And it airs tomorrow. I am making noises only dogs can hear.
BUT ENOUGH OF THAT YOU'RE HERE FOR THIS.
Previously, the Gaang planned to meet back up with the Ship of Subterfuge on the Day of Black Sun, they stole some clothes to hide out in the Fire Nation and Aang thought Katara looked awful purty.
Aang is playing Marco Polo with Momo in what appears to be a giant swamp of some kind. I'm practicing my breathing exercises so I don't have a PTSD moment. That can't be good for that scar on his back. Momo catches him, and it seems to be only then that he realizes he's swimming in gross. "Hey guys? I think this river's polluted." It's a river? Rivers aren't that color. So by all means, Bend the grossness all over Toph and Katara. He Airbends it off of them a moment later, but still. Sokka says that's probably why he can't catch a fish. "Because normally my fishing skills are off the hook!" Oh, honey, no. Toph says it's too bad his skills aren't on the hook, which everyone laughs at, and Katara says they're going to have to hit up a drive-through or something. "Providing it fits into Sokka's master schedule." Sokka, who has a chart laid out, says it's doable. "But it means only two potty breaks today!" I love this weird Sokka/potty breaks thing they have going. The chart has this weird CG-look going that bothered me when I first watched the episode, but I've since learned that it's actually the production timetable for the show, which is just such a cool thrown-in moment that I can forgive the conspicuous CG. Aang spots a village, and says they might be able to get food there.
They hide Appa under some kind of Astroturf thing and Momo stays behind with him as they walk to the edge of the river. Toph doesn't feel anything, and asks where the village is. Sokka says it's in the middle of the river, an observation that's confirmed by an old man at the riverbank. It's the Rower! He says his name's Doc, and asks who they are. Katara says they're Earth Kingdom colonists, following on their cover story from last time. Doc's a lot friendlier to the notion than Bitchface was, and offers them a ride into town. On the way, he exposits that the reason the river is so gunked up is because the Fire Nation installed a metal factory nearby, and all the...waste...product...this is a "green" episode, isn't it. That magical time once a year when Nick makes all their shows have an environmental message, and usually airs them on Earth Day so I can't even get any good TV on my birthday.
Sigh. Because the village-in-the-middle-of-the-river is a fishing village, the factory has fucked with the local economy, too, and indeed when they get to the village everyone is very despondent-looking. Katara says they have to help. Sokka: "We can't waste our time here. We have a bigger mission that we need to stay focused on." I agree with the sentiment, but...way to be a dick, Sokka. Katara calls him "cold and heartless", but Sokka argues that they'll be doing the village a bigger favor by taking out the Fire Lord. Toph: "Say it a little louder, dumbass, I don't think they heard you back at the South Pole." Katara grudgingly agrees that their mission is more important, and they head to a small stand for some food. Doc's there! Only it's not Doc. It's Shu. Who looks just like Doc but with a different hat. Shu gives them two choices: gross fish or gross clams. They choose gross fish, and as they walk away Katara is stopped by a little boy who asks for food. Katara gives him a fish and says she wishes she could help more. You can, Katara! By defeating the tyrannical dictator and ending the war that's putting an economic and ecological strain on their lives! ...Katara? You listening? Kata...oh, forget it.
That night, as Aang and Toph separate the grossness out of the water, Sokka says their schedule's fucked and they're going to have to wake up 43 minutes early. Toph tells him exactly where to stick that idea, to which he replies that they could cut out eating breaks instead. Sokka: "I know! We could take eating breaks and potty breaks at the same time!" Gaang: "That's the worst thing I've ever heard." Sokka: "Hey, it might be gross, but it's efficient." He says they have to leave first thing in the morning, and Katara just looks regretful.
