Avatar: The Last Airbender

Season 3 Episode 8

The Puppetmaster

Aired Friday 6:30 PM Nov 09, 2007 on Nickelodeon
out of 10
User Rating
456 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

The gang meet a waterbender who lives in the Fire Nation after being captured years ago. Katara becomes her pupil to further develop her waterbending, while Aang, Sokka, and Toph discover she might be connected to a bunch of disappearances. So can this mysterious waterbender be trusted?moreless

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  • Somewhat good

    This episode was far better than the last one. The bloodbending was very unique as well as creepy. The scene when a young hana controls rats was compelling But this was not a "scary" episode as fans say it is. It might be scary for small children, but Koh the facestealer gave me more chills. The character of Hanna is simply a generic sterotypical evil witch. Which concides with the fact that this is an "Hallowen Episode". But the episode had a weak finish. How could Katara learn it so fast, I don't believe that master waterbender bull. This episode needed a grand finale (sigh) so facts had to be ignoredmoreless
  • The Puppetmaster

    The Puppetmaster was a perfect, stylish, haunting and very entertaining episode of Avatar The Last Airbender. I really enjoyed watching this episode as it opened with Sokka trying to tell scary stories. Katara tells a good one and then Toph claims to hear cry's from beneath the mountain. I thought the old lady the gang met was mysterious and it was interesting who she turned out to be. This episode had a lot of character development for Katara, and is an important episode giving the origins of her new ability. I look forward to watching the next episode of Avatar The Last Airbender!!!!!!!moreless
  • Blood bending? Neat!

    This is the stuff that makes people die hard fans of a certain series. It takes an already unique universe full of its own quirks and rules and then goes deeper within it. Although elemental bending doesn't seem like it is that much different from magic, it has its own set of rules and it started molding itself into its own type of power system when it starts exploring different concepts, like metal bending, and here, blood bending. How Katara and Hama were battling each other by sucking the life out of the life around them was a bit disturbing, but exhilarating at the same time. What is also neat is that since there are so few of them, and just about all of them are of good heart, we haven't seen any evil water benders, until this episode. Once again Avatar provides us with another highly quality episode.moreless
  • Truly amazing episode

    The group has camped out in the woods for the night. Sokka tells a horror story about a haunted sword, which completely fails to scare the other three. Katara begins to tell a scary story about Nini, a friend of her mother's who disappeared during a harsh winter in the Southern Water Tribe. The story leaves the entire group jumpy, and Toph adds to the fear by saying she can hear screaming coming from under the mountain. An old woman named Hama suddenly appears, offering them a safe place to stay for the night, as people in the woods had been mysteriously disappearing on full moons.

    The group accepts her offer to stay with her in her inn. Katara gets along with her very well, but despite the woman's kind treatment, Sokka grows wary of her. The next day, Hama leads her guests on a shopping trip, during which Sokka overhears some of the locals talking about the disappearances during the full moon. When Hama sends her guests ahead of her back to the inn, Sokka investigates the house for anything suspicious, finding a cupboard filled with wooden puppets in a hallway, and a locked door in the attic. Peering through the keyhole, he sees a box lying in the room beyond it, and decides the pick the lock with his sword. After breaking into the room, and Toph Earthbends her meteor bracelet into a key for the box. Just before they manage to open it, Hama walks in and catches them in the act. However, she opens the box for them and pulls out a water tribe comb, revealing she is from the Southern Water Tribe, but was captured a long time ago. She explains that she knows they are from the Southern Water Tribe, too, as she heard them talking in the woods.

    During dinner, the group also discovers that she is a Waterbender, as she Bends the soup into their bowls. She tells them her story of how she came to be in the Fire Nation: the Fire Nation captured all of the Southern Waterbenders during raids on the South Pole, over time whittling down their numbers until Hama was the last remaining. She, too, was then captured, and among those taken was the only who managed to escape. Katara is deeply moved by her tragic story, and Hama offers to teach Katara what she knows in order to carry on the tradition of the Southern Waterbenders, and Katara happily agrees to learn, wanting to know more about her tribe's cultural heritage. The next day, she leads Katara to a garden filled with fire lilies, and tells her that water can be drawn from anything. She demonstrates this by gathering the moisture from the air as well as harvesting the water from the flowers around them, before using it for some simple techniques. However, drawing water from the flowers dries and kills them, and while Katara is amazed by the demonstration, she also regrets that the fire lilies were destroyed. Hama dismisses her concerns quickly, reminding her that they were simply flowers. She then tells Katara she has one more technique to teach: one that can only be used at the full moon. When Katara expresses hesitance due to the rumors of disappearances, Hama reassures her, stating that two master Waterbenders under a full moon should be able to handle anything.

    Meanwhile, Aang, Sokka, and Toph, believing the disappearances to be the work of an angry spirit, carry out an investigation. However, after briefly exploring the area, Aang concludes that the town is surrounded by natural beauty--the townsfolk have done nothing to disrupt the environment or anger the spirits. Questioning one of the locals leads the group to "Old Man Ding", an elderly man and the only to escape being taken by the spirit. Ding tells the three that he never actually saw a spirit, but rather felt possessed and compelled to walk to the mountain. Unable to control his own movements, Ding almost walked into a cave. But then, the sun rose, and he regained control of his body. Toph realizes that she really had heard screaming coming from under the mountain earlier, and that the captured villagers must be imprisoned there.

