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September 15, 2006
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Writer: Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko
Director: Giancarlo Volpe
Guest Stars: Kristoffer Tabori (War Minister Qin), Barry Dennen (General Sung), Karen Maruyama (Bureaucrat), Brian Tochi (Than), Kim Mai Guest (Ying), Nika Futterman (Smellerbee), Crawford Wilson (Jet), Cricket Leigh (Mai), Olivia Hack (Ty Lee)
Having successfully crossed the Serpent's Pass, Aang is determined to go to Ba Sing Se where he hopes to find his lost bison, Appa. However, he discovers a Fire Nation drill heading straight for Ba Sing Se, intent on destroying the wall. Aang and the group succeed in stopping and destroying the drill from the inside. Meanwhile, Jet wishes to recruit Zuko for his Freedom Fighters, but learns that Zuko and Iroh are Firebenders.
The episode begins with Fire Nation tanks moving towards the outer wall with the drill close behind. Several segments of the drill then extend forward, making the drill even larger. Steam comes out of pipes and spikes lodge into the ground around it.
The command module then ascends from the top of the drill. Inside are Mai, Ty Lee, Azula, War Minister Qin, and several Fire Nation soldiers operating the drill. War Minister Qin is bragging about the drill and how it will defeat Ba Sing Se, stating that nothing can stop them. Ty Lee then questions whether the Earthbenders in the drill's way will stop it, to which Qin then points to the drill's metal shell being impervious to any Earthbending attack. To prove the point, he hits the periscope Ty Lee was looking through. Azula doubts Qin and sends Mai, who is bored out of her mind, and Ty Lee to take out the Earthbenders.
The gang is approaching Ba Sing Se with Than, Ying, and their newborn baby Hope. Aang flies down on his glider with Momo and lands in front of them. Katara asks what he's doing there. Aang answers Katara saying that there was something big heading that way. Toph and Aang earthbend everyone up the wall. Sokka asks, "Now, what's so big that Appa has to wait?"
Aang and Toph earthbend a platform up the side of the wall to carry the group to the top. When they arrive, Aang points out the drill. Ying says that the Fire Nation is finally approaching Ba Sing Se and that no one is safe. Earthbender soldiers approach and ask what they are doing on top of the wall. Aang says that he is the Avatar and asks them to take him to their leader. General Sung says that the Avatar's help is not needed since the wall is impenetrable. Toph reminds him that the Dragon of the West (Iroh) got through, but the general retaliates by saying that he was quickly removed. He humorously explains the meaning of the word Ba Sing Se, "impenetrable city". Toph , to which Sung says he has sent out a team of Earthbenders called the Terra Team. Sokka remarks that the name is quite catchy and begins suggesting names for their own group.
The Terra Team knocks one of the Fire Nation tanks into the air and out of their way. Then they bend earth spike-like columns up towards the drill in an attempt to slow it down. The drill extends again and the columns crumble. Mai and Ty Lee slide down the side of the drill, with Mai hurling daggers at the Terra Team. Ty Lee swings off a rope onto the ground, and deftly takes out all the earthbenders in seconds by hitting their pressure points and blocking their chi, and stands triumphantly over the defeated warriors.
The general sees their defeat and exclaims, "We're doomed!" Sokka slaps him and tells him to get a hold of himself. The general apologizes. Toph asks him if he wants their help again, to which Sung turns to Aang and agrees. Katara, Toph, and Aang all look at Sokka for a plan.
Iroh and Zuko are at the Ba Sing Se ferries. The ticket lady says their names incorrectly and looks at them suspiciously. Iroh corrects her on the pronunciation of their names, angering her for telling her how to do her job. Iroh then compliments her saying she's as pretty as a flower in full bloom. She is flattered by this and compliments him back, stamping stamps their tickets and welcomes them to Ba Sing Se. A disgusted Zuko snatches his ticket out of Iroh's hand and continues to the ferry.
