After a lot of time, the heroes managed to arrive to Sunyshore City. Ash is pleased to know he will battle the Gym Leader, but Dawn and Brock advise Ash to take caution; the Gym Leader, Volkner, is rumored to never been defeated, even that he is the strongest of all Gym Leaders in Sinnoh. Ash is nevertheless pleased, as he wants his opponent to be as strong as he can get, which is the challenge. They soon find themselves near Sunyshore Tower, where near it is the Gym. Team Rocket heard that and plans to capture Pikachu.
As they arrive, a computer voice asks them what are they doing here. When Ash wants a Gym Battle, a hatch opens with a lot of Gym Battles. Ash is not pleased, as one must earn a badge through battling. Dawn recalls that Paul told them Sunyshore Gym is not legit. Ash attempts to get in by force and the computer uses the robot hands to restrain him. An Infernape attacks the arms, saving Ash. They soon meet a man named Flint, a member of the Elite Four. Flint promises to get them to Volkner, who is in the Sunyshore Tower. Flint explains that the solar panels around town are being controlled from the tower, which Volkner built.
They encounter a Raichu, who jumps on Flint. However, they hug each other and soon Raichu's partner, Volkner himself, appears. Ash introduces himself and wants a Gym Battle. Volkner responds that he can take a Badge, as he lost interest in battling. Flint attempts to convince him, but Volkner only says they should leave. Later, they find themselves in a restaurant, where they all eat and drink, except Ash, who wants a battle with the strongest Gym Leader of Sinnoh. Flint knows that Volkner was not always like that; he reminded everyone of a bolt. One day, when Flint battled some trainers, he met Volkner and had a battle. Though Volkner's Pikachu was defeated, soon after Volkner had a re-match with him and defeated his Chimchar. Daily they would test their strength.
While they became rivals, one day they encountered a poacher. While they chased him away, they got hurt pretty badly, but did not lose their confidence and became friends. When they split up, Volkner became a Gym Leader and Flint a member of Elite Four. It is when Volkner started to lose interest in battles and turned on building solar panels across town; and it is when he just started giving badges without a battle. Flint believes that if he brought Ash to him, he could get a bit of interest. Volkner comes in and Flint starts asking questions, as to what happened to him. Volkner replies that they are not kids anymore and needs to grow up, which makes Flint very angry and tense. The bartender proposes to Flint to battle Ash. Flint is a bit surprised, but when told that one rarely gets an opportunity to battle an Elite Four, he agrees. The bartender asks of Volkner to attend to the battle, as Flint stands in his place. Volkner agrees, but with ignorance in his tone.
Team Rocket is at the Gym and go to dig. Suddenly, James loses his precious bottle cap and a robot comes and sucks the cap, thinking it was trash. James gets riled up and runs towards it. Flint sends Infernape and Ash his Buizel. Buizel starts with Water Gun, but misses. Buizel uses Ice Punch and Infernape blocks the move, absorbing the ice on its hands. Buizel uses SonicBoom, but Infernape smashes it. Buizel uses Aqua Jet and Infernape uses Flare Blitz, which manages to negate the attack and defeat Buizel. Volkner thinks that he saw this before and does not mean anything special. Ash calls Buizel back and sends his own Infernape. Ash's Infernape uses Flamethrower, but Flint's negates it. Ash's Infernape attempts to hit using Flame Wheel, though Flint's knocks it out of the way. Ash's Infernape charges with Mach Punch, though Flint's goes out of its way. Ash's Infernape attempts to do it once more, but Flint's Infernape uses Mach Punch and hits Ash's pretty badly, defeating it.
Ash calls Infernape back. Volkner is about to go, saying he saw what he needed. The bartender tells him he needs to watch it until the end, but realizes that Volkner does not feel anything if he cannot sense Ash's determination. Ash sends Piakchu, who starts with Quick Attack and hits Infernape. Infernape retaliates with Flare Blitz and Ash's Pikachu uses Volt Tackle, which makes a collision. Infernape uses Mach Punch and Piakchu Iron Tail, but Pikachu gets pushed away into a wall. Infernape uses Close Combat. While falling, Pikachu manages to hit Infernape using Thunderbolt. Infernape uses Flare Blitz and hurts Pikachu. The bartender tells Volkner he must remember it is the same what happened with him during his battle with the poacher.
Pikachu uses Quick Attack and hits Infernape, but gets beaten by Close Combat. Pikachu uses Thunderbolt and Infernape Flare Blitz. Not allowing Pikachu to get pushed to the wall, Ash gets him. The bartender lets Volkner know it is the same thing what happened with him and his Raichu; he got it as a Piakchu when it was hit by the poacher's Houndoom's Flamethrower; Volkner got it before being pushed to a tree. Pikachu used Thunderbolt and dealt some damage to Houndoom. The bartender gets his glasses off and is revealed to be the poacher and it is that battle that changed him, preventing him to be a poacher ever again. Pikachu charges with Volt Tackle and Infernape runs towards him with Mach Punch, but Pikachu got beaten. Volkner remembers that it was also a similar moment with his Piakchu and the bartender's Houndoom.
Volkner begins to see himself when looking to Ash. Pikachu uses Vole Tackle once more and Infernape uses ThunderPunch. After the attack, Pikachu falls down; Volkner won the battle. Dawn and Brock are impressed, as Ash got the chance to battle an Elite Four. James is sad, so Jessie and Meowth think they could take the solar panels to make themselves a new home. James sees revenge in this and agrees to it. Volkner confesses that he now knows that he should continue to be a Gym Leader and battle opponents to give them the spark they need; he tells Ash that he will battle him. Ash is pleased by this outcome, as he will have his final Gym Battle.
- This episode marks the latest appearance of another Pikachu, even though it was in a flashback.
- In the flashback, the trainer Flint and Volkner were battling looked like the hunter who hunted Celebi in the past in the movie Pokémon 4ever, even possessing a Houndoom.
- The cuffs of Volkner's jacket are colored wrong in some scenes of the flashbacks of his and Flint's childhood.
- After Infernape used the ice on its hands (via Buizel's Ice Punch) to block SonicBoom, the moment later the ice on its right hand is gone.