- This article is about the episode. For other similar uses, see Earth King (disambiguation).
|"There's nothing stopping us from telling the Earth King the truth. About the conspiracy and the War."|
|— Aang to the rest of Team Avatar.|
The group breaks into the Earth King's palace to inform him of the Hundred Year War, which the Dai Li has kept secret. They eventually convince the Earth King by showing him the destroyed Fire Nation drill, and Long Feng is arrested for treason. Meanwhile, Zuko succumbs to an illness, which Iroh calls a metamorphosis caused by the former's conflicting destiny, and the prince is haunted by nightmares. Azula and her friends, now disguised as the Kyoshi Warriors, successfully infiltrate the city.
Less than an hour after escaping from Lake Laogai, Aang and his friends relocate to a small island, recovering and discussing what they should do next. Katara and Toph both wish to leave Ba Sing Se, as they have found Appa and thus have no reason to remain there. On the other hand, Sokka wants to stay to inform the Earth King of the conspiracy that is taking place within the city, as well as the approaching solar eclipse, arguing that this was their reason for heading toward Ba Sing Se in the first place. Aang agrees with him. Ultimately, the others agree to remain, and all four ride bareback on Appa to Ba Sing Se's Upper Ring where they manage to break into the palace, tearing their way through the strong defense of Royal Earthbender Guards.
Meanwhile, Iroh and Zuko arrive at their apartment after their escape from Lake Laogai. Iroh happily reassures his nephew that he did the right thing by "letting the Avatar's bison go free". However, Zuko dazedly states that he does not feel right and suddenly collapses on the floor. Shocked and worried, Iroh rushes to Zuko's aid.
At the palace, Aang and his friends finally reach the Earth King's throne room, where they encounter Long Feng and numerous Dai Li agents, who stand before the Earth King as a last defense. They attempt to inform the king about the Hundred Year War, of which the king is oblivious, and Long Feng's conspiracy, but this proves difficult due to their position and his trust in his chief adviser. They drop their weapons in an attempt to gain the emperor's trust, only for Long Feng to attempt to arrest them, until the Earth King learns that Aang is the Avatar; he decides to at least hear Aang and the others out after seeing his pet bear, Bosco, acting friendly toward Aang.
Aang goes on to explain the various events of which the Earth King is unaware: a war outside Ba Sing Se's walls, Long Feng and the Dai Li's conspiracy, the imprisonment of Appa, and the brainwashing of Jet and countless other individuals. Long Feng denies all the charges brought against him, even claiming that he has never encountered a flying bison. As the Earth King ponders over the apparently unlikely allegations, Long Feng whispers in his ear that Aang and his friends are part of an "anarchist cell" attempting to overthrow him. The Dai Li bind the group with earthbending, and the Earth King orders that the group be detained, but Sokka has an epiphany and, with Aang's airbending, exposes a bite mark that Long Feng had received from Appa during their encounter at Lake Laogai. Long Feng claims it to be a birth mark, but Aang brings Appa in to compare the mark to the bison's teeth to invalidate this statement. Although unconvinced of the larger accusations of conspiracy in the city, the Earth King agrees to investigate more closely into the matter. Long Feng frowns sourly at this and shuffles off quietly with his Dai Li agents.
Meanwhile, Iroh watches over Zuko, whose condition appears to be worsening. He is feverish and incredibly thirsty. At the same time, Team Avatar and the Earth King ride the monorail to Lake Laogai. The Earth King states that he has lived in isolation, having never been outside the palace before in his life. When they arrive at Lake Laogai, they find that the entrance to the subterranean facility has collapsed, or destroyed, to prevent further investigation.
They decide to show the Earth King the Outer Wall, which was earlier penetrated by the Fire Nation's drill, but the king refuses and decides to return to the palace. Aang, however, quickly convinces him to continue the investigation by letting the Earth King ride on Appa.
