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The episode opens with Appa, the gang in his saddle, slogging his way down the course of the sludge-infested river Jang Hui in the Fire Nation. Aang and Momo are frolicking in the putrescent water.
Aang Momo! [Dives into the water.] Oh Momo! [Dives again and Momo flies to Aang.] Hahahahaha! You found me, buddy! [Looks down at the water in distaste and airbends up to Appa's saddle, where he stands dripping in sludge.] Hey guys, I think this river's polluted. [Airbends mud off himself, splattering the rest of Team Avatar with mud, which causes them to cry out in disgust.]
Toph [Tastes mud on her mouth, and spits.] Pah! Plegh! [Aang airbends again, blowing the rest of the mud back into the river and messing up their hair.]
Sokka Well that explains why I can't catch a fish around here, because normally my fishing skills are off the hook! [Holds up a fishing hook. The gang is unamused as Aang sits back down.] Get it? Like a fishing hook? [Grinning.]
Toph [Countering.] Too bad your skills aren't on the hook.
Toph, Aang, and Katara laugh as Sokka makes a disgruntled face.
Katara It looks like we'll need to go somewhere else to get food, [Unrolls a long scroll in front of her.] assuming that'll fit into Sokka's master schedule.
Sokka Hmmm ... It's doable. But that means only two potty breaks today.
Aang Hey, maybe we can get food there! [Points at a village in the middle of the river.]
The camera zooms to the village and fades to Appa as Aang hides him under a mat of grass.
Aang Now you look just like a little hill with horns! Bye, buddy!
Appa groans as Momo briefly reveals himself under some more grass nearby. Scene changes to the Jang Hui River, while Toph, Katara, Aang, and Sokka approach the river.
Toph I don't feel anything. Where is the village?
Sokka It's in the middle of the river! [Pointing at the village.]
Camera pans down to show a man standing on a ferry.
Dock Sure is! My name's Dock. Mind if I ask who you are?
Katara We're um ... from the Earth Kingdom colonies.
Dock Wow ... Colonials. Hop on, I give you ride in the town.
The scene changes to the river, while Dock paddles the boat across.
Katara Why do you guys live on the river? [Looking at the village.]
Dock [Turns his paddle to the right side, pointing at the Fire Nation factory.] Because we're a fishing town. At least that's how it was before the factory moved in. [Closer shot of the Fire Nation factory and pans down.] Army makes their metal there. Moved in a few years ago and started gunking up our river. [Shot changes back to the ferry. Aang and Katara glance sadly at each other.] Now our little village is struggling to survive.
The camera pans downs to the villagers, showing their conditions of poverty and starvation. Team Avatar gets off the ferry boat.
Aang Thanks for the ride! [Waves his hand to Dock, who waves back.]
Katara [Cut to three villagers sitting on a porch.] Look at this place. [Cut to two other villagers, an old man and a young boy.] It's so sad. [Cut back to Katara looking down.] We have to do something to help.
Sokka No, we can't waste our time here. We have a bigger mission that we need to stay focused on. These people are on their own.
Katara [Chases Sokka and grabs his shoulder.] These people are starving! But you'd turn your back on them? [Puts her hands on her hips.] How can you be so cold and heartless?
Sokka [Shot changes to show their argument from the river as a barrel bobs up and down.] I'm not turning my back, I'm just being realistic. We can't go around helping every rinky-dink town we wander into. We'll be helping them all by taking out the Fire Lord. [Aang guides Toph toward the arguing siblings.]
Toph [Covering Sokka's mouth with her hand.] Hey, loud mouths! Maybe we should be a little quieter when we talk about  [Quietly.] "taking out the Fire Lord."
Sokka Come on, Katara, be reasonable about this. You know our mission has to come first.
Katara [Reluctantly.] I guess so. [Looks annoyed.]
Aang Let's just get what we need and go. [Smiling to Katara, who smiles back.]
Cut to an aerial view of the village. The shot changes to show the counter of an outdoor market stall. As Team Avatar walks up to it, they notice a man who looks like Dock, but wearing a different hat, bowed behind the counter.
