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Escape from the Boiling Rock

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This article is about the event. For the episodes, see "The Boiling Rock, Part 1" and "The Boiling Rock, Part 2". For the location, see Boiling Rock.

The escape from the Boiling Rock was one of the final battles of the Hundred Year War, and one of the last events before the arrival of Sozin's Comet.[1] Although the engagement was strategically minor, it did have an effect on history, as the implications of the escape were disastrous for the Fire Nation. The infiltration and subsequent escape were carried out by select members of Team Avatar and lasted around two days, with the first attempt at escape proving unsuccessful.[2]

The skirmish resulted in a victory for Team Avatar, who sustained no losses, and led to Suki joining the group. The escape also resulted in Princess Azula being betrayed by her two best friends, Mai and Ty Lee, thus leading, among other things, to her mental breakdown. It was the first successful escape attempt from the Fire Nation's most advanced maximum security prison.[3]

History

In the later stages of the War, Fire Lord Ozai ordered the construction of the Boiling Rock to imprison traitors and other enemies of the Fire Nation. The prison contained the most advanced and up-to-date technology of any other Fire Nation prison. The prison was soon regarded as inescapable, as all escape attempts proved unsuccessful.

Some time before before the coup of Ba Sing Se, Suki and the other Kyoshi Warriors were defeated and captured by Princess Azula and her friends Mai and Ty Lee.[4] Suki, being the leader, was separated from the rest of the warriors and sent to the Boiling Rock prison.[2]

On the Day of Black Sun, a small invasion force, led by Southern Water Tribe Chief Hakoda, attacked the Fire Nation Capital in the hopes of ending the war.[5] This resulted in failure and the defeat of the entire invasion force. Team Avatar was able to escape to the Western Air Temple, but the adults in the invasion force were taken prisoner.[6] The defeat weighed heavily on Sokka's mind, as he felt the defeat and his father's imprisonment were due to his mistakes.[2]

Prelude

After Zuko joined Team Avatar at the Western Air Temple, Sokka asked him where he thought his father and the rest of the warriors were being held. Zuko was immediately suspicious of Sokka's purpose in asking this question. He guessed that they were taken to the Boiling Rock and told Sokka that the prison was completely inescapable. In a desperate attempt to avoid suspicion, Sokka stated that he just wanted information and nothing more.[2]

That night, Sokka attempted to leave quietly on Appa, but was caught by the suspecting Zuko. After some arguing, Zuko decided to accompany Sokka, the two traveling to the prison on the former's war balloon. After a day of travel, the two arrived at the prison.[2]

Escape

Infiltration

When Zuko and Sokka entered the area above the boiling lake, their balloon crashed on the island's shore. To ensure that no one suspected their presence, they were forced to sink their balloon in the lake and infiltrated the prison disguised as prison guards.

While Zuko questioned the other prison guards as to whether the Boiling Rock held war prisoners, Sokka was called to the prison yard as back-up to help with a scuffle. In the prison yard, one of the guards was bullying a prisoner, Chit Sang, because he had not bowed respectfully to him. While Chit Sang was walking away, the bully guard launched a fire whip at him, compelling Chit Sang to redirect it back at him. The bully guard subsequently stated that firebending was prohibited and, upon seeing Sokka, requested his help in taking Chit Sang to the cooler. Without a choice, Sokka was forced to cooperate.

Zuko and Sokka as guards

Zuko and Sokka disguised themselves as prison guards.

Sokka watched in discomfort as Chit Sang shivered in the cooler, but the bully guard ignored his concern. The warden soon arrived to harass Chit Sang, stating that he should not have tried to escape. Chit Sang denied this claim, but the warden ignored him and coldly told him to continue suffering his punishment. Later on, Zuko informed Sokka that he had learned that there were no Water Tribe prisoners. Sokka became distraught upon hearing this; however, just when all hope seemed lost, he spotted his love interest, Suki, returning to her cell.

Sokka sneaked into Suki's cell soon afterward with Zuko standing guard by the door. Suki momentarily misjudged Sokka for an actual prison guard; however, upon recognizing him, the two embraced and kissed one another. Their reunion was cut short when a guard tried to enter Suki's cell. To prevent Sokka from being exposed, Zuko attacked the guard, allowing Sokka to slip out of the cell. When the guard saw Sokka, however, she ordered him to arrest Zuko. Unable to object, Sokka was forced to do so.

