Ranger Station Episode 20: Green With Evil, Part IV
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, "Green With Evil" gets intense as the Megazord is cast into a chasm of fire!
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 20: "Green With Evil, Part IV: Eclipsing Megazord"
Writers: Cindy McKay and Stewart St. John
Director: Robert Hughes
Original Air Date: October 8, 1993
If you were around to watch "Green With Evil" as it aired back in 1993, then it's hard to look at it without the lens of nostalgia fogging things up. I've written before about how much of a big deal it was when it first came on, and how the Green Ranger was a major turning point for a generation of childhood fans, but even now, over two decades after it first aired, it's still difficult to watch it without getting swept up in it, and losing track of whether it's actually any good in a way that even other episodes of Power Rangers don't have to deal with. But with all that said, there's one thing that I'm pretty sure of when it comes to "Green With Evil."
This episode is intense.
The greatest thing about the Green Ranger is that he shatters the formula of the show. For the past three episodes, he's been a persistent enemy in the way that even Zyuranger's Burai isn't --- not only have the bad guys' plots not been foiled, but the good guys are taking the biggest losses of their heroic careers, and this episode underlines that in a way that's actually pretty shocking.
But it doesn't start out that way. For the first half of the episode, in fact, it feels like we're covering some pretty well-trod ground, and it starts with Goldar just running roughshod over Angel Grove. Now that the Rangers are back together, they step up to stop him, only to find that their Morphers explode into a shower of sparks when they try to transform:
Given that the last episode went as far as imprisoning Jason in another dimension to write around Geki giving up his Zyuranger Medallion in its source material, I assumed that this was meant to set up a similar lack of footage in this week's. It might be the case, considering that there's a lot of footage of Goldar stomping on buildings unhindered, but the thing is, they solve this problem in three minutes. Billy just handily rewires the Morphin Grid in the span of a single conversation, and that's it. It makes me wonder if that wasn't meant to give Billy a spotlight moment similar to Jason going one-on-one with Goldar, but if it was, that raises the question of why it didn't happen for all five Rangers. I mean, they're definitely there, but nobody else does anything particularly impressive this time around.
We do get a pretty good moment involving Alpha, though. When I was doing some research for "Alpha's Magical Christmas," I noticed that the RangerWiki refers to Alpha as a "beloved character." I suspected that might be a slight exaggeration --- Alpha 5 is only beloved when compared to Alpha 6, who is tolerated at best --- and it was nice to have that confirmed by the fact that even Zack tells him to shut up so they can get some work done.
Meanwhile, Goldar's smashing up the city, and Rita's revealing that this is all part of her plan: Luring the Power Rangers out to battle, then casting a spell to create an eclipse so that the Megazord will be left vulnerable. And, in the first of this episode's really interesting moments, we actually get a really great moment from the henchmen.
Squatt, Baboo and Goldar are pretty one-note for most of the show --- at least until Goldar moves in with Bulk and Skull, which is amazing --- and Scorpina never really gets the chance to be all that interesting on this side of the Pacific, but Finster gets a few really good shining moments. There's a bit earlier on in the series when he seems to be utterly unconcerned with Rita's devotion to evil, instead focusing purely on the craft that goes into making a monster. It makes him seem interestingly amoral, like someone who just had a talent that he wanted to hone, and when that talent is making eye monsters out of clay, you pretty much have to sign up with a moon witch to get anything done with it.
Here, however, Finster is getting real salty at the idea that Rita wants to finish off the Megazord not by using one of his creations, but with the Green Ranger instead:
The fact that Finster is genuinely upset and bitter about being passed over for Rita's crowning moment adds a dynamic to Rita's crew that I wish the show would've developed more. Interesting antagonists are, after all, scarier ones.
Speaking of antagonists, it will not surprise you to learn that the Green Ranger has been spending this entire time in the Dark Dimension just doing karate and shouting in an empty room by himself:
Couldn't have maybe put an exclamation point on that one, Netflix Subtitle Writer?
