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Series / The Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nóg

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"Fire within me! Earth beneath me! Air above me! Water around me! Forest before me!"

The best way to describe this sentai-esque series that aired in the '90s on Fox Kids is either Power Rangers meets Celtic Mythology or Star Wars in a Medieval European Fantasy where the Darth Vader equivalent is a woman. Whatever the match it was Saban's attempt to create a PR series without worrying about Japanese stock footage. All of it, from the costumes to the monsters, was created from the ground up.

An island resembling medieval Ireland was divided into two kingdoms: Kells, ruled by King Conchobar (Stephen Brennan); and Temra, ruled by Queen Maeve (Charlotte Bradley). Maeve, who believed she was entitled to rule the entire island, made a deal in the first episode with Mider (Ned Dennehy), a dark fairy who speaks in the third-person: she would help him take over the fairy kingdom of Tir Na Nog in exchange for a green crystal whose sorcery would help her conquer Kells.

What had once been a stalemate between Maeve's Mooks and Conchobar's red-clad soldiers now tipped in Maeve's favor. Backed into a corner, Conchobar, at the advice of his court druid, Cathbad (Barry Cassin), sent Cathbad's apprentice, Rohan (Lochlann Ó Mearáin), and Rohan's best friend, Angus (Vincent Walsh), to find the legendary warrior, Draganta, who was supposed "to bring peace to Kells for a hundred lifetimes." After meeting up with Ivar (Justin Pierre), a prince from a distant kingdom pursuing a thief, and realizing Deirdre (Lisa Dwan), Conchobar's daughter, followed them, the four stumbled into the kingdom of Tir Na Nog. After a quick few episodes of secret tests, the four were judged worthy of inheriting the Mystic Weapons and Armor and becoming the Mystic Knights.

After a week of defeating the Threshold Guardians who guarded their armor, taming Pyre the Dragon of Dare, and learning Rohan was actually the warrior Draganta, the Mystic Knights settled into their routine: Maeve conjures up a Monster of the Week. The knights fight it with just their weapons. When that doesn't work, they transform into their armor and destroy the monster with their weapons. They return to the castle to chase out the Temra soldiers Maeve sent in while they were busy.

The first (and only) season ended with a Story Arc where Maeve demanded something she had apparently been waiting for from a witch, Nemain: a powerful half demon warrior named Lugad, whom the Mystic Knights could not defeat. The Warrior of Temra arc involved a power up for Rohan called Battle Fury, Garrett's return, the introduction of two not-so-Humongous Mecha, and a completely unanticipated Reveal regarding Lugad, Maeve, and Rohan. Maeve was defeated once and for all and exiled, and it seemed that all would live Happily Ever After. The last minute of footage, however, featured Midar and Nemain teaming up, making unpleasant plans for Kells and Tir Na Nog. Too bad the show was canceled, and they would never get to carry them out...

This show provides examples of:

