Flint Sparks the Fire! (Japanese: 四天王オーバとジムリーダー・デンジ！Ōba of the Four Heavenly Kings and Gym Leader Denzi!) is the 165th episode of the Diamond & Pearl series, and the 631st episode of the Pokémon anime. It first aired in Japan on February 25, 2010 and in the United States on July 24, 2010.
When Ash arrives at the Sunyshore Gym for his next Gym battle, its uninspired Gym Leader refuses to accept his challenge!
When our heroes arrive at the Sunyshore Gym for Ash's next Sinnoh Gym battle, they discover that the Gym Leader, Volkner, is giving away Badges free to any challenger without battling! Ash gets very upset, so much so that he is about to be thrown off the Gym premises. Before he can be thrown out, the process is interrupted by none other than Flint of the Elite Four. Flint is a good friend of Volkner's, so our heroes accompany him to see the disenchanted Gym Leader.
Still, Volkner mysteriously refuses to battle Ash. Flint explains that when they were kids they were a team, but Volkner lost interest in Gym challenges when he became a Gym Leader. When Volkner continues to refuse Ash's challenge, it is suggested that Flint battle Ash instead, which he agrees to do, with Volkner watching.
The battle between Ash and Flint is intense, and it reminds Volkner of the days when he participated in electrifying battles alongside Flint. Ash loses, but his perseverance impresses Volkner so much that, filled with a renewed spark for battling, he finally agrees to battle Ash at the Sunyshore Gym!
Ash and his friends have finally arrived in Sunyshore City, an area which is reliant heavily on technology with solar panels throughout as well as escalators and treadmills designed to transport people where they want to go. Ash is more eager than ever to battle for the final Badge he needs for the Sinnoh League however Dawn warns him that the Gym Leader, Volkner, is known as a difficult opponent. Brock confirms that he has yet to be defeated and is considered to be Sinnoh's strongest Gym Leader. Naturally, this makes Ash all the more eager and the group immediately heads to the Gym, with Team Rocket trailing close behind, as always but stop briefly to look at Sunyshore Tower, the symbol of the city. Arriving, a robotic voice greets the gang and asks them their business. Ash explains that he's there to battle for a Gym Badge, however the voice opens a box full of Beacon Badges and tells him to help himself, much to everyone's surprise. Dawn suggests Ash should just take a Badge, but Ash and Brock believe that winning them with effort is what makes Badges significant, just being allowed to take them defeats the whole purpose of having Gyms in the first place. Dawn suddenly realizes that this is what Paul meant when he criticized the Gym during their previous meeting. Ash begins to get angry and hammers on the door demanding a battle against Volkner but the Gym's computer system refuses to even let him enter. After getting fed up with Ash's persistent knocking, the high-tech Gym forcefully escorts him of the Gym premises. Just then, someone yelled out "Use Mach Punch" and an Infernape appears, releasing Ash from the Gym's clutches. It emerges that Infernape's Trainer is none other than Flint, a member of the Sinnoh Elite Four who specializes in Fire-type Pokémon. Flint introduces himself and notes Ash's determination. He brings Ash and friends to Volkner, who has been in the Sunyshore Tower. On their way up, Flint notes that Sunyshore is powered purely from solar energy and all the solar panels throughout the city are controlled from the tower. Volkner is responsible for being the architect and controller of the entire Sunyshore solar network.
A Raichu greets Ash, ready to attack. When Flint shows up, Raichu runs toward Flint (causing Ash to yell out to warn Flint), and gives him a hug. Volkner enters the room almost instantly after that, in a depressed state. Ash tells Volkner that he wants a Gym battle, but Volkner says just take a Badge. Ash refutes Volkner's free Badge with wanting to earn it fair and square in a Gym battle. Ash implores Volkner to have a Gym battle with him, but Volkner explains that he has completely lost interest in battling. Flint steps in to tell Volkner that Ash is an "electrifying" Trainer and asks Volkner to give him a chance. Volkner asks Ash and everyone else to leave and returns to the room from which he came.
