A Hole Lotta Trouble (Japanese: ダイゴ、ココドラ、ボスゴドラ！Daigo, Cokodora, Bossgodora!) is the 22nd episode of the Advanced Generation series, and the 296th episode of the Pokémon anime. It was first broadcast in Japan on April 24, 2003 and in the United States on February 14, 2004.
After all the Wurmple confusion, Ash and the gang finally arrive at Granite Cave. Team Rocket is already in the cave, perfecting their next attempt to capture Pikachu. Unknown to our heroes, Stephen and his Aron are busy digging in the cave. Ash, May, Max, and Brock begin exploring the dark cave, only to fall into a hole created by Team Rocket. Before Jessie and James can brag about their success, the floor caves in and everyone falls into the hole. To make matters worse, though, everyone falls into different tunnels and they all get separated from one another. Pikachu, Meowth, and Max end up together; Jessie falls on top of May; and Ash, James, and Brock get stuck together.
As the various groups start wandering through the cave, James, Ash and Brock disturb a rather large group of irritable Aron. Meanwhile, Max, Meowth, and Pikachu have discovered an underground waterfall and pool with dangling vines they hope may lead to an escape from the cave. Everyone ends up meeting in the underground pool with the angered Aron on their tails. Stephen, already investigating the commotion, comes to the rescue and subdues all the Aron with his own Aron. Team Rocket then makes their usual attempt at stealing Pikachu, only to be sent blasting off again by Stephen and his Aggron. Stephen's Aron then finds the Fire Stone he had been looking for and everyone leaves the cave happy and ready for their next adventure.
Standing in front of a large cave, Max announces that they have finally arrived at Granite Cave. Everyone anticipates meeting Steven, and Ash hopes to gain some training insights. May asks Max to check the PokéNav for any creepy Pokémon living inside the cave, but Max informs her that the device doesn’t have that function. Ash suggests they get moving, and so the group all enter Granite Cave. Meanwhile, Team Rocket are digging large holes throughout Granite Cave hoping to finally catch Pikachu. James begins to complain from the exhaustive effort and suggests they try a direct battle for once, but Jessie declares that she is in charge and orders him to keep digging. Meowth makes a sharp remark, but Jessie turns to him and snaps.
Ash and others continue through the caverns, with Ash calling out to Steven every so often. They reach a fork in the road, where Brock puts a glow-in-the-dark red arrow marker pointing to the left tunnel on the wall. Meanwhile Steven and his Aron stop to take a break from their stone hunt. When Aron informs him that it hasn't found anything by shaking its head, Steven offers it some Pokémon food, which it happily eats from his hand. Steven then says they'll try a new spot. Meanwhile, Team Rocket sits behind some rocks observing their now-finished hole. Jessie hears Ash calling out to Steven and anticipates the twerps’ arrival. James still thinks a direct battle is the way to go, while Meowth asks who Steven is. Jessie hisses that it doesn't matter who he is and they hide. Ash and friends soon reach the chamber, where they fall into the waiting pitfall trap. The Rockets reveal themselves and the kids look up to see them. As the villains dance happily over their catch, however, the chamber begins to rumble. The ground suddenly gives way and everyone falls down into the depths of the caverns.
Down where Steven and Aron are working, the two hear all the commotion as the Rocket trio and Ash’s group all get separated from each other and mixed into random groups as they fall into different tunnels. Hearing this, Steven and Aron quickly go to check it out. Max pops out of some dirt first, and he finds himself with Pikachu and Meowth. Max realizes they have been separated and he tells Pikachu that they have to find the others. Meowth offers to help, but Max doesn't trust him. However, they decide to make a truce. Max and Pikachu begin to walk off, but Meowth refuses to follow Pikachu. Max tells him that they can leave him there. Pikachu and Max then walk away, but Meowth yells for them to return and rushes after them. Meanwhile, May pops out of another patch of dirt and complains on how dirty she is. Suddenly, Jessie falls down on top of her. They begin to argue when Jessie says she is going to try to get out. She stands up and tries to climb back up the hole, but it doesn't look too promising. In another part of the cave, Ash and James argue while standing shoulder-high in a pile of dirt. Brock soon interrupts them and says they should focus on finding an exit and they can fight later. They all begin to wriggle and squirm, but they can't break free of the silt. They take a breath then try again, but still no luck.
Max, Pikachu and Meowth all continue down the trail. Max is set on finding Steven, and he explains to Meowth that Steven is the son of president of the Devon Corporation who is supposedly training in Granite Cave. Pikachu suddenly smells something and Meowth motions that he also smells fresh air. He and Pikachu rush off as Max follows quickly behind them. Steven and his Aron walk through a crevasse hoping to find the source of the crash. Meanwhile, Ash, Brock, and James are on a different path. James soon begins to pout, saying it's useless and they'll be lost for the rest of their lives. He soon enters into a tirade, complaining that Jessie and Meowth always mistreat him. Suddenly, a small ball falls from the ceiling. It steps into the light to reveal itself to be an Aron. It begins growling and Ash scans it with the Pokédex. James is unafraid and promptly begins knuckling Aron’s head, which only angers the wild Pokémon. The Aron calls out causing many Aron to fall from the ceiling. Ash, Brock and James freak out and rush off at a rapid pace as the Aron lunge towards them. Steven discovers Team Rocket’s pitfall trap and a strewn net nearby. Fearing someone has been injured, Steven and his Aron leap into the underground abyss.
