Just as our heroes are ready to head across the drawbridge to Driftveil City, they run into Ash’s rival, Trip. Ash wants to battle, of course, but Trip is waiting to meet Alder, the Unova League Champion! When Trip was a young boy, Alder had advised him to work hard and get strong as a Trainer, and someday they would battle.
So when they finally see Alder (who is unexpectedly flirting with Officer Jenny), both Ash and Trip challenge him to a battle! Ash goes first, and it’s Pikachu vs. Bouffalant—but during the battle, Alder dozes off. Annoyed, Alder’s Bouffalant goes after him instead of Pikachu, and after being hit by an extraordinary Head Charge, Alder declares himself the loser and says he’s done for the day. Trip storms off when he realizes he won’t get his battle after all, and Alder invites our heroes to dinner at the Pokémon Center.
The Champion chats with Ash, Iris, and Cilan about what their goals are and how to achieve them, and when they all decide that getting stronger is the most important thing, he disagrees. He’s just beginning to explain when they’re interrupted by Nurse Joy (another target of Alder’s flirting). She needs Alder’s help for a Pokémon emergency: an angry Gigalith on a rampage through the city! Alder goes to the rescue, and after he and Bouffalant manage to corner Gigalith, he figures out the problem: a nail embedded in the huge Pokémon’s foot. He removes the nail, and quickly gets Gigalith calmed down.
After the crisis is over, Alder finally has time to explain his philosophy: to him, the most important thing is not getting stronger through battle, but helping people and Pokémon to grow closer. He wishes them luck, and our heroes begin their journey to Driftveil City and Ash’s next Gym Battle!
After obtaining his fourth Gym Badge, Ash, along with Iris and Cilan, head to Route 5. They notice a fair, and Cilan explains that they have arrived at Performers Square, an area famous for musicians and dancers. Ash also spots his rival Trip and approaches him, curious as to how things have been going. Trip isn't interested in Ash's progress, rather he is hoping to meet his childhood idol, Unova League Champion Alder, who is said to be around. They soon spot Alder, who is busy trying to flirt with Officer Jenny. Though Jenny stands her ground and pulls out some handcuffs as she prepares to arrest him, so Alder jumps off and Jenny drives away.
The group walks over to Alder. Trip asks Alder if he remembers him, which he kind of does, even if he does forget Trip's name. Ash then asks to battle Alder but Trip pushes in front and asks to have one. Alder decides to battle Ash first so they head to a field nearby. Ash uses Pikachu and Alder sends out his Bouffalant. As Pikachu begins to use Thunderbolt, Alder just stands still. Bouffalant absorbs attack after attack in to his afro, but Alder's still not giving any commands. Bouffalant turns around and yells at Alder, but he's asleep. Trip wakes Alder up with a yell, who sheepishly says he must have fallen asleep. Bouffalant gets angry as everyone sweat-drops, and instead of attacking Pikachu when told to use Head Charge, he does it on Alder sending him flying into a tree.
Alder starts talking to Trip about battling after he asks him a question. Alder then says he needs some food before he battles again. Trip leaves, saying that if Alder's just going to fall asleep and has no interest in battling him, he has no intent to battle him. The group head over to the Pokémon Center to get some food, where Alder tries to flirt with the resident Nurse Joy. After, while Ash and Alder are chowing down, Iris and Cilan just look behind them and say it's hard to eat with an audience. Alder looks behind him at the crowd of kids and says that he'll give them autographs later and to wait outside. They all leave, as Alder asks the group what they're on their journeys for. Alder is impressed by the ambitions but asks what they will do after they reach their goals. Ash and his friends all reply that they haven't given it any thought. Alder then asks how they will reach their goals, with each replying that strength is key. However, Alder wonders if it is actually that simple.
Nurse Joy runs in and tells them there's a wild Gigalith on a rampage through Performers Square. They run over to find everybody running away from the Gigalith, and Officer Jenny struggling to contain the situation. Alder tells everybody to stay back and sends out his Bouffalant to handle things. He looks at the Gigalith and realizes it's quite agitated, so he offers it an apple. Gigalith starts running toward Alder, but he just stands there, sure it will stop before running into him. It doesn't, and Alder ends up on a pillar. Jenny says that it's up to her now, and sends out her Herdier. She tells it to use Shadow Ball, but Bouffalant steps in front of it and Alder tells her that he's figured out Gigalith's problem. He steps in front of it and braces himself. Gigalith charges toward him, but he catches it and flips it over. Alder bends over and pulls a nail out of Gigalith's foot. Alder sprays a Super Potion on Gigalith's foot and gives it a stone to eat. It flips itself back over, making it much happier. Jenny still insists on arresting Gigalith for property damage. Alder tries to reason with her, but then a pillar starts to topple right on top of Jenny. Gigalith leaps into action, bearing the brunt of the pillar and rescuing Officer Jenny in the process. At this, Jenny agrees to not arrest Gigalith, and Alder sends it on its way.
Afterwards, Ash still wants Alder to reveal his answer if strength is not required to achieve a goal. Alder reveals that friendship between humans and Pokemon is most important, and the simple message captivates Ash and his friends. Alder wishes the group all the best on their journey. Cilan reminds the Champion not to be reckless on his travels, making Alder chuckle.