Season: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, season 3
Episode: “Another Brick in the Wall” (Episode 26)
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was, for quite some time, the only series within the greater Rangers series that had more than one season. Perhaps as a direct result of viewer fatigue, season three was the last of the original Mighty Morphin era, and the team would gain new powers and, for the first time, new suits in Power Rangers Zeo. Because of this, a lot of this season serves as set-up for the change-over. One of the biggest examples of that is the introduction of Katherine Hillard (Catherine Sutherland) as the second Pink Ranger.
I mentioned in the season 2 write-up that I think Katherine can’t hold a candle to Kimberly (QUEEN Amy Jo Johnson). So let’s confront my Kat issues head-on with an episode that features her and Blue Ranger/last original team member Billy (David Yost) heavily. Good thing I like Billy!
First, some background: Kat was an accomplice of Rita’s when she was first introduced, but, like White Ranger Tommy (Jason David Frank, still rocking that middle name), was merely brainwashed and brought over to the good side. It was just in time, too, as QUEEN Amy Jo Johnson had asked to depart the series and was in need of a replacement Ranger. Fortunately, because she gave notice, she was given a nice, long sendoff arc. Unfortunately, we got Kat in exchange. Of course, because she is QUEEN, Johnson still got a spot in the opening credits after her departure:
Kat is doing some work in underserved neighborhoods, and wants to recruit the guys to help. The guys, who know a pretty girl when they see one, jump at the chance. Rita, who’s married to Zedd now (and subsequently, being played by an American actress), is disgusted with her goody-goody tendencies.
Rita teams up with her brother, Rito Revolto, to ruin Kat’s plans. Rito was an addition to the stable of villains who initially proved useful by destroying the Thunder Zords, then almost immediately became a giant joke when the Rangers got their new Ninja Ranger powers. He proves himself no more useful in this episode than in the past.
Kat is apparently the kind of asshole who wears a “TEAM LEADER” shirt and pink helmet:
Anyway, she and her team clean up a construction lot (the single cheesiest musical montage ever), but what’s really important in this scene is the moment we all realized exactly how hot Billy got all of a sudden.
The others leave after a job well done, but Kat gets attacked by Rito and the foot soldiers for the season, the Tengas. She morphs into her ninja form, a new power this season that acts as a middle ground between unmorphed and morphed battles. It’s worth wondering exactly how ninja-esque a big pink suit really is, though.
She calls for backup, but during the scuffle, an attempt by Rita to repossess Kat misfires and creates a monster from a segment of the brick wall she hits. Said monster traps the other Rangers besides Kat and Billy in colored bricks. There’s a hilarious moment where Kat has a Debbie Downer moment and says it’s all her fault. Zordon basically tells her to stop bitching and come up with a solution. It’s refreshing for reasons we’ll get into in the analysis.
Luckily, Billy comes up with a solution: eroding the bricks away! Kat stays behind to help create a pollution machine to break the bricks while Billy goes to fight the wall monster solo.
This season is unique among the Mighty Morphin seasons in that the Rangers each get two Zords: the initial Ninjazords, and the human-shaped Shogunzords. Billy uses his Shogunzord to destroy the monster in big form, too, effectively scoring two solo wins in one episode.
Billy teleports back to the Command Center, where the pollution machine works and the Rangers are saved. Zordon immediately congratulates Katherine, which
is complete and utter bullshit seems a little unfair, considering Billy just destroyed a monster alone. To her credit, Kat shares the love with Billy – something no one else does.
Back at the construction site, everyone can’t help but tell Kat how amazing the work she did is with the construction lot. She’s even getting an award from the mayor, which seems more than slightly ridiculous. But hey, everyone loves Kat, right? Of course you do.
Analysis: So have you caught onto the issue with Kat yet? Everything she does is wonderful and marvelous and oh thank Zordon that we have such a beauteous creature in our presence. Even in an episode where Billy destroys a tough monster alone – and comes up with the solution to reversing the Rangers’ predicament – everyone can’t shut up about how much they love Kat.
This is frustrating for so many reasons, not the least of which is that Kat was just turned from the dark side a few episodes prior. Not only that, but she doesn’t show a whole lot of qualities, even when not brainwashed, that indicate she’d be a great Ranger. There’s something to this episode’s plot that could have worked – she’s rehabilitating her image – but even from the get-go, there’s no indication that anyone even questions how wonderful and amazing Kat is. It’s all a bit nauseating.
Besides Kat’s introduction, however, season 3 has some major good points. The whole season is much more arc-focused, with a record-low 13 of 33 episodes not being part of a multi-part episode. Even some of the standalones served the greater arc. Unfortunately, the arc obsession resulted in the single least memorable “season,” Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers.
As I mentioned in the intro post, I’m not bothering with Alien Rangers, because it was only 10 episodes long and served as part of this season. However, it saw the Rangers aged down to their younger selves and put the focus on a cast of Rangers from another planet. While this gave the creators the chance to use suits and more footage from this season’s source Sentai, Ninja Sentai Kakuranger, it weighed down the series considerably, and pulls what could have been the best Mighty Morphin season down into a firm third place of three.
Speaking of weighing down the series, the next season, while a change of pace in many ways, took out a lot of the camp qualities in the original Mighty Morphin seasons, but not for the better. Luckily, the episode I’m examining, a musical episode, has camp in droves. Come back tomorrow to read all about Power Rangers Zeo.