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Monday, March 30, 2009

Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers, Recap 20: The Power Within

I've actually hit recap number 20! A little less than one third of the way through!

Anyway this episode is titled "The Power Within"

Because Sadistic Gameshow Episodes are Compulsory

The opening music to this episode is a bit weird and music boxy, I'm not sure I approve. But wait, whose voice is that I hear as Ranger One approaches a rather nifty star formation?! Could it be?! It's ZACH!! Hi, Zach!!! I missed you, you cyborged Jerry Orbach, you!

Zach's saying something about the horns of Capricorn. I'm busy going "Eee! Zach!!!" God willing, this episode will actually have all four main characters!!!

OMG! It does!!!

Okay, so I should probably actually recap what's going on.

The Rangers are approaching a part of space that doesn't appear to have a planet so much as an odd milky looking formation. I suck at astronomy, as I'm sure I've mentioned and never really regretted until I started recapping this series. I know Capricorn's a constellation though, so I guess they're near there.

Zach and Niko are in the cockpit of Ranger One. While Doc and Shane are sitting in a row of seats that look like a roller coaster type set up, with Zozo, that lovable rascal that THROWS PEOPLE IN FIRE, sitting behind Shane. It might be another ship. I can't tell yet. Anyway, Shane says something about ten ships missing in the last six months. Nifty!

Goose pops up on Zach and Niko's screen. For whatever reason, I am amused by his neckerchief all over again. You'd think I'd be over that by now. Anyway, he says that this system "eats cruisers for breakfast." Good to know. And that the missing ships had good pilots too.

Zozo chimes in with visible excitement that good pilots don't come any better than the Galaxy Rangers. Goose darts him a narrow eyed look. Possibly because he realizes his title as homicidal maniac of the group has been taken away by the little rodent.

Apparently they ARE all on board Ranger One, as it's the only ship visible. It would explain where the others are when we only see the cockpit, I guess. Niko asks Doc to pilot them in.

Suddenly the ship starts to shake and what looks like lightning flashes around them. Goose reports that they're being struck by a strong energy beam. Zozo grips Goose's chair, I suspect, because lightning is related to fire and he wants to burn them all.

Yeah, sorry, still not letting that go. Jesus.

Goose reports that the power is overloading, and his wonderful atari-graphic screen is flashing Danger above what looks like a topographical map of some kind. That's probably not good. Niko reduces power to one-quarter, which causes the topographical map to flatten out and the ship to start drifting along the beam's path. Goose recommends evasive action. Really? I'd never have thought of that.

Zach affirmatives and orders them to ready the deflector weren't doing that already? Yeesh. His image is flickering out. See, this is why it might be a good idea to have everyone in one place. So you can hear each other if communications flake. He orders Doc to pinpoint the power source.

Goose snaps that they're caught in a tractor beam, and Niko activates auxiliary power. Or tries to, Goose reports that every system has been neutralized.

We cut away to a somewhat barren looking planet (DRINK!) that is nonetheless occupied by a rather swanky looking castle. It's not red or creepifying, so I'm guessing it's not the Queen's castle. But maybe it is, on account of Zach waking up sprawled on the floor of a cell barred with green energy. Yeesh, couldn't put him on a BED? What lousy captors.

Niko's hair is on the floor nearby, and we zoom out to see a fairly elegantly set table with five places. It's kind of like a Japanese place setting in that it's all at a height to not require chairs. Zozo, Goose and Doc are all sprawled next to each spot. (Amusingly, while Doc, Zozo and Niko are sprawled, Goose is laying ramrod straight. Supertrooper training I'd guess. Heh.)

The spread on the table looks pretty swanky for a jail cell. Zach sits up first and asks if everyone's all right. Doc also sits up, with a "Compared to what?" Heh, I missed you Doc and Zach. Group episodes are the best episodes. Don't go away again!

Niko and Zozo are sitting up too, and Zozo remarks that he feels like he's been run through a nutra-processor. Goose staggers to his feet and mutters something about any landing you can walk away from. Considering how often he seems to crash-land, he ought to know. Niko points out that they've been stunned. Goose checks for weapons. "And picked clean."

