Recap / Avatar: The Last Airbender "The Earth King"

"I want to thank you, young heroes, for opening my eyes. All this time, what I thought was a great metropolis was merely a city of fools. And that makes me the king fool."

With the return of Appa completing the team at last, Sokka, encouraged by their new turn of good luck, suggests that they hurry to see the Earth King. Toph and Katara disagree, wanting to cut their losses and get out of Ba Sing Se while luck still seems on their side, but when Aang agrees with Sokka, Katara changes her mind, leaving Toph outvoted. After a massive battle, in which the team fights their way past the palace guards and into the throne room, they finally have their audience with the Earth King, only to find that Long Feng has beat them there. With the chancellor throwing doubt on their story, Team Avatar must convince the King that, not only has Long Feng been at the head of a conspiracy to control Ba Sing Se, but that the world is at war.

Elsewhere in the city, Zuko and Iroh return to their apartment, only for Zuko to fall deliriously ill. Iroh explains to him that Zuko's decision to set Appa free has left Zuko at war within himself.


  • Angst Coma: Zuko falls into an extreme fever, apparently triggered by letting Appa (and, by proxy, Aang) go free.
  • Apologetic Attacker: "Sorry! We just need to see the Earth King!"
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Provided by the Earth King: "You invade my palace, lay waste to all my guards, break down my fancy door—and you expect me to trust you?!"
  • Blatant Lies: When Long Feng tries to explain the Fire Nation drill.
    Long Feng: This is nothing more than ... a construction project.
    Katara: Really? Then perhaps you could explain why there's a Fire Nation insignia on your construction project.
    Long Feng: Well it's imported of course. You know you can't trust domestic machinery.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Zuko has one of these, due to his fever dreams.
  • Cliffhanger: So things are looking good for Team Avatar! Everything seems to be going their way for once. Right? WRONG. Toph's letter from her mother was a trap set by Xin Fu and Master Yu, the Dai Li are still loyal to Long Feng, and the Kyoshi Warriors Sokka vouched for are actually Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee in disguise.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Team Avatar completely destroys the Earth King's entire royal guard.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee infiltrate Ba Sing Se dressed as Kyoshi Warriors.
  • False Start: See Moment Killer below.
  • Fever Dream Episode: Zuko's side of the story.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: In Zuko's fever dreams, a pair of dragons (one red, one blue, and voiced by Iroh and Azula, respectively) act out his inner conflict.
  • Hope Spot: Everything is looking up. Long Feng has been arrested, the Earth Kingdom military is preparing for an invasion of the Fire Nation, Toph's mother appears to be waiting for her, and Kyoshi Warriors have arrived. It is then revealed that the Dai Li remain secretly loyal to Long Feng, Toph walks into a trap laid by Master Yu and Xin Fu, and the Kyoshi Warriors turn out to be Princess Azula and her friends, with Azula preparing her most ambitious gambit yet.
  • It Was Here, I Swear!: The Gaang takes the Earth King to Lake Laogai to the Dai Li base, but find it has been destroyed since they last left.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang: The team receives letters that Long Feng had confiscated, each of them pulling the teammates in different directions; they decide to split up.
  • Moment Killer: As the group is saying goodbye to each other as they split up...
    Aang: Katara, I need to tell you something. I've been wanting to say it for a long time...
    Katara: What is it, Aang?
    Aang: Katara? I—
    Sokka: (giving Aang a noogie) Alriiight! Who's ready for a men-only man trip!
  • Mugged for Disguise: The ending reveals this is why Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee attacked the Kyoshi Warriors.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Politically destabilizing Ba Sing Se may have been the right thing to do, but carries dire consequences that are not easily dealt with.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The Earth King heavily resembles Puyi, the last Emperor of China. Like Kuei, Puyi was made emperor at a very young age and was a puppet emperor during his early childhood and later under the Japanese occupation. Puyi was also trapped for years inside the Forbidden City, similar to how the Earth King never left the palace. The Earth King also wears spectacles, like Puyi did, and clothing based on the Chaofu, ceremonial clothing of the Manchu emperors of the Qing Dynasty.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Inverted. The blue dragon that Zuko dreams up encourages his violent leaning (and has Azula's voice), while the red one tries to get him to think (and has Iroh's voice).
  • Slipped the Ropes: Aang does this as a quick gag.
  • Surprise Slide Staircase: During their assault on the palace, Aang and Toph flatten out the staircase, then make themselves an elevator to ascend to the top while all the guards slide to the bottom.
  • Tempting Fate: At the end of the episode, when things are looking better than they ever did, Sokka proclaims: "Everything will work out perfectly; from now on and forever!" Cue the Dai Li revealing that they're still loyal to Long Feng, Toph being kidnapped by Xin Fu, and the Wham Shot showing Azula and her friends disguised as Kyoshi warriors.
  • Took a Level in Badass: This episode really showcases how good at earthbending Aang has become,to the point where he's able to split rocks in half with his staff. Keep in mind his staff is wooden.
  • True Companions: "Split up? But we just got the family back together!"
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: The Gaang's efforts to persuade the Earth King that they're telling the truth is contrasted with Zuko's fever.
  • Wham Shot: The last scene shows that Azula and her friends impersonated the Kyoshi warriors.
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: Invoked by Sokka.