The Blind Bandit
Written By: Michael Dante DiMartino
Directed By: Ethan Spaulding
Storyboard By: Bryan Konietzko, Miyuki Hoshikawa, Justin Ridge, Ethan Spaulding, Tomihiro Yamaguchi
Animation By: JM Animation Co, Ltd
Transcribers: Acastus, Psycho Silver
["Previously on Avatar" sequence, including clips from "The Cave of Two Lovers", "Return to Omashu", and "The Swamp".]
(After the preview, the episode opens with a pan right shot of a village nestled on low hills. A few mountains rise in the distance. Cut to a street corner scene, then cut to a close up shot of a green bag with a shoulder strap.)
Sokka: (voice over) It's pricey, but I really do like it.
(Camera zooms backward to reveal the three kids in an open air shop. Sokka is looking at the bag. Katara, with Momo on her shoulder, looks at him with some concern. Aang sits on the floor, looking somewhat bored and unhappy.)
Katara: Then you should get it. You deserve something nice.
Sokka: (turns to her with a smile) I do, don't I? (turns back with an exaggerated gesture) But no. It's too expensive, I shouldn't.
Katara: (slightly annoyed) Alright, then don't.
(She turns and walks out of the frame. Aang gets up and follows her. Sokka goes last, looking wistfully back at the bag. The frame is empty for a moment before Sokka returns and stands behind the bag, his hands clasped in front of him. Sight Gag: Sokka's face goes slightly chibi as he smiles at the bag.)
Sokka: You know what? I'm gonna get it.
(Cut to a wide shot of Katara and Aang standing in the street. A man nears with a paper in his hand turns around and speaks to them.)
Man: Psst, psst. Hey, you kids like earthbending? You like throwing rocks? Then check out Master Yu's Earthbending Academy.
(He hands Aang a flyer with a smile and leaves. Cut to a close up of the flyer. Aang flips it over to reveal the other side.)
Aang: (voice over) Look, there's a coupon on the back. The first lesson is free.
(Cut to a wider shot of the two.)
Katara: Who knows? This Master Yu could be the earthbending teacher you've been looking for.
(Sokka enters the frame from the right, the green bag cradled in his arms.
Quick fade to the front gate of a dojo compound. The gate is a paifang with a large green sign with Chinese characters written across it.
Cut to a shot tilting up of Aang in a dark green earthbender training uniform and a round helmet. He looks confused. He picks his ear with his finger, then sniffs his finger. Cut to a zooming back shot of Aang from the p.o.v. of the end of the line of boys of which he is a member. The boys are younger and smaller than he is by a head. They stand resolute, looking forward. Aang stands up straight in imitation of them.
Shift to a wide shot of the compound. On the left is a line of four boys with a stone in front of them. On the right is a line of fours boys, including Aang without any stones. A man, Master Yu, enters the frame in the foreground, only his back visible to the camera.)
Yu: Take your stances.
(The students except Aang assume earthbending stances. He walks between the two lines then cut to a closer shot of him.)
Yu: Now, strike as if you're punching through your opponents head!
(Master Yu strikes a pose as he says this, then cut to a wide shot of Yu and the two lines facing each other. The line on the lift their rocks and throws them at the line on the right.
Cut to a close up of Aang looking alarmed, then a split second close up of the boy across from Aang chucking the rock at him. The rock hits Aang square in the chest and knocks him backwards into a large ceramic pot behind him. The pot explodes in a cloud of dust and fragments.
Cut to Aang's p.o.v. amidst the wreckage. Master Yu approaches him with a smile.)
Yu: So, are you ready to commit to more lessons? (Cut to a closer shot of Yu) If you pay for the whole year in advance, I'll bump you up to the next belt.
(Shift back to Aang, buried in the rubble. His face is covered as more debris slides down over him.
Cut to a wide shot of Aang excited the dojo through the paifang gate. Sokka and Katara sit just outside.)
Aang: (disappointed) He's not the one.
(Aang leans over and pats one side of his head, ejecting bits of dirt from his ear. The last two boys exit the gate and their conversation is heard.)
Student 1: I think The Boulder is gonna win back the belt at Earth Rumble 6.
Student 2: He's gonna (cut to a close up of Aang's face) have to fight his way through the best earthbenders in the world to even get a shot at the champ.
Aang: Excuse me, (runs over to the boys, cut to wider shot of the three) but where is this earthbending tournament exactly?
Student 1: It's on the Island of Noneoya - none o' ya business!
(Both laugh and walk away. Cut back to Aang, Sokka and Katara visible behind him. Sokka begins to laugh as he and his sister walk up behind Aang. Katara looks peeved at the boys' treatment of Aang.)
Sokka: Ha, ha! Oh, I got to remember that one.
(Katara smiles and puts her hands on Aang's shoulder and left arm.)
Katara: (in a comforting tone) I'll take care of this.
(Cut to a view down the street and the right turn into a side street where the two boys disappeared into. Katara runs into the frame, waving her right hand in the air.)
Katara: Hey strong guys, wait up!
(Katara disappears around the corner. Cut to Aang and Sokka, who holds out his new bag in disdain.)
Sokka: What was I thinking? I don't need a new bag. Why'd you let me buy this?
(Sokka drops the bag and folds his arms crossly. Momo, perched on Sokka's shoulder, looks down at the bag. He jumps down into the bag. Cut to a close shot of Momo settling in for some sleep, chittering happily. Cut back to a wider shot as Katara runs back into the frame.)
Katara: You ready to find an earthbending teacher? Because we're going to Earth Rumble 6!
Aang: How did you get them to tell you?
Katara: Oh, (looks over her shoulder coyly) a girl has her ways.
(Cut to a shot of the two boys looking down at the camera. They are frozen from the neck down. Shift to a wider shot. Their feet are frozen to the walls of the buildings that line each side of the street. Their heads touch each other and together they form a gate or archway over the street.
