Star Trek (TAS) “Mudd's Passion” (part 3 of 7)
Now we’re down in, oh, let’s say, the brig. Kirk and Spock stand around while Cartoon Nurse Chapel examines Harry. And by “examines”, I mean she stands a foot away from him and declares he has a simple bruise. On a personal note, due to an incident a couple of years ago where I referred to Nurse Chapel as “Man-Face”, and got a lot of heat from the hardcore TOS fans, I’m almost terrified to point out that the Cartoon Chapel’s nose is way, way smaller than the real Chapel, making the cartoon version far more attractive. Oops. I guess I did just point that out. Well, there’s another two years of hatred from the TOS camp.
Anyway, now there’s exposition about how Harry escaped from what Kirk refers to as “the robot planet”. Actually, I think they called it “the android planet” in “I, Mudd”, but close enough.
Mudd goes into a lengthy story about how he got off the Robot Planet, and all the wacky adventures he encountered along the way. But what it comes down to, basically, is that he stole a spacecraft from… somewhere, and then headed to another planet where he proceeded to sell Starfleet Academy to the planet’s inhabitants. I don’t know. Sure, Harry Mudd in the original series was depicted as kind of a conman and a shyster, but I don’t think even he would stoop to that level of all-out ludicrous fraud.
And here Kirk refers to the Academy as the “Starfleet Space Academy!” Hmm, that’s interesting. Makes me wonder if Starfleet Academy was originally meant to be floating out in space somewhere, instead of the San Francisco location established in the later shows. That would make a lot more sense, actually. After all, why would the citizens of another planet buy what are basically buildings on Earth?
Kirk then lets out a very exasperated “Harry…” while Spock fills in the rest of the details. He says that this fraud worked well enough for Mudd to get to another planet where he discovered the love crystals. He sold the crystals to a thousand people (wow, that’s a lot of speeches involving a lot of pink lizards), but those people immediately became ill from the effects of the potion. Harry says, “I hadn’t counted on their unusual biochemistry! So I did the logical thing! I left in.. haste.” Okay, that was funny.
Harry insists that the love crystals actually work, and wants to prove it. But Kirk silently switches off the light [?] in Harry’s cell and walks off. We hear weird “spacey” bloop-bloop sounds in the background, so was that meant to be Kirk switching on the force field? If so, why does the light get dimmer in the cell when the force field is switched on? And shouldn’t the door frame start glowing, like on TOS? And who are the Overlords of the UFO? And why are they here? At this time?
Kirk tells Spock to put together an “arrest report” and heads off. Spock asks Nurse Chapel for a medical report on Mudd, and she gushes about how Spock deserves “congratulations” for trapping Mudd “so cleverly”.
Spock straight out harshes on her with a cold “You exaggerate, Nurse. Kindly see your medical summary is more precise.” Oh shizznit! That was hardcore, did you see that? Big-time shun. Now all Spock needs to do is ride a motorcycle, play guitar, and write crappy poetry, and the women will be all over him.
Mudd overhears all this, and after Spock is gone he immediately strikes up a conversation with Nurse Chapel. He calls Spock an “attractive intelligence” [?], who’s lacking in the “warmer emotions”. And then Chapel, who should know full well about Mudd’s long history of scamming people, since she just heard him talking about it, simply stands there and chitchats with him.
Mudd claims to “appreciate” Chapel’s “feminine quality” (cough) and her “fantastic touch”. To show his admiration, he’d like to give her one of his love crystals, which he just happens to have on him. Okay, so they don’t search people before tossing them in the brig. Good to know.
To her credit, Chapel just scoffs at this. But Harry says, “Think about it, darlin’! Mr. Spock, in love, with you! [evil chuckle]” Well, I wasn’t going to take the crystals, but since you chuckled evilly, I’ll reconsider.
