Written by: Matthew Hubbard
Head Writer: Aaron Ehasz
Directed by: Dave Filoni
Voices provided by:
Aang: Zach Tyler Eisen Katara: Mae Whitman Sokka: Jack DeSena
Appa/Momo: Dee Bradley Baker Haru: Michael Dow Warden: George Takei
Tyro: George Michael Richardson Haru's Mom: Pat Musick
We are taken to the forest where Aang and Katara are waiting for Sokka. When Sokka arrives, he comes back with meager rations of nuts. As Momo grabs one of the rocks on the grounds and bangs it against another rock, a resounding boom is heard throughout the forest. Instead of heading away from the sound as Sokka suggests, Katara and Aang rush towards the noise and see a young Earthbender practicing in the dried up riverbed. Katara introduces herself, but he runs off and slides rocks to block the way he has gone.
The three companions come to the conclusion that he is headed to a village where there will be an adequate and sufficient amount of supplies. At the village, Aang buys a hat and Katara spots the young Earthbender entering into a shop. The three follow him and Katara says, “Hey you’re the guy we met in the forest.” The young bender, now known as Haru, acts as if he doesn’t know what Katara is talking about. When Aang nonchalantly blurts out that Haru was earthbending, Haru’s mother hurriedly closes the windows and door so as not to be overheard. She scolds Haru, but an authoritative knocking on the door forces her to divert her attention.
Sokka peeks out the window to see that is Fire Nation soldiers, and tells the others to “act natural.” When Haru’s mother opens the door, the main Fire Nation soldier steps in to see the teens acting like frozen background characters. ^^; Haru’s mother snaps him back to attention by telling him that she has already paid her weekly tax, but he tells her that it has doubled. He summons fire in front of himself, saying he wouldn’t want an “accident,” and that “fire can be so hard to control.” Haru’s mother has a defeated look in her eyes and she takes out a chest filled with few coins. The Fire Nation soldier ruthlessly takes them, but then tauntingly drops the copper coins to the ground, saying she could keep those.
The door closes, and Aang, Katara, and Sokka are told about the situation in the village; how they have been imprisoned for 5 years, and how Fire Lord Ozai uses their coal mines to fuel his ships. Haru interrupts, saying how the Fire Nation troops are “thugs. They steal from us, and everyone here is too much of a coward to do anything about it.” But his mother, who says he shouldn’t talk like that, quickly hushes him. Katara asks her why Haru can’t help, since he is an Earthbender, but Haru’s mother tells her that using Earthbending is forbidden and that “it has caused nothing but misery for this village. Haru must never use his abilities.” But Katara presses on, saying how Earthbending (and Waterbending in her case) is a part of who they are, and Haru can help fight back. But Haru’s mother shakes her head, saying that the consequence would be the Fire Nation taking away Haru, like they took his father.
Near sunset, Haru leads the three to the barn where they will be staying for the night. Haru and Katara take a walk together through the forest (Haru’s so good looking with those emerald-green eyes of his! ^_^). They talk to each other about their parents. Haru tells Katara about his father; how he stood up and led the rebellion against the Fire Nation invading their village, despite being outnumbered 10 to 1. But they eventually lost, and all the Earthbenders were rounded up and taken away, and haven’t been seen since. That’s why Haru hides his earthbending, but because his father taught him all he knew about earthbending, practicing his bending is the only way he can feel close to his father. In turn, Katara explains the significance of her necklace, how she lost her mother, and how it is the only piece she has left of her. “But it’s not enough, is it.” Haru asks, and Katara replies “No.”
Katara and Haru are heading back to his home when they hear a boom coming from the mines. They run to see an old man stuck in the entrance underneath a growing mound of dirt that is piling on top of him. The two rush to help him; Haru holding back the mine entrance and stopping the showering of dirt, while Katara attempts to pull the old man out from underneath. When this fails, there is only one option left. Katara tells Haru to use his earthbending skills, but he hesitates, saying that he can’t. Katara continues to plead him, saying that there’s no one around to see him. After another moment of thought, Haru leaps out to face the mine and forces all of the dirt back into the mines with a thrust of his arms. Together, they carry the old man back to the village.
