Sep 25 2009 5:40pm

Star Trek Re-Watch: “Mirror, Mirror”

“Mirror, Mirror”
Written by Jerome Bixby
Directed by Marc Daniels

Season 2, Episode 4
Production episode: 2x10
Original air date: September 29, 1967
Star date: Unknown (dun dun dun)

Mission summary
Captain Kirk, Mr. Scott, Dr. McCoy, and Uhura are on the homeworld of the Halkans, attempting to negotiate an agreement to mine dilithium from the planet’s surface. The Halkans, however, are a race that believes in total and absolute peace, and their leader Tharn refuses to grant Starfleet these rights; while the Federation is currently benevolent, “the future is always in question.” Disappointed but hopeful for a change of heart, Kirk asks Spock to beam up the landing party.

A powerful magnetic storm disrupts their transportation, however, and their forms flicker in and out of the transporter room. The Enterprise reverses in orbit, flashing, and then the landing party finally materializes. But something is rotten in the state of Denmark…

They appear and are wearing modified uniforms, with gold sashes around their waists. Uhura’s midriff is bare. Spock and the other transporter room officers greet the Captain with a quasi-Heil Hitler salute.

But worst of all…Spock has a beard.

Spock asks if the mission was “successful” and requests permission for “standard procedure.” Kirk plays along, agreeing, but suspicious of his bearded first officer. Bearded Spock notes that it is “regrettable that this society has chosen suicide” and focuses a phaser barrage on the planet’s major cities. Somehow their phasers can’t lock on, and Spock chastises his assistant:

BEARDED SPOCK: Mr. Kyle, you were instructed to compensate during the ion storm.
KYLE: But I tried, Mr. Spock, I tried!
BEARDED SPOCK: Carelessness with the equipment cannot be tolerated.

Bearded Spock (I’m going to call him B-Spock) demands the man’s “agonizer” and zaps the poor redshirt with some kind of futuristic Taser.

Mr. Kyle explains that the “power beam jumped for a moment” during transport—and Kirk seizes the opportunity to suggest that Dr. McCoy check them all out for injuries. They head to sick bay to regroup and figure out what’s going on.

SCOTT: Captain, the transporter chief mentioned a surge of power. The transporter lock might have been affected by the ion storm and we just materialized somewhere else.
KIRK: Yes, here. Not our universe, not our ship. Something…parallel. A parallel universe co-existing with ours on another dimensional plane. Everything's duplicated, almost. Another Enterprise. Spock with a beard.

Even more terrifying, Kirk realizes that if they are here, then their brutal counterparts must be on the real Enterprise!

Kirk takes command of the situation, assigning Scotty to figure out a way to get back, and sending Uhura to the bridge to find out what this version’s Starfleet has in store for him. When she arrives, she sits uncomfortably at her post—everyone is watching her. Guard are posted everywhere and the atmosphere feels different. It seems that Evil Sulu, complete with huge facial scar, has been waiting for her. He walks confidently up to Uhura’s station and grabs her face.

E-SULU: Still no interest, Uhura? Hmm? I could change your mind.
UHURA: You are away from your post, Mister.
E-SULU: Is the captain here? Is Spock here? When the cat's away…

But Uhura slaps his hand away. Just then the captain enters, and Sulu returns to his console. Uhura whispers to Kirk that his orders from Starfleet are to annihilate the Halkans unless they comply—“No alternative.”

Kirk, of course, is not willing to destroy the Halkans. He tells Sulu to standby all phasers, and asks Uhura to contact the Halkans again. Tharn once more denies their demand for the dilithium crystals, but Kirk gives him twelve hours to change his mind. Spock warns that this is a direct breach of protocol, but the captain stands his ground: “I have my reasons, and I'll make them clear to you in my own good time.” He then announces abruptly that he’s going to his quarters, and asks Uhura to tell Scotty and Dr. McCoy to meet him there. Not suspicious at all! Evil Chekov clearly has something up his sleeve, because when he hears this he surreptitiously presses several buttons on his console.

In the turbolift, Chekov looks like a scheming snake oil salesman. As soon as the doors open, a hand palms Kirk in the face. Three men have been lying in wait there, and they hold Kirk still while Chekov aims his phaser at the captain.

CHEKOV: So you die, Captain, and we all move up in rank. No one will question the assassination of a captain who has disobeyed prime orders of the Empire.

No longer a meritocracy, eh? But suddenly one of Chekov’s men turns on them. He phasers both henchmen, and they subdue Chekov. Two more men emerge from the turbolift, but these are “Kirk’s Men”—his own entourage. The turncoat explains that while Chekov offered to make him a chief, “you could make me an officer.” He demands a commission, to which Kirk responds that he’s in line—“you might even make captain.” “Yes sir,” he replies—and Kirk slugs him in the face. “Not on my ship.” One of his henchmen then asks if Chekov should get “the booth,” to which Kirk agrees. What else could he say?

He meets Dr. McCoy and Scotty in sick bay, and each describes the horrors of this version of the Enterprise. But Scotty says that the technology is about the same, and thinks he can get them out of there. “Let’s find out where we stand,” Kirk says, and sits down before the computer.

KIRK: Produce all data relevant to the recent ion storm. Correlate following hypothesis. Could a storm of such magnitude cause a power surge in the transporter circuits creating a momentary interdimensional contact with a parallel universe?
COMPUTER: Affirmative.
KIRK: At such a moment, could persons in each universe, in the act of beaming, transpose with their counterparts in the other universe?
COMPUTER: Affirmative.
KIRK: Could conditions necessary to such an event be created artificially using the ship’s power?
COMPUTER: Affirmative.

