Yes, we’re here – the iconic episode that showed us a dark, parallel universe and spawned a whole set of episodes of DS9 and even, dare I say it, Enterprise. It all begins when an ion storm interferes with beaming up an away team, causing Kirk, Uhura, McCoy and Scott to end up in a dark, mirror universe, one where Earth leads a conquering empire, and the Enterprise is run as a military dictatorship where advancement in the ranks involves assassinating one’s superiors. Now, whilst posing as their ruthless other selves, the quartet must figure out how to get home, before they get stuck in this alternate universe forever.
Even though the mirror universe feels a bit like an overused trope by this point (although I wouldn’t say no to mirror Kira and Jadzia – DS9 viewers, you know what I mean), this was back when it was still fresh and enjoyable. The stress of watching Kirk and the others try to sneak around on a ship where most mistakes mean death makes for compelling viewing, and the sight of Uhura holding her own and even manipulating the evil mirror Sulu is a welcome sight on a show where the women all too often get to be soft and scared.
The mirror crew
- Kirk: based on his service record, Kirk is a ruthless killer who became captain of the Enterprise by killing Captain Christopher Pike. The secret to Kirk’s success is the Tantalus Field, a device that can target and kill a person from afar – Kirk found and appropriated it from an alien lab.
- Spock: Mirror Spock has a beard! Although his cold logic is more than enough to advance him in this universe, he is perhaps the most compassionate of the mirror crew. Indeed, it is his mind meld with McCoy and the effects of a passionate speech from Kirk that show him that the galaxy could be a better place. Unfortunately, as we learn in DS9, once he unites Earth under a peaceful banner, it gets subjugated by other aliens. Them’s the breaks.
- McCoy: The good doctor seems to be more interested in sadistically torturing people than helping them.
- Sulu: The scar-faced Sulu is the harsh head of security, who has lecherous designs on Uhura. He runs a tight ship.
- Chekov: The ambitious ensign longs to move up in the ranks, and hence tries to assassinate Kirk.
- Marlena Moreau: On the original Enterprise, she is a chemist who has just transferred in, but here she is the captain’s woman, privy to all his secrets. She enjoys the power of being a captain’s woman, and effectively vows to sleep with every man in the fleet to regain that position should Kirk discard her. I like to imagine that she actually went on to become a ruthless captain in her own right, with a harem of men and women at her command.
There’s little we can deduce about mirror Uhura and Scotty, however, both Uhuras clearly have a fit body and some skill with a dagger.
The technology of the ISS Enterprise
- The Tantalus Field: as mentioned above, it can watch anyone on the ship, presumably linking into the mirror Enterprise’s CCTV – such a strict military ship would definitely keep an eye on all crew members. A person displayed on screen can be killed at the touch of the button – the details of how this actually works are so vague that it isn’t even really worth speculating about here.
- The agony booth: used to administer pain to anyone inside it. It is implied that the most powerful setting would cause a slow and painful death for the victim.
- The agoniser: a portable version of the agony booth, which crewmembers seem obliged to carry with them, so that senior officers can use it to punish them for mistakes. I would be tempted to reverse engineer mine so it caused waves of great pleasure rather than pain.
Summary – Mirror, Mirror: An enjoyable walk on the dark side.