Mark Watches ‘Avatar’: S02E12/13 – “The Serpent’s Pass” / “The Drill”

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.









  • 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.
  • “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.


  • 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’s not going to catch on!” “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.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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413 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Avatar’: S02E12/13 – “The Serpent’s Pass” / “The Drill”


    1. It was the first episode I ever watched! Along with the next one, which aired with it. I had little idea what was going on, but I could tell it was a good show, and my little cousin explained things like the fact that Sokka’s girlfriend is the moon or whatever, I don’t even know.
    3. JET! JET IS BACK. AND SMELLERBEE AND LONGSHOT. WHAT THE HELL AM I RIGHT. (Man, what a weird first episode. I didn’t have any idea who these guys were.)
    5. Haaaaa ha ha ha, the fake Avatars, oh my God.
    6. “Well, normally it’s only 1 ticket per passport, but, this document is so official, I guess it’s worth 4 tickets.”
    7. SUKI!! (Again, I had no idea who she was, so her return had no significance!)
    8. “‘Thanks for saving my life, Toph.’ ‘Hey, no problem, Sokka.'”
    9. Wait a second, my very first episode DID NOT HAVE APPA? What is wrong with me?
    10. Sokka! Suki! Sokka and Suki! I like that he knows she can take care of herself, and his overprotectiveness has nothing to do with thinking she’s weak or anything. Because, really, she could kick his ass.
    11. I love how Longshot communicates wordlessly. Silent characters are always fun!
    12. A second chance, Jet? I hadn’t even seen your first chance!
    13. Bending a transport bubble to cross the water? Take that, Moses!
    14. “Oh great and powerful sea serpent, please accept this humble and tasty offering. Thank you.”
    15. “Oh, Sokka, you saved me!” *kiss* “Actually, it’s me.” “Oh…well…heh. You can go ahead and let me drown now.”
    16. Gotta love a giant sea serpent, am I right?
    17. Jet. And Zuko. ALLIES? WHAT.
    18. “You talk too much.” (This episode is just FULL of ‘shippy business, huh.)
    20. You know, if the Fire Nation quit building awesomely deadly and destructive machines, this war would be a lot easier to win.


    1. It was the second episode I ever watched!
    3. “Nevertheless, that is why the city is named Ba Sing Se. It’s the impenetrable city. They don’t call it Na Sing Se. That means penetrable city.”
    4. “So I’m the only one who can ever come up with a plan? That’s a lot of pressure.” “And also the complaining guy.” “That part I don’t mind.”
    5. “It’s so dark down here, I can’t see a thing.” “Oh no, what a nightmare!” “Sorry.” THE MOMENT I FELL IN LOVE WITH TOPH.
    6. “I know you’re not supposed to cry over spilled tea, but…that’s so sad.”
    7. I love Sokka’s plan, and I love how Aang applies his Earthbending teachings to modifying the plan, and I basically love this episode.
    8. “Wow, Azula, you were right, it is the Avatar! …and friends.”
    9. Jet is so SUSPICIOUS OMG.
    10. The entire Team Avatar conversation.

    Aaaargh I love even more things about this episode than “The Serpent’s Pass,” but you have surprised me! Is it any wonder that after this two-parter, I was hooked?! Even though I didn’t know who the hell anyone was?

    • tenderoni says:

      My favorite thing about the Freedom Fighters is Longshot and the rest of them being able to communicate with a single glance. I could be all deep and talk about how close they are even though they mess up sometimes and how found families can be the best kind, but FUCK THAT IS AWESOME.

    • ldwy says:

      So busy!! Barely able to comment! But I have stopped by and loved the reviews everyday. Luckily, spectralbovine touched on ALL my favorite parts, so I can run off again.
      These episodes!! So suspenseful! So riveting! SO MANY CHARACTERS I WAS SO HAPPY TO SEE!

    • notemily says:

      I'm glad I'm not the only one who loves the "Na Sing Se" line.

  2. alexamarie0813 says:


  3. lilah80 says:

    "Dear Diary,
    Refugees. Lost. Cast out. Borne across the waters of despair to land like flotsam on the sands of hopelessness! Ferry was filthy, got grime all over scabbard. Jet tried to recruit me, but I'm a lone wolf-mongoose, doomed to lonely loneliness, etc. Until honor is restored, will suffer in painful solitude. Got to go, Uncle making me learn pai sho. He'd better teach me the lotus tile trick." – Zuko

  4. arctic_hare says:


    <img src="; border="0" alt="wellwellwell">

    A looooooooot of neat stuff, is what we have here! We have the return appearances of not only Jet, but Suki, and THE CABBAGE MERCHANT. Additionally, with the first two, we have two more of Mark's predictions coming true:

    2. Jet will reappear in season two.

    4. Sokka will be reluctant to feel romance to someone else after the loss of Princess Yue.

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    😀 Yep, that's two gold stars for you! Well done!

    Of course, what makes Jet's return so interesting to me is that he's not interacting with Team Avatar. That might come later, but for now he's getting mixed up with Zuko and Iroh. You know, FIRE NATION ROYALTY IN DISGUISE. And Jet hates the Fire Nation enough that he was willing to wipe out an entire town of Earth Kingdom innocents just to rid one area of the Fire Nation. WOO THEY'RE ON A COLLISION COURSE WITH WACKINESS. 😀 No, seriously, I love that the show is doing this, it's much better than Jet immediately meeting up with Team Avatar right away. It highlights the similarities and parallels between Zuko and Jet, and they even form a definite bond, though it's on tenuous ground due to Zuko's real identity. There's no doubt in my mind that that's all going to go to hell if/when Jet twigs to the deception being played out here. And oh maaaaaaaaan, would that be UGLY. Plus I'm sure Katara in particular would be none too happy to see Jet again, and they'll be in the same city as Zuko and Iroh and AAAAH THE POSSIBILITIES THIS IS GOING TO ROCK. <3

    Over on Team Avatar's side of the plot, Aang is going too far to the other extreme in response to what he nearly did in The Desert: he's not letting himself feel anything at all over Appa's disappearance. It's understandable, and nobody wants to see him go into the Avatar State over it again, or even treat his friends shabbily again, but there's a middle ground there he needs to find. Katara is right, and it's sad to see him reject her offer of a hug. Still, at the same time, I can sympathize with his annoyance at people constantly asking how he is and how he's coping, even though Suki had no way of knowing that it was the millionth time he'd been asked about it. I've been on both sides of situations like that, so it feels very real and human to me. I'm glad to see him have that breakthrough at the end, though; he found that balance. Good for you, Aang. I think it's an important step in his growth both as a character, and as a person: it's part of growing up.

    – SEEING EYE LEMUR. Toph, you are beautiful and perfect and amazing. <3 <3 <3 And I love you forever.

    – "Once. When I was a… different man." Urk. Twist the knife a little more, why don't you, show? The look on Iroh's face there makes me whimper because I know what he lost there.

    – Apart from the sea serpent, I would seriously LOVE to walk underwater like that with all the fish swimming by. It's like those tunnels in aquariums, only BETTER. And I LOVE aquariums. <3 <3 <3

    • arctic_hare says:


    • kaleidoscoptics says:


      oh god this is a perfect way to describe it. All the 'pieces' are falling into place in the middle of Ba Sing Se. And we're only a little over halfway through the season.

