Star Trek: The Animated Series

"The Magicks of Megas-Tu"

1 star

Air date: 10/27/1973
Written by Larry Brody
Directed by Hal Sutherland

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Wow. I didn't realize for all these years there was an episode of Star Trek documenting the entry into the center of the galaxy that was somehow even worse than Star Trek V. An episode that refers to the center of the galaxy as the "creation point" where the Big Bang (not referred to by name) happened. Where that "creation point" is apparently still — even to this very day in the 23rd century — creating things all these billions of years after the explosion. And where that creation point is a place of MAGIC.

Am I supposed to regard this as bad science fiction, bad Star Trek, or a bad cartoon? Maybe all three?

After arriving at the fireworks show that is the center of the galaxy, where the rules of physics and reality don't apply, and being sucked into the deep-space equivalent of a hurricane, the power goes out and the life support fails and everyone starts to suffocate. The ship is rescued by Lucien, a TOS-style superbeing who explains that the rules of reality are different here, and that he can control them in a way that resembles magic.

Lucien is a horned mischievous sort from the planet of Megas-Tu, and he brings Kirk/Spock/McCoy to his fantasy world of colorful acid trips and, well, MAGIC.

Furthermore, we learn, Lucien, and the other Megasans (Megans?), centuries ago visited Earth, where they served as advisers to humans. But eventually they revealed their MAGICAL powers to the uncivilized humans of the time and were burned as witches at Salem. Now, the other Megans want their retribution on Lucien and humanity, so they put the Enterprise crew on trial (in a re-creation of Salem where everyone is in the pillory). The question is: Has humanity improved since Salem? Certainly the framing of this question would improve by the time Q asked it.

Meanwhile, Spock discovers you can believe MAGIC into being and change reality at will. In fact, anyone can be a Megan. But not everyone (or anyone) can make this story make sense or seem like it wasn't the product of mass psychedelics.

Oh, yeah. Lucien has another name he sometimes goes by: Lucifer. Boom, roasted. ABRACADEVIL.

It should be noted that TAS's failures are definitely not for lack of storytelling ambition. Indeed, this is a pretty batshit crazy swing for the fences. But that doesn't make the execution any less ponderous or the narrative any less of a raving lunatic's mess. This is TOS-style history-raiding quasi-literate gibberish at its most patience-straining. Ponderous is the least of what I expected here, given the gregarious personality of Lucien. For an episode so pretentious and disjointed, it's surprisingly little fun.

Previous episode: The Infinite Vulcan
Next episode: Once Upon a Planet

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6 comments on this post

Fri, May 26, 2023, 7:56pm (UTC -5)
Very silly and dull, agreed. But I do sort of admire the whole Lucien bit. Having the Greek gods turn out to be visiting aliens is one thing, but having Kirk and Spock meet The Devil Himself, who turns out to be not such a bad guy, just misunderstood? Surprised they were able to get away with that in a Saturday morning cartoon.
Elizabeth Palladino
Sun, May 28, 2023, 9:32pm (UTC -5)
Yep, whack-a-doodle and boring. I wasn't sure whether to cringe or yawn, so did both. No use just reiterating what Jammer wrote other than to say I agree 100 per cent. Best to watch this one with your eyes closed.
Tue, May 30, 2023, 8:20am (UTC -5)
A lot of elements here have been used in other Trek episodes such as the power of belief ("Spectre of the Gun"), humanity on trial ("Encounter at Farpoint"), advanced beings visiting Earth ("Tattoo", "Return to Tomorrow", "Who Mourns for Adonais").

Lucien's role in relation to the other Megans isn't totally clear -- is he supposed to be an evil or anomalous element? He certainly didn't have any evil intentions and may have been condemned forever had Kirk not shown enough compassion. But he is meant to look like a devil...

The problem with a 24-min. show is that resolution must be pat and Kirk convincing Asmodeus with the ship's records happens too quickly. But there are some good elements, including of the sci-fi kind here. The story didn't feel that interesting or realistic by Trek standards.

Wonder why they made the stardate such that this episode takes place before TOS, while every other TAS episode thus far takes place around the time of TOS S3. The Salem witch trials was an interesting reference point in history -- used as this was when the Megans visited Earth and were condemned as witches, warlocks presumably.

Louis Brantmeyer
Sat, Jun 3, 2023, 4:59pm (UTC -5)
All the above notwithstanding, the shaman battle between Kirk and the other dude was fun, in a batshit crazy sort of way 😜
Trek fan
Mon, Jun 12, 2023, 10:18pm (UTC -5)
I agree with Jammer’s one star review. This is just a supremely boring one to sit through, with clumsy dialogue and plotting. The attempt to rehabilitate Lucifer is an amusing, mildly shocking misfire. But it’s hard to get too worked up about something so badly executed. Perhaps the worst of the original Trek cast’s opus.
John Harmon
Fri, Aug 25, 2023, 2:02am (UTC -5)
I love this one. I dunno, just the fact that a kid's cartoon from the 70's had the Star Trek crew meet the actual devil and find out he's the chillest guy in the universe and then defend him. That alone is enough to get a thumbs up from me

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