The comic opens with Appa flying near some rocky terrain. Katara is resting her head on Aang's shoulder with hearts shown around them. A close-up shows them holding hands. Meanwhile Sokka and Toph are resting against the rolled up sleeping mat stored on which Momo is sleeping. While Sokka watches the couple in front of him with a bored expression, Toph is picking her nose.
Sokka [Annoyed.] Ugh.
Toph What? Everybody does it!
Sokka I was talking about them, not y-- [Notices Toph picking her note, his expression morphs to one of disgust.] Oh. You, too.
The next panel shows the Beifong Metalbending Academy. Toph stands up and looks over the valley toward her school.
Toph Well, it's been fun, guys, but I gotta get back to my school.
Katara Leaving already, Toph?
Toph Yeah. Someone's gotta keep the lily livers – I mean, my students in line.

Gene Luen Yang - Of the three chapters of The Promise, this one was the most fun to write because it's so Tophilicious.

Sokka [Lying flat on the saddle, tugging on Toph's pants to get her attention; whispering.] Wait! You can't leave me alone with them! The oogie-osity's only gonna get worse after you're gone! How am I supposed to keep my food down?!
Toph Well, you could come with me.
Sokka No, no. Hey! How about I go with you?
Toph [Sarcastic.] Great idea, Sokka. Wish I'd thought of it.
Sokka Katara? Aang? I'm going with Toph. To check out her school, not because you two are giving me the oogies or anything.
Katara Hm? Oh! That sounds good! We'll pick you up on the way back from Ba Sing Se.
Aang Hold on, guys! Just give Appa a second to land!
Toph Don't bother, Twinkle Toes. We're close enough to the ground. Sniff I can smell the trees near my school. Come on! [Grabs Sokka's wrist and jumps off of Appa.]
Sokka Hey, isn't that the hand you used to pick your- ? [They both start to fall through the air.] Aaaaah!
Toph [Lets go of Sokka to bend the earth below them.] I gotta let go of you, but don't worry!
Sokka I'm worried! I'm worried!
Toph earthbends an earth slide to guide Sokka and herself to the ground; while she surfs down the slide on her feet, Sokka roughly landed at its top on his back and glides down uncontrollably.
Sokka Aaaaah! [At the base of the slide, Toph lands firmly on her feet while Sokka lands on his back.] Oof!
Toph I told you not to worry!
Sokka [On his feet, looking up at the slide with a smile while rubbing his back.] I tasted my own stomach when we were halfway down, but by the end -- not a bad way to travel. [The two of them start to walk through the forest toward the school.] So how'd you come up with the idea of starting your own school?
Toph After teaching Aang, I realized how fulfilling teaching can be! I mean, I've helped him reach his potential as an earthbender, as the Avatar, and as a human being! I felt like I've made a difference! So when I discovered metalbending, I knew in my heart that I had to share it with the world! It was almost like ... a calling!
Sokka Aw, who're you kidding? You just like telling people what to do.
Toph [Grinning.] Yeah. And yelling. I love yelling. [As they reach the school, Toph sees her three students walking away from it, Penga dragging a large suitcase and Ho Tun carrying a pack on the end of a stick; yelling at her students.Just where do you lily livers think you're going?! [Stops her foot on the ground.] Don't tell me you were trying to escape – I mean, give up on your training! I'm gonna put you in so much hurt you won't remember what day of the week it is!
Penga [Terrified.] Sifu Toph!
Ho Tun Oh, this is bad! We're so doomed!
Penga [Pointing to Sokka, her mood suddenly changing.] Sifu Toph, who's that?
Toph Oh, yeah. Sokka, these are my students: Ho Tun-
Ho Tun Please, sir! Save us from our doom!
Toph -Penga-
Penga [Looking at Sokka with hearts for eyes.] Your biceps are enormous!
Toph -and Moo-
The Dark One The Dark One.
Toph [Sighs.] The Dark One. Lily livers, this is my friend Sokka.

Gurihiru - We struggled with the layouts for this page, since it had lots of dialogue.

Gene - I structured Toph and her students around four different vices: Toph represents rage; Ho Tun, fear; Penga, greed; and The Dark One, a preoccupation with death. The characters work though their vices in the halls of the Beifong Metalbending Academy. After the comics were published, I realized that I may have been subconsciously influenced by Geoff John's Green Lantern comics.

Sokka Oh, I don't know about "enormous" biceps. "Impressively large", maybe-
Penga You're my new boyfriend! Starting right now!
Sokka How old are you, Penga?
Penga Almost sixteen.
Sokka And by "almost," you mean ...
Penga Nine.
Sokka I see.
Toph [Cracks knuckles.] So what were we talking about before all this nice-to-meet-you garbage? That's right. We were talking about hurt.
Ho Tun Please, Sifu Toph! We weren't trying to run away! We were kicked out!
Penga They wouldn't even let me pack all my shoes first!
The Dark One I hate practicing forms, but getting kicked out is the worst!
Toph Kicked out? Kicked out by who?
The scene moves to the inside of the building, where Kunyo, an elderly man in a black and red outfit, oversees three students in red gis' going through firebending forms.
Kunyo Breathe in, disciples of Kunyo! Breathe in the fury of our ancestors! Breathe in the glory of-
Toph [Sliding the door open, standing in the doorframe.Get out! Get out of my school! Now!
Kunyo Who dares disturb Master Kunyo's firebending dojo?!
Toph "Firebending dojo?!" [She raises the earth underneath Kunyo and his students, causing them to loose their balance and fall.] This is the Beifong Metalbending Academy!
Kunyo [He firebends at a tapestry bearing the Beifong family crest that hangs on the wall, setting it ablaze.] My students and I left this building in deference to the Harmony Restoration Movement! But now that the Fire Lord has recovered his senses, and withdrawn his support for the movement -- [As the crest burns away, it reveals the firebending symbol etched into the wall.] -- we've come to reclaim back what is rightfully ours!
Toph [Punches the wall, replacing the firebending symbol with the earthbending one.] Fire Lord Zuko's off his gourd! You people don't belong here! This is the Earth Kingdom's – and the world's – first school of metalbending!
Kunyo [Smirking.] Psh. Shame on you for selling such a fantasy to these poor dupes, young lady! Everyone knows that "metalbending" doesn't exist.

