Quite a nice episode. The huge load of comedy is mixed with some nice action, a good bit of background info, Zuko being the Blue Spirit, and a guest appearance by Avatar Kyoshi, by far one of the most awesome characters in the show.
For the first time in season two, Sokka regains his role as a full on comic relief character. He uses his full potential for hilarity, both in jokes and in slapstick, especially when he investigates the murder case with Katara. I like the part where Katara asks Sokka where he gets his props from, and in the Kyoshi shrine where he pushes her out of the way to explain what happened. He even mentions Katara's hair loopies.
The whole concept of a festival day devoted to the Avatar seems very interesting, and it gives the impression that people still hold on to the hope that the Avatar will save them. When the truth about the holiday is revealed, though, it's also very interesting to see that there are people, a whole town, in fact, who hate the Avatar enough to celebrate their hatred.
In the course of the investigation, we get to see Kyoshi Island again, and learn that Suki and the other Kyoshi warriors have now joined the war. Katara's expression when Sokka asks about Suki is priceless. At the shrine, seeing Avatar Kyoshi's garments and fans placed as relics adds a strong feel of history, that, even though the Avatars are long dead and only encountered as spirits, as Roku is frequently, they were still "real" people who lived in the world.
Just a quick cut over to Zuko and Iroh. We mainly get scenes of Zuko stealing things as the Blue Spirit, but there is also a very decisive moment between Zuko and Iroh. We learn that even though Zuko has renounced the Fire Nation, he still hopes to capture the Avatar. This reveals a great flaw in his character: He is obsessed on this goal that he does not look beyond and think about what capturing the Avatar will actually accomplish, especially now. After Iroh consoles him, they split up. This is the third episode this season where their story ends in uncertainty, almost akin to a dramatic cliffhanger.
Back to the gang, the trial turns out to be complete and utter nonsense, but we get one of the greatest moments of the show: Avatar Kyoshi appears in person, or as close as that as is possible. Her performance is one of awe-inspiring might, and her powerful demeanor instantly catapults her to being an awesome character. We also learn a good deal of Earth Kingdom history, and that Avatar Kyoshi actually created Kyoshi Island. It's a shame that her appearance is so short, however, but it is still enough to leave behind an image of grandness. To summarize, Avatar Kyoshi is made of pure win.
When the Rough Rhinos attack the town, there's a bit of nice action, especially between the Rhinos' leader and Aang. But it's not significant enough to really be that great. Plus, Aang wearing the Kyoshi makeup is something that seriously needs getting used to.
Overall, 'Avatar Day' serves its purpose: After four drama-heavy episodes, we get a nice side trip into jokeland. It is a filler episode, but one that still develops the background of 'Avatar' quite a lot, and, to some extent, it also reveals a great deal about Aang's past. This episode balances out the big plot with lightheartedness, so that the show can now once again take off with the main story.
A mostly filler episode, "Avatar Day" is there if only to show us that the Avatar is not necessarily well-liked by everyone. Humor permeates all through the episode ("Boomerang! You do always come back!"), but there's so much humor that it reaches the point of saturation.
The kids' experience at the City of Chin is both amusing and frustrating. The townspeople hate the Avatar because Avatar Kyoshi, one of Aang's past lives, is thought to have killed their founder, Chin the Great. Aang stands trial to prove his innocence, only to find out that the town's justice system is completely biased. Found guilty by means of hearsay, Aang is sentenced to death by being boiled in oil. He is spared because the Rough Rhinos, a ruthless gang of fiery ruffians, threaten to destroy the town. Aang defeats them, saves the day, gets honored, and they all live happily ever after. Cliché? Absolutely. Everything seems to flow way too easy for Aang. In spite of having been momentarily sentenced to death, nothing in general goes wrong for our favorite 112 year-old kid. The conflict seemed to have no real rising action, but rather a very short moment of tension that disappears faster than it was established. This is the main reason why this episode wasn't as great as it could have been.
Avatar Kyoshi's powerful performance, as her spirit takes possession of Aang's body, is possibly the only thing that makes this episode shine. Kyoshi was a powerful woman, a fully realized Avatar, with strong ties to her homeland. Although Katara and Sokka find evidence that would exonerate Kyoshi from the murder charges against her --through their visit to Kyoshi Island, where they are received by the one and only Foaming Mouth Guy--, Kyoshi boldly admits to having killed Chin the Conqueror after his world domination crusade brought him to Kyoshi's birthplace. Avatar Kyoshi's voice is fierce and commanding, which shows her confidence and intensity of character. Her actions display the Avatar's full power by single-handedly creating an entire island by separating it from the mainland. But after a few lines and some flashback images, Kyoshi's spirit is gone, leaving Aang weak and lightheaded. Kyoshi's part was too short, and she deserved more screentime like Avatar Roku has. Although Roku is Aang's immediate predecessor, and thus a mentor that appears regularly, Kyoshi was quite possibly Roku's mentor as well, yet we don't know anything about her aside from where she was born and that she created an island.
In a very short and easily forgettable side story, we see how Zuko decides to part ways with Iroh. Yes, later on we do remember that Zuko went out on his own, but seriously, does anyone immediately remember *when* that happened?
In all, "Avatar Day" is just slightly above average when it comes to "Avatar" episodes. The plot was cliché and the humor was overpowering. Kyoshi's appearance is the only thing making it worthwhile because, like Roku did in his namesake episode, it showed us the amazing power that the Avatar wields. A little less humor and a little more Kyoshi would have made the episode much better.