      I love the gold stars xD

      • hpfish13 says:

        It's like the end of a wacky Cary Grant & Katherine Hepburn movie!! Next thing you know they're all going to get locked up into prison together and mistaken for criminals while their looking for Appa. And no one will believe that they lost a flying bison.

        • nanceoir says:

          And Zuko's there, declaring to anyone who will listen that he is the crown prince, but the guards're all, "Naw, I just rung up Fire Lord Ozai, and he said he ain't got a son!" And then Aang breaks out his bison whistle, but that only calls a saber-tooth moose-lion.

          Oh, what shenanigans!

          • monkeybutter says:

            <img src=""&gt;

            "Oh, Sokka, you're wonderful! You're wonderful, you're absolutely wonderful! You're a hero, you saved my life! Oh, you'll go down in history, I've never seen such bravery — did you want to say something, Sokka?"

            My, I love their wacky hijinks!

  5. Dragonsong12 says:

    Longshot may be one of the screen's greatest characters.
    Poor Sokka, THE MOON IS JUDGING HIM! (I think Yue wouldn't have a problem with it, Sokka, she's cool like that, FYI)

    I don't have much mroe to add (you go over it so well!), except that I'm glad I went ahead and rewatched "The Drill" last night. I'd pretty much given up hope on getting two-part reveiws for this and have been watching episode by episode so it's fresh in my mind. Dumb luck, OR DID YOU SEND PSYCHIC WAVES INTO MY BRAIN? The world may never know…

  6. Embies says:

    The Serpent Pass may not be the best episode, but somehow it's the one I re-watched the most. I could watch it every day.
    Despite the cheesy hope part, it has everything that I love about ATLA: character development, gorgeous animation (the backgrounds for this one were really impressive), kickass action scenes, great humor, and the right amount of angst.
    It also contains the best animated kiss I've ever seen (after the one between Suki and Toph, of course :D).

  7. echinodermata says:

    And so Jetko becomes a thing. Am I correct in believing this is the most popular slash ship in Avatar? Whatever, I'm way more interested in Smellerbee and Longshot than Jet.

    I love that Toph is using her name to get across – and Momo is her seeing-eye lemur. Hee! But this exploration of class and how that trumps being the Avatar is just such an interesting dynamic to me. I guess some things never change.

    And then Suki!
    Yay! Suki! Helping refugees!

    And then Sokka gets all annoying and acts entirely patronizing and really, Sokka, you need to stop acting this way. But I do like that it's contextualized as a reaction to not being able to save Yue, as opposed to him simply being chauvinistic the way he acted in season 1, and I like that conversation Suki and Sokka have about his behavior, and about their relationship. I thought it was gorgeously done, and quite moving.

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE them all walking underwater contained in an airbubble, surrounded by fish. Fantastic.
    <img src=""&gt;

    And then Toph saves the day; she's very good, isn't she? And then Katara, too – love how she's really coming into her power. Girl gets to surf!

    Also like Toph being very apprehensive about the ice – entirely understandable and a nice detail to include. (And whatever, it was played for laughs, but Suki/Toph is now a thing, and I want and need more of it.)

    And then Katara owns all and is gonna deliever this baby like a boss. Seriously, there is so much girl power in this ep, and different types of crowning moments for them too. Toph and Katara get to bend like champions, and Katara also gets to get shit done with the pregnancy thing, and Suki came along to protect Sokka and everyone else, plus she gets to save Toph, and Aang and Sokka just kinda have to step back and let them take control.

    Then aww, Aang and Momo go off to find Appa. And then a kiss for Sokka and Suki. AWWWW.

    I will say, though, that with respect to Iroh and women, the flirting in The Drill doesn't bug me as much as him backtracking and doing the 'Smellerbee is a lovely name' thing. It just feels like women and girls are somehow a different class of people that must be treated different to the men at all times. Or that's how I read it, at least.

    So, The Drill. Steampunk goodness. And a rock elevator at the beginning whoo!

    So Toph is pretty amazing in this episode. Some master earthbending, and then a blind joke yay, and her knowing her strengths and weaknesses and therefore staying out of the drill.

    And any Azula, Ty Lee, and Mai is always a good thing in my book. Lol at Mai's deadpan "we lost," and the entirety of her disgust at the sludge/slurry thing, and how she's still clean at the end. I also do love that the show averts the whole girly-girl expectations with Ty Lee, as she could have easily been grossed out and squeamish about it as well, but just jumps right in. And fights like a champ.
    <img src=""&gt;
    <img src=""&gt;

    And yeah, it's sad and depressing, but I love that Azula is good enough to hold her own against Aang, and I think it's awesome that a mechanical drill does a lot of damage to the "impenetrable" wall that the earthbenders were so confident about.
    <img src=""&gt;

    Also gotta love Aang's vertical running.
    <img src=""&gt;

    • Avit says:

      I don't think I minded the flirting either? I mean it's been a while since I've had the luxury of sitting down and rewatching ATLA, but I vaguely recall noting that lady-flirts-way-past-male-gatekeepers was inverted.

      As for Smellerbee — I'm thinking about that. I think the main thing is in the gendered adjective which Iroh used to apologize for/mitigate his mistake, but if it weren't for that, it seems to have been a kind thing which he would have done for mistakes in either direction? And Smellerbee was clearly upset, but was she upset about the misgendering alone, or also about being perceived as unfeminine?

      • echinodermata says:

        Quoting the dialogue so we're all on the same page for this discussion:

        "Iroh: So, Smellerbee, that’s an unusual name for a young man.
        Smellerbee: Maybe it’s because I’m not a man. I’m a girl!
        Iroh: Oh, now I see! It’s a beautiful name for a lovely girl! "

        I get what you're saying in that I believe Iroh would backtrack either way at someone getting upset with him, but the way his apology/mitigation reads to me is entirely gendered, which doesn't help with my reading of Iroh and women since he's done iffy things in the past (June, Azula's doll).

        I actually don't know what Smellerbee was most upset about.

        • Avit says:

          Oop, I see what you mean! Thank you for quoteage 🙂

        • WhiteEyedCat says:

          I think that the message is that nobody's perfect. Even though racism is the primary problem in Avatar-land we can see from Sokka that there is definitely an element of sexism. Iroh seems to be quite old fashioned in his behaviour to women.

          Ironically, his horrible brother and father seem to have no problem with it, since there are plenty of female Fire Nation soldiers, and they blatantly favoured Azula over Zuko.

        • Coyote_Sister says:

          Eh. She's young. I get called "young man" all the time at work; today, a kid asked first if I was my friend's brother, then a few minutes later, if I was her boyfriend, then went off about how ladies needed to be treated with respect amirite. Used to drive me to storm-away-fury like Smellerbee does here, now I just kind of laugh it off. Being mistaken for the other gender can get REALLY frustrating, because it's like there's the Expectation that you Are Not Feminine Enough. And even if Iroh didn't mean to, he triggered that "I'm PLENTY feminine enough, dude, WTF?!" response from her, like people occasionally do.

