|||[Boldly Going]||| Star Trek: The Original Series—Season One: Ep. 1.6 “Mudd’s Women” – (Original air date: Thursday, October 13, 1966)

 

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Welcome to my rewatching of the original 79 episodes of the series that launched the franchise. Below are the bulletpointed notes I jotted down while watching “Mudd’s Women.”

  • Captain’s log, Stardate 1329.8. The U.S.S. Enterprise in pursuit of an unidentified vessel.”
  • Boom. That’s what I’m talking about. Short and to the point, straight into the action of the scene.
  • The vessel is identified as a small class J cargo ship. Its captain isn’t responding to hails and is trying to elude the Enterprise. They’re picking nothing up on a “registration beam.” And they are rapidly approaching an asteroid belt with “Shiller rating three five.” I love space jargon.
  • Spock comments that the other ship’s captain is pushing his engines too hard and Scotty echoes the sentiment, saying he’ll soon overload the engines.
  • They are both correct, of course, and that’s what happens.
  • Mister Farrell is back, seated beside Sulu, who is still helmsman. I think that this makes Farrell the navigator, but I could be mistaken. In this scene, he’s responsible for operating the deflector screens, first to keep them safe from the asteroids and then to extend the deflector screens around the other ship, even though Scotty warns that doing this will overload the Enterprise‘s own engines.
  • Before we go into opening credits, there’s a red light flashing at Sulu’s console, warning them that they are indeed overloading their engines.
  • Then Shatner goes into his “Space, the final frontier . . .” bit and the sweeping Alexander Courage theme music plays.
  • And, we’re back—exactly where we left off with the flashing red light.
  • The energy expenditure is affecting the Enterprise. They soon lose one of their lithium crystal circuits, and then another.
  • Lithium” instead of “dilithium.” We could retcon this and say that dilithium was a later upgrade. Or maybe saying “’lithium” is cool slang, like saying “’sup?” or “a’ight.”
  • Finally, they get a distress call from the ship. Cut to: The transporter room. Scotty and Spock must have rushed to get here from the bridge. McCoy’s there, too, but I can’t recall if he was on the bridge.
  • A flamboyantly dressed man is beamed aboard. He’s wearing a puffy sleeved shirt and a hat cocked to the side in a vague Australian fashion. He has a waxed handlebar mustache and an earring in his left ear. Plus, he speaks with an exaggerated Irish brogue, which seems to be our go-to accent out here in deep space.
  • The man introduces himself as Captain Leo Walsh.
  • The three other passengers on Walsh’s ship are then beamed aboard. During the process of being transported, their ship is struck and destroyed by an asteroid. With the Enterprise now down three lithium circuits and operating on battery power, the transporter is struggling to materialize the newcomers.
  • Naturally, the struggle pays off. Three women, beautiful in that uniquely Star Trek way, materialize on the transporter pad. They are dressed in Easter Egg colors, two blondes and one brunette. Scotty and McCoy seem instantly smitten. Spock less so, though he does seem to aware of their effect on the other men.
  • The three women are posing on the transporter pad as if they are on a modeling runway.
  • Kirk uses the comm system to find out that four people were beamed aboard. Then he demands that the captain of the vessel be brought to his cabin immediately “whether he can walk or not.”
  • Spock escorts Captain Walsh and his “crew” to Kirk’s cabin. The women turn the heads of everyone they pass (and, all of a sudden, the Enterprise appears to be a pretty crowded place after seeming to be a ghost town in the previous episode, populated by Wilson and Fisher mainly). Is the effect the women are having on others because they are wearing sparkly, slinky dresses, or is there something else afoot here? Stay tuned.
  • In the turbolift, Captain Walsh asks Spock if he is “Vulcanian.” A pretty face doesn’t affect him at all, does it? Walsh tells the ladies that they can save it. His kind can turn himself off from any emotion.
  • One of Mudd’s women apologizes to Spock as they are getting off from the turbolift. She says that the captain is used to buying and selling people. Ah, a clue hidden in the dialogue.
  • Kirk isn’t immune to the charms of the women either, although his tongue doesn’t fall out of his mouth in an exaggerated Tex Avery way like Scotty’s or McCoy’s. Eve, the only one of the three women allowed to speak so far, says, “Hello.”
