Zuko is traveling by himself through dry desert-like terrain on his ostrich-horse. He stops suddenly at the smell of something; he looks over to find a man cooking a large piece of meat over an open flame. Zuko puts a hand over his gurgling stomach and then moves the hand to his sword hilt. But upon seeing the man is traveling with a pregnant woman, he continues on. Now more tired than ever, Zuko is carefully walking a razor's edge of passing out, his vision becomes blurred as he presses on and he closes his eyes; a woman walking down a dark hallway with a hood appears. Zuko opens his eyes suddenly, but keeps his head down.
Finally Zuko has come to a village. On his way in he passes some Earth Kingdom soldiers; they lock eyes for a moment before Zuko presses on. He dismounts his ostrich and walks to man standing behind a counter. He asks for water, hot meal, and a bag of feed and extends his hand forward revealing a small amount of coins. The man tells him that he doesn't have enough for a hot meal but he can give him two bags of feed. As the man goes to retrieve Zuko's feed two boys hiding beside the counter through eggs at the soldiers just behind Zuko and run. Thinking Zuko threw the eggs the soldiers make their way over angrily, the interrogate him. Zuko covers for the boys saying he saw nothing and tells them a chicken may have flown over, as the man brings Zuko's feed out, one soldier takes it and thanks Zuko for his "generous contribution to the army."
As Zuko re-mounts his ostrich-horse the boy who threw the egg pops up from behind it and thanks him for covering for him. Zuko doesn't reply and moves forward on his ostrich, the boy follows him and offers to take Zuko to his house and feed his ostrich-horse for him in return for not ratting him out. Zuko allows the boy to lead him.
Zuko and the boy approach a large farm full of two kinds of hybrids between a pig and a cow and a pig and a sheep. The oink loudly as Zuko and Lee approach the house, Lee says itâ€™s good because no one can ever sneak up on them. Zuko replies "No kidding." As Lee goes to put Zuko's ostrich in the barn, his father approaches Zuko, Lee re encounters Zuko's small confrontation with the soldiers. Lee's mother comes asking Zuko's name, unable to give his usual false name for obvious reasons Zuko stutters for a moment before Lee's father comes to the rescue saying "He doesn't have to say who he is if he doesn't want to."
The family explains how the real soldiers, like Lee's older brother Sen Su, are fighting in the war while these thugs stay here. She asks if Zuko wishes to stay for dinner, he declines her offer. After a brief pause she says that Zuko can help Lee's father roof the barn and then they'll eat. Zuko scowls for a minute at this before nodding. Zuko's handicapped skills with a hammer, as a result of not having to do any work what so ever his whole life, show through here as he hammers wildly on the roof at about six bent nails.
Behind him Lee is asking him rapid fire questions: "Where are you from? Where are you going?" His father silences the boy but he persists with: "Where'd you get that scar?" At this Zuko lets out a small groan as he hammers his own thumb. Lee's father tells him i's not polite to ask so many personal questions and that Zuko's past was his business. As Zuko continues hammering he's thrown into a memory.
A young Prince Zuko and his mother are sitting by a small pound in a garden somewhere in the palace grounds, feeding turtle-ducks. Zuko offers to show his mother how Azula feeds them and throws a rock at a one. His mother scolds him for it as the mother turtle-duck comes forward and bites down hard on Zuko's foot. He yells in pain as his mother detaches the small creature. "Stupid turtle-duck! Why'd it do that?" he asks his mother. "Because Zuko, thatâ€™s how mothers are: you mess with their babies and they'll bite back." She and Zuko laugh for a minute before returning their gaze back to the pound.
As Zuko and his mother walk back through the garden we see a young Princess Azula attempting a cart-wheel but falls to the ground with a thud. Behind her a young Ty Lee, runs forward and performs the move with ease; Azula pushes her over and laughs. A young Mai sits against a tree watching them; she turns and sees Zuko walking through the garden she turns her gaze away and blushes, smiling to herself. Azula notices this and whispers to Ty Lee "Watch this." Ty Lee giggles as Azula runs up to her brother and mother asking if Zuko would come and play with them. After a small argument between Zuko and Azula their mother makes Zuko go and play with them.
