Pokémon’s Team Rocket blasts off for what may be the final time

Team Rocket’s iconic villains Jessie and James have spent decades chasing after Ash and his Pikachu, and getting up to all sorts of double trouble. With Ash retiring, I guess there’s no better time for Jessie, James, and Meowth to break up the band.

The latest episode of Pokémon Journeys: The Series aired in Japan last week, and that’s where Ash foiled Team Rocket’s hijinks for the last time. Naturally, Team Rocket had to go out big — trying to catch Pikachu. All of Team Rocket’s past Pokémon return for a big reunion battle, after which Team Rocket ultimately gets blasted off into the sunset for what appears to be the last time: All three — Jessie, James, and Meowth — agree that it’s time to move on without each other.

It’s a shock to see Team Rocket submitting to defeat; the group has had decades of failures and kept coming back. There are still two episodes to come, and there’s a chance that Team Rocket’s disbandment may be short-lived. But the series is coming to an end after this Pokémon Master arc, and the next series, with new protagonists, will likely bring in a new enemy.

Pokémon fans on social media are taking this episode as Team Rocket’s final blast-off, and saying their goodbyes to the team. Just like Team Rocket says, it’s time.

Replies to the tweet above, which includes four screenshots that depict Team Rocket’s goodbye, have turned into a mix of a memorial for the group and a thread of speculation that the goodbye was way too abrupt to be an actual disbandment.

There are still two episodes left, airing on March 17 and March 24 in Japan. There’s no release date just yet for the English dub. The latest batch of Pokémon anime episodes dropped on Netflix on Feb. 24 — up to the 117th episode in the series overall. For reference, the Team Rocket episode that was released in Japan last week is the 145th episode in the series.