- This article is about the episode. For the location, see Cave of Two Lovers.
|"The lovers didn't want anyone to find out about their love, so they built a whole labyrinth!"|
|— Chong informing Sokka of the legend behind the Cave of Two Lovers.|
While journeying to Omashu, Aang and his friends meet a group of carefree traveling bards, who lead them through a vast network of tunnels known as the Cave of Two Lovers. Meanwhile, Zuko and Iroh are sheltered by kind villagers after Iroh accidentally drinks tea made from a poisonous plant. Song, a young and compassionate healer, shows Zuko the effects of war from an ordinary citizen's perspective. After being separated from the rest of the group while navigating the elaborate tunnels, Aang and Katara grow closer as they discover the origins of the cave, which includes the tombs of the first two earthbenders. Both groups eventually escape from the labyrinth; Team Avatar arrives at Omashu, only to discover that it has been conquered by the Fire Nation.
While Aang and Katara practice waterbending and Sokka relaxes in the middle of a lake, a group of Earth Kingdom nomads appears, displaying the characteristics of carefree, nature-loving people. When Team Avatar reveals their plan to travel to Omashu, Chong, the lead nomad, speaks of a shortcut through a tunnel passing under a mountain. Sokka initially distrusts these new characters, but, after an unsuccessful attempt to fly over the mountains due to an assault by Fire Nation soldiers, the team agree to follow the nomads through the tunnels.
Meanwhile, Zuko and Iroh are trying their best to survive on their own. However, things prove rough for the formerly pampered characters: Zuko cannot find food, while Iroh makes tea using the dangerous white jade bush, mistaking it for the legendary white dragon bush, the latter of which makes a delicious tea. He subsequently procures a branch of what could be either bacui berries, which can cure him, or maka'ole berries, which will blind him. Zuko swipes the branch away, stating that they are not taking any more chances with strange plants and need to find help. Zuko and Iroh weigh their options: if they head to the Earth Kingdom and are discovered, they will be executed, but if the Fire Nation catches them, they will be turned over to Azula. After only a second's thought, they make an easy decision and decide to travel to an Earth Kingdom village for medicine and food.
Before Aang, Katara, and Sokka enter the cave, Chong mentions that the tunnels form a labyrinth protected by a curse. Only those who put their trust in love can navigate through the maze; those who do not will be forever lost. Once they enter, a group of pursuing Fire Nation soldiers in tundra tanks destroy the entrance to the tunnels, trapping everyone inside. Scared but undeterred, Sokka creates a map to mark their progress while traveling though the labyrinth. Before long, however, Sokka's technique proves useless due to the fact that the tunnels are continually changing around them.
In the nearby town, Zuko and Iroh meet a friendly girl named Song. When she inquires as to their identities, Zuko states his name is Lee and Iroh's name is Mushi; a displeased Iroh, in turn, claims that Zuko was named after his father, so they call him Junior, much to Zuko's dismay. Song invites the two to her house for dinner that evening, an invitation they eventually accept when she mentions her mother would be cooking roast duck. During the meal, Song tells the duo that during a raid on her village, the Fire Nation captured her father, whom she has not seen since. When she asks Zuko if his father is fighting in the Hundred Year War, Zuko affirms this, but does not disclose his father's identity as the Fire Lord.
Meanwhile, the group is separated following a cave-in caused by Appa's panic at being underground, exacerbated by an attacking wolfbat and a carelessly wielded torch. Aang's quick actions protect everyone from being crushed by the falling rocks, but the group ends up divided. Aang, Katara, and Appa wind up together, while Momo and Sokka, much to the latter's dismay, are forced to travel through the tunnels with the musical nomads. Chong assures him that he should not not be let down by the cave in.
As Zuko sits on the front porch of Song's house, the young Earth Kingdom girl joins him. She observes that the Fire Nation has hurt him, but when she tries to tenderly touch his scar, Zuko rebuffs her. Sympathizing with him, she shows Zuko a burn scar on her leg, the result of a firebending attack. Zuko expresses surprise upon seeing her injury.
After traveling for a while, Aang and Katara discover the Tomb of the Two Lovers spoken of in lore. By reading script engraved on the walls, they learn of the true story of the two lovers. A man and a woman from feuding towns met atop a mountain. Despite the dangers of meeting, the loving couple found a way to continue their relationship in secret. After learning earthbending by observing the natural skills of badgermoles, they created a labyrinth, which only they could navigate successfully and served as a meeting place. However, one day the man did not come; he had been killed in the war between their people. The woman initially expressed her fury in a display of earthbending prowess that had the potential to destroy both of the warring towns, but she instead declared an end to the conflict. The two villages created a city to honor the couple's love; the settlement was christened Omashu, derived from joining the names of the two lovers, Oma and Shu. Aang and Katara turn around to see a statue of the lovers, marked with a slogan: "Love is brightest in the dark."
Inspired by this, Katara suggests that perhaps by following the example of the lovers and kissing, she and Aang could find their way out of the labyrinth. Although Aang, due to his unexpressed but growing affection for Katara, finds this idea highly intriguing, he attempts to reassure an embarrassed Katara that he did not want to kiss her. However, Katara misinterprets his statement, thinking he was implying that she was undesirable. Aang assures her that what he meant was that, in choosing between certain death and kissing her, he would definitely choose to kiss her, insisting it was a compliment. Katara storms off angrily, while Aang laments his poor choice of words.
At the same time, Chong expresses his belief that the way out of the cave was to play a love song, proceeding to guide the group, an irked Sokka in tow.
