Avatar: The Last Airbender

Season 2 Episode 15

Tales of Ba Sing Se

Aired Friday 6:30 PM Sep 29, 2006 on Nickelodeon
out of 10
User Rating
559 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

In this special episode, a series of short stories highlighting different characters and their individual adventures in Ba Sing Se play featuring the Tales of Katara and Toph, Iroh, Sokka, Aang, Zuko, and Momo.

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  • Leaves from the vine, falling so slow.

    If I could only ever watch one episode of Avatar ever again, it would be this one beyond a shadow of a doubt.

    While it doesn't advance the story, it brings the viewer closer to the characters than any other episode out there. It shows the beauty, strength, vulnerability and inner conflict of the various characters we have come to love.

    Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the strongest story is Iroh's. He has long been a favorite of mine, but seeing his interactions with those in this city he once sought to conquer is touching. It is nothing short of beautiful to see his grief for his son, and to see how it changed his life, and ultimately the whole world.moreless
  • tales of ba sing se made me cry..

    out of all the stories.. from toph and katara going to the spa and dealing with mean girls, sokka and his poetry, aang helping out the zoo... i found myself crying at the tale of iroh.. this was probably my third or fourth time watching avatar and i never liked iroh much unitl i saw this episode. It tugged at my heart strings and touched a nerve.. even the beginning of the tale of iroh i found the atmosphere a bit depressing with a tinge of saddness.. and when iroh starts to sing and cry.. i started to cry too .. and since then hes becomed one of my beloved and favourite characters on this show.. and not to mention i liked zuko's tale too.. hhaha when he came out of the house to meet jin on theyre date it took uncle iroh 10 min to do his hair and he looked wacked. Anyway.. good episode especially for iroh because it showed us another side to this already loveable and wise character and a funnier and softer side of zuko.moreless
  • Tales of Ba Sing Se

    Tales of Ba Sing Se was a perfect, delightful, unique, and very entertaining episode of Avatar The Last Airbender. This episode, a series of character short stories, was full of character driven scenes and interesting scenarios. I enjoyed this episode because each of the characters had their own little adventures in the grand city of Ba Sing Se. I think this episode gave us more insight into the characters, sort of a day in the life of. I thought each of the shorts were awesome, especially Momo's who is looking for Appa. I look forward to watching the next episode!!!!!!!moreless
  • No episode deserves a score of a 10, but 9.9 sure is a hella lot closer to 10 than 9.5 is.

    A series of slice of life sequences rotating around the main characters? Although there isn't the stuff that makes Avatar such a quality show, like its action and life lessons, it's possibly the best episode in the show yet. It just covered so much and somehow it didn't implode in its overwhelming amount of issues covered. Toff's scenario of being blind and not caring about her appearance really kicked things off nicely, and then the momentum was greatly carried over with Iroh living his care free life and helping the poor refugees of Ba Sing Se with his great knowledge. His story ended really well with him having a picnic by himself, celebrating the birthday of his deceased son.

    Aang's tale is still pretty good but it's also the weakest one. The thing about the whole zoo was nice, but felt a bit irrelevant. Sokka's story served as pure comic relief and it did a good job of that--as always. Zuko had the most interesting story though because it covered a subject that makes most of our stomachs glitter; love. For a love story that only lasted under five minutes, this one was executed and depending on your preferences for love romances, it's probably the best story. Momo's served the purpose of story advancement in which it did a good job of. Not to mention that it was interesting in itself. Overall an excellent package of a little bit of everything in life.moreless
  • Unusual episode that highlights stories of Toph and Katara, Sokka, Momo, Iroh, Zuko, and Aang.

    Definitely a filler episode. It was okay, but definitely not the best episode of the season. Some stories were pretty entertaining, but others were sad. Like the one with Iroh. It's about him remembering his son who died in the war. Sokka's was funny. He was spying on a poetry class, and when he fell through the window, he found himself speaking in Haiku. He wanted to continue to impress the girls, so he continued to speak in Haiku - it was almost like a challenege between him and the teacher. When he accidentally added one extra syllable in his poem, he was kicked out. Katara and Toph's was another good one. They went to the spa and came back in fancy clothes and makeup. When a group of girls made fun of them and called them clowns, Toph used earthbending to destroy the bridge and make them fall in the water.moreless
Melinda Clarke

Melinda Clarke

Madame Macmu-Ling

Guest Star

Quinton Flynn

Quinton Flynn


Guest Star

Marcella Lentz-Pope

Marcella Lentz-Pope


Guest Star

James Sie

James Sie

Cabbage Merchant

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (8)

    • Iroh's tale was set on his son Lu Ten's birthday. This is also the first time that we get to see what Lu Ten looked like (via a painting).

