Episode 15 - “Dark Warrior”
Welcome back once again to another edition of the blog! No announcements or housekeeping comments to make today so let's get straight into the episode!
We start things off in the lair of a mad scientist. There are black lights and bubbling liquids in tubes everywhere (why do mad scientists always have their solutions illuminated with black lights? I don't get it.) A scientist in a powder-blue labcoat and yellow t-shirt is perfecting his invisibility potion. He tests it on a potted cactus that he has on his desk. (That's stage 4 of the scientific method; test your hypothesis on a cactus.) It disappears in a green flash and the mad scientist reacts with glee!
At the gymnasium/juice bar Jason is teaching a kung-fu class, a class which Trini is participating in. I notice however, that half way through she stops following along with the moves Jason is showing the class and just starts making her own up as she wanders off. I'd like to see a pop-star's backup dancer do something like that one day. Bulk (who is wearing an old-fashioned flight cap for some reason are playing some arcade game. I get the feeling that a bunch of pieces are being laid out on a chess-board and it's all going to come together soon (possibly with food landing on Bulk's head; this show is nothing if not formulaic.) Billy comments to Ernie that he wishes he had Jason's moves, Ernie ignores the self-pitying dweeb and asks Billy to go recycle some bottles for him. Whilst en route to the recycling bin Bulk and Skull nab Billy and try to strong-arm him into forking over some quarters so they can continue playing their game. Billy refuses and they pull the old “dangle-the-nerd-upside-down-so-his-quarters-will-fall-out-of-his-pockets” maneuver. Finally they deposit Billy in the recycling bin and start celebrating the quarters they've scored until Trini comes and bonks their heads together. (No cranial food this time.) Bulk and Skull walk off rubbing their bruised noggins as Trini helps Billy out of the trash can. (Can't help but notice that the guy teaching a kung-fu class who is supposed to be Billy's friend was nowhere to be seen during this, AND that the girl who saved him by cracking the Bully's heads together didn't bother to retrieve the stolen coins! What a gip.) Billy laments the fact that he's always getting picked on and decides to enroll in Jason's karate class. I get the feeling the producers realized how stupid it was to have a character who couldn't defend himself and knew no karate be a member of a karate-fighting super team. It never made sense that Billy could only fight when he was in costume.
Anyway, back at the mad scientists lab, the wacky professor himself has ditched the lab-coat and is now working in a yellow t-shirt and big suspenders. More standard issue scientist garb. We see that Rita has been watching this going on and barges into Finster's workshop to request a new monster. The monster she requests pops out of Finstsers easy-bake oven moments later. He looks kind of like a ninja with giant shoulder pads and a blue scarf. Wacky.
Later that day, the kooky scientist is wandering around the gymnasium/juice bar looking for somebody. In this scene, Trini will be playing the part of “captain exposition” as she tells her friends (and us) that she can't wait for everyone to meet her uncle. He's a super scientific genius who has just invented a new super-secret potion. How the fuck does she know that? We just saw the dude invent it a few minutes ago and he didn't call anyone and tell them, just grabbed the bottle and ran out of the lab, and if he HAD told someone then a) why the hell would he choose his creepy doll loving neice Trini, and b) it's not much a secret formula if he's telling everyone about it willy nilly! But, I digress; Jason takes on the role of “captain exposition's” sidekick and mentions that the genius uncle in question also happens to be a world famous martial-artist. What a coincidence! The scientist (who is way too chubby for a world-famous martial artist) is still wandering around aimlessly presumably looking for Trini. He carelessly places his top-secret invisibility forumula down on the bar and wanders off. Ernie picks it up and shrugs, placing it in with all his other bottles and such. Eventually Uncle Howard (turns out that's his name, but I'ma call him Mr. Miagi) spots Trini and her friends. Trini greets him and immediately asks him to give Billy some extra tutelage in the ways of karate. Billy refers to him as “karate-scientist” which is a good name, and I'd watch a movie called that, but I'm sticking with calling him Mr. Miagi. Mr. Miagi agrees to help Billy out and they get straight into it.
On the moon, Rita is instructing her goons to teleport down to the moon and steal Mr. Miagi's top-secret formula. Goldar finds it first and gives it to Squatt and Baboo to sample to confirm it's the right potion. Squatt and Baboo chug some and teleport back to the moon where Rita gives them both a tongue and staff lashing for drinking potions out of an unmarked bottle. That's good advice kids. The ninja monster (whose name I haven't caught yet so I will call him 'Josh') points out that Mr. Miagi probably hid the potion somewhere safe (right, or carelessly left it in a juice bar/gymnasium where a fat bartender can just scoop it up) and assures Rita that he will retrieve it.
In a park, Mr. Miagi is teaching Billy the karate his useless character so gravely needs to learn. Just then they are ambushed by a putty patrol and we get to watch a chubby ninja go to town on the gimps. They quickly overpower Miagi and kidnap him! As they're carrying him away he calls out to Billy to remember what he as learned. (He's just trying to get Billy to wash his car and paint his fence.)
In a unidentified cave/dungeon place, Josh (who we learn is called “the Dark Warrior” but fuck that, we're sticking with Josh) demands Mr. Miagi give up his secret invisibility potion, the absent-minded professor informs Josh that he can't remember where the hell he left it. Josh gives Miagi and ultimatum, either Miagi hands over the potion within one hour or the will blow Miagi and the cave he's trapped in, to smithereens.