Sokka Hey, Dock. You work here too?
Xu I'm not Dock. I'm Xu! Dock's my brother.
Team Avatar looks confused.
Aang But we just saw you. You're even wearing the same clothes. [Close-up of his hat.] The only difference is your hat.
Xu [Camera zooms out to Xu talking.] Dock works on the docks. That's why we call him, "Dock", and I work in the shop, that's why they call me, "Xu"!
Aang I don't get it.
Xu Me neither. [Jumps down behind the counter and pulls out a crate filled with rancid gray seafood.] What I can getcha? [Katara, Aang, and Sokka look disgusted.] Hey, I'll give you a special deal. If you buy three fish, I'll give you a clam for free. [Sokka pushes a clam, and mucus splashes out from it.]
Aang and Katara both recoil, muttering in disgust.
Sokka [Picks up three fish. Carefully.] We'll just take the fish. [Xu takes the fish.] Mind telling your brother we need a ride back to shore? [Xu jumps down behind the counter and jumps up wearing Dock's hat.]
Dock Hey, colonials! My brother says you need a lift. [Jumps over the counter, and walks to the dock.]
Team Avatar follows Dock to the dock. A little boy stops Katara.
Little boy Can you spare some food?
Katara [Touched.] I wish I could help more. [Gives the boy a fish, and the boy bows to her and leaves to give the fish to his sick mother.]
Fade to nighttime, as the camera shows an aerial view of Team Avatar's camp. Shot changes to show a barrel of polluted water. Aang lifts the water with waterbending and Toph separates the pollutants from the water with earthbending. Aang passes the water to Katara, who boils it in a crock.
Sokka Our detour into town today has completely thrown off our schedule. It's gonna take some serious finagling to get us back on track.
Toph [Sarcastically.] Finagle away, oh schedule master.
Sokka Well, for starters, it looks like we'll need to wake up forty-three minutes earlier every day.
Katara Forty-three minutes?
Sokka [Pointing to various spots on his schedule.] Look, we only have a few weeks to get to the Fire Lord in time for the invasion and the eclipse, which, by the way, only lasts for eight minutes. And we just lost a whole day. So if we want to make up the time and stay on schedule, we have to wake up early!
Toph Well I'm not waking up early.
Sokka Or we could just cut out all of our eating breaks.
Aang What?
Katara No way!
Toph Forget it!
Sokka [Gets a sly look on his face.] I got it, how's this from now on, we'll take food breaks and potty breaks at the same time.
Katara, Toph, and Aang express their disgust at this idea with Aang doing a spit take.
Sokka Hey, it might be gross, but it's efficient. Either way, we have to leave here first thing tomorrow morning.
Close-up of Katara's face, who looks distraught at Sokka's words. Cut to an aerial view of the village the following morning and cut to the campsite. Appa lies on his side, groaning, while Katara ministers to him.
Aang What's the matter Katara?
Katara I think Appa's sick.
Sokka [Panicking.] What? Appa's sick? That's awful!
Toph Wow, Sokka, I didn't realize you cared so much.
Sokka Of course I care. I might as well just throw our schedule away now. [Pulls out his schedule. He stops and looks at the group. Cut to a shot of the rest of the gang giving him the evil eye, and he quickly changes his tone, rushing solicitously to Appa's side.] And I'm concerned because my big, furry friend doesn't feel well.
Toph He must have gotten sick from being in the polluted water.
Aang He doesn't look sick. You okay, buddy? [Appa groans and Aang pulls out Appa's purple tongue.] His tongue is purple! That can't be good. Katara, can you heal him?
Katara It looks like he needs some medicine. Maybe we can find the right herbs in town.
Momo arrives and attempts to lick Appa's tongue before being pulled off by Aang. Cut to the village, which is bustling and lively. One villager pole vaults from one house to another.
Toph Is it just me, or does this place seem different?
Aang Yeah, are the people ... happier?
