Devil’s food cake with 3 Star Trek episodes on the side

ST LOUIS, MISSOURI - MARCH 20: Director Roxann Dawson attends the premiere of 'Breakthrough' at the Marcus Des Peres Cinema on March 20, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Fernando Leon/Getty Images for 21st Century FOX and Breakthrough movie)
ST LOUIS, MISSOURI - MARCH 20: Director Roxann Dawson attends the premiere of 'Breakthrough' at the Marcus Des Peres Cinema on March 20, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Fernando Leon/Getty Images for 21st Century FOX and Breakthrough movie) /

Devil’s food cake is even more delicious with these Star Trek episodes.

Friday, May 19 was National Devil’s Food Cake Day. How that date earned this distinction is a mystery—as is why any sweets-lover would feel they need a special excuse to eat devil’s food cake. But the occasion seems like a great excuse to think about some memorable “devils” in Star Trek.

Interest in, and sometimes fear of, the devil has been with Star Trek from the beginning. In publicity materials for the original series’ first season, NBC airbrushed photos of Leonard Nimoy in costume as Mr. Spock for fear some affiliates and advertisers would object to his “satanic” appearance.

By the second season, though, this fear had become an in-joke. In “The Apple,” Kirk teasingly asks Spock, “Is there anyone on this ship who even remotely looks like Satan?” And In “The Omega Glory,” Captain Tracey (Morgan Woodward) uses an engraving in the Yangs’ Bible to make Cloud Williams think Spock is “the Evil One.”

When it comes to tackling traditional ideas of spiritual beings, Star Trek is more famous for taking down false gods than for dealing with the devil. Sometimes, as in the classic episode “The Devil in the Dark,” Star Trek shows us the unknown, alien “devil” we fear isn’t nearly as demonic and destructive as we human beings, in our lesser moments, can be.

Still, if you want Star Trek watchlist suggestions for the next time you’re eating devil’s food cake, whatever the date, consider these possibilities.

“Devil’s Due” (Star Trek: The Next Generation, S4 E13)

“Devil’s Due” is one of two TNG episodes that started as a story for the never-produced Star Trek Phase II series. Larry Nemecek explains, in his Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion:

"Its “Devil and Daniel Webster” plot, originally unearthed during TNG’s third-season story pinch, eventually bore the mark of a score of TNG staff writers. In the end, it was Trek fan and Wings staff writer Philip Lazebnick’s comic touches that survived, along with [producer Michael] Piller’s idea of making the “devil” a female (p. 154)."

Ardra (Marta DuBois) was a scam artist who used technology and abused religious belief to convince the people of Ventax Two she owned their souls. Captain Picard doesn’t believe Ardra, and successfully convinces the Ventaxians they are not bound by any contract with a supernaturally sinister power.

“Barge of the Dead” (Star Trek: Voyager, S6 E3)

In “Devil’s Due,” one demonic figure Ardra impersonated was the Klingon monster Fek’lhr, “Guardian of Gre’thor, where the dishonored go when they die.” Some long-time Star Trek fans cried foul, remembering that, in the original series episode “Day of the Dove,” Commander Kang told Captain Kirk the Klingons have no devil, but “understand the habits of yours.”

“Barge of the Dead,” one of Ronald D. Moore’s only two contributions to Voyager (co-written with Bryan Fuller), revisits the idea of Fek’lhr by way of his absence. In a near-death visionary experience, seemingly largely motivated by guilty feelings about her relationship with her Klingon mother, B’Elanna Torres (Roxann Dawson) finds herself on the boat of the episode’s title, being ferried to the gates of Gre’thor.

Intriguingly, B’Elanna refers to Gre’thor as “Klingon Hell,” and expects to see Fek’lhr and a “Cavern of Despair” there. She sees neither. Torres’s Gre’thor is a hellish version of the Voyager. “I don’t consider Voyager hell,” Torres tells Neelix (Ethan Phillips) in her vision. “Are you sure?” he asks her. “Have you ever been truly happy here? If you thought fifty years aboard this ship would be difficult, try eternity.”

Fek’lhr may or may not contradict Kang’s statement about a Klingon devil, but “Barge of the Dead” reminds us we’re all capable of devising some hellish torments for ourselves.

“The Magicks of Megas-Tu” (Star Trek: The Animated Series, S1 E8)

In an alternate dimension, the Enterprise crew meets Lucien, whose hooves, horns, and, yes, pointed ears make him look like the devil in much Christian imagery. What’s more, Lucien uses magic, which is simply the natural order of things on his planet, Megas-Tu.

The Megans visited Earth in the 17th century, where humans persecuted them for using magic. Kirk argues humanity has grown beyond “legend,” and even defends Lucien from the sentence of isolation the Megans want to pass on him for helping the Enterprise crew. “He’s a living being,” Kirk insists, “an intelligent life form. That’s all we have to know about him. We will not join in harming him.”

As Aaron Harvey and Rich Schepis note in Star Trek: The Official Guide to the Animated Series, Lucien “appeared demonic . . . but was not really the actual Devil from the Bible” (p. 71). They also point out this fact didn’t keep some viewers from complaining to NBC. In the end, though, the episode illustrates the importance of “accepting someone by their actions, regardless of appearances, even if that someone appeared to be the Devil” (p. 73).

Whenever I think about Star Trek and cake, I personally think first of Counselor Troi as cellular peptide cake with mint frosting, as seen in the TNG episode “Phantasms.” But I hope you’ll reach for these three devilishly fascinating episodes the next time you reach for a slice of devil’s food cake!

Next. 3 Reasons to rewatch “The Devil in the Dark”. dark