World’s Worst Trekkie: Carlie Takes on “I, Mudd”

Once upon a time, a girl made Jell-O shots.

Not for any real reason. Mostly to experiment and see if tequila and orange Jell-O were a good combination. (Reader: they were.) But after satisfying that initial curiosity, there were plenty of leftovers to be had. There was also a Star Trek episode to be watched.

It seemed clear what we had to do.

DISCLAIMER

There will be SPOILERS for this episode and probably the Star Trek franchise in general. You’ve been warned.

THE GAME

Each player makes two predictions for things that will occur in the episode. If a player’s prediction fails to come true, they take a shot. If the opposing player’s prediction comes true, they also take a shot.

Mekaela’s Predictions:

There is an extended riff on Spock’s lack of humanity.
Uhura is not in the episode.

Carlie’s Predictions:

A literal Red Shirt is killed.
Kirk engages in fisticuffs.

(Also, I feel it’s important to note that I am not the girl in the story, only the bard. Mekaela actually made the Jell-O shots)

WHAT GOES DOWN, BASICALLY

Oh noes! Norman, the newest crew member on the Enterprise, is secretly an android. He takes over the ship and redirects it towards a planet entirely populated by other androids, save for one human, Harry Mudd. Mudd, last seen being escorted off to jail, is both ruler and captive here; the androids serve his every need, but they also won’t let him leave. Their sole purpose is to serve and study humans, only they’ve learned all they can from Mudd, who’s likewise grown rather bored playing king of this prison-kingdom. His plan is to give the androids the Enterprise crew in exchange for his own freedom.

Unfortunately for Mudd, the androids back out of the deal. Mudd, they decide, is too flawed to live without supervision; in fact, humans are altogether too self-destructive, greedy, and violent. They can’t be trusted to take care of themselves, so the androids plan to steal the Enterprise and go make themselves indispensable to the various humans around the galaxy. “And we shall serve them,” Norman explains, “and they will be happy. And controlled.”

So, Kirk and co. are forced to team up with Mudd. The only way to take out the androids is to make their little electronic brains explode with completely illogical behavior; yes, my friends, we have yet again run into the Logic Bomb. Our heroes eventually succeed and reprogram all the androids with a new purpose: preparing the planet for human colonization. Mudd, meanwhile, is sentenced to remain until he stops being an “irritant.” And to ensure that his every need is met, Mudd will have three androids at his disposal: each identical copies of his nagging wife, Stella. Unlike the last Stella android, though, Mudd won’t be able to power these ones off and lock them up whenever he wants.

MY TAKE

Oh my God. I’ve finally found the episode for these GIFS:

People. I’ve been so curious.

As I’ve stated multiple times now, the Logic Bomb is not one of my favorite tropes. However, this is easily my favorite example of it to date, not because it really makes any more sense here, but because it’s an excuse for the cast to just go wild for almost ten minutes straight. “What are they doing?” one of the androids asks, as Bones, Scotty, Uhura, and Chekov dance around like weirdos, and it’s a valid question. But it’s not just dancing, oh no. The pure, unadulterated crack continues, my friends. We also watch everyone “kill” Scotty with finger-phasers and accompanying sound effects. Then Kirk says, “Let’s hear it for our poor dead friend!” before everyone abruptly cracks up over Scotty’s supposed corpse. Happily, Scotty has an unexplained miraculous resurrection when Spock very seriously mimes having a bomb, which Mudd pretends to hit with his imaginary golf club. There’s just . . . there’s a lot of absurd to go around. Too much to pick one favorite moment, although a strong contender is Spock taking hold of Norman’s arm and, in a hushed voice, telling him, “Logic is a little tweeting bird chirping in a meadow. Logic is a wreath of pretty flowers which smell bad.”

As evidenced by my love of both Farscape and Legends of Tomorrow, I have a weakness for zany SF, so, yeah, this whole section was right up my alley. In general, I liked this episode. The scene where Mudd cagily explains how he got here, while Kirk and the others handily translate his bullshit, is especially funny. “I, Mudd” is clearly the superior follow-up to the overtly sexist and otherwise dull, “Mudd’s Women,” although, sadly, there’s still plenty of room for sexism here. See: Stella. Also, the bit where Chekov, having discovered that Mudd turned the Alice androids into sexbots, calls him an “unprincipled, evil-minded, lecherous kulak” . . . before immediately being all ‘It’s good to be the king,’ and NOPE, nope, so much nope.

