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Recap / Pokémon Shipwreck

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"You good for nothing fish! I DON'T WANT TO BE YOUR MASTER!!!"

Japanese Title: Pokémon Adrift

Original Airdate: July 15, 1997

US Airdate: September 29, 1998
Ah, what a relaxing island vacation.

The one where... Ash and Co., plus the Team Rocket Trio, try to escape from a sunken ship.

The S.S. Anne has gone down, with the twerps and Team Rocket still on-board! Can they get out and back to the surface alive? Even if they do, will that even be enough for their salvation?

This episode contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Brock: "If we dive down to the deck and come across a dead end, then we're done for."
  • Alas, Poor Villain: While scouting for dry land, Pidgeotto finds Team Rocket floating on the surface, apparently dead due to drowning. At the makeshift raft, Ash, Brock, Misty and Pikachu mourn for their persistent foes, believing that even they didn't deserve such a fate, and prepare to give them a sea burial. However, it turns out they're still alive, much to Pikachu's dismay.
  • Berserk Button: James finally gets one when he loses his patience with Magikarp before kicking it into the water.
  • Black Comedy: Upon seeing Team Rocket, especially Meowth, was still alive, Pikachu snapped his fingers in frustration.
  • Cliffhanger: The episode ends with Ash and his friends being swept away in a tornado created by Dragon Rage.
  • Crashing Dreams: Jessie and James' fantasy about relaxing on a beach comes to an end when the sun starts really burning. They then wake up to find they are directly underneath a blazing stove.
  • Crushing Handshake: After realizing they must work together with their enemies, Ash and Brock shake hands with Team Rocket in this truce, albeit with a grudging grip. Pikachu adds his own unique twist for Meowth by shocking the cat while shaking hands, though Pikachu gets called out by Misty.
  • Didn't Think This Through: As clever as it was for Jessie to have Ekans use its Acid to open a hole for them to get out, she forgot they were underwater.
  • The Dog Bites Back: After being disowned and kicked by James for being useless, Magikarp suddenly evolves into a Gyarados, one of the most powerful, most vicious, and most ill-tempered Pokémon that ever lived. Upon its evolution, the now pissed-off Gyarados seeks payback on its former master, along with his companions on the raft.
  • The Dreaded: Gyarados. According to Misty, the sailors used to tell horrifying stories about Gyarados and its fearsome attack Dragon Rage. She states that when Dragon Rage occurs, no one is able to escape it.
  • Due to the Dead:
    • At the beginning of the episode, Ash, his friends, and Team Rocket are believed to have their journeys tragically cut short according to Officer Jenny. Complete with the playing of Taps.
    • When Ash and company find Team Rocket's "corpses," they decide, out of respect, to give their foes a sea burial.
  • Eat the Dog: Being stranded in the middle of ocean for about a day with no food available, everyone (except Misty) looks at Magikarp with hungry fantasies. Meowth makes for the first bite, only to find out that Magikarp is made out of tough scales and bones.
  • Enemy Mine: This is the first time that Ash and his friends truly work together with Team Rocket (as opposed to Team Rocket cheering Ash on in private). They have to cooperate to get out of the ship alive.
  • Eye Catch: The featured Who's That Pokémon this episode is Magikarp.
  • Fanservice: An Imagine Spot has Jessie and James lounging on a tropical island in a bikini and swim trunks respectively.
  • Fear Is the Appropriate Response: Misty's answer when Brock asks how they plan to battle the Gyarados.
    "My strategy is... RUN AWAY!"
  • From Bad to Worse: It's bad enough that James' Magikarp evolved into an angry, vengeful Gyarados looking to settle the score with its master... and then it calls in backup.
  • Friendship Moment: At one point, James breaks down in tears and begs Jessie not to leave him. Instead of hitting him and telling him to get a group, Jessie gently tells him she won't.
  • Gave Up Too Soon: After several failed attempts to make Magikarp useful, an angry James decides to release Magikarp for being useless, exclaiming he doesn't want to be its master. But after he literally kicks Magikarp out of the raft, the Fish Pokémon suddenly evolves into Gyarados, a terrifying sea serpent that can level cities. And because James just released it, it has no obligation to obey James anymore (in fact, it wants terrible revenge upon its former master).
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Jessie has to smack some sense into James when he's ready to give up before the final room.
  • Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: When Ash initially wakes up, he asks Brock and Misty why they're upside-down. Misty then counters that he's the one that's upside-down. Then he lands on Pikachu.
  • Hope Spot: As the group tries to outrun Gyarados, the Pokémon suddenly stops in its tracks, seemingly exhausted from the chase. But Misty remembers the stories about Gyarados and realizes that it's about to perform Dragon Rage. Cue several more Gyarados rising from the sea.
  • Imagine Spot:
    • Jessie and James dream of tanning on the beach before the heat begins to rise, which is revealed to be from a malfunctioning stove in reality.
