Book Two: Earth - Chapter Three:
Return to Omashu
Written by: Elizabeth Welch Ehasz
Head Writer: Aaron Ehasz
Directed by: Ethan Spaulding
Voices provided by:
Aang: Zach Tayler Eisen Katara: Mae Whitman Sokka: Jack DeSena
Prince Zuko: Dante Basco Uncle Iroh: Mako Appa/Momo: Dee Bradley Baker
Azula: Grey Delisle Mai: Cricket Leigh Ty Lee: Olivia Hack
King Bumi: Andre Sogliuzzo Resistance Leader: Fred Tatasciore
Govenor: Paul Eiding Govenor's Wife: Tara Strong Tom Tom: Dee Bradley Baker
After making their way through the Cave of Two Lovers with a band of nomadic musicians, Aang and his companions arrive to see the once great city of Omashu conquered by the fire nation. A Fire Nation flag is uplifted to represent the conquest and the city that once shone brilliantly is now covered in a layer of pollution.
“I can't believe it. I know the war has spread far, but Omashu always seemed... untouchable.” Aang states sadly. Katara suggests that they move on but Aang stoutly refuses, saying he is not going to leave without finding his dear friend, King Bumi. Sokka starts to say that King Bumi might not be alive when Aang gives him an ominous look, daring Sokka to finish his sentence. Sokka averts his gaze and finishes the sentence vaguely.
The decision is made, and Aang and his companions sneak into Omashu through the sewage pipes. While Aang airbends the sewage residue away and Katara waterbends it, Sokka ends up getting coated in muck.
By the time they arrive inside the city, it is already dark. Aang and Katara climb out of a manhole and see a figure covered in muck climbing out after them. It turns out to be Sokka after they have cleaned him up a bit with water & airbending. But even so, Sokka still has these two purple creatures that look like mini-octopi grasping onto his cheeks. At first Sokka panics because they won’t let go, until Aang tells him to calm down, saying it’s just a purple pentapus. He tickles one of the purplish creatures and it releases its hold, leaving small red marks on Sokka’s cheek. Sokka tickles the other pentapus on his face and it also lets go with a happy squeak.
Just when the three begin their search, Fire Nation guards spot them out and tell the kids that it is past curfew time. The three apologize, but the guard stops them once more and points out the red marks on Sokka’s neck. With a quick wit, Katara explains to the guard that it is pentapox, a highly contagious and deadly disease. To emphasize the effects of this disease, Sokka begins acting ill and moves closer and closer to the guards. The guards flee the scene and we see Aang petting and thanking the purple pentapus.
* * *
The full moon is out, and Azula’s ship is docked next to a beach. The two identical-looking old ladies are advising Azula to leave the royal procession behind if she wants to keep the element of surprise on her side in order to track down her uncle and brother. Azula agrees, saying she must be agile and nimble. She needs a small elite team, and it’s here she decides to visit some old friends.
* * *
Aang, Katara, and Sokka search the city of Omashu for King Bumi with no luck. Aang suggests they look for a place where there is metal, “Somewhere he can’t earthbend.”
Also inspecting the dreary city is Mai and her family, who were left in charge of Omashu. Mai remarks on her “unfathomable depths of hatred for this place.” Her mother, holding a baby named Tom Tom, tells Mai to cheer up.
While Mai, her mother, and the guards escorting them walk unknowingly, far above them the Earthbending Resistance attempts to roll boulders onto the family. Aang and his companions happen to be passing by until Aang hears the steadily increasing rumbling of boulders and sees the family below in its path. He airbends the boulders off-course just in time, and Mai and the guards look up to spot Aang. Thinking he is part of the resistance, Mai shoots many arrows at him from her wrists. Two guards then pursue Aang and his companions, but Katara swiftly waterbends them over the edge. Mai is still hot in pursuit with her deadly throwing knives. Even when Aang collapses a nearby construction that’s between them, her dagger’s precision aims directly at Aang. It is only by Aang’s staff that the blade does not strike him. Before Mai is able to continue, the ground beneath Aang and his companions is pulled back, and they fall into the lair of the Earthbending Resistance.
