Pokemon Go’s Professor Willow Is Hot Now, But Is It Really Him?

Pokemon Go has had a turbulent season, in terms of both the events that we played and the story that we watched unfold. My esteemed colleague Eric Switzer broke down exactly what worked and what didn’t during the Season of Go, but I’m here to talk about the juicy lore we saw dished out over the past few months.

“Pokemon Go has lore?” I hear you ask. There’s no need to be so incredulous, just because it’s a live-service mobile game doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a story to power you through the seasons and link each new event to the next. I’ll admit it’s not always amazing, with our good Professor Willow often bending over backwards to contort the story into something that ties in with a Psychic Spectacular or Bug Out.

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Hoopa’s slow unveiling during the Season of Mischief was played out over months of challenges and events connected by a singular Special Research story. It was one of Pokemon Go’s best examples of long-term storytelling, and the Season of Go had similar potential. It’s no coincidence that both Hoopa and Ultra Beasts have time-traveling, space-altering portals as parts of their stories, which helps connect seemingly disparate events with an overarching story, “because portals.” It works better than it sounds, trust me.

The Season of Go introduced Ultra Beasts, who apparently kidnapped our lovely professor and held him hostage. Okay, maybe his curiosity got the better of him and he dove into a portal, but you get the picture. In his place, Rhi from the Ultra Recon Squad gave us missions and tasked us with tracking down the very beasts that had portalled our professor and whisked away our Willow. This was a refreshing change, and it made sense to have a UB expert aid our quest rather than Mary Sue Willow into knowing everything about these alien encounters.

But on Willow’s return, he was changed. His hair was more tousled, and he has some designer stubble dotted on his chin. He’s also traded in his nerdy lab coat for a much cooler bomber jacket, similar to the ones awarded to trainers for reaching Level 50. They must have designer outlets in Ultra Space. But that’s besides the point: Professor Willow is lowkey hot now.

Willow always had his admirers. There are 253 Professor Willow fanfics on the most prominent site for that sort of thing, which pales in comparison to the likes of Lucario and Gardevoir, but is still impressive for a character who largely just tells you what to do. Oh, I get it now. Anyway, I imagine the number of fanfictions involving him will skyrocket after his makeover, and I see why. But I’ve got bigger questions than wondering what his admirers see in him: is he even the same man?

Professor Willow was captured and sent to another dimension. We don’t know how he managed to find his way back, but he’s returned. And he’s hot now. Something’s not adding up. My theory is simple: he’s been replaced. Other Dimension Willow, or Ultra Willow as I like to call him, knows us and what we’re tasked with, so he seems to share the memories that our dimension’s counterpart had. Or he stole those memories, had them implanted into his own skull, and now has the same thoughts knocking about his synapses. One or the other.

He remembers us, but he doesn’t know how long we’ve been away (despite the fact that we’ve seen him weekly when we complete our Research Breakthroughs, but that’s an implementation oversight rather than a plot point). He describes his adventure in Ultra Space as “amazing,” which doesn’t track with our experiences in Ultra Ruin. But I suppose he could have gone to a different different dimension. Then, he inexplicably gets really sleepy and just disappears again, this time for a ‘nap’.

Is he tired from his adventures, or is Ultra Willow still getting used to our dimension? Has he been invaded by some Ultra Parasite – is an Ultra Jigglypuff or Ultra Slaking sending their host to sleep? This would be a hard departure from the Sun & Moon lore (Ultra Space is populated by Ultra Beasts and regular Pokemon, not Ultra forms of regular Pokemon, however cool that may be), but I can’t help speculating. Something’s up with Willow, and I’m going to get to the bottom of it.

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