Fade to a night scene in the mountains. In the distance at the bottom of the frame is the brightly lit entrance to a cave. People are lined up to enter.
Cut to an underground stadium with a wide shot of the rectangular earthbending arena. The center of the arena is dominated by a large stone circle with a square punched out of its center. In the background on the lift is a tower atop which the master of the games announces the matches. Around the rest of the arena are the stands. There is an empty space all around the arena between it and the stands.
Shift to a closer shot of the stands. They are empty in the immediate vicinity as the three kids enter the frame from the left.)
Aang: Hey, front row seats! I wonder why no one else is sitting here.
(They sit down. A moment later the camera zooms backward as a massive boulder slams into the seats to their right, showering them with dust and debris.)
Sokka: I guess that's why.
(Cut to a shot from just behind the three kids looking at the arena. A man earthbends a mighty explosion of rock and dirt at its center. A huge column of earth begins to raise the man upwards. It stops rising. The man motions and the column collapses back to floor level. Cut to a close of the man's face. It is strong, cruel, and mostly obscured by long, luxurious black hair.)
Xin Fu: Welcome to Earth Rumble 6! (cut to wide, panning right shot of the arena, Xin Fu continues in voice over) I am your host, Xin Fu!
(Cut to a frontal shot of the kids. Aang, Sokka and Momo look at the arena, while Katara has turned sideways and adopted a bored pose.)
Katara: This is just gonna be a bunch of guys chuckin' rocks at each other, isn't it?
Sokka: (hopefully) That's what I paid for.
(Cut back to Xin Fu.)
Xin Fu: The rules are simple. Just knock the other guy out of the ring and you win.
(He earthbends himself back to the announcer's tower and continues in voice over. Cut to a muscular earthbender with a tattoo on his back. He raises his arms in a salute to the crowd and grins confidently.)
Xin Fu: Round one! The Boulder (cut to a long shot of The Boulder as a huge foot crashes onto the floor in the foreground. Cut to a frontal shot of a huge fat man) versus The Big Bad Hippo! (cut to a close up of the Hippo, who opens his mouth to reveal four hippo like teeth as he roars.)
Boulder: (in exaggerated, WWF type voice) Listen up, Hippo. You may be big, but you ain't bad! (grinning insanely) The Boulder's gonna win this in a landslide.
(Cut to a frontal shot of the Hippo, who raises his arms high in the air.)
Hippo: Hippo mad!
(The Boulder earthbends a boulder at the Hippo, who catches part of it in his mouth, crushes it and spits it out. The Hippo then begins to jump up and down. His enormous bulk actually causes the arena to shake around. The Boulder wobbles backwards on the verge of losing his balance.)
Xin Fu: Unbelievable, ladies and gentlemen! The Hippo is rocking The Boulder!
(As The Boulder reaches the edge of the arena, he earthbends a sheet of rock out of the side of the arena and throws it at his opponent. It hits the Hippo's back and he turns around to face the Boulder once more. The Boulder, with a tremendous effort, then earthbends the Hippo off the floor and throws him over the side of the arena.)
Xin Fu: The Boulder wins!
(Cut to a wide shot from behind the three kids. The Boulder raises his arms in victory. Cut to an off angle shot of Aang and Katara. She turns to him questioningly.)
Katara: How about The Boulder? He's got some good moves.
Aang: (hesitantly) I don't know. Bumi said I need a teacher who listens to the earth. He's just listening to his big muscles. What do you think, Sokka?
(Shot widens to show Sokka in the foreground.)
Sokka: (excitedly) Ha ha! Whoo!
(Cut to a long shot from the arena looking up at Xin Fu atop the tower.)
Xin Fu: Next, The Boulder versus (cut to a shot of Fire Nation Man waving the Fire Nation flag and smiling, Xin Fu continues in voice over) Fire Nation Man!
(The crowd boos audibly as Fire Nation Man walks across a stone bridge to the arena floor waving his flag. The bridge crumbles behind him. Cut back to Sokka.)
Sokka: (giving thumbs down) Boo! Boo!
(Cut back to wide shot of Fire Nation Man holding the flag upright and addressing the crowd.)
Fire Nation Man: Please to rise for Fire Nation national anthem. (singing) Fire Lord, my flame (drops to his knees) burns for thee!
(Crowd boos and throws small stones at him. Cut to Sokka with a stone cocked back in his hand, ready to throw.)
Sokka: Go back to the Fire Nation!
(He throws the stone, which hits Fire Nation Man on the head. His anger is cut short as he is twisted violently around and sinks into the earthen floor of the arena. In a flash he is buried up to shoulders in the arena floor. Cut to a shot from behind Fire Nation Man's buried figure. He stares ahead at The Boulder, who raises himself up on a huge column of earth.
Cut to a shot looking down at Fire Nation Man, who looks petrified.)
Fire Nation Man: No. No please!
(Cut to the Boulder atop of the column, who grins and jumps off. He sails downward with his legs bent at the knees so he can hold his feet with his hands. He hits the ground in front of Fire Nation Man, who is hurled high into the air and out of the arena on impact. Cut to a shot of the kids and the rock that hit near them earlier. A second later Fire Nation Man flies into the picture and slams into the rock.)
Sokka: (looking at Fire Nation Man's impact point) Yeah! Whoo! The Boulder knows how to put the hurt in the dirt! (cut to a close up of Sokka looking insane and making taunting faces) Yeah! Whoo!
(Cut to a shot of a guy driving a badger mole across the arena. The badger mole uses his claws and earthbending powers to act as a zamboni, clearing up the arena for the next fight. Carnival type music plays in the background. Cut to a quick shot of an attractive woman in a white, sleeveless dress waltz across the screen bearing a placard for the crowd to see.
Several matches now pass by in rapid succession. The Boulder defeats every contestant he faces. The first is a gopher type guy who tunnels under the ground and bursts out in quick attacks. The next is a thin guy in a green mask who goes shirtless. The third is a guy with a painted face. Each is depicted in defeat with a stylized still that looks like a frame from a comic book. After the last is defeated, switch to a long shot of the announcer's tower.)