Azula explains how the game goes: you try to knock the apple of the other person's head. She sets an apple on a very bored looking Mai's head and sets it ablaze. Zuko rushes forward trying to knock the burning apple of her head, but trips and they fall into the fountain landing on top of each other. Ty Lee comments on how cute they are and Zuko storms off angrily (and wet) while Mai, also anger, says "You two are such-!" Zuko's mother informs him that she's received a letter from Uncle Iroh in Ba-Sing-Se.
Iroh says in the letter that if the city is as beautiful as its walls then it would really be something to behold. He also says he hopes they can come and see it one day if he doesn't burn it to the ground first (Zuko and Azula laugh at that). He has also sent gifts for his niece and nephew for Zuko: a pearl dagger that belonged to the general who surrendered when Iroh broke through the outer wall. The inscription on the dagger reads: Never give up without a fight. For Azula: an Earth Kingdom doll "wearing the latest fashion in Ba-Sing-Se."
Azula comments that if Iroh didn't make it back from the war then her father would be next in line to be Fire Lord. Her mother scolds her for saying such a thing as Zuko asks her how she'd feel if Iroh's son, Lu Ten, wanted their dad to die. She says in reply "I still think our dad would make a much better Fire Lord than his royal tea-loving kookiness." She sets her new doll ablaze.
Present day Prince Zuko is sleeping soundly on a pile of hay in the family's barn. Lee enters silently, takes Zukoâ€™s swords, and silently slips out. Zuko's eye opens. Lee takes the swords outside where he begins to hack wildly at a field of daisies. From behind him Zuko says he's holding them wrong and explains that he has to think of them as a whole because they're two halves of the same blade.
The next day Zuko mounts his ostrich-horse and prepares to set off, Lee's mother gives Zuko some food. Just then dust kicks up in the distance; the soldiers from the village came with grave news: Lee's older brother's battalion was captured. Zuko's brought back to the memory of his cousin's he and Azula are playing together in the garden while their mother is sitting near the pond. A servant delivers a message to her, she reads it and looks up, and a tear drips down her face. She informs Zuko and Azula their cousin didn't survive the battle.
Le's father declares he's going to the front to look for Sen Su. Li asks if Zuko will stay after his father leaves, but he declines and gives Li his dagger his uncle gave him. As Zuko rides off he's thrown into another memory: Zuko is practicing with his knife while Azula watched from a chair. She said "You waste all your time with knifes, you're not even good." He replies, "Put an apple on your head and we'll see how good I am!" She informs him Uncle's coming home, she also informs him of her opinion of Iroh: "a quitter and a loser. "
Their mother enters the room and tells them their father has requested an audience with their grandfather Fire Lord Azulon. Azula comments on how he's not the powerful Fire Lord he used to be and that someone was probably going to end up taking his place soon. Azula's mother once again scolds her and says to herself "What is wrong with that child?" In the Fire Lord's war room Ozai is asking questions of Zuko and Azula: "And how did Great-Grandfather Sozin win the battle of Hahn Ti?" While Zuko stammers for an answer Azula answers for him: "He carefully calculated his advantages: they were up wind and there was a drought. " Ozai is pleased with his daughter and asks her to show her grandfather the new moves she strated for him.
As Azula gracefully performs her Firebending move a smile creeps across Ozai's face. He comments on how she is a prodigy like her grandfather for whom she's named. As Azula retakes her seat beside Zuko she whispers in his ear: "You'll never catch up." Zuko rises and asks to strate what he's been learning; the smile on Ozai's face vanishes. As Zuko stumbles with his form Azula smirks. "I failed" Zuko says as he hits the ground after trying to no avail.
His mother comes forward and tells him "No Zuko, that's who you are: someone who never stops fighting even though it's hard." Impatient, Azulon dismisses Ursa, Zuko, and Azula and asks Ozai to tell him what he wants. As they make for the door Azula grabs Zuko's hand and leads him behind a curtain where she plans on eavesdropping on their father and grandfather's meeting. Ozai said with Lu Ten gone Iroh's bloodline has ended and he was away at war. But, Ozai was here and his children are alive. Again impatient, Azulon asks what Ozai wants. Ozai says "Revoke Iro's birth right, I'm your humble servant here to serve you and our nation. Use me" Angered by his son's arrogance and lack of sympathy for Iroh's loss, the Fire Lord tells Ozai that Iroh has suffered enough but his punishment has barely begun.
