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The Blind Bandit

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This article is about the episode. For the titular character, see Toph Beifong.
Toph's Champion's belt
"The Blind Bandit"
Information
Series

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Book

Earth

Episode

26/61

Original air date

May 5, 2006

Written by

Michael Dante DiMartino

Directed by

Ethan Spaulding

Animation

JM Animation

Guest stars

Mick Foley (The Boulder), Marc Graue (Xin Fu), Cam Clarke (Lao), Sab Shimono (Master Yu), Gabrielle Carteris (Poppy - additional voice), Kevin M. Richardson (Big Bad Hippo - additional voice)

Production number

206

Episode guide
Previous

"Avatar Day"

Next

"Zuko Alone"

Transcript
"The Blind Bandit" is the sixth episode of Book Two: Earth of Avatar: The Last Airbender and the 26th of the overall series. It debuted on May 5, 2006.

Overview

Aang searches for an earthbending teacher with little success. While at an earthbending tournament, he finds a talented blind earthbender girl named Toph, whom he had seen in a vision in the swamp. Unable to leave her overprotective parents, she cannot become Aang's instructor and, although she saves Aang after he is kidnapped, is forbidden from fighting any longer. To escape her plight, she runs away from home and joins the group, assuming her role as Aang's tutor.

Synopsis

In a shop in Gaoling, Sokka is contemplating purchasing an expensive and flashy bag, but his indecisiveness begins to bore Aang and Katara, in spite of their attempts to be supportive. They head off and, while Sokka finally makes his purchase, are approached by a man handing out flyers for a local earthbending academy. Katara convinces Aang to check it out, since he needs to find someone to teach him the element.

Aang as an earthbending student

Aang begins his short time as a student of Master Yu's Earthbending Academy.

At Master Yu's Earthbending Academy, Aang uses the flyer's coupon to receive a "free" lesson; however, he is merely clobbered by boulders. Master Yu attempts to sell him a year's worth of lessons, but Aang does not believe Yu to be a superior teacher.

As the trio departs, they overhear two young men discussing Earth Rumble VI, an underground earthbending tournament. Intrigued, Aang asks them where it is located. They sarcastically tell him, "It's on the island of None'ya ... None'ya business!" and the two walk away laughing. Claiming she will use her "womanly charm" on the pair, Katara follows them around the corner and forces the information out of them by freezing them to the wall.

Earth Rumble VI is held inside a jagged mountain, the arena illuminated by a ceiling of glowing crystals. The trio finds seats in the front row area, left vacant due to the threat of haphazardly launched boulders. From the center of the ring, the game's host, Xin Fu, explains the rules: each contestant must knock his opponent out of the ring with earthbending to advance.

In the first round, one contender, The Boulder, battles The Hippo and defeats him. Aang is largely unimpressed with The Boulder stating, "Bumi said I need a teacher who listens to the earth; he's just listening to his big muscles." Sokka, on the other hand, has become The Boulder's newest fan. After defeating all the challengers, The Boulder has a chance to take on the Earth Rumble champion, the Blind Bandit.

The Boulder in pain

The Boulder groans in pain.

As the Blind Bandit is escorted to the ring, the crowd cheers. Aang and friends realize the champion is nothing more than a little blind girl, causing The Boulder to state his reservations about fighting her. The Blind Bandit taunts him, saying it sounds as if he is scared. The Boulder's reservations vanish, and he prepares to attack her. She taunts him again, calling him "The Pebble" and laughs to herself. As she laughs, Aang realizes she is the laughing girl from the vision he had in the swamp.

The Boulder is about to attack, but the Blind Bandit senses the vibrations his steps create in the ground and makes her move. She disrupts his first step, causing him to slip into a leg split. The little girl quickly knocks The Boulder out of the ring as he screams in pain. Sokka is devastated while Katara is amazed and wonders how she did it. Aang explains to Katara, "She waited and listened!"

Xin Fu offers a bag of gold pieces to anyone who can defeat the Blind Bandit. After a brief moment of silence, Aang jumps into the ring. The Blind Bandit taunts him, and Aang tries to explain that he does not really want to fight, but rather talk. However, the champion begins to fight, anyway. Aang uses his airbending, drifting above the floor of the ring to evade her, and she is unsettled by being unable to track him. Aang blows away a rock she sends at him, accidentally pushing the champion off the ring and erroneously winning the match. Aang rushes to catch the Blind Bandit, telling her he thinks she is supposed to be his earthbending teacher. Upset she lost, she quickly departs from the stadium. Disappointed, Aang collects the gold pieces and belt.

Katara threatens

Katara tries to extract some information.

The next day, the trio heads to Master Yu's Earthbending Academy in search of the Blind Bandit. Katara tries her intimidation tactics again on the young men she froze the day before, but they end up not having the information she wants. Aang realizes they are asking about the wrong person. When he describes the girl from his vision as wearing a white dress and having a pet flying boar, the young men do not recognize the description, but they do know a local family whose symbol is a flying boar – the Beifong family. The trio leaves to check out the lead.

