Katara and Sokka reunite with Bato, their old friend from the Southern Water Tribe. Bato suggests they find their father, which causes Aang to fear that his friends may leave him; when Aang intercepts a message from Sokka and Katara's father, he hides it because of this. Later, he comes clean about the message, upsetting his friends. Meanwhile, Zuko hires a bounty hunter named June to help him track down the Avatar. After defeating Zuko, Aang reclaims Katara's necklace and returns it to her. Katara and Sokka decide they cannot leave Aang, as he is part of their family, too.
In a field near a body of water, Aang finds a whale's tooth scimitar, which Sokka quickly identifies as a Water Tribeweapon; the discovery prompts Team Avatar to search for any other traces of the passage of Water Tribe warriors through the area. Sokka finds a burned arrow and further evidence of a fight between firebenders and the warriors of the tribe; their search eventually leads the trio to the shore, where Katara finds a beached boat. She and Sokka recognize the vessel as part of their father's fleet.
On his own ship, Zuko and his uncle are drinking tea. Iroh remarks to Zuko that "a moment of quiet is good for your mental well-being"; immediately after he speaks, the ship rocks suddenly, causing Zuko to spill his tea. Angrily making his way to the deck, he and Iroh find a bounty hunter named June mounted on a large animal called a shirshu. After a brief altercation between herself and Zuko's soldiers, June states that she is looking for a stowaway, contrary to Zuko's adamant denial of the accusation. The beast tears a hunk of metal from the deck with its strong teeth and, following the stowaway's scent, finds its prey. The fugitive tries to escape, but is stunned by the beast, which uses its whip-like tongue to paralyze him temporarily. As June prepares to mount her shirshu with the fugitive in her custody, Zuko inquires as to how she knew of the man's hideout, to which she replies that the shirshu's smelled him. This leaves Iroh impressed with both the animal and its owner.
Later that night, Sokka remembers the day that Hakoda, his father, left the Southern Water Tribe, leaving him to take care of his little sister. At that moment, Bato, a friend of Hakoda's family and a native of the South Pole, appears at the group's campsite next to the boat. Bato explains that he was injured and left behind and takes the party to his current home in an abbey of nuns who make perfumes and cures.
Excited over the reunion, Sokka and Katara share stories about their tribe, but they unintentionally leave Aang out, causing him to feel excluded. In the meantime, Zuko hires June and her pet shirshu, Nyla, to capture the Avatar, using the scent of Katara's necklace, which he perceives to be compensation for the damages to his ship. June attempts to decline, only to change her mind when Iroh offers to pay her weight in gold. She accepts under the condition that the price is changed to Iroh's weight in gold.
Back at the abbey, Bato states that a message is arriving soon about their father's whereabouts, so Katara and Sokka might be able to see him. Aang runs off, feeling hurt that Katara and Sokka might leave him to go find Hakoda. However, Aang does not hear the last part of the conversation when they reject the offer, saying they must travel to the North Pole with him.
While Aang is contemplating their possible departure, a messenger arrives, giving him a rendezvous map from Hakoda. Instead of giving it to Katara and Sokka, Aang, not willing to be separated from his friends, hides it; he returns to Bato's home with an air of guilty awkwardness. Meanwhile, Zuko, June, and Iroh search for Aang in the ruins of Taku, worrying the herbalist who thought her cat, Miyuki, had gotten into trouble with the Fire Nation again.
The next day, Aang hides the footprints of the messenger's ostrich horse when Bato takes Sokka, Katara, and himself on a coming-of-age ritual called ice dodging. Because of the lack of ice in that region, they are forced to navigate through jagged rocks instead. Meanwhile, Zuko continues his search, arriving at Aunt Wu's place in Makapu Village. Back on the ice-dodging ship, with help from the bending of Katara and Aang under Sokka's conduct, they pass the test; afterward, on the beach, Bato gives each of the group's members a ceremonial mark: the mark for wisdom for Sokka, bravery for Katara, and trust for Aang. When Aang receives his mark, he rejects it, believing himself to no longer be worthy of trust, and reveals to them the rendezvous map. Sokka, infuriated by Aang's deception, yells at him angrily while Katara expresses disappointment; they leave Aang to find their father.