Wow. Who needs pseudoscience when you’ve got computers like that?!

McCoy, meanwhile has been preoccupied with a troubling thought: “What kind of people are we in this universe?” A computer query reveals that Kirk ascended the ranks through the assassination of Captain Pike, crushing a rebellion through total annihilation of the planet, and the execution of 5,000 colonists on Vega Nine. He cancels before he can hear more. But this leads McCoy to an even more upsetting thought: “Jim, if we’re here, what do you suppose our counterparts are doing back in our universe?”

Cut to Evil Kirk struggling against two security guards who force him into a brig with E-Scotty, E-Uhura, and E-McCoy. Evil Kirk calls Spock a “traitorous pig” and threatens to “hang [him] up by [his] Vulcan ears.” He promises Spock money or power in exchange for his own freedom—but Spock, of course, has no interest.

SPOCK: Your authority on this ship is extremely limited, Captain. The four of you will remain here in the Brig and in custody until I discover how to return you to wherever it is you belong.
KIRK2: Has the whole galaxy gone crazy? What kind of a uniform is this? Where’s your beard? What’s going on? Where’s my personal guard?
SPOCK: I can answer none of your questions at this time.

He goes on to say that he finds this transposition “extremely interesting.” Of course he does. Alas, we don’t get to see any of the other dopplegangers in action.

In the evil universe, Kirk discovers that “the booth” refers to an agony booth, where Chekov stands suspended in convulsive pain. Spock confronts the captain on his odd behavior, and requests an explanation:

SPOCK: Terror must be maintained or the Empire is doomed. It is the logic of history.
KIRK: Conquest is easy, control is not. We may have bitten off more than we can chew.
SPOCK: Captain, I do not wish to find myself opposing you, but if you continue on your present course, this confusing, inexplicable behavior—
KIRK: Is my concern, not yours. You would find me a formidable enemy.
SPOCK: I’m aware of that, Captain. I trust that you are aware of the reverse.

Spock leaves, and Kirk orders Chekov be released and confined to his quarters.

Meanwhile, Dr. McCoy and Scotty have snuck into Engineering by hypospraying a guard. Scotty is going to attempt to tap into the warp engines to re-create the conditions of their entry and get them out of there.

Kirk goes back to his quarters and finds a beautiful, bare-midriffed woman sleeping in his bed. She says her name is Marlena, and it’s clear that the two of them have some kind of relationship. She tries to squeeze out of Kirk what his plan is—she’s sure his behavior is part of “some kind of scheme” and that perhaps it’s a bid for the admiralty. Kirk plays along, and she throws her arms around him. “If I’m to be the woman of a Caesar, can’t I know what you’re up to?”

But just as they kiss Kirk gets an incoming message from Bearded Spock. B-Spock confides in Kirk that Starfleet has ordered him to assassinate the captain should he fail to follow through with his actions against the Halkans. What a nice guy, giving him warning and all that. Marlena is concerned for him and asks if he’d like her to “activate the Tantalus field,” to which Kirk responds with a slightly less-than-eloquent “Er, yes, um.”

A screen appears, with several buttons.

MARLENA: I hate this thing.
KIRK: It’s not that bad.
MARLENA: Of course not. It made you captain. How many enemies have you simply wiped out of existence by the touch of a button? Fifty? A hundred? Now, I always thought that was funny, The great, powerful Captain Kirk who owes everything to some unknown alien scientist and a plundered laboratory.
KIRK: Well, if you don't take advantage of your opportunities
MARLENA: You don’t rise to the command of a starship...or even higher.

And you thought E-Kirk was playing fair! She turns on the device and they see a closed circuit view of B-Spock. Marlena’s manicured finger hovers over a button which she knows would kill, but Kirk holds it away. He promises that he will arrange it so that Spock does not get hurt. Marlena seems skeptical, but is again sure that this is part of some larger bid for power.

Spock has been tipped off to their activities by covert computer readings in Engineering. He’s also been tipped off that Sulu is spying on him, and he calls the lieutenant on it. Sulu makes it clear that he supports Spock’s bid for captain, as it would bring him closer to the captaincy.

Back in Kirk’s quarter’s, Marlena has changed from her “work” halter and skirt outfit and into her sexytime sheer outfit. She tries to entice Kirk but he says he has to leave. Believing that he has rejected her, she swears she’ll be packing her bags.

MARLENA: I want one thing, Captain. Transfer me. On the Enterprise, I am humiliated! On another ship, I can hunt fresh game. I've got my rank. Don't I? I’ve been a captain’s woman, and I like it. I’ll be one again if I have to go through every officer in the fleet.

Kirk replies, “You could,” which was the wrong answer—she slaps him! He backpedals by trying to say that what he “really” meant was that she “could be anything” she wanted to be. We believe him, but she’s not sure she does. They kiss, and she is clearly shocked by his change of behavior: “You’re a stranger. Mercy to the Halkans, mercy to Spock, to me. Am I your woman?” She’s not, of course; she’s E-Kirk’s woman. And so Kirk responds, “You’re the Captain’s woman until he says you’re not.” Good save. He leaves, but she walks over to the Tantalus device to watch what Kirk is up to.

Scotty and McCoy are nearly ready to engage the field. They contact Uhura to do her best and “distract” Sulu, so that he doesn’t notice the power bump on his console as they re-route the warp drives. She saunters up to Sulu and teases him, telling him that “the game has rules” and chastises him for not returning to her after she rejected him. Sulu grabs her and starts kissing her neck. But then she pulls back and slaps him across the face. “I’m afraid I’ve changed my mind again,” she says. “You take a lot of chances,” he responds angrily, and the two face off with their daggers. But the ruse worked—he missed the signal. She manages to hold him off, and exits the bridge to head to sick bay.

