McCoy is discussing the new crewman, Norman, with Spock. The doctor insists that Norman never smiles, never discusses anything other than the job routine, and never talks about his background. He then qualifies it's unusual for a non-Vulcan. Spock is unimpressed by McCoy's logic and can sympathize with Norman's ability to avoid a medical exam.
Norman enters Auxiliary Control and subdues the crewman. He then puts the engines into overload and feeds in a course change. Sulu is unable to override from the bridge. Kirk sends a security team to Auxiliary Control and orders Spock to the bridge. The security team determine that the override controls have been jammed and they can't regain control. The bridge instruments don't respond and Kirk contacts the emergency manual monitor in Engineering. Norman is already there and easily subdues the crewmen with superhuman strength. Scotty warns Norman before collapsing unconscious. The Enterprise
accelerates and Norman arrives on the bridge. He tells them he has connected matter/anti-matter pods to the navigational control and any attempt to alter course will cause the ship's destruction. Spock confirms and Kirk asks what Norman wants and who he is. Norman assures him they need the ship and means no harm to humanity. "Norman" then opens a stomach compartment and reveals that he's an android. He warns them that he can't be overcome by physical means and any attempts to use phasers on him will trigger the explosion. Norman informs them they'll arrive in four days at their destination but can't tell them anything further. He then turns himself off and the crew have no choice but to wait.
Four days later, the Enterprise
enters orbit around an uncharted planet and Norman awakens. He tells Kirk to beam down with Spock, McCoy, Uhura, and Chekov. If they refuse to come with him, Norman tells him their engines will be destroyed. Kirk agrees and they beam down into an underground complex. Several series of numbered identical androids are waiting for them and take them to a chamber. Inside is their old "friend," Harcourt Fenton Mudd. He insists he should be called Mudd the First and claims he's the planet's ruler. He has one of the female androids destroy Kirk's communicator. Kirk realizes he has no chance but to play along for now and Mudd informs them that they'll be there for the rest of their lives.
Mudd explains that he's decreed new laws and all of the androids obey him. He's also surrounded himself by beauty and explains he's had five hundred attractive Alice series female androids created that are completely obedient to him. He explains that after he was imprisoned after their last encounter, he ran a patent-violation technology-informing scheme. The Denebians caught him after he sold them the rights to a Vulcan fuel synthesizer. The Denebians contacted the Vulcans and arrested him. He was sentenced for execution and broke jail, stole a spaceship, and was fired upon as he left. Mudd crashed on the androids' planet and found them working hard to develop the planet. He soon realized they wouldn't let him go because they wanted to study humans. So he made a deal with them to provide them with more humans to study in return for his freedom. As the androids take them to their quarters, McCoy notices a darkened cubicle. Mudd explains it's a shrine to his wife Stella. She's not dead, merely deserted. Stella nagged him eternally until he fled into space. The android Stella in the shrine is programmed to shut up whenever Mudd tells her to be silent.
As the landing party settles into their quarters, the androids offer to give them everything they need. When Kirk asks for his ship, they respond that they're not programmed to respond in that area. Norman identifies their creators as originating in Andromeda. Their sun became a nova and only a few exploratory outposts survived. Norman was part of one such outpost but none of his makers survived. Now the androids serve Mudd, giving them purpose. Norman leaves and the Alice robots offer them libraries and factories to visit. Once they leave, Spock speculates that the androids have a central control system that guides the entire population. Kirk tells him to find it while he talks to Mudd and the others find out what they can.
Spock easily finds the central control system and confirms there are over two hundred thousand androids. The area appears to be a simple relay system and the androids refuse to respond when he asks for further information. Meanwhile, Mudd and the androids display their manufacturing facilities and Uhura seems intrigued about the fact the bodies are essentially immortal. Mudd suggests that they can give Uhura eternal life and beauty.
Spock reports back to Kirk after meeting with Norman. McCoy arrives and tells them how impressive the research laboratories are. They're interrupted when the androids arrive with Scotty. He tells them that the androids boarded the ship and forced the entire crew down to the planet. Mudd assures them the crew are keeping the ship in excellent condition and there's nothing Kirk can do about it. Once he leaves, Spock warns that Mudd could accomplish his goal and the androids are completely loyal to Mudd. He also warns that the android population can provide anything that the crew want, and Kirk admits he's concerned.
Chekov is on Mudd's throne and summons food and drink from the Alice androids. When he admits it's a shame they're not real, they assure him that they function exactly as human females. Chekov figures it's a great place to be.
