“Oh! The sound of male ego. You travel halfway across the galaxy, and it’s still the same song.”
Impressed as I was with a female’s beauty in pubescence, I find her inner quality to be far more alluring. A woman as a fetching bag of skin and bone does not hold a slab of wax to the qualities she possesses that cannot be calculated; those qualities that make her a woman. A woman is her compassion and her understanding; a fierce and fiery beast of intelligence and pragmatism. The Enterprise is in hot pursuit of a ship entering an asteroid field with four passengers, captained by Harcourt Fenton Mudd (colorful Roger C. Carmel), who knows he’s in violation of several laws, the least of which is flying without a valid pilot’s license. Kirk puts the ship in danger, throwing the ship’s shields around Mudd’s ship, to grab him. They succeed in bringing the passengers aboard before Mudd’s ship is destroyed.
The passengers are women (cargo, by Mudd’s definition) recruited to be wives for lonely men on distant planets. I’d like to know a little more about this transaction. Do the women get a cut of the sale, or is this some form of voluntary slave trade? With power at a premium, the ship makes for Rigel XII to barter for lithium crystals. Mudd sees this as a blessing-in-disguise because he correctly deduces those miners, three in all, will be craving statuesque mates. Meanwhile, the women are having a strange effect on the male contingent of the crew. Uh, what about the women? I’ve never understood the staunch heterosexuality of the 23rd century. Why is there always this assumption that only men could be manipulated or flustered by a gaggle of attractive women? It’s a sexist idea.
One of the women, Eve, develops a crush on Kirk, and he does his best to avoid her advances, as he should. Later in the series, Kirk would be the one making the first move, but it was usually to manipulate a person (who happened to be female) in a superior position of not necessarily intellect but power. As it happens, these women turn into forty miles of bad road when not given their daily supply of “The Venus Drug.” This is a rather painful-looking pill that, to quote Mudd, “gives you more of what you have.” Kirk has to contend with stubborn miners who are prepared to give him the lithium crystals in exchange for Mudd’s women. Kirk doesn’t like their attitude and, though it is unsaid, he detests the idea of human trafficking for goods and services, but since the ladies possess free will, they agree to beam down to the planet.
With the Enterprise low on juice, Kirk and Spock have to now beg for the crystals. Eve is disgusted by the sleazy miners and she runs off. Kirk and Mudd search for her amid dangerous sandstorms. In one of the more charming bits from early Star Trek episodes, chief miner Ben Childress argues with his mail-order wife, Eve, over breakfast. It’s a battle of the sexes in the 23rd century! Except that we’re assuming woman are still cooking breakfast for their hard-working husbands. Eve goes all fugly when she doesn’t get her pill, and Childress is enraged by this obvious bait-and-switch. When Kirk and Mudd put him wise to the Venus Drug, he wants to kill Mudd, but what he and Eve don’t know is that all she needs is the power of positive thinking to make her beautiful again. Again, a woman is not her beauty. A woman is her compassion.
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