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Power Rangers Megaforce Episode Review: “Harmony and Dizchord”

March 10, 2013

Give me the beat boys, and free my soul…
(Screencaps provided by @Rangercrew/Megaforcecast.com)

It’s time to start the second quarter of the first season of Megaforce. We’re almost at the end of the first major arc of the season, and the writers and actors have had time to see what works and what doesn’t. The time to give free passes is over, and it is time for everyone to step up their game.

Clearly, Megaforce has shown that it has learned from the mistakes of Samurai/Super Samurai, and won’t fall into any of the extremely obvious issues that happened last season…

… Right?

… Well, that depends. There’s quite a few things to discuss with this week’s episode. Some of it is good… and some of it is frustrating. Let’s take a look at just what happened with this episode…

Emma (Oh, and Troy is there too for some reason.):

So, oddly enough in an episode like this, Emma received a little bit more backstory. Apparently she also likes to sing in her spare time. And although the episode never outright stated (or made it pretty clear), it helps her have a connection to her mother since she’s apparently dead. Or is no longer around. Regardless, it helps flesh out Emma a little more, which is fine by me. I wish we could have had something like this with Emma last episode, but it’s still early enough to correct that mistake. We also get to hear her sing twice in the episode, which apparently has some people in the fandom are questioning whether or not it is actually her singing, since her singing voice and normal voice are a bit different. Personally, I don’t really care. I questioned last year whether or not Mia was actually singing in “Heavy Metal”, but went along with it anyway. Point is, the singing was good, and hit home the point that Emma could sing well. I honestly didn’t hear that big a difference between the two voices (either that, or I’m tone-deaf like Mr. Burley…), so it doesn’t really matter to me. Emma (the character) can sing well. Moving on.

The unfortunate problem (one of many this episode has…) is that they set up character development for Emma (And Troy for that matter, as he was the one that found Emma in the woods), and they proceed to drop it for the rest of the episode. We have Emma tell Troy about how her hobby helps her feel close to her mother, and then Troy and Emma don’t hang out on their own again for the rest of the episode (Besides when he ran to get Emma over to the “concert” area. That doesn’t count. And we’ll get to that stupid plot resolution in a moment…)

It has become clear that while Megaforce is doing a fantastic job of setting up characters from the start (except with Troy…), it’s having an issue moving forward with character development. I’m glad that we know a tiny bit more about Emma. That’s fantastic, and it makes her more likable. But why stop there? I’m not even asking for some massive, season long character arc for the character. Noah had an episode where he questioned whether he was worthy to be a power ranger, and thought that maybe he needed to be a little bit stronger physically. And by the end of the episode, he learned that he just needed to be more confident in himself, because sometimes a strong will (at least in the Power Rangers Universe) is all you need to get the job done. Simple character arc that lasts an episode, helps develop Noah a bit, and makes us more interested in what happens to him throughout the season. Why couldn’t they do that with Emma this episode? There wasn’t any new zord to introduce this time around, or any significant plot points to move along “the story”. This was a perfect opportunity to give Emma a character focus episode and the ball was dropped. Not to mention, another opportunity to finally give Troy some backstory/depth was once again not taken.

It’s such a shame too, because I didn’t really have any issues with any of the actors this episode. Yes, Troy is still the weakest of the group. I think at this point, that isn’t going to change anytime soon (at least for this season). But I wasn’t frustrated with his acting at any time. His ADR has been slowly improving, as has Emma’s. Again, the bulk of the problem lies with the writers. Troy could probably be more likable to the audience if given a little more depth. Like his mysterious past that was brought up by Gosei in episode 1 and never addressed again. Or, forget about the tragic past a focus on him being a loner with martial arts training, and use character focus episodes where has one-on-one time with each character, and learns to be a better leader/friend through learning about them/giving advice. Again, it’s just a shame that the writers keep giving these little nuggets here and there that make you think we’re getting character development, and then nothing happens. The Noah treatment needs to happen with the other rangers. There’s no excuse for this at this point.

