“I, Mudd” is the eighth episode of the second season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek.
Written by Stephen Kandel (based on a story by Gene Roddenberry) and directed by Marc Daniels, it was first broadcast on 03 November 1967.
The crew of the Enterpise has a second encounter with the conman Harry Mudd (Roger C. Carmel), first seen in the Season One episode “Mudd’s Women“. Mudd is now the supreme ruler of a planet of androids who cater to his every whim.
Although Kandel is the credited writer on the episode, David Gerrold performed an uncredited rewrite. The final script was heavily revised by the staff, and Gerrold admits that only one original idea of his made it into the final episode. He also claims producer Gene Coon offered to put the matter of credit up for Writers Guild arbitration but that he declined.
The starship Enterprise is hijacked by Norman, an android posing as a Starfleet lieutenant. Norman seals off engineering and redirects the ship to an unknown planet, warning that any attempt to undo his tampering will destroy the ship.
When the crew arrives at the planet, Captain Kirk discovers that Harry Mudd, an outlaw whom Kirk has encountered previously, is the “ruler” of the androids who populate the planet. Mudd, or “Mudd the First”, as he calls himself, informs Kirk that he and the Enterprise crew can expect to spend the rest of their lives there.
Mudd then recounts his recent adventures. Having broken out of prison and stolen a spaceship that was damaged during his escape, Mudd crashed on this planet and was taken in by the androids. He says they are very accommodating, but refuse to let him go unless other humans are provided for them to serve and study. The Enterprise crew is to serve that purpose.
McCoy notices a darkened glass panel, which Mudd says is a “shrine” to his wife Stella. The shrine contains an android which nags Mudd as his wife did, but stops instantly when ordered to “shut up”. Mudd points out the similarity between Kirk’s present position and hers.
In response to Kirk’s questions, the androids tell Kirk they were built by a people from the Andromeda Galaxy, who were destroyed by a supernova, leaving the robots to fend for themselves. First Officer Spock (Leonard Nimoy) discovers there are over 200,000 of these androids, and concludes that there must be some central control mechanism.
The crew are brought down, replaced by an android crew. They find much to like about the androids’ world. Scotty is fascinated by the engineering knowledge they have to share, Ensign Chekov (Walter Koenig) finds the idea of living on a planet full of compliant female androids not too bad, and Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) is tempted by the offer of immortality in an android body. Kirk will have none of this, however, and reminds them of their duty.
Mudd plans to depart aboard the Enterprise after a final farewell to the Stella android. However, the androids refuse his orders to beam him aboard. They have a different plan: they will leave the planet themselves and offer their services to humanity, with the eventual goal of bringing the greedy and aggressive human race under their control.
As the Enterprise crew discuss their predicament, Spock notes that all of the androids belong to various named series, except for the one named Norman. Kirk relates that one android called on Norman to “coordinate” the analysis of an “illogical” statement. Spock concludes that Norman is the central locus of a composite android mind, and Kirk suggests that “wild, irrational illogic aimed right at Norman” could be a potent weapon against that mind.
The crew then attempt to confuse the androids by means of contradictory statements and a series of bizarre theatrics. For the finale, Mudd and Kirk pose the liar paradox to Norman: Kirk claims everything Mudd says is a lie and Mudd declares that he is lying. Unable to resolve the contradiction, Norman burns out, causing the other androids to shut down as well.
The androids are reprogrammed to return to their original tasks. Mudd is informed that he has been paroled to the android population, and that a special android has been programmed to see to his needs. Mudd is grateful until he discovers that this android is the Stella android, and there are now at least 500 copies of her – none of whom respond to his command to “shut up”.
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Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Marc Daniels.
- Writer(s): Robert Bloch.
- Production: Desilu Productions (1966-1967) and Paramount Television (1968-1969).
- Distributor(s): Paramount Pictures (1966-2006), CBS Paramount Television (2006-2007), and CBS Television Distribution (2007-Present).
- Original Network: NBC.
- Release Date: 03 November 1967.
- Running Time: 50 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.