As the scene opens, a voice, soft and distant, echoes through the darkness of sleep.
Kya Katara ...
A brief close-up of a closed eye pans out and to the side, showing a young Katara in profile; her eyes open slowly.
Kya Katara, sweetie ... Wake up!
Her mother is beside her, a cheerful look on her face. As Katara sits up and rubs her eye, Kya moves to the door, a pair of skins draped across the opening on the other side of the igloo. Turning back toward Katara, she smiles.
Katara [Groggily.] Mom ...
Kya You have to see this! The snow just stopped and now the sun is out ...
Moments later, the two are outside. Under a pale sky tinted with rose and streaked with clouds, the village of the Southern Water Tribe sits in silence; the only marks in the smooth, fresh snowfall are the footprints following behind Kya and Katara, who kneel in an open space among the jumbled collection of igloos and tents.
Kya The whole village looks brand new.
The frame zooms on them, regarding the scene before them in mutual wonder.
Kya [A hand on Katara's shoulder.] Isn't it beautiful?
Katara [Smiling, eyes wide.] More beautiful than anything I've ever seen.
Kya Wake up.
Katara [Turning to look at her mother's face.] Mom, I'm already awake, silly!
Kya Wake up.
Something is wrong. Kya's expression is suddenly static, as though she were a robot; her eyes stare emptily into space, and the gloved hand which was on Katara's shoulder now hangs in midair, as if unaware that Katara has moved out from under it.
Katara [Unsure.] Mom? You okay? How come you don't --
Kya Wake up.
The scene turns to reality: a bedroom in the hold of a ship. The left and right sides of the small room each hold a single bunk, their occupants' belonging sitting at the foot of each. As Katara lies asleep in the bunk on the room's left side, Sokka stands over her with a hand on her pillow, yelling at her as she mutters in her sleep.
Katara -- sound like you?
Sokka [Yelling loudly.] Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! We're here!
Awakening, Katara sits up and rubs her eyes.
Katara Who ... ? Sokka ... ?
Sokka Yeah ... Your brother, remember? [Noticing her dreamlike expression.] You okay, sis?
Katara I'm okay ... I just had this dream that was happy and sad all at once ...
Moments later, having donned their thick coats and belongings, the two exit the room with Sokka in the lead.
Katara ... But I guess it was mostly happy. Come on, let's go home!
As they walk across the earthen docks, away from the ships, Katara looks around her, while Sokka studies the map.
Katara You sure we're in the right spot?
Sokka According to the map, this dock is just about a mile from home!
Katara [Gesturing around her.] But none of this looks familiar.
Sokka Hey, I read the map. And like you're always saying, no one can read a map like me!
Katara [Quietly, to herself.] "Always"? I said it once.
As Sokka continues to study the map in confusion, his eyebrows furrowed, Katara turns her attention back in front of her. Looking up, she raises a hand to point at something she sees and speaks excitedly to Sokka.
Katara Sokka, look! Up on that hill! Penguin sledders!
The perspective switches to Katara's view: On the top of a hill a short distance away, a small child has just disappeared from view down the hill's far side, leaving a cloud of snow in his wake. Behind him, two more children wait for their turn, surrounded by a large number of placid otter penguins. A short moment later, Katara and Sokka have climbed the hill. As the last child disappears down the slope with a burst of laughter, Katara speaks to Sokka, who still seems confused, and gestures at the sledding child.
Katara Remind you of anything?
Sokka [Arms crossed, an eyebrow raised.] Yeah! It reminds me of -- of ... [Dropping his head and closing his eyes.] Nope. I got nothing.
Katara Come on, don't those kids remind you of ...
As she stares into space, a scene from the past unfolds in Katara's mind: Aang and Katara speeding down a steep slope, smiling excitedly, each of them on the back of an otter penguin.
Sokka What?
Katara [Her expression soft and happy.] The day we met Aang.
Sokka [Jokingly.] Oh, yeah ... You thought he was a spy for the Fire Navy. Ha ha!
Katara [Skeptical of his claim.] Pretty sure that's not how it went. [Gesturing at the otter penguins.] Wanna? For old times' sake?
A moment later, the siblings are riding the animals down the slope. While Katara, her eyes closed, laughs euphorically, Sokka has a death grip on his mount; his eyes are wide open, staring straight ahead of him, his mouth clenched in a grimace.
Katara Ha ha ha!
Sokka [Terrified.] Just so you know, I have never ever ever been a fan of thiiiis!
The ground levels out at the bottom of the hill, but as soon as they reach the bottom, Sokka and his otter penguin crash at full speed into a wooden beam protruding from the snow. As the cloud of snow settles, the otter penguin picks itself up and waddles off, leaving a stunned Sokka sitting upright, a lump of snow on his head.
Katara [Running to him, concerned.] Sokka --?!
Sokka [Wincing.] I'm fine, I'm fine. But who would put a giant beam in the middle of the --
Sokka suddenly realizes what he had crashed into and stands up; the frame shifts behind the siblings. They stare in awe at the structure before them: a partially completed stone foundation lies between two separate frames of wood and stone, both of which tower over the siblings and the numerous children playing mindlessly in and around the structure.
Sokka Whoa.
Turning to their left, they look down the length of the building, trying to understand the reason the building is there.
Katara Looks like they're building ... a housing complex, maybe? Or a factory?
Sokka Whatever it is, it'll be the biggest structure in the entire South Pole, for sure!
Two children building a snowman have been standing near Sokka. Looking at one of the children, Sokka ventures a question.
Sokka Hey, kid! What are they building here?!
Child [Eyes closed, not looking at Sokka.] My mama told me not to talk to strangers!
Sokka [Mildly upset at not being recognized.] What?! I'm not a stranger! I'm from around here! I'm Sokka of the Southern Water Tribe!
