Welcome to Pokemon Catch-Up! The one and only article series based on the Pokemon Fast Track Viewing List, a terse list of only the most relevant Pokemon episodes.

Today we’re continuing Ash’s journey and by the episode count and the story progression, we’re slowly approaching the end of Indigo League. Ash has 6 badges, on his way to a 7th badge and all that’s left afterward will be Victory Road and all that jazz afterward.

From my point of view, the show has so far held up really well and is totally watchable. I keep contrasting this first season against where I’m currently at with my personal watch-through (season 6) and the show did gradually get worse but only because it became a Saturday morning cartoon rather than an anime. In season 1, we’re still getting that anime feel so let’s enjoy it while it lasts!

Today’s Episode: Season 1 (Indigo League), Episode 59: “Volcanic Panic”

Synopsis

Today’s episode definitely irks me and that’s because it’s the second part of a two-part episode. This means that a lot of exposition came about there that we only get to see in a flashback. Basically, Ash went down into a volcano in search of Cinnabar Island’s gym which was suspended above a pool of lava. Blaine, the gym leader, sent out his Ninetails against Ash’s Squirtle but Ninetails overpowered the water Pokemon. In the second round, Ash’s Charizard decided to take a nap instead of fighting against Rhydon.

Ash used his Pikachu to defeat Rhydon. Blaine called forward his Magmar which stood up from the pool of lava.

Magmar pushed Pikachu to the edge of the field, inches away from death. And that’s when our episode finally picks up.

Magmar sends forward his fire attacks and all Pikachu can do is attempt to dodge whilst nearly falling off the platform into the fiery hell below. Ash runs over and forfeits. Blaine commends Ash but tells him that had Ash continued the match, he would have been disqualified as a Pokemon trainer. Then, he puts on a wig and turns away.

Note: Because we didn’t see the previous episode, some of this might seem out of place. I vaguely remember that Blaine presented himself to the group under a disguise.

Blaine suggests Ash gets Pikachu healed up in the springs. Ash vows to beat Magmar and get that badge.

Ash scrubs Pikachu down at the hot springs and remarks that he’ll go back to beat Magmar. Misty comments on that saying that with all her water Pokemon, she couldn’t beat Blaine while Brock (with a new voice actor it seems) tells Ash that there are plenty of other gyms to beat (errr… only 1 more, Brock!). Ash laments the fact that his Charizard doesn’t listen to him and if he did, Ash would have beaten Blaine.

The screen pans over to another section of the hot spring where two hollow branches stick out from the water. It’s Jessie and James and can’t stand being in the hot spring. They jump out because it got too hot. Meowth introduces their plan to retrieve Magmar. They’re going to scam it! The plan is to let Magmar know that it won a prize at some contest and then when Magmar’s guard is down, they’ll use their freeze blaster! Jessie throws a pun at us in that they’ll have their own “pokesickle” while James is excited about his “Magmarita”. Very funny stuff right here.

The trio descends with weapons hoisted over their shoulders. They break into the gym and call out Magmar’s name. And Magmar makes its spectacular appearance from the lava below. Jessie and James attack the Pokemon and the weapons freeze Marmar into a solid chunk of ice. Unfortunately, Magmar’s skin melts the ice pretty quickly afterward. Freaking out, the duo freeze blast the entire volcano causing mild earthquakes.

The group, instead of running away, run straight to the Gym and so does Blaine who gets frozen. Blaine points out that the now-frozen gym will set off a chain reaction inside the volcano. The walls start to crack and the rocks fall into the lava. Blaine warns that this could set off an eruption.

The gym platform walls straight in. Magmar jumps off. Team Rocket, meanwhile, blast off when a jet of steam forces the ground under them into the air.

Our group of heroes hangs on while streams of lava burst through the crack. The volcano will blow in a matter of minutes. Blaine commands his Magmar to seal the fissures with rocks and stops Pikachu from helping. Only a fire type Pokemon can withstand that kind of heat. Magmar throws the rocks into the lava flows and Ash calls out his Charizard. The boy commands his Pokemon but Charizard lays down to sleep behind him.

