It is time for a new Ranger Review, where a wish falls into the wrong hands and darkness takes over, in Episodes 18, 19 and 20 of Power Rangers Mystic Force, “Dark Wish”.
Dark Wish is a three-part episode story arc in which the Mystic Force Rangers gain their Legend Warrior abilities. With the Rangers battered and tired, after the resurrection of four powerful monsters known as the Barbarian Beasts, the Rangers beg Daggeron to use Jenji to help them win. Near defeat, he reluctantly agrees and Jenji is captured. Imperious uses Jenji to wish away the Power Rangers, converting them to a world with no good magic, overrun by the forces of darkness.
After getting attacked by two of the Barbarian Beasts, Koragg allies with the powerless Rangers to get them to the Tribunal of Magic, where they must plead their case to reverse the wish. With their request denied, the Tribunal sends them back, where they decide to take a stand against the dark army anyway. The Tribunal, recognizing their courage, grants them their powers back, and with it, an upgraded form known as the Legend Warriors. The Rangers, with their new power, defeat the remaining Barbarian Beasts and save the day.
Dark Wish was one of rare three-part episodes seen in Power Rangers, to the point where Toon Disney promoted it as a “movie event” blocking off an hour and a half in the schedule to air it all together, which does enhance the experience. I always find multi-part stories easier to digest together as opposed to apart. The episode itself invokes some pretty strong memories for me, as Mystic Force was the first Power Rangers season I watched live after getting back into the fandom during S.P.D. The excitement was strong for the premier to the point where I headed over to my friend’s to watch it together
The narrative itself is very strong. The physical and mental condition is something that doesn’t get touched upon all too much in Power Rangers. These heroes are fighting day in and day out to save the world, sometimes with a good nights sleep, and sometimes without. On top of that, these are Rangers that were given magical abilities that aid them in everyday life, as seen in the beginning of the episode where they use magic to clean the store, set up for a party, and make food. The Rangers are at their wits end and end up taking the easy way out to keep their sanity.
I understand it is a kids show and the psychological condition of superheroes is probably a topic that very few children even care about, but viewing as an older fan, it’s definitely a bit fascinating. It’s similar to someone that overworks themselves for a job, except their job is risking their lives fighting powerful monsters. These Rangers have been fighting non-stop for six months, leading them to take the “easy way out” with Jenji’s power.
One thing that really sets this saga apart from most singular episodes is that it really did feel like a movie. When the wish is made and the darkness takes over, the color vanishes, turning the world into a black and white dystopian version of itself. The city is in ruins, the people look and dress accordingly, everything about the emotion and feel of these scenes matches the tone of this new world. Even the woods of the magical realm are not colored, until we get to Koragg and Fire Heart later on. The cinematography of these episodes is top notch for Power Rangers.
On their way to the Tribunal of Magic, the Rangers must pass a trial by defeating all the fallen warriors that tried to make it to the Tribunal but failed. Without their powers, this entire several minute fight is all with the Rangers unmorphed, making for a truly spectacular display of flips, rolls, and wire work that Power Rangers is known for. I would go as far as to say this is one of the best “civilian” fights in Power Rangers history. The only major flaw of the scene is the continual jump between whether it is raining or not, presumably being forced upon production due to a tight schedule. It’s pulls you out of the world a bit when Nick, Vida, and the main enemy shots are all in the pouring rain while Chip, Madison, and Xander all fight with no rain and nice powdery sand.
The morphed fight scenes after the Rangers retrieve their powers are just as grand of a scale as the civilian fights previously mentioned, with quite a few scenes being completely new, and not previously used Super Sentai footage.
The Tribunal of Magic is a pretty wonderful concept for the world of Mystic Force. These three entities, for lack of better word, regulate all magic in the world. However, they are all “blind” to whether the magic is light or dark. All the Tribunal does is regulate the flow of magic and ensure that magic in some form exists in the world. The designs of these entities are very simple, just being black, red, and white robe wearing people in spandex morph suits with big tall hats. The element I love most is that the costumes are entirely blank. They have no mouth, no eyes, no emotions of any kind. They truly are blind in the most literal sense of the word.