  • Kirk asks if the women are the ship captain’s crew. Walsh says, “No, Captain. This is me cargo.”
  • Kirk voiceover as he updates his log. He mentions the “mysterious magnetic effect” the women have on the male members of the crew (I saw one female turn her head to look at them during their perp walk to Kirk’s cabin. Just sayin’), and he includes himself in that number.
  • Captain Leo Walsh (he continues to insist that is his name) blames Kirk for driving them into the asteroid field. Kirk says he’s convening a ship’s hearing on Walsh’s actions and then has security confine him to quarters.
  • Lt. Farrell and Sulu return to the bridge in the next scene. Farrell has been affected so strongly by the women that he staggers as if drunk.
  • Scotty tells Spock, who is sitting in Kirk’s chair, that they have only one lithium crystal left, and it has a hairline split at its base. When Spock suggests that he rig a by-pass circuit, Scott explains that they can’t because they blew the whole converter assembly when they pulled their little stunt with the deflector screens to save Captain Walsh and the women.
  • More space jargon. Whoo!
  • This is another Trek Trope: Ship Running Out of Gas
  • Captain Walsh, who is free to visit with the three women for some reason even though he was confined to quarters, gives them advice on how to deal with questions. The other two women demonstrate that they, too, have speaking voices, but it’s Eve who calls the captain “Harry” before he can correct her, nervously, and remind her that his name is Leo Walsh. The women are concerned because they no longer have a ship and they are currently heading in the wrong direction. “Leo” says he’ll take care of everything.
  • Scotty and Spock confer with Kirk on the bridge, informing him of their lithium crystal problem. He, like Spock, suggests that they switch to a by-pass circuit, and Scotty explains again that they burned them all out when they super-heated.
  • I feel like there’s an I-Told-You-So between the lines every time Scotty says this.
  • Spock says there’s a lithium mining operation on Rigel-12 with high-grade ore. Less than two days away. He’s already given the course to Mister Farrell.
  • Make it so,” Kirk doesn’t say, because that’s Picard’s catchphrase. He does tell Spock to make for Rigel-12, though.
  • Kirk’s next captain’s log update segues us into another time-honored Trek trope, the trial drama. Kirk has convened a formal hearing against transport captain “Leo Walsh.”
  • The ship’s computer also serves as a lie detector, which is apparently admissible in Trek court, just as it is on Jerry Springer or Maury.
  • The computer gets the transport captain to admit that his name is Harcourt Fenton Mudd, and not Leo Walsh. It also says he’s lying when he says he’s an honest businessman.
  • The computer quickly accesses Mudd’s rap sheet. He’s got a record for smuggling, transporting stolen goods, and purchasing a space vessel with counterfeit money. He was sentenced to psychiatric treatment, although its effectiveness was disputed.
  • Kirk charges Mudd with galaxy travel without a flight plan, without an identification beam, and failure to answer a starship’s signal, thus effecting a menace to navigation. Also with operation of a vessel without a master’s license.
  • Mudd disputes the last charge, saying that he has a master’s ticket. The computer catches him in that lie as well. It says his master’s license was revoked Stardate 1116.4.
  • Mudd admits that the real ship’s captain, Leo Walsh, passed away suddenly, so he had no choice but to take the ship out on his own. I’m not sure if we’re meant to think that Mudd actually killed Walsh, but I think not, given the generally light-hearted tone of the episode. Mudd is taking the women to Ophiuchus 3 to provide wives for the settlers there. That is Mudd’s job: He’s a space pimp, which explains the puffy shirt and hat.
  • Mudd introduces the women as Ruthie, Magda and Evie
  • Kirk calls Eve “Miss McHuron,” but I’m not sure when he learned her last name.
  • During the hearing, the last crystal gives out and now all of life support is on batteries. Kirk tells Spock to contact the miners on Rigel-12 and tell them that they need the lithium crystals immediately upon arrival.
  • Harry Mudd sees this detour as a golden opportunity. He’ll marry off the girls to rich lithium miners.
  • Ruth makes some moves on McCoy. She keeps making his equipment beep. He asks her if she’s wearing some unusual perfume or something radioactive.
  • Eve, whom Kirk still calls Miss McHuron, is in the captain’s cabin, waiting on him.
  • Quotable Eve line: “I read somewhere that a captain has to act as a paragon of virtue. I’ve never met a paragon.”
