This episode stands out for a few reasons. It’s memorable because of the villain of the show and all of his later references (TOS, TAS, Star Trek: Into Darkness and Star Trek: Discovery), and this person’s … cargo.
We join our favorite crew as they are in pursuit of someone. His small, Class “J” cargo ship swerved and weaved to avoid capture by the Enterprise and blew out his engines as he entered an asteroid field.
Kirk ordered that the shields be expanded to protect the cargo ship from the asteroids, which then caused the Enterprise itself to become over-extended. The first member of the small ship to be rescued was a space buccaneer, calling himself Captain Leo Walsh. Walsh thanked Spock, McCoy, and Scotty for his rescue, but appeared to be in no hurry to save the rest of his crew.
“Strike that from the record, Mr. Spock.”
However, Scotty beamed over the remaining “crew” of the doomed vessel, which was destroyed after being hit by an asteroid. As these survivors materialized, Scotty and McCoy stood there… almost memorized… by the three beautiful women, wearing very little. Spock appeared to be the only one not affected by their powers.
Kirk ordered them to his cabin. As Spock escorted Walsh and his ladies through the ship, heads turned. As they entered the turbolift, Walsh told his companions that they need not try with Mr. Spock, who was a “Vulcanian,” who could turn off his emotions.
As they exited, one of the women apologized to Spock, saying that Walsh was used to “buying and selling people.”
Spock introduced the captain of the transport to Kirk, who asked if the women were his crew. No, said Walsh. They were his cargo. Kirk noted in his logs the mysterious power that the women had over the male members of his crew, including himself.
Mudd, er… Walsh began to lecture Kirk at how he and the Enterprise overstepped its authority when they pursued his ship. Walsh said that he had no idea who the Enterprise was. Kirk noted that there would be a ship’s hearing on his actions. Spock would assist Walsh on his defense.
After observing members of the crew talk longingly about the women, Scotty confided in Spock about the trouble they were all in. Spock responded affirmatively, saying that he was well aware of the lithium crystal problem. While they saved the cargo ship momentarily, the stress on the system cracked the crystal and blew out much of the energy unit assembly.
Spock suggested that they head to Rigel-12, where there was a lithium mining colony, in just two days’ travel.
Mudd found his women under guard by ship’s security. They panicked as he entered, to which he ordered them to tell the truth always, and not to allow any sort of medical examination.
Kirk presided over the trial of Leo Francis Walsh… which was determined by the ship’s computer to be an alias. His real name was Harcourt Fenton Mudd. The machine pulled up the long list of Mudd’s offenses. On top of all that, Kirk said that he was operating a vessel without a master’s license.
As Mudd squirmed with the facts, his ladies began using their powers. One by one the crew at the table started to fall under their spell. Mudd explained that Walsh had been the name of the captain chartered to take the ship to the planet Ophiucus-3 and that the women were “wiving settlers.”
Kirk ordered the computer to scan the ladies for any unusual readings. The computer did find usual readings for the members of the board at the table. The men all were perspiring at a high rate, their blood pressure was up, and their hearts were beating more rapidly.
“Strike that from the record, Mr. Spock.”
Mudd said that “Ruthie” came from a pelagic planet of sea ranchers, while Magda hailed from the Halium experimental station. And Evie McHuron, who said that she too was from a farming planet full of machines with no eligible bachelors.
She told Kirk that they were excited to become wives and that they were headed in the wrong direction. Mudd had no defense, and Kirk ended the hearing, deciding that he would be handed over to the authorities.
Evie approached Kirk and asked him to reconsider, and as soon as she did the ship’s power flickered. Sulu called from the bridge to report that the life support system was now running on batteries. Kirk left the cabin and told Spock to contact the lithium mine immediately.
Mudd praised the galaxy after Kirk departed, telling the women that they were headed to a lithium mine, where there would be miners. Mudd laughed and said that soon his women would be rich and married and that Mudd himself would be in command of the Enterprise.