          • tardis_guy says:

            i am a guy and have been called ma'am on 4 different occasions. I look nothing like a woman.

    • monkeybutter says:

      Ah, that's what I wanted to see. 🙂 Aang's best fight yet.

    • The Welsh Pirate says:

      One of my favorite moments in the whole series is Sokka and Suki's almost-kiss in the moonlight. It's perfectly framed, and the situation is just layer upon layer of beautiful, sad, and awkward. It has to be difficult enough to allow yourself to love again after you've lost someone, but it must be doubly so when your dead loved one is siting visably in the sky WATCHING YOU ALL NIGHT EVERY NIGHT.

      "I also do love that the show averts the whole girly-girl expectations with Ty Lee, as she could have easily been grossed out and squeamish about it as well, but just jumps right in. And fights like a champ."

      This bit has always stuck out to me, and I love it. Ty Lee seems to encompass so many "girly" stereotypes that it's a suprising and refreshing bit of characterization that she doesn't bat an eye at the prospect of jumping in to a pipe full of mud. Then again, we were introduced to her while she was living in a traveling circus, so it's really not too shocking that it would take a lot more then rock mixed with water to gross her out.

    • Guest says:

      "And then Katara owns all and is gonna deliver this baby like a boss. Seriously, there is so much girl power in this ep, and different types of crowning moments for them too."

      "deliver this baby"
      "crowning moments"


    • Naru says:

      Nah I wouldn't say Jetko is the most popular slash pairing. It's Momo/Appa!

  8. thefireandthehearth says:

    Aw man, I remember getting together with friends in high school and watching this two-parter like a party. We… were kind of dorks. I still am. 😀

    Anyone, this two-parter is both epic and a little disappointing. I don't know, near the end of "The Drill", I started getting arc fatigue like whoa at the Katara/Toph bending the slurry part. The Aang/Azula fight was utterly awesome and I won't deny that Sokka's plan was clever, it's just… IDK. It just didn't click with me. But I did like it! Suki came back, which surprised and pleased me. I will never not love the amount of kickass girls this show has. I felt these episodes focused a lot of Sokka and how he works with the group- as the team normal and plan guy, he's fairly awesome. Not saying that Aang's story arc wasn't important, or that he and Katara aren't cute together, I just thought Sokka and his ~feelings~ got a lot of attention. This is in no way bad.


    <img src=""/&gt;


    The Dangerous Ladies continue to be fabulous. Ty Lee is like a bouncing pink dervish of doom. And lol forever at Mai. "We lost." Is this the first time we've seen someone ignore Azula's orders? I don't blame her, but I can't imagine the princess being too happy about that.


    But hey! They're finally at Ba Sing Se! What could possibly go wrong?

    • SporkyRat says:

      aaapppppaaaaaaaaa all the sad faces in the world
      Come home, Appa!

    • The Welsh Pirate says:

      I would just like to point out that the Serpent is a call back all the way to the un-aired pilot episode of the series. It got a better deal than it did the first time around.

  9. Tauriel says:

    My favourite lines:

    “Oh great serpent, please accept this humble and tasty offering. Thank you.” Oh Sokka, never change. XD

    “I can’t see a thing!”
    “Oh no, what a nightmare!”
    I love Toph’s sarcasm. <3

  10. alexamarie0813 says:

    okay, i'm back, and i've regained my composure.
    so i'm just gonna skip over "serpent's pass" not because it was a bad episode (it was awesome) but because HOLY FUCKING POOP BALLS "THE DRILL."
    this episode is SO SUSPENSEFUL. when i first saw it, i totally expected the drill to be stopped before it hit the wall, but LO AND BEHOLD it hits the first wall of ba sing se and that is so unexpected from a kid's show

    my favorite part of this episode is the fight between azula and aang. holy crap. i love watching aang airbend, it's seriously wonderful. the animators make it seem like his bending is literally an extension of his self. i love that. oh, and i love watching aang use his water/earth bending more and more too. he's learned to depend on more than just airbending to win a fight or solve a problem :')

  11. audzilla says:

    I enjoy the moment at the end of the first half where Suki is like 'yeah, I just came along to protect you, gotta go back now." And Sokka kind of deflates. And then they're all sweet. <3

    I had never considered Iroh's behavior towards women to be condescending or patronizing at all. I kind of see what you mean about him exploiting the sweet flirting old man thing, but I guess I don't find that to be patronizing in and of itself? I dunno.

    And the choreography.. oh, it's just stunning. And like many other things in this show, it's gotten better and better as the characters advance in their training and get more comfortable with each other.

    • Tauriel says:

      Well, look at it this way: how many women use their “feminine charm” to sway men of authority? Why couldn’t Iroh try the same with that female official? 😉

      • audzilla says:

        True enough. Some of the other comments above got me thinking about this a little more too – I'd forgotten the doll he sent Azula when she's clearly not the kind of kid to like dolls, etc. Maybe Iroh IS a little sexist, or at least conditioned to show respect to women in a different way than he is to men. It's believable, too, that the writers did it on purpose – all the characters have their flaws. Though it is a bit subtle for that.

        And I still <3 Iroh. XD

        • Meenalives says:

          I also can't forget the way he snuggled up to June while she was unconscious. I love Iroh, but that was really creepy.

    • MocataJoy says:

      There's no doubt that Iroh has got a little bit of sexism in him. That is a believable flaw, especially for a character as old as he is.

      What saves his character is that he is also capable of showing great respect to both women and men. When Toph met him in the woods, he showed her great respect even though she was not a only a girl, but blind as well. He gave her great advice and allowed her to walk away at the end of their talk without offering to "help" her or making it seem as though he thought she was helpless. He also was willing to open up to her about Zuko, which shows that he respected Toph enough to trust her.

      Iroh is a great "wise old man" character because he has these flaws (the sexism, the fact that he used to conquer cities and destroy people's lives on behalf of the fire nation) to make him imperfect. I think the writers struck a really good balance with him.

      • audzilla says:

        yes, well said. 🙂

      • shirtninjas says:

        I also agree that Iroh's character is very believable… in a large part because he's so old. In fact, if you assume their social system to be a lot like ours (we don't know what time it is in this fictional universe but the writers obviously wrote it that way for our benefit) then he's actually pretty progressive for someone of his generation in a lot of ways.

      • Tauriel_ says:

        Well, there's sexism and there's sexism, IMHO. There's the outright "women are inferior to men and shouldn't be allowed to do anything" sexism, and there's the more subdued "women are the gentler sex and must be protected" sexism. Iroh, who seems a pretty "traditional", "old school" guy, is certainly "guilty" of the second type, but I can't see him denying women their rights or outright belittling them. I think the first type of sexism is much, much worse (though that's not saying that the second type is a-ok; it's just a much lesser evil than the first type, IMHO).

        And I'm saying this as a woman.


    • Dragonsong12 says:

      I know! That thought confuses the heck out me too. What's boring about it? seriously, what?

    • kaleidoscoptics says:

      Wait, seriously? That makes no sense.

