Ranger Station Episode 39: Doomsday, Part One
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, Dai Satan returns as we reach the senses-shattering finale of Zyuranger!
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 39: "Doomsday, Part One"
Writer: Stewart St. John
Director: Terence H. Winkless
Original Air Date: November 29, 1993
So here's the thing about Super Sentai, at least from an American perspective: Each season is completely separate from the others. Sure, they're long seasons --- racking up almost 50 episodes over a year's worth of Sunday mornings, plus the tie-in movies and plenty of opportunities for guest appearances later on --- but at the end of the year, the show is done and the cast moves on, clearing the way for another team.
For American audiences, though, that's weird, especially back in the early days of Mighty Morphin. Assuming they end up as a success --- and by November of 1993, Power Rangers was definitely that --- we tend to just do more of the same thing. There are twists and turns on the formula, but if kids already like Jason, Kimberly, Zack, Trini, and Billy, why go through the hassle of trying to get them to like a bunch of new kids? Why take the risk of stocking store shelves with action figures of characters and vehicles that kids might hate when you already know they're into this bright red Tyrannosaurus that you've got plenty of already?
Point being, there was a finite number of Zyuranger episodes out there to adapt, and it's easy to imagine that when they were planning out the initial daily run of Power Rangers, it probably seemed like that would be all they needed. So if this week's episode feels like the start of a series finale rather than the 39th episode of a 60-episode season, well, there's a reason for that.
We open in Angel Grove High, where the Rangers are doing something that I think all #teens with attitude definitely do all the time: Reading the local newspaper!
It seems that after immediately turning on the Rangers and claiming that they had aligned themselves with the forces of evil at the first sign of trouble, the people of Angel Grove have sheepishly decided that they should probably do something nice for the teens. Thus, a celebration in Angel Grove Park, where Mayor Carrington has asked the Rangers to make a public appearance --- and where Bulk and Skull are planning something big as well.
Those plans are a little less important than Rita Repulsa's, though. Considering that the Rangers always defeat her with the power of the Dinozords, she has decided to make a Zord herself: Cyclopsus, summoned with the darkest of all moon magic, to be piloted into battle by Goldar:
The celebration honoring the Power Rangers makes for a pretty tempting target, especially considering that the park appears to be about 30% bouncy house:
Sure enough, that's Rita's plan: Using a "dimensional vortex beam" to trap the townspeople in another dimension and smoke out the Power Rangers for their demise. But there's one thing she didn't count on. The fly in the ointment. The monkey in the wrench.
Welcome to the party, pal.
The Incredible Bulkster and Super Skull!
This is Bulk and Skull's big surprise: Claiming to be superheroes who are here to protect Angel Grove. And really, it seems like this would be an easier deception to pull off if there weren't, you know, actual superheroes protecting Angel Grove, but who am I to question two young lads who have gotten a pretty amazing palette-swapped Robin costume together on less than a week's notice?
Sadly, even their might isn't enough to stop Rita from kidnapping the entire population of Angel Grove, leaving the city abandoned save for the Power Rangers --- and on top of that, she's launching her palace to Earth, crashing down right in the middle of the city:
In order to power Cyclopsus, the Palace needs to be close. Once she's landed, it's time to summon Goldar's Warzord, blasting hot pink lightning that rends the Earth itself to allow Cyclopsus to rise from the lava. And this thing is gundam as hell:
It's worth noting that while Cyclopsus looks awesome, the costume is so complicated that it seems even more difficult to move around in than the Megazord, meaning that the actual fight leaves a little to be desired. Still, if you can accept that Cyclopsus's stiff-legged shin kicks are truly devastating robot karate attacks, the high stakes that we're dealing with carry it through pretty well.
Despite its stiff knees, Cyclopsus thrashes the Megazord, unleashing magic lightning that leaves the city devastated and in flames. Even the Dragonzord doesn't help:
It's not until Titanus shows up to help form the Ultrazord that the tide starts to turn, but once it does, literally one shot destroys Cyclopsus once and for all. And given the fight that happened to lead up to it, it might be the biggest anticlimax of the franchise --- and that includes the entirety of Operation Overdrive.
