Character Returns: Both Gary and Giovanni are present. The only reason I feel like mentioning them now even though they pop up quasi-frequently throughout the series is because this is the first time either has ever been given extended focus without having the actual focus be either Team Rocket or Ash and co.
Badge Episode: Viridian City
Gym Leader: Giovanni – Leader of Team Rocket, Giovanni also acts as the Viridian City Gym Leader for some reason somehow. However, due to plot, Ash never actually battles or even meets Giovanni in this episode. Gary battles him, but loses to Mewtwo. Officially, Giovanni specializes in Ground Type Pokemon, but he tends to just use whatever.
Reappears?: He appears about as much throughout the rest of the series as he does in this region, which is hardly at all but he still exists. As long as Team Rocket is around, which will probably be until the end of the series, Giovanni will always be their boss, most likely.
Pokemon: Most notably, Giovanni has his trademark Persian by his side at all times. He’s never seen battling with it, however. Giovanni is shown using a Golem, Kingler (Possibly two or even three Kingler considering we also see one in a cage in the basement. He could possibly have a second Golem as well by that logic.) and Mewtwo, though he only has Mewtwo temporarily. He also gives Jessie and James a Machamp and a Rhydon, and has a Cloyster in the basement.
Interim Gym Leaders: Jessie, James and Meowth. No intro needed.
Plot: Ash, Misty and Brock have arrived in Viridian City to obtain Ash’s eighth and final Gym badge. Once he wins this match, he’ll have enough badges to enter the Indigo League conference.
However, just as he’s about to enter the Gym, Gary pulls up to taunt his rival. Ash is shocked to learn that Gary has actually obtained TEN badges and is just challenging the Viridian Gym Leader for kicks. Since no more than one Trainer is allowed in a Gym during a challenge, Ash is forced to wait outside while Gary battles.
After being spooked by Togepi, Ash accidentally throws the baby Pokemon into the mouth of a nearby Fearow, who flies off with him. Togepi manages to escape Fearow’s clutches, but Team Rocket spots him and decide to capture him to give to their boss.
Meanwhile, Gary’s battle with the Viridian Gym Leader, who turns out to be Team Rocket’s leader, Giovanni, begins. Gary starts with Nidoking while Giovanni starts with Golem, which is instantly KO’d by Nidoking’s Tackle attack.
Next, Giovanni chooses Kingler. Gary opts to switch out his Nidoking for his Arcanine. It dodges a Crabhammer and follows up with a Take Down, Fire Spin and Fire Blast, which defeat Kingler.
Gary’s victories are making him so bored and inflating his ego so much that he actually tells Giovanni that he should just end the match because there’s no way he can beat him. With a smirk, Giovanni wagers otherwise. He unveils his strongest Pokemon, a mysterious creature clad in armor that is not listed in the Pokedex, and tells Gary that he can use multiple Pokemon against it, if he wishes. Arcanine is thrown psychically by the creature with ease. Starting to panic, Gary sends out both Arcanine and Nidoking against it, but both are instantly stopped in their tracks by the Pokemon’s powerful psychic abilities.
In no time at all, Gary is handily defeated.
Afterward, Team Rocket presents their newly captured Togepi to Giovanni, but he’s thoroughly unimpressed and deems it and Jessie, James and Meowth as completely useless. He’s suddenly called away on an emergency, so he leaves the trio in charge of the Gym and gives them three of his Pokemon to help guard the place.
Meanwhile, Misty and the others continue their search for Togepi. They suddenly hear him chirping from behind the doors of the Gym, so they forcibly open them. Misty and Togepi happily reunite, but they’re quickly shocked by what they find beyond the doorway – Gary and his cheerleaders are unconscious on the floor.
Ash and the others rush to them. Gary wakes up and explains that they encountered an unbeatable ‘evil’ Pokemon, much to Ash’s shock and confusion.
To make matters even more confusing, Team Rocket emerges from under the arena to deliver the good news to Ash – they’re now the Viridian City Gym Leaders, and Ash must beat them in order to get his final badge – the Earth Badge.