Zach, seeing as how he's got the weapon that can't be taken away, notices first that while they can't take Thunderbolt away, they CAN take his badge. And they have. The Rangers are indeed badgeless. Doc comments that the green lasers are one "mean looking security fence."

I like how all the Rangers are ignoring the food to gripe about being in a cage. Zozo comments that it's a gilded cage, to use the proper term. Goose pronounces that the cage hasn't been built that can hold the Galaxy Rangers. Doc is all "Go get 'em, Goo-Dini."

They're interrupted by the entrance of an...interesting looking fellow. He's vaguely feline with a shock of wild purple hair. He's apparently wearing bracers and leg warmers of fur. His torso is covered by a tuxedo coat/shirt/bowtie, and the lapels are lined with fur as well. His pants are blue and purple and striped.

Wow. This guy makes the supertroopers look well dressed.

The cat-faced man cheerfully welcomes the "gamesters" and introduces himself as Nimrod. And I...have nothing to say about that. He's "the hunter of the horn" apparently and for the moment the Galaxy Rangers are his guests.

Zach asks Nimrod if he's crazy and wants to know where his ship is. I missed you and your loud, angry Orbachianness Zach. Nimrod asks if they've heard of him. Goose snaps something about not since Nimrod escaped from the Deltoid Rock.

Nimrod ignores that and asks them, in a very showmanesque voice, to "tell the audience about yourselves." And "How long have you had the pet kiwi?" He leans in close to the pyromaniacal psycho, which is, I suspect, a bad idea considering how much hairspray Nimrod must be wearing. Zozo is offended. Zach wants to know about their badges, and Nimrod answers that their reputation as Series Five Rangers precedes them. (I wonder what Series of Ranger Zach was before getting his implant. Hm.) He had to strip them of their powers so they'll remain true to the spirit of the game.

Which is fair enough really. The Rangers are pretty kickass after all. Doc snaps that he'll "Gain [him], PINROD."

Um, Doc. His name is ALREADY an insult.

Zach wants him to can the speeches and tell them what he's up to. There's some odd carnival music, and Nimrod welcomes them to "The Greatest Gameshow in the Universe!"

A roulette wheel descends from the ceiling landing on the number 72. Nimrod tells them that if they survive the games for 72 Galactic Hours, they'll go free in a ship that he will "willingly provide." Doc states that they're not playing any game, but Nimrod ignores that and shows them the "consolation prizes" if they fail. His trophy collection! Which shows a bunch of aliens being menaced by two headed dogs, nearly hit with spears, and one Jerry Lewis type alien from Progress getting sucked into a floor. I presume this would be more graphic if not a kid's show. Still the implication is pretty clear.

Nimrod shows one empty exhibit with just their badges hanging up and says he's saving the prime spot for them. Zozo comments that suddenly the cave doesn't seem so bad. It's a shame they didn't get the chance to eat. Oh well, Nimrod announces the games' beginning, and three multicolored doors open on the other end of the cell. They're transport portals leading to different gaming areas.

What would he do if they stayed in the cell? After all, it says to survive 72 hours, he didn't say how...

Ahh, he's calculated for that. To give them a "running start", the forcefield starts closing in on them. Leaving that nice spread on the table. Aw. I hate seeing wasted food.

Said food AND table is quickly vaporized by the forcefield. Eek.

Nimrod asks if it'll be door number 1, door number 2, or door number 3? Doc mutters something about Nimrod being a prize boob. (Can they say that on a kid's show?) While Nimrod warns that the last group that hesitated ended up as One-Dimensional Beings. I bet Shane or Zozo could kill you even as a One-Dimension Being, guy, so be very careful who you piss off.

Zach hisses to stick together. Shane points out that the lasers have other ideas. Doc quips that the last one in is a stuffed basooti. That leaves Zach, who soberly warns Nimrod that this will be his most dangerous game. I love you, Zach.

