The One That is Technically a Season
Welcome back to Ranger Ranker!, the series where I watch all of the Ranger series starting at the very beginning, and then
pretend to rank them via fair, objective measures and then tell you which ones are objectively best.
So this one is only ten episodes long and it mostly just exists to use up the spare Kakuranger footage and do the transition from the Mighty Morphin’ era into Zeo. Technically it’s more of a miniseries than a season. However, I get to make the rules because I decided that I do, and if it’s got new suits, new theme song, and new logo, it’s a new season. So there. Buckle up because this one is weird.
Let’s Talk About Time Travel
When last we left the Rangers, Master Vile had reversed time by spinning the earth backwards like Superman, de-aging the Rangers into children. Which means it’s time to bring in *shudder* child actors. They bring back all the same children as the last time that time was reversed and de-aged everybody in Season 2, or in Kat’s case, the child actor from her flashbacks in Season 3. And they’re… fine, I guess. Billy ages himself back up pretty early on, which means he anchors a lot of this season, which works fine because David Yost has been doing this for a while. None of them are especially awful, although Young Rocky’s 90s mullet is….. Very 90s. There are the standard child hijinks, all the way up to a two-children-in-a-trenchcoat scene where Kat and Tommy pretend to be everyone’s mother in front of a very nearsighted police officer.
Eventually, each of the children apart from Billy get their own little vaguely-defined time-travel sub-quest into the past of their “ancestors” while searching for the Zeo Crystal shards, of…. extremely variable quality and cultural sensitivity. Rocky goes to Mexico, Adam goes to Korea, and Aisha goes to generic Africa, while Tommy ends up on a “Native American” spirit quest and Kat has what I assume is supposed to be an Australian Dreamtime experience in which everybody is Catherine Sutherland. These all kind of live or die based on the supporting cast of the quest, ranging from a Native American wise man with cryptic advice to a Korean wise man with cryptic advice. The one quest with major impact is Aisha’s, who chooses to stay in Past-Africa to help cure a “Mysterious Plague” affecting “the animals”.
In her place, she sends back Tanya, a girl who she meets during her time there, which leads to a lot of very concerning questions that are never really addressed. Firstly, Zordon tells Aisha that her choice has altered her family’s history, which means that when the de-aging is reversed, her parents will just be there with her and always will have been, because the timeline just corrects itself I guess? Does she tell her parents that they used to live in a time with air conditioning? Do her parents have their own altered history somehow? Or do they just come back with memories of the future knowing that their daughter somehow caused them to get sucked into the past?
Meanwhile, once the re-aging does happen, Tanya is also re-aged. Was she de-aged before somehow even though she was in the past? Does Tanya just lose like 5-10 formative years of her life? Aisha is also shown to be re-aged in the past, so were all the people in the past also de-aged, or does Aisha just suddenly age up and everyone just goes with it because the time nonsense “fixes” their brains?
Anyway, Aisha is gone forever and no one will ever speak of it again.
Mighty Morphin’ Alien Rangers
They’re Rangers, but they’re Alien! The Alien Rangers of Aquitar! Which is kind of rude and Earth-centric, honestly. To them, we’re the aliens! I bet no one has ever thought about that brain-twister before.
Anyway, it’s been 3 real-world months since the SHOCKING CLIFFHANGER of Season 3 aired. The Alien Rangers of Earth (the Power Rangers) have all been turned into children. But even though this time they have retained their memories,1, Zordon isn’t ready to bestow such great powers on children. Teenage child-soldiers is where Floaty Head draws the line. So instead, we bring in a bunch of aliens – you can tell that they’re Aliens because they tilt their head at odd intervals. Only aliensOnly aliens2 do that. This 10-episode miniseries aired all at once over a two-week period back when TV was the sort of thing that kids would watch every day instead of some internet thing about surprising eggs, and it would lead into Power Rangers Zeo, which would begin airing later in the year. So let’s throw some kids into a big time-hole and get some crystals.3
In Season Three, we saw a bunch of Zord/Monster footage from Ninja Sentai Kakuranger, but all the Ranger footage was still being done with the original Zyuranger suits. So now they had all this footage from this other series, and they couldn’t just throw Tommy in a new suit and splice in solo-shots of him again. Probably. So instead, we take all that footage and make them into, like, alien ninjas or something. The ninja part never really comes up all that much though, I guess. So it’s time to blow all the Ranger footage and this whole Zord system that they didn’t get around to mashing into the Frankenstein monstrosity that Mighty Morphin’ had become.
