Ranger Station Episode 12: Peace, Love And Woe
With 800 episodes over the course of 22 years, the Power Rangers television show is arguably the single most successful live-action superhero franchise of all time, and certainly one of the strangest. Adapted from Japan's long-running Super Sentai series, created by manga legend Shotaro Ishinomori, the Power Rangers combined the giant robots and monsters of their Japanese counterpart with a completely different set of secret identities and problems, and became a pop cultural phenomenon. That's why we're looking back with an in-depth guide to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, including its source material, Kyuoryu Sentai Zyuranger, in ComicsAlliance's Ranger Station!
This week, Billy gets a date and Bandora tries to liquify children, so all in all, it's business as usual.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 13: Peace, Love and Woe
Writer: Julianne Klemm
Director: Robert Hughes
Original Air Date: September 21, 1993
I think it's pretty clear by now that I love the Power Rangers, but even I have to admit that the next few episodes are a bit of a slump. To be fair, though, they'd almost have to be: 'Power Ranger Punks' is a high point for the franchise; 'Switching Places', where Kimberly and Billy swap bodies, is almost a sequel to that (and the last episode before Tommy shows up in 'Green With Evil'), so really, anything between those two is probably going to feel like filler. But that doesn't mean that it's ever going to stop being weird. Like, say, by introducing a monster who can control the sun and using her to slightly disrupt Billy's social life.
We open --- where else? --- at the Angel Grove Youth Center Gym & Juice Bar, where everyone is getting ready for the big dance that's set to happen that night. Everyone, that is, except for Bulk, who is busting out some skateboard tricks so rad that they can only be accomplished on a skateboard with a human skull mounted on the nose.
Sadly --- and completely unsurprisingly --- the skateboard ends up with Bulk going face-first into a sheet cake. I guess Ernie was just going to leave it sitting on the counter for the next six hours while everyone waited for the dance to start?
As repetitive as Bulk's continued bad luck with baked goods can be, though, this actually makes for a pretty interesting subplot of the episode. Ernie, having grown tired of constantly having to buy desserts in bulk with the understanding that at least one of them was going to end up mashed into a juvenile delinquent's face, demands that Bulk pay for a new cake or risk being banned from the Youth Center:
And listen: As much as I like karate and giant robots, this episode would've been way better if it was just about Bulk and Skull trying to sneak into the Youth Center and/or taking odd jobs to earn money to pay for a moderately sized sheet cake. Also of note, this episode also marks the first appearance of Skull's red beret with the question mark patch, which is amazing. I actually own a replica that I got as a birthday present this year, complete with a handmade patch. It is truly the height of fashion.
With all this party planning going on, Rita decides that it's a good idea to attack the Rangers "when they least expect it," which is going to be pretty difficult since even these characters should probably realize that any slightly notable event in their community is going to involve a giant capybara with laser eyes showing up or whatever. But this is where it gets a little weird.
Rita demands that Finster make Madame Woe, a monster that Baboo describes as being "nearly as horrible as you, Evil One!" This by itself isn't really new, since there's been mention before of Rita using her monsters to conquer other planets before she got locked away in the Space Dumpster.
Since we never actually see Finster sculpting Madame Woe, though, and since we're introduced to her when Rita goes to talk to her on a beach and tells us that she can control the sun --- which is kind of a big deal --- and Rita bargains with her to get her services rather than just ordering her to go fight, it feels like she's just a monster at large in the world, rather than one of Rita's made-to-order monsters.
Meanwhile, back at the Youth Center, Billy has revealed that he doesn't have a date for the dance, preferring instead to work on his latest science project. That all goes straight out the window, however, when he meets Marge, a comely young nerd with the same thesaurus-enabled five-dollar speech patterns that he has.
And thus, it's love at first synonym.
After Billy fixes her necklace --- "my mother gave it to me when I graduated from the accelerated baby genius program," she says --- they make plans to meet up at the lake later that day. Unfortunately, Rita's telescope apparently has the power to transmit sound from indoors through the vacuum of space, so she knows exactly when Billy will be alone and isolated from the other rangers, making him a prime target for Madame Woe.
But the actual attack doesn't really go that way. Instead of going after Billy, Madame Woe shows up to the date early and goes after Marge by mistake, under the impression that she's the Power Ranger. She gets sent to another dimension, and when Billy finds the necklace that she never takes off laying on the shore, he knows something's up --- a hunch that's confirmed when a gang of Putty Patrollers attack a few moments later for a fight scene that briefly turns into the Docks stage from Final Fight.
At the Command Center, Zordon tells the Rangers that Madame Woe is an incredibly strong foe, and that the only way to defeat her is to give one Ranger all of their powers, something that definitely raises the question of why there have to be five rangers if there could just be one that was five times more powerful. One supposes that absolute power corrupts absolutely, especially when it's over a small army of robot dinosaurs. Anyway, Billy agrees to step up himself, and the Rangers head out to fight Madame Woe, who immediately sends them to another dimension.
That happens a lot in this first bunch of episodes, doesn't it?
Conveniently enough, it's the same dimension that Marge was sent to, but despite the Blue Ranger's assurance that they'll get her out safely, Madame Woe proves to be a bit more than the Rangers can handle. Clearly, they've got to get back to their own dimension, something they can accomplish by combining their power coins:
Because sure, why stop just introducing new super-powers at random when you're thirteen episodes into the show?
