The whole conflict that this episode was build around could’ve been avoided if the kids, specifically Roy, were a bit more cautious. The old man, Tepen, is still a stranger at the end of the day, so the fact that he wanted to see both the ball and the backpack should’ve sent up instant red flags. I get that Roy is a bit naive and sheltered due to his upbringing on the island, but at least have some awareness! Liko was at least a bit more doubtful towards Tepen and his words, but she still fell into the trap of being an overly trusting kid. In her case, she at least had an excuse, given that Diana had recommended him to them and she trusts her grandmother. I guess I can't just blame the kids though, since I really don’t know why Friede didn’t think he was suspicious either. The only sensible character in this episode was Hatenna; it sucks that no one really tried listening to her at first as they all got distracted by Fuecoco and Roy’s hunger, which caused Liko to assume Hatenna was hungry as well. Come on, Liko! You should be better than this!
Even if I found this episode rather silly in execution, there are still some things I liked about it. First off, Hatenna can use a move! She uses Confusion to levitate a shovel and have it cut the pouch around Lampent. It sucks that Liko didn’t think about using Hatenna for battle when Sprigatito, Fuecoco and Wattrel were asleep. Second, I did like that Tepen did get a lot of punishment for his actions, with Diana almost getting her Arcanine to incinerate him; I honestly wanted that to happen. Diana also used Bronzor as a mirror of truth of sorts, connecting to the lore from its Pokédex entry from Pokémon Shield, to show off what Tepen was back in the day—an earnest adventurer. Hopefully, he finally reforms. Third, we get some progression as Tepen is revealed to not be working for the Explorers, but for a Poké Ball artisan. Maybe they could have some information about the Ancient Poké Balls? The last thing I liked about the episode was Tepen’s choice of Pokémon. Apart from Foongus, which itself could be seen as something linking Tepen to the Poké Ball artisan they mention, this all of his other known Pokémon had a theme of being antiques in a way and I think that’s super creative.
Maybe I’m being a bit harsh towards this episode, but that’s just how reviews are. Not everything can be good. This episode isn’t bad, but I just wanted it to be better. I want to know your thoughts about this episode. What is your take? How do you think this plotline with the Poké Ball artisan is going to develop?