Ash agrees to the match, but this whole situation is very suspicious.
The match is three on three. Jessie releases all three of Giovanni’s Pokemon – a Machamp, a Kingler and a Rhydon.
Ash sends out Squirtle first. Jessie chooses Machamp, who easily defeats Squirtle with a Karate Chop. When Squirtle takes the hit, Ash is struck with a jolt of electricity. They rigged the arena to give the Trainer just as much pain as the Pokemon whenever they get hit.
Ash sends out Bulbasaur next while Jessie chooses Kingler. With one Bubble attack, Bulbasaur seems down for the count. Like last time, Ash is struck with another jolt of electricity. He’s weakened, but he continues.
He sends out his final Pokemon, Pidgeotto, to attack Rhydon. Much to her surprise, Jessie is shocked like Ash. James wired her side of the arena too, not believing they’d lose. Meowth tries to trigger the bomb on Ash’s side instead, but Gary stops him.
Fed up, Jessie sends out Arbok and Weezing to battle as well, which is a violation of the terms they set for the Gym match. Realizing their rule-breaking opens him up to breaking the rules as well, Ash sends out Pikachu. With one Thundershock, Pikachu takes out the entire group of Pokemon.
Ash demands his Earth Badge, but Jessie won’t hand it over. Togepi wanders over to the remote Meowth dropped and hits both of the buttons, blowing up both sides of the arena and sending Team Rocket blasting off. Jessie drops the Earth Badge in the process, but Ash recovers it. He has finally earned his eighth and final badge, allowing him entrance into the Indigo League conference.
The kids escape as the building starts to collapse. Gary has gained a bit more respect for Ash as a Trainer, but he still believes no one will ever be able to beat the mysterious Pokemon that defeated him.
Ash, Misty and Brock head off, but they soon realize they have no clue where the Indigo League conference is even held. They decide to visit Pallet Town to ask Professor Oak about it. Ash is one more step closer to trying his luck at winning the Pokemon League.
-…..*huff* Let’s get this over with.
“Golly, Twix, you sure seem perturbed. Shouldn’t you be excited? It’s the final Indigo League badge episode afterall!”
I should be, Unnamed Disembodied Voice I’m Using for the Sake of a Segway into an Explanation. But I remember this episode. I remember how foolish it was to have hopes and ‘expectations.’ This was the eighth and final Indigo League badge episode, and what do we get?
You remember Pokemon Red and Blue? How you had so many encounters with Team Rocket the entire game and they all lead up to you facing off against the leader, Giovanni, for your eighth and final badge? How satisfying it was to take him down and end all of Team Rocket? No, he wasn’t the biggest challenge in the world, but he was a challenge and a threat. He was the big bad of the game.
I was so excited when I first watched the series to finally get to Giovanni. After being robbed of pretty much anything Team Rocket related (outside of Jessie and James, who quickly became jokes after about the third episode) I was stoked to finally have a full confrontation with the shadowy man himself – the guy who makes Jessie, James, Meowth, and even Butch and Cassidy shake in their boots. The guy they’ve been teasing this whole time as being a big deal with all the darkness and voice filters and stereotypical cat stroking whenever he’s seen – which is rarely. The guy who had all the means to be a huge challenge for Ash to overcome in his final badge match. And considering we’re fresh off the heels of a two-parter badge episode, and that was the second of two two-parter badge episodes so far in this region, surely the final badge episode had to be a two or three-parter, right? It’s gonna be awesome, right?
Oh young Twix. You stupid naive girl in a Reptar t-shirt.
No. What we got was half an episode’s worth of a commercial for the first Pokemon movie, a quarter of an episode chasing Togepi, and quarter of an episode’s worth of disappointing battle…..with Team Rocket….
And, no I don’t mean Giovanni.
I mean Jessie and James.
The same dolts that Ash has defeated over 60 times already.
The same dolts who couldn’t win a Pokemon battle if they were battling Pokemon plushies with a full team of Moltres.
The same dolts who are so bad at their jobs that one of the biggest mysteries of Pokemon is why Giovanni hasn’t fired them a hundred times over by now.
