If I could describe the antagonist of Power Rangers Turbo in one word, it be “irreverent.” Cunning but careless, resourceful yet indolent, Divatox commanded a gang of mutant pirates, cyborgs and mercenary monsters. Her tenure spanned two years of Power Rangers history, and she was the first female villain to receive an action figure.
Divatox was first utilized by the unsuccessful film Turbo: a Power Rangers Movie, sometime between the fourth and fifth seasons of the parent show. While the movie was a commercial failure (it nearly bankrupted the franchise as a whole), Hilary Shepard’s portrayal of the villainess was memorable. She didn’t take herself as seriously as a Rita, Machina, or even a Scorpina might; but she managed to overplay her wardrobe and sarcastic demeanor to a level Power Rangers hadn’t seen before. The cleavage was, let’s face it, ridiculous. It was in very poor taste and was ultimately a sad product if its time (See my entry on Jim Balent’s Catowman from the ’90s), but I think it was somewhat organic to the character. This was a villainess who flaunted every aspect of her personality, and Hilary Shepard (then Shepard-Turner) has said that she ad libbed much of the character’s personality. I would argue that Shepard herself was the co-creator of Divatox. And she often played the Rangers’ nemesis as a loose cannon.
Here’s something else that set Divatox apart from her predecessors: When she first appeared in Turbo, it was made abundantly clear that the new villainess was a career criminal; a pirate captain, specifically. She wasn’t out to conquer the world and she boasted no empire or thousand-year backstory. Elgar, her so-called nephew, made a comment about wanting to go back to “pillaging” and “plundering.” Divatox, whose goal in the film was to forge a partnership with the “demon-like” heavyweight Maligore, said she wanted to “use his powers to raid all the riches in the universe.” That’s not to say she didn’t progress and re-asses her goals as the story evolved. For myself, it made Divatox a more enjoyable character.
Speaking of change, Hilary Shepard went on maternity leave when the Turbo story line continued on the small screen. For the first half of the fifth season, Power Rangers Turbo, the arch-villain was played by Carol Hoyt. Hoyt portrayed Divatox markedly different, but I think it was understandable. She chose to accentuate the character’s tactful, cerebral side, underplaying her spastic aspect. Hoyt was fun to watch, and I’m glad she didn’t try to channel or mimic Shepard’s take on the character.
Concerning her agenda during the Turbo season, Divatox simply wanted revenge. “The ruination of my plans,” she said in the first episode, “must not go unpunished!” To which she was referring to the death of Maligore at the end of the movie. Divatox initially tries to spoil the Rangers’ high school graduation. When the plan failed, she repeatedly focused on destroying Angel Grove–rather indirectly. More often than not, her rinse, lather, repeat strategies included the planting of unsuccessful “detonators” (you couldn’t say “bomb” on children’s television) and the deployment of a comical monster. She grew increasingly frustrated as the season progressed, eventually settling in to her old loose canon temperament when Hilary Shepard returned.
It should also be mentioned that Carol Hoyt played two roles during Power Rangers Turbo; seeing as the second role tied directly into Divatox’s character arc. By the end of the three part premiere of season five, the Rangers’ mentor Zordon was replaced by a female phantom called Dimitria of Inquiris. Dimitria was basically Carol Hoyt’s Divatox in a white gown and veil. It was implied several times that the two women were twin sisters. In fact, an entire episode is dedicated to a message from Dimitria’s home planet which stated that her birth records have been “tampered with.” The messenger, Visceron, did not know the identity of the missing twin, but a later episode (“The Millennium Message”) implied Divatox may actually be conscious of her relation to Dimitria.
Before Dimitria formally arrives on Earth, Divatox is conscious of her. She does everything she can to block the sage’s impending arrival, showing real fear and panic at the prospect. When Elgar questions her about her hatred of Dimitria, Divatox declares, “This planet is only big enough for one of us!” Or something like that. Maybe she said “galaxy.” This show was so on the nose. Either way, she decided Dimitria would have to be “eliminated.” While the “mysterious” identity of Dimitria’s twin sister is never spelled out in certain terms, it does serve to deepen Divatox as a character and open some doors for her backstory.
Divatox, we can discern, was abducted as an infant by a family of space pirates, chief among them an unnamed “Pop” and a sea hag dubbed “Mama D.” She has at least one unnamed sibling in this adopted family and a brother known as General Havoc. Havoc and Mama D both make guest appearances. Mama is characterized as a pushy, unloving matriarch with an Endora meets Medusa theme. General Havoc is cordial, and is dedicated or at least fond of his sister enough to spend a hundred years building a “Space Base” near Earth’s moon for her.
