This Power Rangers Ninja Steel review contains spoilers.
Power Rangers Ninja Steel Episode 15
This episode contains what might be Ninja Steel’s greatest moment. Mick getting totally real on Viera with the reveal that thanks to her he was sold into slavery and he hasn’t seen his parents in twenty years.
Now that is worthy of being called “epic.” It’s a powerful back-story for Mick that lends some real weight to his sadly underserved character. It also establishes some much needed character conflict that Ninja Steel has been lacking. The problem here is that, much like everything else in Ninja Steel, it’s all wrapped up too quickly. Even before Mick gets the transmission from his parents he forgives Viera for everything she’s done. Really, he’s that willing to forgive someone who has ties to enslaving some of his people and ripping him away from his family?
This bit could have worked if this tension had brought up in the previous episode. It’s so quickly introduced and resolved that it doesn’t really have any time to sink in. It’s still nice to have this information about Mick’s past but its robbed of being a truly great Ninja Steel moment thanks to the rushed pace.
I get it; they needed to introduce Lion Fire Mode and the Lion Fire Zord. It’s Power Rangers, you always have to spend time on the toy to sell. Still, they’ve could’ve seeded the story of Mick and Viera throughout the preceding few episodes in order to make this whole thing not feel so rushed. If they could tease the Lion Fire Zord all the way back in episode eight they could have teased Viera.
It would help make the Brody focused footage work even better. We get a moment of Brody being shocked about Mick’s past but its quickly glossed over. Imagine if it had been really developed that Mick didn’t want to use any technology from the Lion Galaxy but Brody helped to convince him it was for the greater good? That, again, would have made the Lion Fire Mode fight be truly EPIC.
One of the more frustrating aspects of Ninja Steel is that there’s no shortage of good ideas. Brody (and Mick!) being slaves for so long, Galaxy Warriors, a famous person joining the Ranger team, and more. These are all amazing concepts that could be played with but most of them don’t land because Ninja Steel struggles to make its characters likeable.
This has been a self-admitted problem with Power Rangers under Chip Lynn’s run. In an interview with Henshin Justice Unlimited back in 2011, Lynn spoke about his biggest creative regret during his time on the series between second half Turbo through Time Force.
“…the biggest flaw is the lack of strong characters. That would include the Rangers, the villains, and the episode-specific characters. Sure there were good characters now and then, but after hundreds of episodes, we should have done much better. All of us recognized a great plot, but character fell through the cracks.”
That continues to hold true for Ninja Steel. You can have “epic” moments like Levi being revealed as Brody’s brother or Mick admitting he was sold into slavery but if we don’t care about the characters they won’t land.
Now I’m not placing this all at the feet of Chip Lynn, the writers, or any one particular person. I understand Power Rangers, more than most shows, has a lot of creative limitations put on it that most fans couldn’t even begin to imagine. Not only do they have to work with the Japanese footage but they probably have a ton of limitations in what they can and can’t show (that might be coming from Nickelodeon or Saban itself, who knows.)
In that same interview with Henshin Justice Unlimited, Lynn spoke that his greatest creative accomplishment on Power Rangers was just keeping up “the pace and the quality of work that was so demanding. I wrote, produced, and directed to the best of my ability. I know we weren’t creating a masterpiece, but we were honestly doing the best we could under some tough circumstances.”
This speaks to the idea there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes for Power Rangers than fans ever know and just getting the show produced is a miracle in of itself. I totally get that and appreciate it. However, as an audience we aren’t supposed to be aware of all those things. Television is supposed to exist on its own and in an ideal viewing situation the audience has no idea about the behind the scenes goings on of a show. A show needs to work on its own and not with behind the scenes restrictions in mind.
Ninja Steel just doesn’t work, as I’ve written about for the past few weeks. It may have good ideas but like quite a few Power Rangers seasons it fails in its execution. This episode was a little better but it only showed off even more why Ninja Steel has some deeply ingrained issues that will take a lot of work to fix.
Look at the final Victor and Monty scene. It’s great the Rangers finally give a reason why they can’t stop Victor and Monty at first. “People will ask questions” is a great acknowledgement of the Rangers needing to keep their secret identities. The problem is that the Rangers once again just laugh as Victor and Monty are gravely injured.
If the point of these scenes was to set up some real conflict between Victor/Monty and the Rangers I’d be all for it but there’s been no sign of that and we’re almost done with the season. Will the Rangers ever be called out on this? Probably not, which is horrible especially in a kids series.
To end on a positive note, I will give huge praise once again to Chris Reid and Caleb Bendit for their portrayals of Victor and Monty respectively. The material they’re given is often needlessly cartoony but they always bring their A-game and just have a blast with it. Also, Kelson Henderson truly shone as Mick. His resentment towards Viera was perfectly portrayed and I hope we see more sides to this character as the series goes on.
Shamus Kelley needs a magical ninja nexus prism to solve all his conflicts. Follow him on Twitter!