Ranger Station Episode 66: Bloom Of Doom
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, Kimberly gets sad because nobody wants to hug a cactus, and the Dairangers do donuts in the Gobi desert.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 66: Bloom of Doom
Writer: Cheryl Saban
Director: John Stewart
Original Air Date: September 17, 1994
Before we move on with the events of "Bloom of Doom," I have a Critical Update to last week's column! As you may recall, part of the premise of that episode was that Zack went to the swap meet and found a pair of sunglasses that he and Billy could use for eye protection during a science project. At the time, I thought this was bonkers, and said, "You can't just wear these '90s Oakleys in the lab, Zack! That's how you lose an eye!", referencing the most 1994 brand of sunglasses I can think of.
Well! In the week since, I was informed over Twitter that you actually can wear Oakleys in the lab because many of their models are certified as safety glasses, and when I went to check, I found out that is actually true! Per the Oakley website:
Eyewear that fully conforms to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z87.1 requirement where both the lens and frame are marked with "Z87" is approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for use in environments where eye protection is required. Only Oakley eyewear identified as an industrial model and marked with "Z87" is intended for use in industrial applications.
It's not all Oakleys, but a search of the site for Z87 certification does indeed bring up a model similar to the one that was cursed by Lord Zedd. So while I would like to officially apologize to the Oakley Sunglasses corporation, I would also remind the impressionable viewers among you that you should probably trust your eyes only to a certified Oakley retailer and not just swing by a swap meet that may be staffed entirely by Putty Patrollers in disguise under the orders of a skinless moon horror.
Anyway, onto this week's episode, where Kimberly is sad that nobody wants to join gardening club.
No, really, that's the entirety of the school plot this time around.
It's the last day for signups at Angel Grove High's student clubs, and while Billy's science club, Trini's volleyball club, and Zack's Hip-Hopkido club all have extras falling over themselves to sign up, Kimberly's gardening club table has been forsaken by the rest of the students.
Personally, I suspect that this has a lot to do with the fact that Kimberly's big display is a cactus. It's a pretty cactus, yes, but a) it's still covered in sharp needle spines that can be very intimidating to people who are more into daisies and peonies, and b) it's a friggin' cactus, and my understanding of succulents is that the entire point of them is that they don't actually require a whole lot of gardening. But since my understanding of Oakley Sunglasses has also proven to be faulty, who knows. Feel free to correct me on this, and only this.
Perhaps the actual reason is that nobody's there to sign up is that students aren't quite sure where to go to find Kimberly and the gardening club, which we know because Mr. Caplan walks up to her table and loudly announces that since they've split the clubs into two venues --- the Youth Center and the school's auditorium --- nobody's actually sure where to go. Perhaps this will be important later.
Either way, Kimberly's not alone in her failure as a club organizer. Bulk and Skull's Mystery Solving Club seems to be a flop as well. Maybe it's because, unlike most Teen Mystery Solvers, they don't have a talking dog or talking car as their mascot, or maybe --- just maybe --- it's because Skull has shown up straight up dressed as a Civil War soldier.
I am not the most fashionable person alive, but I was alive in 1994, and I feel like this is a thing I would remember if it was actually a trend among the teens of the day. Oh well, at least he's Union. I think.
Trini, however, seems to be doing a brisk business recruiting her fellow students into the exciting world of volleyball, and Kimberly's jealousy gives Lord Zedd the idea for his latest plan: Cursing the cactus so that Kimberly will prick her finger on it and then be consumed with jealousy over Trini's volleyball success.
It's been a while since "Power Ranger Punks," but one of the true joys of this show is whenever Amy Jo Johnson gets the chance to play evil. She's great at it, and in this episode, she gets to go full-on Mean Girl, with a scenery chewing joy to her performance that's usually blunted by the Rangers' portrayal as a bunch of goody two-shoes teens. When she goes from bitterly complaining about Trini as a "club-hogger" to an affected sweet smile and "It's Morphin Time!," it might be the best moment of acting on the show.
When Kim stomps off to go work on a garden herself, Zedd unleashes the second part of his plan: The Bloom of Doom, a monster with the power to destroy people with its pollen.
Which, to be fair, is something most plants can do to those of us with allergies.
The Power Rangers are quick to head into action against the Bloom, and Kimberly is tasked with wrapping the monster up with her new weapon, a Rhythmic Gymnastics ribbon that will immobilize the villain and let the Rangers destroy her. Why they need this and not just the giant laser cannon made of axes and swords, I will never know, but that's Power Rangers for you.
When they start the fight, though, the Pollen quickly affects Jason, Tommy, Zack and Billy --- who rub the eyes of their helmets instead of their actual eyes, which is amazing --- leaving Kim and Trini as the only Rangers still in the fight. Naturally, Kim's supernatural jealousy gets the best of her...
... and then, to make matters worse, she quickly finds herself transported to a Super Mario Bros. level for a one-on-one battle:
Fortunately, the Rangers are still able to track her, which gives Trini the chance to show up and rescue her, and that completely breaks the spell with no other effort.
If that sounds like it happens a little quickly, there's a reason for that, but I'll get back to that in a second.