Zuko dreams: in the first dream, he sees himself as the Fire Lord with a hair style similar to Ozai's and no scars. Two dragons, one blue, the other red, coil around his throne and whisper advice to him. The blue dragon, in Azula's voice, tries to persuade Fire Lord Zuko to "rest", while the red dragon, in Iroh's voice, tells him not to listen to the blue dragon and to instead "get out of [there]". The scene soon crumbles around Zuko and the blue dragon attacks, fading to darkness as Zuko sees an image of Ursa calling out for help.
The Earth King arrives at the Outer Wall and is shocked to see the remains of the Fire Nation's drill. Long Feng makes a hurried attempt to pass the drill off as part of a construction project, but Katara asks why there is a fire insignia on the drill. Long Feng says it was imported, but the Earth King is unconvinced and orders Long Feng to be arrested. The two Dai Li agents accompanying Long Feng share a conspiratorial glance and bind Long Feng's arms with metal manacles. When they return to the palace, the king thanks them for opening his eyes as he felt like a fool for not knowing about the war all this time. After some persuasion the king agrees to support Sokka's plan to invade the Fire Nation on the day of the solar eclipse, dubbed by Sokka "the Day of Black Sun", when the Fire Nation will be helpless.
The Earth King's top generals, the Council of Five, raid Long Feng's office and discover files about every person in Ba Sing Se, including Aang and his friends. Included is the note from Guru Pathik that was attached to Appa's horn prior to his capture, informing Aang that he can teach him how to control the Avatar State; a letter from Toph's mother, saying she is in the city and wants to meet her daughter; and an intelligence report giving the location of Southern Water Tribe warriors led by Sokka and Katara's father, Hakoda.
At their apartment, Iroh informs his nephew that he is going through a spiritual metamorphosis because releasing Appa went so strongly against his self-image. Iroh tells Zuko that this transformation will not be pleasant, but in the end, he will emerge as the "beautiful prince [he was] always meant to be".
Elated by the news they have all just received, Aang and his friends try to decide what actions to take. Katara suggests, albeit reluctantly, that the group split up. Aang initially objects, but, finding no other reasonable course to take, he and the others agree. Sokka, however, sadly states that he will stay in the palace, as the Earth King will need guidance in the days to come. Katara quickly cuts him off, knowing that her brother's desire to meet their father is greater than her own and states that she will stay with the Earth King instead. Thus their actions are decided – Aang will take Sokka to where Hakoda is stationed before proceeding to the Eastern Air Temple on Appa, Toph will go to meet her mother, and finally, Katara will stay behind to assist the Earth King.
The next morning, Aang and Sokka prepare for their journey. Before departing, Aang attempts to tell Katara his true feelings for her, but is interrupted at the most untimely of moments by Sokka. The Earth King, while bidding farewell to Aang and Sokka, receives word that a group of Kyoshi Warriors will be arriving. Sokka, in a moment of excitement, realizes that the group must include Suki and falls off Appa. He quickly recovers and vouches that the Kyoshi Warriors are strong and trustworthy allies. The Earth King responds that he will welcome them with open arms. Katara hugs Aang and kisses him on the cheek in farewell, causing the Avatar to blush. Toph expresses a rare moment of compassion for her friends, and all four engage in a group hug, Sokka reluctantly, before the boys take off.
Zuko seems to have awakened from his feverish nightmares and, seeing that Iroh is asleep, goes to the bathroom to wash his face. When he looks up at the mirror, he is shocked to see himself without his scar, replaced by the shaved head and blue arrow tattoos of an airbender, making him sharply resemble Aang. Zuko soon awakens in reality, letting out a loud scream, the whole scenario having merely been a nightmare. He touches his scar, reassuring himself that he is actually awake.
Aang and Sokka make their way over the plains surrounding Ba Sing Se on Appa, convinced that things are finally going positively for them. However, back in the city, the circumstances take a suddenly negative turn. In prison, a Dai Li agent delivers Long Feng his meal, but also quietly reassures that the organization retains loyalty to him, not the king. Meanwhile, Toph goes to meet her mother, entering an Upper Ring building that she finds empty. She enters, but only suspects trickery at the last minute, and is captured in a metal coffin. Master Yu and Xin Fu emerge from the shadows and prepare to return Toph to the Beifong family in order to retrieve their reward. Afterward, the Kyoshi Warriors arrive before the Earth King, who formally welcomes them. Unknown to the king, however, they are actually Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee, disguised in Kyoshi Warrior garments and face paint.