As the ship glided into Rigel on fumes, Mudd’s women were taking matters into their own hands. Ruth began pursuit of McCoy. As she toured sickbay, an unusual reading came over a medical scanner. McCoy asked if she would walk past it again. When she did, the scanner gave the same puzzling reading. Ruth asked if the miners were in good health. McCoy said that they were. All three of them.
Meanwhile, Eve settled into Kirk’s bunk. When the captain walked in, she started asking him questions about command and the stresses of his duties — all while her hands were around his neck. Suddenly, she pulled herself away, telling Kirk that she cannot do it, no matter what Mudd says.
At that moment, Mudd was scheming with his other two ladies… almost counting the riches, he will earn as soon as they arrive at the lithium-mining colony. Eve returned to the cabin and told Mudd that she did not feel well and that it was “close to the time.” She then grabbed the wall and began to struggle to breathe.
On the bridge, Kirk grew tired of asking more than once for an order to be executed from his male crew, who were obviously acting distracted. He asked McCoy what the results were of Eve’s examination, to which the doctor said that she refused an exam. Kirk started to ask McCoy if there was something about these women that was not quite right, while Spock listened silently.
In Mudd’s cabin, the pirate got a hold of a communicator and messaged the colony. Moments later, Mudd’s women looked less like Barbie dolls and more like rag dolls. After a frantic search through their cabin, Mudd recovered the pills that give the girls their incredible beauty. All of them took the pills.
When the miners arrived aboard the Enterprise, they proposed that the lithium crystals be swapped for Mudd’s Women and the release of Mudd himself. Kirk laughed and said “no deal.” Mudd then waltzed in with his ladies, and he announced that it would just be a matter of time until the ship would lose all power and fall out of orbit.
Kirk, Spock, and Mudd beamed to the surface of Rigel and found Mudd’s women lounging with the miners. Kirk then told the miners that they had won, and to turn over the crystals. The miner’s Childress said that they would when they had the time. But Spock reminded the captain that the ship was running out of time.
As they were carousing, Eve started to cough. Childress grew tired of her and moved onto Ruth, pushing another miner away as he did. That caused a scrum, and Eve ran out of the shelter onto the harsh planet’s surface. Kirk and Childress went after her, but neither could find her immediately. Kirk and Spock returned to the Enterprise to resume the search with the ship’s sensors. Scotty warned that they minutes away from losing all power.
Childress did eventually catch Eve, who started to cook and clean for him in his cavernous home. But he soon saw what happened when the pills wore off.
Farrell grew angry with her and just at that moment, Kirk and Mudd burst into the place. Kirk forced Mudd to tell the truth about the “Venus Drug” which Eve and the other women had been taking.
Childress lunged at Mudd when he learned the truth, but Kirk intervened. Childress lectured them about how hard he worked and now had been fooled. Eve told him that what he wanted was not real, and grabbed the pills. When she turned around, all was as it was before. Childress called her a fake, but Kirk revealed that she had taken only colored gelatin pills, and not the Venus Drugs. Kirk surmised that no drug could take the place of one believing in themselves.
When Kirk asked for the crystals, Childress told him that the Enterprise and her crew were welcome to them. As Spock and Kirk prepped to leave the planet, Childress asked if Eve could stay… saying that they had some things to discuss.
Mudd asked if he could stay behind. Kirk said that they could not allow that, but he’d be happy to be a character witness for him at the trial.
TREK REPORT SUPPLEMENTAL:
I’m not sure why, but I very much enjoyed this episode. It could be because it has been referenced in the later versions of Trek. Nah. It was really because I wanted to know what the trick was. I wanted to know how Mudd was fooling the males on the Enterprise. I also wanted to see if Spock and Uhura were going to have to take over ship’s operations while the rest of the crew chased around three alluring ladies the whole time.
One thing that I did enjoy was the special effect on Mudd’s Women to make them irresistible was … hair and makeup. I guess that makes the episode’s Makeup Artist Fred Phillips and Hair Stylist Virginia Darcy special effects wizards as well.
RATING: 4 out of 5