Moviefan12: I was honored to be asked to join my friend Jim Bevan in this year’s Red Ribbon Reviewers event. He approached me with a wonderful idea seeing how much I love covering villains and he is a Power Rangers fan, he suggested we look at a PR villain from the Disney era. Once I saw the list of names that he suggested and that is Mesogog. This one interested me because years ago I looked at the first episode of this season when I did a Dino-themed summer event. It is an honor to be doing this and while I don’t know as much about Power Rangers as my colleague, I’m still excited to take a look. As always, we will start with the actor that played Mesogog.
Jim Bevan: Always glad to work with you, Moviefan, and I’m glad you were down for this collab. While the Disney Era was a shaky one for the Power Rangers franchise, it did end up giving us some incredible seasons: SPD, RPM, and the subject of today’s piece, Dino Thunder. There are times when I wonder how the property could have changed had Disney chosen to hold onto the rights and treat it with some more respect, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Moviefan12: Gaines had a task that was no easy feat placed upon him considering he had to play both Mesogog which all that makeup looks uncomfortable and Anton Mercer. In many ways, this is like a Jekyll/Hyde type deal and this is something that we see a lot in this franchise.
Jim Bevan: Actor: Cast members on Power Rangers often end up playing multiple roles, even in the same season, and it can be difficult at times to make them stand out as different from one another (see the late Grant MacFarland in his dual roles as Lothor and Sensei Watanabe from the prior season Ninja Storm). But Latham Gaines knows how to sell both of his performances. As Anton he’s very sympathetic, subtly conveying his plight brought on by his evil another half, not wishing to cause any more harm to the people he cares about. But when he switches to the malevolent Mesogog, any trace of humanity flees and we see an intimidating tyrant in waiting. And as you mentioned, he deserves a lot of credit for carrying himself so well in the prosthetic suit.
Moviefan12: The show makes us wait until the end of the first episode to see Mesogog and what an introduction as the show slowly builds up to him starting with his voice only and there is just an eeriness to his voice. And then we see him and wow does it make things uncomfortable with levels of bad touch with how close he gets to Kira. It sells you on cold and distant a type of character Mesogog is going to be throughout this entire series.
Jim Bevan: First Appearance: Keeping Mesogog hidden until later in the episode was a great way to build up hype. Even when he first appears on the screen it’s only for a few seconds as he orders a squadron of Tyrannodrones to bring the Dino Gems to him. But those moments are enough to establish his character. He speaks with a soft yet menacing rasp, never shouting or shifting his emotions. He doesn’t even move from the spot he’s standing in. You know right away that Mesogog is a figure who commands respect and doesn’t need to resort to theatrics or expend a lot of energy to prove that. His subjects obey and fear him for a reason.
Moviefan12: He is cold, calculated, and a bit vindictive. You can even see how different he is from the last villain Lothor a fool. This is also seen with how he tortures his minions and it is such a painful moment to see him inflict pain upon those that fail him. Yes, him being cold might be a bit on the nose considering what he is but it works and just goes to show who he truly is and what he’s truly like. He is a villain that is so easy to hate.
Jim Bevan: Fitting enough for a reptile, Mesogog is absolutely cold-blooded. He sees everyone around him as beneath him, existing as either an obstacle in his way that has to be destroyed or a potential tool to exploit. He doesn’t even have any qualms about using Trent Mercer, Anton’s adopted son, as a weapon in his campaign. And yes, I cringed every time he used his psychic powers to torture Zeltrax and Elsa. You got the sense he was enjoying their suffering.
Moviefan12: Now in complete honesty, while I did watch some episodes as it had been a while since I’ve seen this season and with that said I did have to do some research on what Mesogog’s grand desire was and if we go by sites such as the Villains Wiki, he wants to return to the world to the state of the dinosaur. You know after all the villains I’ve covered, this isn’t the weirdest thing I’ve heard. Yes, on its surface it might seem goofy but consider what franchise this is and it does make a bit of sense. I do think I’ll let Jim elaborate on this a bit.
