Japanese Title: Showdown! Pokémon Center!
Original Airdate: April 8, 1997
US Airdate: September 9, 1998
Pikachu is still badly injured from his fight last episode, and Ash rushes him to the Pokémon Center at Viridian City. While Ash waits for Pikachu to recover under the care of Nurse Joy, Misty arrives at the center fuming over the loss of her bicycle. She is easily distracted, however, when Ash explains about how badly Pikachu was hurt.
Just then Team Rocket breaks into the Pokémon Center to steal the Pokémon recovering within. Ash and Misty attempt to fend them off while Nurse Joy transfers the Pokémon to Pewter City, but they are quickly overwhelmed.
Team Rocket is finally defeated through the joint efforts of Pikachu and several other Pikachu powered up by Ash spinning on Misty's bicycle to generate power. The powerful electric show ignites Koffing's poison gas and Team Rocket is blown away in the resulting explosion. Team Rocket is impressed with Pikachu's power and vow to capture it.
Misty follows Ash as he continues to his next destination, intent on hounding him until he can pay her back the cost of her bike.
- Cats Are Mean: Meowth, the Pokémon member of the Team Rocket trio, is a cat Pokémon. He is also one of the least animalistic Pokémon in the show, not just following orders from an evil master but actively participating in theft.
- Cliffhanger: The episode ends with Ash encountering a Caterpie in the Viridian Forest and throwing at Poké Ball at it.
- Deadly Gas: Team Rocket's Koffing attacks with a poison gas attack to disorient and disable foes. It also happens to be easy to ignite.
- Deconstruction: The Pokémon Centers in the games are often seen as safe havens for trainers with tired and worn out Pokémon, complete with a Nurse who can heal your Pokémon in no time. In the anime, Reality Ensues as Pikachu's injuries from the previous episode is treated as a serious emergency, and Pikachu is placed on a hospital gurney for Nurse Joy to heal him. The procedure isn't instant as the games as it takes several hours for Pikachu's condition to stabilize, and Ash simply stays in the waiting room, constantly worried for his only Pokémon. This long waiting period for Pikachu's recovery also makes Ash vulnerable when Team Rocket makes their assault on the Center. With Pikachu unable to battle for the majority of the episode, Ash is forced to run from Team Rocket or use substitute Pokémon to slow them down.
- Disappeared Dad: This is the only time Ash's father is ever mentioned thus far. The present tense in Delia's dialogue implies that he's still around, presumably on his Pokémon journey. The Japanese version takes it further by mentioning Ash's grandfather as well.
- Dub-Induced Plot Hole:
- Misty's name. In the original version, she introduced herself to Team Rocket as the most beautiful girl Misty and Jessie mocks her by saying she's the only beautiful girl here. In the English dub, Misty does not introduce herself, only taking compliment of Team Rocket saying she's "pretty", to which Jessie replies that they meant Misty is pretty pathetic. Her name is only mentioned by Nurse Joy at the end of the episode, long after she and Ash had left to the Viridian Forest.
- A very subtle one with Team Rocket. In the original, Meowth's line before the raid mentions how the boss will run happily in the garden, and that the cat shall enjoy coins in the heating table if they succeed. 4Kids interprets it as Meowth talking about himself, hence why Meowth has a more leadership role here and refers himself as the top cat in the English dub. However, this means losing out the first hint that Team Rocket is working for an unseen boss, later revealed to be Giovanni.
- Dub Personality Change: In the original version, Professor Oak is much more neutral and stern on Ash's performance, lecturing him on how trainers leaving Pallet Town would always catch Pokémon at this point of the journey and being heavily disappointed when he learns that Ash has yet to catch one. The English dub makes Oak a much more supportive figure for Ash, to the point that he even bets against his own grandson Gary a million dollars that Ash would catch at least one Pokémon before arriving to Viridian City.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Team Rocket are presented as cool, competent, and legitimately dangerous opponents in their debut. They would not be allowed to enjoy such a presentation again outside of flashback episodes to before they met Ash.
- Eat the Dog: In the Japanese, Meowth makes clear he intends to eat Pikachu. In the English dub, he refers to Pikachu as "cat food", though it could be inferred as a more general threat given Never Say "Die" is in force for the 4Kids dub.
- Explosive Stupidity: As Koffing is engulfed in the Thunder Shock, it happily releases its Deadly Gas right into the electric current, causing the electric to ignite the gas and subsequently create a huge explosion in the Pokémon Center. Due to the power display it causes, one could consider Koffing responsible for starting off Team Rocket's obsession with Ash's Pikachu.
