The episode starts off with an adorable shot of a Hoppip emerging from the plants and floating down to the beach at which point it glows brightly, evolving into a very happy Skiploom. Yes, this episode is going to start off with a heavier hand than that of a Metagross.
We cut to a scene at 6:30 in the morning when Haru's alarm goes off. She slaps about in a tired stupor before finding the button to shut it off. I won't post a picture because Netflix gets ornery when you start doing that but take a look. Her pointer finger looks like it's got a light brown mess on it and it's NEVER addressed. Me and my wife both needed to pause and go back to relook.
Anyways, she has a weird moment as she wakes. She's been, more or less, traumatized by her life as an office drone in the city. She has a panic in which she laments having to put on her suit, get makeup on, throw on her heels, and all that fun stuff before realizing she left that life behind her. At that realization, she shoots up, full of life, energy, and smiles.
As she gets ready for her day she wakes up Psyduck who is now living with her and sleeping on a small bed in the same room.
Haru and Psyduck make their way to work where they find a Mudkip watching Alisa climb a cliff face. At first, they think she's having a morning exercise until they notice she's climbing toward an upset-looking Graveller. Apparently, its owner has decided it's time to go back but it doesn't want to. Alisa calms it and comes back down with it.
Haru and Alisa talk and Haru mentions that she's worried about getting started because she's afraid to fail and Alisa gives her the advice to make a list of things she's good at and bad at and to figure out ways to incorporate the things she's good at to give her more confidence.
As they're talking, the metaphoric Skiploom from earlier shows up and Haru and Alisa discuss how it must have evolved. Haru states that she wished she could.
We then cut to later where Haru is sitting on Tyler's bridge feeding Magikarps and her Psyduck. She's also taking Alisa's advice and making a list. One of the things that she's bad at is that she can't swim. And despite how much of this episode is going to involve things in the water, this NEVER comes up. One of the things she's good at is presentations but she's frustrated how that could connect to her job.
While feeding the Magikarp, Psyduck bumps headfirst into an odd Magikarp. It has a yellow marking like a starfish on it and it's using a floatie to swim. As if on cue, Tyler shows up and talks about how that particular Magikarp can't swim so it uses a floatie. He then mentions that it still has fun swimming even with the floatie because sometimes it's okay to do things you're not good at as long as you're having fun (because metaphors you guys). He then suggests Haru do the same.
Suddenly, as if desperate for the plot to move forward, a Panpour runs in and jumps into the water. Like a strange Rube Goldberg machine, the Panpour lands on Psyduck. Psyduck sinks and panics causing a telekinetic event. The telekinetic event causes the Magikarp with the floaty to float up high in the air. A Wingull flies past it and steals the floatie, flying off as the Magikarp falls back down.
Haru and Psyduck decide they're going after the floatie so they take off running. That's around when they run into Alisa who is currently engaging with a Dragonite. They borrow the services of Dragonite to fly them after the Wingull. As they get close, Psyduck uses its telekinesis to grab the floatie but drops it to the beach below.
When they make it to the beach they find a Seel, Diglett, Dedenne, and Snorlax all hanging out and playing with the floatie like a ball. But chaos ensues and Dedenne jumps on Snorlax causing it to roll over on the floatie, popping it.
Cut to that night when a Lampent is lighting a campfire for Haru and Psyduck. Haru explains that the concierges have to take turns sleeping in the woods to be on hand in the event a wild Pokemon decides to get "rambunctious" so they're, essentially, on hand.
Haru realizes that she's not going to be able to fix it and laments this but then Lampent and Psyduck bring her a ton of flowers and they turn the floatie into a decorative wreath. But suddenly Haru sees a glow in the distance and goes to investigate. There's a Magikarp in the water and it is glowing brightly.
It sinks into the water and there's a blinding flash as it evolves. A massive Gyarados rises from the water and as it turns to look around, Haru notices it has a massive star mark on it meaning that without the floatie, the Magikarp learned to swim and therefore was able to evolve. Metaphors. She tries to communicate with it but it doesn't hear her and swims up a waterfall, moving up. Metaphors.
The following day Haru finds the floral floatie being used as a toy between a Pikachu, Bulbasaur, and a Trubbish. A Wooper is standing by watching and excited. Haru decides that she's going to make it it's own floral floatie and realizes she could make toys for all the Pokemon around.
As she's making these toys Alisa shows up and congratulates her on finding something that she enjoys doing on the island.
Okay, so lets get into this.
This episode. Oh my goodness. The entire thing was metaphor after metaphor for evolving as a person. It was not subtle to the point of having Haru actually state "I wish I could evolve".
At the beginning of the episode when Hoppip comes down and evolves into a Skiploom I'm reminded of how gorgeous the art direction on this show is. I double-dog dare you to pause this scene at any point (outside the glowy bit) and find a pause screen that isn't suitable for framing.
Speaking of pause screens, you WOULDN'T want to frame though, I am still baffled by the alarm clock scene in which Haru hits her alarm with a finger covered in stuff that NEVER gets explained. It's going to be something that I think about on my deathbed.
The bridge scene where Haru feeds the Magikarps is pretty well done. Sure, the fact that we see Magikarp pretty much guarantees us we'll see a Gyarados and the fact that we point out the fact that one of them has a unique star marking guarantees we'll see that EXACT Magikarp later, but I think the pacing here was pretty well done.
Not only that, the animation where the Panpour causes the chaos that leads to Magikarp losing its floatie was really cute. Though, I could go my whole life without seeing a Magikarp weep. That was heartbreaking.
When Haru and Psyduck give chase after the floatie and encounter the Dragonite it's when the episode takes off. Quite literally. Having Haru having fun while flying, even when things are taking a turn is refreshing to see because, honestly, three episodes of her beating herself up over what is, essentially, the most chill job on the planet, has started to become painful.
Afterward, when the floatie falls and the other Pokemon are found with it, it's another example of how good the animators are. I watched that scene about five times and found amazing details every time.
Of course, this leads to the devastating moment in which the Snorlax pops the floatie and Haru gives up. And we immediately cut to nighttime and her camping. This moment will hit Pokemon fans differently because there is a Lampent with her.
Pokemon Fans will come in two varieties. The ones that are like, "Oh cute, a Lampent." And then the ones like me that will go, "Wait, according to the Pokedex, a Lampent shows up when people are going to die. They're drawn to hospitals because of the inevitability of death." My punk a** literally spent the scene worried a character was going to die.
Of course, this scene leads to that gorgeous moment in which the Magikarp with the star on it from before is shown swimming before evolving into the Gyarados. Sure, this scene was inevitable but it was so remarkably well done. I've never felt scale on a Gyarados like that. The way it just rose up and kept going as Haru stared in awe was very well done.
The scene afterward had me yelling at my screen. Haru watching a new batch of Pokemon play with the floral floatie was cute and all but then Haru decided to make all the Pokemon toys like that. How, Haru? You almost died trying to retrieve that floatie, surely there is a shortage right you can't just...oh...there's a MASSIVE PILE OF FLOATIES READILY AVAILABLE.
This girl almost died to get back a hotel issue floatie when there were so many available that everyone is perfectly fine with her using them for arts and crafts. You're telling me the best part of this episode, in my opinion, with her riding on the Dragonite, was pretty much unnecessary because she could have just grabbed another from the veritable Fort Knox of floaties y'all have sitting on the beach?
All in all though, it was a fairly decent episode that was a bit heavy on one plot and in dire need of a B-story. The art direction was good though weird at some points but the episode had some great moments as well.
I give this episode 6 nasty stained fingers out of 10.