Child #1 [Swiveling his head, glancing at Sokka.] So ... you're a friend?
Sokka Yeah! I'm a friend!
The child throws a snowball directly into Sokka's face, surprising him. As Katara begins to laugh, Sokka begins to chase the child, who is laughing ecstatically as well.
Sokka Why, you little ... !
Child #1 Ha ha!
As Sokka grabs the boy's hood, a voice from close by, clear and unhappy, catches his attention.
Noa Hey! What do you brats think you're doing?
Glancing in the direction of the voice, Sokka finds himself confronted by three men, two in blue shirts covered by gray overalls and a third in gray clothes and a green jacket. All of them are steadily advancing on him.
Noa Didn't you read the sign?! No trespassing!
Sokka [Releasing the child, confused.] What sign?!
Child #1 [Glancing over his shoulder.] I think Tomi used it for our snowman's shield.
The frame jumps to Tomi, who has pulled the sign from its former place on the snowman and is hiding behind the wooden plank.
Tomi Uh-oh. Was that a no-no? Sorry.
Katara [Kneeling next to Tomi and another girl, speaking to the men.] You're right, sir. Kids shouldn't be playing on a construction site! My brother and I will make sure they leave right away!
Noa Aw, you think it's gonna be that easy? [Taking on an aggressive bending stance.] This is the third time this week I found these brats where they're not supposed to be! I'm gonna have to teach 'em a lesson!
Noa throws his arms out in front of him, and a wave of snow shoots past Sokka, who jumps out of its way as it continues toward Katara, Tomi, and the girl.
Sokka Watch out!
Swinging her own arms, Katara moves the crest of the wave above herself and splits it in two, throwing the halves aside. The expressions of the three men morph from confidence to fear as they watch.
Katara Three grown men attacking a bunch of little kids?! Really?! [Over her shoulder to the children, as she bends the snow beneath her into a large number of snowballs.] Get out of here, guys!
She hurls the snowballs at the men, though the two in blue move to catch them all with waterbending.

Watching the duel unfold from a safer vantage point, Tomi watches the fight over the shoulder of the child Sokka questioned, who is peering out from behind his gloved hands, torn between fear and curiosity.

Sokka [Smiling enthusiastically.] Kid, you don't wanna miss this! It's gonna be awesome to watch! Painful for those guys, but awesome!
The frame cuts back to the two waterbenders, holding the snowballs in midair.
Noa Guess you're the one who needs a lesson, girl!
The two men bend the snowballs, combining them into one large, round mass, and hurl it at Katara. Extending a single arm before her, she catches the giant snowball in midair; she throws her arms behind her, and a number of spikes sprout from the surface of the ball, which she promptly hurls back at the men, who are terrified by the display of bending. Before it can hit them, Noa cries out.
Noa Stop! You win, all right?! You win!
Back with Sokka, the nervous child has stood up, wide-eyed at Katara's bending.
Child #1 Awesome!
Sokka Told ya.
Katara throws the large, spiky snowball aside and approaches the three men, who step nervously away from her.
Noa We were just gonna scare those kids, is all! We weren't gonna actually hurt 'em!
Katara If you want to keep people away from here, how about putting up a fence?!
As the three men run from the scene, disappearing into the distance, Katara walks back to Sokka and the kids, speaking to the girl who had been standing with Tomi moments before.
Katara Those guys were jerks, but they were right. You and your friends shouldn't play here.
Child #2 I know.
Sokka [To Tomi and his friend.] Come on, my sister and I will walk you home. Where do you live?
Child #1 [Pointing into the distance.] That way.
Sokka [Checking the map, surprised.] Wait, you're from the village? Who are your parents?
Child #1 Village? What village? You mean the city?
Katara's eyes widen as she stares ahead of her; Sokka, having lifted his eyes from the map, does the same. The thing at which they are looking is, for the moment, not visible in the frame, which looks away from the scene and down on Katara, Sokka and the child.
Katara [Disbelieving.] Sokka, this isn't ... ?
Sokka It is. The map says this is home.
An overhead frame reveals a large city. Buildings tower prominently over the avenue on either side, and the avenue itself is filled with people shopping for goods being sold on carts in the shadow of the buildings. In addition, pools of water sit in the middle of the avenue, and two small channels, one on either side of the avenue, carry flowing water down the street.

The modernization of the village in their absence is shocking to both Katara and Sokka.

Katara [Sad and wistful.] So then ... Our village is gone.
Sokka [Ecstatic, pointing down the street.] It's not gone, it's just better! Look at this place!
Katara [Glancing down the left side of the street, at an old woman handling a cart.] Hey, there's Auntie Ashuna! [Calling out as Sokka, seeing his aged aunt, runs to her.] Auntie Ashuna!
Ashuna [Slowly recognizing the two siblings.] Sokka?! Katara?!
As Sokka reaches Ashuna, he wraps her in a hug. Seconds later, Katara is with them.
Ashuna My goodness! It's been too long!
Katara How are you, Auntie?
Ashuna Can't complain. Business has been pretty steady.
Katara [Looking at the cart.] How come you've got a cart? What happened to your hut?
Ashuna Torn down, like everything else. [Gesturing to her left.] A bunch of us old-timers live in that building over there, now.
Pulling out a few sticks of smoked meat, Ashuna offers them to Sokka and Katara, to the thrill of the former.
Ashuna Have some seal jerky, you two! Bet it's been ages since you've tasted my secret recipe!
Sokka [Trying to bite through the jerky.] Ow. It's as, uh ... sturdy as I remember it, Auntie.
Ashuna [Yelling to the people in the crowd.] Hey, everybody! Katara and Sokka are back!
Hearing Ashuna's declaration, a small mob of people soon surrounds Katara and Sokka, their various greetings and questions filling the air.
