The One That’s In SPACE
I’m back with more Power Rangers, more rankings, and more flagrant point-inflation, almost as if the points don’t matter and everything is made up. But before we get to talking about Power Rangers…
Let’s Talk About Turtles
In the third and fourth episodes of the season, we are visited by some very special guests – the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! This isn’t strictly speaking the first “crossover” in the Power Rangers universe,1 but it is the only crossover with an original American show. At the time, both the Power Rangers and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had shows on Fox being made by Saban. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – The Next Mutation was an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of the live-action movies, and were, in spirit if not in-canon, continuations of those movies. Now, you may or may not have been of the right age at the time, but in 1997, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were kind of a Big Deal. Every kid knew which Turtle they were (except for girls who only ever got to be April) and the TMNT animated series was an important piece of the kids’ pop culture landscape. So obviously, the new live-action series would be carrying a lot of weight on its shoulders if it wanted to keep that momentum going. Spoilers: it did not do that. Ratings were mediocre and after the first season, Fox decided to cancel it.
What you need to know about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – The Next Mutation is this: it introduces the first female Ninja Turtle, Venus2 who is almost universally disliked. Which kind of sucks honestly because she could have been cool – something for female fans to connect with. Instead, she is this mishmash of different flavors of “Asian” complete with a vaguely unplaceable accent and mystical powers that smack of Orientalism. Oh, also she had turtle boobs. You know, like… her shell was kind of boob-shaped, which I’m pretty sure is a sign of malnutrition in non-mutated turtles. Weird discussions of sexual dimorphism in non-mammalian anthropomorphic characters aside, the idea of a Power Rangers/TMNT crossover was absolutely bonkers to young 90’s kids. 90’s kids remember.
Keep in mind that during Power Rangers Turbo, the Power Rangers show was teetering on the brink of cancellation. TMNT, now almost exactly halfway through their own season, was supposed to be this huge boost to Power Rangers in Space. This crossover, combining two absolute powerhouses of 90’s culture, was going to be the thing that saved Power Rangers! Spoilers: It also did not do that. It turns out that between The Next Mutation being bad and Power Rangers in Space being really good, they didn’t really need any Turtle Power after all. Which is good because the episode itself is…. not…. It’s not very good. At all.
Astronema, having been beaten by the Power Rangers exactly one (1) times, decides to outsource and “beat the Rangers at their own game” by going to New York City and casting a spell on the Ninja Turtles to make them eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil.3 Then, under the guise of friendship, the Turtles are let aboard the Astro Megaship, at which point they take over the entire ship by cutting exactly two (2) wires in the Main Computer Control panel which is conveniently just out in some random corridor. The Rangers escape on the Megashuttle to the Quarry Planet, and the Ninja Turtles accidentally fly into a reverse-polarized something something field that negates their mind control, at which point they also fly to the Quarry Planet for a big climactic fight against Astronema and her Quantrons. Then the Rangers let the Turtles use their space surfboards because….. Cowabunga? I guess?
Okay! Here we are! The one you’ve been waiting for!4 Power Rangers in Space is one of the most highly regarded seasons of the entire Power Rangers oeuvre, and rightly so. Let’s get right into it:
Power Rangers in Space is adapted from Denji Sentai Megaranger, which unlike the satirical Carranger from last season, lends itself to a relatively straight thematic adaptation, but changing up the formula from past seasons by really leaning in to the season-spanning plot instead of primarily episodic. As this season begins, the Rangers have just suffered their biggest defeat ever – the destruction of the Command Center and the loss(?) of their Turbo powers.5. Justin,6 the precocious wunderkind, convinced NASADA to let 4 untrained and unidentified civilians fly their new experimental shuttle, which must really suck for whichever astronaut was actually supposed to be on there. Thus sending the other four Rangers…. INTO SPACE. Say that last part with a robot voice.
We open with a congregation of villains7 at the Cimmerian Planet, where Dark Specter8 has gathered them all to witness his eeeeeeeeeeeeeevil plan to drain Zordon of his power, a process that will take, oh… about a season to complete. It’s a fun return of a bunch of cool reused monster suits along with the fantastic Big Bads of the past seasons and their entertaining cronies. And Elgar is there too I guess. Also some completely not suspicious hooded guy is there until SHOCK it turns out that the hooded guy is a red Ranger, who flies off on a space surfboard. Out of all the villains, Dark Specter singles out Astronema, Princess of Evil to go and stop the do-gooder. We’ll come back to her.
