Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Episode 45: Crystal of Nightmares

Wolf Gladiator Observes Nubile Young Men Wrestling
Immigrant Maid Scared to Death by Studying Teenagers.

Following the Doomsday two parter we've looked at three episodes. Two of them were pretty wretched and the third was great. This episode is the last before Power Rangers takes an interesting detour, so let's see if they can tie up the match with two lousy episodes and two good ones.

The Ranger Teens are shaking in their boots this week, not because the quality of their adventures has been lackluster lately, but because there's a big science test coming up! Trini and Kim say how nervous they are about being quizzed on things they learned previously, but Billy's got a surefire plan to help them all ace this test. He tells his pals they can all go up to his uncle's cabin in the woods where they'll have plenty of room to themselves to study to their hearts content. Then they can read that weird looking book in the basement and we can see Jason get fucked by a tree.

Kim and Trini readily accept the notion that they should hang out in a secluded cabin with no access to the outside world with someone like Billy near them, as Bulk and Skull eavesdrop on the Ranger Teens scheme. Before Bulk can discuss what he plans to eat today, Principal Caplan walks in and gives them both a slip of paper. Bulk asks if these are early birthday cards with a big dopey grin; a smile that manages to say "I can make the flimsiest of jokes work, suck on it."

Paul Schrier gets his check for the first 40 episodes of the series. Now to find some place that takes Saban Fun Bucks.

As it turns out, these papers are not early birthday cards for the dumbest students in school. Caplan has given Bulk and Skull their mid-semester grades, because nobody in education uses the word "quarter". The bullies aren't too happy with their grades, but they should be proud of themselves for finally learning how to read. Caplan tells the two if they get D's on the big science test next week, they're going to be in detention for the rest of the year. Let's pump the brakes real quick, what the fuck did you just say?

The bullies are failing all of their classes, okay that much is clear. If they get a lousy grade on their next test they're going to be put in detention for it? Have the people who wrote this show ever been to a school before? You don't get punished for failing your courses, you get held back. You get punished for being a prick to everyone and bringing pigs to class. What kind of twisted school is Angel Grove High that they're shoving all of the failing students into the detention hall? Was this what education was like in the early 90's? Maybe this Common Core shit isn't a bad idea after all.

Caplan reminds the boys that D stands for Detention, and hopes they don't find out that L stands for Lawsuit. While Skull is terrified that he's going to fail at something for the 48,670th consecutive time, Bulk reassures him that there's a foolproof way to pass this test. They're going to tail the Ranger Teens and let those losers do all the studying for them. Yeah I remember back in high school when I watched someone else study while I sat around playing Gamecube. Then I took the test and I failed it, because it was the worst idea ever conceived.

Speaking of stupid plans, Goldar's got a real doozy today. He's going to use the patented "Crystal of Nightmare [SIC]" to force the Ranger Teens to dream only of defeat. After the Ranger Teens are subjected to this G-Rated torment, they'll lose all confidence in themselves. Soon enough they'll be unable to defeat Rita's forces because they had a bad dream and thought they were doing karate in their underwear. That would be so BOGUS!

During this scene, Goldar pitches this scheme and all Rita does is stand there and act befuddled. She seems to have no knowledge of this Crystal despite the fact she's the head muckety muck around here. Is Goldar just stashing a bunch of shit he collected throughout the galaxy in his room without telling her? It just makes Rita look like she doesn't even know she's in charge of this gaggle of space freaks. 

The Ranger Teens relax in the cabin Billy murdered his uncle to get access to as we see them vomiting out a bunch of science factoids. Trini says they've worked so hard off screen for the past few minutes they deserve something to eat. Zack slowly gives her a death stare for breaking her vow of silence, but the rest of the Teens agree and they head out to grab some grub.

Inside a desolate cave in the middle of nowhere, Goldar starts feeding energy into the Crystal of Nightmares and pumping himself up over how incredible he's going to be. You're going to murder a bunch of kids with no self confidence Goldar, maybe you can stop acting like you're scaling Kilimanjaro.

