16-17: No I in Leader

Casey feels that RJ is upstaging him now that the other man is a fellow Ranger.

Last time on Power Rangers: RJ became the Wolf Ranger!

 

From Stool to Chair

Up in the loft, Theo and Lily are sparring against RJ.  All three are in their Ranger uniforms; it’s the first good look at RJ’s, which is a good look on him.  Not that the trio’s look is bad, but RJ makes his variation look very nice.  Casey shows up, grabbing a nun-chunk.  Despite Casey having set the training time to be three, RJ shifted it to two- I have to wonder if he, Theo, and Lily showed up early and decided to get started.  It is a bit odd that none of them contacted Casey via phone or morpher.  Casey tries to structure the training time but RJ has already done so.  Oops… but this would be more meaningful if we’d seen more of their training sessions in the past.  The only one I can think of off the top of my head is RJ fighting Lily and Casey while blindfolded back in “Sigh of the Tiger”, which indicates that RJ has always taken point leading the training sessions.

Out in the woods somewhere, Grizzaka uses his Zocato power to awaken his “mighty guards” as Dai Shi and Camille watch on.  The latter thinks they’re only an army of statues, but two become active.  They look rather like the guards from the “Ghost of a Chance” two-parter.  Dai Shi is determined to master Zocato power as well to Camille’s silent worry.  I’m pretty sure it’s raining in this scene- likely only in a Doylist sense, as I’m pretty sure rain is hard to film, which is why rain in shows and movies tend to look like downpours.

The quartet is sparring when the alarm blares, leading RJ to quip about “on-the-job training” before they leave.

Already morphed, the quartet shows up in Ocean Bluff to fight the two guards.  Casey and Theo take on one, with Lily joining in when Theo ends up on the ground.  RJ does fine handling the other alone, because he’s a Wolf like that.  As the trio struggles against their guard, Lily asks for Casey’s opinion on what to do but he just verbally flails.  Putting a hand on Casey’s shoulder, RJ comes up with a strategy.  Three of them head off, but Casey stands still.

RJ uses his “Wolf Beam”, leading the guards to retreat.  Theo is pleased but RJ wants to resume training.  Lily and Theo are in a good mood but Casey is cranky to RJ’s confusion.

The quartet is in uniform out in the woods and they morph in a four-way split-screen.  RJ takes on the trio as they use their original weaponry.  Obviously, RJ holds his own.  They decide to try using the Claw Cannon against RJ’s Beam Blast.  Everybody gets knocked over and demorphed by the ensuing blast.  Evidently something went wrong due to somebody not being in balance with his/her animal spirit.  Casey promptly stalks off, which is a neon sign about who it was.

Leader versus Mentor

Up in the loft, Fran is in the JKP uniform and rambles at a uniformed RJ, who asks Lily and Theo to go help the brunette.  Casey is trying (and failing) to do hoops.  After trying to break the ice, RJ attempts to get Casey to open up to him.  I’m reasonably sure this scene is a deliberate inversion of the similar one in “One Master Too Many”.

Casey opens up about how he trained to stop being a cub compared to Lily and Theo, but now feels like one again now that RJ is seemingly taking over the team.  RJ concedes he got overexcited about being a Ranger, but that Casey is still the team leader.

The alarm blares again, the TV showing the guards.  RJ wants Lily and Theo to go ahead (so… were they eavesdropping instead of helping Fran or just that speedy?).  Casey irritably points out that RJ just did it again.

It’s been interesting to see how various mentor-Rangers handle letting the Red Ranger being the combat leader.  Doggie was basically in charge both ways, Udonna largely let Nick handle things his way when she was a Ranger (Daggeron was fairly laidback as well outside of “The Snow Prince), and now RJ is struggling to balance being the mentor and letting Casey lead in the field.  It’ll definitely be fun to watch Dino Thunder and how the dynamic plays out between Tommy and Conner.

Out in the woods, Dai Shi conjures up a horde of Rin Shi to fight in hopes of mastering Zocato.  He goes into armored mode and starts fighting them, going, “Yes.  That which does not defeat me makes me stronger!”

… Did he just quote Kelly Clarkson?  I mean, there was a philosopher who expressed that sentiment far earlier, but how this episode aired in 2008 and the song “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” was around back then, I’m reasonably sure that’s the reference the scriptwriters went for.  Okay then.

While Dai Shi continues to fight the minions, back in Ocean Bluff the two guards are confronted by the morphed Theo and Lily in a rubble-strewn area.

17Casey&RJ

Casey is irritable back in the loft.  RJ gets the ball from him, stating that he has to get the ball into the hoop or Dai Shi wins, insisting that it’s not a metaphor.  Casey doesn’t think that he’d make it, given how far away RJ is.  When RJ tosses the ball, Casey leaps up to slam-dunk the ball.  RJ reassures Casey that he has good instincts and needs to trust them like his teammates do him.  Yeah, this episode’s conflict largely happened because Casey’s insecurities flared up while RJ was too excited about being a Ranger to notice.