Ash and friends are still running for their lives. James notices two tunnels up ahead with another above them. He rushes towards them and begins to climb into the high one, but Ash and Brock push him down and climb up first. James turns around to see the fast-approaching Aron and rushes up screaming. The Aron horde continues on down one of the other paths. Max, Pikachu and Meowth make it to a lush waterfall with vines streaming down in the middle of the cave. Meowth indicates that the fresh air is streaming in from up above, and so the trio set their sights on climbing up. Meanwhile, Jessie and May are having no luck. Jessie is still trying to squirm up the hole, but May just sits there. She tells Jessie to hurry, but Jessie orders May to assist. May attempts to follow instructions, but Jessie is truly wedged in despite all of the pushing and shoving. In a crack the cave ceiling breaks open as a Loudred crashes through the floor above. Loudred stamps its feet, trampling Jessie in the process as it rushes off down a pass. Jessie collapses into the level below, though May is none the wiser and remarks that at least the escape hole is bigger.
Max, Pikachu, and Meowth are scaling the winding vines. As Max begins to complain, Meowth stops to take a break admitting that all the whining reminds him of Jessie and James. Max queries Meowth on how he can talk, but as Meowth recounts his tale, Max and Pikachu ignore it and continue climbing. A pebble hits Meowth and he realizes they are leaving without him. Meowth shouts that he is feeling disrespected, but Max retorts that the story was too long and orders him to get going. As for Ash and the others trudge on, they feel a glimmer of hope when they suddenly come across one of Brock's red arrow stickers. However the trio's excitement is short-lived when they once again fall down the same pitfall from earlier. Steven and Aron arrive soon after to see that the hole has grown larger.
Later Max, Pikachu, and Meowth spot daylight pouring through a canyon opening. Pikachu then alerts them to a scent, and Max hopes that it is Steven. Jessie and May are now exhausted as they walk down the path. May suddenly notices light at the end of the tunnel. As the pair rush towards it, they fall into the earlier pitfall. As Ash, Brock and James are chased by the Aron horde again, Jessie and May land onto them and are forced to also run from the angry Aron. Pikachu's sense of smell leads directly to Steven, who quickly confirms his identity. Max explains that his friends are lost, and Steven replies that this must be why the Aron are particularly agitated. He warns that they must find everyone quickly and he leads Max, Meowth and Pikachu through Granite Cave at a cracking pace. He leads them to a crack in the cave floor, though Meowth doesn't understand. Steven suggests they try listening carefully, and soon enough Meowth and Max overhear footsteps coming closer. Max calls out for his sister and the others, and the fleeing humans look up to see Steven and Max standing on the floor above. Steven orders Ash and the others to meet him at the waterfall, the exchange is cut short as the Aron continue to approach. Steven has Max and the Pokémon grab onto him before he leaps over the opening. Ash and the others make it to the waterfall and turn to see the Aron horde approaching. Steven appears above them and tells them to just stay put. The Aron horde gets very close and everyone braces themselves for the worst. However Steven has his Aron use Roar to stop the horde in their tracks. Steven orders the Aron to return to their roosts, assuring them that the humans are all friendly. The Aron follow instructions and retreat into the Granite Cave depths.
Meowth leaps into Jessie and James's waiting arms, happily reunited. To celebrate, the Rocket trio recites their motto, though Steven is left perplexed. Jessie calls out her Seviper and James sends out Cacnea, but it gives him a prickly hug first. As Ash and his friends prepare to send their Pokémon out, Steven tells them to stop. He scolds them for disrupting the peace of the wild Pokémon, and declares that he’ll face Team Rocket. Steven calls on his Aggron and it blasts Team Rocket off with a single Hyper Beam. The powerful display leaves Ash in awe of Steven.
Suddenly, Aron motions to Steven that it found something. Steven rushes over and pulls out a Fire Stone from the ground. Ash and friends are impressed by the find and Steven explains that he's been digging for days looking for one. May is curious about the stone's value and Steven explains that it can help evolve certain Pokémon like Growlithe or Eevee. Afterwards, Steven leads the group to a secluded inlet just perfect for Ash's preparation for his rematch against Brawly. Steven and his Aron soon set off in their sail boat to continue hunting for other evolution stones. They thank Steven for his help as he wishes the group luck for the future. He then sets off as Ash and friends wave goodbye. They watch Steven sails into the sunset.