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Transcript:Bitter Work

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Real-world


The episode opens in a mountainous terrain at sunrise as it pans down and to the right. All of Team Avatar is sleeping. Cut to Aang rising and jumping up with airbending, barefoot, and filled with excitement.
Aang Today's the day! [Lands near a sleeping Sokka.] Can you believe it? After all that time searching for a teacher, I'm finally starting earthbending! [Momo chitters and lands on Sokka.] And this place, [Momo moves on to Appa's head.] it's perfect, don't you think? Sokka? [Sokka grumbles and glares at Aang with tired eyes.] Oh, you're still sleeping, huh? [Sokka again grumbles and puts his head back down. Aang whispers.] Sorry.
The ground shakes, causing Aang to turn to look toward the source of the rumbling. The camera quickly pans to the left to an earth tent, the slabs of which are tossed in every direction mere moments after. As the dust clears, Toph is standing in the middle with her left hand raised in the air.
Toph Goooood morning, [She puts both her hands on her hips.] earthbending student!
Cut to the side-shot of Appa, with Momo on his head, Sokka, still sleeping and curled up within his sleeping bag with Aang standing at his feet, and Katara, who is sitting upright in her own sleeping bag. Toph walks over to them.
Aang Good morning, Sifu Toph.
Katara [Aang bows slightly to Toph; disappointed and tiredly.] Hey, you never called me Sifu Katara.
Aang [Scratches the back of his head.] Well, if you think I should ...
Sokka suddenly sits up, grumbling at Aang. Cut to a closer shot of Aang, who looks down in wonder, and Toph, who has a smile on her face.
Toph Sorry, Snoozles, we'll do our earthbending as [Whispers slightly, though with amusement in her voice.] quietly as we can.
Cut to a close-up of Toph's feet as she slams her left heel into the ground, creating a crack. Cut to a side-shot of Sokka, who had laid himself back down. An earth pillar rises up right underneath him, catapulting him screaming into the air. Cut to an aerial shot of the team's camping spot as Sokka flies directly toward the camera. After he has flown so close to the camera that the shot was nothing more than a close-up of this uvula, the scene cuts back to ground level of the campsite, where Katara is standing up and joins Toph and Aang in looking toward the sky. Sokka crashes to the ground in their middle with a loud thud. He immediately jumps to his feet, still in his sleeping bag with only his head visible, and hops toward Aang while grumbling. He stops in front of the Avatar and grumbles to his face, before jumping toward Toph and doing the same to her. He subsequently hops toward the camera and out of the shot, still grumbling angrily. Everyone else turns to watch him go.

Cut to Toph staring after Sokka with her hands to her sides. Aang had jumped up and now softly lands beside her.