The next morning, Katara is poking and a grumbly Appa. "I think Appa's sick." Sokka proceeds to flip the fuck out, and Toph says she didn't realize how much he cared. Sokka: "Of COURSE I care! I might as well throw our schedule away now!" Gaang: "*face*" Sokka: "...and also I love Appa?" Toph says he must have gotten sick from being in the polluted water. Aang says he doesn't look sick, until Appa opens his mouth and shows off his big purple tongue. Aang asks if Katara can heal him, but Katara says they'll have to get herbs in town. Momo starts licking Appa's tongue. Aang: "Stop that, this is TV-Y7."
The village is much livelier today, and Sokka asks Shu what's up with that. Shu says that food got delivered to the village by a mysterious benefactor. "The Painted Lady." Katara: "Bitch say what." Supposedly the Painted Lady is a river spirit who watches over the village. Sokka uses this as evidence that they don't need to help them, and asks Shu for some medicine. Shu says all their medicine goes to the factory, and Katara says they'll have to stay another night. Sokka agrees, though he's not happy about it, and asks Shu for more food. Shu: "Do you want the one-headed fish or the two-headed fish?" Sokka: "Two-headed!" The rest of the Gaang is understandably disturbed by this. Sokka: "What? You get more for your money that way."
That night, fog sweeps over the river, and a mysterious figure enters the sick hut. The figure kneels, and a blue light fills the hut. She kneels over a woman and the light shines again, and the little boy from earlier thanks her as she lea - OI.
The next day, the unfunny Doc/Shu/whoever gag continues, and they buy a plate of gross clams as Shu tells them if they're lucky the Painted Lady will heal their friend. Sokka: "Yeah, and maybe she'll make us a midnight snack, and we'll all have a singalong!" Shu: "Yeah! Maybe!" Sokka: "Suddenly I miss Chong." The town is erecting a statue of the Painted Lady in thanks for her healing their sick, and Katara is moved almost to tears. Sokka just hopes she keeps coming back, or the village will go right back to how it was before. Katara: "You're a jerk." Sokka: "I'm just saying, the Painted Lady should blow up the factory." He then makes a silly noise that is presumably supposed to represent spirit magic. Aang is offended. "Spirit magic doesn't work that way, Sokka. It's much sillier." Katara: "Boys."
And now we get to see how Katara's costume works! She wraps herself in a purple cloth (where she got it, I don't know) and freezes herself a mirror while she paints on the face markings. I don't know where she got the hat and veil, either. Is there a Party City on the river, too? She heads towards the village, but as we all know Momo's a light sleeper, and he wakes up Aang, who goes chasing after her in the hopes of getting some spirit-magical cure for Appa. Katara books it, though why she's bothering I don't know, she knows he can get to at least Warp 3. He chases her across the river, and she gets ahead by virtue of Aang not looking where he's going and running face-first into a pole, but he catches her when she stops to see if she's lost him. She tries to play it off by hiding under her hat and putting on a silly accent, but Aang's ADHD has vanished for the sheer purpose of trying to get a look at Katara's face. "You seem familiar." Katara: "A lot of people say that." Aang: "No. Seriously." She tries to run for it (again) but Aang Airbends her hat off and the jig is up. She says she wasn't dressing up at first, but once everybody assumed she was the Painted Lady, she decided to make it true. I have to say, she's really pretty as the Painted Lady. I'm not sure why. I think I just like flowy clothes. She says she's been feeding Appa purple berries to make him seem sick - purple berries = purple tongue. Aang says he can't believe she lied to everyone so she could help the village, but it's not in the way you might think. He's proud of her. "You're like a...secret hero!" Katara: "Wanna be my Robin?" Because as it turns out, she took Sokka's idea to heart, and intends to blow up the factory! Yay terrorism! They sneak in (there's no night guard?) and proceed to wreck shit with unbridled glee.
It's already light out by the time they make it back to camp, where Sokka and Toph are waiting for them. Katara: "MORNING WALK." Sokka: "YOU LIE." He lists the things he knows Katara's been doing, including sneaking out, lying, and feeding Appa "purplizing tongue berries". Toph demonstrates. Sokka says they're leaving immediately, and demands to know how long Aang knew. Aang: "I'm still not sure what year it is, you think I figured this out on my own?"