Flint takes Ash and friends out for coffee and sandwiches. Ash is depressed and angry that he can't have a Gym battle with Volkner. Flint and the shop's owner tell Ash that Volkner didn't always find battling dull, he was one of the best Gym Leaders in Sinnoh. Flint then enters a flashback and tells the story how Flint and Volkner met. Flint beats Volkner in their first battle, but Volkner got strong determination and challenged Flint once again, and Volkner's Pikachu beat Flint's Chimchar. They battled constantly to prove who was the top Trainer from Sunyshore. One day out in a forest, they battled together against a poacher and were beaten pretty badly although they chased him away. It didn't matter if that they were pretty hurt with defeat, they still continued on as good friends. Flint and Volkner split when Volkner became Gym Leader of Sunyshore City and Flint left to become more powerful and eventually join the Elite Four. Volkner slowly lost interest for battling after that and became more and more obsessed with technology. He built the entire power system in Sunyshore: the solar panels, the moving walkways, and even Sunyshore Tower.
Flint then thought by bringing Ash to Volkner, that he might get a spark for battling again. Volkner walks in saying it was a waste to bring Ash up to the tower. Flint begins explaining why he came, but Volkner just dismisses it as a "lecture from an Elite Four member". Flint recounts on their past, and Volkner says that they aren't kids anymore, which enrages Flint. The man in the shop suggests Flint have a battle with Ash, who tells Volkner he should watch the battle. Team Rocket appears in front of the Gym, beginning to work up plan to capture Pikachu by digging. James then loses the "rarest of the rare" bottle cap, which is picked up by an electronic trash sweeper, making him chase after it.
Ash and Flint have a three-on-three Pokémon battle. Flint begins sending out Infernape and Ash sends out Buizel. Volkner still shows no interest. Buizel attacks with Water Gun, but Infernape jumps in the air and the attack misses. While in the air, Buizel uses Ice Punch but the attack is blocked (with its fists being frozen in the process). When they land Buizel uses Sonic Boom, but the attack is blocked and the ice on Infernape's fists break. Buizel then, uses Aqua Jet, only for the attack to be countered and overpowered by a Flare Blitz, and Buizel is taken out.
Ash then sends out Infernape, using Flamethrower, Flame Wheel and Mach Punch. Again, Flint's Infernape blocks all attacks, uses Mach Punch on Ash's Infernape and knocks it out easily. Volkner stands up and calls this battle a waste of time. Ash sends out Pikachu, using Quick Attack, and it hits, but does little damage. Flint then instructs Infernape to use Flare Blitz again and Pikachu then uses Volt Tackle, they collide and incur little damage. Volkner is still unimpressed with Ash's "spark". Infernape uses Mach Punch, which Pikachu tries to counter by using Iron Tail, but is eventually chucked into the Gym wall. Pikachu, still determined goes toward Infernape, who uses Close Combat. Pikachu then uses Thunderbolt after being flung into the air by Infernape's attack. After some more attacks on Flint's part, Volkner is instilled to have a flashback when the coffee shop owner says that he (Volkner) has faced the same situation. Pikachu uses Quick Attack, and is countered out with Close Combat. The now-airborne Pikachu uses Thunderbolt as a last resort and Flint persists on with one last Flare Blitz and Pikachu is sent flying again. Ash jumps to catch Pikachu, which prompts Volkner to really open his eyes. The coffee shop owner instills yet another flashback in Volkner which shows Volkner catching his Pikachu after a strong attack. The coffee shop owner reveals himself to be the poacher from Volkner's past, stating that it was that battle that prompted him to change his ways. Pikachu, uses Volt Tackle and Flint returns with Mach Punch, Pikachu still is pushing on. Volkner's flashback and Ash's present collide (with Volkner seeing his young self in Ash) when Ash instructs Pikachu to use Volt Tackle on Infernape and Flint now has Infernape use Thunder Punch, leaving both Pokémon standing. Pikachu then collapses and faints. Flint wins the battle.
Team Rocket is found outside with James, collapsed on the ground, in tears. Meowth tries to console James, but it's no use. Jessie suggests to focus on the city, and how solar power runs its entirety. Meowth mentions they should take over Sunyshore Tower, which Jessie concurs. James now takes a revengeful attitude towards the trash cleaner that picked up James' bottle cap.
Volkner, after witnessing the battle between Ash and Flint, is convinced that he needs to take care of "unfinished business" as a Gym Leader to pass on his spark to every challenger. Volkner becomes inspired to become the Gym Leader once again, to the excitement of Flint and the coffee shop owner. Volkner's shroud of depression is lifted and his spark has returned, all thanks to Ash (though Volkner initially thanks Flint and the coffee store owner). Volkner agrees for a battle with Ash, which excites both Ash and Volkner.