How will Star Trek: Discovery’s Harry Mudd differ from the original?

Rainn Wilson boldly steps into the final frontier as the younger Harry Mudd on Star Trek: Discovery

This week’s episode of Star Trek: Discovery features the much-anticipated appearance of original series villain Harry Mudd. In the new series, Rainn Wilson will take on the role, which was originated by Roger C. Carmel.

Harry Mudd made two appearances in the original Star Trek series and went on to appear again in the animated series, which was done by Filmation in 1973. In the original series, Mudd was more of a nuisance character than he was a full-on villain. Cunning and manipulative, the character also had a childlike quality.

Roger C. Carmel as the original Harry Mudd as he was seen in Star Trek: The Original Series

He first appeared in Season 1 Episode 6, Mudd’s Women, in which he was transporting three women to a mining colony where they’d be sold as wives. The Enterprise, under the command of James T. Kirk, intercepts Mudd’s ship and it eventually becomes apparent that Mudd is using a potion to keep the women subservient to their future husbands. Kirk and his crew pretty much rumble the scam and Mudd is taken as a prisoner of the Federation.

In the episode I, Mudd (Season 2 Episode 8), Harry makes his second appearance and seems to have landed on his feet. He is living the life on a planet that seems to be occupied by beautiful women, but there’s a catch. They’re all androids. There is even an android of Mudd’s estranged wife who when activated does nothing but goads and constantly nags him.

Mudds final appearance was in the Mudd’s Passion episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series (Season 1 Episode 10), in which he distributes a fast-acting love potion to the Enterprise crew, which causes no end of fun and trouble.

Harry Mudd as seen in Star Trek the animated series

As you can no doubt make out, Mudd in the original series was very much a character of fun and was pretty much used as a means to highlight misogynistic tendencies, given that in most of his episodes he was exploiting women in some way.

This week’s Star Trek: Discovery episode will have us meet a Harry Mudd who is ten years younger than the version that we met on the original series. From what little we have seen in the teaser, this new version of Mudd has a somewhat edgier side to him but seems to still retain some of the childlike mischievousnesses of the original portrayal.

The new episode is titled Choose Your Pain, which in and of itself could be cause for speculation given the various Klingon initiation ceremonies we have seen in Star Trek over the years.

Quite what it means in Star Trek: Discovery remains to be seen, but it might have something to do with the Klingons and the fact that they have captured Captain Lorca. In the teaser we see Lorca meet Harry Mudd for the first time. Mudd says: “Stick with me. I’m a survivor.” Might the phrase “choose your pain” have something to do with the captain choosing what method of torture the Klingons will use on him, or will it mean something else entirely?

In an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation we saw Worf undergo an initiation ceremony where other Klingons went at him with pain sticks, which pretty much resembled smaller versions of cattle prods. Are the Klingons going to put Lorca through something similar?

One thing is clear, these newer Klingons have a little more emphasis on traditions and religion. So it will be interesting to see if the Choose Your Pain episode title plays into this.

All we can say is that with Harry Mudd involved, it could well be a mixture of fun and games. For one thing, it will be a first to see Mudd interacting with Klingons.

Star Trek: Discovery airs every Sunday at 8:30ET/5:30PT on CBS All Access.

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