Meanwhile, Spock has found Kirk out in the transporter room. He demands to know what’s going on, and escorts him to sick bay, where he finds the entire landing party. All four of them attempt to fight Spock in close combat, but Spock is much stronger than any of them. Finally, Uhura hands Kirk a sculpture of some kind, which he breaks over Spock’s head.

Scotty tells them that they have less than fifteen minutes before their window of opportunity closes, but McCoy argues that Spock will die without treatment. They help Spock up onto a table, and Kirk agrees to give McCoy the time he needs to try and save Spock’s life.

Suddenly Sulu and three of his henchmen show up—he explains that with Spock out of the way and with orders to kill Kirk, he will be a captain. But before he can act on his threats, one of his henchmen disappears! It is Marlena, operating the Tantalus device back in Kirk’s quarters. She has watched the entire scene unfold. She kills the other two henchmen, leaving only Sulu, who goes in to attack Kirk with a knife. There’s no fighting Kirk, of course, and he’s quickly subdued.

McCoy won’t leave Spock, but he swears to meet them in the transporter room before their time is up. Just as Kirk and the others leave, Spock awakens, and leaps up from the table. He forces McCoy against a panel and asks “Why did the captain let me live?” He performs a mind meld on a terrified Dr. McCoy, and discovers the truth about their plans.

As Kirk, Scotty, and Uhura enter the transporter room, they find Marlena there waiting for them. She begs them to take her with them, but Kirk refuses—a fifth person would destabalize the field and they could all die. But she won’t take no for an answer, and she whips out a phaser. “If you kill us, you’ll still stay,” he tells her, but she continues to point the phaser at him. However, Uhura had been standing behind her, and she grabs the phaser from the woman’s hands and takes away her dagger, too.

McCoy hasn’t arrived yet, and Scotty discovers that power has been cut to the console! They can get auxiliary power but one of them will have to stay behind to operate it. Scotty volunteers, but Kirk orders him to join Uhura on the transporter pad. Just then McCoy shows up—escorted by B-Spock, of course, who explains that it was he who cut the power. He wants “his” captain back, and tells Kirk to get on the transporter pad. But Kirk has something to say before he goes:

KIRK: In that time I have something to say. How long before the Halkan prediction of galactic revolt is realized?
SPOCK: Approximately two hundred and forty years.
KIRK: The inevitable outcome?
SPOCK: The Empire shall be overthrown, of course.
KIRK: The illogic of waste, Mister Spock. The waste of lives, potential, resources, time. I submit to you that your Empire is illogical because it cannot endure. I submit that you are illogical to be a willing part of it.
SPOCK: You have one minute and twenty three seconds.
KIRK: If change is inevitable, predictable, beneficial, doesn’t logic demand that you be a part of it?
SPOCK: One man cannot summon the future.
KIRK: But one man can change the present. Be the captain of this Enterprise, Mister Spock. Find a logical reason for sparing the Halkans and make it stick. Push till it gives. You can defend yourself better than any man in the fleet.

Spock considers this, but he explains that one man still needs power. He has nothing to defend himself if he were to take on the system. So Kirk reveals the Tantalus device to him.

KIRK: In my cabin is a device that will make you invincible. (Spock raises an eyebrow.)
SPOCK: Indeed?
KIRK: What will it be? Past or future? Tyranny or freedom? It’s up to you.
SPOCK: It is time.
KIRK: In every revolution, there’s one man with a vision.
SPOCK: Captain Kirk, I shall consider it.

Spock engages the transporter, and we see the transporter effect return to the original effect. Kirk, Scotty, Uhura, and Dr. McCoy are now facing unbearded Spock. They’ve made it home.

Back on the bridge, Spock notes that their counterparts were “brutal, savage, unprincipled, uncivilised, treacherous, In every way, splendid examples of homo sapiens, the very flower of humanity.” Kirk is amused by this, but their conversation is interrupted when a young lieutenant Marlena approaches him. Kirk is visibly shaken by her demure presence.

SPOCK: You’ve met her before, Captain?
KIRK: Uh, why do you ask?
SPOCK: Your reaction, One of recognition.
KIRK: Oh, no. No, no. We haven’t met before, exactly. She just seemed a nice, likable girl. I think we could become friends. It’s possible.


“Mirror, Mirror,” if not the single most memorable episode of the original series, is almost certainly the single most parodied.

I loved all of the little details, like the “ISS” Enterprise, the alternate transporter effect, the “Terran Empire” symbol of the sword going through the Earth, the computer voice being male, Chekov saying “stroke” instead of “mark” when discussing a heading... Do please add any differences you found in the comments! They added up to that perfect feeling of the uncanny—the corruption of the familiar with little tiny things that make it feel foreign and uncomfortable. The piratey outfits were splendid and did an excellent job evoking the Klingon and Romulan types of dress (as this Federation closely resembles their empires in the original universe). I enjoyed getting to see all the actors break out of their roles a bit. My only regret with this episode was that we didn’t get to see more of Kirk, Scott, McCoy, and Uhura’s evil counterparts! Each time they showed up I couldn’t help but think, “I want to see that episode!”

While this doesn’t have the thought-provoking qualities of a lot of other classic Trek episodes, I think that the indictment of fascism still resonates. It’s no coincidence that the guards use Nazi-like salutes, the captain rules through terror and extermination, and the goals of the Empire don’t seem to extend beyond gathering resources in the short term. What wins Spock over in the end isn’t the inherent immorality of their actions, which he accepts as necessary—it’s the instability of this kind of approach. No race or empire can survive on fear alone, and it’s the timetable of the dissolution of the empire that convinces Spock to give peace a chance as the only path towards long-term security.

