Today’s episode begins with, a battle between Ash and Brock? Somebody must still be bitter about the ending to Showdown in Pewter City… (Hey, don’t blame Ash, blame your traitorous dad and Pewter City’s rigorous fire safety regulations) Ash has chosen the too-cool-for-school Clint Eastwood Poke-Man-With-No-Name Grovyle to represent Team Idiot, while Brock has decided to go with the seemingly out-classed water-type Mudkip (Ha! Too bad you don’t have your useless Vulpix anymore, or even the unheralded Zubat/Golbat/Crobat). Grovyle easily slaps the punk Mudkip around annnnnnnnnnd it promptly evolves into Marshtomp. Man that hurts, it’s like a giant middle finger from the writers. Haha! Take that Pokemon fans! Now this episode is officially not a filler! But it’s still gonna suuuuck! So let’s get to it, shall we?
Marshtomp unleashes a vicious Mud Shot attack at Grovyle, who easily jumps and avoids it (you feeling lucky today, punk?), but a scream echoes back from the direction the Mud Shot flew off in. Ash leads the charge into the bushes to find out what’s wrong and – dear god, it’s a wounded Flaaffy! Unfortunately Marshtomp failed to finish off the abominable sheep Pokemon from the nightmarish days of Johto past. Instead, Brock offers his healing services (and any other service besides) to the Flaaffy’s young female trainer, but she declines. Instead, the girl (Mariah) runs off towards the next town, but she doesn’t stop at a Pokemon Center. No, it seems Mariah frequents her grandmother’s illegal private medical practice, an operation that runs counter to the socialist doctrines of the Kanto government (you have to believe that Officer Jenny is getting some major kick-backs). Mariah’s grandmother, Cadee, is also brazen enough to exhibit a barely-disguised Japanese flag outside of her illegal shop (a right-wing display that would really rile up the big wigs on the Kanto Politburo, Jenny must be getting paid a lot to look the other way).
Brock discovers that Mariah is studying traditional Pokemon medicine under her grandmother, and for the 422nd time he declares that he has found his true love – he and Mariah could make beautiful “medicine” together. It also appears that Marshtomp has suddenly undergone puberty since it evolved (Ash is still waiting for this to happen to him), and has taken after its trainer in terms of its spontaneous affection towards unavailable females (in this case, a Flaffy). Brock declares that the combination of himself, Mariah, Marshtomp, and her Flaffy would be “a date that will live in infamy!“ This is an unbelievably poor pick-up line to use on the granddaughter of an unrepentant Japanese nationalist, seeing as President Franklin Roosevelt used almost exactly the same words to describe the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, which brought the United States into the Second World War and ultimately culminated in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Japanese in the nuclear hellfires at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
But Brock doesn’t even have the opportunity to strike out, because it appears that Mariah already has herself a traditional Japanese boyfriend – McCauley (not Culkin, unfortunately). McCauley is another apprentice of Grandma Cadee, albeit one with too little self-confidence (hmm, a character of the day with a problem, I wonder if he will overcome it by the end of the episode?). Ash and company spend the day learning how to use the electrical powers of Pokemon to make non-FDA-approved “natural” Pokemon medicines. Thankfully, Team Rocket arrives on the scene to stop me from poking my eyes out in boredom.
The criminal trio have disguised themselves as an elderly couple and their anorexic Snorlax (Meowth standing on Wobbuffet’s shoulders in a Snorlax costume). Seeing as they have the same license to practice medicine as Cadee, Mariah, or McCauley (none), Team Rocket decides to self-medicate their Snorlax, and they begin shoveling all the bottles and boxes on the shelves into its mouth. When McCauley protests, he too is shoved inside Snorlax’s head, and realizes that this is all an elaborate scam. Team Rocket book it, but they run into Ash and his Grovyle on the way out and their cover is blown. In the ensuing tug-of-war with McCauley over the Snorlax full of illegal medicine, Team Rocket tumble off a ledge, into a boat inexplicably moored against a cliff face in the river below, and then plunge down the standard Pokemon ubiquitous waterfall. “If we had health insurance, things would be different!” cries James, implying that there may be some limits to Kanto’s universal health care system (perhaps it only applies to Pokemon), or at least that Giovanni is too cheap to spring for an employee health plan for his grunts.
That evening, Brock grooms Marshtomp as they continue to fantasize about Mariah and her Flaffy, oblivious to her obvious attraction to McCauley (but at least it’s a different kind of oblivious than Ash). McCauley is still having problems making medicine with his Ampharos (which is apparently related to his lack of confidence, or some shit). We are also treated to a flashback of Mariah and McCauley growing up together and crushing on one another (because, as we all know, your one true love on earth is always the person of the opposite-sex located geographically closest to you). Thankfully, Team Rocket returns once again to try and rescue this terribly Johto-esque episode; this time by literally stealing the entire medicine shop using their rocket-powered Meowth balloon.
Mariah’s wimpy lover-boy McCauley manages to scramble aboard the floating building to be with her in her time of vulnerability (you blew it again, Brock), but he is unable to attack Team Rocket from that angle. Brock actually makes things worse by trying to bring down the balloon with Marshtomp’s Mud Shot, which would then send Mariah crashing to her death (but maybe he’s into that? Dead girls can’t say “no”…) Luckily, Team Rocket saves Brock from the descent into necrophilia by deflecting the Mud Shot back at the twerps, which ends up seriously injuring Pikachu and Cadee’s Mareep.
Unfortunately, before Team Rocket can escape, Mime Jr. gets a little overenthusiastic helping Meowth man the balloon controls, and it causes the rockets to go haywire. Meowth and James climb out to repair the engines, while Jessie slings verbal sexual abuse at her less-than-masculine criminal teammate. “What kind of man are you?” she jeers. “A pressured one,” replies the not-mechanically-inclined James, referring either to Jessie’s unwanted sexual advances or to a song by his favorite band, Queen (featuring guest vocals by the occasionally-gay David Bowie). “I’m not even going there,” Meowth wisely concludes.
Meanwhile, while Jessie was indulging in gay-bashing, McCauley has managed to overcome his self-confidence problem, and whips up a batch of medicine on the spot that he tosses to Cadee. Meowth deflects the Thunder attacks of the newly-revived Pikachu and Mareep, but he cannot prevent Flaffy and Ampharos from attacking the balloon from directly below. The “good guys” corner Team Rocket and chastise them for stealing medicine that is supposed to help other people. “I’m a big fan of self-help,” notes James wryly – which makes sense seeing how lonely he must get out on the road with only Jessie and Meowth for company. Team Rocket and the twerps do battle, and James unleashes another great one-liner when Cacnea does its traditional pre-battle prickly hug: “Daddy loves you too, but we’re battling now!”
Marshtomp accidentally directs its Water Gun the wrong way, and instead of giving Mariah and Flaffy a good soaking, it drenches Team Rocket. This enables the whole Mareep evolutionary line plus Pikachu to deliver a highly conductive and concentrated dose of electricity that miraculously doesn’t kill Team Rocket on the spot, but does send them blasting off again.
The next day, Cadee’s medicine shop is somehow in the same location it started in, despite Team Rocket having picked it up and dropped it several miles away. Brock and Marshtomp, meanwhile, have experienced their first double rejection together, and the group departs for greener pastures, hopefully far away from the setting of this terrible episode. They will want to walk quickly, because with Cadee’s supply of medicines depleted, she will be unable to afford to continue buying Officer Jenny off, and you can bet that without her protection, the Kanto-G-B will be arriving any day now to drag these right-wing private-industry-loving traitors off to the gulag. All hail the glorious revolutionary people’s democratic republic of Kanto!