Ranger Station Episode 74: Missing Green
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, the grim spectre of Continuity abandons Dairanger and finds a shocking home in Angel Grove.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 74: Missing Green
Writer: Ellen Levy-Sarnoff & Daniel J. Sarnoff
Director: John Stewart
Original Air Date: October 3, 1994
One of the weirder things about the way Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is structured is that it never really bothers to address the tension between Jason and Tommy. I mean, it's also completely understandable from the perspective of this show being a pretty basic action adventure that was literally made for babies where All The Good Guys Must Always Get Along, but aside from that one time that they were in a team ninja competition, it just sort of sits there on the fringes of the show, noticeable but never addressed.
It's definitely there --- and we know that because it's something that would've sat at the core of Hexagon if that show had ever happened --- and from a dramatic standpoint, it's something that you'd think even the most basic scripts would be quick to recognize. Even if Jason's not the jealous type, he's still the leader, and Tommy's this whole new element who exists outside of his team, pulling focus in a way that always overshadows the good ol' Red Ranger.
I mean, seriously: When was the last time Jason got a spotlight episode? Cousin Germy? Well, now that Tommy's gone, he finally gets another one.
And it's all about how Tommy leaving the show is all his fault. Ain't that always the way?
Really though, this episode is actually pretty great. One of the biggest problems with Power Rangers is that it never shows the consequences of anything. I'm not saying that we need Goldar standing in the rubble in downtown Angel Grove, weeping at the destruction that Pudgy Pig has rained down on these innocent people or anything, but it would be nice if the stories didn't always reset back to zero every 22 minutes.
That's one of the things that was really well done about Lord Zedd gunning for Tommy in an effort to correct Rita's mistakes, and finally getting the job done in last week's episode. There was motivation there, and the Rangers learned that when Zedd was sufficiently angered, he could actually accomplish something. Compare that to that one time where the Zords were completely destroyed for about four minutes before Zordon piped in to let you know they were actually totally fine.
It's also a really good character moment for Jason. The idea that he'd see it as his fault that all of his friends, the people he genuinely cares for, had to go through this entire mess, is the first thing in a while that makes him seem like the team leader. The Rangers are his responsibility, both in general and, in the case of the Green Candle, directly.
It's also really great in terms of how cool it makes the Power Rangers seem. I mean, Tommy's still alive --- that's going to be extremely evident in the next few weeks --- but Jason's selling "not being a Power Ranger anymore" like death. The unspoken message here is that being a Power Ranger is rad as hell, and not being one anymore is the worst thing that has ever happened to anyone. I love that, because it's true. They have robot dinosaurs and fight moon witches, y'all. It's the dream job.
Plus, it makes Lord Zedd seem like an absolute monster. Again, it's something we already know from the fact that he's a vaguely human shaped mass of bloody meat and chrome, but when he realizes how tortured Jason's feeling over this and decides that the best thing he can do is make Jason watch while he strips the rest of the Rangers of their powers in the exact same way, it's one of the few times that a villain in this show decides to do what would logically hurt the Rangers the most, and it illustrates the difference between Zedd and Rita pretty perfectly.
When Rita wants you to suffer, she'll send an evil baseball to stomp on your house. When Zedd wants you to suffer, he'll make you watch while he destroys your friends, and make sure you know it's all your fault.
But here's where it kind of falls apart. Zedd's big plan here is to recreate the events of "The Green Candle," but with four more magic candles --- Blue, Pink, Yellow, and Black --- that will drain all the other rangers of their power.
And like... You can do that? You have magic power-draining candles just laying around and you're only deciding to use them now? We already know the first one was effective, so why wouldn't have done this already? And even if you're dedicated to punishing Jason, wouldn't you go ahead and drain his too, and make him truly helpless rather than just leaving him at full power on the off chance that he could pull an upset?
When the other Rangers go to find Tommy so that he can support Jason at the inexplicably named Golden Pipe Karate Tournament, they're kidnapped by Goldar and taken to the Dark Dimension --- now called the Ultra Dimension, because why not? --- so that they can be drained of their powers. The only way for Jason to get there himself is to defeat Pipehead, a monster made in mockery of the Golden Pipe trophy, who you may remember as Baron String.
It seems like a daunting task for Jason to take on the monster solo, but that's just until you remember that he has a giant flying dragon robot, and then things tend to go pretty easily. And once he's in the Ultra Dark Dimension, well. It's just Goldar, and Jason vs. Goldar is the John Cena vs. Randy Orton of the Power Rangers franchise, with even more predictable results.