In a lot of ways this episode reminded me of “The Enemy Within” because it implies that within even the most merciful of us is the capacity to do terrible and violent things. Brutality and savagery are not external natures thrust upon us, they’re part of who we are, and while we may choose civility and fairness, our “wild” selves are still there, lurking beneath the surface. Circumstance determines a great deal, but we can still choose to take the middle path—because that part is within us as well. They are two sides of the same coin (or the same Kirk!). B-Spock may do terrible things, but he has the same capacity for goodness and integrity as his counterpart, and it’s up to him to decide to let that aspect of himself flourish or not.

All in all, a fun, clever, somewhat ridiculous, but very satisfying episode.

I should note that this is only the first appearance of this particular mirror universe, and that Deep Space Nine picked it up again in the episode “Crossover.” We learn in that episode that Spock did indeed take over the ISS Enterprise, and ultimately ascended to be the leader of the Terran Empire. He instituted major reforms to create a more peaceful, stable, and benevolent organization. Unfortunately, this left him ill-prepared for a major invasion by the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance (which the Bajorans became a part of). The Terran Empire was crushed, and humans now work as slaves to the Alliance. So let that be a lesson to you about screwing with alternate timelines!

Torie’s Rating: Warp 5 (on a scale of 1-6)

Eugene Myers: Like many Star Trek fans, I love “Mirror, Mirror.” It’s one of the best-known and most-referenced episodes of the original series, which is why evil versions of people are usually given beards in popular culture. I also happen to be a huge fan of alternate universe stories, and this would have been one of the first I was exposed to, along with another of my favorites, Back to the Future II. This might have been the case for some viewers in 1967 as well—at the time, the concept of parallel universes was still fairly fresh. Hugh Everett III had publicized his many-worlds theory only a decade before, though the idea of multiple worlds had already been explored in fiction; for instance, Jerome Bixby’s short story “One Way Street,” which inspired this episode, was published in Amazing Stories in 1953. Arguably, “City on the Edge of Forever” is also an alternate universe story.

Now, forty-one years after “Mirror, Mirror,” we still know little about parallel worlds, or whether they even exist, but continue to be fascinated with playing “what if” with history. Notably, the new Star Trek film takes place in an alternate universe, whether fans like it or not. There’s something compelling about seeing how the world and individuals might have turned out had one thing happened differently. These alterations are usually slight, but they cause big changes in the events that follow, just as one person’s actions can have a profound impact on the course of history.

Naturally, it’s fun to look at all the differences: Spock’s beard (probably the most striking change, or at least the most memorable), Kirk’s barbarism, the piratical uniforms. This time around, I caught a lot of subtle touches that I’ve missed on my numerous previous viewings of this episode. I’d never noticed that they used a different model of the Enterprise in the reverse-shot of the I.S.S. Enterprise in the teaser, the same one used in the pilot episode with antennas on the nacelles and a bigger dome on the saucer. For the first time, I spotted that one of Spock’s operatives who trails behind him in the corridors is a Vulcan, the first time we see another Vulcan on the ship. The captain’s chair has a higher back, the ship’s computer has a male voice, and even the transporter effect has been revised.

It may be even more interesting to examine the similarities, though. Dr. McCoy is described as sentimental and soft by the Spock of both universes, though in the mirror universe these traits are viewed as a serious character flaw instead of being playful criticism by the Vulcan. (McCoy’s also presumably just as clumsy in both universes, given the identical acid spill on his workbench.) Spock is just as honorable, loyal, and logical in both universes—fortunately for “our” Kirk and the rest of his landing party. One has the impression that he isn’t violent because he likes it, but because he’s just following orders. Perhaps this is why he would rather play second string to his Kirk rather than command a ship of his own. If people are inherently the same, despite the effects of their environment, what are we to think about Kirk approaching Lieutenant Marlena Moreau at the end of the episode?

And yet as much as I enjoy the episode, I now have some minor issues with it. I was astonished that the transporter malfunction essentially beamed Kirk, Scott, McCoy, and Uhura out of their own uniforms! It’s also curiously coincidental that Spock had the mirror versions of the landing party in the transporter chamber at the exact moment the mirror Spock was trying to switch them back. The way Kirk catches on to what has happened is also convenient and a little funny:

Not our universe, not our ship. Something... parallel. A parallel universe co-existing with ours on another dimensional plane. Everything’s duplicated, almost. Another Enterprise. Spock with a beard.

But it’s even more hilarious and difficult to accept when the computer actually confirms his crazy theories, and tells him how to reverse it, though it keeps the story moving.

KIRK: Produce all data relevant to the recent ion storm. Correlate following hypothesis. Could a storm of such magnitude cause a power surge in the transporter circuits creating a momentary interdimensional contact with a parallel universe?
COMPUTER: Affirmative.
KIRK: At such a moment, could persons in each universe, in the act of beaming, transpose with their counterparts in the other universe?
COMPUTER: Affirmative.
KIRK: Could conditions necessary to such an event be created artificially using the ship’s power?
COMPUTER: Affirmative.
KIRK: Record procedure.

Okay then, that was easy! And as cool as the Tantalus device is, it’s always been a weird element in the story that never gets explained and never reappears in the series. Here, alien technology equals “magic” even more than usual. At first I thought it was strange that Marlena doesn’t use the device against her Kirk, but then I realized that she isn’t close enough to command for it to move her up in rank. And she seems to like being a “captain’s woman” anyway—all the privilege and none of the responsibility. If you’re interested in a plausible explanation for Kirk’s rise to power and his acquisition of the Tantalus device, check out the graphic novel Mirror Images by Scott Tipton, David Tipton, and David Messina.

