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In A Mirror, Darkly

Review

Series : Enterprise Rating : 5
Disc No : 4.5 Episode : 94
First Aired : 22 Apr 2005 Stardate : 13 Jan 2155
Director : James L. Conway Year : 2155
Writers : Michael Sussman Season : 4
Guest Cast :
Anthony Montgomery as Mirror Mayweather
Connor Trinneer as Mirror Tucker
Dominic Keating as Mirror Reed
Franc Ross as Grizzled Human
James Cromwell as Mirror Cochrane
John Billingsley as Mirror Phlox
Jolene Blalock as Mirror T'Pol
Linda Park as Mirror Hoshi
Scott Bakula as Mirror Archer
Vaughn Armstrong as Mirror Forrest
YATI : Trip says that the cloak has to have everything except auxiliary power sent to it to cloak the ship. But they keep running at warp speed after engaging it. Can you really run the warp drive on auxiliary power? Later he says he can't decloak and free up power for weapons and armour because the cloak is not responding. So what? Surely you can just unplug the thing whether it's responding or not?

So there's an Orion woman on the bridge of the Mirror NX-01. Since Bound has established that Orion women constantly emit pheromones that make men crazy for them whilst women become listless and lazy, why isn't this woman running the ship? (In fairness, the Empire probably has some way to neutralise the pheromones. I bet it's an really evil way, too.)
Great Moment : Lots of good ones to choose from. The title sequence merits special mention - the war imagery is good fun and the music is so much better than the normal Enterprise intro!

Seeing a Tholian is also great - there has been massive fan speculation about just what the Tholians look like after the glimpse we get in The Tholian Web, and it's nice to finally get a good look.

Body Count : In order... one Vulcan killed by Cochrane - presumably several others killed inside the ship. A Tellarite is tortured by Reed and Phlox to test out their agony booth. Forrest's bodyguard is shot in Archer's takeover, as is a guy on the bridge. Trip gets a turn in the booth, four hours worth. T'Pol and her friends blow up two guys with a grenade in the brig, and possibly shoot at least another one outside. Archer's bodyguard is shot when Forrest retakes command, as are at least two bridge officers - possibly three if T'Pol hit whoever she fired at off-screen. Archer gets TEN hours in the agony booth, and Forrest indicates that Reed will get the same. A Tholian is tortured and ultimately killed. And finally, almost the whole crew of the NX-01 is killed by the Tholians. Quite a list!
Factoid : This episode is a sequel of sorts to The Tholian Web, in which the USS Defiant disappeared into interphase space never to be heard of again. Now we know where it ended up.

Tholians can generate comm signals with their body.

T'Pol states that the Defiant Captain's neck is broken, exactly as stated in "The Tholian Web". Even the position of the Captain and the other body on the bridge is exactly as seen in the TOS episode.

The two present day aircraft seen in the teaser are a B-1 strategic bomber and an F-15 fighter, both US aircraft.

Excluding the movies and animated series, this is the 700th episode of Star Trek to be broadcast.

In the Mirror Universe, Zefram Cochrane shot the Vulcan who greeted him from the ship and the Humans then raided it and stole everything they could. So the Mirror universe branches off from our own at least this early, if not earlier.

This is only the second time we've ever seen a Tholian Web weapon employed.

This episode is a winner of the DITL "Best of Trek" award.


Plotline

In the Mirror universe, the Admiral Forrest of the NX-01 is busy fighting one of the Empire's wars - one that the Humans are losing. Archer has heard rumours of an advanced Earth ship which has emerged through an interphasic rift in Tholians space, and he is determined to cross into Tholian space and claim the ship for the Empire. When Forrest demurs, Archer stages a mutiny and heads there anyway. With T'Pol's help Forrest regains command - but Archer has set the ship on autopilot and locked out all interference. Arriving at the destination they find none other than the USS Defiant, and a boarding party begins to search for intelligence information aboard. Unfortunately the NX-01 is discovered by the Tholians...

Analysis

In my humble opinion, this is the single best episode that Enterprise has aired so far. I liked everything about it. I several times complained about Deep Space Nine's use of the Mirror universe; the DS9 writers didn't seem to get the point of the MU, or chose to ignore it. The MU is supposed to be a moral inversion of the Federation, with Humans who are amoral at least, and often actively evil. DS9 never really showed that side of Humans, but this episode captures it perfectly. The teaser is a brilliant example; Cochrane firing on the Vulcans and claiming their ship is a perfect way to illustrate the differences between our universe and the Mirror one. I wonder what the present day is like in the Mirror universe?

