Mighty Morphin Power Rangers S:02 E:18

Episode Title: White Light Part 2
Original Airdate: October 18, 1994

When we last left the Power Rangers, they had their hands full trying to defeat Lord Zedd’s latest monster, Nimrod the Scarlet Sentinel…a very strange looking beast which, despite its name, has very little in the way of red pigmentation. The battle with this monster was a struggle, especially considering that Zordon and Alpha are currently offline. When Billy goes back to the command center, he finds that they are actually working on some sort of new power ranger. This is where we pick things up in White Light Part 2.

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As we begin, Billy meets up with the other rangers and tells them about what he’s seen. The revelation that a new ranger is in the works is met with mixed emotions but they decide that Zordon must know what he’s doing. Meanwhile, Bulk and Skull are still working on trying to open up Rita’s dumpster, which they found in the park last time.

Soon, power is restored to the command center and the rangers are summoned to be briefed by Zordon. There, he reveals that he felt the rangers needed help with Lord Zedd’s monsters. So, he introduces to them the White Ranger. When this mystery man removes his helmet it is revealed to be none other than…you guessed it…Tommy! Everyone is flabergasted, and Kimberly even faints. But wait there’s more! It is also announced that Tommy is the new “leader” of the power rangers. His zord with be the new White Tiger Zord which he will control with the new enchanted white saber, Saba.

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There is little time to celebrate, though. Zordon sends Billy and Trini off to repair the other zords, damaged in the previous battle. Kimberly, Zack, and Jason are sent to try and stop Bulk and Skull from inadvertently releasing Rita, while Tommy is sent to battle Nimrod. Of course, Tommy summons his new Zord right away for a manic battle against Nimrod. Meanwhile, the others who are trying to find Bulk and Skull have to fight their way through some putties to get to the bullies. Soon, we get to see the full extent of the new zord’s powers as it joins with the others to make the Mega Tiger Zord and defeat Nimrod and its two minions. As the big battle ends, a pint-sized Rita is released from her tiny prison. Luckily, the rangers show up just in time to pick her up King Kong/Fay Wray style and lock her back up.

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So…who’s surprised by the identity of the new White Ranger?? Anyone? Anyone? Yeah, I figured not. Even though his character has been gone for the last several episodes (except in fleeting glimpses), Jason David Frank continued to show up in the opening credits and Tommy was mentioned regularly…so it’s not really a big surprise.  According to various fan sites, another actor, Brad Hawkins, was originally going to take on the role of the White Ranger. However, Tommy became so popular that it was decided to bring him back. Hawkins ended up being cast in a similar series from Saban, VR Troopers.

The big battle that fills most of this episode’s second half is primarily focused on White Ranger Tommy, and it’s pretty wild. To start with, the White Tiger Zord is probably my new favorite of all the giant robots we have. This thing bounds around at lightning speeds. At one point, we even get Tommy surfing on top of it as it runs across the landscape. Another crazy aspect of this new zord is that it’s controlled by the enchanted saber, Saba. This thing has a tiger’s head sculpted into the handle which actually speaks and converses with Tommy. It’s kind of like the parrot head on the handle of Mary Poppins’ umbrella. These new gadgets seem to point towards lots of crazy fun for future episodes.

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There are some missteps with this episode. The biggest is that there ends up being no payoff with the storyline involving Rita being released by Bulk and Skull. We should note that Rita is now played by a new actress, Carla Perez. Previously, Rita had appeared via Japanese footage, but now she is a part of the new American footage. The voice is still provided by Barbara Goodson, however. With all the buildup regarding the Rita subplot in the last episode, I figured we were in for something big. Like, she was going to be released and now the rangers would have to deal with Zedd AND Rita. Alas, as soon as she gets out she’s stuffed back in her little prison. By the way, in some shots, tiny Rita is portrayed by a very unconvincing doll. It’s pretty cheesy, but fear not loyal viewers.  Though there’s no payoff this time, (spoiler alert) I do have it on good authority that we haven’t seen the last of Rita.

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Now, it should also be noted that there is more evidence of the behind-the-scenes problems in this episode. During the big reveal that Tommy is the White Ranger, there are two moments when Zordon refers to him as being the new leader of the group. Strangely, this is met with nothing but smiles from the other rangers…even Jason, who has now just been unceremoniously dethroned as leader of the group. Also, both times Zordon mentions this, it is as a voice over, where we don’t actually see him speaking. This is because these lines were inserted late in post production. Originally, the plan was for Jason to continue to be the leader, but during the post production for this episode, tensions had risen between Austin St. John (Jason), as well as Walter Jones (Zack) and Thuy Tran (Trini).  Long story short, changes were on the horizon.  We’ll see where that goes a few more episodes down the line.

All that aside, this is, for the most part, as fun episode. It’s got some wild zord action and the introduction of the White Ranger represents a major milestone for the show. I think we’re in for some weird stuff as we move forward. Don’t believe me? Well, next time we get to deal with a couple of monsters inspired by cosmetic products. Join us then as we look at Two for One.

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