Tuesday, December 29, 2015

MMPR Season 2 Episode 18: White Light Part 2


Talking Sword Provides Insufficient Backup
Other Five Characters Stop Mattering For Remainder of Series













On last week's episode of Power Rangers, Zordon ditched town and left the Ranger Teens on their own to fight Lord Zedd's Nimrod monster. While the Rangers were swiftly beaten, Bulk and Skull discovered the space dumpster containing Rita Repulsa and were trying desperately to open it. After Nimrod blasted the Thunder Megazord, Billy retreated back to the Command Center and stumbled upon Zordon secretly creating a new Ranger. Hopefully it's one that keeps their nose out of other people's goddamn business.




Billy continues looking at this new Ranger with googly-eyes and decides it's time to go see what his teammates are up to. Oh they're probably where you left 'em Billy. Getting electrocuted to death by a giant hot dog space monster.

Lord Zedd gloats to Goldar that Nimrod is decimating the Rangers, but Goldar informs his master that the Rangers have retreated off-screen. What a stunning conclusion to a hook from last week's episode. "Oh no! The Rangers are in danger. The monster will surely end their lives and destroy the heroes this planet holds dear without a second though. Wait, they're safe now. Nevermind." Way to keep the kids on their feet Power Rangers.

The Ranger Teens regroup at Billy's garage where Billy blathers endlessly about the technical details it took to find Zordon's secret magic door. Kimberly, acting as a surrogate for the audience, asks Billy if he could stop speaking thesaurus and cut to the chase. Billy stutters and cums when he realizes a woman just talked to him, but he somehow manages to stammer out the words "new Ranger."

Jason utters out a flat "What", because this show won't fork over a couple extra bucks so that's the best they're getting out of One-Take St. John. The rest of the Ranger Teens ask Billy rapid-fire questions about this new Ranger, but Billy tells them he doesn't know anything more about the situation outside of made-up science bullshit. Kimberly pointedly asks if Billy knows who this new Ranger is, and if his name rhymes with Salami. She starts whining that this new Ranger deserves to be Tommy, because she likes him and her character is the one who says the word "Tommy" then ceases speaking. Unlike a certain blabbermouth on the team.

Jason tells his friends to chill out, because Zordon would never yank them around just to be a dick. I mean he wouldn't do that again, after all those times he did it before. Billy thinks that a new Ranger is exactly what their team needs. He claims Lord Zedd's monsters have been significantly stronger than Rita's, which will become true if we keep saying it instead of showcasing impressive monsters.

While some new loser is added to a team of other losers, the world's biggest two losers are trying to open a big trash can. Bulk sobs that he and Skull have tried everything, but they can't get this damn thing open. Skull says he's got a plan that's so stupid, it's guaranteed to work. The two rush off to Ernie's Juice Bar to ask for one of his most profitable investments: A group of Dominican laborers who work for blankets and fruit.

Inside of the Command Center, Alpha brings the power back on and summons the Ranger Teens. As soon as they arrive, Zordon announces that today promises an exciting new change for the Power Rangers. Oh boy! I hope another boring white guy is going to be joining our team!

Zordon reminds us for the fourth consecutive week since it's happened that the Green Ranger's powers were exhausted in his battles with Lord Zedd. After those powers were depleted, a candidate was selected in order to fill the void that he had left, and take on the mantle of the newest Ranger. Now introducing: The White Ranger.

White Ranger GIF
Subtle

Zordon declares that the White Ranger may now take this opportunity to reveal his identity. In an admittedly well-shot scene, the White Ranger unbuckles his helmet and shows himself to the onlooking Ranger Teens. All the audience can see before we cut to commercial are the Ranger Teens reactions, ending in Kimberly fainting.

So who is it? Who could this brand new White Ranger possibly be? Could it be Richie? The guy I've purposefully avoided making images of ever since he first showed up? Is it Curtis? The actor who couldn't convincingly yell the word "Whoa!" when a camera's in front of his face? Is it the one character that we haven't stopped talking about since he last showed up and whose actor hasn't been removed from the opening credits even though he hasn't been on-screen?

You're a good guesser!

The four conscious Ranger Teens applaud Tommy's new suit and become ecstatic to see their old pal back on the team. Tommy smiles and gives them a warm "Guess who's back?" It's a genuinely nice moment where we get to see the Ranger Teens acting like friends towards Tommy. It's significantly more natural seeing friendships acted out on-screen than being reminded of them through repetitive dialogue. It'd been so long since we saw the other Rangers enjoying Tommy's company that I forgot what that looked like. This "show don't tell" stuff is paying off in spades guys, maybe we should keep it up!

