Ranger Station Episode 24: The Spit Flower
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, Rita dedicates her life to making war on all flowers, and a monster wants to eat Mei!
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 24: The Spit Flower
Writer: Peggy Nicoll
Director: David Blyth
Original Air Date: October 19, 1993
When you think about the appeal of Power Rangers, the acting isn't exactly the first thing that comes to mind. That's not to say that there aren't good actors involved with the show, but given that they're almost always hiring younger actors and that, especially in these early episodes, their priority seems to be more focused on getting kids who could handle the martial arts action, it doesn't always make for a great showcase of thespian talents.
If, however, you are looking for a solid performance, then this is the episode to watch. Not even kidding: It's got one of the most emotional performances on the show, and it's one that works not in spite of the rest of the series, but because of it.
We open at the Youth Center, where Tommy and Kimberly --- also known as the Green and Pink Rangers, respectively --- are working on a float that Kimberly designed. This, of course, is very exciting for them --- Kimberly makes sure to tell us that it's "like, so cool to be part of a parade that promotes World Peace."
This is, uh, not the scene I was talking about earlier.
There's a moment where the float looks like it might be in danger of being thoroughly demolished by Bulk's allergic sneezes --- and the fact that, y'know, Bulk smashing falling face-first into increasingly elaborate props has been a pretty key part of the show for coming up on two dozen episodes now --- but the real danger, of course, comes from Rita. From her palace on the moon, she has decided that she hates World Peace, flowers, and parades (in that order, I believe) and she sends a gang of Putty Patrollers to destroy Kimberly's model and thus ruin everything for everyone.
The Rangers try to fight them off, and Tommy is so dang furious that not only does he lose (and mysteriously regain) articles of clothing over the force of the fight, he looks like his veins are about to explode with every SICK-IYAHHHH that he screams. But in the end, they're overwhelmed, and the Putties destroy the model.
Well, one putty in particular, who goes all the way to a straight-up table flip:
This has to be the single most successful Putty Patroller ever, right? He just goes for it, and he shows a pretty admirable amount of initiative. In my mind, he returns to the Moon where he's lauded as a Hero of the Cause, the Putty Patroller that all others aspire to be. But I guess we should move on before this turns into even more of a miniseries pitch than it already is.
The point is, Kimberly's model has been destroyed, and with it, her plans for building a full-sized float for the World Peace Flower Parade. And she is devastated.
And this actually is the scene that I was talking about earlier.
It's great on a lot of levels, starting with the idea that Rita is striking out against the very idea of World Peace by still just screwing with these six children in particular, just like she does every week. And more than that, that Kimberly is finally realizing that she does this every week, and it's always something that they're personally invested in. Kimberly has finally realized that this is never going to stop, and that has driven her to the feeling that all the fighting, all the rebuilding, is pointless --- and it's worth noting that on one level, she's right. 23 years later, and someone's still trying to destroy the world with giant monsters on a pretty much weekly basis.
As an actress, Amy Jo Johnson is hands down the most successful of the original cast in getting roles that did not involve giant robot dinosaurs, and looking at this scene, it's pretty easy to see why. Kimberly is crushed, and she sells the emotion of this scene in a way that makes it easy to believe that maybe this time, Rita has actually beaten the Power Rangers.
And again: I would like to remind you that this is all because a Putty Patroller punched a model parade float.
With Kimberly's spirit sufficiently crushed, Rita decides to move to the second phase of her plan, attacking the concept of flowers by unleashing a plant-themed monster. This is, of course, the Spit Flower of the title, which has the power to turn regular flowers into life-sucking blossoms that it shoots out of its mouth like bullets.
At the Youth Center, the Rangers decide that the best way to restore their friend's broken faith in justice and their ability to battle against evil is to take her out to lunch, and to be honest, I can't really fault that logic. Tommy, however, leaves after checking in on Kimberly, in one of the show's best attempts at getting around the lack of source footage.
If he'd stuck around for another thirty seconds, though, he would've gotten the call from Zordon that the Spit Flower was terrorizing Angel Grove. The Rangers morph and head into battle, and when they do, they're almost immediately taken out by the Spit Flower's blood-sucking petals:
At this point, you can probably guess how the rest of the fight goes: Rita capitalizes on the monster's advantage by using her magic wand to make her monster grow, and when the Spit Flower proves to be too much, Tommy's called into action as well. Robots get involved, and when the MegaDragonZord shows up, it's about time for a big finishing move. Right?
The thing is, there are still about eight minutes in this episode, and even Mighty Morphin Power Rangers isn't that good at padding things out, no matter how many additional scenes of a flower-covered Bulk and Skull pratfalling on each other they have to add in. When the Spit Flower fills the air with explosive cherry blossom petals, the Rangers are forced to retreat to the Command Center, where Zordon instructs Alpha to use the Viewing Globe to track the monster's whereabouts.