This begins a new direction for the show – instead of having a generic “
Kill Destroy the Power Rangers” villain premise, the show sets up an arc plot that will span the whole season, giving everyone an actual goal – The Rangers want to find Zordon and Astronema and the forces of evil want to stop them. The new Red Ranger, Andros, also has his own season-long plot – to find his missing sister Karone, who was abducted from his home of KO-35 when they were tiny little childrens. Oh by the way, KO-35 is a space colony full of humans IN SPACE.9 Oh yeah, there are also other humans IN SPACE10 that nobody on Earth knows about. Oh also, those humans can do telekinesis just, you know, casually no big deal.
Anyway, Andros the Red Space Ranger has his own personal spaceship, the Astro Megaship, on which everything must be prefixed with “Mega” from the Mega-decks to the Mega-accelerator. The Astro Megaship comes across the shuttle, hereafter referred to as the Astro Megashuttle for no particular reason, and brings the Rangers aboard this ship that has multiple consoles on the bridge and five (5) color-coded lockers and launch tubes, but is being piloted solely by this one (1) teenager(?) and the ship’s AI, DECA. Sorry, I mean “Mega-AI.” A bunch of other stuff happens and it turns out that Zordon left Alpha 6 a code box that somehow lets the Astro Megashuttle combine with the Astro Megaship to form the Astro Megazord. It seems obvious in hindsight when you say it all together like that I guess. Although you do have to wonder what the workers on Earth who built the shuttle were thinking as they put in a giant face and then covered it up with retractable panels. They save the day or whatever and they are off to find Zordon, with Astronema in hot pursuit. Oh, but also they have to stick around Earth because, you know, midterms and such. They do seem to live on the Astro Megaship though, so I don’t know what their families must be thinking.
After fighting a lot of giant monsters, the Rangers discover that Astronema is actually a grown-up Karone, who was taken to be raised by Ecliptor and trained in the ways of eeeeeeevil. Andros and Karone briefly reunite and Karone gives up her evil ways. Unfortunately, she immediately falls back into the hands of evil and is brainwashed to be evil again using some kind of circuity Seven-of-Nine eyewear/evil headband. Astronema then enacts her evil plan to betray Dark Specter and rule over all evil everywhere, which is only stopped when Andros boards her Dark Fortress where Zordon is being held, and breaks Zordon’s tube, releasing his good energy across the universe, destroying or purifying all of the villains that it touches. So, that’s cool. Zordon totally dies though, so Andros has that sitting on his conscience forever.
I love this theme song. Everything about it is fantastic, right from the very start with that countdown and that perfect, beautiful robotic voice intoning “RANGERS…. IN SPACE!” It is a fantastic theme song that I would rank among the best television themes of all time. Apart from the theme, the background music of the show undergoes a big change in this season – in keeping with the space theme, a lot of the incidental music has turned into a Star Trek-ish orchestral track, because how else are you supposed to know that you’re in space. Gone (mostly) with the rock songs singing about how stinky the fodder monsters are, in with the ethereal strings and synth. Which, let’s be honest, I’m really glad to be out of the lyrics era of Power Rangers fight songs and you should be, too.
This is a great season for fights. The cast is as great as they were in Turbo, and now everybody is, you know, adult-sized. There aren’t quite as many out-of-costume fights as there were in the early seasons, but they’re still there and they’re good when they come up. The Quantrons have a similar problem to the Piranhatrons, where they’re a little too armored to fight without effects and the bladed definitely-not-bat’leths are a little too dangerous to actually get hit by. The benefit that the Quantrons have in that area though, is that they’re much less “spiky” so at least when they do fight the Rangers out of costume, it doesn’t seem like the Rangers should be coming out of it with stab-wounds all over. As for the in-costume fights, I love that there is a lot more involvement of the Rangers’ weapons in the fights, and also that the designs of the weapons are pretty cool, Star Slinger aside. A laser slingshot is basically the bowcaster but without the inherent coolness of crossbows. The Spiral Saber is a little bit silly, but it’s a fun kind of silly and it almost barely makes sense as a weapon. Practicality aside, the variety of weapons really gives the Rangers different fighting styles that are all really interesting. Except for the Star Slinger. I hate the Star Slinger.
As mentioned in the plot section, there is a major shift this season to a more story-driven, less episodic show. The characters get fleshed out a lot more too, with a whole other plotline for the villains, with the rivalry between Ecliptor and Darkonda and their relationship with Astronema, and Astronema’s scheming against Dark Specter. A lot of the time, the villain plot is more interesting and compelling than the Ranger plot is. Even the Psycho Rangers have internal conflict and separate personalities. The villains all have their own goals and methods, and everyone feels like a more complete, sometimes sympathetic, character. Except Elgar. I hate Elgar. I hate Elgar so much.
