|"Oh, dear. You've been through so much recently. Hurt and betrayed. So twisted up inside."|
|— Guru Pathik as he reads Appa's energy.|
After being abducted by sandbenders, Appa is traded to a Fire Nation circus, where he is mistreated by the circus trainer, but he is able to escape with the help of a small boy. He later unwillingly enters a fight with a boar-q-pine, and though he manages to win, he is badly wounded in the process. Suki and the Kyoshi Warriors come across Appa and help him recover from his injuries, but they are later attacked by Azula and her team, forcing Appa to flee. He returns to his childhood home at the Eastern Air Temple, where he encounters a mysterious guru. The guru tells Appa to find Aang in Ba Sing Se, but once Appa arrives in Ba Sing Se, Long Feng captures him using a bison whistle similar to Aang's.
This episode spans a period of a month, from when Aang's flying bison, Appa, was captured to shortly before he reached Ba Sing Se, detailing his adventures after he was captured by the sandbenders outside of Wan Shi Tong's Library.
The episode begins with Appa's capture in "The Library". Sandbenders attack Appa with intent of capturing him, while Toph, her seismic sense hampered by the sand and divided by the need to prevent the library from sinking, is unable to help.
The sandbenders drag Appa away, until Ghashiun, the leader of the group, orders Appa's saddle be ransacked for any valuables, but nothing more valuable than Sokka's club is found. Appa tries to fight back once more, destroying one of the sand-sailers, but Ghashiun is unfazed because that sailer had been stolen from the Hami Tribe. He tosses the supplies on the saddle away and continues his plan to sell Appa to a group of beetle-headed merchants.
After a little debate, the merchants decide to buy Appa, giving the sandbenders a small chest of the money. The merchants begin dragging Appa into position so they can secure him onto a caged sled, but the moment Appa is fastened into the sled, Aang blows his whistle from afar during his search for his lost bison. Appa hears the whistle and begins to struggle, lifting the entire sled off the ground to get to his calling master. The merchants decide to shoot Appa with some shirshu-spit darts fired from a blowgun. The darts pierce Appa's foot and he falls quickly to the ground. Before falling unconscious, he sees the giant cloud created by a frustrated Aang as he hears the two merchants discuss selling him for parts.
Appa wakes up to find himself inside a small cage; next to him are several depressed-looking animals. A firebender talks to him and seems sympathetic, but it immediately becomes apparent that he is an animal tamer who intends to break Appa to his will. He begins by feeding the other animals except for Appa. Instead, he lets out a lion vulture and shows how Appa will earn his food by sending the lion vulture through hoops. While the animal tamer is performing tricks with his back to Appa, the hungry bison slyly sucks in air, pulling the cabbages from the cart into his mouth. The tamer turns around and becomes furious, threatening Appa with fire.
That night, the circus hosts a performance in a Fire Nation town. Appa unsuccessfully attempts to pull a bale of hay closer to him to eat. A small boy, waiting for his father to return with some sizzle-crisps, disobeys his father's orders not to move and helps Appa by moving the hay close enough for him to eat. He stays with Appa, only leaving when the animal tamer comes back. The animal tamer speaks to Shuzumu, insisting that Appa is not prepared to perform, as it is too risky, and demands more time to train him. Shuzumu, however, tells him that a circus is "the home of fear and danger" and that Appa will perform that night. The tamer warns Appa that if he does not behave tonight, he will regret it, as the boy watches.
During the show, Appa is introduced as "The Wind Buffalo" and dressed in a garish costume and makeup. The crowd laughs at the sight of Appa and the animal tamer attempts to get Appa to fly by commanding, "Up". Appa spins around and the crowd laughs more, only infuriating the animal tamer, who strikes Appa with a whip of flame. Appa flies up, goes through a burning hoop and stands up on a high-rising platform, and flies through another hoop. However, Appa's costume catches on fire and he slaps the hoop to the ground, striking the animal tamer on the head and knocking him to the ground. The crowd laughs again. Appa lands and sees the boy who helped him earlier and is instantly reminded of Aang. The boy urges him to escape; Appa begins to flee only for the animal tamer to rise and send a fire blast his way. He attempts to strike him with a fire whip, however, Appa manages to slip through an airhole at the top side of the tent and escapes, leaving behind his costume for the small boy to watch and smile.
