Netflix Avatar: The Last Airbender season 1 recap guide: All 8 episodes explained

Check out this extensive recap guide to the first season of Netflix's Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action series.

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Netflix's live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender series is finally available to stream, and it's what everyone's currently watching and talking about. It's a live-action adaptation of the hit Nickelodeon animated series of the same name and is easily one of Netflix's biggest releases this year.

The show follows the adventures of a 12-year-old boy named Aang, who is the current Avatar and the last of his kind. After being frozen in ice for a hundred years, Aang awakens to find out that the powerful Fire Nation has wiped out his entire race (Air Nomads).

In order to put an end to this militaristic nation and stop it from completely conquering the world, Aang must learn to master the four elements (Water, Earth, Fire, Air). Joining him on his quest are young waterbender Katara and her Water Tribe warrior brother Sokka. But their journey is not without obstacles, with Aang having to constantly avoid the Crown Prince of the Fire Nation, who is determined to regain his honor by capturing him.

After that action-packed season 1 finale, we can't wait to see the upcoming Avatar: The Last Airbender season 2 on Netflix. But if you need a breakdown of what happened in each episode of the first season, make sure to continue reading because we shared a comprehensive recap guide for episodes 1 to 8 right below.

Major spoilers ahead from Avatar: The Last Airbender season 1

Avatar: The Last Airbender. Gordon Cormier as Aang in episode 101 of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Cr. Robert Falconer/Netflix © 2023 /

Season 1 episode 1 recap: Aang

The first episode opens with a man being chased by guards with firebending abilities in Capital City. Capital City is the home to the Fire Nations' leader. The man being chased has a scroll in his hand, and it seems that this is what the guards are after. The mysterious man and the guards engage in a battle where we find out that the man is actually an Earthbender.

The man sees his comrade and throws the scroll at him while he continues to fight the guards. He tells the comrade to get the scroll to the Earth King because "someone" is going to start a war. The comrade then leaves with the scroll. Since the guards are firebenders, our guess is that the man was talking about the Fire Nation. The guards end up overpowering the Earthbender and then take him to their leader, Fire Lord Sozin.

The Earthbender tells Fire Lord Sozin that the Fire Nation battle plans are on the way to the Earth Kingdom and that they'll be prepared for their attack. So, that's what was in the scroll. But Fire Lord Sozin tells him that this was his plan all along.

With the Earth Kingdom now having the Fire Nation's battle plans, all nations will be focused on helping them out. This is when the Fire Nation will swoop in and attack the Airbenders, with the goal of wiping out their entire nation, including the current Avatar. The Fire Nation's goal is to conquer all the other nations, and in order to do that, they need to make sure the Avatar is dead. After telling the Eartbender his plan, Fire Lord Sozin uses his fire abilities to burn him alive. Then, we cut to the show's opening sequence.

Now, the setting is the Southern Air Temple. A young boy named Aang glides through the sky with his airbending abilities before landing on the ground to meet with an Air Nomad monk. The monk lectures him about skipping out on his airbending training before telling him to go help set up for the Great Comet Festival. As Aang runs away, another monk walks up and tells the first monk that he needs to go talk to the council.

The next scene shows a meeting of all the Air Nomad monks in the Southern Air Temple. The first monk tells all the other monks that he thinks it's too early for Aang to know about who he really is because he's only 12 years old. Although the other monks know it's too early, they don't have a choice but to tell Aang because the Fire Nation is about to start a war and they need him to step into his power to help.

The Air Nomads think the Fire Nation is about to attack the Earth Kingdom first because of the Fire Nation battle plans they were told about. But they're actually the real target. During this scene, we also find out that the first monk we were introduced to is named Gyatso and he's one of Aang's mentors. The meeting of the Air Nomad monks ends with the leader ordering Aang to be sent away so that he can begin training in the other bending disciplines. That way, he'll be ready for battle.

Monk Gyatso takes Aang to the shrine of Avatar Yangchen to relay the news. He breaks down the Avatar cycle to Aang first, explaining that when one Avatar dies, the next Avatar is born into the following nation in the eternal cycle. He explains that Yangchen was the last Air Nomad to be Avatar, and that after she died, Kuruk of the Water Tribes took on the role next. Once Kuruk passed away, Kyoshi of the Earth Kingdom became Avatar followed by Roku of the Fire Nation. Now the cycle restarts itself with an Air Nomad being the new Avatar. This is when Gyatso tells Aang he's the new Avatar, and that he needs to leave right away to begin training in the other disciplines so that he can save the world from the terrifying Fire Nation.

Aang doesn't take this news well, feeling like it's too much responsibility. Later that night, as everyone sleeps, Aang lies awake thinking about everything he was told earlier. A restless Aang then flees the temple on his sky bison named Appa. Meanwhile, Fire Lord Sozin and his army of Firebenders begin attacking the Southern Air Temple, ultimately killing everyone there. As Aang flies through the sky on Appa, they eventually get caught in a storm and are thrown into the ocean. Aang then semi-consciously enters the Avatar State where he freezes himself and Appa into a sphere of ice to protect them.

Then, there's a cut to a young girl practicing waterbending. The new setting is Wolf Cove, where the Southern Water Tribe lives. After practice, the young girl walks through Wolf Cove and stops when she sees a teen boy teaching other kids. During this scene, we find out that the girl's name is Katara. She and the teen boy decide to go fishing for food, and it's during this trip that we find out that they're siblings and that the boy's name is Sokka.