On the bridge, Lt. “Crazy Arms” Arex reports that an uncharted star system is up ahead. Spock notes it’s a “binary sun with a Class M planet”, and wants to investigate. Kirk agrees, and has Arex take them into orbit. And as we all know, random Class M planets never become a convenient plot point on Star Trek. We get a shot of the Enterprise entering orbit of the planet, which looks almost exactly like the planet where they arrested Mudd.
We return to Mudd and Chapel, and find Mudd is still talking up the love crystals. He explains how all she has to do is rub the liquid into her skin, and then touch another person, and then that person will instantly fall in love with her.
Oddly, he makes a special point to mention that “one touch evokes friendship between men or women! But between woman and man, love! Guaranteed!” Wow, the first ever hetero love potion. What do you suppose the writers were thinking when they added that little tidbit? The conspiracy theorist in me thinks it was a blatant attempt—in the face of all the Kirk/Spock slash fanzines circulating at the time—to reaffirm the very, very non-gayness of Star Trek. But if you think this bit of dialogue is conspicuous, just wait until you see the Hetero Love Potion in action, a little later in the show.
Nurse Chapel absorbs this information. It seems that the temptation of Spock Love is just too much for Christine to handle. “Not that I believe you,” she says, “But… I suppose I could analyze it!” Oh yeah, I bet she could analyze it, all night long. She switches the light back on. I guess this does shut off the force field after all, because Mudd hands over the crystal while horns loudly blare.
When we return from commercial, the boys on the bridge are surveying the Class M planet. They find it has no signs of intelligent life. The final verdict is that the atmosphere is breathable, and the temperature, according to Spock, is “well within Class M limits!” Hmm, so they just happen to be in orbit around a planet with a breathable atmosphere. I wonder if this will be important in a few minutes. Nah, couldn’t be.
Back with Mudd and Chapel down in the brig. Mudd is still trying to convince Chapel to test the love crystal “the way it’s meant to be used!” After liberal uses of “darlin'” and the promise that “Spock will be yours forever, m’dear!” Chapel finally caves in. She breaks the crystal open and immediately feels woozy, and Harry grabs her before she faints. After a moment, however, Chapel regains her senses enough to tell Harry to get back in his cell, and then she’s off to go find Spock. Hmm. Wouldn’t it have been better to find Spock before cracking open the crystal?
But, uh oh! During the confusion and wooziness, Harry managed to swipe a device from Chapel. It looks like a flask, but I’m guessing it’s a phaser, because it shoots a beam of energy that neutralizes the force field. Whoops! Silly girls and their love obsessions! So easy to take advantage of!
Harry’s now on the loose, which takes us right into a truly bizarre scene. Here, we learn that Harry also swiped Nurse Chapel’s Enterprise ID card [!]. Okay, what? Since when did anybody on the Enterprise have ID cards? Photo ID cards, no less?
He stands in front of a console holding the card, and a beam zaps Chapel’s picture off the card. Harry slips the card into a slot, and the device snaps his picture, and the next thing we know, his picture is on Nurse Chapel’s ID card. Okay, now just hold on. It only took about three steps for Harry to switch his picture for Christine’s picture. I can only conclude this machine was designed specifically for making fake IDs. You know, in case any of the underage ensigns want to go to TJ for the weekend. Wow. A fake ID machine. If I had one of these, I’d set up a tent across from the Florida State campus and make enough money to retire in about three years.
Cut to Chapel, personally delivering her “medical summary” to Spock. Said summary is a white square roughly the same size and dimensions as a Pop-Tart. As she goes to hand the Pop-Tart to Spock, she immediately stumbles and falls into his lap [!]. A miffed Spock asks, “Are you injured, Miss Chapel?” Maybe not physically, but mentally, for sure.
She says she’s fine, then asks if he’s “feeling alright”. Unfortunately, there appears to be no effect on Spock, because he gives the kind of uptight Spock reply that we’ve come to know and love. She continues on, however, asking if he might want her “to, um.. well.. well, stay? Help you?” But Spock considers that idea to be—everybody say it with me now!—”illogical”.