Star Trek : Mudd’s Women

Mudd’s a pimp. Plain and simple. He’s carting these women around to cash in on them. He’s a jerk.

On his way to deliver the ladies to their prospective husbands, Mudd gets into a bit of space danger and the Enterprise rescues him. The rescue cost the Enterprise a great deal: their (di)lithium crystal circuits are blown.

Detouring to Rigel XII, to benefit from its lithium mines, the crew of the Enterprise gets a chance to learn more about Mudd and his scheme, and to be enchanted by his lovely companions.

Kirk wants to prosecute the creep.

The women want to dump the husbands they were going to marry and go with the miners instead.

Mudd wants to keep the secret of their beauty a secret.

When the Enterprise arrives at Rigel XII, the lonely miners are pretty excited to meet the women that want to marry them.

For some reason.

But once the miners start marrying the beauties, things change. They start to lose their beauty. (Or, in Magda’s case, her hair gets messed up!) Turns out, Mudd had been giving the ladies a special Venus pill that helped that maintain their beauty.

The head miner was pretty ticked and wanted a refund. The woman he was set to marry hollers at him about how all men are the same and he should want to marry her for more than her beauty.

So she grabs another pill and returns to her pretty state.

But she didn’t take a real Venus pill. Kirk reveals that he switched it out with a false one, a placebo. Where does her physical beauty come from? Her self-confidence.

Groan

I know this is a beloved episode. I couldn’t stand it.

This was actually the first time I saw it, this one being banned when I was a kid. ( Banned by my father for, what I assume, equal parts moral objection and personal annoyance at lighthearted stuff on Star Trek. We skipped Tribbles for the latter reason.)

I noticed some holes.


Didn’t the miners wonder why these three gorgeous women were having trouble finding husbands? I know this a take-off on the old West trope of delivering pretty wives from the East and the trip not going exactly as planned. So there is a bit of logical leniency given to an update of such an old theme. But not enough leniency can be given for this to work satisfactorily for me.

When the Venus pill wears off, their hair and make-up get messed up? This is just the product of restrictive budgets on a new TV show with a shaky audience base and a bizarre premise. I get that. Still. I’m watching this show saying, “Can’t they just borrow somebody’s make-up?”

The following is less a plot hole thing and more a time vortex thing. Three-time Trek actor Gene Dynarski appears have simply changed the color of his facial hair to convince audiences that he ages normally. I’m not buying it. He’s on the Venus pill.

In Mudd’s Women, The Mark of Gideon, and 11001001

“Oh! The sound of male ego! You travel halfway across the galaxy, and it’s still the same song.”

Let’s get to this whole “your confidence makes you beautiful” thing.

There’s an obvious problem here. Eve demands to be valued for more than her looks. Then, when forced to take the pill, she’s pretty again. Only the prettiness is sourced from her own self-appointed value. The problem is that even her inner confidence seems to think that her only value is in her looks!

The placebo works only because her confidence is high. So I’m thinking if she has a lot of confidence and takes the pill, she should look the same, only feel good about herself. Instead her looks change, suddenly interesting the miner Childress.

I know there’s a thing about your external beauty reflecting, or hosting, your inner. I do not think that’s what’s going on here. Here’s the effects of Eve taking the pill:

  • Childress likes her again
  • Mudd’s sale is a success
  • Eve doesn’t have to figure out the tricky combination of being self-confident and ugly.

“I will love myself for who am I. And…oh! I’m pretty again! Neat!”

Feels like a cop-out to me. Her self-confidence was never tested. And Childress’ interest in her was never proven to be anything beyond lust. He had about three minutes with the ugly Eve, got yelled at, and then got to marry the pretty version.

“I read once that a commander has to act like a paragon of virtue. I never met a paragon.”

It comes down to image. Eve was unsatisfied with Childress’ image of her. So she rightfully asserted herself. But then her own image of herself was a bit wonky too, since it became realized in exactly the same form as her lusty miner husband-to-be’s.