Katara uses her healing powers on one of the Earthbenders that was attacked by Mai and Ty Lee. When the general mentions that the bender doesn't look injured, she tells him that the earthbender's chi is blocked. The earthbender provides a description of the ambusher, and Katara identifies Ty Lee as the attacker. She comments on how she doesn't look like a threat, but says, "It's like she takes you down from the inside". Sokka's face lights up and he states that that is perfect way to take down the drill. Toph chimes in by saying, "By hitting its pressure points". Aang agrees and they start their descent from the wall towards the drill. Toph creates a large dust cloud to use as cover, telling the gang to stay close while inside.
Ty Lee examines the dust cloud through the periscope and says that it's "poofy." Azula looks at War Minister Qin suspiciously, who reassures her that it's nothing.
The group runs into the cloud; Toph creates a tunnel underground and tells everyone to get in. Sokka remarks that it's very dark and that he can't see, to which Toph replies, "Oh no, what a nightmare!" They all emerge from the tunnel, now under the drill. Sokka sees an open hatch, and Aang helps them all get into the drill. He tells Toph to get on, but she refuses, explaining that she wouldn't be able to see inside the drill, as it is made of metal. She decides help from the outside by wedging a large boulder against the drill to slow it down.
Sokka says that he needs the drill's schematics, and Aang asks where they're going to get it. Sokka swings his machete, taking off a wheel of a pipe. Steam starts to rush out of it. At first Aang and Katara don't get why he broke it, but Sokka explains that a large machine is bound to have engineers to maintain its function and someone will come to fix the problem; thus allowing them to steal the schematics they need. A firebender engineer walks out of the mist and turns around. Katara freezes the steam, along with the engineer. Sokka takes a schematic from the engineer, and the gang run up the stairs. Sokka examines the schematic and explains that they need to cut through the braces that hold together the inner mechanism and the outer shell.
Meanwhile, Iroh and Zuko are sitting on a bench at the ferry station, when Jet comes over and sits next to Zuko, asking him if he has any plans once in the city. While they are taking, a man with a tea cart comes by yelling, "The hottest tea in Ba Sing Se!". Iroh asks for some tea, but soon spits it out in disgust, and complains that "it's more like the coldest tea in Ba Sing Se". Pulling Zuko aside, Jet tries to convince Zuko to join the Freedom Fighters, but Zuko declines. Jet suspiciously eyes Iroh drinking the now hot tea, and realizes they are firebenders. Zuko knocks the tea out of Iroh's hand and scolds Iroh for firebending his tea in public. Iroh says, "I know I'm not supposed to cry over spilled tea, but it's just so sad."
Sokka, Katara, and Aang arrive at the braces. Aang and Katara slowly slice away at the brace using waterbending. Halfway through one brace, however, both Aang and Katara are exhausted. Sokka tries to cheer them on and almost gets water-whipped by Katara. They cut through one brace, but at that point, they are both beat. Suddenly, there is a loud rumbling and the entire drill shakes. They think that they finished the drill, but then War Minister Qin comes over the announcement system and explains that they have made contact with the wall.
Sokka uselessly pushes against the brace with all his might, but fails to even budge it. Even though they're putting everything they have into cutting down the braces, the damage is still minimal. Aang then realizes that they don't need to cut all the way through the braces, but just enough so he can break them with a final blow. The gang realizes it's the perfect way to take down the drill, and Aang reminds them that everyone in Ba Sing Se is depending on them. Immediately, Aang and Katara begin to cut away at the braces, while Toph continues to slow the drill from the outside.
Meanwhile, earthbenders on the wall are throwing large boulders at the drill but to no avail.
A soldier informs the war minister that the engineer was ambushed, and another tells him that a brace was cut clean through. Sensing a sabotage, Azula beckons Ty Lee and Mai to investigate with her.
