Strategy Begins at Home! (Japanese: ヒカリVSママ！親子対決！！Hikari VS Mama! Parent-Child Showdown!!) is the 138th episode of the Diamond & Pearl series, and the 604th episode of the Pokémon anime. It first aired in Japan on August 13, 2009 and in the United States on January 2, 2010.
Arriving at Dawn’s home in Twinleaf Town, Dawn’s mother Johanna is in the process of planning the town festival’s events along with Izzy and Cara. Unfortunately, those two can’t seem to make up their minds on any part of their work. This is keeping Dawn’s mother very busy, which also seems to be keeping Dawn from the Contest Battle challenge against her mother.
So while Dawn plans her Battle strategy and Ash and Pikachu take a walk to get to know Twinleaf Town better, Johanna, Izzy, and Cara take care of the festival’s details. This finally leads to a two-on-two battle between Dawn and her mom, Johanna! Dawn looks quite impressive at the outset, but Johanna’s Top Coordinator experience shines through as Dawn, Piplup, and Pachirisu are eventually defeated.
Meanwhile, a disguised Team Rocket has been hired to catch as many Goldeen as possible for one of the festival’s events. Although slow to start, they end up catching a great many of the Pokémon but, as usual, they go for more than they bargain for and end up accidentally catching a Gyarados, which sends them blasting off again!
Feeling inspired after Johanna and Dawn’s battle, our heroes happily anticipate the next few day’s events, as they excitedly watch the Twinleaf Festival begin to take shape!
Ash and his friends make it back to Twinleaf Town as Dawn and Piplup take the lead, clearly excited to be back home. As they walk, Brock enjoys the quiet atmosphere, reminding Ash of his hometown. Ahead, they spot a few people talking about placing some stands, but not making much progress. Dawn calls out their names, Izzy and Cara, meeting up with them. Cara mentions that they are working with Johanna to plan the festival, but Izzy isn't helping much. Dawn introduces Ash, Brock and her Piplup.
Dawn leads her friends to her house as Dawn is clearly excited, busting in. Johanna meets her, as well as Ash and Brock, with her Glameow and Umbreon in tow. Johanna greets Piplup as the Penguin Pokémon tries to greet Glameow, but gets the cold shoulder. He looks hurt, but tries again with Umbreon and gets the same response, to which Pikachu comforts him. An older girl, Noelle, walks down the stairs with her Bellossom and welcomes Dawn's return. She finished setting up the rooms for Ash and Brock, being there to enroll in Johanna's Coordinator class. Dawn shows her the four Ribbons she has earned, but Brock pulls her aside and makes his usual advances to Noelle. He gets shut down not just by Croagunk, but Bellossom as well with Stun Spore, Croagunk dragging him away.
Ash checks out the trophies and pictures on the wall as Dawn fills him in about her mother's career. Dawn then decides to challenge her mother to a Contest Battle, which she agrees to, but they decide to eat first, since the food was freshly prepared. Ash shows impolite excitement at the prospect of being fed and quickly apologizes after Pikachu's pointing out that he's being rude, but Johanna laughs and lets it slide as she asks Noelle to show Ash and Brock their rooms. Meanwhile, Team Rocket sits by a lake, fishing for Goldeen under Sayer's terms. Sayer is disappointed that they have not caught any Goldeen, which are needed for a Goldeen catching game at the festival. Team Rocket tells Sayer that they are doing it mainly for money, since they are broke (as usual).
Meanwhile, everyone sits down for lunch at Dawn's home. Johanna compliments Brock on his cooking ability that Dawn told her about. Glameow and Umbreon enjoy Brock's Pokémon food, which pleases her since they are picky eaters. Noelle asks Brock for his recipe, which puts him into a romantic advance before Bellossom and Croagunk stop him. Dawn and Johanna clean the dishes as Ash talks to Professor Oak over the videophone. Professor Oak gives the Trainer advice about learning from Johanna, whose experience as a Top Coordinator might prove useful to him. Dawn and Johanna join the conversation as Dawn learns that Professor Oak is on his way to attend the festival. Then, Ash's mother joins the conversation as well, telling Johanna to feel free to scold Ash if needed as he can be a little rambunctious sometimes. Meanwhile, Team Rocket starts reeling in Pokémon, but none of them are Goldeen, so they toss them back.
