Badge Episode – Thunder Badge: Vermilion City
Gym Leader: Lt. Surge – An American army lieutenant, Lt. Surge is as full of energy and passion as his Electric Pokemon. He tends to look down on Pokemon that are not evolved as he considers that a weakness.
Reappear? No 😦
Pokemon: Raichu, though it can be assumed that he has many Electric types.
Plot: After two weeks of being lost in the woods, Ash and the others finally reach Vermilion City. They stop at the Pokemon Center to get Pikachu something to eat and to make sure Ash’s other Pokemon are in tip top shape for his upcoming Gym match when a boy comes in with a wounded Rattata. The poor Pokemon is the latest in a string of many who have been thrashed by the Vermilion City Gym leader – Lt. Surge.
Ash has no worries about his upcoming match in spite of this, but Misty reminds him that he’s had many difficulties battling and his only two Badges were given to him out of pity by her and Brock. Ash remains excited and confident that he can beat Surge, but when yet another trainer comes in with a badly wounded Pidgey, Pikachu panics.
Ash tries to force Pikachu to go with him and battle, confident that he’ll win and not end up like all the wounded Pokemon. Eventually, Ash succeeds in bringing Pikachu to the Gym and faces off against the gargantuan Lt. Surge.
Surge is far from impressed by his challenger and laughs at the fact that he uses a Pikachu. He reveals that his Pokemon of choice is actually the evolved form of Pikachu, Raichu. Lt. Surge believes that good Pokemon Trainers should waste no time in getting their Pokemon to evolve after capturing them, and Ash using a Pikachu is sign of weakness. Ash and Pikachu are both insulted at this claim, and Ash says he doesn’t want to force Pikachu to evolve since he likes him just the way he is.
Lt. Surge continues to show his edge by also stating that his Raichu knows all of the Electric type attacks, something Pikachu hasn’t accomplished yet. After having his ego bruised, Pikachu gears up for battle and the Gym match begins.
Pikachu starts the match with a Thundershock, but it has no effect on Raichu. In retaliation, Raichu performs its own Thundershock, which heavily damages Pikachu. Brock urges Ash to recall Pikachu because Raichu is simply too powerful for him to handle. Ash agrees and tries to call Pikachu back, but he wants to continue battling.
Pikachu heads back into battle only to be knocked back time and again by a Thunderpunch and a Mega Kick. Surge finishes Pikachu off with one final Thundershock, and the battle concludes.
Later, at the Pokemon Center, Pikachu rests to recover from its wounds, and the others point out that Pikachu’s biggest wound was to its pride. It tried its hardest to prove that it was just as good as Raichu and failed miserably.
Ash wants to try again, but realizes that there’s no point unless they find some other way to take down Raichu. Nurse Joy overhears their conversation and offers Ash a Thunder Stone, which would grant Pikachu the ability to instantly evolve into a Raichu.
Ash is conflicted because, on one hand, evolving Pikachu to Raichu would give him a better chance of beating Surge. On the other hand, evolving Pikachu purely for battle purposes would make him no better than Surge. He sets the stone down next to Pikachu and leaves the decision up to him.
Pikachu considers it for a second before smacking the stone out of Ash’s hands. He says he doesn’t want to change and that he’ll fight Raichu in a rematch for the name of all Pikachu.
While they all express concern over the next Gym match, Brock says he has an idea that might give Pikachu the edge over Raichu.
After watching Pikachu’s story from the windows of the Gym and Pokemon Center, Team Rocket decides to shed their villain clothes for the day and actually cheer on Pikachu while disguised. The gang appreciates Team Rocket’s support, even after recognizing them.
At the Gym rematch, Ash touts a new strategy which seems to instantly fail as Pikachu takes a Tail Whip to the face and then repeated Tail Whips as he lies on the floor.
Pikachu continues to get pummeled, and it only gets worse when Raichu Body Slams him. Surge is about to finish him off with another Body Slam, but Pikachu manages to slip away before getting hit again.
Ash puts his new strategy into play and commands Pikachu to use Agility, allowing him to dodge all of Raichu’s Body Slams. Brock reveals that the logic behind this strategy is that Raichu was instantly evolved when Surge caught him as a Pikachu, meaning he never got the opportunity to learn the speed moves that it can only learn as a Pikachu.
Raichu is baffled by Pikachu’s speed, and it seems like Ash and Pikachu have finally gained the upperhand when Surge decides to stop messing around and blasts the entire arena with a Thunderbolt.
