Original Airdate: October 13, 1966
The Enterprise comes across a small ship, acting like it's fleeing the law. Jim's suspicions are raised and he pursues. The chase is on, and it burns up the little ship and burns out most of the Enterprise's "lithium" crystals. (Perhaps those crystals regulate the brain chemistry of the "dilithium" crystals the ship will run on in the near future.)
Three sultry women in sparkly gowns stand vamping it up on the transporter pad. Scotty and Bones are entranced and stuttery, Spock is not. The ladies step off the transporter pad and hipsway down the hall to the turbolift. Spock escorts them to Jim's quarters, and Capt. Walsh tells the women not to bother practicing their wiles on him – he's a Vulcanian and can turn off his emotions at will. In the real world of course, they were still working out the rule book of what they wanted to do with Spock/Vulcans. Within the show, it's obvious to me that Leo Walsh has sort of dimly heard something, kind of, about them there Vulcanians.
The vampy ladies? Are an overdressed, well-coiffed and made-up slightly above average. I will go into this later.
When they arrive, Jim orders that the women be given quarters; "Leo" tells the captain that he's responsible for the destruction of his ship, driving him into an asteroid belt as he did, and calls Jim "hard-nosed." Jim, in response, calls "Leo" a liar, and tells him that he'll convene a hearing shortly.
Scotty grows more concerned about the lack of crystals, and the inability to take care of the worsening lack of power in-house. Life support is running on batteries, for God's sake. He and Spock explain this to Jim and the decision is made to head to nearby Rigel XII to the lithium mines for more crystals.
"Leo" goes to the women after his talk with Jim, and even though there are two security officers in the room, the women start calling "Leo" Harry. They are very upset, and "Leo" tells them to remain calm, to tell the truth if asked anything, and not to submit to a medical exam. I certainly hope the security officers paged somebody after that and told them that medical exams might prove interesting. From the way McCoy acts later in sickbay, it's obvious they didn't, though. These guys don't know their jobs.
At the hearing, it is revealed that "Leo Walsh" is actually "Harcourt Fenton Mudd," a smuggler who's had his license revoked. The ladies, Evie, Ruthie, and Magda, flirt with the Starfleet officers, but to no avail. Nobody's dropping charges against Harry, who sets off the lie detector every time he opens his mouth. He explains that he is recruiting wives for settlers, and the women concur – where each of them is from, there is a distinct lack of available, suitable men, and by the way, they are heading off course now, and will never reach their intended husbands, and doesn't Captain Kirk care about them? Their pleas fall on deaf ears, because Mudd is going to be handed over to the authorities at the first available opportunity, and there's a momentary brownout just then and the urgency of needing to go get a power source is rammed home. They're going to Rigel XII. Sorry, ladies.
Harry, left alone with Evie, Magda, and Ruthie, tells them that all is well, because hey! Lithium miners are rich, rich men. They'll all be filthy rich, beyond their wildest dreams of avarice! The girls brighten at this.
Ruthie then simmers into sickbay and behaves seductively with McCoy, who, to his credit, still manages to retain a little higher brain function. Only a little, though. She walks in front of a panel and sets it to bleeping, which he finds curious. He asks if she's wearing an unusual perfume or perhaps something radioactive. They part, each having learned something; he learned there's something a little hinky going on and she learned from him that there are three dilithium miners on Rigel XII; one for each girl.
Jim walks into his quarters to find Evie stretched out on his bed. He starts unhappily and she explains that the men of the crew were leering and making her uncomfortable, so she just had to duck in there to feel safe. She flirts and seduces and tries to pump him for information, but then kind of throws her hands up and says that she really does like him and can't go on with this bullshit. She leaves, and he's left wondering what the hell just happened and what Harry's up to now.
Sending them out to seduce the crew out of all the information possible about the miners, that's what. Magda even got a communicator and the frequency to use! Magda wins! Harry uses the communicator to call the head miner, Ben Childress.
Spock, by the way, has spent the entire episode smirking at these goofy humans. It's pretty amusing.
In a very nice segue, we flash from the pill in Evie's hand to a 'lithium crystal in Spock's hand as he says, "Even burned and cracked, they're beautiful."
Jim and Spock and Harry beam down into a magnetic storm, and enter a building that looks like an Airstream trailer with radar antennae. There is a party in full swing, and Jim finds Ben Childress and tells him he wants the crystals. Childress brushes him off with "not now, we're busy" and wanders over to Evie. They speak in a friendly manner for a bit and he asks her to dance. She coughs, and politely declines – she doesn't seem to be feeling well. He walks off in a snit and she begins to cry.