    • alexamarie0813 says:

      say whatttt


      • herpestidae says:

        Webster disagrees with this assessment.

        bored, bor·ing
        transitive verb
        1: to pierce with a turning or twisting movement of a tool
        2: to make (as a cylindrical hole) by boring or digging away material <bored a tunnel>
        intransitive verb
        1a : to make a hole by or as if by boring b : to sink a mine shaft or well

    • MichelleZB says:

      I like it, too, and didn't know this was a thing!

    • Hyatt says:

      I think it's because of the way Nickelodeon promoted it? They called the two episodes "The Secret of the Fire Nation" and kept insinuating that the secret was completely game-changing and ~secret~. Come broadcast, and the first episode isn't about the Fire Nation at all, and a giant drill isn't exactly secret (and didn't end up being game-changing). So, blame Nick (as always) for the backlash? BARROWMAN NICKELODEON! *shakes fist*

      • I can totally buy that, actually. The art book refers to these two episodes as "Journey to Ba Sing Se." That title delivers on its promise!

        • herpestidae says:

          At least the "Fury of Aang" subheading for The Library/The Desert was accurate… for about a minute.

  13. Kaci says:

    I love this two parter for most of the reasons you said, but I'd like to take this opportunity to expand on something you touched on in your review–Sokka's place in the group as a non-bender.

    This, to me, is an example of privilege; bending is something that some people in this world are born with, and others are not. Being able to bend allows these people to do things and have access to jobs that non-benders don't. That's privilege. I love how it is explored over the course of this series with Sokka. I don't want to get too deep into talking about it for fear that I'll say something you haven't gotten to yet inadvertently, but I do want to bring it up.

  14. Anne says:

    It was pretty cool when Jet and Zuko met up. I never saw that coming! AND THEN WHEN IROH FIREBENDED HIS TEA AND JET SAW OMG NOOOO

  15. affableevil says:


    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">


  16. monkeybutter says:


    I am a terrible fan, apparently. Oh well, this works for me because "The Serpent's Pass" << "The Drill," and I didn't really have anything to say about it other than Cabbage Merchant! Jet! Suki!! Iroh's hat!

    <img src=""&gt;

    Best part of the episode. I loved his line about second chances to Jet, too. How it must have struck Jet after he sees Iroh warming his tea in "The Drill," I don't know.

    Nothing can hold a candle to Ba Sing Se, so as many hilarious moments as "The Serpent's Pass" has ("It is your pleasure"), I tend to blank on it because I love the Drill. The Dangerous Ladies versus Team Avatar (love you Sokka). The fight choreography is amazing, and I especially love the part where Aang runs up the wall (crying because I don't have any gifs, but I'm sure other people do because it's so great). I love watching Aang and Azula fight. And no, I totally don't blame Mai for staying out of the slurry. She's smart.

    As for Sokka not being a bender, he can always be their idea man and direct!

    <img src=""&gt;

    …Or not. I love Katara and Toph's teamwork, especially since it took a waterbender and an earthbender together to stop the drill (and a non-bender to provide the idea for it). The three of them are stronger than an elite earthbending squad because they can combine their unique skills to have a much broader range of action. I love Avatar-talk like that!

  17. clodia_risa says:

    I have been looking forward to this review for SO LONG!

    When I first watched it, I had the same reaction. Shit just got real so fast. The immense size of the drill was simply breathtaking. And then all the characters, FINALLY GETTING TO SEE BA SING SE! Such a perfect pair of episodes!

    Your lists fill me with delight and joy and make me clap like a seal!

  18. herpestidae says:

    Ah, The Drill. One of my favorites, if only for the fact that Mike and Bryan made a penis joke that was 24 minutes long. The joke is long, not the penis. The metaphorical penis. I mean, "penetrating" the wall? And "lengthening" as it gets close. "Bigger in real life than in the schematics" and of course THE SLURRY. That gets on everyone. When Aang gives it a "blow." Also, LOL Iroh took a city's virginity. Subtlety, thy name is not Bryke. I literally didn't see it until I was about to go to bed that night. Um… I'm shutting up now.


    <img src="; /> Hello drill schematics.

    Also, if the Fire Nation had This Guy:
    <img src="; />
    They would have won.

    • Pseudonymph says:

      Yeah, I can't watch this episode without giggling about penises. LOL, semiotics. I am a terrible person.

      And holy shit! I love you for pointing out the Mechanist's drill schematics! That's amazing!

    • kartikeya200 says:


      I mean, I figured this was another one of his inventions of course, and that he'd given them the plans and stuff before that whole fight at the Northern Air Temple, but I never realized they were actually in the episode.

      Idly, I love that this show doesn't follow that trope of 'hey we can never make this super ultra amazing machine again because the plans/inventor/prototype are no longer available'. The Fire Nation has these machines now. Even though the Mechanist is no longer helping them, the cat's already out of the bag, so to speak. There's no getting rid of them now.

    • Shay_Guy says:

      Wasn't the mods' verdict that pointing out hints to current events in previous episodes counts as a spoiler?

      • herpestidae says:

        The "current" event has essentially already happened. If I'd put up the picture before this episode, yeah, that would be a spoiler, but since what has been talked about (The Drill) Has already shown up on screen, I can post what was a blink-and-you-miss-it bit of foreshadowing that he may not have seen. Now, if there were some hypothetical information/ screencap that somehow indicated where Appa was and if/when Team Avatar would ever find him (to my knowledge, there is not), and I'd posted that, then it would be a spoiler, because missing Appa is technically a "current event."

    • Michelle says:

      The first time I watched this two-fer I couldn't concentrate on the actual contents of the episode because I was like, "SERIOUSLY COULD THEY HAVE MADE THAT THING ANY MORE DICKLIKE? AND THE SLURRY ALL OVER THE PLACE? OMG!" But I re-watched this yesterday, forced myself to see past all the blatant dickery, and actually enjoy these episodes now.

  19. @maybegenius says:

    Yeah, I really don't mind Mei refusing to jump into the slurry because it is totally in line with her character to be like, "Uh, no, I'm so not doing that. Have fun."

    TY LEE YOU ARE SO CUTE, even if you are frightening in your speed and agility. "You were right, Azula. It IS the Avatar. And FRIENDS." *meaningful look at Sokka, who continues to be a Lovebender*

    "It's so dark in here. I can't see anything!" "OH NO, what a nightmare." "… sorry." OMG ILU TOPH AND SOKKA.

    I just have to say that I really, really love how this show allows their male characters to show sorrow and pain, even including allowing them to cry. And no one comments on this, or tells them to man up, or trivializes their feelings in any way. Like. That is amazing, even though it shouldn't be. WHY AREN'T MORE SHOWS FOR CHILDREN LIKE THIS. WHY AREN'T MORE SHOWS FOR EVERYONE LIKE THIS.

    I probably have more to say, but I'll have to come back later.

    • @maybegenius says:

      OH RIGHT. I wanted to comment on Jet's epic RAEG face when he realizes Iroh fire bended his tea. It will never not be hilarious to me. Just, the eyebrows, and the wide eyes, and the piece of grass. Kills me.

  20. kaleidoscoptics says:

    Before anything else, I have to say: YAY SUKI IS BACK! ONLY FOR A LITTLE WHILE BUT YAAY SUKI. I was so worried she would just be a one-off character, but I like how they've brought her back in and added more to her character. She dove in the water to save Toph in full armor while a giant seahorse monster was flailing around. Bad. Ass.