Aang and Katara are still cutting through the braces. Sokka is in the middle of cheering them on when a blue fire ball comes hurdling down. He dodges and screams. Ty Lee was excited to see the Avatar "and friends" while shooting Sokka a flirtatious look. Sokka responds with a wave and a drawled "Hey" while Katara pulls him away.
Ty Lee dives towards Aang, but he airbends her away. They split up, and Katara gives her water skin to Aang, saying he will need it more. Mai and Ty Lee follow Katara and Sokka while Azula follows Aang. Sokka and Katara come to a hatch that reads: "slurry pipeline." Katara asks what it means, and Sokka says that it's their way out. They jump down into the muddy water and get carried away. Ty Lee and Mai look down into the pipe. Ty Lee tries to get Mai to go with her, but Mai persistently refuses; stating "Azula can shoot all the lightning she wants at me, I'm not going in that wall sludge juice." Ty Lee shrugs and jumps in, and Mai closes the hatch after her.
Aang speeds past numerous engineers and control rooms with Momo on his back. He climbs a ladder to the top of the drill where he plans to deliver the final strike that should take down the entire drill for good.
Katara and Sokka end up outside of the drill covered in wall sludge with Ty Lee close behind. Katara bends the water in the mud creating a plug, which happens to have Ty Lee in it. Sokka tells her to keep it up so that when Aang delivers the final blow, the pipes will be ready to pop from the built-up pressure.
Aang chooses a spot on the top of the drill to deliver the final blow. Suddenly, several boulders fall from the sky. One of the boulders nearly hits Aang. Aang tries to tell the general to stop shooting rocks, but Sung, still paralyzed with fear, tells his men to keep hurling rocks at the drill. Aang uses Waterbending to cut throught the metal and weaken the spot where he is going to deliver the final blow.
Meanwhile, Katara is still holding back the slurry to build up pressure. Sokka is cheering her on, and she finally gets fed up with his constant chattering "like a hog monkey" and knocks him down with slurry. Toph approaches and offers her help, and Katara asks her to help plug up the drain. Toph earthbends the slurry, placing more pressure on the pipes.
Aang is still working on weakening the metal and stops to say, "What I'd give to be a metalbender." Momo shrieks, and they turn around to see a blue fire blast coming towards them. Aang manages to dodge it and sends Momo away preparing for his fight with Azula. Azula shoots several fireballs at him. Aang dodges them and shoots an air blast back. He uses his water whip to knock Azula's blasts off target. She kicks two fierce blasts and Aang tries to block them with water, but it evaporates while he is knocked back. Several boulders start falling again and Aang takes the opportunity to shoot one at Azula. She ducks in time and shoots another fire ball. Aang creates a wall of rubble and shoots rocks from the wall at Azula. She kicks them away and almost gets Aang's head with a kick of flames. Azula somersaults in the air and delivers a powerful fire blast destroying the makeshift wall. Aang hurtles into the wall of Ba Sing Se and falls, unconscious, onto the surface of the drill.
The drill extends again, and Azula walks over to Aang with bitter intentions. She picks Aang up and holds him against the wall before he can slide between the wall and the drill. She readies a blue flame in her hand, but Aang slowly wakes up and sees the uncoming attack. He quickly makes an earth glove and blocks her attack, and then pushes her several feet back. Slurry spews from the wall, coating the drill with a slick layer of liquid and dirt. Azula, however, recovers, and rockets torward him using her Firebending. She has the misfortune of poor timing, and slides around in the mud instead. Her momentum flings her into Aang while windmilling to regain her control. The two of them smack into the wall, and both begin sliding down opposite sides of the cylindrical drill. Azula manages to turn over and stop herself using her hands and the soles of her shoes, while Momo latches onto Aang's back, and helps him up while Aang uses airbending so that he can climb back onto the top of the drill.