Cumulative Score: 4940 pts!
The Good Guys
RANGERS…. IN SPACE! This is an interesting season in that the Rangers don’t have separate themes and zords. Everyone’s stereotypes start getting played down too – Carlos doesn’t even play soccer once, I don’t think. Instead they all start to have actual personality. Shocking, I know. There’s also only two new Rangers this season, and nobody gets replaced by anybody. Except Justin but he only counts as like, half of a person and nobody remembers that he exists until… Well, we’ll get to that.
- T. J. Johnson – Poor T.J. gets demoted to Blue Ranger so who even cares about him any more anyway?
- Ashley Hammond – This one time Ashley and Astronema switch bodies and the actors do each other’s voice and mannerisms and it is FANTASTIC.
- Cassie Chan – I guess she kind of gets resolution to the Phantom Ranger Romance(?) plot because he said he cared about her in a hologram after disappearing forever.
- Carlos Vallerte – Carlos goes from Green to Black, but a lot of fans combine those two colors anyway, so *shrug*. If it wasn’t clear that all the Bad Things happen to Carlos, in this season he gets turned into a bug monster and blackmailed by a literal child.
Andros (Christopher Khayman Lee)
Aliens have hair streaks. That’s just science.
- Color: Red
- Zord: Astro Megaship
- Signature Weapon: Spiral Saber
- Strength: 8
- Smarts: 10
- Coolness factor: 70
I’ll give him this – Christopher Khayman Lee is fantastic at giving Andros a vaguely oblivious alien quality in the early episodes. It doesn’t totally explain why Andros doesn’t know what a non-flying surfboard is, but it sells it anyway. My theory is that Andros is a total square who doesn’t get out much, so everyone else in space knows all about Earth things and he’s just the one oblivious weirdo. Anyway, Andros’s thing is that he is From Space, which has diminishing returns, so his other thing is Angst. He gets Angsty about his sister, then Angsty about the friend he’s secretly keeping in a cryogenic coma in a secret lab, then he gets Angsty about his sister again and I’m sure he’s going to be Angsty about the whole “
destroying killing Zordon” thing.
Zhane (Justin Nimmo)
Or maybe aliens just really like to bleach their hair. Science?
- Color: Silver
- Zord: Mega Winger
- Signature Weapon: Super Silverizer
- Strength: 20
- Smarts: 4
- Coolness factor: 101
I say “himbo” a lot in this feature, but Zhane really is the ultimate Himbo. Who else would set up a date with the villainess who is his best friend’s sister11, sensually teach telekinesis like Patrick Swayze doing pottery, and pretend to be dying so that his friends will dote on him? I mean, come on, we’re supposed to believe that Mr. Shiny Shirt over here is “The Most Powerful Ranger in the Universe” when I’m pretty sure he can’t tie his shoes without the Astro Megashoe Megalaces.
The suits are fine. If anything, a little bland and samey. Unlike past seasons where the helmet designs have been unique and themed, all the helmets now just have this little light-up screen thingy on the forehead that’s different for each Ranger. I mean come on, at least when everyone’s head was a car they were making some kind of statement. Each little forehead symbol ostensibly does something, but they never really talk about or explain it, so I have to assume that they are like little thought bubbles that pop on whenever they think about calculators or satellites or whatever. That makes me smile.
There are also out-of-costume uniforms now, which is cool. Everyone has this snappy jacket and pants and they just wear solid-color shirts of their Ranger color under it. They even have the insignia from the Ranger suits on the back. It’s like this envelope thing? I guess? And the little 5-color squares badge thingy just feels a bit on-the-nose.
- Cassie – I want to know more about her and the Phantom Ranger after the war. Do they finally get together? Do they settle down on the Phantom Planet or whatever? I need closure for my romantic subplot! Where’s my sitcom spin-off??? I’m suddenly extremely invested! +2823 pts
- Ashley – Aww, she’s pining for Andros from afar, how fun and chaste and unresolved. +2459 pts
- Andros – Stop having an awkward/adorable pseudo-romantic relationship with Ashley! Stop it! I’ll get the water spritzer! +2101 pts
- T.J. – hahaha he got demoted lol +1722 pts
- Carlos – Sometimes I think the show forgot that Carlos exists. You know, when I remember that Carlos exists. +1222 pts
- Zhane – Don’t. Date. Villains. +1205 pts
As mentioned, the cast mostly stays the same this season, but that just means that they are coming in hot, with an established chemistry and a good handle on their roles. T.J. especially seems more comfortable this season, with his line readings coming off a little more naturally, even when he has to talk up how cool the
holodeck simudeck is when you know that it’s going to malfunction and go crazy at least once before the end of the season.12 Andros gets incorporated into the team pretty well, although it seems like his ignorance of ordinary human customs and society is just a him thing since Zhane seems to catch on to everything pretty fast, and honestly it explains a whole lot if Andros is just this oblivious obsessive nerd who has spent his entire life alone on a spaceship. The team dynamic does get a little confounded by the spaceship setting, where Andros is sometimes just The Captain and everyone else is Bridge Crew, because I guess the Power Rangers are suddenly a pseudo-military cell now? There is a reason why the next couple seasons establish an explicit chain-of-command structure instead of just having “friends who sometimes boss each other around.”