Nimrod just warns that the clock is running, and Zach turns toward the door. In a bit of pettiness, the area just above the door is raised. So Zach and Zozo trip, as they fall in to where the others are equally sprawled. That's just...catlike. Hm.

The door behind Zach says "Return to Go." But it vanishes, as the world suddenly changes to a plateau top overlooking a lovely forest. Niko wonders "Now what," Just as Nimrod, riding one of those giant gopher things, leads an army out of the castle gates. Shane's punched one before, he can do it again. I hope he does. Hee.

There are also nasty looking dogs and flying creatures. Shane IDs them as "Zacker Beasts." And Doc quips, "I forget, do we have a plan?" Zach does, and it's "Lose those hounds, for starters." He orders them to make for the woods. They start running.

Goose in the lead points out the river up ahead. He warns that there could be anything in there, but Zach points out that when they cross, the trackers will have a hard time picking up their scent. Niko senses something about the river, but can't be sure without her badge. Zach points out that if they had their badges, it wowuldn't matter what was wrong with the river. Goose runs back to check and points out the bad guys are gaining on them.

Zach, headstrong as ever, is about to jump in when Niko yells and Goose pulls him back, surprisingly gently. He asks what's wrong. Niko closes her eyes as Goose crouches by the river's edge. He asks them to hand him one of the berries from a nearby plant. Zozo grabs a whole bunch. Goose, pleased, takes one and throws it in, where some vicious looking things emerge to rip it to shreds.

"Carrion Vampire Fish" Goose identifies, to the other Rangers' shock. Goose has a very eclectic education apparently. Though the fish won't actually eat the berry now that it's torn apart, so they might have a chance, as Zozo points out. Doc quips something about a garlic scented fishhook. They're runaway berries, and if squashed, Zozo explains, they'll find out why.

They quickly get a pile of the things. Zozo stamps and starts smearing it over himself, telling them to do the same. Niko recoils saying no creature in his right mind would go near the stuff.

Once berried, Shane goes in first, since he's like that even without uber-healing. He makes it through un-torn apart and the others follow. Zach praises Zozo when they get to the other side. They run for it.

As they ascend the hill, Niko glances back to see Nimrod on the Gopher. He announces it's now Round Two, and his hunters scatter. Goose says they'll cross somewhere else. Zach adds that high ground is their only chance and Goose volunteers to take point. Good thing he does, as he collides with reeds and gives a gurgling scream and falls over. Eek. Doc and Niko run to him, while Zach checks it out. It's "Krillian Electrical Grass."

Wow, the Rangers' universe is filled with some scary ass shit.

Goose is bemused and mutters shakily that his legs should have turned to armor. Zach points out that with his Thunderbolt, he could clear it all away right now. Niko agrees, but points out that for now, they're regular Galaxy Rangers and they have to think that way.

I like how the series keeps revisiting how the Rangers use their power. I've mentioned how Doc, Niko and Zach tend to use their power as tools while Goose uses his more unconsciously and automatically. As we saw in the fight with Kilbane, he tends not to use it as MUCH as the others but more efficiently, when needed. This episode demonstrates the downside to that though. Doc, Niko and Zach are clearly feeling the lack of their nifty tools, but they're also not running headlong into electric grass either because they're used to compensation.

Niko's comment probably sums up the problem fairly well. The others know what it's like to be (mostly) regular. I don't think Shane really does. To be fair though, he IS incredibly adaptable. So now that he's become consciously aware that his abilities don't work, I don't expect him to make the same mistake again.

Zach, who's been "regular" longest, has an idea. They've made stilts! Zozo is sitting on Goose's shoulders, and the latter seems quite content on stilts, now that he's not focused on the lack of bio-defenses. He compliments the good brain Zach has inside his bionic skull and quips cheerfully that Zach "wins this round."

THAT...could be an interesting indicator of how exactly Shane Gooseman sees the interactions with his commanding officer. I'm going to have to think about this a bit and start babbling theories later.

So they make it through the grass. Just as their pursuers get there. A few of the dogs get zapped, while Nimrod starts up with his gameshow host spiel.