Master Vile has turned the Rangers into kids. The Rangers need to not be kids in order to fight evil. To return them (and the world) to the correct age/time, they will need to use the awesome powers of The Zeo Crystal, which had been buried under the Moon Palace because it used to be a Good Palace built to protect the crystal, but then Rita and Zedd showed up and apparently the forces of Good just kind of left the crystal, because it was under a purity-testing force field anyway, so I’m sure it’s fine. It wasn’t fine and the Rangers retrieved the crystal, but then they broke it into shards and threw the shards in a time hole.4 So the Rangers all jump into the time hole to get the sub-crystals, but that’s all boring child-acting and I mostly covered it above, so let’s instead talk about Cool Aliens because this is Ranger Ranker!, not Time-Travelling Child Ranker!
The Aquitian Rangers live on a Water Planet and need to hydrate regularly to survive. Which is also true for humans, but for them it’s on a much faster timescale and also it’s absorbed through the feet or something? The Rangers call for help, which is a thing that was established when the Masked Rider Planet called for help at the beginning of Season Three, and they arrive to defend the Earth and also get into humorous alien misunderstandings. Alpha and Billy give them a quick overview of how things work on Earth, and off they go!
Master Vile gets frustrated pretty quickly and just up and shoots off into space, leaving Rita and Zedd to finish the job. They devise a plan to steal the Zeo Crystal and “implode” the Command Center, which mostly consists of handing Rito and Goldar a bomb and tossing them into the underground passages beneath the Command Center and hoping that they eventually wander into the right place. They do, and then they just teleport into the main room of the Command Center and just snatch the crystal out of Billy’s hands and teleport home. Just as they do so, their “implosion device” planted under the Command Center goes off, and the whole place explodes. Yes, explodes. The implosion device makes it explode. I’m glad we got that covered.
And that’s the end of the Mighty Morphin’ Era! Thanks for tuning in, kids.
TECHNICALLY this is a new opening, and not just due to the different sequence. It’s got a
entirely new slightly modified theme song, which basically means that they replace “Power” with “Alien” in some of the places, but not all of them because “Power” has two syllables and “Alien” has three and come on, this is an obstacle that really could have been predicted/avoided if anyone actually wanted to, like, write a song. GO GO ALIEN RANGERS!
Oh my gosh, the fights are actually mostly matched up to the source footage. Like, there are Ranger fights and Zord fights and almost no weird cuts or new footage or anything! Except for the parts where the Alien Rangers control their Zords telepathically by jumping around and doing kicks and punches on the beach. That part is new. And terrible. But hilarious.
While the Rangers have travelled to different planets before5, Aquitar is the first to actually get fleshed out to any degree. It’s not a large degree, but it’s a big step in expanding the show’s cosmology. It is basically limited to an establishing shot of an underwater building and a spacey-looking room, but we’ll get there. The Aquitians show up a couple more times, but their main impact is adding context. That there are other Rangers and other Power Coins6. While it will still be a while before a proper “second” team of Rangers shows up, as this team still has a couple more continuous de-powerings and re-powerings. In the greater “mythos” of the show, this idea of having other Rangers who are also linked to the Morphin’ Grid is a backbone of the universe’s lore. Which is to say that even though the Aquitians are a bunch of head-tilty prostheses that talk, they represent a major step in the legacy of the franchise.
Cumulative Score: 287 pts!
The Good Guys
When the Human Rangers of Earth need help, they call on the Alien Rangers of Aquitar! If the name doesn’t clue you in, they are from a water planet that is covered in water and they live in underwater bubbles and also they need pure water ALL THE TIME OR THEY DIE. I’m sure that will all be fine though.
They also have various telekinetic powers, because aliens always have cool pseudo-magic compared to humans. Not only that, they are fluent in most aquatic languages, which means that they can talk to fish and also that fish are sophisticated enough to have a language and that fish are “extremely intelligent creatures” according to Cestro.
In any case, as this is only 10 episodes and they have to share time with these dang children, they don’t get a ton of screentime and even less character development. Pretty much all of them end up being “composed and sagely” and not much else. Thankfully for you though, I have carefully gone through these episodes to tell you the very slight differences between all of them that I am definitely not projecting or imagining.
Aurico (David Bacon)
Field Commander. “Funny” One?
- Color: Red
- Zord: Red Battle Borg7
- Signature Weapon:
- Strength: ?????
- Smarts: ?????
- Coolness factor: 4
He does quippy jokes during combat because he’s brash and energetic. As Field Commander he gets to stand in the middle of the formation in the field even though Delphine is the actual leader. Also because it had to match the Japanese footage.
Cestro (Karim Prince)
Technical Expert. The Smart One
- Color: Blue
- Zord: Blue Battle Borg8
- Strength: ?????
