|More about Zuko|
|Zuko's main article|
|Book One: Water (83 AG - 100 AG) |
Book Two: Earth (Spring 100 AG)
Book Three: Fire (Summer 100 AG)
Post war (100 AG - 102 AG)
|Zuko in the films |
Zuko in the games
Zuko in The Last Airbender video game
Zuko in the pilot episode
Harmony Restoration Movement
After the Hundred Year War, Zuko was crowned Fire Lord and subsequently aided the Harmony Restoration Movement in order to move the colonials back to the Fire Nation. During the Earth King's official announcement of the plan to the people of Ba Sing Se, Zuko and his friends took a ride on Appa to watch the celebratory fireworks. While on the sky bison, the concerned Fire Lord asked the Avatar to make a promise: If Aang saw that Zuko was becoming like Ozai, as the Avatar, Aang would end Zuko's life. Initially disbelieving, Aang sought advice from Katara, who nodded in approval, and in seeing this, he hesitantly accepted.
Furthermore, Zuko began to actively change the Fire Nation government; he removed most of Ozai's loyalists from their offices, making only a few exceptions, including Ukano. Because of this and his policy of reconciliation, some in the Fire Nation and the colonies developed a deep hatred for him. Underground rebel organizations were formed in attempts to restore Ozai back to power, and several attempts on his life took place, though ultimately, all these attempts failed.
A year later, following five attempts on the Fire Lord's life, Kori, daughter of Morishita, Mayor of Yu Dao, broke into the Royal Palace to assassinate Zuko. Although she overcame the bodyguards, she was not able to defeat Zuko, who took her as a prisoner and learned the truth behind the attack. The Fire Lord traveled to her home colony to speak with the mayor; however, when Zuko explained that the movement was to bring peace to the world, Morishita reacted poorly and began arguing, using Ozai as an example of a Fire Lord who would not betray his people, causing Zuko to remember a visit he made to his father in prison. Ozai had warned him that he was going to return, as the young man would need help being the ruler of a nation that he could not handle on his own. The Fire Lord threatened Mayor Morishita, claiming that he was not like his father, and the mayor agreed: He was not like his father, who had many faults but was never a coward or a traitor. At this, Zuko ordered the mayor seized, but the guards were attacked by an earthbender, Mrs. Morishita, who asked the Fire Lord to forgive her husband for his statements. Zuko, surprised to see that she was an earthbender, as was her daughter, learned that the people had already been established in the city strongly enough to even form families between people from different nations. It was for this reason that Zuko allowed the Fire Nation colonials to remain in the city and announced his rejection of the Harmony Restoration Movement.
After Team Avatar heard about Zuko's withdrawal of support for the Harmony Restoration Movement, they traveled to Yu Dao, where Zuko was staying. Aang and Katara flew over the city's walls to meet the Fire Lord; however, some Fire Nation guards informed them that no one could enter without the Fire Lord's permission, not even the Avatar, to which Aang claimed that he just wanted to talk to him. The guards responded by attacking Aang and Katara with firebending. After the pair defeated all the guards, Katara was grabbed by Zuko, who admonished her for attacking his people. Aang, angry at Zuko's action, warned him to let her go, but he insisted that she first had to agree to stop attacking; Aang separated Zuko and Katara with airbending, prompting Zuko to retaliate and Aang to enter the Avatar State. Katara, telling him that he would not be able to control himself in an altered emotional state, managed to calm him down. The Fire Lord agreed to talk and gave the couple a tour of Yu Dao, pointing out how heavily integrated the lives of the citizens were in the colony. At this, Katara proposed a conversation with Kuei concerning the matter, to which the Avatar and Fire Lord both agreed.
Returning to the Capital City, Zuko met Mai, who tried to console him after noticing his tiredness and lack of sleep, and asked him to talk to her if he had problems, to which Zuko agreed and said it would not happen again. Mai informed him that she had brought the Kyoshi Warriors for better protection of the palace. That night, Zuko woke up in the middle of the night, convinced that he heard something. Going outside to investigate, he was informed by Suki and Ty Lee that it had been quiet all night. Confused, he went for a drink of water, hoping that the walk would do him some good, though he ended up preparing tea to take to his father in prison. There, he knelt before him and asked him for advice.
Zuko kept struggling to find the right path and to overcome his insomnia. Turning to Ozai for guidance, he was told that no matter what he chose to do, it would always be the right thing, for he was the Fire Lord and, therefore, whatever he said goes. Zuko refused to believe that, stating there was a greater good beyond his own decisions. Enraged over Zuko's beliefs, Ozai demanded him to leave his presence, as Zuko was still weak because of that.