In this new section, I want to take a moment to talk about the morph sequence itself, along with the catchphrase and gestures that the Rangers use when morphing. “Let’s Rocket” is among the lamer ones, not having a lot of personality and ultimately coming off as a little casual – a glorified “Let’s go!” Say what you will about “Shift Into Turbo!” at least it took a swing. And while I can’t abide the fairly bland hand gesture that they perform, I have to give extra points for the awesome morphing slides on the Astro Megaship because they’re just so endearingly Bat-Pole. The sequence itself is pretty ordinary. It does have everyone’s giant face filling the whole screen and opening their eyes, which is a little creepy, but the spinning schematic-style morph is fun.
Each Ranger’s forehead light-up thingy shows up here, along with their signature weapon, but the best part of the sequence is the random english text, which apparently is just the names of a bunch of tracks for a band that somebody liked.
Overall Team Score: 2486 pts
With Special Guest Rangers…
UUuuuuuuuuuuugggggghhhhhhh. Okay, that’s out of my system. Mostly. Probably. Anyway, Justin and his terrible haircut are back, brought in by Storm Blaster, the sentient(?) car that was captured by Divatox along with Lightning Charger at the end of Turbo. Storm Blaster has escaped and also somehow has recharged the Turbo morpher or something, because Justin gets his powers back even though everybody seemingly lost them when the Command Center was destroyed. Thus, we have the return of (ugh)13 Justin and his terrible haircut to get the Rangers out of a perilous situation that they probably would have been able to deal with under normal circumstances. But hooray! Justin’s back! Ugh. That’s really it I swear.14
Adam returns in the episode, “Always a Chance” to help Carlos out of a particular funk that he’s in. He’s back to his original Mastodon powerset and morpher, which raises a lot of interesting questions about what happened to the Zeo powers and any of whatever that Ninjetti stuff was. Anyway, his power coin is broken, which is an improvement actually, since I’m pretty sure that the power coins were all reduced to dust the last time we saw them.15 Since using a damaged morpher/power coin is reckless and extremely dangerous, of course he uses it at the first plot-relevant opportunity and it mostly works, only failing when it would be really, really dramatic.
Signature Weapons & Quadroblaster
I really like the weapons this season. Asterisk. I like that they get a lot more use than in past seasons. Even in Zeo, only the Zeo 5 Sword and Zeo 1 Disc ever got used for more than perfunctory fighting, but here all the weapons get showcased with a cool special move, even the Spiral Saber, which barely makes practical sense as a weapon. Like, Andros uses it as a slashing weapon, but presumably it’s supposed to act like a drill, which it does when it’s used with the blaster, but then it’s just spinning because spinning things are more powerful so who even really knows. Speaking of the blaster, each Ranger’s weapon can link up with their Astro Blaster sidearms, which makes them more visually distinct and is a fun little detail
- Lunar Lance – Everyone knows that pole weapons are the best type of weapon, and this one has a cool moon-shaped hook at the end, which I definitely didn’t steal for my D&D character.
- Satellite Stunner – There are only so many ways to make a laser gun, but this is a fun twist on the usual blaster design, and it even gets to have cool scanning capabilities that come up every so often, which is handy. Also it fires in rings and anything that shoots shapes is good in my book.
- Astro Axe – I like it when the spinny man spins and then axe goes brrrrrrrrrrrr
- Spiral Saber – I don’t think he ever actually drills anything now that I think about it.
- Star Slinger – Ok but for really real I hate the Star Slinger.
When things get really rough the Rangers break out the Quadroblaster to really give it to the monster. With the four non-red weapons all combined, the Rangers can form this special combination weapon, and Andros gets to have a whole big gun all to himself because Red Rangers are speeeeeeecial.
*I hate the Star Slinger so much.