    • Ash imagines himself drowning when he comes across a closed hatch trying to escape by descending to the deck instead of going up to the bottom of the hull.
  • Jerkass Ball:
  • Jump Scare: Happens to Ash and his companions twice:
    • First, when Goldeen saves Team Rocket from drowning, the first thing Ash, Misty, and Brock see is James, unconscious and blue in the face.
    • Then, when Team Rocket suddenly awakens after Ash's crew thinks they died in their escape attempt from the St. Anne. The twerps initially think they became zombies.
  • Kick the Dog: James, furious upon the realization that Magikarp is not even edible for their survival, literally kicks Magikarp back into the ocean. He later regrets it.
  • The Load: Magikarp proves to be this, not even able to swim under its own power when it's time for Team Rocket to escape the ship.
    Jessie: Don't tell me this fish can't swim?!
    Meowth: Forget swim, it can barely splash!
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Ash asks Pikachu to shock him so he can think of a good idea. This apparently works.
  • Magikarp Power: Comes into play here, and in the worst moment possible. After James kicks Magikarp in anger, it evolves to the dangerous (and angry) Gyarados.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": When Magikarp evolves into Gyarados, and again when it uses Dragon Rage.
  • Meat-O-Vision: While starving on the raft, all of the trainers save Misty envision Magikarp turned into sushi.
  • Mistaken for Undead: When Team Rocket wash up unconscious, Ash and his friends believe they have drowned and are about to give them a water burial. However Team Rocket awakens and are angry at almost being pushed in the water, while Ash and friends scream out "ZOMBIES!"
    James: Who are you calling zombies?!
    Jessie: We are not zombies!
  • Never Say "Die": Though the word itself isn't said in the English dub, there's enough references to death that it's effectively averted.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Despite the ship sinking deep into the trench, somehow Team Rocket were able to escape it with their lives. Given that the trio were unconscious on the surface and Magikarp was fully awake and moving, it appears that the "good for nothing fish" was actually able to rescue his team after all!
  • Only Sane Man: Misty is the only level-headed person during this crisis, while everyone else wants to settle old scores. In the original Japanese, she actually threatens to kick Team Rocket's Pokémon off the sinking ship to drown unless they obey her order to stop the battle.
  • Rage Breaking Point: James finally reaches his when he finds out that Magikarp is not even edible when the entire group is facing starvation, and he promptly kicks it into the ocean... with disastrous results.
    • Magikarp takes most of Team Rocket's insults in stride and (possibly) rescued them from the ship regardless. After being kicked and abandoned by James, Magikarp evolves into Gyarados and makes it very clear that it's peeved with him. It didn't appreciate the others attempting to eat it either, since it attacks the others along with James.
  • Rising Water, Rising Tension: Being stuck on a sunken ship already below the water coupled with the fact that water was seeping in gradually. If they didn't have Pokémon, they would have either drowned when the water breached the hull or suffocated to death.
  • Run or Die: Misty, the Water-type Pokémon trainer who managed to save the group through her plan, has only one strategy against Gyarados: RUN AWAY! It also serves as Foreshadowing to her struggle to overcome her fear of Gyarados in Cerulean Blues.
    • Charmander is sent running after it torches through the hull before Ash recalls it, since its flame going out is said to result in its death.
  • Scare Chord: In the original Japanese, twice when Team Rocket is drowning. First, when Goldeen finds them, and then when James pops up from the water half-dead and turning blue.
  • Shout-Out:
    • To begin the episode, the narrator exclaims, "Holy Titanic!"
    • This episode pays tribute to The Poseidon Adventure, complete with a capsized ship sinking from the top and our heroes trying to escape through the bottom up.
    • Brock invokes the story of Noah once the twerps surface from escaping the St. Anne, prompting Ash to send out Pidgeotto to find evidence of dry land. This wasn't an addition for the English dub, either. He also says it in the original. Misty sending Goldeen to find evidence of a way off the ship has shades of this also.
  • Sinking Ship Scenario: This is a fairly classic set-up; a ship sank, the protagonists do not escape with the passengers, and now they are adrift on a makeshift raft at sea with no food.
  • Who's Laughing Now?:
    • Said almost word per word by James. After being berated and mocked by Jessie and Meowth for buying a useless Magikarp, James finally gets back at them by revealing that Magikarp is the only Water-type Pokémon they have to escape the sinking ship. Subverted when it turns out that Magikarp is a poor swimmer that just splashes around.
    • Ultimately double subverted with Magikarp. At first, it proves to be as useless as Jessie and Meowth claimed in the last episode, from being a poor swimmer to being inedible. But when James literally kicks the Magikarp out of his team, the Magikarp suddenly evolves into Gyarados, a very powerful and violent Pokémon. Only Gyarados gets the last laugh though, as Team Rocket are unable to get it back on their side due to their mistreatment of it.