While Zuko was pondering over what to do, Mai confronted him about his secret meetings with Ozai and blamed him for not confiding in her. He apologized to her and admitted that he loved her, but she retorted that it became apparent that he loved his secrets more than her and thus ended their relationship. Suki arrived immediately after Mai's departure, bowing before the Fire Lord while apologizing to him as she felt responsible for their breakup. She told him that she was the one who had informed Mai about his nightly talks in hopes of helping Zuko, as she and the Kyoshi Warriors were worried about him. However, when General Mak arrived to inform Zuko that Earth King Kuei was preparing to invade Yu Dao, Zuko pushed his relationship troubles aside and deployed his fleet to defend the colony from the Earth Kingdom Army.
While asleep in his ship, Zuko and Aang shared a dream in which the spirits of Ozai and Roku stood behind them as he tried to explain to Aang his conflicting feelings about the Harmony Restoration Movement: the need to protect his people against his initial promise to see the Harmony Restoration Movement through. Ozai's voice echoed in his mind, telling him that the Fire Lord's will determine what is right. Convinced that he would never find the right path on his own, he offered himself freely to Aang. As the Avatar entered the Avatar State in order to fulfill his promise to Zuko, the Fire Lord noticed his mournful mother standing behind the spirit of Roku and asked her not to cry. Meanwhile, Aang unleashed an elemental attack on him, but before he could fulfill his promise to kill Zuko, both teenagers woke up in shock.
Conflicted about his actions, Zuko sought advice by talking to a painting of his uncle, Iroh. His monologue was interrupted when a soldier alerted him that the fleet had arrived on Earth Kingdom shores, prompting Zuko to dress for battle and leave to lead his army.
The Fire Nation forces reached the gates of Yu Dao at the moment the Earth Kingdom forces were given the command to start the assault. Right before the battle ensued, Toph disabled all of the Fire Nation tanks by metalbending all their screws out. While the Fire Nation troops were in disarray, confused about what happened, General How ordered his Earth Kingdom troops to enter Yu Dao and arrest the colonials, a move Zuko countered by commanding his ground troops to defend the people of the Fire Nation in the colony, causing both armies to clash.
When How and his men were about to assault Kori, Sokka, and Sneers, Zuko came to their rescue and began to duel with the general. However, they were soon interrupted by Aang, who had entered the Avatar State. Convinced that Aang was going to fulfill his promise, Zuko pleaded with Aang to reconsider but immediately reconciled with the thought that his own demise was for the best. Zuko removed his helmet and watched as Aang displayed a strong feat of earthbending to create a chasm between Yu Dao and the fighting armies. However, as he was standing too close to the rim of the newly created abyss, the stone crumbled underneath Zuko's feet, and he plummeted down. In the nick of time, he was saved from death by Aang, and upon hearing the Avatar's reasoning with Earth King Kuei, he realized his own actions had been right, and he collapsed.
Zuko awoke four days later at Iroh's Jasmine Dragon, where his uncle chided him for not visiting him any sooner. Aang joined Zuko at his table, and together they discussed the future of Yu Dao, acknowledging that it could no longer be a Fire Nation colony or an Earth Kingdom town. They both also touched upon the dream they shared, causing Zuko to relieve Aang of his promise, as he realized that he could not put that burden on the Avatar's shoulders. He mentioned the sight of his mother in the dream and his desire to find her, believing that it would solve his problems by connecting himself to a part of his heritage that was not murky and confusing for him. However, every search attempt to find his mother up to that moment had turned out empty-handed. Zuko realized that he needed more information about what happened the day Ursa left, though he knew Ozai would never help him. Determined to find his mother, he turned to the only person who he believed could help him coax the needed information out of Ozai: Azula.
Searching for Ursa
Sometime after the battle for Yu Dao, Zuko attended a meeting together with his friends and several government officials at the home of the governor of Yu Dao to discuss the future of the city. A professor gave a lecture on ancient Earth Kingdom philosophies regarding the four nations, though it was of little interest to him, as he slowly zoned out as the man droned on. However, he snapped back to attention when the professor mentioned the word "family". Not having caught the entire statement, he requested the man to repeat what he had said, and he listened attentively to how there is a comparison to be made between how one treats one's family and how one rules. He pondered over the words, and when Aang asked if everything was all right, he wondered what the banishment of his mother for years, along with his own actions of putting his father in jail and his sister in an institution meant for his nation.
