The Sokka Cactus Juice is one of the episodes that has been met with mixed feelings.
This episode was funny and equally sad one as it is one of the episodes where we truly got a glimpse at the sadness the team was yet to face. It was a tiny bit but it was the beginning of what was to come. Aside from the background story, everything else was proceeding smoothly.
Our heroes were their best selves until that happened. We got a glimpse of what Aang looked like, completely devoid of hope. They say pain builds character and the loss of Appa in the Si Wong desert was the beginning of that for Aang.
The episode where Sokka took Cactus Juice is one that would make anyone laugh as his antiquities in the episode were amplified by a hundred fold.
Sokka, hallucinating on cactus juice said,
“DRINK CACTUS JUICE. IT’LL QUENCH YA! NOTHING’S QUENCHIER. IT’S THE QUENCHIEST!”
I know, right? That makes no sense at all.
Cactus juice is a naturally occurring liquid that is found in certain succulent plants of the Si Wong Desert. This juice is found in cactus plants and in a desolate wasteland devoid of water, it truly does start to look tempting.
However, It contains hallucinogens which cause those who consume it to temporarily fall into a deranged mental state. We can see this in a certain young water tribe warrior who lost his marbles for nearly the whole day.
While wandering around Si Wong Desert, Team Avatar stumbled upon a cactus. Parched and dying of thirst, Sokka quickly slices open the plant, and downs the contents. He and Momo quenches their thirst with the juice inside but at a price. Unbeknownst to them that the liquid contained a powerful hallucinogen; Momo began to soar in the sky aimlessly, while Sokka advertised the dangerous liquid and asked nonsensical questions.
Seeing the effect the juice had on her brother, Katara poured the liquid on the ground before Toph could have a sip as well. The hallucinogenic effects of the juice eventually wore off by the next morning.
Appa’s Capture During The Sokka Cactus Juice Episode
We all know Sokka would eat or drink almost anything but why are they traveling on foot you might ask? Why are they stranded in the Si Wong desert to begin with?
The team met a very strange professor who taught Anthropology at Ba Sing Se University. All of the members of team Avatar at this point had one way or the other, gotten a vacation. Sokka and the rest of the gang come to a very shady location in the desert. The Sand benders spot Appa and the Avatar’s Bison as soon as they land.
The professor tells them that he had been on several expeditions through the desert, all to no avail. He is on a search for the Lost Spirit Library of Wan Shi Tong. The Spirit who knows ten thousand things. Sokka, in much desperation to get an updated map, begins contemplating.
After much speculation and deliberation, Sokka is convinced and declares rather dramatically that he would like to go to the Spirit library for his own vacation. Toph, just joining the team, asks when she gets her own vacation. Sokka tells her “you gotta work here a little longer to qualify.”
The team takes off into the desert, accompanied by the professor. Fascinated by Appa, he launches into a monologue, asking him questions. Appa growls in response to almost everything he says. The professor then laughs, saying if only he spoke Bison. He remarked that the stories the beast could tell.
They get way into the desert on Appa but they eventually have to come down from Appa so he can rest a little bit. They have a picture of the library but are shocked to see that it is buried under hundreds of feet of sand. They all decide to climb in after Toph tells them that the inside of the library is intact and everything is in place.
Toph’s Dilemna Before Sokka’s Cactus Juice
Toph however opts to stay on the outside where she can still feel her way around. She complains that the sand is loose and shifty, which is bad enough. She doesn’t want to go underground. Meanwhile, the team spend time inside the library, eventually offending Wan Shi Tong. This causes him to decide to sink the library. He states that he is taking his knowledge back from the humans.
Just as soon as this begins, Toph senses it from the outside and quickly moves to stop it. She creates a more solid foothold from the shifty desert sand and assumes an earthbending stance which helps her prevent the library from sinking. Although this takes up all her strength and concentration. Right at that moment, rogue sand benders corner Appa. They capture the Bison as Toph struggles to hold the library from sinking. She apologizes to Appa.
Aang and the rest of the team get out of the library safe, only to be met by the news that Appa had been captured. Aang instantly became murderous.
After Si Wong Desert
After arriving in Ba Sing Se, Sokka cautioned the group not to get their hopes up, suggesting highly illogical and supernatural disasters that could still befall them, such as getting attacked by an exploding Fire Nation spoon or finding out that the city had been submerged in a sea of killer shrimp. Toph addressed his paranoia by asking if he had been “hitting the cactus juice again”.
Although the plant Sokka and Momo drank from resembled the fishhook barrel cactus in appearance, it shares the same hallucinogenic properties as the peyote cactus, which is native to southwestern Texas and central Mexico. It can be said to be the original inspiration for the plant and its hallucinogenic properties.
Chef Jenny Dorsey initially proposed to include cactus juice in Avatar: The Last Airbender Cookbook: Official Recipes from the Four Nations. To make a real-life equivalent, she intended for the drink to include alcohol or cannabidiol, but the idea was rejected by Nickelodeon.