Aang [Excitedly.] So what move are you going to teach me first? [Stretches out his right arm, his fist clenched, and brings it down like a hammer.] Rock-a-lanche? [He brings his left clenched fist to his right elbow, while his right arm is bent upward, the fist also clenched. He trembles with the motion.] The Trembler? Oh, maybe I could learn to make a [Stretches both arms over his head and starts to spin around.] whirlpool out of land!
Toph [Puts a hand on Aang's chest.] Let's start with ... [Makes the gesture.] move a rock.
Aang [Claps excitedly.] Sounds good, sounds good!
Cuts to another part of the canyon where Toph and Aang are standing in front of two rocks as Katara watches.
Toph The key to earthbending is your stance. You've got to be steady and strong. Rock is a stubborn element. If you're going to move it, you've got to be like a rock yourself.
Aang Like a rock. Got it.
Toph Good. Now the actual motion of this one is pretty simple. [Slams the rock against the canyon wall.] Okay, you ready to give it a try?
Aang I'm ready. [Tries to move it, but instead he is forced backward into Appa.]
Sokka [Amused.] Rock beats airbender!
Iroh has a flashback in a dream about Lu Ten. Lu Ten pretends to firebend at Iroh who fakes a groan and falls over.
Lu Ten I got you, Dad! [Playfully jumps on top of Iroh.]
Both laugh as the scene fades to Iroh in a dream sitting over Lu Ten's tomb.
Iroh My beloved Lu Ten, I will see you again.
The scene fades again as Iroh wakes up to Zuko calling him.
Zuko Uncle ... you were unconscious. Azula did this to you. It was a surprise attack.
Iroh Somehow, that's not so surprising. [Groans.]
Zuko [Hands Iroh some tea.] I hope I made it the way you like it. [Iroh takes a sip from the cup and his eyes widen. He lets out a cry of disgust, but manages to mask it.]
Iroh [Grimaces.] Good. That was very ... uhhh ... bracing. [He is handed another cup, which he throws out secretly behind his shoulder.]
Zuko So Uncle, I've been thinking. It's only a matter of time before I run into Azula again. I'm going to need to know more advanced firebending if I want to stand a chance against her. I know what you're going to say: she's my sister and I should be trying to get along with her.
Iroh [With the exact opposite of Zuko's thoughts.] No, she's crazy, and she needs to go down. [Zuko nods. Iroh grunts as he stands up.] It's time to resume your training.
Back at the canyon. Katara and Toph are standing next to the boulder Aang tried to move. Aang walks up, a hand behind his head.
Katara I don't understand what went wrong. He did it exactly the way you did.
Aang Maybe there's another way ... what if I came at the boulder from another angle?
Toph No. That's the problem. You've got to stop thinking like an airbender. There's no different angle, no clever solution, no trickety-trick that's going to move that rock. You've got to face it head on. And when I say head on, I mean like this ... [Jumps up and destroys the rock with her head.]
Aang Whoa!
Toph begins to walk away, but Katara stops her.
Katara [Trying to help Toph teach.] I've been training Aang for a while now. He really responds well to a positive teaching experience. Lots of encouragement and praise. Kind words. If he's doing something wrong, maybe a gentle nudge in the right direction.
Toph Thanks, Katara. A gentle nudge. I'll try that. [Moments later; yelling at the top of her lungs.] Keep your knees high, Twinkle Toes!
Cut to Aang carrying a large rock on his back, struggling to hold it up. The camera zooms out, showing Toph in the background stomping down and causing pillars of rock to rise underneath Aang's feet as he walks. Aang loses his balance and falls off-screen.

The next move shows Toph digging through rock with her fingers. The camera pans over and Aang rubs his hands together and tries to do the same thing, but smashes his hand against the rock and grunts in pain.

Toph Rock-like!
Next, Toph gives Aang one of Sokka's weapons, much to Sokka's dismay. Cut to Sokka's face with Toph's hand holding him back. He grunts, trying to move forward. Cut to a side-view, showing Sokka struggling to get his club back from Toph, who is holding it to the side and preventing Sokka from grabbing it. She shoves him backward and he stalks offscreen. She hands the weapon to Aang. He is blindfolded as he tries to smash rocks Toph brings up. He finally gets one after about five times. Cut to Toph, who nods in approval.

During their next session, Toph builds herself into a shield of rock which Aang has to push back over a marked boundary. He is successful. His training begins to move smoothly.

During another training session Aang is standing on two pillars of earth tossing a rock into the air while switching hands to catch it each time. Toph walks between the two pillars of earth and uses earthbending to shake the pillars.

Toph Rock-like!
The camera pans up to reveal Aang holding a solid stance without losing his balance. Toph appears on a pillar near him and nods. Aang smiles, knowing he is finally getting the hang of it.

In another part of the canyon, Sokka is looking for food when he stumbles upon an animal.

Sokka You're awfully cute, but unfortunately you're made of meat. Just a bit closer ... [Jumps but falls into a crack that is in the ground. He looks at the cub.] Gotcha! [Sinks further in.] You are one lucky little meat creature.
Back at Iroh and Zuko's setup.
Iroh Lightning is a pure form of firebending, without aggression. It is not fueled by rage or emotion the way other firebending is. Some call lightning the cold-blooded fire. It is precise and deadly, like Azula. To perform the technique requires peace of mind.
Zuko I see. That's why we're drinking tea, to calm the mind.
Iroh Oh yeah, good point! I mean, yes. [Outside.] There is energy all around us. The energy is both yin and yang. Positive energy and negative energy. Only a select few firebenders can separate these energies. This creates an imbalance. The energy wants to restore balance, and in a moment the positive and negative energy come crashing back together, you provide release and guidance, creating lightning. [Steps up, and generates lightning, and shoots it away from the two.]
Zuko I'm ready to try it!
Iroh Remember, once you separate the energy, you do not command it. You are simply its humble guide. Breathe first.
Zuko takes a deep breath. He tries to generate lightning, but instead an explosion launches him back. Iroh shakes his head in disappointment.