Inspired by the professor's words, Zuko returned home and placed his father and sister in adjoining cells in order to facilitate conversation between the two in hopes of gaining information about Ursa's whereabouts. When he was told by Suki that Ozai and Azula had not said a word to each other, he entered the room to bring tea in an attempt to ease the tension. However, Azula perceived his attempt at friendliness as a way to mock the fact that she was restrained and subsequently knocked him over by grabbing the tray out of his hand with her teeth, much to Ozai's amusement. Zuko tried to prevent Ty Lee from chi-blocking Azula, though he acted too late. He called the two Kyoshi Warriors back and gently positioned a now paralyzed Azula back into her chair. He explained to her that he just wanted to bring them a little dignity by giving them some tea. His sister sent him off, however, saying that the only way he could really bring them dignity was to let them have a conversation in private.
After half an hour, Zuko returned to collect Azula in order to wheel her to her old room in the palace, where she would be staying from that point on. Suki and Ty Lee accompanied him, though he sent them off in order to have a private conversation with his sister. Once alone, he asked what she and their father talked about, though Azula dodged the question and asked in return whether or not he had ever experienced the sensation of being chi-blocked. When Zuko said he had not, she proceeded to meticulously describe the feeling, mentioning that one becomes extremely flexible right before regaining their full control. To prove her words, she twisted her arm out of her straitjacket and fired a lightning bolt at her brother. Zuko commanded her to stop, aiming a fire blast at her as she ran away, which ended up freeing her completely. Zuko was forced on the defense as Azula threw a blue fire blast at him though he saw how she made her way into an adjoining building. Zuko followed his sister into one of Ozai's secret chambers that was hidden by a firebending-triggered door. There, while rummaging through a chest, she was rampaging about their father overcoming control to tell her the truth. Zuko demanded Azula hand him the letters Ursa had written that she had found; however, Azula burned them all in front of him – save one, though Zuko did not know that. In order to receive the information, Zuko complied with Azula's request to allow her to accompany him unbound and with dignity on his quest to find their mother.
Zuko called on his friends to accompany them as well, though when they came to the palace and noticed Azula there, he had to explain to them how things had gone down and how she was going to accompany them to Hira'a eventually winning his reluctant friends over for the idea.
Right before their departure the next day, Zuko put Katara's concerns about Azula's presence at ease by saying that his sister should be guarded at all times. A first scuffle immediately followed when Azula zapped Sokka with her lightning, prompting the others to intervene. Zuko threatened her with his firebending, reminding her of the deal they struck.
Nearing nightfall, Zuko forcefully had to hold Azula back once again, snapping her out of a psychotic episode. Upon nearing Hira'a, he commented that they should make camp as he did not want to enter Hira'a like a gang of bandits in the middle of the night. Zuko became distracted when Aang made a gruesome face, commenting that it was due to the presence of a spirit. However, when Zuko looked down, he could not see the wolf spirit to whom Aang was referring. Azula had used the commotion to stand on the rim of Appa's saddle and jump off. Much to Zuko's shock, since they were too high up for her to survive the fall. Due to Aang's intervention, Azula made it down safely and made a break for it, with Zuko on her trail.
He found her muttering to herself by a river, asking to whom she was talking. He reluctantly prepared to defend himself, however, when Azula made it clear that she no longer needed him, assuming a battle position. Their fight was cut short, though, due to Katara's intervention. At that moment, the wolf spirit of before appeared by the river as well, and Zuko noticed that the markings on its chest were the same as the gruesome face Aang was making. When the spirit became hostile and snapped at Aang, Zuko launched a fire attack at the creature though he was taken aback when it swallowed his fire and burped. After a brief scuffle with Appa, the spirit threw up a swarm of moth wasps that attacked the team. Azula asked Zuko to free her as she could help, which he dismissed, stating that they did not need any help. However, when she pointed out that she could not possibly make things worse for them and stated that if he could not even trust his own family, then there was no one left for him to be trusted, he melted her icy restraints, freeing her so she could save them.
