"Mudd's Women" is the sixth episode of the first season of the American science fiction television series, Star Trek. Written by Stephen Kandel (based on a story by Gene Roddenberry) and directed by Harvey Hart, it first aired on October 13, 1966.
|Star Trek: The Original Series episode|
|Episode no.||Season 1|
|Directed by||Harvey Hart|
|Story by||Gene Roddenberry|
|Teleplay by||Stephen Kandel|
|Featured music||Fred Steiner|
|Cinematography by||Jerry Finnerman|
|Original air date||October 13, 1966|
It is the first of three episodes to feature Harcourt Fenton Mudd, an interstellar con man, who is transporting a cargo of female humans, i.e. Mudd's Women. Mudd would appear again in I, Mudd and in The Animated Series episode, Mudd's Passion.
On stardate 1329.1, the Federation starship USS Enterprise, under the command of Captain James T. Kirk, is in pursuit of a J-class cargo spaceship. The ship overloads its engines in an escape attempt through an asteroid field. Kirk orders the Enterprise's shields extended around the other spacecraft to protect it until the cargo ship's occupants can be transported aboard the Enterprise. This action destroys all but one of the dilithium (in that episode still called 'lithium') crystal circuits in the Enterprise's warp engines.
The Enterprise beams the cargo ship's passengers – three women – and its captain aboard, just as an asteroid impact destroys their spaceship. In the transporter room, the man gives his name as Leo Walsh. The three women who accompany him are stunningly beautiful, and they distract many of the male crew members of the Enterprise, including ship's surgeon Dr. McCoy and Chief Engineer Scott. The women are destined to be wives for settlers on the planet Ophiuchus III and are introduced as Ruth Bonaventure, Eve McHuron, and Magda Kovacs.
Kirk convenes a hearing, during which the computer contradicts Walsh's testimony, forcing him to reveal his true name, Harcourt Fenton Mudd, a criminal with an extensive record. The hearing ends as the final lithium crystal fails.
Without lithium crystals, the Enterprise must limp on reserve power to the storm-plagued planet Rigel XII to obtain new crystals from the miners there. Ben Childress, the chief miner, and his associate Herm Gosset, having been in contact with Mudd, demand his release along with the women in exchange for the crystals. Kirk refuses, but the Enterprise's remaining power is insufficient to maintain the ship's orbit for more than a few days, threatening a fiery reentry into the planet's atmosphere. Mudd points out that sooner or later Kirk will have to bargain for the crystals the ship needs. Kirk is forced to allow Mudd and the women to beam down to the planet.
At an impromptu party with the miners, Eve becomes angry when they begin fighting over the other two women, and runs away into a magnetic dust storm, with Childress and Kirk in pursuit. Kirk beams back to the Enterprise to try to locate them from orbit. Eventually, Childress finds Eve, brings her to his quarters, and falls asleep. On waking, he is confronted with a much plainer Eve.
Kirk and Mudd beam back down to the planet to deal with Childress. The captain reveals that Mudd has been giving the women the so-called Venus Drug, which creates a transient, illusory beauty. As Childress confronts Mudd over the deception, Eve snatches a dose of what appears to be the Venus Drug, but is in fact a placebo. This restores her self-confidence to the point that Childress finds her as attractive as before. Kirk finally gets his replacement crystals. He offers to take Eve away with him but she declines. Eve tells Kirk, "You've got someone up there called the Enterprise," opting to stay with Ben Childress.
Mudd tries to persuade Kirk to leave him behind on Rigel XII, telling him that to be stranded on that barren world would be punishment enough. Kirk refuses, but promises to appear as a character witness at his trial, something Mudd does not find reassuring. The ship continues on her way, with the new crystals installed in the Engine Room.
The story was one of three submitted for production as the second pilot of Star Trek: the others being "The Omega Glory" and the selected episode, "Where No Man Has Gone Before". It was filmed as the second episode of the first season, after "The Corbomite Maneuver".
Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club gave the episode an 'A-' rating, describing the character of Harry Mudd in particular as "a familiar character type, but an enjoyable one".
In 2015, W.I.R.E.D. magazine suggested this episode was skippable in their binge-watching guide for the original series.
In 2016, TVline ranked this as having one of the top twenty moments of Star Trek, when Eve finds out Kirk had given her a placebo rather than the beauty pill.
- The term dilithium was not yet in the Star Trek vernacular during this episode.
- Whitfield, Stephen E & Roddenberry, Gene (1968). The Making of Star Trek. Ballantine Books.
- Herbert F. Solow and Robert H. Justman (1996). Inside Star Trek: The Real Story. Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-00974-5.
- Handlen, Zack (January 22, 2009). ""The Enemy Within"/"Mudd's Women"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved June 12, 2009.
- McMillan, Graeme (January 28, 2015). "WIRED Binge-Watching Guide: Star Trek". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
- Mason, Charlie (July 19, 2016). "Star Trek's 20 Most Memorable Moments". TVLine. Retrieved July 4, 2019.
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