Avatar: The Last Airbender

Season 2 Episode 14

City of Walls and Secrets

Aired Friday 6:30 PM Sep 22, 2006 on Nickelodeon



  • Trivia

    • Professor Zei from "The Library" is mentioned briefly by one of the students at Ba Sing Se University.

    • When Katara leans in to tell Aang of Long Feng's persistent tailing of them, the yellow item on her collar turns the same color as the collar for a moment.

    • In the Earth King's palace, Sokka had food in his tray, but after Joo Dee found him, his food disappeared, and later the food reappeared.

    • When Aang approaches the Earth King, the soldiers immediately carry the pavilion away, and a line of 6 guards approach Aang. in the next shot, however, there are only 4, and then the other two reappear when Long Feng addresses Aang.

    • Iroh's apron is missing when Jet is arrested.

    • Just as Aang tells Long Feng he will tell the city of the conspiracy, the arrow on Aang's head vanishes.

    • Katara's shirt sleeves grow past her elbows while Toph tells Sokka that is being handled.

    • It would seem implausible that the government of Ba Sing Se would be able to keep the war a secret so effectively, considering the vast flood of people refuged by it who arrive at the city on a daily basis. It is implied that they use fear to keep people from talking, but the multiple lower-ring commoners, including Iroh and Zuko who know full well of the war, are never approached by the Dai Li or any other officials.

    • When Toph and Katara first present themselves dressed up to Aang and Sokka, their fans have yellow lining the edges, but when Toph requests a crab puff from Sokka at the party, her fan is green.

    • Although Iroh trims his beard in this episode, when Jet attacked him and Zuko, his beard looked the same way it did in the previous episode.

    • Pong is seen sliding to the left of his door's window when the gang spots him, but when he answers the door, he emerges from the right.

    • When the owner of the tea shop Zuko and Iroh are working at, he pours tea into 2 cups and gives it to Zuko and Iroh as he goes to get more string, Zuko does not drink his tea, but when he tilts his cup 180 degrees, the cup is empty.

    • Iroh cannot tie his apron around his round stomach. When the shop owner goes to the back to get some extra string, Iroh goes to dump out the horrid tea they'd been served. When he turns toward the window, his apron is already fastened with extra string.

  • Quotes

    • Iroh: I just want our new place to look nice in case someone brings home a lady friend.

    • Iroh: Would you like a pot of tea?
      Zuko: We've been working in a tea shop all day! I'm sick of tea.
      Iroh: Sick of tea?! That's like being sick of breathing!

    • Aang (Referring to Toph and Katara): Where could they be?
      Toph (To Aang): Another crab puff, please?
      Aang: How did you find us?
      Toph: I could recognize your little footsteps anywhere twinkle toes.

    • Guard: No entry without an invitation. Step out of line please.
      Toph (irritated): Look, the Pangs and the Yum Soon Hans are waiting in there for us. I'm going to have to tell them who didn't let me in.
      Guard (unyielding): Step out of line please.

    • Jet: Arrest them. They're Firebenders.
      Iroh: This poor boy is confused. We're just simple refugees.
      Pao (pointing at Jet): This young man wrecked my tea shop and assaulted my employees.
      Officer: It's true sir. We saw the whole thing. This crazy kid attacked the finest tea maker in the city.
      Iroh (blushing): Ohh, that's very sweet.

    • Joo Dee: Oh, Ba Sing Se has many walls. There are the ones outside protecting us, and the one's inside that help maintain order. This is where our newest arrivals live, as well as our craftsman and artisans, people that work with their hands. It's so quaint and lively. You do want to watch your step though.

    • Joo Dee: Hello, my name is Joo Dee. I have been given the great honor of showing the Avatar around Ba Sing Se. And you must be Sokka, Katara, and Toph. Welcome to our wonderful city. Shall we get started?
      Sokka: Yes. We have information about the Fire Nation army that we need to deliver to the Earth King immediately.
      Joo Dee: Great, let's begin our tour. And then I'll show you to your new home here. I think you'll like it.

    • Aang: I'm comin' for you buddy. He's here. I can feel it.

    • Toph (sighs): Back in the city. Great.
      Sokka: What's the problem? It's amazing!
      Toph: Just a bunch of walls and rules. You wait; you'll get sick of it in a couple of days.

