“The Magicks of Megas-tu” is the eighth episode of the first season of the American animated science fiction television series Star Trek: The Animated Series.
It first aired on NBC on 27 October 1973, and was written by Larry Brody, who had originally pitched the idea for the third season of Star Trek: The Original Series. However, according to Brody the dialogue was mostly re-written by series creator Gene Roddenberry.
Set in the 23rd century, the series follows the adventures of Captain James T. Kirk (voiced by William Shatner) and the crew of the Starfleet starship Enterprise. In this episode, while exploring the centre of the galaxy, the crew of the Enterprise are transported by an alien named Lucien to the planet Megas-Tu, where magic and witchcraft are normal. Kirk and the crew are placed on trial by the inhabitants in response to the Salem Witch Trials.
The original pitch by Brody featured God rather than the Devil, but this was changed after the idea was rejected by NBC executives. Critics have written positively about the episode, praising the design work for the magical effects. It was compared to The Original Series episode “Plato’s Stepchildren“, but was thought to be an improvement. Following the broadcast, a novelisation of “The Magicks of Megas-tu” was created by Alan Dean Foster, and it has been released on a variety of home media formats.
On stardate 1254.4, while exploring near the centre of the galaxy, the Federation starship USS Enterprise is caught inside an energy/matter vortex and all its computer systems fail. A being named Lucien (voiced by James Doohan) appears on the bridge, repairs the ship’s systems and takes the crew to explore his planet, Megas-Tu.
On this planet, magic and witchcraft are quite normal. The Megans are an ageless species that had, at one time, lived on Earth, and were responsible for the legends about witches. During this time, the Enterprise crew begin to experiment with magic: Lt. Hikaru Sulu (voiced by George Takei) conjures up a beautiful woman while Science Officer Spock (voiced by Leonard Nimoy) telepathically [sic] moves a Vulcan chess piece. Lucien, their guide, warns the crew that their experiments would draw unwanted attention, but it is too late. The Enterprise splits into two halves and disappears, and the crew are transported to a location on the planet that appears to be Salem during the middle of a witch trial in 1691.
The Megans are determined to put humanity and the Enterprise crew on trial for what humans did to their people during the Salem witch-trials as well as Lucien for bringing them here. Kirk comes out in support of Lucien’s life and says that killing him would make the Megans just like humans. Lucien’s punishment is to be condemned into limbo for eternity for bringing humans into the Megans’ world. While Kirk states that humanity has progressed infinitely since 1691, the Megans ignore his words. At the end of the trial, Kirk offers his life to save Lucien’s and the Megans are so impressed by the captain’s gesture that they spare Lucien, and tell the Enterprise that they would welcome future human visits to their planet. They also return the Enterprise to its proper universe, while Lucien is revealed to be Lucifer.
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Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Hal Sutherland.
- Writer(s): Larry Brody.
- Release Date: 27 October 1973.
- Running Time: 30 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.