Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 29: Island of Illusion Part 2



Rapping Dwarf Teaches Kids to Believe in Themselves
Character Accidentally Developed










When last we left the Ranger Teens, Rita Repulsa had used some dark magic to summon a big ugly monster named Mutitis and a giant floating head named Lokar to banish them to an island. They got assaulted by stock footage and monster mirages, then Zack saw a snake and started disappearing.

While his friends try to console him, Half-Zack continues freaking out. Well when I say freak out I mean how an actor would freak out if they were getting paid scale to do it. He's sort of scared but he's not going to commit to it. You expect Walter Jones to panic for 7.25 an hour? You'll get mundane terror and you'll like it.

Billy tells Zack his biomass is negatively inversed with his electrons due to an overcharge in his flavo-fibes and he'll need to supercharge his flux capacitor with self esteem. Zack doesn't care though, he might not do well at a dance competition and he's scared of snakes. What else does a man have to live for?

No it's okay Zack just step to the side and you'll come back.

Quagmire, the dwarf who resides on the Island of Illusion, shows up and rhymes about how he knows Rita's plan, and then disappears in a puff of cheaply animated smoke. The Teens don't pay any attention to him at first, but then after the commercial break they start wondering if maybe he would be able to help out. Because the writers needed a hook to keep kids tuned in, and the imminent de-ionization of the Black Ranger clearly wasn't enough.

The Rangers try to remember the name of the guy who's done nothing but say his name and vanish in a cloud of smoke. They rifle through every name that starts with a Q they can think of, but run out after two and Trini awkwardly blurts out Quagmire. The sole resident of the island shows up and asks why they're bothering him and not watching their friend die. Kim explains Zack is under Rita's spell, and with that Quagmire immediately says if they're not on Rita's side he's happy to greet them.

Let's dissect that a bit further. Quagmire shows up and brags to the audience about how he knows what Rita's planning, so he knows she's up to no good. Then Kim tells him the exact same thing he said earlier and he immediately trusts them. Kim didn't say anything about being the Power Rangers or fighting Rita, so Quagmire's just there to help them now. They probably just forgot what they wrote last week. Maybe they didn't care, either makes sense.

Now that Quagmire's here to help, he offers advice that sounds ripped from a Tony Robbins seminar. Just think a positive thought and you'll be safe from evil space magic. Tommy asks if the magical musical dwarf is being serious about this. Look, it's a vaguely defined problem that can be solved by a Deus Ex Quagmire, shut up so we can get to our clip show.

You come to MY Island with that shit?

Zack starts trying to think of a time he had a really tough fight, and flashes back to the fight against Nasty Knight. As Zack recalls the battle his body slowly starts showing up again, except that the fight against Nasty Knight wasn't one you'd want to remember to feel better about yourself. All the footage is of Nasty Knight just beating the fuck out of Zack. Sure is a shame there've only been two Zack episodes to choose from.

The footage of Zack fighting Nasty Knight is spliced together to make it then look like after a hard fight against the monster, he was able to defeat him. Well if you remember, Zack didn't beat the Nasty Knight. The Megazord did after using a tactic that immobilized him. Granted Zack came up with the tactic, but they cut around all of that and take the bite out of that entire fight. Thanks for nothing.

Yeah that's probably how it happened, why not?

Zack's delusions bring him back in full while everyone congratulates him on solving the central conflict of the episode in the first four minutes. Rita isn't worried though, just because Zack has confidence in himself doesn't mean the other five Ranger Teens aren't stupid enough to fall for her trap.

Zordon tells Alpha to get his shit together and call the Power Rangers, but Alpha blithers about how he's unable to contact them. What follows is an absolutely pointless and insufferable scene of Alpha criss crossing wires to reroute power or whatever the fuck, but he keeps comically injuring himself. This all culminates in Alpha getting zapped on the ass with a bolt of electricity no less than three times. It serves absolutely no purpose to the episode other than getting a little padding into this clipshow.

The rest of the Rangers ask Quagmire if he knows where their Power Coins are, but he says they'll need to find them on their own and stop being such lazy dicks. Billy puts his finger in his mouth like he's on the golf course to calculate the direction their Power Coins should be in. It's actually really obvious, he's just measuring the wind velocity when it's being reflected off of magical dinosaur coins. It's first grade stuff.

Suddenly, Goldar's giant head pops up in the sky and promises an illusion for Kimberly's confusion. Immediately, Kim notices something strange off in the distance, a sight that is so utterly petrifying it manages to shake her to her very core.

Do you think Paul or Jason remember this day and wake up in a cold sweat?

