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Power Rangers Megaforce Episode Review: “United We Stand”

March 3, 2013

(Screencaps provided by @Rangercrew/Megaforcecast.com. Thanks again, and be sure to check out the site for a database on all known info about the show!)

“Fear isn’t a word in my vocabulary!”

Today, we reach two big points for both Megaforce and Power Rangers as a whole. First off, after this episode, we’re one-quarter of the way through Megaforce Season 1 (Holiday Specials not counted). With five episodes under their belt, I’m going to start to let less things slide following this episode. The actors have had time to get used to their roles. The writers/producers have had time to figure out what they want to do with the story and how to handle making the episodes. So I’ll be a little bit harsher on future episodes starting next week. That being said, this isn’t Samurai. While Megaforce hasn’t been perfect, it has shown signs of improvement from the last two seasons. At this point, I think its safe to say we shouldn’t be expecting near unwatchable episodes from Megaforce (At least, I hope so.) Whether or not Megaforce will be considered a decent series or a good series though has yet to be determined.

This week is also the 750th episode of Power Rangers (since “Clash of the Red Rangers” counted as one episode, and not two, we’re counting this episode as it). While probably not as big milestone as say the 100th, 500th, or even the 1000th, I still consider this to be a pretty big milestone for the show. I mean, how many TV Series can say that they’ve had 750 episodes? To be three-quarters of the way to a thousand episodes? That’s incredible, and although I may be making a bigger deal out of it than I should, as a fan of the franchise, I think I have every right to celebrate an accomplishment that few tv shows (and franchises for that matter) make it to. This episode will not feature anything to celebrate this milestone though, as again, this isn’t as big a milestone as the ones listed above. Plus, we’re in the middle of an anniversary season. We’re already celebrating how long the show has been on the air for.

So, let’s jump right into this episode, as we take a look at “United We Stand”.

This week once again (for the most part) focused on one group, instead of multiple people like the first few episodes did. Although we’ll take a brief moment to take a look at Vrak, the main focus of the episode was on Emma and Gia, so the review will mostly be about them.

While Megaforce does have some issues, there have been a few areas that I feel have been their best strengths. Foreshadowing future events, using footage from multiple areas of Goseiger in each episode and making it blend together nicely, and of course… Vrak. I’ve made it obvious that I think Vrak has been handled pretty well. He has a cool, interesting voice that doesn’t sound generic. He has an interesting backstory, as he is royalty and may be from a different faction than the Warstar. Unlike the other villains, he prefers strategy and being able to rule over the world rather than destroy everything. I like Vrak more than most of the villains the Modern Saban-era has provided to us. And hopefully as future events start approaching, he’ll be able to show off more of his awesomeness.

Now, with this episode, Vrak decides to get off the ship and reveal himself to the rangers. Wearing his new “Earth Armor” (which wasn’t named in the episode, but has been confirmed by all other sources), he decides to observe the rangers up close rather than on a monitor from the spaceship. Now, some people have pointed out that him randomly coming out with the “Earth Armor” without any explanation was a bit weird. I see where people are getting at, but honestly, it’s quite clear the episode is presenting this new form as armor Vrak wants to use when he’s in a combat situation. The other form may just be a royal uniform to wear on the ship or something. Now, if Vrak uses the other form while on earth without any explanation in a future episode, then I completely understand. But at this moment, I have no issues with the armor being brought out without any issue.

After the rangers fought with the Loogies for a little while, Vrak eventually leaves after getting enough observations about the rangers. Noah picks up on the fact that Vrak isn’t interested in fighting them, stating that he watching them like Lab Rats. This also leaves the rangers a little confused when he suddenly vanishes from the fight, making them wonder what his plan was. Also, kudos to Noah (and the writers) for picking up on the fact that Vrak doesn’t look like the other monsters they’ve encountered later on in the episode. It shows that Noah is observant, and also shows more foreshadowing and is setting up the stage for the next few arcs of Megaforce. It’s nice to see these things in each episode, as they help make episodes without any major advancements in the plot feel like we’re moving the story along slowly. It will be interesting to see in the next episode if anything else like this comes up.

I also like the fact that Vrak’s brief appearance helped convey that he doesn’t like to attack just for the sake of attacking. It helps make him stand out from Creepox and come off as more menacing and mysterious. Although Vrak could use a little bit more fleshing out, its clear the writers know what they’re doing when it comes to Vrak, so I’m not concerned at all.

