The friends arrive in North Petalburg and stop by the Pokémon Center, where May and Max are quickly recognized as the children of Norman. The siblings are swamped by an adoring crowd. Ash and Brock manage to escape and wander off.
Team Rocket arrives in town and they decide to disguise themselves as Norman's family (Norman, Caroline, May, and Max) to conduct an autograph-selling scam.
When Ash mentions that he's planning to take on Norman in the Petalburg Gym, a whole crowd of Norman-devotees challenge Ash to battles. Ash easily beats them all, exhausting his Pokémon (and himself). Word gets around about how good he is, so the crowd with the siblings pressures May to battle Ash in order to teach him a lesson. Her Torchic uses Ember on Ash, and he falls over.
The still-disguised Team Rocket disappears, causing another crowd of people to search them out. The two crowds meet, and begin to argue over which version of May and Max is the real thing. May uses Ember to burn away Team Rocket's costumes, and Pikachu sends their balloon blasting away with Thunderbolt.
The crowd is impressed with the defeat of Team Rocket—by Pikachu. Though Ash is dejected, the kids set off for Petalburg City.
The gang have arrived in North Petalburg, a suburb of the main city, and go straight to the Pokémon Center. Once they arrive, Nurse Joy recognizes May and Max. A woman there overhears their conversation and runs off to tell other people. Our heroes leave the Pokémon center, when they see a load of people running towards them. Apparently, Norman is an idol to everyone who lives there, and May and Max are soon mobbed by Norman fans. May shows them her two Ribbons, and they cheer her for her talent. Ash tries to impress them with his four Badges, but they discredit him instead.
Meanwhile, Team Rocket arrive at Petalburg as well, but tired and hungry. James then looks to an advertisement with Norman's and Caroline's faces in it. They don't recognize them at first, but then they realize it's Norman, the Gym Leader and Caroline, the Gym Leader's wife. They look around and see everyone with Norman stuff, and Jessie decides to disguise themselves as Norman's family. James dresses up as Norman, Jessie as Caroline, Wobbuffet as Max and Meowth as May. Once done, everyone rushes to see them but begin doubting Meowth and Wobbuffet are Norman's true children. However, a man claiming to have lived almost all of his life next door to Norman comes and evaluates them to see if they're the real ones. He notices "Max" is blue, and how May hasn't grown, but fails to realize the fake son and daughter, though, and tells everyone who has gathered that there's no doubt they aren't lying.
Back to the gang, May and Max have had enough, and the woman from before, Rose, says that she'd like to see May's Contest appeals, and May agrees, sending out Beautifly. She orders a dazzling Silver Wind, and the crowd cheers for her, causing May to develop overconfidence in her skill--and Max tells her about it. As Beautifly continues, some guys come towards Ash and Brock and ask them why were they there. Ash answers he has come to challenge Norman and the boys quickly deny Ash's skill because of their blind faith in Norman, and end up challenging Ash to a battle. They go to a park, and the guy uses Golduck while Ash uses his Grovyle. Golduck performs Focus Punch, but Grovyle dodges and uses Bullet Seed. Golduck uses Hydro Pump and Grovyle receives the attack, leaving Golduck to perform Fury Swipes, but Ash orders Grovyle to use Quick Attack, which successfully connects; afterwards, Grovyle finishes the match with a Leaf Blade.
Back again with Team Rocket, James, dressed up as Norman, sells fake autographs while Jessie sells Norman souvenirs to everyone, who are obsessed with the merchandise. At the same time, Ash has already garnered a fan club, because tons of Trainers keep challenging him. At one point, he decides to send out Corphish. May, on the other hand, is delightfully showing Skitty's ability to juggle. As time passes, Ash, Grovyle, Corphish and Torkoal are exhausted after tons of battles, and the Trainers keep on coming and provoking Ash, who responds by letting them use all of their Pokémon at once. They send a Zangoose, a Shroomish, an Aron, a Spheal, and an Igglybuff, but are knocked out on the spot by Pikachu's massive Thunder. However, they send more Pokémon, tiring out Ash again. He isn't the only one, however. May is worn out, as well as Skitty, which has been performing a long time. Immediately, the two boys who first challenged Ash come running to tell the people that they've been battling Ash, but he's far too powerful and, at this rate, he'll think he might have a chance against Norman. Rose then has an idea: take May to that Trainer so she can beat him, and show her battling skills by the way. Everyone cheers again, and they are forced to do so. Again with Ash, it looks like he has beaten even more Pokémon, when he and Pikachu realize that tons of people lifting May and Max are approaching them. May, unaware of what she is doing, tells Ash she has come to teach a lesson to a rude Trainer, and when Ash asks who is it, it turns out to be him even though he did nothing wrong in the first place! Tired but willing to battle, Ash accepts the challenge, and, upon the cheers from the crowd, May develops overconfidence again.
About Team Rocket, they've disappeared from Norman's fans and run with all the money they've won. However, Norman's fans have found them, and Team Rocket has to escape from them. Meanwhile, the battle is about to begin. May thinks Skitty and Beautifly are very tired, so she sends out Torchic. Ash tries to call Pikachu, but the Pokémon collapses from exhaustion. Ash sends Taillow instead and the battle begins. Ash orders a Peck and it hits successfully Torchic, but the crowd begins booing Ash. He tries to ignore them and tells Taillow to use Wing Attack, which scores a clean hit. The crowd starts booing again, and Ash can't stand it, leaving himself wide open for an Ember attack. May, unaware again, gets happy and orders Torchic to keep going with Ember, and, as a result, a massive flame hits Ash, burning him. Rose declares Ash unable to battle, and thus, May is the winner (even though the battle was played unfairly so that Ash could lose). In that moment, a guy comes saying that Norman is giving autographs for money and that his sons are there, but is shocked that May and Max are there, so everyone realizes there are impostors in the city, and the crowd goes off to search them, lifting May and Max again.
Finally, Team Rocket is cornered by the fans following them and the other fans that were with the real May and Max. They begin looking at Wobbuffet and Meowth and Rose and her husband (the guy who claimed to have lived almost all his life next door to Norman) begin discussing who are the real ones. Ash and Brock appear on the scene, and ask what's going on. May tells them that Wobbuffet and Meowth (disguised, of course) claim to be them, and Team Rocket reaffirms that May and Max are the fake ones. Upon hearing this, May orders Torchic to use Ember and the attack blows up Team Rocket's disguise. They send Cacnea and Seviper. Cacnea uses Pin Missile, but Pikachu counters it with Thunderbolt. Seviper uses Haze, which gives Team Rocket enough time to escape and grab Pikachu. However, they grabbed Torchic instead! Pikachu climbs up a tree and Ash orders him to use Quick Attack, freeing Torchic and the stolen money. Ash then orders Pikachu to use Thunderbolt, and Team Rocket is blasted off again. Rose and a reporter compliment Ash and he tells them it was nothing, but it turns out they were complimenting Pikachu instead. The episode finishes with the gang bidding farewell to the city, Ash thrilled to think about his next Gym battle against Norman.