14-8: Stranger Within, Part 1

Necrolai embarks upon a scheme to turn some of Briarwood’s teens into vampires- Vida among them.

Last time on Power Rangers: The team got lost in a forest and Phineas helped them out so they could continue their quest for the Fire Heart.

 

V is for Vida and Vampires

There is some irony in the Ranger with a V name being the one turned into a vampire.  But it also has to do with how Vida and Necrolai butted heads last episode- of course the latter would want revenge.  Yet at the same time I’m not sure just how deliberate choosing Vida was.

All right, in this episode it remains plausible that LeeLee is just a spoiled teen.  But- spoilers- her mom is Necrolai although her absent dad was a human.  That makes her effort to get Nick to attend DJ Fly’s event more than a second attempt to get a date, but rather a disproportionate reaction to that first rejection.  Even though hypnotizing music dates back to the sirens, there is a chance Necrolai picked that scenario explicitly to lure in music-loving Vida.  That would make LeeLee’s actions towards Nick a red herring with getting Vida to attend as her actual goal.  On the other hand, I’m not sure how aware LeeLee is of who the Rangers are at this point.

In the background of the episode is that the team is trying to figure out their half of the scroll to the Fire Heart.  Nick in particular is very determined after an unfortunately unseen scolding by Udonna earlier.  In the opening scene Xander grumbles, “When did [Nick] become the Good Witch of Briarwood?”

Normally I’d just accept that as a Wizard of Oz reference but after last episode… Well, let’s just say Jack frequently makes allusions to that film over on SG-1.  Anyway, Vida skips out on the research session to attend the club with LeeLee and a bunch of other teens.  After a call from her mom, the blonde ‘has’ to leave.  It’s at that point the DJ hypnotizes the teens and turns them into vampires.

Until Breaking Dawn

… Look, that series is terrifying but I can’t resist the opportunity for a good pun, okay?  It’s the next night when Vida shows up at Rootcore where the others are still researching.  Koragg telepathically contacts Nick, so the team goes to the woods where they find a bunch of minions.

Not bothering to morph, Vida charges in and manages to defeat them all on her own.  Nick, Xander, and Madison are impressed but Chip is starting to suspect something’s fishy.  Then Koragg shows up, super-sizing himself.  The five morph and go into Titan Mode.  After a bit of fighting, Koragg calls upon Catastros to form the Centaurus Wolf Megazord.

Before the team can create the Dragon Formation, dawn breaks which causes Vida to collapse.  She reverts to her unmorphed state, confused.  The other Titans turn to look down at her, worried.  Annoyed by his foes leaving themselves so vulnerable to attack, Koragg leaves after a single magic blast at Xander out of frustration by.  Morticon and Necrolai are both shown later believing that Koragg’s code of honor is stupid.

Nerdy Chip

Xander and Nick do check with LeeLee about the club, but the blonde can truthfully state that Vida was fine when she left.  When the twins come in, Vida looks ashen and is wearing sunglasses.  I think that’s the only bit when she looks even remotely pale.  I’m not sure if that was to underscore how damaging sunlight is to her or if this scene was done early before they realized how ‘off’ Vida looked in that makeup (not to mention the implications of the Latina turning ‘pale’ as a result of being, well, turned into a vampire).

It’s around this time that Chip starts to put together the evidence that Vida is a vampire.  Apparently he belongs to a club devoted to finding and stopping vampires.  Vida shows up late to the next Rootcore study session, feeling better after a twenty-two hour nap.

Madison takes a quick video of her twin, but then Chip lists off his evidence as well as gets Vida to be grossed out by a drink of tomato juice.  Laughing it off, the other three leave.  Slipping in vampire mode (AKA red irises and pointy canines), she tries to attack the redhead but he’s armed with a garlic clove.

The duo sits on a porch swing on a balcony of Rootcore, with Chip occasionally needing his garlic clove to fend off Vida.  Apparently as time goes on Vida is less and less likely to resist her vampiric urges such as blood drinking.  The Pink Ranger wants to get more data on DJ Fly before talking to the others.

8AtTheClub

When they attend the gig, all the teens seemingly are entranced by the monster’s music.  DJ Fly, aka Fly Trap, uses vines to turn all the other teens into vampires.  Necrolai shows up to do Chip herself, stating, “welcome to the dark side”.  But the Yellow Ranger had been genre savvy and wore ear plugs to prevent the music from working on him.

Necrolai isn’t affected by garlic so Chip morphs.  During the battle, he takes a blast aimed at the entranced Vida.  Necrolai sends out the teens to damage Briarwood and then turn to dust when dawn’s light hits them.  Um… did the other teens get dusted already?  Or was Vida the sole target the other time?  But it looked like the other attendees at that first gig were enchanted too… well, this just got dark.

Once they’re alone in the club, Vida becomes as normal as she can be under the circumstances and therefore goes to her best friend.  Chip recounts how often Vida defended him for wearing a superhero costume every day, even to prom, and therefore wants to be just as there for her as she was for him.

It’s Fly Trap

Back at Rootcore, the other three are at a loss where Chip and Vida went.  Udonna comes over to check on their progress.  When she hears of Chip’s theory, she points out there’s a lot of strange but true things that happen.  I’m a bit surprised she didn’t point out that one of their main foes is the Queen of Vampires.  Anyway, Madison puts up the video she earlier took of Vida- although her twin showed up on the camcorder bit (the viewer?  I don’t know) she doesn’t show up in the recorded footage.

Once together, the five morph to take on Fly Trap.  Understandably, Vida takes the lead in fighting the monster.  Fly Trap, when weakened, super-sizes.  Ergo, the team creates the Titan Megazord as dawn starts to break.  Luckily, they destroy the monster just in time to revert the teens to normal.

8CivilianAttire

In their civilian attire the five watch from above, pleased with their victory.  I want that hoodie Chip wore this episode.  Presumably the next day at the Rock Porium, Vida and LeeLee are dancing to some music.  Chip is trying to convince Nick to join his vampire detecting club with little success.  Getting out his ‘vampire chalk’ that stops vampires from crossing its lines, Chip draws a circle around Vida.  LeeLee gets out of the way, claiming she doesn’t want the chalk dust on her boots.  That’s believable enough, given her established personality.  However, Vida then can’t cross the chalk line and goes back to the ‘red irises and pointy canines’ look.

Conclusion

This first half of the two-parter set up a good chunk of the show’s vampire mythology: stronger at night and some can’t survive any sunlight, an aversion to garlic, red irises, pointy canines.  While in hindsight it’s clear LeeLee has some kind of in with the vampires, here it’s still plausible that she’s not involved with the magical antics going on.

Vida’s love of music was used against her, but Chip’s genre savvy kept him on top of matters.  The episode focused primarily on their bond, with the other Rangers in the background.  I like how there were subtle clues that Vida hadn’t been turned by DJ Fly, the most obvious being Necrolai’s comment on wanting to turn fellow Ranger Chip.  But she could survive sunlight even if it weakened her and it looks like she’s stronger than an average vampire.

Koragg is still communicating with Nick telepathically; I have to wonder why he’s continued to do so.  Maybe out of boredom?  He certainly dislikes his supposed allies Morticon and Necrolai.  I have to admit, his miffed attitude when the Rangers ignore him in favor of fretting over Vida was the lightest moment of the episode.  It was like “sure I don’t seriously attack non-defending enemies but you guys really ought be taking this more seriously”.

I’m now done with Disc 1, and therefore am twenty-five percent through this season already.

Next time on Power Rangers: Chip must find a way to turn Vida human again.

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