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Recap / Avatar: The Last Airbender "The Tales of Ba Sing Se"

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Iroh mourns his son's death.

"Brave soldier boy, comes marching home."

This episode is a series of Day in the Life vignettes featuring the characters in Ba Sing Se. Each has a different writer.

Katara urges Toph to go to a spa with her; while initially reluctant, she enjoys herself in the end, and eventually opens up. Iroh is generally cool, as we see him being kind and hilarious around the city - before going to mourn the death of his son. Aang decides to help build a new zoo facility, and Hilarity Ensues. Sokka engages in a Haiku Rap Battle, Zuko is utterly Adorkable on a date, while Momo misses Appa.



  • Acrophobic Bird: When Momo is chased by the predators, he doesn't think of flying straight up but runs across the street to hide in a crate.
  • Adorkable: Zuko's socially awkwardness during his date with Jin is this.
    Zuko: It took my uncle ten minutes to do my hair!
  • Almost Kiss: Zuko has a moment with Jin but intentionally interrupts it by holding up a coupon for a free cup of tea.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: Momo can't understand most human speech, but both he and the puma creatures show startling amounts of intelligence. Momo can tie things around his wrist to keep hold of them, improvise in a performance, unlock things on a first try, give other creatures a second chance... Said other creatures are grateful enough to stop trying to eat him and become friendly, and to associate the thing on his wrist with a creature they saw an unknown amount of time ago, and they make the decision to take him to where that was. That's very smart.
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  • Battle Rapping: Of the Eastern flavor. Sokka engages in a haiku battle with a haiku teacher.
  • Big Eater: Jin, as lampshaded by Zuko below.
  • Blah Blah Blah: Once again, we see humans talking from Momo's POV. All he hears is "blablabla".
  • Breather Episode: Comes right after an episode revealing a government conspiracy in Ba Sing Se, in which the Earth King was merely a figurehead for Long Feng.
  • Broken Aesop: Played for Laughs with the Broken Glass Penalty in Iroh's tale. When a few kids are playing with a ball, and a window is broken the following dialogue occurs:
    Iroh: It is usually best to admit mistakes when they occur, and seek to restore honor.
    Iroh: But not this time! Run!
  • Cat Smile: Jin, Zuko's date.
  • Chirping Crickets: At the end of the Haiku Rap Battle.
  • Compliment Backfire: "You... have quite an appetite... for a girl."
  • Convenient Cranny: Momo hiding in a wooden crate where his pursuers cannot follow.
  • Cool Big Sis: Katara for Toph in this episode.
  • Cucumber Facial: In "The Tale of Toph and Katara". Just feel sorry for the attendant!
  • Dark Reprise: Brave soldier boy, comes marching home...
  • Day in the Life: The entire point of the episode.
  • A Day in the Limelight: A minor one for Momo, who's the focus of one segment.
  • Ending Memorial Service: In Iroh's tale.
  • Escaped Animal Rampage: When Aang sets all the animals in the Ba Sing Se zoo free. Then again, the zookeeper wanted to move them to wider open spaces.
  • Filler: Apart from showing Appa was in Ba Sing Se, this episode adds nothing to the overall story. Tropes Are Not Bad as this episode shows several fun and heartwarming character moments.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Sokka is having a Haiku off with a leader of a poetry club which happens to be all girls. We get this exchange:
    Sokka: Like I paddle my canoe,
    I'll paddle yours too!
  • Hidden Depths: Toph and Katara's tale makes it clear that for all her claims of not caring what others think of her looks, Toph is actually quite hurt by such rejection.
  • Kick the Bitch: Near the end of "The Tale of Toph and Katara", the two girls do this to a trio a snobby girls, forcing them down the bridge and washing them away.
  • Manly Tears: Iroh weeps for Lu Ten.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • The end of Iroh's sidestory. He sang a song to cheer up a little boy earlier in the episode, and at the end, sings it to a picture of his deceased son, Lu Ten. What really adds to this are four words: "In Honor of Mako".
    • Momo's sidestory certainly seems to be the designated oddball segment, right? Cue the first clues of what happened to Appa.
  • Mugging the Monster: Subverted in "The Tale of Iroh". When a guy tries to mug Iroh, the old general can clearly fight him, but instead gives him advice on his stance and direction in life.
  • Mundane Utility: What do you do when you've mastered three bending forms? Kung Fu Landscaping!
  • No Antagonist: Save for the pygmy pumas in Momo's tale but they end up leading Momo to Appa's foot print.
  • Recurring Extra: Looks like the Cabbage Merchant made it to Ba Sing Se after all... and, by now, probably wishes he hadn't.
  • Save the Villain: Momo saves his predators from the butcher. In turn, they help him on his search for Appa.
  • Serious Business: Haiku. When Sokka uses six syllables instead of five, he gets thrown out the door.
    Bouncer: That's one syllable too many, bub. (tosses Sokka out)
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Invoked in Toph's sidestory. When some other girls disagree, Toph and Katara bond by dropping the bridge from under them and washing them away.
    • And for Zuko's sidestory, when he cleans up to go out on his date with Jin.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Zuko yells this at the waiter during his date with Jin.
  • Shipper on Deck: Iroh is more than happy for Zuko to go on a date with Jin.
  • Shout-Out: Sokka's last haiku with the line (pronounced with an "okka") references Digital Underground's song "the Humpty Dance."
  • Shrine to the Fallen: Iroh builds one for his son under a tree.
  • Socially Awkward Hero: Zuko fills this trope during his segment, though he is more of a Socially Awkward Anti-Hero. While he is a very capable fighter both with and without his bending, he bumbles at regular social situations, such as dates.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • "The Tale of Iroh." In-universe because we find out that his cheerful jaunt through the city dispensing wisdom and soothing crying babies was actually his preparation for a tearful memorial marking the death of his only child. Out-of-universe because this was the first episode to air after the death of Iroh's voice actor.
    • "The Tale of Momo" essentially summarizes the bond both animal companions share with one another. Momo repeatedly has his hopes dashed thinking he's found Appa, only to eventually curl up in a paw print left by Appa at the end.
  • Tempting Fate: Toph reluctantly agrees to go to the spa, but says the attendants better not touch her feet. Guess what treatment the attendants start with?
  • Underestimating Badassery: In "The Tale of Katara and Toph". The mean girls make fun of a little blind girl... who's also the greatest earthbender in the world.
  • Vignette Episode: This episode consists of several chapters devoted to different characters, following them around the city.
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: Aang's original plan for the zoo animals went cabbage-shaped fast.
  • Widely Spaced Jail Bars: Momo is put in a metal box that would be easy to escape from. He still opts for opening the lock.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: After Toph is teased by some mean-spirited girls (and promptly repays them in kind), Katara tells her that she thinks she's beautiful, a comment the blind girl appreciates. Toph says she'd say the same for Katara, except she doesn't know what she looks like.


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