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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Star Trek: Season 2, Episode 8: "I, Mudd"

To Spock, McCoy worries about a new, unfriendly crew member on board--someone who hedges about his background and acts... like Spock. But not you, he tells Spock; the pointy ears make all the difference. Next we see the man, he attacks a crew member and fiddles with knobs and dials. He turns the ship on to new coordinates, and overrides the overrides. Moreover, the ship is booby-trapped for anyone who tries to undo his work.

The he is an it--an android. It takes them to a planet ruled by Harry Mudd and his androids. They beam the entire crew down and replaced them with androids.

Analysis with spoilers:
The crew is quite content, actually. The androids will supply the crew's every want. They don't lodge protests until Capt. Kirk rallies them around the Enterprise. Kirk insists on getting his ship back. The crew work together to overload their circuits with illogic. McCoy rubs this in Spock's face--a whole crew of illogical humans won, but Spock says that's why the crew needs him--someone who has logic.

In the opening, Spock rather gently exposes Doctor McCoy's prejudice, which would likely not occur today. However, McCoy was correct about this particular man.

The "please" quote below is fascinating in its broad interpretation.  Does it mean they do not ask permission? that they don't ask permission because they follow commands? or, as a verb, that they aim to please without pleasing?

Harry Mudd is a more fascinating figure in this episode as one can see in the quotes below. Some would be amused, others dismayed by Harry speaking similar ideas, later spoken in the Internet age.

Shatner performance: Kirk's bemusement--his slight smile--strengthens both his own character and those he plays against. It enhances the others because he gives them his approval--albeit, not complete. It enhances himself in that he feels confident enough to grant amusement to someone who seems to have the upper hand.

Mudd starts off antagonistic toward the Enterprise and later--due to the androids not allowing Mudd aboard the Enterprise--allies himself with the crew.

They reprogram the android to harass Harry with 500 former, nagging spouses. The crew chuckle. This is supposed to stop Harry from exploiting the androids, but the androids were out to please Harry and Harry is not pleased. So in a sense, they are torturing Harry and the androids. Moreover, what might the long term consequences be of creating a race of powerful beings whose job is solely to annoy a human being?

  • Android: There is a word. It seems to mean something to you but it does not to us.
Kirk: And what is that word?
Android: Please.

  • Kirk: Do I know him? Harcourt Fenton Mudd, thief.
Harry: Come now.
Kirk: Swindler and con man.
Harry: Entrepreneur.
Kirk: Liar and rogue.
Harry: Did I leave you with that impression?

  • Spock: He did not pay royalties

Harry: Knowledge, sir, should be free to all.

  • How will my crew react in a world where they can have absolutely everything they want simply by asking for it?
  • Android: We shall serve them, and you will be happy and... controlled.
  • McCoy: It's worked so far, but we're not out yet.

Stephen Kandel, same author of previous episode about Mudd.

  1. Chekov!
  2. We first met Mudd in Season 1, Episode 6: "Mudd's Women"
  3. Mudd, like his first episode, begins as an enemy and ends as an ally.

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