Last episode, Ash and friends met Korrina – the leader of the Shalour City Gym – and in a plot reminiscent of the first season’s Path to the Pokemon League, Ash and then Team Rocket became Korrina’s 99th and 100th consecutive victims, respectively. Now Korrina has temporarily joined the twerps as they travel to Geosenge Town – supposedly home to rare Lucarionite. We get our first glimpse of the mountainside town as the gang rushes down the road towards it. Geosenge’s name and the rock features around it bear a strong resemblance to Stonehenge – a real world location in England; not France, the basis for the Kalos region. I guess all Europeans look the same to the show’s animators…
Arriving in town, Ash is dismayed to discover that Lucarionite is not readily spilling out of the ground, and he is further disappointed that Korrina does not have a concrete plan in place for finding any. Serena rightly points out that this winging-it mentality is also her boyfriend’s typical m.o., saying, “Ash just likes to jump into things!” (but not her bed, as she has discovered).
Evolutionary stones and other rock based items seem to be the bread and butter of the Geosenge economy, as everywhere our heroes go they witness venders selling their stony wares. One man purchases a Sun Stone and uses it to evolve his Helioptile into a Heliolisk. Bonnie asks her brother if this is how he obtained his Heliolisk, and when he responds in the affirmative, she asks Ash when he plans on getting around to evolving his Pikachu? (Clearly someone hasn’t seen Electric Shock Showdown…) Ash responds that sworn creationist William Jennings Pikachu (look it up kids) doesn’t want to evolve, and leaves it at that. Still needing to find some Lucarionite, everyone fans out to ask the local shopkeepers if they have any, but to no avail. Meanwhile, Serena has more important things on her mind, as she is sizing up engagement rings. (Traditionally this is the role of the man, but Serena appears to have correctly reasoned that she will need to be more proactive with Ash)
The group reconvenes later near the most Stonehenge-esque part of town realizing that they are no closer to locating the mega evolution inducing Lucarionite (no thanks to Serena). Korrina momentarily despairs, but then she remembers that her grandfather specifically told her not to give up in her search, so she decides to soldier on. However, this gathering of unsupervised and vulnerable pre-teens has attracted the attention of someone.
Oh, never mind, it’s just an old man who wants to photograph a group of unsupervised and vulnerable pre-teens…
The photographer’s name is McGinty, and apparently he is in the souvenir picture business. (How quaint, in a world full of unbelievable technology no one has thought to invent a camera phone…) The kids arrange themselves with the stone monuments in the background, but not close enough for creepy McGinty, who urges everyone to squeeze closer in the frame. Serena grabs this opportunity and runs with it, surreptitiously sliding right up on the oblivious Ash. Once the photo session is over, McGinty divulges the location of Lucarionite. He says it can be found in a secret cave-within-a-cave in the nearby hills, but he also imparts a warning – terrible things happen to those who enter the cave but are not worthy of the Lucarionite! This news does not sit well with Ash and the main Kalos crew, who did not embark on this endeavor with the expectation that they would have to put their lives on the line. Korrina is confident she will be worthy of the cave, however, what with the gym leadership and the hundred victories in a row, and whatnot, and the gang resolves to set off once again in search of the Lucarionite. Fortunately, McGinty is not the only adult around who likes to spy on unsupervised and vulnerable pre-teens: Team Rocket is listening as well! The dastardly trio (plus Wobbuffet!) decides that their best course of action will be to find the entrance to the cave before the twerps, conceal it, steal the Lucarionite for themselves, and then somehow snag Pikachu as well. So as Team Rocket hurries away, McGinty hands the kids their photos – having managed to develop and make prints of the film with remarkable speed. (Also, what kind of TLR takes rectangular photographs? Most of these kind of cameras utilize medium-format films like 120 that produce square-shaped pictures – similar to the type of photos that hipster lomographers take and Instagram tries to emulate) Anyway… as Korrina, Ash, and company depart for the mountains, McGinty creepily soliloquizes, “It worked out just as we planned…” Perhaps our bewhiskered photographer friend is the cause of the terrible things that happen to those travelers “unworthy” to enter the Lucarionite cave? (And he photographs his victims beforehand to keep as souvenirs? That monster!)
Over on the mountainside, Team Rocket finishes moving rocks in front of the cave mouth. Their fiendish plan complete, our villains squeeze inside in order to “steal” the Lucarionite. (this is undoubtedly how Ash will describe Team Rocket’s actions, but how it is any different from what Korrina plans on doing is something I cannot explain) Meanwhile, the rather rotund Wobbuffet does a sort of hula shuffle dance into the cave, which I found to be exceedingly funny.
