This POWER RANGERS BEAST MORPHERS review contains spoilers.
I’ve never been more conflicted about an episode of Power Rangers Beast Morphers. This show has never had more energy and a sense of purpose than this episode. The fights have weight, the choreography is ten steps above normal, the emotions are dialed to eleven, and the Rangers are even allowed to have conflict! Every scene builds on one another and the pacing is tight while still allowing the proper emotional beats to land.
The problem is that the inciting incident that drives the plot is deeply flawed and contrived. Misunderstanding conflicts take a lot of work to get right in TV. If the misunderstanding feels genuine then the audience can get behind it. More often than not though these types of plots involve characters taking a conversation out of context, which happens in this episode. I’m not saying I don’t believe a couple could have this issue, especially teenagers like Roxy and Ravi. It’s just that the setup didn’t make me buy into the misunderstanding.
Ravi’s word choice in telling Roxy why he didn’t have a gift for her was written to be as vague as possible. There’s no reason he couldn’t have just told her, “I accidentally left it at the bus stop and someone is bringing it to me.” Again, I can believe someone might make up that lie but it needs to be based in more than a need to get a plot going. If Ravi was portrayed as always forgetful and desperate to seem like he was improving that would have been fine. Here though Ravi is as vague as possible because… why? I would say it feels out of character but sadly we haven’t seen much of Roxy and Ravi together, especially since Roxy was turned good again. When was the last time we even saw the not evil Roxy? So it’s not out of character, it’s just contrived.
The texts were also written to be as vague as possible so Roxy could get mad at him. That didn’t get me more engaged with the conflict; it just made me wonder why these two are even together. If they can’t even try to be honest with each other why are we rooting for them?
The show did provide a brief glimpse into why this conflict might have been taking place. Roxy did mention they haven’t been able to see much of each other lately, which could have been some great set up but it’s only mentioned once and never brought up again. To make that the reason this misunderstanding kicks off we’d need it built up more but instead the whole thing just feels like a reach and I didn’t buy it.
Roxy being portrayed as the one more in the wrong also harms it. While yes, her snooping on Ravi’s phone was wrong, Ravi was stupid not to be more clear about was happening with the gift and he let his anger get out of control and I’m not just talking about overheating. I don’t blame Roxy for being suspicious after that! Ravi should have had a bigger apology at the end. The episode as is makes it seem like Ravi is more in the right when I didn’t get that feeling at all.
I’m bummed that was my reaction because I’m usually all for conflict in Power Rangers, especially character conflict. I like that Ravi and Roxy got into an argument, I just wish it were about something else. If it were rooted in not getting to spend enough time together that would have been great! They use the misunderstanding as an excuse to not talk about what’s really going on with them. That’s when something as simple as a misunderstanding can work.
With all of that I’m sure it sounds like I’m ready to give this episode a very low score but besides that one deep flaw? The rest of the episode is amazing! The conflict, flawed as it is, is handled very well. Seeing Ravi get overheated outside of the suit worked as a great way to show off his anger. That anger fueled the intensity with which he battled Evil Roxy on the beach and in the forest. It gave an extra punch to fights that have been mostly pretty forgettable in Beast Morphers.
It also helped that, combined with some top notch Sentai footage, ‘Goin’ Ape’ had some of the most engaging and best looking fights we’ve had in awhile. That aerial shot when the four Rangers try and calm Ravi down and Devon is battling Roxy on the beach? God damn! It was all driven by Ravi’s emotions and they didn’t wrap it up half way through the episode. They let it build and build so when we got to that climatic battle in the forest if felt big and huge! Bigger than any of the fights in the big team-up, that’s for sure! Having an emotion driven backbone to fights is what makes them feel “epic,” not just lots of flash and bang on the screen.
The fight doesn’t stop once the bad guys are defeated either! The Rangers wrestling Ravi into the base was perfectly shot and I’ve never felt the full team’s bond more. You can feel how desperate they are to save their friend who they can barely restrain.
To top it all off, Ben and Betty get their best joke in the whole show! That little “oh no you didn’t” look from Betty when Ravi lies to Roxy was delightful! Ben simply scooping up the place mat, flower, and candle was also great. Even their gag at the end with the ice water was well timed and made sense. These two can work really well when their actions aren’t totally cartoonish and are integrated into the main plot instead of being a wacky aside.
A lot of the people involved in the making of this episode did a fantastic job, the action team for starters, director Oliver Driver, and especially Jazz Baduwalia as Ravi and Liana Ramirez as Roxy. I’ve praised Ramirez before and while she’s fun and scene chewing as the evil Roxy her performance in this episode made me wish we got to see more of her as the good Roxy. Baduwalia also turned in a solid performance, his overeating scenes especially going the extra mile to sell Ravi’s anger.
This episode did a lot right; I just wish that all the hard work that had gone into it wasn’t for such a flawed story. Beast Morphers proved here that it can do conflict, action, pacing, emotions, and humor very well. It just needs the right story to deliver its A game.