    • When Katara is pulling her hair loopies straight before pinning them into her bun, the blue bead (seen on her left loopie a few seconds later) is not seen on her right.

    • The girl who is sitting in the top right corner of the Seven Five Seven Society (the one with the two pale yellow flowers in her hair) is first seen wearing a yellow scarf but when we see that corner laughing the scarf is missing and is replaced with just a light green part in her shirt.

    • We learn that Aang shaves his head in this episode, meaning he's not naturally bald.

    • The mugger that Iroh gives advice was original a background character in City of Walls and Secrets while Aang and the others were first touring the city.

    • In Sokka's poetry battle the weapon are Haikus, a poetry form originally from Japan. But the real haikus always must have an allusion to a season of the year.

    • In the previous episode, Joo Dee was going to stay with the gang and go with them everywhere. But in this episode, she isn't seen once.

    • In every other episode, it has been clearly shown that Appa is the only one capable of hearing a Bison whistle (with the exception of The Swamp, where Momo seems to be able to hear it when he blows it), hence the name, but in this episode its shown that it is audible to several different other creatures.

  • QUOTES (17)

    • Iroh: How was your night, Prince Zuko?
      (Zuko slams the door to his room. Iroh looks disappointed and Zuko slides the door open a little)
      Zuko: (quietly) It was nice.

    • Mugger: This is so great! No one has ever believed in me.
      Iroh: While it is always best to believe in one's self, a little help from others can be a great blessing.

    • Zuko: Uncle, we have a problem. One of the customers is on to us. Don't look now, but there is a girl over there at the corner table. She knows we're fire nation. Didn't I say don't look!
      Iroh: You're right, Zuko. I've seen that girl in here quite a lot. Seems to me she has quite a little crush on you.

    • Katara: You know what we need? (Excitedly) A girl's day out!
      Toph (Unhappily): ...Do I have to?

    • Toph (resignedly): The Fancy Lady Day Spa? Sounds like my kinda place.
      Katara: Are you ready for some serious pampering?
      Toph: Sure, Katara. Whatever you say.

    • Iroh: It is usually best to admit mistakes when they occur. And to seek to restore honor.
      Angry Man (goes to window): When I'm through with you kids, the window won't be the only thing that's broken!
      Iroh: But not this time. Run!

    • Girl 1: Nice makeup.
      Toph: Thanks.
      Girl 1: For a clown. (starts laughing with the other girls.)
      Katara: Come on Toph, don't worry about them.
      Girl 2: I think she looks cute, like that time you put a sweater on your pet poodle monkey.
      (they all start to laugh again)
      Katara: Come on Toph.
      Toph: No no, that was a good one. Like your poodle monkey! Ha! You know what else is a good one?(Earthbends a hole in the bridge under the girls.)
      Katara: Now that was funny. (Waterbends the water away with the girls)

    • Zookeeper: Then again, you should stick to saving people.

    • Zuko: You have quite an appetite for a girl. (twiddles fingers nervously)
      Jin: Um... thanks.

    • Katara (to Toph): I know you don't really care about these things, but I think you're really pretty.
      Toph: Thanks. I'd return the compliment, but I have no idea what you look like.

    • Sokka: I am so sorry. Something struck me in the rear. I just wound up... here.

    • Cabbage Merchant: My caaabaa... Oh forget it. (Walks away)

    • Pretty Student: Through all the long night, winter moon glows with bright love: sleet, her silver tears.

      Sokka (sighs) Ah, poetry. (Gets kicked by bird-horse, and all the students gasp) I am so sorry! Something struck me in the rear. I just wound up... here? (Students laugh)

      Teacher: Five, seven, then five... syllables mark a haiku, remarkable oaf.