Water Tribe citizens Look! Our hometown heroes have returned! We missed you guys so much! How come the Avatar isn't with you? Are we gonna get to meet him? So what's the Fire Nation like? Is it true everything's on fire over there? You've done the Southern Water Tribe proud, kids!
Kanna Now what's all this commotion about?
While the crowd has gathered around Katara and Sokka, their grandmother has walked up behind them. Hearing her voice, they spin around to face her, overjoyed to see her.
Katara Gran Gran?!
Kanna Ha ha! Come here, you two!
The three embrace each other tightly; both Katara's and Sokka's eyes are closed tightly, and Katara is on the verge of tears.
Katara We missed you so much!
Kanna Oh, I've missed you too, children! More than I can say!
Katara [As they separate.] You look the same as ever, Gran Gran!
Kanna [Smiling.] But Sokka's gotten taller!
Sokka [Flexing his arm.] And more muscular!
Pakku Eh. I don't know about that.
Katara [Excitedly turning to see the waterbending master walking toward them.] Pakku?
Pakku That's Grandpa Pakku to you now!
Sokka [As Pakku walks to Kanna, placing an arm around her.] You guys got married?!
Kanna Just a few weeks ago!
Katara And we missed the ceremony?! I knew we should have come back sooner!
Kanna No, dear, there wasn't a ceremony to miss! We eloped to the Misty Palms Oasis!
Pakku Which, to be perfectly blunt, doesn't live up to its name.
Kanna But it didn't matter because we still had the most wonderful time! Pakku's such a romantic!
Pakku [Chuckling.] Katara, you ought to come visit my school! I'm trying to train up new waterbenders here in the South. I could use your help.
Katara You started a school?! But where did you find students?
Pakku Well ... That's the interesting part. Come visit when you get the chance.
Sokka You know, Master Pakku, you could probably use my help, too.
Pakku [Baffled and dispassionate.] But you're not a bender, Sokka.
Sokka See, that's where you're wrong! I am a bender ... a bender of motivation!
Pakku [Side-eyeing Sokka skeptically.] Hm.
Kanna Your father will be so thrilled to see you two! He's so proud of you! We all are! He told us about how brave Sokka was on the Day of Black Sun, about what an accomplished waterbender Katara's become ... He talks about you all the time!
Pakku Seriously. All the time. Don't get me wrong, I like you kids just fine, but there are still limits, you understand?
Sokka So where is Dad?
Pakku In his office.
Sokka Dad's got an office?!
Pakku [Gesturing behind himself.] Yes, over in the town hall.
Sokka There's a town hall?!
Pakku [Annoyed.] You repeating everything I say doesn't help anybody, young man.
Kanna I don't think they know, sweetie. Sokka, Katara, your father isn't just our local chieftain anymore -- He's been elected head chieftain of the entire Southern Water Tribe!
The scene jumps forward a few moments: Katara and Sokka stand in front of the imposing town hall building. The structure's portico is decorated with banners bearing symbols of the tribe, and the decorative tympanum over the portico bears the elemental symbol of waterbending.
Katara That's Dad's office?! It's so, so ...
Sokka Grand? Gleaming? Spectacular?
Katara [As the frame zooms on her face, highlighting her shock and disbelief.] So not Dad.
Moments later, Katara and Sokka step through the door of Hakoda's office, a warm room with walls of stone and wood floors. Hakoda sits at a desk on the opposite side of the room, his head down as he writes on a piece of paper. Two people, a reddish-haired woman and a shorter, black-haired, bespectacled man, stand on his left. Katara knocks softly on the open door, trying to get her father's attention.
Hakoda One second. We're almost done.
Katara Dad?
Hakoda [Immediately rising from his chair and looking to the door.] Katara? Sokka? [He rushes to the door and embraces them both.] You're here! You're really, really here!
Katara [As they separate.] I'm sorry it's taken us so long to come home!
Hakoda Nonsense! You two have been busy helping the Avatar rebuild the world! And I know from experience --
Malina Rebuilding takes an awful lot of time.
Hakoda [Stepping back further.] Sokka, Katara, let me introduce you to Malina and Maliq of the Northern Water Tribe. Their construction crew is helping us with the Southern Reconstruction Project.
Malina We've actually spent more of our lives in the Earth Kingdom than the North Pole, but I guess once you're "of the Northern Water Tribe", you're always "of the Northern Water Tribe". [Laughs amicably.]
Stepping forward, Malina and Maliq shake Katara and Sokka's hands, respectively.
Maliq [Enthusiastically, to Sokka.] What a pleasure! What an absolute pleasure! We followed news about the two of you long before we began working with your father -- ever since you saved La and Tui!
Katara [To Malina.] Nice to meet you. Welcome to the South.
Malina Can you believe it, Maliq? Two bona fide celebrity heroes in our midst!
Sokka [Raising a hand.] Please, please! Katara and I aren't celebrities! [Quieter.] Heroes, sure. But not celebrities.
A knock at the door interrupts them, and all five of them turn their heads to the doorway to see Noa, Kam, and Soonjei standing there.
Noa Hey, Malina, you finished going over those plans yet?
Immediately after saying this, Noa and his compatriots, recognizing Katara and Sokka, recoil toward the exit behind them.
Noa [Shocked.] You!
Katara [Her brow furrowed menacingly.] You.
Hakoda Kids, these gentlemen are on Malina and Maliq's crew ... [Indicating the men, none of which are looking at Katara and Sokka, in turn.] Noa. Kam. And Soonjei. Noa and Kam are waterbenders. Soonjei's an earthbender. They're among the finest in the world.
Sokka [Sarcastically.] Really? Could've fooled me. Katara took 'em down with --
Noa [Angry.] We specialize in construction bending, not combat bending!
