An evil cactus plots to steal a Dodecahedron from some people to power a planet-destroying weapon.
We’re introduced to the planet Tigella and its inhabitants, which is split into two groups – the Savants (scientists) and the Deons (spiritualists). Both have different takes on the massive Dodecahedron beneath the city they share; the Savants believe it to be a technological artifact that powers their city, while the Deons worship it as a god.
Elsewhere, on the desert planet Zolfa-Thura, a group of Gaztak space pirates visit a megalomaniacal talking cactus named Meglos, who promises them riches. The Gaztaks offer Meglos an Earthling they kidnapped, which he absorbs, allowing him to take humanoid form. Meglos aims to steal the Dodecahedron from the Tigellans to power a planet-destroying weapon.
In the TARDIS, Romana and the Doctor work on fixing K9 (still damaged from the previous serial). The TARDIS gets close to Tigella, where the Doctor had previously visited in an unseen adventure. He decides to pop over to visit an old friend, but Meglos, aware of the Doctor’s identity, traps the TARDIS in a time loop.
Meglos uses his shape shifting ability to assume the Doctor’s form and has the Gaztaks take him to Tigella. He meets the Savants and Deons, and they show him to the Dodecahedron. When left alone, Meglos uses a device to shrink the Dodecahedron, which he then sticks in his pocket.
Back on the TARDIS, Romana and the Doctor finally break free of the time loop and arrive on Tigella, just in time for the Tigellans to blame him for stealing the Dodecahedron.
The Doctor convinces some of the Savants of his innocence, deducing a doppelganger is the true thief of the Dodecahedron. The Deons show up and apprehend them all, saying that to appease their god, they’re going to sacrifice all non-believers…starting with the Doctor.
Meglos reunites with the Gaztaks, and they take the Dodecahedron back to Zolfa-Thura.
Romana and the Savants rescue the Doctor, and they all pile into the TARDIS to follow Meglos and the Gaztaks to Zolfa-Thura. There, Meglos buries the Dodecahedron in the sand under a group of large screens (solar panels); these panels can channel the energy from the Dodecahedron into a beam to destroy planets.
When Meglos steps out of the control room, the Doctor heads in (impersonating Meglos to trick the Gaztaks) and sabotages the controls for the Dodecahedron weapon. The Gaztaks, in the meantime, decide to betray Meglos and take the weapon for themselves; they capture both Meglos and the Doctor and put them in a cell.
The Doctor’s friends bail him out, and they have a brief fight with Meglos before he abandons the Earthling he absorbed and reverts to his cactus form.
The Gaztaks target Tigella with the Dodecahedron weapon, but due to the Doctor’s sabotage, the weapon will instead destroy Zolfa-Thura when used. The Doctor and friends leave in the TARDIS just in time…
Back on Tigella, the Doctor drops off the Savants and offers to take the Earthling back home. Romana relays a message that the Time Lords want the TARDIS to return to Galifrey.
Not a bad episode. We started off with a typical faith vs. science story that slowly became second fiddle to an evil cactus story. Meglos was unremarkable in character, but the fact that he was an evil talking cactus makes up for that drawback
Lexa, leader of the Deons, was played by Jacqueline Hill, who played First Doctor companion Barbara Wright. It was nice seeing her again, and she spoke in such an over-the-top, theatrical fashion that made her totally distinct from Barbara.
There were some comical undertones in the story that I enjoyed, though the writers admit that some of their intended humor was lost by the director. This serial almost had the same tone as one of the Douglas Adams serials, like The Pirate Planet, or maybe one of Robert Holmes’ – the Gaztaks especially felt like the rogue-types Holmes liked to put in his stories.
Uh, so…what’s going to happen to the Tigellans without the Dodecahedron? They made a big deal about having power fluctuations and that without the Dodecahedron, their city is doomed. Now that the Dodecahedron was destroyed on Zolfa-Thura, are the Tigellans done for? Their fate wasn’t really addressed.
Here’s a fun drinking game: every time someone says “Dodecahedron” take a shot. No, don’t. You’ll pass out and your liver will shrivel. I use it 16 times in this review alone. Imagine how many times it comes up in four episodes!
In the end, Meglos is entertaining, but its biggest flaw is that there’s nothing really original or unique about it (other than the talking cactus).