It finally happened. After announcing what might have been every other recurring character in the show, Star Trek: Discovery‘s lead character and the actor who will portray her(?) was officially named three days ago. Is it a coincidence that Sonequa Martin-Green, famous for playing Sasha on AMC’s The Walking Dead, was confirmed only a few days after the season finale of that show? I don’t know … I guess you’ll have to watch it.
But why did I insert a question mark after “her” in that last paragraph? Well, Martin-Green’s character’s name will apparently be First Officer “Michael Burnham.” The name “Michael,” as this author well knows, is generally a man’s name. This has led to some Trek fans to postulate that Martin-Green will be playing Star Trek’s first transgender lead character.
Star Trek: Discovery – Sonequa Martin-Green, X or Y?
Although it would be interesting to see a transgender character on Star Trek, the idea that a non-transgender actor would (yet again) play a transgender character makes me uneasy. I know that it’s typical of Hollywood to cast actors unrepresentative of the demographic they’re portraying in TV and movies — Tilda Swinton, and Jared Leto immediately spring to mind — but that doesn’t make these kinds of casting decisions right.
I hope that Michael Burnham, although maybe tough as nails, is a woman. That way I can pretend she’s some version of Majel Barrett‘s character Number One from the pilot episode of Star Trek, “The Cage.” But enough about what startrek.com has called the “worst-kept secret in the universe,” let’s talk about the news that our very own Michael Fromm covered previously, Rainn Wilson’s upcoming role on Discovery as “Haaarrcourt!” Fenton Mudd.
Star Trek: Discovery – Rainn Wilson Inherits a Legacy
Trek fans who only watched Star Treks The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise won’t know Harry Mudd, but thorough Trekkies will remember Mudd as the intergalactic hustler that Captain Kirk outfoxed more than once. In fact, both for those who want to learn more about Mudd’s exploits and for those who want to nostalgize, let’s take a look at the episodes that this spacefaring con man appeared in.
Star Trek: Discovery – Harry Mudd’s Rap Sheet
Star Trek – “Mudd’s Women”
Captain Kirk and crew first encounter Harcourt Fenton Mudd on stardate 1329.8, in 2266, in an episode entitled “Mudd’s Women.” In it, Mudd is rescued by the Enterprise, and, speaking in an Irish accent, introduces himself with a false name. Mudd, his identity is eventually revealed, turns out to be a wanted smuggler who’s engaged in what is essentially a mail-order bride racket.
Mudd gives the would-be brides in his employ pills that grant them good looks and exceptional feminine allure. As the drug wears off, though, the women lose their charms, reverting back to their otherwise plain selves. Mudd manages to arrange a deal with some miners, and his brides get husbands. The miners lose interest when their brides lose their good looks, but in a final confrontation an always clever Jim Kirk switches one of the brides’ pills with a placebo. When she still becomes beautiful after taking it, her own self-confidence is revealed as the source of her beauty.
Star Trek – “I, Mudd”
Mudd has been living on a planet filled with androids after escaping a Denebian death sentence for committing fraud. The androids serve Mudd well, but he grows bored with being their emperor and has them spacejack, you guessed it, the Enterprise. The androids turn out to be the creations of the Makers, an ancient race of aliens from the Andromeda galaxy.
Mudd seeks to strand the crew of the Enterprise on the android planet and take it for himself. The crew outwits the group of androids by acting illogically, and are able to turn things around on Mudd. They re-maroon Mudd with the androids but the only line of identical androids they allow him access to, others being quite attractive, is the one that Mudd modeled after his nagging ex-wife Stella, 500 copies of her. Kirk’s bridge crew laugh in Mudd’s face and the credits roll. Smug, aren’t they?
Star Trek: The Animated Series – “Mudd’s Passion”
The crew of the Enterprise are en route to pick Mudd up from the planet “Motherlode,” apparently some kind of mining planet. Mudd is, as usual, wanted on multiple charges, and the Enterprise is here to bring him to trial. Mudd reports that he has a love potion for sale, and, creating a nice juicy conflict, Nurse Chapel in an effort to get Spock to notice her uses the potion on him. The drug is quickly spread throughout the ship, and hilarity ensues.
This is a fun episode because you get to see everybody let their hair down, including Spock who tells Kirk that one of his command decisions is “an outstandingly stupid idea.” The crew eventually regain their senses when the drug wears off, and their feelings of love are replaced by feelings of hatred. Mudd is sentenced to psychiatric treatment, and that’s the last we ever see of him. I guess it worked!
Star Trek: Discovery – Rainn Wilson and Sonequa Martin-Green
It’ll be good to see these two actors in a show together. I wonder how much of a part Wilson will have, but I hope we get to see a younger version of his wife Stella berate and nag him. And while I’m talking about someone who could very well be Harry Mudd’s foil in Star Trek: Discovery, I should bring up that Sonequa Martin-Green’s foil as Commander Michael Burnham may very well be Captain Lorcas as played by Jason Isaacs. Isaacs’s filmography up to this point doesn’t include a lot of good guys, so we’ll have to wait and see if First Officer Burnham becomes Captain Burnham in an exciting mutiny sequence.