Zuko runs away frightened before he can hear what it was. In his room Zuko lays in his bed frightened of what he just saw. Azula enters with an evil smirk singing, "Dad's going to kill you" but becomes serious"Really he is." She reveals Ozai punishment to be sacrificing Zuko so he may know the pain of losing a first born son. Zuko doesn't believe her. Ursa enters the room demanding to know whatâ€™s going on and pulls Azula away angrily saying "It's time for a talk." Zuko remains in his bed saying "Azula always lies, Azula always lies."
Present day Zuko is laying on grass, eyes closed, repeating those same words when Lee's mother comes and informs him that when the soldiers from the village came demanding food, Lee pulled a knife on them. They then took him away saying if he was old enough to fight than he was old enough to join the army. He begs for his help through her tears. Zuko agrees to help. Zuko rides up to the soldiers where Lee is tied to a poll and is extremely happy to see Zuko. He dismounts and removes his China-man's hat.
He orders the soldiers to release Lee, but they ask who he thinks he is ordering them around. Zuko replies, "It doesn't matter who I am. But I know who you are: you're not soldiers; you're bullies, free-loaders abusing your power mostly over woman and kids. You're sick cowards; you don't want Lee in your army. You're just messing with a family thatâ€™s already lost one son to the war." The leader asks the other soldiers if they're going to sit there and let Zuko insult them like this.
One rushes forward: Zuko knocks the man of his feet and back about 10 yards with a simple hit from his sword hilt without even having to remove the sword from its sheath. The next one runs at Zuko, without much effort Zuko performs a simple self-defense move knocking the man to the ground. The third runs at him and Zuko simply performs a front kick, breaking the man's spear and scaring him into running away one more to go. The leader, whose last, pulls out two large hammers; Zuko pulls out his swords. He smacks the ground with his hammers and sends a rock pelting towards Zuko who breaks it easily.
The next few blows appear more difficult to block. Meanwhile from the side-line Zuko is getting cheer from an elderly man and his wife. Now the man is hitting harder. Zuko is barely able to block the rocks that are pelting towards him until finally he's hit with a final blow that knocks him airborne and back about 10 feet. He hits the ground hard and is blasted into another memory. Zuko is sound asleep in his room when his mother gently wakes him. She tells the half-asleep Zuko that everything she's done has been to protect Zuko and to no matter how things change to never forget who he is. And with that she disappears down a dark corridor.
Present day Zuko is lying on the ground, seemingly passed-out. The man moves forward for the final blow when Zuko opens his eyes and decides. He sends a ring of fire pelting around him as he jumps up, Li looks at him terrified. As Zuko moves forward he resembles his father as we often see his silhouette standing before a wall of fire powerfully. He sends blasts of fire towards the man as he swings the blades. He tried to stand and fight but to no avail and he's knocked back hard.
He asks Zuko who he is and Zuko gives him his full title "My name is Zuko, son of Ursa and Fire Lord Ozai, Prince of the Fire Nation, and heir to the throne." The man who had recently been cheering Zuko tells him he's heard of Zuko: "An outcast, his own father burned and disowned him!" Zuko ignores the man and retrieves his dagger. Zuko walks toward Li, but his mother steps between them and tells Zuko not come a step closer. Obeying Zuko kneels and offers the dagger, Lee tells him no and that he s him.
Zuko is now haunted by his turbulent past. He wakes suddenly from his bed yelling for his mom. He runs down the hall only to find his sister Azuala playing with his knife. He asks her about their mom. She replies suspiciously that nobody knows and that their grandfather passed away last night. Zuko tells Azula that she's sick; then takes his knife and runs to find his mother. Finding his dad instead at the pond where he is standing silently staring into it. Zuko asks him where his mother is but he doesn't reply. Zuko bows his head.
Then the fire sages have a special ceremony for the Fire Lord. All Zuko's family are present, for Zuko everything is ablur, he is unsure of the events that have just taken place. He looks on to the long journey awaiting