The little boy from the previous day runs by, bouncing a ball, and Katara smiles to herself. The kids walk up to Xu/Dock's market.
Sokka Hey, Xu, what's going on with everyone today?
Xu [Drinks from a ladle.] Ah, something amazing happened last night. Food was delivered to our village by a mysterious and wonderful person ... the Painted Lady.
Katara The Painted who now?
Xu The Painted Lady. [He places a miniature statuette of the spirit down on the counter.] She's part of our town's lore. They say she's a river spirit who watches over our town in times of need. I always thought she was just a legend. Until now.
Sokka See, we don't need to help these people, they already have someone to help them. All we need is medicine for our sick friend.
Xu Medicine? Sorry, all the medicine we have goes to the factory. That's why there's so many sick people in our village.
Katara Looks like we need to stay another night so Appa can rest.
Sokka [Sighs.] I guess you're right. You got any more food to sell?
Xu [Goes under the counter and emerges holding a fish in each hand.] Would you like the one-headed fish, or the two-headed fish? [He turns the fish on the left sideways to show the second head.]
Sokka [Ponders.] Two-headed! [The rest of the group lowers their heads and small sweat drops appear.] What? You get more for your money that way! [Holds up the polluted fish.]
The rest of the group get even bigger exaggerated sweat drops as they express their disgust and run away from Sokka who follows behind with the polluted fish.

Fade to the village, late that night. A figure resembling the Painted Lady glides over the water on a carpet of fog and enters the village. She steps into a hut where several people are sleeping on the floor, and bends over each of them in turn, healing them with a blue glow. Her last patient is the mother of the little boy seen earlier, her son sleeping at her side. He wakes as the Painted Lady turns to go and silently follows her out the door.

Little boy Thank you, Painted Lady.
The lady stops and nods her head before disappearing into the water. Cut to the village, the next day. Dock polishes his figurine with a rag as Sokka steps up to the counter.
Sokka Hi, Dock. Is Xu around?
Dock/Xu Let me check ... [He runs around the shop and ducks beneath the counter to switch hats.] Hey there! Back again, are ya?
Toph [Pushes Sokka away.] We need more food. [Slams the money on the counter.] Our friend is still sick and we can't leave until he's better.
Xu obligingly presents them with a platter of polluted clams. The camera pans in on the clams. Sokka comically slides in behind them and gives silent chuckle along with a comical annoyed symbol on his forehead. It appears he has an idea brewing.
Xu Oh, well, that's too bad. Maybe if you guys are lucky, the Painted Lady will visit you in the night, and heal your friend.
Sokka [Picks up the clams. Sarcastically.] And maybe she'll cook us a midnight snack, and we'll all have a sing-along.
Xu [Not getting the sarcasm. Sokka looks annoyed now.] Yeah, maybe! You know, last night she visited us again. Healed most of our sick folks.
Aang Is that why this place seems so festive?
A villagers raises a large statue of the Painted Lady in the town square, everyone cheers and applause.
Dock Yep, it's all because of the Painted Lady.
Katara Can you believe how much an entire village can be affected by one lady I mean ... spirit?
Sokka Well, I hope she returns every night. Otherwise this place would go right back to the way it was.
Katara [Gets annoyed.] Why would you say that? Look how much better off these people are.
Sokka Yeah, now, but without her they wouldn't be able to fend for themselves. If she really wanted to help, she would use her spirit magic to blow up that factory. [He makes mocking gestures to indicate explosive spirit magic. He crosses his arms with a smile. Katara gets even more annoyed. The screen pans to the right to show Aang who has his arms crossed not impressed.]
Aang Spirit magic doesn't work that way, Sokka. It's more like ... [He waves his body with arms in the air making similar gestures to indicate spirit magic. Katara storms away from the two.]
Aang and Sokka [Sokka wraps and arm over Aang's shoulder and the two combined their little imitation but far more ridiculous.] Wooooooooo ... [Sokka chuckles.]