In the garden, Brock and Happiny tend to the flowers, getting positive reviews from Johanna and Noelle. Johanna and Dawn decide to have their battle, but Izzy, Cara and Sayer meet up with Johanna, still trying to work out food booth placement. Although Johanna solves the problem at first, Izzy and Cara continue to vacillate, forcing Johanna to postpone the battle and get more involved.
Ash and Pikachu decide to take a walk while Dawn works on her strategy. With Pikachu at his side on a picture-perfect day, Ash wanders into the forest as he spots a group of Sunflora absorbing sun rays. Pikachu follows a Ledyba, stopping as he notes it landing on a large flower. He runs forward and uses his nose to imitate it with a small flower, but the pollen makes him sneeze. He looks at Ash sheepishly when asked if he's okay. As Ash approaches a tree that seems to have something in it, a young boy calls him over. Ash meets Nathaniel as he tells Ash that he planted Honey on that tree. Nathaniel is excited to see a real Pikachu and asks Ash's permission to hug his. When Ash consents, Pikachu doesn't wait for Nathaniel to pick him up and quite happily jumps into his arms, perhaps seeing that the boy has a kind heart. Nuzzling the little Electric-type, Nathaniel reveals his passion to become a Trainer. They notice a Heracross on the tree. Seeing Nathaniel's excitement and joy, Ash thinks about how he used to be young and always wanted to always spend time with Pokémon, noting that being a Trainer is a great privilege. Nathaniel wants to specialize in Bug types as they watch Heracross leave. Ash starts telling him tales of his journey, starting with his own Heracross loving the sap from Bulbasaur's bulb.
Back at Dawn's house, Dawn plans with Piplup and Pachirisu, setting up two combinations. Pachirisu runs over to the TV as Dawn notices a bunch of clipped newspaper articles, about all of Dawn's Contest wins and the Hearthome Collection that Johanna framed. Piplup and Pachirisu are also pleased, dancing with happiness as both of them are also in the pictures. Johanna returns as they get to the battle on the battle field behind their house. They begin a two on two with Piplup and Pachirisu against Glameow and Umbreon. Brock shows his romance towards Noelle constantly, but Bellossom and Croagunk keep him in check. Dawn goes first with Whirlpool and Discharge, creating an electrified whirlpool. Johanna's Pokémon use Quick Attack to gracefully dodge, crossing each other's paths and creating an appeal before stopping in front of Johanna and launching a double Shadow Ball, destroying the Whirlpool and knocking Dawn's Pokémon down. Dawn's Pokémon get up as they invoke their first plan. Piplup fires Bubble Beam. Though Johanna's Pokémon dodge with a synchronized back flip, the attack creates a wall, masking Pachirisu until the last moment and hitting both with a spinning Super Fang. Dawn celebrates the successful plan, but Johanna makes her pay for her premature celebration by using a double Attract, infatuating both of Dawn's Pokémon before hitting them with a double Swift Attack, knocking them out. Dawn is somewhat upset but accepts the defeat, comforting her Pokémon. Still, Johanna was still impressed at her strategy and her bond with her Pokémon. It also inspires Ash to take a note from the battle. Glameow and Umbreon look pleased as Johanna hugs her daughter.
Meanwhile, Team Rocket has managed to catch many Goldeen. While they likely have more than enough, Jessie wants to try for one more. She pulls on her rod and an unhappy Gyarados out of the water. It sends them blasting off with a Hyper Beam strike.
The English title of this episode is a reference to the phrase "charity begins at home".
This episode was initially given the title The Mother of All Battlers!, somewhat similar to another episode's title, but this was later changed. This title was later used by Cartoon Network Video on their list, but the video used the new title.
The English title of the episode is narrated by both Dawn and her mother.
Team Rocket doesn't appear in their standard uniforms throughout the Twinleaf Festival arc.
Team Rocket doesn't recite their motto in this episode.