Avatar: The Last Airbender

Season 1 Episode 3

The Southern Air Temple

Aired Friday 6:30 PM Feb 25, 2005 on Nickelodeon
out of 10
User Rating
676 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Aang is excited about finally going home again for the first time in one hundred years, but he is shocked to find out that the temple is deserted. Aang tells Sokka and Katara about his childhood as they explore the temple, but they soon discover something that Aang never expected, also Aang discovers a new friend that joins them throughout their journey. Meanwhile, Prince Zuko must make repairs to his ship, and the only way he can do it is to dock his ship at his rival's naval base.moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

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  • The Southern Air Temple

    The Southern Air Temple was a perfect episode of Avatar The Last Airbender. I really enjoyed watching this episode because it had a lot of character development for both Aang and Zuko. I like how Zuko is on an honorable path, twisted as it may be at times, and its a journey of his own which we get to watch develop. There were a few heart felt and touching moments in this episode as Katara tried to protect Aang from the truth, however he found out on his own and it triggered something powerful alerting the world and all the kingdoms that The Avatar has returned! I look forward to watching more episodes!!!!!!!moreless
  • Katara and Sokka go to Aangs home, The Southern Air Temple. They try to hide the truth that Aang is the last airbender, but when he finds out, a catastrophe occurs. Admiral Zhao and Prince Zuko duel in an Agni-Kaimoreless

    Alot of people enjoy this episode but i cant seem to find out why. To me it was just mostly boring, but i also feel its something that was unavoidable at the same time. I like the fact that the series right away introduced us to the world and even what the airbending civilization was like. BUt it was just boring watching Aang go around his home showing things. I feel they could have made it more exciting. The only exciting part was seeing Aang go into the Avatar State and Katara having to calm him down. You can already see their connection. Another thing I liked about this episode was how much we learned about the Avatars. Aang says he just knows Avatar Roku without even meeting him and he knows he is supposed to help him on his journey. Pretty cool stuff. And I like the introduction of Momo and how Sokka is obsesbed with food. I really with they kept the whole food thing going throughout the series but no harm done.

    I felt the more exciting part of this episode was the B-plot. A very clever andwell written script for that part. The Agni-Kai was very enjoyable, but it wasnt the fighting that made it, i really like how Uncle Iroh just shot down Zhao and basically called him dishonorable after he tried to burn Zuko after the fight was over.

    Overall this is just an okay epiosode. The B-plot was defintely more interesting though which shouldnt happen in a series first few episodes.moreless
  • Aang, Katara, and Sokka visit the Southern Air Temple, Aang's childhood home where Aang learns some unpleasant things. Elsewhere, Zuko comes across the ambitious Commander Zhao and a confrontation results.

    Things get a little heavy and real for Aang in this episode as he learns that he can't go home again. It's actually an episode that jumps to different emotions throughout, a trend that would become an appreciative occurrence on the show. We get some good feelings and gladness when Aang discovers the lemur Momo, the character that completes the group in this season, sadness and devastation at learning the fate of his friends and mentors, some nostalgia and tragedy from the flashbacks to Aang's childhood, and finally the powerful moment when Aang activates the Avatar statues people throughout the world realize that he is back. It's done well and provides another facet of this so far mostly happy-go-lucky character. Zuko also gets an early rite of passage by confronting this year's other recurring villain Zhao, played with smarmy arrogance by Jason Isaacs. Zhao's a pretty entertaining guy, who often seems too big for his britches as he's frequently knocked down a peg or two throughout the year. This episode is no exception as Zuko takes him one one one, giving a good moment for the disgraced prince while giving us a flavor of this new character. Two very solid, separate plots for this one.moreless
  • now we learn more

    In this episode we learn a little more about Aang's life like 100 years ago. And zuko battles Admiral Zhao is a hot-tempered Fire Nation admiral in pursuit of the Avatar and is Zuko's principal rival. And we learn that when an avatar dies the next one is born air water earth fire that means when aang dies the next avatar is an waterbender. And I love how sokka only things of meat what makes him think that an air temple is full of meat i love meat and Aang does that growly thing again it must make him more powerful thats awesome.moreless
  • I want more!