Soon afterward, the shirshu arrives at the abbey, closing in on its prey. Katara, traveling with Sokka and Bato to find Hakoda, hears a wolf howling. Sokka suggests that the wolf is hurt, but Bato tells them that it has simply been separated from its pack. He explains that he can relate to this, telling Sokka and Katara that he had never felt lonelier in his life than the day he was left in the abbey by his fellow warriors to heal after being wounded in battle; this reminds Sokka of the day Hakoda left to fight abroad. Sokka and Katara realize their mistake in leaving Aang and turn around to find and apologize to him, who is preparing to leave when Mother Superior warns him of Zuko's approach.
Zuko, Iroh, and June find Katara and Sokka, quickly finding that the Avatar is not with them. The shirshu paralyzes the siblings as they try to escape and finds the map, which has Aang's scent. Following the scent, they return to the abbey, where they find Aang waiting for them. Flying on his glider, he manages to take the beast down. June quickly rises and, once on her shirshu, tries to attack Aang, but is stopped by Appa. Aang and Zuko start fighting, eventually creating a large explosion. Nyla attempts to paralyze Appa with his tongue while nearby, Zuko recovers from the explosion and starts firebending at Aang, who is also being chased by the shirshu. Appa tries to aid his owner by firing air blasts at his chaser, albeit unsuccessfully. Zuko resumes his duel with the Avatar, the latter of whom notices Katara's necklace in Zuko's fist and, after dodging his fire whips atop a well, manages to recover it. Appa tries to reach Zuko, who is shooting fire at Aang, but June and the shirshu manage to paralyze the bison after numerous attacks.
Meanwhile, Zuko and June finally corner Aang against a wall. Sokka devises a plan and directs the nuns to pour out all their vats of perfumes; Katara starts waterbending the perfume into a thick mist. Since the shirshu can only "see" with its nose, the excess of different scents acts as a smokescreen, causing it to become overwhelmed; blinded and panicking, it lashes out haphazardly with its tongue, striking and paralyzing Zuko and June. Iroh pretends to have been paralyzed as well in order to get close to June, holding her in his arms as he lies on the ground, to her annoyance. As their opponents lie immobilized, Aang, Katara, and Sokka use the opportunity to escape.
Later, when the group is flying away on Appa, Aang asks them about their current plans. They inform him that they will travel to the North Pole: he has become part of their family and they need each other. Aang returns Katara's necklace to her, saying that Zuko asked him to do so. Katara understands the joke and kisses Aang on the cheek. With that, Aang blushes and twiddles his thumbs as they fly off into the sunset.
Katara's necklace, which she lost in the episode "Imprisoned", is recovered by Aang during his battle with Zuko and returned to her.
The herbalist and her pet cat Miyuki make a return appearance in this episode. She is seen gathering herbs near the ruins of Taku.
June, Zuko, and Iroh make a stop at Makapu Village and briefly converse with Aunt Wu. June comments that Katara must have spent a lot of time there, referring to Katara's repeated visits to have her fortune read.
The man June was arm-wrestling appears later in the series fighting her.
When June runs off the dock after having captured the stowaway on Zuko's ship, the stowaway cannot be seen.
When Katara and Sokka are by the boat, Aang's footprints disappear. In the next scene, they reappear.
When Bato says the sisters craft perfume and ointments, Katara is seen wearing her mother's necklace even though, at that point, Zuko has it.
Immediately after Bato tells Katara and Sokka that "everything's funny with hindsight", he is seen laughing, though no laughter is heard.
When Bato is saying he cannot do anything while ice dodging, Katara's rope is behind Sokka and Aang.
When Katara and Sokka find out Aang had the map that would lead them to their father, Sokka, Katara, and Bato's footprints can be seen. When Sokka, Katara, and Bato are walking away, their footprints disappear.
When Sokka is yelling at Aang, the mark on his forehead is an arch, but when he turns back at Katara, it is more triangle-shaped.
When Nyla paralyzes Sokka and Katara, Katara is initially lying closer to the shirshu than Sokka, but she is later seen lying further away than her brother.
In a distant shot of the abbey, the doors are open. The next moment, when Zuko, Iroh, and June enter, they break through the door that was already open.
When Nyla strikes Zuko with his tongue, June is on the saddle, but in the next frame where Nyla strikes June, she is off the saddle.
In the scene where June is arm wrestling in the local tavern, the man she is arm wrestling bears a striking resemblance to Ryu from the Street Fighter game series.
In the same scene, there is a woman in the background who looks somewhat like Jin.
According to iTunes, this is the lowest rated episode. However, many believe it to be "The Great Divide".
This is the first episode in which Appa actually engages people in combat, using his size and ability to airbend to great effect.