Avatar: The Last Airbender

Season 2 Episode 11

The Desert

Aired Friday 6:30 PM Jul 14, 2006 on Nickelodeon



  • Trivia

    • When Xin Fu and Master Yu see the Fire Nation wanted board, the Blue Spirit Aang, Zuko and Iroh, Jeong Jeong and Chey are seen on the board.

    • This is the first and only time Aang has killed a living creature; When the hornet tried to take Momo.

    • When Aang is in the Avatar State at the end of the episode, Katara stays next to him looking at him. A few seconds later we see Sokka and Toph looking too. But all of their eyes should have been shut as the whirling sands would've made it too painful to keep them open.

    • When Iroh looks over to see the Pai Sho table, there are four ice glasses on the table. When Iroh arrives, the glasses have transformed into Pai Sho tile stacks.

    • Aang learned to locate Appa using his abilities as the Avatar in The Swamp. Later on in the season, we learn from Guru Patik that Aang and Appa's energy connect them to each other allowing them to locate one another when seperated. If this is true, then why didn't Aang use the ability when he discovered Appa was gone, or in later episodes?

    • When Iroh proceeds to the chamber of the Order of the White Lotus in the flower shop, Zuko is left out, and notices a plant on a small stool to his left. The next morning, after Iroh is finished making arrangements, the plant is gone.

    • When Toph is making rock angels on the large rock, the metal studs on her belt are missing.

    • Iroh was seen moaning about his pain during the beginning of the episode, but he was clutching his arm when the wound was on his chest.

    • During the very beginning of the episode when the wind is blowing Toph's hair, her eyebrows are missing.

    • Deserts are supposed to be freezing cold at night, yet everyone in the group sleeps comfortably (besides Aang who was awake all night).

    • When Katara is watching Aang fly off during the beginning of the episode, her white belt is the same color as her robe.

    • When Aang enters the Avatar State to attack the sandbenders his eyes and the arrow on his head begin glowing. However, the tattoos on his hands don't begin to glow until a few seconds later.

  • Quotes

    • Aang: (sees a cloud that looks like Appa in front of the moon) Appa! Sokka: (under the influence of cactus juice) Appa? Now why would Princess Yue need him? (grabs Momo's tail and brushes it against his cheek) She's the moon, she flies by herself.

    • Zuko: Maybe we should make camp.
      Iroh: No, please, don't stop for me!

    • Katara: Sokka? Any ideas how to find Ba-Sing-Se?
      (Sokka and Momo are both lying on their backs and staring at the sky. Sokka smiles blissfully and points upward.)
      Sokka: Why don't we ask the circle birds?
      (Several buzzard wasps circling the group. Katara looks left and right at everyone. Aang is still sulking, and Toph staggers a bit.)
      Katara: Ugh? We're getting out of this desert, and we're going to do it together! Aang, get up. Everybody hold hands. We can do this. We have to.

    • Sha-Mo: Quiet, Ghashuin. No one accused our people of anything. If what they say is true, we must give them hospitality.
      Ghashuin: Sorry, father.
      Toph: I recognize the son's voice. He's the one that stole Appa.
      Katara: Are you sure?
      Toph: I never forget a voice.
      Aang (angrily): You stole Appa! Where is he? What did you do to him?
      Ghashuin: They're lying! They're the thieves!

    • Katara: The needle on this compass doesn't seem to be pointing north according to my charts.
      Sokka (dreamily): Take it easy little lady. I'm sure the sand folks who built this baby know how to get around here.

    • Toph: As far as I can feel, we're trapped in a giant bowl of sand pudding. I got nothin'.

    • Aang: Appa! Appa!
      (Looks for Appa but sees nothing)
      No... NO!

    • Katara: Come on guys, we've got to stick together.
      Sokka: If I sweat any more, I don't think sticking together will be a problem.

    • Sokka: (breathing hard) Can't you watch where you're—
      Toph: No.
      Sokka: Right. Sorry.

    • Aang: I'm going after Appa.

    • Aang: That's all any of you guys care about: yourselves! You don't care whether Appa is okay is okay or not!

    • Aang (enraged): How could you let them take Appa? Why didn't you stop them?
      Toph: I couldn't! The library was sinking! You guys were still inside and—
      Aang: You could have come to get us! I could have saved him!
      Toph: I can hardly feel any vibrations out here. The sandbenders snuck up on me and there wasn't time for—
      Aang: You just didn't care! You never liked Appa! You wanted him gone!