Why bother announcing a new positive self-image if you’re just going to conform to what somebody else wants you to be?

Her self-image was still coming from men. That’s the problem with self-image. It can never be entirely sourced in you. You want to be beautiful just for you, not for anyone else. Yet the image of what you want to be comes from somewhere. It comes from someplace other than your own head.

So be careful where your image comes from.

“Men will always be men. No matter where they are.”

I used to daydream as a kid. Believe it or not this grown man writing about Star Trek and Doctor Who used to daydream. I would pretend to be Green Lantern when I was really little; Fred Astaire when I was even littler. And when I was a teenager, I pretended to be Pete Townshend.

I would swing my arms (still do sometimes), shout out angry young man songs (still do that too), and threaten to smash the first guitar I ever owned (providing, of course, that a second guitar was already in my possession).

I felt silly doing this, so I tried to do my own rock thing. I still swung my arms around and longed for a chance to smash a guitar. But these actions were now simply homages, not shameless copying.

After all, I was my own person.

Even in trying to distance myself from copping another’s personality, I was still being influenced – and strongly – by something from not inside myself. Even if I had dropped the smashing guitars and windmilling bit and just stuck to playing rock and roll, I still would have used A-chords and I still would have played them upon a piece of wood with long thin bands of metal affixed to it. I couldn’t possibly just start from scratch and really be my own person. Rock and roll is only complex enough to handle four or five different personality types. They’re all just riffs on the same few archetypes.

I digress…

“Being a rock star is a bit different from having self-confidence,” you say.

“Yeah, but only a bit,” I sneer. (My testy rock and roll persona seems to have reemerged…)

But truly, the differences between having self-confidence and daydreaming about being a rock star are not very great in my mind. Both admit dissatisfaction with your present self and both make a goal of becoming a version of yourself that’s based on external (ie, not from your own mind) appearances and attitudes.

In other words, you’re getting your you-ness from somewhere.

So.

Be careful where your image comes from.

***

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Star Trek : The Corbomite Maneuver

These are the voyages of the Starship…Enterprise.

I get all tingly just writing those words!

The original series is full of firsts. Two pilots were filmed. I’ve already reported on The Cage and Where No Man Has Gone Before. The first show ever aired was The Man Trap. The first regular episode ever filmed was this one. Follow that?

First Star Trek filmed: The Cage
First Star Trek with the regular cast ever filmed: Where No Man Has Gone Before
First Star Trek ever aired: The Man Trap
First Star Trek ever filmed as a regular episode: The Corbomite Maneuver

Each of these four shows contributed something to the regular series that followed. A new costume premiered, or a cast member joined, or a sound effect was heard for the first time. In this episode, Uhura announces, for the first time ever, “Hailing frequencies open, sir.”

And the biggest first in this one is the presence of the opening monologue. Tenth to air, this episode was the first to have that speech affixed to its front.

Take your hand, take your hand out the puppet head

This story is all about false pretenses. Like a creepier Wizard of Oz, Balok hides behind the puppet because,”You would never have been frightened of me.”

Right. An omniscient, evil, and giggling version of Clint Howard isn’t scary at all.

But we’re supposed to think the Balok dummy head is the scary thing. Why would the real Balok be hiding? He admits that he’s grown lonely, operating all that machinery by himself. Given his loneliness, he likely didn’t have any good expectations from visitors. Given his stature, those expectations had to be met by a figure more likely to inspire fear than his own.

So Balok plays a game of false identity.

We play like Balok does. We pretend to be something we’re not. We do it because we’re afraid. We do it because we’re embarrassed. We do it because we just don’t feel like dealing with it. So we pretend to be tougher than we actually are. We pretend we’re smarter. We switch the lights off quick and pretend we’re not home.

We just don’t want to deal with it. Or with other people. Or with God. So we hide and pretend. Our species has been doing this for a long time. After eating the one piece of fruit in the whole perfect world that he was made to care for, Adam hides from God. One of only two humans, Adam thought he could hide.

