Tuesday, March 29, 2016

MMPR Season 2 Episode 30: Mirror of Regret



Rocky Effectively Destroys Child's Self-Confidence
Jackass Monster Assists Rangers in Murdering Him

















Believe it or not, I try to go into these episodes with an open mind. I try to assume that an episode will be much better than I remembered it being when I watched it as a kid. Typically that works out okay, but it becomes significantly more difficult when we reach an episode like "Mirror of Regret."

Now it's not like I remember this episode being as putrid as "Crystal of Nightmares" or "The Ninja Encounter Part 2", those episodes were worthless from top to bottom. This is just an episode I remember having a very distinct problem with even when I watched it as a kid. Since I clearly haven't grown up much since then, this problem still persists well into my adulthood.

So if nothing else, I'm hoping that this episode is at least half good. Actually that might put it above most of the recent garbage Season 2 has been slinging our way.

Today's program is getting us back to Power Rangers bread and butter. Forget your peace conferences, forget your school dances, and forget the time that mushroom guy talked like a radio DJ for 20 minutes. It's karate time fuckers. Adam and Rocky are showing off some dope martial arts moves to help teach a bunch of young students how to beat the shit out of anyone who looks at 'em cross. Were you expecting some dumbass sub-plot about how Billy is inventing a weather balloon? Get the hell out of my face with that shit. It's karate time all the time.

Unfortunately, my karate bloodlust ceases to be quenched when a l'il fella by the name of Shawn can't keep up with the kata regiment. He bumps into one of the other students who tells the kid to get his shrimpy ass out of the way. When Shawn continues to muck everything up and make a big to-do of this karate showcase, we're treated to one of the most glorious experiences of all. Two child actors pretending to argue. Let me tell you right here and now, if there's one thing that child actors can't do, it's anything.

Adam tells the Nameless Bully and Shawn to cool their jets or else he won't teach them the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart technique. Bully protests that Shawn is way too much of a dweeb to effectively master the sacred arts of Baby Karate, and claims "With a loser like that on our team we don't stand a chance." Rocky responds, "Yeah, but…" and then it doesn't matter what he says next because he totally just burned that Shawn kid.

Some little bully in your class tells the teacher "HEY SHAWN FUCKIN SUCKS OUT LOUD AND HE'S GONNA MAKE US LOSE!" That's a pretty harsh thing to say. Then your teacher, who is a responsible adult and in charge of the situation, responds by saying "Yeah what you just said is completely accurate. He is in fact terrible and now I'm going to move onto another unrelated point and let Shawn stew in the fact he is atrocious at karate. A fact which I, his instructor, even find to be self-evident." Which of those is going to hurt a kid worse?

Imagine if you were in math class and some kid said "THAT FUCKIN MORON IS NEVER GOING TO BE ABLE TO DO LONG DIVISION BECAUSE HE SMELLS SO BAD AND PROBABLY STILL WATCHES POWER RANGERS." Then your teacher replies "Yeah, but that's not a nice thing to say." You're still agreeing with the kid in that statement. A statement about how stupid and worthless that child is and always will be.

The single addition of the word "Yeah" to his line turns Rocky from a generic nice guy, into a complete bellend who inadvertently destroys a child's self-esteem. Rocky, you are an insurmountable buffoon.

Oh and as for Shawn? He's pretty bummed out about the whole thing.

And the fact he didn't get cast as Alfalfa 

After class is dismissed, Adam gives Shawn a pep-talk about how he used to feel the same way as a kid. People would pick on him and tell him he would never make it as a voice-actor. Now he's doing unpaid karate lessons for children in his spare time, and life is just ducky. Adam reminds Shawn that even if he isn't very good now, he can always improve if he believes in himself, drinks his milk, takes his vitamins, and sues Gakwer for millions of dollars.

Zedd realizes that Adam has once again shown off a glaring character flaw he can exploit this week. Jeez, Zedd really lucked out when Zordon accidentally recruited such emotionally broken teens to become Power Rangers. All he has left is to focus on Aisha's self-destructive altruism and Rocky's crippling heroin addiction and the Rangers will be down half a team.

Zedd and Goldar come to believe that Adam's "fake it 'til you make it" mantra will collapse under the slightest bit of scrutiny. Oh Jesus. "Mirror of Regret" could you pull up a bit? You're getting a bit too real for me.

All Goldar will have to do is show Adam scenes from his childhood where he was ridiculed and humiliated. Once his confidence has been annihilated, Zedd will fumble around in his lair while he desperately tries to think of a 2nd part to this plan on the fly.

