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In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Season 1 Episode 2, Aang enters the Avatar State to save himself from drowning when he is thrown off the side of a boat:

Avatar State S01E02

Aang also enters the Avatar State in Season 1 Episode 3, when he realizes he is the last living air bender of the Southern Air Temple:

Avatar State S01E03

The second time that Aang enters the Avatar State, the statues of all the past Avatars in the Southern Air Temple “light up”, which one can assume happens every time the Avatar State is entered. However, this time, specific signal beacons at temples located in water tribe, earth tribe, and fire tribe locations are activated which is reported by fire tribe priests(?) as signaling the return of the Avatar.

My question is, if entering the Avatar State triggered the various signal beacons to light, why weren’t these signal beacons activated the first time that Aang entered the Avatar State in S01E02?

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    It seemed to me that Aang activated the statues by going into avatar state near a temple, I see no indication that the statues and beacons glow everytime he goes into avatar state. – Ram Sep 16 '19 at 18:43
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If I had to guess, I'd say that the first time he was just Barely in the Avatar state. As in, he was just reflexively tapping the power to save himself. And I'd assume that all the statues did not light up for this.

The second time he was overpowered by the horror felt by the spirit of every Avatar within him, and was drawing on all of their power. Possibly to bring some kind of cataclysmic event down on the heads of those who would dare wipe out an entire people. Which is why every statue lit up as they did.

I imagine that depending on how much (or who's) power he draws while in the Avatar state, will determine whether or not some (or all) of the statues will light up.

  • That makes sense, I’ll accept it unless someone else can come up with a canon explanation. I’m guessing this was just an oversight by the writers. – Paul Omans Sep 15 '19 at 19:10
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    @PaulOmans I don't see this as an writer's oversight; it was a dramatic moment. In other words, it isn't simply "going into the Avatar state" by itself that causes the statues and such to light up, it was the extreme emotional reaction that caused Aang to go into... let's just call it some kind of "super Avatar state". I don't imagine the statues lit up all the various other times Aang entered the Avatar state after this one time. This was a one off due to Aang's emotional reaction. – NathanS Sep 18 '19 at 11:13
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I think that the temples lit up because Aang returned to his former home which made the temples light up.

  • This may have been a better suited as a comment on the original question, or as a comment on the already-accepted answer. This is not yet a fleshed-out enough answer to stand on its own. – Paul Omans Nov 6 '19 at 15:41

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