I remember being a kid and these things were the coolest. It was the 90s ok? Surfing was a whole thing. Silver Surfer had his whole own tv show and everything. Coming back to it, they’re still awesome, but I have so many questions about, like, gravity? There are so many times when they will drop something or fall off and they/it goes footwards and sometimes they have to like, hang on to the board so that they don’t fall off as though they wouldn’t just float in space while the board presumably comes back to them. Even if they did fall off, where would they even fall to? It would take forever to actually hit any kind of major stellar object unless they are in some kind of asteroid field or something, but it always happens in open space where you would think that it would be pretty easy to just reorient and keep going. Anyway, they call their Galaxy Gliders by shouting “Hang Ten!” because, you know, the 90s.
Remember how Red Rangers are speeeeeeecial? Well they are, and Andros proves this by getting a special extra wrist thingy with three mystery buttons. Button 01 makes Andros’s hand all glowy and lets him do a Power Punch, Button 02 shoots a laser because we didn’t have enough lasers yet, and Button 03 has never been pushed because Andros doesn’t know what it does and is afraid of it.
So anyway, once a literal child sneakily pushes the third button for him, it turns out that Andros can double-Morph into an even cooler Battlized Red Ranger with wings and missiles and a hood like a cockpit for some reason. Also it lets him morph while the Morphers are being disabled somehow. And it’s got sculpted muscles and a wrist-blade thingy.
Astro Megaship/Astro Megashuttle
I never really thought about how much the Astro Megaship looks like the Millenium Falcon, but now that I see it, I can’t unsee it. The Astro Megashuttle is a space shuttle theoretically built by NASADA that was going to be used for normal science-y non-Ranger stuff, but also it had a whole big transforming bit built in that was going to come in handy… some… time….. But anyway the head of NASADA just gives away the shuttle on the word of some kid because he knew about the planet Eltar, and this is where your tax dollars are going in this universe apparently.
Meanwhile, the Astro Megaship is a whole dang spaceship with corridors and sliding doors and everything. For some reason, Andros is out in space piloting it all alone after the destruction of his homeworld, KO-35, which suggests that KO-35 also had a citizen-funded space agency build a big ol’ spaceship that turns into feet and arms and such, but then they gave it away to some kid and the comatose guy he lugs around in a secret cryochamber. Oh, it also has a secret cryochamber, because how else are you supposed to smuggle your best friend’s unconscious body around the universe for no reason.
Coolness of Two Things. There is Just Two of Them.
- Ship – It’s a spaceship +1 pt
- Shuttle – It’s a space shuttle -1 pt
Main Weapon: Astro Megazord Saber/Shield & Astro Megazord Blaster
Finishing Move: Power Slash/Shot – The Astro Megazord powers up their sword/blaster and slashes/shoots the enemy with a big flashy Explodey Energy Effect.16
Total (group) score: 907 pts!
Oh my god I hate the Mega Voyager so much. The individual Zords don’t even have their own collective name, it’s all just Mega Voyager, which doesn’t even have “Megazord” in the name. So they’re all just Mega-V-Some-Number, which was already terrible in Zeo but Zeo at least had a whole number-themed thing going on.
So the Mega-V series is a bunch of spaceships and also one robot, but one of the spaceships is just a big cylindrical rocket and then it just slots into the Mega Voyager as a big cylindrical torso. Oh and the top comes off and it’s just a big rocket gun. With a handle or something.
Coolness of Space…. Thing
- Astronaut – The Red one is just a big fighting robot? How is that fair? Red Rangers are speeeeeeecial I guess. Still pretty cool. +500 pts
- Rover – It’s got skis! +328 pts
- UFO? It’s just a ship ok? – I don’t know? I guess it is kinda saucer-y? +264 pts
- Shuttle – Look we just had a shutter come on guys +100 pts
- Rocket – The rule is that if one of the other Zords gets to ride you, you’re automatically uncool. Also it’s stupid looking. -100 pts
Main Weapon: It’s just the Mega V3. Look, that’s not a weapon, it’s just the whole dang Zord that you’re holding on to and you can’t even fight with it so the only thing it does is shoot a thing to end the thingy. Which is just the:
Finishing Move: Mega V3 Missile Mode – It shoots just the top cone part of the Mega V3 and is left holding a big tube cannon or something but I guess the cone part shoots the monster or something. I hate it.
Total (group) score: +684 pts
The Phantom Ranger17 leads the Rangers to this mysterious Zord, because apparently the Phantom Ranger is just the go-to guy for Zords.
