One of the chief triumphs of Avatar: The Last Airbender was its worldbuilding, which set up elements of the characters and mythology that would pay off throughout the entire series. Yet, at the same time, the show had an uncanny talent for presenting one-off episodes that could be viewed on their own and still stand out as remarkable writing.
And to that end, one of Avatar: The Last Airbender's writers, Elizabeth Welch Ehasz, may have been the mind behind many of the series' best standalone stories.
While Avatar always had a talent for engaging fan's imaginations, its ability to grapple with those imaginations on a mature level is one of the qualities that made it such an instant classic. Much of Ehasz's work reflects that with many of the episodes she holds the writing credit for standing out as frequent favorites among fans. "Zuko Alone," "Appa's Lost Days" and "The Avatar and the Fire Lord" stand out as some of the eminent examples, and what each of those three episodes does best is work on their own.
"Zuko Alone" shifts the focus from the series primary protagonists to the increasingly morally grey Zuko, who served as the primary antagonist throughout the show's first season. The shift in perspective humanizes the already sympathetic Zuko like never before, and at the same time, tells an almost fairytale-like story of a prince in disguise living among the peasants of the nation he is at war with. Ehasz's writing stands out among many of the show's episodes and exceeds even their high bar for its level of nuance fused with mythology.
The same qualities can be said for "Appa's Lost Days," which also shifts the narrative's perspective to a character seldom at the story's center. Even when dealing with a speechless sky bison as its star Ehasz's ability to build character while telling a story persists, and from that point on, Appa feels so much more real and tangible than most any other animal sidekick in fiction. "The Avatar and the Fire Lord" doubles down on the fairy tale quality as it tells of the epic myth that started the series' conflict, and this episode is perhaps the best of the three at juggling isolated storytelling with overarching plot work.
What's more, those were far from Ehasz's only episodes as head writer. Overall she served as a staff writer for many episodes and wrote more than any other woman working on the original series. The episode that perhaps stands out the most is "The Southern Raiders," which again not only works as a self-contained story but also pays off overarching plot points between Katara and Zuko as it fleshes out their relationship in a raw and emotional sequence of events.
However, perhaps most frustrating is that it appears that Ehasz did not continue writing for the Avatar franchise. While it was known that she was married to Avatar: The Last Airbender's head writer Aaron Ehasz, there is not much made public about their relationship or Rachel's career since.
For what it's worth, it seems that fans were blessed to have her time and input on the show. Not only is the voice of a woman on the writing staff valuable to a series widely lauded for its female characters, but looking through Ehasz's writing credits makes her exceptional ability for storytelling and character crafting evident.