Apparently they still have washers and driers in the future. Also, Tri-D, which I'd assume is like tv. The gopher starts trampling the grass, while the pursuers follow.

Niko, using her limited powers, realizes that they're not ordinary beasts. Niko makes an interesting contrast to Shane here, because the two of them are the characters most likely to have some of their powers without the badges. (He did shake off the zap easier than a lot would, I'd reckon.) But because of the nature of her powers and her relationship to them, she has an easier time using what she can without overreaching. It's probably easier to take that mindset when your powers are active and offensive rather than passive and defensive though.

She identifies the dogs as "Syrian telepathic hounds."

Doc notes that they're being tracked by Niko's thoughts. And Zach notes that her implant would have let her project some kind of scrambler or ghost image. Niko glares and emphasizes "REGULAR rangers, Zach." She'll concentrate on a trail to the waterfall, as a sort of false trail. And they'll head into the lake.

I'm not sure I'd count that as "regular" so much as "less powerful" Niko. But still, I admire your practicality.

The lake is kind of gross looking and greenish. And while in the water, Doc starts sinking into something. They pull him out in a way that allows for quite the substantial crotch-shot. Goose identifies that the area is filled with "Canopian Suction Bogs."

I'm going to start a drinking game every time the Rangers identify some NEW danger.

Suddenly, to make things worse, it starts raining. The Rangers find another waterfall. Niko notes that there's something inside it. It appears to be a doorway. Niko's false trail doesn't seem to have worked, as Nimrod's close by and listing more "prizes."

They eye the doorway, which is yet another game doorway, skeptically. Doc shrugs and says "What do we have to lose?" A valid question. Zozo quips "Don't ask."

They run through and find themselves back in the shrinking cell. They run through yet another doorway to emerge in a very windy area. Zozo sarcastically congratulates Doc's choice, but Doc retorts that he'd rather have sand in his face than bog juice in his lungs. Fair enough.

Niko catches sight of shelter, and they make their way to a wall, where they crouch and wait for the storm to pass. Once it does, Zach identifies it as part of a star-fighter. This is Nimrod's junkyard. Where all the ships of his "contestants" go, I'd reckon.

Eek. This is the sort of scene where you suddenly process that the funny comic relief villain is actually a fucking serial killer. Those are a lot of ships.

Goose leaps on top of one (spectacular physical abilities =/= superpowers) , and investigates closer, noting that Nimrod's junkyard will be their ticket out. They get to work.

Shane takes charge of the repairs. Apparently, he's the mechanical expert of the group. This is an intriguing, unforeseen layer. It makes sense though. Someone ought to be adept at repairs. Doc's tech skill tends to be more with the programming/hacking and less with the engineering/mechanics. Likewise, while Niko's emerged as the team's general science officer, her abilities seem to tend more toward biology and soft sciences.

Engineering/Mechanics would seem to suit our Gooseman though. It's practical (especially if you're prone to crashing), methodical, and tends to involve more troubleshooting than anything else. It's nice to see him with an interest that doesn't involve causing violence to another person. (And to be fair, Mind-Net did establish that Goose spends a fair bit of time at Longshot. Now we know that he wasn't just playing with dolphins.)

Zach seems inclined to encourage this as well. When Doc grumbles about wishing Q-Ball were here, Zach shouts that they don't need Q-Ball when they have Shane Gooseman. Aw. Shane announces cheerfully that he was "born to synthesize."

Which...might well be true. Anyway, they get to work.

When finished, they all stare skeptically at the product. Niko's verbally unsure, while Zozo snorts that it will never fly. Goose cheerfully states that it's not meant to. Doc is not reassured, but Zach gets it and calls him a genius. I don't get it, but okay.

We see the ship. It's...interesting looking. An asymmetrical hodgepodge including a giant claw coming out of one side. As the daughter of an electrical engineer, I am amused. My dad would totally make one of those if he had the time and parts.

