Recap / Avatar: The Last Airbender "The Drill"

"You shouldn't give 100% of your energy into any one strike. You've gotta be quick and accurate. Hit a series of points, and break your opponent's stance. And when he's reeling back, you deliver the final blow. His own weight becomes his downfall. Literally."

Aang and his friends have finally reached Ba Sing Se, only to discover that the city is under attack from the Fire Nation, led by Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee, who are using a giant drill. Initially, the commanding general in charge of fending off the attack is reluctant to accept the team's help, but after Mai and Ty Lee quickly dispatch the general's "Terra Team", he changes his mind. Seeing that outer attacks have no effect on the drill, and using Ty Lee's chi-blocking as inspiration, Team Avatar goes inside the drill to take out its weak points and hopefully bring it down before it breaches the city's outer wall.

Meanwhile, Zuko, Iroh, and the Freedom Fighters reach Ba Sing Se as well. Jet is set on getting Zuko (or as Jet knows him, "Li") to join the freedom fighters. However, when Jet sees Iroh warm up a cold cup of tea, he realizes Zuko and Iroh are firebenders...


  • Attack Its Weak Point: Drives a good half of the plot.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted: By the end of the climactic battle, everyone (excluding Mai) is covered in slurry.
  • Big "NO!": Iroh gives one when Zuko knocks the freshly heated tea out of his hand. Played for Laughs.
  • Brain Bleach: After Zuko sees Uncle Iroh flirt with a large woman to get the ferry tickets: "I'm gonna forget I saw that." Complete with Face Palm.
  • Captain Obvious: Mai. "We lost."
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Ty Lee, naturally. "Look at that cloud. It's so...poofy. Poof!"
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Ty Lee and Mai, two teenaged girls against General Sung's top team of earthbenders.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Sokka leaves himself wide open to attack when Ty Lee flirts at him. Katara pulls him out before anything bad happens, though.
  • Dramatic Deadpan: Mai: "We lost."
  • Drill Tank: Obviously.
  • General Failure: For the commanding General of an outer wall that's successfully resisted siege for a hundred years, General Sung seems remarkably incompetent.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Sokka to General Sung, spoken word for word.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: This may have intentional innuendo on the writers' part; but a long, narrow drill, penetrating through a hole that explodes with a goopey mess when it blows up on the inside? Said mess is coated all over everyone by the end, Sokka's trying to brush it off his tongue, the war minister looks at it with disgust as it smears down the watchtower window, it flies up so high it hits Sung from atop the wall, and of course, as it spews out the back of the drill in overflow, Toph says this line:
    Toph: HERE IT COMES!!
    • Now what does all that remind you of?? And now you know the real reason Mai refused to follow Ty Lee down into the slurry.
  • Gilligan Cut / Ironic Echo Cut: Aang and Azula are fighting on top of the drill, when boulders start raining down on them.
    Aang: (shouting to the general on top of the wall) General Sung! Tell your men to stop throwing boulders down here!
    (cuts to the top of the wall)
    General Sung: Whatever you do, men, don't stop throwing boulders down there!
  • Idiot Ball: Zuko is shocked that his wise uncle would give them away by Firebending in public.
    Zuko: (whispering through clenched teeth) What are you doing firebending your tea?! For a wise, old man, that was a pretty stupid move!
  • Nothing Can Stop Us Now!: Qin to Azula because he's so confident in the drill. Azula takes this as a sign to be even more careful.
  • Ominous Walk: Azula pummels Aang into near-unconsciousness and then ominously marches towards him while she readies a fire attack to presumably finish him off.
  • One-Man Army: Ty Lee takes down a good twenty earthbenders by herself.
  • Properly Paranoid: For once, Jet is right on the ball when assuming Iroh heated his tea with firebending.
  • Pungeon Master: While throwing around names for the team, Sokka comes up with this:
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Or, in Mai's case, not even going there.
    Mai: [Azula] can shoot all the lightning she wants at me — I am not going in that wall sludge juice. Ugh!
  • Shout-Out: When Sokka is throwing around names for the team, he suggests "Fearsome Foursome", the name of the legendary defensive lines of the NFL's Los Angeles Rams in the 60's and 70's.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: A rare example for Avatar: When Aang starts running down Ba Sing Se's outer wall to deliver the final blow, the main theme kicks in to accompany him.
  • This Is a Drill: There's a reason this episode is named "The Drill".
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: There's the subplot of Zuko and Jet, but it only has two scenes.
  • Victory Pose: A minor example: After Aang is successful he gives a massive goofy grin, which is all you can see of him under the mud.
  • Visual Innuendo: The Drill itself, of course.
    • Freud Was Right: Not to mention the fact the drill is penetrating Ba Sing Se, filled with a slurry of rocks inside that explodes out of the drill, and splatters all over the place when it gets taken out of commission. Sure, as a kid, this doesn't dawn on you, but as an adult... it's the ultimate case of Getting Crap Past the Radar.
  • The Worf Effect: Ba Sing Se's Terra Team of earthbenders is dealt with in short order by Ty Lee and Mai.