How Avatar: The Last Airbender’s Ending Sets Up Season 2

Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender hasn’t been renewed for another season yet but they’re already setting it up.

Avatar: The Last Airbender. Daniel Dae Kim as Ozai in season 1 of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Photo: Robert Falconer | Netflix

This article contains spoilers for Netflix’s AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER.

With all the changes that were necessary to translate the original animated Avatar: The Last Airbender into live-action, the Netflix series was still largely faithful to the source material. Plots were condensed, swapped around, or altered, but the same general arc of the season held in place. Aang and the gang traveled to the Northern Water Tribe as they were pursued by Zuko and members of the Fire Nation. 

Along the way, however, there were changes and the biggest one that bookended either side of the first season was Sozin’s Comet. In the original series the comet was introduced part way into the first season, explained to Aang by Avatar Roku. He laid out that the comet’s power was able to be harnessed by Firebenders, amplifying their powers. 100 years previously Fire Lord Sozin used this to start the Hundred Year War and, chillingly, the comet will soon return. The current Fire Lord, Ozai, will be able to utilize the power of the comet in less than a year, giving Aang a massive deadline to master all four elements and save the world.

The first episode of Netflix’s Avatar opens with a prologue set in that time period 100 years ago, where we witness the effects of the comet supercharging Firebenders. This gives them the ability to wipe out the Air Nomads. In a brutal sequence Airbenders are burned alive and even the powerful Monk Gyatso’s attacks only fan the flames of his enemies. As a Fire Nation soldier taunts, “you may have prevailed on another night. But not when we have the power of the comet.”

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Gyatso is then burned alive. It’s a cruel and effective demonstration of what Aang will have to face when the comet returns. This is finally brought to the forefront at the very end of the season in episode 8, “Legends.” Fire Lord Ozai’s informed about the Fire Nation’s defeat against the Northern Water Tribe but, in a direct parallel to the start of the season, he reveals that they were never his true target. Fire Lord Sozin had tricked the Earthbenders into thinking they were his main target while he went after the Air Nomads and now Ozai is using his attack on the Water Tribe to conceal an invasion of the Earth Nation.

This neatly sets up what will most likely be the main narrative thrust of season 2 of Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender. Only Ba Sing Se, capital of the Earth Nation, stands in their way and thus Aang and the rest will need to travel there. Azula, daughter of Ozai, leads the Fire Nation attack, which will put her at the forefront of the conflict.

But the real cliffhanger is given to us in the final scene of the episode, where one of Ozai’s Great Sage’s reveals a model of the world to demonstrate he’s been able to better understand, “celestial motion.” He can predict that Sozin’s Comet will return. Ozai asks when but the Great Sage can only respond, “soon.”

The lack of a concrete time of return for the comet was previously addressed in an interview given by showrunner Albert Kim to Entertainment Weekly, which we’ve analyzed. Kim stated that they couldn’t introduce Sozin’s Comet in the same way as the original series because of the need to accommodate time that would pass in the real world between the first and possible second season. Unlike in animation, the live-action show can’t control the inevitable aging of their young lead actors, so it makes sense they’d keep the time table of Sozin’s Comet vague for now.

The Comet isn’t off the table though. While we doubt Sozin’s Comet will make a massive appearance in the second season, it’ll be a looming threat that will hopefully drive Aang forward in his task of mastering all four elements and saving the world.

All eight episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender are now streaming on Netflix.

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