Episode #71 - Bad to the Bone

Ash has been hanging around Professor Oak's lab, pestering the good doctor. Oak politely informs him that Gary has already left for Indigo Plateau, to sign up for the Pokémon League; which gets Ash out of his hair.

Halfway to the Indigo Plateau, Ash's group runs into a boy named Saizou. Saizou wants to battle Ash, but there's a catch: The loser has to give over all of his badges to the winner. Ash angrily refuses, making what is perhaps his first intelligent decision in the history of the show. Saizou accuses him of running from the battle, so Ash agrees to fight. Ash sends out Bulbasaur, and Saizou sends out a Marowak. Both Saizou and his Pokémon are trained as samurai; and Marowak wields its bone club like an iron sword. It easily beats Bulbasaur, dodging all of its attacks; then powers up its energy with Focus Energy, and gives the plant Pokémon a hard slash with its weapon. Ash recalls Bulbasaur, and sends out Pikachu, who defeats Marowak with a Thundershock. Saizou falls to his knees, tears streaming down his cheeks. Marowak was his strongest Pokémon, and if it lost, that means he's blown his only chance at getting a set of badges. Ash co. realizes that Saizou doesn't have the badges for his bet.

The samurai explains that he used to have badges-all eight, in fact; but he was robbed of them by two Rockets, and a talking Meowth. Ash knows firsthand how hard it is to collect the badges, and offers to aid Saizou, in getting them back. Elsewhere, James and Meowth spend quite some time gloating over their most recent heist. Time enough, for Jessie to sneak away with the badges. Oops. Ash and friends and Saizou accost them, but of course, there are no badges to be found. Marowak throws a fit, enraged by the fact that its master lost the badges that it had fought for. It storms off, leaving Saizou behind.

James and Meowth eventually catch up with Jessie, and scold her for stealing their badges. Jessie goes off on one or her rants, saying that she needs the badges, so she can compete in the Pokémon League, and how could her partners deny her what she wants most? Well, it really doesn't matter, because Ash and friends show up to reclaim the badges. Team Rocket agree to return Saizou's badges, if he can beat them in battle. Saizou agrees, and sends out his other Pokémon, a Doduo. Arbok slaughters it. Marowak considers how much its master means to it, and decides to return to him. It arrives on the scene just in the nick of time, and easily defeats the Rockets. Saizou thanks Marowak, Saizou thanks Ash, James and Meowth thank Jessie, for ruining their plan...