  • The Ace:
    • Kells: Garrett; unfortunately, he knew this ("You confuse honesty with being boastful."). This attitude disappeared, of course, when he joined the team.
    • Temra: Lugad; a half-human Dumb Muscle. However, being not that bright, he is easily manipulated.
  • Achilles in His Tent: The episode when Angus, jealous of Rohan getting all the attention, walked out, only to return when Tyrune, Maeve's three-headed dragon, kidnapped Rohan.
  • All Your Colors Combined: The Knights' Finishing Move.
  • Arbitrary Scepticism: In the "Night of Spirits" episode, the dismissal of Deirdre and Rohan about spirits existing seems rather out of place in a world of elves, fairies, dragons, and druids who can perform actual magic. In addition, the ghost story Cathbad tells the knights is rather reminiscent of stories of The Fair Folk, who do exist in this universe.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: During the final arc of the season, Maeve has Rohan brought to her castle and offers to give him half of Temra in exchange for switching sides. Rohan won't hear of it and is about to leave, so she rolls up her sleeve and reveals she has the same Birthmark of Destiny that he has. He is completely floored.
  • Artifact of Doom: Ivar's chalice/ Midar's portal
  • Artistic License – History: The show never pretends to be historically accurate, sure, but you still got characters living in late middle ages castles despite the show not being set any later than 400 AD (See The Middle Ages below). And actually averted with regards to the armor worm by the Kells and Termra soldiers, which rather than the expected plate armor (not invented until the late midle ages/early renaissance) wear the more historically accurate scale mail/leather armor. The plate armor of the mystic knights can he handwaved since they are supposed to be magical.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Apparently the key to defeating a giant eyeball (that has no eyelids) is to attack it while "The eye is open!" And yes, that is a direct quote.
  • Badass Cape
  • Badass Decay: In-universe example. Torc was often described as a fantastic fighter and impressive warrior in his younger days. Now, he's basically Maeve's flunky who is often easily beaten in a fight. It's even lampshaded at times.
    Conchobar: Selling secrets of Maeve to save your own skin? To think what a great warrior you once were, Torc.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • In the episode "Tyrune," Maeve tricks Rohan into releasing an evil dragon, i.e. Tyrune, in a ritual he thinks will reveal the secret about his past and destiny.
    • Near the end of the series, in the episode "The Queen Mother," Nemain wants to show Lugad that Maeve has been lying to him. Nemain has him hide in the room seconds before Maeve fights Rohan and almost immediately tells him she's been lying to Lugad.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Whether Maeve or Midar is the bigger threat or the one actually calling the shots varies.
  • Black Vikings: Ivar, who is possibly either from North Africa or Muslim Spain, has an obviously Norse name. The toy portrayed the character as white so it is possible that Ivar was originally supposed to be Norse until Justin Pierre was cast.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Taken to even more ridiculous levels than Power Rangers. There were several battle sequences throughout the show between Kells and Temra, and not one person seems to use their sword or axe as anything but a club.
  • Brainwashed: Happens several times, even to Pyre
  • By the Power of Grayskull!:
    "Fire within me!"
    "Earth beneath me!"
    "Air above me!"
    "Water around me!"
    "Forest before me!"
  • Calling Your Attacks: Invoked, but not every single time.
  • Catchphrase: See By the Power of Grayskull! above.
    Rohan: By Dagde!
  • Courtroom Episode: "The Trial of Angus". He was framed.
  • Custom Uniform: The Knights armor.
  • Dungeon Master: Fin Varra
  • Elemental Powers
  • Enemy Mine:
    • One episode had Kells and Temra joining forces to repel an invasion of Horny Vikings which turned out to a ruse created by Maeve.
    • A straight example appeared in a later episode where Midar deposed Maeve and took control of Temra, forcing her to join with Kells for real.
    • Cathbad and the Knights helped Maeve stop Midar from conquering the island.
    • Midar and Nemain helped the Knights defeat Maeve in the finale.
  • Ermine Cape Effect: The royal characters complained about spending all day taking ceremonial robes on and off.
  • Expy: Aideen is indistinguishable from Disney's Tinkerbell.
  • The Face: Deirdre is the only female of five knights, and also the only one to regularly do more than fighting. When making alliances, who is the local head man going to listen to: the thief, the druid apprentice, the princes from the Land of Never-Heard-Of-It, or the local princess?
  • False Flag Operation: One episode has a band of Vikings (called "the Northmen") invading and capturing the king. Realizing the odds are bad, the Knights are forced to turn to Maeve for help. It turns out the "Northmen" are all an illusion by Maeve to get inside and take over.