  • Kirk: “Neither have I.”
  • Which reminds me: Where is Yeoman Rand?
  • In the middle of her supposed seduction of Kirk, Eve breaks it off and says she just can’t go through with it.
  • Ruth tells Mudd there are three miners on Rigel-12, one for each woman. Mudd says he has one more job for them, so that he will no longer be trapped. Eve doesn’t feel right about deceiving Kirk. She also says something about it being “near the time.” Time for what, Eve?
  • Mudd contacts the miners on Rigel-12 behind Kirk’s back. What kind of backroom deal is he working on?
  • The Enterprise arrives at Rigel-12 with just enough juice left in the engines to maintain an orbit for 3 days, 7 hours. More than enough time, Kirk assures everyone.
  • Cut to: Harry Mudd’s quarters. He’s frantically searching for the magic pills that give his women their uncanny allure. Since their previous dose has begun to wear off, the women have turned (gasp!) frumpy. And everyone knows that no man would want to marry a plain-looking woman. Right?
  • Mudd finds the pills. Ruth and Magda immediately take theirs. Eve hesitates, after saying she considers them a cheat. The pills are really amazing. They also style Ruth and Magna’s hair, put on their makeup, and clean and press their clothes. Eve still hasn’t taken her pill, which is glowing red, when we go to our next scene.
  • The miners from Rigel-12 come aboard, saying that they are willing to provide the lithium crystals in exchange for Mudd’s women and for the release of Harry Mudd, charges dropped. This was the deal Harry made, it seems.
  • Kirk says no deal. Mudd and the three women come into the room while negotiations are going on. Eve took the pill, of course. Vanity, thy name is—
  • Mudd knows they can maintain orbit for only three days. He’s certain he has the stronger hand, even though Kirk is steadfast with his “no deal.”
  • Then Kirk and Spock beam down to the planet with Mudd and the women, and he tells the chief miner—Ben Childress—that he’s won and he wants to collect the crystals. Childress says when he has time.
  • Eve doesn’t seem to want to play when the party gets started. It looks like the men are going to begin cutting each other up over the other two women. Eve suggests they have a raffle, with the loser getting her, and then she runs out into the magnetic dust storm. Kirk runs after her.
  • Kirk doesn’t locate her, returns to the ship to search for Eve using ship’s sensors. The tension is getting to everyone as they grow dangerously low on power.
  • Ben Childress, the miner, finds Eve in the storm and takes her back to his place. He wakes up to Eve cooking his breakfast. For a man who’s been without female companionship for three years, he doesn’t seem that grateful to have it now.
  • Kirk and Harry Mudd show up shortly after Childress asked what happened to Eve’s looks. He says she’s turned homely. But, she hasn’t really. That was the character saying this, not me. Harry confesses to using the Venus drugs to make his women beautiful.
  • Eve takes a placebo that Kirk made Mudd carry after taking his Venus drugs away. She turns pretty anyway, which means she was beautiful all along. It was simply a matter of self-confidence (and makeup, hairstyling, and clothing).
  • Eve chooses to stay on Rigel-12 with the rude miner she is suddenly in love with. I’m sure the other women choose to stay as well. But, Harry has to go back with Kirk to face the music. Oh, and the miners are giving the Enterprise the lithium crystals they need.
  • Brief final scene on the bridge. Spock calls the entire plot of this show “a most annoying emotional episode.” I can’t add much to that. For some reason, McCoy finds it necessary to point out that the Vulcan heart is below the left side of the ribcage. Our Vulcan anatomy lesson concluded, we leave orbit and go ahead full towards the next episode.

This was one of those episodes that I didn’t watch that often as a kid. Once I realized it was about the Enterprise trafficking in sex workers and had no monsters or cool space battles, I lost interest. It doesn’t do much for me now, either. It’s lighter in tone than what we’ve seen so far, but that’s not what detracts from this story. There are other light-hearted episodes in this series that probably will make my All-Time-Best Trek list. “Mudd’s Women” just isn’t that great of an episode. It drags, there’s very little action, and it mostly fails when it tries for humor. The Venus drug device is closer to magic than science-fiction to me. And now I’m convinced that Harry Mudd murdered Captain Leo Walsh as well.

It’s still watchable, however, if only barely. 3 out of 5 stars from me.

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