    • Katara: Don't worry Aang, we'll find Appa.
      Aang: It's such a big city.
      Sokka: He's a giant bison. Where could someone possibly hide him? Oh.

    • Long Feng: In silencing talk of conflict, Ba Sing Se remains a peaceful, orderly utopia, the last one on earth.

    • Iroh: This tea is nothing more than hot leaves juice.
      Zuko: Uncle, that's what all tea is.
      Iroh: How could a member of my own family say something so horrible?

    • Pao: Well, you certainly look like official tea servers. How do you feel?
      Zuko: Ridiculous.
      Iroh: Ah... does this possibly comes in a larger size?

    • Katara: I can't believe we finally made it to Ba Sing Se in one piece.
      Sokka: Hey, don't jinx it! We could still be attacked by a giant, exploding Fire Nation spoon, or find out the city's been submerged in a ocean full of killer shrimp.
      Toph: You been hitting the cactus juice again?
      Sokka: I'm just saying, weird stuff happens to us.

    • Sokka: Look, I've come up with a backup plan. We dress Momo like a ghost. He flies past the guards creating a distraction. Then we blast a hole in the wall...
      Aang: Or we can go in with guys. (looks over at the servants entering a sidedoor) Toph said we might pass as busboys.
      Sokka: Ok, but remember that Momo ghost plan. I think it's a winner.

    • Sokka: Is that women deaf? She only seems to hear every other word I say.
      Toph: It's called being handled. Get used to it!

    • Jet (brandishing his hook-swords): You'll have to defend yourselves. Then everyone will know. Come on! Show them what you can do.
      Zuko (grabbing a soldier's swords as he walks passed): You want a show? I'll give you a show!

    • Jet (fighting Zuko): Bet you wish he'd help you out with a little fire blast right now!
      Zuko: You're the one who needs help!

    • Long Feng: No! I don't want to hear your ridiculous plan. It is a strict rule that the war may not be mentioned inside the city. It will send the city into panic.

    • Katara: I've got it! I know how we're going to see the Earth King!
      Toph: How are we supposed to do that? (mocking Joo Dee) One doesn't just pop in on the Earth King.
      Katara: The king is having a party at the palace tonight for his pet bear!
      Aang: You mean Platypus-bear?
      Katara: No, it just says bear...
      Sokka: Certainly, you mean his pet skunk-bear.
      Toph: Or his armadillo-bear.
      Aang: Gopher-bear?
      Katara: Just... bear...
      (Moment of silence)
      Toph: This place is weird.

    • Katara: Excuse me? I've got no manners? You're not exactly lady fancy fingers.
      Toph (Burps): I learned proper sociality behavior and chose to leave it. You never learned anything and frankly, it's a little too late.
      Sokka: Aha, but you learned it! You could teach us!
      Aang: Yeah, I'm mastering every element, how hard could manners be? (puts on a curtain) Good evening mister Sokka water tribe, miss Katara water tribe, Your Mo-mo of the Mo-mo dynasty, your Mo-mo-ness.
      Sokka (has a curtain on too): Avatar Aang, How you do go on!
      (Aang bows, then Sokka bows, then Aang bows again, then Sokka bows again, then they both bang heads at the same time)
      Aang and Sokka: Oof!
      Toph: Katara might be able to pull it off but you two will be lucky to pass as bus ports...
      Sokka: But I feel so fancy.

    • Toph (puts her fan in Katara's mouth): First rule Katara, don't talk to the commoners.

    • Long Feng: Here we are free. We are safe.

    • Katara: I'm Qua Mei, and this is... Dung. (Toph yanks Katara's hair ornement.)

    • Iroh (to Zuko): Have you seen our spark rocks to heat up the water?
      Jet (outside, still monitoring the two): They're not there. (opens his palm to reveal he has them) You'll have to firebend, old man.

    • Pong: The war? Scared? What do you mean?
      Toph: I can feel you shaking.

    • Sokka: A month?
      Joo Dee (smiles): Six to eight weeks, actually!

  • Notes

    • This episode is in the Avatar: The Last Airbender Book 2: Earth, Volume 3 DVD, along with The Library, The Serpent's Pass, The Drill, and The Tales of Ba Sing Se.

    • Character Debuts: Long Feng, Bosco, Joo Dee, Earth King Kuei, the Dai Li.

