Welcome to Pokemon Catch-up! The one and only blog post series detailing Ash’s Pokemon journey through the Pokemon Fast Track Viewing List. As always, because of differing numbering, I advise to rely more on the episode name than the episode number to find the right episode.

Ash has so far defeated the preliminary 4 challenges and advances to compete in the main stadium. As a quick recap, Gary lost in his 3rd challenge and left for Palette Town. Speaking of Palette Town, Professor Oak and Ash’s mom made their way to Indigo League to watch the boy.

Today’s Episode: Season 1 (Indigo League), Episode 78: “A Friend In Deed”

Synopsis

We join our three heroes as they walk down a road. They’re ready to celebrate by going out to eat. They meet up with Professor Oak and Ms. Ketchum who congratulate him and tell him how proud they are of him. Ms. Ketchum promises to make Ash a meal and when Ash asks how she’s going to cook at the village, the scene cuts to her cooking at a restaurant while the cooks stand by confused by her actions.

Ash and everyone else is embarrassed and scared of what the food will be like but they’re pleasantly surprised by the quality of her cooking once they sit down to eat.

Oak reminds Ash that after he wins his next battle, he’ll be able to use up to six Pokemon each match.

Brock lets us know that tomorrow, the match ups will be decided. After they finish eating, and as they wait for the elevator back down, Oak tells Ash that if he tries his hardest, he’ll still be winning even if he loses. They enter the elevator and wait for a trainer that runs up and admires Pikachu.

He pets Pikachu’s cheeks and to everyone’s surprise, Pikachu does not electrocute him. The power goes out, lights turn off, and elevator stops.

But just as everyone laments having to wait, the mysterious trainer digs into the elevator’s wiring panel. He wants to jumpstart the elevator by hooking Pikachu up to it. Pikachu uses Thundershock several times to get everyone to the first floor.

The trainer introduces himself as Richie and gets going. Suddenly, we hear an emergency announcement by errr…totally not Jessie and James. They’re driving a truck around and tell everyone that all trainers must bring their Pokeballs to the pavilion for inspection. Ash and his friends immediately head there. We get a shot at, yeah, Jessie, James, and Meowth in the truck.

We get back to Ash who runs into Richie among the many trainers gathered by the pavilion. Jessie and James, dressed as league officials, stand on a box by their truck and instruct the trainers to put their Pokeballs in their bag for the physicial examination. Ash has a bad feeling about it and Richie concurs.

Jessie warns that if any trainer fails to deposit all Pokeballs, they will be disqualified. Jessie and James go around gathering the Pokeballs and insist on taking Pikachu as well. Jessie tries to pick it up but gets shocked. She manages to shove the Pokemon in the bag. James rejoices to Jessie at finally having captured Pikachu when he slips out his partner’s real name.

Ash and Richie suddenly realize that the two officials look like Team Rocket!

The duo can’t help themselves but do their motto, taking off their costumes in the process. Weezing uses Smog and the trainers are in a coughing fit as the Team drives off in their van. Ash runs after it and yells for someone to call the police. Richie is following closely behind. They realize that they can’t catch up to the truck running straight after it so they run down a steep hill, completely bypassing the zig-zagging road.

Richie jumps on Ash and stops him from completely falling off a cliff. The duo climbs down the climb and run right in front of Team Rocket’s van which James swerves down the mountain onto a stream. James is knocked out in the process and Jessie scrambles to control the car from the other side.

We cut back to Richie and Ash as they’re walking by the stream in the moonlight. Richie prompts Ash to setup camp. Apparently, the trainer has an extra sleeping bag he’ll give to Ash. They setup a fire and sit by it. They exchange a few words about how they risked their lives and conclude their both Pokemaniacs for being so reckless. Ash is worried he’ll never see his Pokemon again but Richie assures him they’ll find them.

Somewhere else, Team Rocket is eating a feast under a canopy on a table with a bright lamp on. They are celebrating their victory.

Back with Ash and Richie, Richie is showing Ash constellations. He imagines the pictures of Onix, and Pikachu in the stars. Ash shares his dream of being the greatest Pokemon trainer on the planet.

The next day, the two trainers pick up the search and find the van’s tire tracks which lead into the woods. They stumble upon Team Rocket’s camp and sneak past their sleeping bodies to the van where they find Pikachu in a bag. Pikachu jumps and hugs Ash. The bag contains the rest of the Pokemon, too.

Team Rocket had awoken (or maybe they weren’t sleeping in the first place?) and locks Ash inside the van’s back and start driving. Ash and Richie try to find their Pokemon. Richie finds his immediately because his Pokeballs have stars on them. Ash summons several Pokemon that aren’t his. Pikachu uses its sense of smell to find Ash’s Bulbasaur.

Bulbasaur uses all of its attacks but without success. Richie sends out his Charmander named Zippo and its scratch attack breaks down the wall between the van cabin and its back.

Jessie calls out her Arbok tackles Pikachu as James’s swerving keeps Pikachu off balance. Richie calls out his own Pikachu, Sparky. Sparky uses Agility and Ash’s Pikachu follows suit. They run so quickly around Arbok that Arbok gets errr…confused? Sparky and Pikachu Thunder Bolt attack Arbok and Team Rocket who promptly blast off.

Unfortunately, the van keeps going! Richie and Ash call out Butterfree and Pidgeotto, attempting to fly away as the van crashes from the cliff. Both Pokemon uses Whirlwind to slow down their descent.

A fleet of trucks drive to their help with Brock leading in one of the cars. Sounds random? That’s because it is.

Back at the Pokemon League building, Ash needs to pick his next opponent. This is done by fishing a Magikarp from a tank and the Magikarp has a trainer identifier A-3 written on it. The woman behind the counter informs Ash will face off against Richie!

The narrator sets up the gravity of the match and we get to see Team Rocket hanging off branches on a tree on a forest.

What made this episode great was Ash finding a new friend, and a friend who constantly challenged his abilities. It’s a positive rivalry that I don’t believe we’ve seen in the past. It’s especially awesome because Richie is very similar to Ash, including having a matching Pikachu and Charmander of his own. He even has a Butterfree, as if he’s an Ash from a bizarro dimension where Butterfree never left.

Well, until next time!

Trivia

  • Ritchie’s Charmander’s name, Zippo, is a reference to the lighter brand Zippo.
  • Ritchie appears in several more episodes.