This POWER RANGERS BEAST MORPHERS review contains spoilers.
I’ve often talked about wanting Power Rangers Beast Morphers to tackle some slightly weightier ideas. Not because I’m an adult watching this show and wanting it to reach my level but because that’s what some of the best kids TV is doing now. They present stories with complex themes that have the characters make unique and interesting choices that propel them forward.
Critically though those themes can relate to kids. In a series like DuckTales for instance, they’ve talked about abuse but it’s done through the lens of magic and shadow possession. It’s fantastical so it isn’t too real but also is close enough that kids can relate to it.
Beast Morphers has done this kind of storytelling a few times but this week really struck me because it presents two really fascinating ideas. As the title of the episode implies, Chaku is dealing with how he can best serve “the greater good.” Early on he’s offered a position at Grid Battleforce and tries to hide his reluctance when he accepts. We learn the reason for that is seemingly because he has a daughter and doesn’t want to leave her behind. However, in a neat little twist, it’s actually revealed he doesn’t want to go home because his work has made him a half machine. He worries what his daughter will think of him.
The themes of wanting to work towards “the greater good” but having to sacrifice the bonds with your loved ones and the theme of being afraid your loved ones won’t accept you are both amazing. They’re rich and could provide a character arc for a whole season if played right. The problem is that they’re both confined to this episode and the story can’t decide which one Chaku is truly struggling with.
It seems as if it’s the fear of his daughter seeing his half machine form but then the end of the episode presents it as if he’s making the decision to be a dad again. Perhaps with more time these themes could have dovetailed together but as is it just feels confused and rushed. He’s also given a very easy out thanks to Nate’s ability to take away his machine parts. I believe Nate could do this and there’s been enough set up before now to explain it away, it just feels like an easy way to wrap this plot up quickly.
Why not have Chaku reveal his machine parts to his daughter, she accepts him, and he realizes how foolish he’s been avoiding her. Seeing a parent admit their mistakes to their kids would be great for children watching this. Same if the episode simply stuck with Chaku trying to decide between his duty and his family. It almost gets into this with Nate when he tells Chaku about his own parents but sadly it’s mostly dropped.
This is the biggest letdown of the episode because it almost made it so Nate got more development. As much as Chaku really stands out as one of the most interesting guest characters in recent Power Rangers history, this story really should be doing more to develop the main cast. Why does Nate simply accept Chaku’s statement that his parents really do miss him? Why not have Nate question this and then, thanks to Chaku’s final decision, start to realize how much his parents may have sacrificed by not being with him. Or he could simply get angrier at Chaku for abandoning his child the way Nate felt abandoned.
‘The Evox Snare’ got it so right by weaving in the appearance of Dr. K with Devon’s plot about trying to save his dad. That’s how a guest star should work in a regular episode; they should help tell a story about the main cast. Chaku is solid (except that whole being a cop thing) but he shouldn’t be hogging the spotlight from the Rangers.
There was a lot of potential in this episode, which is more than I can say for many of Beast Morphers‘ previous outings. The show has been sitting between slightly above and slightly below average Power Rangers but these last three episodes especially have really come out swinging to try and take Beast Morphers to another level. This one and last week didn’t hit the mark like ‘The Evox Snare’ did but at least there’s an attempt by the show to be something more. I can appreciate that and hope it’ll improve as we finish out the second half this season.