9-12: Worlds Apart

Mister Collins has a new defense group for Silver Hills’ wealthy; one of its members is Wes’ prep school friend Eric Myers.  Neither understands Wes’ intentions.

Last time on Power Rangers: Trip tried to change himself in an effort to be better, only to learn he was great the way he is.

 

Dealing with Disappointment

Jen is using a hologram of the battle against Electropede to lecture Wes, Katie, and Lucas.  The trio is sneaking bites of popcorn when the brunette isn’t looking by passing the bowl behind them.  Just as she smells the snack and gets upset, a happy Trip comes in to announce that somebody wants to hire them to pick up trash.  When the others would rather do that than be lectured, Jen gives in.  It’s a nice bit of continuity that Trip didn’t have to attend the lecture since his contributions saved the day.

However, Lucas ends up annoyed as they pick up trash in a park, the group clad in their white work jumpsuits.  While being driven in his limo, Mister Collins spots Wes so he ends his phone call (on his early 00s cell phone) and has the driver pull over.  Clearly unhappy, Wes still goes over to say “Hi, Dad”.  Trip gets offended on his friend’s behalf, but Mister Collins expresses his disappointment in his son before having the driver resume the trip.

In their black cars, the Silver Guardians pull up to stop Nadira and Cyclobots from succeeding in the villains’ latest robbery.  There are laser bullets used in their guns and portable cannons instead of ‘real’ ones.  Hearing the battle in the distance, the team decides to go find out what’s going on.

Upon reaching the face off, Jen wants to wait and see what happens.  Laser bullets take out most of the minions, impressing her.  Nadira and the remaining Cyclobots teleport away when she spots the nearby team.  The businessman is very grateful towards the Silver Guardians (as the felled Cyclobots dropped their stolen goods) and most of them make to leave.

One of them walks over to the quintet, removing his sunglasses.  Recognizing him, Wes wants to shake hands but the other guy doesn’t react.  Cynical and dismissive of what Wes is up to, he then leaves.  A hurt Wes clarifies to the others that he and Eric went to prep school together.

Having returned to the clock tower, Lucas and Katie are cranky about the Silver Guardians.  The hologram device shows Mister Collins’ news conference on the Silver Guardians, who are paid protectors.  Initially a bit confused, Wes decides that his father has joined the defense industry to make money.  Furthermore, Wes feels that he was just another “business venture” to him.

There’s a flashback to Wes and Eric training in their black belt karate class together (they used the same actors instead of teens… unless this prep school was more of a college…?).  Always driven to prove himself, Eric ended up quitting the school because he had “bigger plans” than going there.  There’s a subtext that’s not quite spelled out that Eric was a scholarship student of some kind instead of the “lazy rich kids” (his words), which highlights both Eric’s work ethic and feeling of exclusion.  Wes reveals that was the last he’d seen/heard of Eric until today.

Lucas tries to be hopeful that the Silver Guardians will be useful allies against Ransik and his forces.  Wes predicts that they’ll get in over their heads (interestingly, he’s almost channeling the more pragmatic and cynical perspective of his father and Eric here, possibly as a deliberate not-so-different moment).

In a large room, Mister does a rallying speech to the gathered Silver Guardians.  Eric meets with him in the lobby afterwards, bringing up that he saw Wes and offers to reconnect the duo.  But Mister Collins doesn’t want Wes found (in part because he already has a general idea of where he is).

Unimpressed, Eric has a voiceover of his incomprehension of Wes not taking advantage of “his breaks”.  He flashbacks to Wes refusing an invite to a party that Eric was excluded from (presumably due to him lacking the ‘right’ connections).  Eric can’t understand his former friend’s altruistic nature as he goes to train at the laser gun range.

Under Attack, Under the Mask

Frax has a green-hued hologram of Silver Hills and wants to prove that robots are superior.  Is the hologram’s color a sort-of subtle acknowledgement of Frax’ envy and jealousy?  Well, any subtlety is lost as Frax does an info-dump on the X-Vault as he goes to it.  I really, really want it to be a deliberate reference that the X-Vault was used in the same episode that Eric was introduced.

Circuit alerts the team that a new mutant is attacking the city plaza.  The Silver Guardians also get alerted to the attack and go into action.

The morphed quintet are fighting Cyclobots and it seems that Trip has a super speed mode.  I don’t understand and I have little faith that it’ll ever be explained.  Univolt and more Cyclobots show up; Circuit warns them that he’s from the X-Vault.  It turns out that Univolt has powerful blasters.

The Silver Guardians are approaching in their cars, alarms blaring, when Cyclobots blast at the cars, battering some of them.  Commander Porter gives orders and they set up to attack.  The minions move in a strangely silly manner before the portable cannons are used on them.

Wes and Jen are worried about the Silver Guardians.  It turns out they ought to also be worried about themselves and their teammates, as Univolt batters some.

Mister Collins shows up in his car, apparently displeased by the Rangers’ presence.

Univolt taunts Wes after tossing him aside.  The Silver Guardians form a line before Wes and are ready to fire on the mutant.  Wes tries to warn them to no effect, and everybody gets battered.  However, Wes intercepts a powerful blast meant for the injured Commander Porter (who was trying to fire again despite his injury).

His teammates are worried as Wes falls fall down.  While battered, the Silver Guardians are still alive nearby.  No blood is visible because this is a G-rated show.  Eric props himself up.  Wes’ visor is cracked and thus both Eric and Mister Collins recognize him, the latter getting out of his car at once.  Jen and Lucas attack Univolt.  Eric tries to go after Wes to no avail due to his injuries, but Mister Collins manages to intercept to his son.