Shane christens his...creation the "Miscellany." Ah, Shane and your remarkably silly sense of humor that would have seemed impossible fifteen episodes ago. :-) Niko chuckles that Q-Ball will be proud.

On the horizon, dust starts stirring, as Nimrod and crew are now in nifty sand vehicles. Zach announces it's time to go back for the badges. Niko and Goose hop into the Miscellany, while Zach, Doc and Zozo remain behind.

Goose is definitely enjoying himself and leads Nimrod and crew on a merry chase, while the others run toward the doorway. Zozo gets to shout "Galaxy Rangers, Ho" this time. They're more egalitarian than the Thunder-Cats.

Back in the cell, they run down the last door. They emerge outside the castle, which is unguarded now that Shane's playing "Catch me if you can." They intend to get the badges.

Shane's apparently a damn good mechanic. That ship is flying, figuratively speaking. Two evil vehicles line up on either side. Shane tells Niko to hold tight, and sends the ship in reverse, causing the bad guys to shoot each other. Hee. Now, it's time to play chicken. And like a metaphor for all supertroopers we've met so far, and will meet, Goose's ship might LOOK a little outlandish, but it's all quite functional. That weird claw thing is perfect for ripping pieces off enemy vehicles.

It might not fly, but it does do a nifty sort of polevault somehow over the next batch of pursuers, sending them crashing into the pre-existing rubble.

There are a few guards left outside the castle, after all. But Zozo gets to work distracting them. He does not set any of them on fire. The Guards are boggled and aim their crossbows, but are promptly tripped by Zach and Doc. Now they've got weapons! Doc compliments Zozo's "mean moves." Zozo says he got the move from Doc.

They race inside. I wonder if they need their SPECIFIC badges, or if any of them would do. Zozo notes that Goose must have Nimrod on the run by now.

Not exactly, as he's still being pursued, but then that's where he wants to be. Nimrod starts babbling about time running out and how he really enjoyed this round. Niko's not having that, and though she calls him "Pinrod", she uses the arm like a spatula and knocks Nimrod's ship off balance.

Seriously, his name's ALREADY an insult. Changing it around isn't going to bother him, I'd reckon.

Anyway, they use the claw to physically pluck a henchman from a vehicle. They're having fun.

Back at the ranch, Doc is trying to hack into the displays. It's harder without the pets I'd reckon. Doc points it out, though Zach does suggest there was a time before the implants. Zozo and Doc groan that they know and repeat Niko's "regular Galaxy Ranger" chorus.

Fortunately "regular" equals "very competent hacker" in Doc's case, so he gets to work, even as more guards come with niftier weapons.

Back at the racetrack, so to speak, Nimrod and the Miscellany are neck and neck. Nimrod aims his gun, cheerfully stating that their time is up. He's interrupted by "alert" flashing across his screen and he orders everyone back to the castle.

Doc is interacting with Nimrod's security AI who wants to play password, essentially. Zach orders him to play along, even as Zach exchanges gunfire with the guards. Doc plays knock-knock games with the AI, and actually seems to be getting somewhere. Finally, Doc's in. Go Doc!

Now with the field down, Zozo's leaping for the badges, He freezes inside, and Doc notes that the beams aren't dead. Just in stasis.

Nimrod enters, and Zach orders him to disarm the field. Nimrod is still on the idiotic gameshow thing and tells them to prepare for trophy stasis. Zach accuses him of not playing fair and asks him about the spirit of the hunt. I missed Jerry Orbach's indignant Zach proclamations.

Nimrod points out that the successful player knows when to bring out the big guns. Zach counters with "eat photons."

The camera does a creepy zoom-in on Nimrod, who finally looks a little dangerous. The guards aim, and Doc and Zach leap and run for cover. Nimrod forgot about the cavalry though. Goose didn't, as the Miscellany slams through the wall of the control room. Goose and Niko emerge, and Goose grabs for a guard and quite ably disables him. Niko gets the other with a face-kick, and both are now armed. (Goose with pistol, Niko with rifle.) Zach joins the fray, as Doc 's back on computer. The stasis field drops, and Zozo can move again. He grabs the badges and juggles them as Doc dodges a guard. Zozo disperses the badges, and the Rangers, mid ass-kickery, collect them.

zach powers up the Thunderbolt. Goose deliberately takes a shot and goes titanium on their ass. Doc and Niko fight as normal, until eventually something knocks the computer loose and all the frozen people in the trophy case are freed. I'm not sure that the fact that they were actual frozen people and not images makes Nimrod less a serial killer though. Unless they had VERY small crews.