- Smarts: Very
- Coolness factor: 11
Cestro always seems to be the first one to get dehydrated. But also he’s the only one apart from Delphine who ever does anything other than peer curiously over peoples’ shoulders, and there is a vague implication that doing things wears them out faster?
Tideus (Jim Gray)
Strongman. The Whiny One
- Color: Yellow
- Zord: Yellow Battle Borg9
- Strength: A lot apparently?
- Smarts: ?????
- Coolness factor: 1
Seriously, Tideus complains all the time. “Ohhh nooooo I need water now or I’ll dieeeeeee!” “We need to rehydrate soon or we’ll dieeee!” “All the water on Earth has been stolen and we are dyiiiiiiiing!”
Come on Tideus, pull yourself together.
Corcus (Alan Palmer)
Expert Fighter. The Unimportant One
- Color: Black
- Zord: Black Battle Borg10
- Strength: ?????
- Smarts: Who cares?
- Coolness factor: 0
I think he gets one-ish line out of suit and barely any morphed lines. He’s there, I guess? The actor says that his intent was for Corcus to appear very curious and thoughtful, so lets go with that.
Delphine (Rajia Baroudi)
The Leader. The Best One.
- Color: White
- Zord: White Battle Borg11
- Strength: ?????
- Smarts: Smarter than everyone except maybe Cestro but probably him too
- Coolness factor: 100
She’s the actual leader of the team, making the first female leader of a Ranger team, and it takes an awful long time for her not to be the only female leader. She’s just objectively better than all the other ones, mainly because the other ones are pretty weaksauce. Upon arriving on Earth, she is the only one who doesn’t immediately succumb to dehydration, looking at all the guys like “What? You didn’t hydrate before we left?” And then when she does hydrate, she does a cool twisty hand motion while the rest of them just do weird hand signs. Anyway, the important thing to get out of this season is that Delphine is the best.
The suits – the first new suits apart from Tommy’s White Ranger weirdness – are really good. The simplicity is nice aesthetically, being mostly solid colors, with only the black and white ankle/wrist bands making strong contrast. The neck has this triangular design reminiscent of the collar of a gi, and I really like the design of the little lightning bolt insignia. The Aquitian Rangers do kind of end up feeling very homogenous – they all have the same sword & gun weapons, and none of them have any particularly unique moves or powers. The main differentiation is that each one has a little bit of different animals in their style. For obvious reasons, these styles match up to the corresponding color of Ninja Ranger and Ninja Zord animal, apart from Delphine’s White Crane because Power Rangers needed to shuffle stuff around to include a Pink Ranger.
- Delphine – I mean, it’s not a high bar, but she jumps it really, really, really good. +1458 pts
- Cestro – Literally the only other useful one than Delphine. +403 pts
- Tideus – At one point says “goodbye” in multiple languages, which seemed weird at the time, but then it’s also weird that they all know English in the first place. +227 pts
- Corcus – I guess he was there too? +98 pts
- Aurico – Look, it takes a lot to be worse than the complete nobody, but I can’t get past him quipping about a “knuckle sandwich” +10 pts
There is a real disconnect between the morphed Rangers and the unmorphed Aquitians. Kakuranger was far on the lighter side of the spectrum, so the Rangers in the Japanese footage have this high-energy cartoonish whimsy that is absolutely not present in the naive, staid poise of the Aquitians themselves. Allowing for that, though, the team functions effectively and efficiently both morphed and unmorphed, and the Aquitians really are quite fun in roles that easily could have been tedious or insufferable. There is this total commitment from them that is really impressive, especially Delphine who is great as the inspiring, determined leader of the group. The all-consuming reverence for “good” and “heroism” isn’t anything new or unique – Ninjor had similar values throughout Season 3 – they approach it with a sincerity that I really appreciate.
Overall Team Score: 1258 pts!
Unlike the Power Rangers, the Aquitian Rangers don’t need to use Morphers. They just morph using only their Power Coins and their psychic magic or whatever. Oh, also the Aquitian Rangers’ Power Coins didn’t get destroyed by Goldar, so that’s another plus that these ones have over their Earth counterparts.
Billy tries SO HARD to try to get pure water for the Aquitians, who hydrated by walking through a car wash once. His various inventions always get destroyed or subverted, because Billy isn’t allowed to succeed at anything. The Weather Modulator is designed to create purified rainwater to rehydrate the Aquitians, which sounds less like any kind of Weather thing and more like a big shower with a water filter.
