Aang and Team Avatar race to resolve rising tensions between benders and non-benders before a town is torn apart!
There's something fishy going on in Cranefish Town, and it's up to Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Toph to find out what, before the simmering conflict between benders and non-benders boils over into all-out war. But danger lurks where they least expect it, and uncovering the truth will reveal a threat unlike any they've ever faced–and a fateful choice for Aang he can never unmake!
As morning comes, Aang returns to the Earthen Fire Refinery, having saved the life of the firebender who sabotaged it last night. He tells Toph, Katara and Sokka that the saboteur, out of gratitude to Aang for saving him, revealed that he had been hired by a pair of teenage girls, one of whom was a skilled earthbender. Katara asks if there was a reason behind the attack, but Aang replies that the firebender wasn't given one. Lao Beifong and Satoru then arrive, with the former informing the others that several other factories were attacked last night, and noting that the attacks seem to have been coordinated, rather than random violence. Suggesting that something is going on beneath the surface of Cranefish Town, Sokka dons his detective hat and declares that Team Avatar should investigate the attacks.
After getting dressed, Team Avatar talk to the owners of the attacked factories, learning that they all produced different goods, ruling out the attacks being attempts to eliminate competitors. They also learn that the attacked factories were all owned by non-benders, while the damage looked like it was caused by benders. Aang recalls Lao's earlier words about benders robbing non-benders, but points out that the factories were sabotaged rather than robbed, and cannot explain why. Sokka tells him that the factories had machines that could do things only benders were thought capable of doing, and that while he personally has no issue with his sister being a bender, bending is still something that could only be used by certain people, and some benders use their powers to oppress non-benders, such as during the Hundred Year War. He and Aang then talk about how the invention of machines has made things more equal between benders and non-benders, with the result that some benders might feel threatened and become desperate enough to attack factories.
Hoping to bridge the divide between benders and non-benders, Aang decides to try and convince the bender-owned businesses to help their non-bender counterparts, starting with Councilwoman Liling. Though Katara is skeptical that Liling would want to help her competition, Aang replies that Liling was the one who proposed setting up a police force to stop the violence in the city. Team Avatar meet with Liling, and Aang talks with her about how Cranefish Town has changed and developed over the years, the councilwoman claiming to understand Aang's feelings on the matter and expressing a desire to have done more to guide the city's development. Hearing this, Aang tells her his idea, and she agrees to support the non-bender owned businesses.
The conversation is then interrupted when Liling's pet cat knocks over and breaks a clay figurine of Kyoshi while being chased by Momo. Assuming Momo was responsible, Aang apologizes and offers to fix it, but Liling calls over Ru and Yaling. As they walk over, Toph has a reaction to the sounds of their footsteps, before Liling introduces her daughters and Yaling uses her earthbending to repair the figurine. Toph acts unimpressed with Yaling, revealing her own metalbending, which causes the other girl to become awestruck. After talking about metalbending, Toph asks Yaling if she has been up the cliffs near Tienhai's statue, to which Yaling replies that she hasn't.
Team Avatar then leave Liling's home, Liling agreeing to send supplies and construction equipment to the damaged factories, and Yaling convincing Toph to teach her metalbending. Once Team Avatar have gone, Ru asks her sister if it's wise to hang out with them, but Yaling replies that Toph will eventually come around to their side, being a bender herself. Ru is still not convinced, and Yaling tells her that she doesn't care what her sister thinks, and that Toph is her chance to learn metalbending. She further tells Ru not to tell Liling anything about her plans with Toph, saying that their mother has enough to worry about with the meeting tomorrow night.
Meanwhile, as Team Avatar walk down the city streets, Toph claims that Liling is involved in the sabotage of last night. She reveals that she heard Ru and Yaling's footsteps after the explosion at the Earthen Fire Refinery, and that Yaling's claim about not being up the cliffs was a lie, guessing that she was the earthbender who nearly killed the saboteur. Aang recalls the saboteur's claim about being hired by a pair of teenage girls, and Toph states that Ru and Yaling were almost certainly the teenage girls in question. Sokka asks how they can prove Liling and her daughters are the ones sabotaging the factories, and Toph replies that she plans to question Yaling about it while pretending to teach her metalbending.
When the group return to the Earthen Fire Refinery, Sokka finds himself reunited with Suki, who had borrowed an eel-hound to travel to Cranefish Town after getting Sokka's message about being delayed there. Not wanting to hang around the couple, Toph heads into the refinery and starts repairing the damage with her bending. As she works, Satoru comes up to her and admits to feeling responsible for the current situation in Cranefish Town, since he created the machines that many benders feel have replaced them. Toph replies that there wouldn't have been enough jobs in the town for all skilled benders even if he hadn't made the machines, claiming that people are just looking for someone to blame. Satoru asks if she is telling him not to feel guilty about what he's done, and she agrees.
The next morning, Toph meets with Yaling at the beach to teach her metalbending. Yaling has no success at first, but Toph tells her to be patient, as she has only been learning for one day. She adds that she once tried to teach Aang, who failed to learn because, as an Air Nomad, he didn't have the necessary fortitude or feel for metal, while an earthbender on the other hand will have what it takes. The two girls then talk about yesterday's meeting and Liling's efforts to help the non-bender owned businesses, Toph claiming that she wouldn't mind if the machines were not repaired immediately, and downplaying her friendship with Aang to gain Yaling's trust. Yaling tells her that many people in Cranefish Town feel that things have gone wrong since the end of the Hundred Year War, with particular regard to the relationship between benders and non-benders. She asks Toph if she wants to attend the meeting Liling is holding that night, saying that it's for concerned citizens who want to restore things to the natural order. Toph agrees, and Yaling tells her the password.
