The day of Ash's Petalburg Gym battle with Norman has arrived. May and Max are excited for a chance to finally see their father in a gym battle, though Max is staunchly on his father's side in this one. Norman proves to be a very powerful and challenging opponent for Ash. He starts with his Slakoth, which in spite of its appearance manages to squirm out of the way of Pikachu's attacks and use strong ones of its own, so Ash substitutes with Torkoal, who knocks Slakoth out with one Flamethrower. However, Norman then sends in Vigoroth, who dodges Overheat and knocks Torkoal out with one Scratch attack. Ash sends Pikachu back in, allowing for a rematch between the two Pokémon from their previous battle. The battle is fairly even but difficult, though Vigoroth becomes paralyzed thanks to Pikachu's Static ability. This gives Pikachu the advantage and it's finally able to knock out Vigoroth, though Pikachu faints immediately after due to exhaustion. The final round comes down to Grovyle vs. Slaking. Unfortunately, Slaking is able to shrug off several attacks and its own attacks are extremely powerful. Fortunately, Ash is able to figure out a way around this, utilizing Grovyle's incredible speed and agility to throw Slaking off, and with its energy levels low, Grovyle's Overgrow ability activates, giving its Grass-type moves a huge power boost. The two Pokémon continue to go at it until Slaking falls after one final clash of moves. Ash is delighted with his victory and Norman is proud of him, but Max is despondent over seeing his father lose. When Norman tries to give Ash his Balance Badge, Max steals it, unable to handle the situation. However, Norman is able to talk him down, explaining that losing battles is part of a gym leader's job, too, and that Ash deserves the badge. Max realizes he's right and returns the badge to Ash. And with that, Ash and his friends continue on their journey.
- Double Knockout: After Pikachu defeats Vigoroth, seconds later it collapses. Justified as it also went through Norman's Slakoth earlier.
- Mr. Exposition: Brock, as usual, serves as this for the other audience members during Ash's battle, explaining Ash's strategies as well as the nuances of Norman's strategy to May and Max.
- Sore Loser: Subverted; Norman takes the loss well, it's Max who doesn't. Seeing his father, who he worships, losing to Ash makes him freak out, take the Balance Badge and then hide in the greenhouse absolutely broken. It's only when Norman explains that losing is okay and that Ash did a good job fighting that he relents.
- Standard Status Effects: Vigoroth is paralyzed when Pikachu's Static ability is activated for the first time in the series.