During a Mooger attack, the Rangers hear a sinister voice calling for Red Ranger. They learn that Master Xandred has returned. After the battle, Master Ji explains that there is a special Symbol Power that can re-seal Xandred.
When the other Rangers find out that only a Red Ranger from the Shiba family line can seal Xandred, they agree that protecting Jayden is top priority. Jayden insists that nothing has changed and everyone can take care of themselves.
The alarm sounds and the Rangers encounter Xandred's latest monster. The Rangers are all but beaten until Deker shows up and sends the monster away. Deker challenges Jayden to a duel, and takes Jayden down with ease. Deker leaves the Rangers beaten, promising to return when Jayden is at full strength.
The episode ends later that night with Jayden leaving the other Rangers to handle things 'his own way.' To be continued.
-The action sequences were really well integrated into the US footage. The Mexican Standoff between Jayden, Deker and the Nighlok was probably the best fight we've seen so far.
-I found myself really enjoying the Bulk and Spike moments in this episode. In a different season, I think the talents of these two would be put to much better use. Thankfully, we're finally starting to see more interaction between them and the Rangers. It really helps meld the show into a cohesive whole.
-Deker is a walking cliche, but he's a cliche that works. His debut has really benefited the show, which up until this point has lacked any kind of menacing major villain. He's mysterious, threatening, and I like that he doesn't work for Xandred. Throwing in a second villain with his own agenda changes the dynamic and makes for a much more entertaining show.
-The cliffhanger was executed well and leaves me eager to see the story continue. I wish this was done on a more regular basis.
What Went Wrong
-What was up with the random infestation of hanging sunflower monster head things? A callback from the premiere that has yet to air? A foreshadowing of next weeks Nighlok? Or footage they used simply because it was convenient? I'll let you decide.
-So Jayden's last name is Shiba. That's... interesting. Without going on a racebending rant, it's becoming more and more obvious that casting an asian Red Ranger could have really lent some credibility to this season. This series is almost 20 years old yet we can't have an asian actor as the lead, even when the story calls for the character to have Japanese ancestry. What is this, 3 Ninjas?
-The second act really dropped the overall score for the episode in my book. The writing was awful. Poorly translated subtitles bad. I would criticize the actors for their performances, but when you have to make something like 'We must protect you, at all cost!' 'That's just too much of a burden to bear' sound like a natural exchange between two human beings...
-This is minor, but the Rangers didn't know Xandred had returned until now? I'm almost positive they've referred to him in previous episodes. Dayu and the army of Moogers didn't tip off Master Ji that Xandred was back?
What To Remember
-Xandred's back, tell a friend
-Sealing Symbol Power used by Shiba family line
-Spike's new found love for the Pink Ranger
Test Of The Leader receives a passing grade, but this series has a long ways to go before it can expect extra credit.
3 bananas out of 5