    I'm kind of tempted to just post up my 'liveblog' notes for these eps, because I didn't remember to write reviews. But I was too into actually watching the episodes this time to do a really in-depth liveblog. xD Oops. So instead, main points.

    – Aang goes completely in the opposite direction from overemotional into being Super Focused, and it's just as bad. He doesn't trash any sandbender barges this time, but he doesn't really emotionally support a family that needs it until the very end. Good thing he figures out that isn't helping. Still, I hope they get Appa back soon.
    – My notes just say "Jet ANGRYFACE." I liked the fact that they brought him back, though. Should create some interesting conflict, especially since SAW IROH FIREBENDING WAT
    – IROH REALLY, HOW COULD YOU SLIP UP LIKE THAT 🙁 Although not gonna lie, if I could firebend cold tea my life would be complete.
    – I am glad that Sokka's having realistic problems coping after what happened to Yue. It kind of sucks that he's treating Suki like a doll because of it, but it makes sense that he would have been affected by losing a girl he loved like that.
    – Zuko: Master swordsman and hibachi chef
    – I love Sokka's awesome idea and his team names.
    – For the most part I can't even parse The Drill because so much awesome. The fight scenes are great. The drill is terrifying. Team Avatar actually beat Azula! Yaay!


    • SporkyRat says:

      Firebending cold tea is totally what true masters of Firebending developed it for. That whole lightening blaze-y bit? Just to impress everyone else. 😀

    • Patrick721 says:

      I feel like I should write a "we're off to see the wizard" parody called "we're off to Ba Sing Se" or something. But someone's probably already done that somewhere.

    • ldwy says:

      Although not gonna lie, if I could firebend cold tea my life would be complete."

      Oh, yes, I need this skill.

      I am forever making tea, too hot to drink, forget all about it, DEAD COLD, pop in microwave, too hot to drink, repeat process.

    • notemily says:

      If I went to a Japanese restaurant and Zuko was doing the hibachi, MY life would be complete.

  21. Dragonsong12 says:

    Oh and also? We see for the second time how Tea is Iroh's Kryptonite. He makes grevious errors in judgement – FOR TEA!

  22. Kira says:


  23. alex says:

    lkhsfadlkhfllkhalgkadfkslh TWO PARTER LET ME DIE

    my fav. part of the serpents pass: "seeing this family… so full of happiness and love… It's reminded how I feel about Appa… and how I feel about you…"



  24. djfinn says:

    And this too if you haven't seen it yet:

  25. arctic_hare says:

    I feel exactly the same way about that Sokka line. YANA.

  26. Ying's line "How can we abandon hope? It's all we have!" makes me cringe-laugh. Always. It's just so over the top.
    I KNOW! And then she names the baby HOPE. Oh my God, Sugar Queen.

  27. Moon_Shadow says:

    Two things for Serpent's Pass: 1) My favorite bit is how Sokka's all "I WILL PROTECT YOU MY LOVE" and then at the end Suki's all "yeah so I wanted to protect you and that's why I came along" and he's all "wait what?" 2) Toph/Suki OTP 4EVA even though this episode trips my embarrassment squick majorly. Poor Toph.

    Now as for The Drill: ARSTDHNEIO" (= keysmash in Colemak.) That is all.

  28. Avit says:

    Well, attraction doesn't have to be romantic or sexual in nature. I feel that Jet is definitely drawn to Zuko, but not in a way which requires romance or sexuality in the interpretation.

    On the other hand, this kind of attraction is exploited as shipping bait all the time, and even used by mainstream media as pre-romance UST between an M/F couple, so hey, ship away.

    • Pseudonymph says:

      Oh, good point about attraction! Yeah, I don't really think it's sexual or romantic attraction at all, actually. It's just fascinating for me to see how they interact, especially because their personalities are so distinct and well-drawn. Like Mark, I'm a little disappointed that Zuko doesn't join Jet just because they have amazing chemistry and I would love to see how that scenario would pan out.

      • Patrick721 says:

        Zuko/Jet Bromance. I wish there would be an episode where they get drunk on cactus juice and talk about FEELINGS. NOTHING MORE THAN FEELINGS.

        Sorry, I just found out that I have a cover of "Feelings" by the Offspring on my computer.

        • Pseudonymph says:

          Haha, I would love an episode devoted to drunken Zuko/Jet (Zuket?) bromance!

          Although I'm starting to think that the severe arch of Jet's eyebrows just make it look like he's flirting with everyone constantly. Maybe that's all I was picking up on. hmm. . .

  29. Lariren says:

    I had thought this was a two parter because of watching it on Netflix (I also heart that its called The Secret of the Fire Nation there). YAY TWO IN ONE DAY!

    I always feel so bad for Sokka when he's with Suki under the moon. One possible girlfriend is there with him and his last one is watching. Seriously it breaks my heart and I love how he deals with possibly being with Suki after Yue by being overly protective of her. It's cute in such an awkward way.

    Sokka fainting at the birth is also wonderful.

    I love the Iroh, Zuko, and Jet subplot here because it opens so many possibilities and I can see where Zuko would have issues joining the Freedom Fighters. His sneaking around and stealing has mostly been done on his own and this is the first time we've seen him do this as Zuko and not the Blue Spirit. I never thought he would join Jet because of that. Plus he wouldn't leave Iroh at this point. Iroh's hat needs to be mentioned as well.

    Speaking of Iroh I see his flirting as half a way to make Zuko uncomfortable and half just who he is.

    Mai is awesome here and still totally bored and I love how she just won't go in the pipe. She doesn't care what Azula would do to her she doesn't want to get dirty. Yay Mai! Ty Lee's crush on Sokka is adorable and clearly Sokka even charms the ladies that want to defeat him.

    I particularly love how the drill actually breaks through the wall. When it did I remember screaming "WHAT?!" kids shows don't let the villains get that far! And yet this one does! It makes me happy.

  30. Depths_of_Sea says:

    Mai: We lost.

    And thus did I declare my eternal loyalty and love for Mai, for her perfect comedic timing and complete nonchalance about announcing it. XD

    And when Aang struck the final blow, taking out the drill all by himself, with his theme swelling in the background music…

    Yeah, I think that's when I decided he was my favorite character.

  31. Avit says:

    Two brief things:

    1. I am pretty sick of "lol menz can't deal wit childbirth". Obvious issues aside, it's so worn out a joke that trickster tailors use it to make clothes for the emperor.

    2. Was there a negative fandom reaction against Mai's refusing to get in the slurry pipe? It never seemed bad to me, but hey, subjectivity.

    • @redbeardjim says:

      2. There was a negative fandom reaction to pretty much anything Mai did or said, so yeah. *shrug*

      • kaleidoscoptics says:

        This makes me sad, because that was a great part. :\ I liked that she showed she wasn't going to do everything Azula said.

    • asdfgh says:

      about your first point, Sokka is just a kid, it's probably the first time he's seen something like that. I mean, I don't know how other people would react but 14-15 (I think that's what age Sokka is) had seen someone giving birth, I would react the same probably.

