The episode begins at Lake Acuity the morning after the full battle, where Uxie's silhouette briefly appears from under the lake, then vanishes. At the Pokémon Center, all of Ash's Pokémon, groaning in pain, are seen hospitalized under the care of Nurse Joy and her Pokémon.

Pikachu: [weakly] Pi, Pika...
Narrator: [v.o.] In the wake of a full Pokémon battle against Paul, Ash and his struggling Pokémon are staying at the Pokémon Center on Lake Acuity to rest, heal and recharge.

From behind the glass, the heroes are watching with concern how Ash’s Pokémon are taken care of by Nurse Joy and her Pokémon.

Piplup: [concerned] Piplup?
Dawn: Piplup, don't worry. Soon everyone will be just fine.
Brock: Right, all we have to do is leave it up to Nurse Joy.

Unable to stand seeing his Pokémon severely injured, Ash walks away with guilt, much to Dawn’s concern.

Dawn: Ash, wait.

Before Dawn could do anything, she is stopped by Brock, who can only do anything but see Ash walking out of the Pokémon Center, much to their sorrow. Theme song and title, then the scene changes to Yanmega holding a bucket of dirt.

James: [o.s.] Bombs away!

Yanmega pours some dirt over the field. Team Rocket, still disguised as the clean-up crew, are discussing the full battle from yesterday, while Wobbuffet, Seviper and Carnivine are continuously rolling over the poured dirt.

James: After yesterday's trouncing, I sincerely doubt the twerps will be traveling for a while.
Jessie: Saying they took damage is an understatement at best.
Meowth: True, but seeing a joust like that makes it worthwhile!
James: And how! Those warriors were on fire! Twas a knock-down, drag-out battle slog fest.
Meowth: Yeah, and wasn't Chimmy rocking hard?
James: Yes, not to mention the emotional evolving into Monferno.
Jessie: But the numbers don't lie, and losing 6 to 2 is a landslide if I ever saw one.
Meowth: Yeah. Bummer!
James: I'll bet the twerp must be feeling lower than a pit trap.
Meowth: I'll double that bet.
Jessie: Attacking twerps when they're at their lowest is Team Rocket rule one.
Meowth: Can't you turn it down?!
James: I’m witless enough!
Jessie: The predator always preys on the weakest of the twerpish herd. The time to pluck Pikachu is now, while the iron is red hot. So we're faced with an opportunity we can't refuse.
James: It's times such as these that make me grateful for my day job.
Meowth: If Jessie's yapping was worth money, we'd be rich.
Wobbuffet: Wobba, Wobba, Wobba!

Flashback ends, revealing Ash lying in the grasses near Lake Acuity, still feeling guilty and depressed. Scene changes to Gliscor crying in pain.

Gliscor: Gli! (Ow!)

Scene pans to Brock bandaging Gliscor's arm.

Gliscor: Gliscor... (That hurts...)
Brock: Gliscor, don't cry. It'll be over soon.
Happiny: Happiny. (Don't worry.)

While looking how Brock and Nurse Joy treat Ash’s Pokémon, Dawn is depressed and sits down, sighing.

Piplup: Pip... Pip?
Dawn: I just wish there was something I could do to help.
Piplup: Piplup?

Dawn: Wow, thanks, Piplup. I get it. You’re saying I shouldn’t be down, too.
Piplup: Piplup.
Dawn: That’s it! I just had the greatest thought. And you, Piplup, you're just who I need to help me out with this.
Piplup: Piplup.
Dawn: [runs off off-frame] Wow, this is gonna be great!

Meanwhile, as soon as Ash’s Pokémon are resting, Brock and Nurse Joy are putting away all the healing supplies.

Happiny: [holding a first-aid kit] Hap, Happiny. Hap, Hap.
Brock: [takes the first-aid kit] Thanks a lot, Happiny. [puts the first aid kit in the cupboard, then closes it]
Nurse Joy: Brock, I really can’t thank you enough. You’re such a big help.
Brock: [gasps amorously] Nurse Joy, I would gladly give of myself completely in order to serve your tiniest desire. [pauses in confusion] Huh? [suddenly notices Croagunk ready to Poison Jab him; hastily] Wait, Croagunk, please! You-you’ve got it all wrong, Croagunk! I was just helping Nurse Joy out! You see, it’s all perfectly innocent! That’s it!

In response, Croagunk powers down Poison Jab, then walks away, much to Brock’s relief.

Nurse Joy: [glances at Monferno with concern] Oh, dear. Monferno’s recovery seems so slow. I do think it’s because Monferno took so much damage. Brock, please, do you think you could go into the woods near here and look for some Cheri Berries for me?
Brock: I’d love too. I’ll be back soon.

