|"Amon has been one step ahead of us. But finally we have the advantage. We know the truth about him."|
|— Korra to Mako.|
General Iroh, grandson of the now-retired Fire Lord Zuko, joins in the war against the Equalists. Meanwhile, Team Avatar is lying low in an alley where benders and nonbenders seem to coexist harmoniously, and Mako and Korra go undercover as the war intensifies.
The Equalists have taken control of Republic City. Hiroshi Sato speaks to a crowd of Equalist supporters, proclaiming that the city's "tyrannical bending" government has been overthrown and that Amon has the Avatar on the run. Among other changes, bending is now illegal, the Pro-bending Arena is now an Equalist stronghold and Aang's statue on Aang Memorial Island has been desecrated with banners and a giant replica of Amon's mask. He also promises that the Equalists will defeat the incoming United Forces and go on to create a bending-free world where everyone is equal. As the crowd cheers, two chi-blockers walk off the scene and behind a cluster of bushes. One of them earthbends a rock aside and they both jump into a hidden hole. They remove their masks, revealing that they are Korra and Mako in disguise. The former feels insulted by Hiroshi's speech and expresses her desire to return and "knock some heads", but Mako encourages her to be patient and to wait until General Iroh's forces arrive. She reluctantly agrees.
Later that evening Korra, Mako, Asami, and Bolin dine at Gommu's hideout, a place where poor benders and nonbenders live together in peace. As they eat, the vagabond reveals that their dinner is "culled from the finest dumpsters the city has to offer", which prompts a disgusted Asami to secretly pass her dish to Pabu.
As night drags on, Mako finds Korra resting against Naga. The Avatar expresses her shock that only a few months beforehand, she was taking her firebending test in the South Pole, and now she is in the middle of a war. Mako notes that they did not know each other beforehand and that now he cannot imagine life without her before praising her for being "the most loyal, brave, and selfless person [he has] ever known". Korra responds by saying that she thinks he is "pretty incredible, too. But, you already knew that." They smile, and Mako leans in closer to Korra, but she interjects that they should get some sleep.
The next day, the group exits a tunnel leading to a platform overlooking the bay and the docks. Mako notices the United Forces approaching and grows suspicious as to why there are no Equalists airships or mecha tanks in sight. On board one of the vessels, General Iroh realizes that they have been tricked just as the ships start triggering underwater mines.
As the warships scramble to avoid and safely detonate the mines, a buzzing sound fills the air. Moments later, a squadron of biplanes appears and unleashes a volley of bombs upon the vessels. Korra dives into the bay and attempts to aid the floundering military, but the ships are swiftly defeated despite her efforts. Iroh's ship is struck by a bomb and knocks him into the bay unconscious. Korra rescues him and waterbends them both to safety.
The group returns to their temporarily underground hideout, where Korra heals Iroh's arm, while the general explains that his fleet came prepared to fight mecha tanks, not nimble biplanes. Korra shares the sentiment, remarking that Amon has a knack of outsmarting them. However, Iroh remains hopeful in their eventual victory, trusting the second wave of reinforcements that are en route. He requests that a wire be sent to Bumi, Avatar Aang and Katara's first son and a commander of a division of the United Forces. He sends instructions to wait by Red Sand Island until the biplanes have been taken care of. After Gommu sends the dispatch, Bolin, Asami, and Iroh head toward the mountains to destroy the aircraft base; Korra and Mako, who had only been allowed to go after some arguing, on the other hand, go to Air Temple Island to find Amon and end him.
As the two arrive and change into their Equalist chi-blocker uniforms, they see Amon's airship take off. They begin heading toward the temple to wait for Amon's return. On the way, they are intercepted by the Lieutenant; after making up an excuse, they are ordered to go to the Pro-bending Arena where Amon has planned a rally as extra security.
Korra, however, disobeys the Lieutenant and moves on to the temple using a secret entrance. As she and Mako enter the attic, they are surprised to find Tarrlok locked in a metal cell. The Avatar inquires if there were any other prisoners in the temple, but Tarrlok says no, telling her that he was special, as he is Amon's brother. Shocked, Korra and Mako listen to Tarrlok's story attentively. After Yakone had lost his bending to Avatar Aang, he escaped prison and underwent facial surgery, altering his appearance. Later on, he moved to the Northern Water Tribe, where he fell in love and married. Two years later, a child under the name of Noatak was born; three years after that, a second son named Tarrlok was born.
According to Tarrlok, everything had been fine until the realization that both he and his brother possessed the ability to waterbend. As time went by, the constant waterbending training brought out a cruel side of Yakone. When Tarrlok was seven and Noatak was ten, Yakone took them out on a "hunting trip". There, Yakone revealed his true identity to his sons, and started secretly training them in the art of bloodbending to avenge his loss. As the years went by, Yakone took his sons out on more "hunting trips" during the full moon to train them, keeping he secret from their mother. Noatak learned the psychic technique more quickly, becoming a master at the mere age of fourteen, while Tarrlok "hated every minute" of the training and despised the technique. Soon, their father began taking them out more frequently, teaching them how to use the technique without the presence of the full moon. Finally, the brothers were forced to bloodbend each other. Noatak obeyed, but Tarrlok refused. In anger, his father yelled at his younger son. Noatak, however, bloodbent his father, something that outraged Yakone. His eldest son told him that they were not his tools of revenge and declared that the Avatar's ability to permanently remove bending was much stronger and more powerful than bloodbending. Noatak subsequently turned to Tarrlok, urging him to flee with him, but his younger brother refused, concerned about their mother.