People kept saying it was okay because they were using Giovanni’s Pokemon, but it’s not. They’re still Jessie and James. They’ll still fuck it up. Which they do. They fuck it up so breathtakingly badly that I’m almost impressed with their newfound level of stupidity.
The Trainer Box shock trap? Who cares? Ash gets shocked by Pikachu so much in a comedic fashion that this never even registers as a real threat. And he’s feeling all of the pain his Pokemon feels, which gets really messed up the more you think about it. Ooh it’s so impressive that Ash is taking all of this pain and bravely continuing on. His Pokemon do that all the time. And I must point out that one of the attacks he ‘bravely endures’…..is a Bubble…hitting a Grass Pokemon.
They completely drained every semblance of coolness and tension from the final badge episode all because Giovanni had to leave for some reason.
Don’t get me wrong – it is pretty cool to see so much of the normal anime dedicated to tying into the movies, which is something they very, very rarely ever did, and the confrontation between Gary and Giovanni/Mewtwo was pretty cool and a great tease for the movie, but they should have made this an entirely separate episode. Have it be a special teaser episode for the movie and then move on to the eighth badge episode. Have Giovanni return after Mewtwo left and have him be incredibly pissed that his experiment escaped. That way the battle with Ash will be tension-filled AND frightening. Imagine Giovanni agreeing to the battle with Ash purely because he wants to let off some steam by pummeling his Pokemon into the Ground.
Get it? Ground? He specializes in Ground-type Pokemon.
But nope. Instead, we cram all the movie stuff into the final badge episode and, if you never see the first movie, none of that shit ever matters. It’s a big tease into nothing. It’s like when you’re reading a comic, something really interesting pops up and then you see that dreaded text box that says something like “to know what the hell all this is about, check out ComicName #164!” It’s one of the reasons why I don’t actually mind all that much that anime movies tend to exist in their own continuity most of the time. They can definitely be considered canon, but the TV series aren’t obligated to bring them up or weave their stories into the main storyline.
And lest we forget that almost as much time is dedicated to the pointless bullshit with the Togepi chase sequence.
I wouldn’t even be upset about the time wasted if they had made this a two or three-parter, but it’s not. It’s a one-parter, and it’s barely that.
I’m not even really angry – I’m just disappointed. Because that’s what I felt when I was a kid as I watched this episode for the first time. Just a big pile of disappointment sitting on my kidneys. What makes this worse is that this is one of the episodes I first watched on VHS because I missed it on the regular airing.
Whenever I rewatch Pokemon, I get to this episode and I don’t get angry. I just think “*sigh* Let’s just get this over with.” because I don’t want to think about what a massive missed opportunity this episode is any more.
If you got bored of my blathering and want to hear an interesting story about the production and release of this episode in regards to the Pokemon Shock incident, see Dogasu’s comparison found here.
And now, let’s move on with the episode.
– Ash: “I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since we were here.”
I never much paid attention to this line, but apparently a lot of people did, taking this as more or less confirmation that a year has gone by and even linking it to the idea that each League/Generation Ash goes through counts as one year. Well, as you probably read on the Dogasu comparison, this is a dub-exclusive line.
The timeline is always super vague with this show, so they only had Satoshi say it’s been a long time since he was here. We pretty much just have to accept the fact that 20+ years worth of Pokemon stuff has gone on in less than a year and Ash is perpetually ten years old and somehow keeps getting designed to look younger and younger with each new art style.
– Misty: “Hm, well the Pokemon Center’s up and running again.” I’m surprised they actually brought that back up.
Brock: “Look, Ash! The Viridian Gym!”
Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. You’re telling me he spent nearly all of his time at the Viridian City Pokemon Center when he was here last and yet he didn’t realize the Gym was practically next door? I mean, yeah, there’s no sign, but it’s a giant building with stone pillars and Roman guards at the door. Wasn’t he at least curious as to what this place was?
– Ash: “I know I can do it. I’m on a hot streak!” Hot streak how? Just because you won your last badge match?…..After losing the first time?