Xin Fu: Now, the moment you've all been waiting for. The Boulder (cut to a shot of short person with black hair mostly obscured by a green prize belt) versus your champion...
(The views tilts down, the looks up to reveal a young girl with milk white eyes. She wears a green cape and a simple, but attractive green and white earthbending uniform. On her head she has a black and green headband. Above her head show holds the green prize belt.)
Xin Fu: The Blind Bandit!
(The crowd chants "bandit" as the screen expands to reveal two young women next to the Bandit who remove her cape and take the belt. Cut to a shot of Aang and Katara.)
Katara: She can't really be blind. (cut to a close up of the Bandit's eyes that pans right) It's just part of her character, right?
(Cut back to Aang and Katara.)
Aang: I think she is.
(Screen expands to show Sokka.)
Sokka: I think she is... (yells) going down!
(Cut to a shot of the Bandit. The camera rapidly zooms backward to a wide shot. The Boulder's foot crashes down in the foreground, then cut to a front shot of The Boulder.)
Boulder: The Boulder feels conflicted about fighting a young, blind girl.
Toph: (pointing at the Boulder and in a mocking tone) Sounds to me like you're scared, Boulder.
Boulder: (after a pause where he looks stung) The Boulder's over his conflicted feelings, and now he's ready to bury you (screen expands instantly and the Boulder makes a dramatic, crushing gesture) in a rock-a-lanche!
Toph: (points again at her opponent) Whenever you're ready...The Pebble. (throws her head back) Ha ha ha!
(Cut back to a close up of Aang, then to a flashback from "The Swamp" where he saw the girl in white and the flying boar. He remembers her laugh. It is the same as the Bandit's. The flashback shows a closer shot of the girl in the fancy dress. The camera closes in and turns around the girl to reveal her face. It is the Bandit's. The flashback ends in a flash of white to reveal Aang's stunned face.)
Boulder: It's on!
(Cut back to a shot from behind The Boulder who faces the Bandit, then shift to a tilting down shot of The Boulder's head. Despite his bravado, he is sweating profusely.
Switch to a frontal shot of the Bandit. The camera whirls around her head and ends with a close up shot of her ear.
Cut back to The Boulder, who yells and takes a step forward. As his heel hits the ground, the frame freezes and goes to black and white. Shock waves in white move out from his heel where it is has struck the floor of the arena. Cut to an overhead shot of The Boulder showing the shock wave emanating away from his heel in neat concentric circles. Cut again to the Bandit standing perfectly still. The shock wave reaches her and travels up her body.
Return to a frontal shot of the Bandit in full color. She moves forward and opens her arms as soon as she registers the shock wave indicating the movement of her opponent. Cut to a shot of her feet as she moves forward to finish the set up for her attack. The Boulder moves forward at a slow frame rate. He is bellowing a battle cry, but it is slurred due to the slow frame rate. Cut to a wider shot of The Boulder. As his foot strikes the ground again, the screen flashes black and white again as another shock wave is shown moving out from him. Cut back to a frontal shot of the Bandit who has begin to swing her right foot in an arc towards the ground in font of her. As she strikes the ground, the view cuts to a wide shot from behind and above her right shoulder. The frame rate speeds up to normal. Her strike creates a shock waves in the arena floor that churns up the ground and heads toward the Boulder in a straight line as if a gopher were tunneling toward him at great speed.
We see a quick shot of Aang staring incredulously at the camera, his face turning to follow the Bandit's shock wave travel o.c. in front of him.
Cut back to a frontal shot of the Boulder whose foot meets the shock wave just as he puts it back on the ground. The shock wave makes him drop down onto the ground in a perfect split. Cut to briefly to Momo and Sokka. Momo squeaks and Sokka's look of adulation and excitement turns to a look of pain. Cut back to a close shot from above The Boulder. He looks up into the camera with a look of excruciating pain on his face.)
Boulder: (in pain) Ooh!
(Cut back to the Bandit who makes a chopping motion with her right hand. Three stalagmites erupt from the ground near The Boulder and eject him from the ring. He slams into the wall beneath the stands and slides down into the crevice between the arena and the stands.
Shift to a close up of the Bandit's face, which softens into a crafty and satisfied smile as Xin Fu speaks.)
Xin Fu: (voice over) Your winner, (cut to wider shot of the Bandit, who raises her right fist in victory) and still the champion, The Blind Bandit!
(Cut back to Aang and Sokka.)
Sokka: (crying) No!
(Camera zooms back to show Katara as well. Sokka slumps in the background.)
Katara: (incredulously) How did she do that?
(Cut to a close up of Aang.)
Aang: She waited, (turns to Katara) and listened.
(Cut to a wide shot of the announcer's tower as Xin Fu jumps from it to the arena floor. He holds a green bag in his left hand.)
Xin Fu: To make things a little more interesting, I'm offering up this sack of gold pieces to anyone who can defeat (he motions toward the champion) The Blind Bandit! What No one dares to face her?
Aang: I will!
(Xin Fu looks worried for a moment, before a cut to Aang onto the arena. The crowd murmurs its approval. Shift to a long, wide shot of Aang closing the distance between he and the Bandit. Xin Fu jumps out of the screen. Cut to Sokka and Katara.)
Sokka: (cupping his hands to his mouth) Go Aang! Avenge The Boulder!
(Cut to a shot from behind Aang. The Bandit is in front of him.)
Toph: Do people really want to see two little girls fighting out here?
(The crowd goes "ooooh" at this bit of taunting. Aang puts his hands up in a conciliatory gesture.)
Aang: I don't really want to fight you. I want to talk to you.
(Cut to Sokka and Katara.)
Sokka: Boo! No talking!
Katara: (smacking her brother) Don't boo at him!
