Mooseboy, I know you (and everyone here as well) love the series, but I think you're rating these episodes too high. Almost all the episodes you've reviewed have been 9, 9.5 or 10.
But, anyway... The Desert... Hmmm...
I honestly don't like this episode very much.
I'll say what I do like about it first, though. Firstly is Katara. Out of the main characters (Aang, Katara, Sokka, Toph, Zuko, Iroh...) Katara is probably my least favorite. And I honestly could not give you a reason. In most episodes I just don't care for her. However, in The Desert... I really like her. I love how she just takes control, and doesn't get upset when Aang is snapping at her. She understands his pain and... I don't know, just the way she handles the situation is something that is very... admirable. Is that the word I'm looking for? Nyah. The scene I like the best is when everyone is just kinda standing there, obviously exhausted, and Toph sort of staggers a big. Then Katara grabs her arm, tells everyone to hold hands and says something like 'We're getting out of here alive.'
The other thing I like about this episode is Sokka on cactus juice. That... is probably one of the funniest ATLA moments, IMO.
However, here is what I didn't like:
Aang. I know he's upset and angry that his best friend is missing, but it was just a little too much for me. He was annoying.
That's it. I hate Aang so much in this episode that it just ruins the whole thing for me. It really does.
If i was in Aang's situation in that episode, I'd probably act just like him. Aang being upset like that makes the show more realistic. So trust me, I understand.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I appreciate and understand 'the fury of Aang', but for some reason that I don't even know, I don't like it.
I'd give the episode a... 5.5/10. Maybe a 6.