Netflix’s ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ Ending Explained & Series Summary: Will Ozai Attack Ba Sing Se?

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Avatar: The Last Airbender is Netflix’s latest attempt at a live-action adaptation of a popular animated show, as the original American animated fantasy series is hailed by many as one of the best in its genre. The story presents a fantastical world where humans can control or bend one of the four classical elements—air, water, earth, and fire—and where the emergence of the new Avatar, a master of all four elements, creates utter chaos. The Netflix show focuses mostly on the earlier parts of the animated series, serving as a sort of origin story and introduction to the characters. While Avatar: The Last Airbender is receiving mixed reviews from fans of the original work, it can be a bit unconvincing and ineffective for those getting introduced to its world for the first time.

Spoiler Alert


Plot Summary: What is the Netflix Series about?

Avatar: The Last Airbender begins in a tumultuous time, where the peace between the four nations of air, water, earth, and fire benders is at stake. The world in this fantastical work had four different groups of people, all living in peace for many years until the leader of the Fire Nation decided to take control over the rest of the world. The series opens with an intense chase, as a few Earthbender rebels manage to steal a scroll from the Fire Nation with the hope of helping their nation against the Firebender attack that is expected to come. Although the rebels managed to carry out the plan, the leader of the Fire Nation stated that it was only a ruse to get the whole kingdom gathered to protect the Earth Nation, while the real target was a different place. Also, in this world, a generational warrior known as the Avatar is born in cycles to each of the four clans, and this individual is responsible for maintaining harmony and peace among the nations and also keeping the balance of the world intact.

Unbeknownst to Aang, a young monk hailing from the Air Nation, the next Avatar is supposed to be among the Airbenders, and in fact, he is the gifted warrior. When Gyatso, the chief trainer of the Airbenders and a very good friend of the orphan Aang, informs him of his identity as the Avatar, the boy is startled and quite reluctant, too. Aang wants to spend his life playing around and enjoying the pleasures of life instead of being a warrior responsible for world peace. Unable to sleep that night, Aang takes a ride on his beloved flying-bison Appa, and tragedy strikes at his home kingdom without his knowledge. The Fire Nation launches a treacherous attack against the Airbenders, killing each of them in an attempt to ensure that the Avatar is also killed before he can become a true warrior. Without the Avatar in place to maintain world peace, the Fire Nation can invade and rule over all lands, which is their true intention. 

Although Aang does not get to know about the attack, he does feel something odd after crashing into high waves and falling into the sea. Without realizing it, he unleashes supreme power by getting into the Avatar State, and as a result, he gets frozen in ice. It is only exactly a hundred years later, in a world almost totally ruled by the Fire Nation, that Aang wakes up as the same young boy, without having aged at all. He soon makes friends with the siblings Katara and Sokka of the tribe living in the South Pole, where he wakes up and gets to know more about the current world. While Katara is filled with hope at the emergence of an Avatar, as she wants to fight back against the Firebenders, Sokka is initially reluctant but ultimately joins the journey. Aang sets out with his friends with the intention of learning the three other element-bending skills, while the exiled son of the current Fire Lord, young Prince Zuko, is desperately searching for him.


Does Aang learn the skills to bend all four elements?

Aang’s journey to learn Waterbending, Earthbending, and Firebending does not actually reach any fruitful end in Avatar: The Last Airbender, as he is unable to use anything other than Airbending. His new friend Katara is a masterful Waterbender, although she needs to learn and develop the skill as the series progresses. Since the Water Nation was also now under the rule of the Fire Nation, all Waterbenders were targeted and killed by the oppressors, so Katara also had to hide her talents. It is only after leaving her tribe that Katara masters the skill, and she uses it in the various fights that the team comes across. As Katara uses water bending to complement Aang’s Airbending, the Avatar does not really feel the need to learn the skills himself; instead, he states that he has friends who can help him during battles. 

