The Power Rangers Episode That Traumatized A Generation
When you think of Power Rangers, you think of the over-the-top action, giant robots, and more gratuitous pyrotechnics than WWE SmackDown. From the brightly colored costumes to the swords that for some reason caused sparks when they hit someone, every aspect of the show was about being fun for kids. Except, of course, for that one episode that featured a small child getting straight up murdered.
For those readers that have not yet been scarred by it, allow us to introduce Power Rangers Lost Galaxy Episode 10 -- " The Sunflower Search." It's a very cute name but keep in mind, so is " kissing bug" and that's just a bug that likes to bite your mouth.
We Begin With An Entire Planet Being Ripped Apart
"The Sunflower Search" opens on one of the series' heroes, The Magna Defender, reliving his most painful memory: his entire planet getting blown up around him by giant anthropomorphic scorpion Hitler, Scorpius.
Typical sci-fi adventure stuff so far -- half the space heroes in our culture have an exploded planet in their past, just ask Princess Leia. As long as it's an abstract thing, a cheesy special effect bursting a paper mache globe, nobody is too bothered by it.
But, as the planet is breaking apart, The Magna Defender stops the invading henchmen from stealing a bunch of jewels, because evidently he has trouble prioritizing planetary genocide over grand larceny. Right before he's about to send them all back to space-Germany, the evil fish-faced lieutenant, Fishface, reveals that he is holding The Magna Defender's son, Zika, hostage.
Now, here's where we have to be extra clear -- Zika is a child, played and voiced by one (the actor was ten years old). So what we have is a little kid adorably wearing a tiny version of his dad's armor, crying out in terror in a high-pitched child's voice, "Father! Help me!"
The Magna Defender drops his weapons and calls off his giant pet robot bull named Torozord (they really nailed the names on this show) in exchange for Zika's safety. Or at least, in exchange for Zika's physical safety: Zika is then forced to watch the villains begin to beat his father to death in front of him, because the writers thought an important lesson to teach children was "never trust a scorpion warlord."
As dark and nihilistic as a kid watching his hero father get beaten is, Power Rangers is a kids' show. There was no way Zika, a child in armor resembling the costumes thousands of real-life kids would dress up in that Halloween, would actually be forced to sit there and watch his father die.
We Are Then Shown The Death Of A Child
With The Magna Defender helpless on the ground, begging for the life of his beloved son, the henchman knocks the kid to the ground as brutally as is possible when done in a rubber costume that doesn't allow for the movement of your arms.
The plucky little scamp then pulls out a dagger and threatens Scorpius with it, his little hand shaking with terror:
"Don't worry, father," he says in his adorable ten-year-old voice. "I'll save you!"
He is promptly electrocuted by scorpion lightning (which really should be a real thing if it isn't yet).
The child screams, then falls to the ground, dead as dead can be.
Not wounded, or unconscious, or destined to be brought back to life in the next episode. Dead, forever. The target demographic of children ages six to 11 who love space knights fighting for good were shown the murder of a child, around six to 11, who was guilty of nothing more than loving a space knight who was fighting for good.
His planet was then blown up and nearly all traces of his existence wiped out.
The Death Is Shockingly Explicit
Zika's death doesn't happen off-screen. We don't hear about it from another character and it isn't even like he just gets pushed off a ledge and out of sight or something -- we see him get shocked to death and then watch his lifeless body fall to the ground in a slow-motion close-up. Zika's death is also eerily devoid of flash and pyrotechnics. It's just sad.
The sequence closes out with The Magna Defender crawling pitifully along the ground, crying, "Zika! No! Get up!" ...
... until the scene ends with him clutching his son's useless knife and swearing revenge just before a commercial break, presumably selling new tear-absorbing Bandai toys.
This Is The First Actual Murder On The Show
Now, "The Sunflower Search" was by no means the first time we see death on Power Rangers. (You can't make a giant-robots-fighting-giant-monsters omelet without breaking a few protagonist eggs.) The previous season finale, for example, included the death of Zordon; the disembodied head who first decided that giving godlike power to five teenagers was a good idea. But all of the previous deaths were either evil aliens destroyed in their quest to enslave/destroy/garishly costume mankind or they were heroes sacrificing themselves for freedom/safety/garish street clothes of mankind.
Zika was murdered. He posed no real threat to Scorpius or any of his unfortunately-named henchmen. Scorpius even laughs heartily before he juices Zika with 10,000 volts of scorpion venom. Yet he is nevertheless killed by a method illegal in 44 states. Let that sink in for you kids: Sometimes innocents are just murdered. They die sad deaths, without fanfare, accomplishing nothing. Also, check out Bandai's new L'Etranger-themed playset!
Zika's Death Has Even Darker Consequences
It isn't as though Zika died for absolutely no reason, though. The point of Zika's death was to motivate The Magna Defender's behavior for the rest of the season. What was that behavior? A formerly-good character showing blatant disregard for the lives of innocents because of his thirst for the blood of Scorpius. Zika's death isn't inconsequential; it causes a hero to lose his faith and fall from righteousness. It causes him to turn against the Power Rangers. It causes him to imperil the lives of other innocents.
This episode of what is objectively one of the goofiest series ever to appear on television taught a generation that good does not necessarily triumph over evil, emotional scars can last for thousands of years, and trying to emulate the heroism of your father can get you horrifically electrocuted by an 800-pound arachnid. It is abundantly clear that the universe would have been better off if Zika had simply never existed. So if you have always suspected existence is a cruel joke, congratulations, you really are a 90s kid!
For more things that children probably shouldn't have been exposed to, check out 7 Classic Children's Books With Shockingly Dark Backstories and The 7 Most Accidentally Horrifying Children's Characters.
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