I did it again. I wrote a review for a Pokemon thing, spent way too much time thinking about solutions to its problems, and I ended up with an outline for an alternate universe version of Master of Mirage Pokemon.
Let’s start with the premise that this was done as a movie, not an hour-long special. Gives me a bit more imaginary screen time and a much better imaginary budget to play with. Also means no Temple of the Sea, since this would take its place (sorry, Temple. I know you have fans, but I am not one of them.)
So in this Mirage movie, we would open with Professor Oak at his lab, and his getting kidnapped by a real Pokemon. It takes him to the castle, where it’s killed, and when Oak is all “who could be so dastardly?” the Mirage Master steps out from the shadows.
Cut to Cerulean City, where Ash and Co. are visiting Misty. We’d get to see her and Ash at their banter, Misty and Max tag-teaming to subdue Brock around the Sensational Sisters, May pigging out…just quick little moments, but enough to showcase the camaraderie and dynamics among the cast. Misty and Ash decide to have a battle for fun, giving us our credits sequence.
Then Tracey calls with the news that Oak was nabbed, and that he was tracked to the castle, which could have a reputation in Kanto as abandoned and haunted and “wouldn’t spend the night there for a million bucks.” Ash decides to save the Professor, and Misty and the others come with him.
When they reach the castle (made much creepier here, and it’s at night, for appropriate atmosphere), it looks abandoned, but some creepy lights go off. That’s the cue for Brock to go for help, Ash and Misty to infiltrate, and May and Max to take up watch duty.
The first time that Mirage Pokemon appear would be when Ash and Misty get inside the castle. They battle with them, and realize that something is off, but don’t know what, and get captured. Misty’s fall to her (apparent) death actually gets a damn reaction out of Ash, and Ash is the one dragged off. Pikachu is left behind, and he’s the one that bonds with the Mirage Mew, who would’ve been an unseen presence following Ash and Misty around prior to that.
Ash gets thrown in a cell with Oak, they get dragged before the Mirage Master, and here is where we get an explanation for what the Mirage Pokemon are and who Yung is. No pointless fake-out. And, in a blatant bit of thievery on my part from @theroadyouchoose, Ash is the one that gets hooked up to the brain-drain machine. (Seriously, this bit makes no sense in the actual special. What reason does Yung have to think that Ash’s Pikachu has any special memories that would be useful to him? Why didn’t he use that on Professor Oak? Hell, he could use it on Oak in this version, but if it’s that painful a process, maybe he’s just trying to get Oak to crack through torturing Ash.)
On the way to save Ash, Misty and May can have another encounter with Mirage Pokemon, and figure out that they can beat them by targeting the generators spread out around the castle. (This is another thing in the special that bugged me. The appearance of Mirage Mewtwo didn’t carry much weight, and that’s partially because the Mirage system was almost completely unbeatable before Mewtwo showed up. There wasn’t any need for it to escalate to increase the stakes, and none of the humans seem to notice the trick Pikachu managed.)
Mirage Mew could be the one Mirage Pokemon that can exist independently of the generators, and he and Pikachu find a bunch of real Pokemon imprisoned that they set free.
Brock actually shows up with help, and between that help and the freed Pokemon, a large scale battle between Mirage and real critters could break out, with Brock involved in that battle and actually doing something. Meanwhile, the girls save Ash and Oak, and they pass on the knowledge of how to beat the Mirage system, which turns the tide of the battle.
Cue Mirage Mewtwo showing up, who can also exist independently of the generators, and his super-powered feats now actually escalate the tension. I think Mirage Mew would still have to be the one to ultimately save the day; I can’t think of another way to beat the system; but maybe Ash and friends have to get Mew to the main computer so he can get inside it and shut things down.