Gene - What kind of motivational posters would Toph hang on the walls of her metalbending school? This one says, "Do you need a beating?"

As a response to Kunyo's skepticism, Toph bends the metal weapons resting in a rack behind Kunyo; she takes one of the spears and wraps it firmly and tightly around Kunyo's head, to the discomfort and shock of the instructor, and the disbelief of his students.
Kunyo Gah!
Kunyo's student Master Kunyo --!
Kunyo [Getting into a fighting stance.] Watch carefully, disciples! Your master's about to teach this dirt girl a lesson!

Gene - When different cultures live in tension, people tend to come up with racial epithets for one another. The Promise introduces a few. Here, Kunyo uses one against Toph.

Toph [Toph creates a fissure underneath her feet.] Bring it on!
Sokka [Walking between the two with his arms outstretched.] Okay, everybody calm down! If you two start fighting, there won't be a building left to fight over! This place is meant to be a school, right? It seems to me that it ought to go to whichever school is most effective.
Penga My boyfriend's so reasonable!
Kunyo Good point! Rather than settle this with a match between the teachers, we'll settle it with a match between our students! A match to the death!
Kunyo's students Yes!
Ho Tun Oh, doom upon doom!
Penga Does this mean I won't get my shoes back?
The Dark One Figures it'd end this way.
Sokka [Having noticed their discomfort at the idea.] Uh ... well ... How about a match to the sit instead?
Toph What?
Sokka You know, a match to the sit!
Toph No, I don't know, because you just made that up!
Sokka Whichever team can force a member of the other team to sit down first wins!
Kunyo's students Well ... ... I guess ... ... As long as we still get to beat people up ...
Ho Tun So we're only partially doomed?
Penga What great ideas my boyfriend has!
The Dark One Whatever. I still hate it.
Sokka [Bowing while gesturing at the door.] Come back in three days, Master Kunyo. We'll have the match then.
Kunyo Three days?! Why should we wait-?!
Toph Or we could settle it right now, Master Pointy-Head, just you and me.
Uses her metalbending to tighten the spear around his head, causing him to yell in pain before she lets go.
Kunyo Harumph! Three days it is.
Kunyo and his disciples leave the building while Sokka and Toph follow them, whispering to one another as they do so.
Toph I don't know about this, Sokka. The lily livers can't even-
Sokka Come on, Toph! Those firebenders are a bunch of little kids! With three days of intensive training, your guys will be able to take them!
Kunyo [He and his disciples turn toward Sokka and Toph.] Before we leave, disciples of Kunyo, let's give our opponents the Kunyo Salute.
Kunyo's students [The three pupils jump upon each other's shoulders, bending flames to their sides.] Beware, enemies of Kunyo! ... For we shall roast you!- ... -in the flames of your own defeat!
Sokka's jaw drops at the display while Penga hides behind him and Ho Tun puts his hands to his cheeks in a look of shock. Only Toph and the Dark One appear unbothered.
Sokka What's that you're always saying, Ho Tun?
Ho Tun We're doomed.
Toph Pretty much.
The scene switches to Katara, Aang, and Momo as they fly over Ba Sing Se on Appa.
Aang [To Appa.] Find yourself a nice, quiet hill to spend the night, okay, buddy? I'll whistle for you tomorrow after our meeting with the Earth King.
Aang flies off on his glider carrying Katara, with Momo flying beside them, before landing in the Upper Ring.
Aang Now we have to find a place to spend the night.
Katara I'm sure Iroh has a couple of spare rooms. Do you remember how to get to his teashop from here?
Aang I think we go -
Hei-Won Oh, my gosh! Is it, like, really you?
Won-Yee Eek!
Aang and Katara turn toward the sound of the voices to see Hei-Won and Won-Yee, two Upper Ring girls wearing yellow shirts with portraits of Aang on them over their dresses.

Gurihiru - The cabbage merchant in this panel appears to have better luck in his dealings with Team Avatar than a certain better-known purveyor of cabbages.

Hei-Won I can't, like, believe it? It's really you, with your flying lemur and everything? I had, like, this recurring dream where I'd wake up and you'd just be there, all magically and stuff? I'd be like, "Wow, you're really here?" But then I'd be like, "Oh no, it's just a dream?" But now, it's real and everything? So, like, wow?
Won-Yee Eek!
Aang I'm sorry, have we met ...?
Hei-Won Oh my gosh! It's, like, me who should be sorry? I'm Hei-Won, co-president and co-founder of the Official Avatar Aang Fan Club, Ba Sing Se chapter? And this is Won-Yee, my fellow co-president and co-founder? Can I just say, your lemur is, like, sooo cute?
Won-Yee Eek!
Aang [To Katara.] Wow! Did you hear that? They started a fan club for me!
Katara [Unhappy.] Wonderful.
Aang [Bowing toward Hei-Won and Won-Yee.] Nice to meet you both! I'm Aang! My lemur's name is Momo.
Hei-Won "Momo" is, like, the cutest name ever?
Won-Yee Eek!
Annoyed by the girls, Katara turns away and pointedly clears her throat, drawing Aang's attention to her.
Katara Ahem!
Aang Oh! And this is Katara!
Katara Ahem!
Aang My girlfriend Katara!

