Episode Title: The Beetle Invasion
Original Airdate: September 21, 1994
The last time we had an invasion of beetles, the music world changed forever. That was a different kind of beetle, though. Those were B-E-A-T Beatles, which is a far cry from what Lord Zedd has in mind for the citizens of Angel Grove this week. We return to the realm of giant bugs with The Beetle Invasion.
Before the bug actions starts, our episode begins at the youth center where Ernie is recruiting the rangers to join his broomball team. It seems the team from a rival youth center have challenged the kids of Angel Grove. Their team is called the Beetles, which inspires Lord Zedd to create an oversized beetle of his own. Meanwhile the gang starts practicing for the big game. There’s even a new kid helping Ernie coach, the dreamy Richie who quickly gets Trini all tingly feeling.
Later, Zedd unleashes a bunch of putties on Tommy and Kimberly as they walk through the park. When the Stag Beetle shows up, he grabs Tommy and begins draining him of his power. The others soon show up to help, but not before Tommy has been severely weakened by the giant bug. His powers are now pretty much gone, but Billy thinks Alpha might be able to construct a device that can recapture Tommy’s powers.
The rangers then head off to face the Stag Beetle without Tommy. They cannot destroy it, though, since they need it alive to get Tommy’s powers back. The fight proves to be very difficult, though, since the beetle starts to use Tommy’s powers against the other rangers. Luckily, right at the moment the beetle is going to finish off our heroes with a green power blast, Tommy shows up with Alpha’s device and gets (some) of his powers back. The others then create the power blaster to zap the bug. It seems like they’ve blown the beast up, but Zedd manages to revive the beetle and make it grow. You know what that means…it’s time for some zord action to take out the beetle once and for all.
This is actually a pretty good episode, with some fun action moments. However, we’re still stuck in this cycle of Tommy loses his powers, Tommy gets back his powers, over and over again. I’m kinda thinkin’ that Tommy should just hang out all day at the command center, because every time he goes out in public now some big rubber monster starts draining his powers. Hopefully we can move on from this theme soon.
We do get some new and interesting things in this episode, though. The putty battle with Kimberly and Tommy is quite good. As I’ve said before, Amy Jo Johnson and Jason David Frank are the two most skilled members of the cast, so fight sequences that center on them are often action packed. In this one we get a moment where Kimberly walks across the heads of a line of putties like Roger Moore did running across the backs of alligators in Live and Let Die. It’s a little cheesy looking on the effects side here, but still a cool concept.
Speaking of new and interesting things in this episode, what’s the deal with Trini and this new guy, Richie? When he’s introduced near the front of the episode a group of kids literally parts like the Red Sea to reveal him sitting at the juice bar. Trini then pretty much melts into a pool of goo right there. Now silly me, I had thought that she was starting to have eyes for Billy, but here comes this hockey puck. He shows up again at the end of the episode when (spoiler alert) the Angel Grove team wins the broomball game. Richie is completely inconsequential to this episode, so I’m thinkin’ he must show up again to get Trini all hot and bothered. We shall see.
As for our monster, the Stag Beetle is fine, if not all that memorable. It’s just a giant bug and doesn’t have anything that distinctive about it. Speaking of monsters, I should mention that the small Bulk and Skull subplot this time involves them using a “smell-o-meter” device that will help them sniff out who the power rangers are. This thing is clearly made from the snout portion of the Pudgy Pig costume from last season.
Well, Tommy may have his powers back for a while, but I’m sure Lord Zedd will try to zap them away from him again soon. Next time he moves away from using monster bugs to using monster plants in Welcome to Venus Island.