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Recap / Avatar: The Last Airbender "The Boiling Rock, Part 1"

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Sokka and Zuko begin an awkward team-up.

"How did you know who I am?"
"How could I not? You broke my niece's heart."
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Feeling keenly responsible for the capture of the invasion forces during the eclipse, Sokka decides to redeem his honor by rescuing his father. Accompanied by Zuko, he takes Zuko's war balloon to the Boiling Rock, the highest security prison in the Fire Nation.

Going undercover as guards, Zuko discovers that there are no Water Tribe prisoners currently at the Boiling Rock, but Sokka discovers that Suki is a prisoner there. Zuko's cover is busted while he is standing watch to let Sokka talk to Suki and he becomes a prisoner himself. To make things worse, the warden is Mai's uncle, who is none too happy with the boy who broke Mai's heart.

Sokka, Suki and Zuko come up with an escape plan but are overheard by Chit Sang, another prisoner, and are forced to let him in on the plan. While proceeding with the plan, Sokka and Zuko hear that some war prisoners are arriving the next day and decide to let Chit Sang and his friends go ahead with their plan, while they stay behind with Suki on the chance that one of the war prisoners is Hakoda, Sokka's father.

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Tropes:

  • The Alcatraz: The eponymous Boiling Rock lives up to its name. The prison is surrounded my a lake of boiling water, preventing anyone from escaping so easily.
  • And Then What?: For a change of pace, it is now Zuko asking this (instead of someone asking Zuko this), in regards to Sokka's plan.
  • Ascended Extra: Suki becomes a regular member of Team Avatar for the rest of the series after being an occasional recurring character up till now.
  • Blatant Lies: Sokka claims he was only asking where his father might be kept for peace of mind after Zuko explains he was likely held at the Boiling Rock. Zuko sees through it easily.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: A mild example. Zuko has no memory of Suki, but she clearly remembers him burning down her village.
    Zuko: "Oh, sorry about that." (Beat) "Nice to see you again!"
    • Sokka, who was also there, doesn't remember the incident either. Apparently all the times Zuko attacked wherever the team was staying run together.
  • Break Her Heart to Save Her: Zuko explains to Sokka that he had to break up with Mai because he knows what he's doing is treason, and he didn't want to drag Mai into it.
  • Call-Back:
  • Chainmail Bikini: The female prison guards' uniforms expose their stomachs, which fits with other Fire Nation female costumes but still seems unsafe. It is slightly more Justified here due to the location's intense heat, but still impractical.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The reason for Chit Sang to be shoved into the cooler early on was to introduce the box as a possible solution for the escape.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Hakoda is transferred to the Boiling Rock the very next day after Zuko and Sokka arrive.
  • A Day in the Limelight: For Sokka and Zuko.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Sokka and Zuko disguise themselves as prison guards. Sokka manages to keep his disguise for a while, but Zuko gets caught.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Subverted. It looks like something Zuko said made Sokka get an idea but he was just spotting Suki among the prisoners.
    Zuko: I can't believe that worked. I didn't even know what I was saying.
    Sokka: No, what you said made no sense at all. But look! It's Suki!
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The warden of the Boiling Rock clearly loves Mai enough to let Zuko stew in the bask of him dumping her.
  • Foreshadowing: "I'd sooner jump in the Boiling Lake myself than let that record fall. Don't forget it."
  • Great Escape: Making one of these is the point of the two-part episode.
  • Heroes Gone Fishing: Sokka and Zuko leave a note saying that they've done this. They're really going to the Boiling Rock.
  • He's a Friend: Sokka has to tell Suki this regarding Zuko. He did burn down her village in The Warriors of Kyoshi.
  • Hide the Evidence: Sokka and Zuko push the war balloon they used to arrive at the Boiling Rock into the boiling lake.
  • Honor Before Reason: The Warden points out that he would rather fall in the boiling waters than allow a single prisoner to escape. He takes great pride in holding this record, and the next episode shows that he's willing to live up to this.
  • Hope Spot: Inverted. Sokka decides to abandon his first escape plan after hearing that there are war prisoners on the water, suspecting that his father is one of them. Just as he believes it's a false alarm, he spots him being escorted to the prison.
  • Hypocrisy Nod: While Zuko severely criticizes Sokka's Indy Ploy, he does acknowledge that in the past this was his signature move. It's excusable since Zuko has grown past that and since Sokka was The Smart Guy, he expected him to have also.
  • Ice-Cream Koan: Zuko comes up with one of these when Sokka gets upset about the fact that there aren't any Water Tribe prisoners there.
  • The Infiltration: Sokka and Zuko sneaking into the Boiling Rock.
  • Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: It turns out that the coolers they put prisoners in are the perfect boats for the boiling lake.
    • Par to the course of the show, it doesn't seem like the cooler had that much effect on Zuko, as he was able to firebend to keep himself warm, and also warm the screws enough to take them apart. The dragon lessons seem to be sticking.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: When Sokka decides to stay in the prison to see if his father is among the war prisoners arriving that day, he tells Suki to escape in the cooler without him as she already spent too many months imprisoned, but she refuses to leave him behind and Zuko also stays with them. And seeing how ends up that escape attempt, it was better for them that they didn't try to escape through the Boiling lake using the cooler as a boat.
  • Orphaned Punchline: Zuko tries to tell Iroh's favorite tea joke, but he can only remember the punchline.
  • Papa Wolf: Uncle Wolf in this case. The warden as it turns out is Mai's uncle and he's not happy with Zuko breaking his niece's heart.
  • Prison Episode: Zuko and Sokka infiltrate a Fire Nation prison in the hopes of locating Sokka's father, who had been captured in the war a few weeks earlier.
  • Prison Rape: Implied. It's clear - at least to an invokedolder audience - that this is what Suki is afraid of when a random Fire Nation guard (actually a disguised Sokka) comes into her cell and tries to kiss her. The female Fire Nation guard clearly suspects the same when she spots Zuko acting suspiciously outside Suki's cell, and to her credit, she's not having it.
  • Prison Riot: Invoked. Zuko and Chit Sang stage up a fight in order to get the former into the cooler.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Sokka, while disguised as a prison guard, tries to convince Suki who he really is by kissing her like how she did to him back in The Serpent's Pass. Unfortunately, she believes he is just some random prison guard trying to Prison Rape her, and she knocks him before he gets a chance to do. Luckily for Sokka the helmet he was wearing falls out for Suki to see it's him.
  • Tears of Joy: Suki sheds these after reuniting with Sokka in her cell.
  • What Would X Do?: Zuko imitates Iroh again when advising Sokka.
  • Wingding Eyes: Sokka gets Heart Symbols for his eyes when he realizes that Suki is at the Boiling Rock.

 
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