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Star Trek The Animated Series: The Magicks of Megas-Tu

The Agents of Doux are covering The Animated Series with "discussion reviews."

Mikey Heinrich: Damn, Satan is ripped.

The Enterprise, taking a test run at the plot for Star Trek V: The One Nobody Likes, journeys to the center of the universe where strange forces are involved in creating new matter and all the laws of physics cease to exist. I'll take a few questions now.

Q: Hi. Trent Crimm, The Independent.
A: I'm pretty sure Ted Lasso has that name copyrighted. Copywritten. Whichever. What's your question.
Q: How can the universe have a center when the curve of space/time means that the universe is essentially shaped like the surface of a balloon that's being slowly inflated. By definition there's no center to get to.
A: Because shut up, nerd.
Q: Did they really just unequivocally state that Kirk and friends just met the literal, straight up, devil?
A: Until the last minute or so when they do a little back pedal, yes.
Q: And Kirk is totally cool with him. The actual, literal Devil.
A: Yup. Even defends him at trial against his own people.
Q: Well, at least he doesn't go crazy and suddenly develop satanist psychic superpowers, right?
A: Um...
Q: ...
A: Any other questions?
Q: Jesus Christ.
A: Neither appears nor is mentioned in this episode, no.

I know that this one is at the bottom of the IMDb poll of the animated episodes, and maybe it's just the contrarian in me, but I can't help but be kind of charmed by just how batshit crazy it is. Even if, in retrospect, it's hard to see large chunks of it as anything but test runs for The Final Frontier and "Encounter at Farpoint."

This week's moment of supercringe: Sulu, upon finding out that psychic powers totally work in this part of space, conjures himself a sex slave. Not a great look, Sulu.

I particularly enjoyed that thing that happens in 70s animation where Lucien/Satan's arms were very clearly animated separately from the rest of his body. Also the realization that Satan was manifesting his physical body, which meant that he specifically chose to have those abs. Which, to be fair, is totally what I would do in his place.

What did you all think?

An Honest Fangirl: Hi, Honest Fangirl, Doux Reviews. I have several questions.

Q: On a scale from Tom Ellis to Mark Pellegrino, how devilish would you say this devil is?

Q: What do people even put the devil on trial for?

Q: Did everyone get Satanist psychic superpowers? Did Spock use them to play chess with his mind? Did someone use them to toss Sulu out the airlock? Do these each need a separate Q in front of them? No, not that Q. Although he doesn’t sound entirely out of place in a situation like this.

Actually, I change my mind. I’m not Honest Fangirl, Doux Reviews. I’m Q, For My Own Amusement.

Q: The most important one... if the universe is like a slowly inflating balloon, what are we inflating into exactly?

Mikey: A1: A delicious steak sauce.

No... wait a second...

1A: Definitely on the Tom Ellis end of the spectrum He's quite cuddly actually. He just wants to learn stuff and hang out with people, whereas his people are super insular as their previous encounters with humanity led them to conclude that we're all dicks. Which, fair point.

A: Assisting the Enterprise crew to enter their region of space. They mock up a nice reconstruction of the Salem witch trials in which to do so. Which is a little odd, since it seems like they earlier indicated that they'd already cut and run from Earth long before that. Maybe they were just grooving on the aesthetic.

A: Yes, everyone gets powers. Apparently in this region of space you just have to believe hard enough to manifest pretty much anything. Spock DOES actually immediately test this by using mental powers to move a chess piece! No one attempts to defenestrate Sulu however.

Q: (Do not say that out loud) The format's quite flexible, really. Follow your heart.

A: There does seem to be at least the possibility that these are Q/Trelane's people. That was certainly my first thought.

A: There are two competing theories. Either we'll just keep expanding until all matter and energy is evenly distributed and so dispersed that the universe dies a cold death, or it will eventually reach an apex and start contracting and we'll end up in a 'big crunch' heat death. Doctor Who has verified both to be true. Pick your horse and ride it at this stage.

Fangirl: YES! Atta boy, Spock!

Mikey: That is really, really on brand for him.

Billie Doux: This episode is batbleep crazy. I kept wondering what they were going to throw at us next. When it turned out to be the Salem witch trial with the crew in stocks, I actually burst out laughing.

But like so many of these TAS episodes, there was just too much plot (wow, understatement) and too many callbacks. Why bother with the mystery and bad science of the center of the galaxy when there was so much other stuff like an alternate dimension with magic and another early version of Q testing the Enterprise crew?

I thought Lucifer looked like a plastic Charles Atlas doll crossed with the god Pan instead of Tom Ellis. In fact, the Lucifer plot, which was clearly the center of the episode, felt a bit like they were going for the Arthur C. Clarke novel Childhood's End combined with a "Greek gods were real" bit, like gold-lamé-wearing Apollo. The Memory Alpha information on this episode said that they really wanted to have the Enterprise meet God, not Lucifer, but of course they weren't allowed to do that.

I did like Spock using magic to play chess, because that was, as Mikey said, on brand for him. And that Megas-Tu (shouldn't that be Megas II?) looked like a giant Christmas ornament hanging in space. But mostly I just wanted to fix this one. And we all know what that means.

Mikey: Yeah, what is it with these being so overstuffed? Is it that they're still trying to put 42 minutes of plot into a 23 minute episode?

So are we to assume that Star Trek V was a direct lift from this?

Billie: It was always my understanding that William Shatner was behind the mess that was Star Trek V, a "now it's my turn" response to Leonard Nimoy being such a big part of movies two through four. And Gene Roddenberry was deeply into the aliens-as-gods thing. So maybe it was a combination. A bad combination.

So how would you rate this episode? Sadly, I think I'll have to go with one out of four out-of-the-blue witchcraft trials.

Mikey: I have to come down a little higher. Logically I can see its flaws, but there's something kind of earnestly charming about its absurdity. Five out of ten rippling abs.

Joseph Santini: The Devil's Abs would be a great name for a gay bar.

That is my contribution.

Mikey: Oh my God, I would totally go there.

Billie: Joseph, love it.

Mikey and Fangirl, I so enjoyed your opener. This might be my favorite discussion review so far. Except for maybe our discussions about urns and small intestines.

Fangirl: That's a bar that would be my first stop on Halloween!

And these are fun! I don’t necessarily watch along with you guys, but I love popping in and commenting on some of the absurdities. Like I said earlier, they always make me smile.

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