(Cut to Aang's feet. He takes a step, then cut back to the Bandit, who smiles as soon as his foot hits the ground. She stomps the ground with the side of her left foot. A shock wave travels across the ground and causing a large rock to grow out of the ground underneath Aang, who is launched into the air. He lands softly on the ground behind her. She turns around with an upset expression on her face.)
Toph: Somebody's a little light on his feet. What's your fighting name, (cut to Aang, the Bandit continues in voice over) The Fancy Dancer?
(Aang smiles and shrugs his shoulders. Another rock erupts from the ground and launches Aang into the air. He somersaults through the air.)
Toph: Where'd you go?
(Aang lands behind her.)
Aang: Please, wait!
Toph: There you are!
(She turns quickly, raises a boulder and throws at him in a straight line, like a bullet. The crowd cheers. Cut to Aang's p.o.v. as the rock approaches him rapidly. He jumps into the air, turns and airbends the rock backwards. Cut to a shot from behind the bandit. She and the rock are blown backward and off the arena. Quick shots of Xin Fu, The Boulder, and the Water Tribe siblings confirm their collective shock. Cut back to Aang, who looks around in surprise as the crowd cheers.
Cut to a shot of the Bandit walking away from the base of the arena. In the background is a set of stairs. Aang is at the top of the stairs and he calls after the former champion.)
Aang: Please listen! I need an earthbending teacher, and I think it's supposed to be you.
Toph: Whoever you are, just leave me alone.
(She opens a door in the wall with a stomp of her foot. She enters, turns and closes the door with a motion of her hands.)
(Aang reaches the wall too late. He turns and looks sad. Cut to Xin Fu holding the belt and the bag of gold, the crowd cheering behind them. Katara and Sokka enter the frame from the right. Sokka hugs Xin Fu and takes the money and the belt. He puts his arm around Aang's shoulder, but the Avatar is still morose.)
Sokka: Way to go, champ!
(Aang's head droops in sadness, then cut to black for commercial.)
(The show returns to a brief shot of the village nestled amongst the mountains before cutting to the kids walking down a street. Cut to a frontal shot of Sokka, who is wearing both his new bag and the tournament belt.)
Sokka: I gotta admit, now I'm really glad I bought this bag. It matches the belt perfectly.
Katara: (sarcastically) That is a big relief.
Aang: If we want to find The Blind Bandit, the Earthbending Academy is a good place to start.
(They enter the gate of Master Yu's academy once again. Cut to a few shots of the two boys Katara froze punching dirt contained in two huge pots. They look up as the kids enter.)
Student 1: Oh great, you again.
(Cut to a frontal shot of the kids. Katara, between Sokka and Aang, looks forward and looks mean. The two students flinch backwards in fright.)
Katara: Yeah, I didn't think so.
Sokka: Nicely done.
Student 2: Hey, (walking towards Aang) you're the kid who beat The Blind Bandit.
Aang: We need to talk to her. Do you guys know where she lives?
Student 1: The Blind Bandit's a mystery. She shows up to fight, then disappears.
(Aang looks disappointed. Katara notices and puts a hand on his shoulder.)
Katara: Let me handle this. (pointing at student #2 and saying angrily) You're not telling us everything!
Student 2: (hands up) No no, I swear it's true! No one knows where she goes, or who she really is.
Aang: (almost lost in thought) That's because we're asking about the wrong person. In my vision, I saw a girl in a white dress with a pet flying boar. Know anybody like that?
(Cut back to a frontal shot of the two students. Student # 2 now hides behind student #1.)
Student 1: Well, a flying boar is the symbol of the Bei Fong family. They're the richest people in town, probably the whole world.
Student 2: Yeah, but they don't have a daughter.
Aang: Flying boar is good enough for me. (to his friends) Let's check it out.
(Cut to a profile shot of the faces of the two students. They try to look tough.)
Student 1: (quietly) Yeah, you better leave.
(Cut to Katara turning as she exits the compound. She put two fingers up to her eyes.)
Katara: Hey, I've got my eye on you.
(Katara exits as Sokka enters the frame, his arms out like an airplane.)
Sokka: (whispers with a smile) Water Tribe.
(He exits. Cut to two figures standing at the opening of a tunnel. They are silhouetted by the light coming in from outside the cave, though it does not look like sunlight. It would appear they stand at an entrance into the arena.)
Boulder: I'm telling you, The Boulder was standing right there. I saw the kid strike, but there was no earthbending. (cut to a frontal shot of The Boulder and Xin Fu) Nothing made contact. The Blind Bandit just fell out of the ring. She must have took a dive and split the money with the kid.
(Cut to a shot of Xin Fu's dist banging into the wall of the cave exit. Rocks falls down onto his foot. He screams, then recovers, his expression angry.)
Xin Fu: Nobody cheats Xin Fu.
(Shift to a wide, overhead shot of a beautiful, walled country estate with a lovely garden and many ponds. It is daylight. A shot of the gate tilts up to reveal a crest with a flying boar emblazoned upon it. Cut to the three kids spying on the gate.)
Aang: That's the flying boar from my vision. Come on.
(The kids back away from their vantage point, then cut to a shot from inside the compound. Aang airbends himself over the wall, then Sokka and Katara climb over. They run across some open grass, then cut to a close up shot of a large bush. Aang's head pokes out below, then Katara's on top of his, then Sokka's on top. Each appears in rapid succession one after the other in a very "Scooby-Doo" like fashion.
Suddenly a huge surge of earth throws them all into the air. They yell as they fall land unceremoniously, Sokka onto the ground and Aang and Katara into nearby bushes. Aang looks up, then cut to an upside down shot of the Bandit, now in her fancy gown.)
Toph: What are you doing here, twinkle toes?
Aang: How did you know it was me?
Sokka: (whining) Don't answer to twinkle toes. It's not manly!
Katara: You're the one whose bag matches his belt.
Toph: How did you find me?
