Previously on Pokemon: Today's episode begins with a montage summarizing the events of the last three shows, for the benefit of all the Johnny-come-lately's to the Pokemon phenomenon. The narrator reminds us of Ash's promise to become a Pokemon master, and then how he subsequently almost died on his first day on his own. We are reintroduced to Pikachu, Misty, and the beautifully villainous Team Rocket (Meowth excluded, unless you're into that...) Finally, the events of last episode are recapped, specifically the hardening of Ash's Caterpie into the stiffly-erect Metapod.
Misty has been lucky enough to have spent the last several days in the company of the young Pokemon trainer who swept her off her feet with his manful assertiveness when he brazenly stole her bike back in Episode 1. Unfortunately for Misty, that Pokemon trainer is Ash Ketchum, who has about as much interest in females as your typical prepubescent ten-year-old boy (i.e. none whatsoever), and his idea of a good time has so far involved scrounging around the Viridian Forest looking for interesting bugs to collect. It is this last fact that has finally (and quite literally) driven Misty up a tree, as she screams about seeing one of the insects that she is deathly afraid of. Ash uses this opportunity to provide us with the first classic Engrish moment of the series, by donning a cow costume and speculating that perhaps what Misty saw was a "Cowterpie." These Japanese visual puns/lost-in-translation English non sequiturs will abound for the first season or two, so enjoy them while you can (Apparently the words for bug and cow sound alike in Japanese, if you were wondering).
Ash realizes that the bug Misty saw was not a Cowterpie at all, but in fact an awesome Weedle – a major upgrade over the girly Caterpie/Metapod/Butterfree family that is more common in the inferior Blue Version of the game (Charizard rulz!). He reaches for a Pokeball to throw at the Hairy Bug Pokemon, but then stops himself to do something very out of character – recall prior knowledge. "Oh yeah, I almost forgot," says Professor dumb-Ash, looking straight through the fourth wall to the kiddies at home, "you have to weaken a Pokemon before you can capture it!"
With this new strategy in mind, Ash calls out Pikachu to soften Weedle up for capture, but the little yellow mascot of the franchise is literally sleeping on the job. Ash tries to cooly play off this blatant disrespect from Pikachu by slyly mentioning that he has two other Pokemon who give him the respect he deserves. Ash sends out the overpowered Pidgeotto (seriously though, even the most adamant level-grinders don't have a Pidgeotto before they reach Pewter City) to rough up Weedle. Misty gets frustrated, finally realizing that Ash is more interested in playing with Weedle's pointed head than letting her play with his pointed head, and she storms off in a futile attempt to get Ash to notice her.
Unfortunately, in what will be a recurring theme in disturbing Internet fan art and cosplay, a Japanophile thrusts his sword directly at Misty's face. Happily, Misty is not about to unwillingly get the full Monica Lewinsky treatment (now there's a 90's reference for you, look it up kids), as the sword in question is actually a real friggin' katana belonging to a boy who claims his name is Samurai (although his mother insists on calling him "Logan"). But unlike most fanboys, Samurai leaves Misty alone as soon as he realizes she isn't Ash, and he rushes off to find the "trainer from Pallet."
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Ash has finally finished subjecting Weedle to murderous torture by its mortal enemy, Pidgeotto, and is about to catch it and add yet another file to his growing Pokedex. However, he gets understandably distracted when Samurai suddenly appears and tries to slice him in two with his katana. Having succeeded in getting his attention, Samurai confirms that Ash is indeed a Pokemon trainer from Pallet Town and challenges him to a battle. Ash agrees, but only after he fails to capture the Weedle, which has crawled off in the mean time. He blames Samurai for distracting him, but Samurai deflects the blame right back, rather aptly describing Ash as "dim-witted and clumsy."