    • Sokka: It's a giant mushroom! Maybe it's friendly!
      Katara: Let's just keep moving. I hope Aang's okay
      Sokka: Friendly mushroom! Mushy giant friend!

    • Sokka: You think if we dig out the giant owl, he'll give us a ride?

    • Sokka (hallucinating): How did we get out here in the middle of the ocean?

    • Fung: Welcome brother, the white lotus opens wide to those that know her secrets.
      Zuko: What are you old gas bags talking about?
      Iroh: I always tell you that Pai Sho is more than just a game.
      (Spins a Pai Sho piece in between his fingers and then catches it in his hand)

    • Iroh: Colonel Mongke! What a pleasant surprise!
      Mongke: If you're surprised we're here then the Dragon of the West has lost a few steps.
      Zuko: You know these guys?
      Iroh: Sure. Colonel Mongke and the Rough Riders are legendary. Each one is a different kind of weapons specialist. They are also a very capable singing group.
      Mongke: We're not here to give a concert, we're here to apprehend fugitives!
      Iroh: Would you like some tea first? I'd love some! What about you Kahchi? I make you as a Jasmine man. Am I right?
      Mongke: Enough stalling! Round them up!

    • Katara (To Sokka who has just eaten some honey/sap from the cave walls and proclaims that he feels woozy): You've been hallucinating on cactus juice all day, and then you just lick something you find stuck to the wall of the cave?
      Sokka: I have a natural curiosity.

    • Sokka: (after he drinks cactus juice) Drink cactus juice. It'll quench ya, nothing's quenchier. It's the quenchiest!
      Katara: Okay, I think you had enough.

    • Sokka (drunk on cactus juice): Who lit Toph on fire?

    • Sokka:(After Momo causes the water to sink into the sand) No Momo! You've killed us all!

    • Xin Fu: You there, have you seen these two men? (displays a wanted poster containing Zuko and Iroh's faces) We have a tip that they were seen in your shop.
      Flower Shop Owner: As you can see, there is no one here but us.
      Master Yu: We know all about your secret back room. Kick it down.
      Flower Shop Owner: That's for flowers only. (Xin Fu kicks the door down to reveal a barren room save one lone tile in the center, Fu picks it up)
      Master Yu: Some unlucky soul has an incomplete Pai Sho set.
      Xin Fu (grunts angrily and tosses the tile away): Let's go back to hunting the girl.

    • Aang: (yelling at Katara) What are you doing?!
      Katara: Trying to keep everyone together.

    • Katara: Toph shoot a rock right there. (Toph complies and hits a Wasp-Vulture)
      Sokka: You got it! She got it right?
      Katara: Yes. Now let's move.

    • Sokka (a boulder bended by Toph barely misses him): What are you doing? That rock almost crushed me!
      Toph: Sorry, I can't see these things when they're in the air.
      Sokka: This one's mine. (starts swinging his sword at the air)
      Katara: Sokka, there's nothing there!
      Sokka: Oh... I guess my head isn't as clear as I thought.

    • Katara: (sees a huge rock formation in the distance) Look! That rock! That's what the compass has been pointing to. It must be the magnetic center of the desert.
      Toph: A rock?! Yes, let's go.
      Katara: Maybe we can find some water there.
      Aang: (grimly) Maybe we can find some Sandbenders.

    • Toph (smacks lips): Yesterday my mouth tasted like mud, now it just tastes like sand. Never thought I'd miss the taste of mud so much.

    • Zuko: No one here is gonna help us. These people just look like filthy wanderers.
      Iroh: So do we.

    • Toph: Katara can I have some water?
      Katara: Okay, but we have to start conserving it. (bends water into her and Sokka's mouths)
      Sokka: (smacks his lips) We're drinking your bending water? You used this on the swamp guy!
      Toph: It does taste swampy.

    • Iroh: (after escaping the Rough Rhinos) So nice to see old friends again.
      Zuko: Too bad you don't have any old friends that don't want to attack you.
      Iroh: (thinking to himself about what Zuko said) Old friends that don't want to attack me.

    • Katara: Sokka, let me see the things you got from the library.
      Sokka (still delusional from cactus juice): What! I didn't steal anything! Who told you that? (Turning to Momo) It was you, you ratted me out! (Momo covers his eyes and starts weeping)
      Katara: Sokka, I was there. I saw you.