However, once inside the cave, Wobbuffet is decidedly less enthusiastic (possibly because he is a psychic Pokemon and weak to the spooky ghost types who are likely to inhabit such a locale). At the end of the passageway, Team Rocket finds a strange wooden door. Hrm… a strange door located inside of a cave? Team Rocket have discovered the entrance to Kingdom Hearts! Apparently Jessie and James are the ones who will open the door.
The twerps soon make their way up the mountain too, but thanks to Team Rocket’s hard work, they walk in circles around the rocky trails, unable to find the cave. Eventually Lucario uses its aura powers to “sense” the Lucarionite, and it punches Team Rocket’s barrier out of the way. Clemont unveils a new invention: a Heliolisk backpack light that saves the assembled Pokemon trainers the trouble of having to lug around an HM mule equipped with Flash. Suddenly a frightening sound emanates from the cave, which causes ‘fraidy cat Serena to make an excellent face. This is followed by Team Rocket literally flying out of the cave and blasting off again, although not by Ash’s hand for once. It would seem that they are not worthy of the Lucarionite – just as McGinty foretold. Korrina isn’t afraid, and she charges down the cave with Lucario in the lead and fellow gym leader Clemont close behind. Manly-man Ash tells his ladies, “It could be dangerous, keep close,” and Bonnie and Serena comply (the latter more than willingly) by grabbing hold of his backpack. (no doubt Serena’s hand will steadily drop the deeper they go into the pitch-black cave…) The group comes to the door to Kingdom Hearts and finding it open, they walk on in. Past the doors we see a Chamber of Secrets like passageway with the Lucarionite on display at the end. Deciding that there is nothing suspicious at all about how easy getting the Lucarionite seems, Korrina charges straight forward – until a Blaziken jumps out of nowhere and challenges her Lucario to a fight. Ash seems genuinely surprised at the identity of this new challanger, clearly having forgotten that he has encountered several Blaziken over the course of his travels, most famously in the Johto League Tournament when a Blaziken owned by a trainer named Harrison wrongly defeated a tired Charizard (aka the greatest Pokemon that could ever be), although Ash can be forgiven for repressing this particularly bad memory.
Korrina’s Lucario and the Blaziken go toe-to-toe, in a battle to determine whether the Shalour City Gym Leader is worthy of claiming the Lucarionite. Several times Blaziken seems to take the upper hand, grabbing Lucario by the skull and throwing it against the wall of the cave. Serena implores her man to intervene, but the sage of Pallet Town declares that this is Korrina’s battle to fight and that everyone else should stay out of it. Korrina agrees, saying something totally unprecedented in the history of Pokemon: “Ash gets it, he totally understands.” Just when all appears to be lost, Lucario mines an untapped vein of energy and summons its bone clubs to thrash Blaziken into submission. With the battle over, a man emerges from the shadows bearing the most interesting name/eyebrow combination that I have ever seen.
Gurkinn, as he is apparently called, turns out to be Korrina’s grandfather. It seems he has been laying in wait for his granddaughter in order to challenge her to a Pokemon battle to determine whether she is worthy of the Lucarionite. (At least this is what he tells Korrina. The true story of what he is doing in the mountains is far more sordid, as we are soon to discover.) Korrina claims her Lucarionite (surely she could have just chipped off a bit and not grabbed the whole damn boulder?), and the gang heads back to Geosenge Town where they run into, who else, but McGinty the creepy photographer. Apparently he has been “working” with Gurkinn, which explains why he was so eager to leave Grandma Gurkinn behind and depart for an excursion to Geosenge’s Brokeback Mountain range. (#GeosengeShipping) But Korrina has no time to contemplate her grandfather’s apparent late in life conversion to the homosexual lifestyle, she has a Pokemon to mega evolve, dammit!
So as Korrina ends the episode by beginning the mega evolution process, we are left with a conundrum: If Ash and friends are once again witnessing the “mysteries” of mega evolution unravel before their very eyes, where the hell is the supposed leading authority of mega evolution, Professor “Sexy” Sycamore? How can he have so many research questions about a phenomenon that is so common that people as dumb as Ash can’t help but stumble across it time and again in Kalos? It’s almost like the good professor isn’t even trying/has more important things to investigate… Perhaps next episode will provide us with the answers? So tune in again, Pokemon fans!