At nightfall, the team had set up camp, and Zuko was sitting around the campfire together with Sokka; while Azula slept uneasily away from the group, Aang meditated, and Katara slept next to Appa with Momo. Answering Sokka's question, Zuko told him that he let Azula sleep with her hands unbound, as he was giving her a chance since she did save them all from the moth wasps. He also expressed his confidence that everything would turn out okay since Katara and Aang had agreed to guard her in shifts. When he asked why Sokka was still up, the Water Tribe warrior comically mentioned that he had bladder issues since he drank too much water to get rid of the moth wasps' taste, which was more than he needed to know. Zuko was surprised by Sokka's actions as the warrior commented about the cold weather and subsequently covered Katara with a blanket, leaving the Fire Lord wondering why he still cared so much about Katara after she had thrown so many snowballs in his face. Upon receiving the simple answer that Sokka did not mind getting the short end of the deal with his sister, Zuko was inspired to treat his own sister better and covered her with a warm blanket as well. However, as he went to return to his seat, he noticed a letter sticking out of her boot. He cautiously reached for it, being careful not to wake her, and read it, his shock growing with every word, as it was a letter written by his mother to Ikem, alluding that he might be his son as opposed to Ozai's.
The next morning, Zuko discussed the letter's content with Aang privately near a cliff. While Aang was visibly shocked to learn of his friend's apparently illegitimate lineage, Zuko confessed that he felt hopeful and relieved over the supposed truth of not being Ozai's son by blood. He believed that his alleged illegitimacy led Ozai to banish and mistreat him as a young child.
When Aang questioned Zuko as to why Ozai did not just eliminate him immediately once he learned Zuko was not really his son, Zuko recounted how Ozai was going to kill him after being ordered by Fire Lord Azulon to do so as punishment for asking for Iroh's birthright of succession, though was somehow stopped by Ursa. Aang tried to dissuade Zuko from thinking and being relieved of his alleged illegitimate lineage, understanding the ramifications to Zuko's hold of the throne should the contents of the letter be revealed. Their discussion was interrupted by a psychotic Azula, who demanded to know where her letter was.
Zuko and Aang engaged Azula in a vicious firefight, but the Avatar became concerned over Katara and Sokka's well-being, so Zuko told him to go and check on them. He continued to hold Azula off while the princess screamed at him to tell their mother that she was destined to become Fire Lord. Zuko attempted to break Azula's footing and gain the upper hand in their battle, but he was caught off-guard as his sister dodged his attack and hit him in the chest, thus knocking him off-balance. Azula received the opening she needed and snatched the letter from the pocket of Zuko's tunic. As she was about to give the final blow, Zuko grabbed his sister by her ankle while she was still airborne and flung her to the ground. He proceeded to dangle her over the cliff, asking why they always had to be fighting. He was answered with Azula's mutterings about their mother inducing Zuko to throw her over the cliff when Azula realized that her brother did not burn the letter despite having it all night. Zuko stares at her sadly before letting her go, leading Azula to wonder if her brother actually wanted her to have the letter. Zuko replied that they should continue the search for their mother.
The siblings came to an understanding and went back to camp, where the others had just put out the fire made by Azula. They boarded Appa and flew toward Hira'a. When they got there, Zuko suggested that they don disguises, and thus they were able to enter the town unnoticed, where they witnessed the final scene of Love amongst the Dragons. Zuko fondly reminded Azula of the times they would reenact the same part after watching the Ember Island Players, though Zuko wondered why he always had to play the part of the Dark Water Spirit.
After the play ended, they asked around about Ursa. The director of the acting company, Noren, invited them to his home to talk about Ursa privately, and Zuko gave thanks to him. At Noren's house, Kiyi, the director's daughter, asked Zuko and Azula if they would like to see her doll, to which he happily accepted, and he later chastised Azula for frightening the girl by threatening to cut off Kiyi's doll's head. Soon enough, they learned that Ursa was taken from town many years prior for official business, and Ikem, her broken-hearted boyfriend, left for Forgetful Valley to forget his past life.
Later on, Team Avatar bowed to the family in appreciation for their help, and they left. While walking back, Aang apologized to a quiet Zuko for reacting the way he did before and suggested that they burn the letter, forgetting about finding Ikem, to which the young Fire Lord confessed that he did not have the letter anymore; he had let Azula keep it, and said that they should focus on the task at hand, and later take care of what he should do and be. Upon hearing this, Aang told Zuko to listen to him and began explaining that when people come to the Fire Lord's throne, they did not bow down to him, but to the peaceful new era he represented, and therefore, no matter who his real father was, he should remain on the throne. Sokka interrupted their conversation to ask how much longer they would go on with the mission as tensions between Katara and Azula were continuing to rise. Zuko declared that after going to Forgetful Valley, the search would come to an end.