The scene changes to Brock walking to Lake Acuity, trying to look for Cheri Berries to heal Monferno's paralysis.

Brock: Finding Cheri Berries is a lot harder than I thought.

Brock: Wow, Cheri Berries.

Dawn: And one and two, one and two. One and two, great! You’re all looking wonderful.

All of Dawn's Pokémon cheer in agreement.

Buneary: Buneary!
Dawn: All right, now it’s Piplup’s turn.
Piplup: [o.s] Piplup!

Meanwhile, Nurse Joy is about to cure Monferno of its paralysis.

Nurse Joy: Here, mashed Cheri Berries.

Nurse Joy: I think we can relax now.
Brock: Monferno, that’s excellent.

From outside, Monferno happily waves at Pikachu, Staraptor, Grotle, Buizel and Gliscor, who happily wave back

Ash: [astonished] Huh?! Pikachu.
Pikachu: Pika, Pi, Pika.

Ash gets up and notices his Pokémon in front of him.

Ash: [delighted] Everybody!
Buizel: Bui, Bui!
Gliscor: Gliscor, Gli, Gli, Gliscor.
Grotle: Grotle.
Staraptor: Star, Star.
Monferno: Monferno, Monferno.

After that, the Pokémon start to wince from their pain, to Ash's and Pikachu's embarrassment.

Ash: Oh, man. Please don't overdo it. [suddenly starts laughing] Okay, you're all trying to cheer me up now, right?
Pikachu: Pika...
Ash: Right! [stands up] I'm fine now. I'm not feeling sad one little bit. [stares at the sky] Paul sure is tough. He's got his own way of getting strong, and I've gotta admit he gave it his all. That's how he got strong in the first place. But, hey, we're gonna get stronger, too. It's not gonna be easy, though. So there's only one thing to do. We're gonna have to work harder than Paul, and when we meet up with him again, we're gonna beat that guy. What do you say, gang?

As response, all of Ash's Pokémon glomp him.

Ash: [laughing] Come on! Get off! Hey, guys, get off!

A while later, Ash and his Pokémon are taking a stroll back to the Pokémon Center, when, to the Pokémon's confusion, Ash's stomach starts growling.

Ash: Oops! Guess I forgot to eat something today.

Pikachu, Staraptor, Grotle, Monferno, Buizel and Gliscor all laugh.

Ash: Guys, I'm back.
Pikachu: Pika!
Dawn: Ash, Brock just told us he saw it.

Brock nods in agreement.

Ash: Saw "it"? Saw what?

Nurse Joy and the heroes went to the library for answers.

Nurse Joy: [looking up in a book] The Pokémon that you saw at Lake Acuity... [points at a picture of Uxie] Was it this one?
Brock: Hmm... That's it! But now that I think about it, the thing I saw was more like a shadow than the actual Pokémon itself.
Dawn: It sounds to me like it was the spirit of Uxie that you saw.

A flashback reveals Dawn and Piplup noticing Mesprit's silhouette at Lake Verity.

Dawn: [v.o.] Just like the time I saw Mesprit on Lake Verity.

Another flashback reveals Ash and Pikachu noticing Azelf's silhouette during the Wallace Cup at Lake Valor.

Ash: [v.o.] And just like when I saw Azelf on Lake Valor.

The flashback ends.

Nurse Joy: Now, according to this book, it says that all three Pokémon have come from the same egg. It also says that Uxie, who is referred to as "The Being of Knowledge", comes the wisdom to solve problems. From Mesprit, "The Being of Emotion", comes the joys and pain of life, and from Azelf, "The Being of Willpower", comes the resolve to accomplish whatever task may be at hand. And it's the power of these three that keeps the world in balance. At least, that's what this book is saying.
Dawn: To think they're Legendary Pokémon, and the three of us saw them!
Ash: We saw 'em all right.
Pikachu: Pika, Pika.
Piplup: Piplup.
Brock: Could it have been an accident? Or do all of these happenings mean something?
Nurse Joy: It's mysterious, that's for sure.
Ash: Hmm... [laughs] I'm not sure why, but this starting to get kinda fun! Right, Pikachu?
Pikachu: Pika.
Piplup: [to Dawn] Piplup, Piplup.
Dawn: I'm worried Ash is trying to do too much.
Ash: [confused] Whadda ya mean "too much"?
Pikachu: Pikachu?
Dawn: [singing] It's nothing. But there is something I wanna show you, though.
Piplup: Piplup.

Ash and Pikachu both stare at Dawn and Piplup, looking confused. Meanwhile, inside the Pokémon Center’s storage room, Team Rocket is threading some sort of net.
James: But I worry that we're solely unprepared this time.
Jessie: Now, now, worry not. The twerp is bummed out to the point of being beside himself, which will enable us the luxury of effortlessly capturing Pikachu with nary a robot in sight.
Meowth: I’m makin' sure at least we’ll be shockproof, which is saying somethin’.

