Ranger Station Episode 72: Green No More, Part 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 from Gosei Sentai Dairanger in ComicsAlliance's Ranger Station!
This week, Tommy's final fight begins, and the Dairangers take on a drunken monster made of tofu who wants to murder children. Folks... It's gonna be a good day for Power Rangers.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 72: Green No More, Part One
Writer: Stewart St. John
Director: John Stewart
Original Air Date: September 28, 1994
Okay, I'm going to be honest with you: The only thing I wanted to do today was get through Power Rangers as fast as I could because this week's episode of Dairanger is absolutely amazing. Unfortunately --- for certain values of "unfortunately" --- they decided that this was the week they were finally going to go ahead and move forward with the whole "Tommy loses his powers" plot.
Just... look, if you're the kind of person who only reads the top half of the column and skips the Super Sentai section, do yourself a favor and keep going 'til the end this time. It's worth it.
To be fair, though, Power Rangers isn't exactly slacking off. As I've mentioned before, they've been teasing this plot out for so long (and, frankly, so poorly) that it's lost all of the impact that it would've had if they'd just gone ahead and opened the season with it and moved on, rather than trying to Frankenstein the Zyu2 and Dairanger footage together. Even though they've been playing it up, it's become just another part of the show, to the point where "Tommy might lose his powers" is something that has all the suspense of "the Megazord might show up."
But the thing is, in this episode, that same lack of tension somehow loops back around. If they call for the Megazord like we see them do every week and it doesn't show up, then that's a notable subversion of the formula --- and if they try to help Tommy wriggle out from under this particular Sword of Damocles and don't manage to do it this time, it actually does feel worth noting.
And it's a weird one right from the start.
Even though they'd later go on to base entire seasons around it, the show hadn't really messed around with time travel at all at this point. So when Tommy and Kim are hanging out on the basketball court casually chatting about the plot of the past few episodes like a couple of X-Men and a rift opens up in the space-time continuum so that Tommy can get a warning from his own past self? It's pretty exciting.
Admittedly, it's a little less so when Tommy, who has just seen a translucent version of himself appear out first-five-minutes-of-Terminator lightning and announce, "I'm you from the future," spends the next scene explaining that he just saw someone who "looked just like me!" and wondering who he was and where he was from, but, well. Power Rangers is always gonna be Power Rangers, folks.
Anyway, Future Tommy tells Tommy to remember the word "communicator," but can offer no other hints on what's going to happen next. Really, though, that's not on him. At this point, these kids should definitely already know what happens next:
You'd think they would've figured out this whole thing where Zedd tries to murder them every day, but alas.
There is, however, a twist. In the absence of a drawing or a tree or, I don't know, whatever else wanders into his field of vision, Zedd is given a much more interesting set of materials to work with: New Kids.
Spoiler warning, but these suspiciously color-coded delinquents --- who make their entrance terrorizing Bulk and Skull to show how serious they are --- are the ones who will eventually become the Dark Rangers, and honestly, I kinda wish they'd stuck around longer than they do. Just look at how they're interpreting the concept of evil through the lens of '90s fashion! Look at Evil Trini! She looks like the getaway driver for a casino robbery! It's amazing!
Point being, the Dark Rangers are a slam dunk right from the start. I've written before about how it's one of those plots that the writers and producers have wanted to do an extended take on forever, and with a setup like this, with stakes that amount to Tommy's continued existence as a Ranger, this particular set has everything going for them.
Just keep that in mind for the end of the episode.
The crux of Zedd's plan is that he's concocted a Green Crystal that will magically siphon off the last dregs of Tommy's power and then turn it on Zordon. It seems like the kind of thing he could've done weeks ago, but between the Dark Rangers and the news that Tommy only has enough energy left for one last fight, it's finally time to finish things. Heck, there's so much going on that he doesn't even need a monster!
But we're going to get one anyway.
This is the inexplicably named "Turbanshell," and saying he's gilding the lily is honestly a disservice to gilded lilies everywhere. He's really just there to pad things out.
The Rangers scuffle with him at kaiju size, but after the Dragonzord and the Thunder Megazord take him down --- but not out --- they quickly find themselves in another predicament: Everyone except Tommy is transported to Zedd's pocket dimension, Otherworld, trapped in a prison that appears to be made of VHS tape scan lines, Tommy is sent to fight the Turbanshell alone, and our heroes are confronted with... The Dark Rangers.
And Oh My God.