Shortly after, the group arrived at Forgetful Valley, and Zuko halted Azula from burning everything around her to create a distinct path. After some more bickering, the group arrived at a pond of clear and quiet water. Zuko commented on how calm everything was, as a perfect pane of glass, and Aang told everyone that it was a spiritual place that needed to be respected. Zuko was forced to calm tensions once again after Azula saw her mother's reflection in the pond and subsequently disturbed its peacefulness by shooting lightning in it. Before the conflict could be settled, the group was attacked by vines and other plant life. After Aang freed Zuko from being pinned to a tree, Katara ended the fight, deducing that they were facing other waterbenders.
Rafa and Misu revealed themselves, and the two siblings set up a small camp together with Team Avatar to talk things out. As Misu told their life's story, how she had devoted her life to take care of her brother and how she would do anything to help her brother, Zuko and Azula looked away from each other. Aang wanted to help the siblings by going into the Spirit World, though that was not to Azula's liking, and she started to walk away. Zuko attempted to halt her, stating that Aang was the Avatar and a good friend and that since Aang was all about helping people, Zuko believed that was what they should do as well. Azula responded by pointing out that she now understood that Zuko preferred to travel the world helping poor people as opposed to becoming Fire Lord. Zuko tried to answer and deny what his sister had said, but Azula entered into another of her episodes, claiming that her mother had sent the Water Tribe siblings to slow them down. When she angrily ran back, preparing to shoot a lightning bolt at Rafa and Misu, Zuko ran to their aid and put himself in between them and his sister's attack.
Having redirected his sister's attack, Zuko called on Katara and Sokka to take her down, but Aang had them stop after he was able to bring the Mother of Faces to the surface. She was willing to grant, however, only one request, and Zuko decided to give up his chance to learn his mother's fate from the ancient spirit so Misu could ask for a new face for her brother. Before she could finish, Azula interrupted, demanding information on Ursa. The spirit revealed that Ursa had a new identity as Noriko. Azula took off to confront her mother while Sokka and Zuko decided to give chase, taking a shortcut.
Upon arriving at Noren's house and seeing that Azula had not yet arrived, Zuko joined the family for dinner at the insistence of Kiyi and Noren. Focusing on Noriko, he asked if she was happy, and after she responded that she was, the Fire Lord got ready to leave, though Noren stopped him. The actor convinced his guest to reveal who he was, which he did directly to Noriko. Noren explained that he recognized Zuko from his scar and apologized for not telling him the truth about Ursa. After reminding Ursa about her past and alteration of both face and memory, Noren revealed to Zuko his true identity of Ikem. The firebender declared that Hira'a was where he belonged, with his "mother, sister, and father". Noren was dumbstruck at the declaration, saying it was not possible. Before the conversation could continue, Azula burst through the roof, set on killing her mother. Zuko fought against his sister, trying to stop her, only for her to pin Ursa to the wall. Zuko separated his sister from their mother, and they fought a moment longer. Azula wondered why Zuko continued to fight, knowing he wanted to be free of the burdens of the throne and why he had not thrown both her and the letter off the cliff the other day. Zuko answered that the throne was his destiny and that although his relationship with her was messy, she was still his sister. At this, Azula blasted an opening through a house wall and ran toward Forgetful Valley. Zuko tried to tell her to come back so he could help her, but she ran off and left the letter behind.
At that time, the Mother of Faces appeared, asking if Ursa wanted to regain her former life. Zuko tried to tell his mother that she did not have to, reminding her of the life she had made. Despite this, Ursa accepted the spirit's offer. The next day, Zuko and Ursa talked about their past, the latter apologizing for not loving them enough and for forgetting about him. Zuko insisted she did not have to, saying he had a life to be proud of, regardless. He handed Ursa the letter showing Noren as his father, to which she replied that what she wrote on it was not true. Zuko was upset to learn that Ozai was indeed his father but still felt like things were what they were meant to be. The Fire Lord said he wished to know everything about his mother's past, and Ursa told him she would start from the beginning.
Zuko later delegated his Fire Lord duties to his uncle once more, sending him to Yu Dao to attend the announcement of the city's new coalition government while he supported Ursa and her family as they came to visit the Capital City for the first time since her banishment.
Return to the Fire Nation Capital
|Admit mistakes when they occur and seek to restore honor.
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Before escorting Ursa, Noren, and Kiyi back to the Fire Nation Capital for the first time since Ursa's banishment, Zuko spent weeks searching the Forgetful Valley in hopes of tracking down his sister, though to no avail. While they were eventually underway to the capital, Zuko assured his mother that everything would be fine. However, he grew slightly embarrassed when she remarked that he always had that "sparky look in his eyes" whenever he was excited and waved it off, noting he was Fire Lord now. When Ursa grew distraught over Kiyi rejecting her, Zuko tried to comfort her, noting that everything was going to be all right, though he failed to truly get through to his mother.
