The darker side of the universe is exposed in the episode that was originally broadcast on October 6, 1967. This is Mirror, Mirror.
Captain’s Log Stardate Undetermined:
After a failed but hopeful negotiation with the pacifistic Halkan’s concerning dilithium mining, Kirk and crew transport through an ion disturbance causing a transporter malfunction. Kirk arrives on the Enterprise to be greeted by a goateed Spock who soon orders a bombardment of the Halkan cities in retaliation for refusing to work with them. Kirk, McCoy, Scotty and Uhura are shocked but clearly understand that they are not on the ship they left and must find some way to survive until they can get back home.
After managing to get some time alone, the four come to the realization that they are not in their own universe any longer but in some alternate one where the Federation has become a militaristic régime known as Terran Empire. While frightened at the prospect at what they will find there, the four attempt to blend in to discover what they can about this strange universe.
After the four begin working to find a way home while learning about this bizarre universe, including the use of pain booths, the existence of a ‘Captain’s Woman’ and the rather violent system of promotion, the Mirror Spock learns that Kirk is not ‘his Kirk’ and begins a plan on how to confront this odd version of his Captain. Mirror Sulu causes a disruption when he attempts a mutiny causing Mirror Spock to become gravely injured. Kirk and his team quickly take down the mutinous attempt and revive Spock who quickly mind-melds with McCoy and learns the truth. Spock realizes that The Terran Empire could have been something very different and agrees to help Kirk and his team go home.
The four are returned to their own timeline where they learn that their Mirror Counterparts caused some minor inconveniences of their own but were quickly subdued. Kirk wonders what Mirror Spock will do now that he knows things can be different.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
While alternate universes are not a new thing, even when this episode was first aired, this is possibly one of the most iconic uses of the theory. Just the image of the bearded Spock evokes an almost cultural memory that is engrained on so many people, even those that have never seen this particular episode.
What I love most about this particular installment is how it shows how the Federation could have been had things progressed a little differently. While the origins of this Mirror Universe would not be further explored until Enterprise, it is clear that somewhere in the time line something went horribly wrong allowing humanity to become a tyrannical Empire instead of a benevolent Federation. The irony of this episode is, in a way, it is every possibility that this Mirror Universe is our actual universe and Roddenberry just gave us a glimpse in to how horrible it could be if we don’t change course sooner than later.
One significant thing this episode does do for modern Trek is establish the existence of parallels and alternate timelines allowing the writers to explore other interesting possibilities. In fact, this is exactly how the universe known as the Kelvin Timeline fits very nicely into Star Trek continuity. While the Chris Pine Trek films can be a rather difficult topic for Trekkies, it is firmly established that, when the Prime Universe Spock went back in time, he inadvertently created an alternate timeline changing events to allow the new franchise to exist side by side with the original. In fact, it is reasonable to assume that the Kelvin Universe already existed as a nearly identical universe with somewhat advanced technology over that of the Prime Universe and Spock’s intervention only caused it to divert off course to an entirely new outcome. Had he or Nero not attempted to go back in time, it is very likely that everything would have played out much closer to that of the Prime Timeline albeit with some slightly altered styles and appearances.
The story of this Mirror Universe doesn’t end here with the original series. In fact, outside of Enterprise, we saw more of it’s previous history in the more recent series Discovery as well as what came to be during Deep Space Nine. While the latter seemed to be played more for laughs at times, the future of the Mirror Universe really doesn’t go well even with Mirror Spock changing the course of the Terran Empire. Then again, it’s not surprising seeing how terrible the Terran’s were, the moment a tyrannical government shows ‘weakness’, those that they oppressed will certainly come for just desserts.
Overall, while this isn’t my favorite episode, it is among them. Mirror Mirror remains a significant cornerstone in Star Trek lore and one that seems to keep coming back time and again. This one is, by far, a must see.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- This is the only time during this series we see anything of the Mirror Universe.
- Marlena Moreau, The ‘Captain’s Woman’ in the Mirror Universe, is shown to have a counterpart in the Prime Universe. It is unknown if she and Kirk had any relation.
- It is interesting to note that the Mirror Enterprise still shows as NCC-1701 even though that has since been retconned to be the ISS ENTERPRISE 1701.
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: The Deadly Years
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Late To The Game 2/28/2022
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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