Pearls are a Spoink's Best Friend (Japanese: バネブーのさがしもの！？Baneboo's Lost Object!?) is the 79th episode of the Advanced Generation series, and the 353rd episode of the Pokémon anime. It was first broadcast in Japan on June 3, 2004 and in the United States on May 21, 2005.
Team Rocket talks to Giovanni on the video phone, and he yells at them for not making progress, threatening to replace the three of them.
The kids are eating breakfast when Skitty runs off and encounters a Spoink that has lost its pearl. The Spoink shows how it rolled away, so the kids help look around the forest. Spoink keeps mistaking various round objects for its pearl—like an Igglybuff—and putting them on its head.
Just as they find the real pearl, all of them are caught in a Team Rocket trap, but Ash's Corphish helps them get out. Spoink drops its pearl and Meowth catches it. Team Rocket runs off to a nearby carnival.
At the carnival, James runs into the Magikarp salesman, who is now selling Feebas. Drawn by the promise of Feebas evolving into a Milotic, Jessie trades the pearl. But when their new Feebas is swimming, its paint washes off, revealing just a Magikarp.
Ash and friends arrive, and both groups go looking for the salesman. Brock and Max reveal the scam, and then everyone confronts the Magikarp salesman. The kids start to battle Team Rocket, and the salesman slips away in the confusion. Spoink passes out, but Max grabs the pearl and puts it on Spoink's head. Spoink then uses Confuse Ray to send Team Rocket blasting off.
The episode opens not with Ash and his friends but with Jessie, James, and Meowth, for another installation of the trials and tribulations of Team Rocket. Team Rocket report in to Giovanni. Though they don't have anything new to report, Giovanni becomes very angry with them because the secret base they were working on was destroyed in A Six Pack Attack!. He says that they're failing their mission in the Hoennregion, which he has been funding, and if they don't improve, he'll send in Butch and Cassidy to finish the job instead. Meanwhile, continuing the trek to Fortree City, Ash and the gang come across a Spoink, a Psychic-type Pokémon. Most Spoink use the Pearls on their heads to channel their formidable psychic powers, but this Spoink is upset after losing its Pearl. Being the good Samaritans that they are, the group decides to help the distressed Spoink locate its lost pearl. Though they look hard for it, the Spoink tries to put any round objects it sees on its head, including an Igglybuff, a Voltorb, and an Electrode. When the Pearl is found, however, Team Rocket, working with renewed vigor after Giovanni threatened to replace them, attack the group. Though they use a traditional pitfall trap, they introduce themselves as the "new Team Rocket" and say that they're going for a fresh start—however, they end up blasting off as usual. This time, though, Meowth manages to grab the Spoink's pearl which blasts off with them. Ash and the gang soon notice the absence of the pearl and chase after Team Rocket.
After blasting off, Team Rocket comes across a fair, and Ash and company chase Team Rocket onto the fairgrounds, where they initially lose sight of each other. Spoink tries a few more round objects, like a juggler's balls and a fortune teller's crystal ball. Team Rocket, meanwhile is approached by the same Magikarp salesman who has made James' life a misery in the past and offers to trade Feebas for the Pearl. Though James is wary of the known swindler, the Magikarp salesman reveals that Feebas evolves into Milotic, the most beautiful of all Pokémon, Jessie becomes dazzled by the possibilities. James and Meowth are still reluctant and question the salesman on the source of his information, which he says he got from Professor Oak (the information on Feebas' evolution is accurate). He also regales them with a tale of his family life (he has many children to support, etc.) and that he has given up a life of crime. This story finally convinces Team Rocket to make the trade.
Jessie is eager to get the Feebas to evolve, so they let their new Pokémon go for a swim in a nearby river. Soon, Feebas' color begins to change...but not with the glow of evolution. Feebas is just a Magikarp painted with a Feebas' colors, revealing that they have been swindled yet again! Ash and company find Team Rocket at this point, who quickly explain what happened, and both groups head back to the fair to find the crooked salesman. When they find him, he's trying to sell "Feebas" to passersby, so Brock calls out Mudkip to use Water Gun on the "Feebas" which is quickly revealed to be a Magikarp beneath some paint. When the salesman tries to flee, Ash and company corner him and in the ensuing struggle, the pearl slips out of his bag. Team Rocket arrives only moments later and a battle ensues, but Spoink (reunited with its Pearl) uses its powerful Psychic attacks to blast off Team Rocket. During the commotion, the Magikarp salesman escapes... to swindle another day. But, as Ash remarks at the end, at least they found the pearl!