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The sixth season of Power Rangers, adapted from Denji Sentai Megaranger. Managing to save the series from cancellation, this is frequently cited as one of the best, if not the best, seasons of the franchise. For the first time, the series introduced a heavily serialized plot that built from episode to episode, featuring strong themes, characterizations and coming to an epic climax that gives a degree of finality to the previous six seasons. It also eschewed the Black and White Morality that was prominent in previous seasons by featuring sympathetic villains, and also includes three reunion episodes and plenty of cameos that kept the continuity extremely tight.At the end of Power Rangers Turbo, the Power Rangers were defeated and Zordon captured by the United Alliance of Evil. However, following one of the contingency plans set down by Zordon before his capture, the Rangers make their way into space and (by chance) meet up with Andros, a lone Red Ranger determined to stop the U.A.E and rescue his missing sister. The former Rangers convince him of their worth and join forces as the new Space Rangers.Standing against them is Astronema, a Dark Action Girl agent of the U.A.E. sent to Earth to finish the job that Divatox started. With her is her Noble Demonsecond-in-command Ecliptor, the titularPsycho Rangers and Card-Carrying Villain Darkonda. Meanwhile, the supreme leader of the U.A.E. and Big Bad of the Power Rangers universe, Dark Specter, is plotting to siphon Zordon's power to stage his final conquest on the galaxy, making it a race against time to rescue him before the universe is doomed.The climax of six years' worth of plot and villains, the series was a phenomenal hit and restored faith in Power Rangers, as the ratings for Turbo increased just enough to give Power Rangers what was thought to be a final season. With the resolution of the ongoing plot, the slate had to be wiped clean for Power Rangers Lost Galaxy as the staff and viewers went on to a new adventure that for the most part was unrelated to the events of the prior series.
Recurring Power Rangers tropes include:
Antagonist in Mourning: Prior to their fight, when Rita hears that Divatox destroyed the Turbo Rangers, she reacts this way even asking Zedd if it was true.
Rita: Is that true? Did she really destroy the Power Rangers?
Law of Chromatic Superiority: Aside from the usual "Red Ranger gets everything" factor, this was the show that introduced the Battlizer and all other subsequent powered-up Red Rangers.
This also started the Red Ranger is the main protagonist of the show. In Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers no single Ranger was more important than the other; while Tommy was a spotlight stealer in the second season, by the time he became the Red Ranger in Power Rangers Zeo his spotlight stealing was downplayed severely, though he did get the most toys.
Monster of the Week: Vaguely defined "aliens" that don't seem to share any singular origin. In fact, it's rarely even mentioned where they come from, simply appearing when the plot calls for it, and only occasionally being interviewed by Astronema before being sent. This is especially jarring, given how many of said monsters are based on Earth animals.
Recycled IN SPACE!: Despite the name, averted! The move to outer space brought a lot of changes to the status quo, such as more complex villains and mostly abandoning the City of Adventure setup in favor of searching alien planets for their kidnapped mentor. Some of these things were then recycled into future seasons, others weren't.
Super Mode: This season was the first to introduce the "Battlizer" Red Ranger upgrade, which has continued to almost all following seasons (surprisingly this is an American creation, Megaranger had the Battlizer gadget, but it didn't have a Super Mode function). Interestingly, Megaranger actually had a team Super Mode in the Non-Serial Movie, where the core five donned golden torso armor, but this was not brought over to Power Rangers.
Added Alliterative Appeal: The Rangers' weapons: Lunar Lance, Spiral Saber, Astro Axe, Satellite Stunner, Star Slinger and Super Silverizer.
Also the Galaxy Gliders.
Anti-Villain: Ecliptor is quite possibly the most likeable villain in the history of Power Rangers. As it turns out he's noble and only does what he does because he's incredibly loyal to Astronema (almost like a father to her). When Astronema breaks out of her initial brainwashing and tries to become good, Ecliptor tries to join her, but they're both put under heavier brainwashing afterwards, but he remains as loyal as ever to her.
The Artifact: Two are carried over from Megaranger: logos with the acronym I.N.E.T. show up in episode 2 and in the hangar for the Mega V zords. It stands for "International Network of Excel-Science and Technology" who were the organization behind the creation of the Rangers' suits, weapons and mecha in Megaranger. It is subverted however: where NASADA in Megaranger was only the name of the base INET used to build and launch the Mega Shuttle; it was converted in PR to serve as a full NASA expy.
