Ah yes, the one about the Space Hookers.
1960’s Star Trek often struggled with its depiction of female characters – one good thing you can say about Mudd’s Women is that although it’s an early low point, from here on in surely the only way is up …
This was clearly a story close to Gene Roddenberry’s heart. It was his original idea and he was also keen for it to be the second pilot. Luckily wiser counsel prevailed on that score.
Harry Mudd (Roger C. Carmel) is presented to us as a loveable Oirish rogue, but the script never really acknowledges his darker side. The women may seemingly be content to be bought and sold like cattle (he pointedly refers to them as his “cargo”) but given that he has power over them (via a drug which has addictive properties) just how much free will do they actually have?
Following McCoy’s excellent characterisation in the previous episode, he isn’t called on to do much here except make googly eyes at the three lovely girls (the same goes for Scotty). Even Spock seems to be smirking at times, which since it’s still very early days doesn’t seem quite as strange as it would be later in S1.
The moral of the story? True beauty comes from within (and not from drugs) or some such flim-flam. To be honest it’s not really convincing and the (sort of) happy ending – Eve (Karen Steele) catches the eye of a bluff miner – also feels a little uncomfortable.
There are some interesting nuggets of drama in the episode (Kirk is desperate to get more Lithium for the Enterprise, but the miners don’t want to sell). This results in Kirk uttering some not very veiled threats – an early sign that the Federation can’t always afford to take the moral high ground.
Mudd’s Women is entertaining enough but fairly dispensible.