Because this episode is so loved by fans, it’s strange that it was never explored in TNG, which nominally has the closest ties to the original series. The closest it comes are episodes like “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and “Parallels,” but there is an excellent novel, Dark Mirror by Diane Duane, that gives us a glimpse at an alternate I.S.S. Enterprise-D. The concept also has been explored in numerous other non-canon books and comics, but the next time we return to the mirror universe in the franchise is through the Deep Space Nine episode “Crossover,” which directly references Kirk’s previous visit and explains what happens after Kirk inspires Spock to embrace peace. Interestingly, in “Mirror, Mirror,” Scott comments that if they miss their window to return to their universe, “We couldn’t get out of here in a century.” This ends up being about right considering the timing of Kira and Bashir’s subsequent visit and escape. The Enterprise two-parter “In a Mirror, Darkly,” sets itself up as a prequel to “Mirror, Mirror,” and is one of the few episodes of the series that I can recommend watching.

In the end, as enjoyable as “Mirror, Mirror” is, it only serves to suggest questions about human nature and our actions without engaging them in a meaningful way. The entertainment value is very high, but it’s not as thought-provoking as it could have been, and I can’t help but look at it in comparison to what follows. This is really only the first part of a story that is explored with deeper implications in the mirror universe episodes in Deep Space Nine.

Eugene’s Rating: Warp 5 (on a scale of 1-6)

Best Line: McCoy: Jim, I think I liked him with a beard better. It gave him character.

Syndication Edits: Sulu and Chekov locking phasers on the Halkan cities before Uhura arrives on the bridge; Scotty getting thwarted on his first attempt trying to sneak into Engineering; Kirk agreeing to send Chekov to the agony booth; McCoy explaining that sick bay is a “chamber of horrors”; Spock and Kirk’s conversation as they approach the agony booth; Kirk and Marlena discussing Chekov’s assassination attempt; a captain’s log; Spock discovering the computer research; Kirk spinning around to see Marlena in her sheer lingerie; and Uhura backing away from Sulu and exciting the bridge.

Other Notes: In the original draft of the script Kirk travelled to the alternate universe alone, and the Federation, which did not even have phaser technology, had just lost a war against the Tharn (the name was re-used for the leader of the Halkans). He winds up building his own phaser and using it to conquer the Tharn. Because Kirk did not “belong” in that universe, he kept having fainting spells that poisoned him, because he was like an infection. The other Kirk was married, and he got along well with the crew to help defeat the Tharn. Spock was more savage, McCoy had the beard (which made Kirk recoil in shock!), and McCoy became injured toward the end of the episode. Upon returning Kirk discovers that the nurse who treated him was the other Kirk’s wife. Spooky.

Trivia: Jerome Bixby, who wrote this episode, based it loosely on his short story “One Way Street.” Bixby is perhaps most famous for his short story “It’s a Good Life,” which was adapted into a Twilight Zone episode, and he went on to write three other Star Trek episodes: “By Any Other Name,” “Day of the Dove,” and “Requiem for Methuselah.”

Next episode: Season 2, Episode 5 - “The Apple.” US residents can watch it for free at the CBS website.

Check the Star Trek Re-Watch Index for a complete list of posts in this series.

Eugene Myers has published short fiction in a variety of print and online zines (writing as E.C. Myers). He is a graduate of the Clarion West Writers Workshop and a member of the writing group Altered Fluid. When he isn’t watching Star Trek, he reads and writes young adult novels.

Torie Atkinson would totally trade places with her evil counterpart if it gave her Nichelle Nichols’ killer abs.

David Siegel
1. bigscary
I had totally forgotten the plot point that E-Kirk had a secret superweapon up his sleeve. In some ways, it makes him a more interesting character (that we never see).
Torie Atkinson
2. Torie
@ 1 bigscary

I mean, it really comes out of left field. Doot doot plot moving along and then suddenly he has MAGIC ALIEN ZAPPER. What?

Too bad no one in the later series ever came across one of those things...can you imagine, say, the Cardassians finding one? Or even Picard? That could've been interesting.
3. peachy
There's a scene in "Dark Mirror" where Picard is reading Spock's account of the evil crew's time aboard 'Enterprise', and when he comes to the "splendid examples" line he thinks how deeply they must have shaken the stoic Spock for him to make such an uncharacteristic remark.

"Dark Mirror" is also even less optimistic about the e-verse than the canon DS9 eps that superseded it - DM's Spock makes some progress in changing the empire, but ultimately fails. (I think he's executed for treason, in fact.)
4. Artwyatt
The Enterprise two-parter is actually enormous fun. Now there's a sentence you don't hear often.
Avram Grumer
5. avram
And even in a parallel universe, the women get skimpier uniforms.
j p
6. sps49
You left out Lt. Moreau's line after she changes clothes- the "Oiling my traps" remark. Which meant nothing to me at age 13.

I did notice the ladies' outfits, though.

And the two-parter is one of the few watchable and fun of the Enterprise episodes.
7. DemetriosX
I've always really liked this episode. You can tell how much the actors enjoyed playing their evil counterparts. (As the old tagline for Dungeon Keeper put it, "Sometimes it's fun to play the bad guy.")

I wish I could watch these in Germany, because I'd like to compare Walter Koenig's evil Chekov to his Bester from B5. Of course, E-Chekov is a more over the top sort of character, but it would still be interesting. I also found E-Kirk to be rather unconvincing, so maybe Shatner couldn't really pull it off and they left some of that story out as a consequence.

