- This article is about the episode. For the machine, see Fire Nation drill.
"This drill is a feat of scientific ingenuity and raw destructive power. Once it tunnels through the wall, our troops will storm their city. The Earth Kingdom will finally fall and you can claim Ba Sing Se in the name of your father."
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Having successfully navigated the Serpent's Pass, Aang is determined to journey to Ba Sing Se in the hopes of finding his lost bison, Appa. However, he discovers a Fire Nation drill heading straight for Ba Sing Se, intent on destroying the wall. Aang and the group succeed in demolishing the drill from the inside of the mechanism. Meanwhile, Jet wishes to recruit Zuko as a member of the Freedom Fighters, only to learn Zuko and Iroh are firebenders.
Several Fire Nation tundra tanks rumble across the rugged terrain toward the Outer Wall of Ba Sing Se, the enormous Fire Nation drill following close behind. Several segments of the drill extend forward, elongating the machine. Steam is released from its pipes and metal spikes lodge into the surrounding land.
The command module ascends from the top where inside are Mai, Ty Lee, Azula, War Minister Qin, and several Fire Nation soldiers operating the drill. War Minister Qin boasts about the drill's magnificent ingenuity and its capability of defeating Ba Sing Se. Ty Lee questions whether the earthbenders guarding the Outer Wall were capable of halting it, to which Qin objects by stating the drill's metal shell is impervious to any earthbending attack, emphasizing his point by striking the periscope Ty Lee was looking through. Azula doubts Qin's claims and orders Mai, who is sullenly twirling a dagger out of boredom, and Ty Lee to take the earthbenders out.
Meanwhile, Team Avatar approaches Ba Sing Se along with Tahn, Ying, and their newborn baby, Hope. Aang flies down on his glider followed by Momo and lands in front of them. He warns them of an oncoming danger approaching Ba Sing Se. Moments later, Toph and Aang use earthbending to transport everyone up the Outer Wall, as Sokka asks, "Now what's so big that Appa has to wait?"
Upon arrival at the top of the wall, Aang indicates the advancing drill. Ying hopelessly states that they had reached Ba Sing Se and they still were not safe. Earthbender soldiers approach them and question their reasons for coming to the Outer Wall. Aang reveals himself as the Avatar and requests he be taken to their leader. To his surprise, however, the commanding officer, General Sung, says the Avatar's help is unneeded. He assures that the wall's impenetrability prevents any enemy invasion of Ba Sing Se. Toph reminds him that the Dragon of the West, Iroh, had once infiltrated the city to which the general retaliates by saying that Iroh was quickly removed. He humorously explains Ba Sing Se means "impenetrable city". Toph alerts him once more of the oncoming drill to which Sung explains his employment of an elite team of earthbenders, called the Terra Team, to stop it. Sokka expresses his favor of the team's name.
Down below, the Terra Team manages to launch one of the Fire Nation tanks into the air and bend earth columns upward against the drill's metal shell in an attempt to hinder its progress. However, the drill is so powerful that when it extends forward again it simply crushes the columns. The soldiers are quickly forced to defend themselves when a flurry of daggers are hurled their way. Mai and Ty Lee are seen skidding down the side of the drill, prepared to battle the earthbenders. Ty Lee swings off a rope onto the ground and deftly takes out all the earthbenders in seconds by striking their pressure points. After successfully blocking their chi, she stands triumphantly over the defeated warriors.
The general sees their defeat and exclaims, "We're doomed!" Sokka slaps him and tells him to get a hold of himself to which the general apologizes. Toph asks if he needs their help at this point to which Sung turns to Aang and asks for aid. With the situation of the drill now on their hands, Katara, Toph and Aang all look to Sokka for a plan being that he is the mastermind for developing ideas.
Meanwhile, Iroh and Zuko are at the ticket gate in the Ba Sing Se monorail station. The ticket woman accidentally pronounces their names incorrectly and casts them suspicious looks. Iroh corrects her on the pronunciation of their names, angering her. To settle the tension, he quickly compliments her, comparing her beauty to that of a flower in full bloom. Flattered by this, she compliments him back, stamps their tickets and welcomes them to Ba Sing Se. A disgusted Zuko snatches his ticket out of Iroh's hand and walks away.
Jet and Smellerbee discuss the possibility of Lee, really Zuko under an alias, joining the new Freedom Fighters. Smellerbee opposes the idea, highlighting their unfamiliarity with Lee. Jet insists on his recruitment, comparing him to themselves.
