The episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender that means more than you think

With Avatar: The Last Airbender once again streaming on Netflix, fans are revisiting their favorite moments. One of these occurred toward the show's end, when Prince Zuko suddenly became one of the most compelling characters. 

Though originally painted to be an outright villain, Zuko changed forever when the writers decided to give him a more compelling and complex life, which audiences got to see full force in the "The Storm," which first aired in June 2005. The episode in question is remembered for its deep dive into Zuko's backstory, as well as flashing back to an earlier point of Aang's life. The AV Club writes how "The Storm" episode paralleled both characters, to show how life thrusts people into events they are sorely unprepared for, and it's up to the individuals themselves to figure out how to best survive it. The episode also explains much about how Zuko acts, and how he sees his place in the world, while also giving viewers a better insight into Aang, and what drove him to run from his temple in the first place (and how got stuck in ice).

Like the very best episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender, "The Storm" is a character study, which creates a deeper understanding of the show's important figures.

"The Storm" changed Avatar: The Last Airbender

In the episode, Zuko is invited to join a war council meeting. Though instructed to remain quiet, the Fire Nation prince objects to a plan to use new recruits as a distraction. He is unwilling to let his people be used as fodder. This causes strife in the council, since he has spoken out of turn, and he is instructed to defend himself in a duel. Soon enough, Zuko finds himself having to fight his father: he is completely unprepared, and overpowered, by a battle that leads to his father striking him, leaving the distinctive scar, because, "suffering will be [his] teacher." This act completely changes the way Zuko thinks. He becomes hardened and embittered. As a reviewer from IGN said, "that act almost automatically changes how I feel towards Zuko. You can't help but feel bad for the kid, we can only hope he gets some crazy revenge." 

However, the same episode is pivotal for Aang, as well. You get to see how close he was to his first teacher, and how isolated he felt in the temple, kept away from other children.

Overall, "The Storm" forever changed how people saw both Aang and Zuko, especially since the parallels between the two were further expanded later on in the series. Also, since Zuko was re-positioned as a tragic anti-hero as the show went on, as opposed to an outright villain, this episode became an important turning point for his character development.