Even with the monster taken out, though, Rita's not quite done yet. Since she's back on Earth, she can take a personal hand in the fight, and that's exactly what she does, blasting a crater into Angel Grove and casting Titanus down in what are quite possibly the most convincing special effects on the show:
Or... or maybe they just wiggled a toy around in front of a stock photo of Tokyo with a crater drawn on it.
Point being, Titanus is destroyed, and Rita's not done yet. As the final masterstroke of her plan, she summons Lokar, last seen in "Island of Illusion," and uses his magic to resurrect Cyclopsus, returning him to his unstoppable form. So now, with the Zords out of commission, Titanus destroyed, the people of Angel Grove trapped in another dimension and Cyclopsus rampaging through the city, we end the first part "Doomsday!"
You'd think that with the limited number of Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger episodes, they might've wanted to stretch things out a little, but it seems that 40 episodes was the limit of what they wanted to get out of the source material. For the two parts of "Doomsday," Power Rangers adapted the final four episodes of Zyuranger. Today, we've got Episodes 47 and 48: "Break In! The Final Deciding Battle" and "The Son From Darkness!"
And I have to say, it's looking pretty grim from the first frame.
After those grim tidings, we find out that the dinosaur eggs that have been an off-and-on plot point for the past year are set to hatch in 30 days --- which, not coincidentally, is about as much time as we have left in the series. For now, though, we cut to the hospital where a boy named Satoshi is getting a visit from Geki and Mei of the Zyurangers, along with some school friends who have brough the gift of color-coded Guardian Beast stuffed animals:
My birthday's in August, by the way.
While Satoshi plays with the toys, his mother takes the Zyurangers aside and tells them that the doctor has informed her that the deciding factor in whether Satoshi's mysterious illness is going to be fatal is his "will to live." And honestly, Mei's feelings about this diagnosis seem pretty close to mine:
To make matters worse, Satoshi's will is being sapped by his fear of death, and when Geki tries to cheer him up by advising him to be strong like the dinosaurs, Satoshi flips out and reminds him that all the strength in the world didn't keep the dinosaurs from becoming extinct.
Or are they?! To cheer him up, Geki and Mei tell Satoshi that the dinosaurs aren't really extinct, and that they're incubating a matching pair of eggs right now within the body of Beast Knight God King Brachion that will hatch within 30 days. So cheer up, kid! That's two whole dinosaurs! That means that of the 700 identified species of dinosaur that probably only represent a fraction of how many actually existed, only 699 are actually extinct! Why, if that doesn't give you the will to live, I don't know what will!
Of course, the Zyurangers have a bigger problem than the consequences of the Cretaceous-Tertiary Extinction event. They're noticing that plants are wilting in the soil and birds are falling dead out of the sky, and with an earthquake that somehow also shakes Bandora's palace on the moon, their greatest fears are realized: Great Satan is returning.
When Geki and Mei try to return to Great Sage Barza's underground shrine to prepare for the battle, though, they find themselves lost in a mysterious forest along with a few local children. And that's when this dude shows up:
And not only does he tell the Zyurangers that they're going to die, he also kidnaps the four children --- and when Mei and Geki try to stop him, he proves that he's far more powerful than he looks, able to control their bodies with a wave of their hands. But who is he?
Well buckle the heck up, '90s kids of Japan, because you're about to find out. When he shows up at the palace on the moon and calls Bandora "mama," we find out that he is, in fact...
... Bandora's son Kai, resurrected through the power of Great Satan!
Back at the shrine, Barza is going over a book that the spirits of the Guardian Beasts have unearthed. It's written in an ancient language, but it has the pretty ominous title of "Dino-Apocalypse," so, y'know, that's not good. And to make matters worse, the skyscrapers of Tokyo begin to move, seemingly of their own volition, forming a platform for Bandora's palace to return to Earth, apparently powered by the line-dancing of our villains:
That's right, y'all. There's a full-on musical number happening.
And on the off chance you're wondering, this is diegetic. Bandora appears to be broadcasting a song and dance number about how Earth is a garbage planet to everyone within earshot, including the Zyurangers.
