"If you feel lost, and on your own,
and far from home, you're never alone you know,
Just think of your friends, the ones who care,
They all will be waiting there,
With love to share,
and your heart will lead you home..."
I didn't exactly have high hopes for this episode, but it pleasantly surprised me. A fair bit of substance in this one little slice of life episode.
The training sequence at the start was pretty cool, all the Pokemon taking part (Rowlet also getting his character check, managing to hold ground against Torracat, a type weakness). Also Ash finally seeing Poipole battling and taking interest....before realising he's assaulting Lycanroc.
Mina appears, seems to have a likeable mellow personality. Her and Ribbombee didn't exceptionally stick out, also no sign of Fairium Z, though I'm guessing this won't be her last appearance.
Poipole's background looked into slightly, and Ash having to comfort his unhappy Pokemon. I like this recurring factor of Ash actually having to know his Pokemon on a rather depthful level, their past and inner thoughts, as we last seen with Ash acknowledging Rowlet's Pikipek family. He knows they are people with feelings and backgrounds. I also love the recurring emphasis on Pokemon teams and homes being like adoptive families.
Team Skull make their token appearance, pretty funny. I also liked their Pokemon showing signs of personality and getting in on the silly antics like TR's. Liked Poipole being commanded by Ash, as expected it was a barebones curb stomp, but I'll be fair, it wasn't an interruption or climax, just a quick bit of padding within the main development. Hopefully it's a sign of upgrades and he won't get stuck in the same limbo like Steenee and Popplio did. Now Ash is keen on Poipole battling, I hope he'll consider it for more key battles like the trials.
And we end with a foreshadowing to the upcoming big arc.
Not bad at all, Poipole is definitely more than the new Togepi/Nebby, getting a more fully fledged personality and background and hopefully, from this point on, more involvement.