Originally posted in three parts on the original DTM Blog. Naturally, this archive version has been edited into one single post. I don’t recall the context, but I think it has something to do with some poll to air popular episodes on the old ABC Family channel or something.
Wow. I’m going to be brutally honest.
Go to Rangerboard.com and check out the thread called “Vote for Countdown to Destruction.” where the Administrator is telling you to vote for something; in this case, it’s the PRiS finale that has been touted as the best PR ever. (2017 Update: Said thread is no longer accessible.)
CtD is a great episode, don’t get me wrong. But it is hardly the classic that everyone makes it out to be. For the next couple of entries, I’ll be giving you a barebones summary
CtD starts off with Dark Specter telling Astronema (the main PRiS villain) to summon his troops to attack the universe. Then it cuts Astronema giving a generic speech that does absolutely nothing to impose fear or anything. I know it’s a kids show, but Batman was much more convincing than this.
Now begins the ‘final battle’ which revisits past villains fighting off other ‘heroes’. Nice cameos by the Aquitian (Alien) Rangers, the Gold Ranger of Zeo, and the Phantom Ranger and Senturion dudes as they fight off everyone and everything… and get beaten badly. Nice touch.
Zhane, the Silver Ranger of PRiS, is with Rebels… HOW THE HECK DID HE GET THERE?! If you had seen the previous episode, he was with the other Rangers crying over their lost zords. Zhane decides to leave behind the Rebels and get the other Rangers, but he gets attacked and gets saved by the Rangers… in a cheap spacebattle. Not that it wasn’t done well, but I hardly find a fighter being destroyed by a laser blast from a Ranger’s weapon to be consistent. But to hell with consistency.
Andros tells Zhane they’re attacking the universe and learn a giant fleet of fighters are headed for Earth… how convenient. So now we have aliens attacking the familiar town of Angel Grove (again, how convenient) and we have the Astro Megaship blasting through fighters and eventually the Rangers fly on their gliders and fight ground forces. They get beaten badly. Not even Red Ranger’s Battlized form helps and thus they retreat.
Dark Specter greets Astronema and wants an update, but gets attacked by Darkonda (a rogue villain), who stole a “super-torpedo” meant for Earth and used it on Specter. Specter gains a measure of revenge by eating Darkonda’s fighter before blowing up into itty bitty… medium-sized pieces, thus leaving Astronema as the self-proclaimed “Queen of Evil.” Everyone gets scared, Andros gets worried, and I get depressed… I know it’s a kids show, but come on! Queen of Evil? That’s the best you can do?!
Oh yeah. During all this time, Astronema, who is really Andros’ long lost sister, Karone, conveniently holds Zordon (the longtime mentor of the Power Rangers from MMPR to Turbo) in captivity on board her Dark Fortress. How did he get there? Why is he there? Pfft. I dunno; they never say.
So now the Dark Fortress HQ slowly enters Earth’s atmosphere and Astronema demands the Power Rangers shows themselves or she’ll blow the planet up. Does she know that she no longer has a super torpedo? Or is this a quick bluff maneuver? You never really knew. Anyway, she disappears.
Cut to nighttime; people are debating over whether the Power Rangers are hiding or not. Leave it to Bulk & Skull, longtime comedy characters of the Power Rangers mythos, to add an edge of seriousness by sticking up to the Rangers.
The Rangers reunite with Zhane, who lost his nice little Mega Winger Zord because one of the fighters shot him in the back. What a cheap-shot. Anyway, they figure out methods to beat this invasion and save the day. Andros suggests he goes to the Dark Fortress and bring Karone to the light. See Skywalker, Luke. Rangers obviously believe that’s a futile move, so he goes off anyway, but not before a half-assed intimate moment with Ashley. No kiss, just come back and that’s it. Pfft.
THE NEXT DAY
Astronema calls out the Rangers and everyone starts calling themselves Rangers. Astronema says kill them all and suddenly the remaining Ranger teens out themselves and morph before a live crumbling city audience. For the proposed special edition of the episode that will never happen, might I suggest the following piece of dialogue.
TEENS: We’re the Power Rangers!
Man#1: No, you’re not!
Man#2: Lying Bastards!
[teens transform into Power Rangers]
Man#1: Okay, I’m convinced.
Man#2: You call those Ranger suits?!
On the Dark Fortress (of DOOM), Andros navigates his way to Astronema’s chamber and unexpectedly discovers Zordon. The two make goodie-good talk and Zordon suggests that Andros kills him by shattering his tube. By doing so, all his good energy gets scattered and kills all the evil forces. Andros, being the upstanding, unimaginative fellow that he is, declines. Astronema shows up and the sibling rivalry continues, as Andros pleads to his evil sister to stop this while Astronema kicks his ass. See Luke, Farmboy.
Andros manages to deflect a shot and hit Astronema, then cries about. Ecliptor, Astronema’s bodyguard, makes his way inside and he and Andros fight for a while. Andros, after a talkdown from Zordon, finally kills him, sending out an energy wave that turns all humanoid villains into good-willed humans and all the rubber monsters into sandpiles. Everyone is happy.
The Dark Fortress lands on Earth, Andros does his moody walk, cries, and magically Astronema turns back into Karone, the evil power seemingly removed from the girl. Aw, isn’t that special?
Finally, we’re on Andros’ homeworld of KO-35. The Terran Space Rangers get to go home, but Andros doesn’t wanna go. On the last minute, he changes his mind and goes back to Earth with them.
While the above description does seem somewhat callous and pokes some fun at the episode, it is not intended as a degrading dissection of the episode. CTD, for the most part, was one of Power Rangers’ best at the time, as it manages to resolve story threads that have been floating around since the original Mighty Morphin in 93. My problem is all of this is accomplished by shattering Zordon’s tube and a giant shockwave spreads across the universe (?) and kills all the evil guys. While there couldn’t have been any other way of ending this and it was a somewhat heartfelt moment, I can’t help but see this as anything but a cop-out resolution.
Another problem is this. This episode was better suited being the last Power Rangers story ever… that’s it; nothing would follow after this episode was aired except for the repeats. If that were the case, then I could sit back and say, “Yeah, that was Power Rangers, the kids franchise long ridiculed for its grainy Japanese footage, cheap-ass special effects, and cheesy acting, going out with a bang, delivering an awesome climatic battle that was better than the show had seen.” I could be comfortable with the fact that it was the absolute best episode because it ended the franchise’s run in spectacular fashion (as spectacular as the budget would allow, anyway).
But then, Lost Galaxy was put out and suddenly, CTD has lost its luster. What was supposed to be the be-all, end-all episode suddenly becomes null and void, as a new team of Power Rangers must defend against a new evil force. Of course, you could argue that Zordon’s shiny wave killed all the evil dudes involved in the battles in CTD, but that doesn’t change the fact that what was supposed to be the absolute end is just another series ender with a glorified fight scene that, despite being fairly entertaining, is cheaply done.
Finally, the fucking episode is on DVD for Christ’s sake. If ABC rigs Ninja Storm to win its Power Picks votes, maybe it’ll shut up those stupid people who simply want to watch a diluted version of the episode for free rather than pay fifteen bucks (Canadian no less, so it’s probably cheaper in the states even!) for the Ultimate Rangers DVD which contains an uncut version of the episode. Yes, it is a good episode, but not good enough to be picked over episodes that rarely see the light of day these days.