Divatox relocated her sub-craft (the piranha themed vessel she is seen tooling around in through the Turbo installments) to a docking port within the Space Base near the halfway point of season five. From there she dedicated her time to building “Divazords” to match the Rangers’ own Zords and generally making their lives difficult. She cultivated a particularly strong grudge against their new allie, the masked Phantom Ranger, and even managed to pilot a Divazord herself.
As the difficult season reached its end, the pirate queen grew resourceful. During the final two episodes, her tenacity paid off. Divatox utterly destroyed the Rangers’ Megazords and essential artillery. Her crowning achievement was a full scale assault following the discovery of the Power Chamber. The Chamber and the Turbo powers themselves were obliterated during an explosion.
She would have destroyed the Rangers too, had she not been summoned to the Cimmerian Planet by an envoy from the Dark Specter, leader of the United Alliance of Evil; of which Divatox was at least affiliated with. The Cimmerian Planet played host to the “Grand Monarch of Evil’s” celebratory banquet following his conquest of the Planet Eltar and its sage, Zordon. Outgoing Blue Ranger Justin called Eltar “the source of all our powers.”
Divatox joined the banquet where she was reacquainted with her frienemy Rita Repulsa. While we’ll likely never know the full extent of their history, we can assume they were acquainted through their mutual affiliation with Dark Specter’s alliance. It is curious to note that flashback scenes, set at least a year before the events of Power Rangers In Space (the season following Turbo), feature Divatox’s Piranhatron foot soldiers attacking space colony KO-35 alongside the new arch villain’s Quantrons.
Divatox and Rita both angle (humorously) for command of Dark Specter’s interstellar craft the Dark Fortress and its mission to eliminate the Space Rangers, but the office is given to fresh faced Astronema, the “Princess of all Evil.” Astronema becomes Divatox’s rival and the two of them cross paths at least twice more onscreen. Divatox is relegated to the role of Zordon’s roving jailer, to which she quips in passing, “Why don’t I get any of the good gigs anymore?” Though she does see some action, including a scuffle with the Phantom Ranger.
“Countdown to Destruction,” the two part finale of Power Rangers In Space was originally intended to end the six year franchise. As such, closed endings were written for all of the recurring characters; including Divatox. She was last seen conquering the planet Gratha. When Zordon of Eltar died on the Dark Fortress, the resulting wave of energy vaporized most of Dark Specter’s forces. While the likes of Elgar and Rygog were eliminated, Divatox was presumably cleansed of the evil introduced to her by her adoptive family. When the light cleared, Divatox was shown to be a healthy brunette woman in a wavy white gown. She was essentially dressed as Dimitria, more or less confirming their status as sisters. The last frame we have of Divatox shows her rejoicing. “I’m alive!” she declared.
She walked a similar path to Rita, all things considered. While Repulsa later appeared as the wise Mystic Mother on Power Rangers Mystic Force, Divatox has never returned to Power Rangers, save for a recap episode of Dino Thunder. But if Rita’s fate was any indication, we could assume she donned a mentor or “kindly sage” role as well. My boyfriend recently pointed out the resemblance of Princess Shayla from Power Rangers Wild Force to Dimitra and cleansed Divatox.
Fans of Power Rangers are divided when it comes to Divatox. She polarizes people; I get that. Turbo was poorly received, as a movie and a season. She’s often criticized as cartoony and bratty. But she was also marketable enough to warrant an action figure, unlike Rita and Scorpina. She may not have been as powerful as Rita, but she was ultimately more industrious. If she was bratty she was certainly less so than Trakeena, who succeeded her after the Zordon-era. But Trakeena was undoubtedly more sober than the pirate queen or any of the arch-villainesses who preceded her; so Divatox was quite a dichotomy. I think that’s what’s made her so endearing to fans through the years.
Will we see Divatox again? I hope so; whether as a part of the continuing series or a version from another media. Kyle Higgins, writer of the ongoing Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers series from BOOM! Studios could do great things with her. Hilary Shepard, meanwhile, pointed out the resemblance between Divatox and Rita from the 2017 Power Rangers movie on her Facebook (she’s lots of fun if you’re not following her, by the way), so she remains in people’s consciousness. I would bet we’ll see her again. In the meantime; thanks for the memories, Divatox.