Alright, let’s turn our attention to our female rangers for the rest of the review, as they were the stars of this week’s episode. I’ve stated previously that while they are much better than Emily and Mia as characters, there’s still a few flaws I feel need to be sorted out. Emma was presented in the first episode as having interests and hobbies, but personality wise needed to be fleshed out a bit more… as well as improve a little bit acting wise. Gia acting wise has come off excellently, as is probably the best actress of the five rangers, but lacks characterization that some of the other rangers have had for a little while. An episode where these two are the focus and interact for awhile is exactly what both characters need. It helps expand both characters, and hopefully have the same effect on both characters that “Going Viral” had for Noah and Jake.

Unfortunately, the episode didn’t quite succeed where it should have. While Emma is getting a little bit better acting wise, she still feels like the weaker of the two actors, which is something I shouldn’t be thinking while watching an episode. We still didn’t learn more about either characters, or their friendship with one another. We were just told “They’re best friends! Yeah friendship!” for a lot of the episode. It seems like a missed opportunity for these characters, as something like that could easily help strengthen both the actors and the characters and make them even more likeable. It doesn’t even have to be anything significant either. Look at how Noah was handled in “Going Viral”. Doing something like that with either Emma or Gia (preferably both of them) could easily make more interested in seeing these characters more and become more invested in their character development.

It’s a shame, because while this was a “Girl Power” episode, there were times in the episode I was less interested in what the girls were doing than what was happening in the rest of the episode. And that’s an issue when the episode wants you to focus on, and more importantly root for the girls. While Gia did a good job acting wise as usual, I wasn’t as interested in her character as I was in other episodes. Emma unfortunately came off as an after thought too. And this was probably because instead of focusing on characterization for both characters, the interaction was filled with enough sexual innuendos (Yeah, I can’t exactly avoid mentioning it this time around) to pass off as “We’re Best Friends! Best Friends Forever!”. This was bad call, especially for Emma’s character, who needs something to help make her more interesting (and help give her acting a chance to improve like Noah’s did.) I’m blaming the writing staff on this. They started out in the first episode with good setup for her character, and then dropped the ball. I will be bringing this up again in the future if the writing staff doesn’t do something significant with her character.

Now to be fair though, it’s not like Gia and Emma were annoying to me this episode. For the material give to them, Gia and Emma’s actresses did a good enough job, and when it came to the rather… “friendship” parts of the episode, the two weren’t… what’s the best way to put it… acting really dull. Those parts were probably the only time where I wasn’t thinking “Emma feels like the weaker of the two actors”. Although this was probably because they weren’t the only two actors on-screen at the time. Again though, it feels like the writers are dropping the ball on properly developing our female characters. It’s good to see that they aren’t treating them like Emily and Mia. That’s a step in the right direction. Now the writers need to start improving characterization for the duo. Hopefully we’ll see it in future episodes. I still haven’t lost my faith yet that this won’t happen. But the clock is ticking, and I don’t want to be waiting until further on down the line in Megaforce to see these characters getting the proper characterization they deserve.

Now, despite my gripes with characterization, this is not to say this was a bad episode at all. This episode was written by the same person who wrote “Strange Case of the Munchies”, which was my favorite episode of Power Rangers Samurai, and one of the few episodes from the season I’d recommend checking out. And while this episode didn’t exactly help out our female rangers like it did with Emily, it did feature an element from that episode which I loved… absolute insanity. There were a lot of things in the episode that were so absurd and ridiculous, and the episode decided just to roll with it. The MotW was actually interesting this week (Even though everyone kept referring to Beezara as a bee, when she looks more like a Fly to me) and had a rather interesting voice. The pacing for this episode actually was good, which is a problem Megaforce has had that I’ve previously avoided talking about. It even had an (probably unintentional, but bravo if it was intentional) reference to Big Bad Beetleborgs with the line “That’s one big bad beetle!” (Again, she looks more like a fly, but I’m letting it slide in this case.)

