Episode Title: The Power Stealer
Original Airdate: September 20, 1994
As you know from last time, we are in the middle of a multi-episode story arch centered on Tommy and the still somewhat weakened state of his superpowers. Lord Zedd seems to have his heart set on seeing to it that Tommy loses his powers for good. This time he plans on using truly bizarre monster to do it in The Power Stealer.
As we begin the rangers are busy with an event to clean up Angel Grove. Hasn’t this been an episode plot point a few times in the past? Oh well. This time, the event is such a big deal that a local news crew is even there to tape a story on the work being done. Trouble comes, though, when a gang of putties attacks during the cleanup efforts. Everybody scatters, including the news cameraman, who leaves his camera running. So, Jason, Kimberly, and Tommy end up battling the putties, and even morphing, right in front of the camera. Then, Zedd sends down his new monster, the Octophantom (part Octopus part Elephant!?) to kidnap Tommy. The creature then begins to drain Tommy’s powers. Later Bulk and Skull spot the camera and swipe the tape.
The other rangers are next on the list, so the Octophantom heads off to a park and starts painting graffiti on the statues in order to draw them out. During the battle, all the rangers except for Jason and Billy are zapped away by the monster. Luckily, Billy notices the creature admiring its reflection at one point. He then realizes that he may be able to use the Octophantom’s vanity against it. Jason then goes off to fight on his own while Billy works on a solution. He comes up with a shield that folds out into a big mirror. Billy shows up with this pretty simple weapon just in time to save the other rangers from having their powers completely drained.
With all the rangers now freed, they can mount a more impressive attack. Tommy, however, is far too weak, so he is sent back to the command center. Of course, Lord Zedd decides to make the Octophantom grow so the Zords are summoned for some giant robot vs giant monster action. Then, with Angel Grove saved once again, the rangers encounter Bulk and Skull who plan to show everyone at the juice bar the tape from the newsman’s camera. Just before they stick it in the VCR, Billy and Zack pull a quick switch and substitute the tape with one of a cartoon show. Phew, the identities of the rangers are still safe.
I gotta admit, I’m really starting to get a bit tired of the whole “Tommy’s powers are too weak” plot device. We first saw that kick in last season, and it’s still coming back over and over again. I know that this is building up to something, but can’t Zordon give Tommy some pills or something so he can get back up to full strength? This is getting kind of old.
The big thing that is weird about this episode is our monster, the Octophantom. Goldar very kindly explains to us early in the episode that it is a half Octopus half Elephant. It’s a good thing he did explain that because you’d never be able to figure it out from looking at the thing. It really doesn’t have any features that even slightly resemble those of an elephant. What the creature claims is a trunk really isn’t, plus there are no tusks, big ears or even a stubby tail. The thing looks a bit Lovecraftian to be honest, which is kind of cool, but not at all like an elephant.
I was also a bit bugged by the putty fight in this episode. As Tommy, Kimberly and Jason wail on this batch of putties, there are several times when the punch or kick them in the “Z” logo on their chests…but nothing happens! Haven’t we been told in previous episodes that punching the Z causes the putties to break apart? The one thing I did like about the putty fight was the idea that a camera is running the whole time. This turns out to be nothing, though, as the way the rangers get rid of the tape is so lame. I mean, are we really supposed to believe that Bulk and Skull didn’t take the tape home and look at it first? They’re dumb, but they aren’t THAT dumb.
So, ultimately this episode is a bit so-so. It’s got a weird monster, which is cool, but the monster also makes no sense at all. Lord Zedd needs to try and do a bit better next time. Octopus mixed with an elephant, indeed. Well next time Lord Zedd tries to take on the rangers with a giant bug in The Beetle Invasion. Already I’m a bit irritated because that title seems like a weak play off the term “British Invasion,” which, of course, involved the band known as The Beatles. It’s a stretch guys, I mean come on!