This episode does not open on our heroes. Instead a woman in the shadows holds a creepy red eyed doll. When our heroes do appear, they are lost in some dark woods. The doll appears to them laughing like the demon it might be. They chase after it and nearly die. They find Saffron City though and head straight for the gym. Team Rocket welcomes them to the city dressed like hula dancers. Their scheme involves leading the heroes to an abandoned building, taking Pikachu, and sending them through a warp tile. WHen it looks like they’ve won the mysterious doll appears in front of Team Rocket and they freeze (literally). She then gives Pikachu back to Ash and they’re freed.
The trio enters the gym even though a strange man warned them to stay away from it. It’s revealed the mysterious woman is Sabrina, the gym leader. I think her doll’s also Sabrina. If Ash loses the match, they all have to be the doll’s friends forever. Unfortunately Pikachu loses to Sabrina’s Abra due to it evolving into Kadabra in the middle of the fight. Our heroes are sent to a creepy dollhouse because of the loss. The doll nearly kills them, but they’re rescued at the last second by the strange man.
Instead of re-challenging Sabrina, the man convinces the group it’s best to find a ghost Pokemon first. Not before Ash is beaten into submission by the man’s psychic powers though. The trio journeys on to Lavender Town.
- Murderous doll
- Trio ignoring the Team Rocket motto
- Ash using muscle over mind
- Creepy doll village Sabrina traps people in
- Ash leaving a gym with no badge
Where to begin with this one. It was way more disturbing than I expected it to be. I knew Sabrina in the anime is like a top creepy thing in children’s media, but that doll is like horror movie levels of unsettling.
The only thing that kinda killed the episodes pacing is the bit with Team Rocket. This seems to be a theme with them being shoved in. This episode didn’t need them doing anything since Sabrina was already an antagonist. Their scheme was pretty good, them trapping the trio in a way they can’t escape. The use of the doll to free them was a good twist, but also contrived. It was just too easy of an escape for the weight of the set up.
Everything with Sabrina and her doll was amazing. Mostly because it’s so out of place in a light adventure like Pokemon. The doll is just unsettling enough that in every appearance she makes you know something bad’s going to happen. Sabrina is probably the most threatening villain yet too. For one she holds up on her dolls “promise” that the gang has to play with it forever. The dollhouse (or doll village) scene reminds me of the one with Team Rocket in the beginning. Everyone’s trapped without hope and it takes and outside force to save them.
Regarding the series as a whole so far I enjoy how it takes a much different journey than the games. In the original games Saffron was set up to be traveled to later in the adventure (although unlike recent Pokemon games you could basically do anything in any order). Sometimes the groups detours even work too. I like how them going to Lavender Town has story relevance. It could easily have been made into a filler location like Porta Vista. The anime has much more variety in it’s episode than I expected too. So far we’ve had dark episodes, sad episodes, Pokemon talking episodes,and now disturbing episodes. It makes the journey seem extremely well rounded and I appreciate that.