Here comes another revolutionary episode and the Mirror Universe is introduced! I knew it already thanks to Deep Space Nine, but now I finally discovered how the idea was born in this fourth episode of the second season of Star Trek: The Original Series entitled Mirror, Mirror. What can I say… I still feel overwhelmed by the amount of awesome ideas created 50 years ago and reused in the following decades to create endless additional interesting stories. How much creativity channeled by the good Gene Roddenberry in his science fiction creature!
Kirk, McCoy, Scott and Uhura are on a mission to the peaceful planet Halkan to try to obtain permission to extract the dilithium minerals of which the planet is rich. Unsuccessful, upon returning to the ship an ionic storm sends the four into a parallel universe in which the Enterprise is at the service of an Empire that reigns with terror, rather than the peaceful Federation. Accordingly, on the ship the discipline is maintained with fear and career advancements are obtained not by merit, but by killing the direct superiors (incidentally, the same thing happens, in a more humorously way, at the Unseen University of Ankh Morpork in the Discworld imagined by Terry Pratchett). Our four heroes try everything to return to the other side but they face the considerable difficulties of moving in a hostile environment full of dangers.
What about the episode? I found it brilliant, its 50 minutes full of plot twists, disconcerting revelations, and even a certain amount of humor. For example, I laughed a lot with the cut going from Kirk’s concern over the damage that their duplicates could do on the Federation’s Enterprise in their absence to Spock locking those angry duplicates in a cell (with an angry Kirk trying to corrupt him by promising power and money, of all things!). Even the final dialogues in which Spock finally makes fun of Kirk and McCoy and not vice versa made me laugh a lot! I found everything perfectly done, including the choice of having a love interest of the other Kirk in the Mirror Universe, Marlena (played by Barbara Luna who of course got treated with the classic William Shatner’s kiss), which has a more substantial role than it seems at first.
So this episode has sharp dialogues, excellent action scenes (with the stuntmen revealed by the quality of Bluray, especially in the infirmary scene), a slightly more important role than usual for Uhura… and there’s considerable attention to detail! The Empire’s Enterprise is similar but decorated differently, with darker lights that give it a more aggressive tone; the computer has a masculine voice instead of the usual one of Majel Barrett; the military salute is the Roman one; and there are armed guards everywhere. In short, a good job has been done in the planning phase of the idea as well as in its implementation. The actors are all very convincing when interpreting their evil counterparts, which is a bit of a Star Trek classic that we saw already in the first season with The Enemy Within.
In fact there’s only one thing that doesn’t really work when you think about it: why are the Halkans peaceful in both universes? I suppose we can find an explanation related to the presence of ionic storms in the atmosphere of their planet, but I don’t want to nitpick. I simply found it a bit strange for the mirror to work only for the Federation / Empire and for its Starfleet (another nice touch: the USS Enterprise versus the ISS Enterprise). In any case, it’s a great episode that, despite all the fun and action, doesn’t fail to reiterate the message that in order to evolve, humanity must distance itself from pursuing dreams of glory, power and wealth. That’s Roddenberry’s main idea in a nutshell, Ciao!
Previous episode: The Changeling
Next episode: The Apple