Ranger Station Episode 17: Green With Evil, Part I
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, it's the moment we've all been waiting for as the Green Ranger finally makes his first appearance!
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 17: "Green With Evil, Part I: Out Of Control"
Writer: Gary Glasberg and Stewart St. John
Director: Robert Hughes
Original Air Date: October 5, 1993
If you weren't a kid in the early '90s, then I'm not sure I can ever really express how intense "Green With Evil" was to experience as it happened. Just on a purely functional level, it was an event --- growing up with Batman '66 had already taught me how cliffhangers worked, and I knew from being really into Star Trek: The Next Generation that the biggest and most important stories would be divided into a two-part story. This thing was five parts --- to date, the only five-part story ever in the 22-year history of the franchise. That's a full-on saga.
But more than that, it was a game-changer. Power Rangers was, at least by my recollection, the most popular thing in the entire world --- a position that it inherited from TMNT and would later pass along to Pokémon --- and just when fans had gotten used to how the series had worked up to this point, "Green With Evil" took it to the next level. I mean, at age 11, the Tyrannosaurus Zord emerging from an active volcano was the dopest thing I had ever seen, but here, when the seas boils and the Dragonzord rises up? It's awesome. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
We open (where else?) at the Youth Center, where Jason is preparing for the Angel Grove Martial Arts Expo --- and by preparing, I mean that he's standing there while Trini offers some calming words and rubs his tummy like he's a puppy. The source of his anxiety? His opponent, a new student who just recently transferred to Angel Grove High: Tommy.
If you recall, when we're introduced to Jason in the series, he's leading a class, helping out some kids in the Youth Center and doing some pretty basic moves that, while certainly impressive, definitely seem pretty controlled and smooth. Tommy, on the other hand, is doing a kata, basically just smacking his own arms while doing his signature "SICK-IYAHHH" to get pumped up to try to beat up our heroic Red Ranger in a karate fight. From the first second, he just seems more violent than anything we've seen so far.
And I'm not the only one to notice, this, either. Tommy's martial arts intensity is visible from the moon, and when Rita sees him preparing for combat, she immediately decides that he'd be the perfect Green Ranger. To be honest, though, it might just be the fact that he's already dressing exclusively in green.
Goldar is stoked about the idea of destroying the Power Rangers with "another teenger" --- not another ranger, mind you, but another teen, the most delicious of all ironies --- and everyone agrees that this is a really great plan without ever explaining where she got the Power Coin that she's going to use to turn him into a Ranger. And to be honest, I'm not sure it's ever going to be explained, but I guess we'll find out over the next month or so.
Back at the Martial Arts Expo, Jason and Tommy's match ends in a draw, one of the many reasons why to this day, there is a debate going on at Tommy's Wikipedia page about whether he could truly beat Jason in a straight-up fight.
It's actually a pretty great fight scene, and this, I think, is one of the big advantages to hiring actors with more martial arts experience. Jason David Frank as Tommy is --- and I say this with all due respect as he is the only Mighty Morphin-era ranger that I have met, and he might remember my face and how easy it would be to punch --- not a great actor in these episodes. He gets noticeably better as the show goes on, and by the time he makes his return in Dino Thunder, he does a pretty solid job, but it's not what you'd call his strong point. Tommy, however, is a memorable character, largely because we see so much of Frank doing pretty awesome spin-kicks and terrifying shouts.
Once the fight's over, he shows good sportsmanship, and the next day at school, he steps in to intervene when Kimberly is being menaced by Bulk and Skull...
... and then agrees to meet up at the Youth Center after class.
Unfortunately, that date's not going to happen. As Rita casts a full-on evil spell that includes chanting and a skull's eyes glowing red during her incantation, Tommy's attacked by Putty Patrollers in an alley as Rita's final test.
It's another impressive scene, and I did hear once that after his first day of filming, the stuntmen playing the Putties had to take JDF aside and, because of his lack of acting experience, remind him that he didn't have to hit them so hard. I have no idea if that's true or not. It sounds like the kind of thing that a fan would make up to make him sound cooler, and watching this particular fight, it seems pretty standard compared to the rest of the show, despite a few kicks that look like they might've made contact. On the other hand, I have no trouble at all believing that it's true.
After the fight, Rita finishes her spell, briefly entombing Tommy --- or someone who doesn't even bear a passing resemblance to Tommy --- before resurrecting him as her brainwashed Green Ranger. His first mission: Invading the command center and taking out Alpha 5 and Zordon.
And this is where things get super intense. It seems that dealing with teenagers and their attitudes has taken its toll on Zordon, who tells Alpha that he's going to "place myself in a meditative state" and Advises Alpha to shut down for a thorough recharge at the same time. With Alpha shut down, there's nothing to stop Tommy from entering the command center, slipping a CD-ROM with a virus into Alpha...
... and then basically killing Zordon.
Okay, so he doesn't actually kill him, but it was close enough for me when I saw this at 11 years old, and Tommy ripping open the consoles and tearing out wires while Zordon begged for Alpha to wake up and for Tommy to stop is still pretty scary by the standards of the show. It's definitely better than the time they killed him in the movie, anyway.
