Star Trek (TAS) “Mudd's Passion” (part 7 of 7)
Back down on the desert planet, Kirk asks how long the effects of the love crystals last. According to the creature that Harry “swindled, uh, I purchased the crystals from”, not long. But it’s too late, because the rock creatures are on the attack again.
And more shoddy animation follows, because this next bit makes nothing resembling any kind of sense. Kirk says, “Keep trying to contact the Enterprise!” But I have no idea who he’s saying this to. Logically, he would be saying this to either Spock or Chapel, but he’s facing Mudd [?] when he says it, and at the same time, he’s talking into his communicator [?].
Then the animation somehow gets worse, because when Kirk turns to his left in the next shot, there’s Mudd again, and now he’s standing next to Spock. Hey man, mapping spatial relationships is for squares! Let’s get back to drawing more crazy enormous monsters and smokin’ a doob!
Kirk suggests trying to “distract” the rock creatures, and when he says this, at long last, Spock finally comes clean.
|Spock: That is an outstandingly stupid idea!|
Wow. Some honesty for once, eh, Spock? He recovers quickly, and immediately blames it all on the drug. Yeah, the drug. That must be it. I’m not sure how a love potion suddenly makes you act like an asshole to your superior officers, but I guess it’s all quite logical in Spock’s mind.
Spock tries to nicely rephrase his comment, but it’s the same point. Kirk agrees, but then he has an idea.
He asks Mudd for the last remaining love crystals. Mudd doesn’t want to give them up at first, because as he points out, they’re “worth a fooooooortune!” But in about half a second, he has a change of heart and hands them over. He claims to be doing this for his “dear Christine”. Damn, is everyone in love with her?
In response to this selfless act by Harry, Kirk gets a weird, crooked half-smile. I have to say, I think I like the cartoon version of Shatner even more than the real guy. Something about the way he’s drawn gives me the feeling he’s into some crazy shit. Wild partying, chicks, drugs, booze, the whole shmear.
Speaking of which, we return to the ship, where the bridge is looking like the aftermath of a raging frat party. I can even see the Girls Gone Wild cameramen scooting into the turbolift as the scene opens.
Scotty, bent over the railing, moans, “Ohhhh, I’ve got a hangover to shame all previous hangovers!” Coming from him, that’s saying a lot. He adds, “An’ ah di’nah touch a drop o’ scotch!” Keep in mind, this is coming from someone whose word for “water” is “scotch”.
An irate Lt. M’Ress purrs, “Not so loud, you fool.” [!!] Well, at least Majel’s bad hangover voice is appropriate to the scene, for once.
Scotty replies, “Yeah! Well, all of a sudden, I don’t like you much either!” Wow, who hasn’t been there, huh? Something tells me a lot of Scotty’s one-night stands end up like this.
But just then, there’s a shot of a loudspeaker, and Scotty finally hears Chapel calling for an emergency beam out. He silently raises his eyebrows as M’Ress answers the call.
Down on the surface, Kirk hopes they “last long enough to be beamed out.” Yeah, it takes all of what, ten seconds? So, the rock creatures are converging once again. Kirk has Spock and Mudd lay down some cover fire, while he runs out and implements a ridiculously complicated plan involving the rock creatures and the remaining love crystals. Wait, why haven’t they beamed out already? Oh, right. Artificial suspense.
Kirk opens his hand, and there are suddenly way more than two crystals here. Then comes a truly confusing sequence. I have absolutely no idea what’s going on here, so I’ll just describe exactly what happens: Kirk tosses this huge handful of crystals into the mouth of one of the creatures. It looks as though the creature is about to crush Kirk with its tail, and then it just lays its tail down gently, and then we’re back up on the Enterprise. Huh?? The perils of animating a Saturday morning cartoon while shooting up horse.
We see a transporter engineer trying to beam everybody up, and then… we cut back down to the planet? This cartoon is so… random. In a random-esque way. Kirk is in the shadow of a rock creature, and then he starts to smile [?], and then… what the fuck? Everybody else smiles—yes, even Spock—and it’s all just baffling, and completely drawn out, and there’s even a nice coloring mistake in here where Kirk is wearing a red shirt, and I can’t make heads or tails of anything. But eventually, the two rock creatures start roaring at each other.