Sometime later, Zuko noticed that Aang, Katara, and Sokka were preparing Appa to take off. Inquiring about their intentions, he was told that being back to the city would bring back many memories, which they needed to figure out as a family and bond over it. He agreed with the notion and thanked his friends for their help.
As they take off, Zuko noticed his mother stood by herself, tearful. Asking if she was all right, he was brushed off by a generic "fine". As she asked him if the others just left, Zuko apologized for not having come to get her to say goodbye, as he had not known she was still on deck. Noticing his mother's sad attitude, he inquires once again as to what is going on, though she merely brushed him off by saying she needed fresh air. Not letting it go, Zuko assured her that Kiyi would come around and figure out that Ursa is still the same inside despite having a different face. As Ursa admitted that she had actually been thinking about Azula, wondering if she was "safe, warm, and happy", Zuko said he searched the Forgetful Valley for weeks and came up empty-handed, which meant to him that Azula did not want to be found. He assured Ursa that Azula was safe, as she was a survivor though he confessed to not knowing what "happy" would mean for his sister. As he took his mother's hand, Zuko was startled by its coldness and promptly moved to take her below deck. However, they were intercepted by a messenger hawk from the Kyoshi Warriors, warning that the New Ozai Society was plotting to ambush him along the main road to the capital. When asked if something was wrong, Zuko noted that it was nothing he could not handle and vowed to do anything in his power to keep everyone, especially Kiyi, safe.
Zuko subsequently sent the messenger hawk back to Suki, detailing his plan to have a decoy go along the main road while he and Ursa's family take the hidden route and have his ship divert course away from Harbor City. By the next morning, Ursa inquired why they missed Harbor City before a submarine emerged from underwater. Iroh was the first to pop out of the hatch and happily embraced his nephew before reuniting with Ursa. When Suki told Zuko that Iroh volunteered to be his decoy, the Fire Lord became concerned as they did not look alike, but his uncle assured him that the crowd would only see his hand waving from the carriage. Zuko and Ursa's family took the submarine to the hidden route.
As Zuko's caravan made their way through the forest, they were ambushed by the New Ozai Society, who used dynamite to collapse a series of trees to trap them. Their leader demanded that Zuko relinquish the throne in exchange for his family's lives. Zuko refused to surrender his birthright to a group of thugs too cowardly to show their faces and attacked with firebending. During the fighting, Suki launched a flare signaling their location before Zuko and the Kyoshi Warriors were all subdued, with bolas. The New Ozai Society prepared to punish Zuko for his defiance by burning the carriage containing his family, only for one of them, Kei Lo, to refuse to go along with such extreme measures and free Zuko. When Zuko asked why he was helping him, Kei Lo revealed that he was a friend of Mai, just as she, Ty Lee, Iroh, and the other Kyoshi Warriors arrive via hot air balloon. Mai quickly accused Kei Lo of deceit, to which Zuko vouched for him after he pleaded he was fed false information. A spear soon penetrated the carriage, causing Zuko to panic and check on them. He faced against three firebenders and, after deflecting their attack, demanded that the New Ozai Society surrender or face his wrath, causing them to either surrender or flee.
Upon arriving at the palace, Zuko thanked the Kyoshi Warriors for their aid before asking Suki where Mai was. Upon confirming that she knew where Mai was currently living, Zuko obtained her promise that he could visit his ex-girlfriend anytime he asks. Subsequently, as Kiyi dragged Noren to tour the palace, she surprised her brother and mother by calling Zuko "Zuzu", which Zuko remarked sounded better coming from her than Azula. He offered to show Ursa to her old room, but she insisted on staying in the guest room. Zuko then turned to Iroh to thank him for his help before wondering whether his mother would be alright, to which his uncle answered would take time. Iroh then observed how troubled Zuko was, to which the Fire Lord confessed that with the New Ozai Society becoming a significant threat, he asked his uncle to take his place at the Yu Dao inauguration ceremony.
A month later, Zuko heard that Mai's brother, Tom-Tom, had been kidnapped and went to Mura's flower shop immediately. Overhearing Mai describe the kidnappers as Kemurikage, mythical spirits that kidnap children, Zuko decided to summon the Avatar. Upon Aang's arrival, Zuko, Mai, Kei Lo, and Constable Sung brought him up to speed before Ukano, Mai's father, barged into the meeting. Ukano insisted that Zuko enforced a curfew and assembled a task force to deal with the dark spirits to prove the Fire Nation's strength, but Zuko chose to defer to Aang's counsel to find out what happened to Tom-Tom. As he was being escorted out by Sung, Ukano declared Zuko an imposter to the throne, to which the Fire Lord recognized his voice and asked Mai if her father was involved in the New Ozai Society's plot against him, which she denied.