We get a bit of ugly scene as one miner, Ben I think, cuts in on another dancing with Magda and a fight breaks out. Jim and Spock try to break it up as Harry looks on unhappily. Perhaps he's a little concerned about the lives he's leaving these women to live. Evie runs to the door, and like an angst-filled teenage girl at every party ever, yells "why don't you just have a raffle and the loser gets me?" and runs out into the storm crying. Jim and Spock look startled for a moment, perhaps reflecting on how very long ago high school must surely have been for Evie, and then Jim starts out after her.
He looks for her for a while, and then we cut forward to the ship, where he's beamed back and the search has been on for some hours, using the sensors. Eventually, at the seven hour mark, Ben staggers back into his house with Evie. He puts the unconscious woman on the bed and then he collapses on a bench. When he awakens, she's wearing one of his shirts, the house has been tidied a bit, and she's cooking. He is displeased, because he's a gruff, ill-mannered jackass with no social skills at all, and because she has dared tidy. She tells him she did it because she ate some of his food and repaid him in chores, then sets some food down in front of him. He acts like a child and pouts that he prefers his own cooking, but he secretly likes what she made. She also gives him a free housekeeping tip – sandblast your filthy pans, dumbass – which he takes her up on. He comes back in after only to see her playing cards and looking haggard. They start bickering about the card game and he actually says "You're plain as an old bucket. What happened to your looks, anyway?" What a dick. He follows that Hallmark card sentiment with "You're homely! I've got enough in crystals already to buy queens!" WHAT THE SHIT.
Before she can hit him with say, the stove, Jim & Harry burst in. Harry says (with surprising tenderness) "thank heaven you found her." Jim makes Harry tell Ben about the illegal Venus drug he's been giving the women. Harry says, "it gives you more of whatever you've got. It makes men more muscular, women rounder. Men become more aggressive, women more feminine." Ben asks rudely if the other girls look like she does. They do. He asks about what happened to his fellow miners, because evidently plain women will eat you.
Well, subspace radio weddings, that's what happened. Childress lunges at Harry when he hears that. Jim hauls him back and Childress rants about their hard, hard lives evidently meaning they are entitled to some kind of goddesses. Evie cuts him off with "You don't want wives, you want this!" and takes the Venus drug. She transforms and Jim watches, smiling. "Quite a woman, eh, Childress?" he asks. Ben replies "a fake, pumped up by a drug."
"By herself," Jim answers. "She took no drug." Evie protests that she did too take it, but Jim informs her that what she took was colored gelatin and Harry confirms it. The Venus drug was taken from him and replaced.
"There's only one kind of woman," Jim tells Ben. "Or man, for that matter," Harry throws in. Jim finishes, "you either believe in yourself or you don't." Ben agrees to pay up with the lithium crystals and says presumptuously that Evie will stay. She agrees. Harry, for his part, would like to stay too, but Jim can't allow that. He will, however, be happy to be a character witness at his trial … if Harry thinks that will help. (He doesn't.)
Best Line of the Episode
McCoy: "Are they, Jim? Are they actually more lovely, pound for pound, measurement for measurement, than any other woman you've seen? Or is it that they just … act beautiful?"
Sex Appeal Moment
Well, there's Jim's burst of laughter, shown above (yes, I find laughter sexy sometimes) otherwise the only sex appeal is on the women's side this week, and it's at least in part courtesy of the Venus drug. This might also count as a gorgeous visual, because I love the colors of their dresses together and the frost of their makeup.
Mid-century Design Moment
The miner's home base, the aforementioned Airstream with radar antennae.
The scene shown here (to poor effect) that plays out underneath a Captain's Log voiceover; skinny navigator guy shows Magda his shiny communicator as they walk a corridor together. The white of her hair, the lavender and silver of her dress, the gray mesh in the foreground, and the changing colored light on the walls behind, make this short, simple scene surprisingly pretty.
There's also this scene during the miners' party; Childress and Evie talk about the storm. The blocking makes for nice composition, and both these pictures show off something I've always loved about TOS: there is very often a soft wash of multicolored light going on the background of shots, for no reason other than to suggest otherworldliness, presumably. It's simply beautiful.
She Canna Take Anymore Captain
As the ship's power keeps flickering alarmingly, Scotty grows increasingly agitated.
As I will continually use these abbreviations, and they're used everywhere, we might as well get this out of the way.
ST:TOS = Star Trek: The Original Series, 1966 - 1969
TAS = The Animated Series, 1973-1974
TNG =The Next Generation, 1987-1994
DS9 = Deep Space Nine, 1993-1999
VOY = Voyager, 1995-2001
ENT = Enterprise, 2001-2005
And the movies
TOS cast movies
TMP = The Motion Picture, 1979
TWOK = The Wrath of Khan, 1982
TSFS = The Search for Spock, 1984
TVH = The Voyage Home, 1986 (AKA The One With The Whales)
TFF = The Final Frontier, 1989
TUC = The Undiscovered Country, 1991
TOS & TNG cast movie
TNG cast movies
First Contact, 1996