But Aang does go through a series of self-realizations and motivational boosts, the most important of which comes during a conversation with Gyatso in the Spirit World. Aang always held himself responsible for the destruction of his tribe and homeland, believing that he had technically abandoned them during the night of the attack. But the truth of the matter was that Aang had no training as an Avatar at the time, and his presence would not have helped the Airbenders in any way. Rather, Aang would have also been killed, and there would be no hope left for the world. Gyatso tells the kid about this, making him finally at peace with his life and powers. Initially, after realizing what had happened to the world, Aang was unable to control his anger and frustration, getting into the Avatar State and causing destruction all around. But as he gains new experiences, Aang learns to keep his emotions and powers in check.

The protagonist also receives a series of important lessons from the past Avatars, whom he can communicate with at their respective shrines. Avatar Kyoshi, the extraordinarily powerful Earthbender, teaches Aang how to become a fierce warrior and protector of innocent people. Since the previous Avatars all live on inside the current Avatar in spirit form, Kyoshi is able to emerge physically, through Aang’s body, and fight off the Fire Nation troops. Next, Aang meets with Avatar Roku, the intelligent Firebender, who teaches him the importance of diplomacy and politics, along with fighting skills. Taking knowledge from this experience, Aang strikes a deal with a demon from the Spirit World to rescue his friends from the realm. Lastly, he meets with Kuruk, the Waterbender, who reminds him of the great responsibility on his shoulders as the last Airbender in the world and, most importantly, the current Avatar and, therefore, savior of the Earth Kingdom. 


Can Aang protect the Northern Water Tribe?

During his interaction with Avatar Kyoshi, Aang first sees a vision in which the Fire Nation forces wage war upon a community in the north, known as the Northern Water Tribe. Since the Waterbenders have still not completely succumbed to the oppressive rule of the Fire Lord Ozai, this attack is to wipe out every Waterbender from existence. In order to help the place and also to receive his own training, Aang reaches the Northern Water Tribe together with his friends. Pakku, the most famous Waterbending master, can teach both Aang and Katara the bending technique, but it is ultimately only the latter who takes it seriously and hones her skills. However, Pakku is also terribly against letting women go to war, and so he does not want Katara to take part in the imminent war. It takes a lot of convincing and also a really desperate situation for Pakku to change his mind and let the women of the tribe take direct part in the war.

As seen in the vision, the Fire Nation troops do indeed sail towards the settlement, wanting to wage war. They are led by Commander Zhao, a naval officer of the Fire Nation, and his intention is twofold, as he wants to kill all Waterbenders and also get hold of Avatar Aang and take him to Ozai. Zhao actually has his eyes set on becoming a legend and eventually the leader of the Fire Nation, for he does believe that Ozai is an adept leader to rule the world. Zhao’s plan of wiping out the water tribe is all the more cruel and dangerous because of his intention to eradicate the very element that serves as the life force of the Waterbenders. Since these people are greatly dependent on the sea and the moon spirits for their powers, Zhao finds and kills the moon spirit itself, which immediately threatens the balance of the world and poses the threat of causing massive disruption in life.

However, it is not Aang or his friends who can save the day; Yue, the princess of the Northern Water Tribe, does so by sacrificing her own life. Yue reveals that she had been helped by the Moon Spirit when she was seriously sick as a child, and so her sacrifice comes not only for the sake of the existence of her tribe but also as a debt owed to the Moon Spirit itself. As Sokka had fallen in love with Yue, she ensured that he was fixed to the ground before she could sacrifice herself, knowing very well that the young man would get in the way of her plan. Although Yue saves the tribe and all Waterbenders by giving up her powers to revive the Moon Spirit, she dies in the process.

The battle is also over, and the Fire Nation troops ultimately retreat, canceling their plan of takeover. Commander Zhao is also seemingly killed by Zuko and Uncle Iroh, which is, in a way, a direct action against their own Fire Nation. Although the Northern Water Tribe managed to withstand the attack and survive, a significant amount of damage was dealt. As Aang looks over the destruction with grief, once again holding himself responsible for not being able to protect the world, his friends encourage him to look forward and prepare himself against more such attacks in the future. At the end of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang, Katara, and Sokka continue their journey to learn more about bending skills.


What happens to Zuko and Uncle Iroh?

