Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Power Rangers Samurai Episode Commentary #6

Episode 6: Sticks & Stones
Written by: Jill Donnellan and David Schneider
Directed by: Luke Robinson

Sticks and Stones is an Emily episode and deals with some issues that really hit home. Now I don’t want to sound like a pansy but the story at the core of this episode really speaks to me. The episode kicks off with the Rangers in training once again (except Jayden who is slacking if you ask me). Emily is giving Mike a bit of a pasting and Ji notes she’s pretty good with a sword in her hand (snigger). Emily mentioned back in Origins Part Two that she’s very good at playing the flute (snigger) and she can definetly handle a sword (snigger) so it’s good to see a bit of continuity in the characterisation (although if you watched these in the order they originally aired you’d have seen Origins a lot later). Anyway Emily manages to injure Mike with her big stick (snigger) then tries to repair the damage with frozen peas. Apparently Emily was a bit accident prone as a kid and frozen peas always healed her right up. Unfortunately Emily is still pretty accident prone and it’s not long before she’s lying face down covered in peas. It looks like Emily has some real confidence issues as well as being a disaster area managing to slip on the peas before the credits roll.

Post credits it’s time to meet the monster of the week. This time around Xandred is sending the subtly named Negatron whose words are so powerful that his insults hit so hard it’s like a physical assault. Negatron is probably only a step up from calling him Mr. Negative or Captain Word Hurty. Why is it that all the monsters in Samurai have such obnoxious voices would it kill them to have a more menacing tone and a few less terrible puns?

Back to the Rangers and Emily is still feeling a bit down and manages to cause more havoc by spitting in Mike’s face! Mike’s trying to make her feel better about her accident prone ways. Emily’s feeling envious of Mia because she’s beautiful, she’s graceful, she’s smart and she can cook (apparently no one filled Emily in on this particular running gag). Luckily Mike, being the most human of all the Rangers, is able to make Emily feel a little better about herself. Go Mike!

Negatron has hit the human world and he’s started by taking on the construction worker from the Village People and it’s not long before the people are flying around as easily as his insults. The insults lack the punch of the show’s Japanese counterpart who can forget the poor pervert? Spike and Bulk are also victims of the villain after having a discussion about whether Samurai’s wear boxers or briefs. Maybe I should run a poll to find out what people think… Despite the hints Spike is mercifully wearing some form of underwear. Anyway back to the action. Negatron is a fairly competent villain and the appearance of the blind old man driving his car did make me giggle. I laughed more when he flew out of the car! The Rangers arrive and Mike is quick to point out that talking smack about people isn’t cool. Hopefully we’ve all learned a valuable lesson.  We now get to learn a bit about the Rangers and be a little freaked out by the inside the helmet reaction shots. Apparently Mike’s bike had training wheels until he was ten. Kevin gets off fairly easy by comparison as he’s only called boring (there was a time I could have said much worse). Mia gets told she’s a bad cook and she’s sent flying through the wall. Jayden’s is by far the most interesting revelation even if it is delivered in the most cringe worthy offensively patronising way. Jayden is a liar and has a secret. Now this is perhaps the first really intriguing moment of the series and it will be very interesting to see how it plays out. I guess the biggest problem with a Power Rangers series that basically sticks to the Super Sentai’s storyline there are plenty of people out there in a position to spoil it but on this occasion I’m fairly confident I know Jayden’s secret.

That leaves Emily to take on Negatron alone. Now I don’t normally criticise Power Rangers (okay that’s basically all I do) but this time I really have to say something. I was not impressed here. Not impressed at all. The words Negatron use to harm the Rangers are true and that’s why they hurt so Negatron calling Emily an airhead is a bit grim. Emily isn’t an idiot she blows a mean flute (snigger) and she’s pretty bad ass with the sword and she’s an equally skilled member of the team. This is the 21st century and Emily should be a strong female character goddamnit! I know it’s largely considered a show for boys but we’re supposed to live in an age of equality and the girls should have heroes they can look up to too. Anyway rant over back to the business at hand. A lot of Negtron’s insults are quite offensive but they have no effect on Emily and I’m pretty pleased to see her stand her ground.

Back at the dojo Ji gives us a rather patronising summation of events. Negatron’s a bully don’t you know? It’s sad that the writers feel they have to talk down to children. Not all of them are morons and there’s no crime in adding an extra layer of depth and sophistication to the storylines and dialogue. There are plenty of shows out there that don’t talk down to kids and the current Power Rangers writing staff could learn a lot from them. Anyway I’ll get off my soap box again and get back to the action. Jayden is quick to make Kevin feel better by pretending he isn’t boring. He’s a good Samurai. And I’m not even gonna make a crack about him being a bad actor. I like Kevin now, he’s enthusiastic. We learn Emily was teased as a kid but she learned from her sister how to ignore bullies but Mike is a bit insensitive and upsets Emily. As Mia says the Nighlok can’t hurt her feelings but he can. Self doubt is the in thing this episode as Spike is doubting whether he and Bulk can truly become Samurai warriors. Bulk being the hero he is gives a rousing speech and the two Samurai wannabes head off to take on Negatron themselves.

Here's a pic of lovely Kevin I created myself.
Back with the Rangers and Emily is blowing on her flute again (snigger). Mike tries to make up for upsetting her and through a flash back we learn the back story of Emily’s flute. Emily’s sister played the flute to help take Emily’s mind off her bullies. It’s nice to see a bit of character development and it’s good to learn a bit more about Emily’s past and how she became the Yellow Ranger. It’s a bit cheesy but it is nice that they directly deal with the effects being a Ranger has on the family of those who take on the mantle. Power Rangers isn’t really a deep show but it is nice to get a bit of background on Emily and her sister. I won’t lie Emily’s revelation about how she vowed to be strong for her sister’s sake and then realising she can’t be strong against those that put herself down if she continues to put herself down really moved me.

Negatron’s back and he’s still being a dick. Luckily the Rangers are there to take him down. Unfortunately Kevin gets another dose of his vicious tongue when he’s called Mentor’s pet which is so true. Negatron is only interesting in facing Emily but as they often say it’s Rangers together and if they’re gonna win this one they’ll need to work together. Negatron continues to try and hurt Emily with his words getting close to succeeding by bringing up her sister and saying she’s never be as good as her. But it’s no good and this Nighlok’s days are numbered. Jayden whips out the old fire smasher before combining the disks to finish his first form. And we all know what that means…

Words can never do a zord battle justice but here are a few words that will help you imagine how epic it was. Boom. Bang. Whizz. Whoosh. Krokading. There’s even time for Spike and Bulk to turn up and feel relieved that they don’t have to take care of the super sized Nighlok. We also get to see the newly acquired Beetle zord again and they also manage to fit in a few more lines of cheesy dialogue. Once Negatron kisses existence goodbye we learn that his attacks on Emily were not as ineffective as first assumed. Each verbal assault took its toll on her and she’s in a pretty bad way. The brave girl battled on no matter how much she suffered. What a star. Mike valiantly carries the unconscious Emily home as the Rangers discuss just how awesome she is raising a smile on the now faking Emily. But there’s on ice cream van in town and no one wants to miss out on ice cream and Emily is the first in the queue. Let’s all go and eat ice cream to celebrate another excellent adventure with the Samurai Rangers . Be sure to vote in the boxers or briefs poll and join me here next time for more pointless reviewing.

Next time: Kevin goes fishing in A Fish Out of Water! 

Most pictures from Samurai Power Rangers Gateway which is an awesome site. Image of Kevin created by me using print screen and paint and I did it without any training in computing.

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