You were both somewhat bothered by Kirk so quickly figuring out the parallel universe thing. Don't forget that this is not his first experience with the concept. He dealt with Lazarus A and B in the first season. (OK, that's probably way too much continuity to expect, but it does give us an excuse to accept it.)

Looking ahead, this season really whipsaws viewers back and forth with really good and really bad episodes. We're 3 for 4 at the moment, but boy is that going to change.
8. lane arnold
----first, i think i should qualify myself because i have in the past, and will in the future, offer very silly comments about this series--my parents used to let me stay up past my bed time to catch "trek"--i was so scared of balok's alter ego that i hid my face so i wouldn't have to see it at the end of the credits--in fourth grade i was the president of a "star trek" fan club--this is one of the episodes that make tos great, top five imo--i have seen this episode at least four or five dozen times over the years--and we have the advantage or the disadvantage, take your pick, of being much more sci fi savvy nowadays--yes, there are some inconsistencies, but with two spocks, nothing is impossible--it's double the vulcan I.Q.--if you didn't notice, those dots on the foreheads of the halkans, and the "death button" on the tantulus field are the same color--and no wonder the halkans are pacifist, it's a pink planet!--speaking of pink, in retrospect, george takei's pass at uhura is not that convincing, know what i mean?--that scar looks like a zipper on his head anyway--perverted aliens!--it would have been true to life if we had a homosexual sulu come on to captain kirk--and those agonizers look more like a cell phone then the communicators--really enjoy seeing mccoy's bong there in sick bay, it's on the table, look for it--but sorry, the best line is: "was far easier for you as civilized men to act like barbarians, than it was for them as barbarians to act like civilized men"--scotty says: "half an hour at the most" and i can't help but think about kirk: "damn cosmic storm is ruining my chances of scoring with this alternate universe hoe"--ladies, wouldn't you like your own tantulus field? keep your man in line?--marlena is played by barbara luna, perfect name for this show--i enjoy seeing actors that were in tos appear in other t.v. shows and movies--ms. luna also appears in the hawaii five-o episode "a thousand pardons, you're dead" with loretta swit from m.a.s.h. also on the cbs website------
Torie Atkinson
9. Torie
@3 peachy

Executed? Ouch! I can see that, though.

@ 6 sps49

You know, I saw that, and I thought "that couldn't have been the line!" and then I saw it again was astonished that made it into the show.

@ 7 DemetriosX

I haven't seen B5 but I did see Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, a semi-pro fan film, in which Walter Koenig got to play a version of Chekov that was a grizzled freedom fighter. He's clearly having a lot of fun breaking out of the usual role, I'd definitely recommend it.
10. peachy
'Fraid so. "Dark Mirror", p. 246-7 : " had become a power in Starfleet, and in other ways as well... He began to move... to change the Empire's methods of dealing with subject species, conquered worlds, arguing that, logically, power benefits from benevolent use. For a while there was an uncomfortable shift and wash of opinion around him at Starfleet... Spock pressed his advantage in Command, rising to the Admiralty... It seemed as if he pushed something, someone, too hard. His living quarters at Starfleet were raided; evidence was found there, the records said barely, of treason... He was court-martialed and executed some twelve years after another Kirk had dared him to be the one man with a vision."
Daniel Cole
11. zaldar
I love the alternate universe episode of enterprise. When they started filling in historical holes they got to be a much better show. I even liked the ones where they saw the creation of the federation.

I have long thought if they were going to reboot it make it so the series takes place in the alternate universe. That would have potential.

Anyway the beard equaling evil has definitly entered popular culture. A grew a gotae at one point looong after seeing this episode but when one of my friends saw me, he asked if I was now evil Daniel and I immeaditly knew what he was refering to (and as I had become much more of a capitalist at the time) and I said yes.
Marcus W
12. toryx
I'm surprised that no one has commented how active Uhura was in this episode. One of the things I really liked about "Mirror, Mirror" was just how much Uhura did. She faced off Scarred Sulu twice, and she's the one who took out the Captain's woman.

All in all, she was pretty bad ass, especially compared to most episodes.
13. ***Dave
Uhura does, in fact, have lots to do here, as noted. On the other hand, she does a gulping "Captain, I'm ... I'm scared" bit, so it's a mixed bag.

The "sculpture" Uhura gives Kirk to brain B-Spock with is a skull. It's perhaps best not to contemplate why McCoy has a skull sitting around Sick Bay.

I always thought the pre-Agonizer criticism of Kyle was due to the glitches with the transporter sequence, not with the phaser lock on the planet.

There's got to be a parallel (no matter how pronounced) between "Halkan" and "Halcyon" (in the latter's sense of peaceful).

While everyone sort of treats the Mirror Universe as "Everything is Opposite" Land, Tharn and the Halkans are similarly peace-loving in both. Which reinforces the divergent (yet oh-so-parallel) timelines theory.

(I will confess I wrote in high school some very bad fan-fic of this episode, set in the PoV of the Evil Kirk & Company aboard the Enterprise. Making the events there parallel those in the Mirror Universe while still fitting into the few glimpses we get in the actual episode was pretty difficult to do, but it was a fun exercise.)

One of the production values that strikes me most in this ep is, unfortunately, that the big "B-Spock vs. the Good Guys" fight in Sick Bay is, while a great example of how Vulcans are seriously kick-ass, marred by some truly awful cuts between the actors and their stunt doubles.