As they sail through the icy water, their canoe begins to go faster before hitting a large piece of ice. Katara and Sokka are then thrown off the boat, and the boat drifts away. Katara looks around and notices a big sphere of ice, but doesn't go to investigate it. Instead, she tries to use her waterbending skills to pull the boat back towards them. Elsewhere, a Fire Nation ship is sailing through the ocean.

As Katara continues to waterbend, the sphere of ice suddenly bursts, and a beam of light shoots into the sky. One of the Fire Nation members on the ship notices the light beam from afar and looks happy to see it. Then, we cut to Aang standing where the sphere of ice was with his eyes closed and the arrows on his head and hands glowing. Sokka and Katara watch him as they lay on the ground. Suddenly, the light beam goes away and the arrows on Aang's body stop glowing. Aang then falls to the ground before sliding down the ice to Sokka and Katara.

The boat drifts back to where they are, and Sokka quickly grabs it. Although hesitant to take Aang back with them to Wolf Cove, Sokka is persuaded by Katara. Back at Wolf Cove, some of the Southern Water Tribe members watch Aang as he sleeps. Sokka and Katara's grandmother, Gran Gran, notices that Aang is an Airbender. They wait until Aang wakes up to talk to him.

Elsewhere on the Fire Nation ship, we see the Fire Nation member who was smiling at the light beam, talking with an older member. His name is Prince Zuko. He tells the older member that their next destination is Wolf Cove because that's where he believes the Avatar is. However, the older member isn't too sure about this being true. Prince Zuko explains to him that he's been trying to find the Avatar for three years and will continue to search for him for however long it takes.

The older member tells Prince Zuko that he doesn't think his father would approve of him doing this, but Prince Zuko cuts him off by saying that his father banished him until he finds the Avatar. During this scene, we find out that Prince Zuko's goal is to take his place as the rightful heir to the Fire Lord, and in order to do that, he has to get back in his father's good graces. How? By capturing the Avatar and bringing him back to the Fire Lord.

Back at Wolf Cove, Aang finally wakes up and walks out of the tent to see kids playing around. Sokka walks up to Aang and Aang introduces himself to him. But then Aang notices that Appa is missing and calls out for him. It takes a minute, but Appa is finally shown soaring through the sky before landing on the ground. They have a sweet reunion before Aang goes to talk to the Southern Water Tribe.

As Aang explains what happened before he got frozen in the iceberg, Gran Gran realizes that he's talking about events that happened many years ago. She tells Aang that 100 years ago, the Fire Nation attacked the Southern Air Temple, killing all Airbenders and starting a war. She continues and says that only the Avatar could stop them, but he was nowhere to be found at the time. This is when Aang realizes that he's been trapped in that iceberg for 100 years. He also feels guilty because he fled from his duties as Avatar when his people needed him the most.

Shocked by the information he just found out, Aang runs away to be by himself. Katara goes to comfort him and shares a personal story from her past. She explains that when she was little, she didn't really understand the war until the Firebenders came and attacked her village. Afterwards, her father set out with other Southern Water Tribe warriors to hunt down Firebenders, but they never came back. She tells Aang that this happened three years ago.

Katara then tells Aang that most of the world has been conquered by the Fire Nation, but the Waterbenders and Earthbenders are still hanging on. She takes him to a cave where she shows him her waterbending skills. She shares with him that she's the only Waterbender left in the Southern Tribe. Soon after, they notice a Fire Nation ship approaching Wolf Cove. They run back to the village.

As everyone prepares for the Fire Nation attack, Gran Gran reveals that Aang is the Avatar. But they don't have enough time to discuss the matter because the Fire Nation has landed. Prince Zuko and his Fire Nation crew stand outside the barrier to Wolf Cove, asking for Aang. Although Sokka initially wants to give Aang up, Katara manages to convince him not to. Sokka walks outside the barrier to Wolf Cove and challenges Prince Zuko to a one-on-one duel. Prince Zuko accepts.

As Prince Zuko attempts to deliver a finishing blow to Sokka, Aang uses his airbending abilities to blow him and his crew back. After a short battle, Aang surrenders to Zuko and they leave on the Fire Nation ship. Katara and Sokka then leave Wolf Cove on Appa to save Aang. On the Fire Nation ship, Aang is imprisoned. The older Fire Nation member who was mentioned earlier visits Aang. His name is revealed to be Iroh. They talk for a short while before Iroh leaves. As Iroh leaves, Aang uses his airbending abilities to steal one of the guard's keys. He opens the lock to the cell he's in and escapes.

While trying to hide from guards, Aang runs into a room on the ship, not knowing it's Zuko's room. He finds Zuko's notebook, which contains drawn pictures of different Avatars, and decides to keep it. He then makes a run for it off the ship. Zuko and his crew try to stop him, but Aang ends up being rescued by Katara and Sokka. As they ride on Appa, they try to figure out their next steps. Since the Firebenders are after Aang, they know they can't go back to Wolf Cove. So, Aang takes them to the Southern Air Temple. As he looks around his old temple, he sees all the damage the Fire Nation caused.

But what really sets him off is when he sees the skelton of his former mentor, Monk Gyatso. Filled with so much anger and sadness, Aang activates the Avatar State and starts destroying the temple. He eventually comes out of the state, and Katara consoles him. Aang then makes it his mission to complete his airbending training and master all the other bending skills so that he can bring back balance to the world. That way, all the Airbenders' deaths wouldn't be in vain. The first episode ends with Zuko drawing a picture of Aang and placing it on the wall of his room. He then stares at the drawing angrily before activating his firebending powers.