Summary: New threats and a mad rush to the finale are a strange, but surprisingly effective mix with the week’s monster gimmick.
The Rangers repeatedly fake a construction accident to try to find someone heroic enough to activate the Purple Energem and become a new Ranger. Meanwhile, Sledge plans to use Wish Star to fight the Rangers by making their wishes come true and go bad, but Fury overhears about the unbonded Energem, and Wish Star is instead commanded to go back to prison. Wish Star refuses, and goes to attack the Rangers against their wishes while Sledge commands one of his worst criminals, the humanoid Heckyl, to pose as a potential Purple Ranger. Wish Star poses as a fortune teller vendor, and the Rangers make wishes. Koda and Chase wish for a burger and a girl, respectively, while Ivan wishes to save a damsel, Shelby wishes for a picnic with Tyler and Tyler wishes to see his dad again. Their wishes go wrong one-by-one — Koda’s burger makes him sick, Chase’s girl breaks his skateboard, Ivan injures his back rescuing a damsel, Shelby’s picnic/date goes horribly, and Tyler’s dad appears and immediately runs away, taking him to an ambush. Kendall hears about the wishes coming true, and decides to wish for a Purple Ranger. The Rangers realize that all their wishes are coming true with consequences, but before they can tell Kendall, she makes the wish — and immediately after, Heckyl arrives and activates the Energem. Fury attacks, wanting to make sure he gets the glory, and Heckyl retreats — though Fury manages to get the Energem. He takes it back to Sledge, who throws Heckyl back into the prison, and he swears revenge against Sledge. The Rangers fight and defeat Wish Star, but realize that Sledge now has the Energem and could build a powerful weapon against them — which he has. Riley suggests that the only way to stop Sledge from attacking them with bigger firepower is to go where he least expects — to his own ship.
“Wishing For A Hero” is a bizarre penultimate episode for the first season of Dino Charge – not a bad episode, but certainly not what was expected. Then again, Power Rangers has seldom followed typical storytelling or seasonal structures, and the fact that Dino Charge’s two seasons are more like one big season split in half doesn’t help. What we have here is a combination of a gimmicky monster-of-the-week, massive set-up for next season, and a hasty rush up to a finale cliffhanger. What’s strange is that, while the episode is rather stuffed and cobbles together numerous types of stories, it still works in that it touches on every dangling plot thread in the season.
The main crux of the episode, of course, is the continuing search for the new Purple Ranger. After taking kind of a detour last week to focus on a new Zord, the show finally gets mileage out of a fun concept. These sorts of “search for a new hero” plots can infuse ample mystery and unique challenges for characters, whether it’s played straight and long-term like Digimon Adventure’s cream-of-the-crop “Eighth Child” arc, or even played for laughs like RPM’s search for its Ranger Green. This season has been heavily focused on defining what makes a Ranger a Ranger, and it’s interesting to see the Rangers trying to be ahead of the game and test everyone they come across. “Wishing For A Hero” doesn’t actually spend much time on the search, aside from the test in the opening – which is a nice fake-out when it first happens – but it cleverly collides with this week’s monster gimmick. Kendall’s genre-savvy decision to literally wish for a Purple Ranger when there’s a wish-granting power around is a great twist, and goes a long way to tie the endeavor together.
The storyline seems to be going in a riveting direction when Heckyl gets his hands on the Energem. Heckyl is clearly going to be a major player down the line, whether it’s during the incoming assault on Sledge or, more likely, in the second season. As far as his introduction goes, he’s pretty much built to be a fan-favorite from the ground up – he’s an accented Steampunk-themed eccentric with a striking resemblance to Gotham’s Penguin, with a silly blue hair streak and who can shoot energy blasts from his hands. He’s not a typical Power Rangers villain in the slightest – and I totally except the internet to make him into a Draco in Leather Pants – and his Mad-Hatter suave is a smart foil to Sledge’s grimy, loud brutality. Ryan Carter plays it exactly how it seems the character was conceived, amping up the charisma and the humor to make the character more uncomfortably creepy than scary.
He’s also the episode’s biggest wasted opportunity, even if this is all set-up for the future. With another episode under the season’s belt, we could have seen Heckyl infiltrate the group in a way few villains have done before – masquerading as a new Ranger as he learns their weaknesses and sabotages them, or something to that effect. Instead, Heckyl tricks the Rangers for a good half-second before the Energem makes its way to Sledge, and it becomes apparent that this was meant to be a preview of Heckyl rather than a definitive introduction. What we get is fine, ultimately, and that the Rangers are smart enough to pick up on the nature of the wishes before Heckyl can infiltrate the group which is definitely a plus. But it does feel like this was meant to be a bigger story that the show just didn’t have time to tell, and it’s not quite as solid of an episode as a result.
The wish storyline provides its own surprises, and functions as a smart way to acknowledge the ongoing character threads one last time before the finale. While the generally content-with-life Koda, Chase, and Ivan wish for the mundane, the more wanting Shelby and Tyler both wish for things their arcs have been leading up to. Both end up being fake-outs, of course, as you can’t resolve a long-term character arc by just having them wish for it, but they’re welcome acknowledgements nevertheless. Shelby gets to have her own date with Tyler that, while it doesn’t go well, it’s hardly the worst date ever – and even the oblivious Tyler probably has her crush more on his radar now.
But it’s the appearance of Tyler’s father that raises a ton of questions, intentional or not. What’s strange is that his father here is remarkably young – and in reality, the actor playing him, Reuben Turner, is only three years older than Brennan Mejia. This isn’t totally out of the ordinary in filmmaking – Amy Poehler is only about 6 years older than Rachel McAdams and still totally nailed playing her mother in Mean Girls, for example. But it’s striking how young Turner looks, which seems purposeful. On one hand, it could be because he’s an image created by the wish, and is specifically meant to look closer to how he did when Tyler was a child, which is actually rather clever if that’s the case. But it could also be a clue to his disappearance – that wherever he is, time isn’t passing. If it’s not purposeful, then it’s a bizarre casting choice; even though the screentime is brief, we get too good a look at Mr. Navarro’s face for this to be overlooked.
While it doesn’t take a completely fluid route to get there, “Wishing For A Hero” does manage to end with a solid cliffhanger, serving as ample set-up for a blowout finale. It also solidifies these Rangers as one of the most proactive teams yet, as they’re one of the few to take the fight to the main bad guy this early. We know there’s still loads more story to tell for Dino Charge, but it’s effective to see the show still embrace the “storm the base” ending that most seasons end with, even if this is only part one of the saga. This isn’t a perfect episode of the show structurally, but it certainly doesn’t fail in terms of characterization and intriguing new threats, especially with what ought to be a game-changing finale on the horizon.
Odds & Ends
- No “Deep Down Under” review went up last week, but for a quick summary: it’s a fairly forgettable affair, with okay development for its guest character (in-line with Dino Thunder‘s “fame corrupts” storylines) and gives Shelby stuff to do, but it’s light on much of anything else, honestly. A new Zord is cool, but after seeing this episode rush through its Heckyl introduction, we could have used more of that rather than an extended introduction of another new Zord.
- We’ll have to wait another week to see the resolution to this cliffhanger, since next week is the Christmas special, with the actual finale following the week after. Gotta love Nickelodeon’s brilliant scheduling!
- The steadfastly logical Riley never makes a wish, which is totally in-character.
- I’m really interested to know who Sledge’s employer is. Might he/she become a Bigger Bad in season 2?
- Those CGI ants on Tyler’s food are gross to the max.
- According to Sledge, “We’ve all destroyed galaxies!”