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Recap / Star Trek S1 E6 "Mudd's Women"

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Harcourt Fenton Mudd, aka Harry Mudd. Bad guys were anything but subtle in the '60s.

Original air date: October 13, 1966

The Enterprise is in pursuit of a small vessel. The vessel is destroyed but Scotty manages to beam off the "crew," which consists of "entrepreneur" Harry Mudd and three captivatingly beautiful women. It turns out the three women are not so much crew as cargo; they were going to be wives for settlers. But the Enterprise sustained damage during their pursuit of Mudd's ship, forcing Kirk to head for a mining colony for more lithium crystals.

Mudd's Tropes

  • Artistic License Space: Based on the Solar System's own Belt, asteroids of that size are not going to come at a speeding ship with that frequency.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Another episode with references to "lithium," which would later be called "dilithium," and Spock being referred to as "Vulcanian." Uhura is seen in the gold command uniform.
  • Emergency Refuelling: Rescuing Harry Mudd's ship destroys three of the Enterprise's four dilithium crystals and damages the fourth, so they have to travel to a lithium mining operation on Rigel 12 to get more.
  • Feminine Women Can Cook: Even in the future women are expected to be good cooks!
  • Gaussian Girl: The titular "Mudd's Women" are shot this way when they're supposed to be attractive. "Old-age makeup" is applied when they are supposed to be unattractive.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Childress apparently just wanted a woman to hang around and be pretty, but starts to look at Eve in a new light as she reveals herself to be more clever than he expected.
    • Mudd at first appears to be some kind of pimp or even slave trader when he insists on calling the women "cargo", but he's basically the only one who consistently treats them with any kind of respect.
  • Human Outside, Alien Inside: It's mentioned in passing that Spock's heart is over to one side and further down than a human's heart would be.
  • Large Ham: Ladies and gentlemen, Roger C. Carmel as Harry Mudd. Quite possibly the thickest, juiciest slice of ham in the Galaxy of Ham that is Star Trek. Somehow Carmel is able to top himself (and brings everyone else up to his level) when he returns the following year for "I, Mudd".
  • Lie Detector: During the hearing, the computer constantly replies "Incorrect!" when Mudd is lying. Mudd mutters about the "blasted tin pot" when it pulls up his criminal record.
  • Magic Feather: During the reveal that Mudd was using the Venus Drug to enhance the women's beauty, Eve takes the pill. At first the drug seems to work. Then Kirk reveals that the pill she ate was just colored gelatin, the real drug confiscated. It turns out Eve didn't need the drug, just her self-confidence — to instantly restore her eye makeup and lip gloss and fix her hair.
  • Mail-Order Bride: The three women are essentially this. Mudd's not selling them as slaves, but rather facilitating their transport to where they can marry hardworking men of means living in places where prospects are slim-to-nonexistent.
  • Male Gaze: Often... the beauty of the women combined with what would quickly be established a Star Trek's default mode for female civilian attire means much attention is directed to the women's assets, by both Enterprise crew and camera.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Invoked by Mudd for Eve, Magda, and Ruth. The Venus Drug is supposed to "give you more" of whatever you already have, so average looks become Playboy pinup looks. Harry's basically running a variation of a "good-enough goods" scam... sell the client something that works just well enough that by the time it breaks and they realize they've been hustled, you're far enough away to avoid the wrath of the angry customer. In this case, the women are women... just not as drop-dead gorgeous as they are under the effects of the drug. Except the drug is just a Magic Feather.
  • My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That: During the hearing into Mudd's reckless piloting, Kirk initiates a computer scan of all present intended to discover if Mudd or his passengers are showing physiological reactions indicative of dishonesty. The computer reports negative, then volunteers that most of the male crew present are showing physiological reactions indicative of attraction to the women. However, McCoy's sickbay instruments go haywire whenever one of the women walk past.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: Of the men on the ship, Spock isn't fixated on the women due to him being a Vulcan, and even though Kirk does notice, he's more interested in duty than their attractiveness.
  • Running Away to Cry: Eve tearfully screams that they should have a lottery with her as the loser's prize and darts outside. Kirk tries to follow her, but gets hampered by the sandstorm in progress.
  • Space Western: The episode uses several well-worn tropes of the genre. Mudd is essentially a hustler selling women to settlers out on the frontier, although the implications of this are not explored in any detail.
  • Sherlock Scan: Mudd apparently can do this, correctly noting that Spock is part Vulcan despite him looking like pretty much every other full-blooded Vulcan. However, this could also be yet another case of Early-Installment Weirdness - both of the previous episodes to be filmed ("Where No Man Has Gone Before" and "The Corbomite Maneuver") are explicit in establishing Spock as half-Vulcan; the writers may have originally intended for full-blooded Vulcans to look considerably less human than Spock does.
  • Smart Ball: As in "The Man Trap", when someone goes missing on-planet, the crew returns to the ship and uses its powerful sensors to search for them instead of bumbling around on foot. (It doesn't work as well, though, because of the constant foul weather.)
  • Stock Footage: A closeup of Kirk in the Teaser is a recycled shot from "The Man Trap".