Exeggcute, Exeggutor

#102 – Exeggcute

Exeggcute is a half-dozen of eggs! Who are cute! And also look ready to execute you! Oh, dad-jokes, you fuel so much of this series’ design. These things are fantastic: like Dodrio, you get a collective where each personality is immediately distinct at a glance, including each having different distinguishing cracks, and here it flows directly out of a core concept – a whole nest of usually-defenseless eggs, now able to bite back at their predators. One is even shown as broken open in each batch – potentially done deliberately as a way to lure in unwitting prey? Exeggcute is another one that’s visually simple while putting a twist on a non-obvious monster choice, which is precisely the sort of combination that makes so many Pokémon feel organic while still being inventive.

#103 – Exeggcutor

Exeggutor is a bit of a fly to left field; the eggs in her name manifest as coconuts here, which – surprise! – retroactively makes Exeggcute into a really strange natural disguise for a bunch of seeds. They were even Grass-type the whole time; the clues were all there (including it being spelled out in the Pokédex if you’d bother to read once in a while, dang kids these days). She’s a chunky, walking tree/shrub, which is a fair enough base to build a creature from, but using the three-heads gimmick feels a lot creepier in this context than on a mammal. Rather, it would, if their expressions didn’t look so goofy. She’s a neat little oddball on her own, but it’s the evolution from Exeggcute that makes Exeggutor really special.

#103a – Alolan Exeggutor

Then we’ve got this dopey thing. When the series went to Fantasy Hawaii, of course they were going to capitalize on a Pokémon with coconuts built in (despite passing up the hula dancer). This variant is nothing short of ridiculous – and nothing short physically, either, har dee har har – which makes it good for a novelty. Plus, that little stunted coconut on its tail-branch is an adorable touch. Despite its sillier aspects, people insist in-universe and in the fanbase that this is Exeggutor’s true form: the kind of wild and slightly off-kilter take that I love seeing.

Both flavors of Exeggutor are strong hitters with some good type coverage, but her speed is just killing her, and she doesn’t have the raw defense to compensate. I dunno, you could do better and could definitely do worse.

Exeggutor used to be more middle-of-the-road as far as popularity went (both with Game Freak and with the fanbase), but the sheer zaniness of Alolan Exeggutor was just embraced so strongly that the company has really leaned into the idea of it, and it’d be very hard to drop this thing from the series’ ongoing roster now.

The idea of a telepathically-linked hive mind is a very eerie, classic expression of ESP, and it’s neat to see that expressed as a Psychic-type design in a way that feels consistent (you buy eggs in no less than a half-dozen, after all). But Exeggcute are always shown in the exact same configuration: a cluster of six, one broken, the rest with a set of five pre-determined expressions. I’d love to see a future game shake this up a bit: maybe an Exeggcute with five seed-eggs would have somewhat weaker attack, but be more nimble and speedy. Maybe ones with different natures and characteristics could manifest as seed-eggs with different expressions. There’s a lot of room to play here, but tragically we’ve gotten the same batch of six each time. (Except in Red and Blue, where one egg was super-massive for some reason.)

Speaking of, why always six, and what happens if six can’t gather together? The games state that if one is “lost” (or, presumably, eaten), there will be six present the next morning. How does this happen? Do they incorporate other, orphaned Exeggcute? Do they regenerate a new clutch-mate out of sheer psychic energy? The official, not-creepy-at-all stance:

Don’t worry about it.

To be fair, we do see at least one instance of this in the anime, where a Chansey once “adopted” a single Exeggcute member, so the rest of the group adopted another egg-like Pokémon (a Togepi) to compensate. Still, the six were re-united within a couple of hours, so we don’t get to see what the long-term solution is here. More mysteries of the fantasy-plant kingdom!

Fun note on Exeggcute’s name: the original (Tamatama) is a double-entendre between “egg-egg” and “surprise”, which is an additional hint at its plant basis. Apparently none of the localization teams picked up on this – or chose not to use it – because every other language just uses egg-based words without a hint at the seedling bit. Ah, the easter eggs we lose in translation.

Amusingly, while Exeggcute (and its evolution by extension) are the only Pokémon to learn Barrage – wherein the seed-eggs themselves are thrown at the offending party – the particulars of how this move works have been changed at least three times, and the in-game description has changed six times over the years. That’s a lot of maintenance on a one-off move (granted, the mechanical changes are tied to how multi-hit attacks work as a whole).

While Exeggutor is a wonderfully bizarre critter – there’s something uncanny and properly monstrous about living fruit growing out of a walking shrub / palm tree – the main odd bits around its original design are kinda covered under Exeggcute. What happens if a head-coconut falls off; does another grow back? Do different specimens of Exeggutor have heads with different sets of personalities?

We do get a answer to what happens to the coconut-head itself when it falls off: it rolls away and becomes an Exeggcute. Maybe this is how sets of Exeggcute replenish themselves to a full squad of six when one is picked off? It totally circumvents the games’ established cycle of “everything lays and hatches from eggs”, but I’ll gladly buy that as fudging things for simplicity. It’s hard to conceive how the series could sanely weave that into the gameplay, anyway; have Exeggutor slowly generate a bundle of six egg-seeds when there’s a free slot in the party?

Exeggutor gets even weirder considering that it wasn’t some oddball that was invented wholesale. Rather, the original design is base on the cryptid that is the human-tree face, whereas the Alolan form is potentially less of a palm tree and more taken after the dragon blood tree, which is objectively the only way you could ever tie that thing back to being part-dragon.

Rather than explaining the wordplay in its design by potentially introduce children to a tree with the word “blood” in its name (oh, the horror), this is the reasoning the series gives for a palm-tree-like monster being part-Dragon:

As it grew taller and taller, it outgrew its reliance on psychic powers, while within it awakened the power of the sleeping dragon.

You heard it here, kids: get tall enough, and your inherent strength will outstrip actual supernatural abilities. Drink your milk, grow up big and strong.

Speaking of, aside from the obvious angle of “jokes”, Alolan Exeggutor has some fun elements to it that help ground it. For example, that one stunted head-on-tail is there not just an adorable accessory: its three heads are so far up that it needs that extra head near the ground to keep watch and guard against predators. And that stupidly-tall neck? All the better to swing its head down like a terrible hammer to crush an opponent. Not so dumb-looking now, is it? (No, it still looks pretty dorky.)

Final note: I am 98% certain that Exeggutor’s English name was meant to be spelled “Exeggcutor”, and somebody back in 1997 just failed a spell check that was too late to correct before the game shipped.

Exeggute and Exeggutor are weird, and in a good way that feels consistent with the rest of the world. High marks, though while I feel like the game is richer for having them, I admit that they can be safely kept in Reserve.

Any and all appreciation for Exeggcute and Exeggutor is welcome in the comments!

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