Episode 7: TOS 1×06 – “Mudd’s Women”

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In this episode the crew of the Enterprise has their first encounter with Leo Walsh, aka: Harry Mudd, aka: Harcourt Fenton Mudd: space pirate, con artist, and… space pimp, apparently?

We meet Harry Mudd at least twice more in later episodes, but in his introduction, he’s escorting a “cargo” of three lovely ladies destined to be the wives of lonely frontier space miners. Evidently they’ve signed on with Mudd in order to escape their lives of lonely toil on their own terrible frontier planets. If you’re thinking that this already sounds resoundingly awful and enough to be getting on with, here’s a bonus: in rescuing Mudd and Mudd’s Women from their exploding ship, the Enterprise has blown out its engines, potentially stranding them in space.

But that’s not all. These ladies aren’t just lovely, they’re impossibly attractive, to the extent that every (presumably straight) man who lays eyes on them, including the well-trained male contingent of the Enterprise crew, are immediately reduced to drooling animals.

A number of questions arise, including:

  1. Was this literally the only way for these ladies to leave their crappy homeworlds?
  2. This sounds a lot like sex slavery??
  3. Why is this legal???
  4. Does the flagship of the United Federation of Planets seriously not carry spare parts????

What follows is a hot mess of confused messages: the importance of agency, the perils of vanity, a very uncertain treatise on the objectification of women, and a minute or two of the 1960s version of OMG TRICKED BY MAKEUP. The true message of this episode is difficult to extract, but it’s definitely very preoccupied with the importance of a woman’s appearance over all other qualities, which is probably why we spent so much time dissecting everybody’s outfits.

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