Fire is shown in Ash’s eyes as he says this, and then we cut to Pikachu and Togepi enjoying a fire in front of him. I get the joke, and it’s funny, but why the heck did Pikachu decide to start a campfire in the middle of the road? It’s not even like it’s cold outside.
Misty: “Ugh, why did you do that Pikachu?” Are you ruining the joke by pointing out how ludicrous that was?
– This is followed up by an equally funny joke where Ash and Pikachu do that sparkly dreamy ‘run into each other’s arms’ thing after Ash proclaims that he can do anything with Pikachu by his side.
– I know Gary’s just teasing Ash, but why would he think Ash quit Pokemon Training? He literally just saw him four episodes ago, and he got his Volcano Badge there.
– Now we have to give proper focus to Gary’s insane assortment of badges – not just in the fact that he somehow has ten badges, and is aiming for his eleventh, but also that only three of the badges seem like they’re from known Kanto Gyms. He has the Boulder Badge, a Cascade Badge and the Rainbow Badge. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s also possible that he got a Volcano Badge after Ash since one of the badges looks very similar, but it’s not the exact same so maybe it’s not meant to be the Volcano Badge.
I’d think all badges from a Gym need to look identical to prevent counterfeits. Is there a black market for badges? Because I can totally see people just grinding at a Gym for badges so they can sell them to lazy Trainers. Do Gyms even allow you to have rematches if you won already?
I’m getting off-topic.
I can totally understand that there might be other Gyms in Kanto for the sake of making official Gyms more accessible to Trainers who may live far out in the country or whatever, but why is it that Gary doesn’t have the traditional set if it seems like he was following Ash’s route for the most part? He bumped into him way too often for him to not be roughly following the same path. Ash always went to the nearest Pokemon Gym when he was out adventuring. Why wouldn’t Gary do the same?
For that matter, why hasn’t Gary gotten his Earth Badge yet? In the games, the Gym was closed down when you first visited Viridian City, which is why you had to skip it and move on to the next town. In the anime, they never say such a thing. The only reason Ash never goes to that Gym is because he didn’t know there was a Gym there.
– Jeez, look at how huge the guards are compared to Ash. They’re giants.
– Guard: “Only one Trainer allowed in the Gym at a time, kid.” They didn’t check if any of Gary’s cheerleaders were Trainers.
– Ash: “I have to do something fast or else Gary is going to get way ahead of me.”
Misty: “Uh, reality check, Ash. Gary’s been way ahead of you since the beginning.”
Damn, Misty. I thought you specialized in water not fire.
How can he even say, with a straight face, that Gary’s ‘going’ to get way ahead of him? He literally just showed him that he has three more badges than Ash. Every time Ash catches a Pokemon, he’s reminded that Gary has caught ten times as many as he has.
– Ash: *not looking* *Togepi bops him on the head because he’s sad* “Thank you. You’re the only one who always stands by me no matter what. Oh Pikachu!” More favoritism. Because he certainly can’t rely on his other Pokemon to always stand beside him no matter what. No sirree. Isn’t that right Snow Way Out?
– Ash was so spooked by Togepi that he threw him high enough to bounce off of a flagpole and into a Fearow’s mouth….Wow, Ash….Just wow.
– Misty: “Why did you do that to my Togepi!?”
Ash: “Misty it was an EGGcident!”
– I know I said that I liked the confrontation between Gary and Giovanni, but I really only meant that in terms of when Mewtwo finally shows up, because, prior to that, this match is absolutely pathetic.
Gary starts with Nidoking, and Giovanni chooses Golem. They both opt to use Tackle, and Golem is ONE-HIT KO’D………BY A TACKLE.
Are you fucking kidding me?
Then Giovanni chooses Kingler, who uses Crabhammer, which is a bit better, especially considering they show it smashing the stone floor, but then Gary switches to Arcanine, whom I do love, but why did he even switch out in the first place? Nidoking’s a fine match against Kingler, and Arcanine’s a FIRE type. I’d expect Ash to make a move that nonsensical, not Gary. He attacks with a Take Down, which is fine, but then follows up with a Fire Spin? And then a Fire Blast? And that defeats Kingler.
