Story by: Gene Rodenberry
Teleplay by: Stephen Kandel
Directed by: Harvey Hart
Ah yes, Harry Mudd. His first appearance in Star Trek comes with a very sexist, lame episode. While only the third episode produced, it aired sixth, putting it directly after “The Enemy Within” and before “What Are Little Girls Made Of?”. Why is this significant? Well, all three episodes have some major sexism issues. You can read my review of “The Enemy Within” for a full run-down but I’ll focus on “Mudd’s Women” here.
Now, I never understood why people loved Harry Mudd so much. Roger C. Carmel is a fine actor, so it’s nothing against him but the character of Harcourt Fenton Mudd just never connected with me. In his first appearance, he is carrying cargo consisting of three attractive women so he can marry them off. Now, what makes this worse is that the women, at least two of them, are super into it. So much so, that they hit on the members of the Enterprise crew. At least Eve (played by Karen Steele) struggles with the situation and stands up for herself to a certain extent. I’m not saying it goes far enough but she does fare better than Ruth and Magda.
When plans don’t go as expected, Mudd attempts to drop the women off on a mining planet that literally has three single men on it. The new plan is to leave the women with them. That’s right, drop three women off on a planet with three men. Immediately, fighting spurs between the men as they argue over who gets which woman, pushing Eve to the point of running out into a sand\dust storm because she feels unwanted. The rest of the episode is spent trying to find her as the Enterprise is in peril… because the rest of the story isn’t enough for an episode. The Enterprise is blowing lithium crystals left and right and is mere minutes away from losing its orbit and crashing into the planet. The miners, working with Mudd, would rather watch the Enterprise crew, hundreds of people, die than be left alone on their mining world. Seriously, what awful people. They are miners. It’s their job. They are paid for it. But, they are lonely, so let’s threaten the lives of an entire starship so we can get laid.
In the end, we learn that Eve takes a placebo and still becomes beautiful… because, you know…. she wasn’t before and it’s really the only important thing for a woman. But the moral of the story is that Mudd is a liar and beauty is something inside all of us; we just need confidence. It’s a lame premise that I suppose means well by the end but certainly fails across the board. I was incredibly disappointed when I realized it was Gene Roddenberry’s own story because this does not seem like a progressive outlook at all.
Overall, the episode is fairly boring on top of being sexist, anti-feminist, and rude throughout. I’m glad to put this one in the books and move on.