There’s something very metatextually Harry Mudd about “The Escape Artist” once you learn that it not only stairs Rainn Wilson but was directed by him too. Although, given the treatment he gets during the first ten minutes or so, it’s a relief to find it wasn’t written by Wilson too otherwise, you’d begin to wonder if he has some unresolved issues to work out.
Having resumed his life of grifting, Harry Mudd finds himself once again at the mercy of his captors, , a traded commodity as he’s passed from one bounty hunter to another as he inches ever closer to Federation justice. But this is Harcourt Fenton Mudd we’re dealing with here, the real master of the deal and there’s more than one way to collect a bounty.
Every time we meet Wilson’s take on Mudd, it gets easier and easier to draw a connecting line between this series’ character and Roger C Carmel’s version in The Original Series. In fact, this episode tips a wink directly to the superior “I, Mudd” rather than the dated sexual politics and preening pimpery of “Mudd’s Women” and may, in fact, serve as a direct prequel to that episode in the fullness of time.
Mudd’s seeming return is another welcome sign that season 2 of “Star Trek: Discovery” is lightening up a bit from the morose misanthropy of last year and if Wilson can deliver another performance to match the wit and sparkle on show here, we’re in for a treat.