Bulk finally debuts his plan, and it looks like the Crystal of Nightmares works on the audience too.

And a new fetish was born

Jesus Christ. This is some of the dumbest shit we've ever had Bulk and Skull do. You'd think the idiotic idea is they'll disguise themselves as maids, and clean the house while the Ranger Teens study so they can listen in. No way buddy! That explanation is pretty stupid, but we need one even dumber.

Bulk and Skull are sneaking in so they can find the Ranger Teens super secret study notes, but they need to hurry to find them before they get back from eating. So then why in the name of piss did they need to dress themselves as maids? Why are you disguising yourself if it's not to hide your identity from somebody? I'm not saying you're going to be well hidden, you're clearly the two trash cans from school that always talk about stomping dweebs, but then why dress as maids at all? What are you even trying to accomplish you idiots?

Before Bulk and Skull can further waste everyone's time, the Ranger Teens make a ruckus outside to alert the bullies they're back at the cabin. Bulk and Skull manage to stuff themselves underneath a bed so that Jason, Zack and Billy can't see them.

At least that's what the show wants us to think, but Bulk and Skull's hideous make-up covered faces are sticking out from underneath the bed. The bed that's facing where the Jason and Billy are sitting. How can they not see two giant cross dressing mongoloids slobbering underneath the bed that is right in their line of sight? If you're framing this shot, why not have them hide under the bed that Billy and Jason sit on, so they wouldn't stick out like a pair of diseased apes? All you have to do is slightly change the blocking and this ridiculous scene would make one iota of sense.

Bulk and Skull sit under the bed to make funny faces, while Zack gets pumped because of all the fresh air out in the cabin and begins to dance. Jason and Billy watch for an awkwardly long time as Zack continues to dance and run down the clock until the episode ends. Billy and Jason try to feign politeness, but can barely hide their resentment.

Billy shields his crotch instinctively while hanging out with two alpha males.

Billy throws a pillow at Zack because it's his uncle's cabin so he can do whatever he damn well pleases. Zack starts swinging a couple of pillows around like nunchucks, causing a shitload of feathers to fall out of them and under the bed. We see Bulk about to sneeze and blow his cover, but Skull puts a finger under his daddy's nose.

Just so we're clear what's happening in this episode: It involves a bunch of dudes getting in a pillow fight together while two 20 something high schoolers dressed as French maids watch them from underneath a bed. I don't know who in this situation is jerking off, but I promise someone is. 

The next scene is, in all seriousness, a cut to Goldar watching the guys in a pillow fight from the Crystal of Nightmares. What am I even watching right now? He starts slapping the broad side of his sword against his palm while growling about how he's going to reign supreme. No seriously, why did they choose that scene to transition to Goldar. It sounds less like an evil plot, and more as if he's going to bust into that cabin and start spanking the guys like he's Ben Affleck in Dazed and Confused. Sorry, that would be an awesome episode. That's not what we're here to discuss.

Trini and Kim are now in their pajamas in another room, and I soon learn what a bullet we dodged by not having Bulk and Skull hide in their room. Not that they're the sexual deviants they were earlier in the season, but I'm much happier that we don't have to see a couple of dudes dressed as maids leering at women from under their bed. One point to Crystal of Nightmares for not taking the skeevy route this week.

As the girls wish each other pleasant dreams, we see all five Ranger Teens tucked into bed and passed out. Bulk and Skull are still underneath a bed in the guys room and have also fallen asleep in each others loving embrace. Goldar starts making some magic lightning spew from the Crystal of Nightmares as the teens toss and turn. At this point I start to get excited. Maybe we can learn what some of the teens innermost fears are. What would terrify them the most. We can learn more about these characters based on what their worst nightmare is! That'll be awesome! First up is Billy, and his dre-GODDAMNIT.

Yeah, all that shit about nightmares? Just a way to dress up a clip show. Not even that, but a clip show revolving around the Rangers losing confidence. Wow what a great idea, I can't believe we never thought of that before.

