1. Yes, I know that they're usually called DILITHIUM crystals. But in this episode — only the third in production order — the "di" has not yet been added, and they're called "lithium" crystals. I had to retype the word several times, because my fingers kept adding the "di" without my intending to. :-)
2. I'm sorry if this chapter isn't as good as the first two, but I found very little to work with in this episode. I didn't want to get into the rather questionable area of mail order brides, and there isn't a lot else IN the episode.
Next up: "The Enemy Within," an episode I like muuuuuch better.
3. Yes, I know that Spock wasn't present for some of the events that he talks about here; he was in the transporter room when the lithium circuits failed. But we know from the events of "Court Martial" that events on the Bridge are recorded in a computer log; I'm assuming that Spock was concerned enough about what happened to review the log and witness the events that transpired in his absence.
4. The story for the episode was by Gene Roddenberry, and the teleplay was by Stephen Kandel. The character of Harry Mudd was invented by Kandel; the mail order brides were all Roddenberry. :-)
5. When Gene Roddenberry first proposed Star Trek as a series to NBC, he gave them a list of stories that would work with the Star Trek format. The story that eventually became "Mudd's Women" was on that initial list, but of course NBC didn't choose this story for the pilot. Also on the list were the stories that eventually became "Charlie X" and "A Piece of the Action."
Most Star Trek fans know that Star Trek is unusual in that it had TWO pilots. The first pilot, "The Cage," had a different ship's captain (Captain Christopher Pike, played by Jeffrey Hunter) and a different crew; of the characters we're familiar with, only Spock was in the first pilot, and even Spock was considerably different — in both appearance and behavior — in that pilot. (Most of that first pilot would be recycled into the two-part episode "The Menagerie.") NBC executives loved the first pilot but thought it wouldn't make it as a network TV show and took the unprecedented step of ordering a SECOND pilot.
So Roddenberry gave NBC a second list of stories that they could choose from for this new pilot; the list included the story that eventually became the second pilot ("Where No Man Has Gone Before"), the first episode made to have James Kirk as the captain. Also on that list were the story that eventually became "The Omega Glory" and the story that became "Mudd's Women" again. So Roddenberry was really committed to this story; evidently mail order brides in space really did something for him. *mind boggles* Had NBC chosen this story for either of the pilots, we might not have had Star Trek.
6. I've posted a Challenge, for the first time ever. If you'd be interested in writing it, you can find it here. Speaking of Challenges, they seem to be organized alphabetically. Is there any way to see the most recent Challenges, the way we can see the most recent stories?
7. Thanks for reading!
8. Below is a summary of the events of this episode, for those who wish it:
Summary of the actual episode:
When the episode begins, the Enterprise is in hot pursuit of another space ship, a ship that doesn't have the registration beam that all ships are required to have. The other ship is fleeing at top speed, and both Spock and Scotty warn Kirk that the captain of the other ship is overloading his engines and can't keep this up much longer. Uhura hails the ship, but they don't answer, and Kirk is sure that the other ship hears them; they just refuse to answer.
The other ship flies into an asteroid belt in an attempt to lose the Enterprise, and Kirk orders the deflector shield up, then flies into the asteroid belt after it. Once in the asteroid belt, the overloaded engines of the other ship give out, meaning that the other ship has no protection from the asteroids. Kirk orders Farrell, the navigator, to extend the Enterprise's deflector shields far enough to cover the other ship.
Scotty says that they're too far away from the other ship to cover her with their deflectors, that doing so will overload the Enterprise's engines. Kirk orders Spock and Scotty to go to the transporter room, to try to beam the crew of the other ship aboard.
Kirk orders Farrell to cover the other ship anyway. Farrell replies that he's extended the deflectors to cover the other ship and notes that they won't be able to do it for very long. Sulu tells Kirk that engine temperatures are climbing, and the Enterprise's engines are overloading. A crewman calls Kirk on the intercom from Engineering and tells him that engine temperatures are passing the danger line.
Farrell tells Kirk that their deflector screen is weakening, and they can't keep it extended for very much longer. At this point, the lights on the Bridge flicker. Sulu, talking about the lights going out, tells Kirk that was a sign that one of the lithium (sic) circuits has failed. The lights flicker a second time, and Sulu notes that a second lithium circuit has died.