With that, the Rangers reunite, the monster is quickly destroyed, and Kimberly finds out that everyone who wanted to join her club went to the auditorium by mistake. All of them.
Some of the more sharp-eyed viewers out there might've noticed that this is one of the rare instances in Power Rangers where the monster is destroyed by the Power Cannon rather than growing larger and battling against the Megazord. That's because "The Bloom of Doom" was based around Zyu2 footage rather than an episode of Dairanger, and while there actually was a giant-monster fight filmed, it apparently involved so much interaction with the Season 1 Megazord (aka Daizyuzin) that they decided to just cut it out rather than try to stitch it up with footage of Season 2's Thunder Megazord (aka the Dairangers' Dairen'oh).
And that, in turn, gives us a chance to get to the origin of Dairen'oh with Episode 6 of Gosei Sentai Dairanger: "Break Through The Wind!"
In our last episode, Rin --- the pink Dairanger --- had been transported to China on a mission to recover the Heavenly Treasure Lai-Lai Balls, the mystical jewels that could revive and power the four Legendary Ch'i Beasts that have been thought dead for six thousand years. So, you know, pretty basic stuff.
The problem, of course, is that the Gorma's latest monster, Lipstick Songstress, is still up and about after defeating Ryuuseioh, and still has her gang of cosmetically mesmerized college students and a pretty severe grudge against Rin. So when the Rangers show up in a Jeep tearing ass around the Gobi Desert...
... they're not exactly alone.
Instead, they're quickly followed by Shadam, Gara, and Zydos --- the three Gorma Commanders --- along with a squadron of Cotpotros and the Lipstick Songstress herself, who are all eager to crush the Dairangers at their weakest and go back to their admittedly pretty vague evil plans for world domination. And unfortunately, the bad guys find her first.
After a fight scene where she actually gets to hold her own against a small army of bad guys, Rin ends up getting blasted by the Songstress and losing her Aura Changer, hemming her in with Megumi and the other girls from Rin's college who make up the Songstress's Demon Choir. But Rin will not be denied!
She escapes from the fight and, following her kaleidoscopic visions, makes it to a ruined temple of the Daos civilization. And there, she discovers the truth: The Mythical Ch'i Beasts Are Alive!
I haven't really gone into their names, and Power Rangers adapts them into pretty familiar Western Mythology for its American audience, but they're all figures drawn from Chinese mythology, that also all relate to the Dairangers themselves. We've got:
- Tenma - A flying horse that's pretty similar to a pegasus
- Shishi - The Guardian Lion that's often mistaken for a dog in carvings and sculptures
- Qilin - A cloven-hooved, antlered chimera that's thought to have its origins in giraffes, but was interpreted by Power Rangers as a unicorn for obvious reasons
- Houou - A legendary bird that inspired the legendary bird Pokémon with a similar name, which is often paired with the dragon in modern-day art and symbology.
And you already know Ryuusei'oh, who Rin finds just chilling out in the temple, which is also apparently his house.
And that's pretty handy, since Lipstick Songstres shows up giant-sized and attacks him in his weakened state.
With the rest of the Dairangers arriving quickly by Jeep, Ryo hops aboard Ryuusei'oh to battle against the Lipstick Songstress, but the rest of the Dairangers are stopped cold by Megumi and the Demon Choir. Things are looking pretty grim --- especially with the Heavenly Lai-Lai Jewels buried under a landslide --- but Rin, inspired by a sudden breeze (seriously) suddenly remembers that she is in fact the Heavenly Wind Star, and unleashes her signature attack: The Straight Line Tornado!
RIP Megumi. You just wanted to be friends.
Oh, relax, she's fine, and the Tornado loosens the stones enough that Rin can recover the Lai-Lai Jewels and distribute them to the rest of the team, powering up their Mythical Ch'i Beasts and calling them into action.
And not only are they back in action, but each Ch'i Beast has an ability similar to the Dairanger who drives them. We've already seen Ryuusei'oh's flamethrower, but Tenma can negate gravity, and Shishi can create illusions with an attack called "Great Mirage."
It is, in fact, great.
With all five Ch'i beasts in action in a formation called the Heavenly Sky Ch'i Palace, the team makes short work of the Songstress. The only way they'd be more powerful is if they united to form some kind of humanoid mecha made up of all five robots, but... could such a power even exist???
Either way, it's enough to free Megumi and the other girls from the Songstress's lipstick, and give Rin her confidence back. Please note that we do not actually see Megumi again in this episode after being hypnotized and transported to China and then being knocked out by a tornado, but... she's probably fine.
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 Bloom of Doom literally just looks like the default monster they'd give you in Finster's Create-A-Monster '94. 1/10
Deviation From The Source: 10/10
Bulk and Skull Friendship: One of the saddest things about this episode is the reveal that even though they're dedicating themselves to discovering the Power Rangers' true identities --- something people have to be curious about in this world ---- Bulk and Skull have to bribe other students with food to hang out with them. At least they still have each other. 6/10
Moral Lessons: You definitely have friends somewhere, they... they probably just went to another building by mistake? 5/10
'90s Fashions: What is even happening with the Civil War getup? ??/10
Total For Episode 46: 23?/50