This Power Rangers Beast Morphers review contains spoilers.
Power Rangers Beast Morphers Episode 3
The streak of conservatism in Power Rangers is finally at its end. We have a whole episode centered on (literally) green energy, protecting the forests, and even getting exercise! It’s a welcome change from Super Ninja Steel, which seemed to push the message that if you didn’t conform to societal norms you’d be punished. It was such an odd run of anti progressive episodes for Power Rangers, a franchise that at its very DNA was always trying to be progressive.
‘End of the Road’ returns to that level of progressiveness, with Zoey stopping the mayor from building a highway through the forest and leaving all the animals without a home. It also touches on clean energy, with Morph-X once again a stand in for renewable energy (although does the Morphin’ Grid really have an unlimited supply?) Some may call it Captain Planet level preachy but it’s so much more than that because it’s all rooted in Zoey’s character and letting us learn more about her.
Zoey puts this entire problem on her shoulders. Yes she asks for help from the team, and it’s nice to see Grid Battleforce is down to help the environment, but in her mind? If this doesn’t work out it’s all her fault. Zoey’s not afraid of big problems but she does take them on to the point of overwhelming herself. Having this “Captain Planet” style plot be so tied into her character makes it less preachy and more organic. (Although there shouldn’t be anything with being “preachy” about saving the Earth.)
It also makes Power Rangers feel more current. Super Ninja Steel and other seasons had been behind the times in its real world references. I mean come on; “this is epic” was a lame out of date catchphrase. Now we’ve got ride share bikes, a concept that’s gaining more and more traction in big cities. It helps ground the show in a more tangible reality. When you’ve got cyber snake monsters and giant gorilla robots running around it’s nice that the show at least has a touch of the real world.
Even the action feels more grounded. The bike chase sequence is incredible not just because it’s a seeming display of a bump in budget Hasbro has given the show but because it isn’t over the top and soulless. Yes, rapid laser fire and wire enhanced martial arts are a fun to watch, but it’s fun to see something as comparatively grounded as the bike chase. It feels like something you could do on your own bike! Even if you thought the clean energy message was preachy, you can’t deny this was a delightfully subtle way of encouraging viewers to have fun on a bike. Hell, it even saves the day at the end of the episode!
Man, I also love how committed Beast Morphers is to actually have the parents! After a shocking lack of moms in Power Rangers(seriously, why did we never meet Tyler or Brody’s moms) we’ve now got Ravi’s mom AND Zoey’s mom. Plus they’re both recurring characters! We even get a mention of how Nate’s parents aren’t around. I’ll take that over “nebulously never mentioned” parents, that’s for sure.
The only shortcomings here are that the final fight with Roxy and the monster goes on a bit too long. It feels disconnected from the emotional through line the episode had been doing so well with before hand. The “saving animals” thread also never really went anywhere, which is odd since they spent a whole scene loading that car up. Still, it at least gave us Devon’s great line, “you’re a creepy little dude… But I’m gonna save you anyway.”
I hope when people praise Beast Morphers and refer to it as “better than Ninja Steel”? I hope they first point to the return of its progressive roots. Having a cool plot and intriguing world is of course nice, but in the long the values the series portrays will last much longer and make an even bigger impact. I hope kids will be inspired by Zoey’s problem solving and try to save the world just like her. We need people like that, now more than ever.