover himself inside the city’s walls.

Aang is still trying to concentrate and find a passageway to the spirit world. While he is concentrating, Katara and Princess Yue are whispering to each other. In exasperation, Aang demands that he needs silence in order to concentrate. However, when Aang opens his eyes, he sees the two koi swimming in a circle. One koi is white with a black spot on its head while the other is black with a white spot on its head. They follow each other and the two forms begin to merge into yin and yang. Instantly, Aang eyes and airbending tattoos begin to glow. Princess Yue worries at first, but Katara assures her that he’s just crossing over into the Spirit World. As long as they didn’t move Aang’s body, Aang should have no trouble coming back. She replies confidently, “I’m perfectly capable of protecting him.”

Zuko’s voice comes from the side and Katara looks in his direction in disbelief. The two ready their stance and duel, waterbending versus firebending. Zuko starts off shooting jets of flames at Katara and Katara blocks them off with water shields. She uses the water whip to spiral him into the air, causing him to land on the ground. Zuko gets back up and shoots fire out, but Katara pushes him back against the wall and bends the water rapidly, surrounding Zuko in a sphere of ice. By now, Zuko realizes Katara has been taught by a master, and in anger melts the sphere around him and comes forward until the two are face to face. He circles around her and grabs at Aang’s collar, but Katara launches a stream of water and sends a wave that freezes Zuko instantly in place against the wall.

The sun beams over the horizon, signaling the time for the Fire Navy to act once more. The sun shines on Zuko’s still form and he awakens in fury, melting the ice with heated breath. He attacks Katara and she blocks the attack with a water shield, but it thrown back by the force of the blow and knocked unconscious against the gateway. Zuko points out, “You rise with the moon; I rise with the sun.” He takes Aang by the collar and leaves.

Meanwhile, Zhao continues his attacks against the water tribe’s defenses. The Fire Navy batters through the outer ice wall and soldiers storm into the city, and Zhao revels in his moment of glory.

At the oasis, Katara suddenly awakens and looks around to see that Aang is gone. Sokka and Princess Yue arrive on Appa and Katara crestfallenly tells them that Zuko took Aang. The three look down sadly at Momo, who is now sitting where Aang was with his ears drooping.

Far above the oasis in a frozen tundra, we last see Zuko (hood on) trudging through a blizzard with Aang on his back.

-- Recap by Daxiaoqiao