With the Command Center disabled, Rita sends Goldar down to Earth, making him grow to giant size for an attack on Angel Grove. The Rangers try to head to the command center, and with the communicators disabled, they end up flying the Rad Bug to the Command Center, find it thoroughly trashed:
Fortunately, Alpha's virus is dealt with pretty easily just by taking out the CD, but his memory's been wiped and he doesn't remember the Green Ranger's attack. All the Rangers know is that whoever did it must have had a Power Coin, because that's the only way to enter the Command Center. Well, that and the occasional exception made for Christmas Magic.
The Rangers quickly morph into action to stop Goldar, and while that seems simple enough, the Green Ranger shows up halfway through the fight to attack the Megazord itself, jumping onto its head, then just straight busting into the cockpit and punching Trini in the face.
And not only that, but he punches her so hard that the Megazord's face explodes from the inside. Like I said: In. Friggin'. Tense.
With the Rangers literally thrown out through the Megazord's eyes, a fight breaks out and the Green Ranger straight up thrashes them, leading to another fight with Jason. This time, though, it's a clean loss for the good guys, as Tommy unleashes what is basically a green Hadouken, setting off an explosion that causes the Rangers to be drawn back to the Command Center, helpless.
As much as the Green Ranger's arrival was a turning point for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, it turns out that it was also a pretty significant moment in the source material as well --- not just for Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, but for Super Sentai as a whole.
Since we started with Mighty Morphin here in America, I always assumed that the arrival of a "Sixth Ranger" (the official term for the extra rangers, even when they're not actually the sixth members of the lineup) was a Sentai tradition that dated back to the beginning of the franchise. It turns out that it's not, and that other than a few brief prototypes, and characters like Big One from JAKQ Dengekitai, who was only a fifth ranger, the arrival of the Green Zyuranger was the first time that a Sixth Ranger had been added to the main cast. Which is probably why they called the episode "The Sixth Hero!"
And while MMPR's version was pretty intense, Zyuranger ain't exactly messing around either.
Rather than just peering down at a Martial Arts Expo, Bandora has been spending her time looking for a way to defeat the Zyurangers by praying to Satan of Hell, an act that has led her to a youngster named Ryota. When he arrives home on June 19, he opens up a secret compartment in the floor and draws out a mystical green key. He takes it, and not only does it cause something to happen in a mysterious tomb where a body lies covered in cobwebs, it also causes his grandfather to try to run him over with a forklift.
So yeah. Pretty intense.
The Zyurangers, who have apparently just (wisely) decided that the best use of their time is wandering around looking for children in trouble, come across this bit of attempted vehicular grandchildslaughter and intervene. When they do, they discover that "Grandpa" is actually Gnome, who helped them out during their battle against Dora Circe. And not only that, but the Great Sage Barza soon shows up to tell them not to interfere with Gnome's forklift murder, just in time for Ryota to make his escape by leaping over a tall building in a single bound.
When Geki and Mei catch up with him, Ryota reveals that our five familiar Zyurangers weren't the only ones who were put to sleep 170 million years ago. It turns out that there's one other, the Undefeatable Warrior, Burai, who was living with Gnome in what I can only assume is the Forest of Backflips:
When he discovered that the Zyurangers had been put to sleep, he decided to try out a long-term coma for himself, and since --- according to Ryota --- Burai is stronger than any of the Zyurangers and has the best chance of defeating Bandora, Gnome happily agreed. The only problem is that since Barza was in charge of waking up the Zyurangers, Burai is still asleep, leading Ryota to decide that it's time to take matters into his own hands and wake him up, something you can only do on the anniversary of the day that he went to sleep.
Which is, of course, today.
While their magic book has been able to tell them everything they need to know so far, Goushi, Dan and Boi can't find anything in there about a sixth hero. All they know for now is that Barza and Gnome are dead set against it, to the point where they're loading up with machine guns and getting ready to stop Ryota from opening up Burai's tomb at all costs.
Alas, Barza and Gnome have vowed to never share the secret of why they can't wake up Burai, so all the Zyurangers see is these weird old men shooting at a child, which is something they're not exactly cool with.
Before any of that can be resolved, though, Giant-Sized Grifforzar and a squadron of Golem Soldiers show up, leading the Zyurangers to summon Daizyujin and leave Ryota alone with Gnome and Barza. That gives Bookback and Totpat the chance to tackle them, freeing Ryota to dash into the cave and unseal the door, waking Burai up at last:
Having already seen the American version, you can probably guess why this is a bad idea. While he was kind in his previous life, the resurrected Burai's first action is to shove Ryota down a hill, and his second is to climb into Daizyujin and punch Boi right in the face.
In the fight that follows, Burai hands the Zyurangers their asses, using his energy ball to blow them out of their Ranger forms, and leaving Barza and Gnome with a lot of explaining to do.
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: Unless we're counting Goldar again, our "monster" here is just a dude that is good at karate and likes green tank tops. 1/10
- Deviation From the Source: Given that the differences here are pretty much the differences you'd expect from the different approaches of the shows - you know, high school teens vs. 170 million year-old dinosaur tribe warriors - Tommy and Burai's arrivals are both pretty standard variations on "new guy shows up." 4/10
- Bulk and Skull Friendship:At one point, Skull flexes to show off his arms to Kimberly, and Bulk's eyes are locked on them in appreciation as he eats a moon pie. 6/10
- Moral Lessons: Dudes who show up in your school, do some spin-kicks in the hallway and then start punching your friends in the face are the coolest dudes ever. 2/10
- '90s Fashions: Trini's hat has gone Full Blossom. 9/10
Total For Episode 16: 26/50