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October 12, 2007
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Writer: Tim Hedrick
Director: Giancarlo Volpe
Sokka feels left out as he is the only person of the group unable to bend. He finds sword master Piandao to help further his skills as a warrior, forging his own sword out of a meteorite. He and his friends realize just how important he is to their group. Meanwhile, Iroh devises a plan to escape prison and starts bodybuilding in secret.
The episode opens with Aang, Katara, and Sokka, watching a meteor shower. Toph naturally can't see anything, but is lying with them nonetheless. One meteorite falls to earth and impacts close by, starting a forest fire near a village. Fighting the fire, Aang and Toph begin to build trenches around it while Katara flies on Appa to Waterbend a nearby creek to dispose of the fire. Sokka, however, is placed in charge of Momo and does nothing to contribute, much to his dismay (even Momo manages to help out snuffing ember fires more than Sokka).
Meanwhile, General Poon goes to give Iroh his food in prison. The guard mocks a markedly disheveled Iroh as he scrabbles for the gruel, even scooping what had fallen onto the ground into his mouth. As soon as the guard is gone, he becomes more collected, wipes the sweaty hair out of his face and calmly finishes his meal in peace, only eating out of the bowl.
While they are eating in the town, Sokka expresses how he feels useless for not being able to bend or fight as well as the others. The group tries to console him and takes him shopping at a weapons store. Katara is seen trying on dirt red leather gloves, and Aang tries on some very intimidating, but heavy armor. After trying many weapons (and injuring himself a lot of times), Sokka sees a priceless sword that he falls in love with. The shop owner informs him that it was forged by the Fire Nation's most renowned swords master, Piandao, who happens to live in a castle nearby. At Aang's suggestion, Sokka decides to seek the tutelage of the master because every other member of their group was formally trained with a real master of a bending art (Aang by Monk Gyatso, Katara by Master Pakku, and Toph by Badgermoles).
Iroh is once again shown again, lying on the ground deep in thought. Suddenly his eyes widen and he begins explosively doing bent-knee sit ups, five before the camera cuts away to the group.
Sokka then travels to Piandao's dojo only to be informed by Fat that he turns away almost everyone seeking the same thing, critical of Sokka having not brought any gifts to prove his worth. During the interview, Sokka humbly admits his own unworthiness to the master, which is exactly what he was looking for. He decides to take Sokka under his wing. He is set about to do tasks such as landscape painting and calligraphy, as well as practicing against one of the master's underlings.
Meanwhile, Iroh is still mocked by his guard. It then cuts to the group missing Sokka, trying to make jokes in his absence. They have no success, and when Katara tries, Aang even says "I guess the jokes don't run in the family". Back at the prison, Iroh is then seen to be training in the guards' absence, having upgraded to a more difficult variation of sit-up, the straight-legged inverted sit-up, and clapping push-ups. He keeps up the facade of loneliness and desperation in front of the guard.
In the meantime, Sokka's swordsmanship greatly improves, finally beating the underling while taking a new approach at some of the challenges set before him. Now, the swords master believes him to be worthy enough to choose a steel to make his sword. Unsatisfied with the samples of metal before him, Sokka gets a flash of inspiration, and gets Aang, Katara, and Toph to help him haul the meteorite up to the castle to use to make his sword. Aang and Katara are both overjoyed to see him again, while Toph claims that she didn't care, turning away to hide the blush on her cheeks. They haul the meteorite up, pushing it while Toph helps them by bending it up some. They are addressed at the door by Piandao, asking about Aang, Katara, and Toph, whom he claims to be friends also from the Fire Nation colonies from the former Earth Kingdom.
Still, Iroh is seen to be training whenever not under watch, being able to perform difficult exercises including but not limited to inverted crunches, inverted push-ups, and one handed pull-ups. By this time he seems to regain much of his strength.