Seeing that his girlfriend appears to be bleeding out on the floor from a concussion, Tommy decides to see if she's doing okay. He lifts up the passed-out Kimberly's head and tells her it's time to wake up so he can talk to her about karate. She hugs him tight now that she realizes he'll never leave her, or this franchise, again.

Then all that wind gets sucked directly out of my sails when reality comes knocking.

Zordon proudly inquires if the Rangers are pleased with the new leader of their team. Then the camera cuts to Jason with a big dumb grin on his face as he responds "This is great!" Man good on you Jase, you reacted really well to having your position usurped.

So why is this so annoying? Well I've previously mentioned that Austin St. John, Jason's actor, was having a lot of behind the scenes issues with Saban Productions during filming. He, along with Walter Jones and Thuy Trang, were requesting a pay increase because this show was making infinity dollars. Once those requests weren't met, the actors stopped showing up on set to do additional dialogue recording, which is why we've been getting those obnoxious attempts at people matching these characters' voices during morphed battles.

Zordon's lines, as well as the lines of any costumed character, were performed at a later date than the actual footage we're seeing was filmed. That means that by the time this line was recorded, the show already knew that Zack, Jason, and Trini weren't going to be sticking around much longer. This means that Zordon's lines could be changed from what was scripted or what was originally intended to be said during the Command Center scenes.

Ultimately what this results in is a scene of Zordon saying something that's a total dig at Jason getting replaced by an actor who didn't ask for more money, and Jason's reaction is to excitedly talk about how great that is. It's spitting in Austin St. John's face completely arbitrarily, just because you know he's going to be quitting so fuck him. You may as well have had Zordon say "Tommy is now the new leader of the Power Rangers since the previous leader smells like sweaty balls and dickcheese", and then cut to Jason smiling. It's really petty and lame and totally takes me out of the moment of Tommy's emergence as the White Ranger.

Anyways, Jason's losing 10 grand off his annual paycheck and he couldn't be happier.

The biggest smile minimum wage could buy.

Zordon mumbles out an apology for being secretive, and says he needed to protect from Zedd's interference. Which is the exact same thing he would have said at the Ranger Teens' eulogies if Nimrod had murdered them all. That or it's an attempt to handwave Zordon keeping the Rangers in the dark to increase tension.

Kimberly asks how the only man she would ever bang in front of Billy got his powers back after Zedd sapped them all. Alpha reminds her that only the Green Ranger's powers were gone for good, not Tommy's. Zordon takes some more time to fellate Tommy while explaining that the White Ranger's powers were created by the power of good, and can never be taken away. At least not until other powers prove more profitable.

Alpha announces that Tommy's White Tigerzord is now ready for battle. Tommy's new weapon, an enchanted saber by the name of Saba, will help him pilot this powerful new Zord. Obviously he's going to need help piloting a Zord, Tommy's spent the last season blowing on a flute while a dragon did all the dirty work for him.

Saba
If I told you that this thing could talk would you think I was full of shit?

While Tommy gets a bunch of new toys you should go beg your parents to buy you right away, Bulk and Skull uncover their trump card in opening Rita's dumpster; a comically oversized can-opener. What in Christ's name was Ernie using that thing for? Opening giant cans of dog food for his Juice Bar Smoothies? It's literally so big that two adult sized human beings are required to operate it. What does he have this thing sitting around for? Every single answer I can think of ends up in him using it to crack the skulls of nosy members of the FDA.

Zordon alerts the Rangers that Nimrod the Scarlet Sentinel is back in the city causing mayhem. Unfortunately the Thunderzords were heavily damaged in the last battle, apparently. Alpha alerts the Ranger Teens that Bulk and Skull are just about to crack open Rita's dumpster. To which I respond, "So?" What the fuck is she going to do? You think even if Bulk and Skull ask her who the Rangers are she's going to bother answering them? Based on previous experiences with Rita I assume she will say something about having a headache and then loudly scream at them for being losers. Why is the show acting like this is going to be what finally reveals the Rangers' hidden identities?

Zordon sends Billy and Trini to repair the Zords while shipping Jason, Kim, and Zack off to stop Bulk and Skull from unsealing Rita's dumpster. This only leaves Tommy left to combat the Nimrod monster and, conveniently, show off all his cool new gadgets.

The four Rangers morph, as Pink, Red, and Black run into Z-Putties who appear to be searching for Rita as well. As those three prepare to fight, Tommy lands in a quarry and sees Nimrod ready to battle. Saba, out of absolutely nowhere, begins speaking and informs the White Ranger to activate his Tigerzord. Also please don't pay attention to the fact that he's a talking goddamned sword.