Aaaaaaaaahahahahaha! Seriously?! They are literally wearing luchador masks inside out so that they're all solid colors!
America should never be allowed to make Power Rangers! We are terrible at it!
Okay, so for those of you just joining us, the second season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is nominally based on Gosei Sentai Dairanger, the 17th installment of the Super Sentai franchise. Or at least, it will be once they run out of all the weird fight footage they commissioned Toei to make so that they could write episodes around it. For now, we're just laying the groundwork for a series that's going to take some pretty fantastic turns with a series of spotlight episodes.
Last time, we really got to know Bullet Shoji, the Warrior of Love, and while that episode is pretty great, I think maybe I was overestimating him when I said he would be your new favorite, 'cause I forgot about the ultimate attack that we're about to get from Kazu in Episode 12: "Drunk on Tofu."
In addition to being the Heavenly Time Star of the Dairangers, Kazu is also a hairdresser, and as one often does when one has a job, he usually grabs lunch from a nearby tofu shop. Lately, however, he's their only satisfied customer. For some reason, there are roving bands of horn-tooting tofu deliverymen selling tofu laced with strong sake, which in turn drives pedestrians to toss bricks through the window and otherwise make a nuisance of themselves.
The culprit? A member of the Gorma whose human form bears a striking resemblance to Charlie Chaplin, but who quickly reveals himself to be... the Tofu Hermit.
Bear with me, because this is going to get a little complicated. The Tofu Hermit uses the brick through the window to lure the guy who runs the restaurant out of the house so that he can use his sinister magic and the deliverymen --- actually a gang of Cotpotros, the foot-soldiers of the Gorma --- to get him super drunk. This one dude being pretty drunk in the middle of the day instead of making good tofu for a few hours will somehow help the Gorma take over the world.
I don't really know either.
Even if Shadam is right about alcohol being the bane of mankind, you'd think there would be a more efficient way to get to the conquest of humanity.
Mostly, this just seems like it really upsets his daughter, Machiko. That's how Kazu gets involved and when the Hermit learns that Kazu prefers drunken boxing as his fighting style, that's when things start to get weird.
First, the Hermit takes out Daigo and Shoji by blasting them with an endless stream of booze, and then kidnaps Machiko, holding her hostage to force Kazu into a drinking contest down at the nearest construction yard.
If Kazu wins, the Hermit vows to destroy himself and let Machiko go, but if the Hermit wins, he's going to crush them both by dropping a giant block of super-hard Gorma tofu on them from a crane being operated by a Cotpotro.
And what's more, he's rigging the game with a special Gorma sake, served in a cup the size of a truck tire:
You can probably guess why this one was never adapted for American children.
After the Hermit drains his hubcap full of booze, it's Kazu's turn, and while he talks a big game, he passes out on the dirt about two seconds after he finishes drinking. But what's this?! When the Tofu Hermit comes over to cut his head off --- that was part of the bet --- Kazu reveals that he was faking, and that the "Cotpotros" who served him the sake were actually the Dairangers in disguise! The sake was actually water!
He Bruce Wayned a tofu monster!
And then it gets better. Over the past few weeks, the spotlight episodes have culminated in the Dairangers each getting a new attack, and this one's no different. The thing is, the other rangers might get stuff like gravity inversion and illusory trains, but Kazu? Kazu gets Terrible Hangover Headache Fist.
Per the actual narration in the episode: "A special technique in which an opponent is made to drink Qilin Ranger's Special Ch'i Power Sake, and then attacked when they're drunk."
So yeah. Kazu's finishing move is literally just getting the monster drunk and then beating the living hell out of it.
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: Turbanshell is somehow inexplicable and boring, but let's talk about the tofu monster who attacks people by getting them drunk and tries to drop giant blocks of the food he is made of on them at construction sites. 10/10
Deviation From The Source: 10/10
Bulk and Skull Friendship: I mentioned it briefly above, but the Dark Rangers are introduced bullying Bulk and Skull, who are just terrified of them. They haven't really been "bullies" for a while now, but if there's anything that cements their transition into comedy relief characters, it's cowering in front of new and even badder kids. 7/10
Moral Lessons: Don't drink. Or do, but only to trick a monster who's drinking more than you are. 2/10
'90s Fashions: The best thing about this episode is that the Dark Rangers are basically wearing the same clothes as their good guy counterparts, just arranged in slightly more evil ways. It's great. 9/10
Total For Episode 46: 38/50