Monday, January 12, 2015

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Season 1, Episode 48: Plague of the Mantis

My least favourite of the Power Rangers thus far in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is Trini.  She is the least defined of the characters.  The performance of Trini lacks any real charisma or power (not meant to be a pun).  And she’s just an all-around boring character.  It pains me whenever there is an episode devoted to Trini because I know that it won’t really build up her character.  It’ll only show her character for more time than usual.

That was the case with the episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers that I’m going to write about today.  It was a Trini-centric episode all about a style of Kung Fu that she was using.  It’s a style that will likely never show up again, but one that was important for this single episode.  An episode that wasn’t really all that bad.  It was just lacking in any real character development.

Along with the serialization that I would like to happen in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, I would also like to see the characters get deeper backstories.  I want to know them and care about them.  I would say that I care about most of them at this point, with Trini being the real holdout on that front.  I simply don’t care about what happens with her because I still fail to know who Trini is as a person.  She’s the weakest character and it makes me sad to not be invested in her.

Anyway, I’m going to dive into the episode at hand right now.  This is the final episode before the next multi-episode arc, and I’m glad to be moving onto the next stage of the series.  So let’s get going.

Season 1, Episode 48: Plague of the Mantis

The episode starts in the Angel Grove Youth Center as Trini is learning the ways of the mantis.  She is doing this through Kung Fu poses with Master Li.  But she hasn’t been able to truly master it in the way that she wants to.  She does not know what a mantis would do.  Bulk and Skull show up and think that they could come up with a get rich quick scheme by making Kung Fu out of a different insect.  The one that they choose is the cockroach because, why not. 

As the two buffoons are showing off their new Kung Fu style, Rita Repulsa is coming up with her newest plan to conquer Earth.  She’s going to send a mantis monster down to distract Trini.  It will prey on the honor and fairness taught to her through the mantis Kung Fu.  She’s in the park practicing the poses when Zordon tells her to investigate something going on.  She discovers the mantis monster and tries to fight it.  When the rest of the Power Rangers show up, the mantis flees because the fight is not fair.  It says that Trini has no honor.  She feels bad about it.

Later, while Trini is at the Youth Center, a note is left for her.  It says that Master Li wants to meet her in the quarry.  She goes there to find the mantis monster.  She gets in another fight.  The rest of the gang sees the note and knows that something is wrong.  They go to find Trini and end u ambushed by a bunch of putties.  At the same time, the mantis monster unleashes a bunch of putties on Trini, showing that it is dishonorable and unfair.

That’s when everything turns into your typical episode fight.  Monster grows, Zords form Megazord, Mega Sword or whatever it is called comes down from the sky, slash, monster explodes.  The fight is over and the Power Rangers are victorious.

Back at the Youth Center, Trini has finally mastered the mantis Kung Fu style.  Meanwhile, Bulk and Skull are putting on a show about their cockroach Kung Fu.  They stumble, bumble, and break open a jar of cockroaches.  The bugs run all over Bulk.  Everyone laughs.  The end.

So, basically, what we discovered about Trini that episode was that she likes fairness.  That doesn’t really add much to her character that wasn’t already known.  And it’s not like any of the other characters don’t like fairness.  As a character, she still doesn’t have anything that makes her stand out other than her ethnicity.  Her character is basically just a translator so that other characters know what the science stuff that Billy says actually means.

I might just be being hard on the character and not letting myself be invested in her.  But I think it is the character of Trini herself that isn’t well enough written.  I think that with better writing I could care about the character, but the lack of time or effort that they put into building her into an interesting character prevents that from happening.  I want to like the character.  However, I don’t care about her or what happens to her.

Now, I’m sure she won’t have too much to do with the next two episodes of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.  They’re clearly going to be focused on Tommy coming back.  I mean, they are called Return of an Old Friend.  He is the Old Friend.  And he’s returning, which means a change for the series.  I’m excited for the two episodes.  I hope you are as well.  I’ll see you next time when I write about Part I of that two-parter.

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