SCORE: (4/5 stars)
McCoy is suspicious of a new crewman who acts far too robotic and Vulcan for his tastes. Spock berates him for this attitude, but Bones is vindicated when it turns out the new crewman is actually an android who quickly takes over all ship controls and forces the Enterprise to a planet of androids, mandating all the main cast but Sulu beam down to the planet’s surface. There, they meet the planet’s ruler: Harry Mudd. Yup, the guy from that horrible first season episode. He escaped from his punishment and started making mischief across the galaxy until he ended up on this planet and discovered the androids were eager to serve him. He can have specific android babe models made (fully functional and programmed in multiple techniques), and even made an android copy of his wife so he could tell her to shut up. It all sounds like a hedonistic paradise. There’s just one problem: they won’t let him leave!
They won’t let the crew leave either, as they force more to beam down to the planet while they take control of the Enterprise. They offer the humans remarkable facilities where they can do as much research and enjoy as many pleasures as they want, but they are not free to leave, because the androids want to understand humanity as much as possible. (And since they don’t understand humanity, they can’t comprehend our need for freedom.) The crew observe that the androids all appear to be networked, communicating with one central brain that makes all the decisions for them, the android that captured the ship in the first place, whose name is Norman.
Well, they’re being held captive by a bunch of artificial intelligences. This has never happened more than a couple of times before in the show. Clearly, they must invent a new solution to the problem: we’ll call it the never-before-used, completely original, Kirk Logic Bomb. But because they’re dealing with a whole race of machines, it’s not as simple as Kirk yelling at one over and over until it shuts down. No, this enlists the aid of the entire crew, putting on silly performances, behaving erratically, and speaking in logical paradoxes. The androids shut off one by one until Norman ends up short-circuiting trying to decypher an “I am lying!” paradox. With the machines offline, they reprogram them for better use, and Kirk decides that Mudd’s punishment should be to remain on the planet as an example of humanity’s failure. He also creates a fleet of android duplicates of Mudd’s wife, each more shrill than the last, and none of them respond to the order to shut up.
- Chekov does not recognize Harry Mudd, which would imply that he was not on board the Enterprise during season 1. Yet, we know that he must have been on the ship at this time, because in Wrath of Khan, Khan recognizes Chekov despite him not appearing in that episode either. The only other explanation is that Chekov joined the crew after Mudd’s Women but before Space Seed.
- McCoy: There’s something wrong about a man who never smiles, whose conversation never varies from the routine of the job, and who won’t talk about his background.
Spock: I see.
McCoy: Spock, I mean that it’s, uh, it’s odd for a non-Vulcan. The ears make all the difference.
Spock: I find your arguments strewn with gaping defects in logic.
McCoy: Maybe, but you can’t evaluate a man by logic alone. Besides, he has avoided two appointments that I’ve made for his physical exam without reason.
Spock: That’s not at all surprising, Doctor, he’s probably terrified of your beads and rattles.
- Norman: There is a word. Among us, there is no corresponding meaning. But it seems to mean something to you humans.
Kirk: And what is that word?
- Kirk: Who caught you?
Mudd: That, sir, is an outrageous assumption!
Kirk: Yes. Who caught you?
- Spock: You went to substantial risk and effort to bring a starship here. Logically, you must have a compelling motive.
Mudd: Spock, you’re going to love it here. They all talk just the way you do.
- McCoy: Now you’ll find yourself back among us illogical Humans again.
Spock: Which I find eminently satisfactory, Doctor, for nowhere am I so desperately needed as among a shipload of illogical humans.