The story of Zuko is a layered one, as his character is not really evil, despite being on the wrong side of world power at the moment. It is gradually revealed that Zuko was not heartless and cruel like his father, Ozai, who did not hesitate to sacrifice his own soldiers to win battles for his kingdom. Zuko found such plans to be senseless, and when he protested against them, he was forced to fight against his own father. Ozai not only left a very painful burn mark on Zuko’s face but also banished him from the kingdom in an effort to make his son more ruthless and without any compassion for anyone. Zuko was given the almost impossible task of finding the Avatar and bringing him back to the kingdom, which would be proof of his service to the Fire Nation.

This was why Zuko had been pursuing Aang so desperately, and his uncle, Ozai’s own brother, Iroh, had decided to join him on this search. Iroh felt Zuko’s banishment to be terribly unfair, but he could not change his brother’s mind and instead accompanied the boy. Over the course of their journey, Zuko tried to seek the help of Commander Zhou, not knowing that the latter was conspiring against him with his own sister, Princess Azula. With the help of the princess, Zhou managed to take over the mission to kidnap Aang, and Zuko was once again left on the losing side of the deal. Zhou attempted a mutiny with the help of Lieutenant Jee of Zuko’s ship, but Jee realized his mistake upon learning that it was Zuko who had saved him and the rest of the crew from certain death. Jee and the other crew members were part of the army unit that Ozai wanted to sacrifice in battle, and since Zuko had spoken up for them, they were made to be his crewmates when the prince was banished.

After Zuko’s departure from the Fire Nation, Princess Azula strived hard to prove her worth to her father, as she wanted to become the next Fire Lord. This is why Azula conspires against her brother, for she does not want him to be her competitor for the title, while she also hones her own fighting skills. But the heartless Ozai makes use of this very sibling rivalry to get his kingdom to gain more control over the world, pitting his own children against each other. In the end, Zuko and Uncle Iroh both survive the conspiracies against them, even managing to kill Zhou. However, Zuko admits that he does not know what to do next, suggesting that he might very well change his allegiance and side with Aang in the future after having realized the full extent of his father’s cruelty.


What is Ozai’s real plan?

Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender ends with a twist in the plot, which also acts as a narrative twist for a possible second season. After the war at the North Water Tribe is over, Fire Lord Ozai is informed of the generally unfavorable result for his Fire Nation, but he is not worried at all. Instead, the man reveals that the Waterbenders were not his real target, and the attack was simply a ruse to divert the attention of the world towards the North Water Tribe. At this time, Ozai launched an attack on the city of Omashu, which was one of the last places not to be ruled by the Fire Nation. As Avatar Aang and all his friends were busy fighting the war at the North Water Tribe, the Fire Nation troops invaded Omashu and took control of it, capturing the king of the land, Bumi. 

The fall of Omashu makes the Fire Nation all the more powerful, and they are literally only one city away from ruling over the entire Earth Kingdom. Interestingly, the attack on Omashu was also led by Princess Azula, who had earlier mastered the skill of controlling lightning, the most powerful form of Firebending, which only Uncle Iroh was able to master in the animated series. This probably ascertains that Azula is the one who will lead the Fire Nation forward together with Lord Ozai, and she will become one of the main antagonists in the future. If a second season is indeed made, then Zuko and Azula will probably fight against each other directly in a struggle for power. 


What Does the Post-Credit Scene Mean?

Avatar: The Last Airbender‘s ending also presents a post-credits scene in which Zhou’s spiritual prophet tells him about the fact that the Sozin’s comet was about to soon appear in the night sky. In the beginning, Fire Lord Sozin harnessed the power of the same special comet to attack the air benders and destroy the entire world, which came to be named after him. Now, Ozai wants to use the powers of the same comet to capture the last standing earth kingdom city called Ba Sing Se. Uncle Iroh had earlier attacked the city but failed to penetrate its huge walls and retreated after he lost his son in the siege. Now Azula will finish her uncle’s mission and prove to her father that she is better than both of them in the second season. Aang, on the other hand, will have to stop Ozai before the comet arrives on earth, as once Ozai gains its immense powers, it will be impossible to stop the fire lord, and the world will forever dwell in chaos.


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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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