Well, never let it be said whoever was behind any given Star Trek series wasn’t afraid to do weird stuff sometimes. True, more recent TV versions may not have been as adventurous when it comes to real world issues, but this episode has Captain Kirk using magic to defend someone who is sort of the devil. But it’s not like the Enterprise hasn’t encountered mythological beings before or that Kirk gained temporary superpowers to fight back.
But it’s no less weird.
The Enterprise this time around was sent on a scientific mission to the center of the galaxy to see whether or not it does, as suspected, spew out new matter. It’s not an easy trip, and something ends up sucking the ship into another universe where all the ship’s systems fail at once, including life support. As the various members of the crew lose consciousness, a satyr-life figure appears on the bridge, a jolly fellow named Lucien. He does some stuff, gets life support (and only life support) back on before taking Kirk, Spock, and McCoy down to the surface of the planet Megas-Tu, where all the inhabitants use magic and live a literal fairy tale existence. Lucien explains that his people used to live on Earth where they advised humans while occasionally doing a bit of magic and no doubt inspiring a lot of legends. But then, at some point, the Megans decided to leave the universe and live in a different one. Lucien is the sort that calls everyone friend, and even takes the time to help Kirk maintain his bodily cohesion before sending the three back to the Enterprise with a warning. It seems that while Lucien is fine with humanity, his people may not be so friendly, so the crew better not do anything to get their attention. Scotty reports there’s a cloud of some kind that would shield the ship so long as the Megans have no censors. Considering they use magic for everything, that seems fair.
By the by, Shatner’s delivery of the lines asking Lucien to keep Kirk in his normal shape sure is flat, especially considering who is delivering them. Likewise, given his name and general appearance, the final reveal on who Lucien is isn’t very surprising.
Regardless, the Enterprise is stuck there, so what can the crew do? Why not learn magic? Because that’s what happens when Spock of all people theorizes that anyone can use magic in this universe, and with the right symbol scrawled on the floor, he manages to move a Vulcan chess piece from across the room. That leads to more crewmembers experimenting with magic between scenes before we cut to Sulu trying something.
Sulu conjures up a girlfriend. Uhura even wishes him good luck.
And then, just before Sulu can, I dunno, kiss the girl, she turns into an outraged Lucien because this is the opposite of the stuff he told them do when it came to not being noticed.
Would Sulu prefer to make out with Lucien? Just sayin’.
But that would be when the other Megans come in and take the whole crew, plus Lucien, and put them in the stocks in a recreation of Salem to stand trial because Lucien left some key details out about why the Megans left Earth in the first place. It seems they inspired the Salem Witch Trials by not hiding their magical powers better. But if there’s a trial, there has to be defense, and Spock isn’t from Earth, so he gets the job.
Arex is less human than Spock, and he doesn’t do anything, but at least the stock had an opening for all three of his hands.
Arex might not have been as good as Spock, using Lucien’s testimony and Kirk to explain humanity has changed to point out that, well, humanity is a lot more accepting. And then Kirk stands up for Lucien before the poor guy gets sentenced to eternity in isolation. That leads to two gloriously ridiculous moments. The first is learning Lucien was also known as Lucifer, and the second is Spock urging Kirk to believe in his own magical abilities to defeat the leader of the Megans in a magical duel. Kirk does prevail, after a fashion, by using his words to point out that condemning Lucien makes the Megans no better than the ancient humans.
And that somehow was all a test, and everyone can go free. Humanity has changed, and they can visit the Megans whenever they want to. You know, if more ships can actually get there.
So, wow. We have an episode where Sulu conjures a woman from thin air, Kirk fights a magic duel, and Spock of all people figures out how magic even works. And all to defend the guy who may or may not be the devil. This is one crazy episode.