In the twelfth and thirteenth episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender, many characters, past and present, converge on the great city of Ba Sing Se, only to discover that the Fire Nation has an awful and destructive secret awaiting them all. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Avatar.
OH MY GOD A DOUBLE-PARTER
OH MY GOD BA SING SE
OH MY GOD SUKI
OH MY GOD JET AND SMELLERBEE AND LONGSHOT
OH MY GOD WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED
A;SDLKFFFFFFFJAD;FLKJA SD;LKDFKL;SDFJKSA A;KDJFA ;SDFKJASF
- Part of me just wants to see if I can break my own record of how many bullets I can use in one single list. HERE GOES NOTHING.
- I am not entirely sure how many of you realize what a gigantic emotional moment this two-parter is for me as a very new fan of Avatar (but a fan nonetheless). This episode serves to bring back some very necessary characters and finally satisfy my much-requested desire to see what the hell is in Ba Sing Se. I would provide an example of this in other fandoms, but that would risk spoiling that particular series, so I’ll just plain state it: I have been waiting for an episode just like this for a long time.
- Hey, it’s the family from “Zuko Alone”! I love when people pop up like this and it’s never referenced blatantly. It’s almost like a silent reward to those who pay attention.
- There’s a wonderful contrast in the cold open of “The Serpent’s Pass” that is not at all obvious until you know the whole story over the course of the next hour. This episode opens with so much pure joy and we have no idea just how NOT HAPPY everything is to come after it. There’s victory at the end of “The Drill,” but it’s not something you want to leap in the air about.
- God, how brilliantly written are all of the scenes in Full Moon Bay? I mean, there is so much at work here, from the way that it shows the plight of refugees clinging to the last hope of entering into Ba Sing Se, to the brilliant parody of the process of airport security, to the idea that FAKE AVATARS ARE TRYING TO GET INTO THE CITY. So much gorgeous attention was paid to this setting, and it pays off in a huge way.
- IT’S THE CABBAGE MAN!!!! oh my god i missed him so much
- For once, the two storylines that pan out via the episode do not actually come together at the end. (Well, it has happened before, but it’s fairly rare.) What made that dynamic so fascinating was that I actually expected it to, given the people involved with the second one.
- I had completely forgotten about the Freedom Fighters, but I can’t imagine a better character than Jet to come back to the story to help develop the journey that Iroh and Zuko are on, especially Zuko.
- At the same time, for Sokka, it was wonderful to have a past character elaborate on his journey, too, and I thought that the way that “The Serpent’s Pass” dealt with Sokka holding on to his heartbreak over Princess Yue. It’s never been something that the writers ever beat over our heads, either, and I appreciate how nuanced it’s been since the end of the first season.
- How could they simply give their tickets away when the master of tickets wouldn’t let there be substitutes earlier? Just a small gripe that didn’t make sense.
- SERPENT’S PASS IS THE WORST. I don’t know why, in my head, I imagined that it was a mountain pass. That didn’t seem so bad to me. But a tiny, ridgeback range over a GIANT OCEAN? Holy god, pure hell. And this isn’t even factoring in the serpent that shows up later. Christ, what an eerie visual, too.
- I was really shocked how bleak Aang’s message about hope was. lol children’s show. god i love this all so much.
- So, let’s talk a bit more at length about Sokka’s story in “The Serpent’s Pass.” It was fairly obvious early on that Sokka’s reunion with Suki was going to be awkward. Joyous at first, yes, but painfully awkward afterwards. Once they reach the Serpent’s Pass, Sokka immediately goes to what he does best: rampant overcompensation. I’ve talked about his masculinity issues in the past and I think part of that comes into play here (but only a part of it). I’d be interested to learn more about Sokka’s relationship with his father, too, since we’ve gotten the idea that he feels obligated to “protect” people specifically from here. And he takes that idea and runs way too far with Suki, who is more than capable of protecting herself. (Well, I would have appreciated someone pointing out a spider, but that’s just me!) The thing is, “The Serpent’s Pass” does a fantastic job of demonstrating to Sokka how this type of attitude towards women is not something that they all want and, in Suki’s case, she’s actually put-off by it. At the same time I don’t want to ignore the fact that Sokka quite literally lost someone and it’s nice we get that scene at night under the moon, a physical reminder of Princess Yue, and we see just how difficult it is for him to open his heart to someone else again.
