This Power Rangers Ninja Steel review contains spoilers.
Power Rangers Ninja Steel Episode 16
It says everything about Ninja Steel that when it was unveiled that Sledge from Dino Charge was returning in the New York Comic Con trailer my reaction wasn’t excitement. It wasn’t hope for the return of an interconnected universe. It wasn’t to theorize and wonder how he could have returned after being hurled into a sun.
It was apathy. Apathy because I’ve lost any hope in Power Rangers on TV to pull off something like a returning villain, especially one from Dino Charge. Lest we forget that the Dino Super Charge finale (not counting the Christmas clip show) was one of the worst finales in Power Rangers history featuring nonsensical time travel and too many deus ex machinas to count.
This isn’t to say I have no faith in Power Rangers on the whole. In fact the best news to come out of NYCC was the news Boom! would be republishing old Power Rangers comics. Although now that I think of it, the fact I’m more excited about Power Rangers Zeo/Youngblood possibly seeing the light of day over Power Rangers on TV says a lot.
You see, I trust Boom! Studios with Power Rangers. Slip ups like Pink and the Justice League crossover aside, they’ve treated Power Rangers with the respect it deserves. When they announce things like reprinting old comics or even a team of Rangers set in the 1960’s I immediately have faith in what they’re doing because they’ve earned it. Nearly two years of mostly well told stories will do that.
Power Rangers Ninja Steel has shown time and again it can’t even get basic things like characterization, pacing, or conflict right. Take for example today’s episode. At first I was way more excited about Levi not liking board games than I should have been. It was so simple and yet felt like more of a human moment than most of the characters have had in this series. A character just doesn’t like board games? He’s not a flawless person and doesn’t want to always spend time with his friends? That was awesome! Until of course they had Mick dump on him for it. Yeah yeah that whole speech about “they did what you like but you wouldn’t do what they like” makes no sense.
Levi wasn’t twisting their arms to listen to him sing. He’s a famous country singer. Of course they’re happy to listen to him! Is it not okay for Levi to not want to hang out with his friends once in awhile? Just because you’re friends with someone doesn’t mean you have to spend all your time with them and do everything they like. This idea almost worked but Mick’s faulty logic bungled the whole thing.
The conceit of the board game to burn a lot of Sentai footage was fine enough and I think this might be the best-executed episode of the season. That isn’t saying much, since it was a bare bones premise just to set up a lot of fights. As I watched it I realized that so much of what’s wrong with Ninja Steel is that it tries to bite off more than it can chew. There are good ideas but they can never land. The plot holes ask too many questions. Perhaps Ninja Steel would fare better if it realized its own limitations and played to them.
If the show can just barely handle a Sentai footage-burning episode, why should I be excited for something like Sledge coming back? A plot that would require not just long term planning but complex story beats explaining away time travel of all things. Ninja Steel hasn’t earned that level of trust and I highly doubt it ever will.
Shamus Kelley really missed Victor and Monty this week. Follow him on Twitter!
Read the full Den of Geek NYCC Special Edition Magazine right here!