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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

2518 - Power Rangers Reflections #09 - The Fifth Crystal

Sad truth: this was done ages ago and I put it off for a short while with the intention of getting back to it and giving it a final polish before publication. Turns out to be months later. Oh well. Better late than never, I suppose.

So today's episode in question is from Lightspeed Rescue and this is a somewhat random choice in episode, because I honestly don't recall much of my initial impressions regarding this particular episode, so in terms of past reflections, I'm afraid I've got very little to offer in that regard. Still, at least there is some attempt at varying this on-and-off subseries of write-ups beyond the MMPR comfort zone.

Note: this episode is dedicated in memory of Bob Mahanan, the voice actor of Zordon who passed away around that time.



PREVIOUSLY ON POWER RANGERS...
Every episode begins with a recap of past events in the series of real significance; such as the introduction of Olympius, the departure of Ryan (Titanium Ranger), and a couple other things. It's a nice little thing for those who missed out on past episodes when these aired. However, I have an issue with these playing before every episode on the DVDs. I don't know why they did this. I can understand people wanting their inclusion, but at the same time, there's no reason for them to be part of the main attraction; especially since whatever was "previously on Power Rangers" is probably on the same disc or same set. The Star Trek: TNG DVD and Blu-Ray sets also includes the "Next Time on Star Trek" clips, but as side material rather than part of the main show. That's the best way to include these type of things.

PRE-TITLE TEASER
Two strange looking fellows in black scale down the side of a building and attempt to steal a crystal of some significance. Using lots of technical doohickeys to circumvent or fool the security systems, they manage to steal the crystal and deliver it to Vypra, who is in the midsts of collecting these crystals to further their goals of conquest. The "ninja" thieves are, of course, Batlings in disguise. In all honesty, it's a rather cool opening sequence with some nice ninjawork in regards to the actual theft and a bit of thinking outside the box. I would've liked to have seen more of this type of stealth work among the Ranger villains in an effort to show that they're not completely one-track and one-dimensional... I suppose it's too much to ask from the current regime, I suppose... though to be fair, given that Chip Lynn's got the reigns, there is some hope... but I digress.

After a bit of interaction between Vypra and our bird-looking monster of the week, whose name I don't recall (don't think it was ever given one) and thus will refer to as "Kevin Dunn", the opening titles play.

We begin the episode proper with the Lightspeed Rangers gathered in the briefing room of the underwater Aquabase, where they read a newspaper with the headline stating: FOURTH STARLIGHT CRYSTAL STOLEN. I suppose it was a slow news day. Anyway, Carter (the Red Ranger of our story) is wondering what this has to do with the Rangers, other than the fact that the fifth crystal is the title of this episode. Captain Mitchell states that they're no ordinary crystals, but rather, Starlight Crystals. We are then introduced to special agent Myers, who is heading a task force to recover these crystals from our resident villains.

Myers spouts some details regarding these crystals; only five of them exist in the world, with their combined powers being unimaginable. Five crystals sounds mighty convenient. Myers' brilliant plan (that is sure to work without so much as a hitch) is to use the fifth remaining Starlight Crystal to bait Vypra into a trap, since she has already stolen the four other crystals. Presumably the previous three were stolen off-screen and didn't merit any mention or attention until this very episode. Funny how these things work out.

A fun bit of trivia; Special Agent Myers is portrayed by actor Vaughn Armstrong, an actor best known among Trek circles for playing a variety of characters throughout the various Star Trek spin-off series, but perhaps most notably for the role of Admiral Maxwell Forrest, a recurring character in Star Trek: Enterprise. Suddenly, the Vulcans wanting to hinder the humans' progress in space makes plenty of sense; they saw this episode of Power Rangers... but I digress.

The fifth crystal, as it turns out, is in the safekeeping of Kelsey's grandmother, who is one of those rich old snobby people who is predictably obsessed with money and has no care in the world for people... and of course, neither she nor Kelsey has spoken in years because they share little in common. Carter is not only amazed by the mansion, but also by old photos of her grandmother pursuing athletic endeavors such as fencing... by old photos of her grandmother, I mean black and white photos of some random girl with Sasha William's head slapped on.

So we meet the grandmother, who is... well, exactly as advertised. She attempts to blow off the Rangers, but Kelsey asks for the Starlight Crystal, going through the motions of how the city depends on it, Vypra might be going after her, and all the while Granny Winslow shows nothing but apathy in this regard. Finally, she relents and gives them the Starlight Crystal, but warns that if anything happens to it... there WILL be a spanking.

Wait. Sorry. Wrong show.

So Grandma Winslow gives the Rangers the Starlight Crystal, Kelsey gives her a kiss before splitting, and Grandma Winslow looks on with about as much tension as Peter Capaldi's Doctor after getting hugged... except with no eyebrows... and no Scottish accent... and no TARDIS... and that fell flat, didn't it?

When we get back from commercial, we see Admiral Forrest... er, I mean, Special Agent Myers, handcuffing Kelsey to the fire case containing the Starlight Crystal. They all ride a transport vehicle along a street while the Rangers (already morphed and in their Rescue Rover) are on the lookout for Vypra. Unfortunately, the Rangers are poor stakeout players because they miss out on Vypra in her go-kart attacking and curtailing the transport vehicle. Batlings show up to steal the crystal, but Kelsey escapes and runs for cover in order to keep as much distance from the bad guys as possible to keep them from stealing the final Starlight Crystal.