Appa flies back to the spot where the library was, only to find it completely buried. He tries to dig it out, but decides it a futile effort and flies off. Feeling hungry, Appa lands to find food. He starts to move toward a giant purple egg, but just as he is about to eat it, a gilacorn runs off with the egg held above its head. He turns over and goes to eat a cactus, scaring away a jackalope in the process. However, Appa eats the whole cactus and gets a mouth full of thorns for his trouble. Appa lifts off again and finds himself in the buzzard wasp nest to which Aang and the gang traveled, quickly earning the ire of its inhabitants. Appa manages to fight them off and collapses in the sand, trying to get at the yellow, sap-like, gooey substance on his feet.
That night, Appa wanders into a farm, where he goes into an open barn and eats some hay and water. He collapses, exhausted, on the ground, dreaming of his past: At the Eastern Air Temple, an airbending nun is preparing several children to bond with a group of young flying bison. She gives each of them an apple, telling them to choose a bison carefully because a bison is a companion for life. One of the boys is Aang, who soon finds Appa and offers him the fruit; Appa happily devours it before pushing Aang over and licking his face. Aang laughs, saying how this must mean the two will be together forever. The scene switches to Aang, sleeping with the group during "The Serpent's Pass", who is having the same exact dream as Appa.
Appa is startled awake by a farmer who, frightened of Appa's immense size, is attacking him with a pitchfork. The man's wife, drawn by his cries, comes to the barn with a torch to check out what is going on. Appa, now frightened of fire due to his time with the tamer, rears up and backs into the barn, damaging the wall before flying out straight through the roof and flying off. Appa's path takes him directly over the Serpent's Pass, where Iroh sees him in the sky. Zuko, awakened by his uncle's reaction, asks him what is going on, but Iroh decides not to tell him about it.
Appa continues to fly, finding his landing in the middle of a forest. Exhausted, he lands in front of an overgrown doorway. As Appa tries to stand up, a boar-q-pine comes charging out of the passage, tackling him, and sending them both tumbling down the hillside. Appa is pricked with several quills, but manages to fight off the boar, claiming the ruin as his own.
The next day, the Kyoshi Warriors are out picking berries when one notices the damage caused by the fight, as well as several clumps of white fur. Suki, recognizing the fur as Appa's, finds him still sleeping. Appa, however, is now frightened of people and is reluctant to let her get closer, despite the gift of fruit she leaves him. Suki gathers the rest of the warriors and calms Appa down by telling him how she wants to help him and return him to Aang. The girls remove the quills left from the boar, remove his shackles, and clean his fur, but their celebration is short-lived as a blast of blue flames knocks a tree over. Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee arrive on their mongoose lizards, still pursuing the Avatar. The Warriors of Kyoshi defend Appa, but Azula and her friends are far more formidable opponents than they have faced before and soon have the upperhand against the Warriors. Appa turns back to help, but Suki grabs a burning branch and uses it to scare him off. Still frightened by the fire, Appa flies off while Suki turns to engage Azula in combat.
Appa flies far away, passing over a group of Water Tribe ships, where Katara and Sokka's father, Hakoda, sees him flying above. He eventually makes his way back to the Eastern Air Temple, where he remembers his early days, playing with his siblings as a calf. As Appa walks around, he stumbles upon an old man who he thinks is Aang. After tackling him and licking him happily, he finds that the man is not Aang, and he backs away and growls at him. The man, who calls himself Guru Pathik, understands that he is not the person Appa expected, and he simply lies back, looking at Appa ever so often, and receiving a growl in return. Eventually, night settles in, and Appa falls asleep. The guru reads Appa's energy, remarking on how Appa is so full of love and trust, but at the same time fear is moving in where trust should be. He also tells of how he had a vision of Aang and Appa years prior and decided to come to the Eastern Air Temple and wait for the two. He leaves Appa to rest, saying how Appa must let the clouds in his mind part and be at peace.
The coming morning, Appa finds some fruit which the guru left for him to eat. Appa finds him meditating with a group of animals surrounding him. Appa decides to leave the man alone, and after flying around a bit, he comes to rest next to the guru at the top of the temple. The guru gives Appa a note, which he ties to his horn, and proceeds to tell the bison about how much his energy and Aang's are intertwined. As he tells Appa this, he puts his hand on Appa's forehead and tells the bison where to find Aang. Appa flies off, heading to Ba Sing Se.
As Appa flies into Ba Sing Se, two Dai Li agents are seen spying from the rooftops. Appa continues to fly around until suddenly he hears something. Under the gaze of three pygmy pumas, he lands in the middle of the city, where, deep in the shadows, he sees a man blowing a whistle. The man, however, is revealed to be Long Feng, and after a swift and powerful earthbending move, he captures Appa underground, leaving only a single footprint in the mud. The pygmy pumas would later lead Momo to the footprint in the episode, "The Tales of Ba Sing Se".