As for the heroes, all but Dawn and her Pokémon, have seated themselves. Dawn enters in her Pokémon Contest outfit and takes a bow.

Dawn: Warm greetings, ladies and gentlemen. I'd like to start off our proceedings by thanking you all very much for coming to see Dawn's Pokémon Circus.
Ash: [curious] Wonder what Dawn's up to this time.
Nurse Joy: You see, Dawn's been working really hard practicing for this performance just to cheer you up, and you'll love it.
Ash: This is for us?
Pikachu: [delighted] Pikachu!
Dawn: Now, keep your eyes open. We’ll begin Dawn’s Circus with a feat of pure acrobatic skill.

Dawn opens the podium curtains, revealing Mamoswine with a pom-pom on his head.

Mamoswine: Mamo.

Pachirisu and Buneary are standing in front of Mamoswine, ready to perform.

Pachirisu: Chipa.
Buneary: Buneary.

Dawn: Great! Everyone, pose!

Mamoswine turns to the audience, then sticks his tongue out.

Dawn: Ta-da!

The heroes laugh in amusement, as Dawn expected, until...

Piplup: [o.s.] Piplup!
Dawn: Huh?
Piplup: [wearing a clown costume] Piplup, Piplup! [waltzing to Dawn] Piplup, Piplup. Piplup, Piplup. Piplup, Piplup. Pip, Piplup. [stops in front of Dawn] Pip, Piplup.
Dawn: Well, so you say you can really do it, Piplup?
Piplup: [self-assured] Piplup. [jumps up] Pip, Piplup!

Piplup comically smacks himself into the ceiling headfirst, making Pachirisu and Buneary juggle with him before Piplup gets tossed in the air.

Piplup: Pip, Piplup. [gets tossed again] Piplup.

Cue Piplup tottering after being continuously being tossed in the air.

Piplup: Piplup...

Pachirisu and Buneary pop up out of nowhere and pull Piplup’s face

Buneary: Buneary!

The heroes once again laugh and cheer out of amusement.

Dawn: Okay, again, pose.

Just like before, Mamoswine turns to the audience, then sticks his tongue out while setting up his nostrils. Meanwhile, Team Rocket is standing in front of the door, ready to storm in.

Jessie: Hmm... And now, let’s go and find that bummed-out little twerp and make him even more bummed-out, okay?
James and Meowth: Yay!

The scene changes back to Dawn and her Pokémon.

Dawn: And now, for our next act we have...
Team Rocket: [appear on-screen] Da-da-da-da!
Nurse Joy: Hey, aren't they the clean-up crew?
Ash: Wow, this oughta be good.
Jessie: Uh... ahem. Testing, testing, one, two, three. Now, how many people do you see [shouting] WHO’RE BUMMED OUT?!
Team Rocket: [gesturing to Ash] None other than he.
Meowth: [eerily] Aw, looks like we got a sourpuss in our midst.

The heroes just stare, looking confused.

Ash: Uh... that's kinda weird.

Cue Team Rocket hiding behind Mamoswine, whispering.

Meowth: That boy's so bummed out, his tongue's too depressed to talk.
James: Tongue depression.
Jessie: Let's build on a theme. [to Ash] Rumor has it that someone got crushed in his last battle, and that someone would be you.
Ash: [confused] Wha... Who, me?

Ash: Pikachu!
Nurse Joy: Who are you, anyway?
Jessie: [laughs maniacally] If you don't know who we are, you will soon enough.
James: Watch the twerps go gaga when the going gets rough.
Jessie: Shovel may care.
James: Pick a pair.
Meowth: Want Pikachu? Well, tough.
Jessie: We bring chaos at a breakneck pace.
James: We dash all hope and bring fear in its place.

Jessie and James are sitting in a balance scale.

Jessie: A rose by any other name is just as sweet.
James: When everything’s worse, our work’s complete.
Jessie: Jessie!
James: And James!
Meowth: Meowth, that’s a name!
Jessie: Putting the do-gooders in their place.
James: We’re Team Rocket!
Team Rocket: And we’re in your face! 

Everyone but Nurse Joy, who's completely oblivious about the situation, glare at Team Rocket.

Nurse Joy: Wow, what fun.
Ash: No, you're wrong, Nurse Joy!
Brock: Those guys are the bad guys!
Nurse Joy: [concerned] Oh, that's just terrible!
Dawn: So it was Team Rocket.
Ash: Give Pikachu back now!

Jessie: If you think we're going to bicker with you when we could be shuffling off to success, you really are a mess.
Meowth: We got happy feet!
Team Rocket: [slam the door shut] Ain’t it neat?
Ash: Hey, come back!

