Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, July 27, 2015

ST:TAS Season One, Episode Eight: The Magicks of Megas-Tu

"The Magicks of Megas-Tu"
Air Order: 8
Star Date: 1254.4
Original Air Date: October 7, 1973

So, do we notice anything about this week's stardate? Yeah. It takes place four years before the previous episode. It does, in fact, take place before Chekov joins the crew, which makes so much sense, because Arax is sitting in his seat. It also takes place before the first episode, "Where No Man Has Gone Before". but you want to know what the best part is? Kirk was born in the year 2233, before they began measuring time in stardates. So even though this episode takes place waaay the hell before every other episode, it still takes place in the Earth year 2324. Doesn't Kirk look fabulous for being 91?
Now, I know that they weren't really doing a close check on stardates until they hit TNG, and somebody said, "Can we please fix this stardate shit?" but at least they were mostly operating within the same years. Sometimes, they'd give us a stardate where the episodes would appear to take place months or weeks before the previous episode, but four freaking years? The stardates for previous episodes started with fives, yet they see no problem with this stardate beginning with a one.
Which helps support my theory for this episode: everyone involved with it was on drugs. Like black market LSD.
"Lady Archon, isn't all LSD technically black market?"
Yes. This market is blacker. It's like, Black Hole Market LSD.
I'm pretty sure that you could take some and watch "The Magicks of Megas-Tu" and it would be a better ride than "Fantasia."
This episode is that trippy. The people who worked on this episode were taking something even more potent than what the costume design took before working on "The Trouble with Tribbles", and let's face it, that was some quality shit.

So this week, I'm posting more screencaps, because the visuals are all over the place, and you have to see this shit to believe it.

*******


Kirk's Log, four fucking years ago: "So the Big Bang happened, right? So scientists are thinking that because the universe is expanding from that point, then we can go there to see new shit as it's being created. Cool, huh?"

Okay, right away, my twenty-first century brain is going "NO. The universe has no center." but then I'm remembering that this "lack of a center" info is relatively new science-wise, so in 1973, it's possible that they still thought that it had a center. (I spent quite a bit of time Googling this matter to see when exactly this "no center of the universe" conclusion was actually proposed, so as to determine if I could call Star Trek on it's bullshit or not, but all I could find, time after time, was a vague "sometime during the twentieth century" answer. So, it's possible it was proposed in the 27 years between the airing of this episode and the end of the twentieth century.) Either way, this basis for the plot is still more fiction than science. It's interesting science fiction, but fiction nonetheless.

So the E is going to the center of the universe to see if they can watch new matter being created. And because it's the E, they're not just going to park themselves at a safe distance to observe. Oh, no. They're going to drive through the hurricane, cuz that's more fun.
"Because this stuff is new, we may see things that we don't understand," says Spock prophetically.
"Yup," says Kirk, and he sets the ship at yellow alert.
Suddenly, the E flies into a Van Gogh painting.


So there's shit exploding all around them, and rocking the ship, and Kirk is excited because he thinks they're at the creation point. He orders them to park there. Sulu says it's taking a lot of juice to stay parked.
Now we get concentric rings in pastel rainbow colors. Let's just layer all that crap on there.

Yep, shit is still exploding behind those moving rings.

Spock starts his scientific study, and Bones barges onto the bridge.
"WTF is going on?" he demands.
"We're at the center of the universe!" replies Kirk.
Oops, looks like we've slipped into a slightly different Van Gogh.

I want to marvel at this background, but I can't. It's like an
un-ironic Ugly Christmas sweater.


And now it seems that those swirly yellow-ochre swipes are forming some kind of space storm, which starts pulling them "in." Into what, I don't know. Everybody falls out of their chairs, and Scotty calls to say that, in their trying to back out of the storm-thing, they're draining the emergency back-up power. Spock manages to move them to the eye of the storm, where it is calm. Scotty says he will start repairs.


So Bones is weirded out by this situation, but Kirk and Spock are pretty jazzed, though I suspect that Kirk is enjoying the danger aspect while Spock just wants to scan shit.
They're sitting pretty for half a second before the E glows yellow and disappears. It reappears in this swirly mass.