Spock and Scotty, now in the transporter room — along with McCoy, in case anyone aboard the pursued vessel needs medical care — beam aboard a man who's quite flamboyantly dressed, who says (in a fake Irish accent) that his name is Leo Walsh. Here he is:
Just as the pursued ship explodes, Spock manages to beam aboard the rest of the people from that ship. This turns out to be three beautiful women in evening gowns:
Even though a third of the Enterprise's crew is female, and even though Uhura is (in my opinion) at least as pretty as any of the women they've just beamed aboard, McCoy and Scotty act completely stunned by the sight of the women, as if they haven't seen a woman in years. McCoy has a goofy grin on his face, and he can't even track conversation properly, giving a non-sequitur in response to a remark that Walsh makes. And Scotty is so far gone that when Kirk calls him on the intercom and asks how many people they took off of the ruined ship, he has to call Scotty THREE TIMES before Scotty snaps out of it long enough to answer the captain's question. Spock appears not to be affected, and he gives both McCoy and Scotty disbelieving looks. What IS it about these women that's affecting McCoy and Scotty so strongly?
Kirk orders the four to be brought to his quarters, and Spock escorts Mudd and the three ladies to Kirk's cabin. On the way there, the women sashay through the ship like hookers trolling for customers, and all of the male crewmembers do double takes as they walk by. There are female crew members all around, but the male crew members act stunned and smitten by the three women. What's happening? When they get to Kirk's quarters, Kirk asks Walsh if the three evening-gowned women are his crew, and Walsh replies (still in his fake Irish accent), "This is me cargo."
Kirk has the three women escorted out. Spock watches them leave, then give an "Eh, so what" look:
Walsh claims that he didn't know that he was being pursued by a starship and fled because he feared they were hostile. Kirk calls him a liar and says they understand one another.
On the Bridge, Sulu and Farrell are talking about the women, and both of them are having trouble getting themselves in the right frame of mind to do their duty. Scotty warns Spock that they have a single lithium crystal left, and that one is cracked and will fail soon. Spock suggests that they rig a bypass, and Scotty says that the equipment needed for a bypass was all fried, too. At this point, Spock calls Kirk to the Bridge.
In the briefing room, Walsh is telling the women what to say when questioned. He tells them not to lie but to make sure to refuse any medical exams. They call him "Harry," and he reminds them that his name is "Leo."
On the Bridge, Spock and Scotty tell Kirk about the problem with their one remaining lithium crystal. Kirk casually orders a bypass and is told that isn't possible; all the bypass equipment is fried. Kirk looks at Spock and simply says, "Well?" Spock tells him that there's a lithium mine on Rigel XII, two days' travel away, and Kirk orders the ship to make for Rigel XII.
A hearing is convened in the briefing room to examine the charges against Leo Walsh. During the course of the hearing, the computer detects several lies, and it comes out that the man's actual name is Harry Mudd, and he's been convicted in the past of smuggling, transporting stolen goods, and trying to buy a space ship with counterfeit money. He was sentenced to psychiatric treatment, but there's a question about whether or not it was effective. Once Mudd's real name is known, he drops the fake Irish accent and speaks with an American accent.
Mudd says that he supplies wives to colonists, and the women with him — Eve (the blonde in the pink dress), Ruth (the brunette in the green dress), and Magda (the blonde in the lavender poncho thing) — are intended to serve as wives to colonists on a frontier planet. Kirk asks the women if they're with Mudd willingly, and they agree that they are. They say that there weren't many marriageable men on the planets they came from, and they're eager to find husbands.
Kirk convicts Mudd of illegal operation of a vessel and says he'll hand Mudd over to the authorities, but since the women were passengers, they aren't charged with anything, and they're free to go. This isn't good enough for the women, who plead to be taken to the planet where their prospective husbands are. At this point, the last lithium crystal fails, and Kirk puts off dealing with the women's problem in order to deal with his ship. Within the hearing of Mudd and the women, Kirk orders Spock to call the miners on Rigel XII and tell them they'll need lithium crystals right away.
As soon as Kirk leaves the room, Harry Mudd excitedly tells the women that they can still have husbands, just different ones than they'd believed. He tells them that lithium miners are both lonely and rich and suggests that they'll make excellent husbands.
With the last lithium crystal fried, the Enterprise is relying solely on battery power for such essentials as life support. Their battery power is not unlimited, and they have just enough to get to Rigel XII and pick up replacement lithium crystals from the miners there.
Ruth visits Sickbay and vamps McCoy. As she walks by McCoy's medical scanner, it makes a strange beeping noise, unlike any of the noises it normally makes. McCoy is puzzled about what's making his scanner freak out, but the women refuse a medical exam. Ruth asks if McCoy will be examining the lithium miners, and he says that he will if they need it, but it's unlikely because all three of them are young and healthy.
When Kirk returns to his cabin, he's surprised to find Eve lying on his bed. She claims that she had to hide out in his quarters because walking down the corridors was so traumatic, what with all those men looking at her. Kirk is not charmed and asks her to leave, and she switches strategies and starts talking about how lonely she is and how sure she is that he understands loneliness. Kirk does understand the loneliness of command and starts to thaw towards her, at which point Eve says that she does like him, and she can't follow Harry Mudd's orders to manipulate him, then rushes out of the room.