Gurihiru - When we were having difficulty coming up with the costumes for the fan club, Gene drew us a sketch of what he was thinking, which helped a lot.

Katara [Looking and waving uncomfortably.] Hi!
Won-Yee [Bowing toward Katara.] What an honor it is to meet Avatar Aang's first girlfriend!
Katara Why thank you, I -- Wait, what do you mean "first"?
Won-Yee looks up at Katara in response while raising an eyebrow and grinning. Realising the implication, Katara takes Aang's shoulders and starts leading him away from the girls.
Katara Uh ... Aang? We should get going. It's getting late, and we need to find a place --
Hei-Won Oh my gosh! You guys are, like, looking for a place to stay? It'd be sooo amazing if you, like, stayed at our clubhouse?
Aang Wow! I'd love to see it!

Gurihiru - We had a hard time conveying the subtlety of Won-Yee's expression in panel 3.

Gene - In the episode "The Warriors of Kyoshi", Aang has followers: a group of young village girls who treat him like a teen idol. In Legend of Korra, we meet another group of Aang's followers: the Air Acolytes, who are modeled after Buddhist monks and nuns. So how do we get from one kind of follower to the other? The Promise answers that by showing two different chapters of the Avatar Aang Fan Club.

Hei-Won Um, it's just down the street? And we, like, made it look like the Western Air Temple, because most of our club members are girls and everything?
Cut to the clubhouse of the Official Avatar Aang Fan Club's Ba Sing Se chapter, a small, slightly run-down building with an Air Nomad banner displayed next to the door.
Aang You said this is modeled after the Western Air Temple?
Hei-Won Um, yeah? Won-Yee did, like, all the decorating? To make it look upside down and everything? Like how the real temple is?
Won-Yee Eek!
Hei-Won [Blushing.] Do you, like, like it?
Aang [He and Momo bowing toward Hei-Won and Won-Yee.] I love it! Thank you, Official Avatar Aang Fan Club! I'm flattered! [To Katara.] Come on, Katara! Let's check it out!
Katara Can't wait.
Cut to the Capital City Prison, where Zuko talks with Ozai.
Ozai Do you remember those family vacations we used to take on Ember Island? Once, at the beach--you couldn't have been older than three at the time--we saw a hawk attacking a turtle-crab by the water.
As Ozai describes the events of the past, they are displayed in the next few panels as a flashback.
Ozai "You ran as fast as your little legs could carry you to rescue that turtle-crab. Even then, you possessed an affinity for the weak. But then, when you had the turtle-crab safely in your arms, you hesitated. The hawk looked at you with hungry eyes, and you realized you were condemning it to starve. You didn't know whether to side with the hawk or the turtle-crab. Before you could reach a decision, a giant wave washed over you and carried you out into the ocean."
End flashback.
Ozai I dove in myself to save you. You spent the rest of the day in your mother's arms, vomiting sea-water.
Zuko I came here looking for advice. I want to know how you were able to sleep peacefully in spite of the pressures of the throne.
Ozai And I told you.
Zuko I don't see how an old family memory--
Ozai I'm tired, Zuko. We're done talking for now. Perhaps we will continue tomorrow. [While Zuko leaves the prison cell.] Bring more tea.
Back at the Beifong Metalbending Academy, the students are trying to metalbend a small coin, but no avail.
Ho Tun, The Dark One, Penga Yaaah!
Ho Tun Nothing. No movement at all.
Penga How am I supposed to impress my boyfriend?!
The Dark One I hate failure.
Ho Tun [Covering his face in desperation.] This is bad! I can't concentrate on my forms with doom coming in two days!
Penga [Pointing at Ho Tun.] I'm sick of hearing about doom! I'm not practicing with you anymore!
The Dark One [Crossing his arms.] I hate ... I hate ... All of this!
Cut back to Sokka and Toph.
Sokka [Pointing at Toph's students.] So these were the most qualified students you could find, huh?
Toph [Pulls her left sleeve up, revealing a bracelet made of earth from space.] It wasn't me! It was this!
Sokka [Looks excitedly.] Oooh! Space bracelet! [Puts hands together and looks at the sky as if in prayer.] Oh how I miss you, space sword!
Toph [Moving bracelet around her finger.] About a year ago, I noticed that every now and then, when I was in public, my bracelet would shiver the tiniest bit. [Cut to a view of the Beifong Metalbending Academy with Toph and Sokka at the entrance.] I could only feel it when I was really paying attention. Eventually I figured out that this would happen when someone around me got super emotional. So I had an idea. Maybe these people who could move my bracelet could also become metalbenders. I started recruiting them to my school.

Gene - I miss Sokka's space sword, too. It was such a cool sword, and he spent so much time making it in "Sokka's Master!" Presumably, the rest of the meteorite is still around. Maybe he'll make a new one someday.

Toph "I met Ho Tun in a ramen house. He'd just found a spider-wasp in his soup."
Ho Tun Ack! I swallowed a mouthful of doom!
Toph "Actually, it was more like half a spider-wasp. Penga was in a marketplace arguing over shoes with one of her family's servants."
Penga [Pointing to a pair of shoes.] I want them! I want them! I want them!
Servant Forgive me, Mistress Penga, but we've already spent all the money your parents allotted for this shopping trip.
Toph "And The Dark One was people watching at a street corner."
The Dark One I hate you ... and you ... and you ... and you ...