- Eye Catch: The featured Who's That Pokémon? is Koffing.
- Goldfish Poop Gang: Team Rocket is set up to be reoccurring villains right from their debut episode when they agree to keep stalking Ash until they can steal his Pikachu.
- Hero Insurance: No one seems to get in trouble over the Pikachu group's electric shock used to defeat Team Rocket also causing the building to explode.
- Humiliation Conga: Team Rocket's defeat involves them getting shocked two times; one by a dozen Pikachu, the other by Ash's Pikachu harnessing the electricity of Misty's bike light. Then Koffing releases its poison gas into the electricity currently engulfing them, causing a huge explosion. The aftermath reveals a burnt Team Rocket barely escaping into their balloon, complaining on how they lost to a mouse and vowing to capture it. And then the balloon bursts, blasting them off for the first time.
- Lost in Translation: A minor one but Pikachu constantly saying "Pika! Pika!" to Ash regarding the bicycle's light to generate electricity for Pikachu to use makes more sense in the Japanese as the Japanese onomatopoeia word for shine/sparks is pika. So to Satoshi, Pikachu is saying "Shine" or "Sparks" while pointing at the bicycle's headlight.
- Non-Fatal Explosions: Jessie, James and Meowth (of course), albeit visibly charred from the blast, in the first of many times they are caught right inside an explosion. Ash and his Pikachu, Misty and Nurse Joy also manage to survive the Pokémon Center blowing up without a scratch, but nothing is said of all the additional Pikachu that provided the "Pika-Power Source."
- Pre-Explosion Glow: Happens when the Pokémon Center blows up.
- Reality Ensues:
- Just because Ash and Pikachu walked victoriously after defeating the Spearow flock doesn't mean that their troubles are over. This episode opens with Ash running with a critically injured Pikachu towards the nearest Pokémon Center, which takes nightfall to reach by motorbike.
- The Pokémon Center is treated like a real vet hospital and Pokémon recovery isn't instant. It takes several hours for Pikachu's condition to stabilize, and he's in no shape to fight when Team Rocket crashes in.
- Misty's Goldeen is used to fight Team Rocket. It works well in the games, where the fish Pokémon are either static sprites or the Flying Seafood Special kind. Not so well in the anime which averts the trope entirely in this series, meaning that all Goldeen could do is flop and flounder uselessly on land like a Magikarp.
- Side Bet: In the English dub, Professor Oak mentions how he and Gary made a bet on Ash's performance as a trainer. Gary believes that Ash won't catch a single Pokémon by the time he arrives to Viridian City, and Oak bets a million dollars that he'll be wrong. Unfortunately for the professor, Ash hasn't gotten any Pokémon by this point.Ash: Well, money isn't everything.
Prof. Oak: Oh, why do I even bother...
- Skewed Priorities: Ash feels bad and has apologized for what happened to Misty's bike, but he can't do anything until Pikachu has recovered. Misty doesn't care and just wants her bike replaced immediately.
- Although to her credit, after Ash actually says Pikachu is in trouble, she immediately softens.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: The Pokémon Center blowing up is accompanied by cheerful, upbeat music. Justified in that Ash and Pikachu were defeating Team Rocket and foiling their plans, but it's a rather unusual choice of music to play during a building explosion that possibly killed other innocent Pokémon inside the Center.
- Technicolor Toxin: Ekans and Koffing are both poison types and are colored purple, a color typically associated with poison, especially in Japan.
- There Was a Door: Officer Jenny parks her motorbike by the front desk. Nurse Joy objects to this saying she should've parked in the driveway. Later, Jenny feels silly about this.
- Villain Decay: Foreshadowed. Despite presenting themselves to be no-nonsense and threatening villains, Team Rocket begins to show their comedic traits after their defeat, bickering and arguing amongst themselves of how they had lost to a kid and his electric mouse. This leads them to conclude that Pikachu must be a rare and powerful specimen and they must capture it at all cost. The balloon burst, as stated above, would only indicate how much success they are going to have.
- "Wanted!" Poster: Jessie and James were notorious enough to have one by the police. Their only complaint about it is that the photographer took a bad shot of them.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Nothing is said of how the Pokémon Center's sick occupants managed to fare from the entire building exploding, not to mention all the additional Pikachu that provided the "Pika-Power Source". The novelizations by Takeshi Shudō mention that the occupants were sent to Pewter City's Pokémon Center.