Scotty admires the androids' technology and they inform him that they can do whatever he orders to do or do the work himself at his pleasure. Kirk figures Mudd is trying to tempt his crew but the androids insist they want to please humans as much as possible, and they're learning from all their captors.
Kirk and the others assemble and it's clear that some of them are distracted by the androids' offers. The captain quickly snaps them out of it as an Alice android arrives. Kirk asks for his ship but Alice says she's not programmed to respond in that area. When Kirk pursues the matter, insisting he's unhappy, Spock tries to explain and Alice briefly shuts down, her number tag flashing. She tries to understand and Kirk insists the Enterprise
is a beautiful lady. Alice asks for all units to relate and Norman to coordinate. She then informs them that unhappiness does not relate and withdraws to study the matter further. Kirk checks with McCoy, who informs him that the androids are physically and psychologically perfect.
Mudd is preparing to leave as Kirk arrives to ask him some questions. The criminal wishes him well and tells his android wife to shut up one more time. However, he's shocked when the androids tell him they can no longer follow his orders. Their makers programmed them to serve and they realized that the greedy and corrupt humans need their guidance and help. They used Mudd to get a starship and now they plan to serve all humans by making them completely dependent on them. From there they will control the entire galaxy.
Kirk and the others regroup to make their plans and Mudd is forced to help them. Spock and Mudd warn that the androids may very well be able to make good on their threat. Scotty insists that androids have no creative facilities and Spock believes that the relay point isn't sufficient to coordinate all of the androids. He notes that there is only one Norman, and Kirk remembers that Alice called upon Norman to coordinate. Spock believes the androids make up a central brain linked through a locus, Norman, forming one mind. The glowing badges indicate the group mind in operation. Kirk concludes they must use insanity and illogic aimed at Norman to disrupt the androids. Mudd is skeptical but Kirk asks him to help. The conman is glad to help, and Kirk explains that the androids will expect them to try and escape. McCoy drugs Mudd unconscious.
Kirk summons Alice and notifies her that they have a medical problem. Mudd is dying and McCoy needs the medical equipment aboard the ship. Alice coordinates with the central brain and then observes the situation. However, Uhura tells them that it's a trick and they drugged Mudd to make him sick. She explains that she warned the androids so she could have immortality, and Alice assures her the condition will be fulfilled. Once Alice is gone, the others congratulate Uhura on the ruse. They figure that now their fake plan is thwarted, they can proceed with their real one.
Kirk approaches the Alices in the central chamber and the landing party put on a mock dance routine. Kirk informs the androids that they're celebrating their captivity. Uhura slaps Chekov and Kirk explains that she likes him. He tells Chekov to remain still and he bursts into dance. The badges finally glow constantly and the Alice androids shut down, confused by the illogic.
Spock talks to two other Alices and professes his love for one Alice, and his hate for the other. When they insist they're identical, he points out that's why he hates them. They shut down from the illogic. He reports that his efforts were successful and Kirk resolves to overload Norman directly. They go to see Norman and call upon him to surrender. When he refuses, they explain that he's harmed humans by denying them freedom. Mudd speaks up about liberty, and McCoy and Scotty explain they can only be happy by going through suffering and torment. The nearby Alices start to shut down while a confused Norman appeals to Spock. He responds with poetry and Scotty collapses, dying of unhappiness from being too happy. The crew shoot him dead with finger guns and McCoy confirms he's dead. Everyone cheers and Kirk speaks of dreams, insisting their logic is to be illogical. They then prepare a fake explosive and toss it to Mudd, who arms it. Mudd then hits it away with an imaginary golf club. The Alices shut down entirely and Kirk and Mudd approach a confused Norman. Kirk tells Norman that Mudd always lies, and Mudd then says he's a liar. The final paradoxical statement causes Norman to overload and all of the androids shut down.
Mudd is forced to congratulate Kirk and suggests they might enter into a partnership. Kirk informs him he has something else in mind. As they prepare to leave, McCoy notes that Spock must be unhappy to be leaving a planet of beings just like him. Spock notes that he's happy to be with a crew of humans that need him. Mudd is brought in and Kirk informs him that he's been paroled to the androids and they've been reprogrammed to complete the terraforming of the planet. Mudd will stay there as an example of a human failure. Mudd is initially unhappy until he considers the attractive female androids. Kirk tells him there's one more thing: they've programmed a special android attendant to work with him. Mudd is thrilled to hear it... until the Stella android comes in and starts nagging at him. And it doesn't stop. And there are at least 500 of them. Share this article with your friends