Aang, Katara, and Sokka go to the city of Omashu where the king sets the Avatar to three challenges.
Last time on Avatar: Zuko attacked the trio on the island of Kyoshi.
Delivery System or Super Slide
The trio has reached the city of Omashu in the Earth Kingdom, where Aang visited his friend Bumi. Katara and Sokka are impressed by the city, the latter noting they have buildings that don’t melt. After last episode, they want to disguise Aang to prevent anybody from recognizing him. So they make him a ‘hat’ and mustache out of Appa’s fur, which the boy finds itchy. An age joke is made about Aang looking a century old now.
They proceed along the narrow path across a canyon to the city itself. The cabbage merchant is facing the guards; his cart of cabbages is flung into the distance via earth-bending due to being rotten. He despairs, “My cabbages!”
Aang easily fakes being a cranky old man named Bonzoo Pipenpeddlopsokopolis the Third with the other two as his grandkids. Katara gives her name as June but Sokka doesn’t have to give an alias. The guards let them through, one of them insisting that Sokka ought to carry his grandfather’s bag. Earth-bending creates a narrow passage for the trio to travel through to reach the city proper. A guard sees Momo’s ears pop out of Aang’s hat to his confusion.
Omashu has an impressive delivery system that’s a mix of gravity and earth-bending. Aang recalls in a flashback how his friend Bumi used lateral thinking to see it as a “super slide”. Calling him a mad genius, the boys embark on a slide. In the present, Aang wants to do it one more time before they continue on towards the North Pole. Katara gets nervous right before they start sliding down.
A fun sequence ensues, but it ends when the crate they’re in lands on the cabbage merchant’s cart to his despair. And there are guards… but at least their faces are hilarious.
I Expect You to Dine
The trio is brought before the city king, who recognizes Aang as a guard lists off their crimes. The cabbage merchant wants them dead. But the king opts to give them a feast instead. Momo in particular enjoys the food. It’s revealed here that Aang is a vegetarian while Sokka loves meat.
Katara is the one who does the crazy gesture this time, concerned about the king’s mental state. Aang lies that he’s from Kangaroo Island. When Bumi comments he’s heard that place is “really hopping” Sokka cracks up.
Stretching, the king claims he wants to go to bed but then throws a chicken leg across the table at Aang. Caught off guard, Aang catches it with air-bending to the guards’ surprise. The king calls him out as the Avatar. Aang wants to leave and Katara insists, “Let us leave!”
“Lettuce leaf?” ‘echoes’ the king before stating that the Avatar will face three deadly challenges the next day but first the guards will show them to their chamber. Then the king and an elderly servant (?) have a brief discussion over which chamber to take them to.
“My liege, do you mean the good chamber or the bad chamber?”
“The newly refurbished chamber.”
“Wait. Which one are we talking about?”
“The one that used to be the bad chamber, until the recent refurbishing, that is. Of course, we’ve been calling it the new chamber but we really should number them. Uh… take them to the refurbished chamber that was once bad!”
The trio ends up in a nice chamber that can only be accessed by earth-bending. A gorged Momo is attempted to be stuffed into an air vent in hopes of finding Appa. Although Momo can’t fit, Aang has faith that Appa would have figured something out. Aang wakes up alone when a guard comes to retrieve him.
Bumi is now in purple and asks for Aang’s opinion about his outfit. Unfortunately, that was not one of the three challenges. Aang wants to leave with his friends. But Sokka and Katara are given rings of “genomite” or “creeping crystal” that will cover them completely by nightfall. The king will free them if Aang completes the three challenges.
The Three Challenges
For the first challenge, there is a key in the midst of a waterfall in an underground cavern which Aang must fetch. There’s a gorgeous painting of the cavern in the art book. Aang uses agility and air-bending to reach and then try to climb the ladder beneath to the king’s scorn. Aang goes up to the ceiling to try reaching it from above to no avail. Breaking off a chunk of stalagmite, Aang makes to get the key (and some of the chain) over to the king’s balcony with the aid of some air-bending.
Then it’s time to find the king’s pet Flopsy for petting. In a sunken area Aang finds a rabbit with extremely long ears. But there’s also a giant gorilla goat that starts chasing Aang… particularly whenever he says ‘Flopsy’. So Aang clues into which creature is the pet.
PIC OF TUMMY RUBS
Whistling, the king gets his pet over for some tummy rubs. There are some interesting sketches of Flopsy in the art book.
By this point Katara and Sokka are largely covered in crystal. For the third and final challenge, Aang must take part in a duel but can pick his opponent. Two scary-looking guys come out with sharp weapons. Trying to be clever, Aang chooses the king, who turns out to be a muscular and powerful earth-bender. In fact, he claims he’s the most powerful earth-bender Aang will ever meet.
When Aang tries to re-choose, the king insists there are “no take-backsies” but does give Aang his staff glider back. An impressive fight ensues. In the end, it’s basically a tie with Bumi approving of the fire in his heart. However, there is one more task for Aang to complete before his friends will be freed.
The king wants Aang to answer a simple query: What is his name?
“I got it!” goes Sokka.
“Yeah?” asks Aang.
“He’s an earth-bender, right? Rocky. You know, because of all the rocks.”
“We’re gonna keep trying, but that is a good back-up,” Katara tells him.
Aang tries to figure out a clue to the name in the challenges given. He admits that everything was different than expected and he had to think differently than normal.
“Bumi, you’re a mad genius,” Aang tells him. They hug!
“Oh, Aang, it’s good to see you. You haven’t changed a bit. Literally.” This gets extra heart-warming when you realize Bumi had thought his friend had died in the genocide a hundred years ago. Especially since Bumi might not have learned that Aang was the Avatar, although he probably clued in once he saw him show up in Omashu shortly after rumors of the Avatar’s return.
Katara and Sokka are nearly covered in crystal by this point. Bumi shatters it easily and reveals it’s rock candy. Momo starts to lick a piece. When Katara comments on Bumi being Aang’s old friend, Bumi is at first miffed before admitting he’s old. While he admits it’s fun to mess with people, he did have an actual reason for the challenges.
“Aang, you have a difficult task ahead. The world has changed in the hundred years you’ve been gone. It’s the duty of the Avatar to restore balance to the world by defeating Fire Lord Ozai. You have much to learn. You must master the four elements and confront the Fire Lord, and when you do, I hope you will think like a mad genius.”
I don’t think I’ve read this elsewhere (though I might have and just forgot about it) but that is ultimately exactly what Aang does in the series finale. Well played, Mike and Bryan.
Aang bows slightly as Bumi warns him that he’ll need his friends (and Momo) to defeat the Fire Nation. Then the two go sliding once again and there’s a third and final cry of “My cabbages!”
This episode introduces the “unlikely recurring character” of the Cabbage Merchant as the art book states. But that’s not the only important aspect of this episode. King Bumi is an old friend of Aang’s who has kept his unique perspective of the world throughout his life. Also according to the art book Mike feels that “the finished episode exposed our first-season growing pains” which makes no sense to me as it’s a brilliant combination of humor, wisdom, and action. Maybe they just have really, really high standards? That would explain a lot.
Bumi was an interesting character: wise and kooky but also a formidable bender. Apparently the king was played by Andre Sogliuzzo while Bumi was played by Kevin Ng (that’s a neat bit of voice actor/character crediting that preserves the twist). And now I am fully aware that the show basically set up for Aang’s actions in the finale here: for him to take an unexpected course due to thinking outside the box. And that’s amazing.
Next time on Avatar: When a young earth-bender gets captured after she encourages him to use his abilities, Katara gets herself captured as well in order to rescue him.