Avatar: The Last Airbender

Season 1 Episode 16

The Deserter

Aired Friday 6:30 PM Oct 21, 2005 on Nickelodeon
out of 10
User Rating
495 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

When Aang and his friends go to a Fire Nation town so that Aang can witness some firebending, their plan soon goes awry when it’s discovered that he is the Avatar. Fortunately, he’s rescued by an individual who serves a firebending master named Jeong Jeong who has abandoned the Fire Nation, so Aang attempts to use this time to attempt to learn how to firebend. However, when the firebending master refuses to even see Aang, will Aang be able to prove he’s ready to learn how to firebend despite the fact that he lacks discipline?moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

  • The Deserter

    The Deserter was a perfect and entertaining episode of Avatar The Last Airbender. I enjoyed watching this episode because Aang learned some very valuable lessons, most importantly Restraint. There was a very interesting revelation about Katara. I thought the Fire Nation festival was cool and the fire play was amazing. Meeting Master Jeong Jeong was a different and testing experience for Aang. I enjoyed how Roku made a cameo appearance. Aang is truly of the Air and this episode shows that. He is playful and is all over the place constantly moving. Aang once again did some thing foolish causing Katara suffering and Sokka anger.moreless
  • These past couple episodes have explored some of Aang's flaws in his personality.

    Once again Avatar delivers with a pretty solid story, good character development, and an average fight. There wasn't much to the story; just another group of single use characters that may perhaps have appeared in their first and last episode. Though what made this episode the way it was was the moral behind it. It was pretty neat how it explored the whole philosophy of fire bending and why Jeong Jeong abandoned the proud Fire Nation, even more of a surprise to find out Admiral Jao was his disciple at one point. This episode showed that Aang is still a boy at heart with a lot of growing to do. Scored some major points in terms of character development, but the fight could have been better; not very strategical nor aesthetically great.moreless
  • Aang attempts to learn fire bending while spending time with an exiled fire bending master.

    This episode was pretty cool. Aang and the gang are accidentally discovered when the stumble across a Fire Nation festival. They are saved, however, from a young man who works for an exiled Fire Bending Master. Aang meets him, and they agree to work on fire bending. When Aang first tries fire bending, he accidentally burns Katara's hands. She runs off, but is found by the Master. He tells her to put her hands in the water. They heal instantly. He tells her that she is a healer, a very powerful one at that. Although she is healed, Aang refuses to fire bend anymore. Meanwhile, Zhao heard the rumors about Aang being at the festival. He discovers him and the Master and fight them. The Master gets away while Aang fights Zhao. That fight scene was just too funny XD I'd call it taunting more than fighting XDmoreless
  • Now Aang finds out about famous fire benders, and fire bending!

    This was an exciting episode, the best part was when Aang and his friends are out on their journey, and they stumble across a fire bender festival! A big and cool parade and other festivities are going on here, but since they are fire benders, they need something to blend them in with the crowd and hide their identity! Masks are available! Convenient eh? Until Katara is in a show, they get discovered becuae Aang uses air bending to defend Katara as it looks like the guy on the stage was about to hit her with his fire bending! Someone from the crowd yells out: "hey! Its the Avatar!" This alerts the guards nearby! Yikes! They flee the area, but now after the report, Zhao is out looking for them! He wants to know which way they went after responding with no interest in local crime rates. The festival was a huge hit and was great seeing the fireworks being set off! This was one of my most favorite episodes. Poor Aang when he accidentally hits Katara with his fire bending though, but good thing at the end all is forgiven, and Katara says Aang will have to learn fire bending eventually but not right now. This episode was funny! Anyone else thought it was funny when Zhao got mad after Aang walks away when he causes Zhao to destroy the land around him? Lol, priceless. Master (uh what was his name again?) well he was funny too. Awesome episode!moreless
  • Aang found a potential fire bending teacher. Will he use him for his advantage?

