4 "Mudd's Women"

(airdate: October 13, 1966)

Story: Gene Roddenberry      Teleplay: Stephen Kandel
Director: Harvey Hart

Mudd: Roger C. Carmel
Ruth: Maggie Thrett
Lt. John Farrell: Jim Goodwin

Eve: Karen Steele
Magda: Susan Denberg
Ben Childress: Gene Dynarski

Stardate: 1329.8 [but see Whoops!]

Captain's Log: The Enterprise is tracking an unidentified vessel that's in danger of self-destructing. They follow the ship into an asteroid field and manage to rescue the occupants before their ship explodes -- but this badly damages the Enterprise in the process: they need replacement lithium crystals to power the ship, and soon. The rescued people are a man, Harcourt Fenton Mudd, and three attractive young women, who appear to have an unusually powerful effect on the crew. Mudd is taking these three women to be married to settlers on a distant colony, but when the Enterprise diverts to Rigel XII for more lithium crystals, Mudd sees an opportunity to marry the three to the miners there instead. Mudd thus secretly arranges for the women to be married to the miners in exchange for both lithium crystals and his own freedom. The Enterprise desperately needs the crystals and so are forced to give into the miners' (and Mudd's) demands, but things are complicated when one of the women, Eve, runs out onto the storm-swept planet's surface. She's found by one of the miners, Ben, but she seems less beautiful than before. It turns out Mudd has been giving the three women the Venus drug, which makes women appear more feminine than they are. However, Kirk demonstrates that the women don't actually need the drug in order to be beautiful. The women decide to stay behind, and the miners give the lithium crystals to the Enterprise.

Whoops!: The initial stardate is actually later than the next two stardates given in the episode, moving from 1329.8 back to 1329.1. [Is it possible that the last two numbers in that first stardate were accidentally transposed (either by William Shatner or in the script itself), such that it was actually meant to be 1328.9?]
     For the first of two instances in the series, Uhura is wearing yellow instead of her usual red and (most curiously) a double-circle sciences badge instead of the usual arrowhead command emblem. [This comes from this episode and the other, "The Corbomite Maneuver", being the first two regular episodes of the series produced, before they changed her to a red uniform.]

Classic Lines: Eve: "Oh, the sound of male ego. You travel halfway across the galaxy and it's still the same song."
     Kirk: "There's only one kind of woman–" Mudd: "Or man, for that matter." Kirk: "You either believe in yourself, or you don't."

Cringe Lines: "I guess I'm supposed to sit, taste, and roll my eyes. 'Ooh, female cooking again.'"

Alien Love: All the men on the ship bar Spock, as well as the three miners, are affected by the three women, under the influence of the Venus drug. Kirk, however, is able to somewhat resist Eve's overtures, although she doesn't seem to want to go through with it - at least not for Harry Mudd's sake.

