As a reward for protecting Ba Sing Se from the Fire Nation attack, Aang, Katara, Sokka and Toph are allowed into the city and given a house in the inner ring. While the others are optimistic about having reached the city, Toph is none too thrilled- apparently she has been in Ba Sing Se before, and did not find it to her liking. Soon after they arrive, Aang and his friends are met by Joo Dee, a woman assigned to guide them around the city. Attempts by Sokka to try and get their guide to talk about the war and a possible audience with the Earth King are invariably ignored. As they see the many sections of Ba Sing Se, the kids soon find the segregation of rich and poor people is not to their liking. Aang recalls that this may be the reason why he didn't visit the city in the years before his being trapped in the iceberg. When a possible audience with the Earth King is finally mentioned, it is revealed that they will have to wait at least a month. It soon becomes apparent that within the walls of the city, no one wants to talk or even think about the war raging in the rest of the world. Even Aang's attempts to find Appa bears no fruit as no one seems willing to divulge any information to them, thanks to some meaningful glances from Joo Dee.
Meanwhile, Zuko and Iroh have found jobs in a tea house, where the former Fire Nation general soon becomes popular for his superior tea brews. Unknown to the two, Jet the freedom fighter is constantly watching them and waiting for either one to show signs of firebending.
When a notice arrives of a party being held in the palace, Katara decides it's a good way to reach the Earth King. Toph says that since the gang are mostly commoners, they'd be spotted right away if they went to the event. In the end, Toph and Katara dress up in formal attire and head for the palace as Aang and Sokka wait. The girls are initially refused entry by a guard, who rejects even Toph's family seal. They eventually get inside by tagging along with an official named Long Feng.
Aang and Sokka arrive at the palace themselves and enter the side entrance as servants. All of the kids are soon discovered by Joo Dee, who appears very frightened that they have defied the orders and entered the palace. Aang is soon exposed as the Avatar and a commotion erupts. Sokka, Katara, Toph and Momo are soon gathered gently but forcefully by the guards. Aang himself is confronted by Long Feng, and taken to a room where the others are waiting.
Jet, getting impatient with waiting, finally charges into the tea restaurant where Iroh and Zuko are working. He accuses the two newcomers as Firebenders, but is met only by skepticism by the tea shop patrons. Angered, Jet draws his swords. Zuko draws his own double blades and the two start a prolonged duel. Despite taunts from Jet, Zuko holds his own without using his firebending. Zuko finally disarms Jet at the cost of one of his blades. Guards arrive at the scene and take Jet into custody. Smellerbee and Longshot watch as their friend and leader is taken away. Later, in a darkened room, a captive Jet appears to be subjected to a form of brainwashing.
Inside Long Feng's chamber, Aang and the rest try to talk about the coming Solar Eclipse, but are abruptly cut off by Feng. To preserve the culture and utopian life within the walls of Ba Sing Se, no mention of the war is permitted. It is also revealed that Feng, the Earth King's secretariat, is in charge of handling day-to-day affairs in the city, including all military matters. The King himself is no more than a figurehead, a beloved icon. When Aang threatens to talk and tell everyone about the war, Feng threatens them with expulsion from the city. He then goes on to say that if Aang persists, he may never see the missing Appa ever again.
As they are dismissed, Long Feng calls in Joo Dee to accompany them. Aang stares in disbelief as they all realize that a different woman has taken the place of Joo Dee.