Gurihiru - The flashback scenes look different to us than other readers because we cannot help but see the colors that we originally used hiding beneath the balanced palette of the finished pages.

End flashback.
Sokka That sounds about right. Katara found out she was a waterbender because the ice would crack whenever I made her mad -- [Scratches head.] er, whenever she got super emotional.
Toph [Opens door to go into the academy again.] Yeah, but there's a problem with finding students that way. Think about it. What kind of people get super emotional in public?!
Sokka Uh, crazy people?
Toph [Lifts arms up.] Crazy people!
Ho Tun, The Dark One, Penga !!!!
Toph And even worse, the whole thing is just a theory! [Puts hand on head as if it hurts from the frustration.] Nobody in that sorry group of lily livers has moved even the smallest piece of metal since they've been here! Not even a coin!
Sokka [Puts hand on Toph's back while she puts her bracelet back on.] Listen, I don't like to brag, but--
Toph You love to brag.
Sokka Okay, I love to brag, but Sokka of the Southern Water Tribe is just what this school needs!
Toph What are you talking about? You're not a bender of anything, let alone metal!
Sokka Oh, but I am a bender! I may not be able to bend any of the elements, but I can [Signals quotation marks with his hands.] "bend" people's motivation! I'm a motivational bender!
Toph That's a stretch.
Sokka Hey, [Points at himself.] who led the invasion on the Day of Black Sun? Who started training warriors in his own tribe when he was just a kid? Sokka the motivational bender, that's who! Just explain to me metalbending basics. Then leave the lily livers -- I mean, your students-- to me! [Puts a headband on.] To become a true metalbender you not only have to see the metal-- [Closes one eye.] --But hear the metal-- [Shakes the coin next to his ear as if hearing it.] --Taste the metal-- [Licks it.] --And be the metal.
Ho Tun [Scratches head.] That doesn't even make sense.
The Dark One [With arms crossed.] Why should we listen to you? You're not a bender!
Penga [Pointing at The Dark One.] Don't talk to my boyfriend that way!
Sokka I've already explained to you guys! I am a bender of motivation!
Toph [Points to her eye while trying to roll both of them.] Hey, Sokka, am I doing this right? I'm trying to roll my eyes at you.
Sokka Look, people, can we just give this a shot? Let's start with the defending-palm technique! First, take a steady and strong stance, just like Sifu Toph taught you. [Walks in front of students with his hands behind his back while the students take their stances.] Next, gather your chi deep in your gut. Feel your gut heat up like a furnace! [Points at Ho Tun's gut.] Now let your gut furnace refine your senses! Close your eyes and feel the earth around you. Then feel the metal within that earth! [Takes out metal coins and throws them at the students.] Now feel the coins coming at you and stop them in midair! Come on, Team Beifong! Let's metalbend!
The students fail to metalbend the coins and are hit in the head by them with a ping.
Ho Tun, The Dark One, Penga Ow!
Ho Tun [Laying down on the floor face-down with his head between his hands.] I'm bleeding, right!? Oooh! My forehead's gonna get infected then --!
Penga [Pointing at Sokka.] You better buy me shoes to make up for this!
The Dark One [Paws head.] Do I even need to say it?
Sokka [Knees bent in failure.] I know, The Dark One. You hate me.
Toph [Punches Sokka on the arm.] Nice going, o great bender of people's motivation! Amazing what a difference a fancy headband helps!
Sokka [Scratches the back of his head.] You're not very helpful right now.
Back at the Official Avatar Aang Fan Club's headquarters.
Aang ... And this is a technique called air scooter! I invented it when I was training at the Southern Air Temple. It's part of how I earned my tattoos.
Fangirl #1 Look at him go!
Fangirl #2 Wow!
Fangirl #3 How does he do that?
Fangirl #4 Avatar Aang is sooo dreamy!
Katara looks annoyed as Aang gets too much attention.
Aang And here's a brand-new technique I've been working on! [Gathers air and makes air marbles with it.] First, I gather a handful of air marbles ... And then I turn them all into air scooters!
Blows on the air marbles and the air tosses the fangirls on top of an air scooter.
Fangirl #1 Ha ha ha!
Fangirl #2 Wheeee!
Fangirl #3 Woah!
Hei-Won Um, Avatar Aang?
Aang Good morning, Hei-Won! Come join the fun!
Hei-Won I'd like to, like, introduce you to somebody? This is my fellow co-president and co-founder Yee-Li? She's wanted to meet you since, like, forever?
Aang Another co-president and co-founder? How many co-presidents and co-founders are there?
All the fangirls raise their hands.
Yee-Li It's such an honor, Avatar Aang! I want to show you something I bought from a traveling merchant a couple years ago ...
Yee-Li takes out an airbender's flute and Aang looks at it excitedly.
Aang Wow! An airbender's flute! Monk Gyatso used to have one just like this!
Yee-Li I just knew it had to be from the Air Nomads! Do you know how to play?

Gene - Yee-Li's flute is based on a real Chinese instrument called the pai xiao.

