[S2E15] The Tales Of Ba Sing Se
The first tale is of Katara and Toph, who spend a day at the spa. The sage, yet comedic Iroh's tale is next; he helps various residents of Ba Sing Se, before making a tearful tribute to his son, who died in combat trying to take the city of Ba Sing Se. Aang helps a zookeeper, though not without causing some trouble. Sokka inadvertently enters a Haiku contest. The generally brooding Zuko goes on a date. The last tale centers on Momo, who searches for Aang's lost pet skybison, Appa.
[S2E15] The Tales of Ba Sing Se
The Daily Dot reviewed it as the "best episode of Avatar", noting that it is a much-needed break in an otherwise dark period of the series. The episode falls in the middle of the protagonist's search for the skybison Appa, and provided character building in a lighter atmosphere. The Daily Dot picked Zuko, Momo, and Iroh's tales as the best, noting that Iroh's was "especially memorable". Iroh is often a comedic relief to the brooding Zuko, but the Daily Dot noted this episode provides another, more emotional side of Iroh. The episode also explains why Iroh is going to such great lengths to try to save his nephew Zuko, so that he will not die in war like his son did.
The story opens at Team Avatar's Upper Ring house in Ba Sing Se. The whole group is busily cleaning themselves up for the day, with Aang shaving his head, Sokka shaving his mustache, and Katara doing her hair, with the exception of Toph, who has yet to even wake up. When Katara wakes her, Toph presents herself with her hair a mess and her body covered in dust, which she calls a "healthy coating of earth", and considers herself to be ready. Katara suggests they have a "girls' day out" and takes her to the Fancy Lady Day Spa. Although reluctant at first, Toph agrees, but warns her that the attendants had better not touch her feet. They walk in, and after being forced into having a foot massage that turns into a foot scrubbing, Toph earthbends one of the attendants through a wall. The girls later take a mud bath and Toph uses her earthbending to make creepy faces with the mud and scare away the attendant. Afterward, the friends relax in a sauna, using their bending to toss hot rocks and water in a central pit to make steam.
While strolling through a market, Iroh stops and buys a few things at a street stand, such as a picnic basket. The shopkeeper asks his customer what his reasoning is, and Iroh claims that it is for a special occasion. He aids the shopkeeper by helping a moon flower bloom by moving it into the shade, explaining that moon flowers like partial shade. Continuing his walk, he sees a small boy crying and his mother trying her hardest to calm him. Iroh borrows a liuqin from a nearby shop and sings a song to the weeping child, which tells the tale of a young soldier boy marching home from war. The boy stops crying as Iroh sings to him, and he proceeds to thank Iroh by pulling his beard and laughing.
In a small street alley, Iroh watches some boys playing earthbending ball. The ball ricochets off a rock and crashes through a window. He tells them that it is always best to admit your mistakes in order to restore honor. However, when the massive owner shows up in the window saying "when I'm through with you kids, the window won't be the only thing that's broken!", he retracts his comments and tells them to run. After running down an alley, he is threatened at knife-point by a mugger. Unconcerned for his own safety, Iroh tells the mugger that his stance makes him weak to attacks, and proves it by knocking him down and stealing his dagger. Iroh corrects the man's stance and informs him that he does not look like a criminal. The man admits that he is confused with his life and has turned to crime. As the two share tea, Iroh suggests to the man to become a masseur. He comments that no one has ever believed in him, to which Iroh responds that help from others can be a great blessing, the same wisdom he previously offered Toph.
Iroh comes to rest upon a hill with a large tree. He sets up some rocks and pulls out materials from the basket he purchased earlier. The special occasion for which it is needed is a memorial for Lu Ten's birthday, Iroh's only son whom he lost in the Siege of Ba Sing Se. Iroh places a cloth out upon the ground along with a picture of Lu Ten. He lights two incense sticks using firebending, places them in a holder, and wishes happy birthday to his son. He confesses that he wished he could have helped Lu Ten, similar to how he had helped those along his way and that his death helped him become a better person. Iroh starts singing the song he had played earlier for the crying boy, "Leaves from the Vine", though this time, it is broken up by tears as Iroh mourns Lu Ten's death.