    • This episode was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program.

    • Joo Dee is modeled after Miken Lee Wong, a line producer for the production management of the show who, as some describe, expresses a seemingly perpetual smile that immediately puts one at ease.

    • This episode's original name was The Secret of Ba Sing Se.

  • Allusions

    • It can be inferred from this episode that Ba Sing Se is based on the Byzantine city of Constantinople (now Istanbul). There are many similarities that suggest this. Both Ba Sing Se and Constantinople had large exterior walls that were considered impregnable. Both cities had numerous interior walls. These walls served as both lines of defense and to segregate the population. Both cities had water and farm land inside the walls. This allowed both cities to survive prolonged sieges. In addition to the physical similarities, both cities were the last strongholds of their respective kingdoms. Both cities also fell due to suspected circumstances.

    • It could be argued that Long Feng and the Dai Li are based off 'Big Brother' and the Thought Police of George Orwell's 1984. In this book Orwell describes a totalitarian reigime where 'Big Brother' controls and watches over everyone, using the Thought Police to spy on people and make sure they don't commit 'thinkcrime', which in Ba Sing Se means mentioning the war.

    • The formal attire of the upper ring citizens is based on Manchurian clothing.

    • The word Dai is a Chinese male name meaning: draw back or pull. The word Li is also a Chinese male name that means upright. This is perhaps a reference to the fact that they uphold order in Ba Sing Se and their Earthbending.

    • Ba Sing Se's "rings" heavily suggest towards social class systems (lower-class, middle-class, upper-class) that have and continue to divide certain (primarily Western European-influenced) societies. The comments made by Aang and Katara on the stratification further help illustrate the social issues and tensions the divisions have been known to inevitably produce.

    • The corn guy on the train looks similar to another corn guy from Invader Zim, who Avatar co-creator Bryan Konietzko was once an art director for, who appears in the episode Gaz, Taster of Pork.

    • The term "joo dee" is slang for "lips" in Korean. This obviously is a reference to her artificial, cheery demeanor. Another noteable aspect is the fact that her voice actress, Lauren Tom, also happens to be Korean-American.

    • The poor section of Ba Sing Se is reminiscent of New York's tenements in the 1800s-1900s.

    • The name of the Dai Li guards is a reference to General Dai Li, the head of the Chinese secret police under Chiang Kai-shek. He was known as the "Himmler of China," which would explain the viciousness of their leader Long Feng.

    • The game Aang and Sokka were playing in this episode, seems to be the Avatar world's own version of "Rock, Paper, Scissors".

    • Joo Dee said that the craftsmen and artisans lived in the poorest caste of the city. This is similar in old Japan, where craftsmen were often resented due to the fact they usually didn't produce their own food.

    • The Dai Li of Ba Sing Se keep all information of the war a secret from the Earth King and do not let the general public know anything about it. This is very similar to perhaps what many governments will do, keep information about the war (and other government activities) away from the public.

    • Dai Li
      The Dai Li warriors seem to be an allusion to the secret police that are found in almost every totalitarian regime. Some examples are the Gestapo in Nazi Germany, and the Cheka and KGB of the USSR. These groups of secret police were in charge of "keeping order" by finding those not 100% for the cause of the nation. They did this through , spying, and threats. They would often kill, or dissapear, someone not doing something 100% correctly.

    • The government of Ba Sing Se
      The government of Ba Sing Se closely resembles that of a socialist government, such as the one that existed in the U.S.S.R. or China. In these governments, people were brainwashed, threatened, and watched. If anyone tryed to go against the government, they could dissapear. The government would flood the people with lies about how everything was perfect, and how they were so much better off then anyone else, but this was usually just an attempt to keep the people under the control of the government.

    • The King of the Earth Kingdom is like the Emperor of Japan during fuedal times. The emperor was just a figurehead in feudal Japan; the real power was given to the more powerful shogun just like the Earth King is a figurehead to the Grand Secretariat.

    • This episode makes allusions to the book 1984 and A Clockwork Orange, where those who try and make noise about something the government doesn't want known (in this case, the war) are brainwashed into believing that said thing does not exist or is no threat.

    • The royal palace grounds are very similar to Tian'anmen and the City's Meridian Gate in Beijing, China.