Fangirl #1 [While Aang is playing the airbender's flute.] Ha ha ha!
Fangirl #2 [While Aang is playing the airbender's flute.] Ha ha!
Aang starts playing the airbender's flute while all the fangirls start dancing; one dances with Momo. Katara subsequently gets up and walks toward Aang.
Fangirl #3 The Avatar's even more dreamy when he's playing music!
Katara I hate to ruin the fun, Aang, but shouldn't we get going? We're here to meet with the Earth King, remember?
Aang [Stops playing to respond.] You're probably right ...
They promptly leave with Katara angry as Aang waves good-bye to the fangirls.
Katara [Angrily.] Well you certainly seemed to enjoy those girls' attention.
Aang Weren't they amazing?! [Stops walking.] I know it's just a silly fanclub, but for a moment there, It almost felt like ... Like I was at home again. With my people. Thanks for agreeing to stay there for the night, sweetie. It meant the world to me.
Katara [Shocked.] Don't thank me, Aang. I don't deserve it. [The couple continues walking.]
Back in the Capital City Prison, a light casts over Ozai as Zuko walks in with some tea. He hands Ozai a cup and he takes a sip.
Zuko [Sits down.] I stayed up all night thinking about what you said. [Looks down at his cup.] At the beach, I was overwhelmed by my circumstances because I couldn't decide which side to take. I should have sided with the hawk. It was strong and noble, much like the Fire Nation. It had earned its meal. [Shouts angrily.] But I've already done that, father! I'm no longer neglecting the needs of my own people, as I did when I first took the throne! And I still can't sleep!
Ozai You're only partially correct in your assessment. Your sleeplessness does indeed stem from your inability to choose sides, to distinguish what is right. But you're wrong about the hawk.
Zuko So you're saying ... I should have defended the turtle-crab? I should have sided with the weaker of the two?
Ozai What I'm trying to say is -- There is no right or wrong apart from what you decide. Whom you choose to defend deserves to be defended simply because you chose them. You are the Fire Lord. What you choose, by definition, is right.
Zuko No! Right and wrong are bigger than me, or you, or even the Avatar! And I believe that the Avatar, the Earth King, and I can come closest to what's right by working together!

Gurihiru - In the layouts for this page, Zuko was in the prison with Ozai, and they were facing each other, but we changed it because Zuko does not trust his father that much yet.

Ozai I've heard rumors about this little meeting of yours. [Points at Zuko.] Do you think the Earth King, after being humiliated time and time again by our mighty nation and his own incompetence will be reasonable? Do you think he'll treat the remaining Fire Nation colonies fairly? In an attempt to restore his own dignity, he'll send out his army to crush them! [Closes fist.] If you truly are the Fire Lord, you will defend the Fire Nation citizens of Yu Dao ferociously! Not simply because they are your people, but because they are an expression of your will!
Zuko I'm going to wait [Slams tea cup on his knee, some falls out.] and my patience will be rewarded with a peaceful resolution for everyone! Even as we speak, the Avatar is--
Ozai The Avatar is an irrelevant relic of a bygone age! He wants to keep the world frozen in time by denying the inevitable victory of the strong over the weak!
Zuko Avatar Aang is my friend! More often than not, he's been on the side that's right! I trust him.
Ozai More than you trust yourself?
Zuko [Looks away.] ...
Ozai [Stands up.] You sicken me, Zuko. Leave my presence.
Zuko [Starts getting up.] Who are you to talk to me this way?! Have you forgotten your current place in --
Ozai Leave. My. Presence!
Zuko leaves the prison. While he does this, Suki looks at him from above.

Back at the Beifong Metalbending Academy, Toph is still struggling with teaching her students metalbending.

Toph Look alive, lily livers! Take your horse stance, steady and strong! Make your gut furnace and use it to feel the metal in front of you! Now, kick! Kick like your life depends on it!
The students kick at the coins in an attempt to metalbend, but no avail.
Toph [Sighs and rests hand on a pole that holds the coins up.] Not even a shiver.
Ho Tun Aren't you gonna yell at us?
Toph No.
Sokka Hey, Toph? Sorry to bug you during the training, but something important just happened.
Toph [Walks out front door with Sokka.] Take a break, guys.
The Dark One We've already had three breaks this morning! The match is tomorrow!
Toph I said take a break!
Sokka [Excitedly.] I just had the best idea ever!
Toph You said something important just happened!
Sokka It did! My brain. Listen! You said your students were able to move your space bracelet when they were super emotional. Well, to make them metalbenders, we just have to get them super-mega-uber-emotional!
Toph And how do you plan to do that? Let me guess. You're gonna wear two fancy headbands!
Sokka Very funny. [Rubs chin.] I've been thinking. For Ho Tun, it's easy--
Toph Doom.
Sokka Yes! And Penga--
Toph Shoes.
Sokka Of course. The Dark One's the only one I can't figure out. What gets more to him than anything in the world?
Toph His real name. But I promised I wouldn't ever tell anybody.
Sokka [Cups hands together and makes puppy-dog eyes.] Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease--
Toph Okay, okay! Quit your blubbering! [Whispers the name in Sokka's ear.]
Sokka [Sweating.] No. Way. What were his parents thinking?
Toph I know, right? No wonder that guy hates everything!
Sokka Now, you remember what you did during our final battle with Ozai? In the cabin of that Fire Nation airship? I need you to do something like that! If only we had a bunch of metal to work with ...
Toph Why didn't you say so? [Points at the school.] There's a bunker full of metal under the school building!
They go to the bunker under the building. Sokka brings a lamp to be able to see and a chart. When they get there, Toph leans against a wall with her arms crossed and Sokka is impressed.
Sokka Woah! Look at all this Fire Nation armor! [Sets lamp down and grabs a helmet.] These are all kid sized! Who would make armor for little kids?
Toph A weirdo like Kunyo, that's who.
Sokka [Opens chart up in Toph's face.] So here's what I need you to make with your metalbending powers!
Toph [Waves hand in front of her eyes.] Hello?! How many times do I have to remind you?!
Sokka Right. Sorry. How about I just describe it to you?
As Sokka explains how the metal figure needs to be done, Toph gets to work and finishes it.