Anyway, the Delta Megaship is huge, with the Astro Megaship able to dock on it, and it can transform on its own to become the Delta Megazord because apparently it just thinks it’s better than the Dragonzord and gets to jump right past the Battle Mode moniker to being called a “Megazord.”
Coolness of Ship I Guess
It’s fine. Did you know that Delta is Greek for Triangle? No? That’s because it’s not, why would you listen to me about this? Anyway it’s a very triangle-shaped ship.
Main Weapon: It’s got Finger Guns!18
Score: +1081 pts
Astro Delta Megazord
The Delta Megaship can also combine with the Astro Megazord to make another better Megazord. The finger guns become big cannon pauldrons and now it can shooty shoot even better probably and it can also hold things, which is probably an improvement.
Main Weapon: Gyro Blasters (shoulder edition)
Finishing Move: Flying Power Punch – The Astro Delta Megazord launches its hands off of its wrists and then they fly into vaporwave grid-space before hitting the enemy and exploding.
Score: +1128 pts
Zhane gets his own Zord! Someone trusted pretty-boy with a whole Zord and it transforms into a person shape and everything. Its special thing is that it has wings. But it also can give its wings to other things, which automatically means that they can fly. Like how wings work.
Coolness of Ship
What if a ship…. had WINGS. Pretty mega if you ask me.
Score: +105 pts
There is no actual mentor present for this season, but everything actually hinges upon this lack of a mentor, since the major plot of the season is to find their lost mentor, Zordon, and rescue him from the forces of Evil. It’s a pretty cool turnaround from “Zordon, how do I teamwork?” in the early seasons.
DECA is a sassy omnipresent lady computer voice who only gets hacked to turn evil one time. And that was only because somebody cut the “Don’t become an evil Ninja Turtle” wire. I don’t know why we even had that wire.
In what is almost certainly a sanity-saving measure, Alpha’s voicebox has been damaged in the events of the Turbo finale, leaving the Rangers with no option but to replace it with an entirely different voice. No. Option. They definitely didn’t dump the chip with their terrible original voice out of an airlock into the hottest star they could find. Anyway, it seems that Alpha’s voice also controls their personality, because New Alpha is way more chill and less confrontational than Brooklyn Alpha.
Hey wait if the Astro Megaship turns into the Astro Megazord and Alpha doesn’t come up to the cockpit or anything, are they just curled up in some transformed bulkhead somewhere during this whole fight?
Random Citizens Lightning Round!
Ex-Lieutenant Ex-Detective Stone has seemingly vanished without a trace, leaving the Juice Bar to be replaced by Adelle’s Surf Spot. And I mean literally replaced because it’s the exact same set as the Juice Bar, only entirely redecorated and nobody is doing karate in it. It doesn’t really matter because everyone just hangs out on the Astro Megaship eating Synth-o-tron food, so they only really see Adelle like, five times.
Ashley’s Grandma assaults a police officer and steals his car, because Granny knows what’s up.
George and Lenny
George and Lenny steal Cassie’s journal and use it to blackmail her into a date, because we still have to put Cassie in the worst romance plots. In the end, she gets Ashley to go on a double-date with them, and I’m not saying that Cassie and Ashley killed them and dumped the bodies out the Astro Megaship’s airlock, but the two are never seen or heard from again.
The baddies this season all fall under the evil umbrella of Dark Specter. In this metaphor, the rain is also evil. Dark Specter is a giant lava space monster that is definitely not Maligore, and he has gathered all of the baddies of the previous seasons and unified them to take down Zordon and the whole universe all at once. Divatox is guarding Zordon’s secret location and Rita, Zedd, Mondo, and the Machine Empire are on the front lines, battling the forces of good wherever they may lie. Assigned to Earth and the Power Rangers is:
The Big Bad: Astronema – Princess of Evil
Astronema is the kind of villain that any villain should aspire to be. This is a villain that has it all. Attitude, check. Power, check. Villainous schemes, check check check.The number of episodes ending on some variation of Astronema saying “I have a plan” is staggering. And then when it comes to a villainous origin… Oh boy. As has been mentioned, Astronema is really Karone, Andros’s sister who was kidnapped at a young age and brainwashed to be evil under the care of Ecliptor, who tells her that Power Rangers killed her entire family and Evil is the only true good in the universe. We first meet Astronema absorbing a blast from Rita’s staff, bedecked in leather and metal and sporting an incredible purple wig.19 Her voice oozes sultry and sinister, and she commands every scene that she’s in. It’s because of all of this that her midseason turn hits so well. She’s been this perfect villain up until this point, but suddenly there is a hint of doubt that eats away at that villain persona until it breaks.