The villains are also pretty grand in this set of episodes. While Imperious continues to be his backstabbing self, aiming to overthrow the Master and take control of the darkness for himself, he sends Fightoe and Fifty Below, two of the Barbarian Beasts, to take out Koragg, the one most loyal to the Master. Koragg survives the encounter, aided by Phineas, and ultimately ends up allying himself with the Rangers. While he wants the darkness to take over, he does not agree with the way Imperious did it, as it goes against his code of honor. He wishes to help the Rangers get their magic back so he can defeat them fair and square. Being incredibly bitter towards the other villains is pretty strong motivation too.
That’s not to say the episodes aren’t without flaws. At the beginning of the episode, Imperious brings to life four Barbarian Beasts, two of which are quickly decimated by the Rangers. Sure, this sets up the fact that by this point, they’re exhausted after two hard battles, but the pacing of Part 1 is severely rushed, trying to set up the narrative and get the beef of the plot into motion. Part 2 is where the story shined, with a good portion of the best moments being displayed here. Part 3 unfortunately goes back to being quite rushed, with the fight raging on, their powers returning, gaining the Legend Warrior Mode, taking out a Barbarian Beast, one Beast getting used as a sacrifice to power a giant robot, and that robot getting defeated by the debut of the Manticore Megazord. It’s basically back to back to back to back fighting with very little exposition.
When displayed all at one time, the rush jobs of Part 1 and Part 3 are a lot easier to stomach, but are definitely flaws to pay attention to. That doesn’t stop “Dark Wish” from being one of my top Power Rangers multi-partners of all time. The effort, plot, and cinematography displayed were all incredibly impressive knowing Power Ranger’s general budget. Definitely a shining story from the series. Ironic given part of it was in black and white. If you watch any set of episodes from Mystic Force, these are definitely it.
“Dark Wish” is fairly unique in that it has no direct Mahou Sentai Magiranger counterpart. It is, however, a conglomeration of footage from five different Magiranger episodes, these being “Stage 27” to “Stage 31”.
If we hark back to the beginning of “Dark Wish Part 1”, the viewer can notice that Xander was briefly separated from the group after an attack, with Daggeron going to help him while the others transformed into their Titan Forms. This is because “Stage 27”, the episode in which Warmax’s counterpart is defeated, was a Makito (Green) focus episode with Hikaru (Daggeron) assisting him.
Shortly after this was the fight with Shreaker. Here, Chip was absent after taking a beating during the fight with Warmax. He, however, shows up in the nick of time to defeat Shreaker once and for all. This is because “Stage 28” was a Tsubasa-focused episode in which he wasn’t fighting Shreaker’s counterpart at the time.
“Stage 29” was a Houka (Pink) focused episode. The fight scene in this episode between Fight and Fifty Below’s counterparts was used during the scene in which they captured Jenji. It’s worth noting that Smokey (Jenji) was never actually captured in Magiranger.
“Stage 30” was where the bulk of the plot of “Dark Wish” comes from. Here, the siblings go on a quest to find Snowgel, the oldest and strongest Holy Saint, in order to grow their magical strength. Once they find him (in the belly of a whale), they are asked why they need the power. While initially denied because of Snowgel’s fear of them ending up consumed by darkness, Kai (Red) claims he isn’t afraid because they have the light of their courage, shining their rings that once belonged to the Legendary Warriors. Snowgel grants their wish, gaining the power of the Legend Magirangers and saving the day.
“Stage 31” was a fairly unrelated episode that featured the giant robot monster from the end of “Dark Wish Part 3”. Aside from Fightoe’s counterpart getting used as a sacrifice for the robot and the debut of the MagiLegend (Manticore Megazord), nothing else was really used.
The arc essentially being five episodes long in Magiranger explains why, even with a three episode count, elements of “Dark Wish” were rushed. As I noted previously, the beginning and the end were a rush job, where as “Dark Wish Part 2” was mostly adapted from “Stage 30” and only “Stage 30”. I feel as though “Dark Wish” could have benefited from having a little bit more lead in for the Warmax and Shreaker characters, perhaps giving them their own episode before the three-part event, to pad out the narrative a bit more like in Magiranger.
In the next Ranger Review, Koragg’s honor is put on the line once and for all in Episode 21, “Koragg’s Trial”.