  • Halloween Episode: "Night of the Spirits" sees the characters celebrating Samhain, with newcomer Ivar learning about the various traditions and customs. To steal Cathbad's magic powders, Maeve and Mider exploit the people's fear of evil spirits with some powerful illusions.
  • Hostage for MacGuffin: Deirdre
  • I Surrender, Suckers: It seems as if every other episode Maeve's plan was to pretend to surrender/want a peace treaty, only to inevitably set up a trap for the heroes, who fall for it every single time. You'd think they would have learned after the first couple times...
  • Idiot Ball: As noted in I Surrender, Suckers above, the heroes grab this frequently during their interactions with Maeve.
  • Invocation: Garrett only carried around one ax. Fin Varra instructed him to bring his hands together a certain way to make the other materialize, but he never did it (except for the first time) without saying, "Twin-timber axes!"
  • Instant Armor: The knights armour can be summoned at a moment's notice.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father
    Maeve: Yes, Rohan. I am your mother.
    This came shortly after Rohan learned from Fin Varra that Lugad was his half-brother by the same mother.
  • Make My Monster Grow: Oddly enough, there were very few monsters who spontaneously became giant sized in this Power Rangers-esque series. Most likely because there were so few Humongous Mecha in on the show (not to mention many of the monsters were pretty big to begin with).
  • The Middle Ages: Technically Late Antiquity since it takes place in Pre-Christian Ireland (which puts it sometime before 400 AD) but otherwise it fits all the aesthetics.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: Rohan's Battle Fury Armor. Based on the toys that were released, all the other characters would have gotten upgrades as well had the show not been canceled.
  • Mind-Control Eyes: Garrett, while under Maeve's control.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Justified, as the Knights are still learning spells from their teacher and allies.
  • Noodle Incident: Precisely how the war between Kells and Temra started, or why Maeve is under the impression that she has a rightful claim to Kells, is never really elaborated on. This probably wasn't done for the usual reasons, but just because such political complexities would be well beyond the interests of the target audience.
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: Including... a giant eyeball?
  • Prophecy Twist: It is believed that Draganta will be someone of an unknown lineage that ultimately saves Kells and brings about peace for a hundred lifetimes. Rohan learns early on that he is Draganta and so tries to achieve his destiny by leading the Mystic Knights in opposition of Temra. Towards the end of the season, Maeve reveals that she is Rohan's mother and argues that him also being Draganta means he will bring about that era of peace by fighting for Temra instead of against it. She's wrong, of course, but the thought of it being true shakes Rohan to his core and makes him contemplate leaving the island.
  • Red Shirt Army: No kidding — Kells's army, who are absolutely no help at all in fighting Maeve's army, wear red uniforms. Give us the Faux Action Girl any day. Their uselessness was actually lampshaded in one episode where Rohan and the other knights complained that all they did was get in the way during fighting, and they asked the King to be able to command them directly during battles (presumably so they could tell them to just go home and let them do all the fighting).
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: The sights in "Night of the Spirits" are just illusions cooked up by Mider rather than real ghosts, albeit they're still powerful and dangerous. Maeve actually wanted to summon the real deal, but Mider refused on the grounds that such creatures can't be controlled even by him.
  • Shapeshifting:
    • Midar and his minions are quite gifted in this, but no matter how many times they've been tricked before, the other characters always fall for it.
    • Nemain travels around by transforming into a raven.
  • So Proud of You: Right before Maeve is exiled in the finale, Rohan asks his mother if there is anything she wants to say to him. Maeve admits that he had been raised well, and that he is a brave and great warrior. Her only regret is that he's fighting for the wrong side.
  • Synchronization: The Mystic Weapons were apparently linked, not to the Knights, but to Fin Varra. In an episode when he was kidnapped, they completely shut down.
  • We Can Rule Together: Hint — tied directly to the Luke, I Am Your Father
  • Wham Shot: The Mark of Destiny ends up being a recurring example. Rohan's birthmark in the first episode matches a symbol in an ancient scroll predicting a great destiny and, via Pyre, later confirms him to be Draganta in the eponymous episode. Towards the end of the season, Rohan sees that Lugad has the same birthmark, meaning they're brothers. An even bigger whammy is in the very next episode: Maeve has the same mark, making her their mother.
  • With Friends Like These......: Maeve and Nemain are both evil sorceresses who want the downfall of Kells. However, Nemain makes a deal with Midar in order to betray Maeve.
  • "You!" Exclamation: Rohan's horrified reaction to learning that Maeve is his mother.