Ranger Station Episode 52: Two Heads Are Better Than 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, the Rangers fight... I dunno, some kind of bird, I guess? Yeah, let's say a bird.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 52: Two Heads Are Better Than One
Writer; Mark Hoffmeier
Director: John Stewart
Original Air Date: April 29, 1994
One thing that you have to give Power Rangers is that as a franchise, it has a lot of memorable visuals. The costumes, the giant robots, and of course, the monsters. Those in particular require a lot of work to stand out since they usually only last for a single episode, and it's a testament to how creative this show can be that so many are genuinely memorable.
Until you get to the Zyu2 era.
For some reason --- and there's a very uncharitable part of me that thinks it might have something to do with the fact that the Japanese producers at Toei were designing them for this weird American offshoot that nobody expected to still be around in 22 years --- the monsters in this back stretch of Mighty Morphin's first season are, by and large, remarkably boring.
It's not just that they seem like they're cobbled together from spare parts, although they certainly make the designer over at the Pokémon Company who just said "I don't know, make it a garbage bag I guess" seem like a genius, it's that they're just nothing. I mean, I watch these episodes multiple times and write literal thousands of words about them, and I'm not sure I could describe any of the monsters from this run of episodes unless you put them right in front of me.
Well, except for the Pumpin Rapper, I mean. Who could forget his sinister raps and rhymes? But we'll get to him in a couple of weeks.
For now, we open at the Angel Grove Youth Center, where Jason and Tommy are teaching a Women's Self Defense Class to the moms of Angel Grove, and really, all it's missing is Bobby Hill shouting "That's my purse! I don't know you!" Instead, with a little help from Kimberly and Trini, the focus of their lesson is all about teamwork. Unfortunately, Rita Repulsa is watching, too, and she decides that maybe a lack of teamwork is the reason that her monsters are always beaten by their opponents.
Now, a rational mind may have assumed that this would mean she'd be dispatching a team of monsters, balancing the scales and providing the Rangers with a challenge that will take away their advantage in numbers. The rational mind, however, is about as far away from moon witchery as it can be. See Rita's problem isn't that she's not sending enough monsters, it's that she's not sending enough heads.
Yes: Rita literally heard the phrase "two heads are better than one" and decided to take the most literal route possible.
The result is the Two-Headed Parrot, a monster that is exactly what it says on the box:
The thing is, even with the literal interpretation of Jason and Tommy's advice, THP falls pretty short at the premise of actually having two heads. He just sort of has an extra beak stuck on his torso, like a plucked Arnim Zola from the Spider-Ham universe.
Either way, he's pretty effective. When Jason and Tommy are practicing some new moves for their self-defense class by hanging out together in a park taking turns pushing each other up against a tree in a scene that has exactly as much subtext as it sounds like it does...
...the Two-Headed Parrot makes his initial attack, firing off some deadly feathers from its wings before battling the Green and Red Rangers to a standstill. Jason wants to keep fighting, but Tommy insists that they go to get the rest of the team, which is how we go directly into one of the most contrived plot points that I've ever seen, even in a lifetime of reading comic books.
When the team gathers at the Command Center to discuss how they can beat their new foe --- a foe that, I think it bears repeating, fought two of the six Rangers to a draw, and that the full team has yet to actually fight --- Billy makes an offhand comment about how the best way to deal with this is to distract the Parrot with its favorite food: pamango fruits. And then everyone just goes with it.
And like, in the grand scale of things, this is a pretty minor thing to get hung up on. But why they decide they need a distraction at all is never quite explained aside from an offhand mention that this monster has two brains and is therefore way smarter than, say, the Pudgy Pig, and even that is pretty tenuous. Plus, on the off chance that things weren't coincidental enough, the Rangers' entire plan is made possible by... Ernie.
Of course they just happen to have this rare imaginary fruit that parrots love, because presumably either nobody wanted to look up what parrots actually eat or what parrots eat is super gross, which I don't know because if they're not going to look it up there's no way I am either.
Anyway, while the rest of the Rangers take on the THP, Tommy heads off in search of pamangos, eventually getting a few from Ernie after a brief (but rockin') fight against a gang of Putty Patrollers. And it's a good thing he does, too, as the Rangers are getting their collective ass handed to them due to the power of a monster with two parrot brains.
Yeah, I know. It didn't sound particularly threatening when I was typing it, either.
Once Tommy shows up with the Pamango, though, the Parrot straight up loses its sugar. The two heads --- which are presumably connected to a single stomach, although I will freely admit that I have zero knowledge of anatomy vis-a-vis Finster's monster oven --- start fighting over who gets to eat it, apparently forgetting that there are six armed superheroes trying to murder it in that very moment. But then, I suppose that is the virtue of a distraction.
With its two heads operating out of unison, the Two-Headed Parrot is no match for the Rangers, who thrash it until Rita sends down her magic wand, and then thrash it again with the help of the Megazord, Dragonzord, and Ultrazord.
With the monster defeated, the Rangers now have only one thing to worry about: The fact that Tommy got the pamango from Ernie by telling him that it was for Kimberly's nonexistent pet parrot, which has turned Tommy's entire life into a fragile pyramid built upon a lie. The Rangers have won... but at what cost to the Green Ranger's soul?
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: Ugh. 2/10
Radness of the Music: Tommy's fight scene against the Putties features another use of "Go Green Ranger Go," and while the line about fighting Goldar to-nite! has been removed, the best thing about it is that it's punctuated by JDF's signature "SICK-IYAHHH!" yells. Why has that never been chopped up by a DJ? Seriously. 8/10
Bulk and Skull Friendship: Bulk and Skull signing up for a women's self defense class and then basically being made into the practice dummies is Peak Bulk and Skull. 7/10
Moral Lessons: Teamwork is the best way to accomplish difficult things, so always send one person to go do the crucial thing while the rest of the team does something else. That's what "teamwork" means, right? 2/10
'90s Fashions: Kimberly spends the opening of this episode wearing what I believe would be the Default Player Character Outfit for an RPG set in the '90s: Long sleeve sweater, plaid miniskirt, combat boots. It's a look that always works. 8/10
Total For Episode 46: 27/50