Gurihiru - It was Gene's idea to have no borders on this page in order to convey the passage of time.

Sokka That's incredible! Toph Beifong, you've really outdone yourself!
Toph [Removes dust from hands.] Just call me the greatest earthbender of all time!
Sokka Ha ha!
Toph No seriously. I want you to call me that.
Sokka Toph, you're the greatest earthbender of all time.
Toph Gee, thanks, Sokka! That's so sweet of you!
Back at the Yu Dao Resistance's camp, Kori is training them. They are shooting fire at straw figures.
Kori One last exercise, and then we'll call it a day! [Circles ball and chain.] Earthbenders, create a barrier!
The earthbenders create a barrier.
Kori Now everyone, attack!
The earthbenders create platforms for the firebenders so they can shoot from higher ground. The straw figures are subsequently hit with earth and fire. Soon after, they wave goodbye to Kori.
Kori Good work! We'll meet tomorrow morning, same place!
Meanwhile, Sneers tiredly makes his way to Kori.
Sneers Psst! Kori!
Kori Sneers!
The couple share a kiss, hold each other closely, and Sneers looks at the burning straw.
Sneers You've been missing our dates so you could train with firebenders?
Kori So I could train with my cousins. And only two of them are firebenders! We have to be ready to defend Yu Dao! Didn't you hear those protesters outside the city walls a couple days ago?
Sneers [Looks away uncomfortably.] ...

Gurihiru - This is where we first found out Sneers was a boy! It was a great surprise ...

Gene - Sneers was the only Freedom Fighter to appear in just one episode. He also has the goofiest design, which is why I find him so endearing.

Kori Don't tell me you were a part of that.
Sneers We were leading that.
Kori [Pushes Sneers.] Get away from me!
Sneers [Falls back.] Oof! [From the ground.] Yu Dao is a Fire Nation colony! Smellerbee said--
Kori I don't care what Smellerbee said!
Sneers You have to choose, Kori! Are you Earth Kingdom or are you Fire Nation?
Kori Choose, choose, choose! All my life, people have been asking me to choose! I am an earthbender and a Fire Nation citizen, and I live in Yu Dao! That's what I choose! Now you choose, Sneers! Do you want to follow Smellerbee ... Or do you want to be with me?
Meanwhile, Aang, Katara, and Momo arrive at King Kuei's palace.
Aang [Bowing.] Greetings, Earth King Kuei!
Kuei Avatar Aang! Katara of the Southern Water Tribe! It's been much too long! [Gets up.] I heard you were in the Earth Kingdom dealing with the situation at Yu Dao! Thank you for all your help with the removal of that colony! The remaining few seem to be more difficult than--
Katara That's why we're here, Your Majesty. We'd like to set up a meeting between you and Fire Lord Zuko. Yu Dao ... Is still there.
Aang For now.
Kuei [Rubs chin.] So then, the Fire Lord persists in denying the movement his support! He wants to keep his colonies!
Aang Earth King Kuei, I'm on your side! The people of the Fire Nation don't belong in your Kingdom, so the Harmony Restoration Movement has to continue! With a little convincing, I'm sure Fire Lord Zuko--
Katara Fire Lord Zuko has legitimate concerns about the colonials who still live there! We really need to sit down and talk through our options. Maybe there's something we missed.

Gurihiru - Attentive readers will notice that every time Momo and Bosco meet, Momo tries to steal Bosco's hat.

