Episode Title: Beauty and the Beast
Original Airdate: October 10, 1994
Back in the mid 90’s, many young male Power Rangers fans were ushered into puberty due to having a crush on the original pink ranger, Amy Jo Johnson. It seems they were not the only ones, as this episode sees Lord Zedd attempting to make the pink ranger his queen. There’s no singing teapots, but let’s see what happens in this episode, Beauty and the Beast.
As things start, Kimberly is still moping about Tommy no longer being around. She just sits around at the juice bar staring at a weird looking mirror that he once gave her as a gift. But then, she spots an ad in the newspaper for a local fortune teller and decides to pay her a visit, hoping that she can tell her something about Tommy. At the same time, Lord Zedd decides the time is right to try and make Kimberly his evil queen, so he dispatches Goldar and some putties to capture her. During the inevitable fight, Goldar tosses some gold dust on Kimberly to put her under a spell. The dust just knocks her unconscious, though. When she comes to, she decides her best bet is to play along in order to fool her captors. This includes her doing a bizarre imitation of the first season’s big bad, Rita Repulsa, complete with the flamboyant costume.
Meanwhile, Billy, Zack, and Trini have learned what has happened to Kimberly (Jason is on a fishing trip with his uncle). They see on the viewing globe that a batch of putties are attacking Richie and Zack’s cousin, Curtis. So, Zack goes off to stop the putties, while Billy and Trini head off to save Kimberly. While all this is going on, Zedd turns Kimberly’s mirror into a monster known as the Mirror Maniac.
After successfully rescuing Kimberly and stopping the putties, the rangers regroup, now joined by Jason, for the big battle. Of course, Lord Zedd makes the creature grow to giant size, so the zords are summoned. From there it takes just a few swipes of the sword to take the monster out and save Angel Grove once again.
I’ve always loved the episodes where we get evil versions of the rangers. Amy Jo Johnson, especially, has always excelled when these opportunities come along. I still remember the first season episode where she was turned “punk” and really got into being a bad girl for a bit. Here, she does a really amazing imitation of Rita Repulsa from season one. The screechy voice, the crazy eyes, the extreme gestures…she completely nails it. My one complaint is that the sequence is a bit short. They should’ve devoted half of the episode to her screaming at Goldar, Baboo, and Squatt.
Our monster this time is really off-the-charts weird. It’s essentially a guy in a blue jumpsuit with a giant mirror for a head. The creature seems to be able to shoot some sort of laser out of the mirror, but otherwise it really doesn’t have any unique abilities. I mean, I’m down for a monster made out of a mirror as long as he has some sort of interesting powers related to reflecting light…or something like that. As done here, it’s just a goofy costume idea.
There is some fun action in this installment and the wacky performance by Amy Jo Johnson definitely makes this episode worth a look. Sadly, though, the biggest impression this episode gives is that, if looked at closely, evidence of the behind-the-scenes problems can clearly be detected. Let’s begin with the fact that Austin St. John (Jason) is completely absent from this episode. We only see his character in the final battle, and that’s in his ranger uniform…so the face of the actor in the suit is never seen. It is also painfully obvious that the voice of Trini while morphed is not Thuy Tran. In fact, the person who dubbed the voice sounds nothing like her. Voices for Zack and Jason while morphed are also not provided by Walter Jones and Austin St. John, respectively. Of course, Tran, Jones, and St. John were the three performers growing more and more frustrated with their situation on the show. Spoiler alert, things were not going to get any better.
Of course, most kids who watched this back in the 90’s probably didn’t detect the things going on behind the scenes. I’m sure they just loved the cool fight scenes and weird monster action. If they did notice the problems, the probably quickly forgot as our next episode brings us to a milestone in the series. A turning point, if you will, that will change the dynamic of the rangers as we go forward. It’s the first of a big two-parter. Join us for While Light Part I.