* * *
It is noontime, and Azula walks into a camp of pink circus tents. Balancing on her index fingers, Ty Lee sees the upside-down form of Azula. She skillfully flips upright into a low bow then hugs Azula, exclaiming in joy at seeing her. The two chat shortly, and Azula asks what the daughter of a nobleman is doing here. Surely their parents didn't send them to the Royal Fire Academy for Girls to “end up in places like this.” She says with a look of disdain.
Azula then gets to the point and mentions she’s hunting her uncle the traitor. “I would be honored if you would join me on my mission.” Ty Lee puts on a downcast expression and apologizes to Azula; “…I would love to. But the truth is, I’m really happy here. I mean, my aura has never been pinker!” Azula puts on a look of mock empathy, but before she leaves she says, “I’m going to catch your show tonight.” A look of apprehension crosses Ty Lee’s face, but she continues stretching, hoping it is only her imagination of what Azula has in store for her.
* * *
Back in the underground lair of the Earthbending Resistance, the leaders tell Aang that on the day of the Fire Nation invasion, King Bumi surrendered without a fight. His exact words were: “I’m going to do… Nothing!” The Resistance leader said that they must fight for their freedom, but Aang suggests that the people leave Omashu and live to fight another day. They’re outnumbered and they can’t win. The leader disagrees, but some of the other fighters side with Aang. The problem then becomes that there are thousands of citizens who need to leave, but how would they do that under the supervision of Fire Nation guards? This presents quite a predicament until Sokka states with a grin, “You’re all about to come down with a nasty case of the pentapox.”
On the surface, the Omashu inhabitants grab the little critters and prepare to be “pentapoxed”. They place the pentapi on their faces, necks, and arms, and when the creatures are taken off, many red dots are left on their skin. The people then line up and Sokka explains that in addition to looking sick, the citizens would also have to act like it as well. All of them begin their retreat from the city of Omashu except for Aang, who is determined to rescue King Bumi.
At the city’s entrance, guards stand at their post until they see the inhabitants of Omashu infected with the pentapox and acting like zombies. Upon sight, the guards do not know what to do and they begin to shout that it is a plague. Mai and her family watch from their mansion’s balcony as the procession of “plagued” citizens make their way to the gates. Mai’s father the governor orders the guards to permit the citizens to leave in order to rid the city of this “plague.”
On the rooftops, Aang continues his search and spots Flopsie. He is chained to a giant millstone and is pushing one of bars to make it turn. Aang descends and breaks the chain that holds Flopsie. After a quick hug, they continue the search for King Bumi.
* * *
It is not only Aang who has remained in the city. Momo climbs up onto the balcony of the Governor’s mansion and sees a bowl of red leechi berries. He makes his way to the bowl, but he is not the only one in the room. The baby, Tom Tom, is there as well and upon seeing Momo’s tail hanging from the tabletop, he grabs the tail. Right away, Momo shrieks and escapes the baby’s grasp. But Tom Tom ends up climbing up on the balcony railing, sliding down the shingles, and lands in a cart filled with the red berries. Momo, thinking he has escaped, lands on that same exact cart and continues munching on the delectable fruit. When Tom Tom comes out of hiding and grabs onto Momo’s tail once more, Momo desperately attempts to fly away. The two land on the ground and it is here that Momo makes his escape and Tom Tom follows along with the infected citizens of Omashu.
* * *
Under moonlight and inside one of the vast pink circus tents, Azula is being treated as an honored guest and sits near the Circus Master. Ty Lee is balancing skillfully on a taut rope high in the air, with a cautionary net underneath. Because she is the princess, Azula cannot be ignored when she insists that the owner takes the net away, or better yet, lights it on fire. In addition to the fire, Azula orders the owner to release all of the exotic and dangerous animals. Among all the noise, Ty Lee sweats profusely, balancing precariously on the taut rope.