Oh wait... no, she doesn't. She fights off the Batlings with an obvious disadvantage of having to carry a heavy load, while Special Admiral Forrest and the remaining guards are quickly subdued by the rest of the legion of monsters. Before you can say DERPITY DERP DERP DERP, Vypra comes along and plucks the crystal from Kelsey's hand, adding the final Starlight Crystal to her collection of color-coordinated crystals... because of course, they are. Fortunately, Carter is able to kick away the crystals from Vypra's hand. The Rangers fight off the Batlings for a bit before Vypra and the crew retreat to greener pastures.

On cue, Myers emerged from the truck, haggard but unharmed. Thinking that everything is hunky-dory, the Rangers return the set of crystals to Myers... only to realize that Myers was possessed by "Kevin Dunn", who has the crystals in tow and promptly makes his escape before the Rangers could do anything. Oh dear, not exactly

Grandma Winslow is not pleased and banishes Kelsey to the Phantom Zone in fear... no, wait... let's try that again...

Grandma Winslow is not pleased by these developments and banishes Kelsey into eternal purgatory that will eventually exclude her from being invited back to any Legendary Farce. Given that Kelsey would be missing a ten-second cameo that means nothing in the long term, I fail to see how that is any given form of punishment.

Carter, in something that could be described as a fit of rage but really is nothing more than a lowering of the voice, scolds the old woman, telling her that she "has all of this, but nothing in here," while pumping over his heart before going after Kelsey. Grandma Winslow stands there, ponders the words spoken to her by this young fellow, and decides she does have nothing in there... while gesturing towards her stomach. She then fires the butler off-screen for not making her those scallops and black pudding... or at least, I'd like to think so.

The rest of the episode is rather bland and stereotypical for this sort of story; Carter and Kelsey have the usual heart-to-heart, Kelsey spews the usual "I want her to like me" spiel, and then she goes and tries to get the crystals back, somehow stumbling upon their headquarters, avoiding their firepower for a while before getting ambushed by Batlings. The Rangers are on the mountainside, where they come across Olympius and Loki and go at it. There's some decent US-based Ranger action before cutting to the GoGoV footage. Joel (Green Ranger) asks about Kesley, but Carter dodges the question, saying they need to get going.

Back at the villain camp, Vypra begins prepping to fire their Starlight Crystal-powered Starlight Cannon that will presumably destroy the city, but before anybody can pull the trigger, in comes Grandma Winslow in a forklift ploughing through a wall of boxes... ah, so that's where Uncle Jimmy got the idea. Vypra sends the Batlings after Grandma Winslow and they so completely fail to usurp an old lady and her hockey stick. However, this gives Kelsey the opening she needs to... fight more Batlings. This seems to be the only thing that give her life meaning; fight Batlings. "Yeah, forget the weapon of mass destruction powered by Starlight Crystals that could go off at any second. I'll just fight off more Batlings."

And so, we have Grandma Winslow, fending off batlings with a hockey stick, driving a forklift towards the weapon of mass destruction and by merely BUMPING INTO THIS WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION, the entire weapon short-circuits and explodes... well, kinda explodes, but . "Kevin Dunn" manages to get one shot on Grandma Winslow and tosses her out of the forklift, but, because Grandma Winslow is the absolute best character in this entire second half, she manages to quickly recover and sit on a Batling... all the while Kelsey is... well, take a guess.

Fortunately, common sense prevails and both Kelsey and Grandma Winslow manage to escape from the building before the weapon finally explodes, shooting out all the Starlight Crystals, which subsequently Starlight Shatters into little Starlight pieces... oops.

Kelsey asks Grandma Winslow what she was doing there, to which she replies "I came to get the most precious thing in the world to me... but since that's been shattered into little pieces, I suppose that makes you the most precious thing in the world to me." Kelsey seems pleased with the response and the two embrace... aw. This tender moment is interrupted when Carter calls Kesley for help. Honestly, he should be calling Grandma Winslow for help; she did most of the work, after all.

What follows is the usual shtick; Kelsey joins the other Rangers, they fight off "Kevin Dunn" and then destroy him with the V-Lancers. Then we go to commercial... what?

And so the episode ends with Carter, Joel, Chad, and Dana have a drink outdoors, while Kelsey and Grandma Winslow rollerblade all over the place on their way to a picnic, where everything is hunky-dory between the two... that is, until more Batlings show up for Kesley to waste her time with, but that's another episode for another time.

FINAL THOUGHTS
The Fifth Crystal invokes feelings of a past PRiS episode called Grandma Matchmaker. Although I don't recall much of my past recollections regarding this episode, I had a feeling that the snobby, rich grandmother was eventually going to get in on the action.

"The Fifth Crystal" is generally a throwaway episode, as the Starlight Crystals are never brought up again despite being a high-yield power source, Special Agent Myers never makes another appearance in the series, and, to the surprise of no one, Grandma Winslow is never to be seen again. However, it's also one of those episodes that break from the usual formula. The opening stealth scene is pretty cool, the whole stakeout makes for an intriguing component, and the whole deal with the crystals could've been the groundworks for a future power upgrade or some other mythology-building aspect to Lightspeed. Of course, the bits with the wacky rollerbladin' granny outshining the Rangers is embarrassing to watch, but at the very least, it's brief and we never have to witness that ever again.

Chip, please don't do this again.

All in all, pretty good show, overall.

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