Back at in the barn when all is dark, Katara tells Aang and Sokka about what Haru did and how brave he was. Aang goes on to say that Katara must have really inspired him, and she modestly agrees. Sokka interrupts, saying they should get some sleep because they’re leaving at dawn. The two protest, but he reminds them that the village is “crawling with Fire Nation troops and if they discover you’re here, Aang, we’ll be eating fireballs for breakfast.” After a few more jokes, they turn out the lamp and go to sleep.
However, at midnight, Fire Nation soldiers come marching up to Haru’s house and the tax collecting solider from early knocks on the door. Haru opens it, and at this we see the old man (stupid ungrateful man) who Haru and Katara saved at the mine, accuse Haru of Earthbending. Haru is arrested and taken away.
The next morning, Katara is waterbending water from the well when she sees Haru’s mother gazing out in the distance. Haru’s mother turns her weatherworn face around, tears streaming down her face. Katara’s eyes widen in realization and she drops the jar of water. She hurries to the farm to tell Aang and Sokka what happened. She blames herself and decides to free Haru by getting arrested herself.
To do this, they roll a boulder over an air vent, as Sokka explains that for it to work, all Aang has to do is send an air current from one (hidden) vent to the vent blocked by this boulder. The plan takes action as a few Fire Nation soldiers walk up to them, and Katara and Sokka run into each other and they begin arguing. Katara making fun of Sokka’s huge ears (seriously, this part is pretty hilarious) and calling him a “giant-eared cretin.” Katara pretends to use earthbending and at this Aang is supposed to direct the air into the vent so that it will lift the boulder. The first time though Aang is zoning out, but he gets it the second time after Katara yells “Earthbending style!” At first, the Fire Nation soldiers think it is Momo who is lifting the boulder because his wings are outspread and he is standing behind the boulder. Sokka points out that it is Katara who is doing the “earthbending” and the soldiers embarrassingly agree. But before they take her away, Sokka tells her that she has twelve hours to rescue Haru.
Katara is now wearing a brown sleeveless cloak over her usual outfit, and is shipped off to a metal promontory (island). By now the sun has set and the clouds are a blood-red color. At the same time, Sokka and Aang are following Katara on Appa. Aang looks down at them worriedly, but Sokka assures him that Katara will be fine.
On the rig, Katara stands in a line with other newly captured Earthbenders when the Warden comes up to them. He greets them, saying how he views them as “honored guests,” instead of prisoners. But don’t be fooled, he is a stern, intolerant man who will do away with anyone who breaks his rules. While he is laying out the rules, a man coughs out of sickness and the Warden shoots a jet of flame at this man’s feet. “A week in solitude will improve his manners,” the Warden says as the man is taken away by guards.
The Warden continues to talk about the rules, and how the ship is made entirely of iron (which Earthbenders cannot bend) while leading them through the ship. Katara sees some of the prisoners working on the iron flanks of a ship, and pauses to look out at the ocean with the land miles away on the horizon. Katara and the other prisoners finally stop at the shipyard, where three heavy metal gates close behind her.
The shipyard is full of depressed-looking Earthbenders (many old and gray-haired), and wearing a similar brown cloak like Katara’s. She walks around the yard until Haru sees her and she greets him with a hug. Haru is surprised to see her there, and she explains that it was her fault he got captured, so she came to rescue him. He’s shocked that she got herself arrested in order to get there, but admits that she’s “got guts.”
He then introduces Katara to his father, Tyro. She is given a bowl of vile bean-curd soup and asks Tyro what the escape plan is. At first, Tyro is stunned by this question, but when he understands, he replies, “The plan is to survive; to wait out this war. And hope that one day some of us get back home and forget this ever happened.” Katara is surprised to hear this, but Tyro goes on to explain that people’s lives are at stake, and that the Warden is ruthless and won’t tolerate any rebellion. The prisoners are “powerless” says Tyro, but Katara isn’t so sure.
With a look of determination, Katara stands up in front of the people, banging on a pot to get the prisoners’ attention. She gives an inspirational speech talking about the noble deeds and the courageous acts of the Earthbenders. She tells them that even though they may have lost their bending, they still have not lost their courage. The Warden and a soldier see this, but they watch quietly. She ends with the arousing statement, “Let us fight for our freedom!” But Katara is stunned when the people make no attempt to rise, only to look down in hopelessness. The Warden walks away pleased.
