Ranger Station Episode 47: Reign of the Jellyfish
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 another sitcom standard plot, but with so much of the slightly off-model Original American Footage Rangers.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 47: Reign of the Jellyfish
Writer: Stewart St. John
Director: Terence H. Winkless
Original Air Date: February 16, 1994
Okay, honest question: How many of you out there actually participated in having a time capsule in your school? I mean, I know that time capsules actually are a thing (and they're pretty interesting whenever one of them actually gets dug up), but television would have you believe that every school in the country is burying those things with the kind of regularity that would leave your average front lawn as a terrifying morass of newspaper clippings and dated fashions every time there was a heavy rain.
Personally, I've never done one, which is a little weird when you really think about it. I mean, I graduated high school in 2000, and given how obsessed people were with the turn of the millennium back then, you'd think somebody would've suggested sealing up a VHS copy of The Matrix and a pair of JNCOs for future generations to enjoy. And yet, nothing. So once again, we learn that the Power Rangers get to have all the fun.
That's right, everybody: As this week's episode begins, Angel Grove High is getting their time capsule ready to be buried so that people in the far-off future of 2094 can know what life was like back in the '90s. And naturally, our favorite Teenagers With Attitudes™ are very excited about cheerfully participating in this school project, and they've each brought in something to include:
Jason makes what is probably the most personal move, giving up his very first karate trophy in order to show the people of the future "what you can do when you believe in yourself and take good care of your body." Next is Kimberly, who offers up some clothes --- all in pink, of course --- and while this seems like a pretty standard time capsule offering, she claims that it's meant to illustrate the concept of freedom of choice. That, I think we can all agree, is Pushing It.
The most interesting contribution to the time capsule, though, comes not from the students, but from Ms. Appleby herself. She's throwing in an 8x10 promotional photo of the Power Rangers, so that the future will remember all they've done for the world:
On the one hand, throwing that thing in there seems pretty mandatory. I mean, if I lived in the world of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, I'm pretty sure that the Power Rangers and their daily battles against gigantic monsters would be literally the only thing anyone ever talked about. On the other hand, if people a hundred years in the future need a high school time capsule to find out that the world used to be under constant attack from a witch who lived on the moon, then all other media has just disastrously failed at its job.
After a few other standard offerings --- including "a slammin' CD with some phat tunes" from Zack --- Bulk and Skull attempt to load up the time capsule with what is unquestionably the greatest accomplishment that we have here in the present: The Bulkwich. It's a three-foot party sub, the creation of which is a feat of truly unparalleled sandwich artistry, which naturally ends in this:
Oh, relax. It's mayo.
Sadly, our boys seem to have overestimated the ability of perishable goods to survive buried underground for an entire century, so when it comes time to actually bury the thing, they're left out. Don't worry, though --- if I do nothing else in this wasted life, I promise I will do everything I can to ensure that people remember Farkas Bulkmeier and Eugene Skullovich well into the distant future.
At this point, you may be thinking to yourself, "Hey, we seem to be awfully far into this episode and have only barely mentioned that these teenagers are a) the Power Rangers, and b) locked in an eternal battle against the forces of evil, as represented by a Moon Witch and her legion of minions. When the heck are we going to see some monsters up in this piece?" A valid and understandable question, dear reader, but I remind you that I'm only here to talk about the show, not to fix its glaring issues with pacing.
With all this talk of the future, it seems that Rita has become annoyed at the possibility that people a hundred years from now will remember the Power Rangers, but not her. Considering that her lifespan has already topped at least 10,000 years (and that her Japanese counterpart Bandora had birthday candles numbered in the millions), I'd say that she could probably just wait around and see for herself, but that's not good enough. No, she wants to ensure that her legacy makes it to the 21st century intact, and while you'd think the best way to do that would be conquering Earth, she has... another plan in mind.
She wants to steal the time capsule and put her own picture in it.
To that end, a gang of putties attack the Rangers while they're getting ready to bury the time capsule --- which, by the way, they're apparently planning to do right next to a lake, which seems like a pretty bad idea just in general --- and distract them long enough for Squatt and Baboo to get to it. Unfortunately, they didn't bring Rita's picture with them, and they're caught before they can schlep the whole thing back to the Moon.
It's at this point that Rita decides that she should probably not be trusting even the simplest of tasks to the two members of her running crew who always screw up, so she opts instead to leave things to her new monster: The Jellyfish!
It's... not exactly the most intimidating name she's come up with.
It is, however, strong enough to send the Rangers into an almost immediate retreat the first time they fight, leading them back to the Command Center for a rare and wonderful visit from the Original American Footage Rangers!
I'm not sure if we've talked about this before, but if we haven't, I love these guys. In a lot of ways, the Japanese footage, whether it's from Zyuranger or the product of the weird "Zyu2" era that we're in now --- looks a lot worse than the shots of the American cast in action. The film's grainier, the colors are a bit less vibrant, but the costumes always look great. I mean, they fit, which is about as much as you can ask from a superhero costume.
Whenever the Rangers have to show up in footage that was shot for the American show, however, the suits just look terrible. Even if you get past the padded, pillowy Green Ranger armor that we've had to get through in the past --- which was apparently something they had to cobble together after the original prop was damaged in shipping --- they're weirdly baggy in spots, and the people underneath the suits don't seem anywhere near as confident in their movements as their Japanese suit actor counterparts.
Especially once Alpha-5 starts spraying them down with Liquid Lensflares.
This is, of course, to negate the Jellyfish's toxic spray, so once they've got that, they're ready to head back into battle. Still, it's a tougher fight than they anticipate, largely because the Jellyfish is armed with a parasol.
If it seems like the Jellyfish's powers are all over the map here, what with the toxic spray that shoots out of his fingers like machine gun fire, and the sudden appearance of an impenetrable parasol, well, that's because he is. But you haven't seen anything yet.
Just wait until he opens up a dimensional portal and phases out of sync with time.
You know, as jellyfish so often do.
He still has one weakness, though: Being shot. As soon as Zack nails him with a blast from his Power Axe (which, you may recall, is also a gun), the Rangers escape from his asynchronous dimension and start to thrash him pretty soundly. He grows, the Rangers call the Megazord, and despite a little trouble with his teleportation ability, they quickly cut him in half with the Power Sword.
So one more time, just in case you missed it: Rita had a monster that was capable of bringing the Rangers into another dimension and attacking them while he was out of sync with time, and she used it to try to get her photograph into a high school time capsule.
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 the Rangers fought a jellyfish who shot out acidic blasts and defended himself with an indestructible parasol and then came unstuck from time, I'm starting to think that the Zyu2 monsters might've just been cobbled together from spare parts they never got around to in the main series. 9/10
Radness of the Music: This episode marks the first appearance of the song "Combat," which isn't quite as good as "Fight," but is the only song to include the line "they don't know about your Ultrazord protection." 7/10
Bulk and Skull Friendship: You know, just bros who make sandwiches together and spray each other down with condiments. 7/10
Moral Lessons: The future! It's so important that we need to work together for a peaceful tomorrow, and also bury some stuff we're not using anymore so those nerds in 2094 know what's up. 3/10
'90s Fashions: Actually pretty unremarkable this episode, unless you count Jason's ongoing hatred of sleeves. 4/10
Total For Episode 46: 30/50