- This article is about the leader of the Dai Li at the end of Avatar: The Last Airbender. For previous leaders, see Long Feng and Azula.
|"More than cooperating, she's really taken charge. She's terrifying and inspirational at the same time. It's hard to explain ..."|
|— The Dai Li agent describing Azula to Long Feng.|
The Head of the Dai Li acted as a representative of the Dai Li corps and personal spokesman for the Dai Li's main body. His ultimate loyalty remained to the person with the most power and to his fellow Dai Li agents; his decisions were always based upon choosing the best path for them. Before the revelation of the Conspiracy of Ba Sing Se, his official superior and authority figure was Grand Secretariat Long Feng, to whom he answered directly, acting as his understudy, apprentice, and right-hand man. After Long Feng's arrest, he began to realize that the Grand Secretariat's cause was lost. In order to protect the secret police nonetheless from Earth King Kuei's followers, he betrayed Long Feng and joined with his fellow agents, Princess Azula, and the Fire Nation in their coup to overthrow the Earth King.
After the successful coup and the fall of the Earth Kingdom, the Head of the Dai Li became the de-facto leader of the secret police. He actively participated in the war during the invasion of the Fire Nation, protecting Azula from Team Avatar. Nevertheless, he and the rest of the Dai Li were later betrayed and banished from the Fire Nation by Azula because of her escalating paranoia.
Revelation of the conspiracy
Originally an ordinary agent, this man became Long Feng's right-hand man; as time wore on, however, he secretly garnered power as the true leader of the Dai Li who had the ultimate loyalty of his fellow agents and was chosen as their representative and spokesperson. This was unknown to Long Feng.
Due to his position, the representative usually stayed close to the Grand Secretariat to advise and report to him. However, he was never officially promoted and still fulfilled the daily duties of normal Dai Li agents. When Team Avatar arrived in Ba Sing Se in spring 100 AG, he guarded one of the smaller entrances of the Earth Kingdom Royal Palace together with his partner and another fellow agent to prevent access without permission. Later on, he arrested and brainwashed the Freedom Fighter Jet, after he had threatened public order.
A few days later, the representative guarded the entrance of Long Feng's office when he had a meeting with Joo Dee. During their conversation, it became clear that the brainwashed official had no longer any control over the Avatar's movements. Consequently, Long Feng expressed his worries about the delicate balance in the city that was endangered by Aang. The spokesman asked his leader if they should take care of the Avatar, but the Grand Secretariat replied in the negative, as it was too dangerous to confront him directly.
That same day at night, the representative walked alone down a street when he was bumped aside by the Blue Spirit. Outraged by this disrespectful behavior, he chased the culprit down an alley and attacked, though his adversary proved to be a hay-filled dummy of which he had knocked the head off. Distracted by the decoy, he found himself threatened by a sword at his throat and was subsequently forced to do what his attacker wanted. The agent did not deny and disclosed all demanded information. Since this incident remained secret and its consequences could not be put in touch with the spokesman, he was not punished for leaking important information.
This Dai Li agent was also present when Long Feng's conspiracy was finally revealed. When the Earth King ordered him to arrest his superior, he executed the command without hesitation, knowing that this would be neither the end of Long Feng nor the beginning of the downfall of the Dai Li. The secret police still controlled Ba Sing Se, despite having been weakened. Later on, the spokesman delivered Long Feng his meal in prison, but also quietly reassured that the organization retained loyalty to him, not the king. From that point on, the right-hand man had direct control over the Dai Li, unofficially making him the new leader of the secret police.
Betraying the Earth Kingdom
While Long Feng was thinking about a way to restore his power, the new Dai Li leader and a small group of Dai Li agents spied on the recently arrived Kyoshi Warriors. They listened from their hiding spots, clinging to several pillars, when Ty Lee revealed that they were from the Fire Nation and only disguised as Kyoshi Warriors. After they understood the importance of this information, they quickly and stealthily crawled off.
He informed Long Feng about Azula and her team, whereupon the former Grand Secretariat ordered him to secretly arrest the princess and bring her to him. Long Feng's right-hand man and his partner brought a restrained and complaining Azula to the Grand Secretariat's cell. Upon their arrival, she demanded to know why she had been brought to the prison in the middle of the night. Long Feng smiled craftily and revealed his knowledge of her true identity. He stated that he wanted to make a deal with her in order to regain control of the city. In the course of the following conversation, Azula and Long Feng allied to overthrow the Earth King and capture the Avatar.
After this agreement, the head answered to Long Feng through Azula and was under her charge during the Ba Sing Se coup, now acting as her right-hand man. It was during this time that his and the Dai Li's allegiance began to convert to Azula. He realized that the war was lost for the Earth Kingdom and that Long Feng would not be able to control Ba Sing Se forever. However, there was a chance for the Dai Li to survive under the Fire Nation rule. Since Azula acted like one of Dai Li, he began to trust her and definitively decided to follow her.
