So, is there an unlikelier pair of heroes to go on a secret mission together than Sokka and Zuko? The goofiest fellow in the gang, even if he is the best planner, and the impulsive hothead with seemingly nothing in common?
Yeah, but that’s the sort of thing that makes this awesome.
Zuko seems to be fitting in with most of the group better. He’s really trying at least, such that Sokka feels comfortable enough to ask where Fire Nation prisoners are kept. That would be Boiling Rock, a prison in the middle of what looks like an active volcano. Sokka decides to head out there alone because, as he explains, his father was captured following Sokka’s own plan, and that means Sokka feels his honor demands he make things right.
Zuko, he gets that.
He also goes along because he has a balloon and Sokka won’t get far unseen on a flying bison.
Don’t worry. He left Aang some homework.
Well, the plan doesn’t quite work. Mostly because there isn’t one. En route, Sokka explains how he’s a planner, but this time the plan failed and he feels guilty. Zuko replies that he never planned for anything and that was something Iroh always took him to task for. So, really, underlining how different these two guys are.
Besides, in this case, it may take both of them. Zuko’s balloon crashes just inside the prison, and the two basically have to steal some guard uniforms and sneak inside. They can’t take the balloon again, so they’ll need another way out.
That said, the whole inside deal is a good news/bad news thing. The bad news is Hakoda isn’t there. The boys went all that way for nothing. The good news is Suki is there. And that means Sokka can get back at her a little for when she pulled that bit of talking to them when she didn’t have her make-up on and he didn’t recognize her. Granted, that gets him slapped around, but the bigger problem is Zuko gets caught. Distinctive scars tend to do that, and the only thing to do is for Sokka to help the guards catch Zuko and come up with a new plan.
That plan involves a place called the cooler, a chamber that runs cold enough to blunt firebending, that would be able to act as a boat across the superhot water surrounding the prison. Sure, another prisoner named Chit Sang insists on going when he overhears the plan, and he wants his girlfriend and best friend to also come along, and I was wondering why the Fire Nation had a co-ed prison.
Also, the warden is Mai’s uncle, and he is not happy with Zuko, but he figures he can torture the prince a bit before turning him over.
Oh, and a new shipment of prisoners includes some prisoners of war. Sokka, uncertain, opts to stay behind and make sure Haroda isn’t with them. Zuko and Suki understand and also stay. Chit Sang and his buddies take the cooler…and Chit Sang burns himself so they’ll probably get caught.
Fortunately, Hakoda was in the new batch of prisoners, so the whole trip wasn’t for nothing…yet.