In an infirmary located on the Outer Wall, Katara utilizes her healing abilities on one of the earthbenders attacked by Mai and Ty Lee. When the general mentions the bender did not appear to be injured, she informs him the earthbender's chi is blocked. The earthbender provides a description of the person who ambushed him whom Katara identifies as Ty Lee. She remarks how she does not look threatening, but says, "It's like she takes you down from the inside." Sokka's face suddenly lights up and he states they should dismantle the drill in a similar manner. Toph chimes in by saying, "By hitting its pressure points!" Aang agrees and they start their descent from the wall toward the drill. Toph creates a large dust cloud to use as cover, instructing the rest to follow close behind as they approached the drill.
Ty Lee examines the dust cloud through the periscope, remarking that it was "poofy". Azula suspiciously looks at War Minister Qin, who reassures her that everything is in order.
The group runs into the cloud, Toph creates a tunnel underground and tells everyone to jump in. When Sokka remarks about the tunnel's dark interior rendering his sight useless, Toph sarcastically replies, "Oh no, what a nightmare!" They all emerge from the tunnel, now underneath the drill. Sokka sees an open hatch and Aang helps him and Katara enter the drill. He urges Toph to follow them inside, but she refuses, explaining that she would not be able to bend or see inside the drill, being it was made of metal. She instead decides to aid their efforts from the outside by wedging a large boulder against the drill to slow it down.
Inside the metal mechanism, Sokka says he needs the drill's schematics, causing Aang to wonder as how to acquire the needed arrangements. To his surprise, Sokka slices off the wheel of a nearby pipe, resulting in the rapid release of steam. Aang and Katara grow worried that someone would discover their sabotage. However, Sokka explains that a large machine is bound to have engineers to maintain its function meaning someone will come to fix the problem, thus allowing them to steal the schematics they need. Sure enough, a firebender engineer walks out of the mist and approaches the source of the incident. He turns around sharply only for Katara to freeze the steam, thus entrapping him. Sokka takes the schematics from the engineer and the team runs up the stairway. Sokka examines the schematics and explains they need to cut through the braces that connect the inner mechanism and the outer shell. This action would consequently result in the collapse of the machine.
Meanwhile, Iroh and Zuko seat themselves on a bench at the monorail station, when Jet comes over and sits next to Zuko, inquiring about his plans once inside the city. While they talk, a tea seller comes by, yelling, "Get your hot tea here! Finest tea in Ba Sing Se!" Iroh asks for jasmine tea, only to spit it out in disgust, complaining the tea was cold. Pulling Zuko aside, Jet tries to convince Zuko to join the Freedom Fighters, but Zuko declines. Jet suspiciously eyes Iroh drinking the now hot tea and suddenly realizes they are firebenders. Seeing the Freedom Fighter casting a menacing glare at Iroh, Zuko knocks the tea out of his hand and scolds Iroh for firebending his tea in public. Iroh says, "I know you're not supposed to cry over spilled tea, but it's just so sad."
Sokka, Katara, and Aang arrive at the location of the massive steel braces and carry out their scheme. Aang and Katara begin slowly slicing through one brace using waterbending, a technique called water lashing. Halfway through the dismantling of the one brace, however, both Aang and Katara grow exhausted. Sokka's attempts to encourage the two almost result in him being water-whipped by Katara. They resume work cutting through the brace, however, their efforts merely result in the slightest moving of the brace from its position. Suddenly, a loud rumbling sound reverberates and the entire drill shudders. Having deemed themselves successful in destroying the drill, the team prepares to evacuate only for War Minister Qin to come over the announcement system and explain that the rumbling was due to the drill making contact with the wall.
Sokka uselessly pushes against the brace with all his might, but fails to budge it. Despite exerting all their energy into demolishing the braces, the damage is still minimal. Aang suddenly realizes they were only required to slice halfway through the braces, just enough to weaken them. After completing that task, Aang would travel to the top of the drill and deliver a final blow, forceful enough to shear the braces. The team agrees that it was the perfect method of taking down the drill. Aang reminds them that everyone in Ba Sing Se is depending on them to emerge victorious. Aang and Katara immediately resume work cutting away at the braces, while Toph continues to hinder the drill's progress from outside.
Meanwhile, earthbenders atop the wall hurl large boulders in an attempt to damage the drill but to no avail.
From the command module, a soldier informs the war minister that an engineer was ambushed. Another tells him a brace was cut clean through. Sensing sabotage, Azula beckons Ty Lee and Mai to investigate with her.
Aang and Katara continue cutting through the braces. Sokka persistently cheers them on when a blue fire ball suddenly comes hurdling his way, causing him to shout in alarm and duck his head. Katara and Aang look up to find Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee standing on an overhead metal beam. Ty Lee states her excitement to see the Avatar "and friends" while shooting Sokka a flirtatious look. Sokka responds with a wave and a drawled "Hey" while Katara pulls him away.
