Let me just say, this episode is great. From its James Taylor reference title to its offbeat plot, this episode is a great example of how fun filler episodes can (and should) be (although technically this isn’t a filler episode since a main character gets a new Pokemon). The best thing about Sweet Baby James is probably its focus on my favorite character in the franchise (aside from Gary, of course) – Lady James of Team Rocket.
The episode actually begins with the twerps (typical) where May’s Munchlax is feeling under the weather (possibly from having been introduced a generation too soon), luckily another Generation 4 Pokemon comes along to cheer it up – a Mime Jr., carried in a basket by “Pa,” an old mustachioed man and husband of “Ma,” the old woman who had appeared previously to offer her advice on healing Munchlax. But this whole scene is frankly much less interesting than what is going on with the true heroes of the show nearby.
Chimecho of Team Rocket has chosen roughly the same time and location as Munchlax to become ill, and for whatever reason this is apparently the only godforsaken part of the whole Pokemon world that doesn’t come equipped with a Pokemon Center – or at least that’s what Meowth claims (whether or not it was wise for Jessie and James to entrust their navigational map-reading needs to a cat is a discussion for a different day). James has become so distraught by the whole situation that he assumes the position he is most comfortable in (so James is a bottom…that answers that question).
James runs to the edge of a nearby cliff (don’t do it James, you’ll find the right man someday – quick, somebody cue up “Someone Saved My Life Tonight!”), only to spot Cinderella’s Castle off in the distance. Being a beautiful queen himself, James rushes off towards the castle – presumably to meet prince charming before the stroke of midnight.
But when Team Rocket reach the castle – a place Jessie and Meowth seem strangely reluctant to break into (aren’t you professional criminals?) – James encounters not a majestic blonde-haired cleft-chinned muscle-bound prince, but the old couple from earlier in the episode, whom he addresses as Nanny and Pop-Pop. It turns out that these people are James’ grandparents, this castle is one of James’ many summer cottages, and he, in turn, is their “lil’ James.”
“Little James, since when?” chimes in Jessie slyly (oh like she would know – kind of makes you wonder why James is a bottom though….how big are we talking?). Unfortunately for James, Nanny brings up his lapsed engagement to the extremely Jessie-esque dominatrix Jessiebelle, thinking that Jessie must be the woman in question (to be fair, they are basically the same person, except Jessiebelle has a Southern accent and lots and lots of money). What follows is one of the single greatest moments in the history of the Pokemon anime, James takes a moment to imagine life married to Jessie – and his daydream turns in to a domestic nightmare! So in one typically overdramatic performance, James finally does away with the ridiculous notion of RocketShipping once and for all:
James quickly recovers and insists that Jessie and Meowth are merely his personal secretary and manager. James’ grandparents remark that it was smart of him to hire a talking Pokemon as his manager (finally, somebody recognizes how unique a talking Pokemon is – although smart is probably not the word I would use to describe him). James fills his comrades in with the backstory of his terrible childhood growing up among the one percent – apparently summers with his grandparents were the only respite from endless lessons on music, etiquette, and academia (poor baby, meanwhile Jessie was eating snow for God’s sake). James barely has time to sternly warn his friends to behave themselves before dumb-Ash bursts through the door with his twerpy friends and loudly declares, “‘Scuse me, I need water for my Pokemon!” (I’m really digging the emphasis on Ash’s stupidity by the new voice actress).
James quickly rushes the twerps outside and conspiratorially whispers to them that these nice old people are actually his grandparents, and he’d appreciate it if they didn’t inform them that James was dabbling in organized crime instead of being the president of a company like he told them. Everybody gets a momentary solo spotlight to declare their surprise at James being rich and owning a castle, etc. (which shouldn’t really be news to Ash and Brock), Brock goes last (implying that his fact is the most shocking), and incredulously inquires, “You’re telling them you’re president of a company that doesn’t exist?!” (what will the imaginary stockholders say?) Apparently there is nothing more shameful to honorable Japanese businessman Brock than masquerading as a corporate bigwig, but he and the other twerps agree to play nice for today.
After rendezvousing with Nanny and Pop-Pop around the sick beds of Munchlax and Chimecho, James realizes that his manager and secretary are nowhere to be seen. James takes off across the manor with Mime Jr., worrying that Jessie and Meowth are busy stealing the family jewels. They zip past the fine art room and planetarium without any luck, but then James thinks long and hard about the people he is chasing and finally discovers them in the room he probably should have checked first, the kitchen.
Nanny remarks that everyone should take a walk to the gardens where they can see all the Pokemon. Jessie and Meowth take an evil interest in an Oddish, but James catches his red-haired secretary as she tries to stuff it down her shirt. James reminds his teammates of the promise they made to be good while under Nanny and Pop-pop’s (vaulted and flying-buttressed) roof. But that evening, as James and May get some rare alone time by the sick-beds of their Pokemon (FireBirdShippers rejoice!), Meowth and Jessie sneak back into the greenhouse with flashlights that manage to attract the attention of both James and the twerps.
Ash and the gang confront the would-be thieves, which causes Team Rocket to break into the motto, until James manages to resist his artistic urge to perform, and snaps at Jessie and Meowth to return the Pokemon they are trying to steal from Nanny and Pop-Pop (even going so far as to grab and tear Jessie’s sack….) Ash sends out Panphy to do battle with Seviper, which causes James to call out Cacnea – and then orders it to focus its affliction on Seviper instead of the twerps! Are Team Rocket splitting up after all this time? Say it ain’t so! James and Ash team up (NaiveShippers rejoice!) to send a truncated Team Rocket (momentarily) blasting off again, prompting Jessie to comment, “There’s nothing worse than getting your head handed to you by a homie!” Um…did you mean homo? Or does homie have some kind of double meaning in Kanto?
The next morning, Nanny and Pop-Pop wish the twerps well as they depart with a rejuvenated Munchlax. Meanwhile, Jessie and Meowth are waiting impatiently in the hot air balloon for James to arrive. Late again, “Wonder what he’s messing with this time?” Jessie asks. What is that supposed to mean? Is James notorious for being habitually late? And messing with what? Clothes, his hair, rough sailors he met down by the docks?
James is actually with Chimecho, who is apparently still too sick to travel. The realization that he will be leaving his Pokemon behind cues up a patented Pokemon needless montage (complete with cheesy song – what is this, Bye Bye Butterfree?). C’mon, in what world does Chimecho deserve a sad montage? He didn’t actually do anything. Hey, remember that one time that James suddenly recalled that he always wanted a Chimecho and then found one in the very same episode, or how it kind of made one or two other appearances? What a lame Pokemon. Thankfully, James gets a bit of an upgrade in Mime Jr., who willingly jumps into an empty Pokeball in a capture that “master trainer” Ash Ketchum would have been proud of.
So that’s it Pokemon fans. James rejoins Team Rocket after finally coming clean (and perhaps coming out) to Nanny and Pop-Pop about the true nature of his association with Jessie and Meowth. But we can all sleep easy tonight knowing that the wicked witch of RocketShipping is finally, officially dead! Say it with me loud and proud, James is gay! And that’s okay!