In a toy example, pressing the buttons 7-3-0 on the Digimorpher would play a TV-sized of the Denji Sentai Megaranger theme.
Elgar is sent by Dark Specter to join Astronema in her fight against the Rangers... For some reason. Once Ecliptor and especially Darkonda arrive, Elgar shows up less and less, only appearing every now and then simply to remind us he still exists.
Artificial Gravity: All the spaceships have this, with no reason given as to how that technology exists.
Baby Carriage: in "Silence Is Golden", with the added complication of the Psychos tracking the Rangers by their voices. Cassie can't shout a warning without endangering herself, but can't get to the carriage on foot in time either.
Back for the Dead: Zordon, Rita, Zedd, the Machine Empire, and Divatox. Seen in a couple episodes scattered throughout the season before all getting offed in the finale "Countdown to Destruction."
The Beard: "Grandma Matchmaker" in which Ashley asks Carlos to pretend to be her boyfriend in order to get her granny to stop smothering her.
Big Damn Heroes: Justin and Storm Blaster drive through the door of a warehouse to free the Rangers, who are seconds from eating the business end of the Monster of the Week's cannon.
Bulk and Skull of all people do this in the finale.
Bittersweet Ending: In the end, almost every villain has been eradicated or purged of evil, and Karone is back to normal, this time for good, and reunited with her brother. It seems that for the first time, the galaxy may have earned a respite from evil. Sadly... As great a victory as this was, it cost Zordon his life.
Adam Park, briefly, in the episode "Always A Chance." He becomes the Black Power Ranger one last time, using his original Power Morpher (the one damaged when Rito destroyed the Thunderzords) in spite of Alpha 6's warning that morphing could kill him. To fans' delight, he first declares that it's Morphing Time, morpher in hand, and then calls out "MASTODON!"
Justin Stewart, as well, in "True Blue to the Rescue." Storm Blaster had a morpher in his glove compartment. Although, unlike Adam, he wasn't actually seen morphing.
Color-Coded Characters: Defied during the Story Arc with the Psycho Rangers, T.J. figured that by homogenizing all their colors and uniforms they could confuse the Psycho Rangers enough to get an advantage (the Psychos had developed themselves to be the rival to their color counterpart, while individually they are pretty powerful their obsession with their counterpart made the costume/color switch unbearable).
This specific color combination (red/black/blue/yellow/pink) won't appear again until Operation Overdrive.
And the Delta. And the Mega Winger. Lots of cool ships to go around.
Covers Always Lie: The cover◊ for the VHS release of the Psycho Rangers arc is only titled by the season name, and it claims to be "An All-New Feature-Length Movie!", when in reality they're just 5 individual episodes that cover one story arc. Nowhere else is it advertised as a movie.
Crash-Into Hello: Astronema and Zhane have one on Earth. It's unusual because it's not their first meeting but Zhane doesn't recognize her because she is in Earth clothes with her natural hair.
Crisis Crossover: when the very first episode involves a meeting between every major villain from the past five seasons (plus more!), you know this trope is in play.
Cute Mute: "Silence is Golden" basically turned Cassie into this.
Darker and Edgier: While the season in general was darker because of the whole Legion of Doom rising, the more mundane Earth-bound stories were also more mature and adult. In an early episode, Andros "befriended" a gang of criminals and naively helped them with a car theft, where no prior season had set up an outright bad human character.
This series was a trendsetter where the darker, less kid-friendly mood/themes are concerned. The trend has endured in nearly every season afterward...even after Disney took over the franchise.
Death Glare: Astronema gives Elgar this when, after she takes credit for the destruction of the Psycho Rangers and stopping them from draining Dark Specter's power ( in reality having created the Psychos specifically to do exactly that), he points out that technically the Power Rangers were responsible for destroying the Psychos.
Deus ex Machina: In the finale, Zordon pulls off an I Cannot Self-Terminate suicide bomber attack that kills all the villains, transforms the redeemable ones into Human Aliens free of the taint of evil magic, and brings the red ranger's dead sister back to life after a few minute delay, neatly tying up all the loose ends of the series.