Aang: (airbending himself to his feet) Well, a crazy king told me I had to find an earthbender who listens to the earth. And then I had a vision in a magic swamp and...
Katara: (cutting Aang off) What Aang is trying to say is, he's the Avatar, and if he doesn't master earthbending soon he won't be able to defeat the Fire Lord.
(The Bandit sticks her open hand in Katara's face, who looks taken aback.)
Toph: Not my problem. Now get out of here or I'll call the guards.
Sokka: Look, we all have to do our part to win this war. And yours is to teach Aang earthbending.
(Cut to a shot of the Bandit's back as Sokka speaks. When he concludes, she turns around, looking distraught.)
Toph: Guards! Guards, help!
(The camera rapidly zooms to a wide, overhead shot as the kids run around and finally exit the frame. Two guards approach as they exit. The Bandit rearranges her hair slightly as the come up to her.)
Guard: Toph, what happened?
Toph: I thought I heard someone. I got scared.
Guard: You know your father doesn't want you wandering the grounds without supervision, Toph.
(Cut to a shot from behind Aang's head. He rests atop the wall or a nearby roof and watches the guards escort Toph away. Cut to a frontal shot were he looks miffed and strums his fingers on the roof. Then his face breaks into a cunning smile as he gets an idea. He disappears.
Fade quickly to a shot of a teapot being picked up by a pair of arms that belong to someone in a brown or gold robe. The fingers have two gold rings on them. The camera follows the teapot as it is lifted up and opened. A smiling man with black hair, Toph's father Lao, opens the teapots and takes a deep breath. He takes a drink before speaking.)
Lao: I'm pleased to hear that Toph's (cut to a wide shot of Lao seated with his wife on his left. They are obviously rich and his wife wears white makeup on her face) private lessons are going well, but I want to be sure that she's not trying anything too dangerous.
(Cut to a profile shot of Mast Yu, Toph seated in the background.)
Yu: Absolutely not. I'm keeping her at the beginner's level. Basic forms and breathing exercises only.
Lao: Very good.
(A servant in gray enters from behind a curtain.)
Servant: Excuse me sir, but you have a visitor.
Lao: (angry) Who thinks they are so important they can just come to my home unannounced?
Servant: Uh, the Avatar, sir.
(Toph raises her head slightly at the mention of the Avatar. She blows a stray strand of hair away from her face, looking none too pleased.
Fade to an overhead shot of a western style dinner table. A variety of food has been placed upon it. Aang, Katara and Sokka sit along one side, Toph, Mrs. Bei Fong, and Master Yu sit along the other. Lao is at the head of the table. Sokka eats like a pig.
A servant places a hot dish in front of Toph.)
Lao: Blow on it. It's too hot for her.
Aang: Allow me.
(Aang creates a small whirlwind which zooms across the table and peter's out over her dish, cooling it. Everyone claps.)
Yu: Oh my!
(Cut to a frontal shot of Mrs. Bei Fong.)
Mrs. Bei Fong: Avatar Aang, it's an honor to have you visit us.
Lao: In your opinion, how much longer do you think the war will last?
Aang: I'd like to defeat the Fire Lord by the end of summer, but (looking suggestively over at Toph) I can't do that (cut to a close up of Toph's unhappy face) without finding an earthbending teacher first.
Lao: Well, Master Yu is (camera pans left to show Yu daintily dabbing his mouth with a napkin) the finest teacher in the land. He's been teaching Toph since she was little.
Aang: Then she must be a great earthbender, (cut to a view of Toph's feet, Aang continues in voice over) probably good enough to teach someone else.
(Toph earthbends a shock wave at Aang underneath the table. He hops up in his seat in pain and surprise.)
(He looks at her angrily. Cut to Toph, who smiles and puts some food in her mouth with her chopsticks.)
Yu: Toph is still learning the basics.
Lao: Yes, and sadly because of her blindness, I don't think she will ever become a true master.
(The kids look at each other, then Aang responds.)
Aang: Oh, I'm sure she's better than you think she is.
(Toph looks annoyed and sends another shock wave at Aang. It knocks his chair backwards sending his face into the bowl in front of him. He rights himself, the bowl still stuck to his face. The Water Tribe siblings look horrified, as does Lao. Toph smiles and takes another bite. Aang smacks his face in frustration, then smiles before his face contorts as a sneeze develops. He sneezes, sending a wind across the table that sends food all over the place. Master Yu, Mrs. Bei Fong and Toph are covered. Toph gets up in anger after the bowl that had covered face fell off.)
Toph: What's your problem?
Aang: What's your problem?
(Cut to a wide shot of Aang and Toph glaring at each other across the table, Lao in between looking uncomfortable. Cut to a brief shot of Katara and Sokka, then back to Yu and Toph's mother. She smiles as she and Yu wipe themselves off.)
Mrs. Bei Fong: Well, shall we move to the living room for dessert then?
(Fade to a night shot of Toph's villa, then cut to a shot of a large room. Sokka is lying on his side and Katara sits on a green bed or couch on the left of the shot. Aang stands in front of a large window where Appa's face can be seen. Aang waves at Appa.)
Aang: Good night, buddy.
(Cut to a shot of the threshold of the door into the room. Toph's barefoot leg enters the frame. Aang turns around, yelps in surprise, and assumes an airbending stance. Cut to a wide shot of the room. Toph stands with her back to the door frame, Aang near the window on the right, and Sokka and Katara on the couch in the middle.)
Toph: Relax. Look, I'm sorry about dinner. Let's call a truce, ok?
(Cut to a frontal shot of Aang, who relaxes his stance. Shift to an outdoor scene that same night. Toph and Aang walk over a bridge over a small brook. Aang walks on the bridge, Toph along the guardrail. The full moon lights the scene.)
Toph: Even though I was born blind, I've never had a problem seeing.
(They reach the end of the bridge and she jumps off the guardrail and lands on the ground.)
