Avatar: The Last Airbender, Book 1: Water

Do you guys remember Avatar: The Last Airbender? Of course you do, because it was the best show to ever exist (also the worst movie to ever exist, but we’ll just ignore that). But just in case you guys happen to be struggling with amnesia right now, here’s what happened in the first season.

“Book 1: Water” starts out with a little history lesson on the world of the show. We find out that there are four nations—Earth, Water, Air, and Fire—and that some people can control the element of their nation. We also find out that one person has the ability to manipulate all four elements and they are called the Avatar. All four nations used to live in harmony until the fire nation attacked and the only person who could stop them, the Avatar, vanished. All this happened one hundred years ago and the four nations have been at war ever since.


Our story starts out with Sokka and Katara—who are brother and sister—fishing in the South Pole. We find out early on that Katara is a waterbender and that this is a pretty unusual ability for someone in her tribe. While fishing, they come across an iceberg with a person inside. The person starts to glow and the ice shatters revealing a boy and his flying bison. The boy’s name is Aang and the bison’s name is Appa. Aang’s arrow tattoos reveal that he is an airbender, a race which died out a hundred years ago. He later, reluctantly, reveals that he is the Avatar and therefor the only person who can end the war. The only problem is, he’s only twelve and has only mastered air bending.

We are also introduced to Prince Zuko (whose father is Fire Lord Ozai aka the worst) and his uncle, Iroh. Zuko and Iroh have been searching for the Avatar for seriously way too long. We find out later that the reason Zuko is so determined is because he was banished by his father and is convinced finding the Avatar allow him to return to the Fire Nation and restore his honor.

Zuko and Aang meet for the first time when Zuko comes to Katara and Sokka’s village and in order to keep anyone from getting hurt, Aang allows himself to be captured. It’s cool though because Aang does some crazy air bending and escapes. It’s pretty embarrassing for the -Fire Nation because Zuko’s guards are grown men and they got out-smarted and out-bended by a twelve year old. After that Aang, Katara, and Sokka hope on Appa’s back and head off to the North Pole so Aang and Katara can learn water bending together.

On the way, the gang makes several stops. First, they go to the Southern Air Temple, which is where Aang grew up. While there, they discover that the Fire Nation has been there and killed all the monks. Aang comes to the awful realization that he is, in fact, the last airbender. After that, they go to Kyoshi Island where they meet a group of females aptly named the Kyoshi Warriors. Sokka starts training with the warriors while Aang spends his days basking in the glory he is being showered with once the islanders find out he is the Avatar. However, their fun ends once Zuko catches up with them and starts burning the village. Aang realizes the only way to save them is to leave. They go to the Earth Kingdom capital, Omashu, where Aang finds his old friend Bumi. (Literally his old friend: Bumi is now 112 years old). Bumi tells Aang he must master all four elements and beat Fire Lord Ozai. As they continue their travels, they come across a village that is being attacked by a spirit. While trying to stop the spirit from attacking, Aang realizes he can enter the Spirit World. There, he learns that Avatar Roku—the Avatar that came before Aang who was from the Fire Nation—has a message for him. Aang eventually succeeds in calming the spirit down and the three friends are on their way.

While this is all happening with Aang, Prince Zuko is having some problems of his own. He and his uncle run into Commander Zhao (aka the second worst) who learns from Zuko’s crew that the Avatar is alive. Zuko now not only has to capture the Avatar, but he has to do it before Zhao. Things become more complicated when Iroh is captured by some Earth Benders and Zuko must put his quest for the Avatar on hold so he can save his uncle (which he totally does).

So now that Zuko can continue searching for the Avatar, one would think Aang would try to stay on the down low, but instead he goes to the Fire Temple that is INSIDE THE FIRE NATION so that he can talk to Roku on the Winter Solstice and see what he needed to tell him. Turns out Roku needed to tell Aang some pretty freaking important news: a comet called Sozin’s Comet is headed towards the Earth. When the comet comes, the Fire Nation can harness its power and end the war so Aang really needs to start mastering the elements. This really wouldn’t be that big of a deal except that the comet is coming at the end of summer so Aang only has like eight months to master three elements.

The trio realizes that they really need to get to the North Pole, but they are out of money and supplies so they stop at a fishing village and Sokka offers to help out a fisherman for money. The fisherman recognized Aang as the Avatar and yells at him for abandoning everyone. Aang runs away feeling all guilty. When Katara tracks him down, we find out that the monks tried to send Aang to the Eastern Air Temple to continue his training. This would separate Aang from is mentor, Monk Gyasto, who was the only one that truly cared about Aang. That night, Aang ran away and got caught in a terrible storm that forced him under water. He went into the Avatar state (i.e. he started glowing and could suddenly manipulate all four elements) and trapped himself and Appa in an iceberg in an attempt to survive.

Katara, Aang, and Sokka then travel to a Fire Nation town (because they may or may not have a death wish). When Aang’s identity is revealed, a man named Chey helps them escape. Chey tells them about a guy named Jeong Jeong, who used to be part of the Fire Nation army, but became a deserter. After some convincing, Jeong Jeong decides to train Aang but stops when Aang shows lack of self-control when he accidently burns Katara (who finds out that she can heal people which is apparently a super rare skill to have, so that’s awesome). Aang feels guilty and vows to never firebend again.

Finally after seventeen episodes they make it to the North Pole. The chief is super welcoming and nice and throws them an awesome party where Sokka meets the chief’s daughter, Yue, who he falls in love with. Katara and Aang want to be taught waterbending by a master named Pakku, but he’s all kinds of sexist and won’t teach Katara. However, it turns out Pakku was engaged to Katara’s grandma, but she left him because of how misogynistic the Northern Water Tribe was. After Pakku has some painful flashbacks, he descides to teach Katara.

Meanwhile, the newly promoted Admiral Zhao hires some pirates to kill Zuko. Iroh joins Zhao, but he knows that Zuko is still alive and helps him sneak onto Zhao’s ship. The Fire Nation heads towards the North Pole to attack and the Northern Water Tribe scrambles to prepare themselves for battle. Iroh convinces Zhao to wait to attack since there is a full moon and that is when waterbenders are the most powerful. In reality, Iroh wants Zhao to wait so that Zuko can sneak into the village to capture Aang, which he does while Aang is in the spirit world and can’t defend himself.

While Sokka, Katara, and Yue search for Aang and Zuko, the fire nation attacks the Northern Water Tribe. Zhao slays the moon spirit which causes all the waterbenders to lose their bending ability. Aang, who has finally been rescued, gets really angry and goes into the Avatar state. In this state, he kills the Fire Nation army. Yue sacrifices herself and becomes the new moon spirit and drowns Zhao for what he did.

The season ends with Fire Lord Ozai giving Azula, Zuko’s sister who has never been mentioned until now, the task of hunting down her traitor uncle and brother.

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