Cut to Katara on the edge of a dock looking out toward the factory. Cut to the campsite, that night. Katara slips out of her sleeping bag and stuffs dried grass into it to disguise her absence. She dons a makeshift Painted Lady costume, wrapping a ragged gown around her. Katara bends the water to make a mirror so she can apply the markings. She puts on a wide conical hat similar to the Painted Lady's, but with a diaphanous white veil covering her face. She glides away toward the village, but not quietly enough; she wakes Momo, and he wakes Aang by jumping on him.
Aang What's the matter, buddy? [Katara leaves Team Avatar.] It's her! [Excited, waves his hand to Katara and puts on his headband.] Hello, Painted Lady Spirit!
Katara shocked, quickly flees from Aang. Meanwhile, Aang uses his airbending to accelerate his run. The camera moves to a hill as Katara climbs up and continues on as Aang easily keeps up.
Aang [Jumps up the hill.] Excuse me, I don't mean to bother you, but my friend's sick and we're on kind of a tight schedule. [Continues to follow her down the hill as she crosses the river.] Wait! But I'm a great bridge between your world and mine! [Aang freezes some water to form stepping stones to cross the river.] I know Hei Bai! We're close personal friends! [Katara moves faster, and Aang jumps on a wooden bridge. Katara runs out of the river onto the docks and notices Aang's reflection in the water. She looks up and sees Aang running across a roof.] Heeey! [He suddenly hits a pole, Katara flinches and feels sorry for him but continues on across the river to the other side. She stops to look out at the village thinking she is safe but Aang drops in front of her.] My name's Aang. I'm the Avatar. [Lifts his headband and points at his arrow.]
Katara [Using a disguised voice.] Well, hello Avatar. I wish I could talk, but I am very busy.
Aang Yeah, me too. I hate that. [Looks at Katara's face from behind the veil.] You know, you're really pretty, for a spirit. I don't meet too many spirits, but the ones I do meet, not very attractive. [Looks at Katara suspiciously. Tries to look under the hat.]
Katara [Giggles nervously.] Thank you, but-
Aang You seem familiar too.
Katara A lot of people say that.
Aang [Suspicious.] No, you really seem familiar.
Katara Look, I really should get going. [Covers her face and runs, but Aang uses his airbending and blasts her hat up into the air, exposing her.]
Aang Katara?
Katara [Guiltily.] Hi, Aang.
Aang [Shocked.] You're the Painted Lady? [Pointing at Katara.] But how?
Katara I wasn't her at first, I was just trying to help the village. [Takes her hat off.] But since everyone thought that's who I was anyway, I guess I just kinda became her. [Drops her hat on the ground.]
Aang So you've been sneaking out at night? Wait, is Appa even sick?
Katara He might be sick of the purple berries I've been feeding him, but other than that he's fine!
Aang I can't believe you lied to everyone, so you could help these people.
Katara I'm sorry, I know I shouldn't have ...
Aang [Happily.] No, I think it's great! You're like a secret hero!
Katara Well, if you wanna help, there's one more thing I have to do.
Aang gives her a curious look. Cut to the Fire Nation factory. Aang and Katara run along the river's edge toward it. Aang looks at the polluted water.
Aang You wanna destroy this factory?
Katara Yes. Sokka was just kidding, but he was right. Getting rid of this factory is the only way to help these people permanently.
Aang and Katara enter and move to different sides of the factory. Katara uses waterbending to cut the metal hooks that hang barrels of a magma. Aang, with protective gloves on, overturns bigger hanging barrels, smiling at his work. Aang uses earthbending to break apart the pipe system in the factory. Katara bends a huge wave of water through the windows and floods the factory. The scene cuts to outside as the factory explodes from within and muck stops flowing from the pipes. Cut to Aang and Katara walking back to their campsite. Aang laughs and makes explosion noises.
Katara Shhh! [Quietly.] We don't wanna wake Sokka. [She turns and sees that Sokka and Toph are awake.] Hi, Sokka, we were just out on a morning walk!
