Stardate: 4513.3 (2268)
Original Air Date: November 3, 1967
Writer: Stephen Kandel, David Gerrold (uncredited)
Director: Marc Daniels
“What is a man but that lofty spirit, that sense of enterprise, that devotion to something that cannot be sensed, cannot be realized but only dreamed! The highest reality.”
In this goofy Harry Mudd sequel episode, a crewman named Norman (Richard Tatro) begins acting strangely and he rather quickly locks the ship’s controls and hijacks the entire vessel. He stiffly addresses the bridge (referring to himself as “we”) by stating that the Enterprise will arrive at a new intended destination in four solar days. Norman then reveals himself to be an android and then promptly shuts himself down while the ship speeds toward its unknown destination.
Several days later, the Enterprise arrives at an uncharted planet, classified a “Class-K” planet (meaning a planet which can be adapted for life with the help of machinery). Norman awakens and commands Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, and Chekov to beam down to the planet’s surface, or else he will destroy the ship’s engines in order to strand it in orbit forever. Without other options, the crew beam down to the unnamed planet where they surprisingly find the notorious conman, Harry Mudd (reprised by Roger C. Carmel). He now rules this planet like a dictator –“Mudd The First.” How did Mudd escape his fate from his last encounter with the Enterprise in “Mudd’s Women?” Apparently, he escaped imprisonment and wandered through the galaxy. He was caught selling a Vulcan fuel synthesizer to the Denebians and then sentenced to death on Deneb V; though fortunately for Mudd, he was able to steal a ship and get away.
Now, on this planet, Harry Mudd is surrounded by beautiful android women who hope to study a new group of humans, hence why the Enterprise has been hailed (Mudd also has a full-size android of his nagging wife). The Androids are the product of an ancient cohort of “Makers” from the Andromeda galaxy but their sun went nova and they were forced to flee. Spock surmises these androids have a central intelligence hub while the androids completely take control of the entire Enterprise. Their light-flashing necklaces reveal their inner artificial intelligence.
The crew stages another ruse to get back aboard the Enterprise, and Kirk and Spock use twisted logic to effectively melt the circuits of the Norman android –they suggest that everything Mudd says is a lie (i.e. the liar’s paradox: “everything I say is a lie; I am also a liar”). These and other antics spell the demise of android rule, and in the end the androids are reprogrammed for their original purpose: to make this unnamed planet productive. Additionally, Mudd is sentenced to remain on this planet with all the androids (including 500 android copies of his shrew of a wife). The episode ends on a whimsical note: will this be the end of Harry Mudd?
Once again, Starfleet security aboard the Enterprise appears to be a complete joke as a single nondescript (android) crewman –who has apparently been aboard the Enterprise for a mere three days– locks the whole crew out of its own controls as he easily takes control of the whole ship! If ever there was a reason to tighten Starfleet’s recruitment protocols as well as the Enterprise’s security defenses, this is it.
At any rate, this episode presents a silly twist on the plot of the Season 1 episode “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” Whereas instead of a weighty figure like Dr. Korby, Harry Mudd seems to somewhat accidentally rule the planet at the behest of androids, though he is not some grand maniacal visionary. Why does he want to escape this situation? What does the roguish criminal Harry Mudd truly desire? As Kirk notes, there are certain problems posed for people with limitless horizons. There are, no doubt, some intriguing parallels to draw between this episode and classic science fiction literature, perhaps Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? or I, Robot (indeed the title of this episode is likely a nod to I, Robot) however I find myself drawn to Star Trek episodes of greater gravitas and enduring quality –though I admit a screwy comedy involving Harry Mudd is a nice bit of levity!
Star Trek Trivia:
- This is the second time the Enterprise crew has had a run-in with the whimsical con man Harry Mudd. Roger C. Carmel previously appeared in the role in the Season 1’s “Mudd’s Women.” He was one of only two non-recurring actors to reprise their characters in TOS.
- Although Stephen Kandel (original creator of Harry Mudd) is credited as the lead writer for this episode, based on a story by Gene Roddenberry, David Gerrold completed uncredited re-writes to this script. Mr. Gerrold was given the job after the crew was pleased with his work on “The Trouble With Tribbles.” Almost nothing from his script made it into the final episode and Gene L. Coon offered to take up the matter with the Writer’s Guild for arbitration but Mr. Gerrold declined.
- This episode employed the use of identical twins (Alyce Andrece and Rhae Andrece) as well as a collection of cinematic tricks to give the illusion of thousands of androids on this planet.
- Apparently, there is an amusing story about how Casting Director Joseph D’Agosta spotted a pair of twin prostitutes and tried to hire them for this episode, however while being introduced to them, they brought a cat which clawed up Gene L. Coon and the twins were never hired.
- Around this time, NBC considered launching a spin-off show about Harry Mudd but Gene Roddenberry was far too busy with Star Trek to begin a new show.
- This episode marks perhaps the fourth or fifth time thus far in the series that Kirk manages to reason with a computer or android, and essentially talk it to death.
- There are a few moments wherein Chekov becomes quite “comfortable” with the female androids, and he also makes an amusing remark that this unnamed planet is even better than Leningrad!