Episode #263 - Pop Goes the Sneasel
Ash and friends are heading towards Silvertown when they see a crowd of people in front of a shrine. They are told that this is the Ho-oh Shrine, from where a torch will be carried to the Silver Conference. After a while the crowd gets restless, and a man opens the door to say that there will be a delay.
Togepi and Pikachu run through the open door, forcing the kids to chase after them. The shrine keeper is about to show them back out when two angry trainers arrive and berate the keeper for not telling them how dangerous things were. The trainers leave, and Ash wonders what the problem is. The keeper says that there's trouble concerning the Sacred Flame. Another trainer with a Houndoom comes in and introduces himself as Harrison, saying he wants to help out.
The keeper explains that the ceremonial torch can't be lit because nobody can get to the shrine where the flame is kept. He tells a legend about a great battle long ago that laid the land to waste, but a Ho-oh used its powers to burn all the weapons and rejuvenate the land. The one flame that never went out was placed in a shrine and has been held sacred for generations. This flame is used to light the torch. Recently a Sneasel, Machop, and Machoke have moved into the area and have attacked anyone that has gone up to the shrine. The kids volunteer to help, and Harrison says he's been trying to catch a Sneasel.
Team Rocket listens from nearby and plans to steal the Sacred Flame and hold it for ransom. They go to the shrine but are stopped by the Sneasel and its two companions. Stubbornly they try to fight, but they are quickly overpowered and sent blasting off.
The kids reach the shrine, and are met by the Machop and Machoke. Misty's Corsola and Harrison's Houndoom keep them occupied while Ash runs to retrieve the Sacred Flame. He's cut off by Sneasel who blasts him and Totodile back down the hill. Luckily Ash isn't hurt, and Harrison says they should try something different.
Meanwhile Team Rocket discusses what to do next. Jessie takes James aside and tries to persuade him that they ought to replace Meowth with Sneasel, which would make them unstoppable. James doesn't like the idea. Meowth overhears them and makes his own plans.
Ash and company arrive at the shrine a second time, taking care of Machop and Machoke with Phanpy and Houndoom. Harrison challenges the Sneasel to a battle, but Team Rocket shows up in a Sneasel-shaped balloon. Meowth is in a Sneasel costume with a "present" containing a smoke bomb. He tries to enlist Sneasel's help in dealing with his treacherous teammates, but Sneasel refuses. The bomb goes off and Team Rocket runs into the smoke to capture Sneasel. Unfortunately when they reach their balloon and fly away, they discover that they grabbed Meowth by mistake! The angry Meowth sets on them with his claws, but accidentally damages the balloon, causing them to blast off again.
Now Harrison releases an unfamiliar Pokemon, and Ash's Pokedex doesn't know what it is. Harrison says it's a Blaziken and it comes from the Houen Region. With Blaziken, he easily defeats Sneasel and captures it! Ash takes the Sacred Flame back to the shrine keeper.
The torch is lit and given to a runner to take to Silvertown. The keeper has decided to hire the Machop and Machoke to defend the shrine. Harrison will be at Silver Conference too, but Ash is confident that he'll be the one to come out on top.