Whichever Way the Wind Blows (Japanese: キレイハナとラフレシア！そうげんのへいわ！Kireihana and Ruffresia! Peace in Meadow!) is the 239th episode of the Pokémon anime. It was first broadcast in Japan on March 7, 2002 and in the United States on March 22, 2003.
Hardly taking a second to relish his latest gym victory, Ash quickly sets course for the next gym in Blackthorn City. It isn't long, though, before a more immediate challenge confronts his small party. As Ash and friends enter a clearing, they find large numbers of Vileplume and Bellossom preparing to battle. With the help of his Bayleef, Ash is able to settle the disturbance, but afterwards learns from a researcher working in the area that this is a common occurrence. The winds in this area, it seems, carry particulates from the Leaf and Sun Stones that cause Gloom to evolve into either Vileplume or Bellossom. Depending on the wind's direction, different amounts of either stone are scattered over the local Gloom, creating temporary surges in the populations of either of their possible evolutions. Since there is no foreseeable end to this natural state of flux, Ash and friends must end this constant fight for supremacy by convincing these Pokémon to live in harmony despite this trick of the wind that puts one and then the other group in the advantaged position.
While heading toward Blackthorn City for Ash's final gym badge, Ash and his friends come across three sick Oddish underneath a tree. Brock cures them with some Pokémon food. Ash wonders how the Oddish got sick in the first place, so Pikachu asks them. The three Oddish lead Ash and his friends over a hill where they find a plain meadow with a huge tree home to many Gloom, Vileplume, and Bellossom. Soon, the Vileplume and Bellossom start fighting. Pikachu fails to break up the fights, so Ash sends in his Bayleef who separates them with her Vine Whip. Ash tries to get the Pokémon to apologize to each other and make friends with each other, but they refuse.
A Pokémon researcher comes running towards the trio, waving with his right hand. He first checks on the Oddish before he introduces himself as Steven and says that he is there to study Grass-type Pokémon. The group make their way to a cottage-style brick house with a Pidgeot weather vane on top. Steven explains that the grass types are attracted to the area because of the running river and clear access to sunlight, and have divided the area into various territories. Steven and Brock explain the concept of branched evolution, and Steven explains that due to tiny fragments of Sun Stones and Leaf Stones in the wind, Gloom evolve into Vileplume when the wind is from the Northeast and Bellossom when the wind is from the Northwest. Steven theorizes that the trace amounts can accumulate enough to have the same effect as a full evolutionary stone. A scene of two Gloom evolving into Vileplume occurs in front of Ash and friends' eyes.
Another fight erupts between the Vileplume and Bellossom. Ash and Steven put on face masks to protect themselves against Vileplume's Stun Spore. Ash again summons Bayleef, this time trying a Razor Leaf followed by a divisive Vine Whip, effectively ending the conflict. Bayleef is also wearing a face mask throughout the scene.
Steven explains many of the Oddish have left the area due to all of the fighting.
Meanwhile, Jessie, James, and Meowth are sitting on a yellow picnic blanket in the meadow area about to eat a sandwich lunch. This peaceful moment is interrupted by a wall of angry Bellossom and Vileplume, the fight quickly disappears. Though the cloud of Stun Spore paralyze Jessie and James. The two request Meowth go retrieve some Salveyo weed. Meowth quickly spots Steven's laboratory in the distance and peers through an open window before finding the much needed Salveyo weed. Meowth gives Jessie and James their doses of the medicinal plant and the two emerge from their paralysis slightly enraged by the Vileplume and Bellossom for interrupting their lunch. Meowth pitches the idea that a fleet of grass Pokémon would relax Giovanni because of their decorative nature. The trio quickly set their sights on catching all of the grass types to please their boss.
Steven takes Ash and his friends to the tree he says started the conflict. The old tree provides shade in the morning blocking the Bellossom's sun access, while in the afternoon the tree stops sunlight reaching the Vileplume causing the opposition to migrate into the others territory. A wind blows from the northwest causing some of the sleeping Gloom to evolve into Bellossom. These new Bellossom join some others to form a war front against a group of Vileplume. Bayleef's Razor Leaf and Vine Whip combo again separates the warring factions. Misty spots a peaceful group of six, three Vileplume and three Bellossom standing together. She notes they are a good model of cooperation.
