I remember as a kid not liking Harry Mudd.

My reaction to him was probably much like Kirk’s “Oh, for the love of–!…this fucking guy!” Imagine my surprise now watching this episode (which I’m not sure I’d seen before) and just giggling as Mudd chewed up the scenery. THAT is how you make an impression on an audience. Lots of energy, humor and good character interaction. Seeing Kirk frustrated to no end by Mudd was just awesome. I’m sure he’d give his left nut to get rid of him. He was sort of the Q to Picard (if you’ll allow the comparison). When the protagonist can’t do much to fight back against a non-violent shit disturber, it’s downright hilarious.

Also good stuff was the miners. Human and clearly independent of Starfleet, I liked that it wasn’t the Enterprise asking for new crystals and just getting them. I never bought into Gene Roddenberry’s philosophy of “no money in space” (or however he put it). As much as the characters say “We don’t use money,” there seems to be nothing stopping the rest of the galaxy from establishing commerce. This trend of seeming contradiction remains in TNG and beyond, too, as latinum seems to be the currency of choice outside Starfleet vessels by the time of TNG. I think Gene had a nice idea (no need for money), but it doesn’t quite address that not everyone has it good on a starship. The very existence of a character like Mudd (cheat, scoundrel, smuggler) and the miners shows the rest of the galaxy is made up of working stiffs. Someone has to do the grunt labour and the dirty work. It adds a a lot of dimension to the show.
Good stuff and moving on to the next one!