Ty Lee dives toward Aang, who manages to airbends her away. They split up at an intersection where Katara gives her water skin to Aang, saying he would need it. Mai and Ty Lee follow Katara and Sokka while Azula follows Aang. Sokka and Katara come to a hatch reading "slurry pipeline" that leads to a canal where a rock and water mixture channels through. Realizing it is their only escape route, they jump into the muddy water and become washed away through the bowels of the drill. Ty Lee and Mai peer down into the pipe. Ty Lee tries to persuade Mai to accompany her, but Mai persistently refuses, stating, "She [Azula] can shoot all the lightning she wants at me. I'm not going in that wall sludge juice." Ty Lee shrugs and jumps in while Mai closes the hatch after her.
Meanwhile, Aang speeds past numerous engineers and control rooms with Momo on perched his back. He climbs a ladder to the top of the drill where he plans to deliver the final strike.
Katara and Sokka exit outside the rear of the drill covered in wall sludge with Ty Lee close behind in hot pursuit. Katara uses waterbending to create a plug, thus imprisoning Ty Lee. Sokka urges her to continue plugging the drain, explaining that when Aang delivers the final blow, the pipes will be ready to burst from the built-up pressure.
Aang chooses a spot on the top of the drill to deliver the final blow. Several boulders suddenly fall from overhead, one nearly hitting Aang. Aang beckons to the general to stop hurling rocks, but Sung, still paralyzed with fear, orders his men to keep hurling them toward the drill. Aang uses waterbending to cut through the metal, weakening that part of the metal hull.
Meanwhile, Katara still holds back the slurry to build up pressure. Sokka patronizes her much to her irritation; she responds to his optimism by sending a wave of slurry at him. Toph approaches and teams up with Katara to help plug up the drain. Toph earthbends the slurry, exerting more pressure on the pipes.
Aang continues to weaken the metal, momentarily stopping to say, "What I'd give to be a metalbender." Momo suddenly shrieks, causing him to turn around and catch sight of a blue fire blast coming toward them. Aang manages to dodge it and sends Momo away, preparing for a duel with Azula. Azula shoots several fireballs at him, all of which Aang manages to avoid. He blasts a gust of air her way and uses water whips to deter Azula's blasts off-target. Aang attempts to deflect two fierce blasts she conjures up with a water shield, however, the shield evaporates and he is sent back several feet. Several boulders are hurdled downward and Aang takes the opportunity to throw one at Azula. She ducks in time and shoots another fire ball. Aang resorts to creating a wall of rubble and repeatedly hurls components of the wall at the Fire Nation princess, who merely kicks the boulders away and almost strikes Aang with a kick of flames. Azula proceeds to somersault in the air and deliver a powerful fire blast, destroying the makeshift wall. Aang hurtles into the Outer Wall and falls unconscious onto the surface of the drill.
The drill extends again and Azula walks over to Aang with bitter intentions. She hoists Aang up and holds him against the wall before his body slides between the wall and the drill. She readies a blue flame in her hand. However, Aang slowly awakens and sees the oncoming attack. He quickly makes an earth gauntlet and blocks her attack, pushing her back several feet. He readies for battle when slurry suddenly spews from the cracks in the wall, coating the drill with a slick layer of liquid and dirt. Azula recovers from the incident and rockets toward him using firebending. She has the misfortune of poor timing and slides across the mud instead. Her momentum flings her into Aang while windmilling to regain her control. The two of them slam into the wall and both begin sliding down opposite sides of the cylindrical drill. Azula manages to turn over and stop her descent, using her hands and the soles of her shoes. Momo arrives on scene and latches onto Aang's back, helping him up while Aang uses airbending to climb back to the top.
Aang thanks Momo and runs to the weakened spot. A recently hurled boulder conveniently lands next to him which he proceeds to shape into a wedge that fits into the "X" he carved into the drill's shell. He rides an air scooter upward along the wall and, at the apex of his ascension, turns around and races down the wall, successfully driving the wedge into the metal, while narrowly dodging Azula's fire blast. The drill's internal braces all collapse and the machine breaks down, left jammed partially in the Outer Wall. Azula is sent back by the blast created as a result of Aang's strike and rejoins Ty Lee, who was freed from the plug of slurry following the strike. Mai emerges from one of the hatches completely dry and casually announces to the two, "We lost."
Meanwhile, at the station, Smellerbee, Longshot, and Jet, eyes wild with hatred, board the monorail Zuko and Iroh are riding to Ba Sing Se. Inside the monorail car, Iroh leans over and tickles an infant, who happens to be Ying's baby, Hope.
At the top of the wall, Sokka begins to brainstorm clever nicknames for their group including "The Aang Gang", "The Boomeraang Squad", and the "Fearsome Foursome", as the team prepares to enter Ba Sing Se, saved from Fire Nation war tactics once again.