To find out more about the Kemurikage, Zuko took Aang, Mai, and Kei Lo to the High Temple, where Mai told Kei Lo of a previous date she had with Zuko over his ancestors' burial sites. They met with Great Sage Shyu, who opened the entrance to the Dragonbone Catacombs. Passing by the tombs of past Fire Lords and a mural of the Sun Warriors, they found a metal door blocking the rest of the passage; Zuko explained that Sozin walled off this section to make it seem like Fire Nation history began with him. He and Aang then tried firebending on the four dragon statues, assuming they worked like the lock on Crescent Island. After twenty unsuccessful tries, Kei Lo stepped in, revealing that the locks were in the noses, not the mouths, and used Mai's knives to unlock them. They proceeded down the passage, eventually reaching a painting of the first Fire Lord and the Kemurikage. Mai then found a nearby scroll detailing the legend of the Kemurikage. When the tale mentioned the reprehensible actions taken by the warlord Toz, Aang wondered where his past life was during that time, to which Zuko suggested that the Avatar may not have existed back then. Once the tale had concluded, a wisp of smoke emerged from the painting of the Kemurikage. Despite Zuko's reservations, Aang began following the wisp. When it entered another dragon statue, Kei Lo opened it, and the Avatar ventured down the passage, leaving Zuko alone with Mai, which led to an awkward conversation on their failed relationship.
Aang and Kei Lo later returned from the crypt, and as the group flew back to the capital on Appa, they revealed that they met with a Kemurikage, who claimed the spirits, until this present moment, had not returned to the human world, leading Mai to suspect Tom-Tom's abductors were imposters. They soon happen upon Ukano and Sung, who had formed a volunteer militia, the Safe Nation Society, in response to more dark spirit abductions of young children in the city, including the constables' own son. Though Zuko promised to find Sung's son, he is forced to suspend him for undermining his authority before ordering Ukano to disband the Safe Nation Society or be imprisoned, which Aang felt was too severe. Though Zuko defended he had no choice, a female citizen approached him and respectfully informed him the Safe Nation Society has just saved her daughter, which is more than what Zuko has done.
Zuko then returned to the palace and passed by Ursa's family's room, where Kiyi called out to him, begging to be torn from Ursa's cold grasp, which he obliged, moving her to a separate room. He then stood on a balcony and conversed with Suki over how much Tom-Tom had been through whether he would be the same. Suddenly, he spotted smoke coming to Kiyi's room. Joined by Aang and Ty Lee, they spotted three figures resembling Kemurikage in the midst of kidnapping Kiyi. Aang firebent at one of them and received a kick in the stomach, confirming they were indeed human. Zuko managed to down one of the false Kemurikage and demanded to know where her friends were taking his sister. His opponent responded by shooting lightning, causing Zuko to realize it was Azula. Zuko redirected her lightning, only for Azula to redirect it back at him before vanishing.
The next morning, General Mak reported that a total of thirteen children were abducted by the false Kemurikage, prompting most of the populace to flee the capital. Mai then arrived and offered sympathy in the form of a hug. Once she was told that Azula was involved, Mai confessed that her father was the leader of the New Ozai Society and that he may have known of the false Kemurikage, especially Azula's involvement. Zuko then ordered Mak to lock down the city and search every home for Ukano and members of the Safe Nation Society, which Aang protested, insisting he could speak with Ukano. Though Zuko expressed his appreciation for his wisdom and friends, he felt that Aang's approach had failed and had Suki and Ty Lee escort him out.
Mak carried out Zuko's orders, leading to a confrontation with the Safe Nation Society, who incited a riot, leading to their capture, though Ukano slipped away. Zuko held Mai's hand as he assured her that they would find her father, but she broke his hold when she spotted Kei Lo being brought in alongside the Safe Nation Society. Kei Lo insisted he had been arrested by mistake, though Zuko accused him of being a double agent, only ordering his release when Mai accused him of being ridiculous, with Kei Lo telling Zuko to accept that Mai had moved on. They were joined by Aang, Suki, and Ty Lee, who insisted on showing Zuko something, but the Fire Lord chose to defer to Mak's advice to prepare for another riot, forcing the Avatar to carry him on an air scooter back to the palace.
