Star Trek: Enterprise
"In a Mirror, Darkly, Part I"
Air date: 4/22/2005
Written by Mike Sussman
Directed by James L. Conway
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"This is ludicrous, captain!" — T'Pol, on the right track
In brief: A garish and goofy comic book, but plenty of fun to get the job done, and with a great last act.
Last week's abysmal "Bound" was a silly hour with a lame plot that treated women like objects. The episode had its (delusional) defenders, who labeled it a "guilty pleasure." The error in that description was the use of the word "pleasure" in connection with a show that was such a colossal bore and a general insult to the intellect.
Now here comes "In a Mirror, Darkly," which is also a silly hour that generally treats women like objects. The key difference, however, is that "Bound" was a relentless bore and "Mirror" is quite a bit of fun, with inventive plot details. The term "guilty pleasure" applies in this case. I can recommend "Mirror" on its chosen level of hyper-aggressive testosterone, hilarious teeth-gnashing, and across-the-board sociopathic behavior. This is, after all, the mirror universe. If you're looking for any depth in the slightest, you've come to the wrong show. But it should be noted that the whole point of the mirror universe is that it's an evil comic book where strange things happen. If you want an evil comic book, you've got an evil comic book.
The episode also features a clever opening teaser (first contact with the Vulcans is marked by Zefram Cochrane pulling out a shotgun and blowing the Vulcan ambassador away), an inspired alternate title sequence (showing the advancement of human technology as a purpose for escalating warfare), and a brilliant final act of pure Trekkian fun. These attributes alone would make the hour worthwhile even if everything in between was pointless (which, come to think of it, is a close call).
To call this episode over-the-top would be an understatement. This is a go-for-broke hour of lunatic madness. A lot of it is admittedly inane, but that's the point. The entire episode takes place in the mirror universe and involves exclusively the mirror characters, which is something of a departure from previous Trek mirror-universe episodes, in which characters crossed over from one universe to the other and found themselves out of their element. This prohibits the interaction of characters with their anti-universe and instead allows exclusive focus on the eeeeeeevil characters.
Everyone here is a scumbag, pretty much without exception. The Enterprise is commanded by Captain Forrest (Vaughn Armstrong gets to reprise a version of his character killed earlier this season). Archer is the first officer, who usually wears a frown so extreme that I was left wondering if Scott Bakula had strained all his facial muscles in the making of this episode. Phlox is a doctor of the most unscrupulous kind, who dreams up new ways to torture and kill. In one amusing scene, we see his sickbay of horrors, where as a hobby he dissects animals while their insides pulsate.
Reed is a MACO and a sadist who smiles a subtle but evil grin at the prospect of anything involving torture or something blowing up. He has invented a torture chamber ("the booth") that sends agonizing pain straight into the brain. When a ship attacks the Enterprise, Reed's happy about it because it means he gets to shoot back. Mayweather is also a MACO, and I guess it's fitting that his mirror character is as equally underused as his normal version. Trip is a bitter engineer whose exposure to radiation has left him disfigured. He still hits on T'Pol, even in this universe.
Sato is the captain's mistress (for whomever the captain happens to be at the moment), trading sex for career advancement, although it seems that "advancement" is simply the right to have the captain's ear. If there's one complaint I'd lodge, it's that she's not permitted any strength or power beyond the barter of her sexuality. At least Intendant Kira was in charge in the DS9 mirror-universe episodes, and had a ruthlessness that allowed her to compete with, and surpass, her rival males. Then again, trying to look for character "virtues" in a story that is by definition utterly without virtue is probably foolish; the males are all violent psychopaths, so it's not like we should be looking for redeeming qualities.
The only more or less "normal" person on the ship is T'Pol, who, as a Vulcan, does not seem to harbor the aggressive hostility that all the humans do. Like Spock in the original "Mirror, Mirror," she's governed by a more tempered disposition. After a power play that leaves a number of crewmen dead and Captain Forrest locked in the brig, T'Pol helps Forrest regain the upper hand. She does this not out of ambition for conquest, but out of a loyalty that seems logical.
The plot is a crackpot concoction involving Archer's plan to take the Enterprise deep into Tholian space, where his intelligence points to the location of a secret base that is holding a Starfleet vessel that has been lured from an alternate (i.e. our) universe. But not just from another universe, Archer reveals, but from a century in the future of that other universe, promising more advanced technology that could be used in the Terran Empire's plans for unlimited conquest.
In executing this plan, there is an endless series of manipulations, betrayals, power shifts, and scenes of people screaming in the torture chamber. As much time as the crew (and presumably all of humanity) spends at each other's throats, it's a wonder they've been so successful at conquering other societies. It seems to me that just fending off overthrows within the command structure would be a full-time job.
The tone of these scenes is all attitude and evil comic-book grins, often with enjoyably funny results. You certainly have to regard the actors with admiration here: It takes guts to willingly throw yourself head-on through scenes of such inherent goofiness, devouring the scenery as if your life depended on it. Considering the enormity of the ridiculousness, the performances are fearlessly energetic. Scott Bakula in particular seems to be in a nirvana of play-evil, snapping his neck around with every line of dialog. Actors often say that playing the villain is fun. Everyone must've had fun here, because everyone is the villain.
