This Power Rangers Beast Morphers review contains spoilers.
Power Rangers Beast Morphers Episode 1
The premiere of Beast Morphers had to do so much more than simply setting up a new season of Power Rangers. It was carrying the weight of being the start of the Hasbro era. After eight years of more or less the same, there was a ton of expectations on this episode. Would we get something better? Different? More of the same? WORSE?!
It’s not fair to any episode of television to shoulder those kinds of expectations but that’s what it had to do. This was basically a relaunch for the show. The best chance to get fans that had been disenfranchised by the, at best, below average Ninja Steel to give it another shot.
If it had been bad? The doomsayers would have descended on it. Some fans would have bounced from the Hasbro era at the jump. This episode needed to be more than just good. It needed to be extraordinary.
Delightfully, ‘Beasts Unleashed’ did an absolutely incredible job. It’s easily the best premiere we’ve had in the past nine years. It did a solid job setting up the core cast without feeling too rushed. Everyone got a moment to display a little character and there’s a ton of possibilities for everyone. Most importantly, it sets up conflict amongst the characters.
Conflict had been strangely lacking from Ninja Steel, which left the series feeling empty and hollow. Having it here already fills the series with energy. It makes the characters feel more realistic and not ciphers to dispense lessons. It’s a refreshing change.
Devon’s relationship with his father is particularly noteworthy, and not just because it isn’t another “father missing for ten years” plot. It tells us so much about the character, even more than his well done fight with Blaze. The Mayor expects us son to get experience working as a carpet cleaner. He isn’t handing him everything, when it would be so easy to simply spoil his son.
You see that in Devon’s attitude. He thinks he’s above the rules but not in an arrogant way. He wouldn’t do anything to actively hurt someone, like Blaze, just enough to have fun. Still though, if the Mayor had to pull some strings to get his own son a job at a carpet cleaner? Devon must have done something stupid in the past.
While Devon is down to break the rules, Ravi adheres to them to a fault. He doesn’t stick up for Devon when Blaze attacks him, hinting at the kind of guy who isn’t good sticking up for his own morals. He’s willing to go along with whatever’s he’s told. If his arc is learning to stand up for what he wants? That could have a lot of potential.
I’m not a fan of Ravi’s “man pain” over not wanting to date Roxy though. While I love the idea of two characters already being broken up (but still having feelings!) I don’t want it to be a constant sense of angst for him. If Roxy is solely defined as “the girl Ravi dated” that’ll be pretty lame. We’re still only at episode one so I’m not going to ding it too hard for that, but it is a red flag I hope the show addresses quickly.
Zoey might be my favorite of the three, if only for her determined personality. Even with the setbacks of not making it as a Ranger, she’s still trying her best to get noticed… even in the laundry room. The way she talks to herself, pumping up her confidence, is very endearing. Zoey gets the least to do amongst the core cast but I’m excited for when she gets the spotlight. She has so many ideas to help make the world and the Ranger tech better! Loving the underdog vibe she’s got.
Blaze is pretty one note and that note is asshole. This guy was supposed to be the Red Ranger? A guy who legit attacks one of his own students? I hope we get flashbacks to him before being taken over by Evox, but that does lead to another issue I had with the episode.
Both Blaze and Roxy are now main villains from the show, which on paper sounds great because they were going to be Rangers. The problem I have is we had next to no time to get to know them. I’m sure future episodes can fill in their back stories and relationships but their true selves being lost so quickly? It didn’t have the impact it could have if we’d been given a bit more time to get to know them and feel for their loss.
Again, it’s only the first episode, but the “evil” Roxy and Blaze just being evil twin avatars feels a bit of a cop out. It robs it of some tension. They aren’t fighting the REAL Blaze and Roxy, so it’s okay. Perhaps in the next few episodes they can better establish the stakes with these two. Something like “if we destroy them as their avatars, the real versions will never wake up”. I still worry about Roxy’s avatar playing on Ravi’s man pain too much but we’ll have to wait and see.
The supporting cast so far is solid with my personal favorites being the mayor, Adam, and Commander Shaw. While Adam is hard on his kid, his scene with Zoey is the much needed “oh he’s not a dick” scene. He can be warm, charming, and also isn’t an idiot. He’s not here for this Morph-X and he’s proven right! Perfect way to set up conflict with Shaw. It says so much about the quality of the premiere I’ll barely ding them for reusing the Adam name.
Shaw is a revelation for this show. A woman of color in a position of power whose also the mom of a Ranger? A MOM? In Power Rangers? I’ve discussed in previous reviews the shocking lack of moms in the show as of late so glad to see we get her as a main character. Plus, like Adam, she’s not one note. She believes in her mission but after Devon tries to tell them about the virus she has Nate run a check on it. She believes in him, even if it’s only a bit. Plus, Ravi is her son! That’s a seasons worth of stories right there!
Nate being a child genius is an interesting back-story but there’s not a lot to go on so far but like everyone else, there’s potential for the future.
The security guard comedic bits were the weakest part of the episode but they weren’t all bad. I like having comedic side characters; I just hope Betty and Ben can feel a bit more integrated as the show goes on.
The plot itself moves at a brisk pace. The world is set up very quickly, with a news report about tapping into the morphin grid for clean energy. It’s a plotline that feels more current than Power Rangers usually is and could be a nice bit of subtle environmentalism from the show.
Now of course there’s the one big continuity referenced in the premiere. The mayor specifically says to Nate,
“Since before you were born, every monster out there in every dimension, from Rita Repulsa to Sledge and Galvanax… they’ve all wanted to take the rangers’ power and rule the universe.”
While I want to roll my eyes at the need to mention Rita, this line is actually the best continuity reference the show has had in a long time. It’s not done in the “SEE, WE SAID A THING YOU REMEMBER” manner we’re used to. It’s done to frame the current threats in context with past villains. It’s subtle and extremely effective. Plus it hints at Adam being more “in the know” than most people. Are parallel universes common knowledge now or what?
This was a damn good premiere and it’s nice to have a lot of positive things to say about Power Rangers. It’s not perfect but it’s a great start. It’s exactly what Hasbro needed to do from the jump and they didn’t mess around. The whole show feels different. It looks better, the sets are massive, and we’re already seeing things we’ve never seen in Power Rangers. It’s a show that feels like it’s catching up to modern day television, which is a huge plus since Ninja Steel felt so stuck in the 90’s storytelling rut.
However, fans shouldn’t be so quick to declare the Hasbro era flawless or that Beast Morphers will be the “BEST SEASON EVER.” We’ve had a good premiere but the show still has to prove itself on a week-to-week basis. Several seasons (SPD, Dino Charge) had solid starts but couldn’t keep that level of quality up. Beast Morphers needs to stay at a consistently high level of quality to keep the goodwill this premiere bought them. Simply being “better than Ninja Steel” won’t cut it in the long run.
Beast Morphers as a season needs to restore faith in Power Rangers on TV and prove Hasbro will treat the franchise right. This episode is a good first step. Let’s hope they can keep it up.