Spoilers: All seasons of Power Rangers, up to Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue.
So, this is a fairly common point of discussion within the Power Rangers fandom. I don’t think there’s a definitive right or wrong answer but I have a strong opinion on it nonetheless.
So that the terms are clear, the Power Rangers franchise is split up into four eras; the Zordon Era, the post-Zordon Era, the Disney Era and the Neo/New Saban Era (with the forthcoming Hasbro Era).
As far as I can tell (apart from the Zordon Era), the New Saban Era is the only one with a universally agreed upon starting point (Power Rangers Samurai). Candidates for the start of the post-Zordon Era are; Power Rangers in Space (a minority of fans), Power Rangers Lost Galaxy (a lot of fans, plus the seemingly “official” candidate) and Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue (a lot of fans, plus me). The Disney Era either begins with Power Rangers Wild Force (most fans, “official”) or Power Rangers Ninja Storm (minority of fans, plus me).
Whereas the argument for ‘Lost Galaxy’ in the post-Zordon Era is very simple (Zordon has died and the season begins with a complete recast), the argument for its inclusion in the Zordon Era is more complicated. My argument, in its simplest form, is this: ‘Lost Galaxy’ has more in come with ‘in Space’ (and, thus, the Zordon Era) than ‘Lightspeed Rescue’ (the beginning, in my view of the post-Zordon Era).
Here are the four main points I want to make:
- ‘Lost Galaxy’ has several distinctive ties to the rest of the Zordon Era.
- ‘in Space’ had already begun to downplay numerous key features of the Zordon Era.
- Karone’s story and character arc begins in ‘in Space’ but is completed in ‘Lost Galaxy’, and this is also true of the Psycho Rangers.
- ‘Lightspeed Rescue’ executes the definitive clean break between the Zordon and post-Zordon Eras.
‘Lost Galaxy’ has several distinctive ties to the rest of the Zordon Era.
Two key characters remain from the very first episode of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers; Alpha and Bulk. Holdovers from ‘in Space’ also tie the show into a broader contiguous story; DECA, the Astro Megaship, Professor Phenomenus, Karone/Astronema and the Psycho Rangers.
‘in Space’ had already begun to downplay numerous key features of the Zordon Era.
This is where those who argue that ‘Turbo’ ended the Zordon Era draw most of their evidence from but it also supports my case. Whereas Zordon was alive during the events of ‘in Space’ he was largely absent as a physical presence. There is also the curious case of the infamous crossover with TMNT, in which it is implied that people on Earth don’t know that the Power Rangers are real (this strongly contradicts the events of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers).
Another key distinction between ‘in Space’ and its three (or six, depending on how you count) predecessors is the fact that none of the squad from the first episode of Turbo (Tommy, Justin, Adam, Tanya & Katherine) spend any time as ‘in Space’ Power Rangers. Contrast this to the ‘MMPR’ to ‘Zeo’ transition (Jason) and the ‘Zeo’ to ‘Turbo’ transition (Tommy, Adam, Tanya & Katherine).
Karone’s story and character arc begins in ‘in Space’ but is completed in ‘Lost Galaxy’, and this is also true of the Psycho Rangers.
This point is very simple. Whereas, the main plot of ‘in Space’ wraps up in its epic season finale, two very compelling plot threads (the redemption of Karone and the fates of the Psycho Rangers) were woven into the plot of ‘Lost Galaxy’. Karone’s status as the second Pink Ranger, in particular, ties ‘in Space’ (and, thereby, the Zordon Era) into one of the show’s most significant events (the death of Kendrix Morgan).
‘Lightspeed Rescue’ executes the definitive clean break between the Zordon and post-Zordon Eras.
This is the point which is the most important from my perspective. It simply feels off to place the era divider between ‘in Space’ and ‘Lost Galaxy’ when the very next season offers a much clearer continuity break.
‘Lightspeed Rescue’ ditched every leftover element from the previous seasons and began the subsequent tradition of keeping inter-season continuity contained within isolated team-up episodes.
So, anyway, there you have it. It’s just a bit of fun, to be honest, since these abstract categories don’t actually affect anyone’s enjoyment or interpretation of the show.