Ranger Station Episode 63: The Mutiny, Part 3
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 from Gosei Sentai Dairanger in ComicsAlliance's Ranger Station!
This week, we get a new team of Zords and a bad guy on rollerblades, and everything's a lot creepier than it seems.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 63: "The Mutiny, Part 3"
Writer; Shuki Levy and Shell Danielson
Director: Shuki Levy
Original Air Date: August 5, 1994
As we head into its final act this week, it's worth noting that "The Mutiny" is the second-longest story arc that we've seen on Power Rangers at this point. The longest, of course, was "Green With Evil," which represented an incredible shift in how Power Rangers (and Super Sentai) worked, introducing the "Sixth Ranger" concept that would drive so much of the show over the next 20 years, and giving us the most popular character in the entire franchise.
"The Mutiny," on the other hand, doesn't even come close to doing anything that notable.
Admittedly, we do get Lord Zedd and the Thunderzords out of it, but aside from those two important elements, there's just not a whole lot that happens, especially when you compare it to what the show's going to do with other three-part sagas that are coming down the line later. I mean, the next time we get this many episodes devoted to a single story, it's because half the cast got fired after a contract dispute. Meanwhile, these guys are just straight up fighting a fish monster called Pirantishead for three friggin' episodes. When Great Satan showed up, it only took two.
Anyway, we rejoin the show with Pirantishead still in control of the Dragonzord and Tyrannosaurus Zord, and despite the fact that the Rangers already know about five new zords that they're supposed to be getting later in this episode, it seems that the Thunderzords do not technically exist. As we'll find out later, they need to get control of the Dinozords back so that they can strip them for parts and build the new models, and... folks, I just don't know anymore.
Putting aside the fact that the Rangers have already seen the Thunderzords when Alpha led them outside --- and if they were just images, why project them into the skies above the Command Center rather than just beholding the viewing globe as usual? --- then wouldn't getting the Dinozords back defeat the purpose of building the new ones? Like, the existing Megazord is clocking in at 100% effectiveness in dealing with monsters, so we don't have any real reason to believe that it wouldn't be able to handle the Pirantishead. If the problem here is that the Dinozords have proven that they can be taken over, then isn't the signal jammer that Billy and Trini are building the solution? They have no trouble continuing to use the Dinozord for the next few episodes, right?
Believe me, I have no problem with the Ranger getting an upgrade to new robots every year, but the least you can do is follow some kind of internal logic.
Just as Zedd and the Pirantishead send the zords to attack the off-road rally --- y'all remember that plot point that has nothing to do with giant robot dragons from three episodes ago, right? --- Billy and Trini arrive with the signal blocker. The problem is that they can't quite get it to work, but since they suddenly remember that they can also summon the Power Blaster.
You'd think that shooting Pirantishead with exploding lasers would've been the first thing they tried, but, well, teenagers with attitudes have different ways of solving problems than the rest of us, I guess.
Lord Zedd has a few more tricks up his sleeve, though. When they finally get the signal blocker working and regain control of the Zords, he suddenly develops the ability to "strip them of their power and send them back to the depths of Earth from whence they came," which is a fancy way of saying that he recycles a little footage from "Doomsday" and casts them down into a chasm of fire. That's pretty much the end of the Dinozords.
You will note that utter volcanic destruction will do absolutely nothing to prevent Zordon and Alpha from getting all the parts they need to build new and much more powerful robots, because, who even knows anymore? The only zord that survives unscathed is the Dragonzord, but Tommy is quick to return it to the sea to keep it from being destroyed as well.
Zedd's second trick is to summon a grenade --- which is pretty functionally and visually identical Dairanger's Enlarging Bombs --- and send it down to earth to upsize the Pirantishead so that it can fight again.
Without the Zords, the Rangers decide to not even bother trying to fight the Pirantishead, and instead just peace out back to the command center to mope around, presumably leaving Angel Grove to its fishy destruction. But the good news is that in the literal two minutes since the dinozords were destroyed, Alpha 5 has not only saved enough parts from fiery destruction to build the new Thunderzords, but actually built them.
Now, there is the possibility that the timeline isn't quite this tight, and that the cut between scenes is actually a little longer than the real time that we're seeing, but that alternative also means that there's an unchecked Pirantishead rampage going on for however many hours (days?) (weeks?!) it takes for a terrible robot and a floating head to finish building five new thunder-powered robots.
One more interesting thing here: There's an actual, canonical reason that Tommy doesn't get a new Zord, which ties back into his return and the limits of his power:
It's been hinted at pretty vaguely throughout the series that the Rangers are the ones powering the Zords, rather than just driving giant mechanical robots --- the Rangers get their powers from their Power Coins, and the Coins in turn become the crystals that they use to power the Megazord --- but here, that's been made explicit. Tommy can morph, and since the Dragonzord follows the commands of the Dragon Dagger rather than being piloted like the others, he can still use that, but he's not strong enough to power a new Thunderzord.
For another 14 episodes or so, at least.
