Ranger Station Episode 34: The Green Candle, Part 1
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, Tommy's days as a (terrible) superhero are numbered.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 34: The Green Candle, Part 1
Writer: Mark McKain and Stewart St. John
Director: Robert Hughes
Original Air Date: November 17, 1993
If you've been paying attention to the back half of the column every week, then there are two things that you've probably noticed that are going to be important for today's episode. First, Burai, the Green Zyuranger, is already dead, with the few hours of remaining life force measured by a green candle that burns ever lower each time he ventures into the world to fight alongside the others. Second, and perhaps more importantly, the American version of the show tends to only be tied into specific elements of its Japanese counterpart in the most vague and tenuous ways.
If you know those two things, then you've pretty much already seen the first half of "The Green Candle."
Before we get to the plot, though, we've got a little bit of high school melodrama to get through. Much to the delight of tween 'shippers of 1993, Tommy has finally realized that he likes Kimberly, and is trying to muster up the courage to ask her to the dance. On the one hand, it seems like this would be a much less fearsome task for someone who regularly risks death --- or at least what passed for death on FOX Kids in the early '90s --- by karate-fighting monsters alongside a gigantic robot dragon. On the other hand, the possibility of rejection is never one that anyone particularly wants to face, especially when you're dealing with someone you have to see every day, like a coworker, or a classmate, or someone else who fights monsters with a giant robot dinosaur that combines with yours.
What I'm getting at here is that it makes for a pretty awkward situation if it goes wrong, and for Tommy, an awkward situation at work could mean that the world is conquered by a cackling space witch. Dude has a reason to be a little nervous.
Zack, on the other hand, is pretty confident that Kimberly's going to say yes, to the point where he starts to offer Tommy a few tips on the fine art of romance, all of which tend to boil down to "hip-hop dance in the direction of your intended until she agrees to be 2gether 4ever."
On the moon, however, the topic of conversation isn't quite as lovey-dovey, unless you count Rita Repulsa's infatuation with murder to be one of the great romances of our time, which I do. She's got a new plan to take care of Tommy once and for all: a green candle that will steal his power forever. Step one of the plan, though, is to ambush Tommy while he's trying to ask Kimberly out at the Angel Grove Duck Pond, and get a bunch of Putty Patrollers to steal their morphers.
Step two involves Goldar showing up with a huge sword.
At this point, Rita has basically accomplished her goal. I mean, she's got Tommy and Kimberly's morphers, so in theory, she could just go ahead and chuck those things into an incinerator outside Finster's workshop or fire them into the depths of space in opposite directions, and she'd be done. The Rangers would lose two members, the Dragonzord, the ability to form the Megazord (or at least its chestplate) and be left significantly weakened. And that's before the part where she could just have Goldar stab them right there at the duck pond.
For some reason, though, she decides to make things a little more complicated. Thus, Tommy is taken to Rita's Dark Dimension --- last seen when Jason was trapped there during "Green With Evil" --- where he proceeds to be subjected to the most awkward taunts in the history of the franchise:
Needless to say, the Green Candle is there, too, and Goldar has promised that no matter how many screaming jump kicks Tommy does, he's not going to be able to put it out. The only way to keep his powers is to swear to rejoin Rita and battle against his former teammates.
That's only half of the plan, though. Rita also has a new monster in play, Cyclops, whose angst over being kicked out of a plane by his presumed dead space pirate father has made him inexplicable irresistible to telepaths, and whose son from the future --- Wait, no. Sorry, had my notes mixed up. This Cyclops is just a dude with one big eye and the world's goofiest grin:
At the Command Center, the Rangers are already on high alert when they Behold The Viewing Globe™ to see that the Dragonzord is attacking Angel Grove. It seems that Tommy has chosen his power over his friends. Or has he?!
No, of course he hasn't. Literally 35 seconds after revealing that the Dragonzord's attacking --- and, to be fair, a commercial break in there somewhere too --- Zordon tells the kids that the "Dragonzord" is actually an impostor: The giant-sized Cyclops disguised with an illusion. The Rangers have to go into action to fight him, but they'll have to do it without Tommy for backup. They will, however, have Kimberly. It seems that Goldar and the Putty Patrollers were nice enough to give her morpher back after they kidnapped Tommy.