Although Casey doesn’t respond, the duo does use the vines to go through the giant hole.  I can only suppose that they exit somewhere out on the street, since the exit isn’t shown.  Not going to lie- one of the many reasons (TAYLOR!) that I’m excited to be nearing Wild Force is that maybe I’ll finally learn the canon reason for how the Rangers got between Turtle Cove and Animaria- if there is one ever given.

Teamwork Wins the Day

The guards manage to cause Lily and Theo to demorph onto the ground, side-by-side.  Casey and RJ arrive to see this, Casey darting forward as the other man calls his name.  The guards blast at Lily and Theo, but Casey gets before his teammates and RJ tosses a satellite so that Casey can reflect the blast back at the guards.  Theo goes, “Thanks, Casey.”

Casey and RJ smile and nod at each other before the quartet morphs with another four-way split-screen.  All four state their individual catchphrases before chorusing, “Spirits of the Jungle!  Power Rangers Jungle Fury!”

They charge at the guards, the trio wielding their newer weaponry.  Lily and Theo are a team, soon going into Jungle Master Mode although almost none of the transformation is seen.  Casey calls upon his Strike Rider Cruise to batter a guard.  RJ continues to be a badass and soon teams up with an on-foot Casey against the guard, the latter wielding the Shark Saber (therefore it must be in combo mode).

Going into Jungle Master Mode, Casey does the firing jets attack.  Casey states the plan, getting RJ’s approval.  They combine the power of the Claw Cannon and Wolf Beam blasts- I suspect this was what they were attempting to practice in that earlier scene.  This destroys the guards, but Grizzaka merely uses Zocato power to revive and supersize them.

RJ goes, “Uh-oh.  This game just got a little uneven.”

The Jungle Master Megazord is formed and RJ calls upon his Wolf Zord.  “Spin Fury” is attempted.

Meanwhile, Dai Shi has defeated all the Rin Shi but hasn’t accessed any Zocato power.  On his knees, he de-armors and is upset.  Mao repeatedly goes “Jarrod” before materializing before him.  Dai Shi insists that Jarrod is gone, but Mao claims that Jarrod’s human spirit and lion spirit form a nexus more powerful than Dai Shi before disappearing.

… Uh, that show of support/faith could have been used a lot earlier, as in before Jarrod went down that bullying path.  This scene conflicts with Mao’s past and future characterization of being disappointed in Jarrod’s actions and behavior.  Maybe Mao is just trying to mess with Dai Shi’s head?

If that’s the case, he failed, because a reinvigorated Dai Shi states, “The nexus more powerful than me?  Yes, the nexus.  Thank you, Master Mao,” before making to leave.

The Rangers are struggling, so RJ accesses the Tiger and Jaguar Zords to form the Wolf Pride Megazord so he can team up with the Jungle Master Megazord.  So… did RJ learn about the Tiger and Jaguar while trying to figure out his own animal spirit?  Did he pick up a few things while teaching Casey and Theo?  When and why did RJ figure this out?

In any case, the two guards are soon destroyed so the two Megazords bump fists.

Down in the temple, Dai Shi is searching a chamber.  Camille shows up to offer her assistance.  Apparently, there are multiple nexuses, the most powerful of which is “the Rhino Nexus”.  The dark-haired woman approves of Dai Shi’s determination.

Back in the presumably closed-for-the-day JKP, Fran has a special dessert for the team: anchovies and a chocolate dip.  Casey agrees for them to each try one, RJ grabbing a pair right off the bat.  The quartet does eat them, but the primary-colored trio starts to gag to Fran’s dismay.  Casey gets inspired, Theo and Lily backing him up, so they start to chase Fran with chocolate-dipped anchovies for her to try.  As the chase continues, RJ happily tries another chocolate-dipped anchovy.

Conclusion

Footage of the Wolf Ranger has been added to the opening credits- in addition, RJ and Fran now have individual screen credits opposed to sharing one.  That final scene is one of the most memorable in the season to me, simply due to the humor in it.  Of course, there are heart-warming elements to it, but it’s also hysterical.

Casey and RJ’s bond went through a rough patch, very similar to what happened in “One Master Too Many” but with the roles reversed.  Overall, it was a very well-done subplot.  RJ continues to be the most skilled and powerful warrior of the quartet, which probably influenced Casey’s attitude as well.  And Theo and Lily did still look to Casey in battle, but he was too off-kilter to strategize at that moment so RJ stepped in.  Fran didn’t show up much, but she was as adorkable as ever when she did.

Dai Shi is focused on mastering Zocato so that he can reclaim his leadership role from Grizzaka.  Mao’s cameo seemed to be about the writers furthering the plot (and a suggestion that Jarrod isn’t gone) instead of a genuine in-character reason.  There’s the first mention of the Rhino Nexus, though I’m very curious about what the others are and just how many there are.  Camille continues to be loyal to Dai Shi.

 

Next time on Power Rangers: RJ has trouble again with his animal spirit.

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