The rumbling intensifies and Magmar keeps up the rock throwing into the lava pit. But the lava overwhelms the dam he tries to build. Charizard watches the Pokemon, deliberating. Magmar resumes its effort but each time, the wall of rocks it creates is overwhelmed by the lava.

Charizard walks up with a smirk and throws rocks down into the lava. This is when Brock finally realizes he can send his own Pokemon out and sends out Onix as well as Geodude, citing that his rock Pokemon can withstand that heat. Misty sends out her Staryu to keep everyone cool. Ash sends out his Squirtle. Some hilarity ensues as Misty runs after her Psyduck and Ash runs after Jigglypuff. Wait, Jigglypuff?

Miraculously, even Pikachu is suddenly able to throw rocks down into the fissures oozing with lava.

Geodude and Pikachu get a quick shower and they’re off to throw more rocks. The trainers commend them for the teamwork whilst standing on the sidelines in relative safety. Even Togepi tries to carry a small rock. Wait, Togepi?

Note: This is where the viewing list really breaks down for me. The Fast Track Viewing List accounts only for events pertinent to Ash, but never to the whole group or any of the group members. Just one episode prior, Ash found the egg and now, there’s Togepi and we’re missing any and all context as to who this Pokemon is and why it’s important. Or how it hatches. Or what they’re planning to do with it. While I understand the need to cut down on “cruft”, season I has much less of that than any other season and I feel like Togepi has a pretty important place in the Pokemon anime. I can’t be certain but it’s definitely one of the first Gen II Pokemon we meet, and it’s also the first Pokemon that we get to see hatched from an egg. But, back to the show!

Togepi nearly falls into the lava before Misty grabs it. Magmar, Onix, Charizard, Pikachu, and Geodude keep throwing the rocks in and successfully seal the main lava flow that fed into the pit of the volcano.

The team of Pokemon stand proud. Charizard and Magmar exchange fiery looks. Ash asks Blaine for his badge because, well, this is how he got a bunch of his previous ones. Blaine tells Ash, however, that he’ll give him another chance to fight.

Since the original Gym was destroyed, Ash and Blaine face off at the top of the volcano rather than inside it. There is a lava pit there with stone columns sticking out of it. Blaine asks for a one-on-one match and Charizard steps up to the challenge and wants to test its strength.

Charizard faces Magmar above the lava pit and the fight starts. They both use Flamethrower and that sets off an explosion mid-air as the two columns of fire meet. Blaine commands Magmar to use Fireblast but Charizard catches the blast with its bare hands and redirects it into the air.

Magmar uses Skullbash and makes solid contact. The Pokemon falls toward the lava pit but Charizard flies up into the air and dives heads head first against Magmar. The two Pokemon lock arms on top of one of the volcano pillars. Magmar makes it behind Charizard and Ash commands Charizard to fly up. Unfortunately, Magmar pushes both of them into the lava.

Ash accuses Magmar of cheating because it used the lava pit; however, Blaine tells Ash that it’s fair game. The boy starts to tear up at the thought of losing Charizard but the Pokemon bursts from the lava pit, Magmar still hanging onto its back.

Charizard flies far above the lava pit and uses Aerial Submission which rotates Charizard in a circle. It then uses Seismic Toss throwing Magmar down into the lava pit with enormous force.

Magmar jumps out of the lava pit apparently unscathed until it passes out on one of the pillars.

Charizard lets out a mighty roar. Blaine congratulates Ash and later gives him a Volcano Badge.

The trio are back on the road and trying to decide where to go. Brock tells Ash they can go back to Viridian City which has the Earth Badge. And that’s it! There are a few minor details here like Misty remembering that Ash still hasn’t paid her for her bike but nothing else really important.

Today’s episode felt a little disjointed because, again, we didn’t get to see the “setup” episode but it wasn’t too terribly bad. Until next time then!

Trivia

  • Charizard uses Seismic Toss, its signature move, for the first time
  • despite being weak to water, Brock’s Geodude and Onix get heavily sprayed by Staryu and Squirtle to cool off
  • Team Rocket doesn’t recite its motto this episode
  • The shape of Magmar’s Fireblast is a Japanese character which means “big” or “great”