Episode Title: On Fins and Needles
Original Airdate: May 5, 1994
Something has been brewing for some time in the Power Rangers universe that finally comes out in this week’s episode. From the beginning, Jason has always been the leader of the group. But then, part way into the season, there came this hotshot named Tommy. The green boy not only is the superior martial artist, but he’s also a ladies man. Kimberly’s been making goo-goo eyes at him for half the season now. So, who will be the true leader of the group? Let’s see what happens in today’s episode, On Fins and Needles.
As we begin, things are cool between Jason and Tommy. They even teach martial arts classes together at the Youth Center/Juice Bar. This is the perfect opportunity, though, for Rita to unleash a new monster, the Slippery Shark. First she sends some putties down with the shark’s special weapon, a boomerang that zaps people with weird blue lightning. Both Jason and Tommy get zapped during the putty fight and end up bitter rivals doe to the spell the boomerang causes. The next day at school, the two almost end up fighting in the hallway. Bulk and Skull act on this and start selling tickets for a big fight between the two at the youth center that afternoon. Just as the big fight is about to happen, the rangers get called away by Zordon as the shark shows up in Angel Grove to attack.
Anxious to show superiority, Jason and Tommy morph and go off to fight the shark on their own, without the others. The shark is quite an elusive monster. He is able to fly, teleport from location to location, and can travel underground at superspeed, with his dorsal fin sticking over the ground. Both Tommy and Jason try to track down the shark on their own, but eventually realize they need to work together to fight this monster. They manage to catch the shark in a net (since when do the rangers have nets?) but soon the creature busts out. Seeing this on the viewing globe in the command center, the other rangers show up to help. They try to take the shark out with the power blaster, but Rita makes him grow before they can blast him. So, the zords are summoned and the shark is defeated thanks to the Mega Zord and the Dragon Zord working together.
I do really like the hook of this episode…the rivalry between Tommy and Jason. This has never really been referenced in previous episodes, but I think most intelligent viewers have to have wondered about this sort of thing for some time now. I mean, Jason has always been the leader, but Tommy is clearly the more powerful ranger. Though I have never seen the second season of this series, I know that as things progress Tommy does become more of the leader. It makes sense that there would be a bit of bad blood between the two. However, at the end of this episode everything is wrapped up very nicely, so I don’t know if we’ll see this angle exploited again, or just have Tommy subtly slip into the team captain role.
The other four rangers really don’t factor into this story much. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed when they ended up joining the fight. I think the episode might’ve been a bit stronger had it just been all about Jason and Tommy working their issues out and not having to involve the others. There is some fun stuff with Bulk and Skull, though, as they become bargain basement sports moguls trying to capitalize on the Jason vs Tommy fight.
As for our monster, I did kind of dig the shark, although many things about him don’t make a lot of sense. I like the image of the shark’s fin cutting through the ground like a buzzsaw as it burrows through the ground. But still, why is a shark going underground? He’s like the gopher from Caddyshack with a fin! I’m also not sure why the creature is able to fly and teleport…also not things I would associate with a shark? I’m probably giving the whole thing too much thought, though, because the shark is pretty cool. His powers are just a bit crazy and random, I guess.
Next time we’re going to meet another member of the rangers’ extended family. We’ve met Kimberly’s uncle the pilot before, now we get to meet her cousin who wants to make the cheerleading squad. Oh, and we battle a nasty lizard, too. Join us for Enter…The Lizzinator.