Jason recharges the Rangers' power coins with the energies of the candle, and the Rangers are back to normal once again. And, in a hilarious twist that reminds you of just how deep this problem with consequences runs, the fight ends with Goldar reaching out of the fog to grab Jason's leg and sneer "did you really think you'd get away so easily?!" Jason just sort of shakes him off his leg and leaves.
... he says, to an empty room.
But what of Tommy? Despite the Rangers not being able to find him --- and Jason declaring that his victory is dedicated to him, "wherever you are!" --- he writes a letter.
Huh. Kind of weird that he's wearing all white, huh?
So hey, remember how last week's episode of Gosei Sentai Dairanger ended with the Dairangers and Rin's grandfather kinda-sorta accidentally killing a guy and then being surrounded by cops around this dead body? You might have assumed that after that shocking cliffhanger, a murder investigation into the five stars shining in the heavens would be the focus of quite a bit of the next episode.
You would be wrong.
So let's talk about Episode 14, "Well, Time To Get Married."
To be fair, the show does wrap up the whole murder plot before it moves on to holy matrimony:
And that settles that.
Okay, okay, fine, it's slightly more complicated: The cops actually reveal that the robber that Kabuki Boy possessed last week was previously shot to death by the police, meaning that Kabuki Boy has the ability to possess dead bodies and other non-living things. This immediately assuages the Dairangers' guilt, conveniently forgetting that Guhan, Rin's grandfather, definitely did not know that when he booted him off a building.
We also find out why Guhan was so adamant that the Dairangers not destroy Kabuki Boy to begin with. Before he left China, Kabuki Boy swallowed a person who is still alive inside his stomach --- Gorma Anatomy is very complicated --- and should they destroy the monster, the person inside will also be killed. It's murders all the way down!
And to make matters worse, the swallowee is...
Guhan's fiancée, Shokyo.
Guhan's twenty year-old fiancée, Shokyo.
Back at the Gorma's warehouse, Shadam, Gara, and Zydos also discover this fact, and they are immediately pissed off, because if Kabuki Boy hadn't swallowed (and fallen in love with?) Shokyo, then the Dairangers' resident weapons-designing kung fu master wouldn't have come to Japan and complicated things.
Since he won't let her go, they just tell him to kill Guhan and be done with it.
Meanwhile, Guhan is equally ready to be done with it. All he wants is to get married and head back to China, leaving Rin to focus on her life in Japan. He even passes down a legendary weapon to her: The Big Wheel Blade:
I wonder if this will come into play within the next ten minutes!?
As they train, Guhan gets a challenge from Kabuki Boy for a one-on-one duel, for certain values of "one-on-one." See, as a downright Frank Millerian newscast reveals, martial artists and athletes have been disappearing, and as we'll soon find out, it's so that Kabuki Boy has a huge supply of bodies capable of beating an old man to death with their bare hands.
The thing is, it's not all karate masters and swordsmen. That dude also rolls up in a brand new robot.
Sadly (for Kabuki Boy), it has a few issues that will need to be addressed in the next version.
Despite the heavy buttocks, the robot body's laser weaponry and nigh indestructible form give Kabuki Boy an advantage that nearly takes out Guhan --- until Rin shows up with the Big Wheel Blade and the rest of the Dairangers. They're able to rescue her easily, and with her, they also get an unexpected bonus.
See, when Shokyo was swallowed, she was holding Saba, a mystical sword that --- once KabukI Boy has been suitably Dairen'oh'd, and once they've been married, which happens offscreen, which is kind of weird for an episode called "Well, Time To Get Married" --- is driven into a stone, awaiting its bearer to remove it.
Hm, what an interesting all-white sword. Hmmmmmm!
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 weirdest thing about Pipehead is that they never bothered to justify naming a Karate Tournament after a Golden Pipe. It sounds like something they'd hold to raise awareness of legalizing weed. 4/20
Deviation From The Source: 10/10
Bulk and Skull Friendship: After their inexplicable absence, they're back to trying to discover the identities of the Power Rangers, but you can tell the frustration is wearing on them. "Dimwit" is not as affectionate a nickname as it once was. 3/10
Moral Lessons: It's all your fault, Jason. 4/10
'90s Fashions: Jason spends this entire episode wearing a red tank top and gi pants, and I don't want to be disrespectful to the martial arts, but that is a look that should 100% come back. Why are we all not wearing that right now? 7/10
Total For Episode 46: 28/50