White Tigerzord GIF
In the world of Power Rangers, a tiger is much cooler than a dragon

While the Tigerzord struts its stuff, we hear a "new" piece of Ron Wasserman music: Go White Ranger. A piece I can't even find on Youtube because it's very obviously just Go Green Ranger with the word Green replaced with White, though I can't deny it remains as catchy as it did the first time we heard it.

Tommy leaps around childishly when he sees his new Zord in motion. Unfortunately since its owner is a dumbass, the Tigerzord leaps into a rock formation, which gives way and causes the massive Zord to topple over and crash. Tommy blames Saba for not informing him that a big thing can't stand on a little thing without falling down. Saba retorts that he's a goddamned talking sword, how the fuck was he supposed to know any of this shit?

Out of nowhere, Tommy leaps onto the Tigerzord and stands atop its head before ordering it to charge into battle. Nimrod blasts at Tommy and the Tigerzord, but the new Zord is too fast and blitzes past her explosions. Realizing that maybe standing in the line of fire isn't such a good idea, Tommy gets inside the Tigerzord's cockpit. Once there, Tommy loads Saba into a slot inside the Tigerzord, which converts it into the Tigerzord Warrior Mode.

White Tigerzord Warrior Mode
....And a person is much cooler than a tiger?

While the White Tiger squares off against Nimrod, the recently demoted Jason kicks Putty ass alongside Zack and Kimberly. Since the Putties aren't particularly intelligent, they try and stop our mighty heroes by throwing cardboard boxes at them. This leads to an impressive display of karate when the Red Ranger kicks a box at a Putty, causing him to fall from a tower. Sometimes you see things in life you never dreamed of, and that's what you needed to see most.

The White Ranger takes a small glass orb from behind him in the Tigerzord cockpit and loads it into his Zord. This orb causes the Tigerzord Warrior Mode to unleash a huge fireball from its chest, which Tommy calls the "White Tiger Thunderbolt." Goes to show you no matter how many fancy suits you put Tommy in, he's still a total fucking dope.

Nimrod refuses to admit defeat and summons forth AC and DC to help her battle this new Zord. The three monsters manhandle the White Tigerzord and bombard it with energy blasts. Nimrod and her companions' attacks send the Tigerzord reeling, and knock Tommy out of the cockpit. Tommy tells Saba to contact Jason right away, which is what any good leader would do. Contact the guy they replaced and beg him for help.

Jason arrives and summons his Red Dragon Thunderzord to help Tommy. The Red Dragon Warrior Mode forms and mounts the White Tigerzord as a steed. Red Dragon thrusts its staff forward and stabs at AC, DC, and Nimrod, sending all three down to the dirt. On the White Ranger's command, Red Dragon dismounts from his Zord. Tigerzord changes back into Warrior Mode before the other four Thunderzords arrive and fuse with his Zord. This creates the Tigerzord in Battle M-oh…oh my mistake. It's actually called the Megatigerzord!

Megatigerzord GIF
There's no mightier weapon than a bird stapled to your arm.

Nimrod and her cronies stand in fear of this new set of toys before trying yet again to attack. Their combined energy blasts don't even slow the Megatigerzord's roll as he struts into battle. AC and DC leap off their master's shoulders and attempt to strike the Megatigerzord. The two monsters get smacked backwards right into Nimrod, who immediately complains that they never do anything right. Well no shit they don't, they're lame-ass pseudo monsters that can't even talk. What did you expect them to do lady?

With Nimrod and her pals on the ropes, the Megatigerzord gears up its finishing move and finishes the trio off. What's his finisher? It's fucking awesome that's what it is.

That vector Firebird is the 90'sist thing imaginable.

Back inside Skull Sr.'s garage, the bullies stop trying to open the dumpster before slumping to the floor. They realize that no matter what oversized prop they use on this stupid thing, it ain't opening. Bulk and Skull contemplate suicide after this glorious failure, but before they're able to pull the trigger, Rita escapes from her miniature dungeon and announces herself to the boys.

Bulk and Skull turn around to see Rita bitching at them. As soon as they realize a toy-sized witch is in front of them, they do their best Abbot and Costello Meet the Mummy impression and pass out. Rita responds, "Just what I need. A human Squatt and Baboo." Which is easily one of the best lines we've had all Season.

Before Rita can unleash all sorts of unholy microscopic terror, the Power Rangers appear and shove her back in the dumpster. She screams about these same six assholes always ruining her day, but it doesn't matter. She's unceremoniously sealed up once again. Phew. Glad we got rid of that…threat? Whatever.

