Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of the best animated series to come out in recent years. Pushing the limits of typical kids shows, Avatar truly made its mark when it first debuted on Nickelodeon. As cartoons go, the show explored some pretty heavy stuff, and its serial format was bold. Nevertheless, it prevailed and to become a coveted series for kids and adults alike, and led to an acclaimed sequel series as well, The Legend of Korra.
So with Aang's first appearance now hitting the decade mark, let's take a look back at the very best episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Naturally, spoilers follow...
"Sozin's Comet: Part 4"
When watching the final fight between Aang and the Firelord, one can't help but think of Europe's "The Final Countdown" as these two rivals finally faced off head-to-head. It was a finale in the truest sense, and it delivered pretty much everything we were promised.
This episode also featured moments that we'd been waiting to see since the very first episode -- Aang using all four elements at once, for example. We also got an extended epilogue that tied up all loose ends -- okay, Zuko's mom's story would be saved for another day -- and that's more than most shows can say.
What's more, creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino cleverly sidestepped the issue of killing the show's main villain -- and it was actually a pretty convincing after the setup in "Sozin's Comet: Part 2 - The Old Masters."
"The Blue Spirit"
"The Blue Spirit" is a favorite among fans, most notably for its intriguing mystery and thrilling action sequences. More importantly, though, this episode marked a turning point for Prince Zuko. After Aang was captured and imprisoned by Commander Zhao, Zuko attempted to rescue Aang in a Batman-like display under the guise of his alter ego, The Blue Spirit. But the way in which it was presented, no one knew who this mysterious paragon really was until later in the story.
What's so great about this episode was seeing Aang and Zuko working together for the first time, teaming up to take down a common enemy. And even though Aang didn't realize Zuko was behind the mask -- and, for that matter, Zuko was only rescuing Aang to help himself -- it was here we learned the two boys could become allies and that Zuko may have been more redeemable than we expected.
In this episode, Aang finally learned the ways of earthbending from an unlikely instructor, Toph Beifong. Since earthbending was the opposite of Aang's native airbending, it was expected that Aang would have a difficult time mastering the element -- hence the title, "Bitter Work."
Not only did Aang learn how to earthbend in this episode, but Uncle Iroh taught Zuko how to redirect lightning. We also learned here that Iroh was much more knowledgable that we'd previously given him credit for. His speech detailing the vital importance of all four elements offered great insight into the show's mythological themes.
"Bitter Work" also had some great comedic moments: Katara disagreeing with Toph's teaching methods, Sokka entrapping himself in a land crevice, and Aang's earthbending montage -- all classic Team Avatar shenanigans.
"The Firebending Masters"
After mastering the other three elements, it was time for Aang to harness the element of fire. In the beginning, fire had only been seen as a sinister tool exclusive to the Fire Nation, but here we learned the truth about firebending, hidden away in the Sun Warrior temples. In "The Firebending Masters," Aang and Zuko went on a journey to find this extinct city, only to discover that the Sun Warriors still existed, as well as two ancient dragons!
It was cool to see Aang and Zuko work together again (this time on purpose), especially given their violent history together. This was really the first time we got to see Zuko proving his loyalty to Aang -- and what better way to do that than explore some ancient ruins together?
Speaking of which, this episode also paid a little tribute to the Raiders of the Lost Ark. When Aang and Zuko stumbled upon a golden artifact in one of the ruins, Aang remarked, "I'm very suspicious of giant glowing gems sitting on pedestals!" Well said, Avatar.
"The Crossroads of Destiny"
This episode pretty much had to be included on the list, if only because of its awesome action scenes. (Crystal armor and firebreathing FTW!) Here, we also saw the sheer brutality of Zuko's sister, Azula, who as we soon learned was evil in every sense of the word.
"Crossroads" was also one of the show's darkest episodes and ended on a pretty dark note: Zuko had betrayed his uncle, the Fire Nation overthrew Ba Sing Se, and the Gaang was forced into hiding. However, the Book Two finale was also suitably emotional and action-packed, which is why we can't help but love it.