Soonjei [Holding a clenched fist to his chest.] We're artists, not fighters!
Sokka Well, you guys are just about the burliest artists I've ever seen.
Malina [As Katara and Noa stand directly in front of each other, glaring angrily.] So then ... I take it you all have met already?
Katara [Her gaze fixed on Noa.] We did.
Noa [His gaze fixed on Katara.] We had some trouble down by the site ... But we worked it out.
Katara [Taking a step back from Noa.] Your crew thoughtfully offered to put up a fence. Something they should've done a long time ago.
Maliq [Slightly upset, to his crew.] I've been after you guys to do that since before we started! Regulations, people! [To himself.] Come down here and think you can get sloppy ...
Malina All right, fellas, you're done for the day. I'll bring the blueprints to you first thing in the morning.
As the three men exit the room, Sokka and Katara turn back to Hakoda.
Sokka What exactly are you building, anyway?
Hakoda A new office. This building is really meant for the local city government. They were kind enough to let me set up here temporarily.
Katara [Breathing a sigh of relief.] I was gonna say, Dad. This office seems too ... fancy for you. No offense, but you're not a fancy kind of guy.
Hakoda [His expression strained.] Well ... Maybe you're right about that, Katara. But --
When Malina, her own expression highly enthusiastic, cuts Hakoda off mid-sentence, she is looking at Katara from behind the chief and cannot see his face.
Malina Oh, wait'll you see what we've got in store for your old man! You'll flip! [Walking to the low table in the center of the room and picking up one of the blueprints resting on it.] We're putting up the most magnificent building in the history of the South! Exactly what a head of state like your father deserves!
Katara [Taken aback.] That actually sounds like the exact opposite of what I was --
Malina It won't just be an office --
Malina unrolls the blueprint, revealing to Sokka and Katara the design of a grandiose, hulking structure topped off by a highly prominent, decorated dome, as well as a supplementary turret added to the right of the dome.
Malina It'll be a palace!
Katara [Mixed disbelief and outrage.] A palace?!
Sokka [Utterly ecstatic.] Sweet!
Katara [Slowly turning her head, glaring at her father over her shoulder.] Dad ...?
Hakoda [Still wearing that forced, anxious expression.] I know, Katara. I never would've thought to build something like this myself. It's Malina's idea ... and I've come to see that it's a good one.
Malina [With passion.] A palace commands respect, you see? It says to the world ... Look out! We're here! We're a people to be reckoned with! [To Katara.] You need that here in the South, more than you know!
Katara What's that supposed to mean?!
Hakoda What Malina is trying to say is if the Southern Water Tribe is going to start collaborating more with other nations, we need to show them that we're equal partners.
Sokka Well, I for one think it's about time! [To Malina.] Can you put a slide in the middle of the palace?
Malina [Bursting into a fit of laughter.] Ha ha! Sokka, you're too funny!
Sokka I wasn't trying to be funny.
Malina You know what? I like your innovative thinking, Sokka! How about consulting for our crew while you're here?
Sokka Wow! That'd be great! I've always dreamed of being a consultant!
Katara [Whispering to Sokka; annoyed by his behavior.] You have not, Sokka! Stop kissing up!
Sokka [Whispering back.] Don't consultants just tell people what to do?
Katara ... Point taken.
Maliq The future keeps getting brighter and brighter! You all must let Malina and I take you out to dinner to celebrate!
Malina Yes, please! We'd love that! My favorite restaurant's right around the corner!
Hakoda It's up to you kids. We'll understand if you're too tired.
Katara We appreciate the offer, but it really has been a long day for --
Sokka [Interrupting her, with gusto.] Man, I've been waiting for someone to say "dinner"! Let's go!
Maliq [As Katara glares daggers at Sokka.] Wonderful! Let me grab my briefcase.
Malina It's fine to leave it here, Maliq.
Maliq [Tucking the briefcase under his arm.] No, no. I prefer to keep it with me.
The scene jumps to the evening, several hours later. A brief shot of the glass doors of the front entrance of the restaurant is shown, accompanied by a caption translating the characters tracing an arch over the entrance: "Two Fishes Northern Cuisine". The shot jumps to the interior, where Katara, Sokka, Hakoda, Malina, and Maliq sit at a round table, all of them eating.
Sokka [His mouth full.] My mouth is so happy right now.
Malina [Laughing.] Ha ha! I have to tell you, before this place opened up, I was having a hard time with Southern cooking. I mean, it's good and all, but it's so close to Northern food that everything tastes a little ... off to me, you know?
Katara "Off"?
Malina No offense.
Sokka Mm. None taken.
Katara [Voice lowered, to Sokka.] Speak for yourself.
A short distance from their table, the head chef stands in the door to the kitchen, holding a large, silver bowl with a lid and handles. He addresses a boy and a girl in their early teens, who are working as his bussers.
Chef I know you two are new here, but hurry it up already!
The boy takes the silver dish from the chef. Before moving away from the door, he turns to the girl.
Busboy [Voice hushed.] Ready?
Busgirl Ready. For the tribe.
The two walk toward the group's table, unnoticed by any of them.
Hakoda Sokka, that's never been a problem for you, has it? The differences between Northern and Southern cooking?
Sokka Nope. To me, food is food. As long as there's meat involved.
Maliq I must confess that I completely disagree with Malina! I can't get enough of the native cuisine down here! There's a lady who sells dry goods from a cart --
Hakoda Ashuna?
Maliq Yes! That's her name! Her seal jerky is hard to beat!
Sokka Well ... That's one way of putting it.
The busboy steps into the gap between Hakoda and Malina. As he moves to set the dish on the table, he abruptly stumbles, and the lid slides off the dish, sending hot soup rushing over the table. All seated at the table rise quickly, recoiling as the soup flows toward them.
