Star Trek: Short Treks: The Escape Artist
January 4, 2019 10:41 AM - Season 1, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Harcourt Fenton Mudd tries to talk his way out of a tight spot with an angry Tellarite.

As expected for such a recent episode, Memory Alpha is pretty thin at the time of this post.

Personally, I loved this one. In particular, the con did catch me off guard, the army of android Mudds was a great callback to him being trapped with androids in TOS and his con-patter was just delightful. Of particular note:

"You'll be able to wear a cape and nobody will be able to say anything about it, because rich people can do whatever they want!"

"One count of penetrating a space whale!?"
"You kinda had to be there."

*chorus* "I'd be sipping jibbers on a beach somewhere."

As interested as I am in DSC S2, I was also pretty disappointed we won't be getting more Short Treks for awhile. I've always wanted a Trek anthology series, and getting a taste of one has been fun.
posted by mordax (11 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
This felt a little outside the scope of a post, so adding it via comment, but Mudd's particular con reminds me of one of my favorite stories about Mullah Nasruddin:

For a long time, Nasruddin would cross the border between two countries riding a donkey, and the customs officials would ask him what business he had in their country. Every time, he would reply with a laugh, "I'm smuggling." So the customs officials would search him and his saddlebags, but every time, they'd come up empty. Nothing but food for the road, no contraband. He'd laugh, and they just figured he was joking.

Many years later, one of the customs officials, now retired, saw him in a tavern and approached him, explaining that they were no longer in a position to hand him in so they really had to know what had been going on all that time. So Nasruddin smiled and explained, "I was smuggling donkeys."

Making the attempt to escape the actual con felt like that particular brand of misdirection, especially because I totally fell for it as a member of the audience. :)
posted by mordax at 10:46 AM on January 4, 2019 [5 favorites]

When I heard they were going to have Mudd on the show I groaned, but Rainn Wilson is so good that I'm totally on board.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 2:19 AM on January 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

This was a treat, and I was thoroughly impressed when the credits rolled and I discovered that Rainn Wilson also directed this episode.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 4:00 PM on January 5, 2019 [7 favorites]

This was my favorite of the four, I think. Loved both the shredding of a whole bunch of "talking down the villain tropes" and the twist ending--which made perfect sense when you got to the reveal.
posted by thomas j wise at 1:27 PM on January 6, 2019 [3 favorites]

There is something delightfully sing-songy about Harvey Mudd's patter, I wonder if there's some salesperson, magician, or con-artist that inspired Rainn Wilson. I hope somebody makes a techno remix of "sipping jibbers on a beach somewhere."
posted by peeedro at 10:38 AM on January 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

This episode was kinda fun. So many sets! I wonder if they repurposed sci-fi sets from other shows for this.

I loved the callback to Mudd's Women.
posted by Nelson at 10:43 PM on January 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

The jazzy remix of the Discovery theme over the end credits was the perfect final touch.
posted by bettafish at 3:08 PM on January 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

"You'll be able to wear a cape and nobody will be able to say anything about it, because rich people can do whatever they want!"

YES! (Which led the spouse & me to talk about whether Orion society has this attitude toward capes. My take: Mudd, like the Ferengi, is a means for Trek to bring in folks whose greed and envy are relatable for modern-day viewers, and the Ferengi have -- since at least DS9 -- done lampshadey anachronistic things that are about the contemporary viewer, and not to be taken seriously as what Ferengi society "actually" would be like. Similarly this throwaway Mudd line is about 2019-era Western society and how we view capes, and is not Orion canon/worldbuilding.)

And the "imbecile, WE HAVE A SECURITY CAMERA IN HERE". And "Duke, barely a regicide".

I loved the cutting among scenes of repetition, Mudd's lines polished yet not working, and then the reveal of the reason why they're all saying the same lines the same way!

And it's nice to hear the list of crimes and to hear that there are (at least on that list) no ACTUAL murders, just attempts, which keeps it feeling a bit lighthearted.

It was also cool to see a Tellarite who is willing to take a Federation bounty but who doesn't feel particularly identified with the Federation (calls it "them") -- the way non-Starfleet people in the Federation probably, in general, feel about their government. As Kasidy Yates-style indie ship captains probably mostly do.
posted by brainwane at 7:28 AM on February 5, 2019


"Sipping jibbers on a beach somewhere" brought to mind this Monkees song.

Nice to see Rainn Wilson reprise his role as a robot butler.


Is it jibbers or jippers?
posted by duffell at 9:33 PM on February 22, 2019

The closed captions say "jippers". I do love the phrase and it's stuck in my head every time I think of it. :-)
posted by brainwane at 1:12 PM on February 24, 2019

Yeah, I realized long after I'd somehow misheard it and felt pretty dumb. Heh. Good catch, and thanks for pointing it out. :)
posted by mordax at 8:34 PM on May 21, 2019

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