Weekly Ranger Review: Mystic Force Episode 08 & 09, “Stranger Within”
It is time for a new Ranger Review, where dark magic can corrupt even the best of friends in Episodes 08 and 09 of Power Rangers Mystic Force, “Stranger Within”.
“Stranger Within” is a two part episode focusing on the friendship between Vida and Chip. Within the episode, Vida ignores her duties to go with LeeLee to see a new DJ in town. Unbeknownst to her, the DJ is actually an Underworld Monster that turns those attending into vampires. It is now up to Chip and the rest of the Rangers to save their friend from Necrolai’s spell before it’s too late.
It was mentioned a few times in previous episodes that Chip and Vida have a long history together. To what extent has never really been known until this episode sheds a little bit of light on their past. It is mentioned that Vida would often stand up for Chip in school, as he would often get bullied for wearing superhero costumes to school. With a theme like fighting for your friends, one could easily argue that having Madison in Chip’s role in this episode would have been more sentimental. While Madison did have plenty of emotional scenes within the two episodes, she and the others played a back seat role compared to Chip’s hands-on approach. Despite this, I think the angle played out in the episode ultimately helped strengthen the narrative by putting the focus on Chip saving his life-long friend.
Despite being two episodes long, the episodes didn’t accomplish a whole lot when it comes to the grand scheme of things. As mentioned, the episodes strengthened the characterization of Chip and Vida. Chip was always displayed as an adventurous, loyal character, and this episode enforces that. He was willing to put anything and everything on the line to save Vida. Additionally, we saw a number of selfless acts from Vida, who basically told Chip to sacrifice her if it meant saving the day. Considering both Chip and Vida were the first to go with Nick to help the old man back in “Broken Spell”, it’s great to see both characters continue to show their dedication and bravery.
Another reveal in the two episodes arrived at the very end of “Stranger Within II”, where it is revealed that LeeLee is actually Necrolai’s daughter, and thus “Princess of the Vampires”. LeeLee is a character that has gotten very little screen time, but over the course of the past nine episodes, the hints were certainly there. LeeLee was the instigator over Nick’s ousting during “Whispering Voices”. In this episode alone, she was the one that convinced Vida to go to the DJ Fly show, though she was trying to get Nick to go initially. To wrap things up, she quickly moved away from Chip while he was drawing the circle with “vampire” chalk, since she would have been caught too. While her actions could easily have been played off as selfish acts, the fact that it lead up to an actual reveal with plot substance is fantastic to see.
Unfortunately, the episode didn’t quite hit the mark. For taking two episode slots, the character development, while great to see, was only minor. With some condensing, the plot could have fit in one episode slot and delivered the same message with the same reveals. While I ultimately enjoyed the two episodes together, there’s no denying that it is weak as far as two-part episodes are concerned.
“Stranger Within” is an adaptation of Magiranger’s “Stage 11” and “Stage 12”. Though calling it an adaptation would be very polite. “Stranger Within” hits Power Rangers Samurai levels of cut and paste.
“Stage 11” and “Stage 12” features Houka (Pink) attending a concert for a duo called Bloody Friday Nightmare, which turns out to be Nai and Mea performing. Their song lures those attending into a trance, and they are turned into a vampire from the Infershian monster. The next morning, she is scolded by Makito (Green) for skipping their lessons. During a night attack by Infershia, Houka handles it all by herself, but grows weak come sunrise. Tsubasa (Yellow), using his knowledge of the supernatural, finds out she has somehow turned into a vampire. When defeating the monster doesn’t free Houka from her spell, Tsubasa must craft the Crystallization Dawn to defeat Vancuria (Necrolai) and undo the spell for good. After throwing her signature pose, Tsubasa realizes that Houka has been freed from the spell, and Vancuria is defeated.
Sound familiar? It should. Nearly every element of ‘Stranger Within” was pulled from these two episodes. There were very few elements that were actually unique to Mystic Force. The props and techniques used in Chip’s Count-V Survival Kit were a tad different than Tsubasa’s arsenal. Obviously, any scenes involving LeeLee were original alterations from Magiranger’s plot, but the core of each group of episodes mirrors one another.
The act of copying and pasting a Sentai plot is never necessarily a bad thing for Power Rangers. However, with no pivotal moments in the Magiranger episode, it is hard to see why this two-parter was picked to hit the adaptation room. While I enjoy what we got, the episode would have been more impactful with Madison at the helm, but Chip was tossed into the role simply because Tsubasa was in the source footage. While the Mystic Force writers spun it in their favor by giving all the characters a long history together, the entire act is still questionable. This is a case where one “version” can’t be better than the other, because at the end of the day, I watched the same thing twice.
In the next Weekly Ranger Review, one must learn that vanity isn’t what is most important, in Episode 10, “Petrified Xander”.