Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Drill

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After a run of episodes which brought us significant
character development for many, if not all our main characters, “The Drill,”
instead brings conflict in the way of Ba Sing Se threatened by colossal Fire
Nation drill and kicking the Jet and Zuko storyline into motion.  Instead of dealing with problems within, our
heroes are forced to deal with one major problem before them.  

It begins similarly to the beginning of “The Desert,”
right on the shirt tails of the previous episode, which ended with Aang
discovering the drill.  He returns to the
gang making their way to Ba Sing Se on foot and conveys the bad news.  In short time, they are on top of the wall,
warning an Earth Kingdom general of the impending threat and offering to
help.  The general is overly confident of
his earth benders and turns down the gang, a decision he immediately changes
when his men are taking down by Ty Lee and Mai. (Unsaid above, but it was
earlier established for the viewer that Azula was on the drill with the duo,
while the Fire Nation War Minister oversaw actual command of the drill.)

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The gang turns to Sokka, the idea guy, for a
strategy to halt the drill in its tracks.
At first, Sokka is perplexed, preferring to be just the complaining guy,
but after observing Katara reference Ty Lee’s attacks as being from the inside
he’s struck with a plan – infiltrate the drill and sabotage it from
within.  Under the cover of a Toph
created dust storm, they do so, but not before Toph cracks perhaps one of the finest
lines ridiculing those who forget she’s blind.
In the process of getting under the drill to climb up inside it, the
group is temporarily in a Toph created tunnel in total darkness.  The exchange then follows: Sokka: “It’s so
dark down here, I can’t see a thing!” Toph: “Oh no, what a nightmare!”

The episode is not entirely focused on the drill,
but is punctuated with interval scenes of Iroh and Zuko’s arrival to Ba Sing
Se.  While in the Earth Kingdom
equivalent of customs, Jet discusses the possibility of inviting Zuko to join
him and the Freedom Fighters.  Smellerbee
immediately argues that they were supposed to be going straight, or in less
subtle terms, “What about the second chance fresh start?”  Her concerns are noted, but not
controlling.  Jet ultimately puts the offer
to Zuko, join the Freedom Fighters and help the refugees of Ba Sing Se.  Our Fire Nation prince politely
declines.  

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In the midst of the recruiting attempt, Iroh had
secured what he was told to be piping hot Jasmine tea.  Instead, it’s cold and Iroh complains loudly
about it in front of both Zuko and Jet.  However,
generally out of sight, Iroh secretly fire bends the liquid into a steaming hot
cup of tea.  The contented Iroh and his
steamy drink catches Jet’s eye after Zuko turns him down, and the significance
of what must have happened dawns on the freedom fighter.  Zuko, for his part, recognizing the same
danger, slaps the tea out of his uncle’s hands and scolds him for being
careless.  It’s too little, too
late.  

Far from the safe confines of the city, Team Avatar
is at work inside the drill attempting to severe a support beam in its outer
shell.  However, to Aang and Katara’s
weary dismay, upon cutting through it, it shifts slightly and no outward damage
is caused.  Sokka’s plan is threatened
with falling apart until Aang recalls a lesson from Toph concerning minor
strikes followed by one final significant hit to break everything down at
once.  Under Sokka’s generally useless
gaze, Katara and Aang run from support beam to support beam, cutting into them,
weakening them, but not severing them.
As they complete their task, news of their presence has spread to the
command bridge, which moments before had celebrated the drill’s reaching of the
wall.  Azula and her cohorts immediately
get up and decide to put an end to their unwanted guests.

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Upon being spotted, our heroes break up with Katara
and Sokka slipping away inside a slurry channel slurping away the material of
the wall in a muddy watery mix and are followed by Ty Lee.  Mai, to her credit, refuses to enter the
giant pipe and avoids a cleaning bill later.
Azula, meanwhile, follows Aang onto the top surface of the drill, where
the air bender was busy preparing to make the final strike to the drill.  The battle between the two that unfolds is
brief, but exhilarating as Azula sends ball after ball of cold blue flame at
Aang who rebuffs her in a combination of the bending forms he has learned,
first with wind, then water, and finally earth.
Ultimately, the Fire Nation
princess fails to stop Aang from delivering the coup de grace with a giant
stone wedge driven into the surface of the drill.  Aided by overflowing slurry, pushed back into
the drill by Katara, the drill systematically breaks down and comes to
a dead stop, forcing the Fire Nation to retreat.  For now, Ba Sing Se remains safe from the
plans of Fire Lord Ozai.

In the last scene dedicated to Zuko and Iroh, Jet
and his Freedom Fighters, and the second to last of the episode, Jet, watches
Zuko and Iroh board a Ba Sing Se train and take seats next to the new parents
and baby Hope from “The Serpent’s Pass”. Jet’s eyes burn with anger and obsession
as he tracks the pair.  Smellerbee,
trying to salvage the entire purpose of their move to the Earth Kingdom capital
tries to talk him out of his sudden and fierce determination, dismissing the
importance of the hot tea cup.  As all
hopes of Jet turning a new leaf and leaving the past behind him shatter into
pieces, he growls under his breath, “He heated it himself! Those guys are firebenders!”

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“The Drill,” serves essentially as an action filled
episode for our heroes to demonstrate their heroics in fantastic fashion and
implies the anonymity of Ba Sing Se, may be as elusive for Iroh and Zuko, as
remaining on the path of a fresh start is for Jet.  Squeezed between the action sequences and the
threat of the breaching of the walls of Ba Sing Se is the formative start of a
good ol’ fashion tragedy.

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