As they're packing, a group of Fire Nation soldiers zooms towards the village on what looks like jet skis. Sokka: "WHAT DID YOU DO." Katara: "...blew up the factory?" Sokka: "WHAT." Katara: "It was your idea!" Sokka: "I WAS BEING AN ASS." He says the soldiers are on their way to get revenge, since they're going to assume the villagers were the ones that made the factory go boom, and that it's basically Katara's fault. Katara asks what she was supposed to do, with the village full of the sick and hungry, and Sokka says she should have left, done nothing. Katara: "No! I will never, ever turn my back on people who need me! I'm going down to the village, and I'm going to do whatever I can." She marches off, but Sokka stops her and says he's coming with. Katara: "I thought you didn't want to help." Sokka: "You need me. And I will never turn my back on you." I don't like that this is a "green" episode. I don't even particularly like this episode. But that moment right there? I am all over that, you guys. Katara says Sokka really does have a heart, and they hug, and a tearful Aang looks for a hug from Toph but just gets punched instead. I'm pretty sure that counts as a hug for Toph.
The head soldier (I don't know his rank, but he looks like a table saw did a tap dance on his face) accuses the villagers of destroying the factory and stealing their shit, but Doc/Shu/Who-The-Fuck-Ever says that the Painted Lady healed their sick, not their medicine. Saw Face: "Right, and I bet she drew the army symbol on your containers, too." He burninates a hut. "Where's your Painted Lady now?" They start laying into the village, tearing down homes and shit, because that's how you respond to a civilian population when you have no proof of wrongdoing. They try to light what I'm assuming is some kind of bomb, but a strong wind blows it out. They try again, with the same result. Saw Face: "Light it again!" Aki: "I get the feeling you're the kind of guy that throws the empty gun at Superman." The wind blows before they can even get it lit this time, and they comment that "something weird is going on" as a fog rolls in.
The little boy whispers that it's the Painted Lady, which Saw Face refuses to believe, and we get to see behind the smoke and mirrors as Toph Earthbends a boulder up and down to make a sort of heartbeat noise, and Appa growls so that it echoes around the canyon. Sokka is playing some kind of flute in a haunting manner, and the fog parts just enough to reveal Katara, in her Painted Lady costume, zooming towards them. She lands on the dock (Aang hiding below her) and the soldiers advance on her with their swords. Aang Airbends at them through a gap in the planks, and that seems to be just about all the weirdness they can take today. Katara Waterbends two of the jet skis into the canyon wall and the others run for it while they still can. Saw Face decides to handle things himself, and Bends a curve of fire at Katara's face. Aang Airbends her straight up (her skirt miraculously staying put), and then slams Saw Face off the dock and into the river. Katara hovers in front of him, telling him to run, run away, and never return. He, wisely, swims for it.
Sokka and Toph row across as the town celebrates, and Katara lands on the dock as Whothefuckever comes up to thank her. Only her makeup's been washed off, and he recognizes her as "that colonial girl". The Fish Kid outs her as well, and Whothefuckever says angrily that she's been tricking them. Yeah, and giving you food and medicine and healing your sick. Asshole. The crowd advances and Sokka steps between them, saying they should be down on their knees, thanking her. Katara nudges him aside and apologizes for lying, but says she just wanted to help. "It doesn't matter if the Painted Lady is real or not, because your problems are real. This river is real. You can't wait around for someone to help you. You have to help yourselves." Whothefuckever: "I instantly agree with you!" Toph pretends to be a crowd member and says they can clean the river, and he instantly agrees with that too, and they all go off...to...clean the river, I guess. Whothefuckever says Katara's not bad for a Waterbender, and Sokka asks him to keep that a secret, and if it seems like I'm rushing to get to the end of this it's only because I am. Whothefuckever's third personality, Bushi, shows up, and there's a fast-forwarded montage of them cleaning the river, because you can totally clean a river of that size in the space of an afternoon.
That night, Katara walks to the water's edge and is greeted by this lady. "Thank you," she whispers, and then fades into the mist.