It is time for a new Ranger Review, where vanity is the least of your worries, in Episode 10 of Power Rangers Mystic Force, “Petrified Xander”.
“Petrified Xander” is, as the name suggests, an episode that once again focuses on everyone’s favorite vein Australian, Xander. Despite having learned to trust his friends in “Whispering Voices” and when to follow in “Fire Heart”, Xander still has quite the ego. When a monster-sized zit appears on his nose, Xander uses one of Clare’s “perfection potions” to make his face beautiful again. After securing the chest containing the Fire Heart, Xander learns the potion slowly turns him into a tree! When Clare learns the potion killed her plants, Vida and Clare must quickly get an antidote to Xander before it is too late. Quite the jam-packed episode.
Early in the episode, while Xander is analyzing his zit in the mirror, Chip realizes that the map to the Fire Heart is symmetrical, and the outline creates something that looks like a mountain local to Briarwood. The team splits up to track it down, with Xander and Vida ultimately finding the cave, defeating a random monster, and obtaining the chest, which is one big puzzle. Chip, being unable to figure it out, recommends they go to Toby to figure it out.
At the very beginning of the episode, Toby boasts about how he figured out this newest, difficult puzzle, claiming to be a master puzzle solver. The Rangers, having taken the chest to Toby, must rely on him to solve the puzzle as the counter ticks down to zero. Toby, played by Barnie Duncan, is an extremely fun character to watch. He’s sarcastic, witty, energetic, and someone that would just be great to have as a boss. It’s rare that we get nice little peeks into these side-characters, so it was terrific to learn a little more about Toby, and watch him in action. Without Toby, Fire Heart would have been lost!
Additional side-characters, LeeLee and Phineas, both had small rolls in the episode. LeeLee used her spy skills to good use, overhearing Chip mention how to figure out the map of the Fire Heart. She quickly retreated back to the Underworld to tell Necrolai. Phineas did what Phineas always does, help people. Phineas took Xander under his wing when he returns to the forest in his best Groot cosplay. Phineas takes him home and attempts to prepare dinner, only to assume that Xander turned into one of his nearby trees while he was away. While neither were as important as Toby’s roll in the episode, it was great to see both characters continuing their roles.
Jumping back to Xander, for a season that many fans boast about being entirely focused on Nick, Xander has gotten a lot of characterization of being so early in the show still. Xander, in such a haste to rid his face of the evil zit, ultimately puts himself in a situation where he was, technically, slowly dying. Seeing him slowly go through the stages of grief of his situation was really well done by Xander’s actor, Richard Brancatisano, and a great step for the character in general. In ten episodes, Xander has overcome his quick judgement of character, his overzealous personality, and now his vanity issues. The character has come quite a long way in such a short time.
This episode marks the first appearance of the Mystic Force Fighters. After accepting the error in his vain ways, Xander initially earns the spell code, “Neramax Tryn Unios” that gives him a set of boxing glove-like weapons on his hands. After using them to defeat the skeleton monster, the Spell Code opens up to all five Rangers to use under the spell “Tryn Tryn Ranger” instead, for whatever mystical “Sentai footage” reason. This episode also marks the capture of the Fire Heart, which turns out to be the last dragon egg in the forest. Fire Heart’s journey is certainly just beginning however.
“Petrified Xander” is an episode that, on paper, seems like a classic Power Rangers filler that could be easily skipped. However, with the obtainment of Fire Heart, the debut of the Mystic Force Fighters, to wonderful characterization between Xander and Toby, “Petrified Xander” is a Mystic Force episode that shouldn’t be missed.
“Petrified Xander” is a unique episode in that it actually has no direct Sentai counterpart whatsoever! The plot of the episode is completely original to the series, and the episode itself uses very little Sentai footage at all. In fact the episode is one of the few Power Rangers single story episodes that features no Zord fighting whatsoever.
You might be thinking, “But, surely, the Mystic Force Fighters scene was from Sentai!” Well, no. The Mystic Force Fighters, called the MagiPunch in Magiranger, debuted in “Stage 14”, used by Kai, MagiRed. “Stage 14” featured a boxing-themed monster that injured Tsubasa (Yellow), who would actually box. Injured, Tsubasa must teach Kai how to box in order to defeat the monster. The catch is, they were fighting a completely different monster than the one Xander fought. In fact, they were fighting the monster that Vida and Xander fought in the cave they found the treasure chest in.
The monster that Xander fought actually came from “Stage 15”, which featured the monster casting a mysterious curse on people that causes them to disappear over time. Houka (Pink), wanting to make her friend’s last day the best, decides to marry him while trying to hunt the monster. Makito (Green) is outraged and refuses to have anything to do with her. He eventually realizes the error of his ways and Houka’s plan, and tries to defeat the monster on his own. The rest of the siblings show up to help him. It’s worth noting that earlier in this episode, Houka used the MagiPunch. Makito never actually uses them in “Stage 15”, or at all throughout the course of Magiranger.
So, while we took some fight footage from “Stage 15” for Xander and the monster’s fight, the entirety of Xander using the Mystic Force Fighters was unique to Mystic Force. Given the fact that Magiranger had footage of nearly every character using the MagiPunch EXCEPT Green, the fact that Xander got to debut them in Mystic Force was really unexpected to see.
As I’ve mentioned before throughout the Ranger Review series, I absolutely love when Power Rangers makes an episode their own. This episode is a great display of that. The plot was original, they debuted the new weapon in a completely original way, completely ignoring any order or plot that the source footage had. It would have been really easy to simply make this episode focused on Nick learning something to protect Chip. But instead, they added even more character to Xander while making the show their own.
In the next Weekly Ranger Review, Clare must confront her heritage and destiny, in Episodes 11 and 12, “The Gatekeeper”.