    The Gaang finds a runaway fire nation general, Jeong Jeong, that can teach Aang firebending. It took a lot to convince Jeong Jeong to teach Aang firebending because he knew Aang was not ready to learn firebending. Jeong Jeong is trying to teach Aang firebending but Aang is impatient. Finally Aang learns to be patient to learn the basics of firebending. Aang could now bending a little bit of fire. When Jeong Jeong leaves for a moment Aang accidentally loses control of his fire and something dramatic occurs. Meanwhile, Admiral Zhoa is searching for Aang on his navy of boats. I gave this episode a ten because it was well writen and it has good connection to the plot.moreless
Keone Young

Keone Young

Jeong Jeong

Guest Star

John Kassir

John Kassir


Guest Star

James Garrett

James Garrett

Avatar Roku

Recurring Role

Jason Isaacs

Jason Isaacs


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (7)

    • Katara learns a new healing ability in this episode, in which she is told that certain waterbenders are born with the power to perform such a feat.

    • Jeong Jeong was Zhao's firebending teacher, and an Admiral himself until he left the military.

    • This is the first time Aang attempts firebending. At the end of the episode, however, he swears that he will never attempt to use it again.

    • According to Jeong Jeong's wanted poster, the Fire Nation decription could be translated as follows: Jeong Jeong is a former Fire Nation captain, about 65 years old, white hair, seemingly not dangerous but he is a firebending master. People who want to capture him must be careful.

    • When Aang lands on the stern of the final boat with his arms behind him, the front of the ship has no decorations, but when Aang jumps off the boat before Zhao howls in rage, the front of the ship suddenly has spikes.

    • While Aang is playing with the fire he has just bent, for a moment his arrow is not shown.

    • When Aang is taunting Zhao and says, "I don't know why, but I thought you'd be better than Zuko!" closed captions accidently says "Roku."

  • QUOTES (31)

    • Zhao: So the Avatar was here, and you let him slip away.
      Soldier: Yes, sir. But other than that, the festival went off without a hitch. No fights, theft was way down.
      Zhao: I don't care about your local crime rates!

    • Aang: I did it! I made fire!
      Katara: Aang, that's great, but you should take it slow.
      (The fire grows)
      Katara: Careful!
      (The fire shrinks)
      Aang: Now that's firebending!
      (Aang shoot the fire)
      Katara: Aang, you'll hurt yourself!
      (Aang continues to play with the fire)
      Aang: Wonder how that juggler did it?
      (Aang spreads the fire in a circle and accidently burns Katara.Then she starts screaming and then starts sobbing after Aang burnt her hands)
      Aang: Katara! I'm so sorry!
      (Sokka zooms in)
      Sokka: Katara, what's wrong!? What did you do?
      Aang: It was an accident! I was... Katara, I'm so...
      (Sokka takes him down to the ground)
      Sokka:(angry) I told you we shouldn't mess around with this! Look what you did! You burned my sister!
      (After that, Katara runs away, still sobbing)

    • Aang: Whoa! Wild shot!
      Zhao: I'll show you wild!

    • Admiral Zhao: Stand and fight, Avatar!
      Aang: Oh, were we fighting? I thought you were just getting warmed up.
      Admiral Zhao: I was!
      (blasts some poorly aimed fire attacks at Aang)
      Aang: Man! They'll make anyone an admiral these days!

    • Chey: (Sees everyone has left) Hey, where'd everybody go?!

    • Aang (To Katara): Jeong Jeong tried to tell me that I wasn't ready. I wouldn't listen. I'm never going to firebend again.
      Katara: You'll have to eventually.
      Aang: No, never again.
      Katara: It's ok Aang, I'm healed
      Aang: What! How?
      Katara: I'll explain later. But right now, we have to get out here. Zhao and his soldiers are attacking!
      Aang: Where!?
      Katara: By the river. They captured Jeong Jeong.
      Aang: I have to help him! (Aang runs of to find Jeong Jeong)

    • Aang: You mean there's a firebender out here who's not with the Fire Lord? We've gotta go see him! He can train me!
      Sokka: We're not gonna go find some crazy firebender!