I will note that while B-Spock gets all the attention, and E-Chekov as well (though he's far more the brute than Bester), it's E-Sulu that wins the prize for Truly Evil Bastard in the Mirror Universe. He hits on Uhura, pooh-poohs Kirk and Spock's authority, eavesdrops on Spock, and hatches a plot to do in Spock and Kirk. Plus, he has a great scar.

My favorite line is B-Spock's warning to E-Sulu on a possible succession war: "I suggest that you remember that my operatives would avenge my death. And some of them are Vulcans." The idea of Vulcans seeking vengeance still sends chills of terror down my spine.
14. NomadUK
I'm late coming to this review, unfortunately; been a busy week. Most everything's been said.

Dave @13 is right about the skull, and about Kyle and the transporter. And McCoy would have a skull in sickbay, probably as a decoration. I mean, he's a surgeon, after all; alien anatomy must be of some interest.

Kirk's 'one man with a vision' speech at the end, with the music and all, never fails to raise gooseflesh and send a shiver up my spine. It's like Henry V at Agincourt.

Regarding fight sequences, it's always fun to see when retakes have been necessary: the set is usually covered with scuff marks from the boots. These are quite visible in sickbay in this episode, in 'Journey to Babel', and, most particularly, in 'The Doomsday Machine', when Decker is fighting the Security guard. Must've been a pain to clean those sets afterward; I'll bet they always saved the fight scene shoots for the end of the day.
Church Tucker
15. Church
@***Dave "Uhura does, in fact, have lots to do here, as noted. On the other hand, she does a gulping "Captain, I'm ... I'm scared" bit, so it's a mixed bag."

Yeah, she's a communications officer. Suddenly she's (essentially) Delta Force In Another Universe. It's not a character flaw for her to be freaked out. The fact that she pulls it off is all you need to take away from this.

And I have no idea what Torie and Eugene are saving their sixes for, but this is one time to pull it out. For frak's sake there are more 'Mirror' references than 'Tribble' references. That should tell you something.
16. Tom Nackid
Eugene, the whole "beaming out of their uniforms and into new ones" issue can be resolved by just assuming that it was only the landing party's minds that got shifted to another universe and not their actual bodies. (Shades of Scott Bakula's previous SF carrer as a "quantum leaping" scientist!) I have no idea if any later incarnations of the mirror universe storyline contradict this hypothesis, but it makes sense for the TOS episode.

I thought that it was interesting in the Enterprise 2-parter (what I can remember of it) they associate the interdimensional rift from the TOS episode "The Tholian Web" with he mirror universe. In "The Tholian Web" it was stated that something about the rift caused people to become violent, even homicidal. Could it be the mirror universe has some inherently evil influence over living things? This would jive well with Rodenberry's philosophy that people are inherently good. Yes in our universe they are, but in the mirror universe people are inherently evil and both universes coexist in some kind of yin/yang balance. Come to think of it that would tie in with Rodenberry's interest in eastern religions as well!
17. Bluejay Young
All I know is that when Nichelle Nichols as Uhura entices Sulu, then pulls out that dagger and threatens him, backs gracefully up the steps and off the bridge, she melts my fillings in a way that none of the SBotW ever managed to do. Nichols didn't get to show off her stuff nearly as often as I'd have liked.
19. Jack Walker
Fantastic writeups - - thanks! I just turned 40 (TOS fan since I was about 5 or 6) and decided to celebrate late one night by grabbing some snacks and watching my TOS fave, "The Doomsday Machine," on my newly acquired remastered DVDs. The same disc has "Mirror, Mirror," so I watched that as well. i generally consider "Mirror, Mirror" my third favorite - - I'm a huge fan of "Wolf in the Fold," despite its general placement outside the top 10-15 on most fans' TOS favorite lists, and rank it right above "Mirror, Mirror" in my estimation.

Torie, a couple of very minor corrections to your comments. Mirror-Spock's confrontation with Kyle has nothing to do with the phaser barrage on the Halkan cities; Spock orders Sulu to program that offensive via the intercom, closes communications, then begins to berate Kyle because he failed to compensate for the ion storm, evidently with more power to the transporter, while beaming the landing party back. Of course, the purpose of the scene is to illustrate the barbarism of the parallel Enterprise, but one possible implication is that if alternate-Kyle (Kyle-2? I never know what to call these guys when discussing this ep) had compensated properly, the transporter accident and transposition might not have taken place. (Spock-2 and Kyle-2's subsequent dialogue, after the agonizer use, seems to disprove this theory, however.) Also, Kirk doesn't meet McCoy and Scott in sickbay after he's attacked by Chekov's henchmen - - they're in his quarters. Finally, Marlena doesn't slap Kirk after he delivers the "you could" line - - he deftly catches her hand in a nice bit of convincing Kirkish/Shatnerian physicality and stops her. Anyway, just minor stuff - - your writeup and Eugene's are awesome.

I thought I was the only person in the world who thought it was cool that Chekov said "stroke four" instead of mark! I LOVE THAT!!

Another major difference, which was a big one for me as a huge Scotty fan, was the fact that Scotty was not in the chain of command in the parallel universe - - he was just another "not in line" lieutenant commander like McCoy. It's clear from multiple pieces of dialogue and events that Sulu was third-in-command, e.g. (1) Scotty not being authorized to check on the phaser controls; (2) Sulu asking "Is the Captain here? Is Spock here?" when he starts harassing Uhura; (3) Sulu mentioning that Starfleet's kill order on Kirk would fall on him next if Spock fails to eliminate Kirk; and (4) Sulu stating in sickbay that Kirk and Spock's deaths would leave him in command. (Of course, Sulu was probably going to kill Scott as well, along with McCoy and Uhura, but still.) Scotty, like McCoy, was a necessary evil (heh) aboard the ISS Enterprise - - subordinate to the far more important function, to the Empire, of maintaining security aboard one of its most valuable warmaking assets. Totally logical and fascinating to me. Since they made Takei a special red shirt for this episode, I always thought it would have been cool if they'd added a broken stripe to the sleeves and made Sulu a Lt. Commander; it was a bit of a stretch that Starfleet would replace Kirk AND Spock with a lowly lieutenant, instead of bringing someone in from outside. But maybe Sulu was just having delusions of grandeur.