That's right, the two biggest motherfuckers on the planet have been envisioned as paragons of justice and virtue. They act like even bigger goody two shoes than all of the Ranger Teens combined while they help a little animal in the woods find it way home. This is all completely ridiculous, it's an illusion after all, but what puts it over the top is Skull inexplicably affecting a Scottish brogue with his newfound angelic qualities. It pushes this whole goofy scene over the top and makes it absolutely perfect.

Kim rushes forward and starts losing her mind at what she's seeing. She also has chosen to ignore all that stuff Goldar was saying about illusions, and confusion. Maybe that should make someone a little wary of the things they see on an island typically known for illusions. Her body starts to disappear when she notes if Rita can make Bulk and Skull act like good people she can do anything. Alright Power Rangers you got me, that's pretty funny.

Trini begs Quagmire to show up and help Kimberly, because without her how are they going to sell garbage like this?

90's Feminism.jpg

Quagmire shows up and tells Kim she needs to remember the fight she had against the Terror Toad, because Quagmire's secretly into vore and wants to watch that fight happen again in real time. Coincidentally if I was stuck on the Island of Illusion and needed to remember a harrowing ordeal, I'd think of the Terror Toad too.

Kim complains that the "Toad Creature" was too gross and she doesn't want to remember that fight. Kim's so goddamned vapid that the mere thought of something unpleasant is worth dissolving into nothingness over. Get your fucking priorities in order lady. Tommy tells her she'd better try and remember that frog fight or else Trini's the only one getting on the bone train with him. Kim remembers shooting an arrow in a fat frog's mouth and with that her self confidence is back in full swing. A lesson we can all take with us in our future endeavors.

With that, we get one of the most abrupt fucking cuts in all of Power Rangers, and that's saying an awful lot. Tommy holds Kim and congratulates her on beating the illusion, and the other Rangers look at them with joy. Then all of a sudden we see a group of Putties way off in the distance. We zoom in on Tommy's face as he starts talking about Putties like he's Colonel Kurtz. Tell me if this cut looks a little jarring to you good folks at home.

The Horror, The Horror

But these aren't Putties at all, Rita's just made Tommy think his friends are Putties! Tommy doesn't seem to notice that these five Putties are all taking defensive stances and not attacking him though, because he's a colossal moron. The other five Ranger Teens defend against their rampaging idiot friend, who's been buttfucked by Putties one too many times to risk playing it safe with them again.

Also we cut back to see Alpha 5 congratulating himself on fixing the computers to communicate with the Rangers. Except he didn't, and he gets zapped and runs around the Command Center. Hilarious. Thanks for the update guys.

Tommy's still muttering about not wanting to let Putties tie him up, and suddenly he starts disappearing. The Rangers demand Quagmire show up to give Tommy a rhyme that's tangentially related to his situation to reinvigorate him. Since Tommy hasn't fought any monsters by himself, he's stuck remembering a fight he had with the Putties. Sorry Tommy, the rest of the Rangers get to remember difficult trials with individual heinous creatures and you get to remember a fight you have every week. Great confidence booster.

Tommy's incredibly mundane flashback inspires him to not disappear forever, but for some reason Trini doesn't seem so happy about it. Not because she wishes Kim did disappear so she could catch Tommy on the rebound, but because nobody actually gives a shit about her character and whenever this series will be mentioned 20 years from now, she'll be the last person to be mentioned. She also starts to feel self conscious about the fact the script writers give her character nothing to do but stand around. Oh she's also scared of heights too.

We see Rita performing some magic inside of her tower where she is using her altar to curse Tommy with a spell that chains him to this franchise for another two decades. She also uses her magic to make Billy and Trini disappear, in that order. Even when Trini is the first person to do something, we have to put the other characters before her. Before we worry too much about Trini though, it appears Rita's having some trouble with this spell and got candle wax in her eyes.

"Psh, I can curse Trini with my eyes closed!"

Tommy brags about how he remembered beating up some Putties while Trini starts yelling out for Billy to come down from a high ledge. Unlike the other illusions which we got to see, we just see Trini laying on the ground screaming at Billy to come down. Must have blown the whole budget on those angel costumes for Bulk and Skull.

Trini starts flashing back to the moment in High Five where Billy was too high up on the mountainside. Quagmire shows up to tell her to chill out since her flashback is almost at the part where it's going to inspire confidence in her. Since Trini hasn't fought any monsters on her own aside from decapitating Bones, she has to settle with gaining her self confidence from remembering the time she saved Billy's scrawny ass and let a Putty fall to its death.