While the Rangers head out to battle Goldar --- and subsequently catch a beatdown from Scorpina --- Alpha remains in the command center, trying to bring Zordon back to his tube. The real action, though, is down at the Youth Center, where Goldar's rampage is causing the building to shudder like there's an earthquake. One thing I really appreciated about the new Power Rangers comic was that there seems to be an alarm system in Angel Grove High that's keyed to monster attacks, just like their would be for a fire or a tornado. Here, though, there doesn't seem to be much of a plan; everyone just runs outside, which, while probably better than staying in a collapsing building, involves the very real risk of being stepped on by a monster.
Everyone, that is, except for two brave souls.
Okay, so maybe "brave" is the wrong word. Once Bulk's almost crushed by a girder --- the ceiling of the Youth Center is apparently made of girders, btw --- they decide to bail, and steal a bus to get away as fast as they can.
At this point, you might be wondering where the Green Ranger is, since Rita's plan was to send him out once the Power Rangers were in action, and only Goldar and Scorpina are involved in the battle. Well, remember what I said about this episode feeling like a retread? Part of that comes from the fact that this involves Tommy's second attack on the Command Center, which hits the same beats of the first. I suppose if it worked once, there's no reason to think that it won't work again, right?
The big difference, though, is that this time, Alpha's prepared. While Tommy initially disables Alpha by pulling what appears to be a nine-volt battery right out of Alpha's backside, the robot quickly reboots and then traps him in a force field.
A force field made with the art of mime!
With Tommy trapped, the Rangers have their first shot at getting out of Rita's master plan, but before long, there's another complication added into the mix in the form of Bulk and Skull's Escape Bus. Rather than getting them safely to a section of California that's a little less beset by monsters, their route takes them right by Goldar, who decides to use them for leverage:
At this point, Rita orders Goldar to take the BulkBus (dot com) to the beach. No explanation for this is ever given, but it does give us an interesting bit of the episode. Under normal circumstances, if you see the Ranger costumes, you are seeing Japanese footage. There are exceptions --- every time the Green Ranger shows up in the Command Center, for instance --- but this marks one of the few times that we get original American footage of the entire gang showing up, and considering the difference in film quality between MMPR and Zyuranger, the difference is pretty noticeable.
It's even better once Rita and Scorpina show up.
I have no real guarantee that those aren't action figures in an impressive use of Forced Perspective.
Rita claims that if the Rangers move, she's going to have the bus dropped off a cliff. The Rangers are momentarily stopped by this, fearing for Bulk and Skull's life, but there's an obvious problem here, in that Squatt, Baboo and a whole posse of Putty Patrollers are currently attempting to throw the bus off the cliff anyway by wedging a log under it as a lever. It's particularly weird since presumably Giant Size Goldar is still out there capable of picking up the bus in on hand and spiking it like a football, but he remains mysteriously absent.
It's another one of those things that make this episode seem a little padded out --- there is nothing less exciting than Power Rangers standing around on a beach looking confused, unless you are also on that beach in real life --- but it's more or less part of Rita's plan. When the bus finally falls, the Rangers are forced to save it, and to do that, they summon the Megazord:
And this is where it gets real.
First, being trapped in the force field only means that the Green Ranger can't attack Zordon and Alpha. It doesn't mean that Rita can't use her magic to teleport him out and make him grow giant so that he can join the fight against the Megazord.
Second, she big ups Scorpina as well, and rather than just being a giant, vaguely scorpion-themed human lady, Giant Scorpina looks like the Predator. Her hands become claws, her entire head becomes a giant scorpion, and she teams up with Goldar and the Green Ranger to make the fight against the Megazord three-on-one.
Third, and most crushing, Rita magics up an eclipse and drains the Megazord's solar power, leaving it weak and vulnerable.
Put 'em all together, and the Megazord gets hecked up.
And I mean bad. After the Green Ranger thrashes it with his giant-sized Evil Sword of Darkness, the Megazord is so trashed that it falls down into a literal chasm full of fire and explodes.
