The Blue Spirit: The Last Airbender's Masterpiece


        Few television series managed to accomplish exactly what Avatar: The Last Airbender did in terms of story, characters, and worldbuilding. It transported us to a world of fantasy, where we actually felt connected to each and every character and the story arcs that they went through over the course of the show’s three seasons. Avatar excelled at building an epic overarching story with its episodes, while also providing smaller-scale episodes that, while maybe not advancing the entire plot, enhanced the characters themselves. Perhaps the most poignant example of this is Season One’s Thirteenth episode entitled “The Blue Spirit”. For a multitude of reasons, I consider this episode to be the best episode of the entire show and one of the greatest episodes of television of all time.

The episode begins with Season One villain Admiral Zhao taking interest in a group of deadly accurate warriors known as the Yuyan Archers, who can “hit a fly from 100 yards away, without killing it.” As Zhao assumes command over them, we see a mysterious figure lurking over an unassuming Zhao with a blue mask on. At this point, we’re unaware of the identity of the mysterious masked figure, and as an audience, we can assume that it’s just a one-off character that will presumably disappear after the episode is over, as has happened numerous times before in the show.

We then see an out-of-commission Sokka, as he’s come down with a bad fever. Soon enough, Kitara gets afflicted as well, and as the both of them start to show severe signs of illness, Aang must set out on his own to save them. As he sets out in search of frozen frogs, a solution to Kitara and Sokka’s ailment bestowed upon him by a wise lady of the mountains, Aang is intercepted by the Yuyan archers, who manage to apprehend him and bring him in. Aang, for the first time in the show, is captured. After a multitude of failed attempts by Zuko, it is Zuko’s rival in his attempt to capture the avatar that ends up doing so in Zhao. Aang is now helpless, as his friends are sick and now, he has no one to save him from his imprisonment.

As Zhao plans on burning the Avatar back alive to the fire nation to Fire Lord Ozai, the mysterious masked figure appears and frees Aang from his chains, unspeaking, the masked figure leads the way for Aang as they attempt to break out of Zhao’s compound. As they encounter Zhao’s guards and the alarm is sounded, the “Blue Spirit” exhibits an extreme proficiency in combat, rivaling that of Aang’s ability. They work together arm in arm to cut down a multitude of guards, eventually making their way to the outer gate of the compound.

Just as they’re about to escape, they both become surrounded by Fire Nation guards. With no other options, The Blue Spirit puts a sword to Aang’s throat and takes him as a hostage as a means of escape, as General Zhao needs Aang alive, the guards back off. The Blue Spirit, still holding Aang hostage, slowly backs away out of the compound. As he gets far enough away to make a run for it, we see a single Yuyan Archer knock an arrow, and take aim at the Blue Spirit. He lets his arrow fly, and with perfect precision knocks The Blue Spirit out, removing his mask to reveal that it was actually Zuko all along. Aang realizes this and saves both of them. Zuko was far away enough from the Fire Nation army, so the identity of the Blue Spirit continued to remain a mystery.

The episode ends with Zuko waking up to Aang watching over him, telling him that in another life, perhaps they could’ve been friends. They then part ways, and we’re left to contemplate their dynamic interaction throughout the episode.

This episode stands above the rest in my opinion for so many reasons. The reveal of The Blue Spirit’s identity was so potent and well done, using the Yuyan Archers in a way that was meaningful to the story as it weaves the overall reveal into something that actually made sense from a storytelling standpoint was ingenious. The foreshadowing of Zuko’s moral dilemma and the insight that this episode provides into his struggle was also so subtly implemented as well. From this episode on, when we see Zuko, we’re always reminded that somewhere in his heart, he was able to look past his own hatred and actually help the Avatar escape, even if it was for his own selfish reasons.

Avatar: The Last Airbender has many classic episodes, storylines, and characters, and “The Blue Spirit” is the most excelling example of that. It starts Zuko’s character arc of questioning his own belief and provides us with perhaps the first instance in which we see that Avatar is not just a kids’ show, but a work of art.


Writer: Christopher Robertson

Artist: Christopher Robertson