    As Katara and Hama arrive in the forest, Aang, Sokka, and Toph discover an underground prison. Toph again crafts her bracelet into a key to free the villagers from their chains, and some of those captured state that it was not a spirit at all that captured them, but rather Hama. At the same time, Hama reveals to Katara the story behind her unique skill. While imprisoned by the Fire Nation, she and the other Waterbenders were completely separated from any and all water. The guards pumped in dry air into the cells and made sure the inmates' arms and legs were tied before feeding water to them. However, she eventually realized that water exists within all living things, and began to manipulate water in the bodies of rats that crawled into her cage. This technique, which she calls Bloodbending, could only be used with the influence of the full moon enhancing her abilities. After mastering the technique, Hama controlled one of the guards, forcing him to unlock her cage, and allowing her to escape after decades of imprisonment. Horrified by the idea of controlling another person's body, Katara refuses to learn Bloodbending. Hama argues with her, stating that they must have vengeance on the Fire Nation for wiping out their entire culture. The outburst leads Katara to realize that Hama has been causing the villagers to disappear, but Hama angrily states that the people of the Fire Nation deserve the same treatment that they gave to the Southern Waterbenders. Hearing this causes Katara to adamantly refuse to learn Bloodbending and to stop Hama from further terrorizing the town, and so Hama uses the technique to temporarily force Katara into submission.

    However, Katara quickly regains control of her body, reminding Hama that she draws power from the full moon as well, and also stating that her Waterbending is more powerful than Hama's. The two begin to battle, each drawing water from the grass and trees surrounding them, but it quickly becomes obvious that Katara is the superior combatant. But when Katara appears on the cusp of victory, Aang and Sokka arrive to assist her--and succeed in doing little more than providing Hama with an advantage, as she uses Bloodbending to send them against Katara. Katara evades their attacks and manages to freeze both Aang and Sokka to two separate trees to stop them, but this proves to be only a temporary solution. Hama frees them both and resorts to sending them flying at each other, with Sokka's sword pointing straight at Aang. At the last second, Katara uses Bloodbending to subdue Hama and protect Aang and Sokka. Toph arrives with the other villagers, who handcuff Hama and take her away, vowing to imprison her forever. Hama remarks that her work is done, as Katara has already willfully used Bloodbending, and laughs as she is dragged off. Katara breaks down into tears as her friends attempt to comfort her.moreless
  • AWSOME EPISODE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This is a great episode,dark if not darker than kid television it`s self,i mean the creators and writers must of pulled impossible strings to get this to air.

    I really liked toph in this one,she seemed more mature and her voice seemed more mature too.I can`t beleive that not even once she craked a joke or used sarcasm.I liked aang in this one too,he was mature and brave too,along with sokka aswell.Katara really impressed me in this one,her waterbending,her bravery

    ,just her strength in genral.Well this episode will always be remembered aalong with thid great and Abseloutley Amazing Series.Avatar:the last airbender.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (12)

    • How could Katara possibly learn Bloodbending so fast? Hama said it took her years of practice on rats before she tried it on humans, and her skills are much greater then Katara's.

    • Watch closely: When Hama comes from the dark, the group hug each other. Sokka hugs Toph, Aang hugs Toph, and Katara hugs Aang. But moments later, Aang and Katara's position switched

    • In the scene where the gang was talking to Old Man Ding, there were no wooden boards on the window at first, but shortly after he put on the first wooden board to the window, there were three or four extra boards appearing on the window.

    • Hama's earring disappears in the scene where she was trying to convince Katara it was safe to be in the woods at full moon.

    • When Hama was trying to teach Katara to pull water from plants, there was a rock beside Katara, but moments later the rock disappeared.

    • At the beginning the inn is located on the higher part of the village, but when it was daytime it was almost on the same plain as the rest of the village.

    • When Sokka was peering the box in the attic, we could see the face of the box is facing towards the gang, but when they got into the room, the box was facing another way.

    • There was a kettle on the table when Katara put down the stuff Hama bought from shopping, but a moment later the kettle disappeared.

    • When Hama and the gang is in town shopping, Hama says "Mysterious town for mysterious children", Notice one of Hama's lower tooth is missing when she says "town", but when Hama smiles after she says "children", that tooth is there.

    • There used to be a lot more waterbenders in the Southern Water Tribe until Fire Nation raids.

    • In the beginning of the episode, Toph's shoes are clearly shown with soles in place. In The Headband they are shown being removed by Toph so that she may "see" better.

    • At the beginning when Hama takes Katara to the woods, right when she first turns wacko, the length of her hair keeps changing.

