- This article is about the episode. For the titular city, see Ba Sing Se.
|"In silencing talk of conflict, Ba Sing Se remains a peaceful, orderly utopia. The last one on Earth."|
|— Long Feng to Team Avatar.|
Aang and the rest of the group arrive in Ba Sing Se to find Appa and inform the Earth King about the solar eclipse, but they are constantly hindered by their tour guide, Joo Dee. They soon learn that any mention of war is forbidden and enforced by the Dai Li, the secret police of Ba Sing Se, and their corrupt leader, Long Feng, who appears to know something about Appa. Elsewhere, Jet repeatedly tries and fails to gather evidence that Zuko and Iroh are firebenders. His last attempt, challenging Zuko to a sword fight, ends in his own arrest.
As a reward for protecting Ba Sing Se from the Fire Nation attack, Avatar Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Toph are allowed into the city and given a house in the Upper Ring. While the others are optimistic about having reached the city, Toph is none too thrilled: apparently, she did not find the thought of "life in the big city" much to her liking. Soon after they arrive, Aang and his friends are met by Joo Dee, a woman assigned to guide them around the city. Attempts by Sokka to try to get their guide to talk about the War and a possible audience with the Earth King are invariably ignored. As they see the many sections of Ba Sing Se, Team Avatar soon finds the segregation of rich and poor people is not to their liking. Aang recalls that this was the reason that he did not visit the city in the years before his being trapped in the iceberg, as the Air Nomads taught equality for all. When a possible audience with the Earth King is finally mentioned, it is revealed that they will have to wait at least a month. It soon becomes apparent that within the walls of the city, no one wants to talk or even think about the War raging in the rest of the world. Even Aang's attempts to find Appa bear no fruit as no one seems willing to divulge any information to them, thanks to some meaningful glances from Joo Dee. A neighbor, however, reveals that conversing about the War is strictly forbidden and warns the team to steer clear of the secret police force, the Dai Li.
Meanwhile, Zuko and Iroh have found jobs in a tea house, where the former Fire Nation general soon becomes popular for his superior tea brews. Unknown to the two, the Freedom Fighter, Jet is constantly spying on them and waiting for either one to show signs of firebending despite Smellerbee telling him that all he saw was an old man with a cup of hot tea, which did not prove anything. In order to tempt Iroh into firebending, the ex-Freedom Fighter had stolen Iroh's spark rocks, however, Iroh simply borrows a neighbor's spark rocks instead of using firebending.
The next day, a notice arrives of a party being held in the palace for the King's pet bear. Katara decides it is a good way to reach the Earth King. Toph says that since the gang mostly comprises commoners, they would be spotted right away if they went to the event. In the end, Toph and Katara dress up in formal attire and head for the palace as Aang and Sokka wait. When the girls are finished getting dressed, Aang looks at Katara, blushing and complimenting on how beautiful she is.
The girls are initially refused entry by a guard, who rejects even Toph's family seal, but eventually manage to go inside with the help of an official named Long Feng, who introduces himself as the culture minister and insists on accompanying them.
Aang and Sokka arrive at the palace themselves and enter the side entrance as servants. All of the kids are soon discovered by Joo Dee, who appears very frightened that they have defied the orders and entered the palace. Aang is soon exposed as the Avatar, and a commotion erupts. Sokka, Katara, Toph, and Momo are soon gathered gently but forcefully by Dai Li agents. Aang himself is confronted by Long Feng, who reveals that he is in fact the Grand Secretariat of Ba Sing Se and the head of the Dai Li, and taken to a room where the others are waiting.