    Once again although there wasn't much action aside from the fight between Commander Jao and Prince Zuko, this was still a very quality episode. The story is turning out to be great, the characters were very well developed, and the writing is clever and funny. We found out a bit about Aang's past along with the culture of the Air Benders a 100 years back and it was a bit sad to see Aang down in the dumps to see all of his race extinct. Though we also get pretty in-depth with the main pursuer of the Avatar, Prince Zuko. Rarely do antagonists get developed this much and it's a treat to see us go through not only the main characters, but the enemies as well. And Zuko's uncle is turning out to be great comic relief.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (14)

    • Zhao said he was promoted from Captain to Commander, although Captain is a higher rank than Commander.

    • While Aang questions how Roku can help him, you can see that an airbender (not Avatar Yangchen as evidenced by the hair over the shoulders) is to Roku's right rather than Kyoshi, the Earthbender Avatar.

    • When Aang introduced Momo to everyone, Katara's braid is missing and the bead in her bun is colored the same as her hair.

    • When Zuko stands to fight in the Agni Kai, he only has four toes.

    • We can clearly see that the canopy ceiling in the building where Monk Gyatso died has given way, leaving a gaping hole, but after we see the Fire Avatar Temple, we can see from the outside that the ceiling is nearly whole but when we see Aang inside the building "glowing up", the ceiling is ruined once more only to mend again so Aang can break through it.

    • As Aang falls from his jump after Momo, the arrow on his left hand disappears.

    • Look Hard: At the very end of this episode, when Aang, Katara, and Sokka are flying away and Aang looks back at his home, you can see two interesting shaped clouds next to the temple. If you look closely, you can see that one of the clouds is Avatar Roku's animal guide, (who we meet in The Spirit World (Winter Solstice, Part 1). Next to it, you can see Avatar Roku himself (who we meet in Avatar Roku (Winter Solstice, Part 2).

    • When Zhao looks at the map in this episode, Lake Laogai is shown to be west of the inner wall of Ba Sing Se. However, it is east of the inner wall.

    • In a profile shot of Avatar Roku's statue just before the eyes glow, Roku's hair knob at the top of his head disappears, then reappears when Katara is looking at it.

    • When Aang goes to open the Sanctuary doors, the shot shows the door locks in "open" position, but when he begins to unlock them, they are closed, and open again when they should.

    • Just after Aang announces they are approaching the Patola mountain range the scene changes to a close-up of Aang & Katara sitting atop Appa's head in which you can clearly see Aang's right hand without a blue arrow on it.

    • When Zhao is talking it shows the map of the Avatar World in the background, and if you look closely you see that it is different from the rest of the maps we see in the series. The Water Tribe's territories are shown as just circles, much different from usual.

    • When Zhao returns to the tent during an up close shot of Zuko, his burnt ear is normal and unscathed.

    • Sokka's appearance is different in this episode than the others.

  • QUOTES (22)

    • Aang: I want you to meet somebody.
      Sokka: Who's that?
      Aang: Monk Gyatso, the greatest airbender in the world. He taught me everything I know.

    • (Aang sighs)
      Katara: What's wrong?
      Aang (with a sad look on his face): This place use to be filled of monks, and lemurs, and bison. Now there's just a bunch of weeds.

    • Sokka: (holding his stomach) So where do I get something to eat?
      Katara: You're one of the first outsiders to ever visit an Airbener Temple, and all you can think about is food?
      Sokka: I'm just a simple guy with simple needs.

    • Aang (as they approach the Southern Air Temple): There it is, the Southern Air Temple!
      Katara (excited): Aang, its amazing!
      Aang (happy, talking to Appa): We're home buddy, we're home.

    • Sokka (as his stomach growls): Hey, stomach, be quiet, I'm trying to find us some food.

    • Zuko: Uncle, I want the repairs made as quickly as possible. I don't want too stay to long and risk losing his trail.
      Iroh: You mean the Avatar.
      Zuko (angered): Don't mention his name on these docks. Once word gets out that he is alive, every Firebender will be out looking for him, and I don't want anyone getting in the way.

    • Aang: Wait till you see it, Katara. The Southern Air Temple is one of the most beautiful places in the world.
      Katara (worried): Aang, I know you're excited, but its been a hundred years since you've been home.
      Aang: That's why I'm so excited.
      Katara: It's just that a lot can change in that time.
      Aang: I know, but I just need to see it for myself.

    • Aang: Wake up Sokka, Air Temple here we come!

    • Sokka (getting up painfully): Making him feel better is putting me in a world of hurt.

    • Sokka: Hey, who ate all my blubbered seal jerky?
      Aang: Oh, that was food? I used it to start the camp fire last night. Sorry.
      Sokka: You what?! Aww, no wonder the flames smelled so good.