Billy also makes a beam that can make Hydro Hog’s supercloud turn into rain. Beyond the question of whether this could also work on normal clouds, I want to point out that Billy shoots the cloud through the Viewing Globe. Like, the globe has a transmitter out there or something? This seems 1.) important to know and 2.) really useful if other laser-type devices can shoot through it. Forget Rangers, just have Zordon point the Viewing Globe at monsters and then blast them with lasers.
The Battle Borgs were given to the Aquitian Rangers by Ninjor, and they bear a startling similarity to the Shogunzords, which are totally different Zords that were… just hidden… somewhere else…? Zordnia? For reasons? In any case, unlike the Power Rangers, the Aquitians’ telepathic abilities let them control their Zords (Borgs?) remotely by mirroring the moves that they want the Borgs to do. Just, in the air against nothing.12 This looks……. I don’t want to say ridiculous, but it’s not great. Especially when the attack involves spinning or throwing. Plus, if the Battle Borgs ever get hit or anything, the Rangers are similarly knocked back, which just seems inconvenient.
Coolness of… Animal? Color?
Look I don’t have much to go on here. Go look at the other time I rated these exact same animals.
Group score: +560 pts
I don’t really have anything new to say about this other than the fact that now they can actually use the full Zord sequence where the Rangers just kind of merge into the Shogunzords’ chests. Plus there’s a bunch of elemental imagery because it turns out that Kakuranger doesn’t just have a bunch of water people.
+0 pts come on these are just the same ones
His “instincts” told him that at least one of the Rangers would decide to stay in the past, which is kind of a dickish thing to withhold, instead letting Aisha just up and time-vanish without any of the Rangers getting any kind of goodbye or closure to the relationship other than “There she is in the Viewing Globe! She can’t hear us and none of us will ever speak of her again!”
Billy gets to really lean into the whole “inventor” thing now that he’s the only adult human in the main cast. He even gets to go and be praised for his scientific interests when he goes to Angel Grove University to get a phase modulator and watch a model rocket launch. He spends most of this series coming up with new inventions to help the Aquitians hydrate so that they don’t die or need to leave. Then, every time, some villain shows up and just completely ruins whatever the invention of the day is, leaving Billy all crestfallen and frustrated. Anyway eventually it turns out that the Aquitians can use car washes or bottled water, so the lesson here is “don’t try.”
He jumps on an exploding console for some reason during the final cliffhanger.
Alpha is surprisingly actually useful this season. The Aquitians are just hogging all of the “Learning About Humanity” energy, leaving none for the poor robot child. Everyone this season really is working like an enormous clock, with all the little pieces meshing together, with Alpha joining Cestro and Billy on the tech work. But also while Goldar and Rito are in the underground tunnels, they end up in a storage room that just has an entire spare Alpha just in a box or whatever? That’s just a thing that Zordon kept around for… reasons? In any case, it’s almost certainly
exploded imploded during the conclusion, so we’ll never really know.
Random Citizens Lightning Round!
Each of the Child Rangers has to face some kind of quest or trial to earn their various Zeo Crystals. And you can’t have a quest without a quest-giver! Mostly these are very stereotypical “wise elder” figures – Adam’s puckish sage Kai Ogi, Tommy’s magical Native American True of Heart, Aisha’s great aunt Ashalla, and Kat’s Catherine Sutherland in Old Age Makeup. Rocky is the only one who is “guided” by a child, Pablo, who basically just hands him a jumble of rope and tells him “Go try climbing into that volcano or something, maybe. I’m sure it will all work out fine even though my dad says it’s probably going to erupt soon.” Which seems like Rocky’s proportionate amount of wisdom.
By this point, the villains who are ostensibly the scourge of galaxies have become comically inept. Zedd and Rita are this actually really amazing married couple, Goldar is now the straight man to Rito’s all-encompassing ineptitude, and Master Vile is really only there to immediately give up and leave.
The Big Bad: One Big Evil Family
Master Vile sticks around long enough for his first attack on time-reversed Earth to fail and then just packs up and leaves, which is probably for the best given all of the media depictions of in-laws. Meanwhile, Rita and Zedd are still doing #MarriageGoals, and have pretty much settled into a nice comfortable groove where they can just coast their way into their impending pseudo-retirement.
Score: +6669 pts
Goldar is paired up with Rito for a large portion of this series, which is great because Rito makes Goldar miserable, and a miserable Goldar is a fun Goldar. Goldar’s hand basically lives on his face now.
Rito has somehow become even more of a nincompoop over the course of Season 3, and by this point it’s extremely unclear how Rito ever managed to do anything remotely competent at any point in his life.
I’m not totally sure if the Tenga are even more stupid in this season or if Rito broke my stupidity-meter. But they are surprisingly competent at breaking every single one of Billy’s inventions, so at least they have that going for them.
