A Lean Mean Team Rocket Machine! (Japanese: 原点回帰だロケット団！？Back to Basics, Rocket-dan!?) is the 92nd episode of the Diamond & Pearl series, and the 558th episode of the Pokémon anime. It first aired in Japan on September 4, 2008 and in the United States on January 31, 2009.
Dawn and Piplup are hard at work on a new Bubble Beam combination, but Piplup works so hard that it passes out from exhaustion! Dawn and the gang rush Piplup to a Pokémon Center for some much-needed rest. Team Rocket is also exhausted, but not from hard work; after a well-fed week at the Pokémon Summer Academy and a stop at an all-you-can-eat restaurant, Team Rocket realizes they've put on weight. Now they're so out of shape, they're more likely to give up their seats to an elderly couple than pull off a criminal caper! Horrified, Team Rocket resolves to get back to basics and begins an exercise program.
Over at the Pokémon Center, Dawn apologies to Piplup and gets some advice from Professor Oak. While Dawn talks to other Trainers to pick up training tips, her friends perform chores to help Nurse Joy. Meanwhile, Team Rocket sneaks into the Pokémon Center and begins stealing Poké Balls from the repository. Piplup wakes up when it hears the noise; it sounds the alarm as soon as it sees Team Rocket, bringing Ash and his friends running to the scene of the crime.
When our heroes confront Team Rocket outside the Pokémon Center, Team Rocket proudly unveils their latest giant mecha. It's captured all the Poké Balls and it's too powerful to approach, but Piplup uses Bubble Beam to cloud up its windshield. Then Pikachu and Happiny recover the stolen Poké Balls, and Pikachu's Thunderbolt sends Team Rocket sailing away into the night sky—Team Rocket's back to basics plan got them a basic robot with no shielding against electricity! The next day, since Piplup is healthy again, Dawn and her friends set off for Celestic Town and the next Pokémon Contest.
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Dawn is trainingPiplup for their next Pokémon Contest while Ash, Brock and their Pokémon look on. Piplup is excited about his good skills in training and collapses from exhaustion. Meanwhile, Team Rocket is complaining about walking up a slight grade, with noticeable signs of putting on weight. Though a bit portly around the edges, the exhausted Team Rocket's stomachs begin to rumble, and Meowth mentions that an all-you-can-eat restaurant is up ahead.
The three recount their days working at the Pokémon Summer Academy and eating tons of food. The three then get into a small dispute about Jessie's impersonation of Jessilinda. At the Pokémon Center, Nurse Joy says that Piplup will be just fine and mentions that the reason for Piplup's exhaustion is over training. Dawn is worried for Piplup's outcome, and everyone agrees to take everything a little easier.
At the buffet, Team Rocket is gorging themselves with masses of food and the plates are stacking up. Jessie notices that Meowth's charm is beginning to sink into his forehead. James pushes it in, almost submerging it in Meowth's head, and says it is like "cream cheese". The three all laugh at each other for being just a bit pudgy. Jessie gets angry and institutes an immediate work out session to become a "fighting machine". They all have their dreams of success (Jessie as an actress, Meowth on Giovanni's lap and James with training). They decide to go back to the basics and become like their days of old, when they began to try to capture Pikachu. When Team Rocket is just about to leave, an old couple calls them "a couple of nice youngsters" when they give up their table to them. They feel the guilt of being nice and flee the restaurant and the whole town, sobbing and screaming all the way.
Back at the Pokémon Center, Dawn sits at Piplup's bedside and Piplup wakes up. Dawn begins to cry out of sorrow for all the things that have caused Piplup to collapse from exhaustion. Piplup falls asleep in Dawn's arms. Dawn walks out to find Ash talking to Professor Oak who Dawn still calls "The Poetry Man". Professor was telling Ash about Gliscor about its weak spots and to pay attention to agility when raising his Gliscor. Professor Oak recommends to Dawn to exchange information with other Trainers and coordinators. Team Rocket are beginning their exercise routine, including Wobbuffet, Mime Jr. and Carnivine.
Back at the Pokémon Center, Brock, Ash and Sudowoodo are helping Nurse Joy by doing the dishes, as well as Chimchar and Ambipom. Swinub tries to eat the food for everyone, but Staravia and Turtwig protects the food knowing full well of Swinub's eating habits. Buneary shows herself off in the mirrored side of a counter and Pikachu and Happiny sigh. Croagunk just looks at himself in shiny metal. Everyone gets hungry and Ash begs Brock to make some food. Brock is caught in a trance in helping Nurse Joy. He goes into a small story about his need to help Nurse Joy and day dreams about his little romances, which Croagunk interrupts.
Team Rocket then appear in a fast moving car heading towards the Pokémon Center thinking about their new-old selves. They are planning a heist like they did in Viridian City. They got into the Pokémon Center without attracting attention. They split into two teams: Jessie and James on one and Meowth and the other Pokémon in the other. Meowth and the other Pokémon begin to stuff stolen Poké Balls into Carnivine's mouth, but Carnivine can't hold all the Poké Balls and spits out a couple, which hit the ground waking Piplup up. Piplup walks into the hallway and Piplup screams to grab the attention of all the others. Everyone claims that their Pokémon have been stolen and Nurse Joy says that the repository is empty. Ash and his friends run out and see Team Rocket.
Team Rocket begins their motto from the old days. They begin a Pokémon battle and Team Rocket retreats to their car. Their car turns into one of their new mechas, with the captured Poké Balls. Piplup uses Bubble Beam and creates a huge bubble blocking Team Rocket's sight. Pikachu uses Iron Tail to dislodge the pod carrying the stolen Poké Balls and it falls to the ground, which Happiny catches. Pikachu uses Thunderbolt to cause the machine to fail, and then explode, causing Team Rocket to fly and "blast off again". Meowth comments that their original mecha was also vulnerable to electric attacks, revealing he intentionally disregarded it. Nurse Joy thanks Ash and friends, and Brock gets sad and goes into his sappy mood about having to leave Nurse Joy. Ash and his friends head to Celestic Town.
This episode marks the first appearance of Mew in an episode of the anime (although it is merely in one of Meowth's fantasies). As a result, this means that all of the Generation I Pokémon have appeared in an episode of the anime at some point.
Mew would go on to make its first actual appearance in the anime in Alola, Kanto!, 423 episodes later.
Coincidentally, that episode and this one are the only episodes of their series where Team Rocket recited their original motto.
The disguise Team Rocket wears in this episode looks very similar to The Black Arachnid's, especially when Meowth appears, which the Black Arachnid also owns.
The dub's title is a pun on the phrase "a lean mean fighting machine".