Hello everyone and I hope you’ll enjoy today’s Pokemon Catch-Up which features the ever-loved Pokemon, Charmander. Today, we’re on episode eleven but you may have noticed that there aren’t exactly eleven articles, why is that? I’m using the Fast Track Viewing List by a reddit user which cuts through the fluff of the Pokemon anime to deliver a concise number of episodes that are relevant to the main storyline.

Today’s episode: Season 1 (Indigo League), Episode 11: “Charmander – The Stray Pokemon”

Synopsis

Bulbasaur had just made it on Ash’s new team and the group is traveling to Vermillion City. And guess what? The group is completely lost…again. In fact, they’ve been on the road trying to find Vermillion City for ten whole days. Ash finally figures out that route 24 will lead them straight into the city, they just need to find it first.

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The trio is accosted by what looks like a very large Pokemon. Ash tries to call Pikachu forward but Pikachu refuses. When they walk closer to the big looming shadow, they find out what it might be. It’s a Charmander laying on a large rock!

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Ash recalls that he originally wanted a Charmander as his started. Brock prompts our hero to catch Charmander because it looked like it was in a bad shape and needed to get to the Pokemon Center ASAP. But Charmander repels the Pokeball with his tail back at Ash.

The group notices how Charmander’s tail flame is slowly going out. Ash tries his Pokeball again but Charmander escapes it. What’s his deal? the group asks. Pikachu talks to the Charmander and after a quick game of charades with Ash, Brock, and Misty, it relays that Charmander belongs to someone already.

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Brock makes a decision for the group to leave so that Charmander can wait for its trainer.

Rain starts to pour heavily and the trio barely makes it to a Pokemon Center. In the meantime, Charmander struggles to shield himself from the oncoming rain with a large leaf.

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His flame is slowly going out.

Meanwhile, our heroes enjoy their soup at the Pokemon Center but something feels off to them.

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Brock wonders about the Charmander and discusses the possibility that the Pokemon was abandoned and stayed there on the rock despite the weather conditions.

That’s when they overhear a group of Pokemon Trainers sitting in a cozy booth discussing Pokemon. One of the trainers, Dameon, is showing off his pokeball collection when one guy asks him about his Charmander.

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Dameon lets on that he left the Pokemon because it was weak and stupid. He promised that he would come back to Charmander but had no intention of keeping that promise.

Brock gets mad, and we usually never see Brock lose his stuff. He walks up to the trainer, grabs his collar and tells him to get his Pokemon because if he doesn’t, Charmander’s tail flame might go out and it might die.

Side note, Pokemon death is rarely if ever discussed in the anime and I can’t recall a single other time I’ve heard it mentioned. I honestly think this was a translation error since Pokemon were never meant to “die”. In-game, Blue’s Raticate supposedly died after a match on SS Anne but that’s just a theory.

Ash steps in, berating Dameon and the trio stands strong against him. Even Pikachu gets fired up. But I think it fails to intimidate anyone. Doesn’t it just look so cute when it’s angry?

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Dameon picks up a Pokeball and calls for a fight. Before any battle starts, Nurse Joy breaks it up.

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According to rules, Pokemon aren’t supposed to settle personal fights. Also, queue Brock getting all mushy over Joy. Still, this is first season so he’s just stunned and silent.

The trio head out into the rain, looking for poor Charmander. They find it crouching under a leaf and a flock of Spearow scratching at it.

Ash throws a rock at them and then sends Pikachu out to pretty much shock everything into oblivion. Including Ash, Misty, and Brock.

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Ash and Brock wrap Charmander up in its coats and Ash watches Charmander’s tale to make sure it won’t go out.

They arrive just in time with Nurse Joy waiting for them. She takes the Pokemon and does her best to help Charmander get better and survive. She puts Charmander in an incubator type of thing, puts some data into a computer all the while the group waits outside of the room, impatiently.

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Finally, Joy comes out of the room and lets them know Charmander is recovering and will make it!

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As the night turns to morning, we find our group woken up by Brock who is seething. Charmander had disappeared. It most likely returned back to Dameon. And there’s nothing they can do until Charmander realizes the truth about Dameon. They go after the Pokemon nevertheless.

Meanwhile, Team Rocket makes an appearance.

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Meowth’s goofy face always gets me in the early episodes. So what is Team Rocket planning? Well, they’ve got a “new automatic high-speed super-duper whatchamacallit”

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It turns out, this complicated machine is just a hole driller so Team Rocket sets a trap and they go into hiding behind the bushes as our group of heroes arrives. Everyone except for Pikachu promptly fall in and Team Rocket comes out of hiding wearing shock-proof rubber suits.

Pikachu takes off but Team Rocket has some kind of a rubber balloon weapon that follows it and envelops in an impenetrable barrier.

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As the Team starts walking off, Charmander stops them! Its flame is burning hot and it’s ready for a battle as it scorches the thieves with its Flamethrower.

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Team Rocket runs off.

Ash asks Charmander if it wants to join their group but as he does so, Dameon walks up and lies to Charmander, he’s been apparently looking for it everywhere.

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Dameon brags that abandoning Charmander was the best thing he could have done for it because Charmander is now tough and there’s nothing wrong with leaving weak Pokemon behind.

The group tries to convince Charmander to stay once again but Dameon throws his Pokeball at it.

To everyone’s surprise, Charmander whips its tail at it and sends it flying back right at its former trainer.

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What a great visual. When Dameon threatens to destroy Charmander by sending all of his Pokemon out, Charmander uses Flamethrower. Pikachu joins in with its Thundershock or whatever equivalent attack it is using. Good on you, Charmander!

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Dameon runs off yelling for his mother. But now comes the moment we were all waiting for. Who will Charmander pick? Who will catch it?

Charmander joins Ash with a wide smile on its face.

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And so Ash catches another Pokemon without really catching it. Maybe getting lost in the forest isn’t the worst thing in the world if you end up with a Charmander at the end!

But will they find their way back to the road?

Next episode is episode 12 “Here Comes The Squirtle Squad”, so we’re back to sequentially watching the episodes. After reading through the list, things will start to pick up (and skip often) when we get to Johto which is still some time away so for now, enjoy the episode-by-episode review!