It honestly looks like the Green Ranger is casting the Megazord down into Actual Christian Hell --- which, given the nature of the source material, might actually be pretty close to the truth. And if that wasn't a harrowing enough sight, we then see each individual zord being dragged down into the fiery pit as the Rangers, knocked out of their costumes, stand and watch, heartbroken:
ZACK: I can't believe it. It's like Rita destroyed a part of us.
BILLY: They were always there for us when we needed them.
It's intense, and it only gets moreso when the Rangers retreat to the Command Center, forced to admit that they've been defeated and may not have a chance to fight back. They do, however, have one answer, thanks to the Command Center's computer using biometric data. They know the identity of the Green Ranger --- Tommy!
As you might recall if you've been paying attention, the Japanese version of the Green Ranger Saga hasn't just been about Burai showing up and being revealed to be Geki's brother --- it's also been built around Bandora's extremely specific prophecy that she'll be able to defeat Daizyuzin, which she pinpointed right down to the hour.
Given her track record of having failed to defeat Daizyuzin at least fifteen times in a row at this point, that might seem a little hard to believe, but to be honest, we don't really know that much about Daizyuzin. I mean according to this episode all we know is that it's 47.1 meters tall (154.5 feet), weighs 570 tons, wields the power of the God Horn Sword, and that's about it.
Oh, and he's also God.
If you're looking for more elaboration on that point --- and you should be --- then don't bother. It is never discussed further, everyone just says "oh right, Daizyuzin is capital-G God" and then continues going about their business like they did not just reveal that the creator of the universe has descended from His throne in Heaven and is now manifesting on Earth in the form of five robot dinosaurs. I have so many questions about this, but it does actually explain why Bandora is always invoking the name of Satan when she's launching her plots.
Man, forget what I said about this week's episode of Power Rangers being intense. That junk is babytown frolics compared to this.
But surprisingly, other than revealing that Daizyuzin is the Almighty, "Daizyuzin's Last Day" proceeds almost exactly like its American counterpart. The one real difference is that Bandora doesn't create the eclipse, she just takes advantage of the natural phenomenon. As an interesting side note, there actually was a total eclipse on June 30, 1992, ten days before this episode aired, although it wasn't actually visible in Japan. Oh, and also, since Daizyuzin isn't a solar-powered robot, the eclipse doesn't cut off His power in a traditional sense, but by severing the mystical link that goes through the sun and connects Daizyuzin to the magical energy force known as Gaiatron.
Other than that, the changes are pretty minor. Rather than Bulk and Skull, the bus is full of kindergarteners, and unlike Goldar, who's been running his mouth since the first episode, Grifforzar is only granted the power of speech in this one, which he immediately uses to get in a fight with his wife by telling her to go home and do laundry.
She does not do laundry. She is instead turned into a giant scorpion monster and fights God during a solar eclipse that cuts Him off from the source of magic.
This show is amazing.
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: Our monster here is definitely Scorpina, and really, a tiny woman who turns into a giant Predator from the movie Predator and who may or may not be married to a possible manticore is pretty gosh-darn weird. 8/10
- Deviation From the Source: I don't know if you got this, but just so we're on the same page here, the Megazord is literally God in Japan. 10/10
- Bulk and Skull Friendship: When it's time to evacuate the Youth Center, Bulk doesn't just stay to finish his ice cream, he grabs Skull and makes him stay, too. You can't tell me that this doesn't indicate a loneliness that they suffer while apart that would be far worse than being crushed by a girder. 8/10
- Moral Lessons: When everyone else is willing to give up at the end, Jason says they should keep going even if they have the slightest chance of success. Perseverance in the face of robots being cast into fiery chasms is a quality that I think we should all develop. 8/10
- '90s Fashions: Go back up to that first image and tell me they couldn't have stepped right out of the pages of Seventeen Magazine. 7/10
Total For Episode 16: 41/50