The animals prove much more difficult to control than Aang originally thought and they end up running wild over the city, terrorizing the citizens. Hog monkeys destroy a shop, various animals attack the citizens, and the cabbage merchant has his cabbages eaten by a rabaroo. After trying to restore order, Aang pulls out his bison whistle and blows a huge burst of air through it using airbending, attracting the attention of all the creatures. He hops on an air scooter as the animals run after him.
Meanwhile, the zookeeper frantically tries to get the guards to open the gate, who refuse until they see the oncoming stampede. Once the gates are open, Aang reaches the other side and hops on his air scooter again. Using his earthbending, he creates a wall around the animals. He continues to earthbend paths, secluded areas, and habitat accessories. The children and their families come flocking to the new zoo, and the zookeeper thanks Aang for his help, also telling him he should have a job with animals. However, the zoo animals were not the only creatures that followed the sound of the whistle, as many domestic cats, dogs, and cat-dogs are also inside the animal pens. The zookeeper thanks Aang for helping him but advises him to stick to saving people rather than animals.
In the peaceful city, Sokka is outside his element of war and battle. His boomerang has become a toy as he walks aimlessly through the streets. He stumbles across the Five-Seven-Five Society, a haiku class full of beautiful girls. While peeking through the window, enjoying the show dreamily, he is suddenly shoved from behind by an ostrich horse and falls in through the window. While explaining the incident to the girls, he accidentally rhymes in haiku: "I am so sorry. Something struck me in the rear! I just wound up ... here." The poetry instructor, Madame Macmu-Ling, becomes upset with the intrusion and giggling of the class. She is also disgusted with the commonplace message his haiku presents and presents the rules of haiku to him in a much more formal tone. Sokka soon gets into a poetry duel with the teacher. After each of Sokka's verses, the girls in the class break into giggling. After several bouts, with Sokka comically winning each one, he mistakenly adds an extra syllable to the final line of his encore, causing the class to become silent and hard-faced. After counting the syllables and realizing his mistake, a guard kicks him out of the class and back onto the street, causing Sokka to change his mind about liking poetry.
After their awkward dinner, Jin pulls Zuko off to one of her favorite parts of the city, the Firelight Fountain. At night, the fountain is usually lit by lanterns in the evening and causes the water to sparkle. However, when they get there, the lanterns are all dark and unlit. Sensing her disappointment, Zuko tells Jin to close her eyes. Making sure that no one else is around to watch, he quietly lights all the lanterns with his firebending. Jin and Zuko stare into the fountain and Jin reaches out and holds his hand. Slyly, she tries to give Zuko a kiss, but Zuko holds up a coupon for a free tea between them and gives it to her. Nonplussed, she tells Zuko to close his eyes so she could present her gift to him. She kisses him lightly and briefly. Zuko gives her a brief kiss in return, but quickly breaks away and leaves. When Jin asks him the reason, he simply says that "it's complicated" and heads back to the teahouse.
Disappointed, Momo decides to continue searching the city for Appa. He soon draws the attention of a trio of pygmy pumas, which see him as a potential meal. Momo tries to escape, but the cats work together to try to bring him down, momentarily trapping him in a box until he seizes an opportunity to escape. Momo's "escape" only succeeds in landing him among a crowd of people watching a street artist with a pair of dancing monkeys; the man seizes Momo, outfits him with a hat, and places him with the monkeys, thinking him to be a monkey himself due to his shortsightedness, making an amusing trio of small dancing primates. The three cats eventually chase Momo out of the performers' circle and pin him to the ground, but all four of them suddenly find themselves captured by an animal control officer.
The four animals are brought to a butcher, and the man that captured them begins haggling with the owner. The highly intelligent Momo, however, frees himself by using his opposable thumbs to remove the skull pin that locks his cage, and starts to run off. However, seeing the three mournful pumas and feeling sympathetic, he frees them from their cages as well, and by the time the men find the cages to be empty all four are running off on the rooftops. As the four new devoted friends sit on a rooftop snuggling, one of the pumas removes Appa's fur from Momo's wrist, and the three run off down an alley, making sure that Momo is following them. The cats stop and place the fur in a large three-toed footprint, left in a patch of exposed earth surrounded by the street's paving stones, which was, in fact, made by Appa. Momo notices the print as he lands in it. As the pumas sit together nearby, he curls on top of the tuft of fur and falls asleep, again thinking of his beloved companion, as rain starts to fall. 041b061a72