99 TOS The Corbomite Maneuver 100 TOS Mudd’s Women 101 TOS The Enemy Within

From the nimble fingers and less nimble mind of Dwalin Weissbeerson Espressoshield III… a bunch of stuff written to amuse and, most likely, bemuse.

Welcome my brethren; I’m sat ruminating on the past few weeks and the past few episodes with a rather delicious flat white made with Has Bean’s Jailbreak in my stomach and I can’t help but smile.

Why’s that? Well for one, I got a decent extraction from the bean and as such have been rewarded with a nice, well-rounded, cup that has a little bit of a green apple after taste right now… hmm not picked that up with this bean before. For two, I get to make another Dream Theater reference in this post write about a bad ass episode that see’s Ol’ Bill Shatner bust out some pretty fine acting chops.

So without further ado, I give you the next installment of Star Trekkin’, in which we discuss these three episodes:

99 TOS The Corbomite Maneuver
100 TOS Mudd’s Women
101 TOS The Enemy Within

So, the Corbomite maneuver; this is one of those episodes I can’t quite decide my reaction to. Why is that? I don’t really know.

It’s a strong episode with some fantastic character development, it is full of tension and it has one of the most endearing images of The Original series, this guy:

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The basic gist of the episode is that the enterprise comes accross this freaky colourful cuboid that seems to follow them around. They decide to fly away from it rather than gun it down (nice bit of moralistic wrangling on Kirk’s part here) only to be threatened with death by radiation as the thing decides it ain’t gonna let ’em go! It’s at this stage they gun it down (poor Kirky, he tried so damned hard to do the right thing), which enrages the blue skinned dude above.

The blue skin dude, Balok, states the cube was a space marker for ‘the first federation’ and destroying it was an act of war. He won’t stand for this and is gonna blow the enterprise into tiny little pieces for, you know, fucking with his empire and shit…. fast forward a bit and Kirk decides to lay out a little bluff, saying the Enterprise has on board a bunch of really destructive stuff called Corbomite that will TOTAL Balok’s ship. To cut a long story short the bluff works… some more stuff happens, but I don’t want to ruin the episode for ya.

Here we have some great questions; was it right for Kirk to have bluffed a sense of might in order to avoid destruction? Is the notion of Mutually Assured Destruction in itself something that degrades both sides of the balance, rendering an unneccessary devaluing of life? Did Kirk have any other option? Again I don’t have answers to give, get your own!

What I will say is I did enjoy the episode, I enjoyed these questions and I’ll be damned if I didn’t think the building of tension was a touch of genus, particularly in the cold war ridden world the episode leapt into. So why am I not sure of my full response? I guess I found the episode didn’t gel for me; the ending felt a little hurried and, whilst a great premise, I felt it could have been explored a little more. It’s a bit of a comedic finalisation to the hour, which is fine, but it could have been more.

Speaking of the comedic in TOS, we now find ourselves about to meet the Star Trek universe’s flat out jokesest (London lingo, get over it) character; Harry F Mudd. Just in case you don’t know who that is I have another little image:

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Straight up, this guy is fucking hilarious.

He’s one of those dodgy space traders that were all the rage in sci-fi of yore, so the character has the potential to be a stock one that merely hits convention…. you know what, fuck it, he is a stock character that hits all of the fucking conventions. But that’s fine by me ‘cos he’s written so brilliantly.

A quick synopsis. A cargo ship is about to go KABOOM, Kirk wants to save it’s crew so extends its shield to protect it, this destroys the majority of the vital Lithium Crystals the Enterprise runs on. Bollocks (Baloks.. heh).

But still, lives are saved (yay) and Mudd is beamed aboard with three inordinately beautiful ladies (oh dear, are we back in the realms of sexism… I don’t think this post can take that much writing again!?!?!) that attract the attention of all men on the enterprise (oh it’s fine, men look like pricks. PHEW) and Mudd introduces himself as Leo Francis Walsh.

Straight up Kirk thinks this is dodgy as the three women are introduced as cargo and as prospective wives for some dudes on a mining colony; Mr Mudd is forced to do a lie detector type thing and bam the truth is out.

Spock: State your name for the record.