    • Aang: Nice touch setting off the fireworks.
      Sokka: You seem to know your explosives.
      Chey: I'm familiar.

    • Aang: I'm calling Appa!
      Sokka: I hope he can really hear that bison whistle!

    • Sokka: Aaahhh. Hot! HOT!
      Katara: "Flaming Fire Flakes" hot? What do you know.

    • Aang: Hey, a poster of me!
      Sokka: A wanted poster. This is bad.

    • Jeong Jeong: Even that oaf knows to concentrate on what he's doing!
      Sokka: Hey!

    • Aang: Wow! That's good water.
      Sokka: When did you learn to do that?
      Katara: I guess I always knew.
      Sokka: Oh... well then thanks for all the first aid over the years. Like when I fell into the grease briar bramble, and that time I had TWO fish hooks in my thumb!
      Aang: Two?
      Katara: He tried to get the first fish hook out with another fish hook.
      Sokka: Oh, and the time that big snake bit me! Thanks for healing that up. That was great. Really helpful.

    • Jeong Jeong: What are you doing here!? I did not tell you to stop!
      Aang: I've been breathing for hours!
      Jeong Jeong: You want to stop breathing?!
      Aang: I want you to stop wasting my time! I already know how to squat and breathe and feel the sun. I wanna learn how to shoot fire out of my fingertips!

    • Jeong Jeong (to Aang): Learn restraint or risk destroying yourself and everything you love.

    • Aang: Ready disguises. (Sokka lifts up hood over his head)
      (Katara does the same as Sokka)
      (Aang pulls part of his shirt over his head)
      (Katara laughs)

      Sokka: It's like you're a whole different person.

    • Katara (about visiting the Fire Nation town): We'll wear disguises and if it looks like trouble, we'll leave.
      Sokka (sarcastically): Yeah, because we always leave before we get into trouble.

    • Aang: You've lost this battle.
      Admiral Zhao: Are you crazy? You haven't thrown a single blow!
      Aang: No, but you have. (Aang reveals to Zhao that he destroyed his own ships) Jeong-Jeong said you had no restraint. (jumps into river as Zhao roars in fury and further destroys his ship) Have a nice walk home!

    • Aang (mocking Zhao): Ahoy, I'm Admiral Zhao!
      (Aang shakes his bottom at Zhao)
      Admiral Zhao: Grr...

    • Jeong Jeong (as Katara heals herself by placing her hands in the river): You have healing abilities. The great benders of the Water Tribe sometimes have this ability. I've always wished I were blessed like you. Free from this burning curse.
      Katara: But you're a great master. You have powers I'll never know.
      Jeong Jeong: Water brings healing and life. But fire brings only destruction and pain. It forces those of us burdended with its care to walk a razor edge thin line between humanity and savagery. Eventually we're torn apart.

    • Aang: You brought me up here to breathe?
      Jeong Jeong: Assume your stance. (looks away) Wider.
      Aang: You're not even look-
      Jeong Jeong: Wider. (Aang squats wider) Now inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth... without talking.

    • Roku: You think I am weak?
      Jeong Jeong: Avatar Roku. No, no. I did not mean that.
      Roku: I have mastered the elements 1,000 times in 1,000 lifetimes. Now I must do it again. You will teach the Avatar firebending.
      Jeong Jeong: Yes, yes I will teach you.
      Aang: Really? That's great!