It is now night time, and the watchtower is scanning the skies and the rig. Aang sneaks on board to wake up Katara, and together they go outside where Sokka and Appa are waiting. When Sokka tells her that they have to leave, Katara refuses, saying she won’t give up on these people. Her persistence wins out over Sokka, and Aang hurriedly sends Appa alone back into the sky; though not quick enough.
Two soldiers spot Appa leaving in the darkness, and they tell the Warden. But a dispute over whether it was a bison or a buffalo causes the irritable Warden to throw one of the men overboard. He then orders the other man to wake up the captain, but he tells the Warden that *was* the captain that he had just thrown overboard. “Then wake up someone I haven’t thrown overboard and search the rig! There’s something going on here and I don’t like it.”
Elsewhere on the ship, Aang, Katara, and Sokka manage to form a plan. Aang points out smoke billowing out of the giant pipes, and this gives them an idea. It’s almost dawn, and Sokka and Katara wait above the vent in the shipyard. Sokka explains to Katara how the plan will work: there’s a huge deposit of coal at the base of the island that results in the smoke; and Aang will close all the vents except for one. When he uses his airbending, the coals only have one place to go; to the shipyard vent.
At this statement, a guard shouts out and Sokka and Katara are surrounded by guards, as the prisoners watch. Tyro shouts out to Katara to stop, that she “can’t win this fight.” The Warden walks up and agrees, warning her that she’s “one mistake away from dying where you stand.” The guards slowly begin to move in, but are taken aback when a stream of coal comes out of the vent and showers into a pile onto the ground. Katara takes this moment, telling the people to take the opportunity and exclaiming, “Your fate is in your hands!” Haru starts to move toward the coal, but Tyro quickly holds out his arm to stop him. The other Earthbenders move away from the coal and the Warden, who is watching all this, laughs at Katara’s hope in the people who he said lost spirit a long time ago. Katara, disheartened and finally beginning to look like she has given up, lowers her arm in defeat.
The Warden turns around, but is hit across the head with a piece of coal. When he turns around, he sees Haru with a look of anger on his face, spinning the rocks above his hand. The Warden’s eyes widen and he shoots flames straight at Haru. Haru turns his back to protect himself, but his father is the one who protects him with a shield of coal. At this, a battle ensues between the Fire Nation soldiers and the Earthbending prisoners. Sokka helps by cutting off the speared ends of the soldier’s weapons while Momo catches them with his feet. Haru and Tyro form a huge compressed boulder from the coal and send it crashing through one of the outer walls, creating an exit. Tyro tells the prisoners to head to the ships, while he (and some of the others like Haru) will hold the Firebenders off. The Warden turns his attention to the fleeing prisoners and Aang creates a controlled mini tornado that shoots out the coal bits straight at the enemies, which is the finishing blow to knocking down him and the guards. Tyro, Haru, and another Earthbender then send the coals skittering underneath the men, who are lifted into the air upon the makeshift platform and sent floating over the sea. The Warden says, “Please, I cannot swim.” In response, Tyro quips, “Don’t worry, I hear cowards float.” (Isn’t that so clever? ^_^. I was totally roused up in spirit by this statement)
The imprisoned Earthbenders are safely aboard the ships and sail back to their lands. Haru thanks Katara for helping them, and she replies modestly, “All it took was just a little bit of coal.” At this, Haru says, “It wasn’t the coal Katara; it was you.” Katara blushes and Tyro thanks her as well. She asks if they’re going back home, and he says yes, to take back his village and all of their villages; raising his arm and the Earthbenders on all the ships cheer. Haru asks her to join them in their cause, but Katara explains that her mission is to get Aang to the North Pole. Haru thanks her again for bringing his father back to him. “I never thought I would see him again. I only wish there were someway…” Katara says she knows and puts a hand to her throat, but realizes that her mother’s necklace is missing.
The scene then switches to the fiery sunset and the abandoned promontory. The necklace is lying on the ground and Prince Zuko (man, he looks totally serious and cool) picks it up and gazes off in the distance.
-- Recap by Daxiaoqiao