Busboy Oops!
Sokka Whoa!
Busboy [Stooping to retrieve the dish, lying upside-down on the floor.] I'm so sorry!
Malina [On the busboy's left.] Happens to the best of us. You all right, young man?
As Maliq stands on the opposite side of the table from Malina and the busboy, he turns to his right and is shocked to see that the busgirl, unnoticed in the commotion, has picked up his briefcase.
Maliq Hey, hey! What do you think you're doing?! Hands off my briefcase!
Caught in the act, the busgirl stands still, momentarily frozen by panic. Recovering swiftly, she uses the briefcase to strike Maliq across his face with all the force she can muster. The impact stuns him for a moment and knocks his glasses from his face to the floor. As he holds his face, she dashes for the exit with the briefcase.
Maliq Come back, you thief!
As the girl runs past a water-filled aquarium, Malina abends the water within into a large stream held in midair.
Malina I got her, Maliq!
Throwing the stream forward, she directs the water onto the floor, directly underneath the girl's feet and freezes it into a thin layer of ice. Slipping on the ice, the girl yells and hits the floor.
Busgirl Yikes!
While Malina, now standing next to the aquarium and the restaurant's front greeting desk, has turned her attention to the busgirl, the busboy has picked up the now-empty dish and hurls it at Malina. The dish hits her in her side; with a heavy groan, she is knocked off-balance and falls, striking her head on the corner of the front desk. When she hits the floor, she is unconscious.
Maliq [As he and Hakoda run to her aid.] Malina!
As the two men reach Malina's side, the two bussers, the boy now holding the briefcase, reach the front doors of the restaurant. Leaving them open behind them, they flee onto the porch, sprinting for the stairs just ahead of them.
Busboy Run!!
Katara and Sokka run past Hakoda, Maliq, and Malina on their way to the doors; Katara turns around briefly as she runs, yelling back at them.
Katara Dad, you make sure Malina's okay! Sokka and I will get that briefcase!
Sokka [Yelling over his shoulder.] And those kids!
Running through the open doors, Katara and Sokka catch sight of the two kids; they sit on a snowmobile, trying to start it.
Sokka [Pointing at them.] Over there!
The snow machine's engine comes to life. As the girl pilots the machine away, the boy turns around and sees Sokka and Katara.
Busboy [Urgent.] Go go go!
Before the machine can gain speed, however, Sokka runs up behind the snowmobile and is able to grab the boy's right arm.
Sokka Gotcha!
In response, the boy slams the briefcase into Sokka's head with his free hand, sending him flying backward with a grunt. Katara waterbends a mound of snow behind him as he staggers, keeping him from falling, as the snowmobile speeds away, disappearing down an adjacent avenue.
Busboy See ya!
Sokka rises to his feet and runs after Katara, who has already begun her pursuit of the fugitives on foot. They run as far as the outskirts of the city before they finally stop, gasping for breath as they stare at the track left by the snowmobile, which leads into the distance and out of sight.
Sokka [Breathing heavily.] Dang it. They got away.
Katara No, they didn't!
Waving her arms, she waterbends a small sled out of snow. Sokka clenches his fists triumphantly, and moments later, Katara stands on the back of the sled, driving it forward with waterbending as Sokka sits in front of her, gripping the edge of the sled with his hands, his face filled with excitement.
Sokka Woohoo!
On the snowmobile, the boy turns around to see Katara and Sokka gaining on them from behind, a billowing cloud of snow behind them.
Busboy What?! How'd they catch up?!
Busgirl That girl's a waterbender! Don't worry, we'll lose them!
The girl steers the machine to the left, veering off course and into a gap between two groves. Moments later, the machine flies off the edge of a considerably tall ledge. Hitting the snow below with force but not enough to damage it, the snowmobile continues on its way, rumbling off into the darkness. Katara continues to give chase.
Sokka Katara, they just went off that jump! I'm not sure this thing can withstand the impact of --
Katara Sokka, I got this! Just hang on as tight as you can!
The sled shoots over the ledge and flies into the air; Katara grips the side of the sled, her eyes closed as she braces for the impact, and Sokka maintains his death grip on the front edge of the sled, his eyes wide in terror.
Sokka Okay, but my hands are freezing!
The sled lands and shatters completely, sending its fragments and a cloud of snow blasting outward from the site of the impact. After a moment, Sokka, still sitting up, breaks the silence, holding his rear, on which he has landed.
Sokka Ow. [Grabbing a piece of the sled and turning to Katara, who sits next to him.] As I was saying, I'm not sure a sled made of ice can withstand the impact of the landing!
Katara And as I was saying -- [Standing, she waterbends and creates another, identical ice sled.] I got this!
Moments later, they are off again, speeding through the center of a craggy formation of ice and snow rising on either side of them.
Sokka Woohoo! Again!
The frame returns to the two bussers on their snowmobile. As the girl continues to drive and the boy clutches the briefcase tightly, Katara and Sokka abruptly pull alongside them. The bussers are not happy to see their pursuers.
Busboy Aw, man!
Sokka [Turning to smile and wave at them.] Hey, guys! [Pointing a thumb over his shoulder at Katara.] My sister here is probably the best waterbender in the world! So maybe it's time to give up now?
Busboy Nope! [To the girl.] Hit the brakes!
As she slams on the brake, the vehicle veers away from the sled. The maneuver catches Katara and Sokka off-guard, but Katara refuses to give up the chase.
Katara [To Sokka.] Hang on as tight as you can!
Sokka You know, I'm starting to hate it when you say that!
In the snow ahead of them, Katara bends a large, semicircular arc of snow, its inner surface steeply banked. The sled slides onto the banking and follows the shape of the arc, emerging on the other side in one piece and traveling back in the direction they came. As they cross a rise, the snowmobile comes into view. The fugitives, however, are no longer with it.