Kuei narrows his eyes, not looking happy about this at all. Meanwhile at the Beifong Metalbending Academy, everybody but Toph is sitting around a fire.
Ho Tun This is bad! Why do we have to eat outside? The outside is so ... so ...
The Dark One Dark? Cold? Dirty?
Ho Tun Doom-y.
Sokka Ho Tun, that's not even a word! And besides, a campfire's the perfect setting for a little Team Beifong bonding!
Penga [Hugging Sokka.] I think it's romantic!
Sokka Uh ... No. It's not.
The Dark One Where's Sifu Toph? How come she gets to miss out on all the "bonding"?
Sokka She'll be here soon! She just had to, uh ... Take care of some sifu-ish type stuff first. Hey, do you guys remember that flying boar banner that used to be in the training room? The one Kunyo burned down? Anyone know why it was there?
Penga Oh, my boyfriend's so silly sometimes! Everyone in the Earth Kingdom knows that the white flying boar is the Beifong family symbol!
Sokka No! I mean, yes it is, but that's not why the banner was there! Sifu Toph hung that banner up to placate the winged boar spirit that haunts this mountain!
Ho Tun W-w-winged boar spirit?
Penga What are you talking about?!
Sokka Yes! The winged boar spirit! The ancient harbinger of doom and eater of fine footwear!
Ho Tun Doom?!
Penga Footwear?!
Sokka And now that Kunyo's burned down the banner, we can probably expect to--
The giant spirit enters the scene; it is big, made of metal, carrying a lot of shoes, and roaring.
Sokka Oh look, speak of the winged boar spirit! There it is right now!
Penga, Ho Tun Aaah!
The spirit starts eating Penga's shoes.
Penga It's eating my shoes! How'd it find my shoes?!
Ho Tun Mommy, save me from my doom ... [Faints.]
Penga [Foam coming out of her mouth as she bawls.] Nooo! Not the jade platforms! Anything but the jade platforms!
The Dark One [Arms crossed.] This is ridiculous. I know that's you in there, Sifu Toph.
Toph [Makes a hatch open and pops here head from inside it.] Very perceptive, The Dark One! Or should I say ... Moo-Chee-Goo-Chee-La-Poo-Chee! The Third!
The Dark One [Eyes open wide and he falls to his knees.] By uttering that name ... You've lodged a splinter in my soul!
Sokka This is going to be better than I'd hoped! Everybody feel all that emotion coursing through your bodies? I want you to direct it at these coins! Let's metalbend, Team Beifong! [Takes coins out and throws them at the students, but none attempt to metalbend.] Team Beifong?
The Dark One sobs.
Penga My shoes ... My shoes ...
Switch back to the Earth Kingdom Royal Palace. Aang and Katara are eating with Bosco and Momo.
Aang Mm! Sweetie, you have to try this!
Katara I'm still working on these delicious pan-fried noodles!
Aang This has got to be the best tofu I've ever tasted! Right, Momo? [Takes a dumpling.]
Kuei [Enters the scene.] Avatar Aang and Katara, thank you for giving me the time to ponder out present situation.
Aang No problem, your earthiness! Thank you for dinner! So when should we set up our meeting with Fire Lord Zuko?
Kuei I'm sorry, but you're not going to like what I have to say. All my life I've been weak -- so weak that my most trusted advisor was able to hide a hundred years' war behind a curtain of lies! Well, I'm tired of being weak! It's time for me to be a man!
Katara [Furious.] What's that supposed to mean?
Kuei Fire Lord Zuko promised he would see the Harmony Restoration Movement through to the very end. Now he's turned his promise into a lie! Why should I meet with him -- So he can tell me more lies?! I will not stand for any more lies! I will order General How to lead my troops to Yu Dao and enforce harmony!
Katara Your majesty, do you even hear what you're saying?
Aang Please, Earth King Kuei! Sending your army there will be seen as a declaration of war!
Kuei The Fire Nation residents of Yu Dao will either leave my kingdom peacefully or face the most dire of consequences! That is my decision! If you are not with me, Avatar Aang, then I can only assume you are against me! [Leaves the room.]
It is night as Sokka approaches Toph, who is sitting down on the front stairs of her school. She is in a crouched position with her face down.
Sokka Toph! There you are! [Sits down.] Don't give up yet, okay? I just got a brand-new best idea ever! What if I rig it so that --
Toph You ever think about metal?
Sokka Nope. When I have extra thinking time, I usually spend it on food. Meat, specifically.
Toph Metal is just a part of earth that's been purified and refined. But how does it become like that? By getting heated, melted, and pounded. By going through pressure and pain. I discovered metalbending in a tiny metal cell, when Master Yu and Xin Fu were taking me back to my parents. That whole trip, all I could think about was how my parents expected me to be something I'm not. Sure, they wanted me to be helpless, but they also wanted me to be a cultured, well-mannered, soft-spoken little lady. All I felt was pressure and pain. When I brought Ho Tun, Penga, and The Dark One to this school, I expected them to become metalbenders! I was going to make them tough enough to move the most stubborn part of the most stubborn element! I expected them to be something they're not.
The students overhear that last line as they are carrying their sack that holds their belongings and freeze.
Toph How is what I'm doing to them different from what my parents did to me? Maybe the Beifong Metalbending Academy is just a way for me to pass all that pressure and pain to someone else. [Stands up.]
Sokka No, Toph. That's not what this place is at all ...
Toph When Kunyo comes tomorrow, I'm gonna go up to him and sit down. He can have his school back.

Gene - When I was writing this script, the Tiger Mother controversy was raging on the Internet. In an article for the Wall Street Journal, Yale professor Amy Chua argued that "tiger" parenting—parenting with high expectations and little positive feedback—was better than the usual Western parenting style. A debate ensued on the relationship between parental expectations and self-esteem. I didn't really take a side in the debate, but clearly, Toph is a Tiger Coach.

Toph enters the academy as Sokka looks sadly as she goes.

Back in Ba Sing Se, Aang and Katara are running toward Appa, who is landing toward them.

