The episode or series of episodes of Avatar the Last Airbender series that features Long Feng is one of the saddest points in the whole journey of Aang as an Avatar. It featured a very sad and depressed Avatar Aang who had given up on hope.
This is the direct opposite to the cheery and hopeful Aang that we came to know. Long Feng would turn out to be one of the villains in this arc. It began when Avatar Aang lost his Bison in the desert at the spirit library.
Team Avatar, taking a vacation into the desert, started nice like any other goofy adventure they would usually embark on. It, however, took a turn for the worse as everything came crashing down around them and quite literally, too.
The road that would eventually lead the team of four at that time started when the spirit that knows ten thousand things decided he had had enough of humans, abusing his vast collection of knowledge.
He was convinced that everyone that came to the library always sought after one thing; the destruction of their enemies. After the team lied to him about their purpose, he was intent on taking back his knowledge. So he began to sink the library. At this same moment, Appa was being dragged away by sand benders.
Toph, holding the top of the library’s dome using a strong Earth bending stance, could do nothing to help Appa as the sand benders dragged him away. She would later identify the culprits of the heinous crime as the son of the chief from the sand bender tribe. She recognized his voice from when he told his partners to put a muzzle on Appa. He also told them that Appa would be in Ba Sing Se. This was the way they met Long Feng.
Who is Long Feng?
Long Feng was the Grand Secretariat of Ba Sing Se, the leader of the Dai Li. He appeared to be very smart and a very charismatic, influential, and manipulative individual. He got to the position he was by scheming and conniving, clearly resulting from his great lust for power.
He was the Earth King Kuei’s closest personal adviser. As a result of this influential position, Long Feng hid the existence of the Hundred Year War that was going on outside of the Earth Kingdom city’s walls. They maintained this ruse by having the Dai Li, who at this time had deviated from the original purpose that Avatar Kyoshi created them for.
The Dai Li, at this point, had been converted to government thugs under the control of Long Feng. The ruse of a peaceful Ba Sing Se and the war-less world was maintained while the Dai Li supplanted the king’s power over his people.
With the arrival of Avatar Aang and his team at the city, Long Feng captured their lost flying Bison, Appa. He did this as he was looking to get some leverage in advance should the Avatar and his friends ever think to disrupt the delicate balance the Dai Li had created.
His ulterior motives were exposed by the Avatar when the Dai Li could not hide all evidence of the Fire Nation’s invasion from the Earth King, so Long Feng was imprisoned for treason.
However, the Dai Li were still loyal to their leader, and Long Feng struck a deal with Princess Azula to give her the Avatar in exchange for power over the city, though Azula double-crossed him and won the loyalty of the Dai Li, claiming Ba Sing Se in the name of the Fire Nation.
His Seizure of Power
Long Feng was the son of a merchant in the Middle Ring of Ba Sing Se. This basically indicates that he doesn’t come from much. His parents were well to do, but he always wanted more.
He rose from humble origins to become the most feared man in the city as the Grand Secretariat of Ba Sing Se and the Head of the Dai Li.
As Grand Secretariat of Ba Sing Se, this position granted him a special relationship with the Earth King as his adviser as we would eventually come to find out that, in reality, the Earth King was but a figurehead of Ba Sing Se’s government. So it happened that Long Feng was the original ruler of the city.
He truly held sway over the privatizing affairs of Ba Sing Se. As the Hundred Year War with the Fire Nation spread and refugees began pouring into Ba Sing Se in greater and greater numbers, Long Feng decided to keep all information relating to the war away from Earth King Kuei.
In this regard, he thus appointed himself as the sole dictator in matters relating to international affairs. Long Feng claimed that he hid information on the war so the Earth King would not be troubled, but in reality, he only did so to retain his power over him and the city. Control was essential to holding on to the power he had crawled and clawed his way to achieving.
He acted as the Head of the Dai Li, and he used the group as his own secret police. He used them to silence anyone who would disrupt the common peace or dare stand against him. He would secretly imprison these defectors of peace under Lake Laogai.
He also used brainwashing techniques to subdue them. This effectively kept the citizens of Ba Sing Se in blissful ignorance and maintained the illusion that there was no war. However, it became harder to maintain this illusion as more and more refugees that this very war had displaced came pouring in.
He claimed that it was up to him to preserve the last utopian society left on the planet. He planned to do this by covering up all knowledge of the war when he was only interested in holding on to power in any manner and form he could find. His power was so absolute that even the Council of Five could not break through his stranglehold on the Royal Palace.