Many of the monsters are in some way focused around ruining the Aquitian Rangers’ water sources in order to dehydrate them. Most of them are the standard “Turn Thing Into Monster” style of monster that has been Rita and Zedd’s evil bread and monster butter. An unfortunate exception is Erik and Merrick, the Barbaric Brothers, who are merely invited over to do evil and poison the lake while the Aquitians are rehydrating, but the actual most evil that they do is “have surfer bro accents.”
Monsters that are Good (according to me):
- Bratboy – OMG OMG OMG BULK GETS TURNED INTO A MONSTER AND SHOOTS A LASER AT RITA’S MOON PALACE
- NOTHING ELSE COULD POSSIBLY COMPARE TO THIS
What About Bulk and Skull?
Like the Rangers and also everybody else, Bulk and Skull have been de-aged back to the same age as those child actors from the last time everyone was de-aged. The main consequence of this is that their “de-villainization” is also reversed, so they are in full Season One bully/troublemaker mode, just with less flying cake. They do end up in the water a bunch though. Fun fact – Bulk’s adult actor, Paul Shrier, actually directs a number of episodes this season, including the one where BULK TURNS INTO A MONSTER AND IT IS GREAT.
THE FINAL SCORE
We now begin the completely transparent scoring system, where I give a value (in Pts) to each of the major elements, and I also get to decide what those are. And also how much they have accrued in Bonus Points(pts) up to now.
- The Team: 250 Pts
- Individual: 2 tPts I don’t think any individual one could be trusted to leave the house alone.
- Together: 18 tPts I guess they all function a little better as a team, mostly because not one of them has any particular individual value.
- Leader: 513 tPts For real though Delphine is the only thing holding this team together.
- The Zords: 57 Pts
- Individual: 15 zPts All the Battle Borgs are humanoid and vaguely animal themed. None of them are dinosaurs or dragons. It’s just a bigger version of the normal fighting except sometimes you cut away to a bunch of people kicking the air!
- Megazords: 0 zPts The Battle Borgs don’t combine! It’s a travesty! The Shogun Megazord is still around, but it’s been half-a-season, I’m bored with it now.
- The Villains: 402 Pts By now they’ve figured out how to do Rita and Zedd and they just go and do it. They continue to be softened a bit in their cruelty, but after failing for three whole seasons, it would take a lot for them to be a serious threat. It works for them, though. It’s not anything new, but it is still enjoyably campy.
- Leader: 597 vPts I don’t think I am ever going to get sick of Rita and Zedd’s marriage.
- Henchmen: 221 vPts The odd couple comedy of Rito and Goldar is honestly the best thing that either of them have ever done. I sure hope we don’t ruin it by leaning way too heavily into it next season.13
- Fodder: 0 vPts i hate tenga so much
- The Monsters: 69 Pts Unsurprisingly, since the monsters are from the same show, they have the same feel. But the Barbaric Brothers are still unbearable.
- Story: 115 Pts It’s a foray into the more long-form storytelling that Power Rangers is slowly advancing towards, and it works fine. Having different subquests lets you still have a feeling of progress with 5 very episodic stories, and the Ranger storyline doesn’t really go anywhere because of human-centrism.
Sudden Dramatic Points Right At The End
533 Pts – I actually really enjoy this season. It’s a fun change after three seasons of Mighty Morphin’ and despite most of the individual elements being weaker than in other seasons, it adds up overall to something that’s at least interesting.
After converting the base score(Pts) and bonuses(pts) into Power Points (PPs), totalling all the scores for each section and normalizing the results according to the secret formulae that definitely exist and are not a screen to get me out of having to think about scores ever at all:
Mighty Morphin’ Alien Rangers: 12933 Power Points (PPs)
Let’s see the rankings!
Power Rangers Seasons, Ranked
- Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Season 314
- Mighty Morphin’ Alien Rangers – 13001 PPs
- Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Season 215
- Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Season 116
It’s a solid little transition story between the Morphin’ and Zeo eras, and it does a lot with what little it has. Also it’s basically MMPR 3-and-a-half, so it’s basically the same anyway.
And that’s it! Everything is gone! The Power Coins have been destroyed, the Command Center is exploded, and everything is terrible forever for the Power Rangers.
As I’ve mentioned, most of Power Rangers is leaving Netflix at the end of the month, so I’m hoping to get the next one as done and screenshotted as I can by then so that I can still get it out there. We’ll see what happens after that, if any other service picks it up, that would be cool, but otherwise I’m figuring out what I want to do.
Join me (hopefully) next time for The One That Finally Gets Its S*** Together!