Trini's self confidence returns, and the rest of the Ranger Teens congratulate her while trying to shove her into the background where she belongs. Before they're able to, Trini notices Billy's beginning to disappear, as he's ashamed his scientific knowledge can't help the Rangers stop disappearing. Trini begs Quagmire to give her nerd friend some self confidence, which he tries to accomplish by prescribing Zoloft, but Billy's insurance doesn't cover it.

When that fails, Quagmire reminds Billy about the fight with Madame Woe. A fierce bout that saw the young man successfully fighting a nightmare queen and blue balls at the same time. Just like Zack, Billy remembers beating Madame Woe by himself, despite the fact the Rangers beat her using the Power Blaster. Tragically we had to lose my personal favorite scene of Billy triumphing over Madame Woe.



Jason high fives Billy, who flinches out of reflex. The leader of the Power Rangers then begins looking around for a way to get off the island, but since he's the only one who hasn't gone through some kind of illusion maybe he should be a little more wary. Goldar has the same idea, as he chastises Jason for not being a good enough leader to save his friends already. Also he dresses like a sissy.

Zack tells Jason not to listen to "her", after a trash talking from Goldar. Because originally it was Rita talking to them in the script but nobody proofread any of this shit. Jason starts to disappear because he hasn't done enough and he's not being the leader his team deserves.

This right here? I want more of this. Not Jason questioning his skills every episode, that'd be boring. I mean Jason addressing what it means to be a leader, what it means to be in charge of his team. We saw a bit of it during the Green With Evil episodes, but it's so rare for Jason to do anything but tell the Power Rangers to kill the monster they're fighting. The best part is what Jason's illusion is. He sees his whole team disappearing in front of him.

Jason's worst fear is losing his team? Holy shit that's really great stuff. Jason has so little personality you'd expect his worst fear to be falling asleep in class. This is having an actual affect on me. This show managed to turn a dumb little clipshow into establishing a character for a blank slate like Jason. Given this show's track record I'm going to assume this was all done on accident, but it's not worth complaining about.

Quagmire gives a voice over telling Jason to just concentrate. Thanks dad, I'll make sure to keep my head in the game too. Jason tells Rita she hasn't won yet and judging from her previous track record she never will. Jason recounts his memories of fighting King Sphinx, and how he was able to beat the evil monster by not giving up. It's great that they needed a fight to show how great Jason is solo, but they use the episode all about how he's not able to fight without his team. Guess that's what happens when you only have one episode focusing on the hero of your show.

Jason's confidence returns to him and his body stops disappearing. Now that all six of the Rangers have been through their trials, their Communicators and Power Morphers appear upon them. Because the learned how great they are or whatever. The solution to this Island of Illusion situation was literally "Our special powers were inside us the whole time!" It's as subtle as being stabbed to death, but if it gives kids confidence why bother making a fuss? Well Rita's sick of all this fucking self esteem and has one last ace up her sleeve. It's a pretty logical decision.

Rita island of illusion
Maybe you should have done this part first

The Rangers realize they've been standing on a scale model this whole time and decide to morph the hell out of there. Rita uses her wand to blow up the entire fucking island but the Rangers escape by teleporting away. Wasn't there someone else on the island? Oh well, probably wasn't important.

The Rangers are transported straight into their Zords, and all of the foam that was coating them in the previous episode immediately dissolves. Did the Zords have to go through some trial and tribulation to revitalize themselves too? Or was the Power Rangers ability to believe in themselves enough to do it? Who gives a shit, because they combine into a new formation. The Megadragonzord. The reason I was so pissy about the Dragonzord in Battle Mode being misnamed? This right here. Pick a name and fucking stick with it guys.

Megadragonzord
The Newest Formation: Megazord wearing Dragonzord's skin as a hat

Rita is absolutely livid she didn't blow up the Power Rangers and demands Mutitis to attack. Remember Mutitis? He's that monster who was barfing up a bunch of foam last week. Well now he's back to take on the new Zord formation. The Megadragonzord blasts him with energy, walks through his attacks without flinching, and does cool stuff you'd want to see a new toy do. It finishes the fight with a pretty cool final move though.

Wait till next year, they'll use the GT energy ball and everyone will hate it

The Rangers aren't done yet though, because Lokar's still here. He may only be a floating head, but he's also apparently strong as fuck. We can mock him for being just a floating head if we want, but let's not forget the Rangers boss is a head in a big jar. Who knows, maybe the writers were drawing parallels between Lokar and Zordon. On second thought, no they weren't.

The Rangers call on Titanus to form the Ultrazord in the hopes they can wipe Lokar off the map and while he's got a strong poker face, you can tell he's sweating in his wig a little bit. We get a lot of glory shots of the Ultrazord coming together and it's absolutely spectacular. There's nothing more gratifying than seeing all these special machines come together to make something that looks as rad as the Ultrazord. Lokar roars at the Zord fleet because he's an intergalactic space demon, what does he give a shit about some dinosaurs? Well let's see how that works out for him.

