Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Season 2, Episode 9: The Beetle Invasion

Last time we checked in with Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, an Octophant ran around Angel Grove sucking away the Power Rangers.  While trying to stop it, the gang was caught on camera.  They needed to stop the monster and get rid of the evidence before Bulk and Skull could show the tape.  Their secret identities stayed intact and the Power Rangers saved the day.  The only problem was that Tommy’s powers were weaker than ever.

I don’t know if this episode will move that story forward.  The title implies that there will be a beetle monster, but it doesn’t hint at Tommy’s fading powers.  There is sure to be putty fighting and big monster fighting.  Beyond that, I couldn’t say what to expect.  Rewatching Mighty Morphin Power Rangers has been like watching everything for the first time.  I don’t remember this episode from my childhood.  I have no idea what I’m getting into.

Season 2, Episode 9: The Beetle Invasion
The episode began with the high school storyline.  Ernie, the proprietor of the Angel Grove Youth Centre, was challenged to a game of broomball by the Stone Canyon Youth Centre.  Broomball is like hockey, except it is played with a broom and a ball.  He enlisted the help of the main characters to defeat the opposing Youth Centre.  In the end, the Power Rangers were victorious.  They made a friendly challenge to their opponents to try again next year.

While the game iwa going on, Bulk and Skull had a new idea to figure out who the Power Rangers were.  This was their most ludicrous idea yet, harkening back to their first season appearances.  Bulk ordered a smelling machine from the back of a comic book.  It looked like a giant pig nose.  With this contraption, he was going to compare the smell of the high school students to the smell of the Power Rangers.  It wasn’t a good plan for many reasons.  The main reason ess that they could be accused of physical assault by the way they were shoving the contraption all over people.  Some girl ran away because of it.

Lord Zedd was up in his moon castle this whole time trying to figure out how to get rid of Tommy’s powers.  His idea this time was to create a beetle monster to absorb Tommy’s powers.  It was a good idea that worked for a time.  Each of Rita’s old minions (Squatt, Baboo, and Goldar) were completely on Zedd’s side because of the good idea.  The idea would later backfire because of all of the fights.

The first fight was the putty fight.  After practicing some broomball, Tommy and Kimberly went running through the park.  Lord Zedd sent down putties to attack the jogging couple.  Tommy and Kimberly put up a good fight until the Beetle joined in.  The Beetle and the putties managed to capture Tommy and absorb most of his power.  The other Power Rangers were called in to help but it was too late.  After taking Tommy back to the Command Centre, the Power Rangers went out to fight the Beetle again.  Zack tried on his own, then they all teamed up to squash the bug.  It didn’t work.  The Beetle was using Tommy’s Green Ranger powers against them.  Luckily for the Power Rangers, Alpha built a contraption to retake Tommy’s powers.  Tommy got them back, though weakened, and the Power Rangers fought again.  They made their gun, shot the Beetle, then had to deal with it as a giant.  A few Zords and an explosion later, they won the fight.  The episode ended with Tommy being worried about his powers being lost forever.

The great thing about this streak of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers episodes is that there are real stakes and consequences.  There is still a self-contained nature to the episodes, but the situation in each episode is becoming direr as Tommy’s powers weaken to the point of uselessness.  With each battle, he loses some his strength.  There will soon be nothing left.  That’s something that everyone has to deal with.  They are all fighting with the thought of losing Tommy.  Will the team be able to survive without him?  They’re barely winning fights as it is.  It’s a serious situation that will only get worse as time goes on.

The Beetle Invasion wasn’t without its share of strange and interesting moments.  There are three that I want to highlight.  The first is in the Bulk and Skull story.  That smelling contraption was never a good idea.  One, the explanation for why it exists is dumb.  They got it out of the back of a comic book.  Two, it looked ridiculous.  It was a giant pig nose that they shoved in people’s faces.  And finally, what were they expecting to do with it?  They wanted to compare the smell of their classmates to the smell of the Power Rangers.  They didn’t have the smell of the Power Rangers.  When would they have gotten that?  The voice comparison that they previously wanted to do could work because they had heard the Power Rangers’ voices.  They have no smell to compare to.

Another moment I want to point out is the putty fight.  The fights have gotten more outlandish since the second season began.  There were the high jumping and falling off cliffs in previous episodes.  There was that time when Tommy practically flew through the air to kick a putty.  This episode, it was Kimberly’s turn.  She jumped in the air and ran across a double line of putties, kicking them all in the head.  She ran across the putties’ heads.  The show is trying to find anything new and interesting to do with their fights.

The third thing I want to point out is Lord Zedd’s way of creating monsters.  Rita Repulsa had Finster creating monsters out of clay and cooking them to life.  Lord Zedd uses the magic power in his staff to zap whatever he wants into a monster.  He’ll turn actual animals, such as a piranha, into monsters.  He’ll take inanimate objects like monkey costumes and turn them into monsters.  In this episode, he took a picture of a beetle from a poster and made that come to life as a beetle monster.  The writers could have come up with something better than a picture of a beetle.  Maybe an actual beetle?  I don’t know.  I just write about the show.

That does it for this episode.  Mighty Morphin Power Rangers has seen an improvement this season that has brought about a refreshing life to the show.  With the through-line of Tommy’s powers disappearing, there is something to keep people coming back.  There are still standalone episodes, but it feels like there are actual consequences.  I’m interested to see how the next episode goes.  It is called Welcome to Venus Island, and looks to be a Trini episode.  I’m not expecting too much.  Trini episodes are my least favourite.  I’ll catch you on the flip side.

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