This might be the hardest Top 5 we’ve done. This Nickelodeon series has a massive following after its short three-season run from 2005 to 2008. The series has just landed on Netflix, preempting the live-action version they are developing. Fans and new watching are binging Avatar and gaining a new appreciation. To celebrate, let’s talk about our Top 5 episodes.
5. The Blind Bandit
Still searching for an earthbending teacher, Aang and his friends stumble across a small earth village. When they hear about an underground earthbending tournament, they decide to go to it. Aang finds a teacher that fits the description of King Bumi. Her name is Toph Beifong, a blind, 12 year old girl who is tougher than she looks. When they meet, Toph is at first reluctant, because her parents don’t know how good of a bender she is. After her parents discover her secret life, she decides that she wants to join the Avatar gang to help him master earthbending.
The episode was pivotal for Team Avatar. Aang needed an Earthbending master, and the new member needed to blend in well with the team’s personalities. Toph was a rugged spitfire that made her blindness her greatest asset. She was able to sense her surrounding through the ground and would later use this to discover metal bending. She’s an aggressive fighter and loyal friend, perfect addition to the team. Personally, Toph is my favorite character and the inspiration for my gamer tag.
4. The Firebending Masters
Zuko has joined up with Aang’s group and is now ready to teach Aang fire bending. Unfortunately, Zuko has found out that he has lost his ability and must now relearn it. Zuko and Aang travel to find the source of fire bending so that they both can learn from The Firebending Masters.
Up to this point in the series, the Firebenders were generally the villains. Uncle Iroh and a growing Zuko proved they could be good people but the nation and their fighting style were very aggressive. In this episode both Zuko and Aang journey to firebending origins. They discover an ancient civilization and the first fire benders, a pair of dragons. The hidden culture explains that Firebending is not about unleashing someone’s inner rage, but expressing the heat of life. This was an exploration of the past but gave us a path to the future, when the Fire Nation would be at peace with the other nations.
3. The Blue Spirit
When Aang is captured by the Fire Nation, his only hope is a mysterious masked figure.
This series boils down to two protagonists, a young Avatar tasked with saving the world and Prince Zuko who slowly growing from an ambitious war-hungry heir to an honorable leader of his people. For those unfamiliar with the story, Zuko seems to just be part of the team. The Blue Spirit is the first string sign that Zuko can be rebellious and make the honorable choice. It’s this episode that tells the audience that Zuko is our other hero.
2. Sozin’s Comet
Aang’s moment of truth arrives. Can he defeat Ozai, the Phoenix King? Will he be forced to take a human life? All the characters face their greatest challenges.
This 4-part finale is on every Top 5 Finales lists. While all of Team Avatar do their parts in this last-ditch effort to stop the Firelord, Aang has to balance his duties with him as an individual. The result is a new form of the Avatar, proving the Aang is one of the best version of the Avatar to date and giving the fans a satisfying ending to three-year story.
1. The Tales of Ba Sing Se
A series of short stories covering some of the time spent by Katara, Toph, Iroh, Sokka, Aang, Zuko, and Momo as they live in Ba Sing Se.
My favorite episode has a series of small stories in the city of Ba Sing Se. At this point, the team is trying to lay low for it bit, and we get to see them in “normal” life situations. The highlight, and most referred to story, is that of Uncle Iroh. The Uncle to Zuko and original intended Firelord, Iroh is an old school Firebender who embraced the other nations as a whole to become a wise philosopher. This city was once sieged by his forces when he leads the Fire Nation military. During this campaign he learned of his son’s death. That news changed his life, and he began his enlightened journey. During this small tale, we see Iroh at peace in Ba Sing Se. He collects some items from vendors on his way to the park. When he gets to the park, we see what Iroh’s intentions were. He places a portrait of his son against the try and begins to remember his fallen child on the anniversary of his death. This episode might be the best moment in television.
There are many honorable mentions in this series. We will discuss them all in the next episode of the podcast.
Descriptions from IMDB