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Recap / Avatar: The Last Airbender "City of Walls and Secrets"

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Jet is brainwashed by the Dai Li.

"You want a show? I'll give you a show!"

Finally arriving in Ba Sing Se, Team Avatar tries to get to the Earth King in order to tell him of their plan to invade the Fire Nation and get his support. However, they find themselves hindered by their tour guide Joo Dee, and soon realize that Ba Sing Se is not the idyllic capital they were led to believe.

Meanwhile, Zuko and Iroh try to acclimate to their new life as refugees in Ba Sing Se, while Jet tries to expose them as Firebenders.



  • Arc Words: "There is no war in Ba Sing Se..."
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: For all his contentions with Iroh, Zuko protects him from Jet so that Iroh isn't forced to firebend in defense.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Inverted. During their swordfight, Zuko and Jet end up with their backs against each other's, each turned and trying get around the other's defenses.
  • Bait the Dog: Long Feng is introduced being very courteous to Toph and Katara and being an excellent host. Guess who runs the Government Conspiracy?
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: A rare subverted example. Toph tries to intimidate the guard to let her and Katara enter the party but her attempt fails.
    Toph: Look, the Pangs and the Yumsoon-hans are waiting in there for us. I'm gonna have to tell them who didn't let me in.
    Guard: Step out of line, please.
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  • Big Brother Is Watching: The Dai Li.
  • Blowing a Raspberry: Katara and Toph at a guard who previously denied them entry to the party after Long Feng gets them in.
  • Bullet Time: During Jet and Zuko's fight when Zuko cuts the blade of grass in Jet's mouth with his sword.
  • The Caligula: Hinted at, who throws a party for their pet bear?
  • Cassandra Truth: No one believes Jet's claims that Zuko and Iroh are Fire Nation. They might have listened if he hadn't publicly attacked them, at which point the authorities dismissed him as crazy.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Cover-Blowing Superpower:
    • Zuko and Iroh can't firebend without exposing their identities.
    • Done while undercover at the party when Aang accidentally causes a woman to spill her drink on herself and attempts to dry her off with airbending. This causes everyone to recognize him. Comes with a Letting the Air Out of the Band effect.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Ba Sing Se itself. It looks beautiful at first glance, but after only a few minutes there the problems start to show.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Jet's attempts to expose Zuko and Iroh are...poorly thought out. It ends with him getting arrested.
  • Downer Ending: The Gaang is unsuccessful in getting to the Earth King, they now have a new enemy to contend with, and Jet has been brainwashed.
  • Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors: Aang and Sokka are seen playing this. Earth beats Fire.
  • Evasive Fight-Thread Episode: Quite a bit of hype was made over the swordfight between Zuko and Jet. It's interrupted by the Dai Li before either of them wins.
  • Face Framed in Shadow: The Earth King.
  • Government Conspiracy
  • Hypocritical Humor: Subverted. Toph criticizes Aang and Sokka's attempts to pass themselves off as members of high society, while picking her nose and burping. Katara calls her out on this, and Toph then makes it clear that out of everyone in the group, she is the only one who knows formal etiquette and "proper society behavior." She just chooses not to use it most of the time.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: Jet finds out that Zuko can fence, and doesn't need firebending to win a fight.
  • I Will Show You X
    Zuko: (to Jet) You want a show? I'll give you a show!
  • Kidnapped from Behind: The Dai Li silently abduct Toph and Katara who were standing right beside Aang without him noticing, until Long Feng enters the room and tells him they're gone. He directs Aang to follow him to a private room to negotiate terms for their release.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Averted, as the Gaang is quite weirded out to learn the Earth King's pet is just a bear, without any other animal thrown in.
  • Mundane Utility: Jet tries to invoke this by trying to trick Iroh into heating his tea through firebending. Iroh just borrows some sparkrocks from the neighbors.
  • Not Helping Your Case: Jet's attempts to expose Zuko and Iroh are not helped by his increasingly paranoid behavior:
    Jet: "I saw him heating his tea!"
    Guard: "...He works in a tea shop."
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Katara and Toph try to slip away from Long Feng during the party, only for him to reappear in front of them in the time it takes Katara to turn her head, visibly startling her.
  • Oh, Crap!: Joo Dee’s face when Team Avatar is exposed at the party just screams this.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: When she fails to get Aang to leave the Earth King's party without him being noticed, Joo Dee's smile practically melts off her face as everyone's attention is turned to the Avatar. Whatever her orders were, it is clear that this marks the moment she failed tremendously...
  • Overly Polite Pals: Aang and Sokka briefly as they try (and fail) to behave like high society folk.
  • Police State.
  • Princess for a Day: Katara and Toph, of the non-royalty variety. Downplayed with Toph, who actually is a member of a very wealthy and prominent family, but was posing under an alibi. Katara is technically a princess already too, but never acts it.
  • Puppet King: The Earth King. Lampshaded by Katara and Toph.
    Karata: So the king is just a figurehead.
    Toph: He's your puppet.
  • The Reveal: The episode ends with the Gaang learning the true nature of how Ba Sing Se works.
  • Scenery Porn: After a long journey, the Earth Kingdom capital is finally shown in all of its glory, and then some.
  • Screw the War, We're Partying!: The Dai Li's main method of preserving the peace.
  • Serious Business: Iroh has very high standards when it comes to tea.
    Iroh: This is nothing but hot leaf juice!
    Zuko: That's what all tea is.
    Iroh: How could a member of my own family say something so horrible?!
  • Shame If Something Happened: The Evil Chancellor makes an implicit threat to have Appa killed if the gaang didn't stop trying to alert the king.
    Long Feng: I understand you've been looking for your bison. It would be quite a shame if you were not able to complete your quest.
  • Ship Tease: When Aang sees Katara all dressed up, he blushes and tells her that she looks beautiful.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Stepford Smiler: The first hint that something is very wrong in Ba Sing Se is the permanent rictus on Joo Dee's face. The mask slips when she realizes Team Avatar is at the party, at which point she panics.
  • Sword Fight: Between Jet and Zuko, as Jet attempts to out Zuko and Iroh as firebenders.
  • Tempting Fate: Sokka wonders how hard it could be to find a giant bison in the city, before seeing how big the place really is. And right after he warned the others about Tempting Fate, because "Weird stuff happens to us".
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Toph isn’t too thrilled to be back in a city, or as she calls it, “just a bunch of walls and rules.”
  • Thoughtcrime: "There is no war in Ba Sing Se".
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: The Gaang's efforts to reach the king are contrasted with Jet trying to expose Zuko and Iroh as firebenders.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Jet makes the mistake of assuming that Zuko isn't too much of a threat without his bending. Wrong.
  • Villain Ball: Long Feng grabs it by telling the Gaang that he has no intention of allowing them to see the King, and that war will never come to the city. He could have easily promised that he would tell the king, or the generals on the outer walls, and they would have trusted his word.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Openly stated by Sokka that unusual things happen to them in defense of his theory that a "giant, exploding Fire Nation spoon" or an ocean of killer shrimp may attack Ba Sing Se. Shortly after he says this, a vacant-looking fellow sucking on a corn cob plants himself next to Sokka.


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