  • QUOTES (18)

    • Katara: Thanks for letting us stay here tonight. You have a lovely inn.
      Hama: Aren't you sweet? You know, you should be careful. People have been disappearing in those woods you were camping in.
      Sokka: What do you mean, disappearing?
      Hama: (ominously) When the moon turns full, people walk in, and they don't come out. (cheerfully) Who wants more tea? (she frowns. The camera pans across the table, showing the fearful expression the kids all have) Don't worry, you'll all be completely safe here. Why don't I show you to your rooms, and you can get a good night's rest.

    • Hama: Can you feel the power the full moon brings? (inhales deeply) For generations, it has blessed Waterbenders with its glow, allowing us to do incredible things... I've never felt more alive.

    • Sokka: I know, Momo! This place is creepy! I don't know if I'm gonna be able to fall asleep! (he falls asleep almost instantly)

    • Katara: No, wait! I've got one, and this is a true Southern Water Tribe story.
      Sokka: Is this one of those "a friend of my cousin knew some guy who this happened to" stories?
      Katara: No. It happened to Mom. (Everyone focuses their attention on Katara) One winter when Mom was a girl a huge snowstorm buried the whole village for weeks. A month later Mom realized she hadn't seen her friend Nini since the storm. So Mom and some others went to check on Nini's family. When they got there no one was home, just a fire flickering in the fireplace. While the men went out to search Mom stayed in the house, when she was alone she heard a voice. (Imitating a little girls voice)"Its so cold, and I can't get warm." (Sokka backs against the log hes sitting on scared) Mom looked over and saw Nini standing by the fire. She was blue, like she was frozen. Mom ran outside for help, but... when they got there Nini was gone. (Aang wraps Momo's ears around his head)
      Sokka: (From behind the log) Where'd she go?
      Katara: No one knows. Nini's house stands empty to this day. But, sometimes people see smoke coming out of the chimney like little Nini is still trying to get warm.

    • Sokka: (disbelief) An old comb?
      Hama: It's my greatest treasure. It's the last thing I own from growing up in the Southern Water Tribe.

    • Katara: Wow, these flowers are beautiful.
      Hama: They're called Fire Lilies. They only bloom a few weeks a year, but they're one of my favorite things about living here. And like all plants, and all living things, they're filled with water.

    • Aang: This has got to be the nicest natural setting in the Fire Nation! I don't see anything that would make a spirit mad around here.
      Toph: Maybe the Moon Sprit just turned mean.
      Sokka: (outraged) The Moon Spirit is a gentle, loving lady! She rules the sky with compassion and... lunar goodness!

    • Sokka: Suddenly, they heard something down the hall in the dark. Ooooooh! It came into the torchlight... and they knew the Blade of Wingfan was haunted! (screams)
      Aang: I think I liked the man with a sword for a hand better.
      Toph: Water tribe slumber parties must stink!

    • Fire Nation Woman: She seems like a normal old woman. But she controls people like some dark puppet master.
      Sokka: Hama!!

    • Sokka: It's like my brain has a mind of its own!

    • Katara: No! I won't! I won't use bloodbending and I won't let you keep terrorizing this town!

    • Villager: (handcuffing Hama) You're going to be locked away forever.
      Hama: My work is done. (to Katara) Congratulations, Katara. You're a bloodbender.

    • Hama: We are the last water benders of the Southern Tribe and we have to fight these people whenever we can, wherever they are, with any means necessary.

    • Aang: I didn't know spirits made prisons like this.

    • Aang: Old man Din?
      Old man Din: What?! Can't you see I'm busy? Got a full moon rising! And why does everyone call me that, I'm not that old!... well, I'm young at heart.

    • Katara: I knew I felt a bond with you right away!
      Sokka: And I knew you were keeping a secret, so I guess we were both right!

    • Sokka: It's empty except for a little chest!
      Toph: Maybe it's treasure!

    • Aang: Helping people, that's what I do.

  • NOTES (3)

    • This episode is available in the Avatar Book 3: Fire Volume 2 DVD along with The Avatar and the Firelord, The Runaway, Nightmares and Daydreams, and The Day of Black Sun Part 1: The Invasion.

    • This episode first aired in the UK on October 25th, 2007, before its airing in the US.

    • Because of its particular context and the time of it airing's in various countries, the creators regard this episode as somewhat of a Halloween episode.


    • Hama's evil witch like appearance makes her look like Nerissa from the W.I.T.C.H. series.

    • Hama's capture, and story about her time in prison, and how Southern Water Tribe benders are gone seems to be somewhat of a opaque reference to concentration camps used by the Nazi's during World War II.

    • Sokka makes the sound of a theremin at the end of his story. The theremin was a common musical instrument used in sci-fi, and horror movies in the 1950's and 60's.

    • Sokka's "untold" story about a man with a sword for a hand is an allusion to the famous urban legend about a man with a hook for a hand.

    • The story of people missing in the woods, seems to be a combination of the moives The Watcher in the Woods and The Blair Witch Project.

    • Sokka asking Katara if her story is a "Friend of a cousin knew some guy" is what is more commonly known as a urban legend in modern terms.

    • Katara's ghost story seems very similar to the Are You Afraid of The Dark episode The Tale of the Frozen Ghost

    • Hama's quote "I never felt more alive" is a quote from the 1959 movie North by Northwest