9-31: Undercover Rangers

Lucas’ attempt to play matchmaker for Wes and Jen doesn’t pan out.

Last time on Power Rangers: Wes stopped the giant robot and Alex saved Mister Collins’ life.

 

Getting Conned

There’s a presenter, flanked by four buff men, giving a speech about his Super Strong Gym.  As they walk by with their brown paper bags of groceries, Trip and Katie end up joining the crowd.  There’s a scrawny skeptical guy who speaks up.  His name is mentioned once or twice later on as he’s the minor character for this episode.  It’s Mister Feeney, which is likely a reference to the Boy Meets World character played by Willian Daniels (look, the actor is the only reason I caught the shout-out).

He’s handed a super strength protein drink, and his eyes widen as he guzzles it down.  The speaker guides the skeptic over to the weight set up a few feet away.  To Katie’s shock, Mister Feeney can now lift the weight as easily as she could.  Besides the pair of Rangers, the crowd is excited to join the gym.

Driving by in his Silver Guardians vehicle, Eric is clearly dubious about this set-up.  What I want to know is how he found out about it.  Katie and Trip stumbled across it; did he?  Or was something fishy in how the gym was purchased and the Silver Guardians got flagged?  Hmm.

Watching a pair of newlyweds emerge from a church, surrounded by well-wishers, Jen is clearly wistful.  Her voiceover reveals that she used to think that’d be her and Alex, but she now suspects she’s moved on from him.  I’m not sure why the script didn’t just admit it here, as the ‘culprit’ is abundantly obvious for the rest of the episode.  Maybe Jen is still shying away from admitting it even in her own head?

In the clock tower, Wes is studying his reflection, upset over his conviction that he doesn’t measure up to Alex.  Lucas can’t help but be amused as he reads a book.  Wes tries to assure himself that he does in fact have a chance with Jen, who walks in at the tail end of his preening pep talk.  The two of them are very awkward as they both admit they want to talk to each other… but they each want the other to go first.

Initially Lucas finds this verbal flailing amusing, but he quickly grows annoyed, intervening so that somebody can go first.  However, Katie and Trip then arrive to report what they saw.  Evidently the idea that the weight was fake doesn’t occur to anybody.  I mean, it’s not true in-universe, but I suspect they only know that because Trip stole another page from a script.

The team decides they should investigate.  Trip wants to go undercover but Lucas is very firm about how Wes and Jen should be the ones to do.  Suddenly I’m reminded of Bridge’s futile effort to go on the titular stakeout.  Maybe it’s a Green Ranger thing to get excluded from events that should be for the Red and Pink Rangers?

Bad Disguises

In the Super Strong Gym, there are a bunch of people in orange jumpsuits weightlifting.  Mister Feeney has finished his training, according to the speaker.  The still-scrawny man is acting rather robotic to the speaker’s amusement.

Wes and Jen arrive in disguise… but have forgotten to take off their morphers.  Look, I can forgive the original team’s communicators since at first glance they look like wristwatches.  Even if somebody does see/hear them being used as radios, Billy’s tech prowess is such that the person would (correctly) figure he made them for his friends.  Lightspeed Rescue also wore their morphers on their wrists, but they didn’t bother with secret identities.  In other words, the team needs a refresher on laying low.  I understand wanting to keep their morphers available for usage, but this seems like a bad idea.  Maybe people are extra non-observant in the Ranger-verses?

And I haven’t even gotten to the costumes themselves.  Both are wearing black framed glasses.  Wes wears grey trousers, a reddish checkered shirt, and red suspenders.  Jen has braided pigtails, a sleeveless pink checkered shirt, and jean overall shorts with a belt (uh…).