If you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go watch Uhura backhand Chekov a few dozen more times.

RANDOM ASIDES

If you’re reading this review, thinking, “Yeah, yeah, absurdity and sexism, yeah, but what about the drinking game,” well. Neither of us did well here. Uhura, of course, is in the episode; meanwhile, although Kirk does strangle Mudd, it’s a little too brief and one-sided to count as genuine fisticuffs. Spock’s Vulcan nature is joked about, obviously (this is still TOS, after all), but not the extended riff that Mekaela had in mind. And though Norman runs around knocking out all kinds of people, he stubbornly refuses to kill even one of them, that absolute bastard. (I was especially irritated about this because I almost picked “an android shows up” as my second prediction.)

First Time We’ve Encountered: A sequel! TOS is incredibly episodic, so Mudd is actually our first return antagonist. (Or really, our first return character of any kind, save a few Enterprise crew members.) Also worth noting: Chekov asks who Mudd is, since he wasn’t on the show during “Mudd’s Women.” You’ll notice that he entirely fails to do that with Khan in Wrath of Khan, despite the fact that “Space Seed” is also a first season episode.

Mudd escaped a death sentence, apparently. The fact that we even have death sentences in TOS still baffles me a little, but mostly, I was taken aback that, among the many ways you could choose to be executed, hanging was still on the list. (Other options include gas, electrocution, and phaser.)

Maybe it’s just the fact that the criminal justice system, for obvious reasons, has been heavily on my mind lately, but uh, seriously, if we’re gonna sentence people to prison, even very comfortable prisons, perhaps we ought to do so with an actual time frame in mind? You know, “Fraud gets you three years,” rather than “You’re stuck here until you stop being an annoying little shit.” That seems . . . not great?

Fashion Report: Well, Mudd’s idea of proper kingly attire is a royal blue shirt with huge gold epaulets, a giant, gaudy jeweled necklace, a giant red brooch, a wide purple belt, and, of course, the trademark ‘stache. Meanwhile, all the Alice androids are all dressed like this, which is certainly, uh. A look. And I’m happy to report that Chekov’s horrifying wig has been vanquished! DOWN WITH THE CHEKOV WIG!

Sulu Watch: Disappointingly, Sulu takes no part in the many wacky antics described above. He’s only in the first ten minutes of the show, where he notices that someone has changed the ship’s course. (Huh. You don’t have to be on the Bridge to do that?)

What’s Up, Uhura: Besides gloriously backhanding Chekov, you mean? Well, all the Starfleet officers (other than Kirk) are tempted by some aspect of their “gilded cage” prison. Uhura isn’t interested in giant science labs or pretty robot girls like her coworkers, though; Uhura dreams big. She wants immortality. And apparently, it’s possible to transfer a human’s consciousness over to a robot body. She even pretends to betray her crew for the opportunity, although thankfully this is All Part of the Plan. (There’s a bit of that “freedom vs. happiness” shit inherent to this story, and it never quite lands for me here. But I’ve seen worse.)

Fanfic Request: Someone gimme a one-shot where Uhura tells Nurse Chapel, “Damn it, I had to give up my one chance at immortality for the sake of teamwork and ethics,” and Nurse Chapel telling her, “Oh, honey, no. Let me tell you all about my ex.”

Lots of good dialogue in this episode. A small bit of banter that I haven’t already mentioned is this:

Kirk: Well, opinions?
Chekov: I think we’re in a lot of trouble.
Kirk: That’s a great help, Mr. Chekov. Bones?
Bones: Well, I think Mr. Chekov’s right. We are in a lot of trouble.
Kirk: Spock–and if you say we’re in a lot of trouble–
Spock: We are.

Still, I think this one’s gotta go to Spock’s own particular brand of solemn absurdity:

LINE OF THE EPISODE

“Logic is a little tweeting bird chirping in a meadow. Logic is a wreath of pretty flowers which smell bad.”

This entry was posted in TV STUFF, World's Worst Trekkie Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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