Episode #275 - There's No Place Like Hoenn
Ash and May reach Petalburg City. Ash is excited to get to the Gym but May begs him to slow down. When he asks about the Gym leader, May gets embarrassed and avoids the issue. Then she claims to have stuff to do and runs off, leaving Ash to go to the Gym alone.
Inside the Gym, he meets a young boy who recognizes him from videotapes of the Silver Conference. The boy introduces himself as Max, and proceeds to annoy Ash with his chatter about how Ash lost and that he could have done better. Next Max says he's the Gym leader but Ash doesn't believe him. When May shows up, Max calls her "sis", confusing our hero even more. Eventually two adults arrive and explain that Max and May's father, Norman, is the real Gym leader.
Max continues to badger Ash while May tells her mother what happened to her bike. Then she shows off Torchic, and it angrily pecks Max when he insults it. May's mother invites Ash to dinner, where they all discuss the Gym battle. The rules are a three-on-three elimination, but unfortunately Ash only has Pikachu. Norman offers to battle him anyway, although it won't be official.
Everyone goes to the ring, and it turns out that Norman has a strong Pokemon called Vigoroth. Ash and Pikachu battle hard but Vigoroth proves to be too much for Pikachu. Just as the match ends, an explosion blows a hole in the wall! It's Team Rocket, and they want to steal the Vigoroth. Arbok attacks, and Weezing's Smokescreen prevents Pikachu and Vigoroth from striking back. May releases her Torchic to help but she can't remember any of its moves. Finally the smoke is cleared away, and Torchic is missing! Team Rocket flies away in their balloon, and Ash promises an upset May that he'll help get Torchic back.
Team Rocket lands nearby and checks their catch. When they realize they have Torchic, they make a plan to use it to catch Pikachu.
Meanwhile, everyone is searching for the balloon. Norman and his wife go one way, and the kids go another way. However May and Max argue and they don't get very far. Their parents return shortly and say they found the balloon, which is sitting in a clearing. In front of it is cage containing Torchic!
Despite Ash's warnings, May and Max run toward the cage and fall into a hole. Their parents run after them and fall into another hole! Team Rocket comes out of their hiding place and gloats. They didn't expect Ash to be free though, and Pikachu distracts Arbok while Ash helps May and Max out of the trap. The parents climb out and Norman attacks with his Vigoroth. The battle is on!
Max sneaks past the battlefield, grabs the cage, and brings it to May. She frees Torchic then instructs it to join the battle, but it attacks Max instead. Her help isn't needed though, since Vigoroth finishes Team Rocket easily and Pikachu sends them blasting off.
Later, Ash and May prepare to leave. Max wants to come with them, since he knows a lot about Pokemon and might be able to help. Norman gives both Ash and May kits to keep their badges in, and Max receives a Pokemon Navigator. No more getting lost! The three kids are now headed toward the next Gym in Rustboro City.