Episode number: 6th episode aired, 3rd episode produced
Written by: story by Gene Roddenberry, teleplay by Stephen Kandel, who had a hand in all the Mudd episodes
Directed by: Harvey Hart, a prolific TV director who also helmed Christopher Plummer and Karen Black in The Pyx, which I was fooled into watching under the title The Hooker Cult Murders
Captain’s Log: You would think that a smart smuggler wouldn’t just bust tail at the sight of the law, but that’s exactly what dummy Harcourt Fenton Mudd does when he sees the Enterprise in his rearviews. Totally unaware of who this dude is or what he’s up to, the Enterprise gives chase and the whole thing ends up in an asteroid field. Mudd’s engines flame out and he’s drifting around, just waiting to get boned by a space rock. The Enterprise tries to help him out by extending their shields around his little ship, but the Enterprise isn’t as top of the line as we thought – like any weak ass hoopty, the lithium crystals can’t handle the strain and start breaking. Scotty is able to beam the four passengers off the ship before the shields fail and an asteroid takes it out.
Mudd (claiming to be another dude, and speaking in a phony brogue) shows up with three babes who instantly set the male crew’s phasers to Stiffie. They’re superbabes by 1960s standards; today they’d probably be plus size models, since they have hips and possibly stomachs that are made up of something softer than chiseled, shredded muscle. To be honest, only the brunette works for me – the rest seem sort of manly.
Maybe that explains why Captain Kirk, the Enterprise’s walking boner, doesn’t take much notice of these ladies. He’s more interested in getting Mudd in front of a tribunal, which really feels more like an insurance investigation than anything else. Meanwhile, Mudd is walking around the ship acting like he’s the spacepimp of all time, even telling people that the girls aren’t his passengers… they’re his cargo.
That’s obviously distasteful, but there’s other weirdness. Mudd tells the babes not to give in to a medical exam. And the amount of Vasoline smeared on the lens when these women are in close-up make it seem like they’re giving you cataracts.
The tribunal happens, and it turns out that the ship’s computer is a pretty good lie detector. That Majelestic device pokes holes in Mudd’s bullshit, revealing that not only does he speak without a brogue but also that he’s a long-time criminal (and a predictable dresser – he’s wearing the same clothes in his mugshot that he’s wearing at the tribunal). Mudd explains that he’s taking these women – who come from planets where there aren’t many marrying opportunities – to a colony as mail-order brides. Kirk decides to hand Mudd over to The Proper Authorities, even though I don’t think he was actually doing anything all that wrong.
At the end of the tribunal the last lithium crystal shits the bed and Captain Kirk makes contact with a nearby mining world. Mudd gets interested and hatches a plan with the three babes. They’ll go out into the crew and work their magic; Mudd wants a communicator so he can get in touch with the miners and offer them his women in exchange for blackmailing Kirk into letting him free. And maybe taking over the ship. He hatches this plan right in front of some Enterprise security dudes who seem to pay him no mind.
One broad goes to sick bay, where Dr. McCoy discovers that she makes his monitors go all bloopy (that’s not a double entendre or anything). Another one of the broads gets a communicator from super creepy, oily crewman Farrell. And a third shows up in Kirk’s bed, looking to seduce him. Kirk is totally not into it, though (and I get it – it’s not the brunette in his bed), and she can’t go through with it.
Back at Mudd’s quarters he contacts the miners and finds out there are three of them on the planet and they are all super horny. He works things out with them as the babes begin to get unwell – they’re growing old and ugly. Holy science fiction weirdness! Harry is looking all over the place for the illegal Venus pills he brought on board, and he gives them to the girls just in time (although the one who was supposed to seduce Kirk tries to buck him and not take it). The old hags quickly turn back into babes.
Snooze snooze snooze. The Enterprise shows up at the mining world and the miners tell Kirk their demands – give up Harry Mudd or get no lithium crystals. Kirk, Spock and Mudd beam down to the planet to find the miners and the girls having a dance party; two of the miners get into a fight over the two babes that weren’t supposed to seduce Kirk. This pisses off the third babe and she runs out onto the planet’s frozen surface. Somebody says that you can’t survive out there, but she lives for three hours, along with the head miner, who went out to rescue her.