Next up on the nightmare tally is Trini, and she dreams about the time she and her friends were caught inside the Spidertron's web. You've got to be fucking kidding me. That attack was happening to all of the Rangers, why is this singled out as traumatic only for Trini? That scene didn't have anything to do with her at all. Why are you picking out a moment that could work for all five of the Rangers and applying it to just one of them? It's almost like you realized how little you've done with her and decided to just shove in any ol' scene with her there at all. 

Zack has his nightmare next, and surprisingly it's a fight that focused on him. What a bizarre concept. There's only one problem, the fight that's causing Zack to lose confidence is the battle he had with Nasty Knight. Why's that a problem? Well remember that other clip show that happened 15 episodes ago? Well that episode decided to use the fight against Nasty Knight as a way for Zack to boost his self confidence. Why are you using it now to show it doing the opposite? Why are you undoing everything that you did with Island of Illusion? Why does this episode's shittiness have to go back and retroactively make episodes I enjoyed worse?

While Goldar cackles at the Crystal of Nightmares and its ridiculous choices for what constitutes as a nightmare, he notices another pair have fallen prey to its magic. Bulk and Skull. Instead of being subjected to some stupid rehashed scene of the pair getting scared by a monster or something, we get to watch them live out their fantasies as Power Rangers.

Bulk and Skull morph
A burger as a morpher? That's the silliest thing I've ever heard.

The dynamic dunces jump into the Megazord cockpit to go and save the city, but they don't know how the controls work and the Megazord starts moving around all jittery like it's having a seizure. They keep trying to make the Megazord work but end up causing it to burst into sparks just by piloting it so horribly.

As much as everything else in this episode has sucked eggs, this scene is actually pretty good. The Megazord moving weird is done using some creative editing and it's interspersed with shots of Bulk and Skull freaking out and screaming. It's goofy, it's fun, and it does something enjoyable with the whole nightmare concept. Which is what the premise of this stupid episode should have been instead of a godawful clip show.

Oh right, time to get back to the clips. Kimberly dreams of the time she was trapped in the Samurai Fan Man's bottle. Congrats to Kim for having the first flashback that revolved around her, and wasn't from an episode already used in Island of Illusion.

Jason rounds out the nightmares by dreaming of the time he fought Goldar inside the Dimension of Darkness. Unlike the other nightmares, this one works for me. You could easily look at the battle and see why it would put Jason on edge; this was a dangerous fight where he was unable to morph and in a unique peril. Not to mention this whole Crystal of Nightmares idea is Goldar's to begin with, so it fits the plot of the episode.

Then we see all five teens have a dream of Zordon telling them they're absolutely terrible at being unpaid mercenaries and he's going to be taking away their powers. This is another nightmare that totally works. This is exactly what I wanted from this episode. Focus on what would really mess with the Rangers nerves. Play into the paper thin characters you have and show us what would terrify them.

Having Zordon tell them he's taking what makes them special away from them is an amazing way to shake the Ranger Teens. We would be able to see what they fear instead of things that shouldn't be bothering them anymore. They've already won all the battles they're dreaming about, so why is it terrifying them so badly now?

The Ranger Teens all meet up inside the girl's room the next morning, and they're all acting like a bunch of panicky Petes. Jason asks if the girls had the same nightmare, while Kim wonders why Jason would be dreaming about having sex with Skull. Jason clarifies that he meant the one where Zordon was a dick to them, and Zack says Jason is mistaking real life with dreams again.

The O.G. Dick Zordon tells Alpha 5 that Goldar must have used the Crystal of Nightmares to turn the Ranger Teens into stuttering little bitches, or the stress of rooming together left them emotionally shattered. Billy always holds court over everyone because it's HIS uncle's cabin so he can do whatever he wants. Zack annoys the piss out of everyone by dancing at inopportune times. Kimberly bores everyone with stories about how Tommy was an amazing kisser and loved her almost as much as karate. Jason just looks at how his friends all live like pigs and tells them "LIVING WITH YOU IS LIKE LIVING IN A LIVING NIGHTMARE." Then he goes off to bone those foxy new maids hiding under the bed.

