Episode Title: To Flea or not to Flea
Original Airdate: February 15, 1994
Quite a few of the monsters featured on this series have been based on animals. There are a lot of vicious creatures out there in nature, after all. Sometimes, though, the makers of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers had to turn to some lesser members of the animal kingdom. So, in this episode the rangers are going to get fleas in To Flea or not to Flea.
As the episode begins the Juice Bar/Youth Center is on the verge of financial ruin, so Ernie isn’t in the best of moods. At the same time, Jason has found a lost dog which he doesn’t even realize there is a reward out for. Bulk and Skull, however, spot a poster and are out to swipe the pooch and claim the dough for themselves. While all this is going on, Rita makes plans to unleash her Fighting Flea on Angel Grove, so she shrinks it and places it on the lost dog. When Jason pets the mutt, he ends up getting fleas himself. While he and Kimberly try to figure out what’s going on, Bulk and Skull manage to lure the dog away. Then some putties attack, so the search for the dog must be called off for a time.
At headquarters, Zordon gives the rangers the lowdown on the flea, and Alpha applies a spray which takes care of the itch, at least for awhile. Billy decides to go off and try and concoct an antidote to the fleas’ bite. At the same time, Jason and Kimberly go off to the park to look for the dog. However, when the Fighting Flea shows up, Jason starts itching again. Zack and Trini show up to help after finding the dog with Ernie (the pooch got away after Bulk and Skull had a run-in with the flea). Billy then shows up after creating the antidote. Now the rangers are back at full strength to take care of the flea. Of course, Rita makes the bug grow to giant size. That means the rangers create the Mega Zord and take care of the flea with the power sword. Then, in the epilogue, the dog’s owner shows up at the Youth Center and gives the reward money to Ernie…which is enough to save the joint from going out of business.
Though this episode has some fun moments, on a whole it feels a bit dumbed down. You can see where it’s going to go within the first two minutes. The Youth Center is going out of business, there’s a lost dog, there’s a reward…it’s not exactly high concept. The story also goes to some slightly illogical places. I mean, a big ugly red flea is on the loose, but the rangers go off to find the lost dog?! Come on guys, take care of the big monster first THEN find the dog!! While we’re on the subject of the lost dog subplot, I do have to say that the final resolution of it seems somewhat unearned. The reward money goes to Ernie, but he really doesn’t end up doing anything. I think it might have been stronger if Ernie had actually found the dog, instead it seems to have just wandered back to the Juice Bar on it’s own. I’m not saying I want the place to close down, but give Ernie something to do. He rarely gets a chance to factor substantially into these episodes, anyway. Give the guy a break, for once.
As for the Fighting Flea, he’s not among the strongest villains we’ve seen. To start with the voice is very annoying; like one of the chipmunks sucking in helium. The flea costume also doesn’t allow for a big range of movements, so the battles aren’t that spectacular. The bug basically just hops around and waves his arms like a hyper-active Oompa Loompa. He’s also taken out way too easily with just a quick swipe of the power sword.
I will say this, though, this episode is further proof that Billy may have a higher calling than being a superhero. In just a few minutes time, he’s able to formulate and create an antidote to an alien bug bite in his garage. It takes a pharmaceutical company many years and considerable testing to do such things.
Well, next time we leave bugs behind and must face a monster from the underwater kingdom. Join us for Reign of the Jellyfish.