I’m not sure if we can top episode 35, the banned episode, but we will continue to carry on with our Pokemon Catch-Up! We will be, yet again, following the Pokemon Fast Track Viewing List, a list of only the most important Pokemon episodes. The number for this episode varies but generally speaking, it’s either episode 43 from the full list, or episode 40 in the US release lineup (also Netflix).

This week, we get to witness something a little different than our last episodes. No new Pokemon will be caught, and Ash will earn no new badge. So why is this episode on the list? We’ll see!

Today’s Episode: Season 1 (Indigo League), Episode 43: “The March of the Exeggutor Squad”

Synopsis

The scene opens to Ash and his friends enjoying a carnival in some unnamed town, an anime-only location.

Ash and Brock agree to “really party” and put on silly costumes whilst awkwardly dancing in the crowd. Misty decides to split from the group, slightly embarrassed by their presence, and ride on a Rapidash Merry-Go-Round with Pikachu at her side. She leaves the merry-go-round and as she rounds a corner, she hears a woman demanding a man with Exeggcute pay what he owes her. He pleads with her but she does not relent. In fact, she just gets angrier.

She hits him and the man falls flat on his back. Misty comes up to the man once the woman leaves and he asks her for help, well, kind of guilts her into it. He gets super-creepy and then he asks her to be his assistant. He informs her that he’s a magician named Melvin. He performs a few small tricks and shares his dream of having a Las Vegas show room. Misty reluctantly agrees and we’re carried off to see the Melvin’s show.

Misty, Exeggcute, and Melvin are in an auditorium and while Melvin is introducing his show, Brock and Ash spot their friend from the (mostly empty) seats. Pikachu is excited to be part of the show while Misty is embarrassed to be on stage.

Melvin introduces Exeggcute and starts to juggle the individual “heads”. The crowd starts to call out how boring that is and how they want to see magic. Melvin promises “real magic”. Pikachu electrifies Melvin’s staff and it shoots out flamethrower fire everywhere. The crowd is amazed, for sure, but he almost hits several of the audience members and then sets off the sprinklers. The crowd demands money back.

Outside of the tents and after the show, Melvin gets fired. Misty tries to comfort Melvin. When the magician talks about giving up on his dreams, Ash gives the man a pep talk about never giving up on dreams. Even Misty agrees and commends Ash for giving the right advice.

Quick side note: I noticed that in this episode the group’s dynamic is really starting to shine through. Maybe it was visible before but there is some great subtext here especially between Ash and Misty. You can really tell that the two care for each other but as far as I know, Pokemon never explores a possible romantic side of their relationship. We’ll, however, see hints of this possibility time and time again. She travels as part of the group until Johto and I’m sad to say that she hasn’t reappeared in the newer seasons. If you’re a fan of Doctor Who, this kind of thing will feel rather familiar — a new female character joining the group every-so-often (usually a new region).

Anyways, back to the show!

Jessie, James, and Meowth are floating on their Meowth balloon, surveying what the “twerps” are up to. Jessie and James are using the top of the balloon for tanning.

They quickly hint at a scheme but before they can reveal its true nature, we get back to Melvin.

Melvin tries to show off a new trick but it quickly fails. He feels rather down but Ash promises to put on a magic show of his own. He puts on a costume and brings out a box. Apparently, he can make water, fire, or anything appear out of his box.

He taps a hole in the box and a column of flame shoots out at Melvin. While burnt to a crisp, he claps excitedly. Then water comes out. And we find out that Charmander, Squirtle, and Bulbasaur are secretly hiding inside the box. All is fine until Charmander’s tail fire burns Squirtle who bumps his head on the top of the box. Charmander moves his tail and burns Bulbasaur. The three start to fight and all goes wrong. They fall out of the box and create a mess that the group quickly cleans up.

Ash remarks that Melvin only has Exeggcute and they can’t do anything. Except…they hypnotize Ash! Melvin notices it and tells Ash to run around in a circle and act like Bulbasaur.

Ash complies. Some time later, Melvin uses Ash to pull his cart into a forest, using the Hypnosis. Why Misty or Brock didn’t stop them is beyond me. Misty and Brock follow their tracks some ways behind them, unable to understand why Ash went with Melvin. They figure out that Ash was under Hypnosis.