- Directed by:
- Also starring:
- Additional voices:
- Main article: Transcript:The Drill
- Main article: Writing in the World of Avatar
- Sokka has the books he "borrowed" from Wan Shi Tong's Library in his bag.
- The blue prints for the Fire Nation drill were seen in the mechanist's laboratory in "The Northern Air Temple".
- This is the second time in the series waterbending is used to cut through metal, the first being when Koizilla attacked the Fire Navy ships in the Siege of the North.
- This is the second episode in which Iroh has gotten into trouble due to tea. The first time was when he accidentally drank tea brewed from a poisonous plant in "The Cave of Two Lovers".
- This is the second time Toph has tried to slow something down that Aang, Katara, and Sokka were in. The first time was in "The Library", when the library was sinking.
- This is the first time the name "Team Avatar" is used.
- Team Avatar later uses this drill as proof in "The Earth King" to convince the Earth King that the war is real.
- In "The Guru", Toph develops metalbending, a skill Aang wishes he had when slicing the metal hull of the Fire Nation drill.
- When Aang and Toph are moving the group up the side of the Outer Wall, Aang's staff is missing.
- After climbing up the wall, while Team Avatar is talking to General Sung, Tahn's family is missing.
- In one shot, when the group is standing on the Outer Wall, the low wall in front of them is taller to both sides; in the next shot, it is lowered to both sides.
- When Katara questions Sokka when he comes up with the idea to take down the drill from the inside, her necklace disappears in mid-frame.
- After Aang says, "I don't know how many more of those I have in me," Sokka's mouth moves, but nothing is said.
- When Sokka disgustedly tries to wipe the slurry off himself with his hands, they emerge completely clean.
- When Ty Lee becomes stuck in the slurry, rocks either go right through her arm or hit her arm without having any effect on her.
- When Sokka sits back up after having been knocked over into the slurry, his back is not entirely covered in slurry.
- When Katara and Toph were bending the slurry, Ty Lee would have likely drowned or been beaten to death by the rocks in the slurry. On top of that, the engineers would not have lived either when the slurry flooded the inside of the drill.
- After Aang is slammed into the wall of Ba Sing Se and falls down unconscious, his left hand is under his head; in the next frame, however, his right hand is under his head.
- The slurry leaked also disappeared in this frame.
- When the drill made it through the wall while Katara and Toph were bending the slurry to plug up the drain, the slurry should have come out the other side of the machine.
- At the end of the episode, the sun is pointing the wrong way based on the shadows of the characters.
- The Book Two DVDs refer to this episode as "Journey to Ba Sing Se, Part 2: The Drill".
- This episode reveals that while Katara can heal wounds, she cannot heal someone whose chi has been blocked.
- This episode marks the first time an actual person has defeated Ty Lee. Prior to this, only Appa had managed to defeat her.
- This episode and "The Serpent's Pass" aired together as the one-hour special, Avatar: Secret of the Fire Nation. With 4.4 million viewers, this special is the second-highest rated among viewers, behind Sozin's Comet.
- This special airing, called The Secret of the Fire Nation, was sponsored by Upper Deck Entertainment (distributor of the Avatar Trading Card Game) for special premiere screenings at numerous cities throughout the United States. These screenings began on September 9, six days before the Nickelodeon television airing, at Ann Arbor, Los Angeles, Louisville, New York, Philadelphia, Providence, and Washington, D.C. movie theaters and included demonstrations of the Avatar TCG.
- One of the writers was JJ Abrams, the creator of Lost, Alias, Star Trek, and Fringe. He was uncredited along with several others.
- The events pertaining to this episode would be referenced in "The Ember Island Players". When the scene cuts to the audience, many people are either nodding off or asleep, alluding to the lukewarm reception this episode had with the fan base.
- Iroh saying "I know not to cry over spilled tea" is a word play on the saying "Don't cry over spilled milk."
- It is interesting to note that, based on the apparent hydraulic components of the drill, simply sabotaging the hydraulic system by busting the numerous pipes and valves might have brought the drill to a halt much faster than the wildly inefficient strategy the team employs.
- Metalbending is mentioned for the first time in this episode.
- In the Indonesian version of this episode, Toph is really afraid when she creates and enters the hole under the drill, as opposed to her English counterpart who mocks Sokka.
- Aang's attempt to cut a wedge hole in the Fire Nation drill is the only time he is known to have waterbent from a water skin.
- At the end of the episode, Sokka comes up with several clever nicknames in this order: "The Boomeraang Squad", "The Aang Gang", "The Fearsome Foursome", and "Team Avatar". Note the irony that Katara said of "Team Avatar", "No matter how many times you say it, it's not going to catch on", while that seems to be the favorite reference of most fans.