      Sokka: They call me Sokka That is, in the Water Tribe I am not an Oaf! (Counts on his fingers)

      (Students laugh)

      Teacher: Chittering Monkey, in the spring he climbs treetops and thinks himself tall.(Students "Ooooh")

      Sokka: You think you're so smart with your fancy little words, this is not so hard.(Students "Ooooh" louder)

      Teacher: Whole seasons are spent mastering the form, the style, none calls it easy.

      Sokka: I calls it easy! Like I paddle my canoe, I'll paddle yours too! (paddles his bottom, studentslaugh)

      Teacher: There's nuts and there's fruits, in fall the clinging plum drops, always to be squashed. (Drops and squishes the plum)

      Sokka: Squish squash! Sling that slang! I'm always right back at ya, like my... boomerang! (pulls out boomerang) (Teacher leaves, students laugh, hip-hopish beat starts playing) That's right I'm Sokka! It's pronounced with an "Okka" Yeah ladies, I rock ya! (girls stop clapping, and he counts the 6 syllables)

      Muscle Guy: Ah, That's one too many syllables there, bub. (Throws Sokka out)

      Sokka: ...Poetry.

    • Zuko: We were, uh, part of this... traveling circus...
      Jin: Really? What did you do? Wait, let me guess... (snapping her fingers with enthusiastic conviction) You juggled!
      Zuko (throwing her an unimpressed, slightly-raised-eyebrowed look): Yes... I juggled.

    • Katara: Oh Toph, you got a little dirt on your... well, everywhere.
      Toph: You call it dirt. I prefer to think of it as a healthy coating of earth.

    • Jin: Look at you! You look so cute! (runs a hand through Zuko's hair and proceeds to ruffle it up)
      Zuko: It took my Uncle ten minutes to do my hair!

    • Iroh (to Lu Ten): Happy birthday, my son. If only I could have helped you.
      (begins to sing)
      Leaves from the vine,
      Falling so slow,
      Like fragile, tiny shells,
      Drifting in the foam,
      Little soldier boy,
      Come marching home,
      Brave soldier boy,
      Comes marching home.

  • NOTES (4)

    • 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 City of Walls and Secrets.

    • One of Iroh's lines is done by his new voice actor, Greg Baldwin. All other lines are done by Mako.

    • Iroh's story was dedicated in memory of Mako, referring to the late Makoto Iwamatsu, Iroh's original voice actor, who passed away on July 21, 2006.

    • Each of the characters' "tales" came complete with their very own title card and were even written by different "guest writers," each of whom are members of the Avatar staff. Here is the list:
      Toph and Katara: Joann Estoesta, Lisa Wahlander
      Iroh: Andrew Huebner
      Aang: Gary Scheppke
      Sokka: Lauren MacMullan
      Zuko: Katie Mattila
      Momo: Giancarlo Volpe, Justin Ridge


    • The works of Shinichiro Watanabe is referenced once again with Jin, who's character design and the hairstyle she wore on her date appears to be based off Fuu from Samurai Champloo. She also shares the same name as one of the series' male protagonists.

    • At the end of Iroh's tale, you see him light incense and place a picture of his son, Lu Ten. This is a Chinese tradition of praying/sending a message to the dead, called bàizǔ (拜祖).

    • Ox Horns
      In Katara and Toph's tale, one of the mean girls has a hairstyle of two spherical buns on each side of her head, this is known as the "Ox Horns", The ox horns was a common hairstyle in China up until the 20th century and can still be worn today with traditional attire. It's also easily confused with the Japanese hairstyle Odango (dumplings), the only difference between the two being that ox horns don't contain trailing strands of hair. Despite its Chinese origin, the hairstyle is used frequently for various female characters of numerous Japanese anime/manga series.

    • The large tree in Momo's dream bears a striking resemblence to the massive banyan tree in the center of the swamp from the episode The Swamp.

    • The young boys in the street alley that Iroh speaks to play what appears to be a variant of football (soccer) that employs earthbending.

    • The part where Aang, Sokka and Katara were getting ready for the day in the beginning of the episode seems based off a similar scene done by Shrek and Fiona in Shrek 2.

    • The instrument Iroh plays to soothe the crying child is a liquin, a four-stringed Chinese lute with a pear-shaped body. Small in size, it is considered to be a miniature copy of another Chinese plucked instrument, the pipa and is often confused with it. The instrument is revered in Chinese music and is usually used as an accompaniment in folk Chinese opera.