Tommy, Zack, Billy, and Jason take Rita's dumpster out in the middle of nowhere and Zordon has Alpha zap it with an energy beam. The force from Alpha's beam blasts Rita's can deep into space where she will never be heard from again. Probably. Man this plot stops feeling necessary when you realize it's solved in 25 seconds.

Trini and Kimberly come back to the garage and wake up Bulk and Skull. The two numbskulls beg the girls not to look behind them or they'll get attacked by a spooky little witch. The girls mock them for believing something that actually happened until Bulk and Skull see that both Rita and her dumpster have vanished. Instead of realizing how suspicious this entire scenario is, Bulk and Skull assume this must be a case of their "Stupid as Shit Disorder" flaring up, and accept that their lives are a cosmic joke.

The Ranger Teens celebrate Tommy's return with a round of frosty chocolate milkshakes at the Juice Bar. Tommy thanks them for the surprise party, but Jason says Tommy had a much more impressive surprise. Yeah, it was pretty impressive when Tommy threw a Ranger coup and removed you from power. We let you back on the team for one episode and this is what you do Tommy? Get bent.

Richie and Curtis come in to remind the audience that they're officially done being the shittiest red herrings in history. Richie mentions a karate trophy he won this afternoon, which is a bigger waste of this episode's time than having Billy discuss sub-atomic nuclear fission.

The gang asks Richie to demonstrate some of his karate moves. While Ernie is walking a cake over from the counter, Richie awkwardly spin-kicks it directly out of Ernie's hands and…do you honestly even need me to tell you where it goes? There is not a single goddamned cake in the entire Power Rangers universe that will not end up smashed into the faces of Bulk and Skull. It is physically impossible for these two not to be splattered by some form of desert.

Tommy chuckles as he realizes he lives in a repetitive hellscape from which he will never escape. He will live through the same scenarios with minor differences between them every week until he mercifully dies. Perhaps his color will change, perhaps the monsters will vary, but no matter what, he will never break the shackles of being a Power Ranger. No matter what he wants in his future, Zordon has an iron grip on him. There's no way out. No peace. No happiness. Only karate until his hands bleed and Lord Zedd breaks his neck. If there is a God, he'll let that day be soon.




 Your Weekly 90's NostalgiaGiant Can Openers




Personal Thoughts


We're finally here everyone. The White Ranger. It's a moment I've been waiting for for quite some time because his inclusion in the series changes the whole game of Power Rangers. Is that a good thing? Eh. I guess we'll find out together. Though I apologize if my answer seems a bit premeditated. In the meantime, we can all agree that a new Ranger is still a pretty exciting dynamic. It's also nice that we finally have more ways to kill monsters than the Thunder Saber for the billionth time.

With regards to "White Light Part 2" as an episode, it's rather good. Excusing Power Rangers incredibly lazy resolution of cliffhangers, like the Megazord being damaged off-screen and then fixed off-screen later so don't worry about it. The Tigerzord is a cool new addition to the Rangers' arsenal and it gets an impressive debut against Nimrod. I may have dumped on it a bit, but I got a kick out of the sub-plot with Bulk and Skull unearthing Rita's dumpster. The resolution was lacking, but it was all worth it for "A human Squatt and Baboo." I'm not sure how, but Rita is starting to come around to become a character I actually want to see more of.

I wanted to mention a throwaway line from last week's episode that served as an attempt at a red herring this week. In Part 1, Lord Zedd mentioned bringing Tommy under the forces of evil to serve as an heir to his throne. Obviously nothing like this happened and it was only to keep the audience from realizing that it was Zordon abducting Tommy and not Zedd, but I appreciate that the writers at least tried to make it a mystery who the White Ranger would be. It doesn't really work, and the concept of a Ranger with a secret identity would be done significantly better two seasons down the road, but the fact that Power Rangers tried to keep the audience guessing is good enough for me.

The White Ranger serves as one of the few elements from Dairanger that Power Rangers will retain. In Dairanger, the White Ranger was their sixth Ranger, much like Green Ranger was in Zyuranger last season. The reason Tommy was acting like a giddy little kid when the Tigerzord first emerged was because in the Japanese version, the White Ranger actually was a kid. Not a precocious and interesting kid either, one of those awful kid characters that Japan loves who goes around flipping girls' skirts and grabbing girls' tits. No fucking thanks. For once, I'll stick with Tommy.