This week, the MotW made Troy, Jake and Noah (as well as multiple guys at the school) be her servants thanks to some weird mind control substance she sprayed the guys with. Now, there was a criticism that the guys weren’t presented as mindless servants and had some form of free will in realizing what was going on, which made the scene awkward. Fair enough, it’s a valid criticism… but quite frankly, I didn’t have a problem with this. It actually lead to a few funny moments in this episode, at least to me. I somewhat got a chuckle out Jake being forced to hit Noah with a fan, and I definitely got a chuckle with the “Shut your mouths!” line and the guys quickly having to cover their mouths. I’m probably immature for thinking it was funny, but hey, I’m watching Power Rangers. (I should also note that following the defeat of the MotW, this situation lead to a Gia line where, before Jake starts talking, she tells him maybe he should stay quiet, as girls prefer the “Strong, Silent Type”. I kind of liked this line, and Jake’s reaction to it. Still hoping we have a little bit more character development when it comes to Jake figuring out how to interact with Gia properly, but this was a good little interaction between the two characters, in my opinion.)

Now there is one other thing I’d like to point out, and it’s an issue with Megaforce that I feel shouldn’t be unmentioned. And that’s the problem with Gosei. Gosei, our Zordon of the season, ever since episode two, has felt irrelevant to the show. The guy giving them all these powers and weapons, the guy who’s suppose to be their guide/mentor for the season, feels irrelevant. The best example of this? After breaking free of the spell put on them, Emma is randomly contacted by Gosei saying she’s earned a new card/weapon, and should use the power of friendship to break free of the vines holding her… and then doesn’t talk the rest of the episode. WHY?!?!? Why didn’t Gosei intervene more when Emma and Gia were fighting? Why not give the girls advice about how to take down the monster, or where to go, or something? Gosei should not be feeling irrelevant to the plot. Especially in a season playing tribute to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. I stated previously that if the whole “Gosei is Zordon’s apprentice” line didn’t go anywhere this season, I would not be happy. And that comment still stands. The fact that Gosei has felt so unnecessary to the plot is frustrating, as the writers are once again not handling a mentor character properly. Why is it that Mr. Burley, and even Ernie, have had more significant screen time than Gosei, and even Tensou for that matter? Megaforce is dropping the ball on that also, and I have a feeling I will be pointing that out more in the future.

… Oh and as far as the whole freeing herself from the vines with “The Power of Friendship” thing… that actually doesn’t bother me. But only because I watched and loved Kamen Rider Fourze. You watch enough episodes of that show, and you will never doubt the power of friendship.

Overall, what we have is an episode that, as a whole, is better than each individual part. The opening with Vrak was rather enjoyable and unexpected (and by unexpected, I mean the arrival of the Earth Armor form). The bizarreness of the mind control plot was great to watch, considering the episode knew how absurd it was and just rolled with it. We had a pretty good MotW, and a nice little (unintentional… maybe) reference to Big Bad Beetleborgs. That makes the episode good in my eyes. But what keeps it from being great is what the episode didn’t do. It didn’t give characterization or interaction that our lead females needed. It didn’t win me over and make me like Emma like “Going Viral” did with Noah. Gosei once again feels irrelevant. There was also a problem with Sentai Footage here and there that I didn’t get to mention, as sometimes dialogue and the footage didn’t feel as synced up and in place as past episodes were. But that being said, I liked the episode, and feel that overall, it was the best episode Megaforce has had to offer thus far. It’s just the fact that Megaforce is dropping the ball on a few things that disappoints me.

I give “United We Stand” a 4/5. It’s a good episode, and I wouldn’t mind watching it again. But there are clear issues with Megaforce that need to be fixed. And now that we’re entering the second quarter of Megaforce Season 1, the gloves need to come off. After this episode, I can’t let some of the things slide that I did in the beginning. The actors and writers have had sometime to get used to things and get an idea of how they want to handle things this season. Now is the time to start fixing these problems if Megaforce wants to be remembered as a good season, and not a decent season. It’s certainly not a bad season, but if it wants to stand alongside some of the more well liked seasons of Power Rangers, it needs to start fixing some of its mistakes, and fast.

Thanks for reading my review of “United We Stand”. As per usual, feel free to comment and critique what I’ve written, as I can really use the criticism. Seriously, feel free to speak up. It will make all future reviews better.

Next week, we take a break from introducing new merchandise, and instead take some time to rock out in “Harmony and Dizcord (or Dischord, I’m seeing two different spellings of it from multiple sources. We’ll find out what the correct title is soon.)” It’s a music episode, which will either be horrible, or could be decent like “Heavy Metal” was last year. Or, maybe it could wow everyone and be the best episode of Megaforce so far. Who knows?

Anyway, for all news and reviews on Power Rangers and more, check back here regularly, as well as at my twitter account @TSilentWatcher. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you back here next Sunday!

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One Comment
  1. i like gia and emma best frieds

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