Zordon buzzes the Rangers which makes them jump out of their proverbial boots. You guys are acting like pre-crisis Billy over here. Chill your pills for one second, it's just the giant magic head and his cyborg slave telling you to do their bidding. Zack says he's not ready to take on another one of Rita's monsters, especially not if it's Pudgy Pig again.

Jason musters up the courage to answer his S-S-S-SPOOKY Communicator, and asks Zordon what's going on. Zordon tells them he's sorry they all had some spooky dreams about a bunch of dead rubber suits, and it's all Goldar's fault. If they want their confidence back, they need to go break his dime store prop that's giving them all nightmares. Until they do that they won't be able to morph. TUNE IN THIS WEEK FOR AN ALL NEW POWER RANGERS, THEY DON'T MORPH, THEY DREAM ABOUT SHIT YOU'VE ALREADY SEEN, AND ZACK DANCES. COMING SOON TO FOX KIDS!

While the Ranger Teens continue to shiver and tell Zordon they aren't sure if they can fight, the floating head teleports them to Goldar's location telling them they'll succeed. Man Zordon you are a stone cold prick. "I know how to fix my terrified superheroes who can't access their powers. I'll throw em in the goddamn lion's den. Have fun suckers."

Outside the cave, the teens spot some Putties and Zack sincerely asks Jason, "Putties? Now what are we gonna do?" This Crystal of Nightmares must be the strongest thing in Rita's arsenal if it can make people terrified of Putties. The Rangers get ambushed by more Putties, and it's surprisingly interesting to have a fight where the Teens are losing to the friggin' Putties. I'm not blown away by it, but seeing our heroes incapable of fighting is at least something different. While Trini is helpless, Billy comes to her rescue by doing what he does best: Being a creep.

Call Billy a magician cause he's David Cop A Feel

Jason abandons his terrified team to go into the cave the Crystal is located in. Great leading there Jase, no wonder we put you in the T-Rex. Goldar greets the unmorphed Red Ranger and tells him how tired he is after running through his dreams all night. Jason dodges one attack from Goldar, and while the big gold idiot is gloating about how the Rangers will soon be history, Jason spin kicks the Crystal of Nightmares and demolishes it. Yeah, that's it. Dramatic resolution resolved. One kick. Thanks for nothing.

Goldar teleports away, furious that he's lost his only way to watch young hunks beat each other with pillows. Suddenly all five of the Ranger Teens get a look of confidence on their faces. Zordon tells them via voice over that the spell is broken because the Crystal was destroyed. Just in case you forgot what happened 8 seconds ago. The Ranger Teens immediately start butchering the Putty pack in front of them, and thankfully we get some Ron Wasserman music to chase down the shitty sour milk taste this episode has given us so far.

As the Putties vanish, Scorpina and Goldar leap onto the battlefield. The Rangers morph and before any fight can start, Rita makes her soldiers grow. The Rangers bring out their Dinozords to head off Scorpina and Goldar in the Megazord.

From here on I might as well just skip to the end of the episode, because this fight represents my big problem with this episode. It's the same Goldar and Scorpina VS. Megazord battle that was shown in Green With Evil Part 4. That's right, even more recycled footage! All they do is cut out the scenes of Green Ranger showing up in giant form, thereby eliminating the best part of this whole goddamned fight. Thanks again Crystal of Nightmares, for working so hard to poison the things I enjoy about this show.

On that topic, one of the clips used in the flashbacks earlier was from Green With Evil Part 2. That means that this episode wants you to be familiar with one episode from that mini-series, but hopes like hell that you forget another one so you don't recognize this Zord fight. That's utterly astonishing. If you're going to use an episode to do nothing but play on memories of the old, don't make your big climactic final battle something old too.

So whatever, the Megazord gets knocked down and then summons the Power Sword and beats back Rita's duo. It uses the Power Sword's finishing move to strike Goldar and Scorpina. Oh did I say Goldar and Scorpina? I meant Goldar and King Sphinx.