Aang thanks Momo and runs to the weakened spot. A rock conveniently falls next to him. Aang shapes it into a wedge that fits in the "X" he carved into the shell of the drill, and rides an air scooter high up on the wall. At the apex of his ascension, he turns around and races down the wall, successfully driving the wedge into the metal, while narrowly dodging Azula's fire blast. The Drill's internal braces all collapse and the machine is left jammed, partially in the Outer Wall. Azula is knocked back by the blast created by Aang's blow, and rejoins Ty Lee, who has been freed from the slurry ball. Mai emerges from one of the pipes completely dry and casually announces to the two, "we lost".
Back on top of the wall, Sokka begins to brainstorm clever nicknames for their group, some being "The Boomerang Squad" and the "Fearsome Foursome." Back at the station, Smellerbee, Longshot, and Jet, eyes wild with hatred, board the train where Zuko and Iroh are. Iroh leans over and nuzzles a baby, who turns out to be Ying's. The scene fades out with the ferry approaching Ba Sing Se, safe from Fire Nation war tactics once again.
Production Notes Edit
Main article: Writing in the World of Avatar
Series Continuity Edit
- In "The Guru", Toph develops Metalbending, a skill Aang wishes he had when making a dent on the Fire Nation Drill.
- This is the second episode Iroh has gotten into trouble due to tea. The first time being the time he accidentally poisoned himself in the "The Cave of Two Lovers".
- The Drill becomes proof later in the season to the Earth King of Ba Sing Se that the war is real.
- This is the second time Toph has tried to slow something down that Aang, Katara, and Sokka were in. The first time was in The Library, when the library was sinking.
- This is the first time the name "Team Avatar" is used.
- This is the second time in the series they use waterbending to break metal, the first being when Aang/La attacked the Fire Navy ships in the Season One finale.
- When Jet states that Zuko "didn't get that scar from a Waterbender", this could be referring to his battle with Aang, which lead near Aang's defeat, until Katara blasted and froze Jet to a tree.
- When Aang and Toph are moving the group up the Outer Wall, Aang's Staff is missing.
- When Katara stands up and says "Yes?" to Sokka, when he came up with the idea to take down the drill from the inside, her necklace disappears in mid frame.
- At the end of the episode, the sun is pointing the wrong way, based on the shadows of the characters.
- After Aang is slammed into the wall of Ba Sing Se and falls down unconscious, his left hand is under his head; in the next frame, however, his right hand is under his head.
- When Katara and Toph were bending the slurry Ty Lee was in, Ty Lee likely would not have survived. On top of that, the engineers wouldn't have lived either when the slurry flooded the inside of the drill they were in.
- When Ty Lee is stuck in the slurry, rocks go right through her arm, or they do hit her arm and don't bounce back or seem to have any effect on her.
- This episode shows that, while Katara can heal wounds, she can't heal someone who's chi has been blocked. This happens when she tries to heal the earthbender, and General Sung says, "He doesn't look injured," and the Earthbender tells them of what Ty Lee did to him.
- This episode marks the first time Ty Lee has been defeated by someone other than Appa, because Appa is missing at the time.
- This episode and "The Serpent's Pass" aired together as the one-hour special, Avatar: Secret of the Fire Nation. With 4.4 million viewers, this special is the second-highest rated among viewers.
- One of writers was JJ Abrams, the creator of Lost, Alias and Fringe. For whatever reason, he was uncredited along with several others.
- The events pertaining to this episode would be referenced in "The Ember Island Players". When the scene cuts to the audience, many people are either nodding off or asleep, alluding to the lukewarm reception this episode had with the fan base.
- There were two shots while the drill is getting close the wall of Ba Sing Se, One was when inform the refuges, and his friends "that", and then after Iroh crying over his spilled tea, the two difference of the two shots is the first one had a rough ground, and the second was on a smooth ground.
- It is interesting to note that, based on the apparent hydraulic components of the drill, simply sabotaging the hydraulic system by busting the numerous pipes and valves might have brought the drill to a halt a lot faster than the wildly inefficient strategy the team employs.