This POWER RANGERS BEAST MORPHERS review contains spoilers.
This episode was a huge gamble for Power Rangers Beast Morphers. As I wrote about last week, invoking a plotline from Power Rangers RPM could have blown up in their faces. The cliffhanger with Venjix in the morpher has gone unresolved for over a decade and fan expecations for it being paid off were sky high. If even one detail was wrong or out of place, the whole episode would have collapsed.
But Beast Morphers did the impossible. They followed up on Venjix cliffhanger perfectly and delivered the best team-up episode in well over a decade. How did they pull this off? Well, very smartly, the episode knows its following up continuity from over a decade ago but only uses that as flavor for the episodes real focus, Nate.
It might seem odd when you say it out loud. Why bother focusing on Nate at all when you’re bringing back a villain from ten years ago and Dr. K? Who cares about the Beast Morphers team? They’re just window dressing for resolving some continuity! No, Beast Morphers made the smart decision of centering this episode on Nate because that needed to be the emotional core to drive everything else.
We learn that years ago when Nate was just a kid he experimented on old Ranger tech hoping to find new ways to morph. In the process though he experimented on the RPM morpher that had Venjix in it and accidentally released him into the Grid Battleforce computer system. Venjix became Evox! It instantly sends Nate into a spiral. His actions caused all the destruction from the past year.
He beats himself up for his actions and the show doesn’t quickly resolve it as they have in the past. Nate is given the proper time to lay all the blame at his feet. Venjix wipes the floor with him and constantly needles him with what he did. It’s no wonder Nate just throws his hands up and refuses to do anything; afraid he’d mess up again.
It’s extremely relatable. It’s easy to be harsh on our younger selves with the knowledge of today. It’s not fair but it happens. Doubly so for Nate since he was hit with the crushing weight of what he’d unintentionally done all at once. He had no time to process it, the only thing he could do was blame himself. Plus the kid has lived alone all his life! He probably deep down blames himself for his parents being away all the time so it’s easy to imagine him blaming this on himself as well. He shoves everyone away, including Zoey, and just wants to be alone.
It’s only then the show brings in Dr. K. She’s not here to catch you up on what all the RPM Rangers are doing. She doesn’t tell you her team says hi. She’s there to help Nate but critically, unlike Jason in the big dino team-up and pretty much everyone in ‘Dimensions in Danger’, she feels like she did in RPM. She’s not exactly the same, we can tell some time has past, but from the jump she’s written like she was in RPM. She doesn’t sound like a generic Power Ranger which was critical because Dr. K had a very specific way of speaking and relating to others and we get to see that on display here.
Dr. K was called in by Zoey not just because of her history with Venjix but because she went through the same thing Nate did. In RPM we saw her wrestle with how she’d unleashed Venjix on the world and had to come to grips with it. She’s now helping Nate do the same thing and that is perfect. It’s bringing in continuity but not just for needless pandering to the fans. It’s there to help Nate get through his problem and deal with the emotions around it. Nate is also acting different than Dr. K did so it doesn’t feel like a retread.
Dr. K tells him, “you want to feel sorry for yourself. Ok. You want to feel guilty and unsure of your ability. I completely get it.” She knows what Nate is going through but doesn’t allow him to stew in it. That’s perfectly in character for her but unlike in RPM where she might have just yelled at him or done the work herself, she simply says, “no matter how you feel, the world needs you.”
She’s grown so much and the episode doesn’t need any exposition to convey it. We simply see it through her words and actions. I love it! Nate doesn’t just roll over either. He really thinks he’s worthless but she finally manages to convince him by saying the only way to solve the problem is by starting with the first step.
That’s a fantastic lesson for anyone watching the show and it’s the most earned lesson we’ve gotten in Beast Morphers. Others have been good but this was beyond perfect. It’s a beautiful synthesis of plot, character, emotion, and callbacks.
Nate works through his guilt and is able to make a counter measure to Venjix which the team tests on Robo Blaze and take him out. It’s wonderful just to watch the Rangers get a call from Dr. K during the fight. It’s a small thing but having her be involved in solving the problem of the day in a cool way does so much to help the episode feel bigger. It ups the threat because these Rangers can’t do it alone and that makes what are usually mundane fights compelling.
Dr. K leaves before Venjix is taken out with the very understandable reason of wanting to go back to Corinth to check if the virus is still there. While I’d love to see her show up in the finale this was more than enough to explain it away. Before she leaves she tells Nate that,
“You are guaranteed to face challenges in life, but you don’t have to face them alone. Not when you’ve got such good support around you.”
It’s the perfect lesson for Nate but there’s subtext there that’s a nice callback to what she learned in RPM. She couldn’t do it all on her own, she needed to be closer to the Rangers to accomplish her goals. She then leaves with the killer line of, “you have a beautiful world. Keep it safe.” Chills. With everything that happened to her Earth, that has an incredible depth.
This episode was perfect. Perfect. Every single moment played off each other and forwarded the overarching story of Beast Morphers, gave Nate some time to shine, or let Dr. K have the spotlight! She doesn’t take over the episode but they do let her interact with the world of Beast Morphers which is half the fun of a team-up. Her bits with Ben and Betty were not only in character but also genuinely funny. When those two aren’t given over the top slapstick they’re pretty charming! The little mission she sent them on was pointless but wasn’t totally dismissive and the compliment she gave felt genuine.
Considering how little she thought of the RPM Rangers at the start but still grew to love them (including the wacky Gem and Gemma) I can believe she wouldn’t mind having Ben and Betty around. Dr. K’s come a long way since she hid away from the RPM Rangers and only referred to them by their Ranger color.
The focus on Nate was also incredible and showed off the bond that’s been built up between him and Zoey. We get a nice nod to her need to solve big problems and Nate admits he’s learned to count on her. Which leads to the adorable reply from Zoey, “feels good to be counted on.” Growth in a relationship! A male character learning it’s okay to open up about his emotions and be able to share them with his significant other. I love it!
And how about that scene where Evox revealed himself as Venjix? That was damn intense! The way his voice slowly morphed from the Evox we’ve heard all season to the old Venjix voice? Glorious and a real surprise, which is rare in the age of social media. (Well, until the Power Rangers twitter account spoiled it but those watching in the UK got to see it unspoiled.)
I could say more about this episode but then I’d just be recapping the entire thing. It’s a triumph and easily the best thing Beast Morphers has done. That isn’t just because of Dr. K showing up (although it was nice) but it struck that balance I’ve wanted of incorporating a good lesson into an emotionally engaging story. It just used Dr. K and the revelation of Evox as Venjix to push that character story. Beautiful.
I guess you could nitpick and wonder why Dr. K handed over the Morphers to Grid Battleforce in the first place but when the rest of the episode is so good I can ignore that. They at least set up the Ranger Vault before now (but they really should explain how that thing came into being.)
And so now we’re heading to the finale! Venjix is getting ready to use all the Morph-X! This is thrilling! I can’t wait to see where this goes! I haven’t been this excited for a new episode of Power Rangers in a long time. I really hope the finale nails it because this episode showed just how great Beast Morphers can be. They took a gamble and won BIG. Let’s see how they use their winnings.