I got a riddle for you Sphinx, what are you doin out of the cold dead ground?

Goldar teleports away to get Scorpina to a doctor and figure out what just happened to her, and Rita's crew bicker amongst themselves for all being a bunch of worthless nothings. Goldar calls Finster an overgrown rat and should best watch his mouth. Finster isn't the one who botched this Goldar, so leave your stupid comments in your pocket.

The next day at the cabin, a maid who isn't just some weird high school greaser all dressed up arrives. She starts vacuuming up the mess the Ranger Boys made during their erotic pillow fight, and soon discovers Bulk and Skull still asleep under the bed. The maid screams, confident in the knowledge these two cross dressers are about to Buffalo Bill her; however Bulk starts screaming because the science test is today and they need to go write down all the things they learned. Sure hope there's an essay question about how to crash a Megazord.

Mr. Caplan tells the classroom he'll be handing back the results of the tests because Ms. Applebee is ill. Or because the show already paid him to act in this recent batch of episodes and wanted to get their monies worth. He hands the Ranger Teens back their tests and congratulates them on getting A's. Nothing says classroom cohesion like telling the other students who among them got the best grade. I think they all figured out which paragons of virtue are going to ace the tests Caplan. No need to announce it.

Caplan then commands Bulk and Skull to come in front of the class and take their tests so he can satisfy his fetish for humiliating students. As it turns out, Bulk and Skull didn't get D's on their tests! Can you piece together what the killer joke is to end this amazing episode?

THEY ACTUALLY GOT F'S. HA.HA.HA. Caplan asks if they know what F stands for, but I already know exactly what it stands for.

Fuck this episode.

Your Weekly 90's Nostalgia: Unfunny Cross Dressing Subplots

Personal Thoughts

As you might have guessed, this one doesn't tend to make it into my rotation when I'm watching Power Rangers. This episode doesn't suck completely because it's a clip show. It sucks because it's a clip show that doesn't do anything interesting within the context of being a clip show. Dress it up a little bit! Island of Illusion was fine and didn't make me want to slit my wrists.

So all that shit about two good episodes and two bad episodes after Doomsday? Nope! Power Rangers gave us one good episode, two bad episodes, and this atrocity to mankind. A Pig Surprise is King Leer compared to this piece of garbage.

What's irritating is that this episode had tiny flashes of good ideas. Having the Ranger Teens unable to beat Putties switches things up and gets you engaged. Can our heroes manage to regain their confidence and shithouse these grey goofballs? Yeah, but not by believing in themselves or finding their own self confidence. Jason just had to kick a crystal ball. I'm sure you kids at home can make good use of this lesson.

Let me be a little fair to the writers at Saban H.Q. for a moment. Realistically speaking, they don't have any actual Japanese footage left to use. They had squeezed as much blood from the Zyuranger stone as they possibly could have at this point. The only thing left to do would be dub over scenes of the unmorphed Zyurangers and try working that into an episode. The writers didn't have shit left, so they had to crank out a clunker like this to stall for time. I promise next week I'll finally explain what they were waiting for, but the fans have come to refer to it as Zyu2. And boy oh boy do you guys think I geeked out hardcore before? Holy shit you ain't seen nothing yet.


  1. I was disappointed that the show had to show Kim and Trini sleeping in separate beds.

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  3. If I had to give this episode any pluses, it would be that I really enjoyed the Zord fight once the music kicked in. It's still recycled from Green With Evil Part IV but I liked it. It's not irredeemable garbage like Cassie's Best Friend which is the worst fucking episode of the franchise. Bad morales, acting so bad that the word Jetson if pronounced as Justin, a rapist side character in all but name, five minutes wasted on a character who contributed nothing to the plot and is a one off, editing that makes me want to castrate myself, a monster who is the worst monster of all fucking time. I've written from MMPR up until Turbo on PowerPoint and gone through all sprue shit including this and Stop the Hate Master. This episode killed my passion for the franchise and it will be hard to revive. You think this and Big Sisters was bad? They're Citizen Kane and the Godfather when compared to CBF.