    • Jeong Jeong: To master the bending disciplines, you must first master discipline itself. But you have no interest in this, so I have no interest in you. Now get out.
      Aang: Please. I have to learn. This could be my only chance.
      Jeong Jeong: Are you deaf? How could I teach you if you refuse to listen? Before learning firebending, you must learn water and earth. Water is cool and soothing. Earth is steady and stable. But fire, fire is alive. It breathes. It grows. Without a bender, a rock will not throw itself, but fire will spread and destroy everything in its path if one does not have the will to control it. That is destiny, you are not ready. You are weak.

    • Aang: I'm the Avatar, it's my destiny to- (gets cut off)
      Jeong Jeong: Destiny? What would a boy know of destiny? If a fish lives its whole life in this river, does he know the river's destiny? No! Only that it runs on and on out of his control! He may follow where it flows, but he cannot see the end. He cannot imagine the ocean.

    • Jeong Jeong (as Aang enters his room): Get out.
      Aang: Master, I need to learn firebending.
      Jeong Jeong: Only a fool seeks his own destruction.

    • Sokka: You're a Fire Nation soldier.
      Chey: Was. My name's Chey. (a little later) I serve a man. More than a man, real, he's a myth, but he's real, a living legend Jeong Jeong the Deserter. He was a Fire Nation General, or wait, was he an Admiral?
      Sokka: He was highly ranked, we get it.
      Chey: Yeah, way up there. But he couldn't take the madness anymore. He's the first person ever to leave the army and live. I'm the second, but you don't get to be a legend for that. That's okay though.

    • Katara: Aang, hold on, where are we going?
      Aang: I don't know, but there's a big crowd, so it must be good.
      Sokka: Knowing the Fire Nation, it's probably an execution.

    • Fire Lord Puppet: Don't worry loyal citizens, no one can surprise the Fire Lord.
      Spectators (as an earthbender puppet approaches the Fire Lord puppet): Oh no!
      (The Fire Lord puppet blasts the earthbender with fire)

    • Katara (after entering the fire festival): I think we need some new disguises.
      Sokka: Where are we going to get masks like that?
      Man: Get your genuine fire festival masks here.
      Sokka: That was surprisingly easy.

    • Katara (pointing to a map): This should give us a good idea what's around here.
      Sokka: See if you can find a menu. I'm starving.

    • Aang: I don't know why, but I thought you'd be better than Zuko.
      (Zhao blasts him with his largest fire attack yet)

  • NOTES (4)


    • The way Chey speaks of Jeong Jeong is very similar to the way the Russian, or the harlequin as some refer to him, regards Kurtz in the novel Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad. It's a older book, detailing the main character's, Marlow's, journey into Africa to get Kurtz, a chief of one of the stations in the jungle who became wild. Anyway, there's this guy, who is only called the Russian, that meets Kurtz and idolizes him, saying, "this man has enlarged my mind," and other similar things. It is just similar to the situation with Chey and Jeong Jeong, since both are out wandering in the woods as well, although with a band of deserters, and Chey seems to idolize Jeong Jeong with the same reverence that the Russian does Kurtz. The only ironic thing is that Jeong Jeong hadn't become savage, like Zhao had, unlike Kurtz in the novel, who did become uncivilized.

    • When dispelling the Firebender magician's fire dragon, Aang performs the same move as the silhoutted Airbender in the opening intro.

    • When Roku visited Jeong Jeong's in his vision, he lit up a small tree to emphasize his instructions. This is most likely a reference to Biblical tale of Moses and the burning bush, in which then outcast, future prophet also received instructions by means of a spiritual epiphany.

    • Chey's name maybe a play for Che Guevara, an Argentine-born Marxist, politician, and leader of Cuban and internationalist guerrillas.

    • Some of Chey's lines poke fun at Dennis Hopper's psychodelic monologues from the film Apocalypse Now.

    • The music played in a forest scene with Aang is the same used in a Spongebob computer game.

    • The rogue student-former master relationship between Zhao and Jeong Jeong is strikingly similar to the relationship between Obi Wan and Annakin Skywalker from Star Wars, especially with Aang, the new pupil, thrown into the mix.