Last time: Dragonite is the coolest!
Lt. Surge returned home from war to run a gym and bully poor children, brutalising their unfortunate Pokémon. That’s how he gets his jollies after serving his country. What war was he a lieutenant in anyway? Was there some kind of great inter-continental Pokémon war that nobody really talks about? How cool would it be if Kanto and Johto just went to war? There’s a really cool game in there somewhere if Game Freak ever wanted to make something different outside of the usual formula.
But yeah, Surge just repeatedly beats the heck out of kids and demoralises them for fun. Maybe it’s PTSD? Maybe he needs these fights to fill the endless need for conflict in his heart. He has never quite come home from whatever this war was. The will to battle lives on.
This is Ash’s heart of the cards moment – it’s not the size of the electric mouse in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the electric mouse. Through grit, determination and a health dose of stupidity Ash can make up for any lack of skill or experience.
This is a nice little character episode for Pikachu though. His strength and integrity are put to the test after he’s whomped by Surge and Raichu. Pikachu’s sense of identity is called into question. Is Pikachu willing to let it’s pride get in the way of who he is? Would he evolve for the sake of strength or do it himself? Pikachu leans on the latter and comes out on top.
And Ash actually earns his first badge!
– Who’s that Pokémon? It’s Raichu. That’s a far cRai from a Pikachu.
– Misty actively points out that Ash won his first two badges via pity so she is the best now.
– Nurse Joy calls out the sexual tension between Misty and Ash in this episode so she is also the best.
– There’s a really fun runner through the episode with Team Rocket actively rooting for Ash in the fight against Surge. If Pikachu was actually a weakling that would’ve called into question a tonne of their life choices.
– The second Raichu fight is the best Pokémon battle in the show so far. Nicely staged, dramatic and hinging on the great moment of Pikachu grounding himself to avoid the Thunderbolt – it’s lots of fun.
– The episode ends on a lovely note. Ash hugs Pikachu after they win as Pikachu shocks Ash lovingly this time. Bringing that gag full circle was really nice!