Library Computer: Harcourt Fenton "Harry" Mudd is a galactic trader of sorts, and something of a con man, with a boisterous personality and a somewhat rude demeanor. He's 6'1" tall and 240 lbs., with brown eyes, thinning brown hair, and a large handlebar mustache. His body appears to be impressively hairy. He's dressed in a loose orange tunic, large blue pants with a huge brown belt, black boots, and a large felt slouch hat. He's also wearing a large dangly earring on his left ear. [The overall effect is that of a flamboyant pirate.] Mudd has a police record, which includes a suspended sentence regarding smuggling, as well as being charged with transport of stolen goods and purchase of a space vehicle with counterfeit currency. He was sentenced to psychiatric treatment, although its effectiveness was disputed. His future police record-code is X731248, and his master's license was revoked on stardate 1116.4.
     Mudd was piloting a small class-J cargo starship, which looked like a yellow [silver in the remastered version] sunflower seed-shaped vessel, which was registered to one Leo Francis Walsh - although the ship's registration beam was switched off, making it difficult for the Enterprise to identify the vessel. Mudd's ship's engines overheated trying to evade the Enterprise, and the ship itself was destroyed when it ventured into an asteroid field and was struck by an asteroid - although the Enterprise was able to rescue Mudd and his three passengers from the ship. Due to these events, Kirk charged Mudd with galaxy travel without a flight plan or an identification beam, failure to answer a starship's signal, and operation of a vessel without a master's license.
     Mudd's passengers were three young women: Eve McHuron (or sometimes Evie) was a slender woman with long blonde hair and blue eyes, wearing a sparkly red dress; Ruth was a brunette woman with hazel eyes, wearing a long green dress; and Magda (or sometimes Maggie) was a woman with short platinum blonde hair, green eyes, and a strong Austrian accent, wearing a short purple-blue poncho-like dress. The three of them had grown up in fairly isolated conditions: Eve was from a farm planet with automated machines and only two brothers for company that she had to look after; Ruth came from a pelagic planet, populated by sea ranchers; and Magda came from a helium experimental station. The three of them were interested in marrying husbands, but there were no suitable males at home, so they decided to join up with Mudd to take them to Ophiucus III, to be married to settlers of that planet. However, with the Enterprise's intervention, Mudd arranged for the three women to be married to miners on Rigel XII instead.
     The women are all taking an illegal drug known as the Venus drug, which was considered by some to be merely a legend. The drug is a small sparkling red pill, and it enhances the natural attributes of the taker - so it makes men more muscular and aggressive, while it makes women "rounder" and more feminine. In their case, the drug smoothed out minor imperfections - such as wrinkles and scars - and (weirdly) caused their hair to become less dishelved, although it appeared there were withdrawal symptoms for users. It also created a profound effect on those around the users, for instance causing increased heartbeat, blood pressure, and perspiration, and quicker breathing in males as they were entranced by the three women. [This suggests that the drug might actually affect the perception of those looking at the user - it would explain why their hair looks different, at least.] The drug also led to unusual physiological readings in the user - Ruth, for instance, causes the sickbay monitoring panel to behave strangely.
     The Enterprise uses six lithium crystals to power the ship. [Well, probably; Kirk asks for six, but it's possible he might be trying to get a spare or two.] The crystal itself is a large translucent hexagonal crystal. A hairline split in the crystal makes them highly susceptible to failure, and too much power passed through them will cause them to burn out. The Enterprise needs lithium crystals to work; without them the ship is helpless, relying on battery power. Lithium crystals are incredibly valuable; they're worth about 300 times their weight in diamonds. [Lithium crystals are a real thing (well, crystals of lithium compounds are, at least), but they don't have the properties described here, which is probably why the show switched to dilithium, beginning with "The Alternative Factor" - dilithium also being a real thing (albeit only as a gas), but perhaps less commonly known about than lithium.]
     Rigel XII is a blue-black planet [brown in the remastered version], with a mining facility that produces high-grade lithium. There appear to be only three miners present: Herm Gossett, Benton, and the head miner, Ben Childress. All three have been there for nearly three years, in structures that appear to be partially carved into the planet's surface. The planet's surface has a pink-purple sky and is very stormy, with constant powerful winds blowing up a lot of dust; Ben Childress states that you can get lost "a dozen feet from your doorstep". Magnetic storms also blow, ionizing the atmosphere and reducing the effectiveness of the Enterprise's scanners. The miners can be reached on subspace frequency three-nine.
     Captain Kirk is authorized to pay the miners an equitable price for the lithium crystals. [We never find out what he's actually going to pay with - credits, shares, gold-pressed latinum - as the miners want to swap for the women instead, but this is evidence that money in some form still exists, at least for those outside of Starfleet.]
     Lt. John Farrell is the navigator of the Enterprise. He has sandy hair and very prominent blue eyes, which give him a somewhat nervous appearance. He's wearing a gold command tunic.
     Kirk's middle initial is T. [This contradicts "Where No Man Has Gone Before", but as everything after this goes with T, we're forced to conclude that the mistake is in that episode - see its entry for more details. We don't find out what the T stands for until the Animated Series episode "Bem".]
     "Vulcanian" can apparently be used to describe someone from the planet Vulcan.
     Asteroid belts can be measured in terms of Shiller ratings. The belt that the Enterprise followed Mudd's ship in was rated three-five.
     Saturnius harem girls are apparently not something women aspire to be compared to.
     There are playing cards that are round in shape, although the pictures on the cards appear to be the same as 20th-century playing cards.
     Double-jack is a card game for one person. A red 8 doesn't go on a black 9 in double-jack.
     The Enterprise can use infrared scanners to scan a planet's surface. It has a volume of almost a million gross tons.
     The Vulcan heart is located in the left side of the body. [McCoy points to roughly where the spleen would be on a human - but see "A Private Little War" and Star Trek Beyond, which both describe the placement as analogous to the human liver. Maybe McCoy just pointed to the wrong side of his body by mistake.]

Final Analysis: "Are they, Jim? Are they actually more lovely, pound for pound, measurement for measurement, than any other women you've known?" Obviously some parts haven't aged very well - Ben Childress, in particular, comes across as a boor for being focused solely on Eve's appearance - but if you can accept it as a product of the era it was made in, there's quite a bit to enjoy about "Mudd's Women". Roger Carmel gives a wonderfully flamboyant performance as Harry Mudd (no wonder they brought him back), while the tension of the failing power is handled quite well. Karen Steele gives an impressively nuanced performance as Eve for a character that could have easily been played too broadly, and the overall message isn't actually as sexist as you might fear. And Harvey Hart provides some interesting direction - note, for instance, the way he chooses to shoot both Kirk and Eve in Kirk's quarters through that dividing screen. Overall, it's not perfect, but it's better than you might expect.

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