The two of them have a mutual ‘not my/his girlfriend’ moment with the receptionist Theresa.  Adorably, Wes uses his father’s name Albert as his undercover name.  Theresa gets flirty with Wes.  This annoys Jen as she fills out her application on a clipboard.  When she spots a duo of the black-clad employees, she starts to follow them by herself after her initial effort to get Wes’ attention away from Theresa fails.  Nearing some stairs in the other part of the building, Jen spots the speaker with Mister Feeney.

Another guy rings the desk bell so Theresa has to stop her flirting with Wes, though with the implication that she’s more than willing to resume it.  Wes now notes Jen’s absence so he heads after her.

Peeking into a gymnasium room (look, it looks like a high school gym in there), Jen realizes that the employees are turning the gym users into robots.  One of the black-clad guards finds her.  Wes continues to search for Jen.

Getting a Clue

Frax wants to expand his robot army.  When the guard arrives, holding Jen by the arms, Frax yanks off her glasses and wig.  Yeah, I said they were poor disguises.  He wants her to join his army as well.

Jen ends up tied to a pole… wait, where did the pole come from and how is it secured to the floor?  Okay, whatever, Frax reveals to her (and reminds the audience) that he was once human as well.  The protein powder somehow starts to turn people into automatons.  I’m torn between calling ‘magic’ versus theorizing that Venjix used (er, will use) something similar in RPM.

Finding one of the gym employees, Wes tries to ask after Jen.  The blond is nearly lured away before he hears Jen’s cry so Wes takes on the employee who quickly reverts to its Cyclobot form.

Frax is drawing out the drama of turning Jen into a robot, even taking the time to laugh evilly.  Okay, Frax.  Jen is one of five Power Rangers.  Eric is usually off doing his own thing and/or the villains take him as seriously as they do the rest of the Silver Guardians- which is to say, not at all.  Most of the time, Rangers do not go off on their own into dangerous territory.  In other words, Frax prolonging the anticipation gave Wes enough time to show up and kick the drink out of the robot’s hand.

Wes fights the pair of gym employees by Jen before untying her.  The Rangers, outnumbered, decide to bolt.  Frax orders the disguised Cyclobots to give chase.

Butting Heads

The duo ducks into a hallway to evade pursuit.  Jen is jealous of how receptive Wes was to Theresa’s flirtation.  Initially baffled, Wes grows hopeful as this means he has a chance with her.  Their chat gets interrupted by the crowd of semi-robot humans.  Jen prevents him from punching them as they’re innocent victims.  One door is locked so they go through another, bracing it behind them.

31Trio

Running out of the building, Wes and Jen encounter a group of Cyclobots.  They keep squabbling, but then Eric comes to their rescue.  Evidently, he took a subtler approach to his investigation- that, or he just decided to kick back and let the other Rangers poke at the potential hornets’ nest.  Trying to evoke Wes’ jealousy, Jen tries to hit on Eric (and feel up his arm like Theresa did with Wes), but Wes knocks that off fast.

Eric is clearly unamused by this lack of professionalism.  The speaker tries to taunt Jen, laugh evilly, and turn into his true mutant form of Mister Mechanau.  In response, the trio morphs (Wes & Jen share a screen, Eric is alone).  They run towards the mutant, but he telekinetically lifts them into air and swirls them around.

The morphed Lucas, Katie, and Trip arrive and blast at Mister Machanau, distracting him enough that the other Rangers are released.  Wes and Jen take on the mutant.  Circuit tries to contact Alex, who ends up running to his console.  Wait, what?  Based on past episodes, it almost seemed like Alex lived there.  Was he taking a bathroom break or something?

Circuit shows the battle on a holographic screen to let Alex know what’s going on.  Alex is visibly upset at seeing Jen get battered, even whispering her name.

Wes has gotten himself hurt.  While the others go to help Jen as he catches his breath, Wes gets a special message from Alex via his visor about the Stratacycle.  Their shared goal is to “protect Jen”.  As new technology, the Stratacycle gets an extended special time travel sequence.

