A word of warning for people concerned about Spoilers: This post will contain SPOILERS concerning much of Power Rangers: Lost In Space, up through the series and all the way to the season’s completion. If you have not watched the show and intend to do so, hoping to do so without spoilers, please do not read this post.
That said, I fully recommend you go watch Power Rangers.
As some of you may know, I, like many in my age group, watched Power Rangers growing up. I fell in love with it from season one (ala Mighty Morphing Power Rangers!), and I am still very much in love with it to this day. I like the concepts, the execution, the characters, plot lines, and various resolutions of situations. I like monster designs.
I love the world of Power Rangers. There is very little that I would change in the universe. So preciously little.
But like all things, there’s always something that sticks a thorn in your eye. In Power Rangers: Lost in Space, that thing was the conclusion.
That’s right. The very last episode itched at me. As a child, I didn’t really understand why, and I didn’t have the words to explain it. But watching it set wrong with me, especially the death of one of the arc’s villains, Ecliptor, who died in a blaze of power via Zordon’s timely death which “destroyed all evil in the galaxy.” I liked Ecliptor. I was sad he died, and I wanted him to live. Why not? He was a great dad to Andromeda, wasn’t he?
Of course, this show aired back in 1998 through 1999, and I was eight and nine in those respective years. Children don’t have a lot of words for concepts, and I have always had excessive difficulty in focusing on things for large periods of time. I went on to watch more things, more things, Power Rangers included. But through the years, I carried with me Lost In Space the strongest. There was something about it that didn’t settle in me, and I couldn’t rest easy due to it.
As an adult, I decided to go back and watch Power Rangers from it’s inception. Being a writer and a grown-up, now, means I look at things in a different light. I have more words for concepts, I get more of the hidden jokes, and– more importantly– I can focus better on things, and for a longer period of time.
So I watched Power Rangers. I started at the beginning, ever-eager to get to Lost In Space, but unwilling to skip the rest of the seasons. Something in Lost In Space still nagged at me, and I couldn’t put my finger on it…
Until I watched it again.
Of course, there are things I went in knowing, remembering. I remembered Ecliptor’s death, if not his name. I remembered that he had raised Andromeda. I remembered that Andros was attractive– he and Tommy made up some of my earliest crushes on real people– and that he had a friend who he’d put in hibernation in hopes of finding a cure for… something. He was sick, and so he had to. I also remembered that [spoiler] Andromeda was Andros’ long-lost sister.
There are things I didn’t remember, like the fact that Andromeda had a crush on Andros’ best friend, or that Ecliptor was such an awesome father. I didn’t really remember them finding any of Andros’ people, hidden away and waiting for the day when it was safe to be seen again.
I didn’t remember Andromeda’s heel-face-turn, her helping the Rangers there at the very end, or Ecliptor’s quite resignation for it, his desire to protect his daughter turning into helping the Rangers escape a fatal trap that he himself had helped set up. I didn’t remember these things. But watching them again.. remembering what I did…
I realized why it bothered me.
There is a line Ecliptor says, when he is talking to Andromeda shortly after she learns who she really is. He admits that he is a created creature; he was made, and he was made to do evil. Andromeda was born, and people who are born are inherently neither good nor evil, that is a choice they make, part of who they’re raised to be. Ecliptor had raised her to be evil, and he begged her not to go good.
And this is what bothered me. Because even as a child, my concept of evil was– well, negligent at best, but somewhat existent. People who did good things and who helped other people couldn’t be evil. Ecliptor was made to be evil– and he had defied his nature, even in raising Andromeda. Helping her, and the Rangers, only further highlighted it.
I understood the lesson. Good people can do evil things, and evil people can do good.
And then he died; Zordon killed him, and further impounded this lesson into me in words that I only had as an adult. Only, it added to it; good deeds are ever-punished. And you cannot tell me that this was not the lesson. I have seen other crafted villains turn good and survive. I have seen the Power of the Rangers turn some of their villains human, even when their choices were their own.
But Ecliptor died. Ecliptor, though designed and crafted to do evil and subjugate the world, did good things. He raised a little girl who had been kidnapped from her family, taught her how to love the things that were hers and to live, he taught her how to fight and survive and be strong, and more importantly, he loved her, he loved her enough to go against his own nature and defy the calling that he was crafted for.
And Zordon, touting the title of benevolent and generous defender of galaxies, killed him.
I suppose… Zordon is not evil, inherently, because of this. Zordon has done wonders. He has saved more people than I can fathom. But what Zordon has also done is murder a man– and to me, Ecliptor was a man– who was trapped by virtue of not having been born. A man with literally no choice but to be who he was, and fighting it.
Even going back to watch Zordon in the earlier shows, I listen and I watch and I remember that Zordon’s view of the world is purely in black and white. That Zordon cannot fathom anything beyond that scope, and does registers lack of choice as being a choice to be against him.
That Zordon murdered a man who loved his daughter. Andromeda later became a Ranger, in Power Rangers Lost Galaxy; but some part of me suspects that she gave it up so easily because she realized that this.. herald.. wizard.. mentor of the Rangers had killed her own father, for nothing more than not having a choice to be good.