    • Lariren says:

      I do like that its only Sokka that seems to have a problem here. It seems very Sokka for him to not know how to deal with childbirth. That's for women and scary and not something he needs to care about so clearly seeing it for the first time would shock him. The husband (forget his name) and Aang seem to deal with it just fine.

    • PreppyPoseur says:

      Well, I wasn't in fandom back then, but my reaction wasn't so much negative as "Huh. So she's not quiiite as terrified of Azula as Ty Lee." I don't think Azula would have let Ty Lee get away with it.

  32. kartikeya200 says:

    <img src=""&gt;

    Speaking of unprepared, I AM EXTREMELY UNPREPARED because I didn't realize you'd be doing both episodes today! So I only have art for Serpent's Pass, and I'm late because my ISP literally cut off my internet access five minutes before this post went up.

    So tomorrow is just going to be a super ultra ginormous art day okay? Okay!

    <img src=""&gt;

    A collection of fake Avatars. The guy second from left was modeled after Mike, dressed in his Aang Halloween costume.

    <img src=""&gt;

    <img src=""&gt;

    The serpent first appeared in the unaired pilot episode. We were waiting for the right moment to bring him into the series.

  33. kartikeya200 says:

    And oh yeah, random Doctor Who MY BRAIN moment, because I'd just rewatched Serpent's Pass right before watching the newest episode, but when Eyepatch Lady said the baby was 'hope', I was like NO THAT'S ACTUALLY ANOTHER BABY THAT TURNS UP THIS WEEK ON MARK WATCHES OKAY.

  34. MichelleZB says:

    It was when I watched The Drill when I first realized how FUCKING STEAMPUNK this show is.

  35. Matt_Thermo says:

    The fight between Aang and Azula is one of my favorite in the series. Not in small part due to the fact that this is the first time we really get to see Aang mixing up the elements. In the space of a few seconds, he goes from slapping Azula's hands and feet with the waterwhip to throw off her aim, to pulling up a rock wall to protect himself from her fireblasts, to catching a boulder with airbending and tossing it at Azula.

    As for Azula, I felt like this is the first time we see her really taking the battle seriously. In "The Chase", she almost seemed like she was playing with Zuko and Aang. Always that crooked little smile on her face. But here, we get to see her really cut loose. And damn, she came pretty close to winning. In fact, had this battle been prolonged any further, I really don't think Aang would have been able to hold out against her.

    Also, one of my favorite Mai moments; when the hatch pops open and she dryly announces "We lost."

  36. MocataJoy says:


    We can FINALLY talk about how awesome it's been to hear Mark refer to the characters as TEAM AVATAR because we knew this episode was coming!

    A quick thought: Why did Toph decide to cross the ice bridge in "The Serpent's Pass" when she could have just made her rock island slide along the ocean floor to the other side of the pass? I know the purpose it served, of course. Toph needed to fall in the water so Suki could save her and we could all be reminded that Suki is a badass who takes everything in stride. But I almost wish Toph had fallen in the water some other way. We've seen her slide rock around so often (I mean, she created that little rock island herself by causing the ocean floor to EXPLODE UPWARD) that her not doing so in this situation strikes me as really odd.

    And oh, btw, we're going to have childbirth in a KIDS SHOW. So awesome. For a really long time in cartoons (and just kids shows in general) pregnancy was almost a taboo thing. It was never shown or mentioned. But I love how Avatar confronts this head-on, showing the plight of a pregnant refugee while at the same time not making a HUGE deal of it. And I love how all the main characters react to the birth differently.


    • Strabo says:

      Toph would need a connection to the earth she wants to rise I think. That's why she could raise the small isle when she was at the ground, but can't simply rise more earth through the water. She could maybe move the island itself, but that would be a lot of water she has to move aside.

      At least that's my explanation.

      • MocataJoy says:

        Yea, I was thinking that she could slide the island around. Kind of like she and Aang slid that little piece of earth up the outer wall of Ba Sing Se. I can see why the writers wanted her to fall in the water, but I wish it had happened differently.

  37. licoricepencil says:

    I have mixed feelings about the Sokka line. While I agree that the "you talk too much" line is a little uncomfortable, I think the show does a good job with expressing the awkwardness of teenage romance, especially with Sokka/Suki. Even in this instance, where I think the line is more of an awkward way of expressing his own feelings than anything else.

    • Pseudonymph says:

      The line is definitely in-character for Sokka and a realistic portrayal of awkward teen romance. I guess it mostly bothers me because the lead up is so sweet and romantic and I think Suki and Sokka are so great together. So whenever I hear that line it just jars me out of the moment.

    • Iroh King of Pop says:

      She said the same thing to him on Kyoshi Island. It was a call back. Just like the Han and Leia "I love you" "I know " from Empire and Return of the Jedi.

  38. alex says:

    originally they were going to use the chinese word for hope, just wondering how you would feel about that….?

    • Anseflans says:

      That would be totally fine with me, strangely. I just don't like the sound of the word 'Hope' as a name.
      Does this make me a hypocrite?

  39. @Ahavah22 says:

    I rewatched "The Serpent's Path" in anticipation of this review; but not "The Drill", because Mark never reviews two episodes at once. How was I supposed to know that Netflix packages them together, when they don't package "The Siege of the North" Parts 1&2 together? That's kind of strange. I wonder which 2-parters they keep together and which they separate?

    In any case, double review! Yay!

    Favorite tidbits; numbered for simplicity's sake, not order (or most favorite).

    1> "Abandon Hope"–I read a lot of manga, so in my very unlearned way I know that this is an actual Buddhist principle. As far as I understand it, it refers to hope as just another physical attachment to this world that must be forsaken in order to achieve enlightenment.

    I once read a passage in a manga in which a Samurai preparing for battle was chanting a sutra that went something like this: "Meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha. Meet your parents, kill your parents…" etc. "Kill" is metaphorical in this context. It's very interesting and esoteric.

    The fact that they used that particular principle in a children's show??!! That's kind of unbelievable. Yet, it works! 🙂

    2. SMELLERBEE IS A GIRL!!! IIRC, she's the only girl in the freedom fighters. I was quite shocked at this revelation when I first watched the episode.

    (When M. Night tried to fight off race!fail critics, he said "Race is ambiguous in anime," and I remember thinking "No. The only thing ambiguous in anime is gender!" 😛 Also, Avatar: TLA was created and written by Americans, and anime tends to refer to shows & movies created and written by Japanese, but that's a whole 'nother argument that I actually hate getting into 'cuz who cares? A well written animated show is a well written animated show. Period.)

    3. MOSES WAS THE FIRST WATERBENDER!!! Yay for the Biblical shout-out! I *love* that scene, Team Avatar (and friends!) walking through the water, surrounded by pretty fish. Only made better by Momo trying to catch said fish!

    4. Wait, At the terminal..
    #Toph uses Bei Fong connections to get Team Avatar tickets on the boat! And Momo is her service animal! LOL!
    #According to the commentary, there *is* a cabbage slug amongst Cabbage Man's cabbages (try saying that 3 times fast!) But no matter how many times I rewatch the scene or try to pause it, I can't make it out.
    # In the commentary, the creators admit a small animation mistake: If Ying's family was robbed, why are there backpacks still on their backs? Oops!