Jet, tired of waiting, finally charges into the tea restaurant where Iroh and Zuko are working. He accuses the two newcomers of being firebenders, stating he saw the old man heating his tea, but the skeptical customers tell him that does not prove anything since he works in a tea shop. Angry that no one believes him, Jet draws his swords and advances on Iroh. Zuko, however, grabs a pair of dual broadswords from one of the customers and engages in a prolonged duel with Jet, holding his own without using his firebending. Iroh urges Jet to stop, but Jet taunts Zuko, saying, "Bet you wish he'd help you out with a little fire blast." Zuko finally disarms his opponent of one of his swords at the cost of one of his own blades, stating Jet is the one who needs help and swings his sword at him in a way Jet barely manages to dodge in time. Jet claims the Fire Nation is trying to silence him, which only convinces Pao and his customers that the Freedom Fighter is insane. The Dai Li arrive at the scene and orders the pair to drop their weapons. Zuko complies, but Jet urges them to arrest Zuko and Iroh, restating his claim that they are firebenders. Iroh calmly states that Jet is confused and that they are merely refugees while Pao complains that Jet destroyed his shop and assaulted his employees. The customer whose swords Zuko took corroborates the story, prompting the Dai Li to order Jet to come with them. Not taking it kindly, Jet attacks the Dai Li, who quickly arrest him and lead him away; Smellerbee and Longshot watch from the crowd as their friend and leader is taken away. Later, in a darkened room, a captive Jet is subjected to a form of brainwashing.
Inside Long Feng's chamber, Aang and the rest try to talk about the coming solar eclipse, but are abruptly cut off by Long Feng. To preserve the culture and utopian life within the walls of Ba Sing Se, no mention of the War is permitted. It is also revealed that Long Feng, the Earth King's secretariat, is in charge of handling day-to-day affairs in the city, including all military matters. The king himself is no more than a figurehead, a beloved icon. When Aang threatens to talk and tell everyone about the War, Long Feng threatens them with expulsion from the city. He goes on to say that if Aang persists, he may never see the missing Appa ever again.
As they are dismissed, Long Feng calls in Joo Dee to accompany them. Aang stares in disbelief as they all realize that a different woman has taken the place of Joo Dee.
- Written by:
- Directed by:
- Also starring:
- Additional voices:
- Main article: Transcript:City of Walls and Secrets
- Main article: Writing in the World of Avatar
- Main article: Avatar Extras for Book Two: Earth
- This is the second time Aang is seen blushing toward Katara when she has a new look about her; the first one was in "The Fortuneteller".
- In the beginning, Sokka can be seen with the green bag he bought in "The Blind Bandit".
- Iroh's hope of seeing Ba Sing Se before it is burned to the ground by the Fire Nation, as he stated in "Zuko Alone", finally comes to fruition.
- While in the train, Toph asks Sokka if "[he has] been hitting the cactus juice again", referencing the episode "The Desert" in which Sokka trips out on cactus juice.
- While the gang and Joo Dee are passing through the Lower Ring of Ba Sing Se, they see many refugees, robbers and peasants. Among these is a robber that later attempts to mug Iroh in the episode, "The Tales of Ba Sing Se".
- The duel between Zuko and Jet is the third in which the former is shown fighting without using his firebending, the first being in "The Blue Spirit" and the second in "Zuko Alone".
- When Team Avatar arrives in Ba Sing Se, Aang says "[Appa]'s here, I can feel it." However, in "Appa's Lost Days", it is seen that when Appa arrives in Ba Sing Se, Aang is sleeping inside their house in the city. Thus, Team Avatar arrived first, and Aang could not have felt Appa's presence as he was yet to get there.
- When Joo Dee is first shown at the train station, she is shown on the platform opposite Team Avatar's, divided by train tracks with no possible way to get across. When she greets Team Avatar, she appears on the platform Team Avatar is standing on without having crossed the tracks in the first place.
- When Zuko and Iroh first arrive at the tea shop, Iroh asks for a larger apron because he cannot tie the strings, so the owner leaves to get extra string. When Iroh throws out the bad tea before the owner returns, however, his apron is already tied.
- Zuko does not drink the tea given to him, though when he lowers his cup while Iroh is lecturing him, it is empty.
- When Joo Dee is informing Team Avatar of their request to see the Earth King she tells them it will take a month after receiving a scroll from a messenger. The camera switches to Sokka, who speaks, but when it cuts back to Joo Dee, the scroll is missing.