Back at the canyon, Aang's earthbending training continues.

Toph This time we're going to try something a little different. Instead of moving a rock, you're going to stop a rock. Get in your horse stance! I'm going to roll that boulder down at you. If you have the attitude of an earthbender, you'll stay in your stance and stop the rock. Like this! [Stretches out, still in stance.]
Katara Sorry Toph, but are you really sure this is the way to teach Aang earthbending?
Toph I'm glad you said something. Actually there is a better way. [Blindfolds Aang.] This way, you'll actually have to sense the vibrations of the boulder to stop it. Thank you, Katara.
Aang [Sarcastically.] Yeah, thanks, Katara!
Katara [Nervously.] Heh.
Cut to Toph standing at the top of the hill with Aang at the bottom. She shoves the rock forward and it begins to roll down the slope. Aang looks worried and afraid as it rolls toward him. He jumps over the boulder at the last second, causing it to roll past and crash into the cliff. Toph comes running toward Aang.
Aang I guess I just panicked. I don't know what to say.
Toph There's nothing to say, you blew it! You had a perfect stance, and a perfect form. But when it came right down to it, you didn't have the guts!
Aang [Disappointed.] I know. I'm sorry.
Toph Yeah, you are sorry! If you're not tough enough to stop the rock, then you can at least give it the pleasure of smashing you instead of jumping out of the way like a jelly-boned wimp! Now, do you have what it takes to face that rock like an earthbender?
Aang No, I don't think I do.
Katara Aang, it's no big deal. You'll take a break and try earthbending again when you're ready. Besides, you still have a lot of waterbending to work on. Okay?
Aang Yeah, that sounds good.
Toph Yeah, whatever, go splash around until you feel better.
They all exit.
Back to Zuko and Iroh. Another attempt by Zuko to generate lightning fails.
Zuko Why can't I do it? Instead of lightning it keeps exploding in my face ... like everything always does.
Iroh I was afraid this might happen. You will not be able to master lightning until you have dealt with the turmoil inside you.
Zuko What turmoil?
Iroh Zuko, you must let go of your feelings of shame if you want your anger to go away.
Zuko But I don't feel any shame at all. I'm as proud as ever.
Iroh Prince Zuko, pride is not the opposite of shame, but its source. True humility is the only antidote to shame.
Zuko Well, my life has been nothing but humbling lately.
Iroh I have another idea. I will teach you a firebending move that even Azula doesn't know, because I made it up myself. [Zuko smiles.]
Back to Sokka, who remains trapped with the small, brown animal.
Sokka You probably think I deserve this, don't you? Look, I'm sorry I hunted you, but that's just the natural order of things. Big things eat smaller things, nothing personal. But this time it didn't work out that way. I admit it ... you're cute. Okay, you convinced me, if I get out of this alive, it's a karmically correct, vegetarian existence for me. No meat. Even though meat is so tasty. [The cub brings an apple.] Hey, looks like my karma is already paying off! That's okay, I got it. [Tosses his boomerang at it in a desperate attempt.] Now, come back boomerang.
In a pond in another part of the canyon. Momo tries to grab a frog. Aang and Katara move a single blob of water back and forth among each other in a circular motion.
Katara You know this block you're having is only temporary, right?
Aang I don't want to talk about it.
Katara You do realize that's the problem, don't you? If you face this issue instead of avoiding it–
Aang [Frustrated at himself.] I know, I know, I know, I know! I get it, all right? I need to face it head on like a rock, but I just can't do it. I don't know why I can't, but I can't.
Katara Aang, if fire and water are opposites, then what's the opposite of air?
Aang I guess it's earth.
Katara That's why it's so difficult for you to get this. You're working with your natural opposite. But you'll figure it out. I know you will. Think fast! [Throws a piece of grass at him, but Aang stops it with waterbending.] Excellent. You have the reflexes of a waterbending master.
Aang Thanks, Katara. Sifu Katara. [Bows.]
Katara also bows at Aang. Back to Zuko and Iroh.