Little yellow pods float by in the swirly part, and Spock reads off that they aren't really in a time and space that is recognized between here and their universe. Then they notice that all of the ship's equipment has stopped working, including life support. They begin passing out on the floor, rather more quickly than one would expect. Nothing sucked the air from the ship, so they should be able to survive off of the recycled air that they are breathing for several hours before feeling the effects of CO2 poisoning.
Now a rainbow aura is flashing around the ship.


And who comes in through the viewscreen, using that wavy "underwater" filter? It's Pan, who jovially chastises humans for not being able to do anything right.
Kirk pleads for him to do something, because they can't breathe, and he says "Of course!" and waves his arms. All of the computers magically start running again under his rainbow powers.


"I'm Lucien, and we're friends!" he announces. "You should come hang out with me!"
And he waves his magical rainbow powers, and our intrepid trio reappears on the swirly surface of a planet with more of those explody things.
And this is how Kirk looks.

"Ford, you're turning into a penguin. Stop it."

I'm stone-cold sober, you guys. I feel like I should be describing this shit to a therapist.
"This is fucked up," says Kirk. "Fix it, Lucien."
"Okay," says Lucien. "I forgot that humans like to be all corporeal and shit."
Again, he waves his magic arms, and everyone has a form again.
A kid version of Lucien appears for a split second, for no other reason than to illustrate that he wants to "play." Then the group is suddenly surrounded by a forest on the edge of a city.


"This is Megas-Tu," he explains. "Our world runs on magic. You can get anything you need from a local wizard."
They watch some dude in stereotypical wizards' robes and a pointed hat create some structure from thin air for what is obviously a client standing next to him.
"That makes sense," reasons Spock. "The creation point must extend through space and time, so while our laws of physics don't work here, magic does."
"I made your ship work...with MAGIC!" announces Lucien. 
This guy digs theatrics. He's actually more annoying that way than Harry Mudd.
"You talk like you know us..." says Kirk suspiciously.
"You pretend like you don't," counters Lucien. "Okay, I'll bite."
He stoops next to a river and runs his hand through the water so that images appear. Images of fucking blue Klansmen with glowy yellow eyes. These dudes represent the Megans.


Is this episode over yet? Cuz I'm already really done.
Nope, because we haven't come to our WTF moment.
Now is the sequence where they saved a shit-ton of money on animation. We linger for a while on the Megans while Lucien talks about how each of them specializes in a certain kind of magic. Also, there are no other people in their universe. There's like, two seconds of cheap animation that shows some ghost-like Klansmen flying away from their planet, through the creation point, then he says they found Earth, and became advisers to the Terrans. Now we just get a still shot of Earth, about thirty seconds of it, while he describes his people somehow drawing on their powers from their own world and performing magic, which really shouldn't be possible if this episode is to make any sense at all. He says they were forced to leave, which he was unhappy about.



Then he says that, while all the other Megans specialized in specific kinds of magic, he did general magic instead, and was thought of as a weirdo among his own people.
Kirk is asking why they left if they liked Earth so much, when Lucien kind of flies up into the air, then jumps down again, announcing that they must leave, and should not reveal themselves. He waves his hand, and they end up back on the bridge of the E.
"WTF?" ask Scotty and Uhura, who are on the bridge as well.
"That was messed up," says Kirk. "I'm so over this."
"Why'd he ask us not to reveal ourselves?" asks Bones. "Don't they know we're here?"
"Probably not," says Scotty. "See, they have a cloud over the planet." And he points to the viewscreen, which shows a weird cloud over a planet that looks like those yucky ribbon candies that old ladies have on their coffee tables for 30 years.


In the rec room, Spock draws a freaking pentagram on the floor, then stands in it, telling Bones that it's logical for him to do magic. Then he starts addressing the universe or something, like he's running a seance.
"Power of this universe, get into my body!"
His hands glow rainbow, and a chess piece across the room moves to another square. Kirk looks like he's about to piss himself with glee.