12ericmistercollins

Wes is upset at his father and points out that the future planned out was for Mister Collins, not Wes himself.  Wanting to control his own future, Wes starts to walk off.  When Mister Collins gets angry, Eric tells Wes to listen to his father but the blond keeps going.  I have to wonder if Eric is somewhat jealous that Mister Collins is at least trying to be involved in his son’s life, depending on what his home life was like.  His bio in the booklet reveals that Eric has no family, which supports that theory.  Therefore, Eric likely doesn’t get that an overbearing father is in some ways just as bad as an absent one.

In a nearby location, Univolt is battering the quartet when Wes shows up.  His voiceover reveals that while he doesn’t regret his choices he still wants his father to be proud of him.  That’s heartbreaking.  In any case, Wes manages to weaken the mutant.  The team’s Vortex Blaster is used to shrink down the mutant.  Wes contains him and hands it over to Trip to put away.

Mister Collins and Eric both show up, but Wes walks off silently.  His teammates give Wes kudos and they happily walk off together.  The other duo is quiet.

Their Own Paths

Frax is gloating over the X-Vault when he overhears Nadira being baffled and Ransik wanting to know where the latest mutant came from.  Hastily the golden robot hides the key before they enter the main room.  Ransik is grumpy while Frax feigns (or actually is?) skittishness.  Although Nadira is initially suspicious of him, Frax claims that he’s “programmed” not to think for himself.  Laughing, the duo leaves.  Even though his plan to deflect worked, Frax is still angry by just how easily it did so (as it showcased just how dismissive mutants are of robots).

The team is raking leaves in their white jumpsuits in a park.  Trip gets awkward… and then the why is revealed, because Mister Collins shows up, wanting to speak with “Wesley” alone.  Uneasily, the blond walks over.  Evidently Commander Porter’s injuries were still severe enough that a position has opened up.  Wes refuses the position because he wants to help everybody, not just the wealthy.

“Wesley, I try, but I just don’t understand you,” Mister Collins confesses.

“I hope someday you will.”  The two men walk off in opposite directions.  It’s heartbreaking- both of them clearly want to reconnect and bond, but they have no idea how to bridge the difference in their ideals and perspectives at this point.  The fact that Mister Collins actually got out of the car to talk to Wes this time indicates that despite them being unaware of it, things are already improving between them.

Conclusion

This was spectacular: Eric Myers has arrived!  I did watch some Time Force and Wild Force VHSs as a teen, so I’m aware of how awesome he is (I can’t WAIT to re-watch the “Reinforcements from the Future” two-parter) as well as some general greatness of the tenth season.  I’m aware that many fans aren’t keen on it… but I love Taylor and the other Rangers aren’t shabby.  I have a soft spot for the twice-shy mutual pining going on between Princess Shayla and Merrick as well.  Besides, I survived Operation Overdrive so it can’t be that bad.

The episode’s focus was largely on the dynamic between Wes and his father as well as Wes and Eric.  Amusingly enough, Mister Collins and Eric have a lot in common, which might have been a subconscious reason for Wes to make friends with Eric (as well as out of kindness due to Eric’s outsider status).  Neither man understands Wes, but Mister Collins at least respects him after learning that Wes is being the Red Ranger and not just picking up trash.  Possibly Eric will as well.

Just as Eric doesn’t get Wes’ altruism, Wes doesn’t understand how his own privilege and apparent ‘wasting’ of it angers Eric, who had to pull himself up to where he is.  I have to wonder if Mister Collins similarly pulled himself up through the ranks to his current wealth- that’d explain both his drive and why Eric seems to respect him instead of scorning him as a rich man.

There’s a possible element of racism, as Eric is non-Caucasian (the ‘picky’ party inviter was).  His actor’s name is Daniel Southworth, which doesn’t give me any clues.  Maybe he has Hispanic/Latino ancestry, or Native American.  In any case, that’s probably an unintentional layer but it’s still a valid point to why Eric has such a massive chip on his shoulder.

It’s great to see some shades of grey introduced in this season.  Generally, I do enjoy the franchise’s black-and-white take on things (guilt-free enjoyment of the monsters exploding, for starters), but it’s nice when the time is taken to look at how complex things can be.  Neither Mister Collins nor Eric is villainous and in fact most of their actions are heroic.  It’s just that their perspectives and ideals make them borderline antiheroes.

The Silver Guardians are introduced here, a defense group for the city’s upper class.  While elitist, I have to admit the general concept of having other people to protect against villains’ attacks besides superheroes is a good one.  I suspect a similar theory is behind SHIELD as a principle.  In the MCU, the agency came about because there were only a few superheroes if any over the decades, just as a single team must protect the attacked city in each Power Rangers season.  It’s a very interesting idea that I hope gets fleshed out more over the season.  There are already indications that the villains only consider the Rangers a valid threat (see- Nadira leaving when she spotted them spectating).  Given how easily Univolt battered the team, they might even be right at this point in time.

There’s a part of me that would love to see the cynical badassery that’d ensue from Eric Myers and Erik Lehnsherr meeting, but I know it’d end in disaster due to how the two franchises treat mutants.  Then again, maybe that’s part of the appeal… Also, them hating each other for the same traits the other has.

 

Next time on Power Rangers: Eric obtains the Quantum Morpher.

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