Iroh Fire is the element of power. [Draws the firebending insignia in the dirt.] The people of the Fire Nation have desire and will, and the energy to drive and achieve what they want. Earth is the element of substance. [Draws the earthbending insignia.] The people of the Earth Kingdom are diverse and strong. They are persistent and enduring. Air is the element of freedom. [Draws the airbending insignia.] The Air Nomads detached themselves from worldly concerns and found peace and freedom. Also, they apparently had pretty good senses of humor! Water is the element of change. [Draws the waterbending insignia.] The people of the Water Tribe are capable of adapting to many things. They have a deep sense of community and love that holds them together through anything.
Zuko Why are you telling me these things?
Iroh It is important to draw wisdom from many different places. If you take it from only one place, it becomes rigid and stale. [Divides the four insignias into separate sections.] Understanding others, the other elements, and the other nations will help you become whole. [Draws a circle around the insignias.]
Zuko All this four elements talk is sounding like Avatar stuff.
Iroh It is the combination of the four elements in one person that makes the Avatar so powerful. But it can make you more powerful, too. You see the technique I'm about to teach you is one I learned by studying the waterbenders.
Back to the campsite. Aang is meditating when Toph enters, holding Aang's staff.
Toph Aang, I found these nuts in your bag. I figured you wouldn't mind. And besides, even if you did, you're too much of a pushover to do anything about it.
Aang As a matter of fact, I don't mind. I'm happy to share anything I have.
Toph You know, I'm really glad you feel that way. Because I also have this great new nutcracker.
She spins Aang's staff above her head. Cut to Aang, who looks over his shoulder with a pained expression on his face. Cut to Toph as she smiles widely, lifts the staff, and starts using it to break nutshells.
Aang Actually, I prefer if you didn't ... [Crack.] That's an antique, handcrafted by the monks ... [Crack.] It's a delicate instrument!
Toph It's not the only delicate instrument around here. [Walks away, hitting the staff off rocks.]
Aang [Resumes meditating.] Ohm.
Katara Hey Aang, have you seen–
Aang [Frustrated.] Meditating here!
Katara It's important. It's almost sundown and Sokka isn't back yet. I think we should search for him.
Aang We'll find him faster if we split up. [The two begin to search.]
Back to Sokka.
Sokka Okay, karma person or thing, whoever's in charge of this stuff. If I can just get out of this situation alive, I will give up meat and sarcasm. Okay? [Sokka's warrior's wolf tail gets yanked out of his hair by the cub.] Ow! That's all I got. It's pretty much my whole identity. Sokka, the meat and sarcasm guy. But I'm willing to be Sokka, the veggies and straight talk fellow. Deal? [Aang shows up.] Aang! Thank goodness! Have you got any meat?
Aang Sokka! Are you okay? [Tries to pull him out.]
Sokka Aggh, stop, stop! You're going to pull my fingers off and I don't think the rest of me is coming!
Aang Hmmm ... I bet I can airbend you out of here. [Blows up a gust of wind but Sokka remains trapped.]
Sokka Seriously Aang, I know you're new at it, but I could use a little earthbending here. How about it?
Aang I can't ... I can't do it.
Sokka Well, if you can't earthbend me out of here, go get Toph.
Aang I can't do that either.
Sokka You can't? Why not?
Aang It would just be really ... uncomfortable.
Sokka Uncomfortable? [Sarcastically.] Well, I wouldn't want you to feel uncomfortable ...
Aang Thanks, Sokka. This whole earthbending thing really has me confused. There's so much pressure. Everyone expects me to get it right away. It puts me in a really awkward position.
Sokka Awkward position, I think I know the feeling.
Aang If I try, I fail. If I don't try, I'm never going to get it. I feel like I'm caught between a rock and a hard place.
Sokka Hmmm ... how about that. Aang, this is my friend, Foo Foo Cuddlypoops. Foo Foo Cuddlypoops, Aang.
Aang Awww, what a cute name for a baby saber-tooth moose-lion cub.
Sokka Really? He looks nothing like a saber-tooth moose-lion.
Aang It's hard to tell before their giant teeth and horns grow in. What are you doing out here little guy? Did you lose your mama?
Suddenly, a large moose-lion appears.
The scene cuts back to Zuko and Iroh.
Iroh Waterbenders deal with the flow of energy. A waterbender lets their defense become their offense, turning their opponents' energy against them. I learned a way to do this with lightning.