- It’s a small moment, but Long Shot’s pep talk to Smellerbee about Iroh getting her gender wrong is a sweet moment, and I feel like that brief scene just told us all a story that the show might never get around to.
- Simultaneous to this, Iroh’s conversation with Jet about second chances just made my heart swell with sadness, and it’s no secret at this point that I absolutely adore what the writers have done with Prince Zuko. He might have one of the most fascinating character arcs I’ve ever seen on television, and it just breaks my heart to see Iroh try so hard to make his nephew happy.
- IS KATARA MOSES. This was a reminder to never forget that she is a waterbending master. She is incredible.
- I actually rather liked the colorful serpent that was used here.
- TOPH + SUKI = PURE LOVE OH MY GOD. “
- “Oh, well….you can go ahead and let me drown now.” <33333333333333
- When Jet told Zuko he knew who he was, my heart nearly exploded. CLOSE CALL.
- aang could you like never cry ever again because it always gets to me
- It was nice to have a life brought into the world at the end of this, but I must be a heartless asshole because I literally did not care because they were coming up on Ba Sing Se and I was going to pass out from excitement. I’m sorry BABIES ARE PRETTY COOL BUT BA SING SE IS WAY COOLER.
- Ok, maybe I’m not heartless. I absolutely adored the tender moment between Katara and Aang and GOSH DARN IT THEY ARE SO CUTE TOGETHER.
- I repeat myself. It happens. It is going to happen right now: When you don’t spoil me, even on tiny little things, it allows me to experience this show in a wonderful vacuum. Not one person told me this episode was a one-hour-long two-parter, so when Aang flew up to the wall and I was on the edge of my seat to see what was on the other side, and when the camera panned down to show THAT GIANT FUCKING DRILL and then the credits started and I was yelling all dramatically at the sky like when someone’s best friend is killed in a shoot-out or something and then the next episode started immediately and I thought it was a mistake and I looked at the episode list again AND IT FUCKING WASN’T A MISTAKE…well, that was one glorious moment for me. So: thank you for not spoiling me on this, and now you know why you should not spoil me in the future.
- MORE LISTING SHUSH YOUR FACE
- HOW UNEXPECTED IS ALL OF THIS. I also cannot believe how long Appa has been gone. Where is he? 🙁
- Even though this is all one giant story, like the end of season one, it’s great how big of a shift in tonality we get to see here in “The Drill.” While there are many emotionally important moments, this felt like perhaps the most tense and suspenseful episode of Avatar yet. And the very nature of the drill in question is what makes so much of this unbearable: it creates a fixed point of time before the Fire Nation can succeed, and that time winds down SO SLOWLY. Honestly, it’s a brilliant way to bring about a whole lot of suspense.
- We got to see a large part of this in “The Chase,” but it’s even more apparent here how the dynamic of Team Avatar has changed for the better. Having three of the four elements on their side (with three masters, too) means that any fight/battle scene is going to be visually stunning and spectacular, and everything we get to see in “The Drill” is simply jaw-dropping. The choreography is just…fuck. THIS IS SO GOOD.
- Gosh, Azula’s characterization continues to improve with each of her appearances. Here, we get to see the doubt that spreads across her face as she disbelieves the certainty of those around her. I’m beginning to get the sense that she truly understands just what she’s up against with Team Avatar. I wouldn’t go so far as to say she’s doubting her own talent, or that of Mai and Ty Lee, but that she has now experienced defeat at the Avatar’s hands more than she is used to. Is she re-evaluating her approach? I don’t know quite yet, but I’d never seen her like that before.
- It’s short-lived, but I loved the look on Aang’s face when General Sung declines the Avatar’s help, stating that the Terra Team is all that they need. I mean, his confidence is quickly annihilated, but still. LET US EXPLORE THIS IN THE FUTURE.
- Oh gosh, I had no idea that Sokka would literally use the term Team Avatar.