While Shawn and Adam continue to practice, Adam reminds Shawn to keep confident in himself. Shawn has a bit of trouble with this, but I'm not sure why this is such an issue. Look who just walked in the door.

Real subtle.

Bulk and Skull blubber around and practice karate so that they can keep up with the Power Rangers. Credit to the boys for giving this scene their best, but it's missing anything I expect from these two. They don't fall in any food, they don't perform any silly pratfalls, and there was nary a pig boxer to be found. The foley artist tries their best by mixing in a bunch of wacky sound effects, but it's still really bland. If a scene isn't working already, adding in the sound of an accordion exploding isn't going to fix it.

Zedd decides the perfect method to get Adam shivering in his shoes. In order to destroy his confidence, Zedd will bring forth the titular "Orchestral Maneuvers in the Park" to show Adam tragic moments in his past. I can only pray Adam had a good home life and all we have to see are scenes of him getting called a shrimp, or this episode is going to take a dark turn really quick.

The one thing I'm curious about is why Zedd is plotting out this scheme so ass-backwards. He wants to wreck Adam's confidence, but he didn't know how he was going to do that until now? Zedd probably should have decided on his plan and how to enact it at the same time. Unless Lord Zedd has a thousand different ways to sap someone's confidence and is constantly deciding on what the most cost-effective method would be.

Lord Zedd must have a wonderful life. Can't get one date down at the Moon Pub, but he's got 44 ways to turn flowers into snake demons with four dongs. Cool magic Zedd, now try making your inner loathing disappear, dick. Sure hope you don't look in that Mirror of Regret any time soon, or next thing you know you'll be bleeding out in the bathtub covered in Z-Shaped scars.

As Adam and Shawn walk to the park, Adam tells Shawn he used to be teased for being small by people all the time as a kid. Shawn asks if any of Adam's dickhead instructors ever implied he would be a detriment to the karate team, and Adam chuckles before saying "What kind of idiot would say something like that?" Then we cut to Rocky telling a fat kid to stop eating so much pie or else he's going to weigh the team's bus down on the way to Stone Canyon.

Adam talks about how karate helped change his confidence and made a huge difference in his life. 
Then Adam completely botches a line in the middle of his speech. He's mentioning how karate changed him, but it didn't make him any taller. That only happened as he got older. I'm assuming that line was supposed to be said in a joking way about how karate wouldn't fix the problem of Shawn's height. The problem is that it's shoehorned into a speech about how great karate is, and Johnny Yong Bosch recites it as matter-of-factly as possible. Maybe whoever wrote this script could have put that line at the end to give this maudlin karate talk a bit of levity. Not shoehorn it in halfway through.

Adam and Shawn participate in your run-of-the-mill karate montage to prove that Shawn has become an expert in the ancient arts of the orient. All from standing out in the woods with his karate instructor? If I knew karate was this easy I wouldn't have blown all my money on those worthless White Ranger Kata VHS tapes. I practiced that shit for months and I still haven't gotten recruited by Zordon.

Inside the Command Center, Alpha toils away in horrific robot servitude as he works on a new weapon for the Power Rangers. A massive bazooka known as the Power Cannon. Whoa that's excellent! A weapon the Rangers can use on monsters before they grow giant? Sounds a lot like the Power Blaster. Is this weapon stronger than the Power Blaster? Fuck you, those toys are old and out of date. Why namedrop them when we have a badass new toy to promote?

Alpha please throw that garbage away and get started on the actual Power Cannon.

Lord Zedd tells Goldar to get his ass down to Earth with the Mirror of Regret in tow, but Goldar can't stop bowing and groveling to his master. Zedd becomes disgusted and growls "What are you waiting for? A doggy treat?" It could be that I'm desperately searching for something to enjoy this week, but man I got a good chuckle out of that line.

While Shawn already appears to have left, Adam is still training in the park. He turns around to see Goldar standing almost completely motionless with some Z-Putties accompanying him. You'll note that I didn't say Goldar appeared. He was standing behind Adam waiting for him to turn around so he could scare the Black Ranger I guess?.  Either the budget on this show is running out or Goldar was scoping out Adam's well-toned buttocks for quite some time.

Even the newly appointed Black Ranger knows how much of a joke Goldar is, and tells the ugly golden dog "You can't beat me, and you know it." Oof. That hurts. Goldar can barely even muster up a defense and demands his Putties attack Adam. Maybe Lord Zedd should turn that Mirror of Regret around on Goldar and watch him crumple like a wet paper bag.

Adam even smacks a couple of the Z-Putties with his bag. Unfortunately he must have had something in there they wanted to steal from him.

How embarrassing is it to lose a tug of war against one guy?

