There's something strange about this Enterprise crewman. He never smiles, never engages in small talk, shows great reluctance to talk about his past, and he isn't Mr. Spock. He soon takes over the ship and reveals that his name is Norman, he is an android and they will be going to his planet—no ifs, ands, or buts. Once in orbit, Norman specifies who will be in the landing party. Kirk and company find they have no choice but to comply when Norman threatens to destroy their engines. When they beam down, who should greet them on a grand throne but their old friend, Harry Mudd?
It seems that after Harry decided to release himself on his own recognizance (i.e., he broke jail) he crash landed on this planet of androids who immediately made him their emperor. It seems the androids are very much like Lumiere and his friends. They're just not happy without people to serve. And now that they have an entire starship full of people to serve, Mudd can now leave his android followers for a permanent vacation.
Yeah, that's what he thinks.
- Alice Allusion: About to Logic Bomb the Alice series of androids, Kirk says, "Next, we take the Alices through Wonderland."
- Behind Every Great Man: Harry notes that every great man has a woman urging him on...and every time he thinks of Stella, it urges him further on into space.
- "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: Mudd rankles at being called a liar and a thief by Kirk. He prefers "entrepreneur".
- Bling of War: Mudd's getup has a martial look, but in this case it's probably Bling of Sloth and Avarice.
- Brick Joke: Early on, Norman claims that they don't know the meaning of the world "please", even as they add it onto their 'request' that the Enterprise visit the planet. When the landing party first arrives on the planet, one of the Alices says "If you will follow us, please." (Possibly a clue that Norman in his role as central control computer has transmitted the importance of "please" to the other androids.) At the end, as Norman is overloading from trying to solve Mudd's Liar Paradox, he exclaims "Illogical! Illogical! Please explain!"
- Chew-Out Fake-Out: Uhura seemingly sabotages her crewmates' escape attempt. After the androids leave, Kirk approaches her sternly, seemingly intending to chew her out for her betrayal...only to reveal to the viewers that Uhura's sabotage was part of the plan, which she pulled off very well and for which he's very proud of her.
- Continuity Nod: Mudd's previous appearance in "Mudd's Women" is directly referenced, making this one of the few episodes with direct continuity with a previous story. Harry is also the only recurring character not part of Enterprise's crew during the run of the series (Khan, Sarek, and Amanda would later appear in the films, with the Sarek also appearing on The Next Generation, while Kor, Kang, and Kolothnote returned in Deep Space Nine).
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: Mudd is left on the planet with at least five hundred android copies of his shrewish wife in an attempt to keep him in line. And he can't turn them off.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Apparently Deneb V punishes copyright infringement with the death penalty.
- Euphemism Buster: Combined with Rule of Three when Mudd explains what happened after ending up on death row on Deneb V:Mudd: Well, of course, I...left.
Kirk: He broke jail.
Mudd: I...borrowed transportation—
Kirk: He stole a spaceship.
Mudd: The patrol reacted in a hostile manner—
Kirk: They fired at him.
- Evil Laugh: Mudd lets loose one after revealing the Enterprise crew are stuck here.
- Fate Worse than Death: What the Enterprise crew leave Mudd to: stuck on the android planet with 500 copies of his wife that he can't shut off.
- Full-Name Ultimatum: Harcourt Fenton Mudd! His first name is embarrassing, his middle name is embarrassing and his last name is nothing to crow about either!
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: After Chekov discovers that the two Alices offering their "services" to him are Sex Bots — programmed by Harry Mudd, no less — he's delighted. When we next see him, later on, he has a huge blissful grin on his face. What did he get up to in the interim, we wonder?
- Gilded Cage: The trope is discussed among the crew when they realize they are in a situation where their every comfort and desire will be catered to- unless it is a desire to leave.
- Hell of a Heaven: Mudd says the android planet is a paradise, in a tone that shows it's become anything but. With all his desires catered for, the interstellar rogue had gotten bored and restless.
- Henpecked Husband: Harry Mudd had an android made of his harridan of a wife so that he could finally have the last word. Guess what his punishment is?
- Hive Mind: All the androids operate this way, with Norman as the "Queen", if you will.
- How Would You Like to Die?: A question Harry Mudd evaded by breaking out of jail:Mudd: Do know what the penalty for fraud is on Deneb V?
Spock: The guilty party has his choice: death by electrocution, death by gas, death by phaser, death by hanging....Mudd: The key word in your entire peroration, Mister Spock, was, death.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: The androids come to this conclusion after spending a good amount of time with Mudd. They plan to fix this problem by taking over the universe.
- Hurricane of Euphemisms: Mudd tries to explain euphemistically how he came to this planet. Kirk is more direct.
- Hypocritical Humor:
- Harry claims Information Wants to Be Free as his defense for patent infringement, yet he got caught because he sold the rights to one of his stolen patents.
- When protesting a patrol shooting at him, Harry rants that had no respect to keep them from damaging private property, namely the spaceship, ignoring that he stole the spaceship in the first place.
- After the androids quit obeying Mudd's orders and declare that he will be left behind with all the other humans:Mudd: You'd better do something because I'm as anxious to get off this ruddy rock as you are!
McCoy: You wanted to leave us on "this ruddy rock" and leave by yourself.
- I, Noun: The title
- Insane Troll Logic: Deliberately evoked by Kirk and company to overload the androids' programming.
- Insistent Terminology: You will call him "Mudd the First!"