The fight goes about like you'd expect: Without Tommy and the Dragonzord to help, the fake Dragonzord keeps the good guys on the ropes. The real battle, though, is still happening between Tommy and Goldar. After a brief departure where he leaves Tommy tied up in the Dark Dimension to keep the Green Candle safe...
... Goldar returns to resume the fistfight with the Green Ranger. Then, in what has to be one of the most badass moments of Tommy's entire career, he takes Goldar's sword and uses it to teleport himself back to Angel Grove. Quick study, that Tommy.
With Tommy freed (and somehow in possession of his Power Coin and Morpher again), he summons the real Dragonzord and joins the battle, revealing the Cyclops for the faker it truly is. It's not destroyed, though --- it retreats, and while that certainly qualifies as a victory for the Rangers, Rita still has the candle burning away in the Dark Dimension.
"The Green Candle" adapts a three-part episode of Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, so we're starting with the first: Episode 40, "Burai's Deathly Departure." And, y'know, not to spoil anything here, but Episode 42 is called "Burai Dies," so plan accordingly.
For now, though, things are looking pretty grim right from the start, with a dream sequence where Burai is picked up by a rickshaw being pulled by a seleton that wants to take him ot the land of the dead. Once he wakes up, though, his situation has not improved.
To make matters worse, according to Clotho of the Fates --- y'all remember how Clotho is the one who put Burai into his extradimensional time-stop apartment, right? --- the next time he comes out, he won't be able to go back. These last four hours are all he's got.
Needless to say, this ruins the Zyurangers' existing plans of goofing off at a park with a bunch of children. Instead, they decide to go back to headquarters and go through Barza's library to see if there's anything they can do to keep Burai alive.
It's at this point that the episode basically becomes a clip show, recapping Burai's reawakening, Geki's discovery that Burai's his brother, and his eventual turn to the side of good alongside Dragon Caesar. This goes on for a good eight minutes, so if you were wondering whether they could've fit this into two episodes in Japan, the answer is yes. Yes, they could have.
At her palace on the moon, Bandora has somehow gotten wind of Burai's remaining four hours, and she's got a plan to make sure that he stays out of his time-room for long enough to be well and truly dead. And that plan involves her new monster: Dora Gansaku, who even Pleprechaun says kind of sucks.
It does, however, have the amazing power to change its shape, which might explain why our very next scene involves Dragon Caesar just straight up wrecking downtown Tokyo. And when the Zyurangers show up to investigate, they find Bandora, riding on her mid-air pennyfarthing, ordering it to "go crazy" and destroy everything it can.
While that's happening, we get yet another scene of the skeleton rickshaw, reprising the scene from earlier in the episode (they could have done this in two), but with one difference. This time, there's a boy in his pajamas sitting on a park bench on the side of the road. Who is this mysterious boy? And will Burai be lured out to spend his last four hours battling a fake Dragon Caesar? Find out next week!
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: Considering that many of the monsters in this series have been based on classical Greek and Roman mythology, you'd think that a monster called Cyclops would have more in common with, you know, the cyclops. And yet, none of the Rangers need to disguise themselves as sheep to sneak past him. Very disappointing. 4/10
Deviation From the Source: Well... they both had candles? 6/10
Bulk and Skull Friendship: There's not a lot of Bulk and Skull in this episode, just one scene where they attempt to make fun of Zack's dance moves and end up being the recipients of a poem from Tommy and Zack that is improvised and recited in unison. Perhaps we should be discussing Zack/Tommy friendship instead? 3/10
Moral Lessons: Don't touch other people's candles. 5/10
'90s Fashions: There's not much to go on in this episode, except Tommy's weird super-tight striped t-shirt that he wears when he's sparring with Zack. Dude looks like he was accidentally upholstered in a Friendly's. 5/10
Total For Episode 21: 23/50