Jim Bevan: Grand Desire: Okay, let’s break it down. Anton Mercer believed that dinosaur DNA could be merged with human genes to make people stronger and more resistant to diseases (think Curt Connors from Spider-Man), Unable, or unwilling, to find any test subjects, Mercer experimented on himself. The results, as we see, were catastrophic. It mutated him into Mesogog, who was much stronger and more powerful but was also a sociopathic would-be dictator. This new monstrosity became obsessed with the superiority of dinosaurs and began his plan to return the planet to the state it was in the prehistoric era, transforming all of humanity into dinosaur mutants like him. And of course, he would rule this new world with an iron fist.
One aspect that sets Mesogog aside from other Power Rangers villains is that in his Anton Mercer persona, he actually had noble goals that were corrupted, making him the only antagonist who began with virtuous intentions. (Some might argue that Ransik from Time Force also fits that description, but he always came across to me like he was more interested in general crime and mayhem than improving conditions for mutants)
Moviefan12: Mesogog’s henchmen are quite interesting and I hope to start with the more tragic of the two, Zeltrax.
Moviefan12: Zeltrax is easily the more interesting of the two henchmen in this season. Like a lot of my favorite villains, he is consumed by revenge hatred directed towards Tommy Oliver. Yep, Tommy is back. Zeltrax used a coworker/friend of Tommy’s named Terrence “Smitty” Smith and as he explains.
“Does the name ‘Terrance Smith’ mean anything to you? I was on the verge of a breakthrough when it all went wrong. Mesogog found me and put me back together again, he’s a genius with cybernetic reconstruction. He gave me life, life you stole from me, and now you will repay it with yours.“
This adds a sense of tragedy to Zeltrax as a character that makes you understand where he is coming from and that makes what he is doing all the more painful to watch as it is established that as Smitty he was a good person but the person he was essentially died when he became Zeltrax. And if you watch this season, you’ll notice that he refers to Mesogog as his master. At first, that seemed odd but once you learn how Mesogog saved him, it makes sense as it is one of those deals where he feels that he owes his life to Mesogog for bringing him back from the brink of death. This in my opinion adds another cruel layer to our main villain
Jim Bevan: Zeltrax: I do agree that Zeltrax has a tragic past, but I never really felt like it was expanded on that well. He resents Tommy for getting a job he felt he deserved as Smitty, but why does he blame Tommy for the accident that almost killed him? Was it programmed into him when Mesogog rebuilt him to ensure his loyalty? It’s one of the aspects that I think really could have been better fleshed out to make him more compelling.
Interestingly, Zeltrax later does get a greater motivation driving his hatred against Tommy and the Dino Thunder Rangers. In an attempt to become stronger, he uses Mesogog’s Geno-Randomizer (the machine used to make the cyborg monsters that he sends out to attack the city), which reacts oddly and produces a clone monster who sees Zeltrax as his father. The clone, dubbed “Goldenrod”, fights the Rangers but is inevitably destroyed by Tommy. Zeltrax takes this loss very personally; he confesses that he saw Goldenrod as the only true family he had now and even rescued the monster when outnumbered. And now, he has nothing left. It’s rather tragic.
Throughout the season we also get more insights into the complexities of Zeltrax’s character. He has a fondness for Elsa, at times even requesting that Mesogog punish him in her place when she fails a plan. He also has an ego and is very protective of his spot as Mesogog’s second in command, to the point that when Trent takes that position from him, he wrecks the lab in an attempt to frame the White Ranger. There was some great hidden depth, and I felt a little bad that Zeltrax was killed off in the season finale instead of being redeemed and restored to humanity. But that’s a common theme in Power Rangers – it’s almost always non-suit female villains who survive and/or turn good.
Moviefan12: Elsa is not a character I got a good read on. It is funny seeing her pose as a high school principal as it’s so obvious but as for her character, it’s hard to find a good reading from what I’ve seen. She does come across a bit like a kid’s show version of seductress but I am most likely way off on that reading. She is a fun villain to watch but out of the two, I think Zeltrax is the more interesting character.
Jim Bevan: Elsa: Unlike Zeltrax, we know practically nothing about Elsa’s past. *Elsa’s past. How did she get involved with Mesogog? What was her life like before then? I wanted to know more. In the finale, she claims to have been under Mesogog’s mental control, but that still doesn’t explain how they first encountered each other or why he chose her to be in his army.