After spending a full night forging his sword, being made in a traditional Chinese fashion of melting, pouring into a mold, shaping, and quenching, the swords master presents Sokka a very unique, all black sword, claiming to have never seen such a creative, imaginative student or blade. Sokka refuses, though, and confesses the truth about actually being from the Southern Water Tribe. The master attacks him, and they then engage in a duel. Aang and the others try to intervene, but Sokka tells them to stand back, feeling he needs to fight the battle on his own.
Meanwhile, still keeping his jailer unaware, Iroh has managed to recondition his body to be more formidable than ever before.
As the duel between Sokka and his master moves outside, Sokka uses the techniques he's learned--coupled with his youth and agility--to get the upper hand (something the master points out several times) However, the swords master finally gains the upper hand, but sheaths his sword before delivering the final blow. He now reveals that he had known Sokka was from the Water Tribe all along just from his name, and also notes that Aang is the Avatar. Nonetheless, he claims that the art of the sword does not belong to any one nation, and gives Sokka his sword back.
After leaving his castle, Fat runs after Sokka, giving him a bag as the swords master's gift. Inside the bag is a Pai Sho tile: the White Lotus. As the doors to the master's home close, they notice that the symbol of the White Lotus can be seen surrounding that of the Fire Nation. As they leave, Sokka gives Toph a remaining piece of the meteorite, calling it "Space Earth". Happy with the gift, Toph easily forms the meteoric iron into various shapes between her hands, such as a sphere, a spiral, a star and (comically) the outline of the Nickelodeon logo.
Production Notes Edit
- In the scene when Sokka is down about not being special, in one shot the symbol on Aang's headband is missing.
- In the scene when Sokka gets ink on his face, the dot of ink and the Z pattern on his face were not connected, but the time he smiled, the dot was gone.
- Sokka's landscape, in addition to the added rainbow, oddly completely omits the waterfall itself. It is also painted in color, despite his only being given black ink.
- During the shot of the group standing outside the gate with the meteor, Toph's shirt is missing but still retains her shoulder garments.
- When Sokka runs away during his fight with Piandao, he has no sword, but a few seconds later, he's cutting the bamboo with his sword.
- The ink Sokka purposely put on his face wouldn't be enough to cover the area that was on the paper. His face would have to be completely covered in ink for this to work.
- In reality, it would take months and even up to a year in some cases to produce a Chinese or Japanese sword due to the intricate and time consuming phases of production. Although, it is possible of course to assume there are different manufacturing processes in the show than that of reality.
- Iroh did not have difficulty doing a headstand exercise with his forehead at the bottom. If he is real, it would be hard for him to do that especially once the blood starts rushing to his head.
- Iroh seems to have no scar or wound from when Azula struck him in the chest in The Chase
- The waterfall Piandao has Sokka paint is heavily based on the Gullfoss Waterfall in Iceland, famed for its rainbows. Prior to beginning the final season, the show's creators traveled around Iceland, gathering inspiration for what the Fire Nation landscape would appear like.
- At the end of the episode, when Toph is playing with the meteor rock, one of the shapes she forms is a "splat." This is obviously a reference to Nickelodeon's old logo.
- The armor that Aang wears in the weapon shop bears a heavy resemblance to Soul Calibur's Nightmare, featuring an oversized, clawed left hand.
- In the scene where Sokka is to use landscape as an advantage in Piandao's yard, statues of Lion Turtles can be seen.
- Piandao suggests Sokka to use the name "Lee" while he's in the Fire Nation, as it is a common Fire Nation name. Ironically, that is the same name Zuko used while living in the Earth Kingdom during season two, while he was trying not to be discovered as being from the Fire Nation.
- What Piandao tells Sokka about imagining the sword as part of your own body mirrors what Suki told him about the fan in the first season.
- Piandao's suggestion of the use of the name Lee is likely a joke on the fact that Lee is the real world's most common last name.
- Robert Patrick, Piandao's voice actor. played the T-1000 in Terminator 2, the T-1000 could literally make it's arms into swords, paralleling what Piandao says to Sokka when comparing the sword to a body part.
- When trying on the gloves, Katara looks like Tifa Lockheart.