I should probably mention that this is also a big instance of a queer-coded villain, with her extreme campiness and many different wigs and outfits. In that context, her turn to “Karone” and back could take on a bit of extra meaning. It’s not anything new for the “good” version of Astronema/Karone to take away all of those queer-coded villainous aspects in favor of what I would call the traditional “good girl” vibe. That’s a whole thing on its own but it happens all the time so I don’t care enough to say more about it. But when she goes back to the Dark Fortress in “disguise” and is captured, she is in one of the most “reserved” looks that she has in the series, with short, straight, relatively subdued hair and makeup. Then, when she gets (re-)brainwashed, she stays in that look for the rest of the series – the new brainwashing has removed a lot of that camp and glamour and queer-coded attributes. I don’t really know what I was going to say about this, but it’s pretty interesting, right? Right.
Score: +10000 pts
Ecliptor is Astronema’s second-in-command, acting as her dark knight and trusted confidant. He is a rare sort of villain who has many admirable qualities – nobility, loyalty, even love and caring – but is still evil down to every cubic centimeter of his being.20 He raised Astronema after she was taken and trained her to be evil, telling her that the Power Rangers had killed her family and thus were her enemy. While raising her, he developed a fatherly love for Astronema, and calls her “my Princess”21 and is distraught when he believes that Astronema has
died been destroyed. In the end, he is reprogrammed when Astronema is re-brainwashed, then he goes all red and crazy after siphoning off too much energy from the Astro Megaship’s Mega-Accelerator and it makes him get really big like a balloon and then something bad happens. “Something bad” being that he damages and destroys a whole bunch of Zords, setting the stage for the climactic final assault.
Darkonda is everything that Ecliptor isn’t. He’s mercenary, scheming, and ultimately ends up betraying pretty much everyone he works with, up to and including Dark Specter himself. He also has multiple lives or something, which he keeps track of on a big scroll with pictures of himself that he Xs out whenever he dies. Which is a lot in a relatively short span of time compared to his presumably pretty long “life” prior to the show.
nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo we should have been done with him why is he still here make it go away
At least he doesn’t end up with very much to do.
The Psycho Rangers
After being re-brainwashed by Dark Specter, Astronema creates(?) the Psycho Rangers, evil Rangers that feed off of Dark Specter’s own energy, draining him so that Astronema can overthrow him and become queen of all Evil. The Evil Ranger concept has been done a bunch of times, especially during Mighty Morphin’, but here they are done with such absolute menace and are given so much face-time (so to speak) that they add a major burst of excitement to the latter half of the season. There is an episode where the Psycho Rangers are hunting the Power Rangers in their civilian forms by tracking the sound of their voices, and the palpable sense of danger is exactly what you’re looking for in a villain.
In an early appearance, the Psychos each absorb thoughts from the minds of their respective Power Ranger, making them specifically suited to face that Ranger, color-to-color. They were also incredibly skilled even before that, so the Power Rangers got put on the back foot from the start against them. In the end, their downfall turns out to be The Power Of Teamwork – the Psychos are selfish, arrogant, and impulsive, leading them to fight and maneuver amongst themselves and against Astronema. Each time that a Psycho puts their own Ranger in the crosshairs separately from the others, the Power Rangers are able to outmaneuver and defeat them, using clever tricks like “spraypaint everybody blue”. Of course, it helps that Astronema doesn’t want them to have a decisive victory over the Power Rangers. There are a lot of times where Astronema pulls back the Psychos just as they have the upper hand in order to prolong the battle and continue draining Dark Specter’s power.
It’s possible that the Psychos represent a part of Karone showing through in her plans. Not only is their secret purpose to weaken the forces of Evil, they are constantly sabotaged by being pulled back and not given all the information. Astronema knows who the Power Rangers are and has attacked them directly in the past, and Karone specifically met each of them in their civilian forms when she was aboard the Astro Megaship. There should be no need for the Psychos to expend so much effort tracking the Power Rangers because Astronema clearly has that capability based on other events of the season. The fact that she’s not doing this and hobbling her own plans could mean that even as she is brainwashed to be Evil, she still tries to shift the ultimate balance in favor of Good, albeit in the most Evil way possible. “Keep the Rangers alive while weakening the leader of the Forces of Evil” isn’t exactly the worst result for anyone apart from Astronema/Karone herself, especially if she values the Power Rangers more than she lets on.
So apparently the Quantons have some kind of clothes because one time when Andros and Zhane infiltrate the enemy base they do the whole “knock out the guards and take their uniforms” bit. So I don’t think the Quantrons are robots despite all their robot noises, so now I imagine a Quantron training school where they all watch Star Trek together to learn how to fight with a bat’leth.