This might seem a little unnecessary, given that it's a ten-story monster spitting out explosive flower petals and those aren't really hard to find, but it seems that Rita's monster-growing magic has worn off and returned it to its normal size, and it's spreading its monster flowers all over town:
With the Zords proven ineffective, the Rangers need to change their strategy, and to that end, Zordon has decided that they should "destroy the Spit Flower's mist sac" so that "he will be unable to produce any more biting bloomers." I think we're all a little uncomfortable with that description, but what it basically amounts to is that Kimberly shoots that em-eff in the gee-dee mouth with an arrow.
With the monster softened up by some good ol' fashioned mouth violence, the Rangers use the Power Blaster to put an end to it once and for all. The episode's not quite over, though.
With Alpha 5's help, Tommy has rebuilt Kimberly's model and sent it in to the Flower Power Peace Parade (that is seriously what it is called) so that her dreams can survive for another week.
I might have mentioned this before, but here's the weird thing about the Japanese titles that you see in stuff like anime and Super Sentai; they tend to be very, very blunt. Usually this manifests itself in just straight spoiling whatever's going to happen in the episode, but for the 27th episode of Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, we get a different kind of bluntness with our title: "I Want To Eat Mei."
See, the monster wants to eat Mei.
Bandora's young target this time is Masaru, an aspiring florist whose wares remind Mei of the endlessly blooming gardens of Risha, her kingdom from back in dinosaur times:
Dinosaur times that, as always, look suspiciously like they had the architecture of Disneyland.
Masaru has a crush on a girl named Sayuri who loves flowers --- hence his interest in the family business --- and he's recently grown a new blossom called Lyciam from a seed given to his father by an archaeologist. This is, needless to say, one of the flowers from Risha, and you'd think that would make a pretty fantastic gift. Unfortunately, as Bandora cannot abide love, flowers or children, Masaru's not going to be having a very pleasant time this week.
Instead, he's going to have to deal with Dora Guzzler:
Like its American counterpart, Dora Guzzler has the ability to turn normal plants into fanged, poisonous attack flowers that are capable of rendering their victims comatose and draining their energy like tiny little sweet-smelling vampires. And sure enough, Sayuri is one of its first victims.
The Zyurangers immediately start up a fight, but in an interesting twist, Bandora immediately calls upon the evil spirits that live in the ground to upsize the monster, and it almost stomps on them before Burai shows up to blast it with a laser beam from his Dragon Dagger:
He also summons Dragon Caesar, but even the combined power of Gouryuzin can't stop Dora Guzzler's rampage. That leaves Sayuri in the hospital, and Masaru, as you might expect, is pretty upset.
So upset, in fact, that he starts to take his anger out on all flowers.
There is, however, one way to defeat Dora Guzzler, and thanks to a story handed down from the Dinosaur Tribes, Mei knows exactly what it is. There's just one problem: She might have to die in order to do it.
See, this isn't the first Guzzler to cause problems. There was one that appeared back in Risha, too, and after it wrecked the gardens, it was only defeated when Princess Yui laid down with a Lyciam flower to lure it out to eat her. It did, but when its fangs pierced her heart, Yui exploded into a shower of glitter and took the monster with her, returning peace to the land.
And considering that Princess Yui bears a striking resemblance to our own Risha Tribe Princess, you can probably guess where this is going.
When the Lyciam flower blooms, Mei recreates Yui's sacrifice, laying in a field to await Dora Guzzler. She is not, however, planning to sacrifice herself --- as soon as the monster gets close, she springs her trap, shooting it in the mouth with her Ptera Arrow and then blasting it with lasers from her Guardian Beast when it tries to eat her.
With that, Dora Guzzler is defeated, Sayuri gets out of the hospital, and the narrator declares Mei the Princess of Love. 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: Spit Flower itself is whatever, but there's an extended sequence where Bulk and Skull are literally fighting a flower puppet with plastic vampire fangs, and that is pretty great. 6/10
- Deviation From the Source: Given the shenanigans that are going to happen later in the show, I am genuinely surprised that they never revealed that Kimberly was a reincarnated princess from Medieval Dinosaur Times. 5/10
- Bulk and Skull Friendship: Bulk has allergies. Skull always has a bandana. Hash tag relationship goals. 6/10
- Moral Lessons: There's a scene in this where Kimberly says that the best part of the parade to promote world peace is that they're going to recycle all the flowers by turning them into potpurri, and that might actually be the most hamfisted reference to recycling in the entire decade. 6/10
- '90s Fashions: I'm pretty sure that everyone in this episode was wearing at least one item made of flannel. 7/10
Total For Episode 21: 21/50