Ranger Station Episode 44: Lions And Blizzards
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, Angel Grove High's field day ends in a monster attack, so really, these kids should just stop trying to do things at all.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 44: Lions & Blizzards
Writer: Shell Danielson
Director: Robert Hughes
Original Air Date: February 10, 1994
You know, there are a lot of unresolved subplots in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. It gets a little better in later seasons once they realize that they only have a year with each cast, and that it's nice to have characters that you can care about as, you know, characters and not just color-coded robot pilots, but back in the early days? That stuff was the Wild West when it came to building anything into the story that was not explicitly meant to fight moon witchery.
Just look at Bulk and Skull. We're still in the era where they're portrayed as scheming juvenile delinquents, but over the course of their tenure on the show --- a tenure that lasts longer than 90% of actual Power Rangers --- they're going to be junior cops, private detectives, amateur alien hunters, astronauts, bartenders, and chimpanzees, and we're still not going to get anything that resembles satisfying ending to their story for like eighteen years.
And yes, I said "chimpanzees." We'll get to it in a couple years.
They are not, however, the only relationship that doesn't get a proper resolution, and this week's episode puts the spotlight on another one: Zack and Angela.
Y'all remember Angela, right? She's been hanging around in the background of the show ever since Episode 14 as the object of Zack's unrequited crush, and she's one of the few characters outside of the main group to actually add a little depth to the world around the Rangers.
And also, she's a babeasaurus.
Considering that she appears in so many episodes --- and that she's one of like two actual love interests outside of the team to actually make it onto the show --- you'd expect her to have some kind of resolution where she ends up with Zack, but she never does. Believe it or not, this episode is as close as we're going to get.
We open on Angel Grove High's Oddball Games, which is a pretty weird name for what basically amounts to a field day between two teams: The Red Team, led by Jason, and the Blue Team, which by all rights should be led by Billy, but is instead captained by Bulk and Skull.
As you might expect from the fact that you're watching a television show, the scores are tied going into the final around, which means that the whole game has to be settled by a tug of war --- and since you're watching Power Rangers, you can probably guess who's about to go face-first into the mud.
The prize for winning is what Mr. Caplan refers to as the "Noble Lion Trophy," but should probably just be referred to as "Rita's #Monsterspo" for the sake of expedience. And sure enough, while Bulk and Skull make off with the trophy due to being sore losers, the very sight of something that vaguely resembles a lion is enough to inspire Rita Repulsa to cast a magic spell that turns the trophy into a monster with a truly amazing name: Goatan The Stormbringer!
Blood and souls! Blood and souls for Arioch!
According to Rita, Goatan is half lion, half goat, which makes a lot of sense. I mean, you know how goats and lions both have, like, half of the ability to control the weather? Well it turns out that when you combine them, you get the whole thing. So once a gang of Putty Patrollers get the trophy away from Bulk and Skull --- complete with a scene where they go face-first into the pond, because of course they do --- Rita casts the spell that brings Goatan to life, and Angel Grove is very quickly beset by some hellacious weather.
But while the kids at the youth center are worried enough to head to the basement --- except for the Rangers, who teleport to the Command Center instead --- the local movie theater doesn't seem to be bothered by its sudden potential to be lifted into the air and dropped in the middle of Oz. Everyone's hanging out enjoying a collection of vaguely movie-ish sounds, including Angela and Zack, who just tried to pull the ol' "brr, it's cold in here" move with exactly the level of success you'd expect.
The problem is, between the movie and his precarious relationship with Angela, he's not paying attention to his communicator --- which, it turns out, is pretty easy to do since the show has suddenly decided at random that they don't sound off with the ringtone that they've had for the past forty episodes of the show.
Eventually, though, after Alpha 5 keeps trying to call him, the show decides --- equally at random --- that it's time for the familiar MIDI version of the theme song to return. And thus, the date is interrupted.
And it's a good thing, too. After challenging Kimberly to a contest of archery --- you know how lions and goats are both really into bows and arrows, right? --- Goatan has trapped all four of the other Rangers in a miniature cyclone. It's bad enough that Rita declares victory, claiming that "the Rangers have gone forever," which might be one of the weirdest turns of phrase to get around BS&P's restriction against words like "dead" and "killed" that I think I've ever heard.
It turns out, of course, that this is a bit premature. Once Zack shows up and starts hacking at Goatan with an axe that is also a gun, we learn that you really only need one Power Ranger to get everything done. From there, Rita goes to her desperation move of upsizing the monster, and even though there's a brief moment where Goatan looks like it might get the upper hand with a quick blizzard and a meteorologically (albeit not quite thematically) appropriate hockey stick...
... it's only about two minutes before Goatan meets an explosive end at the edge of the Power Sword.
Still, it turns out that's long enough to ruin just about everything. When Zack finally returns to Angela with the excuse that he's been waiting in a long line, she is very unhappy about his extended absence.
And that is pretty much that. Angela will make a few more appearances, but after the final episode of this first season --- also written by Shell Danielson --- she's gone for good. But hey, that's what we've got the comics for, right?
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: Goatan very clearly has a snake tail, and both Zack and Alpha 5 even refer to him as a Chimera during the episode, so naturally they decided not to go with that at all and instead make him a trophy that came to life and made tornadoes. Makes perfect sense to me! 7/10
Radness of the Music: This episode marks the debut of one of Ron Wasserman's new original songs, and one of the most memorable: "FIGHT." If you've never heard it, it includes lyrics like, “So you fell into the danger / And you're all alone tonight / Well you're surrounded by the hurting type / And you just don't care for the sight," which I believe marks the first time that enemies on this show have been referred to as "the hurting type." It's amazing. 8/10
Bulk and Skull Friendship: So when Bulk and Skull return at the end of the episode, they're being dragged in by a cop, covered in mud. This means that after they went into the pond (and washed off the mud from the tug-of-war), they went back into mud. Together. As bros. 7/10
Moral Lessons: Lying to your date gets you a bucket of popcorn upside the head, but sometimes it's necessary due to a floating head's threat of removing the vaguely defined "protection of the power." 6/10
'90s Fashions: Zack Taylor is on some A+ color blocking on his date. 8/10
Total For Episode 44: 36/50