Vague backstory aside, I found Elsa to be a very entertaining character. She’s smug, sarcastic, and very adept in battle. She also has a considerable intellect as she helps come up with different strategies along with designing weapons and monsters. There are also some signs that she has a crush on Tommy, which could be yet another reason Zeltrax hates Dr. Oliver. Elsa also has a civilian guise as Principal Randall of Reefside High, the school where Tommy teaches and the Rangers attend. It might seem odd for her to take such a low cover position instead of, say, being part of the city government, but consider that she starts her career as principal the same day Tommy begins teaching at the school. She’s there to keep tabs on the only person who’s a threat to Mesogog’s plans.
Most Evil Deed
Moviefan12: Seeing as my colleague here is more familiar with this franchise. I will let him take the lead on discussing what he believes is Mesogog’s most evil deed. Without further ado.
Jim Bevan: If I had to pick Mesogog’s most heinous act, it would definitely be using Anton’s adopted son Trent as a soldier in his army. To summarize, Trent bonded with a Dino Gem that was intended for Mesogog which turned him into the White Ranger, and also made him evil. While Anton wanted to break his son free of the gem’s hold, Mesogog was more than happy to use this new warrior in his campaign against the Rangers, not caring if Trent got badly hurt or even killed. It’s a display not only of his inhumanity but of how vastly opposed in morals he is to his other persona.
Moviefan12: That is indeed quite evil and as you said shows how little he actually cares for those around him. This is perhaps the evilest thing that we’ve discussed a villain doing in quite some time. Now, this brings us to how Mesogog was brought down.
Moviefan12: His demise is interesting as the first part of the finale makes the audience he’s been defeated but as Dr. O states he comes back stronger and is able to replicate himself and takes all the power of the Dino Gems to defeat Mesogog.
It’s a sight to hold and you see the Rangers giving it everything they’ve got. It’s quite a fun final stand
Jim Bevan: Mesogog’s defeat is pretty epic. After finding a way to separate himself from Anton to rid himself of the “taint” of humanity, he absorbs energy from the stolen Dino Gems to become stronger. The boost is enough to allow him to survive the destruction of his base, and when he returns, he’s an entirely new threat. He mutates into a much more grotesque form, more unhinged and fierce as he’s now purely driven by animal instinct. He can even clone himself. While this new Mesogog puts up an intense fight, the Dino Thunder Rangers eventually prevail by sacrificing the energy of their gems to wipe out the monsters. For all of Mesogog’s boasting about the superiority of dinosaurs, he was no match for the will and perseverance of the human spirit.
Is Mesogog A Good Villain?
Moviefan12: For the brief time that I spent with this show, I’d say yes as he came across as intimidating and a real threat that is not meant to be messed with.
Jim Bevan: There’s long been an issue with certain seasons of Power Rangers that the villains can’t be too intimidating or they’ll scare the children. This is why we regularly get central antagonists who have a strong comedic or inept side to them that makes them hard to take seriously in spite of the threat they’re supposed to pose: Rita and Zedd, Divatox, Lothor, and Flurious come to mind. But occasionally we do get a serious villain, one who’s above petty emotional outbursts and is more cold, calculating, and deadly, and they often prove to be the best. Mesogog fits nicely in that category alongside other menaces like Astronema and Venjix. You root against him, but you also know you wouldn’t want to encounter him without some serious backup. He’s a great villain in a great season, and a high point in the history of the Power Rangers franchise.
Jim Bevan: Conclusion: I’m really glad I was able to collab with you again, Moviefan. For anyone who’s unfamiliar with Mesogog, I highly recommend checking out Dino Thunder. It really is one of the best seasons of Power Rangers around. And if you enjoyed our blog, please consider helping out the Red Ribbon Reviewers project by donating to an AIDS/HIV charity. A list of several reputable organizations can be found here: https://www.hiv.gov/federal-response/pepfar-global-aids/global-hiv-aids-organizations Global HIV/AIDS Organizations HIV.gov