Sokka [Angrily and disappointed.] Oh, really? A morning walk? [Dumps the hay out of Katara's sleeping bag.] I know you're the Painted Lady, I know you've been sneaking out at night, and I know you've been lying about Appa and been feeding him [Sticks out his own tongue.] purpleising tongue berries! [Toph sticks out her tongue and shows that it is purple and holds up a bag of berries which Momo starts eating.] Katara, what you did put our whole mission in jeopardy. We're leaving right now!
Katara walks past Sokka sadly. Sokka confronts Aang as he follows.
Sokka And how long did you know about this?
Aang [Defensively.] Hey, I just found out this morning!
Aang sprints away with airbending. The scene changes to the Fire Nation factory where a man can be seen coming out of the smoke and looking angrily toward the town. Cut to Team Avatar packing, but they pause when they hear buzzing. The factory workers are shown headed for the town on jet skis. Cut to the gang on a cliff looking down at the river below.
Toph [Approaching and kneeling down with the others.] What's going on?
Aang Fire Nation soldiers are heading toward the village!
Sokka [To Katara.] What did you do?
Katara I kind of destroyed their factory.
Sokka You what?
Katara [Defensively.] It was your idea!
Sokka I was joking! I also said to use spirit magic and made funny noises! [Slaps his forehead.] Did you even think this through? The army is gonna blame the villagers! They're headed there right now to get revenge!
Katara Well, what was I supposed to do?
Sokka Leave! Do nothing!
Katara [Angrily.] No, I will never, ever turn my back on people who need me! [Gets up.] I'm going down to that village, and I am gonna do whatever I can.
As Katara walks away, Sokka stops her by putting his hand on her shoulder.
Sokka Wait! I'm coming, too.
Katara I thought you didn't want to help.
Sokka You need me, and I will never turn my back on you.
Katara Sokka, you really do have a heart. [The two hug.]
Aang [Wiping away tears.] He really does have a heart, doesn't he?
Aang turns to Toph for confirmation. Toph, however, elbows him and he falls off camera with a thump. Cut to the Fire Nation soldiers on jet skis. Cut to Team Avatar looking at the village. Cut to Mung and his soldiers standing on the dock.
Mung I thought we could live as neighbors, in peace. But I guess I was wrong. You steal our food, our medicine ... and then you destroy our factory.
Dock/Xu [Pops out of the crowd wearing Dock hat.] We didn't do any of that. [Pops out in a different place wearing his Xu hat.] Yeah, the Painted Lady brought us food. She's the one that healed our sick, not your medicine.
Mung [Holding a statuette.] Oh, right, the mysterious Painted Lady did it. And I suppose she drew the army emblem on your containers, too. [Throws the statuette at the container, smashing it. The crowd gasps.] This is a town of thieves and liars! [Firebends a blast at a house. Mockingly.] Where's your Painted Lady now? We're going to cure the world of this wretched village.
The soldiers begin demolishing the town. A jet ski, with two soldiers, goes past a dock as a soldier sends a hook and chain toward it. The chain wraps around a log holding up a house and it breaks as the jet ski drives away. The house crumbles into the water. Cut to two soldiers who light a large flammable ball perched on a buoy in the river, but a mysterious gust of wind blows out the fire, twice.
Mung Light it again!
They follow Mung's command, and it is blown out again. Eerie flute music begins floating over the water.
Female Fire Nation soldier Look at that! Where's it coming from?
Cut to a heavy fog rapidly pouring in.
Male Fire Nation soldier I don't know. Something strange is going on.
An ominous growling noise echoes over the river.
Little boy It's the Painted Lady. [Grins slyly. Ominous tone.] She's coming.
Mung There is no Painted Lady!
A repetitive thudding noise, as of giant footsteps, has begun. Pan over the river to the further bank where we see that the thudding is caused by Toph elevating and dropping a large boulder, while Appa provides the growling. Sokka mans the flute, producing eerie noises.
Female Fire Nation soldier What is that sound?
Male Fire Nation soldier Maybe it is her.
