Oh, by the way. it's Raichu. Which is to be expected, I'm sure.
We don't get to see Pikachu beaten at the paws of Raichu, as we're already in Pokémon A+E with Pikachu on a life glug. Of course, you know he's going to make it, but even for a moment, you're worried. Just a little. Though of note, this animated series has thrown Pikachu in A+E twice, and we heard them directly mention that Charmander could have died during Charmander - The Stray Pokémon. Hovering around themes of death, there, aren't you.
Pikachu is alive, but is annoyed that it was beaten by Lieutenant Surge's Raichu.
Its pride is shattered, and wouldn't yours be? If you were over-powered like that?
Nurse Joy overhears Ash's determined and blind view that he and Pikachu can beat Surge if they try again, and suggests using a Thunder Stone that was discovered in the store room of the Pokémon Center!
But if Ash uses the Thunder Stone on Pikachu, he will never be the same. Ash leaves the decision up to Pikachu.
Pikachu is ensconced in a trance by the Thunder Stone, and ultimately decides that he does not want to evolve and change. He wants to defeat Raichu by himself, in the name of all Pikachu, and defend his honour!
James, Meowth and Jessie are watching and listening from outside. The tender scene makes James cry very manly tears.
"Tell us what it's saying!"
"Pikachu won't change. If it's going to defeat the Raichu it wants to do it just as it is."
"It's going to fight in the name of all Pikachu!"
"Reeeallly??? Thhaaaattts soooo beeeauuuutifuuuuulll!!!"
So Pikachu decides he's not going to evolve, how then is it going to defeat Raichu?
Ash and Pikachu don't know how, but they're sure they'll find a way.
Team Rocket get even more sentimental.
"Pikachu will prove it can defeat Raichu. It will defend its honour and Ash's!"
"Ooooohhhh deeaarrr!!! That's MAAAAGNIIIFFIIICCEEENNT!!!"
I think this is the pivotal moment where Team Rocket start to develop feelings of respect towards Ash and Pikachu, almost to the point of forming a strange pseudo-friendship. Something they'll need to rely on in a few episodes time in order to survive a 'titanic disaster'.
While Misty is grabbing a can of juice and negging Ash, Brock comes up with the perfect strategy, which we will not actually discover until the battle happens, so keep us in suspense.
"During the fight, Lieutenant Surge said he made his Raichu evolve as soon as he got it, didn't he? Then perhaps there is a way."
Dun dun duuuun.
"Pikachu, our lucky star is shining today!"
Team Rocket appear in the street dressed as an Ouendan crew, and start reciting the motto before Meowth hits them. They say that they're the "Challenger's Cheerleaders" and they're "here to show their support for brave Pikachu and Ash!"
It's nice to see a Japanese concept come through unscathed during the translation process.
"In honour of the great Pikachu's bravery, we offer a cheer!"
Perhaps one of their dumbest moments, but I think it shows a really accepting side of Team Rocket, a side to them that shows their deep respect and love for Ash and Pikachu. In performing the cheer, James, Jessie and Meowth are admitting to Ash that they consider him and Pikachu to be their rivals and intellectual equals.
However, being proud, they choose to stick to a costume to deliver their support.
Or maybe I'm looking into it too deep.
"Thanks for your support! Bye Team Rocket!"
"How did they know it was us!?"
Ash knows the importance of even Team Rocket being on his side this time. He knows he cannot possibly lose. And that determination is visible right their in his eyes.
He knows he can take that sucker Surge.
It's ON like MAGNETON.
Ash and Pikachu challenge Surge. Things are looking bad for Pikachu, who is pinned down and taking a beating from Raichu. When all seems lost, Pikachu picks up and uses the tactic that he and Ash had devised with the help of Brock.
Pikachu uses its Agility to make Raichu's Body Slam continually miss. Unlike in the games, Raichu is taking recoil damage from Body Slam.
"Raichu evolved too fast and it never learned the speed attacks it can only learn in the Pikachu stage."
Let's see if you're right, Brock-oli.
Yeah, according to Bulbapedia, and fitting in with my memories, Raichu is unable to learn Slam, Agility and Swift, just to name a few. However, for Ash's Pikachu to be using Agility, it must already be at least Lv. 33.
I doubt that.
A very poorly translated joke follows, I can't even be bothered with it, it's so bad.
Ash wins, Surge is shocked. Yeah, I know.
Surge gives Ash his first ever properly deserved badge. Good going.
Awww, ain't that nice.
Team Rocket walk into the sunset, happy that Pikachu succeeded in defeating Raichu and upholding its honour, and further justifying their mad obsession with capturing Pikachu. An obsession that serves a veil for their real intention; to keep following Ash around who they deeply respect and admire.
Yes I know it's only a theory but I think it's proper sound.
The narrator comes to sing us out.
"Ash and Pikachu won a Thunder Badge in an impressive performance, but they still have a long way to go to reach their goal, as does Team Rocket. And so the adventure continues, on and on."
"Drat, we spent this episode cheering on the good guys!"
"That's right, James. Better luck next time!"
Ah yes, next time. Next time we get to see the first ever Team Rocket cross-dressing, and one from an episode that wasn't banned. We'll see the introduction of another game mechanic, trading. Brock will be smitten by a woman with a voluptuous figure, James will be fooled into buying a trash Pokémon, the whole Team Rocket organization plays a large role and the episode ends in catastrophe.
So look forward to it, OK?