– Why exactly does Gary need to use a Pokedex on a Kingler? His Krabby should be a Kingler by now, and even if it’s not he’d certainly have done the research on Krabby to know it’s evolutionary line. Gary makes such a big deal later about not using the Pokedex whenever he sees a Pokemon like Ash does and yet here he is using it when, by all means, he shouldn’t have to.
– The perspective in this shot…
Why is Arcanine so small?
– Why is Gary so confused as to how his Arcanine got psychically thrown across the ring? Surely he has faced Psychic Pokemon by now, and surely he knows that Confusion is basically Poke-speak for Telekinesis.
I was going to say surely he had faced Sabrina, but according to his weird-ass assortment of badges, he never fought her.
– I love how immediately after Giovanni gets pissed at them for being half-wits, Giovanni leaves Jessie, James and Meowth in charge of his Gym. Does he not have literally anyone else working in this place that is capable of being a Gym Leader? No other Rocket grunts?
– What exactly happened after Giovanni defeated Gary? He had Mewtwo psychically knock out Gary and his cheerleaders? For what purpose? They had to have been out for like an hour. That’s pretty serious.
– Gary: “This Pokemon’s not just powerful – it’s evil.” How is Mewtwo, based from Gary’s interaction with it, any different from any other Rocket Pokemon? When called to attack others, it will, usually. I do believe some Pokemon are evil, despite what the show may insist, because it’s just unrealistic for them to all be good at heart. If some Pokemon are jerks, some have to be evil. What I don’t get here is why Gary believes Mewtwo is evil just because it attacked them when Giovanni probably called for it to attack them. Giovanni’s the evil one.
– Cheerleader: “I can’t believe Gary lost.” *they all start bawling*
Misty: “Why are you making such a big deal about one lost battle?! If I cried like that every time Ash lost a battle, I’d be waterlogged.” Damn, Misty. You’re being really vicious to Ash today.
– I’ve also been a little annoyed how it’s never explained how and why Giovanni became a Gym Leader in either the games or the anime. Pokemon Origins implies that he was a Gym Leader first and later started Team Rocket and kept the Gym as a cover, but that was never in the games.
– Misty: “You mean this Gym is controlled by Team Rocket?”
Brock: “Why would they want a Gym?”
Jessie: “Oh, you little dweebs couldn’t understand the complex schemes of Team Rocket.”
Ash: “Oh yeah? Try us!”
James: “They’re for us to know and for you to find out….” *to Jessie* “What are they?”
Jessie: “Huh?…..Those plans are classified information.”
Meowth: “She don’t know ‘em either.”
So….basically “We never thought of anything clever or interesting to write as a reason, so we’re going to joke about how there isn’t one.”
– Gary didn’t battle in a Trainer’s box. Why are there suddenly Trainer’s boxes in here? Did….did James install the Trainer’s boxes themselves as well? Jeez, that’s a lot of work for such a short amount of time.
– 16 Minutes…..
It takes 16 GODDAMN MINUTES of a 22 minute long episode (including credits) Before the ‘Battle for the Badge’ actually starts.
– One of the Pokemon Jessie uses is Giovanni’s Kingler, which was defeated earlier, which must mean it’s really tired right now. Unless it’s a different Kingler, but is his pool of Pokemon so shallow that he has duplicates? I was really confused because he has a Kingler on him, but there’s a Kingler in a cage in the basement where he keeps Mewtwo, and he gave Jessie one. No matter, really, because even if he does have two or even three he’d obviously keep his best Kingler on him, which means the others have to be weaker, which is a problem when we already saw his best one be easily defeated.
– This Gym makes no sense. The Trainer’s boxes are rigged to have the Trainers shocked whenever their Pokemon receive damage, meaning they ‘feel all of the pain the Pokemon feels’ but how do they detect any of that? The Pokemon aren’t connected to anything to gauge such a thing.