* * *
All is dark, and the resistance camps out in a pass far outside of Omashu. Aang and Flopsie arrive, unsuccessful in their findings. One of the resistance leaders reports that there is an extra head in the crowd, which happens to be the baby, Tom Tom.
At the Governor’s mansion, Mai’s mother is crying in grief while Mai’s father prepares to send a message, believing that the Earthbending Resistance has kidnapped his son.
* * *
After the show, Ty Lee sets down a bouquet of jeweled black flowers on her dressing table. She takes off golden tiara she is wearing and Azula is seen in the reflection of the mirror. Azula compliments on the show and says that she can’t wait to see tomorrow’s show. But Ty Lee replies that there won’t be another show, saying, “The universe has given me strong hints that it is time for a career change.” Ty Lee decides to join Azula on her mission and at this Azula smirks.
* * *
Between the pass, the citizens of Omashu set up campfires. Momo is still pursued by Tom Tom, but when he reaches Katara and Sokka, he stops to play with Sokka’s club. But Sokka quickly takes it away saying, “No! Bad Fire Nation baby!” But gets smacked by Katara when Tom Tom begins to cry. She then picks Tom Tom up, cooing how cute he is. The leader of the Resistance gives her realistic advice, “When he’s older, he’ll join the Fire Nation army. You won’t think he’s so cute then.” To which she replies, “Does this look like the face of a killer to you?”
The conversation is interrupted by the screech of a messenger hawk, which lands nearby with a scroll tied to its back. Aang opens the scroll, which states that in exchange for the Governor’s kidnapped son, they will give King Bumi to the resistance in return. At dawn, Aang and his companions depart to Omashu to make the exchange. Sokka is wary that it may be a trap, but Aang is optimistic.
* * *
Around the same time Azula arrives at the city of Omashu in a litter that’s carried by Fire Nation guards. As she steps out, she is reunited with Mai who asks Azula if she came to kill her. She then smiles, and they laugh. After Mai and Ty Lee reunite, Azula asks Mai if she will join them on a mission. Mai instantly agrees, saying “Anything to get me out of this place.”
In the Governor’s mansion, Mai’s father explains the situation to Azula. Azula is upset with him, asking what did he expect for letting all of the citizens leave, and how her father entrusted him with this city and he’s making a mess of things. The Governor apologizes again, bowing lower to the ground. Azula stands and tells them that Mai will handle the hostage trade so he can’t mess it up. She also decides that the city of Omashu would be renamed in honor of her father, “the city of New Ozai.”
* * *
The site of exchange is near the top of the city, next to a tall construction of what looks to be a giant statue of Fire Lord Ozai. On one side is Aang (who’s head is covered in a red cloth), Katara, and Sokka (who is holding Tom Tom), and on the other side is Mai, Azula, and Ty Lee. King Bumi is in a coffin being lowered down by a chain behind the girls. Bumi’s face is the only thing that is visible and he’s acting surprisingly cheerful. The two parties are about to exchange; however, Azula draws attention to the fact that it doesn’t seem fair to be trading a powerful Earthbending king for a baby. Mai agrees, and steps forward to declare, “The deal’s off.”
King Bumi’s coffin ascends back up and Aang attempts to rescue him. Azula, who is always quick on her feet, sends a wave of blue fire towards Aang who jumps abnormally higher than most people to avoid it. But the speed blows off the red cloth covering his tattooed forehead and Azula recognizes him as the Avatar. “My lucky day.” She says with a smirk.
In hot pursuit, she sends blue fire at a lever inside the construction, grabs onto the wire, and ascends rapidly towards the top of the construction. By now, Aang is on top of the coffin using his icy breath on the chain and King Bumi greets him, oblivious to the situation.
On the ground floor, Mai and Ty Lee face off against Katara and Sokka. Sokka is holding the baby and blowing the bison whistle to call Appa. Then Katara and Sokka start running until Ty Lee’s fist comes up from a hole in the ground and trips Sokka. He falls on his back and slides close to the edge of the construction site.