Though Nimrod, AC, and DC are gone for good, they were originally going to come back in a later episode where they would challenge the Rangers again. Not because there was anything particularly special about the monsters themselves, but because there were six episodes of footage revolving around these three characters, and we only used about two of 'em. Originally AC and DC had their own fights against the Dairangers, and one of them even fought the Thunder Megazord. None of that was used, likely because the show wanted to hurry up and get to the White Ranger stuff as soon as possible.

I'll conclude with a cool video that number one superhunk Jeff Pruitt posted on his Youtube channel. It features him observing the production of the Japanese episodes that were used to make this one. It's some interesting behind the scenes stuff that shows off how a Super Sentai series is made, and totally worth killing some time on. Enjoy, and see ya next year!






9 comments:

  1. Yeah, why no photos of Richie? Just the one of him riding his bike out of frame, if I recall.

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    1. Because in about two episodes we'll never see him again. It started accidentally then evolved into a conscious choice because I think he's a crummy character. He's not as embarrassing as Curtis and not boring enough to care about. He's just medium boring.

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  2. regarding Jason's reaction to being demoted, I do agree that it was disrespectful for the character to react so cheerfully to the notion of being demoted, especially when not a few episodes ago, Zordon was singing Jason's praises for being a good leader and how well he handled himself in a crisis during 'Missing Green', and now all of a sudden the big floating head is demoting him?

    on the other hand, my own thoughts stem from the notion that Jason felt relieved to have the responsibility of having to keep up with Zedd's schemes lifted from his shoulders, and he was also just glad that his friend was back on the team, thus further absolving Jason of any lingering guilt he may have possessed regarding not getting the Green Candle in time.

    Hell, when they brought Jason back during Zeo to be the Gold Ranger, they even kinda worked it into the story and worked it into the characterization when Jason told Tommy that he when he left for Switzerland, he knew the team was in good hands with Tommy as leader, but told him straight up that just because he was back, he didn't want the leadership responsibility again, and was just glad to be part of the team again.

    Hell, even during 'Forever Red' even though he was a veteran Ranger, and the original Red Ranger, he still deferred to Tommy's leadership and was just happy to lend a hand.

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    Replies
    1. This is an incredibly more thorough look into Jason's psyche than I ever bothered to consider. Kudos. I think the only problem with it is the show wants to portray Zedd as so much stronger than Rita, but due to the nature of this show he can never possibly succeed at any long term goals. Even erasing the Green Ranger was undone four episodes later and came back to bite him in the ass even harder.

      Your Forever Red reference is also a really good point. Jason's the first, but he doesn't take charge because he doesn't feel like it's his place after the passing of the crown to Tommy. What makes that episode feel so cool though is that we still get a lot of great Jason moments even if he isn't the one in charge. God that episode is so good, I can't wait to get to it in 20 years.

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    2. I agree to a certain extent, but just wait until season three. Even though there will be moments when zedd comes off like a joke, there will still be much more menacing behavior and more success for him regarding long term goals and plans. And even with all of that, zedd is still a fondly remembered villain, even if by this point in season two he wasn't having as much success as Rita had back in season one.

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  3. Brilliant as always. I love your biting commentary.

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  4. Of all the oddball moments in this series you've gone out of your way to highlight, I'm surprised you skipped over the Megatigerzord and Red Dragon shaking hands. I always found that scene goofy even as a kid, and even today get a good laugh imagining the coordination required on the Rangers' end to pull something like that off from the cockpits.

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    1. Until this very second I thought that's what I had made the title image. Now I'm disappointed I forgot to address it. That sounds like a late night of trying to get my draft ready haha.

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  5. I always have conflicted feelings about this episode. It is pretty well done and the Tigerzord stuff especially was pretty damn cool (though they edited it weirdly with the Tigerzord falling on its back seemingly unable to get up, the footage made way more sense in Dairanger), but the way Jason was just fired as leader made me really angry the first time around as a kid. I didn't know about all the contract stuff, I just knew that my favourite Ranger got demoted and as a result I've always resented the White Ranger somewhat, even today. Doesn't help that the other Rangers really do become useless once the White Ranger is introduced to the series, you hit that nail on the head.

    And I so wish you were exaggerating when, in the comments, you mentioned that Ko was running around flipping girls skirts and grabbing their chests, but that's exactly what he does. I really disliked him in Dairanger; even if his behaviour is somewhat explained by his mommy/daddy issues, the fact his behaviour was never addressed, hell, he moved in with Mei without even apologizing for sexually assaulting her on multiple occassions, has always left me with a strong dislike of his character. Only thing I don't like about Dairanger, which I love otherwise.

    ReplyDelete