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- Main article: Transcript:Appa's Lost Days
- Main article: Avatar Extras for Book Two: Earth
- The sandbender catamaran that Appa accidentally blows into a sandbank is the same one Team Avatar later discovers in "The Desert".
- The umbrella that a sandbender retrieves from Appa's saddle is the same one that Team Avatar got from the calm man in "The Fortuneteller".
- The way Guru Pathik read Appa's energy in order to find Aang mirrors how Aang found Appa and Momo by reading the energy of the banyan-grove tree in "The Swamp".
- This is the only episode of the series besides "Zuko Alone" in which Katara and Sokka have no dialogue.
- The circus that Appa was sold to is the same circus shown in "Return to Omashu", which Ty Lee was a part of. Avatar Extras revealed that Ty Lee was one of the starring acts, and Appa was bought by the circus to replace her.
- The Kyoshi Warriors appear in full costume for the first time since "The Warriors of Kyoshi".
- The footprint Appa made right before he was captured by Long Feng is the same one seen in "The Tales of Ba Sing Se".
- This is the second time Azula and her friends find Appa's fur when trying to find Aang.
- Ghashiun says in this episode to muzzle Appa, a statement Toph makes mention of in "The Desert", but he never actually said it in "The Library".
- When the sandbenders capture Appa, they throw a muzzle over his mouth, which he breaks. As they drag Appa away, the muzzle is seen back around his mouth. However, when Ghashiun says, "Who knows what treasures are stashed in there," it is gone again. In the next shot it reappears.
- Although Sokka's club is seen being discarded by the sandbenders, he is seen using it in later episodes.
- The young, Aang-like boy at the circus who was friendly to Appa has different sitting partners. His father is always on his left side, but the person on the other side changes twice for no apparent reason. When he first sits down, the person on his right is a gray-haired old man. Later, his sitting partner is a somewhat similar-looking, black-haired younger man. Finally during the scene where he is laughing at Appa's antics, no one is sitting on his right side at all.
- When Appa escapes the circus, he is wearing makeup and some sort of cape. When he flies away, the cape comes off, but the makeup just disappears in the next shot.
- When Appa enters the cave-like hive, he enters head-first, but when he exits, he comes out head-first as well, even though the tunnels would be too narrow for him to turn around.
- When Suki is following the trail of fur to where Appa was hiding, she clearly is not holding anything, but when she confronts Appa just a few moments later, she already has an apple and several berries in her hand.
- When Suki and the Kyoshi Warriors fight Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee, Suki draws a katana and shield to fight Azula. When she lunges with the katana, she uses both hands and has no shield; in the next shot, she has one again.
- When Suki charges at Azula with her fan and shield, her sword is seen still sheathed on her hip, despite the fact that she had been disarmed earlier in the fight.
- When Guru Pathik comments on how well Appa slept, it can be seen that the bison has a 'bed head'. However, during the previous scene when Appa wakes up, he does not have bed head.
- On March 27, 2007, this episode received a Genesis Award from the Humane Society of the United States in the category "Outstanding Children's Programming", which the HSUS Genesis Award press release described as "[...] a mythical tale about animals held captive for human entertainment that resonates with the way animals are used in circuses today".
- This episode spans over the longest period of time in the World of Avatar: four weeks.
- A battle between Appa and a boar-q-pine under normal circumstances would not have lasted very long, but Appa was tired and his legs were shackled.
- Appa is one of the few characters on the show to bleed; the first was Zuko during his battle with Azula.
- When Appa smells the yellow, gooey substance buzzard wasps produce to feed their young, he enters the cave-like hive to try and find it. However, as is later revealed by Aang, Appa has a fear of caves and usually cannot be convinced to go in one at all. It is likely that he only entered because he was motivated by hunger and the desperate need to survive.
- When Appa flies over the Water Tribe ships, Hakoda is seen for the first time outside of flashbacks.
- DeMott, Rick (April 3, 2007). Simpsons, Avatar & Happy Feet Big Winners in Genesis Awards. Animation World Network. Archived from the original on February 5, 2017. Retrieved on March 4, 2022.
- Avatar Extras for "Appa's Lost Days" on Nicktoons Network.
- Ehasz, Aaron, Ehasz, Elizabeth Welch, Hedrick, Tim, O'Bryan, John (writers) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (March 17, 2006). "The Avatar State". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 1. Nickelodeon.
- Avatar Extras for "The Desert" on Nicktoons Network.
- Ehasz, Elizabeth Welch (writer) & Dos Santos, Joaquim (director). (July 17, 2008). "The Southern Raiders". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 16. Nickelodeon.