Ultrazord Lokar
I HAVE TO GO NOW, MY PLANET NEEDS ME

Kim informs her friends that Lokar ran away like a punk ass bitch, but the rest of the Rangers say they'll definitely get him next time. For as saccharine as these teens are there seems to be a nice bit of bloodlust underneath all this superhero stuff. Rita has had absolutely enough of all of this shit and teleports away while screaming. There's no "I'll get you next time Rangers!" It's her screaming her fucking head off at how badly her plan ended. It's beautiful.

Now do you recall what Part 1 of Island of Illusion was about? Without looking. Give up? That's right it's a dance contest! Zack was nervous he'd totally beef it and look silly against the stiff competition. Know who that competition is? Take a fucking guess.

Bulk dancing
Even Bulk's dancing looks like he's falling down.

We don't know if Zack knew who he was dancing against ahead of time, but if he did then the entire plot of this episode falls apart. Who would be intimidated by Bulk ever with regards to anything? He can't move two steps without falling into a bowl of chili. You're concerned he might show you up? Skull tries to dance too, and busts out some weird classical moves before Bulk throws him off stage for trying to add depth to his character.

Zack's still nervous about what's going to happen for some inexplicable reason. We've only seen Bulk and Skull dancing, if you get a positive score you're going to win. Zack goes out onto the dance floor, he believes in himself or something, he gets a perfect score, and Bulk gets served. What did you really expect? Well here's something you might not have expected.


YEP! He survived! How? Who cares. See ya next time.



Your Weekly 90's Nostalgia: The Minimum Wage



Personal Thoughts


This episode is one of my favorites for sure. It's not an amazing episode by any means, but it holds a special place in my heart. There's very little fighting but it's kind of fun to break the typical Power Rangers mold. They could have done more with the self doubt concept, but for what it is this is a pretty fun little two parter sandwiched in between two really lame episodes. Though I don't want to talk too much about next week already so I'll hush up for now.

We can talk about Wheel of Misfortune a little bit though. I mentioned being disappointed that Power Rangers didn't use a great opportunity they were given by the Japanese version, and by that I mean debuting the Ultrazord against Lokar. Premiering Ultrazord against the Wheel of Misfortune is such an odd decision that makes no sense to me. I don't mean Power Rangers should follow the framework of the Japanese version completely, but Lokar is built up far more. He's presented as something dangerous.

We also get extra shots of the Ultrazord to show it off a little more when it's formed this time around. They're trying to show you how fucking cool it looks. On top of that, the Megadragonzord is a critical piece of the Ultrazord formation, but that doesn't get a proper introduction until this episode. Someone wasn't using their thinker, or they just really wanted to get rid of that Wheel of Misfortune footage as soon as possible. It's just a particularly underwhelming introduction to what is easily the coolest part of the Rangers arsenal.

While he's a total afterthought here, I wanted to touch on Mutitis just a little bit more. I'm not sure if they could have really built him up any better than they did with the plot they went with, but I guess they felt fine with that since he showed up in a bit of Power Rangers merchandise. Specifically being the penultimate boss in the Super Nintendo Power Rangers video game. He also had a spin fighter, which apparently wasn't looked at too carefully.

Thornos? 

While this episode was great, I was looking over the script and found that originally Bulk was supposed to rip his pants in the dance competition. Tragically that wasn't the case because we might have gotten another scene with him in his pig bo-



...What? There was a scene of Bulk wearing boxers WITHOUT pigs on them and it was cut from the episode? You had a chance to give the guy literally any amount of dignity in his character's choice of underwear and you cut it. Holy shit.



5 comments:

  1. In reality, was Kimberly's hair anywhere NEAR as long as it is on that doll? I'm not expecting 1:1 likeness or anything (though if there was 1:1 likeness I would have bought...two of them), but it really seems like a totally irrelevant pre-existing doll stitched into a costume. Also:

    "Billy tells Zack his biomass is negatively inversed with his electrons due to an overcharge in his flavo-fibes and he'll need to supercharge his flux capacitor with self esteem."

    You just wrote the best sentence on the internet.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Okay seriously... IS that Peter Dinklage!?

    I've googled it and searched and there's nothing on who that is- not even in the episode cast list on IMDB. I'm convinced it is him. Maybe it's in the credits of the actual episode....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's not Peter Dinklage. It's Kevin Thompson.

      Delete
  3. I remember Lokar showing up a couple times & mostly just making weird faces. Like, I can't recall him ever even attacking the Rangers directly.

    ReplyDelete