Back at the arena, The Boulder tells Xin Fu that there was no earthbending when the champion was defeated, leaving him to believe the Blind Bandit intentionally lost in order to split the money with the challenger. Xin Fu is enraged by this and intends to get his money back.

The trio arrives at the Beifong estate, but it is heavily guarded. They head around back and climb over the outer wall into a gardened area. Suddenly, the trio is thrust into the air by the earth being pushed up from underneath them. The Blind Bandit, now dressed in an elegant dress, confronts Aang as to why he has come, calling him "Twinkle Toes". Aang and friends explain that he is the Avatar and is in dire need of an earthbending teacher. After they refuse to leave her alone, the Blind Bandit calls the guards, forcing the trio to leave. The guards arrive and escort her inside, revealing her name to be Toph. Over the wall, Aang sneakily smiles to himself and has an idea of what to do next.

Toph's father and mother are meeting with Master Yu to confirm that she is not trying anything dangerous in her earthbending lessons, and Master Yu assures them that he has kept Toph at the basic level. A servant comes in to tell them a visitor has come – the Avatar, and Toph gets agitated.

Aang and Toph

Toph explains why she cannot leave.

At dinner, Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Master Yu have joined Toph and her family. Toph's father inquires of Aang how long he feels the Hundred Year War will go on. Aang explains he hopes to defeat the Fire Lord by summer, but still needs an earthbending teacher. It has become clear to the group that Toph is keeping her amazing earthbending skills secret from her parents, along with her identity as the Blind Bandit. Although Master Yu is mentioned as a candidate for Aang's teacher by Toph's father, Aang attempts to bring up the possibility of Toph as his teacher instead, but she hits Aang's foot with earthbending under the table to shut him up. Aang tries to reveal Toph's secret identity, but she earthbends his chair forward, causing his face to smash into his soup. Not to be outdone, Aang returns the favor with an airbending-enhanced sneeze, throwing Toph's soup onto her, as well as Master Yu and Toph's mother. Toph and Aang start to fight, but Toph's mother declares dinner is finished.

Later, Sokka, Katara, and Aang are getting ready for bed as guests of Toph's family. Aang is surprised by Toph's sudden appearance. She calls a truce, and the two of them walk the grounds of her family's estate while she explains to him how she sees using earthbending. Toph envies Aang's carefree life, but knows she has commitments to her family that prevent her from leaving to join him. Suddenly, the two of them are ambushed by Xin Fu and his wrestling thugs: The Boulder, The Hippo, Fire Nation Man, The Gopher, The Gecko, and the Headhunter. A ransom note is left demanding five hundred gold pieces for the safe return of their daughter. Toph's father enlists Master Yu's help, and Sokka and Katara come along as well.

They arrive at the arena with the ransom and Toph is released. When Katara asks about Aang, Xin Fu states that he plans to turn the Avatar over to the Fire Nation for a reward. He is flanked by all the wrestlers, who threaten them to leave. Katara runs after Toph as she leaves, asking for her assistance. Her father protests, saying Toph is blind, tiny, helpless and fragile, which causes Toph to reject her father and assist them. Toph heads back into the arena demanding Aang's release. The earthbenders begin to attack, and Toph tells Sokka and Katara to leave them to her. Toph defeats each opponent almost effortlessly. This amazes and shocks Toph's father and Master Yu. Finally, Toph faces off against Xin Fu and sends him flying into the wall. Master Yu exclaims, "She is the greatest earthbender I've ever seen!"

Beifong family

Toph talks to her parents about her secret identity.

Back at home, Toph tries to explain her secret identity to her parents, hoping it will not upset them. However, instead of taking her display as a token of autonomy and responsibility, they jump to the conclusion that the freedom they gave her allowed her to put herself into danger. They decide Toph has had too much freedom and must be confined and guarded from now on. Aang, Katara, and Sokka are forced out of the house, and Toph sheds tears for losing the possibility of gaining friends and what little freedom she had left.

Preparing to leave on Appa, they are overjoyed when Toph comes running up, telling them her father has changed his mind. Toph knocks Aang into a tree as payback for knocking her off the stage after the championship battle. Toph requests the championship belt back, and Sokka tosses it down to her, forgetting she cannot see, causing the belt to hit her square on the head. Sokka sheepishly apologizes as Aang falls out of the tree.

Meanwhile, Toph's father brings a small chest to a table in front of Master Yu and Xin Fu, saying he knows they are different, but have a similar interest. He opens the chest to reveal a large amount of gold, offering it to them for the safe return of his daughter, whom he states was kidnapped by the Avatar, proving Toph's story to be fabricated. As the quartet flies away on Appa, Toph smiles, enjoying her first taste of freedom.

Credits

Production notes

Transcript

Main article: Transcript:The Blind Bandit

Translations

Main article: Writing in the World of Avatar

Series continuity

  • Aang recognizes Toph as the girl in his vision from "The Swamp".