The Fire Nation princess, recognizing this new loyalty when the coup of the Council of Five and the Earth King was essentially finished, confronted Long Feng as he was about to double-cross her, in front of the Dai Li agents. The former Grand Secretariat ordered his men to arrest Azula, but they simply waited, watching the verbal power struggle. After Long Feng admitted defeat, the Dai Li's allegiance immediately transferred to Azula. During the following battle in the Crystal Catacombs, he and his fellow Dai Li agents joined forces with their new leader and Prince Zuko to defeat the Avatar and Katara.
Following Azula's successful coup, he tore down the walls of Ba Sing Se with a Dai Li squad, consisting of himself, his partner and six other agents, allowing the Fire Nation Army to enter and occupy the city. Being the representative and general leader of the Dai Li, he was one of the selected agents Azula took with her on her journey back to the Fire Nation.
Serving the Fire Nation and banishment
In the Fire Nation, the traitor to his people remained placed under Azula's command, but became the de facto leader of the Dai Li, since Azula mainly fulfilled her duties as princess and entrusted him with the tasks regarding the secret police that now functioned as her personal bodyguard.
During the invasion of the Fire Nation, the princess was attacked by Sokka, Toph, and Aang in the Fire Lord's secret bunker, and being powerless to bend due to the eclipse, enlisted the aid of the Dai Li representative and his partner, stating that when she left Ba Sing Se she "brought home some souvenirs". The agents were eventually defeated by the gang, but not before wasting a large portion of their time.
He resumed his role as spokesperson for the Dai Li until the arrival of Sozin's Comet, when the head and his fellow agents were summoned by Azula. Upon arriving, the Princess Regent berated them for being five minutes late, which she thought was enough time for an assassin to sneak in and kill her. The spokesman, however, protested against the accusations, stating that the Dai Li would not betray her. Nevertheless, fearing of being betrayed just like Long Feng, Azula's escalating paranoia caused her to banish them. At first, the spokesman was shocked by this statement, unbelieving looking at the Princess. However, he quickly collected himself and resentfully but quietly left the throne room with his subordinates. It was this action that caused his unintentional rise to the head of the Dai Li, since he was the last remaining leader who was left to the organization. Ironically, the banishment of the Dai Li by Azula proved that the representative's original opinion to not trust anyone but his fellow agents was correct, because they were ultimately betrayed by their own leader.
Intelligent, patient, and manipulative, the Head of the Dai Li was a capable leader and excellent intriguer. Despite his understated appearance as ordinary Dai Li agent, he was the true leader of the Dai Li over years. Rather than striving for the position of the official leader, he remained in the shadows and controlled the secret police covertly. Consequently, his ultimate loyalty remained with his fellow Dai Li agents and not with the official leader of the organization. In fact, he only served those with the greatest power, like Long Feng, because they were beneficial for him and the secret police.
As the chosen representative and spokesperson of the other Dai Li agents, he won their loyalty and trust; remarkably, there was only one known agent who ever questioned his decisions.
As a realist and opportunist, the representative possessed no nationalist or racist feelings. He betrayed the Earth Kingdom, his home country, without hesitation, and willingly served a Fire Nation princess, since it was part of the best path for the Dai Li.
Traits that he hid from the public, however, were a certain cruelty and pride. For example, he attempted to kill the Blue Spirit, smiling with an extremely brutal headache and abdominal earth glove shot after the criminal had shown him disrespect. However, he usually suppressed these characteristics, since they were detrimental to his work and disturbing to others.
Nevertheless, the spokesman was deeply shocked of Azula's statements upon his banishment, proving that he trusted the Princess enough to be honestly embittered and upset by this betrayal. In fact, the Head of the Dai Li was loyal toward those whom he vowed to protect, thus his fellow Dai Li agents and Azula. In Azula's case, his loyalty stemmed from his fascination at her abilities and charismatic leadership that originally led him to betray Long Feng.
Like many other Dai Li agents and his former superior, the later Head of the Dai Li was an earthbending master. He usually worked and fought with his partner, a bearded Dai Li agent, as a pair, typical for the Dai Li. However, he and his partner repeatedly showed an interaction and harmony in combat which is unparalleled even among the rest of the Dai Li. They were capable of fighting off Toph, arguably one of the greatest earthbenders in the world, Sokka, a master swordfighter, and Avatar Aang in a duel for several minutes, before they were defeated.
The Head of the Dai Li was also a manipulative and effective leader, able to gain the trust and loyalty of others. Like Long Feng, he was also skilled in the art of brainwashing.
- The Head of the Dai Li was present during both the first and last appearances of the Dai Li in the first series.