Perhaps still feeling the sting of its earlier rejection, Ash declines to choose Pikachu for his battle with Samurai and instead picks the "pooped-out" Pidgeotto. For his part, Samurai goes with the intimidating Pinsir. Pidgeotto manages to kick up a Sand Attack, but Samurai laughs at this defensive technique and somehow bends the rules of the Pokemon universe by ordering Pinsir to use Tackle – an attack it cannot learn (the kid must have a GameShark). Pidgeotto is so upset by this blatant rule violation that it forfeits the match with its integrity intact. Ash chooses Metapod to continue the fight, but immediately regrets this decision when Misty points out that Pinsir might quite literally crush the Cocoon Pokemon to death. With Metapod's impending doom rushing closer, Ash instinctively uses his Oak genes/recalls a repressed memory of something he heard emanate from his mother's bedroom, and orders his Pokemon to "Harden!" Pinsir is no match for Ash's hardened phallus, and breaks the points off of its horns. Not wanting his manhood to be called into question, Samurai whips out his own Metapod, and the greatest battle in the history of Pokemon is under way!
A Metapod versus Metapod battle may seem stupid, but there is actually a lesson to be learned here: the first person to exhaust the PP counter gets access to the Struggle attack, and certain victory! (Also, anyone who has never played Pokemon to the point of needing Struggle needs to reexamine their lives/thank their parents for a job well done [delete as appropriate]) Unfortunately, dumb-Ash has probably forgotten that his evolved Metapod has access to Tackle, or maybe he is just too noble to descend to physical violence during a refined erection contest. Whatever the reason, Ash and Samurai continue to order Harden after Harden, each trying to urge their Metapod to become longer and stiffer than the other. Meanwhile, while Ash and Samurai are riveted to their proxy prongs, issuing such classic lines as "Maximum hardness, Metapod!", Misty resorts to more drastic measures to get her boyfriend to look at her instead.
If this doesn't increase traffic to my website, then nothing will.
While Ash and Samurai wait for any signs of softening in their Metapod, Team Rocket are jogging through the forest inside a cardboard insect shield. This "tank" is a far cry from the mechas that the villainous trio will one day employ, and Jessie and James are not at all happy that the tank is powered in the same manner as Fred Flintstone's car. They also take umbrage at Meowth's decision to ride lookout on the roof, and let him know in no uncertain terms by flinging him off and forcing him to follow along behind.
Back in the clearing, Misty has become fed up with the boys' obsession with who's Metapod is stiffer (you think this is bad, just wait until college, honey). Unfortunately, the match must be called off before either Metapod goes limp and flaccid (but Samurai puts his Metapod away first, so I'm calling Ash the winner), due to a sudden infestation of Beedrill (the only Pokemon that the show's writers will consistently characterize as being evil; even Mewtwo loses his heart of stone). One Beedrill swoops down and grabs Ash's Metapod before Ash can recall it to its Pokeball. Pikachu noticiably waits until after Metapod is stolen (what a dick) before it decides to intervene and shock all the surrounding Beedrill – as well as Ash. Misty seizes the opportunity to get some physical contact with her unwilling boyfriend and drags him off by the hand deeper into the forest away from the pursuing Bedrill. Everybody manages to escape, and they locate Metapod as well, but unfortunately it is sitting at the base of a Kakuna tree. Ash is understandably excited: his inability to protect his Pokemon has been cosmically forgiven, also, he has spotted some new Pokemon, and thirdly, Pokemon. Misty, however, is a bit wiser, seeing the Kakuna for the heartless bloodthirsty abominations that they are, and tries to physically shush her boyfriend, while simultaneously copping yet another feel (also, check out Pikachu's face).