Goofs

  • When encountering the two obnoxious boys for the second time, Sokka's new bag switches from his right side, to his left and back to his right.
  • When Aang asks, "I wonder why no one else is sitting in the front row?", a rock comes due to Xin Fu sending flying rocks out while entering the ring. But, even though Xin Fu is seen sending other rocks flying out of the ring, in the next aerial shot, the only rock seen is the one that crashed near Aang, when multiple other "front row seats" should have had rocks crashed onto them.
  • The first time The Hippo is seen, he has armpit hair. However, in a shot later where The Hippo raises his arms after The Boulder attacks him, his armpit hair is gone.
  • When Fire Nation Man is defeated by The Boulder and collides into the bleachers, Sokka is seen cheering directly next to Aang and Katara. In the next frame, however, he is seen standing at least several feet away from the rest of his team.
  • When Toph is battling The Boulder, she sends him flying, but he does not actually exit the ring, meaning she did not really win since she did not knock him completely out of the ring.
  • When Aang is battling Toph, he sends an air gust at Toph that makes her fly in a straight line. This should have made her crash against the ring's walls, since the walls are higher than the stage, but instead she is seen in the next shot outside of the ring.
  • During dinner with the Beifongs, Aang uses airbending to cool Toph's soup for her. In the next frame, the bowl of soup is gone and is instead replaced by a plate of vegetables. The bowl of soup reappears in the next shot.
  • The Boulder refers to himself in the first person twice when he says, "I'm telling you, The Boulder was standing right there. I saw the kid strike." In the rest of his dialogue in the series, he only refers to himself in third person.
  • While discussing her blindness with Aang, Toph is wearing trousers, however, alternating from scene to scene, she is wearing a dress.
  • When Toph and Aang are kidnapped, there are furrows in the ground where the bottom of the metal cage scooped them up. However, when Toph is released there is no dirt in the cage with her.
  • After Toph is freed from the cage, the wrestlers appear in the ring. When The Hippo appears, he crushes a rock, and his mouth can be seen moving, even though he does not say anything or make a sound.
  • As Katara asked Toph, who was leaving, to help them get Aang back, Sokka was not wearing his bag or belt.
  • When Toph wiggled her ear while battling The Boulder, The Hippo, and Headhunter, her headband was green instead of yellow.
  • The holes left from when Xin Fu pulls rocks from the ground around him change into piles of rocks in the next scene.

Trivia

  • This was the first episode to use the "Previously on Avatar ..." teaser heard in all subsequent episodes.
  • The song that plays during Master Yu's first conversation with Lao Beifong is "The Jasmine Flower", a traditional Chinese folk song. It is used later in the show as a theme for the Beifong family.
  • Toph calling Aang "The fancy dancer" foreshadows Aang's dancing skills seen in "The Headband".
  • In this episode, Toph calls Aang "Twinkle Toes". This later becomes her nickname for Aang.
  • One of the boys that Katara beats up has the same hair style as The Hippo. In the DVD commentary, the creators say this is because he is a fan.
  • In Avatar Extras, it was said that the Beifongs are the richest people in the southern Earth Kingdom.
  • The square design seen on Master Yu's hairpiece is also present on the outfits his students wear.
  • According to the DVD commentary, Master Yu's academy is a reference to the sort of shady strip mall dojo that gives martial arts schools a bad name.
  • Master Yu's stated that if Aang paid for the whole year, he would move him up to the next belt. The belt is a reference to martial arts, where belts determine one's skill level.
  • This particular episode is also titled as "The Earthbending Tournament", not to be confused with the title, especially when downloading through the iTunes music store.
  • A segment of the song "The Avatar's Love" is played again at the end of the episode.
  • Earth Rumble VI is a parody of professional wrestling match called the Royal Rumble and includes parodies of many professional wrestlers and wrestling conventions. References include:
    • The Boulder can be assumed to refer to Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, since he is dark-skinned and refers to himself in the third person; ironically, he is voiced by Mick "Mankind" Foley, one of the Rock's biggest rivals and closest friends in wrestling.
      • In the Avatar Extras, it was said that the show's creators tried to get the former wrestler to be The Boulder, though the exact details were not explained.
    • Fire Nation Man is a reference to wrestling's tradition of ersatz "bad guys" (referred to in professional wrestling slang as "Heels"). During the Cold War, many of these "bad guys" were supposedly from Russia, but were actually Americans putting on accents. Fire Nation Man's accent was notably Russian.
    • Sokka's behavior during the match is a reference to the stereotypical pro wrestling fan.
    • Katara commenting, "This is just going to be a bunch of guys chucking rocks at each other", parallels the stereotypical friend who is forced to go to a sporting match.
    • The Earth Rumble Championship Belt is similar to the WWE Ultimate Championship Belt.
    • The raised fist logo for Earth Rumble VI, while very similar to a Socialist emblem, is also a more subtle reference to the steel fist that used to be the iconic piece in the stage set of WWE SmackDown for a number of years.

Start a Discussion Discussions about The Blind Bandit

  • This is more of an observation than a question and it's been said before

    • I think I was on TV Tropes and someone mentioned how funny it is that Toph's family symbol is the Flying Boar and metalbending was someth...
  • Anthems

    10 messages
    • Considering the circumstances under which we heard part of the Fire Nation Anthem, it probably wasn't the real deal. The guy singing it ...
    • About FN man: yep, he's bassed upon these 'foreign stereotypes' to parallel with WWE and stuff, and they decided to put i...

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