- Ironic Echo: "I am not programmed to respond in that area." Initially, it's used by the androids on Kirk and Company. Later, when Kirk and Mudd Logic Bomb Norman and the android begs for an explanation, Kirk returns the favor.
- Large Ham: This time, it's not just the actors. The characters themselves deliberately ham it up in order to make the androids crash.
- Liar's Paradox: Captain Kirk and Harry Mudd use a liar's paradox to set off a Logic Bomb in an android holding them captive.
- Logic Bomb: Several are set off in hopes of shorting out the androids. One even includes the characters playing around with an imaginary bomb.
- The one Spock comes up with to short out two of the Alices is beautiful in its simplicity:Spock (to Alice 27): I love you. (turns to Alice 210). But I hate you.
Alice 210: But I am identical to Alice 27 in every way!
Spock: Of course, that is exactly why I hate you. Because you are identical.
(both Alices promptly shut down)
- And, of course, the infamous Liar Paradox.
- The one Spock comes up with to short out two of the Alices is beautiful in its simplicity:
- Men Are the Expendable Gender: Oddly, it applies to androids as well, specifically the third point on that page: "Male characters get more explicit and brutal deaths." To wit: As the crew is dropping Logic Bombs on the androids, the Alices are shown simply closing their eyes and slipping placidly into sleep mode. However, Norman's death by Logic Bomb is much more visually torturous, as smoke and sparks pour from his ears... because his brain is on fire. This is perhaps justified by the fact that Norman is the Hive Queen and required a stronger bomb to take him down.
- Offhand Backhand: This is how Norman treats all the Redshirts in engineering. Fortunately, this is a funny episode, so they're just KO'ed.
- Oh, No... Not Again!: Quite clearly Kirk's reaction when he sees Mudd on the throne.
- Parting-from-Consciousness Words: Mudd protests being knocked out as part of the crew's plan to fool the androids.
- Politeness Judo: When threats of utter destruction still leave Kirk reluctant to follow Norman's demands, he tries saying "please".
- Purple Prose: In the latter stages of the story the Enterprise crew and Mudd go on long, flowery speeches to the androids, presumably so that their circuits will overload even quicker trying to work out just what the hell they're talking about.
- Ridiculously Human Robot: All of the androids not only look human, but they are programmed to be "fully functional".
- Robotic Reveal: Norman reveals a mechanical panel on his abdomen. Originally, it was a simple cluster of wires and transistors. The remastered edition has something that better lives up to the "Most sophisticated" description Spock gives.
- Sex Bot: Chekhov realises the implications of the female robots being programmed by intergalactic pimp Harry Mudd...and decides things might not be too bad here after all.
- Shout-Out: The title of the episode is one to I, Robot, and the plot of the episode also has a little bit of fun with Asimov's Three Laws.
- Sick Captive Scam: The crew sedate Harry and tell the androids that he's dying but could be saved if they could get to the Sickbay on board ship as part of a plan to get the upper hand. Played with in that this scheme is only part of a more complex one to outgambit the androids, who will expect them to make an escape attempt. Now that they've made an obvious one, they can continue with the real one.
- Sidetracked by the Analogy: Mudd tells Spock he couldn't sell false patents to his own mother. Spock can't figure out why he'd want to.
- Stop Worshipping Me: Even Harry Mudd tires of being planetary emperor.
- That Came Out Wrong: McCoy's explanation of why he doesn't trust Norman — he never smiles, he doesn't do small talk... — accidentally insults Spock. He tries to explain that it's different for Vulcans, which doesn't really help.
- That Russian Squat Dance: While he doesn't get into the Preesyadkee, Chekov's dance is very reminiscent of the Kazatsky.
- Too Happy to Live: During one of the logic bomb incidents, Scotty begs to be put out of the misery of having too much pleasure. Kirk, Spock and Bones all pretend to shoot him. Kirk takes Scotty in his arms and declares he died of too much happiness.
- 20 Minutes into the Future: Chekov references Leningrad, which was renamed back to St. Petersburg in 1991.
- Uncanny Valley: In-Universe - Already from the beginning McCoy notices that there is something off about Mr. Norman.
- Understatement: "We're in a lot of trouble."
- Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Kirk says nothing about his plan until he sets it into motion—which involves Slipping a Mickey to Mudd in order to get back to the Enterprise. It looks like it might work until Uhura blows the whole plan out of her desire to stay and become an immortal android. Kirk looks like he's about to chew her out big time—and then congratulates her, revealing that this too was part of the plan. On to Phase 2...
- Vanity Is Feminine: Uhura has trouble dismissing the possibility of having eternal youth and beauty.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: The androids want to take over the galaxy, coddling everyone into a state of blissful dependence, in order to protect the cosmos from all the hubris, aggression and whatnot they observed in Harry Mudd.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The robots apparently were working on the robot body to put Uhura's brain into before they left to take over the galaxy. When the episode ends, it seemingly gets forgotten about.
- How about what the androids did intend to do with the other intelligent species who are neighbours to humans?
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Uhura is briefly tempted with the possibility of living forever. At one point, it looks like she's even willing to betray her crew for the chance. Fortunately, it turned out to be all part of a grand Batman Gambit to trick the androids.
- Your Mom: Generally, bringing up Spock's mother is a good way to get introduced to your spleen. Fortunately, he's too confused as to why he'd want to sell her false patents to really react.