Morphing to the Power of One allows Billy to breach the dimensions and take Madame Woe head on in a fight where he eventually just tears her crown jewel out of her forehead and crushes it to dust in his fist. It's pretty badass, especially the close-up on his hand while he's crushing the jewel, but it's undercut just a bit by the accompanying shot of the Rangers standing around awkwardly in the other dimension like they're in an elevator.
The destruction of the jewel sends the Rangers back to the desert outside Angel Grove, summoning the Power Cannon and --- for the second week in a row --- destroying the monster without the involvement of the Megazord.
Back at the Youth Center, Billy's date with Marge is a great success, but what really matters here is that Bulk and Skull have snuck into the party with a pair of truly amazing disguises.
Unfortunately, it's not enough to fool Ernie, and he demands that they either beat feet or pay up. Bulk, clearly fearing the loss of the outlet for social interaction that he has, no matter how humiliating it tends to be, finally agrees and gets the money out of what he calls "The Bank." This, of course, is not an actual financial institution, but rather a space between his filthy, horrible looking toes, something that stinks up the money so much that upon smelling it, Ernie immediately passes out... face-first into a second sheet-cake.
Seriously, is Ray Smuckles writing this show or what?
Unlike its American counterpart, Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger remains refreshingly free of cake-based shennanigans, choosing instead to get its weirdness out in the form of a show about weather fairies who were imprisoned in jewels 65,000,000 years ago.
Once again, we're jumping around in the episode order --- our source material today comes from Episode 33 of Zyuranger, "Teach Me! The Jewel Of Bravery," which opens in what might be the most terrifying way possible. There's a kid reading manga on his couch when he hears something from another room, and when he goes to check it out, he's immediately whisked off to another dimension and attacked by a monster, Dora Laygor, who grabs him around the neck with her hair and then gleefully drags him into water, where he apparently drowns.
Don't worry, though: He didn't actually drown, he was just liquefied and imprisoned with a bottle with seven other children.
The Children of Japan have more than just Bandora to worry about, though. As the Rangers are out investigating, they notice a girl named Yuko being picked on by her classmates, who are waving a snake and a scorpion in her face while her best friend, Saori, looks on without doing anything. The mean kids are eventually chased off when Dan arrives, but Yuko is furious that Saori didn't do anything to help her. She runs off, and is promptly liquefied herself.
You probably weren't, but in case you were wondering what Bandora was going to do with all those liquified children, well, here's your answer: Human sacrifice.
Dora Laygor attempts to take Saori as well, but while she's being dragged into the water of the other dimension, something happens. Saori has a necklace, and when it hits the water, Dora Laygor freaks out and retreats immediately.
As it turns out, Saori's necklace is actually a tiny jewel prison for Sunny, a fairy who controls sunlight, while the stone on Dora Laygor's forehead contains Rainy, a fairy that controls --- wait for it --- the rain. Back in dinosaur times, they were best friends, but Bandora imprisoned them so that she could use their powers for evil. Thing is, she only ever got the one jewel, and Sunny has been spending the last couple of aeons waiting for someone who could hear her crying out from her jewel.
Sunny knows how to free Rainy, but, being jewelry at the moment, she can't quite pull it off herself. She needs Saori's help, but Saori's terrified of getting into the fight --- and not without reason, since there's a giant child-liquefying monster involved that's threatening to send everyone to hell and scour the Earth with a cleansing rain conjured up from the souls sacrificed to Satan. I think it's fair to be at least a little apprehensive about getting involved with that, right? Right.
Dan, on the other hand, doesn't quite see it that way, and while the other Zyurangers are fighting Dora Laygor to a stalemate, he gives Saori a quick pep talk that involves, among other things, drawing the word "COURAGE" in the air and then pretending to squeeze it into a little ball and eat it so that the courage is now inside him. This is amazing. And it works.
With the Zyurangers defeated --- a process that involves absolutely zero control over the rain, by the way --- Saori hulks up, eats her own invisible courage ball, and bashes her necklace into the jewel on Dora Laygor's head, shattering both and freeing both the children and the two fairies, and leaving Laygor herself wide open for an attack from the Rangers and their fancy new guns.
Fight on, Zyurangers!
In Ranger Station, each episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers will be graded on a scale of one to ten in five categories, with a final score awarded with a maximum of fifty points.
- Weirdness of the Monster: You'd think that if they go all the way to saying that a monster can control the sun, that might come up at some point the rest of the episode. 6/10
- Deviation From the Source: I'd say that liquefying children and then sacrificing their souls to cause a flood of Biblical proportions would probably be a little bit more of a high-stakes problem than wondering if Billy was going to get a date. 7/10
- Bulk and Skull Friendship: Skull takes point to clear Bulk's path when he skateboards into the Youth Center, indicating both a willingness to help and a pride in their friendship that is unmatched on the Ranger side of things. 6/10
- Moral Lessons: Always return jewelry to a person who drops it, even if they wind up in another dimension? Not exactly useful, but sure, why not. 5/10
- '90s Fashions: Automatic +5 points for Skull's beret, but otherwise not much is notable. 6/10
Total For Episode 13: 30/50