The gaang riding Appa in Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action

Spirits, Sieges, and Avatar States—Breaking Down the Ending of ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’

What comes next for Team Avatar?

The eight episodes of Avatar: The Last AirbenderNetflix’s live-action adaptation of the animated Nickelodeon show of the same name, which aired from 2005 to 2008—were released for all to stream this week on Netflix.

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The live-action series tries to cram twenty episodes’ worth of storytelling into Netflix’s usual formula, so each of the series’ eight episodes is packed with a whole lot of plot and exposition. So here we all are, breaking down what exactly happened during the finale to make sure there are no questions left unanswered as we head into a possible second season.

*** Beware of SPOILERS ahead for the entire first season of Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender.***

What was the deal with Admiral Zhao and the spirits?

The final episode of Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender, titled “Legends,” covers the entire Siege of the Northern Water Tribe by the Fire Nation troops of Admiral Zhao. All our main characters are there—Team Avatar, of course, helping the Tribe, but Zuko is there as well, always chasing Aang. As is Iroh, who is warily keeping an eye on Zhao.

Since it’s established that the ice walls of Northern Water Tribe had never been breached before, Admiral Zhao—a man who clearly has just a dash of ambition and hubris on his side, what with wanting to become Fire Lord and tampering with the foundational forces of nature—has concocted a plan that should gain his firebenders the ultimate upper hand against the Northern waterbenders.

That plan is none other than killing the Moon Spirit, which takes material form for one night a year together with the Ocean Spirit. The two, which have given the people of the Water Tribes their lives and their bending abilities, appear in the shape of two koi fish in the Spirit Oasis, the most sacred place in the entire North Pole. 

When Zhao kills the Moon Spirit, he, of course, disrupts the entire natural balance—the moon disappears from the sky, depriving waterbenders of their abilities, and the Ocean Spirit turns furious and vengeful as its eternal counterpart is taken away. To turn that anger against the Fire Nation and give the Water Tribe a chance, Aang chooses to give himself to the Ocean Spirit. The power of the spirit, combined with Aang’s Avatar State, creates what can only be described as a Godzilla-like creature that washes away the entire Fire Nation fleet.

In this way, though, Aang would be lost forever, merged endlessly with the Ocean Spirit. That’s when Yue decides to sacrifice herself. As she told Sokka in episode seven, the princess and spiritual leader of the Northern Water Tribe was saved by the Moon Spirit as a young child. The Spirit healed her of a sickness that would have proved fatal, turning her hair silver and giving her the ability to walk in the Spirit World from time to time.

Princess Yue in the finale of Netflix's Avatar: The Last Airbender
(So yes, Sokka’s first girlfriend did turn into the moon. Some might say that it’s rough, buddy. image: Netflix)

So Yue returns the gift of life that the Moon Spirit had given her. Her sacrifice restores the Moon Spirit to life and its balance with the Ocean, with the moon reappearing in the sky and the Tribe’s waterbenders regaining their powers. The Siege of the North is won, and Team Avatar lives to fight another day.

Speaking of Team Avatar, what’s going to happen to Aang, Katara, and Sokka?

While those who have already seen the original Avatar: The Last Airbender know very well what the future has in store for our three main characters, it may not be so hard for newbies to figure out what happens next.

Aang needs to start training in the other bending arts besides air, to master them all as every Avatar before him has done. Technically, he should have already started on water bending during his journey to the North, learning alongside Katara. But we can only assume that the newly named Master Katara—that’s my girl right there—will teach him as they travel back to the Earth Kingdom in search of an earthbending master, the element that Aang will have to learn immediately after water.

What about Zuko and Iroh?

After having dispatched Admiral Zhao, the reunited uncle and nephew leave the Northern Water Trip by themselves without rejoining the rest of the Fire Nation soldiers. After all, they did attack a high-ranking officer—something that would not go down very well with Fire Lord Ozai, considering what we’ve seen during his Agni Kai duel with Zuko.

Again, longtime fans of the original A:TLA know where Zuko and Iroh’s journey will take them, but we can assume that they’re going to lie low for a while before deciding what to do. 

And what about Azula?

The last we saw of Azula was her capturing King Bumi and declaring Fire Nation rule in Omashu. As she states to her soldiers, there’s only one major Earth Kingdom city left independent—the great Ba Sing Se. So it’s safe to assume Azula will head there to try and topple it the same way she did in Omashu.

Princess Azula in the finale of Netflix's Avatar: The Last Airbender
(To be honest, I’m still not sure what to think about this new version of Azula. image: Netflix)

What was that whole deal with Ozai and the Comet?

The episode’s final scene shows Fire Lord Ozai studying a model of the sky together with the Great Sage of Avatar Roku’s shrine. The Sage tells him that they will soon witness another passage of Sozin’s Comet through their skies—the very same comet that was in the opening shot of the show.

Sozin’s Comet passes through the sky every hundred years, giving fire benders a power boost like nothing else in the world. Fire Lord Sozin—after whom the comet was named in the years of Fire Nation rule—harnessed that power to eradicate the Air Nomads from the world. That’s why he tells Gyatso that he might have beaten him in any other circumstance except their current one. 

Since Sozin’s Comet is bound to return, we can easily imagine that Fire Lord Ozai’s plan is the same as the one hatched by his grandfather—take advantage of the extra power the comet will give fire benders and make sure that the Fire Nation reigns unchallenged over the entire world. Good thing there definitely is someone willing to challenge him.

(featured image: Netflix)


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Author
Benedetta Geddo
Benedetta (she/her) lives in Italy and has been writing about pop culture and entertainment since 2015. She has considered being in fandom a defining character trait since she was in middle school and wasn't old enough to read the fanfiction she was definitely reading and loves dragons, complex magic systems, unhinged female characters, tragic villains and good queer representation. You’ll find her covering everything genre fiction, especially if it’s fantasy-adjacent and even more especially if it’s about ASOIAF. In this Bangtan Sonyeondan sh*t for life.