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- Main article: Avatar Extras for Book Two: Earth
- This is the first time in the series a battle takes place at the beginning of a chapter. This also happens in "The Awakening" and "The Southern Raiders".
- The earthbending move that Aang performs in the beginning of the episode in which he pushes the ground up in small square pillars under the king's guards was the same one he used in "The Avatar State". It is also a move that can be used by an earthbender player in the nick.com game, Legends of the Arena.
- The headdress that Azula wore along with her Kyoshi Warrior disguise belonged to Suki herself.
- When Aang first attacks the royal guards, he uses a rock wave. In the next frame, the lifted earth columns are still there, but the surface area around Aang is flat. When the picture cuts back to Aang, the ground is crumbled and cracked again.
- When Sokka is apologizing to all the guards sliding down the palace steps, he has both his machete and his club, but when they come face to face with the Earth King, Sokka only has his machete.
- When Zuko and Iroh enter their apartment, Zuko is holding his swords and sheath in his right hand, but when he walks into the room there is another sheath on the floor as well. Later, as Zuko slumps to the ground, the swords and sheath on the ground are gone. The swords he was holding before replace the other swords in exactly the same position.
- When Aang knocks down Sokka while opening the door to the Earth King's chamber, Sokka has his boomerang on his back. In the next shot, when zoomed back, it is gone. In the following shot, the strap that holds his boomerang can be seen. Once again, when zoomed out, it is absent.
- When Aang mentions that Long Feng kidnapped Appa to blackmail him, Long Feng states that he thought the sky bison were extinct. However, since he is trying to convince the Earth King that there is no war, the airbenders should still be alive, and the sky bison should not be extinct.
- When Team Avatar and the Earth King arrive at Lake Laogai, Toph uses earthbending to raise what had previously been a hidden entrance to the secret headquarters, only to find that the entrance has been destroyed. She expresses surprise at its destruction, despite the fact that her seismic sense should have allowed her to detect its destruction before she raised the platform.
- When Katara places her hands on her hips and asks Long Feng about the Fire Nation insignia on his supposed "construction project", her armbands appear longer than their usual length.
- When the Earth King admits that there is a war occurring while on top of the Outer Wall, Aang is holding his staff, even though at Lake Laogai, he did not have his staff. He also did not have it while flying from Lake Laogai to the Outer Wall.
- Azula does not have a nose in the close-up at the end of the episode.
- Sokka's line about surface-to-air rocks is a pun on real world surface-to-air missiles or SAM's. Employing these projectiles means the palace would be prepared for an attack by Fire Nation airships.
- The red and blue dragons in Zuko's first dream have the same colors as the last-living dragons, Ran and Shaw. Each dragon embodies an influential person in Zuko's life: the blue dragon represents Azula, while the red one represents Iroh.
- After Aang receives his letter from Guru Pathik, Sokka inquires as to what a guru is, rhetorically adding, "Some kind of poisonous blowfish?" This is a reference to the similarly sounding Fugu, a Japanese delicacy which claims several lives every year due to inadequate preparation.
- The siege of the Earth Kingdom Royal Palace bears many similarities to Team Avatar's raid on the South Pole in "Harmonic Convergence". Both groups approached their respective destinations by air, and despite expecting "smooth sailing", were both met with military resistance. In the case of Korra and her friends, their approach to the spirit portal was hindered by the Northern Water Tribe military.
- The way Sokka opens various doors in the palace looking for the Earth King and finds a woman in a dressing room is similar to how Aang opened various doors in Zuko's ship while searching for his glider and found a sleeping Iroh in "The Avatar Returns".
- When Team Avatar barges into the throne room and tries to convince the Earth King to listen to them, Long Feng describes them as an "anarchist cell" and claims that listening to them will lead to the Earth King's demise; Kuei's daughter, Hou-Ting, was killed in 171 AG after trusting the Red Lotus, an actual anarchist group.