To celebrate the Pokemon anime's 20th anniversary, we're recapping an episode of the series every Saturday!
Episode Title: Clefairy and the Moon Stone
Original Air Date: May 6, 1997 (Japan); September 15, 1998 (US)
Episode Synopsis: Ash and his friends travel to Mount Moon when they encounter a scientists being attacked by a flock of Zubat. They rescue the scientist, named Seymour, and discover the Zubat were acting erratic as someone has strung electric lights through Mount Moon's caverns. Seymour believes that someone is looking for the Moon Stone, a meteorite that can supposedly increase a Pokemon's power.
When Ash and his friends go to investigate, they encounter a Clefairy carrying a Moon Stone fragment. They also find Team Rocket, who is in fact mining the cave and searching for the Moon Stone. Ash and Brock fight Jessie and James, while Misty and Seymour cover Clefairy's escape. Although Meowth goes after Clefairy, he's sent flying by an attack from Misty's Staryu.
With Team Rocket (temporarily) out of the picture, Clefairy leads Ash's group to a second secret cavern, where the main core of the Moon Stone rests. The Clefairy worship the Moon Stone as some sort of god, dancing around it and chanting their names. Team Rocket shows up again and distracts Ash and his friends long enought to steal the Moon Stone, but they're quickly intercepted and sent flying for good by a powerful Metronome attack from the Clefairy. In the aftermath, several of the Clefairy evolve into Clefable when fragments of the Moon Stone land on them.
The episode ends with Ash, Brock, and Misty seeing a sign for Cerulean City. Although Ash is excited for his next gym battle, Misty looks a little sad...foreshadowing what happens next.
Ash's Episodic Moment of Idiocy: Ash is surprisingly competent this episode, although he is easily fooled by a Smokescreen attack that Team Rocket use to cover their theft of the Moon Stone.
Characters Introduced: Brock's Zubat, Misty's Staryu, Seymour the Scientist
Locations: Mount Moon
This is another filler episode, although it's the first time that we see the now familiar group dynamic between Ash, Misty, and Brock. Brock is a calming, almost parental presence for Ash and Misty leading to a notable drop in bickering. His Onix is also a formidable counter to Team Rocket...although it seems like a bit of a glass cannon as it gets knocked out by a single Tackle attack from Koffing.
We also get a good look at Clefairy, who was originally intended to be the face of the Pokemon franchise. The original concept for the anime actually had Ash partnering with Clefairy, but they replaced it with Pikachu at the last minute. The original Pokemon Pocket Monsters manga (which is radically different from both the games and the anime) actually has Clefairy as a main character and partner to Red (Ash's in-game equivalent), although Pikachu is also a big part of that series too.
This episode also introduces a potential origin for Pokemon, namely that they come from outer space. The franchise never really explains why Pokemon can shoot energy, manipulate the elements, and generally have god-like powers in an otherwise normal world, so it's nice that the anime series at least occasionally floats some half-baked theories out there, especially during the early seasons when it's implied that there are both Pokemon and non-Pokemon animals.