Today's episode begins with our heroes still wandering through the Lumiose Badlands, much as Moses and the Israelites once did in ancient times. (Although hopefully it won't take 40 years in this case – but with dumb-Ash at the helm, one never knows...) With Ash having successfully completed Clemont's challenge to obtain four Kalos gym badges, the show's resident John Denver lookalike is now worrying how he will measure up to his much cooler traveling companion. But while he was busy dreaming about Ash, it seems that Clemont has gone and burned everyone's breakfast of pancakes. Lumiose City's absentee gym leader is clearly feeling inadequate next to the talented and charismatic Ash Ketchum (traits that he no doubt inherited from his secret daddy, Professor Oak), and must reconcile the hard truth that every high school nerd must learn – girls will choose the dumb jock every time (and in this universe, Pokemon training is as analogous to athleticism as you will get).
This distinction is only made clearer when the group breaks camp and comes across the most recognizable landmark in the whole desert – the Kalos Power Plant. Bonnie beams with pride and explains how Clemont came up with the science behind the power plant, and Clemont indulges in some geeky mumbo-jumbo about harnessing solar power in space and transmitting it via waves to some kind of electro-magnetic thingamajig. (Because, you know, you couldn't just set up some solar panels in the middle of the desert or anything – you have to have satellites and lasers, dammit!) Surprisingly, Ash claims that he understands Clemont's babble.
"Wow Ash, you got all that?!" exclaims his girlfriend incredulously.
"Yeah, science is so amazing, which is why it makes sense," responds Professor dumb-Ash.
Serena proposes that everyone goes to check out the power plant up close, which sounds good to Ash, because he knows from experience that this is a location ripe for Pokemon catching – although Professor Oak probably hopes his bastard son will reconsider. However, Clemont soon realizes that the satellite dishes are pointed in the wrong direction, prompting Bonnie to consider whether or not inanimate objects can become sad. Rather than stopping to ponder her illogical philosophical dilemma, the group's three Electric type Pokemon, Pikachu, Dedenne, and Luxio (who is conveniently out of its Pokeball), move closer to investigate and become overpowered by some kind of electric wave, causing their eyes to turn red and them to join many other zombified Pokemon in crashing the gates of the power plant.
Ash and company are frustrated that they cannot follow their hypnotized Pokemon past the entrance gate, but fortunately, like any good impregnable fortress, the Kalos Power Plant has vulnerable exhaust vents that can be exploited by plucky rebels – it'll be just like shooting womp rats back home! Ash orders Frogadier to ejaculate its frubbly goo all over the fan blades to stop them up. As our heroes make their way down the exhaust shaft, Serena eyes Frogadier's sticky love-juice with apprehension, obviously rethinking the recent advances her and Ash have made in their relationship (I guess she never realized how messy love can be...).
Just above an air vent inside the plant, Clemont notices three workers that been bound together. But before the group's resident inventor can devise a plan to rescue them, gravity intervenes. (Maybe Clemont better cut back on those pancakes...)
Those pervy animators never miss an opportunity, do they?
Newly untied, the power plant employees explain that they were taken unawares by three apparent desert refugees – a man, a woman, and a talking Meowth. After providing these mysterious strangers with food and water, they turned on the power plant employees and revealed their nefarious intent – to use the space lasers in order to create a Pokemon mind control wave! Fortunately for the villains, the effeminate blue-haired man appears to have had some training in computer programming (mayhaps as part of his well-funded upbringing?), and soon bends the plant's software to his own ends. With the story over, the hamster-wheel that power's Ash's brain has seemingly kicked into overdrive, as our dimwitted hero is able to make the remarkable connection between the man, woman, and talking Meowth from the story and the man, woman, and talking Meowth who have been stalking him across several continents over the past eighteen years – it's Team Rocket!
The power plant workers explain that Team Rocket will still be hanging out in the central core of the plant, and that they have electronically locked every door between there and our heroes' current location – but never mind because the locks can be overridden from a sub control room and
...or Ash can just bust the door down. After all, what does he care? Ash has been unashamedly destroying public property since episode two.
Back at the reactor core, Team Rocket is excitedly looking over the Pokemon they have captured, but they are less excited than you might think to learn that the twerps' Pikachu, Dedenne, and Luxio are among them – after all, our villains have learned by now that wherever Pikachu is, the twerp leader is never far behind. And wouldn't you know it, there they are now! But fortunately for Team Rocket, James has an idea. An awful idea. James has a wonderfully awful idea!
He will simply divert electricity away from Lumiose City and the annoyingly-honorable twerps will be forced to bend the knee rather than allowing the city's hospitals and traffic lights to go dark!
With a few stokes of his paws on the keyboard (I'm always floored that Meowth is somehow master of all of Team Rocket's gadgets since he is still just a cat after all – did he take a course in electronics while he was learning to speak?), our resident Scratch Cat turns Lumiose into "Panicsville," as Jessie calls it.
Ash decides to demonstrate the same strategy he brings to most of life problems – run at it screaming. He applies Michael Scott's patented hug-it-out-bitch tactic on Pikachu in order to break it out of its zombified state. When this proves ineffective, Clemont joins in with Luxio as well for twice the hugging power. While all of this brotastic male/Pokemon bonding was going on, the workers managed to change the color of the core from blue to red, which is the sign to Clemont to overload it with electricity. Because the bond between Luxio and Clemont is so strong and blah blah blah, the Spark Pokemon is able to temporarily shake off its brain control and unleash a devastating Discharge attack that renders Team Rocket's Pokemon control wave impotent.
But as Clemont collapses exhausted over his Pokemon, James is quickly able to get the reactor back on line. "We have ignition," he states coyly, reusing a line he has no doubt said to his gentleman friends on more than one occasion... Just when it seems that all hope is lost for the twerps, Clemont's Luxio evolves into a mighty Luxray, conveniently just before Ash is set to take him on in a gym battle. The Gleam Eyes Pokemon uses its Electric Terrain to smash the offending brain wave signals once and for all, and together with all of the other assembled Pokemon, it blasts Team Rocket away for the umpteenth time. Better luck next time, guys. Who knows, maybe the eight hundred sixty-second time will be the charm?
With the day's excitement over, Clemont apologizes for destroying parts of the power plant – clearly feeling a sense of remorse and embarrassment that Ash in no way shares. But when one of the workers gets in a helicopter bound for Lumiose City, Clemont unexpectedly announces that he would like to go along. He declares that he is unsatisfied with his abilities as a trainer and wants some time alone to train before battling Ash for the Voltage Badge. He asks Serena to take care of Bonnie for him, which is surprising seeing as Bonnie is a big girl now and is in no way upset about being separated from her brother for the first time...
Final thoughts: This episode was decent, if predictable. I'm glad the writers tackled the issue of Clemont's lack of training skill vis-a-vis Ash. The only other time that Ash spent any amount of time traveling with a gym leader before battling them was Misty. And back then it seemed like a much more even fight because Ash was still a rookie trainer. However, after spending over a season with Clemont and more or less carrying the load himself when it comes to fighting off foes, it is clear that Ash should have an overwhelming advantage over Kalos' John Denver lookalike. Obtaining a Luxray and whatever training Clemont does between now and their battle will hopefully make it more believable that he is capable of putting up a convincing fight to Ash and his Pokemon, but only time will tell.