Mudd: Leo Francis Walsh.

Computer : Incorrect.

Spock: Your correct name.

Mudd: Gentlemen, surely you’re not going to take the word of a soulless mechanical device over that of a real, flesh and blood man?

Spock: State your correct name for the record.

Mudd : Harry Mudd.

Computer : Incorrect.

Mudd: Harcourt Fenton Mudd.

Spock: Any past offenses, Mr. Mudd?

Mudd : Of course not. Gentlemen, I’m simply an honest businessman.

Computer: Incorrect.

Mudd: Blast that tin-plated pot.

(the delivery of this scene is pure comedy gold; seriously. Watch it and tell me you don’t crack up at Roger C Carmel’s on point timing as Mudd)

Turns out its not just incorrect but reallyfuckin’incorrect as Mudd is wanted EVERYWHERE. Kirk wants to take him into custody but needs to head down to a mining planet (Rigel XII) to get some Lithium Crystals before, you know, everyone on the enterprise dies… much like the last episode this shit is TENSE.

The endgame has Mudd doublecross Kirk and totally come close to fucking everything up… but resolves with a rather happy ending. One which actually EXPLICITLY talks about the need for accepting inner beauty of individuals as grounds for deep, human, connection. Maybe I’ll elaborate in a spoiler ‘philosophy’ post in the future… there’s a lot more of the whole ‘sexist’ thing I need to discuss… (adopts Harry Mudd voice) but for now here be me thoughts

Mudd is a dude. He’s Charming, funny, conneiving and gets the best lines;You can’t help but love Harry Mudd and at the end when… aww screw it, have another line

Mudd:Don’t you think you could possibly, by accident, arrange to leave me behind here? On this planet, that would be punishment enough.

Kirk: I can’t do that, Harry, but I will appear as a character witness at your trial, if you think that’ll help.

Mudd:They’ll throw away the key.

What does that say about us as viewers? Do we secretly harbour dreams of being dodgy black marketeers? What territory does Star Trek invade here; we all love Kirk, we all love Mudd. Is there a point to be made about ‘goodness’ and ‘badness’ and it’s relation to who we are here?

….And that’s the main thrust of the next episode. ‘The Enemy Within’.

A transporter malfunctions and Cap’n Kirk gets split into ‘GOOD’ Kirk and ‘Evil’ Kirk.

Now I know everyone’s seen some kind of film, comic or whatever else that deals with pretty much the exact same story and as such there have been millions, upon millions, of ‘deep’ discussions about what it means to be human with regard the traditionally perceived ‘bad things’ in balance with the traditionally received ‘good things’ we all have within us. As such I don’t have much to add here with regards this. What I will say is this episode is a brilliant encapsulation of the discussion; scenes with ‘good’ Kirk faltering to make decisions make really interesting assertions about how we make choices, while the animalistic behaviours ‘bad’ kirk represent make an interesting comment on how we as viewers understand our humanity in relation to our physilogical underpinning.

Nietzschean amorality (morality doesnt exist, its a human construct) and Sartrean notions of conciousness (our bodies and bodily urges are an intrinsic aspect of how we think and perceive the world, not something isolated from who ‘we’ are), ultimately, win out and we are once more led on a path of questioning as Kirk is only the Kirk we recognise as both ‘bad’ and ‘good’ are united… the average 60’s watcher must have had their mind fucking blown at this point! Hell, there’s a brazen thanking of Spock ‘from both of us’ by Kirk that could have rocked the Nuclear Family’s notion of goodness to the very core… EPIC!

What else is Epic about this episode is Shatner’s acting… he, in effect, plays three characters here and every one is beautiful. His movements are nuanced and measured, his hyperbolic bestial presence as bad kirk is fucking inspiring and super creepy (there’s a bit with an attempted rape that will send shudders through your very being) and there is a sly understading of what this episode is doing that never leaves his gaze, but that equally doesn’t detract from living through the unreality of the episode. Well done Bill, hats off to ya!

With a bunch of questions thrown your way and, what I hope, inspiration to watch the damned episodes I’ll sign off for this post with a nice image of ‘Evil’ Kirk that will DEFINITELY bring you nightmares… Happy Trekkin’ folks!

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