Are you pumped? I sure am! Why? Because this is Pokemon Catch-Up, a post series summarizing only the most interesting Pokemon episodes (according to the Pokemon Fast Track Viewing List).

If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that Ash lost at the Indigo League. This episode wraps up the season and shows Ash reflecting back on his performance and contrasts Ritchie’s own experience. But for us, this is the end of the first season of the article series and in the next article, I’ll tackle my own reflection on the season.

Today’s Episode: Season 1 (Indigo League), Episode 80: “Friends to the End”

Synopsis

After a quick summary of Ash’s journey in the Pokemon League, we open up to the boy laying in his bed, wondering why he had to lose. Outside of the door, Professor Oak, Ash’s Mom, Misty, and Brock sit conversing. Brock reveals to the group that Ash’s tiredness and lack of appetite can be attributed to depression brought on by his loss. Misty decides to try to get him out.

She comes up with a bunch of ideas that Ash promptly shuts down until they get into a shouting match. Misty tells him he should be happy. With his training, he shouldn’t have gotten past first round. Professor Oak interjects and agrees with Misty. Ash should have trained more especially his Charizard. He tells the boy that good trainers need to understand Pokemon’s strength and abilities in order to succeed.

Misty and Ash go at it again until Pikachu shocks everyone.

While everyone is trying to recover, Pikachu’s shock turned on the TV where the announcer announces Ritchie’s next match. Ash and his friends end up wishing Ritchie good luck while he waits in the locker room before his match. Ash tells Ritchie how great he is and we cut to the match.

Through a series of cutscenes, we see all of Ritchie’s Pokemon battle their opponents, a six against six battle. From the looks of it, all of the Pokemon are evenly powered.

Both trainers are down to one Pokemon a piece. Ritchie’s opponent picks Ivysaur while Ritchie picks Sparky, his Pikachu. The Ivysaur attacks Pikachu, knocking it down to its feet almost immediately. Sparky’s Thundershock attack doesn’t work. Ivysaur launches itself into the air and blasts Sparky with a Solar Beam. Before Sparky can recover, Ivysaur tackles it and wins.

Ritchie lost. He runs up to his Pokemon and hugs it. Ash is in the stands, unable to believe what just happened, how quickly the match ended.

Off outside of the league area, Ritchie is hanging out with his Pikachu at a park by a pond. Ash comes up to him and their Pikachu run off to hang out and play. Ritchie tells Ash that they can learn a lot from losing.

Off in the distance, Team Rocket is planning something.

Of course, they’re going after Pikachu, but not just Ash’s, Ritchie’s, too. We cut back to Ash and Ritchie talking about their training and losing while their Pokemon play. Ash realizes that he’s been a sore loser while Ritchie talks about learning from his loss. They promise each other that they’ll become Pokemon masters.

And that’s when their Pikachu fall in a hole. The two boys run after them only to fall into another trap. Team Rocket reveal themselves with their usual motto.Ash angrily tries to run after them but fails, and another hole gives out under them, making them fall even lower. The team then puts the Pikachus into a “Pika”-proof cage.

Ash and Ritchie fly out of their hole using their respective flying Pokemon. Ash uses Bulbasaur’s Wine Whip but misses while Weezing attacks. Pidgeotto blows the smoke away and it envelops them. Bulbasaur uses Razor Leaf to cut the Pikachus free and then Ritchie’s Zippo attacks with a Flamethrower which sets Team Rocket on fire.

Squirtle uses Water Gun to soak Team Rocket and then Ash throws them their own Pikachu cage which had since been recharged by the Pikachus.

As the sun sets, the group decides to have all dinner together and then attend the closing ceremonies.

At the stadium, the announcer calls all the participants to enter the stadium one last time. The league president then gives each trainer a commemorative badge.

Outside of the stadium, Team Rocket is working on a new plan to dig under the stadium.

We cut back to the ceremonies to hear the three winning trainers announced. We don’t see them, however, just their shadows. The ceremony ends with large beautiful colorful fireworks that illuminate the skies.

Team Rocket digs under the stadium but misses and instead they have a firework blow up on them, blasting them away.

The fireworks continue for some time until we turn to the morning. The fire at the stadium is out, the stadium is fully empty except for Ash and Ritchie reflecting on their experience. Their Pikachus run up to them and the two trainers say goodbye to each other. Ash reminds Ritchie of their promise one more time and the intro music starts and we see excerpts from all the matches.

Phew. Wow. I totally got goosebumps there at the end. This is it. This is the end of Ash’s first journey through a Pokemon league. We’ve seen Ash grow from someone immature and juvenile with no idea on how to treat Pokemon into a solid trainer who made it into the Indigo League. I also wonder if we’ll see Ritchie again. I think he would make a great rival instead of Gary but I’m pretty sure that doesn’t happen at any point.

So, what will happen next? What adventures will Ash go on? The Pokemon Fast Track Viewing list is a little confusing as the next episode on the list is supposed to be episode 81 as part of the Indigo League season; however, elsewhere, this episode counts as the first one of the next season. Given that the main “quest” of the second season is revealed, I’ll keep it as part of the Orange Islands arc.

The next article out will be a reflection on season 1, and what journey Ash went through.

Trivia

  • the Pokemon League closing ceremony closely mirrors the closing ceremony at the Olympics with the dying of the flame.
  • Tentacool uses Bubble in Ritchie’s match; however, Tentacool doesn’t get the ability to learn it until 5th generation.
  • this is the only episode that takes place at the league after Ash’s loss
  • some dub edits changed Ritchie’s responses:
    • after his loss, Ritchie apologizes for losing even though his friends cheered him on. In the dub, he tells Ash that they have something in common: losing
    • Ritchie blames his loss on his own lack of experience in the original but in the dub, he blames the touch competition