It’s no secret that both Gen 1 and Season 1 of Pokemon could get pretty dark at times. Between the creepy movesets of some Pokemon, the secret Pokemon cults led by humans or the way some Pokemon will literally kidnap people, the series has had its fair share of creepy moments and implications.
It turns out, however, the series also dealt with child abuse — abuse so bad that it can get a boy to run away and join a criminal organization such as Team Rocket.
Yes, you read that right: James from Team Rocket is actually filthy rich. In Season 1, Episode 48 “Holy Matrimony”, we learn that James is actually the heir of a filthy rich aristocratic family. Ash, Misty and Brock are casually partaking in their Pokemon journey when they notice a missing person sign. Upon closer inspection, they see that the small boy shown in the picture looks exactly like James. Right as they voice their suspicion that this may in fact be the very same James from Team Rocket, a butler in a giant limousine shows up and takes them away to “Master James'” mansion, thrilled to hear that they might know where he is.
According to the butler, James’ parents have recently passed away due to the chagrin of their son’s disappearance. James has twenty-four hours to return home and claim his inheritance, or the fortune will be given to charity. Ash, Misty and Brock decide to help look for James. Little do they know that he’s already there, hiding, along with Jessie and Meowth.
Meowth and Jessie are at first thrilled to hear the news of their friend and colleague being loaded. To their surprise, however, James absolutely does not share said enthusiasm, and keeps desperately trying to escape. We later find out that James’ parents are very much alive, and that the whole thing was a trap destined to bring him home! According to James, this is typical of them. It’s clear that James has been accustomed to this type of manipulation and gaslighting, but that’s not all! As it turns out, his parents wanted him home because … they wanted him to get married!
James was engaged to a woman named Jessebelle from a young age. Jessebelle is a control freak with a full-blown BDSM dungeon meant to whip James into shape and turn him into a “true gentleman.” Upon witnessing the scene, both Brock and Misty blush, while Ash stays oblivious to the sexual implications behind the situation. All the while, James tries to run away from her whiplashes. He’s thankfully saved by his faithful pet Growlithe, Growlie.
So not only did James’ parents manipulate and gaslight him his whole life, they tried to force an unwanted marriage on him without caring that his wife-to be was a dangerous sexually harassing psychopath. With a background like that, it’s no wonder James ran away from home.
This episode is considered to be one of the best Indigo League episodes. Not only that, it has quite a bit of Rocketship moments and implications, so it’s definitely considered a staple for all those who ship both Jessie and James as a couple. For starters, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that Jessebelle looks exactly like Jessie. Although Jessie is bossy, however, she and James share one thing in common, as they both mention at the end of the episode, and it’s their taste for freedom. The pair may not be rich, but at least they’re free to live their lives as they please and they both have each other.
Pokemon dealt with abuse so bad, that it can get a boy to run away and join a criminal organization such as Team Rocket.