Katara Over there!
As Katara and Sokka leave the sled behind to investigate the derelict snowmobile, Katara spots two sets of footprints leading away from the machine, up and over another rise close by.
Katara They must've gone up that way!
Sokka sets to climbing the steep rise, but the going is slow, as the soft snow is difficult to gain purchase in.
Katara Hurry!
Sokka What do you think I'm trying to do?!
Katara bends the snow beneath Sokka's feet into a set of stairs, extending the new walkway all the way to the top of the hill.
Katara Better?
Sokka Way better!
Seconds later, Katara and Sokka stand at the crest of the hill. The frame shifts behind them, showing the vista laid out before them: the hill descends onto a vast, flat plain of ice. In the very center of the plain lies the wreck of the decades-old Fire Navy battleship, suspended above the plain on jagged pillars of ice, its pointed prow jutting upward into the dark night sky.
Sokka [Pointing.] They went inside the haunted shipwreck!
Katara [Somewhat annoyed, turning to Sokka.] It's not haunted. Aang and I went inside once.
Sokka Oh yeah ... I remember. That's why I thought he was a spy for the Fire Navy.
Letting his words hang in the air, Sokka begins to descend the hill toward the wreck. Katara follows him.
Katara Aha! So you admit it was you!
Sokka Come on.
After running at the wreck for a few moments, they are close enough to fall under its shadow. Reaching the side of the ship, they peer through a ragged hole in its side.
Katara Careful. This whole ship is full of tripwires and booby traps!
Sokka Yeah, but look -- [Pointing at the floor.] Footprints!
As he looks down at the bare spots on the floor, he begins carefully stepping into the ship's interior, planting each step firmly on a bare spot.
Sokka They're fresh, so we know they were made by those two! As long as we follow them perfectly -- we'll be fine. See?
Katara But the footprints only show you where to put your feet. What about the rest of your body?
Sokka [Turning his head to look at her, grinning.] Oh, Katara! Have a little faith --
In the moment that Sokka is not looking where he is going, a tripwire hanging from the ceiling snags under his chin, triggering with an audible twing. Katara's hands cover her mouth, and she stares in shock at Sokka, who has frozen in his tracks, stunned by his misstep.
Sokka Oops.
The floor falls away, two panels swinging out from underneath him, and he disappears into the darkness below, screaming.
Katara Sokka!
Sokka AAAH! Whoa Whoa Whoa Oof!
Katara Sokka! You okay?
Sokka Yeah, I think so ... Uh-oh. Katara? I don't think I'm the only one down here!
Katara [Breathing a sigh of relief, standing as she mutters to herself in exasperation.] I told him to be careful, didn't I? I told him! [Jumping into the hole in the floor.] Hang on!
The passage's walls go from steel to ice as she falls, tossing Katara around as she slides downward.
Katara Whoa whoa whoa oof!
Suddenly emerging from the tunnel, she has slammed into Sokka, who seems to have not moved from the place he came to rest. Katara immediately begins to berate him.
Katara I told you to-
Sokka [Interrupting her calmly.] Shhh. I think the big guy's got something to say.
AS Sokka talks, his eyes remain fixed on a point in front of and above him. The frame shifts behind Sokka and Katara, revealing that Sokka is looking at a large, gray-bearded man in a thick, blue Water Tribe overcoat, his right hand extended to them as he smiles.
Gilak Greetings. I am Gilak of the Southern Water Tribe. And you are Sokka and Katara, children of Hakoda.
Sokka Wait a minute ... Do I know you?
Gilak Ha ha. We've met, Sokka. Your father and I were brothers in arms! We traveled the world together, fighting the Fire Nation shoulder to shoulder! Hakoda is a hero of the South, as are the two of you!
Katara A briefcase was stolen tonight. We'd like it returned.
Sokka And a woman was injured. The two kids who hurt her need to be brought in.
Gilak [Turning away from them and walking down a darkened passage.] Come with me.
Katara and Sokka do as he says. Moments later, they enter a large room, in which sit around twenty people, the large majority of which are eating and listening to the words of a white-haired man speaking to them.
Katara What is this?
Gilak A gathering of patriots. [Gesturing to the white-haired man.] Thod, my second in command, is keeping alive the old stories of our people.
Katara So, a bunch of you decided to get together in a cave to tell stories?
Gilak The stories are important, but they're just a small part of what we do. While traveling the world with your father, I realized that the strong cultures - the Fire Nation and the Earth Kingdom - value power over cooperation. [Clenching a fist for emphasis.] Their societies are organized around a single, powerful leader, and in their dealings with other nations, they think first about power. We in the South have always been egalitarian - our chieftains see each other as brothers and sisters. And we've paid dearly for it. [The frame zooms on Katara's face, filled with uncertainty.] Look at the Air Nomads - they were the most egalitarian of all! And now they've been wiped off the face of the earth! Sokka, Katara, I deeply admire your father. When I heard that he had accepted the position of head chieftain, I couldn't have been happier! I thought he'd be the powerful leader we've needed all along! But then he began inviting foreigners onto our shores, including those cowards from the North.
Sokka Hey, watch how you talk about our sister tribe!
Gilak [Lashing out angrily at Sokka, prompting him to recoil a little.] For almost a century, we Southerners sacrificed wave after wave of men to fight the Fire Nation, while the Northerners just hid behind their icy wall. Does that sound like a "sister tribe" to you, Sokka? [Turning his gaze to the still-speaking Thod.] Your father is too idealistic to realize that the other nations think of nothing but power. True cooperation is impossible. For the South to grow strong again, all foreign presence must be eradicated, especially the North. Such an action will most likely lead to war, so we've gathered here to prepare.