The heroes start chasing Team Rocket outside the Pokémon Center, who gleefully run away with Pikachu in their grasp.

Ash: Gimme back Pikachu!

It is shown that Team Rocket is being chased by Ash, Staraptor, Grotle, Monferno, Buizel and Gliscor, much to Jessie's annoyance.

Jessie: Stubborn twerps are the worst twerps. Seviper, attention!
Seviper: Seviper!
Jessie: Please, dear, Haze.

Cue Seviper spitting out its Haze attack

Seviper: Seviper!

Ash and his Pokémon stop in their tracks due to the upcoming Haze attack, while some off-screen coughing from them can be heard.

Jessie: Smoke gets in your eyes.
Meowth: We'll say our goodbyes.

Ash and his Pokémon are still caught in the haze, trying to find a way out.

Ash: [groans] Buizel, Water Pulse, quick!
Buizel: Bui?
Cue Buizel ready to use Water Pulse.

Buizel: [starts forming the orb] Bui... [holds the Water Pulse up, clearing Seviper’s Haze] Bui!

Team Rocket looks angry once noticing Buizel has cleared Seviper’s Haze attack.

Jessie: What a bore.
Ash: Pikachu, Thunderbolt, LET'S GO!

Unfortunately, the net absorbs the attack, much to Team Rocket’s surprise

Meowth: Keeping your attitude in the bag is what we're all about.

Team Rocket snickers in agreement.

Ash: Now, Gliscor, Sand-Attack! Go!

Gliscor hovers above the ground, ready to use Sand Attack.

Gliscor: Gliscor! [angrily starts throwing sand] Gli, Gli, Gli, Gli...

Team Rocket stops in their tracks thanks to being trapped in a sandstorm created by Gliscor's Sand-Attacks.

Jessie: Yanmega, you’re on!
Yanmega: Yan!
Jessie: Use SonicBoom!
Yanmega: [fires a shock wave] Yan!

Gliscor gives a brief look of shock just before it takes a hit in the jaw from Yanmega’s Sonic Boom.

Gliscor: Gli!
James: All right, Carnivine, time to take the reins.
Carnivine: [emerges from its Poké Ball] Carnivine! [heads for James, much to Jessie’s and Meowth’s dismay]
James: I didn’t say brains, you potted pinhead, I said “reins”. Carnivine, Bullet Seed.

Cue Carnivine ready to use Bullet Seed.

Carnivine: Carnivine!
Ash: All right, Grotle, Energy Ball. Staraptor, you use Aerial Ace!
Grotle: [forms an Energy Ball in front of his mouth and fires it] Grotle!

Grotle’s Energy Ball hits Yanmega, while Staraptor uses Aerial Ace to hit Carnivine, knocking them both out, much to Team Rocket’s shock.

Ash: It’s time to finish this thing up! Monferno, Mach Punch!

Monferno starts firing several Mach Punches like a Bullet Seed attack, knocking Team Rocket over and making Meowth release the net containing Pikachu, much to Dawn's and Nurse Joy's delight.

Dawn: That was amazing!
Brock: Monferno's become a real powerhouse since it evolved.

Pikachu: [falls out of the net] Pi... [relieved] Pika, Pi!

The scene changes to Ash, Staraptor, Grotle, Monferno, Buizel and Gliscor, all feeling delighted to see Pikachu back on their side.

Ash: Pikachu!
Pikachu: Pikachu, Pika, Pika.

As for Team Rocket, however, they and their Pokémon are worn out and depressed from their defeat.

James: Even my gloves hurt.
Jessie: Whoever said that the twerp was bummed from losing his battle and would be an easy mark is an absolute buffoon. Lemme at that idiot.
MeowthYou're dat idiot.
Jessie: What?!
James: Something about going after the "weakest of the twerp herd."
Meowth: Yeah, and also somethin' profound about pluckin' Pikachu while de iron is hot.

James, Meowth and Team Rocket’s Pokémon stare Jessie down.

James and Meowth: [eerily] That would be our loser, Jessie.
Jessie: [gulps, screams, then angrily starts shouting] Don't you make this MY fault! You bunch of babies are in denial! And since you didn't stop me, [points at the others] it's YOUR fault!
James and Meowth: When it comes to not facing the truth, you're the queen of denial!
Jessie: [growls] I CAN'T HEAR YOU!

Team Rocket stops arguing and look behind them, only, much to their surprise, notice Ash and his Pokémon smirking confidently, possibly still willing to kick Team Rocket butt. Additionally, all seven are partially shrouded with a glowing light.

Gliscor: Gliscor!
Buizel: Bui!
Monferno: Monferno!
Grotle: Grotle!
Staraptor: Staraptor!
Pikachu: Pika!

Ash: Hmm...

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