The monsters in this season are generally animalian, and often enhanced by some kind of technology. In-universe, they are alien minions of Dark Specter’s Forces of Evil, meaning that they’re mostly aliens or whatever.
Monsters that are Good (according to me):
The Craterites are holograms created by the Simu-deck for training purposes, but when the
holodeck Simu-deck inevitably goes haywire and all the holograms become real, the Craterites fall to Earth where they then disguise themselves as real people in order to teach some kid a lesson about not crying “wolf” only in this case everyone disbelieving him is actually a wolf in disguise, so this lesson falls apart a little. Anyway eventually they all climb up on each other to make a gross giant Craterite made up of tinier Craterites. So that’s fun.
I love a good body switching episode, and this is the best kind of body switch, where the actors have to actually pretend to be the other character. Anyways, Ashley gets taken out like a chump and then Astronema switches into her body to infiltrate the Megaship and systematically take down the Rangers one-by-one and she gets in a Quantron fight where no one knows what to do and it’s fantastic.
Barillian Bugs are these little wasp-like bug things that come out of some kind of cocoon/nest thing. When a Barillian Bug bites you, you also turn into a Barillian Bug, so obviously that happens to Carlos and he gets all monstery and gross. Oh also Barillian Bugs can turn into gross humanoid monsters. I guess that part was important too.
Watching this, I had a strange feeling that I had seen Waspicible before, and it turns out that it’s because Waspicable is a re-used costume from Mighty Morphin’, Grumble Bee, and I recognized it because when I was a kid I had the Grumble Bee toy and it had a little button you could press to make his tongue(stinger?) flick out. That’s it, that’s the story.
Some Card Game Dealer
So theres this planet, Onyx, that’s basically the space wild west and it has a space saloon where they play some kind of space card game involving Zanaba-tars or something and this guy deals the cards. Anyway I’m just glad that all the evil monsters have their own Westworld planet. They need a break sometimes.
What About Bulk and Skull
and Lt. Stone and Professor Phenomenus?
After sighting Astronema’s Dark Fortress through a telescope, Bulk and Skull become convinced of the imminent danger of an alien invasion, despite the fact that literal aliens have been trying to destroy/conquer Earth for 6 seasons by now. Regardless, nobody will believe them except for Professor Phenomenus, a
mad fairly affable scientist who lives in a camper van.22 He takes on Bulk and Skull as assistants23 and they assist the Professor in proving the existence of aliens, which again, has been a matter of public fact for at least 5 years at this point.
Anyway, in the end, Astronema demands that the people of Earth turn over the Power Rangers hiding among them, and Bulk stands up and reveals himself to be the Blue Ranger24 along with Skull and Professor Phenomenus, Adelle,25 and three (3) random civilians who had speaking roles earlier in the episode, performing an act of heroic sacrifice and great respect for the Power Rangers that definitely did not have me crying over a costumed hero show for children at four in the afternoon. It was five.
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: 600 Pts
- Individual: 450 tPts Everyone is more than tolerable this time, and what else can you ask for?
- Together: 800 tPts A solid team dynamic, if not one gifted with an excess of brainpower
- Leader: 16 tPts Andros is fine I guess. Just very, very square.
- The Zords: 85 Pts
- Individual: 50 zPts Kinda disappointed that there weren’t more individual zords. All we had was the Voyager series and they were kind of……….. bad.
- Megazords: 100 zPts Some solid ones I guess, but altogether pretty bland.
- The Villains: 7000 Pts
- Leader: 10000 vPts The ideal villain. And that wig collection…
- Henchmen: 500 vPts Ecliptor yay everybody else meh Elgar boooooooooo
- Fodder: 350 vPts I just can’t get past the not!bat’leths
- The Monsters: 300 Pts There are fun ones in there, but you can only do so much with just straight animal designs.
- Story: 5000 Pts *crying*
Sudden Dramatic Points Right At The End
1000 Pts – I just really really like this season. Everything comes together so well and it’s a lot of fun all the way through.
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:
Power Rangers in Space: 25000 Power Points (PPs)
Let’s see the rankings!
Power Rangers Seasons, Ranked
- Power Rangers in Space – 25000 PPs!
- Power Rangers Zeo26
- Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Season 327
- Mighty Morphin’ Alien Rangers28
- Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Season 229
- Power Rangers Turbo30
- Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Season 131
This season handily beats all the others so far, and it earned every one of those fictional points.
Come back next time for The One That’s In Space But Swords