Upon arriving at the spot where Azula and her cohorts disappeared, Aang showed Zuko a secret passage Ty Lee unlocked. While the Kyoshi Warriors hung back, Zuko and the others followed the passage and found themselves in the Garden of Tranquil Souls, where Azula and her henchwomen attack them. During the fighting, Zuko spotted Azula and chased her into a crypt beneath a lion turtle statue, which she revealed was the grave of the first Fire Lord's most trusted advisor, where they continued their fight. When Azula had Zuko at her mercy, he told his sister that even with his death, the throne would never be hers. To his surprise, Azula stated she had accepted that she could never be Fire Lord and that her true destiny was to mold Zuko into a ruthless and fearmongering Fire Lord. Zuko then heard Kiyi's voice calling for him, causing him to gloat that Azula had failed, as his friends had rescued the missing children. However, Azula begged to differ, reminding Zuko of how ruthless he was in the past twenty-four hours. Though Zuko denied her statement, Azula advised him to accept what she made of him and vanished. Zuko then exited the crypt and happily embraced Kiyi.
The next day, Zuko gathered the populace at the palace to apologize for his poor conduct during the crisis and vowed to be a better Fire Lord worthy of their trust.
Southern Reconstruction Project
Chief Hakoda invited Zuko and Earth King Kuei to a conference to discuss the Southern Reconstruction Project that would advance the development of the Southern Water Tribe. Both foreign leaders were met by crowds of protesters when they arrived in Wolf Cove by airship, as nationalist sentiment had grown in the South following Gilak's revelation that the Northern Water Tribe planned to control the South's oil. Sokka walked out to meet the leaders, assuring them that the protesters would come to understand their plan once they saw it in action, and encouraged them to keep walking.
Hakoda explained his plan to modernize the South and building relationships between all nations to the other world leaders and asked Kuei and Zuko for funding due to the South's suffering economy. Zuko was quick to offer support, although the Earth King was hesitant because of the Earth Kingdom's own needs, and stated that he might fund development once the tribe became more civilized, to which Katara took offense. As Kuei attempted to apologize, a guard alerted the conference that Gilak had escaped prison, and the Southern nationalists burst in and began fighting Team Avatar. Zuko began to fight the soldiers with firebending, and though Team Avatar was able to thwart the attempted kidnapping of Hakoda, Kuei was taken by Gilak's soldiers.
Team Avatar received a message from Gilak, offering terms to exchange Hakoda for Kuei. After reading it, Sokka mentioned the exchange was to take place at the Bridge of No Return, a place where the village used to deal with their criminals. Katara explained further that if anyone in the village ever did anything unforgivable, they would be forced to walk across the bridge and never return. Sokka added that the terrain there was the most dangerous in all of the South Pole and how nothing could stay alive there long. Sokka elaborated on the plan Gilak proposed: While Team Avatar and Gilak's army would remain on either side of the bridge, Thod and his two disciples would cross over to chi-block all Team Avatar's benders, and as soon as Hakoda would start to walk across, Gilak would send over Earth King Kuei. Zuko, remarking he knew how villains thought from his past experience, was sure that Gilak would cheat and cut the rope bridge, so Sokka came up with a plan in case that would happen.
When they got to The Bridge of No Return, nobody was present yet. Katara lamented the lackluster and tumultuous trip back home, but Sokka wondered what the Southern Water Tribe was even like before the war, concluding the idealistic vision Katara had of it never existed. Gilak arrived on the other side with the Earth King. As planned, Thod and his disciples came over, and chi-blocked Aang, Katara, Toph, Zuko, and Sokka. Right after that, Hakoda started walking over to the other side of the bridge, and at the same time, Gilak sent over the Earth King. As soon as they got to the middle of the bridge, Gilak took out his sword and was about to cut the bridge, but Malina stopped him from behind, followed closely by The Dark One, Penga, and Ho Tun. The group took out Gilak's guards while Aang, Katara, Toph, Zuko, and Sokka suddenly jumped up and took out Thod and his disciples. Thod asked Sokka how he did it; Sokka replied delightedly, showing and telling Thod the chain mail armor he and Team Beifong had designed. Aang managed to save both Hakoda and Malina, but Gilak fell to his death in the ravine.
After the ordeal, Kanna, Pakku, Hakoda, Malina, Kuei, and Bosco gathered around Kanna and Pakku's igloo. Aang, Katara, Toph, and Zuko were in the kitchen cooking and later joined everyone for a meal from their respective cultures, Zuko having cooked extra-spicy fire noodles from the Fire Nation.