The heroes came to a desert, so Ash sends his Pokémon to play in the sand. Following him, Brock and Dawn send their own Pokémon as well. Suddenly, the ground shakes and something emerges from the sand - a Hippowdon. Pachirisu sees its moth and accidentally falls in it and the Hippowdon closes the mouth. The heroes go to get it, but the Hippowdon digs. The Pokémon spot Hippowdon emerged somewhere else, so the heroes call their Pokémon back. Piplup and Pikachu try to warn Pachirisu to get out while she can, but she is stck in one of its holes and is dragged again.
Team Rocket dig a hole for the twerps, but the sand causes the hole to be filled. The Hippowdon dug out and blows them using sand. The heroes come, but Hippowdon is not hurt by Pachirisu's Discharge or Pikachu's Thunderbolt, as it is a Ground-type. The Hippowdon digs again and the heroes go to chase it. Team Rocket saw this and plan to get it and use it to get Pikachu. As they search, the heroes spot a Hippopotas, who greets Pikachu, leading them to believe that is the same one who got separated, but with their help, got back with its family. The Hippowdon emerges, but digs again.
The heroes hear Hippopotas' sad voice and think it misses to be with Hippowodon. Ash goes to help him again and places it on his head. Team Rocket scout and see the Hippowdon and James launches a net, capturing it. They go to get it, but it is too heavy. The heroes come and see them and tell what they need to do. The ground shakes and a machine emerges, in a form of a Rhydon. Well known members of Team Rocket emerge: Cassidy and Butch. Cassidy and Butch are here (from orders of Dr. Namba) to get the Hippowdon. Jessie tells them they are the ones sent to Sinnoh to investigate, but Cassidy and Butch have no heard of such fact. They even got the machine from Dr. Namba to get the Hippowdon. Ash sends Turtwig, who cuts the net using Razor Leaf. This causes Hippowdon to dig and go out of the area.
Everyone goes to get Hippowdon - Butch and Cassidy for Dr. Namba, the heroes to free Pachirisu and Jessie and James to get their reputation back. The heroes heard Hippowdon and run towards it. Pachirisu comes out of one of its holes and sees the Rhydon vehicle. Cassidy goes to get it, but Pikachu's Thunderbolt negates it. However, this does not cause any damage to the vehicle itself. Seeing there are no options, the heroes run with Hippowdon. Suddenly, everyone falls in a giant hole. It was dug out by Jessie, Meowth and James, who appear in the balloon. They get the Hippwodon and pull it, though Ash gets its leg. Dawn and Brock do the same, though Cassidy and Butch launch a horn to destroy the balloon, causing them to blast off. Everyone else falls in the sand safely, though Butch and Cassidy do not give up so easily and go to get Hippowdon. The heroes protect it, but get attacked by the robot arm, though Hippowdon goes away.
The machine gets Hippowdon, but another machine destroys the robot arm, one made by Jessie, Meowth and James. The robots fight, so the heroes take advantage of it and run away. Jessie fires the tail of the robot, but Cassidy's robot is unharmed. However, Cassidy fires the horn of the robot and pierces Jessie's robot, causing an explosion. Everyone is blown away, but Pachirisu is out of Hippowdon's holes. Cassidy and Butch go to get Hippowdon, but get hit by its Hyper Beam, destroying the robot. Butch sends Shuckle and Cassidy Granbull, though Jessie and James want to fight them, so Jessie sends Seviper to push Granbull away. James sends Carnivine as assistance. Granbull goes to use Flamethrower, but Seviper wraps it. Still, Granbull bites Seviper, so Seviper bites it. Carnivine uses Bullet Seed on Shuckle, so Shuckle retaliates using Sludge Bomb, but hits Hippowdon instead. Pikachu electrocutes Shuckle and Piplup uses BubbleBeam, knocking Carnivine out.
Hippowdon charges and hits Carnivine and Shuckle. Hippopotas yawns and puts every member of Team Rocket to sleep, then pushes them away using Sandstorm and Hippowdon blasts them off using Hyper Beam. The Hippopotas and Hippowdon re-unite, as Hippowdon is Hippopotas' mother. The heroes are glad everything is in order. Meanwhile, Team Rocket argue. Butch and Cassidy come out from the sand and Cassidy receives a call from Dr. Umba, to which Dr. Namba corrects the name.
- Professor Oak's lecture: Munchlax
- Pokémon senryū: あさひるばん たべるかねるか ゴンベかな Asa hiru ban, taberu kaneru ka, Gonbe kana? "Morning, noon, and night, still it's eating all the while, could it be Gonbe?"
- This is the first and only appearance of Butch and Cassidy in the Sinnoh region.
- This episode marks the final time Professor Oak composes a Pokémon senryū at the end of his lecture. In future episodes, he will instead set a multiple choice question for the viewer. He would only return composing senryū at the start of the Best Wishes series.
- This is the last episode to feature a cold opening.
- It is also one of the few episodes in which Jessie's Wobbuffet didn't appear.
- Ash's Gligar has been added to the ending theme to reflect the events of the previous episode.
- Butch and Cassidy now have a new motto. Once again, it is a variation on Jessie and James's motto, this time mimicking their Sinnoh motto.
- The dub name of this episode comes from the term "Sleight of hand".
- When the Rhyhorn attacks Jessie and James' air balloon, its eyeballs pop out and it smiles.
- Despite Ash saying that Hippowdon is Hippopotas's mother, Hippowdon's coloration is for male.
Pikachu electrocuted Shuckle, even if it is a Rock-type Pokémon.