Katara My brother and I traveled the world, too. And from that we've seen, you're wrong. Where the Fire Nation colonies used to be, people from the Earth Kingdom and the Fire Nation are working together to build a new society!
Sokka And even here, Malina and Maliq's crew-
A loud crack splits the air as Gilak, angrier, punches the icy wall of the chamber. His fist leaves a prominent dent in the surface, with feather cracks snaking outward from the crater. Gilak's face, focused directly on Katara and Sokka, is full of deepening wrath.
Gilak You will kindly not mention the names of those two again! The city they're building is a betrayal of who we are! The buildings, the way they're pushing us to live -- they're making us into a cheap imitation of the Northern Water Tribe! You know the Northerners have always considered us savages. Now's their chance to impose their version of civilization on us!
Sokka [Whispering to Katara.] So ... This guy's getting a little unhinged. Time to make a break for it?
Katara [Whispering back.] Not yet.
Gilak [Clenching his fist again.] And I believe their true intentions are far more nefarious. What we've seen is just the tip of the iceberg --
Sokka Which is why you sent your spies to steal Maliq's briefcase, so you could take a look at the documents inside.
Gilak That's right, Sokka. So you understand me.
Katara [Stepping toward Gilak.] Gilak, we're not leaving without that briefcase! Or those two spies!
Gilak My hope is that you won't leave at all! Join my army, Sokka and Katara! Help your father see the truth!
Sokka [Striding up to Gilak, both angrily glaring straight into the other's eyes.] Our father doesn't need our help, because he already sees the truth.
Gilak I'm sorry you feel that way.
As Gilak grabs Sokka with his left hand, spinning him around to face Katara and restraining him, his right hand unsheathes a long knife from his belt, which he holds menacingly to Sokka's throat.
Gilak And I'm sorry I can't let you leave until you change your mind! Your father can't know about us until we're ready!
As Katara looks at Sokka, her face full of suppressed terror, Sokka smiles, winking at her. In the next second, the two act in unison: Sokka slams his left elbow into Gilak's chest.
Gilak [Grunting, his arms flailing outward.] Ngh!
Katara bends a stream of water onto Gilak's knife-wielding hand, freezing his arm up to its elbow in a solid block of ice. As Gilak struggles to free his arm from the ice, Katara and Sokka dash up the tunnel behind Gilak.
Sokka [Running, glancing behind himself at the staggering Gilak.] Let's get out of here!
Freeing his hand, Gilak grabs a horn from his belt, raises it to his lips, and blows into it, producing a loud, echoing call. As several of his men block the hallway in front of Sokka and Katara, he calls out to them.
Gilak Stop those two traitors from escaping! Do whatever it takes!
Warriors For the tribe!
As the four men charge at them, Sokka takes his war ax in hand, while Katara pulls ice from the floor, melts it into water, and gathers it around her arms. As the two parties meet in the middle, Sokka blocks a soldier's swinging ax with his own, while Katara disarms a spear-wielding soldier by water-whipping the weapon from his hands. The next two soldiers are also deflected quickly; as Sokka evades a soldier's spear, Katara throws the last man, wielding a sword, away before he can strike her. Sokka kicks his last soldier in the chest, sending him flying, as more armed troops close in on them.
Katara Which way is out?!
Sokka I don't know ... The same way we came?! [They dash down an empty passage, chased by soldiers.] It's worth a try, right?
As they enter a new room, Katara whirls around to face the narrow entrance. Again waterbending the ice around her, she blocks off the entrance with a thick sheet of ice.
Sokka [As the soldiers pursuing them come to the suddenly blocked doorway.] Good job, Katara!
Katara Hurry! That won't hold them off forever!
They turn back to the seemingly empty passage leading away from the soldiers and are surprised to find that it is not empty; Thod, the aged storyteller, stands in their way, a quiet smile on his face.
Thod [Calmly.] Children, you wouldn't hurt an unharmed old man, would you?
Sokka No, sir, but you need to get out of our way. Like, right now.
Thod First, a story.
Thod uses his hands to illustrate his story. Raising them in front of himself, he holds his left hand palm-up. Extending the second and third fingers of his right hand, he touches them point-down onto his upturned palm, imitating the act of walking with them.
Thod Once upon a time, a snow rat learned to talk and walk on his hind feet. The humans found him entertaining, and so they invited him to sit at their campfire. [Close-up of Katara and Sokka; nervously waiting for Thod to finish, they glance backward at the wall of ice and the soldiers trying to break through.] After a while, the snow rat forgot that he was a snow rat at all. He asked for a home for himself, and a fishing boat, and a place on the tribal council.
Under the soldiers' repeated blows, the ice begins to fracture.
Sokka [Panicked.] Sir, please --!
Thod But humans never forgot that he was a snow rat. They were insulted by his requests.
As the frame zooms on Thod's face, he opens his eyes and looks at Katara and Sokka with a mysterious expression. His features are thrown into relief by the casting of the light, and with his forehead and eyes in shadow, Thod's face appears hauntingly gaunt and skull-like.
Thod So they chased him away, back into the cold, where he forever shivered and gnashed his teeth, haunted by the memory of the humans' campfire.
Sokka What?! What's that have to do with anything?!
A soldier's foot bursts through the ice barrier, which shatters to the ground. As the soldiers advance again, Katara sweeps Thod off his feet with waterbending, tossing him to the side and clearing the path.
Katara Sorry, sir, but like my brother said, you need to get out of our way!
Thod [In midair.] Oh, dear!
They leave Thod behind, running through the tunnel. Soon enough, they come upon the passage upward, leading to the ship's interior. Grabbing Sokka by his hood, Katara lifts them upward through the shaft on a spinning column of water. Once they reach the surface, they run from the ship, exiting onto the ice and continuing away from it for a considerable distance, only stopping and looking behind themselves once the ship is far behind them.