    • Village Guy: Yeah, a little barefoot blind girl and her friends passed through here a few days ago.
      Master Yu: Did they give you any indication where they were headed?
      Village Guy: Maybe you could give me a little incentive. (rubbing fingers, gesturing for a bribe).
      Xin Fu: Are you suggesting I break your fingers?
      Village Guy: They went in the desert! Too bad there's almost no chance they survived.
      Xin Fu: That's okay, since she's wanted dead or alive.
      Master Yu: No she's not! I'm certain her father wants her alive.

    • Toph (speaking in the cave the group had just found): There's something buzzing in here, and it's coming towards us!

  • Notes

    • This episode aired along with The Library as the TV-Movie: The Fury of Aang.

    • This episode is in the Avatar: The Last Airbender Book 2: Earth, Volume 3 DVD, along with The Serpent's Pass, The Drill, City of Walls and Secrets, and The Tales of Ba Sing Se.

    • This is Jack DeSena's, the voice of Sokka, favorite episode, mostly due to Sokka acting "stoned" off the cactus juice.

    • A segment of this episode appeared on Nick.com's Broadband platform TurboNick a few days before the event aired.

  • Allusions

    • Pai Sho seems like a game similar to the Chinese board game called Mah Jong. Mah Jong is played on a board with 144 tiles. Four of these are Flower tiles (similar to the white lotus tile). In addition, playing a Flower tile is conventionally considered to be aesthetic.

    • When Katara hugs Aang to calm down his Avatar state, it is similar to the scene in the Full Metal Alchemist episode 'Created Human', where Lt. Ross hugs Ed to try and calm down his rampant alchemy.

    • Gobi Desert
      The names the sandbender Ghashuin, his father Sha-Mo, and his deceased mother Yulduz, are all derived from the Gobi Desert, a large desert region that lies within China and southern Mongolia:

      -The father's name, Sha-Mo, which means 'desert,' is commonly used by the Chinese as a reference to the Gobi.
      -Ghashiun name, which is Mongolian for 'salt', is a reference to the area of Ghashiun-Gobi (Salt Desert), a semi-desert within the Gobi.
      -The mother's name, Yulduz, is taken from the area known as Yulduz Valley, another semi-desert situated within the Gobi. The word Yulduz also means 'star' in Old Turkic (a Mongolian related language), possibly related to notion that stars are used to navigate within the Si Wong Desert at night.

    • The White Lotus Society was a secret society made up of Chinese Buddhist monks that was first noticed in the 13th century. They rebelled during the Yuan dynasty which caused the White Lotus Society to be banned. That's when they became a secret society. They also contributed to the fall of the Qin dynasty.

    • At least two members of the Rough Rhinos have been identified onscreen at this point, the rest have been provided on the official Nick site. Overall, the individual names of the Rough Rhinos appear to be heavily Mongolian inspired:
      - "Mongke" (the leader) is the name of a grandson of Genghis (Chingis) Khan and means "eternal."
      - "Kahchi" (the bearded man) is derived from "Kachhe", the term given to the Tibetan Muslim minority who are Monoligan descended.
      - "Ogodei"(the dark-skinned man) derived from "Ogedei" was the name of Genghis' third and favorite son.
      - "Vachir" is a style of archery and means 'thunderbolt.' Obviously used as reference for the Yuu Yan archer's skill.
      - "Yeh-Lu" comes from Yeh-lu Chu'tsai the Magician, a great statesman and Genghis' chief of the secretariat. Indicates towards the soldiers' enigmatic mask and flashy displayal of pyrotechnics.

    • During the mushroom cloud scene, the animation for Sokka briefly changes to the extent where his waving arms appear to be elastic. This is a reference to the character Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV (Ed for short), of the anime/manga series Cowboy Bebop. Sokka's exclamations and speech also resemble Ed's characteristics. The creators have also openly stated that were influenced by the anime.

    • Aang makes a sand cloud in the shape of a desert nuclear explosion, complete with mushroom cloud, and "shockwave."

    • The Order of the White Lotus bears resemblance to the Priory of Sion from the novel The Da Vinci Code. Both are ancient secret societies lead by Grand Masters, speak in cryptic tongues, and their central symbol is a flower.

    • The cactus juice acts just like hallucinogens, drugs which alter people's perception causing hallucinations (rarely) as well as visual and audial distortions. The psychedelic drug mescaline can also be found in the peyote cactus in real life.

    • The giant rock the gang stumbles on which is really the home of the giant insects bears a striking resemblance to "Uluru," a great rock located in the Australian desert.

    • Rock Angels
      After landing on the rock that was in the middle of the desert, Toph expresses her joy of finding solid ground by laying on the ground and using her bending to create what appeared to be a snow angel.