As the smoke clears, they see that Pikachu has managed to escape the blast unharmed, using his tail as a ground to avoid the shock. Surge calls for another Thunderbolt, only to realize that Raichu has used up all of its power and cannot perform Electric attacks anymore.
Pikachu, however, is perfectly fine and uses his Quick Attack (and a Tail Whip?) to take down Raichu, winning Ash the Thunder Badge.
Pikachu’s honor has been restored, Ash has earned the respect of Lt. Surge and they’ve both reached a new level of understanding in their friendship.
– Was….Ash about to punch Misty in the face? He was going slow, so he was probably going to stop after his arm extended, but the way Nurse Joy stops his hand it’s almost like he was going to go through with it.
– Eeeee the Pokemon Center sound. ~Nostalgic game shivers.~
– To the Trainer who came in with a Pidgey….Really dude, you used a Pidgey against Lt. Surge? Why not save the trouble and stick your Pidgey’s beak in an electrical outlet?
– It should be noted that the Lt. Surge of the anime is WAY bulkier and taller than his game counterpart. Lt. Surge of the games is definitely muscular but he has a much thinner physique and doesn’t seem particularly tall. Lt. Surge of the anime is like eight feet tall and is built like a body builder.
– Yay Raichu! Also known as Way-Better-Pikachu!
– Wait, Ash knows what a Raichu is?….And he’s still using his Pokedex on it? I’m not sure if I should make this a ‘Why Use the Pokedex’ moment since I don’t see why he does know about Raichu when he didn’t seem to know about Pikachu when he first met one.
– I’m surprised that Surge doesn’t point out that a Pokemon disobeying its master and continuing to battle after being recalled is a sign of poor training. Yes, it’s gutsy of Pikachu, but it also shows Ash’s lack of control over his Pokemon.
– Brock: (In regards to evolution) “Pikachu will never be the same.” Can someone tell me exactly what goes on in evolution in the show? Because it seems like sometimes evolving greatly impacts a Pokemon’s personality, like with Charmander, but other times they stay exactly the same and only have changed appearances and base stats, like Caterpie. No, Pikachu will never technically be the same, but it’s really just changing appearance and power, isn’t it?
– Also, considering we now know that Pikachu is actually an evolved form itself, this internal struggle seems kinda….confusing? Pichu aren’t ‘forced’ to evolve into Pikachu, but it’s still an evolved form. And taking Bulbasaur’s ability to deny itself evolution later on, it seems like Pikachu willingly evolved when he was a Pichu. You got something against Raichu? Because I have an exterminator who owes me a favor, you little yellow rat.
– Misty: “How can you see a star in the middle of the day?” Uh…it’s called the sun, Misty.
– While I give Ash and co. props for seeing through Team Rocket’s disguises for the first time…I can’t give them too much credit considering a big hint was probably the talking Meowth. Not that it means much in later seasons.
– Gotta love Surge’s VA’s line delivery when he says ‘What?’ after the Thunderbolt. If there was ever an audio version of the ‘wat?’ meme.
– Any reason why the Thunder Badge looks like a sunflower or the sun?
So, another Badge episode down, and I’m pleased to say that I really like this episode. Ash loses the first time around, making for a real question of concern over whether he can truly win. Surge is made out to be a major threat here. He’s definitely the most powerful and intimidating Trainer Ash has faced so far.
I love Raichu, even if he’s made out to be kinda a jerk in the majority of the episode like Surge is. Plus, his existence throughout the episode seems to be to signify being something that Pikachu doesn’t want to be, which makes Raichu look bad.
The fact that Team Rocket cheers Pikachu on instead of ruining the flow of the episode with stealing was very welcome, and I like how Ash didn’t use made up BS or cheating to win this match. In addition, it’s his first actually WON Badge as the other two have been pity badges.
The only thing I kinda don’t like is how it was Brock who was the one who gave Ash the match-winning advice. I usually like when Brock and Misty actually impact the plot, but, if he hadn’t been there, Ash would’ve lost. He’d probably run back to Pewter City and try to juice up Pikachu with a water wheel again. I would’ve preferred if he had done research himself, figured it out on his own etc. Even if it was just a fluke. But it’s not like this is the first nor far from the last time this will ever happen. I take what I can get.
Next episode, we start off the St. Anne arc!
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