The women report back to Mudd. Ruth tells Mudd the information she picked up from McCoy, Magda reports the miner's names, and they add that the men have been alone now, with only the three of them on the planet, for three years now. Easy pickings for the likes of Harry Mudd! Then Eve says that she doesn't feel good and says it must be "time."
On the Bridge, Kirk is having trouble getting his crewmen to obey his orders; they're all so distracted by the women — even though the women aren't present on the Bridge — that they have to be told things twice before they wake up and do them. Even though Kirk has witnessed the fact that the three women seem to be having a strange effect on the men, he snaps at Farrell. Then he has a conversation with McCoy where he asks if the women are the perfectly normal human women that they appear to be or if they're something else. He and McCoy have this exchange:
Kirk: "Well, come on, you're the doctor. What is it? Is it that we're tired, and they're beautiful? They are incredibly beautiful."
McCoy: "Are they, Jim? Are they actually more lovely, pound for pound, measurement for measurement, than any other women you've known? Or is it that they just, well, act beautiful." And then, having come so close to the point, McCoy veers off again and says, "No. Strike that, strike that."
We get a quick flash of Harry Mudd's cabin, where Magda delivers a stolen communicator to him. We watch him use it to contact the head miner on Rigel XII, Ben Childress.
Back to the Bridge, and they've finally reached Rigel XII, but they have only enough power for the next three days. If they don't get lithium crystals by then, the Enterprise will plunge into the atmosphere and burn up. But three days is plenty of time, right? What could go wrong?
In Harry Mudd's cabin, the women are freaking out because they suddenly look twenty years older than they did before, and they're not as beautiful. Harry Mudd is rummaging through his stuff, looking for something. The women all voice disgust with themselves as their beauty fades, and then Harry suddenly finds the box of pills he was looking for. Ruth and Magda eagerly take the pills, and their wrinkles vanish, and they become beautiful again. Eve says the drug is "a cheat," but Harry convinces her to take it.
Kirk has two of the miners beamed up, and they meet in his quarters. He offers to pay "an equitable price" for the lithium crystals they need, but Ben Childress, the head miner, says that he wants to trade the crystals for the three women and for the freedom of Harry Mudd. Kirk refuses to make this deal, but then Harry Mudd sweeps in with his "cargo" in tow, and the three women vamp the miners. Harry tells the miners that the Enterprise only has enough power for three more days, and they'll have to take the miners' deal eventually.
Kirk, Spock, Mudd, and the women beam down to the planet, and Kirk tells Childress that he'll make the deal. Childress brushes him off. The miners dance with the women while Kirk, Spock, and Mudd look on. Eve pushes away from Childress, then feels rejected when he turns to one of the other women, and she runs outside. The problem is that there's a sandstorm going on outside, and no one can survive in it for long. Kirk and Childress both run outside after her. When he can't find her in a few minutes, Kirk beams back to the ship to use the ship's sensors to look for Eve.
Scotty tells Kirk that using the sensors is going to drain their batteries even more, and if only they had those crystals. Kirk lashes out at Scotty, shouting, "But we don't! I didn't get any. I should have found a way. Satisfied, Mister Scott?" A few lines later, he apologizes to Scotty, and Scotty just nods. They now have five hours of power left.
Meanwhile, Childress finds Eve and carries her to his cabin. She's unconscious in his arms, and he lays her gently on his bed, then falls asleep on a bench, exhausted from battling the storm.
On the ship, Kirk is still searching, and he picks up heat signatures from Childress' cabin. The Enterprise is now down to 43 minutes of power. Kirk and Mudd prepare to beam down to the cabin.
In Childress' cabin, Eve has woken up before Ben and has done some chores. Ben is cranky about her doing things in his cabin, and Eve explains that she ate some of his food, so she paid with some chores. Ben is still cranky, and they snap at each other a bit. Eve comes up with a good idea for how to wash the dishes even though there's no water, something Childress didn't think of in three years of living there. Hmm. So she's not just a pretty face. Then the pills Eve took before begin to wear off, and she looks older and less beautiful; Ben wants to know what happened to her looks.
Kirk and Mudd arrive at this point, and Kirk orders Mudd to tell Childress about the Venus drug. Childress says he's heard of the Venus drug but thought it was a rumor. Mudd says that it really exists (though it's illegal), and his women were on it; he takes the pill case from his pocket and displays the Venus drug. Kirk tells Childress that the other two miners have already married Ruth and Magda, even though they were on the drug, too and now look older and less beautiful now that the drug has worn off. Childress is irate and tries to attack Mudd, but Kirk pulls him off. Childress says that they work hard and deserve good wives.