The Villains:

This was another case of the episode’s few good moments, that were ruined due to something else. (Although in this case, it was the production/editing team’s fault, but we’ll get to that in a moment.) While it is true that this year’s villain team isn’t the best in PR history (and could use a little more time interacting with the rangers/backstory), I have found some positives with this year’s villains. I like the parallels between Creepox and Vrak, something that has been silently leading up to the events of next week’s episode. Creepox and Vrak have been established as villains with two different mindsets. Vrak prefers to come up with plans that don’t just rely on the monster being 10 times more powerful than the rangers/a direct attack on the city. He prefers to come up with strategies to ensure their victory or help observe the enemy to figure out potential weaknesses that he can use against the rangers. (Plus, his VA is awesome and for the most part has had pretty good dialogue, hence why I like him so much.) While Creepox’s methodology is best described by something he said in episode 4. Strike fast and Strike hard. He doesn’t want to play games and drag out a conflict that could very easily be dealt with in a short amount of time. I think Admiral Malkor (the only villain who really hasn’t done anything) said it best this episode in one scene where he wanted Vrak to stay by the MotW and assist him. “Dizchord’s (MotW) act needs to be reined in reasoning, not force. If he needs a thumping, I’ll send you. But for now I’m sending Vrak.” Creepox doesn’t like to play games and just get the job done quickly, while Vrak likes to find more creative ways to defeat his enemies and take over the world. The final scene with the Warstar in this episode did a good job setting up for the final episode of the first story arc this season, as Creepox is clearly frustrated that he can’t just go finish off the rangers himself like he wants to, while Vrak is frustrated that the Admiral is looking down on his intellect and his ability to get the job done. We’ll see whether or not the next episode picks up right where this left off, but they’ve made it clear that all three of them are getting fed up with the other two villains’ way of taking on the Power Rangers.

And now it’s time to address the big issues this episode had. Although this episode had some nice moments with the characters here and there (Including a nice little scene with Burley that I liked, and a scene with Ernie that I thought was pushing the running gag that all adults in Megaforce like terrible music), this episode suffered from two serious issues that Samurai/Super Samurai had. One that at this point in the season (after two years of dealing with it) is unacceptable.

Matching sentai footage with the right ADR:

If there was one major issue that sealed the fate of this episode, it was the fact that either the writers or whoever was selecting the right footage for each episode were really lazy this week. Remember when I said the villain scenes had a case of having good moments that were screwed up by something else? Take a look at every scene where the three Warstar members are on the ship this episode. The MotW introduction scene had Admiral Malkor saying he didn’t like Dizchord’s music… while clapping along to it and appearing to be enjoying it. Or the second scene, which was clearly from the last episode where the villains are frustrated with the fact that the last MotW was destroyed. The entire time Malkor was shown to be furious with what he was seeing, while his dialogue and voice didn’t go with his facial expression/body language. Or the final scene, where there were times on-screen where it looked like Creepox or Vrak were talking, but you clearly heard Admiral Malkor talking. Either someone was too lazy to come up with better dialogue to match the scene/find better Goseiger footage for that particular dialogue, or this is an example of why Saban needs to be more willing to film original footage of the villains in their base. Either way, considering how up to now Megaforce was doing a wonderful job of getting sentai footage to work for them, this is unacceptable. I believe we had a few more awkward moments with the sentai footage and what was being said in the episode (Like when the other rangers were congratulating Troy and Emma on disabling Dizchord’s broadcast machine.), and this problem needs to stop. This is unacceptable not only for Power Rangers, but for any show. If what you are seeing on-screen is not working with what you hear, that is a serious problem. Which is a shame, because when it came to writing dialogue (for the most part) during the sentai footage scenes, they actually did a pretty decent job.  (That decomposing line was brilliant).