Another interesting difference was the total lack of females on the ISS Enterprise other than Uhura and Marlena. I don't believe there was another one visible, even for a second, in any shot. Hard to believe the Empire would go for that, so I assume that most of the females aboard were confined to lower-decks duty - - even Marlena's day job was apparently working in "the chem lab."

Something else that struck me was the large increase in the number of jumpsuited crewmen - - as opposed to tunic-wearing crewmen. Sure, there are a lot of jumpsuited crewmen aboard our Enterprise as well in any given episode, but not nearly as many. Except for the security guards, in fact, almost every extra and bit player was wearing a jumpsuit - - the henchman who helped Kirk against Chekov (did he have a name?), Chekov's two goons, Farrell, Spock-2's Vulcan bodyguard, all of the guys who can be seen working in engineering in the background when Scott and McCoy sneak around the Emergency Manual Monitor, and even Kyle. This was probably done to save time and money redoing the standard tunics with Empire insignia, but it actually corrects a problem very familiar to many TOS fans - - the general lack (particularly after season 1) of the right number of enlisted crew. Almost everyone seems to be an officer on the USS Enterprise, but not on the ISS Enterprise. Well done.

I'm with Eugene that it certainly was handy that the computer could confirm Kirk's not-so-wacky theory and even "record procedure" to recreate the transporter accident upon command. Nice!! Still, that bit works for me, though, because one of the foundations of TOS is that Kirk is a prodigy and an absolute genius. He's sometimes overshadowed by his first officer in terms of pure, raw intellect, but in most episodes, Kirk is actually shown to be as smart or even smarter than Spock (some of which was supposedly the result of Shatner's pressure on TPTB to make script changes, but I don't care). So I totally buy it that Kirk could dope out what was up and figure out how to get back home, even without his usual ability to rely on Spock for help. Kirk's lawyer-like answer to Marlena about her being the Captain's woman (as Torie said, good save) is another example of the character's smarts.

There are so many great little things about this episode, but I've gone on long enough, so I'll just mention a few. Spock's conversation with the computer about the security research going on in Engineering is just a brilliant little touch, although Kirk might have thought to ask the computer to encode the identities of the researchers. I've never been able to figure out if the computer (voiced by Jimmy Doohan) says "Program is classified by voice index lock" or "voice index log," but the former makes more sense to me. Another great bit is the Kirk/Scott dialogue when Spock cuts the transporter power. "Can you bridge to your setup?" I love it that TOS didn't feel the need to talk down and explain this quick, engineering-laden interchange to viewers. Scotty's use of "Jim" (the only time!) to plead with Kirk is awesome. Incidentally, I guess Marlena either wasn't rated on the transporter or they couldn't trust her to do it. Finally, I loved that Kirk was the only one who could begin to cope with Spock during the sickbay fight (one of the best fight scenes in TOS despite the stunt doubles being visible), but even he was still totally outmatched.

Sorry to go on so long. Thanks for some GREAT discussion, guys (commenters too). Just an awesome ep.

P.S., I still can't believe that the NBC censors let the "oiling my traps" line through either. They must have thought she said "only my traps, darling," and maybe that was what was in the script too.
20. Freedoooooooooom!
The Tantalus Field allowed evil Kirk to conduct surveillance on anyone, anywhere, anytime, and to assassinate them with the touch of a button. Today, the NSA monitors nearly everyone, nearly everywhere, nearly all the time, simultaneously, and the NSA actively assists Obama's CIA-led assassinations using drones. I think it is not a coincidence that this dystopian science fiction has become our reality. I think it was a brilliant extrapolation by the author of "Mirror, Mirror".

In 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated, and the positive optimism of the Kennedy administration was replaced with "LBJ's fascist utopia," as some have described it. In 1964, LBJ waived the term restrictions of FBI heads to allow J Edgar Hoover to remain "forever" (and to head the investigation of Kennedy's assassination). J Edgar Hoover meanwhile was hoovering up all the dirt on all the politicians, so he had enormous power through information, like having a Tantalus Field. Also at this time, the Vietnam War was ramping up and was very unpopular. It was a war of illogical imperial aggression. The author of "Mirror, Mirror" had seen America turn into an evil empire. Imperialism, bombing, spying, assassination... all that is in both "Mirror, Mirror" and 1960's America... and modern America. Torture is the final feature of "Mirror, Mirror", and again we had that with the 1960's CIA (MkUltra) and modern America. The illegal torture endorsed by Bush has been replaced by the illegal torture endorsed by Obama, such as the torture of Private Manning.

I submit to you that your Empire is illogical because it cannot endure. I submit that YOU are illogical to be a willing part of it. In every revolution there's one man with a vision.
21. KLR
MST3K parody opening segment, my favorite knockoff of the wonderful ep. "Always keep fresh batteries in your agonizer!"
22. KSG5
Star Trek Continues just released "Fairest of Them All".

We see what happens to the Evil Kirk after he returns home.

Highly recommended!

Be sure to also check out James Cawley's "Phase 2":

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