Toph returns to Team Avatar with her information on the meeting, proposing that they go and subdue those attending. Katara advises otherwise, saying that they don't know why the factories were attacked or the extent of Liling's involvement, and that they can't arrest her without evidence. Toph replies that they can find out what they need while attacking the meeting, but Sokka suggests that instead of using violence, Team Avatar could go undercover to infiltrate the meeting and gather information, Toph going as Yaling's guest, the others disguising themselves. Though feeling that this approach will be less enjoyable, Toph agrees, wanting to catch the people who attacked her father's factory.
That night, Aang, Katara, Sokka and Suki follow Toph as she accompanies Yaling to the location of the meeting. The two girls head through a door watched by a guard, the others following by giving the password - Imbalance. They find themselves inside one of the town's old mines, and make their way to a large cavern where many benders are gathered, including members of the town council, and one of the boys Aang and Sokka met on the beach two days ago.
Addressing the crowd from a raised stone platform, with Ru stood nearby, Liling reveals Lao's attempt to ban public bending at the council meeting two days ago, claiming that he wants to replace benders with machinery controlled by him and like-minded people. The crowd react with anger, and Liling goes on to say that the abilities of benders make them greater, more valuable, and more suited to lead than non-benders. Ru appears disturbed by these words, before Liling then urges the benders to put aside their different nationalities and work together against the non-benders. Whispering to Aang, Katara suggests they put a stop to Liling's speech, but Aang points out that they are currently outnumbered. One of the attendees then asks how they can rebel against the non-benders, saying that the non-benders on the council only have to complain to Earth King Kuei, and he will send an army to Cranefish Town. Liling answers that by destroying the machines in the non-bender factories, the non-bender owners will be unable to do business and will subsequently end up bankrupt, forcing them out without attracting Kuei's attention, and making Cranefish Town a city that belongs only to benders.
Having heard enough, Aang quietly suggests that Team Avatar leave, before they all see Toph walking up onto the platform with Yaling. Ru is shocked to see Toph there, but Yaling replies that Toph supports their cause. Toph however chooses this moment to reveal her true allegiances, and attempts to detain Liling, prompting Yaling to attack Toph, declaring her a traitor and accusing her of choosing the non-benders over her fellow benders. Toph replies that the non-benders in question are her friends and family, and she will always choose to side with them.
Hoping to get Toph and escape, Aang and the rest of Team Avatar reveal themselves. Seeing them, Liling tells Aang that he should have stayed away from Cranefish Town, and that she never wanted to be his enemy. She then rallies the crowd against Aang, saying that he is choosing to oppose his fellow benders, and asking them if they want a boy who abandons them for their Avatar. Aang tries to negotiate, but Liling replies that he has already chosen his side, before earthbending a great wall between the benders and non-benders of Team Avatar and ordering the crowd to attack.
As the others battle, Toph continues to fight Yaling, who calls her a poor teacher for not teaching her any metalbending. Toph replies that she has taught an entire school of earthbenders how to metalbend, and that Yaling failed to learn because she was a terrible bender. She succeeds in knocking her back with an earth pillar, but Yaling gets back to her feet and claims that she is a better bender than Toph. The other girl tells her to prove it, and the two of them charge at each other with earth gauntlets. Both are sent flying away from each other in the clash, with Yaling coming to land besides Ru, before they are both confronted by Sokka and Suki. Sokka asks Ru how she can support her mother's targeting of non-benders like them, but Yaling attacks before her sister can reply, Suki chi-blocking her moments later.
With Team Avatar having overpowered all of Liling's supporters, Liling attacks them with a burst of powerful earthbending, before bending a tunnel in the cavern and telling her daughters and supporters to escape while she holds Team Avatar off. Ru and Yaling protest, but Liling replies that Aang can only imprison her; the most important thing is to ensure her supporters remain free to carry on their fight. As the others escape, Liling starts collapsing the cavern with her earthbending, but Toph manages to prevent it with her own bending, and Liling is subdued by both Aang and Suki. Aang declares her under arrest and her plan over, but Liling grins and claims it has only just begun.
Up on the streets, Ru assists Yaling in walking, but Yaling drops to her knees, traumatized over being chi-blocked by Suki. Ru assures her that her bending will return, only for Yaling to express a worry that it won't, and that she will be just like Ru. Her sister looks unhappy at this remark, before she tells Yaling that they should head home and come up with a plan to rescue their mother.
Liling is shown to be at the Earthen Fire Refinery, imprisoned within a metal cage of Toph's design. Toph assumes that they can simply capture Ru and Yaling and bring an end to the crisis, but Sokka replies that the situation is more complicated than that, since the rally demonstrated that Liling has support from numerous benders within Cranefish Town, including criminals and council members. Katara responds that Liling is the one advocating the idea of bender supremacy, but Sokka argues that she's merely aggravating tensions between benders and non-benders that have existed for a long time. Aang says that they nevertheless need to deal with Liling and talks about contacting the Earth Kingdom authorities, but Toph proposes another solution: Aang should do what he did to Fire Lord Ozai and take away Liling's bending, to make an example of her and discourage her supporters from causing further trouble. Aang is left shocked at this prospect.