Dismissing his brother as weak, Noatak ran off into the blizzard, leaving Tarrlok and Yakone behind. After days of searching, the two failed to locate Noatak, presuming he perished in the storm. From that moment on, Yakone's wife was never the same, and his father, who gave up on his revenge, passed on a few years later.
When his story concludes, Korra regards it as one of the saddest she has ever heard. Tarrlok apologizes for his past actions, which he attributes to his harsh childhood. He remarks that, even now, Yakone still leaves a scar on the world, saying, "The revolution may be built on a lie, but I think Amon truly believes that bending is the source of all evil in the world." Tarrlok explains that he had realized who Amon was upon feeling his familiar bloodbending grip when he removed his waterbending. Korra comes to the conclusion that Amon's claim about the spirits granting him the ability to permanently take away someone's bending is a lie, as he achieves it with bloodbending. Tarrlok added that he had never encountered a bender as strong as Noatak.
Both Korra and Mako realize that their original plan is doomed to failure because Amon would redirect any attack against him with his mind. However, the Avatar figures that they have an advantage in knowing the truth about Amon. Korra and Mako decide to reveal it at the rally in the hopes that it will cause everyone to abandon his cause and "undermine the revolution". Before leaving the attic, Korra turns to Tarrlok and offers to free him; however, he advises against it, as that would endanger her plans if Amon found out. He urges her to defeat Amon and "put an end to this sad story".
- Also starring:
- Dante Basco - General Iroh
- Daniel Dae Kim - Hiroshi
- Stephen Root - Hobo
- Clancy Brown - Yakone
- Lance Henriksen - Lieutenant
- Jacob Bertrand - Noatak - age 6, 8 and 10
- Alexander Martella - Noatak - age 14
- Nicholas Braico - Tarrlok - age 3, 5 and 7
- Zach Callison - Tarrlok - age 11
- Jeff Bennett - Radio broadcaster
- Additional voices:
- Jeff Bennett
- Dee Bradley Baker
- Clancy Brown
Dee Bradley Baker is credited for voicing Oogi, despite the fact that Oogi does not appear in the episode.
- Main article: Transcript:Skeletons in the Closet
- Main article: Transcript:Skeletons in the Closet (commentary)
- Main article: Writing in the World of Avatar
- This is the second episode in which Gommu appears, the first being "Welcome to Republic City".
- This is the first time Equalist biplanes are seen.
- The scene in which the new Team Avatar split up bore similarity to the battle at Wulong Forest in "Sozin's Comet, Part 3: Into the Inferno" in which:
- Suki, Sokka, and Toph ride on an eel hound - Asami, Bolin, and Iroh ride on Naga.
- Katara and Zuko leave to fight Azula - Korra and Mako head toward Air Temple Island, looking for Amon.
- Gommu and the rest of Republic City's citizens are similar to the Order of White Lotus.
- Yakone's story is continued from the flashbacks in "Out of the Past".
- Amon is Yakone's son and thus Tarrlok's brother.
- Tarrlok reveals Amon to be a waterbender and a bloodbender.
- Yakone had surgery to change his facial appearance.
- Amon's real name and past are revealed.
- Katara was responsible for making bloodbending illegal throughout the United Republic of Nations.
- Amon uses bloodbending to take people's bending away.
- When the Equalists attack Iroh's fleet, the smoke is stationary.
- This episode, along with "Endgame", are some of the few that were released with corresponding press art.
- "Skeletons in the closet" is a colloquial phrase used to describe a shameful secret. In this case, it references Amon being Tarrlok's brother and how Amon is really a bender named Noatak.
- The battle between the United Forces and the Equalists' new armaments was inspired by the battles of World War I and World War II.
- Originally, after being captured by Amon, Tarrlok was going to be imprisoned in the mountainside cabin from "Out of the Past". The creators later decided to have Tarrlok be held within Republic City, and instead used the cabin for Korra's confinement in the aforementioned episode.
- The more ambient, sombre sections of the "War" theme that play during the initial stages of the battle between the United Forces and the Equalists was something Bryan Konietzko pushed for, against the network's objections, to reinforce the reality of war.
- The "Before" theme that plays throughout Tarrlok's flashbacks and narration is a duet comprised of a cello and an erhu, with each instrument representing a character, the cello representing Noatak, and the erhu representing Tarrlok.
- The depiction of animal cruelty when Noatak and Tarrlok test their bloodbending on animals was something that the creators didn't want to depict in a superfluous or glorifying manner, trying to balance it out by showing Tarrlok's empathy for the animals, and the disgust and regret he feels after being bloodbent by his brother for the first time.