- When Sokka asks Joo Dee if they could see the king any sooner, there's a flower pot on the table to the right of Aang, but when Aang says they should spend their time looking for Appa, Momo is on the table. It is not visible if Momo is sitting next to the flower pot.
- When the university student is scrambling away, Joo Dee waves. Her mouth moves as if she is saying something, but no sound comes out.
- While Aang is celebrating a win in his game against Sokka, the arrow tattoo on his forehead is briefly missing.
- At the end of the first fight scene between Zuko and Jet, Zuko's sword blades land on Jet's hands. This should have injured him, but it did not.
- In the second scene of Zuko and Jet's sword fight, Zuko is seen wearing an apron. In the third and final sword fight scene, Zuko is wearing just his robe.
- When Jet jumps onto the well, Zuko is holding his sword in his right hand. For the remainder of the scene, Zuko's sword keeps alternating between his left and his right hand, depending on the shot.
- When the guards at the tea shop told the Dai Li about the fight between Zuko and Jet, Jet's sword was in his left hand, but when the Dai Li arrested him, his sword was in his right hand instead.
- As the Earth King is arriving at the party, Aang concludes a brief show of waterbending using colored liquids. When he stops bending, rather than moving into containers or dropping, the spheres of colored liquid simply shrink and disappear.
- Avatar Extras for "The Blind Bandit" states that Toph can detect earth even when it is not in contact with the ground. If this was the case, she would have been able to detect the rock gloves the Dai Li fired at her during the party and blocked them before they hit her. However, she was completely unaware of the fact that they were heading toward her.
- When Jet is captured by Long Feng and the Dai Li, a ring of rocks surrounds his head so that he cannot move. But in the next shot, he is seen with the ring of rocks around his head in addition to a ring of rocks that cover his mouth, with seemingly no time passing between the two shots.
- When the gang finds a notice for the king's pet bear's party, they ask Katara if she means platypus bear, skunk bear, armadillo bear or gopher bear. When Katara says "Just bear.", Toph replies "This place is weird." This exchange highlights the fact that most animals in the Avatar world are chimeras, or hybrids of two or more real-world animals, and non-hybrid animals are uncommon. However, in "The Waterbending Master", Sokka gives Princess Yue a carved fish which she mistakes for a bear. The fact that she mistook it for a bear and there was no dialogue to suggest that a bear might be something unheard of or out of the ordinary in the Avatar world is at odds with the group's reaction in Ba Sing Se.
- This episode also serves as an introduction to Ba Sing Se, as it shows the three rings of the city, the royal palace entrance and Team Avatar temporary home.
- While Katara and Toph were getting dressed for the party, Aang and Sokka were playing a game similar to jan-ken-pon or rock-paper-scissors.
- At the Earth King's party, the background music is the famous Chinese song, Mo Li Hua, meaning The Jasmine Flower. It is also heard faintly in the background at the Beifong Estate in "The Blind Bandit" and serves as a sort of theme for the Beifong family.
- When Jet and Zuko begin their fight in the tea shop, Zuko grabbed one of the guards from the ferry station's dual swords instead of his own. This could be because he left his back at the apartment where he and Iroh live.
- Some satellite and services, such as DirecTV and Time Warner Cable, will list this episode as "Secrets of Ba Sing Se".
- When Team Avatar and Joo Dee were at Ba Sing Se University, the student told him to go see Professor Zei, who happened to be trapped in Wan Shi Tong's Library.
- The episode's plot is slightly similar to the movie Robots and contains elements from George Orwell's 1984.
- Aang's apparent dislike of the social segregation of Ba Sing Se hints to an idea that the monks either do not segregate themselves due to riches or treat each other as equals.
- In one scene when Aang asks if they can see the king, Joo Dee states, "One doesn't just pop in on the Earth King." This is similar to a scene in The Lord of the Rings, when Boromir states, "One does not simply walk into Mordor."
- When Aang and Sokka are planning to sneak into the party, they hide behind a lion turtle statue.
- This is the fourth time a non-hybrid animal has been featured in the Avatar franchise.