— Power Rangers (@PowerRangers) August 28, 2018
Yesterday was the 25-year anniversary of Power Rangers, a franchise I was obsessed with for nearly a decade growing up.
I remember religiously watching each new season I was alive for and eagerly awaiting the crossover episodes, where the Rangers from the previous season would meet up with the current season. I loved the franchise, but left after the ending of my favorite season: Power Rangers Time Force.
Time Force was my absolute favorite version of the Rangers, with Lost Galaxy being a close second. What those two seasons have in common is having badass Pink Rangers. Now don’t get me wrong, Kimberly was also a badass and overall the Pink Ranger has been played by some awesome women, but when it comes down to it, I think few would argue that Jen from Time Force and Astronema/Karone from Lost Galaxy are not two of the most interesting Pink Rangers—but back to Time Force.
The ninth season of the series, Time Force starts in the year 3000, where the Time Force has captured almost every criminal except the mutant Ransik, who is aided by his daughter Nadira and robot slave, Frex. Time Force Red Ranger Alex and his team finally capture Ransik, Alex proposes to his girlfriend, Jen, the Pink Ranger, but because this is the first episode, Nadira breaks Ransik out, and Alex is seemingly killed.
Ransik and Nadira take the cryogenically frozen mutants from jail and head to the year 2001. Jen takes on the leadership of the team, and they follow Ransik into the future, where they run into Wes, an ancestor of Alex, whose DNA is needed to activate the morphers. They reform the Time Force in the year 2001 and spend the series trying to take down Ransik and save the future.
Time Force has two of the best leads in the Power Rangers series, Jason Faunt (Wes/Alex) and Erin Cahill (Jen), and manages to use its story to talk about themes of prejudice, redemption, and family—which is all good and stuff, but let’s talk about Jen!
Jen is probably the most battle-savvy Pink Ranger we’ve ever had at the point she’s introduced. While the rule of red leadership makes Wes the de facto “leader” of the Rangers, there is no denying that Jen is the most knowledgeable and the true leader of the Rangers—Wes just gets to stand in the middle. Jen is one of the rare cases of a woman trying to get revenge for the loss of her male love interest. The presumed loss of Alex drives her to want to complete their mission but also rattles her from time to time, because she really hasn’t gotten the time to grieve.
The series balances out allowing Jen to be feminine and vulnerable with being a strong capable leader. Yes, she is headstrong at times, but so is like everyone in Power Rangers. She eventually learns to be a bit more chill, but never loses her strength and edge. I love Jen. She’s so awesome. I remember watching her as a kid and thinking, Yes Pink Ranger, lead them. Lead them to victory.
Then, of course, Wild Force gave us this scene:
Thank you, Wild Force.
Outside of my thirst/appreciation for Jen, my other favorite things about this season are the baddies, Ransik and Nadira. Ransik is one of Power Rangers’ best villains. He’s very calculating and also has the physical strength to keep the Rangers on their toes. Throughout the season, it’s also explored that as a mutant, Ransik was discriminated against, yet at the same time, Ransik uses robots like Frax as slaves/servants, and when Ransik was offered help by humans (including Frax’s previous human form, Dr. Fericks, who was killed after trying to help Ransik), he turned it down.
While Time Force doesn’t get into all the nuanced issues of humans vs. mutants vs. robots, it does add some grey to a series that can sometimes be very black and white. Ransik may be discriminated against, but he uses other mutants as pawns, goes into the past just for Chaotic Evil reasons, and never helps anyone but himself. So, a Magneto he is not. However, for all his flaws, Ransik truly loves his daughter.
Nadira is a delight. She’s got pink hair, a crop top, and sass, but also goes through the interesting character development of wanting to understand what it means to be human and wanting to end the cycles of hate around her. In the finale of the series, we start to see that Nadira has never really thought about why she and her father hate humans so much. During one episode, when they are hunting down Frax, she decides to go shopping and runs into Trip. They help deliver a baby, and despite being forced to help, after holding the baby, she realizes that “humans can’t be all bad.”
She ends up going to speak to the now-imprisoned Frax about why humans and mutants hate each other. Frax explains that humans taught Ransik how to hate, and he then repeated that cycle of hatred back onto humans and others because it was all he knew. It’s a really powerful scene because it’s true, being oppressed teaches you how to oppress. Nadira says she is not sure if she hates all humans, and Frax dismisses her sentiment: “You’re an evil mutant with a heart as black as coal, just like your father. Now get out of my sight, you sicken me!”
However as Frax is dragged away to what is implied to be a form of lobotomy, Nadira apologizes to him for what her father did and calls him by his human name, Dr. Fericks. This causes Frax to realize there is hope for Nadira and for the cycle to end. As he is dragged away, he tells her never to give up: “You don’t have to hate!” It’s a great scene, and let’s not forget that this is the only season of Power Rangers to be nominated for an Emmy.
In the final episode, Nadira stands up to her father, calling out his behavior. Ransik pushes her aside and goes forward with his attack on the Rangers, but falters when he realizes that, in his showdown with Jen, he accidentally shot his daughter, the only person he’s ever loved—that this is where his hatred has led him—and he decides to turn himself in: “I’m ready … to pay for what I’ve done.”
Wild Force, in their crossover episode with Time Force, shows that Ransik eventually purges his mutant side and becomes completely human, making Ransik one of the few Power Rangers villains be redeemed for real, and it’s a well-earned journey.
There are other really amazing parts of the series, like the evolution of Eric from whiny kid to leader, Wes’s coming of age story and reconciliation with his father, and the pretty romantic story of Jen and Wes falling in love. It’s a great season with an amazing cast, dope music, and some really emotional scenes—plus good fights. It’s got flaws like every series of Power Rangers, but while it isn’t perfect, it’s one of my favorites.
If you’ve never checked out Power Rangers and would love a season to jump into, this one is an excellent place to start, other than the original. Also, for all my nerds out there who want some more in-depth Power Ranger stuff, of course, Linkara’s History of the Power Rangers is a must.
What are your favorite seasons of Power Rangers?
(image: Saban International/20th Television)
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