It’s in our heritage to hide and pretend. Even when we’re lonely, we’ll play these kinds of games. The best way to cure loneliness is be around people – to be yourself around other people. And we’ll play at being cooler or smarter or deeper than we really are. We corrupt communion with other people by making it into a competition. Just being ourselves, faults and fears and weaknesses, actually lets us be inside a community. When we pretend, we could be in a room of hundreds and still feel lonely.

Balok hides behind his scary alien puppet. We hide behind our fearless, or perfect, or charitable, or smart puppets.

Be honest

That’s the trick. Be yourself. Balok finally admitted who he really was and what he really wanted. He got what he wanted then. And he got a chance to help out an Enterprise crewman who needed some growing up time.

By being honest, Balok’s problems were solved and he discovered his usefulness in helping someone else solve their problem.

Balok lowered his defenses, stopped fighting, stopped threatening. And he gained from it. Someone bigger and smarter was able to come down, into his situation, and give him exactly what he needed: friendship.

So grab a glass of tranya, feel free to be yourself, and enjoy.

Geeks of Christ Presents! September 14, 2012 Edition

The Gospel According to Roddenberry

by John Otte

“Oh, sure. There are divinities of a sort, such as Apollo or Trelane or Gothos. And let’s not forget Q. But by and large, religion doesn’t play much of a role in 23rd and 24th century society. The few times it does come up, it’s mocked (such as when the Mintakan people mistake Picard for a god, the belief of which is roundly snorted at by the Enterprise-D crew). Or it’s co-opted in odd ways.”

Life Lessons From Star Trek: The Next Generation

by Jayne Ricco

“I’ve found that we make the best decisions, the ones that properly take into account the very essence of ourselves, when we use both our head and our heart.”

Doctor Who Monopoly – 50th Anniversary Edition

by Paul, from Time Vault

Playing Monopoly with a Time Lord? It’s gonna be A Long Game!

But seriously, where’s the Kandyman figure?!

Star Trek : Where No Man Has Gone Before 1.01

The power of a god had better be given to someone who would use it well. Otherwise we’d be in a lot of trouble.

Compare Gary Mitchell’s use of power with Jesus’. Gary uses his power to isolate himself, rejecting his friends. Jesus uses it to heal people, raise them from the dead, make friends, and ultimately relieve his people of the eternal punishment awaiting them.

“That’s not a fair comparison,” you say. Why isn’t it? Is it because Gary is a fictional character? Fine. Imagine a real person given those powers. Just to be fair, imagine the purest, most fair, genial person you can think of.

I assume you’re thinking of yourself (ha!), so just imagine now what you would do with a superpower. You don’t have to say it aloud or anything, so you can be totally and embarrassingly honest.

Do your answers lean more toward hanging out with losers, like Jesus did, or is your list filled with peeks in the girls’ locker room and unlimited ice cream without gaining a pound and a force field to guard you from all the idiots that get on your nerves?

“It’s still not a fair comparison! Gary is just a man and Jesus is God.” Well, Jesus was also a man, tempted by all the things that tempt men. Just because he never gave in doesn’t mean that he wasn’t tempted. He still had the ability to sin, Jesus just never did. When it comes to the possibility of sinning, Jesus and Gary are in the same position.

So Gary’s use of power and Jesus’ use of power are fairly compared.

Gary used his power to deceive his crewmates, including his old best friend Captain Kirk. He isolated himself and mocked his former peers. He killed.

Jesus used his power to tell the truth, even to people like St Paul who used to arrest and kill Christians. Jesus integrated his life into the lives of others and he sympathized with people who would never be his peers. He brought people back to life.

Gary was buried under a rock pile. The self-proclaimed god got bonked on the head.

The only death more pathetic might be one preceded by mocking, torture, and abandonment.

The biggest difference between Gary and Jesus: Gary was a big talker, but once that rock hit his head he was down for good. Never got up again.