In this feature I discuss different episodes from various television shows that have stuck with me well past childhood.
Let me warn you now. There will be many Captain Planet references on this blog. MANY. I know this show was a propaganda machine, but hey, it succeeding in turning me on to the power of recycling; and even gave me the desire to become an environmentalist when I grew up. That said, I can't shake the thrill I get when the Planeteers let their powers combine or the call to duty I feel when Captain Planet utters "The Power Is Yours."
This was essentially a "Power Corrupts" episode of the series and it is interesting to note how soon an episode of this nature came up so early into the first season of the series. The chosen five of the Spirit of Earth, Gaia were tasked to investigate a meteor that crashed on a small island and the destructive fire it raged upon impact. Overwhelmed by the conflagration, the Planeteers only recourse was to summon Captain Planet.
After extinguishing the fire, the Planeteers soon learned the meteor was actually a spacecraft which harbored a malevolent being named Zarm who lured the Planeteers with the promise of power through iron gauntlets well beyond the power of the rings they currently wielded. The Planeteers power levels surged as promised as evidenced by the summoning of tidal waves, hurricanes, giant islands, and intense flames simply by uttering the name of their element suffixed by the phrase "of conquest." As you can imagine, the power granted came with a catch and soon corrupted the hearts of the Planeteers further.
Setting their sights on making a bigger impact on the world, Zarm goaded the Planeteers to disarm a military base housing nuclear missiles by force. A power display by each member of the team left the base in shambles and their blatant abandonment of Gaia's principles of peace forced the deity to become mortal and suffer alongside her world.
The only member of the team who was left unaffected was Ma-Ti thanks to his power of heart keeping him pure. Together with the mortal Gaia, they revealed the truth to her Earthly champions. Gaia revealed she knew Zarm from long ago when he was a former spirit of the Earth who fell from grace because of his desire for power. He left Earth for another world which fell into complete destruction and ruin and ultimately, devoid of all life. In seeking a new world to influence, Zarm set his sites on Earth and Gaia.
With their minds cleared and spirits renewed, the Planeteers called on Captain Planet to exile Zarm back to space and the unknown.
It was a good change of pace to see the plucky teenagers get corrupted by their power, because, they ARE teenagers and are prone to rebelling and doing whatever they want. The message of power corrupting was pretty ham-fisted, but it got through nonetheless even to the point that I still remember some of the dialogue verbatim.