Meanwhile, Jessie and James follow the magician via their balloon.

Melvin uses Ash to tell him about Exeggutor they find in the forest. He commands Ash to use his Pokemon to weaken Exeggutor which Melvin then captures. In just a few minutes, Melvin fills up his cart with a herd of Exeggutor.

Melvin releases all of them afterward and surveys them. He plans to put everyone in the carnival under Hypnosis and force them to go to his shows. But before he does anything, Team Rocket finally show up and they mean business. They’re dressed in show clothes and even Melvin is impressed.

Meowth rolls in a box that Jessie and James enter, he covers it with a sheet and when he takes the sheet off, the Team Rocket duo is gone, back to their balloon…Only to jump back down again. I’m not sure why but I guess, they do like to put on a show.

They immediately start putting Melvin down for his shoddy magician skills and start to make their claim over the Exeggutor. Melvin’s Exeggcute jumps to the rescue and evolve into Exeggutor, without a Leaf Stone!

It uses Hypnosis and the other Exeggutor do the same, putting Team Rocket into a trance. The Exeggutor stampede off and nearly run Misty and Brock down. Team Rocket joins the forest of Exeggutor.

Misty and Brock catch up with Ash and Pikachu uses a Thundershock to wake the boy up from its Hypnosis.

It turns out, as Melvin explains, the Exeggutor used Hypnosis not only on Team Rocket but on each other and now they’re headed for the carnival! On top of that, they’re beyond Melvin’s control!

The living forest enters the town and people run off screaming. The entire carnival is in ruins by the time Ash and his friends get there. Melvin’s former boss tells them to leave because he left a bomb under the field to blow the Pokemon up. Like, wow. Intense. The Exeggutor stampede through and turn back around to cause more devastation.

Ash is determined to stop them so he calls out all of his starters. Squirtle’s water attacks rejuvenate Exeggutor while Bulbasaur’s Razor Leaf gives them a neat haircut. Ash calls them back. Charmander uses Flamethrower and burns the Exeggutor and that wakes the Pokemon up from the Hypnosis.

Charmander uses a “rapid fire Flamethrower attack” which I can only surmise to be a Flamethrower done over and over again.

The Exeggutor wake up one by one, slightly charred. Unfortunately, Charmander runs out of energy. Misty turns to Melvin and prompts him to use his magic to wake up the attacking Pokemon. He takes quite a bit of convincing but eventually, he agrees to do it.

He uses his staff and alongside Charmander, they hit every Exeggutor in the group. The Exeggutor wake up and turn back around to go home. All except one. Melvin’s Exeggutor. Hug time!

The bomb goes off just a few seconds later, luckily too far from the Exeggutor and the group to hurt anyone.

By now, you might be wondering, “Why is this episode on the Fast Track Viewing List?”. Well, it’s because of what happens next. Due to defeating so many Exeggutor, Charmander gains enough experience to start glowing and evolve!

It evolved into Charmeleon! Ash congratulates his Pokemon and Charmeleon responds by using Flamethrower on his master. The group leaves Melvin behind and wish him good luck. And that’s it!

This episode wasn’t the best but it certainly wasn’t the worst. I’ll say that I was a little disappointed to see Charmander evolve at the end as if it was an afterthought rather than a major plot point in the series. We get a bit of a preview of how Charmeleon and Ash will get along when Ash hugs the Pokemon and gets a shot of Flamethrower to his ear.

One thing that’s never mentioned is Melvin’s debt owner. What happened to her? Will she pursue Melvin? We won’t find out, unfortunately.

Anyways, I can’t wait for the next episode!

Trivia

A little light on trivia but nevertheless, here it is:

  • While Exeggcute normally requires a Leaf Stone to evolve, it evolved without it in the episode
  • This is the first episode where a real life city is referenced (Las Vegas by Melvin)
  • Melvin keeps all of his Exeggutor about him despite the 6 Pokemon limit (until they run away, that is)
  • In the original Japanese version, Melvin wanted to make it to Broadway, not Las Vegas