This Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel review contains spoilers.
Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel Episode 2
Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel (and Ninja Steel’s) biggest problem is it refuses to have any stakes or conflict. It’s telling after last week dropped the huge bombshell that Power Rangers Dino Charge is in its own universe we’re back to your standard “one and done” episode.
A revelation like that should have some kind of consequence on Super Ninja Steel. The fact Sledge is now running around what I can only assume is the prime Power Rangers universe should have far reaching ramifications. I’m not saying we need an all out universe spanning war but maybe a little hint things are different. That the stakes of this season are slowly ramping up.
Maybe Sledge joins Odius and uses his experience battling the Dino Charge Rangers against the Ninja Steel team. More simply Odius could be trying to find new generals to fight off Sledge if he ever returns. Bringing in a villain from a previous season should have shaken up the status quo but instead we’re getting more of the same, that being Ninja Steel refusing to have its character act like real people and have genuine conflict with each other.
On the surface this episode at least centers on Calvin and Hayley’s realationship, one of the few bright spots of Ninja Steel. Power Rangers has often avoided romance so it’s nice we just have a couple as Rangers. It of course hasn’t delved into what being a crime fighting couple means for a long term relationship but that would require arguments to last more than a scene.
Intitally I was into the premise of Calvin lying to Hayley. Trying to cover up your mistakes and getting into deeper trouble is a classic story and one that could be mined for some fun antics. Of course, in the now tried-and-true Ninja Steel fashion, it’s all resolved in less than a minute.
“Can you forgive me?”“Of course I can, because you told me the truth.”
No. People don’t act like this. In reality Hayley would be PISSED for at least a couple of days. I’m aware Power Rangers wants to stick to an episodic format where most plots don’t carry over from week to week so here’s an idea of how this episode could have gone and still stuck to that format.
The episode begins the same but Hayley immediately realizes Calvin is lying. This ticks her off and she refuses to speak with him. Calvin, desperate to save what he assumes is a crumbling relationship, goes out of his way to try and impress her. He buys her flowers, sends her love notes, and even tries to help her out in battle.
All of this backfires, especially in battle where Calvin injures himself trying to help Hayley. Back at the base Calvin opens up that he was afraid he’d lose Hayley. She reassures him that while she was mad she never thought about breaking up with him, at least until he started trying too hard. She just needed some space and Calvin should have respected that. He agrees and the two are able to stop the monster as seen in the Zord fight.
The episode ends with Hayley and Calvin on opposite ends of snack area. Things seem awkward but Hayley waves to Calvin, acknowledging that things will get better soon (aka the next episode.)
You need to let a conflict breathe and effect the rest of the story. You can’t confine the bulk of it to one scene. Yes, Calvin’s lying gets the Rangers Ninja Stars bolted (let’s just ignore how poorly thought out the monsters lying power was) but Hayley is barely a part of that. It doesn’t drive the plot forward as well as Calvin struggling to stay in Hayley’s good graces or reeling from her anger.
Have you noticed how totally unengaging Ninja Steel’s fight scenes are? Besides the bland music and laser filled sound effects, it’s tough to get emotionally invested because the conflict doesn’t drive the action. The conflict and action are separated from each other, when good series weave the two together.
For example, in the Power Rangers Time Force episode “Jen’s Revenge”, the conflict in that episode is completely driven by Jen’s lingering grief over the death of her fiancé Alex. The fight scenes have extra weight because of the established connection between her and Fatcatfish. She’s nearly driven out of control by this and the eventual capturing of the monster feels so satisfying because she didn’t give into her violent impulses.
Here? Oh, I guess the Ninja Steel team gets a new mode because the script said so. They couldn’t even tie the making of those new stars to the plot? Maybe Calvin could be trying to make Hayley a new star and that causes problems! Come on, anything!
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Sesame Street has more believable and engaging content than Ninja Steel. Check out this clip. (Thanks to SpeedRacerFlubber for bringing this clip to my attention.)
Yep, that’s right. Oscar the Grouch was gaslighting the hell out of Gina! It’s legit engaging and makes for a great little scene. Oscar and Gina’s conflict is developed over the three-minute span and it climaxes in her inadvertently yelling at Mr. Handford. This is only the first of Oscar’s misadventures with that phone in the episode.
Even for a show that features puppets and is aimed at three year olds (and younger), Sesame Street has conflict that at least feels like it’s based in reality. It also develops it over the course of a full episode instead of confining it all to one scene.
Sesame Street in 1995 (yes, that’s when this aired) has better storytelling that Power Ranger Super Ninja Steel does in 2018.
Do better Super Ninja Steel. Figure out how real people act, for starters.
Shamus Kelley is a pop culture/television writer and official Power Rangers expert. He groaned out loud at the “I’ll be there Wheelie Fast” line. Ugh. Follow him on Twitter!