Netflix’s ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ hid Zuko’s Blue Spirit mask in episode 3

Netflix's 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' hid Zuko's Blue Spirit mask in episode 3

Netflix’s live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender is brimming with interwoven storylines, applause-worthy cameos, and Easter eggs that will turn fans into Pointing Rick Dalton.

And in the third episode of the series, “Omashu,” there’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it detail lurking in the background.

About 45 minutes in, Prince Zuko (Dallas James Liu) and Uncle Iroh (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) are standing in the bustling city of Omashu. The two Fire Nation royals are in a conundrum. Thanks to Zuko’s hot temper during his fight with Aang (Gordon Cormier), the prince has exposed the presence of a firebender in the Earth Kingdom-run marketplace. Guards start surrounding them as the panicked crowd rushes past to the gates. Knowing they’ll soon be discovered, Iroh takes the fall for his nephew, unleashing his firebending powers as a diversion and giving Zuko time to escape.

Uncle Iroh (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) and Prince Zuko (Dallas James Liu) in Netflix's "Avatar: The Last Airbender."

Uncle Iroh (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) and Prince Zuko (Dallas James Liu) in Netflix’s “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”
Credit: Robert Falconer / Netflix

As the guards cower, you can see the market kiosk behind them. It’s a cart selling shoes and masks, including a striking mask decorated with blue and white.


Netflix’s ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ has a cute Easter egg from the show’s opening credits

Fans will know it as the Blue Spirit mask, which first appears in the animated series episode of the same name. As Mashable’s Meera Navlakha writes, “No one can forget the Blue Spirit, an alter ego Zuko adopted in the original to assist in masking himself from the Fire Nation. The Netflix writers thankfully incorporated this storyline, seamlessly adapting it into an episode all about hiding one’s identity.”

The mask comes into play later, in episode 13 of the animated series, “The Blue Spirit,” and episode 6 of the Netflix series, “Masks.” Zuko uses it to disguise himself as he infiltrates the Pohuai stronghold, on a mission to rescue Aang from Commander Zhao (Ken Leung). Wearing a mask to capture the Avatar isn’t an easy thing for Zuko to do. Generally, he disapproves of covert terror tactics, telling Iroh in the Omashu marketplace, “That’s not right. Warriors don’t hide their faces in a fight. Father would never approve.” But he can’t risk letting his father, Fire Lord Ozai (Daniel Dae Kim), know Zhao has one-upped him.

Clear of the fortress, Aang unmasks a wounded Zuko, coming face to face with his incessant pursuer. This discovery allows Zuko and Aang to have a stubborn but genuine conversation in which the prince softens (a little). It also makes the Avatar realise how similar their predicaments are — expectations can crush you. It’s in this episode we also get a flashback about Zuko’s past and his father’s cruel treatment, which deepens our sense of his identity even further.

It’s kind of strange to see Zuko’s signature assassin mask being sold in an Earth Kingdom market in the live-action series, but it’s a fun hidden reference for fans to find. It’s also a fitting nod to identity, disguise, and possibility for the young prince.

Avatar: The Last Airbender is now streaming on Netflix.

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