    5. Back on the path…
    # Toph has a crush on Sokka! Toph has a crush on Sokka! (Those words wouldn't even be out of my mouth before she earthbended me to kingdom come! :D)
    # Sokka, you can't offer up Momo as a sacrifice! He's Toph's service animal now! (Oh, and it's just plain wrong! :P)
    # The scene with Sokka and Suki under the moon is so sad. Sokka can't even consider kissing another girl in the presence of his lost girlfriend's spirit…:(

    6. On the Boat:
    # Longshot has a nonverbal understanding with Smellerbee. He is also, quite possibly, the best archer in the series!
    #Just the fact that Jet MEETS Zuko is so, so awesome!!!

    7. I'm a huge sucker for birthing stories and baby stories, so I love, love, LOVE Katara as a midwife! It shows that she was in the service of medicine and healing long before she learned the healing applications of waterbending.

    #How awesome is Suki for jumping to help out, even though she (presumably) has never done anything like that before?
    # I wonder how many babies Katara has helped deliver?
    # Sokka's panic and fainting is so old tired old trope. I don't mind his panic, because it reinforces how capable Katara is in a tough situation (I loved her leadership skills in "The Desert"), but as Toph said he "fainted like an old lady." Well, at least Toph got a good line out of it! (and I've seen women/girls used in this trope too. Still tired and old)
    # Is this another Biblical reference? Moses' sister Miriam and mother Yocheved were both midwives…but I'm probably reading too much into it!
    #I wish they had named the baby the Ancient Chinese word for "Hope" and then translated it (like with Yue=moon), because an English name seems so out of place on this show, but *shrugs*

    Um, I haven't seen "The Drill" in a while, but I love Mai's refusal to go into the slurry because by refusing she's actively defying Azula! Go Mai!

    Also, slurry is awesome because it can be controlled by both Earthbenders *and* Waterbenders!

    • Strabo says:

      There were other girls as background characters with the Freedom Fighters in "Jet".

      • Avatar_fan_mom says:

        I was just combing the comments to see if anyone else had interpreted Aangs abandonment of hope speech in this context…guess I wasn't the only one 🙂

        That's all I kept thinking while watching and rewatching this episode – about the Buddhist principles of not being attached to this world or the things and people in it. There are lots of themes throughout the series that fall in line with various realms of Eastern Philosophy…One day I swear I will rewatch the entire series with the intent of writing an essay exploring this.

        Or maybe I'll just type it out in fragmented thoughts on Mark's blog as we go. Yeah, that's probably more likely. Though I would *love* someone more disciplined and scholarly to do such a thing for my intellectual enjoyment…

        • @Ahavah22 says:

          I really like all the Buddhism in Avatar, too. I don't know much about Buddhism in real life, but it's interesting to watch spirituality being explored in a meaningful way on a show–any show. It's not just a gimmick or a MacGuffin to make characters superpowered. Aang's religion reflects on every part of his life–from his shaved head, to his vegetarian diet, his frequent meditation and his own personal maturity.

          @Strabo–I never noticed girls amongst the freedom fighters. I should watch "Jet" again. Thanks!

  40. jubilantia says:

    YES TO EVERYTHING YOU SAID I love these episodes so very, very much.

    I thought the handling of Sokka in that first episode was AMAZING. Not bludgeoning you over the head with it, but wonderfully subtle and realistic. And Suki is great for standing up for herself and being able to communicate with him. YEAH FEMALE ROLE MODELS

    I do think Iroh is a little awkward with the ladies, but in this case I feel like she was reciprocating so I'm not sure that's a bad thing. I like to think that everything Iroh does is sincere, where anyone else wouldn't be, as evidenced by the "dancing for his dinner" scene. As in, if he's honestly flirting that's okay; it's not like he was all "ew" as he was walking away or anything. I'm not advocating using your masculine/feminine wiles to get in anywhere, but the other person has a choice to acknowledge the flirting or not. They should take part of the blame- whether it's a guy or a girl, on either side.

    I love that Toph jokes about her blindness, and I hope it doesn't offend any actual blind people. I feel like it's done tastefully, but again- not blind, so I don't know what it's like.

    In conclusion- I freaking love that serpent. SO COOL

    • Avit says:

      I've said it before, but I'll say it again — Toph rarely if ever seems to be joking about her blindness. Rather, she seems to be humorously prodding at her companions for assuming that everyone experienced the world the way they did.

  41. ina300 says:

    Mark how are you watching the episodes? The Serpents Pass/The Drill is the fifth two-parter in the series so I find it odd that this was the first one they played together.

    • Netflix Instant puts them together as "The Secret of the Fire Nation." I have no idea why this one was packaged like that and not "The Fury of Aang" or any of the actual two-parters.

      • The Welsh Pirate says:

        Well, the DVD set labels these as "The Journey to Ba Sing Sa Part 1: The Serpent's Pass" and "The Journey to Ba Sing Sa Part 2: The Drill". But I have no idea why Netflix decided to package this particular two-parter as one episode, or why they chose a different name for it. It's confusing.

  42. Moonie says:

    Mark, please, PLEASE, film yourself while watching Avatar one day.
    I have to see your reactions.

    Also I am going to be dead honest, I think Toph being so little-girl-with-a-crush with "Sokka" is ADORABLE.

  43. The Welsh Pirate says:

    I'd just like to add that I always feel bad for the Fire Nation War Minister. The ladies don't seem very impressed with his big drill. Then it sprays goo all over the place and goes limp before he gets the job done. You can just see the humiliation on his face.

  44. fantasylover120 says:

    The Drill is definitely one of my favorite eps of Season 2. I mean you had the big reveal of Ba Sing Se (is it not beautiful?), and then on no! Fire Nation is here so there's a threat and sense of urgency right away and of course I'm always up for a scene with Azula and the girls. I particularly loved when Mai was all "um, no way am I going in there, Azula or no."
    About Iroh and women though, I just sort of took it as him liking to flirt with women a lot. I never really got anything patranizing about it as he seems to have a healthy respect for women like Azula or the bounty hunter from Season 1. Or at the very least he's smart enough to fear them 😉

  45. simplefaith says:

    OK, I could geek out about the very poignant Sokka/Suki plotline, or Jet and some freedom-fighters returning, or just how badass all the fight scenes are, but right now? I'm just so excited that your at Ba Sing Se! Is it weird to be excited for you, since I've already seen the show in its entirety? ;P

  46. Hotaru_hime says:

    I have nothing to say, other than the serpent looked like a Digimon… Seadramon? Am I right? Someone tell me.

  47. My Cup says:

    Katara was a revelation this episode. There goes any lingering doubt that she was named a Master prematurely.

    Am I the only one who doesn't find Mai all that hilarious? I admit I'm biased because she reminds me of my roommate-who scoffed at me for watching Avatar btw-, but still…

    Azula did a split. In armor. I hope she never becomes queen but I felt like bowing right there.

    • The Welsh Pirate says:

      That reminds me: I'd like to extend many props and bad-ass points to Katara for using Waterbending to surf on a board made of ice. I want that power.