Sokka [Gasping for breath.] Are we clear?
Katara I think so.
As if on cue, two massive creatures with white fur, hooves, and antlers on the body of a leopard race onto the ice at the base of the ship, manned by two soldiers.
Sokka Eesh. Spoke too soon.
Katara Snow leopard-caribou! [Bending yet another sled out of ice.] Get on!
A frantic Sokka races to the sled. Moments later, as they flee at full speed, the creatures are mere feet behind them, snarling viciously at their backs.
Sokka [Glancing behind him, terrified.] Faster, faster!
Katara I'm trying, I'm trying!
Sokka [Reaching into his coat.] Hold on, I got an idea! [Pulling out two pieces of leftover jerky, which he regards with great enthusiasm.] Auntie Ashuna's seal jerky!
Leaning to his left over the side of the sled, Sokka waves the dried meat in front of the animals, drawing their focus to it; they sniff the air while continuing their chase.
Sokka Hey, snow leopard-caribou! I've got a snack for you! [Hurling it off into the distance as hard as he can.] Go get it!
Enticed by the snacks, the snow leopard-caribou both stop dead in their tracks, their mounts tumbling off their backs as they trace the arc of the flying meat through the air. The soldiers yell at their animals as they fall.
Soldier #1 Watch it!
Soldier #2 [Hitting the ground.] Oof!
As their mounts race off without them in pursuit of Sokka's bait, Katara and Sokka speed away in the opposite direction, with no one pursuing them.
Soldier #2 [Yelling after his quickly disappearing mount.] You mangy, good-for-nothing --!
Sokka I will never underestimate the appeal of Auntie Ashuna's seal jerky again!
Katara Me neither!
A distant shot shows the sled speeding away over the snow-covered, hilly terrain, with the glow of lights and the silhouettes of the town's buildings awaiting them on the horizon.

In the next frame, the two have returned to the city; they walk down a street, illuminated by streetlights, drawing near to a lowly, round igloo among the more modern, square buildings surrounding it.

Sokka [Pointing at the igloo.] I can't believe Gran-Gran's hut is still here when everything else has been torn down!
Katara [Smiling.] She's Gran-Gran.
Sokka True.
They turn their attention to the igloo; at its front door stands Maliq, still as a sentry.
Katara Maliq's going to be disappointed.
Sokka Yeah, but you know who's not disappointed? Me. Because you and I are still alive! Gilak and his army of crazies need to be locked up! We'll tell Dad and --
Katara [Not looking at Sokka.] Sokka, I know Gilak's an extremist ...
Sokka [Not enthused.] Are you gonna say "but"? I'm sensing a "but".
Katara But he's sort of got a point, doesn't he? I mean, look around and tell me this isn't a cheap imitation of the North!
Sokka This? This looks like progress to me.
Katara "Progress"? This is just like what happened with --
A side shot of Katara fades into a memory of hers. She stands with Aang, Sokka, and Toph, as Aang stares with sadness at something behind the frame. The frame zooms out as it revolves, showing a town risen up in the middle of what was once a field, the smoke of the furnaces and refineries rising into a soot-grayed sky.
Sokka Like what happened with what?
Katara [Dropping her head in sadness.] Never mind. [A brief pause.] I wish Aang were here.
Sokka [Beginning to walk over to Maliq.] We all do, sis.
Seeing them, Maliq runs to them excitedly.
Maliq [Waving to them.] Sokka! Katara!
Katara Is Malina okay?
Maliq She's awake, thank heavens! Were you able to --
Katara [Sadly.] I'm sorry, Maliq.
Maliq [Turning away from her, kicking the snow in frustration.] Bah!
Sokka [Trying to comfort him.] Listen, Maliq, we'll figure out a way to get your briefcase back!
Maliq [Looking away from Sokka, his eyes closed.] It isn't just about the briefcase! It's about justice! [Opening his eyes; slightly calmer.] Malina is the single most important person in the world to me, and those ... those ruffians hurt her! If this were the North Pole, they wouldn't have been able to leave the restaurant, let alone the city! [Turning around, to look at Katara and Sokka again.] We Northerners have rules and regulations, you understand? And police to enforce them! But here in the South, you all are just a loose collection of tribes, each with its own notion of justice!
Sokka We know where they're hiding! And our dad's the head chieftain. He'll bring them to justice, okay? Don't worry.
Maliq Maybe he will. Maybe he won't. [Turning away from them again.] That's why what Malina and I are doing is so important.
Katara And what exactly are you doing, Maliq?
Sokka Why are you talking to him like that?! He and his wife are building our future, Katara!
Maliq [Rounding on Sokka, thoroughly shocked.] Wait, you think ... Malina and I aren't married. She's my sister!
Sokka [Caught off guard; sweating as he nervously raises a hand to his neck.] Oh! I just thought -- all that talk about her being the most important person in the world to you --
Maliq [Staring at Sokka in confusion.] Yes?
Katara [Glaring at Sokka, irked by his implication.] And?
Sokka [Turning toward the door of the hut enthusiastically.] And ... and nothing! Ha ha. Your sister! Super important, of course! So ... uh, speaking of important people, have you seen our dad around?
Maliq [Pointing at the door as Katara stares daggers at Sokka.] He's in there with Malina.
Sokka [Opening the door of the hut.] Great!
Katara Sokka, you can't just barge in there! Where are your manners?! You have to --
Katara's words falter on her lips, and Sokka's mouth falls open; upon entering the hut, they see, on the opposite side of the room, Hakoda kissing Malina, who lies in bed with her head bandaged.
Katara Knock.






See also