With Earth sufficiently cowed by Bandora's sick dis track and the sight of a Grifforzar/Bookback/Totpat can-can line, Kai shows up and channels Great Satan's power to give life to Pleprechaun's new monster, Dora Taros:
Like its American counterpart, Dora Taros is the same kind of piloted machine god as Daizyuzin, but there's one important difference. Instead of being piloted by Grifforzar, Dora Taros is driven by the missing children that Kai kidnapped, led by Kai himself:
This, you will find, presents quite a problem for the Zyurangers, who usually solve their problems by blowing them up with a God Horn Lightning Cut.
When the battle picks up in the second episode, we find Dora Taros battling Daizyuzin with the power of Satan Missiles and the Satan Beam, which prove to be too much even for His strength. Even Dragon Caesar and Goryuzin can't make a dent in him. The only solution is forming Ultimate Daizyuzin with the help of Beast Knight God King Brachion, but as Barza tells them, they can't risk it. If Brachion is destroyed while carrying the dinosaur eggs, then the dinosaurs truly will become extinct, and the hopes and dreams of dinosaur times will be ended forever, and the Guardian Beasts themselves will die.
As was written in prophesy!
So here's the choice facing the Zyurangers: Summon Brachion and have the Guardian Beasts die when the eggs are destroyed, or don't summon Brachion and have the Guardian Beasts just die right here from being beaten to death by Dora Taros. It's not much of a choice to make, but before the Zyurangers can decide, Brachion takes the choice out of their hands by showing up of his own volition, blasting at Dora Taros and forming Ultimate Daizyuzin.
Brachion also tells them to go ahead and use Grand Banisher --- which you may remember as the finishing move where a dinosaur made of guns shoots at everything in sight --- and tells them that it'll be fine and that they won't actually be murdering children with explosions.
Sure enough, the blast decapitates Dora Taros, leaving the children more or less unharmed while Kai gets away. But that was just the distraction. Bandora craters the city, leaving a patch of quicksand that drags King Bracheon down his explosive destruction.
So why exactly is all this happening? Well, when the Zyurangers head back to the shrine, Barza reads from the Dino-Apocalypse and tells them the story of how the Queen of the Dal Tribe --- one of the dinosaur-worshipping tribes of ancient times --- lost her son when he was killed by a dinosaur after maliciously hacking up a bunch of eggs. And yes, this is represented in the second-best use of special effects in the franchise:
No prizes for guessing where this was going, but that prince was Kai, and the queen was Bandora, who was so heartbroken by the death of her son that she sold her soul to Great Satan and swore to kill everyone else's children --- and all the dinosaurs --- in revenge.
While all this is going on Satoshi --- remember him? --- is getting worse in the hospital, and with King Brachion destroyed, there aren't going to be any new dinosaurs around to cheer him up. But that's not going to be much of a problem in the grand scheme of things if things keep getting worse, and when Great Satan is summoned once again to unleash plagues upon the Earth, that's exactly what happens. He resurrects Dora Taros with Kai back in the driver's seat once again, and we get the start of our second big fight.
The good news is that there aren't any other kids piloting Dora Taros this time, so Daizyuzin doesn't have a reason to hold back. The bad news is that even without holding back Dora Taros is still a major threat, and this time, he's got Great Satan backing him up. With their combined power, Daizyuzin doesn't stand a chance, and ends up having His left arm chopped off in a shower of sparks as the episode ends.
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: It should be noted that Cyclopsus definitely has two eyes, but I do like the idea of finally seeing the Megazord fight a Gundam. If we could get a Jaeger and King Ghidorah in there, we'd have something. 5/10
Deviation From the Source: I don't want to be all DC Comics about this or anything, but if we can't have Satan and Repulsa Jr., we could at least have the Megazord lose an arm in the season finale, right? 7/10
Bulk and Skull Friendship: Bulk and Skull change into their superhero costumes in a room that's about four square feet. 8/10
Moral Lessons: Don't go to a park in Angel Grove, no matter how many bouncy houses they may have. 2/10
'90s Fashions: It seems like Billy has forsaken his tank tops yet again, but to make up for it, Trini has gone Full Clueless. 7/10
Total For Episode 36: 29/50