Using the same plot from Goseiger… but not adapting it correctly:

And then we had the other unforgivable problem with this episode. It copied the plot of the Goseiger episode it was adapting… and didn’t adapt it right. Essentially, it suffered from Samurai Thinking. They waved off Troy and Emma being hurt more by Dizchord’s music as being close by when he first started his attack, unlike the other rangers. But they never explained why Emma’s singing apparently has the power to not only block Dizchord’s music, but destroy his machine (As well as make flowers on trees’ bloom.) Or the addition of Goseiger’s “let’s show terrible stereotypes of people around the world suffering from Dizchord’s music”… some of which they reused from Goseiger, and some I’m pretty sure they filmed themselves. This was an episode that could have used a much more original plot resolution and new footage to make it work. Like say… making it a character focus episode for Emma where she gets development. (Seriously, we had an episode that didn’t introduce any new toys. Why were the writers not taking advantage of an episode like this and making it more creative? Like say… “Heavy Metal” did…)

They just barely got away with an explanation for why Vrak wasn’t using the Earth Armor from last week because of one line Vrak made about this armor (Which I’m calling his Royal Armor) preventing Dizchord’s sound waves from hurting him. But we still didn’t have any acknowledgement from the rangers or anyone that he had a different look from when they first met, which I’m disappointed about. Especially from Noah, who was the one who realized Vrak looked different from all of the other Warstar aliens.

Point is, the writers were not doing their job this episode. I hate to make the comparison, but they made the same mistakes that “Trickster Treat” had, and episode I’ve made clear that I loathe. The fact that I’m comparing this episode to a Samurai episode, let alone the worst Samurai episodes ever is NOT a good thing.

Final Thoughts:

I was torn when it came to what score I should give this episode. It clearly didn’t deserve a 4 or a 5 due to the excusable mistakes it made. But what really frustrated me was there were somethings about the episode I liked. If I were to just have the audio playing during the villain scenes, I would have had no issue at all with the Warstar ship moments (other than the usual criticism that Admrial Malkor needs to start doing more on the show.) The first third of the episode I thought was ok. Dizchord wasn’t the worst MotW we’ve had, and I actually somewhat liked him. Vrak was able to really shine in this episode, which is always a plus for me. And I kind of liked that little moment with Mr. Burley enjoying/dancing to Dizchord’s music. Plus, I had no major issues with the actors this week (although we still had the same actors come off as worse than the others).

But then you had all the other issues this episode had. The lazy matching of dialogue with sentai footage. Copying a Goseiger episode plot without properly adapting some parts of it. Dropping the ball on potential character development for Emma, and actually establishing some backstory/personality for Troy. And despite everything I liked about the episode, how on earth could I give it a good score when mistakes like these are being made?

It was a toss-up between giving it a 3/5 for what worked, and a 2/5 for what didn’t work. But the fact that we’re past the grace period means I’m no longer going to be as forgiving as I was the first five episodes. Especially when it comes to important things like not properly developing/use characters in the show. Emma and Troy’s characters need to be handled better. Admiral Malkor is the only villain who hasn’t confronted the rangers or showed any form of personality when next week is the final episode of the first story arc. Gosei and Tensou continue to be irrelevant to the show, which is truly frustrating considering not only is a Mentor character not being used properly again, but they brought up a plot point about Gosei being Zordon’s apprentice and refuse to do anything with it.

I’m giving this episode a 2/5. Its only saving grace are the small little nuggets of backstory for Emma, having Vrak shine in this episode, and a nice set up at the end of the episode for the conclusion of the first story arc (providing they pick up where they left off next episode). Plus, it had Mr. Burley, who we need to see more of.

Megaforce better shape up next episode. I want to see some sort of backstory or something that will make me interested in Troy’s character. I want them to properly use footage and be creative. Episodes like these shouldn’t be happening anymore. That’s Samurai quality, and for a season that had plenty of time to be worked on, (also putting aside that this is an anniversary season, which should by definition be having as much effort put into it as possible…) this should no longer be happening. I want to see these mistakes fixed next episode. This is no longer tolerable.

Thanks for reading my review of “Harmony and Dizchord”! Please feel free to comment or critique the review, as it helps me provide better reviews in the future.

Next Week, we conclude the first story arc of Megaforce with the episode “Who’s Crying Now?”. After that, we’ll take a one week break before we start the next storyline that will hopefully shake things up in a good way. Fingers crossed.

As per usual, for more news and reviews on the latest on Power Rangers and other Toku shows, check back here regularly or at my twitter feed @TSilentWatcher. Thanks again, and see you next week!

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