Goldar remembers Zedd's plot wasn't to watch Adam effortlessly slaughter his minions. He whips his sword around, producing a huge cloud of smoke. When the smoke clears, Adam sees Goldar holding the intricate Mirror of Regret. Adam asks Goldar what that piece of shit is, and tells him "I'm not in the mood for your foolishness." Kudos to whatever 95 year old writer nailed down how teenagers talk.

As Adam looks inside the mirror, he sees horrific memories from his childhood. Like the time he didn't get picked to be part of a kickball team, or when some kid called him a pipsqueak, or when his dad told him he would have to star in karate shows to pay off his uncle's gambling debts. Upon seeing these horrific violations of human decency, Adam starts losing his confidence and becomes a complete wreck. I'm not expecting Power Rangers to have Adam getting kicked in the stomach by bullies, but maybe his confidence could be shaken by more than two clips of some childhood rejection.

Zedd realizes his plan is working, but he's got five more shithead Rangers to deal with. So what's a galactic incel to do? Create a monster to ridicule the other heroes of course! He looks inside the Youth Center and sees Shawn reading a Zoobook about hyenas. At least I assume it's a Zoobook, considering that was the only source of animal information prior to the Internet. Zedd zaps the book to create his new beast, Skelerena.

Skelerena Gif
Zedd had a spare bag of bones he needed to get rid of this week

Zordon realizes that Zedd's got a new monster in town, and Alpha is dragging his heels finishing up that Power Cannon. Not only that, Zordon just realized that Adam is being psychologically tormented somewhere in the park. Yeah, I think Goldar might be at the moment in Adam's life when a kid called him a doofus or something equally destructive. Zordon summons the other five Power Rangers, because he figures they might get a good laugh out of seeing Adam's self-esteem plummet.

The Rangers plan on rescuing Adam, but Zordon says Adam won't be able to break Zedd's spell unless he regains his confidence by himself. Not only that, but they need to go and stop the Skelerena monster before it goes wild in Angel Grove. He notes that this monster laughs at its victims, much like Goldar is doing to Adam. Thank you Power Rangers. Such subtle storytelling almost slipped by me.

The Rangers morph and land in front of Skelerena, who will be located off-screen for the duration of this "fight." Now here's the point where the episode is dragged down. Skelerena is a pretty great looking monster, but Power Rangers doesn't have his costume. That means the only way we can see Skelerena is in shots of the monster gyrating around in Japanese footage. The Rangers make no contact with him, and he makes no contact with the Rangers. Z-Putties surround them while the monster laughs at the Rangers.

The problem with this becomes evident when you realize that the Rangers will refer to Skelerena as a vicious adversary, when the Skelerena will not lay a hand on them once. He doesn't fire blasts at them or punch at the screen then we cut to the other Rangers flying back. None of that shit that sort of makes a fight look like it's happening. Skelerena stands around and laughs, and that's it.

When I see a skeletal hound from Hell show up, I build up the kind of things it can do. I don't assume it will stand around until it's inevitably murdered. Not to mention there's only so much footage of Skelerena the show can use, so they end up reusing a number of shots of the monster running around or jumping. When that starts happening, it becomes incredibly obvious just how little this monster is doing.

I've harped about this problem quite a few times before, but Skelerena is easily one of the worst offenders. To make matters worse, he doesn't get a Zord fight either. It's incredibly frustrating that a monster that looks as good as Skelerena has to be relegated to such a pathetic role. It was such a boring attempt at using the monster of the week that I even noticed it as a kid.

So whatever, the Rangers fight the Z-Putties while Skelerena chortles about how pathetic they are. AT LEAST THEY'RE FIGHTING YOU BAG 'A SHIT. Why don't you stop chortling to yourself and get in on this? For whatever reason, the Rangers seem to be having a particularly tough time battling the Z-Putties this week and get thrown around like ragdolls. Skelerena looms in Japanese footage acting like he's going to do something, but we all know better. Stop pretending you big tease.

Back in the park, Goldar promises this final image in the Mirror of Regret will ruin Adam's self-esteem once and for all. Adam looks in the mirror and sees a startling image, not of his past, but something even more mortifying. All we in the audience hear as Adam looks upon the mirror is Baboo giggling while Goldar bellows "IT BROKE INSIDE ME, CALL THE GODDAMN HOSPITAL!" Goldar desperately tries to change the image on the mirror, only for it to land on footage of Shawn performing karate.