Zuko was soon interrogated by the warden, who, much to Zuko's surprise, discerned his identity and revealed that he was Mai's uncle. Later on, Sokka, Suki, and Zuko gathered together to devise an escape attempt. Chit Sang overheard their discussion and told them that unless they included him, he would inform the warden. Without any other option, they let Chit Sang in on the plan.[2]

First escape attempt

Soon Sokka came up with a good escape plan, to unbolt the cooler that Chit Sang was in and to use it as a boat to escape. To make the plan work, Zuko and Chit Sang pretended to fight, and Zuko firebent at Chit Sang. The guards fell for the charade and, as Sokka predicted, threw Zuko into exactly the same cooler that Chit Sang was in earlier.

While in the cooler, Zuko used his breath of fire to keep himself warm and unbolted the entire cooler. Sokka soon let him out, but before they could escape, Zuko and Sokka overheard some guards talking about the prison's new arrivals, including war prisoners. Zuko and Sokka realized this may be Hakoda, which left Sokka distraught over whether he would stay or escape.

Chit Sang captured

The first escape attempt resulted in failure.

That night, Sokka and Zuko finally arrived with the cooler, and Chit Sang told them he also decided to bring his girlfriend and best friend along. Before they could leave, however, Sokka came to the sudden conclusion that he should stay at the prison, as there was a chance of him finding his father. Zuko told Sokka he would stay with him, and even though Sokka urged Suki to leave to keep her safe, Suki refused and told him she would not leave without him. Chit Sang, however, eagerly jumped into the cooler. Realizing they had lost their chance of escape, Sokka, Zuko, and Suki sneaked back into the prison.

Meanwhile, Chit Sang tried to move the cooler faster by ripping off a piece of the side to use it as a paddle. In the process of doing this, he accidentally burned himself, causing him to scream very loudly. The guards heard him, and the cooler was soon harpooned and dragged back to the prison.

As Chit Sang was captured, Sokka, Zuko, and Suki watched as the new arrivals left the gondola. The gondola seemed to be empty after most of the prisoners exited it, and Sokka felt distraught and upset, as he realized he had made a huge mistake. However, much to Sokka's joy, Hakoda did step out of the gondola.[2]

Second escape attempt

At dawn, the warden went to greet the new prisoners. He told them that as long as they obeyed him, they would be treated fairly. As the warden passed by Hakoda, he ordered him to look him in the eye, but Hakoda refused. Amused, the warden pushed him to the ground. He told Hakoda he knows exactly who he is, and that he would lose his strong will after some time at the prison. Hakoda finally looked him in the eye. Satisfied, the warden walked away, but Hakoda tripped him with his handcuffs. Angry, the warden ordered the guards to get the prisoners out of his sight.

Later, Sokka crept in to Hakoda's cell to greet him. Hakoda, like Suki, threatened to punch Sokka, but Sokka revealed his identity before Hakoda could hurt him. Hakoda and Sokka embraced and immediately started to think of a good escape plan.

Suki captures the Boiling Rock warden

Suki captured the warden.

Meanwhile, the warden interrogated Chit Sang on who thought of his escape plan. Chit Sang refused to talk, but the warden had him tortured by having his bodyguards holding Chit Sang's head upside down. Chit Sang eventually confessed that it was someone disguised as a prison guard. The warden condescendingly patted him on the head and left the cell to apprehend the impostor.

Sokka later sneaked by Zuko's cell to tell him the plan. Two guards came, however, and stated that they had direct orders from the warden to transport Zuko to the interrogation room. Sokka asked the guards for ten seconds to "rough up Zuko". The guards gave him ten seconds, and Sokka told Zuko to meet him in the yard while punching a pillow. The guards subsequently transported Zuko to the interrogation room. Instead of finding the warden, a bewildered Zuko found Mai waiting for him.

Sokka soon sneaked into Suki's cell to tell her the plan, to commandeer the gondola by distracting the guards with a prison riot and to use the warden as a captive. Suki was both doubtful and worried, but Sokka assured her it would work

As Sokka left Suki's cell, he was found by two guards and was taken to the yard, where the warden tried to get Chit Sang to show him the impostor through means of a line-up. Instead of Sokka, Chit Sang instead pointed to the guard who bullied him. Satisfied, the warden took the guard into custody for interrogation. Much to the warden's surprise, his interrogation was soon interrupted by Princess Azula and Ty Lee. Azula told the warden that the guard was not the impostor and left.

Later on, Sokka tried to trick a guard into letting the prisoners out, saying he had direct orders from the warden. The guard hesitantly let the prisoners out, albeit being under a lock down. Sokka, Suki, and Hakoda subsequently entered the prison yard, where Hakoda attempted to start a prison riot, albeit unsuccessfully. At that moment, Chit Sang appeared and told Sokka that his generosity of not ratting him out to the warden came with a price, and that he wanted to escape with them. Sokka asked if he could start a riot, and Chit Sang did just that by shouting, "Hey, riot!"

