I never gave this episode much time back in the day, perhaps given the somewhat pathetic plot that exists on the surface. However, watching it again I have only just come to appreciate the good direction this episode received. Having Cassandra introduced to us through interaction with Team Rocket was unique, and Meowth's infatuation towards her was strange yet adorable.
We also got a very harsh display of Charmeleon's developed disobedience which was aptly explained by Cassandra's grandmother, so this episode wasn't all that worthless. I've always been a bit miffed at the 'monster' that Charmander became upon evolution up to mid Orange Islands, but I thought that its disobedience in this episode made great viewing because it almost came across as villainous - ironically perhaps moreso than Team Rocket were in this instance. It made me feel for Ash, Paras and even Team Rocket who it unleashed its wrath upon. It seemed that Ash proved it right after this episode though in that he made some very rash, inexperienced and pathetic decisions as a trainer.
Sub-par plot overall which is saved significantly by very good direction and substance, as well as great animation (which some research has led me to the name of Hiroshi Sakai
. If only he was on the books of the animation team these days)