Mai deviously sends flying daggers at Katara when she is distracted, but Katara uses waterbending to send the boards underneath her up which end up taking the blow of the daggers. She whips the water across the boards, which are sent back flying towards Mai. Before Ty Lee reaches Sokka, she weaves her waterbending around Ty Lee’s foot causing her to fall to the ground. Sokka takes advantage of the moment and slides down the ladder to get Appa.
On the coffin, Aang continues blowing while Bumi tries to tell Aang something, but at that moment, Azula leaps into the air and kicks blue fire precisely at Aang who spirals it away with his glider. The chain snaps and Aang and Bumi (who is still in the coffin) land in the chutes and slide away. Azula watches while balancing on a pole overlooking the city, preparing for her next decisive move. In a flash she is sliding down the chute in another cart, and is quickly catching up to them. Aang laughs about how this is like old times, but Bumi continues to try telling Aang something when again Azula interrupts them. In a chute above them, Azula sends blasts of blue fire down at Aang who disperses the lightning with his glider. The two chutes end up merging into one and Azula continues sending blast after blast that Aang barely manages to dodge. Even when Aang sends wooden arches above the chute tumbling down behind him, Azula and the cart emerge from the wreck unmarred.
Back at the construction site, Katara and Mai remain in reflexive combat. Mai has daggers all about her and Katara deflects each one with waterbending. Mai then charges forward and Katara freezes Mai’s arm, which momentarily stops her. But Ty Lee comes up from behind Katara and hits the pressure points in her back and arms, disabling her use of waterbending. Ty Lee bounds next to Mai, and Katara tries to lift the water but nothing happens.
“How are you gonna fight without your bending?” Mai asks as she pulls out a tri-pointed dagger. She is about to send it at Katara when Sokka’s boomerang flies in and knocks the dagger out of Mai’s hand. The boomerang returns to Sokka who’s on Appa’s back and he says, “I seem to manage!” Appa lands and sends Ty Lee and Mai flying off the edge. Katara mounts Appa and are flying down the city slope when they spot Aang. Aang sees them as well and attempts to airbend the coffin and him onto Appa, but he misses slightly and the coffin skims over Appa’s back and into yet another chute.
Azula still remains close to her prey and is sending blow after blow of blue fire. She sends a spiraling flame down the chute, until King Bumi earthbends (with his chin) and sends an obstruction upwards, halting Azula who swiftly jumps out of the cart and lands on her two feet. She watches as Aang and King Bumi continues sliding down the chute.
Finally, Aang and Bumi are able to talk. Aang is enraged because Bumi was able to earthbend all along and also for surrendering the city of Omashu to the Fire Nation without a fight. In order to answer Aang’s questions, Bumi explains that there are options on how you direct your energy in fighting, called jing. Aang says he knows about it; positive jing when your attacking, and negative jing when your retreating. Much to Aang’s surprise, Bumi adds the third option, neutral jing (along with the mention of there being 85 jings in total). “Neutral jing is when you listen and wait for the right moment to attack” as King Bumi puts it.
Aang understands now why Bumi surrendered, and that he can’t help him learn Earthbending. King Bumi nods and advises him that his Earthbending teacher will be someone who has mastered neutral jing. “You need to find someone who waits and listens before striking.” Momo jumps on Aang’s shoulder, and King Bumi bids them farewell and earthbends himself back up the chute, laughing all the way.
* * *
As the three girls exit the city of “New Ozai”, Mai and Ty Lee comment on their mission to track down Zuko and Iroh. Ty Lee teasingly says to Mai that it’ll be interesting to see Zuko again, and Mai looks to the side and smiles. Azula says that her brother and uncle are not the only ones they’re after; “We have a third target now.”
* * *
It is late at night and Mai’s parents wait on their mansion’s balcony for their son to return. Aang, who was on the rooftop, lands lightly on the ground, sets the baby down behind them, and airbends back onto the roof. Tom Tom waddles toward his parents, and they are relieved and happy to see him unharmed. Aang smiles at the sight before departing.
-- Recap by Daxiaoqiao