– Also, dammit, Ash, CALL THE COPS! Not only is Team Rocket running this Gym, but they’re physically assaulting you and they (well, Giovanni/Mewtwo technically, but still) knocked out Gary and the girls. Gary is proof that there are other Gyms to get badges from – it’s not worth this trouble.
– The fact that Ash’s Bulbasaur basically gets taken out with one hit of a Bubble attack by a Kingler when Gary handily defeated it with a Pokemon that had a type DISadvantage is so depressing.
– You can argue that Squirtle and Bulbasaur merely got hit, not defeated, but Ash and Jessie both switch out Pokemon when the hits land, so it’s clear they’re making off like it’s a defeat.
– Ya know how I said Team Rocket would inevitably fuck it up? Well, here comes the fuck up.
Jessie: “James, why did you set it up to give shocks on both sides? Ugh, turn it off, turn it off!!”
James: “I didn’t think it would matter. It didn’t occur to me that we could lose.”
How long do you think it takes to set this system up? Quite a long time, right? (Which begs the question how they had the time to do that between Giovanni appointing them Gym Leaders and now. Also, they had to have been doing all of that construction with Gary and the girls unconscious on the floor…..) And it’s probably a pain in the ass. James went through all of that work to set up the shocking device on Jessie’s side in addition to Ash’s side just because whoopsee he didn’t think they’d lose or I guess they’d never even get hit once. And they have no way of just turning it off, whether purely on their side or entirely…….That is so monumentally stupid I think it shaved years off my life.
Also, Rhydon getting hit by Pidgeotto twice, despite them clearly winning against Squirtle and Bulbasaur with one hit, is enough to make Jessie flip out and start cheating, thereby allowing Ash to cheat, sealing their fate and blasting them off again *ding* Screw this whole battle.
– Rhydon’s getting shocked by Pikachu even though it’s a Ground-type……Need I remind everyone this is the second time they’ve made that mistake with this exact same Pokemon. Ultra screw this whole battle.
– FFS, Giovanni’s Pokemon are such wimps they actually RUN AWAY COWERING after Pikachu shocks them – EVEN RHYDON. Infinity screw this whole battle.
– Technically, Pikachu just won this whole battle by one-hit KOing five Pokemon at once (Only Rhydon had taken damage so far, by Pidgeotto) – three of which were Giovanni’s Pokemon.
– Gary gets a way better story in this episode. He gets to fight Mewtwo, he gets his ass handed to him, which helps him learn some humility, and he gains a better respect for Ash. All the more reason this should have been a lone episode about him instead of having it also be Ash’s final badge episode.
Ash doesn’t learn anything or grow here. He just battles.
– Wait a minute. So they were not only stupid enough to put the shock system in Jessie’s Trainer box, but they also took the time and effort to RIG IT WITH EXPLOSIVES?!
– Both sides of the arena blew up, but Ash and the others are just fine?
– That explosion was powerful enough to LEVEL THE WHOLE BUILDING?! But also somehow weak enough to leave Ash and the others untouched? What the hell!?….Also, this is the second time Team Rocket has blown up a building in Viridian City. You’d think blowing up his friggin’ Gym would be enough for Giovanni to finally fire these two, but of course not….
– Misty: “But where is the Pokemon League?” How the hell does a former Gym Leader not know that?
Brock: “I’m sure Professor Oak could tell us all about it.” You don’t know either, Brock!?
– I love the song, but the fact that the Pikachu’s Jukebox of this episode is (Double Trouble) Team Rocket’s Song feels insulting.
Well, that’s that. That’s the sloppy mess that is the Battle for the Badge. I’ve already said my piece, and I don’t really have anything else to add. I’ll just cap it off by acknowledging my disappointment in the completely lost opportunity one more time.
Knowing how the Indigo League ends, it’s almost like this was foreshadowing of how the entire region would wind up being disappointing. But that Charizard-shaped problem will be addressed later….and compounded by other things on the table that need to be discussed.
Next time, Mr. Mime’s debut. I don’t remember disliking this episode, which was another I had on VHS, but I also don’t remember much about it besides Mr. Mime making a huge box out of Reflect panels…
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