Pokémon had seen Jessie and James run the Viridian City Gym for a while, which proved to be one of the weirdest episodes in anime history.
Pokemon’s Jessie and James are two of the anime’s most iconic villains, constantly trying and failing to catch the all-powerful Ash Pikachu. And for a very short time in the show’s past, they took their evil to the next level — becoming the Viridian City Gym Leader who nearly crushed Ash’s dream of becoming a Pokémon Master.
The gym’s original leader was Giovanni, also the founder of Team Rocket. However, while Gary Oak eventually faced Giovanni and lost his harrowing battle against Mewtwo, Ash never faced him. Instead, Giovanni must go on a sudden private mission with Mewtwo, leaving Jessie and James in charge of the gym to fight Ash. Here’s the wild story of how, in the most unlikely of circumstances, Ash managed to win his eighth and final sports badge.
Team Rocket has every advantage against Ash. First, they have access to Giovanni’s Pokemon, all of which are incredibly powerful. While Giovanni goes easy on Gary at first, there are some fully evolved Pokémon, like Machamp and Golem, at his disposal. The only thing they couldn’t use was their boss’s personal Persian.
In addition, Jessie and James combine the two platforms on which the Gym Leader and challenger will stand. James installed this contraption so that their opponents would be bombarded with electric shocks whenever their Pokemon was damaged. Sometimes, this shock even temporarily paralyzes the target. Of course, the Gym Leaders also experienced this pain, as Jessie suddenly realized when the tide turned against them. James admits that he cheated on both sides because he didn’t see an outcome where they ended up losing to Giovanni’s Pokemon.
How Ash Won His 8th Gym Badge
Jessie uses all of Machamp, Kingler, and Rhydon against Ash. At first, Machamp attacks Ash’s Squirtle while Kingler destroys his Bulbasaur. The battle was not in Ash’s favor until the battle of Rhydon, where Pidgeotto overcame his tough opponent. That’s when Jessie, panicking as the shocks bombarded her, threw Arbok and Weezing into the fight, which Pikachu managed to fend off. Giovanni’s other Pokémon retreat on their own during the chaos, leaving Ash the victor.
Meowth has a backup plan, where he sets up the platform to explode. Gary, of all people, manages to get the switch out of Meowth’s hands — only for Togepi Misty to find it. When Ash thinks he deserves a badge for the jeering Jessie, who still refuses to admit defeat, Togepi detonates Team Rocket’s stand, creating an explosion that sends all three bursting into the sky — and destroying Giovanni’s gym.
In the end, Ash won the badge only because he fought the alternate gym leader while Giovanni’s strongest Pokémon, Mewtwo, had exited the building at that point. In the next episode, Team Rocket is seen begging for forgiveness from Giovanni. Even though he gave it away, only knowing that it was no fault of theirs could turn the tide against him now that he has the mystical Mewtwo.