The March of the Exeggutor Squad (Japanese: ナッシーぐんだんだいこうしん！The Great Nassy Squad March!) is the 43rd episode of the Pokémon anime. It was first broadcast in Japan on May 7, 1998, and in the United States on October 30, 1998. It was initially intended to air in Japan on February 3, 1998, but was rescheduled following the EP038 incident.
Our heroes continue their Pokémon training without a break even over spring vacation, when what should appear before them but a carnival. Ash, Brock and Pikachu join in the fun, eventually discovering a rather dull magic show being performed in a small cabin. The magician begs Misty to become his assistant, but because of his poor magic skills, the magician is fired. Feeling sorry for him, Brock, Ash and Misty suggest working together to create a Pokémon magic show.
Ash and his friends find themselves in a town that is hosting a carnival. Excited, Brock and Ash change into funny outfits and start dancing. Misty and Pikachu, embarrassed, walk away, go on some rides, and eat some ice cream. Soon after, Misty notices a woman scolding a man over owed payment at a man with an Exeggcute. The woman, Darla, soon knocks him to the ground and walks away. Misty asks the man if everything is alright, and he requests that she be his magic show assistant. He introduces himself as Melvin and conjures some flowers and flags. Misty agrees to help him, but just for the day.
The show begins, with Misty forced to wear a leotard adorned with Goldeen fins. Melvin starts to juggle his Exeggcute and everyone, including Misty, thinks it is boring. Melvin then pulls out a wand and a tiny flame comes out; the crowd falls back in disappointment. He tries again, and a huge jet of flame comes out. Misty tells him to be careful, but he is so thrilled that the trick actually worked that he accidentally sets off the building's the fire sprinklers, which drenches the audience. The audience quickly storms out and throws various things at Melvin. The carnival manager fires Melvin because of the stunt and he wants to give up his dreams. However, Ash and his friends promise to give him some tips.
Ash performs his own trick involving a magic box, with fire and water magically shooting out at his command, but it was revealed to contain Charmander, Squirtle, and Bulbasaur. The three Pokémon get into a fight inside the box after Charmander's tail flame burns Squirtle, and subsequently ruins Ash's trick. Ash says that Melvin's Exeggcute don't do much, so it uses Hypnosis on him. Brock and Misty wonder why Ash is acting so dopey, especially after he follows Melvin's command and spins in circles while acting like a Bulbasaur. After Melvin realizes that he can control Ash, he and Ash sneak away from Brock, Misty, and Pikachu.
Melvin then commands Ash to pull him and his Exeggcute by cart into the Leaf Forest. Team Rocket sees Melvin and Ash and start to follow them. Brock and Misty are out looking for Melvin and Ash when Misty then realizes that Ash has been hypnotized. The Leaf Forest is full of Exeggutor, which Melvin has Ash weaken with Charmander, Bulbasaur, and Squirtle; Melvin then catches the entire mob of Pokémon. With his new horde of Exeggutor, Melvin plans to hypnotize people to attend his shows. Team Rocket makes their entry, performing a magic show theme version of their motto, which Melvin applauds. He soon finds himself tied up, with Team Rocket planning to use his newly captured Pokémon to hypnotize and capture other Pokémon. His Exeggcute evolves into an Exeggutor without warning, and then uses Hypnosis on Team Rocket. The other Exeggutor copy this and end up hypnotizing each other, causing them to go on a rampage towards the town. Jessie, James, and Meowth are hypnotized into believing they are Exeggutor, and follow the herd. Brock and Misty show up and wake up Ash and Melvin, who were trampled by the marching Exeggutor. Ash is no longer hypnotized.
The four of them head for town, where they see that the carnival has been almost entirely destroyed, and discover the Exeggutor mob is turning around and coming back their way. The carnival owner tells them he's planted a time bomb to destroy the threat. Ash, Brock, and Misty are of course opposed to this, so they decide to try to stop the Exeggutor before they reach the bomb. Ash sends out Squirtle, Bulbasaur, and Charmander in an attempt to stop the herd. Squirtle and Bulbasaur's attacks don't have much of an effect, so Ash recalls those two back to their Poké Balls and orders Charmander to attack. The Lizard Pokémon's fire attacks successfully stops some of the Exeggutor. It quickly becomes exhausted, however, and the Exeggutor keep charging forward. Misty tries to convince Melvin to use his fire trick to stop the Exeggutor, and, although he is positive he will fail, he tries anyway. The trick ends up working, and together with Charmander Flamethrower, a blanket of fire stops the Exeggutor. Melvin's newly evolved Exeggutor returns to him, resulting in Melvin running up to it and giving it a hug. The time bomb then goes off just a distance away, destroying the carnival, and, to their relief, no one gets hurt from the blast. Suddenly, Charmander evolves into Charmeleon and shoots a flame at Ash's face, its loyalty to Ash now in question. Team Rocket gets carried away by the Exeggutor, and the gang continues on their journey.
This is the last episode to air in syndication in the United States. Due to this, there was a near four-month gap between this episode and The Problem with Paras as a result of Pokémon being moved to the Kids' WB! lineup.
Early in the episode, Ash and Brock are wearing party outfits. Brock's outfit, which has pink frills for the sleeves and the cuffs of the pants, has large similarities to his future Takeshi's Paradise outfit, including the maracas he holds. The outfit from this episode thus may have served as inspiration for the later outfit.
This is the first episode in which there is a reference to a real-life city; Melvin mentions that his dream is to have his own magic show in Las Vegas.
This is the first episode in which one of Ash's Pokémon evolves in the same episode as another character's Pokémon.
In the Japanese version, the opening narration reveals Trainers don't take breaks at any time, something that is implied but not directly stated in the dub.
Ash's invitation for Misty to party with him was originally a reference to the song "Why Not Dance?" that plays during Awa Odori, Japan's largest dance festival.
Ash's remark about Misty's Goldeen outfit was originally an observation rather than flirting.
The hecklers originally start harassing Ash, while in the dub, they only start heckling when the camera pans toward them.
Brock's negative critique toward Melvin was originally quieter and directed towards Ash alone.
Misty's correction to Melvin dealt with word-swapping idioms in the Japanese version.
Misty originally doesn't compare Melvin to Ash about not knowing what he is doing. Instead, Ash merely reacts with surprise when she directly offers career advice to him.
Melvin apologizes to Exeggcute in the Japanese version, something he does not do in the dub. In addition, the dub implies that Melvin was fired by multiple carnivals due to his incompetence, which isn't the case in the Japanese version.
Originally, Melvin states that he wanted to make it to Broadway, not Las Vegas.
Melvin's initial act regarding the unveiling of flowers did not originally indicate they were dead, unlike in the dub, with Misty and Brock instead stating the act isn't good.
When hypnotized into acting like a Bulbasaur, Ash originally stops acting like one when Melvin ordered him to spin around.
In the Japanese version, when Melvin's Exeggcute starts to evolve, James questions how it could be evolving without a Leaf Stone around. This isn't acknowledged in the dub.
On a similar note, the sign posted outside the forest originally warns that taking an Exeggcute into the forest will ensure its evolution. The dub implies this with a painting of an Exeggcute pointing to an Exeggutor, though it does not directly state this. Contrary to popular belief, however, it was never indicated in the Japanese version that the forest had a large deposit of Leaf Stones buried underneath that caused their evolution.
When bidding farewell to Melvin, the group originally wishes him luck instead of telling him to do a good job.