Thus armed, the Rangers set out for the final battle against Pirantishead, summoning their Dinozords with their ridiculous full names ("Triceratops Unicorn Thunderzord Power!") and watching as they morph into their new forms. And once they're all present and accounted for, we finally get a look at our new ultimate weapon: The Mega Thunderzord!
It's worth noting that we also get original American footage in a new cockpit --- which, unlike the original Megazord, is in the Mega Thunderzord's chest --- because, of course, there's no other footage of the MMPR/Zyuranger costumes interacting with Dairanger's monsters and mecha. In fact, since Pirantishead is left over from the Zyu2 footage, we don't get the MegaThunderzord actually onscreen with this monster at all, either.
Instead, as Tommy watches forlornly, the MTZ waves its Thunder Saber in Pirantishead's general direction, and that is that.
But what of Rita Repulsa? The Rangers don't yet know what happened to her. All they know is that they have a new adversary in the form of Lord Zedd (and really, how they know that is left pretty vague), so it's time to ask Zordon to share his omniscience with them. Behold the viewing globe!
And with that, the Rangers have a good laugh that their old enemy is trapped in a tiny box, flying endlessly through the void of space, alone but immortal without even a way to die to escape the tedium, and then they have a good laugh about it. And honestly? I'd take that fate over seeing Zordon's abysmal comedy take again.
Since the first few episodes of MMPR's second season are cobbled together from leftover Zyu2 footage stitched up with a few key scenes from Dairanger's robots, there's no real reason for us to not just continue establishing the tone of the series --- especially since the footage that is used in the American version here is from Dairanger's eighth episode, which will be recycled again later in the season.
So for now, let's talk about Dairanger Episode 3: "Your Souls, Please!"
And it all starts with an argument. While Ryo may have been the last Dairanger to join the team, they're all pretty new to each other, and there's bound to be a little friction. Such is the case for Shoji (the Blue Dairanger) and Kazu (the Yellow Dairanger), who find themselves antagonizing each other in a street race.
It's Tokyo Drift: 1993 style!
They get so distracted competing with each other that they almost run into a child, Maseo, who winds up in the hospital. But as we'll find out eventually, that's not really their fault. The real culprit here is this week's villain, who continues the "things you might find in a lady's purse" monster theme that I've cribbed from Super Sentai Bros: Key Jester!
Here he is in his human form, where he bears a striking resemblance to Ozone from Breakin'.
Not pictured: The purple rollerblades that he is also wearing, which I can assure you are fantastic.
At first, his plan seems pretty simple: Using a magic key, he can literally open up someone's body with a tiny door, extracting their souls and leaving them comatose. It's actually a really cool effect, as such things go:
The thing is, that's not his entire plan. As Kazu and Shoji bicker to the point where Daigo (the Green Ranger) is called in to mediate their conflict, the Dairangers and the children they're trying to protect find themselves under attack --- but they're not under attack by Key Jester himself. Instead... it's puppets. Evil killer puppets.
At first, one of them tries to run Shoji and Kazu over with a car, but for some reason, none of the other Dairangers will believe Shoji when he tries to tell them. Apparently, "killer puppets" is just a step too far for a bunch of people who use Ch'i Power to turn into motorcycle helmet superheroes, who call on flying robot dragons, and who literally just fought a humanoid coinpurse who tried to murder them with basketball gourds.
Also, shout out to the translator over at Shout Factory for making good choices.
Eventually, though, it becomes clear that the killer puppets are being animated by the souls of the children that Key Jester has harvested from all the kids he's been attacking. And even worse, he's brainwashing them to like doing bad things!
Say what you will about the Gorma, but they do not tie themselves down with specifics.
That's not actually the worst of it, though: Maseo's sister, Kaori, has been understandably angry with the Dairangers ever since they almost ran over her brother, but after she gets involved in the investigation, she ends up being chased down by Cotpotros and taken to Key Jester. Daigo tries to rescue her, but he can't --- without the other rangers around, he's overwhelmed --- and her soul is extracted. And Daigo is furious.
He's so angry that he punches Shoji and Kazu in the face, chastising them for not being there to help with the big issues even after he spent his time trying to fix their stupid argument. And, uh...
...that's how it 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: The fact that Pirantishead manages to stick around for three episodes when the Pumpkin Rapper only gets one is remarkable, and not in a good way. 3/10
Deviation From The Source: Is there anything more genuinely surprising about Power Rangers than the fact that we don't get more Killer Puppet episodes? 10/10
Bulk and Skull Friendship: After building up two relatively interesting Bulk and Skull plots (the quest to discover the Power Rangers' identities and the bet about who can get back to town first), "The Mutiny" manages to drop the ball completely on both. 3/10
Moral Lessons: Buy new toys. 2/10
'90s Fashions: The one bright spot in the entire episode is that once they're back to their civilian gear, the Rangers are all still wearing their sweet off-road ATV gear. Fingerless gloves for everyone! 7/10
Total For Episode 46: 23/50