Kirk's Log, supplemental: "Sweet, we're all wizards, Harry!"

On the bridge, Sulu concentrates with his arms out and makes some girl appear. He moves forward to make out with her, but then Lucien appears in her place and demands to know what they are doing. Sulu makes that face that teenage boys make when their moms walk in on them in the bathroom, and they have a fist full of lotion.


"We're learning magic," says Kirk.
"Naw, don't do that," says Lucien. "I'll protect you, because you're my friends. Now, you need to knock that shit off, because you're using a lot of mental power, and you'll be found out."
"Haha, too late!" comes a voice.
And then these floating demon heads from the Hell scene in Hercules come slithering onto the bridge.
"Humans have come to spread their evil in our universe, and this time, you shall paaaayyyy!"




Dramatic music! E falling in space against a weird backdrop! Things exploding around them! Lady Archon re-evaluating her life choices!



So the E splits in two (whut?) and then the "camera" is panning around an old-school Earth village that's labelled as Salem, Massachusetts, and Lucien and the whole fucking crew are in some stockades arranged around a pentagram.




You know what would make this better? The end credits, rolling right now. Then I could spend the next few paragraphs wondering why the hell the episode ended right in the middle of the story, and how weird that was. Instead, I actually have to slog through this shit to the end, and describe what actually happens, which is nowhere near as exciting and logical as the end credits rolling right now.
You know what else would make this better? Rum. Liberal amounts of rum made Legend bearable. Maybe it could do the same for "The Magicks of Megas-Tu."

So now some rotund dude comes up and proclaims himself to be Imodium, the prosecutor, and says that the E crew is on trial for being terrible, horrible no-good humans, and also, he's trying Lucien too.
"The fuck?" demands Kirk.
Yeah, Imodium, make with the exposition already.
So it seems that Lucien edited the story a bit, and when the Megans went to Earth, greedy Terrans tried to get them to use their powers for evil. When they wouldn't, the Terrans talked shit about them to others, and they were cast down. Survivors tried to live peacefully in Salem, but they fucked up, used magic, and were burned as witches.


And that, friends, is what we've been sitting through the last 16 minutes for: our WTF moment is that these aliens are the witches from the Salem Witch Trials. Also, magic is alien powers from another universe.
*sigh*
So Imodum says that the remaining Magans gathered their powers and returned to their own planet to become xenophobic, and they are now concerned that others will find Megas-Tu.
Spock volunteers to speak in defense of the humans, and he calls Lucien to the stand.
"Why do you like humans?" he asks.
"Humans are my bros," Lucien replies. "They're curious, and they want to be friends. I can relate."
"Cool," says Spock, and he calls Kirk to the stand. "Do you think humans have changed since Salem?" he asks.
"Dude, totes," says Kirk. "Well, we try, anyway. You should look at the history of our people," he tells Imodium. "It's all in our records, and you should look at the Prime Directive, which says that we don't fuck with other cultures' development."
Really, Kirk? I'd be steering him away from the E's records on the PD, if I were you.
"I've heard enough," says Imodium. He makes some records and things fly across the sky.


"These are your records, and we've miraculously looked at all of them in a split second." he looks at the crowd. "Time to vote!" And a moment later, without anyone answering, he says that they've decided that the arrival of the E was an accident, and probably won't happen again.
"You're free to go," says Imodium. "But we have to punish Lucien, so we're going to encapsulate him for eternity in this red bubble thing. And he can't talk to anyone. Permanent time-out."


"That's shitty," says Kirk. "I think that's a terrible punishment."
"You only think that because he told you his name was Lucien," says Imodium. "What if I told you his name was... Lucifer?"