Toph: I see with earthbending. It's kind of like seeing with my feet. I can feel the vibrations in the earth, and I can see where everything is. You, that tree, even those ants.
(The screen zooms backward three times as Toph speaks, each time showing a wider overhead shot of the pair. At the mention of the ants, cut to a shot from ground level showing Aang and Toph in the background. In the foreground, some ants are silhouetted waling across over a mound of dirt. Aang looks around, but is unable to see that ants that Toph is talking about. He finally turns to her with a smile.)
Aang: That's amazing.
Toph: (frustrated) My parents don't understand. They've always treated me like I was helpless.
Aang: Is that why you became The Blind Bandit?
Aang: Then why stay here where you're not happy?
Toph: They're my parents. Where else am I supposed to go?
Aang: (pause, then with a smile) You could come with us.
Toph: Yeah. You guys get to go wherever you want. No one telling you what to do, that's the life. It's just not my life.
(The camera slowly zooms in on Toph as she speaks. When she concludes, her head turns suddenly as she senses something amiss. She drops to her knees and places a hand on the ground.)
Toph: We're being ambushed.
(Cut to a wide, overhead shot. Toph grabs Aang's arm and begins to run. Cut to a closer shot of the pair in headlong flight, Aang looking over uncertainly at the blind girl as they run.
Behind them, something tunneling just under the ground moves rapidly in pursuit. Cut to an overhead shot as the gopher trail of their pursuer passes them and turns around to appear in front of them. The gopher man contestant from the tournament bursts from the ground and challenges them. Cut to a shot from behind the gopher man showing Aang and Toph in combat stances.
Aang and Toph look up just as two metal cases drop on top of them. Each has a window with metal bars for their faces. Cut to a wide shot of the scene. The rest of the Earthbending Tournament contestants and Shin Fu drop from the top of the wall into the garden. The Hippo lands atop the two metal cases and stomps on them a few times. Cut to a pan right shot of Aang and Toph in their cases before cutting to shot of Xin Fu and his gang.)
Xin Fu: (in a sinister tone) I think you kids owe me some money.
(Cut to black for commercial break.)
(The show returns to an overhead shot of Katara, Sokka, Master Yu and Toph's parents in the garden that same night. They stand around the impressions made in the ground by the metal cases used to trap the Avatar and the Blind Bandit.
Cut to a shot of a sword stuck in the earth. It is pinning a scroll to the ground. Sokka picks up the sword and the scroll with it. He offers it to Katara by holding the end of the sword out to her.)
Sokka: Whoever took Aang and Toph left this.
(Katara takes the offered scroll. Cut to a shot of the open scroll as Katara reads aloud.)
Katara: (voice over) "If you want to see your daughter again, bring (cut to a pan right of Toph's parents and Yu) 500 gold pieces to the arena." (cut to a shot of Katara and Sokka, the open scroll still in her hand) It's signed "Xin Fu and The Boulder."
Sokka: (somberly) I can't believe it.
(Sokka suddenly grabs the scroll, runs a few feet and drops to his knees. Katara and the others are visible in the background watching his antics. Sokka holds the scroll up over his head.)
Sokka: (screaming) I have the Boulder's autograph!
(Cut to a frontal shot of Katara looking both slightly annoyed and confused. Lao turns to Yu in the background.)
Lao: Master Yu, I need you to help you get my daughter back.
Katara: (turning to address Lao) We're going with you.
(Cut to Mrs. Bei Fong, who kneels in between the impressions in the ground. She clasps her hands in front of her in worry.)
Mrs. Bei Fong: Poor Toph. She must be so scared.
(Shift to a shot of Toph in her metal case, her hands on the bars of the window. She looks angry.)
Toph: You think you're so tough...
(The camera zooms back to show her case and Aang's suspended from chains. She points somewhere below her.)
Toph: ...why don't you come up here so I can smack that grin off your face?
(Cut to Xin Fu and The Boulder looking from below them on the floor of the arena.)
Xin Fu: I'm not smiling.
(A voice rings out from behind Xin Fu. It is her father.)
(Xin Fu turns around to see Katara, Sokka, Lao and Yu at the other end of the arena. Sokka holds up a green bag.)
Sokka: Here's your money. Now let them go.
(He drops the bag and Yu kicks it over to Xin Fu with an earthbending move. Xin Fu picks up the bag, opens it and confirms its contents. He turns around and gives a signal to someone off screen. Cut to a shot from behind the suspended cases looking down into the arena. The one on the right begins to drop as the sounds of wheels and gears are heard from off camera.
The case stops a few feet above the ground. The bottom opens and Toph falls out. She runs over to her father. He puts his hand on her shoulder and guides her away, Master Yu in tow. Katara and Sokka watch them leave, then turn to look o.c. towards Shin Fu and the others.)
Katara: What about Aang?
(Cut back to Shin Fu. He holds up a scroll. It unrolls to reveal a wanted picture of Aang.)
Xin Fu: I think the Fire Nation will pay a hefty price for the Avatar. (cut to a close up of his face) Now, get out of my ring.
(Shift back to Aang and Katara who look quickly to their left. A series of vignettes follows showcasing each of the contestants form the tournament. The first is a whirlwind approaching the camera. It stops and dissipates to reveal Fire Nation Man. Cut again show the man in the green mask who drops to the floor of the arena, ready for action. Shift to a shot of an empty portion of the arena. A huge foot crashes down, then the camera zooms back to reveal the Hippo holding a huge. He crushes it in his hands. Cut to a streak of rock and dust as the man with the painted face lands in the arena and rushes at the camera. Finally, cut to a wide shot of the whole crew, from left, the painted face man, Xin Fu, Fire Nation Man, the green mask man, the Hippo and The Boulder. Lastly, the gopher man erupts from the arena floor in front of Xin Fu.
A brief shot of Katara and Sokka looking disconcerted is replaced by a shot of Aang suspended in his metal case. He waves them off.)
Aang: Go. I'll be ok.