Earth-Shattering Kaboom: While not actually ever used for its intended purpose, missiles with the power to blow up a planet are known to exist in the franchise. It took one of them to take out Dark Spectre. He was stabbed in the back with it by The Starscream. Being hit with said missile didn't kill him. It took Darkonda hitting him with a second Planet Killer to destroy him for good, and he still survived long enough to take Darkonda with him.
Easily Forgiven: Zhane gets a invitation to go on a date with Astronema (who is usually trying to kill them, being a villain and all). He prepares to go out and meet her while the other 5 Rangers are losing a battle against a monster. He walks past the bridge of the ship, seeing the video screen showing his friends in danger, and he still tries to sneak past so Alpha won't bring him into the fight. But he gets noticed and has to go save the day which causes him to miss the date until he was late enough Astronema was furious with him. In the end, the other rangers are fully aware of the fact he tried to date the woman who constantly tries to have them all die, and they just try to convince him maybe she'll change her mind and go out with him again. It's not clear if they know he'd rather see her then save their lives, but still...
We can assume Andros is supposed to be around that age (19-20). Old enough to live on his own (he'd been a ranger for a while at the start of the series and lived alone on his ship), but young enough not to look out of place at a high school. Zordon likely gave him his powers at 15-16, and he's been a ranger for at least three years (he mentions Zhane getting injured two years prior to the start of the series, and at the time Zhane already had a reputation for being a powerful ranger).
End of an Age: To the Zordon-era. "Countdown to Destruction" shows us why.
Establishing Character Moment: Andros infiltrated an Alliance meeting in the first episode, was discovered and had to fight his way out. That's how you introduce a character. It also serves as an effective introduction to the new tone of the series.
Flatline: In "Survival of the Silver", the EKG attached to Zhane's cryogenic chamber flatlines while the Rangers are battling a group of hooded aliens. It's subverted as shortly afterwards, not only do the jagged lines restart, but the cryogenic chamber also opens and Zhane turns out to be alive and well.
The Rangers set out with two missions this season: find Zordon, and defeat the United Alliance of Evil. They accomplished both, but not without Zordon having to die in the process.
Go Out with a Smile: In "Countdown to Destruction," Bulk and Skull led the civilians into the fray alongside the Power Rangers knowing full well that this might be the end for the both of them.
Grand Finale: Countdown to Destruction. It was originally meant to be the end of the franchise, but perfectly brings the Zordon Era to a close.
Heel-Face Turn:Astronema, aka Andros' sister Karone. If Dark Specter hadn't intervened, pretty much everything bad that happened in the second half of the series would have been avoided, due to the Big Bad having switched sides. Well, maybe. See Nice Job Fixing It, Villain, below.
Heroic BSOD: Carlos had one after accidentally injuring Cassie when fighting a monster.
Heroic Sacrifice: Zordon. When he saw that the Alliance was going to overwhelm every Power Ranger team and force for good in the galaxy, he had Andros shatter his time warp tube. The resulting energy pulse (Fan Nickname is the "Z-Wave") neutralized all of the Big Bads and turned their mooks into dust. Deus ex Machina, sure, but damn if it wasn't amazing.
Hoist by His Own Petard: Darkonda tries to trick Andros into running between trees where lasers will blast to smithereens whoever walks through there. Ecliptor forces Andros away, and Darkonda is stupid enough to be blasted by his own trap. It's not that Ecliptor likes Andros at all, it's that he's the lesser of two evils because Darkonda is so bad.
I Am Spartacus: Possibly the best scene in all of Power Rangers history. Astronoma delivers an ultimatum to the people of Angel Grove: surrender the Power Rangers or everyone dies. Suddenly Bulk, Skull, Professor Phenomenus, Adelle, and everyone else say that they're the Rangers. Just before Astronema kills everyone, the real Rangers reveal themselves (morphing in full view of the public, something Zordon specifically told them not to do) and attack, with Bulk and Skull leading the civilians into the fray.
I Cannot Self-Terminate: Zordon. It doesn't matter how powerful your magic is or how great your wisdom, if you lack any means of physical interaction with the world around you, you need help to commit suicide.
Infant Immortality: Believe it or not, subverted. True, it happens offscreen, to a character whom we never meet, but that doesn't change the fact that a girl who appears in Carlos on Call is stated to have had a twelve year old brother who died just recently. Hell, we even see the girl kneeling in front of his grave at one point! Of course, the episode was a straight adaptation from Megaranger.