"Yeah, I don't give a shit," says Kirk.
This is the correct response. Everybody on the E is fucking nauseated from that whirlwind of visual vomit in the first few scenes of this episode, then they get magic powers, only to find out that they're being hosted by Salem Witch Trial witches, who may or may not kill them. If I had had that kind of day, and it was followed with "And your new buddy is the Devil!" then I would also respond with "Fuck you, I haven't got the energy for this shit anymore."
He refuses to help Imodium and the Megans punish Lucien, so Imodium tries to capture him in a red bubble, like Kirk is some Pokemon that nobody wants. ("I choose you, SpaceHamlet!") 
So then Spock, who is confused as to which franchise he belongs to, says, "Use the Force, Luke! Believe in yourself!"
Kirk conjures the rainbow aura and shoots lightning bolts at Imodium.


But Imodium forms a magic egg around himself to protect from the lightning.



He makes fire spring up around Kirk, who puts it out by making it rain. (No, not that way.)


I can't decide if this is better or worse than a regular fight scene. Nobody's hitting each other, which is boring, but they're not really doing anything terribly interesting, despite the dramatic music insisting that they are. Kirk puts out brambles or some shit, because clearly Imodium is Sleeping Beauty -


- so Imodium throws out... Rainbow Wind!


"You're nuts!" yells Kirk over the wind. "You're just as bad as those people back in Salem, all those centuries ago!"
Then, because this episode is completely incomprehensible, Imodium throws up his palms, and there's some flashing light, and we see the E in space, in one piece again. The "camera" drops down to the surface of Megas-Tu, and we see Kirk and Spock next to Imodium. The red bubble around Lucien is fading.
"So, hey," says Imodium. "We saw in your records that you're better people now, but we had to test you to see if it was BS or not. You defended Lucien, so I guess it isn't."
"Ha, I told you they didn't suck!" crows Lucien. "You guys are welcome here whenever. Now, let's get wasted in celebration!" And he makes tankards appear in everyone's hand. Everybody drinks.


Back on the bridge, everyone watches the viewscreen as the center of the universe recedes.
"Do you think that guy was really Lucifer?" asks Bones.
"Who gives a shit?" asks Kirk.
"If he was, he was cast out twice, but you saved him the second time," says Spock.
And the episode ends there, on a high note for Kirk, because no one wants to point out that that "second casting out" would have a been a ruse perpetuated on the E crew by Lucien and his own people.



I don't feel like this episode requires much of a summing-up. Like most of the really terrible episodes of Star Trek, it feels like they took several ideas and tried to make them cohere into one story. It didn't work. There was the "center of the universe" story, which could have been its own story, but was instead used as a vehicle to get them to Megas-Tu. Then there was the ridiculous "Salem Witch Trial " bullshit, which was really just not going to work, ever. Tack on that crap about Lucien being the devil, and you have... a huge mess that makes no sense.
Go home, Star Trek. You're on drugs.

This episode was shockingly similar to: "Who Mourns for Adonais?" and "Wolf in the Fold" in that they try to convince us that famous people in Earth history are actually aliens with alien powers. While Adonais had an interesting premise, the episode was only so-so. Everything about Wolf sucked. Megas-Tu also sucked, and I'm starting to get tired of this alien-as-famous-human thing. It's also kind of similar "The Savage Curtain", where our boys meet some mytho-historical figure from Earth's past, and make buddies with him.

*******

I'm not sure if I've reviewed Tazo Tea's Iced Hibiscus before just by itself, but I know I've talked about it before, because it's the base in my favorite Starschmuck's drink, the Passion Tea Lemonade. Either way, this one comes in a box with only six bags, but they're pitcher-sized bags, so you're still getting a lot of delicious tea.
I'm gonna be straight with you, and I hate saying this because this tea is awesome, but the design of the giant tea bag leaves something to be desired. I know there are only so many ways one can make it... but the size and shape make it look a bit like a tea-filled maxi pad.
If you can get past that part, the tea is worth it. It's fruity without being heavy, and features hibiscus and passion fruit flavors. I ended up drinking the whole pitcher with a bear of honey. (Shut up, I can measure a unit of honey in bears.)






Tuna juice: the great equalizer.


1 comment:

  1. A pretty f'ed up episode.

    And I probably wouldn't have made that connection in regards to the Tazo tea bag, lol. Alas, poor Tazo, your unfortunately shaped tea bags have left me with no desire to consume your products.

    ReplyDelete