The fog parts dramatically to reveal Katara in full Painted Lady regalia. She pauses a moment and rushes toward the soldiers with a burst of waterbending. She alights on the dock and slowly approaches them.
Mung Do something! [Pushes his soldiers forward. As they timidly draw near, they are rattled by a blast of airbending. Aang is shown hiding beneath the dock. The two soldiers run off. To the remaining soldiers.] Stand your ground! [Katara waterbends two jet skis into a nearby cliff. As she raises her hand to wreak further damage, the soldiers jump into the remaining jet skis and speed off, leaving Mung.] I'll take care of you myself.
He bends an arc of fire at Katara, we see it advance toward her in slow motion. Aang, still concealed beneath the dock, sends Katara flying into the sky on a column of air; the flame passes harmlessly beneath her. Aang rends the dock in two with a blast of wind, sending Mung flying into the river. As he flounders, Katara rises out of the polluted water before him and raises her arms threateningly.
Katara Leave this village and never come back.
He swims desperately away from her. A stray jet ski passes by and he clambers into it; the ski buzzes off. Sokka and Toph row toward the village as the people applaud Katara as she returns to the dock.
Little boy I knew you'd come.
Villager #1 Thank you!
Villager #2 Painted Lady, you're the best!
Dock Me and my brothers really owe you a lot. [Looking at her and her faded Painted Lady marks.] Hey, wait a minute! I know you! You're not the Painted Lady, you're that colonial girl!
Katara places a hand on her face and realizes her make-up is smudged.
Little boy Yeah, you're the lady that gave me a fish.
Dock [Angrily.] You've been tricking us. You're a waterbender!
Villager #3 She's a waterbender!
Villager #4 How dare you act like our Painted Lady!
The crowd surges forward in anger. Sokka runs forward to intervene.
Sokka Maybe she is a waterbender, but she was just trying to help you. Because of her, that factory won't be polluting your river, and the army is gone. You should be down on your knees thanking her!
Katara Sokka, it's okay. [She steps forward and moves Sokka back. To the villagers.] I shouldn't have acted like someone I wasn't, and I shouldn't have tricked you. But I felt like I had to do something. It doesn't matter if the Painted Lady is real or not. Because your problems are real, and this river is real. You can't wait around for someone to help you. You have to help yourself.
Dock She's right, but what should we do?
Toph [Pops out from behind the little boy's mother and uses a lower voice.] Maybe we can clean the river!
Dock Yeah, we can clean the river! [The crowd cheers.] Thank you. You know, you're not so bad for a waterbender.
Sokka You wouldn't mind keeping that a secret, by the way, would you?
Dock No problem. Keeping my mouth shut is a personal specialty. My brother Xu, on the other hand, ohh, he's a blabbermouth. [Sokka facepalms.]
Katara So, Dock, are you gonna help us clean?
Dock No, ma'am. I'm going to get my other brother, Bushi. He loves cleaning rivers. [Dock brazenly switches hats right in front of them.] All right, I'm Bushi! Let's get some river cleaning done!
Aang Aha, I knew it! I knew you were the same guy. You're the shop owner and the boat guy.
Dock Oh, you must be talking about my brothers, Dock and Xu.
Aang [Annoyed.] No, I just saw you! You switched hats and called yourself a different name!
Dock [Annoyed.] Oh, you know who does that? My brother, Dock. [Conspiratorial whisper.] He's crazy. [Goes off chuckling.]
Aang fumes in annoyance. Cut to an aerial view of the village with boats in the surrounding river. The shot changes to the boats on the river as the villagers spread clean out the pollutants. Katara bends the water into a large vat while Aang and Toph separate the pollutants using earthbending and putting it in a large boat. Cut to an aerial view of the village as the day passes by and the river becomes cleaner. Cut to Team Avatar's campsite at night. Katara sits on an overlook of the river when suddenly clouds of fog appear and the real Painted Lady emerges.
Painted Lady Thank you. [Slowly disappears.]
Katara is first shocked, but she smiles. Fade to credits.






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