Back at the gymnasium/juice bar, Billy bolts in and informs his pals that Mr. Miagi has been captured by putties! Trini asks what the putties could want with him, he's just a harmless old man! (Right, a harmless old man who you just told everyone created a secret invisibility potion and is a world-famous martial-artist. Doesn't sound harmless to me...) Ernie walks up and delivers a set of black balloons that were sent to Trini. They pop and a message is inside telling the rangers that if they don't deliver the formula to Josh in one hour they'll do away with Mr. Miagi! The rangers head off to teleport to the command center and figure out a plan to recover the lost formula, while in the background we see Ernie still puzzling over what the strange green liquid in the jar he found could be!
The rangers teleport to the command center and Zordon explains that Mr. Miagi has invented an invisibility formula and that Josh is looking for it (thanks, we all knew that.) Zordon informs the rangers that Rita's plan is to use the potion on the rangers and make them disappear forever. Why yes, that is the stupidest plan in the history of the universe. It's not like making them disappear would destroy them, just make them invisible! Why not just fucking poison them? The rangers teleport back down to the desert and start fighting putties (didn't even say goodbye to Alpha and Zordon) At this point, we're more than halfway through the episode and there has been no morphing action. COME ON!
After dispatching the putties, the rangers charge into the cave where Mr. Miagi is being held prisoner. There are only 19 seconds left until the bomb detonates and everyone looks to Billy to disarm the bomb. (Don't bother rereading that sentence, it's not going to make any more sense.) Mr. Miagi tells Billy to use his karate training to focus his mind on defusing the bomb. So, Billy switches off his targeting computer and pulls a wire out, defusing the bomb. Everyone thought it was impossible, but Billy points out that it's not impossible, he used to bulls-eye womp-rats in his T-16 back home, and they're not much bigger than 2 meters (which is a terrifying size for a rat when you think about it.) With Mr. Miagi freed (which completely removes the stakes that were in this episode) the rangers tell us what time it is...
IT'S MORPHIN TIME!!!
After doing some wicked awesome flips the rangers pose/leap into action and start fighting Josh. Josh proves his superiority to the last monster by just knocking away Kimberly's arrows with his sword (seems like a good idea for the villain to have a weapon to deflect projectiles, Rita should keep that in mind from now on...) Rita sees that Josh seems to be doing well, but doesn't want to take any chances. She does her staff-trick and MAKES HER MONSTER GROW! (Gotta drop the namesake every now and then.) You know what that means don't you kids?
WE NEED DINOZORD POWER! NOW!!!
5 80 foot leaps later the rangers charge towards Josh in their bitchin' dino-rides. Jason gives the signal and it's time to show Josh some Megazord power! They roll into battle in tank mode (which rarely does the trick) and decide once Josh shoots them a few more times that what they really need is battle mode! With the megazord activated and the theme tune blaring Josh starts to lose. They battle back and forth for a bit until Jason summons the power-sword and they sort out Josh in the old familiar way! As per usual, Rita is horrified and takes her anger out on her poor beleaguered minions.
Later, at the juice bar/gymnasium, Jason is awarding Billy his yellow-belt. His kung-fu is STRONG! Mr. Miagi proudly looks on, as Bulk and Skull wander in in their own karate uniforms (complete with jean vests and bowler hat on Skull.) Mr. Miagi notices Bulk and Skull bullying his grasshopper and decides to teach them a lesson. He takes a swig of his invisibility potion (oh yeah, he found it on the bar where he left it. So that's kind of anti-climactic. I figured it would tie into the resolution with the monster somehow, but I was wrong.) Now invisible, Mr. Miagi goes over and beats up Bulk and Skull. Not sure why he had to be invisible to do that, but it's 1:00 in the morning as I'm writing this so I'm not going to think to hard about it and just let it go.
Pacing was better in this episode than it often is, nothing was rushed and there wasn't as much weird padding (like all the airport shit last episode).
The invisibility maguffin was completely extraneous. It didn't tie into the plot at all, we get some hackneyed explanation of Rita wanting to make the rangers disappear that makes absolutely no sense.
Mr. Miagi telling Billy to use his karate training (which he had just started that afternoon) to disarm the bomb.
Overall, despite the stupid potion gimmick this was a great episode. Well paced, good battles both in and out of costume and a cool Megazord finish which we hadn't had for a few weeks. I give it 3.5 out of 5 power-coins. It loses some points for the weird fact that all the stakes are lowered when they rescue Miagi even before they encounter the monster and that the monster really never seemed to pose any sort of threat whatsoever.
Well that's all for today (or rather tonight as I'm writing this quite late) I apologize if this week ran a little long. Sometimes it's like pulling teeth to find something to write about in these episodes and sometimes it's impossible to stop! One thing I'll mention before we part ways is that you may have noticed that I haven't posted any accompanying pictures with these past 2 episodes. I'm wondering if people miss them, or if the words are enough. Let me know what you think and what you'd prefer by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org as always I'd love to hear from you.
Don't miss tuesday's edition where we'll be taking a look at episode 16; “Switching Places” wherin Trini bets Jason that she can turn a homeless, con-artist Eddie Murphy into a successful investment banker while simultaneously ruining the reputation, career and life of Dan Aykroyd. But things go haywire when Eddie and Dan figure out their plan and team up to turn the tables! Also, there's a scene where Jamie Lee Curtis is topless and it's just awesome.