It's the Power Rangers teaming up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, how could that not be awesome? (Next Mutation and Venus aside) Plus it has a scene where Elgar gets kicked. Possibly one of the best scenes in the entire series.
Love Redeems: Especially in the familial sense, serves as a major theme. It's explicitly stated that Dark Spector and Darkonda worry that Astronema might defect to good because Ecliptor showed her caring as a father figure, and that caring is completely at odds with being evil.
Love Triangle: Zhane becomes fairly friendly with Ashley, which causes some jealousy from Andros.
Lucky Translation: The use of "Megazord" as the name for the franchise's Humongous Mecha really pays off here, thanks to the source series being called Megaranger. This meant that most of the mecha weren't renamed at all for In Space, because there was no need.
Renaming Mega Voyager would've actually caused problems, as the name was written in the cockpit in plain sight. Likewise, Mega Winger's cockpit had "Mega W" written on it. Delta Mega simply had Zord added to the end of the name, while Galaxy Mega was renamed Astro Megazord, but the name Galaxy Megazord was used next season instead.
The entire series' motif is this. Megaranger isn't exactly about space, it is about technology craze in general (hey, it's the 90s) but since there are heavy space influences in the series (especially the mecha and weapons) and it is a quite popular theme back then In Space took this Up to Eleven instead.
Mistaken for Dying: Zhane, when the other Rangers hear his time is limited, but don't catch it only applies to his Hour of Power. This episode is notable for averting Never Say "Die", as Zhane very specifically says "They think I'm dying".
Morality Dial: Used on the Delta Megazord in "The Great Evilizer".
Morality Pet: Inverted between Ecliptor and Karone. She was his boss but when she did a Heel-Face Turn, he couldn't find it in him to fight against her.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Ironically, if Dark Specter had just let Astronema go and not brainwashed her, things might have turned out better for him. Seriously, the brainwashing made her far more evil - so much that she wanted tobe in charge. As a result, she used the Psycho Rangers to fight the Rangers - their real purpose being to weaken him - and this left him vulnerable to Darkonda's attack, ultimately leading to his demise.
Of course, it might have also avoided the Bittersweet Ending too and led the Rangers to an even greater victory, so it's really hard to tell just who would have been better off if he hadn't taken that route.
This trope is all over the place in this series. The Psycho Rangers' infighting was really the only reason they didn't defeat the rangers. Ecliptor and Darkonda constantly ruin each other's plans, culminating in Ecliptor "destroying" Darkonda and causing him to lose one of his lives. In the Grand Finale, Darkonda betrays Dark Specter, who was already weakened due to Astronema using the Psycho Rangers to drain his power, leading to them destroying each other and thus saving the universe. Really, the Space Rangers probably could have just sat back and waited for the villains to take each other out.
Nigh Invulnerable: Dark Specter. In the finale Darkonda steals two planet-destroying weapons. One he plans to use on Dark Specter and the other on the Dark Fortress (where Astronema and Ecliptor are). He fires one at Dark Specter who goes down... and then promptly gets back up. It takes wasting the one intended for the Dark Fortress, fired directly down Specter's throat, to put him down for good, and he still manages to hang on long enough to eat the aforementioned Darkonda alive.
No Ontological Inertia: A shape-shifting monster makes Astronema look like Ashley, after which the real Ashley is kidnapped. To escape, she tricks the monster into giving her Astronema's body, and then returns to help the other Rangers destroy it. Luckily, when she takes her helmet off she's back to normal, the monster's spells having been broken by its death.
Nonindicative Name: Sure they're in space, but they tend to fight on earth an awful lot about 90 percent of their fights take place on earth due to the source material.
No OSHA Compliance: Just like the "Star Trek" episodes this season heavily borrowed from, nobody thought of putting seat belts on the Bridge. Many attacks on the Megaship cause the rangers on the Bridge to get rock and rolled all over.
One-Hit Kill: After getting a serious power upgrade, Ecliptor destroys the Delta Megazord with a single slash of his sword.
Opponent Switch: Against the Psycho Rangers. Surprisingly, it doesn't work. The Psycho Rangers merely defeat the Ranger they're currently fighting, and then go and wipe the floor with their actual opponent. The Rangers only pull this off after making their uniforms all the same color, and even then, it barely works.