Eve breaks in and says, "You don't want wives, you want this." She stands up and seizes the drug from Harry's pill box. She holds it out in her hand, displaying it to Childress. She says, "This is what you want, Mister Childress. I hope you remember it and dream about it, because you can't have it. It's not real!" At this point, she takes the pill and turns around for a minute to give it time to work. Once it has, she turns back around and says, "Is this the kind of wife you want, Ben? Not someone to help you, not a wife to cook and sew and cry and need, but this kind? Selfish, vain, useless. Is this what you really want? All right, then. Here it is."
Ben is now skeptical of Eve and says it's all fake, created by a drug. Kirk reveals that Eve didn't take a drug. Harry's Venus drug was confiscated, and they substituted colored gelatin for it. Eve isn't more beautiful now because she's on a drug but because she has confidence. Kirk says, "There's only one kind of woman." Mudd add, "Or man, for that matter." Kirk says, "You either believe in yourself, or you don't."
It would be a lovely message, except that the reward Eve gets for having confidence and for not caring about physical beauty is ... physical beauty. So the message is slightly muddled. For the entire episode, it's been clear that the only thing anyone thinks is important about the women is how they look, and the only thing the women think is important about the miners is how much money they have. Neither group is treating the other like human beings, and neither group acts as if the personality and character of their prospective spouses matters in the slightest. Still, Eve and Ben have begun speaking honestly to one another, and at the end of the episode, it looks as if they may yet form a relationship that's based on honesty and maybe even mutal respect.
Childress gives Kirk the crystals, and Kirk and Mudd get ready to beam back to the Enterprise. They have this exchange:
MUDD: Don't you think you could possibly, by accident, arrange to leave me behind here? On this planet that would be punishment enough.
KIRK: I can't do that, Harry, but I will appear as a character witness at your trial. (Strategic pause) If you think that'll help.
MUDD: They'll throw away the key!
Back on the ship, Kirk is in the captain's chair with Spock standing to his right and McCoy to his left. They have this exchange:
MCCOY: That must have been quite a talk you made down there. Ever try considering the patent medicine business?
KIRK: Why should I work your side of the street?
SPOCK: I'm happy the affair is over. A most annoying emotional episode.
MCCOY: (Pounds the center of his chest with his fist) Smack right in the old heart. Oh, I'm sorry. In your case, it would be about here. (Pounds his left side with his fist)
SPOCK: The fact that my internal arrangement differs from yours, Doctor, pleases me no end.
At several points during this episode, one character or another makes the point that Kirk is unavailable to the women because he's already married to the Enterprise. The idea that Kirk is married to the ship is one we'll see again in subsequent episodes.
Spock has a sassy, snarky aura during this episode; he's not yet the perfectly cool Vulcan that we'll see later in this season. Leonard Nimoy is still figuring out how to play a character that pretends to have no emotions, and he hasn't yet refined Spock down to the minimalist creature he will become. (This is one of the reasons why I strongly recommend watching the episodes in production order, since watching Nimoy figure out how to play such an unusual character is part of the charm of the first season of TOS.)
At this point in the season, they're still calling Spock part VULCANIAN; they won't switch to using the word "Vulcan" for both the planet and the natives of that planet until later on.
Harry Mudd says to Spock, "A pretty face doesn't affect you at all, does it? That is, unless you want it to." He then turns to the women and says, "This type can turn himself off from any emotion." So even as early as this episode, they aren't saying that Spock HAS no emotions, just that he chooses to control or suppress them.
In this episode, we learn for the first time that Spock's heart is in his side instead of in his chest. It already took an hour and a half in the make-up chair for Leonard Nimoy to have his ears and eyebrows done, so there wasn't time to make Spock look even more alien. But the dialogue and story could add alien touches that didn't require make-up, so we gradually learn a number of things about Spock's Vulcan biology that aren't visible on the surface, from the green blood to the rapid heartbeat to the heart in his side.
This is Uhura's second episode, and she's still wearing Command gold, rather than the Engineering and Ship's Services red that she'll wear for most of the series. She looks MUCH better in red, so it's good that someone decided to make Communications fall into the red group. ;-)
Kirk's quarters are usually shown to be on Deck 5, but in this episode, for some reason they're on Deck 12. Maybe his usual quarters are being painted or something? In any case, it's one of the many little moments in this episode where things are different than they will be for the bulk of the series.
In the very beginning, when Mudd's ship is fleeing from the Enterprise, Kirk asks Spock if it's an "Earth" ship. So we've not yet heard anything about Starfleet or the Federation. They're coming! :-)
Kirk offers to pay "an equitable price" for the lithium crystals he wants from the miners, and Harry Mudd convinces Eve, Ruth, and Magda that they want to marry lithium miners by talking about how "rich" lithium miners are. We don't yet know much about the Federation's economy — not surprising, since they haven't even made up the Federation, itself, yet :-) — but it's clear that some form of money is still used, unlike what will be said in the fourth Star Trek movie.