Aang We have to get back to Yu Dao -- The sooner the better! [Grabs a surprised Katara and uses his airbending to get them on Appa.] Hopefully, we can convince the Fire Nation colonists to evacuate before General How gets there.
Katara Those people would be leaving their homes ... Maybe even their families. Aang, what happens if they refuse to go?
Aang ... The Earth King is right, you know. Not about sending his army, but about Zuko breaking his promise. Promises shouldn't be broken. Not ever. [To Appa.] Sorry, buddy. We've got a long night of flying ahead of us. Yip, yip!
Yee-Li saw the whole scene and has a messenger hawk with her.
Yee-Li Fly, messenger bird, fly! Tell our sisters in the Yu Dao chapter that the Avatar needs their help!
It is now day and the time has arrived for Kunyo's students to face Toph's.
Kunyo [Opens door strongly.] Greetings, enemies of Kunyo! Prepare to be roasted in the flames of your own defeat!
Sokka Nice headgear.
Kunyo I find it a convenient way to carry flags. I can take it off anytime I want. Where are your students, young lady? It's time to begin our deadly match to the ... uh, sit!
Toph I don't know where they are, but it doesn't matter. You can have your school back, Kunyo. You win this match to the sit.
Kunyo Ha, ha! I knew it!
As Toph is about to sit down, her students come barging in.
Ho Tun [Stretching his arm out.] Sifu Toph! Don't sit down!
With the arm he had straight, he is able to metalbend a small coin and send it toward Toph; who is hit on the leg.
Toph Ow! Ho Tun, did you just ... metalbend?
Penga Ho Tun figured it out!
Ho Tun Yeah. I think I did.
The Dark One I can't believe it.
Toph Normally I'd pummel you for hitting me on the butt, but in this case, good job!
Ho Tun Please don't sit down, Sifu Toph! Last night the three of us heard --
Kunyo Is this some kind of dirt-people trick?! Disciples of Kunyo, attack!
Kunyo's three students get one on top of the other and attack Toph's students with their firebending.
Ho Tun, Penga, The Dark One Aaah!
Sokka Come on, Team Beifong! It's no time to hide! Let's metalbend!
Sokka throws coins at Toph's students so that they redirect them at Kunyo's students. Ho Tun manages to send two to the girl at the top, hit her in the face and successfully knock her.
Kunyo's student #1 Ow!
Penga also manages to send a coin toward another of Kunyo's students.
Penga Ha ha! This is easy!
Kunyo's student #2 Ouch!
The Dark One also manages to metalbend and gets the most coins.
The Dark One Hmph. I hate that it took us this long to figure it out.
Kunyo's student #2 Yikes!
Kunyo's student #3 Stop firebending, my fellow disciples! We're just heating up the coins!
Kunyo Don't you dare stop, disciples of Kunyo! Never stop firebending! Never!
Toph's students direct the remaining metal coins at Kunyo himself, who is smacked in the face as a result until a blow in the jaw throws him backward; forcing him to sit down.
Kunyo Yeeeow!

Gene - The theme of colonialism emerged pretty early on. Mike, Bryan, and I talked about it in our first conversation. My instinct was to write these comics along the lines of Once Upon a Time in China. Aang would be like Jet Li. He'd lead a small group of Earth Kingdom patriots to kick out the remaining Fire Nation colonists.

I didn't follow this instinct for two reasons. First, colonialism is a complex issue. As modern people, we can all agree that colonialism is horrible. It strips people of their dignity. However, history paints a more difficult picture. Often, good comes out of evil situations.

Second, The Legend of Korra reflects this complexity. The gleaming, multicultural Republic City grew out of the Fire Nation colonies in the Earth Kingdom.

Whenever you talk about colonialism, you have to preface the conversation with the statement that colonizers deserve to get their butts kicked. And that's what Master Kunyo is here. He's the preface. In The Promise as a whole, we examine a few of colonialism's complexities. Here, however, the colonizer just gets his butt kicked.

Kunyo and his disciples accept defeat and leave the building.
Sokka You guys ought to be really proud of yourselves, Penga! I'm impressed!
Penga Kick rocks, loser! I'm over you! Ho Tun's the one for me now!
Ho Tun W-Wha--?!
The Dark One Sifu Toph. Last night, the three of us were packed up and ready to leave. Then we overheard what you said about us.
Toph I don't get it. I didn't say a single nice thing about any of you.
Penga [Pointing toward Sokka.] You told my ex that you expected us to become metalbenders.
Ho Tun Nobody's ever expected me to be anything other than a ... a ... a wimp.
Penga ... A spoiled brat.
The Dark One ... A tall, dark, mysterious hunk.
Sokka Really?
The Dark One Why can't people see I'm more than just a pretty face?! I have the soul of a poet!
Ho Tun Sifu Toph, you're the first person to believe that we can become more than what we are.
Toph [Wipes a tear from her eye and turns to face her students quickly.] What're you lily livers waiting for, then?! You think getting some coins to fly through the air makes you metalbending masters?! Get back to practice!
Ho Tun, The Dark One, Penga [Bow.] Yes, Sifu Toph!
Back in the Fire Nation, Fire Lord Zuko is sitting on his throne.
Zuko [Sighs and extinguishes the fire in front of him.] This isn't me.
Mai enters the throne room.
Mai I know you've been secretly meeting with Ozai.
Zuko Mai! Who did you hear that from?
Mai Does it matter? Not from you.
Zuko I know I keep screwing up. But please ... I ... I love you, Mai.
Mai I know. But lately I've realized that you love your secrets more. You'll have an easier time keeping them when you're alone.
Zuko What are you telling me?
Mai [Bows.] Goodbye, Fire Lord.
Zuko Mai! Come back! I -- I -- I order you to come back! Argh! Why would I say that? So stupid ...
Suki [Kneels.] This is my fault! I'm so sorry! When I asked her to talk to you about your father, that wasn't quite what I had in mind.
Zuko Suki! But how did you know--?
Suki I followed you yesterday morning. Sorry about that, too. We just wanted to know what was going on, to see if we could help you in some way. The Kyoshi Warriors are really worried about you, Zuko. [Takes his hand.] I'm really worried about you.
General Mak enters the Throne Room.
Mak Fire Lord Zuko!
Zuko General Mak!
Mak [Kneels.] A message has arrived from the spies you sent to the Earth Kingdom!
Suki You sent spies?!
Mak Your suspicions are confirmed. The Earth King's army now marches towards Yu Dao.
Zuko [Softly and to himself.] Father ... You were right.
The Earth King's army is seen marching on a mountain along with a blimp that is carrying the Earth King himself, looking stern. A closeup of his gray eyes is shown.

Traveling by sea, Fire Lord Zuko is leading his army toward Yu Dao, prepared for battle; the comic ends with a view of the ships.








See also