The immobile Kakuna suddenly begin to glow, and then they release the wretched army of unholy Beedrill encased within their shells. Everybody takes off running again, with tubby Samurai somehow in the lead. He directs them towards his cabin, where he apparently lives alone in the Viridian Forest (wow, ten year old hermits? Kanto is a really depressing place). Luckily, everyone makes it inside and shuts the door before the Beedrill can catch them, and as an added bonus, Samurai can finally say he's had a girl inside his cabin. As night falls, Samurai reminisces about the wonderful battles he had with the other three trainers from Pallet Town, including the inimitable Gary Oak and his Squirtle (although I will point out that the trainer with the Charmander got there first; but then again Gary was probably slowed down by all the women who kept throwing themselves at him along the way). Despite the fact that he technically lost his match with Ash too due to forfeit, Samurai chides our brainless hero for allowing his Pokemon to get stolen (sure, blame the victim Samurai; and those girls you keep tied up in your cellar, what were they dressing too provocatively?). Ash does not take kindly to Samurai's accusations that he is a terrible Pokemon trainer, and spends a sleepless night ruminating on the events of the past day, while lying inside a sleeping bag he stole from somebody called "Satoshi" (apparently the 4Kids censors only care about Japanese when it is written in the devil's script).
Ash wakes up the next morning and slithers through the tall grass towards the Beedrill tree where Metapod is being kept. He knows that silence will be the key to this whole operation and so he makes sure not to even breathe too loudly as he slowly approaches the center of the danger and
Meowth jumps on his head.
Team Rocket appears on the scene and for the first time utters the phrase that should send shivers of nostalgia down the spines of any true 90s kids: "Prepare for trouble!" "And make it double!" Ash tries in vain to hush the villains during their recitation of the Team Rocket motto, which only serves to offend their artistic sensibilities. "Never interrupt the motto!" growls Jessie, before she and James finish their routine in the loudest manner possible – complete with a pyrotechnics display.
Team Rocket demand that Ash surrender his Pikachu, despite the fact that it is back in Samurai's cabin, probably snuggling up next to Misty like the player that it is. Meanwhile, the Beedrill have awoken and are about to angrily dive-bomb the humans with the reckless abandon of Japanese kamikaze pilots (too soon?) Ash uses his noggin for once, and gives a demonstration of his future action hero tendencies by rolling underneath the Beedrill's stingers and grabbing hold of his Metapod (but not like that, you perverts). Meanwhile, James (who still sounds like evil Tracey), notes that Team Rocket can take shelter inside the tank that they labored so hard to carry with them...or rather they could have, but it is being eaten by a horde of hungry Weedle.
Ash's escape with Metapod is made more difficult by his inability to run and talk at the same time, and he stumbles and drops his Pokemon on the ground. He finally has a mature moment of clarity, and confesses to Metapod that it was due to his own incompetence that the Beedrill stole it. Meanwhile, a Beedrill has caught up to them and Metapod bravely sacrifices itself (proving that it still knew Tackle in the process) and blunts the Twineedle at the cost of a huge scar down its shell.
Oh lord, things just got real. Are we about to see the very first Pokemon death? But no, unfortunately it's something much, much worse. Metapod's scar begins to glow and slowly a terrible form emerges – Butterfree: the unnecessarily shrill Pokemon. Well, Ash is over the moon about this latest turn of events, and has his brand new Butterfree unleash a terrible Sleep Powder that takes out Beedrill, Weedle, and Team Rocket alike. Faced with a field full of unconscious Pokemon, what does aspiring Pokemon master Ash Ketchum do? Well certainly not try to catch them or anything, that's for damn sure!
So after a successful day of not catching any new Pokemon, Ash and Misty stand at the edge of the forest with Samurai, who declares that, "someday we will meet again." NOPE! You just became the first character of the day, buddy. Congratulations! Now we will literally never have to see you again. But as Ash departs for Pewter City in the company of his devoted stalker, there is another group of characters who are still trapped in Viridian Forest. In the first instance of what will become a recurring gag, Meowth has disguised himself as another Pokemon – in this case a Kakuna. Jessie and James have joined him, hoping to avoid the wrath of the assembled Beedrill, but things do not look good for Team Rocket and the episode concludes with the sound of them in terrible pain. Don't you just love happy endings?
As of the end of this episode Ash has caught 4 of the 151 Pokemon available at this time – meaning he is 3.31% of the way to his self-declared goal to “catch ‘em all.”