With the release of Power Rangers Samurai: The Ultimate Duel, I’ve at last made my way through every single episode of the Samurai/Super Samurai saga (constituting the series’ 18th and 19th seasons, respectively). And I’m sure I’ve said it before, but it definitely begs repeating: this is great Power Rangers! Sure, the Halloween episode may be wholly redundant and the pair of Christmas episodes unbearable. But none of that matters, in part because they were sensibly omitted from Lionsgate’s standalone Samurai and Super Samurai releases, but mostly because their awfulness is dwarfed by the awesomeness of the rise of the Gold Ranger, the ongoing conflict between Red Ranger Jayden and Deker, and Super Samurai’s late season battle against Serrator. Ultimately, imaginative creature designs and thoroughly impressive giant robot battles combine with shockingly rich character arcs to allow Samurai to rise well above some of the earlier seasons of Power Rangers, which may well have delivered the action but tended to leave their characters in the lurch.
In Lionsgate’s fifth and final standalone release of Samurai, collecting episodes 17 through 20 (Super Samurai has curiously long-since been available in its entirety on Blu-ray and DVD), the season reaches its climax as the half-human/half-Nighlok warrior Deker finally forces Jayden into a one-on-one duel. Although that duel may be the titular focus of this volume, the collection indeed has so much more to offer than that single clash of swords. In fact, it opens in “The Tengen Gate” with what might well be the single most incredible, frenzied Megazord battle in all of Samurai, as the Rangers battle an army of giant Moogers rampaging through the city. And in a welcome change of pace, this opening battle allows them to circumvent the predictable, climactic Zord battle featured in all other episodes of Samurai. What’s more, Deker and the Nighlok shamisen Dayu’s backstories are revealed and here we find the writers already hinting at the so-called “Secret of the Red Ranger,” which doesn’t actually fully come to light until the 19th episode of Super Samurai.
There’s a lot to like about the four episodes collected in The Ultimate Duel. They are, after all, an indispensable part of an indispensable season of Power Rangers. Unfortunately, where bonus content is concerned, there’s nothing new here. This volume simply repackages the same old special features we got on almost every other standalone Samurai and Super Samurai release including the character gallery, flash mob video, “Everyday Fun” music video, and the “Train like a Ranger” video. Even a little something new in the features to send off Power Rangers’ 18th season in style would have been nice, but I can’t say as I’m surprised by the lack. Still, if you’re a fan of Power Rangers, picking up The Ultimate Duel is a must.