Ash and Pikachu resume their travels, going where the wind blows with no clear destination. When they reach a crossroads, Ash tosses a twig into the air to decide which way to go, but then turns to take the other road instead. Mildly irritated, Pikachu zaps Ash's hat off his head a couple times, while Ash keeps moving ahead until Pikachu catches up with him. With the playful bickering over, they cross a shallow river, but Ash gets startled by a Starly and falls into the water, with a trio of Magikarp biting down on his rear. After laughing his fill, Pikachu zaps the Magikarp and Ash with Thunderbolt, driving the Fish Pokémon away. Next, Ash tries out swinging on vines, but when he sees a Kakuna, he gets distracted and hits a tree. The impact causes the Kakuna to fall down and Ash saves it. The next instant, however, it suddenly evolves into a Beedrill. After a few tense moments, Beedrill flies away without attacking him, much to Ash's relief.
Back in Pallet Town, Professor Oak pays a visit to the Ketchum residence to greet Delia and ask her how Ash is doing. Delia says she hasn't heard of him since he left. Ash's choice to travel without a set goal reminds Professor Oak of his own youth, though Delia does mention that Ash wishes to make new friends, inspiring Professor Oak to recite a senryū about the subject.
Taking a break from walking, Ash and Pikachu rest under a tree while pointing out the wild Pokémon that appear near them. However, when Meowth suddenly appears, he does a double-take. The next moment, Jessie and James appear as well and seize Pikachu in a net before reciting their motto. Pikachu's attempts to break free by using Thunderbolt or Iron Tail fail, with the Team Rocket trio boasting that they've made their net completely Pikachu-proof. Confident of their victory, they turn around to leave, but Ash calls out Noivern and has him use Boomburst. Though Wobbuffet uses Mirror Coat to send the attack back, Ash quickly blocks it with Donphan's Rollout. With the tables having turned on them, the Rocket trio tries to run, but are unable to escape from Sceptile, whose Leaf Blade cuts the net open, allowing Pikachu to blast them off as usual.
While the trio is lamenting their failure to prepare for the twerp's other Pokémon, they end up colliding with an invisible Pokémon mid-air, sending them flying into the distance and causing the Pokémon to crash down through some tree branches and into a nearby lake. Hearing the sound of the crash-landing, Ash rushes to the site. When the invisible Pokémon's wing turns visible before his eyes, he immediately recognizes the Pokémon as a Latias and swims to her to save her. Though distrustful towards Ash, Latias is too weak to muster her strength to fight back, allowing Ash and Buizel to bring her to land. Laying her down, Ash sees the full extent of her bruises and injuries, in particular on one of her wings, which he treats with a Potion and bandages before setting up a campsite. At night, Team Rocket stumbles upon the campsite and spots Latias. Their Rotom Phone informs them that Latias is a Legendary Pokémon, making them excited and determined to capture it. Meanwhile, Ash spots that the bandage around Latias's wing has loosened, so he takes it off, applies some more Potion on the wound, and ties another, tighter bandage around it.
The next morning, Latias wakes up before Ash. Startled by the sight of Ash and his Pokémon around her, she takes off, waking Ash up in the process. She starts angrily ripping off the bandage around her wing, despite Ash trying to protest that she has not fully recovered yet. Ash tries to assure Latias that he's trying to help her, but suddenly, a giant vacuum appears and sucks Latias in. Ash jumps after her and is sucked in as well as the vacuum is revealed to be connected to Team Rocket's Meowth balloon. Latias and Ash are both dropped into a glass tank underneath the balloon, which is then filled with cold air to weaken the Dragon type. Though capturing Ash was not a part of Team Rocket's plan, they decide to keep him as a hostage to keep his Pokémon from attacking them. Trying to think of a way to escape, Ash comes up with an idea, and Pikachu sends a Thunderbolt at him. The Electric attack succeeds in shattering the tank, causing Ash and Latias to fall, with Ash urging Latias to take his hands. Seeing what lengths Ash is willing to go to save her, Latias finally trusts him and saves him from the fall.
Once the Rocket trio has been dispatched by Noivern's Boomburst, Latias brings Ash back down to the ground. He thanks her for saving him and she flies up, looking at him with a sad expression before turning invisible and disappearing. Looking after her, Ash wonders if he'll ever see her again. As he and Pikachu resume their journey, Latias observes him from the sky.