(Cut to a wide shot of the scene from behind Katara and Sokka. The kids back away. Cut to a shot of Toph, Lao and Yu walking down the tunnel out of the arena. Katara and Sokka appear at the exit behind them.)
Katara: Toph, there's too many of them. We need an earthbender. We need you!
(Toph, Lao and Yu turn to look backwards, then cut to a shot of Lao.)
Lao: (angry) My daughter is blind. (camera pans down and to the left to reveal Toph, holding her father's hand) She is blind and tiny and helpless and fragile. (Toph closes her eyes) She cannot help you.
(Toph snaps her hand back from her father's.)
Toph: Yes, I can.
(Toph begins to walk down to the others. Cut back briefly to her father looking distraught at her daughter's decision, then cut to a wide, long shot of Xin Fu and his supporters walking off the arena at the other end. The Hippo supports Aang's metal case on his shoulder. Suddenly a huge, jagged rock erupts from the earth in front of them blocking their path. Cut to a shot from behind them. They all turn around, then cut to a shot of Toph, Aang and Katara.)
Toph: (pointing at the camera) Let him go. I beat you all before, (making a sweeping motion with her hand) and I'll do it again.
(Cut back to Fire Nation Man, the Hippo and The Boulder.)
Boulder: (pointing o.c. at the kids) The Boulder takes issue with that comment.
(The Hippo throws Aang's metal case across the arena floor, then cut to a close shot of the kids. Sokka and Katara move up from behind Toph, but are prevented as the blind girl fans out her arms, blocking them.)
(Cut to the tournament contestants rushing ahead, then back to a close shot of Toph's eyes. This shot is replaced a moment later from behind Toph's head as she watches the line of opponents rush forward.)
Toph: (turning her head left and looking o.c.) They're mine.
(Cut to a shot of Katara and Sokka with surprised looks on their faces. They look at each for a moment before a cut to Toph's foot stomping the ground. A quick close up shot of her face is replaced by a wider view of her struggling to raise up her arms in an earthbending move. Cut to a pan right shot of the contestants running at her with an effect in the background indicating high speed.
Toph waits a few more moments then stomps the ground causing an explosion of rock and dust. The entire group of opponents is blow backwards in an enormous debris cloud. Cut to a shot from the back of the arena as the expanding shell of debris rushes toward then covers the camera. The Boulder falls out of the dust cloud and hits the floor with a grunt. Cut to a wider shot of the kids and the dust cloud, which Toph enters. The shot zooms backward to show the backs of Yu and Lao in the stands. A quick frontal shot shows their anxious faces.
Cut to a shot of a red shoe with gold fringe amidst the dust cloud, then cut to Fire Nation Man assuming various martial poses in the cloud, looking for his opponent. The dust clears to reveal Toph in front of him. He notices and reacts with surprise, but recovers. A close up of his foot moving slowly forward is replaced by a shot of a small smile slowly emerging on Toph's face.
A shot from ground level between Toph's legs in slow motion show Fire Nation Man raising a stream of earth from the ground next to him. As he shoots the stream, Toph moves right. The stream of dirt passes her as she steps out of the way. She simultaneously launches her own attack, causing a series of rocks to burst forth from the floor that rapidly approaches her opponent. The last rocks blast Fire Nation Man out of the ring.
A quick view of Yu and Lao looking down where Fire Nation Man fell is replaced by a shot of Fire Nation Man's legs and rump atop a pile of rubble at the base of the arena. He groans.
Cut to Katara and Sokka trying to open Aang's case. Sokka hammers at the lock on the front with a rock, while Katara tries to open the bottom with his hands.)
Aang: Hit it harder!
Sokka: I'm trying!
(Cut to the green masked man walking on all fours through the dust cloud. A pebble hits the back of his head and he turns to see Toph silhouetted in the dust cloud. A close reveals her setting up for her next move, that tiny smile still on her face. Cut back to the green mask man, who jumps into the air with two spherical rocks in his hands. He throws them simultaneously. Cut to the rocks p.o.v. as they speed towards her. She blocks them in mid air and they crash begin her in unison.
As the green masked man falls back to the ground, Toph strikes the ground several times with her foot. As she does, a thin pillar of rock erupts from the ground, hitting her opponent in the stomach. He bounces from pillar to pillar, until the last bounce ejects him from the arena. He hits Fire Nation Man as he lands.
Cut back to Toph as the gopher man erupts form the floor behind her. The frame rate slows as the rock he slows at her slowly approaches the back of her neck. The frame speeds up as she catches it and throws it back at him. It hits him and he is knocked right through the floor and right into Fire Nation Man and the green mask man.
Sokka slams his rock into the metal case one more time, breaking the lock. The bottom of the case opens up and Aang emerges, ready for combat. Sokka shakes his head and points o.c. Aang drops his combat stance and follows Sokka's finger.
Cut to a shot behind Sokka and Aang. The Hippo runs out of the dusk cloud swinging one of the Earth Kingdom stone circles with the square center. He stops as The Boulder gets flung out of the cloud and lands beside the Hippo. He gets up as Toph emerges from the cloud. She now stands on the large stone circle that dominates the center of the arena. She moves forward with her arms bent at the elbows, her hands help up in front of her.
The Boulder makes some intimidating noises and the Hippo beats his chest as she advances. Cut to a quick shot of Lao, his eyes wide in terror.
A quick shot of Toph's left ear shows it wiggle slightly in reaction to some noise. The camera zooms back to show her on the stone circle. As the Hippo and The Boulder begin to rush her the painted face man swings in front of the camera towards his target below.
Toph makes several jerky motions and the whole stone circle begins to turn. The painted man swings back into the picture and slams into the Hippo and The Boulder just as they are about to strike her.
Cut to the three tournament contestants groaning in a heap in front of her. The scene is still heavily obscured by a dust cloud from the fighting. A close up of Toph's face shows the slight smile, before a wider shot showing her executing some powerful bending moves. The background as she makes these moves is an animation effect indicating intense power. The three opponents are ejected from the ring and crash into their compatriots below.