  48. @maybegenius says:

    I'm with you on the "you talk too much" line, because I have seen it used MANY MANY TIMES by less endearing characters in less endearing ways. I mean, yes, I get that it was kind of a Suki-is-babbling situation and they clearly both wanted it to happen and teen awkwardness and all that. And I'm mostly willing to let it slide because even though Sokka has his misogynist moments, overall I feel that he's genuinely learning to respect female power and individuality. BUT STILL. Loaded line, and often used without considering the "shut the woman up" context.

  49. valencia says:

    Can I just say that when I first watched this when it first aired I was totally uncomfortable with the whole oh penetration and phallic imagery~? lol I was seriously ~scandalized~

    and I love smellerbee and how she gets all that from like, a two-second that longshot gives her. it means they are good friends, I think.

  50. audzilla says:

    I was oblivious to this show until years after it was released, so I had no idea about any of these advertising headings!

  51. Michelle says:

    I wondered about the "You talk too much" line but always figured it was in response to Suki kissing him back in season 1 and I thought she had said something similar to him before doing so? IDK maybe I'm adding things into the show in my brain.

    • Pseudonymph says:

      Maybe! I don't remember either but that would make the line a lot more comfortable for me so I'm just going to tell myself that's what happened.

  52. Teaspoon Capacity says:

    Smellershot. <3 Few words are needed between them, and that's perfectly fine with me.

    Also, lots of badassery in this two-parter. LOTS. Jetko thievery, Ozai's Angels kicking ass and taking names, the Gaang parting the Red Sea, taking on the Serpent, and fighting the drill… BADASS. The only part of both episodes I'm not fond of is the "Hope" bit because while I love babies and happiness that just tasted like diabetes.

  53. Jay Gatsby says:

    Mark, the only thing you can prepare for is being unprepared for what will come next!

  54. sabra_n says:

    I did ceramics (badly) in middle school, high school, and college, so I had to laugh at Mai's slurry-related dismay. Rock/clay/earth mixed with water? I was up to my elbows in that stuff for months. 😛

    (Now I'm imagining throwing pots with Toph's power. It would be AMAZING.)

  55. Anonymouse says:

    What! Since when is this a two-parter!!!!!! Oh well, pleasant surprises are pleasant. So I'll roll with it.

    Although my list cannot hope to rival Mark's Epically Long List of Awesomeness, I am going to try one.

    1) Suki is back! Yes! And I love that both she and Sokka were trying to protect each other the whole time, even though they're both perfectly capable. It just proves something about their relationship.
    2) It's nice to see that Yue is still affecting Sokka. He feels the need to be protective, to the point of obnoxiousness. Then, in one of my favourite scenes in Avatar ever, he can't open up "in front of" Yue. I like that this series doesn't create angst then ignore it.
    4) Haha. Smellerbee is a girl.
    5) Iroh flirting with the border guard. I don't like the scene. It's cute, and fits in with what we've seen of Iroh, but i don't like how he expected flirting with the guard to work. He seems to think women are easily manipulated, and they're NOT IROH. THEY JUST AREN'T.
    5b) I cross the American/Canadian border a minimum of 6 times a year, and wouldn't dream of flirting with those guards. That's pretty much #4 on the list of things not to do at the border.
    6) Props to Sokka. I know everyone, especially Katara, was annoyed at his version of "moral support" what else was he supposed to be doing? He can't bend, and a little moral support goes a long way… I personally would have been more annoyed if he'd been just standing there watching.
    7)"Look at that dust cloud. It's so…poofy. Poof" BEST LINE EVER!!!! I love Ty Lee.

    • Anonymouse says:

      Oops. Forgot this one.
      8) Longshots silent communication. I really like how he seems to be expressing many ~*deep thoughts*~ without saying anything. Obviously Longshot has telepathy, and it's spread to the other Freedom Fighters… It's the only explanation.

    • Patrick721 says:

      Yes. I love Ty Lee's line there. She is just straight up adorable sometimes.

  56. Classtoise says:


    Go on. Rewatch it.


  57. kaleidoscoptics says:

    "he's still running his own gang and looking for new allies to use."

    This kind of makes me wonder, what would happen if Azula and Jet meet? Azula's more threateningly manipulating, while Jet uses more charm, but they're rather disturbingly similar. Obviously Jet's too violently opposed to the Fire Nation to team up with her, but would they be able to see each other as 'worthy opponents' or something?

    • monkeybutter says:

      Oh wow, that would be terrifying. I could see them being great antagonists for each other. This would make fun fanfic!

  58. Caterfree10 says:

    PFFT, I had a feeling you'd be flipping out over these eps, lol. XD


    But yeah. THE REST OF THE SEASON WILL BLOW YOUR MIND. Strap yourself in, because it's gonna be one hell of a ride. B)

  59. Avatar_fan_mom says:

    A few random Iroh (my <3) thoughts…

    I feel Iroh flirted with that woman not to get his way, but rather because he ENJOYS it. Think of the things he enjoys now – his tea, his companionship with Zuko, his conversations with strangers. Part of this scene I think was for Zuko's benefit. I believe he is trying to show Zuko the pleasures that can be found in life – that DONT involve capturing the Avatar or regaining your honor…

    Also…think about the simple life Iroh is trying to carve out and what a stark contrast it is to his previous life…he says he has been to Ba Sing Se…"when he was a different man." I think he is so humbled and regretful of being part of the unjust war and nearly crushing the city of Ba Sing Se. This is why he is such a firm believer in SECOND CHANCES. He now has a second chance at life – a life that is far simpler and more noble in his eyes than when he was a General.

    • Riel says:

      "I feel Iroh flirted with that woman not to get his way, but rather because he ENJOYS it."

      Yes. There was no personal gain at that moment, as they were already in Ba Sing Se just waiting for the train, no?

      (Now I'm trying to think of something that Iroh doesn't enjoy.)

  60. NopeJustMe says:

    Was this the scene that launched a thousand Jet/Zuko fics? Why yes, yes it was.

  61. barnswallowkate says:

    Aang: "I've been going through a really hard time lately, but you've made me hopeful again."
    Me: "Yeah wtf where is Appa :'( :'("
    Lady: "I know what I want to name our baby now."
    Me: "APPA?? Oh, Hope. I guess that's OK too."

    I love that Team Avatar defeats the drill through Sokka's use of engineering yayyyyyy science!

  62. ldwy says:

    oh dear lord soooo cute!

  63. Candy says:

    Yeah… Iroh's attitude toward women is a bit off-putting. He was really uncomfortable in the episode with Jun, and in the flashback in Zuko Alone, when he sends a knife to Zuko and a doll to Azula… ehh. I like him and all but he seems kind of sexist.

    Oh well, every character has to have some flaws, right? My issue is more that the writers don't seem to think of this as a flaw.

  64. aaren says:

    Maya get's on my nerves man, my God. I kind of dig Ty lee though. Azula moves are AMAZING and it annoys me because I really don't like her. She is an absolutly awful person, absolutly AWFUL, but she is very talented and I would kill to get her bender talents. She's spectacular!

    I remember loving the scene when they were walking under water and Momo jumped in the water and returned with a fish. The scene was so beautiful. Beautiful, beautiful, stunning.

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