    • Uncle Iroh (after Zuko kicks over tea table): More tea, please.

    • Iroh: So this is how the great commander Zhao acts in defeat... disgraceful! Even in exile my nephew is more honorable than you. Thank you again for the tea. It was delicious. (Zuko and Iroh leave)
      Zuko: Did you really mean what you said, Uncle?
      Iroh: Of course. I told you ginseng tea was my favorite. (Zuko half-smiles)

    • Prince Zuko (after Agni Kai): Next time you get in my way, I promise, I won't hold back.

    • Commander Zhao (referring to Zuko's ship): That's quite a bit of damage.
      Prince Zuko: Yes. You wouldn't believe what happened. (pause) Uncle! Tell Commander Zhao what happened.
      Uncle Iroh: Ah yes. It was incredible! (mutters to Zuko) What? Did we crash or something?
      Prince Zuko: Yes! Right into an... Earth Kingdom ship.
      Commander Zhao (smirking): Really? You must regail me all the thrilling details.

    • Uncle Iroh: Remember your firebending basics Prince Zuko, they are your greatest weapon.
      Zuko: I refuse to let him win.

    • Uncle Iroh (stops Zuko from attacking Zhao): No Prince Zuko, do not taint your victory.

    • Uncle Iroh: Prince Zuko, do you remember what happened the last time you dueled a master?
      Prince Zuko: I will never forget.

    • Aang: Lemur!
      Sokka (drooling): Dinner!
      Aang: Don't listen to him, you're going to be my new pet!
      Sokka: Not if I get him first!
      (both lunge at Momo)
      Aang and Sokka: Ahhg!

    • Sokka: Sleep now, temple later.

    • Commander Zhao: You can't compete with me. I have hundreds of warships under my command. And you, you're just a banished prince. No home. No allies. Your own father doesn't even want you.
      Prince Zuko: You're wrong. Once I deliver the Avatar to my father, he will welcome me home with honor, and restore my rightful place on the throne.
      Commander Zhao: If your father really wanted you home, he would have let you return by now, Avatar or no Avatar. But in his eyes, you are a failure, and a disgrace to the Fire Nation.
      Prince Zuko: That's not true.
      Commander Zhao: You have the scar to prove it.
      Prince Zuko (finally reaching his breaking point): Maybe you'd like one to match!

    • Sokka: You were a firebender!? No wonder I didn't trust you when we first met!

    • Sokka: Statues! Where's the meat?!

  • NOTES (6)

  • ALLUSIONS (11)

    • When Aang first goes into the Avatar State and surrounds himself with an orb of wind, the pose he assumes is similar to the pose the characters of Dragonball Z assume when they charge their Ki Energy.

    • The Patola mountain range is most likely named after the famous Potala Palace of Tibet, the culture which the Air Nomads are based on.

    • Zhao's name could be taken from a kingdom of the same name attacked by the first emperor of China.

    • Aang says that Sky Bison carried airbenders to the high altitudes of the Air Temples. Aang's sky bison, Appa is an allusion to Appa Sherpa, who holds the record for most ascents of Mount Everest. He guided climbers up to the high altitudes of Mount Everest 16 times, just like sky bison guide airbenders to the temples on the top of the mountain.

    • Monk Gyatso is probably an allusion to the Tibetan monk Thubten Gyatso. Aang says that Monk Gyatso was the greatest airbender. Similarily, Thubten Gyatso received the honor of being called Great among the Dalai Lama, or recognized holy monks in Buddhism.

    • Along with being Japanese for "peach," the word "Momo" is also a common name given to small pets in Japan. It is about as equivalent to "Spot" or "Fido" in the West.

    • The fact that the same soul is reincarnated into each new Avatar resembles the Buddhist belief that the same soul is reincarnated into each new Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama is the spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism, and is believed to be the reincarnation of Avalokiteśvara. Avalokiteśvara is a bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas.

    • "Gyatso" (the Tibetan word for "ocean") is the name given to each incarnation of the Dalai Lama when he takes the position.

    • The Earth Kingdom Avatar temple that was briefly shown is built similar to the Temple of Heaven aka the Altar of Heaven. The temple, originally constructed in early 15th century, is a Taoist building situated in southeast Bejiing.

    • The airbenders closely resemble many types of Buddhist monks, with their shaven heads and evidence of mandatory meditation. The beads that many of the older monks wear are also similar to the prayer beads that Buddhist masters wear.

    • The fire duel is called Agni Kai, which may be based on the fact that Agni is the Hindu god of fire.