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Recap / Pokémon Emergency!

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Meet the original bad guys. They're not as charming or clever as you would think from this image.
"A wanted poster. How flattering."
"Flattering? This picture makes me look terrible."
"Then you should be happy that the photographer captured the real you."
"We'll show these bumpkins."
"The people of Viridian City will be sorry they ever saw this face."
"We're all sorry to see your face. Stay focused. We're here to capture rare and unusual Pokémon. Don't forget, Meowth."
"But of course."
"You got it."
Team Rocket

Japanese Title: Showdown! Pokémon Center!

Original Airdate: April 8, 1997

US Airdate: September 9, 1998

The one where... We prepare for trouble, for the first time.

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, complementing the fact that the lead Pokémon of the series, Pikachu, is a mouse (Jessie even says "a cat losing a mouse" later in the episode, which is of course the rule of thumb of cat-and-mouse cartoons - the mouse almost always wins). 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 a 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, Pikachu's injuries from the previous episode are 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 in 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 have left for 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 greater 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 (though he has the same comical disappointment when Ash tells him not to get his hopes up).
    • As mentioned above, Meowth is conveyed more as a Leader Wannabe and more pushy and dismissive towards Jessie and James. In the original, he is more narcissistic over his good graces with their still-unknown boss once they get the heist done.
  • 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.
    • Team Rocket getting blasted at the end of the episode, the first of several hundred times, doesn't result in A Twinkle in the Sky as seen in later episodes.
      • Even weirder for the dub. While Team Rocket's ending Catchphrase in Japan is set in stone right away ("Yana kanji!") it's not until the sixth episode that 4Kids coins its equivalent, "Team Rocket's blasting off again!"
    • Pikachu's injuries from battling the Spearow flock are treated as life-threatening, and there is real worry on Ash's part (and even Nurse Joy's) that Pikachu might not make it. The franchise would soon phase out any suggestion that Pokemon are seriously hurt by fighting other Pokemon; the worst that happens to them later is dizziness and/or fatigue.
    • On the stone mural Arcanine is depicted as a Legendary Pokémon like the Elemental birds alongside it, Articuno, Zappos and Moltres. This is a remnant from the Pocket Monster Encyclopedia, the writer's Bible of the original games, where its classification as a "Legendary" Pokémon was quite literal.
  • Eat the Dog: In both the Japanese version and the dub, Meowth threatens to eat Pikachu, 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 electricity 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: Pikachu constantly saying "Pika! Pika!" to Ash regarding the bicycle's light to generate electricity for Pikachu to use makes more sense in 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. In the English dub, Ash thinks Pikachu wants more "Pika-Power," a term that 4Kids coined earlier in the episode, most likely to write around this scene.
  • Mundane Utility: When Team Rocket cuts the power to the Pokémon Center, it's revealed to have a backup power source in the form of several Pikachu providing their electricity.
  • 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 sky-high.
  • 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...
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The Pokémon Center blowing up is accompanied by cheerful, upbeat music. Justified in that Ash and Pikachu have defeated Team Rocket and foiled their plans, but it's a rather unusual choice of music to play during a building explosion.
  • 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.
  • Video Call Fail: Ash tries to calls Professor Oak on a video phone. However, the resulting call shows Oak from the back before he fixes it.
  • 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 about how they 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 costs. The balloon burst, as stated above, would only indicate how much success they are going to have.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: Jessie and James are 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.