Meanwhile, Team Rocket, as well as Jessie's Wobbuffet, again find themselves caught up in a Bellossom-Vileplume conflict. Later, Ash, Misty, Brock, and Steven return to Steven's lab to discuss tactics to resolve the conflict. This over-the-table discussion is interrupted by a storm alert. Steven's computer reveals the storm will be a strong north-easterly, which will result in a drastic increase in Vileplume numbers. Steven states that despite the conditions favoring Vileplume, it may lead to peace. Though both Misty and Bayleef have sympathy for the Bellossom, noting a balance is the ideal.
A major storm comes in and makes very large amounts of Gloom evolve all at once. A northeasterly, then a northwesterly sweeps in, causing an equal number of Gloom to evolve into both Vileplume and Bellossom. The storm clears and the sun emerges, as did two warring fronts. Before the first attack could land its mark bombs fall from the sky, startling the Pokémon. It is revealed to be Team Rocket, flying in their Meowth Balloon and wearing gas masks. James announces their scheme to capture all of the grass Pokémon. James and Meowth sarcastically say they will use a 'Vileplume of Doom' robot and a nuclear-powered 'Bellossom Wrangler' robot before revealing they are actually just using a giant sack. The two sides again collide, with Team Rocket in the middle of the conflict zone. Meowth is quickly sent flying, whilst both James and Jessie oxygen hoses loosen and they are again affected by Stun Spore. Ash, Misty, Brock, and Steven watch on, hoping the two sides would exhaust their efforts to realize that fighting does not solve anything. The fighting stops, with both sides collapsed.
The same group of six co-operative Bellossom and Vileplume again appear. Aside from Misty's speculation that an even number of each evolution led to their co-operation Meowth explains the Bellossom desire to become Vileplume, and the Vileplume wanted to be Bellossom, revealing the Pokémon have an identity crisis and desire to evolve a particular way. Misty attempts to settle the groups discourse, getting Meowth to translate human to Pokémon language. Misty explains the concept of fate, that the Bellossom and the Vileplume were meant to evolve into their current forms. Brock also makes a point of their common origins as Oddish and Gloom. Meanwhile Jessie and James manage to regain consciousness, with some leftover salveyo weed and are then caught by Ash and friends attempting to take stash some Vileplume and Bellossom into their giant bag by hand.
In response, other Bellossom and Vileplume release a Stun Spore attack. Jessie and James call upon Victreebel and Arbok to assist, though the two are quickly overcome by the Stun Spore. The Bellossom and Vileplume unite against a common enemy, surrounding and fighting Team Rocket before Ash's Bayleef sends the trio flying. All of the Pokémon know now that they should all just live together peacefully as friends, and they now dance and chant together in three large circles. With that problem solved, Ash, Misty, and Brock then say goodbye to Steven.
This is the first time Meowth is used to translate human language into Pokémon language. Usually it is the other way around, Meowth translating Pokémon Language into human language.
This episode's main territorial conflict, between two Grass Pokémon, Bellossom and Vileplume, is similar to that of Bulbasaur... the Ambassador!, which was for the most part, between the entire Oddish and Hoppip evolutionary families.
When Jessie first sends out Arbok, it doesn't move its mouth when it says its name.
During the storm some Gloom are seen evolving into Vileplume. After that we see some Gloom evolve into Bellossom but the Vileplume that evolved before are not there. Some explanations could be that during the storm the Vileplume left to be with the other Vileplume or that the Gloom that are seen the second time are in a different area. What actually happens is unknown.
Just before the storm occurs, Ash says "that means more Vileplume will evolve". However, this is not true as Vileplume cannot evolve because it is the final evolution stage of Oddish.
The Japanese version of this episode features a different version of Team Rocket's motto while the dub uses the standard lines.
Also, the Japanese version of Meowth's "boss fantasy" uses romantic-sounding saxophone music in the background.