In the interrogation room, Mai angrily berated Zuko for leaving her, and Zuko argued that it was about the Fire Nation, not her. Mai sarcastically told him that she felt all better. Zuko tried to tell her he never meant to hurt her, but to no avail. At that moment, a guard entered the cell with orders to protect Mai because of the riot. Zuko saw his opportunity, firebent at the guard, escaped, and locked Mai and the guard in the cell. He quickly made his way to the yard and soon met up with everyone else.

While Sokka and Zuko argued about how to capture the warden, Suki took the initiative and went after him on her own. She ran on the heads of the rioting prisoners and scaled the walls of the yard with an amazing display of acrobatics. She disabled the guards protecting the warden, tied him up and gagged him. The escapees soon all met up, the warden their hostage, and made their way to the gondola. As they boarded it, Zuko broke the lever so the guards could not stop them.[3]

Battle on the gondola

Mai fighting gondola guards

Mai was able to defeat the gondola guards before they cut the gondola's line.

As they began to ascend, the group saw Azula and Ty Lee approaching them in hot pursuit. Ty Lee ran up the gondola's cable while Azula propelled herself with firebending, using a handcuff from a guard to hold on to the cable. Atop the gondola, Azula faced off against Sokka and Zuko, while Ty Lee fought Suki. Ty Lee attempted to block Suki's chi, but Suki avoided her technique and attempted to land some punches on Ty Lee unsuccessfully. Sokka and Zuko matched Azula fairly. Azula and Zuko shared fire blasts, with no one really gaining the upper hand. Azula nearly met her fate when Sokka aimed his sword precisely at her throat. She dodged it, however, at the last second. The five of them continued to fight viciously until the warden was able to break free of his restraints while Chit Sang was distracted. The warden shouted to his the guards to cut the line.

In accordance with the warden's command, the gondola's progression was halted, the sudden stop causing it to swift back and forth, forcing the combatants to balance for their lives. Azula and Ty Lee were able to make it on to another gondola, and Azula victoriously said goodbye to her brother, believing to have thwarted the escape and ensured the demise of the remaining passengers. Just as the guards were about to finish cutting, however, they were disabled by Mai. She started to pin the guards to the floor with her daggers. A guard asked her what she was doing, to which she replied, "Saving the jerk who dumped me." She was able to free the line, and the gondola used by the group started moving again. Zuko soon realized what Mai was doing, while Azula and Ty Lee watched in dismay.

The escapees soon made it out of the prison ground and left the warden behind in the gondola. Suki asked what they were to do next, and Zuko realized out that Azula must have had a transportation means to the Boiling Rock and soon spotted an uninhabited Fire Nation airship. The group used the airship to escape off the island.

Azula chi blocked

Ty Lee betrayed Azula.

At the prison, Mai was detained by the guards and brought forth to Azula. Azula demanded to know why she saved the escapees, as she knew Mai was aware of the consequences. Mai answered Azula she had miscalculated, as the Fire Princess had failed to realize that Mai's love for Zuko was greater than her fear for Azula, which deeply enraged the princess. The two of them were about to attack one another, but Azula was stopped by Ty Lee, who blocked her chi. Ty Lee and Mai tried to escape, but were quickly captured. Azula angrily called them fools and ordered the guards to let them rot in the prison so she would never have to see their faces again.[3]

New members

Back at the Western Air Temple, Sokka and Zuko exited from their newly captured airship. Aang and the others remarked their fishing trip must have been crazy. Toph asked if they at least got any good meat, and Sokka answered that they got best meat of all, the meat of friendship and fatherhood. Hakoda, Suki, and Chit Sang subsequently exited the ship and presented themselves to the others. Katara was overjoyed to see her father and embraced him and Sokka in a hug, as Zuko watched happily. In the background, Toph asked, "Seriously, you guys didn't find any meat?"[3]

Aftermath

The escape played a major part in Team Avatar's success in the battles during Sozin's Comet. Due to the successful escape of Suki, the team gained a great member and participant in the battle at Wulong Forest, as Suki both assisted in the destruction of Phoenix King Ozai's airship fleet and even rescued Sokka and Toph from certain death.[1]

The betrayal of Mai and Ty Lee also had a profound effect on Princess Azula's sanity. The event threw her into complete paranoia, causing her to relinquish the protection of her Dai Li agents and her personal bodyguards. Her deepening insanity also affected her battle prowess and judgment, allowing Zuko to fight on par with her during their Comet-Enhanced Agni Kai and Katara to trap her in ice.[7]

Appearances

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Book Three: Fire (火)

References

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