Nimrod is upset, then offers double-or-nothing, and charges Zach, who is not having that. Nimrod asks about consolation prizes and Zach agrees: a free trip back to the Deltoid Rock. Now they get into one giant purple looking ship, which Shane classifies as "not much, but she'll get [them] back to earth-space." Niko asks about Nimrod. Zach cheerfully says that his captives wanted one more game. Zach's got a sadistic side. I approve.

I admit, I have such a weakness for the "sadistic game show" type story. This one was definitely fun, too. Though I'm not sure really if Nimrod ever was on a show at all or if it was just in his crazy head.

Nimrod's an entertaining villain though. Mostly comic relief but with just a hint of genuine scariness. Especially when you see the wreckage of all those ships. Egads.

I loved the batshit crazy flora and fauna. Vampire fish? Electric grass? Bog-something or others? Hilarious. The Galaxy Ranger universe is kind of a fucked up place, man.

I liked seeing the Rangers without their powers. It made for an interesting set-up. Doc seems to be the least confident without his powers, which would be interesting to explore, because really, his powers do the least for him. It lets him conjure/carry AI that he's previously programmed and take a lot of shortcuts via his mental connection to machines, but doesn't alter the fact that he still does all the thinking himself. It was good to see him pull it together.

Niko didn't have as much trouble, but then with her powers, the implant really just makes a difference of scale. And Zach seems to have learned from Mistwalker and really made the best showing of all of them without his giant arm gun.

Shane did well too though, after the initial grass mishap. I'd suspect his issue was more because, since his powers are pretty much only defensive, he really had to get whacked to remember/process that they're not active anymore. He did well enough after the fact though, AND got to demonstrate a new non-violent skill set.

I was thinking about the "You win this round" comment to Zach, and I like the thought that it's more than just a side quip relating to Nimrod's game. This kind of gets into episodes I'm not supposed to acknowledge having seen yet, but given the dominance games we've seen from Kilbane, we can infer at least that it's probably very difficult for super-troopers to willingly submit to someone else's leadership. Which really implies that they'd be lousy soldiers, but then I'm not sure they were meant as soldiers so much as "instruments of chaos and destruction."

I have absolutely nothing to base this on, but I kind of like the thought that in his head, Shane rationalizes following Zach's leadership by setting up little contests in his brain that Zach always ends up "winning" without ever realizing that he's playing. So Shane can tell his instincts that yes, he is challenging the Alpha male. He just keeps losing.

And of course, since they're in his head, all the contests are rigged in Zach's favor anyway.

And finally, it's so nice to FINALLY have an episode with all four main characters again! I hope they stick around for a while!


  • At March 30, 2009 7:08 PM, Blogger Doug said…

    It's probably well-known here, but to belabor the point: before "Nimrod" became an insult, it was a Biblical name meaning "mighty hunter," so obviously appropriate here.

    It's nice they make the Most Dangerous Game point pretty explicit...Zach knows the classics.

  • At March 30, 2009 7:09 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Not an unfair point, but I still think it's funny that in the near-future setting folk seem to have forgotten it's an insult. :-)

    He does!

  • At March 31, 2009 3:18 AM, Blogger LurkerWithout said…

    Maybe in the future they only now of Nimrod as the killer robot uber-Sentinel that tries to kill the X-men...

  • At March 31, 2009 10:00 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    It IS nice to have the four of them together. I've missed Zach, and his eyebrows. He's always OUTRAGED when he's challenged, that it is fun.

    Also nice to see them working without their powers. And Nimrod, although amusing does have just the right amount of hidden menace.


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