Seriously, this episode is so boring. The miner brings her back to his hut while the Enterprise keeps searching for them from space. She does some cooking and teaches him how to clean his pots in the high velocity sand storms outside, and this warms his heart even though the Venus pill is wearing off and the bitch is getting ugly. Seeing the warmth of the stove, Kirk and Mudd beam down to the hut and tell the head miner and Difficulty Babe that the other miners married their women over subspace radio but – surprise! – Mudd tricked them. The other women should be turning into hags right now as well. Head miner is all pissed off and Difficulty Babe is becoming grandma again when Kirk whips out a Venus pill. My man is in the game!
Difficulty Babe scarfs it down and gets ‘hot’ again. She’s happy until Kirk tells her she took a placebo – the Venus pill is up on the Enterprise in storage until Shatner’s fat years. It turns out that her self confidence made her beautiful.
Seriously! The show ends with a woman de-aging like 30 years and then being told it was all about her self-confidence. And that, Trekkers, is one to grow on.
Review: I was excited for this episode because I liked Harry Mudd. Turns out that I must have liked him in his second outing, I, Mudd (I kept thinking the babes would be androids, and that’s the plot of I, Mudd). This episode starts out interestingly but quickly devolves into a real snoozer and a real pain in the ass. The teaser and first act are fine, and often funny, but after that everything goes downhill. Maybe if the miners had more personality or maybe if there was another threat to the Enterprise beyond a tall fat guy with a mustache – a Klingon ship or a space pirate or something – the rest of the episode would have felt like it went somewhere. But when the miners deny the captain of a starship that can destroy them all the basic power source he needs to survive, things get goofy.
This is also one of the earlier entries in the tradition of someone visits and takes over the Enterprise, be it through psychic powers or blackmail or force. We’ve already seen it in Charlie X and we’ll be seeing it plenty more, but even this early it doesn’t feel fresh. Especially when the source of the threat is low power and babes.
Kirkin’ Out: Kirk is, in my opinion, at an all-time low in Mudd’s Women. While everybody else on the ship is finding their Federation issue polyester pants suddenly too tight, the Enterprise’s usual boner on two legs is more interested in taking Mudd to court than any of his babes to bed. He does pull a nice one at the end, though, switching a gelatin tab for the actual Venus drug. Let’s hope Kirk learns the lesson that Avon Barksdale learned – you can only step on your shit so much before the fiends head to the East Side of Quadrant Alpha.
Spockmarks: While Mudd says that the ‘Vulcanian’ Spock is immune to the efforts of the babes, we do see him giving a slight smirk at one point, indicating that maybe one of them set off his tricorder.
Redshirt: Nobody dies!
Dilithium Bullshit: The Venus drug is just patently stupid. The lithium crystals begin their long-standing habit of giving out at the worst possible moment (see Continerdity for more on lithium/dilithium). The fact that the Enterprise is on lithium in the first place may explain why it went from so excited to be helping Mudd’s ship to way too depressed to even have a shield around it.
Support Staff of the Week: Weaselly Farrell. One of the things about the original Star Trek is how human-centric the bridge is. This weird looking fucker could easily be believable as some sort of bug eyed, extra sweated alien being.
Continerdity: This is the last time we’ll hear about lithium crystals – in the future they’ll go to college and begin experimenting with other crystals and be known as dilithium? Harry Mudd, though, will show up two more time – once in live action in the second season episode I, Mudd and once in the Animated Series episode Mudd’s Passion.
Set Phasers to Quote: “You’re homely!” – Ben Childress
Two out of five negative baby Clint Howards
Star Trekkin’ – Introduction
Star Trekkin’ Day 1 – Where No Man Has Gone Before
Star Trekkin’ Day 2 – The Man Trap
Star Trekkin’ Day 3 – Charlie X
Star Trekkin’ Day 4 – The Naked Time
Star Trekkin’ Day 5 – The Enemy Within