Meanwhile, Zuko and Iroh depart from Song's residence with Iroh expressing his gratitude to the family for their excellent meal. Song tells Zuko not to lose hope as the Avatar had returned to which Zuko responds that he is well aware of this. As they depart, he steals the family's ostrich horse, wishing for an easy means of traveling. Iroh tries to convince his nephew not to do it but mounts the beast anyway after Zuko insists. Song witnesses this event but does not stop them. She simply closes her door, seemingly disappointed as Zuko and Iroh leave.
Later, as their torch burns out, Aang and Katara share a meaningful look and, as the torchlight fades, they lean toward each other, close their eyes, and, shrouded in darkness, share a kiss before finding out that the two lovers followed a path of glowing crystals, which only shone in the dark, illuminating a pathway to the tunnel's exit. Finally, the two and Appa, who is delighted to see sunlight, find their way out of the tunnel.
Sokka and the nomads continue to incur dead-ends in their quest for the exit and are eventually confronted by a pair of enormous badgermoles, who corner the group. As Sokka tries to escape, he accidentally strums a dropped guitar, producing music. The angry badgermole pauses, intrigued, and Sokka tries to play a song to pacify the beast. The nomads quickly realize this and contribute their talents. They are successful in taming, or at least pacifying, the badgermoles, who transport them to the exit of the labyrinth.
The group is reunited with Aang, Katara, and Appa. After the badgermoles depart, Katara notices a big red spot on Sokka's forehead, which is the result of him smacking his forehead elicited whenever the nomads acted imprudently; Chong states his belief that the one with tattoos is the Avatar, prompting Sokka to again hit himself.
Aang asks Moku if they will be accompanying them to Omashu to which the latter abruptly responds that they will not. Aang thanks them and bids the singing nomads farewell. After this, Aang, Sokka, and Katara finally arrive at Omashu, but as they mount a ridge which hides the city from view, they are devastated to discover that the Fire Nation has taken control of the city.
- Written by:
- Directed by:
- Also starring:
- Additional voices:
- Dee Bradley Baker
- Derek Basco
- Main article: Transcript:The Cave of Two Lovers
- Main article: Writing in the World of Avatar
- Main article: Avatar Extras for Book Two: Earth
- This episode reveals that Omashu is under Fire Nation control, whereas it remained untouched in "The King of Omashu".
- The song "Secret Tunnel", sung by Chong, is Kya's favorite song.
- The Fire Nation commander with an eyepatch previously appeared in "Jet".
- This is the first time Aang and Katara kiss.
- When Zuko comes back from fishing and Iroh confesses that he consumed the poisonous flower, he is wearing the outfit he was wearing before Zuko left. However, when he turns to reveal the rash he received, he is wearing the kimono he wears during their dinner with Song and her mother. After he rises, he is back in the other outfit.
- The writers named the red berries that Iroh finds "maka'ole berries" because they thought "maka'ole" meant "without eyes".
- When Chong lights the first torch, it is in his left hand. When the focus switches to Katara for a moment, Chong disappears. For the rest of the scene, Chong's torch is hovering beside him while he holds his dramyin with both hands.
- Chong sings "Don't Let the Cave In Get You Down, Sokka" to cheer Sokka up. When he starts out on Sokka's right, he is wearing two white bracelets on his right wrist, but when he reappears on Sokka's left side, the bracelets are gone. This happens several times throughout the episode.
- When Aang says, "We're going to lose the light any second now," there is still about a quarter or so of the torch left. Each torch lasts about two hours, so that bit should have lasted thirty more minutes, but it did not.
- The glove portion of Sokka's arm cover is missing when he facepalms upon hearing Chong suggest that Aang might be the Avatar.
- When Chong was playing "Secret Tunnel", Katara's wristbands were missing throughout the song.
- This episode's Avatar Wiki article was referenced in On Being's "Love Is Brightest in the Dark." by Trent Gilliss, in which a portion of the page's "Synopsis" section is used to describe the scene of Aang and Katara discovering the tomb and its story.
- This episode begins with the "Leaves From the Vine" melody.
- At one point Chong says, "The tunnels, they're a-changin'!" This is a reference to Bob Dylan's song The Times They Are a-Changin', which was a hit in the 1960s, a time period affiliated with hippies.
- Chong's belief of focusing less on the destination of a journey and more on the journey itself is similar to the Taoism belief that "the path is the destination".
- The song that is played during the story of the two lovers is called "The Avatar's Love".
- The story of the two lovers from rival families is similar to that of Romeo and Juliet, and the tale of Pyramus and Thisbe on which it is based, a famous play by William Shakespeare, and its musical adaptation.
- The rash on Iroh's left leg, which he received from the white jade plant, is very similar to the burn scar Song showed Zuko.
- This is the first episode in which badgermoles appear.
- When Aang and Katara enter Oma and Shu's tomb, the pictures that tell their story are a reference to Egyptian culture with its hieroglyphics.
- A non-canonical sequel to this episode was released as the book Love Potion 8 in 2008.
- In an early script of this episode, the Serpent's Pass was mentioned, but the line was eventually cut.
- Confirmed by Katara's voice actress, Mae Whitman, in the Book Three DVD extra: "The Women of Avatar: The Last Airbender".
- Andrew Sims (July 13, 2012). Legend of Korra San Diego Comic-Con fan panel – live blog. Andrew Sims on hypable. Retrieved on July 13, 2012.
- Gilliss, Trent (2011-02-20). Love Is Brightest in the Dark. On Being. American Public Media. Retrieved on February 23, 2013. “And, if you're wondering, here's the Wiki description of the scene: ...”
- Avatar Extras for "The Serpent's Pass" on Nicktoons Network.