Zuko You can teach me to redirect lightning?
Iroh If you let the energy in your own body flow, the lightning will follow it. You must create a pathway from your fingertips, up your arm to your shoulder, then down into your stomach. The stomach is the source of energy in your body. It is called the sea of chi. Only in my case it is more like a vast ocean. [Laughs.] From the stomach, you direct it up again, and out the other arm. The stomach detour is critical. You must not let the lightning pass through your heart, or the damage could be deadly. You may wish to try a physical motion, to get a feel for the pathways' flow, like this. [The two begin to practice the redirection motion.] Now, are you focusing your energy? Can you feel your own chi flowing in, down, up, and out?
Zuko I think so.
Iroh Come on, you've got to feel the flow. [They practice the motion for a few minutes.] Excellent! You've got it!
Zuko Great, I'm ready to try it with real lightning!
Iroh What, are you crazy? Lightning is very dangerous!
Zuko I thought that was the point! You teaching me to protect myself from it!
Iroh Yeah! But I'm not going to shoot lightning at you! If you're lucky, you will never have to use this technique at all!
Zuko Well, if you won't help me, I'll find my own lightning. [Rides away.]
Back to the canyon, Aang begins to talk to the saber-tooth moose-lion mother.
Aang Hey there, we found your cub! See, we have no problem with you! We're friendly!
Sokka Aang, this is bad, you've got to get me out of here!
The moose-lion charges at Sokka, but Aang sends it over his head with airbending.
Sokka This is really bad! Please Aang, you have to earthbend me out, there's no other way!
Aang tries, but all his attempts produce nothing.
Aang Oh no! [Gets on top of a rock to try and distract the saber-tooth moose-lion.] Woo-hoo, look at me!
The moose-lion charges again but is again held off.
Sokka Please, don't leave me again.
Aang I won't.
He stands his ground, and at the last second, throws the moose-lion back with a blast of air. The beast leaves. Suddenly, slight clapping can be heard. Cut to shot of Toph sitting on a rock nearby.
Sokka What are you doing here?
Toph Just enjoying the show.
Aang What? You were there the whole time?
Toph Pretty much.
Aang Why didn't you do something? Sokka was in trouble! I was in trouble! You could have gotten him out and helped us get away!
Toph Guess it just didn't occur to me. [Throws a nut down and attempts to crack it with the staff.]
Aang [Grabs hold of it.] Enough! I want my staff back! [Takes it away.]
Toph Do it now!
Aang What?
Toph Earthbend, Twinkle Toes. You just stood your ground against a crazy beast. And even more impressive, you stood your ground against me. You've got stuff.
Aang But–
Toph Do it!
Aang slams the ground and sends a rock into the canyon wall.
Toph You did it! You're an earthbender.
Aang I can't believe it!
Sokka [Sarcastically.] Awww, this is a really wonderful, touching moment. So could you get me out of here so I can give you both a big, snuggly hug?
Aang No problem, Sokka!
Toph Actually, you should probably let me do that. You're still a little new to this. You might accidentally crush him.
Sokka Yeah, no crushing, please.
Toph kicks up the rock and yanks him out. Nightfall hits. Katara meets up with them.
Katara You found him! [Embraces Sokka.]
Sokka The whole time, I was in that hole, not knowing if I was going to live or die. It makes a man to think about what's really important. I realized–
Aang [Interrupting Sokka.] Hey Katara, look what I can do! [Bends a rock and slams it on the ground.]
Katara You did it! I knew you would! [Whispering to Toph.] You tried the positive reinforcement, didn't you?
Toph [Happily.] Yep, it worked wonders.
Aang Appa, Appa, I can earthbend now! The key is being completely rooted. Physically and mentally unmovable!
Appa licks him and sends him flying a few feet. Sokka laughs hysterically, and Aang laughs as well. Meanwhile, Zuko has tracked down a storm, seeking lightning.
Zuko You've always thrown everything you could at me! Well, I can take it, and now I can give it back! [Yelling as loud as he can at the storm.] Come on, strike me! You've never held back before!
No lightning strikes. Tears stream down Zuko's cheeks, and he yells at the top of his lungs.
Fade to credits.

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