Adam sees Shawn exuding self-confidence and believing in himself, which leads the Black Ranger to stand a bit stronger. Adam sees his own lesson literally reflected back at him, and realizes he's still as strong on the inside as he's always been. After Adam regains his confidence, he spin kicks a few of the remaining Z-Putties before Goldar bugs out. Aw come on now. We don't even get a scene of Adam breaking the Mirror of Regret? When I see a mirror in a karate show, that goddamned thing needs to get kicked to pieces by the end of the episode or I'm leaving unsatisfied.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: "I'm Leaving Unsatisfied"

Zordon contacts Adam and says he needs to get to the other side of the park right away. His friends are watching some super strong Japanese footage right now and they're going to need his help. Adam morphs and lands in front of Skelerena. Or behind him. It doesn't make a difference, he's not really there. Just kill him already.

Tommy lies to Adam as well as the audience by saying that Skelerena is tough. Thankfully Alpha 5 sends the Rangers their new Power Cannon to even the odds. Skelerena jumps in the air and acts like it's about to do anything, but immediately falls back down to the ground. Not only does it fall down, but its body is smoking as though it's been wounded off-screen. Jesus. Skelerena is a monster so lame that it's defeating itself. What a piece of shit.

Skelerena
Try aiming at him next time you clowns.

Back at the Youth Center, Shawn shows off how much he's improved ever since he was told to believe in himself and kicked a couple trees. To be fair, if every 80's movie is to believed then that's all it takes. All of the kids in class are impressed, and even the bully from before expresses shock at how well Shawn is doing. After Shawn completes his kata, Bully says he did an awesome job, and now that he's good at something he is above mockery. An important lesson to all you struggling kids out there. If you're bad at something, people will mock you about it until you're better. So get training.

Shawn thanks Adam for that 20 minutes of intensive training and Rocky congratulates Shawn on finding the strength inside of himself. Shawn looks Rocky dead in the eyes and tells him he can take his half-hearted excitement and shove it up his ass. Next time he wants to congratulate someone, he can try not tearing them down in front of the rest of the class first. One day Shawn is going to be better at karate than you are Rocky, and he's going to break your goddamned neck.

With another minute left in the episode, Bulk and Skull show up to eat up a little more time. A practice that Bulk is no stranger to. Get it? Because he's fat. Who cares. This episode blows.




Your Weekly 90's Nostalgia: Zoobooks




Personal Thoughts



Meh. That's the most I can muster about this episode. Other than the Skelerena non-fight this episode isn't really that bad. The Putty fights have some effort put into them and the confidence sub-plot is decent. The problem is that it all combines into a really boring final product. It's an episode that feels like it's going through the motions. The best proof of that would be those reprehensible scenes with Bulk and Skull. All that happens is the two of them move around clumsily and get dizzy. There was actually another one of those scenes in this episode I didn't mention in the write-up because I couldn't find anything to say about it. That's how worthless it was.  

Skelerena looks like a really imposing and threatening monster, but doesn't get to do anything that matters. The most impressive showing we get from him is actually in a Super Nintendo Power Rangers game where you fight him on top of a surfboard. In that game he breathes fire and charges at you with a scythe. It's really imposing compared to the show's portrayal of him.

I keep trying to think of more things to say about this episode, but every time I reflect on it I feel like I'm on Valium. It's such a slog. I get a charge out of episodes that are irritatingly bad, but I can't fucking stand episodes that leave me with so little to discuss. We introduced the Power Cannon. I guess that's kind of cool? It's a new toy, but it's not that interesting to me. It's a stronger Power Blaster. That's really it. This episode bored me so bad I couldn't even be interested in a massive dragon cannon.

Thankfully that shouldn't be an issue with next week's episode.




4 comments:

  1. I like to think the Power Cannon was meant for the Squadron Rangers, but it got destroyed and Alpha rebuilt it. They even use their side arms to power that thing up: their five daggers and their sword.

    Not related, but where can fans talk to you?

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    Replies
    1. I try not to think of Megaforce very often, and I have a hard time including the Sentai Rangers they introduced as official teams. But yeah it always seemed weird they would put big pinballs in the Power Cannon as well as shoving a bunch of swords into it.

      Also the best way to talk to me would probably just be leaving comments on here? I might try and set something up in the future. Oh! You could follow me on Twitter, @MMPRBlog. I don't post much but hit me up I'll talk atcha.

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  2. Before Dairanger was officially integrated to the PR universe, I imagined that they five teens were supposed to get new power coins with their Thunderzords, but those became color-coded orbs, which became a new set of Rangers (Mighty Morphin Squadron Rangers?), Rangers that somewhat resemble the White Ranger. Since Zordon didn't have those coins, and the Thunderzords were inoperative without them (since they don't have their souls), he used the souls of their Dinozords to power them.

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  3. I've lost count of how many times the Rangers are put under a spell and Zordon's solution to break it is "Get over it".

    ReplyDelete