Article By: Alex J. Rosolowsky
Test of the Leader can be summed up with one sentence: Now that is how you do a Power Rangers episode! In fact, I’m going to go as far as to say that Test of the Leader is the best episode of Power Rangers Samurai that we’ve seen so far, and one of the best that the series has to offer as a whole; I’d say that it’s just as good as, if not better then my other favorite from this season, Sticks & Stones. You might be wondering what makes Test of the Leader such an amazing episode in my eyes, and it’s actually several things, which I will touch on below.
First, let’s start with Bulk and Spike, and how they were portrayed in “Leader.” Bulk and Spike are comic relief characters, and as comic relief characters, they were absolutely hilarious this week. More importantly however, they interacted with the Rangers; we got to see Bulk and Spike in the same battle that the Rangers were in. The end result was an episode that felt like Bulk and Spike belonged, rather then one where it felt like they disrupted the action. Even more importantly, it’s finally been established that Spike has a crush on the Pink Ranger, which is supposed to be a significant part of his character, and something that he has in common with his father, Skull. While I’d have preferred to have seen the crush explained a little sooner, it was definitely worth the wait, and Schrier and Ryan pull off their characters flawlessly.
The next thing that really impressed me was the overall plot of Test of the Leader. There are actually two story arcs in this episode, one for the heroes, and one for the villains, and that really makes the scope of this episode feel larger then previous episodes. The villain arc can be summed up as follows: Deker dupes Master Xandred into letting him go after the Red Ranger, the only one who can seal him (Xandred) in the netherworld. Likewise, the hero arc can be summed up as: Jayden discovers he’s the only one who can seal Master Xandred in the netherworld, and must now convince his team that they are his equals, not his subordinates. The two plots intersect from time to time, and that’s when we see traditional conflict, and the end result is a highly enjoyable episode.
I have to be honest, prior to “Leader,” I wasn’t really sure what to make of Jayden, but after the episode, I have to say that I’m really starting to like him. This is a character that basically says “I’m not your superior, I’m not more special then you, stay the course,” and he and the show’s plot are the better for it. Alex Heartman’s performance was excellent, and the tension among the Rangers really showed through as a result of it. At the same time, Rick Medina’s performance as Deker continues to be top-notch. Mr. Medina portrays a potentially lethal Deker, but still maintains the character’s usual air of mystery. The minor clash between Deker and Jayden was a good lead into the next episode, and it makes me even more eager to see where Samurai will go from here. I think it’s safe to say that Deker isn’t a Nighlok, especially after his line, “I’m Deker, nothing more, nothing less,” which makes me hope that we find out just what, or who Deker is, besides a cursed and/or rogue warrior.
Moving onto the technical end of things, Test of the Leader delivers as usual. We have yet another amazing night scene, (even though it was lifted from Sentai,) to add to the already amazing list of night scenes, an excellent use of weather, and the usual top-tier cinematography that I’ve come to expect from Power Rangers Samurai. The stunt choreography is excellent as usual, and the visual effects are simply superb. The one scene that really stood out with the aforementioned visual FX though was the quick morphing sequence near the beginning of the episode. The perspective was perfect, and that little sequence had to take hours of work in a program like Adobe® After Effects® to perfect, making it a noteworthy scene.
All in all Test of the Leader delivers across the board. It’s a top-tier episode through and through, the technical aspect of the episode is amazing, the creative aspect of the episode is amazing, and this really feels like Samurai at its finest. If you really want to do yourself a favor, you’ll watch this episode. The “to be continued” screen at the end though means that Joe will be reviewing Test of the Leader‘s follow-up next week, which will also be Power Rangers Samurai‘s tenth episode, placing us a quarter of the way through the series.
Joe’s Rating: 5 out of 5
Alex’s Rating: 5 out of 5
Final Rating: 5 out of 5
How The Power Rangers Samurai Times rates episodes:
Episodes are rated on a scale of 1–5 with one being the lowest rating, and five being the highest rating, no decimal points, no fractions, no negative numbers. If multiple contributors review an episode, their individual ratings will be posted followed by the final rating, which will be an average of the aforementioned individual ratings. (Obviously averages may contain decimal points.)