Then—with me still not having a clue what’s happening here—Kirk has to roll out of the way of a rock creature’s tail. Well, I don’t think he had to do a head roll here, but he does it anyway. Hey, it’s William Shatner. Whether he’s animated or not, he never misses out on an opportunity to do a head roll.
Wait. I think I’m start to formulate an idea of what’s going on here. Stand by.
Okay, I think what happened is that both creatures, both under the influence of the crystals, touched Kirk? And now they’re fighting over him? Okay, that’s just twisted. Two big rock creatures in love with Kirk. I presume this means they’re both female, because if one were male, he would just be showing off his intense friendship for Kirk, and putting his tail around Kirk in a very non-gay way. But how could Kirk have possibly known they’re both female?
The only other possibility is that the creatures have fallen in love with each other. And they’re fighting because, I don’t know, that’s what people in love do? Ah, just leave me alone. It’s not my fault the animators dropped too much acid.
And then one creature’s tail destroys a rock wall. It wasn’t too hard to predict this section of wall was destined to crumble, because with the way it was drawn, it didn’t even begin to match the surrounding rocks.
This causes big boulders to rain down on the crew. They run out of the way of the rockslide just as the two creatures really start to go at it. And at long last, they beam out. What the heck took so long? Did they have to figure out how to turn off the Muzak first? And as you probably expected, Kirk and Friends transport out just in time to avoid a big swipe from a big rock tail.
Well, now we’re back up on the ship. In the transition, there’s an external shot that makes it look like the Enterprise is traveling directly through the sun. Mudd is once again regaling Nurse Chapel with tales of his shenanigans and hoodwinkery, and all around con-artistry. Right now, he’s recounting how once upon a time, he conned miners out of dilithium crystals using “fake Federation vouchers”. I believe his entire life can best be summed up in one word: “monkeyshinesque”.
Upon closer examination, it seems Chapel is recording all of this, and this is actually Mudd’s long-overdue confession. Sure, why not get medical personnel to do this? It has to be better than making them escort kids around the ship and serve them ice cream.
Spock enters and offers to help. Chapel angrily says he’s the “last person I’d choose!” Yep, it seems that not only does the love potion eventually wear off, but it leaves its affectees with a distinct dose of resentment towards each other. I believe Harry Mudd should market this love potion under the brand name of “An Actual Relationship”.
And then comes the true capper line from Spock: “A few moments of love,” he says, “Paid for with several hours of hatred.” You got off easy, Spock. Sometimes it’s paid for with decades of hatred and half your income.
Spock tells Harry that his potion is “scarcely a bargain”, even though, once again, neither Spock nor Chapel, nor anybody else actually paid anything for it. To sum up, Harry reminds us all that nothing in this universe is perfect.
From the conversation that follows, it sounds like Harcourt Fenton Mudd will once again be receiving “rehabilitation therapy”. Harry says, however, that he “hate[s] to leave you all! All my… loved ones!” Which makes no sense, but I guess the writer thought it was a suitable closing line, given the love-related plot here. As Mudd chortle-chortles, the Enterprise flies away, and that’s the end of the episode.
And thankfully, that’s also the end of the three-part Harry Mudd story arc. Although, that’s only because we kind of lucked out. Reportedly, there were plans to do a fourth Harry Mudd episode during the early years of TNG. The story idea being kicked around at the time was that Picard’s crew would come upon a cryogenically frozen Harry Mudd and revive him, but those plans ended when Roger C. Carmel died in 1986. And this is just my own personal speculation, but I assume that elements of this story eventually ended up in the first season TNG episode “The Neutral Zone”.
I’ll admit, there were other, much worse episodes of TAS that I could have recapped here. The one that immediately springs to mind is “The Infinite Vulcan”, an episode scripted by Walter Koenig, that randomly features a 50-foot-tall Spock and a plant cleverly named the “Retlaw plant”. But I decided to go for something a little more fun, and hopefully in some small way champion the cause of TAS. Let there be no doubt that for all its flaws, I love this show, and more than anything, I want to see it out on DVD soon.
And I know the issue of “canon” is pretty much irrelevant at the moment, due to the lack of any new live-action Trek being currently produced, but this show really should be officially declared canon, once and for all. I mean, if you can accept “Spock’s Brain” as canon, then all of TAS should be a cakewalk.
Okay, I guess I’ve put off my Voyager recap long enough.