- “Enough with the Team Avatar already! No matter how many times you say it, it’sÂ not going to catch on!”Â “Okay, how about the Boomerang Squad? See, it’s good, ’cause it’s got Aang in it. Boomer-AANG.” “I kinda like that one.” “Or how about the Aang Gang? Or the Fearsome Foursome.” “Forget it, Sokka.” “What? We’re fearsome!” I LOVE YOU FOREVER, SOKKA.
- Ty Lee’s “defeat” of all the earth benders is AMAZING. She’s so quick!
- It’s a ridiculous trope, but I don’t care: I laughed so hard at Sokka slapping General Sung and yelling, “Get ahold of yourself!”
- I sort of can’t ignore how strangely Iroh treats women at this point. He’s generally respectful of everyone, but he’s kind of patronizing towards women in a way? I mean, it’s visually funny to see Zuko so disgusted with watching his uncle flirt, but I don’t think this was an example of him obliviously being cute and adorable, and rather exploiting it instead. Just a thought.
- I can’t lie. Zuko joining the Freedom Fighters was kind of an exciting thought.
- Oh, I do love these episodes when Sokka is the problem-solver, though the writers do get to explore how that can get kind of irritating. When Katara figures out that Ty Lee was the one who neutralized the earth benders, her comment about taking them down from the inside is what inspires Sokka’s idea. So, he puts forth a theory that they should infiltrate the drill and attack its pressure points in order to destroy this. Of course, this is much easier said than done, as we also learn that Toph cannot come along due to the metal structure preventing her from seeing. (noooooo don’t split up i love when they are all together). Once inside the drill, though, it’s clear that there is a tad bit of an uneven power dynamic in the group, too. Since Sokka cannot bend, he can only direct Aang and Katara in trying to saw through the steel braces, and the work that they do is unbearably exhausting. While they do solve things here, I’m worried: Is this going to be a problem in the future? I really hope that Sokka doesn’t feel hopeless or worthless because he cannot bend. 🙁
- There is a lot that happens in this two-parter, but there’ probably no more significant moment than the scene in the train station with Jet, Iroh, and Zuko. I thought it was just going to be a funny scene involving bad tea and Zuko’s invitation to join the Freedom Fighters, but I was surprised that Zuko turned it down. I suppose it makes sense at this point, too, but at the time I didn’t expect that. It seemed that Zuko was just willing to stay with his uncle and figure things out himself. AND YET, IROH: YOU RUINED IT. AND YOU DID SO USING TEA. I initially did not catch it until Zuko knocked the tea out of his hand and spelled it out for me. BUT NOW JET KNOWS. Oh god, and it is not even resolved. oh god please let the two of them be ok 🙁 ALSO WHAT AN AMAZING PLOT TWIST OH MY GOD.
- The last…I don’t know….fifteen minutes or so? Just some of the finest action storytelling we’ve seen yet. Gosh, it’s all just so terribly, terribly exciting, and I cannot believe how painful it was to watch Team Avatar figure out how to stop the drill. I felt fairly good about them figuring out that they didn’t need to saw every brace, but this is all painfully overshadowed by the fact that the drill has struck the wall. So it’s not even a matter of stopping the drill before it reaches the wall of Ba Sing Se. Now they have to stop it breaking through the other side. be still my heart.
- I’m perfectly fine with Mai not entering slurry pipeline. A girl’s got to have standards, right?
- As heavily choreographed as they are, the fights between the split parties are completely chaotic and it’s really fun to see that, especially as the sludge adds an element that no one can control.
- THE AZULA/AANG DUEL. GOOD FUCKING GOD. HOW. HOW. HOW. God, when he is nearly unconscious on top of the drill, which has already made it through the fucking wall, I was honestly expecting the worst. This is all done so well that I leapt up and yelled FUCK YES when Aang was finally able to deliver that final blow. SO VICTORIOUS.
- Like I said before, this is a great victory for the Earth Kingdom, but I don’t feel like this ends on a positive note, necessarily. The writers have set up these two foreboding storylines, with Jet knowing Iroh and Zuko’s secret and with a bitter victory handed to Azula. There are only eight or so episodes left in this season and I cannot imagine that this is going to end well.
- I AM SO UNPREPARED.