Bringing the Defiant in is a clever and sensible thing to do. We've seen many times in Enterprise that Humans are not the big guys on the block; even with Vulcan technology it's hard to believe that the Humans of 2155 could be out conquering the Klingons, Romulans, Tholians, etc. By giving the Terran Empire TOS technology in the form of a real live working Constitution class starship, Humanity is gaining a massive leg-up that serves to explain perfectly how they ended up so powerful.

It's always great fun to see our characters ham things up for the MU episodes - one of the few things DS9 did right in this regard was Intendant Kira, who was superb as the MU version of our own Kira. Here all the characters are just perfect. You could go on for hours, but to touch on just a few of the nice moments - the idea of Forrest claiming command of the NX-01 for himself, which is exactly what you would expect inthe MU. Archer is good as the Mirror universe equivalent of himself, though he is surprisingly similar to our own Archer in character. Why not just throw Forrest out of an airlock as Reed suggested? It was a nice touch to have Porthos still there but as a much larger, much nastier rottweiler. And I love that he has a collection of guns on the wall where the pictures of previous Enterprises are in our universe. Hoshi is great as the "Captain's Woman", still somewhat loyal to Forrest but also perfectly willing to go along with the top dog. In that respect she's very similar to Persis from the Augments arc. Trip is excellent as the Chief Engineer, with his facial disfigurement from Delta ray exposure being a nice reference to "The Menagerie". T'Pol is interesting in how she parallels Mirror Spock - she's loyal to her Captain, a valued crewmember but apparently a second class citizen in the Empire, and more than willing to use her Vulcan abilities to further her cause when necessary. Reed gets less time than most, but he's good fun as the ship's enforcer. Phlox doesn't get a whole lot of screen time but he surely makes the most of it, whether displaying his evident pride at inventing the agony booth or urging the Tholian to hurry up and die. It's also a nice touch that his sickbay animals are still there, but now they're experimental test subjects.

Of course there was all the usual little changes to look for. Different ship's patches for the Starfleet and MACO crew, Terran Empire sword-and-planet logos everywhere, skimpier uniforms for the women - the MU Humans apparently stayed sexist a long time after our own did!

One of the great things about the episode was getting to see a Tholian in the "skin". We saw a Tholian in The Tholian Web, but it was a simple drawing of a crystalline shape. The non-canon Trek novels suggested that the Tholians were indeed crystalline life forms, even suggesting that their bodies could be carved into different shapes so as to fulfil a specific function. Even so, there was some fan speculation that what we saw in TOS was actually just a helmet, with Tholians themselves looking utterly different. This episode gave us a "head" shape pretty much identical to what we saw in TOS, but puts arms and legs onto it. A nice way to build on the appearance of the original without contradicting what we saw in TOS in any way.

The re-use of the Tholian Web was also pleasing, especially as it was done in a far superior way. The original conception of the web was rather absurd; it took literally hours to deploy, and given that the Enterprise could disable a Tholian ship in a matter of seconds then you could comfortably pick off whole fleets while they tried to encompass you in the web. This version is deployed in seconds, trapping the NX-01 effectively. It may seem odd that an earlier version of the weapon was more advanced, but then the Tholians did have far more than two ships working together this time, so perhaps that makes the difference?

The ending surprised me a little. I didn't expect to see the NX-01 get blown away by the Tholians, certainly not with virtually the whole crew. I actually wondered if Archer would destroy the NX-01 with the Defiant, or if Forrest would voluntarily abandon it in favour of the Defiant.

My only gripe for the whole episode was that we got to see so little of the Defiant in action. I found myself a little impatient for them to get there; perhaps I would have skipped the sequence where the Tholian was captured and have them go straight to the ship. Show the NX-01 destroyed and then have Archer come out in the Defiant to give the Tholians a pasting, ending the episode with the Defiant heading out into space. But that's just me. Whatever, no doubt the Defiant will be strutting her stuff satisfactorily in the next episode.


Copyright Graham Kennedy Page views : 14,246 Last updated : 8 Jul 2016