Star Trek 1.6: Mudd’s Women

Mudds WomenWow, I’m ripping through these episodes! I don’t normally watch DVDs this frequently, but I feel like I’m getting on a bit of a roll. Anyway, on to “Mudd’s Women“, which is a bit of an oddball episode.

It begins with a chase through an asteroid belt, during which we see Sulu actually at the helm of the Enterprise for the first time in the series. The asteroid belt is, like every other asteroid belt depicted in science fiction, improbably densely packed to the point of being a navigation hazard. During the chase, the Enterprise burns out a bunch of lithium crystal circuits. In later episodes these would more famously become dilithium crystals.

The renegade ship is destroyed, but four survivors are beamed aboard the Enterprise: Harry Mudd and three beautiful women. Mudd is subjected to a criminal hearing in which we see that the Enterprise computer can apparently act as a perfect lie detector. Along with the truth serum that was mentioned in “The Man Trap”, presumably people can’t get away with anything in the 23rd century. Another interesting bit of technology we see in this episode is Spock making some calculations using a slide rule! Maybe he likes the retro feel. (It turns out this is actually a “flight computer” – see this blog post.)

The Enterprise ends up in orbit about a lithium mining planet, staffed by, wait for it, three lonely male miners. Without the lithium crystals, the Enterprise’s orbit is decaying – one wonders why they didn’t simply go into an orbit high enough not to decay within 48 hours. Mudd’s women are seeking husbands, and the miners want wives, so all is hunky-dory…

Until we learn the women are taking youth/beauty drugs, and one of the miners decides that’s a con. There’s a strange chop in the story at this point, as though they cut a few scenes because the episode ended up too long. Before you know it, Kirk gives one of the withdrawing women her dose of the drug and she becomes beautiful again – only to be revealed that Kirk gave her a placebo, and she was actually beautiful all along, she just needed self-confidence! Rather a clichéd ending to a somewhat disjointed and disappointing episode. What’s more, Harry Mudd returns in a later episode!

Body count: None!
Tropes: Asteroid Thicket, Con Man, Fake Irish, Distracted By The Sexy, Lie Detector, Oddly Small Organisation, Space Friction, Fountain Of Youth, Stepford Smiler, Magic Feather, True Beauty Is On The Inside
(Image © 1966 Paramount Studios, used under Fair Use.)

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