Shift to Yu and Lao in the stands. Lao looks down at the arena o.c. with great concern as he holds his chin in his hand.)
Yu: (shocked) I never knew. Your daughter's amazing.
(Cut back to a wide shot from the back of the arena. Toph stands in front of the sizeable dust cloud, the others on the side of the arena to her right. She makes one swift motion and the cloud is blown away to reveal a single opponent left, Xin Fu.
A close up of Xin Fu shows him cracking his neck in preparation for the duel. He takes up a bending stance, then cut to Toph who spits o.c. A quick shot of her father and Yu is replaced by an overhead shot of the two circling around each other. Several shots of their eyes go by before Xin Fu starts the battle. In quick succession he launches a single boulder, a double, a single, a triple and a final single rock at her.
Just before the first of the rocks hits, she raises two triangular sheets of rock in front of her as a shield. The rocks bounce of her shield. After the last one strikes, she launches one of the two shields at her opponent. It misses as he launches himself into the air to avoid it. As he spins in mid air, the frame rate slows down dramatically. His hand begins to delve into the earth beneath him as he spins. When his hand makes contact, the screen goes black and white. The concentric white circles fan out from the point of contact towards Toph where it soon reaches her leg.
The screen returns to normal color and the frame rate returns to normal speed. He scoops a chunk of earth out of the floor of the arena and throws it at her. She dodges and it passes by her face. The frame rate slows again as the camera cuts to a close up of her eyes as the rock and little pebbles blow by close to her face. Her expression is impassive. The frame rate accelerates again as she returns fire. Cut to an expression of terror on Xin Fu's face. He is blasted out of the ring and lands in between Lao and Yu in the stands. He falls into the pit below.
Cut to a shot of Aang, Sokka and Katara. The latter two smile, Sokka's mouth hangs wide open and he faints. Cut back to Yu and Lao.)
Yu: She's the greatest earthbender I've ever seen!
(Fade to a quick night shot of Toph's home, then to a profile shot of Toph standing in front of her seated mother and father, once again in her fancy dress. Aang and the others are seated behind her.)
Toph: Dad, I know it's hard for you to see me this way, but the obedient little helpless blind girl that you think I am just isn't me. I love fighting. I love being an earthbender. And I'm really, really good at it. I know I've kept my life secret from you, but you were keeping me secret from the whole world. You were doing it to protect me. But I'm twelve years old and I've never had a real friend. So now that you see who I really am, I hope it doesn't change the way you feel about me.
Lao: Of course it doesn't change the way I feel about you, Toph. It's made me realize something.
Toph: (hopeful) It has?
Lao: Yes. I've let you have far too much freedom. From now on, you will be cared for and guarded 24 hours a day.
Toph: But dad!
Mrs. Bei Fong: We are doing this for your own good, Toph.
(Cut to a shot from the back of the reception room from behind Aang, Sokka and Katara. Lao stands to give instructions to the guards.)
Lao: Please escort the Avatar and his friends out. (he points his right o.c.) They are no longer welcome here.
(Cut to Aang being marched out. He turns his head around.)
Aang: I'm sorry, Toph.
Toph: I'm sorry, too. Goodbye, Aang.
(A close up of Toph's face reveals a tear streaking down and dripping off her chin.
Cut to a wide, over head night shot of Appa and the kids. Appa grunts. Aang and Katara walk over to the lip of a small cliff in front of them.)
Katara: Don't worry. We'll find you a teacher. (cut to a profile shot of the two, the air blows Katara's braids) There are plenty of amazing earthbenders out there.
(Cut to a wider shot from behind them. The full moon shines in the distance.)
Aang: Not like her.
(Shift to a close up of Sokka wearing Toph's tournament belt. He cleans it and it makes squeaking noises as he does so. Cut back to Katara and Aang walking over to Appa. They walk on his tail and Appa lifts them up to his back.
Cut to a shot of the bushes behind them. Toph runs through them, breathing heavily. Aang's turns to see her with a look of wonder.)
Aang: Toph! What are you doing here?
Toph: My dad changed his mind. He said I was free to travel the world.
Sokka: (he and Katara look at each quickly) Well, we'd better get out of here - before your dad changes his mind again.
Toph: Good idea.
Aang: You're gonna be a great teacher, Toph.
Toph: (slyly) Speaking of which, I want to show you something.
(Aang airbends himself out of Appa's driver's seat. As he lands in front of Toph, she taps the ground with her foot and a rock erupts from the ground, throwing Aang out of the frame. Cut to a shot from the branches of a nearby tree. Aang hangs from one of them by his feet.)
Toph: Now we're even.
(Cut to a shot from Sokka's p.o.v. looking down at Toph. She extends her hand up towards him.)
Toph: Um, I'll take the belt back.
(Sokka unhooks the belt and drops it on her. It hits on the head with a sound effect and lays her out flat in a heap.)
(Cut to a wide shot Appa and Toph still laid out flat. In the foreground Aang falls out of tree and lands in a heap himself.
Shift scenes to Lao's house. Xin Fu and Yu stand next to each other facing the camera.)
Lao: I know you two are very different...
(Cut to a shot behind Xin Fu and Yu. Lao enters the frame and puts a box he is carrying on the table in front of them.)
Lao: ...but I believe you have a common interest.
(He opens the box to reveal gold coins. Xin Fu looks at them with great, Master Yu with astonishment. A shot of the right half of Xin Fu's face shows his eye sliding over to Yu. A shot of the left half of Yu's face shows the same. Cut to Lao on his seat.)
Lao: The Avatar has kidnapped my daughter. I want you to do whatever it takes to bring her back home.
(Both bow, then fade to Toph in Appa's saddle looking back from where they had come. She looks content and closes her eyes. Cut to a wide shot as Appa grunts and flies away from the camera. Fade to white.)
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