Parental Abandonment: The Rangers, despite still being high school students (early episodes of this season even go by showing the five, except Andros, still attending Angel Grove High), apparently lived on board the Megaship. One would have to wonder about their parents and/or guardians thinking where EXACTLY they were the whole time.
Which leads nicely into making you wonder just how much of space could they explore looking for Zordon if they had to be within reach of Earth for school five days a week?
Presumably the astro megaship keeps on going with Alpha operating it when the the Rangers are gone and the rangers can teleport in and out of it.
It's also possible that they graduated offscreen at some point early in the season, especially considering that they're only shown to be in high school in a couple of early episodes. The latter half of the series completely drops that aspect of the story.
Word of God says that the space theme was chosen because the early footage they had of Megaranger had them think it was a space based season, when they got the truth and the filming had already begun all the space surfing scenes had to be added in to make it work.
The Psycho Rangers: While the idea had been used before, In Space's Psycho Rangers were the first characters to really do justice to the concept of a team of evil power rangers. Thus, they became the Trope Namer.
Space Opera: The first season where the series went in this direction. Compared to earlier seasons, this one was Darker and Edgier, there was more drama, the conflicts were on a much larger scale, the stakes were higher, and the story was less episodic and more arc-based. Probably one of the reasons it was such a success.
Spoiler Opening: Averted for the two-part premiere "From Out of Nowhere. In order to hide their identities, the first episode's opening omits Andros and has Divatox as the villain instead of Astronema, implying that she would be returning as the season's villain. For part 2, Astronema was put in the opening credits while still omitting Andros.
Astronema herself was a Starscream after being brainwashed by the Dark Specter. (Clearly, that worked only too well. Using the Psycho Rangers had two purposes: fighting the true Rangers (obviously) and weakening the Dark Specter. She intentionally connected their powers to his, hoping that their frequent battles with the Rangers would weaken him enough for her to destroy him and usurp his position as leader of the alliance. (Unfortunately for Astronema, the Psycho Rangers were impatient and unwilling to follow her plans, which led to them being defeated before this plan could succeed.)
Telepathic Spacemen/Humans Are Psychic in the Future: Andros, though he's telekinetic instead of telepathic. And he's not from the future, either. It's also implied that it's something people from Earth are perfectly capable of learning to do, as he offers to give Ashley some tips on learning telekinesis (though he says it takes years of practice).
Vague Age: Started to creep into the show by this season. Four of the five Rangers are presumably high school students, since they stepped in when four of the previous Rangers graduated, and we even see them attending school in a few early episodes. But there is never any mention of their parents (not even when Astronema's forces occupy Angel Grove), and they are able to leave Earth for extended periods of time without any mention of them missing school or having to cover up their absences at home. (A late season episode implies that the Rangers graduated off-screen, as a teacher refers to Carlos as a former student.)
Wham Line: Zordon: "You must shatter my energy tube."
What Happened to the Mouse?: In "Countdown to Destruction", most villains in the series either perished or were purged of evil, but many were not there, and what ultimately happened to them remains unknown. Goldar is the best example. Rito Revolto and Master Vile were absent too, as were many minor villains.
What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Enforced by virtue of Executive Meddling. Initially, Karone would have been the only villain to have survived the Z-Wave by virtue of only being under mind control, but the show was forbidden to destroy human-looking villains. Divatox, Rita and Zedd all get turned good at the end, but robots, mooks and "monsters" are turned to dust, regardless of whether they might have had redeeming qualities or been capable of good in the past.
Word Salad Lyrics: The onscreen text in the morphing sequence. Something about the puppy canoe of hope.
You Look Familiar: A costume version. Dark Specter was a reuse of the elaborate Maligore costume from Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie. Acknowledged by Divatox in the season premiere.
All the stranger when you consider Maligore was a demon the size of a Megazord at his biggest and Dark Specter is the size of an entire PLANET. He's also seen to shapeshift, which makes you wonder why he picked someone so many magnitudes of power weaker than himself to impersonate. Probably because Maligore looks scary. Besides, maybe they're related.
In an early draft of "Forever Red," Amit Bhaumik had proposed the idea that Maligore was an infantile version of the species that Dark Specter was a part of. Since this never made it to the final draft, it's anyone's guess how canon that idea is. On one hand, it would explain the similarity between Maligore and Dark Spectre. On the other, the fact that Maligore is technically an infant version of the species and that Divatox was his girlfriend... well, the implications are not pleasant.