I think it’s leftover from the Super Sentai footage, but somehow Wes gets on the Stratacycle while it’s still in the wormhole.  Wes enjoys flying, which is both kind of sweet yet not the time.

Mister Machanau goes to take out Jen but then the whole group gets distracted by the Stratacycle’s arrival.  Jen gets herself free at this point.  Wes starts to blast the mutant.  While the others express awed curiosity, Eric is genre savvy enough to know that they’ll be seeing its capabilities very soon.

After taking on the mutant, Wes lands.  Jen gives him kudos.  As the geek, Trip curiously wants all the details on this new vehicle.  Eric teases Wes that he’ll improve with practice, in a fairly light-hearted tone for him.  Wes counters with, “Oh, you’re funny.”

Big Trouble

Getting up, Mister Machanau exposes his mutant DNA to supersize.  Jen contacts Circuit, who sends for the Time Flyers.  The Shadow Force Megazord is rapidly formed.  Eric calls for the Q-Rex.  However, the Q-Rex fails to take on Mister Machanau and gets tossed onto the other Megazord.

Wes manages to fire the blaster while the Q-Rex is splayed on the Shadow Force Megazord.  Once it’s upright again, Wes does the “Time Target” attack.  After the explosion, the mutant shrinks down to action figure mode.  Somehow this restores the humans to normal again, which might be evidence for the ‘magic spell’ theory.  After all, Venomark’s poison lasts after his capture- Ransik alone is proof of that.

Alex’s screen shows Jen telling Wes that he did a good job.  Turning around, he does look a bit sad.

Later, Wes is down in the clock tower’s lobby.  Jen shows up to give him more kudos.  Quietly Wes reveals that Alex sent the Stratacycle to help protect her before doing his best to support the Alex/Jen ship as he wants Jen to be happy more than he wants her for himself.  Which is utterly sweet.

Going over to Wes, Jen is very awkward as she tries to spit it out.  Mister Feeney shows up, leading the trio of other Rangers to come down.  It turns out that Mister Feeney wants a personal trainer as he still wants to increase his muscles.  Huh.  I’m not sure how much they remember of the incident, but I would have thought being nearly turned into an evil robot would put most people off of exercise.

Still shipping it, Lucas wants Wes and Jen to work together with Mister Feeney over their protests.  Honestly, given how little actual exercising the two of them had to do at the evil gym, I’m not sure why they’re so set against this odd job.  Maybe they just want to avoid formal exercising after their brush with the evil gym…?

Conclusion

This episode- despite its initial coyness- makes it very clear that Wes and Jen are mutually crushing on each other but have no idea what to do with that.  It makes sense- Jen is still engaged to Alex at this point, even if she’s now doubting their relationship’s strength.

Look, the show clearly attempted to elicit sympathy for Alex by making it clear that he still wants to protect Jen.  However, that doesn’t change the fact that he didn’t tell Jen that he was alive.  Look, even a sentence about how they wouldn’t be able to properly fake outrage/grief when Ransik brought up his supposed death (as the villain has done in the past) if they knew the truth about Alex would have sufficed.  Between that decision and this one, I suspect Alex is more into protecting Jen than supporting her.  In other words: he might care about her, but he has a bad way of showing it.

Eric got a minor role, but he still managed to be a snarky, practical badass.  Lucas actively ships Wes/Jen at this point, though he seems to be playing it low-key.  I’m less sure where Katie and Trip stand on things (or if Lucas has let them know that he’s as ‘mushy’ as to ship his friends).

The Stratacycle is nice enough, but it’s largely a retread of Carter’s mobile armored vehicle without the time loop episode (which is weird, as this season is called Time Force- surely there should be a time loop episode).

I can surmise that Mister Collins is still recovering, either in the hospital or at home.  I’m less sure what Ransik and Nadira have been up to- maybe recreating more of the serum?  Checking their computer systems for any potential booby traps and/or viruses left behind by Frax?

 

Next time on Power Rangers: There’s a dragon!

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