A few words on the women's Starfleet uniforms: namely, extremely stupid-looking. Robert Blackman, the costume designer, either dropped the ball or was under some sort of directive that required nearly 12 inches of midriff. On the sex appeal front, Hoshi's negligee is fine and good, but the Starfleet uniforms are a laughable embarrassment of the implausible. Come on, folks. There's acceptably over-the-top, and then there's blatant stupidity.
No matter, because all is forgiven by the last act, which is nothing short of brilliant. The Enterprise reaches the Tholian base and discovers a TOS-era Constellation-class starship, the USS Defiant. Viewers with encyclopedic instant-recall of classic Trek (or, in my case, easy access to my old reviews) will remember the Defiant as the ship from TOS's "The Tholian Web." When it vanished from the TOS universe, it apparently ended up here. Now mirror-Archer wants to beam aboard and steal it.
This leads to great sequence in which the Tholians discover the Enterprise and surround it with their energy web, and then start pummeling it with torpedoes. The crew evacuates in the escape pods while Forrest remains aboard to give them time to escape (although I wasn't quite sure what he was trying to do). The Enterprise explodes in a big fireball. Reed, watching from the Defiant, almost smiles, as if seeing explosions triggers an automatic response in his brain.
And, in what may be the coolest scene of the year, Archer's away team powers up the darkened bridge of the Defiant. I gotta tell you: When that bridge lit up and the TOS sound effects started chirping, I wanted to cheer. The feeling this evokes is exactly as if the cast of Enterprise had stepped through a time portal to emerge directly on the sets of the original series in 1966. It's a surreal and wonderfully pure fan moment, and I loved it. The production designers have perfectly recreated the bridge of what is ostensibly the Defiant, but in pure viewer terms is what we know is meant to be the original Enterprise. This is one of those imaginative moments where fictional universes spill into one another in the most unlikely and unexpected of ways, and generate a reality of their own.
If only this sort of imagination serviced a story that wasn't so fundamentally silly and full of characters whose attitudes run counter to this very notion of self-referential Trek imagination, we might've had something really special here. As it is, we have one very special moment within an hour of fairly amusing ones.
Next week: Will the mirror shine or shatter?
Previous episode: Bound
Next episode: In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II
Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.
81 comments on this post
Thu, Feb 12, 2009, 5:27pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jun 21, 2009, 3:51am (UTC -5)
Thu, Nov 19, 2009, 11:01am (UTC -5)
Tue, Dec 15, 2009, 7:59pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jan 19, 2010, 5:52pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Dec 11, 2010, 8:29pm (UTC -5)
Besides, T'Pol's stomach is too good not to show that much! Same with Hoshi. Both those gals have amazing midsections. A tribute to the hotness of Star Trek gals!
Wed, Feb 23, 2011, 7:21am (UTC -5)
Sun, Nov 27, 2011, 1:43pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jun 1, 2012, 5:36am (UTC -5)
Fri, Jun 1, 2012, 12:51pm (UTC -5)
Experiments on live people are done as well. The distinction is not life but of what kind of experiments are done.
I'd tell you to actually look up the quite stringent guidelines scientific researchers have to follow on animal testing, but I suspect that your stupidity on this issue is quite willful.
Wed, Aug 8, 2012, 1:09pm (UTC -5)
7 minutes in: alright Hoshi and and Admiral *throws up in mouth*
10 mintues in: Still boring fell asleep trying to watch
15 minutes in: Jammer thought this was better than the last episode? Did this review come from a parallel universe? Is it April 1st?
20 minutes in: Is this going somewhere? Is there even a story, or is it all midsections and "HEY I'M PLAYING AN EVIL ME! GET IT?!"
35 minutes in: Okay this is officially the worst Enterprise has to offer, Jammer must have some nostalgia disease I'm immune to
Finished: Well that was a complete waste of time, oh wait there's a part 2 to this train-wreck? *shoots self*
"Bound" had more substance than this steaming pile of poo poo pasta. For 3 stars I expected something pretty damn great since last week was only a 1 star and it was at least entertaining. I was watching paint dry during the boring parts of this episode, which was ALL of it.
Tue, Sep 25, 2012, 9:39pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Sep 25, 2012, 11:07pm (UTC -5)
In fact I can honestly say that Enterprise was able to do *one thing* better than Deep Space Nine--make the Mirror Universe a fun romp again. With the exception of "Through the Looking Glass"; DS9's Mirror Universe episodes were depressing and predictable.
Thu, Nov 1, 2012, 9:54pm (UTC -5)
Yeah T'Pol and Hoshi uniforms were really stupid.
At least the ending was good enough for me to want to seed the next episode.
Sat, Dec 22, 2012, 7:03pm (UTC -5)
Not too sure about a mirror universe where everyone (regardless of where they're from) is Pure Evil. Did some kind of Evil Gene get released into the galaxy millions of years ago in the parallel universe or what? The mirror world in DS9 (and TOS) was at least a little more mixed, I thought.
Wasn't sure where the "Defiant" came in, so ended up re-watching The Tholian Web after this episode. (I originally thought the mirror universe was created in "Mirror, Mirror"... maybe not). I see - interesting choice of episodes to mix with the mirror universe, cleverly done.
Onwards, but I may have to re-skip through this episode after watching Tholian. Good work making me think and geek out.
Sat, Dec 22, 2012, 7:13pm (UTC -5)
- In the mirror universe, T'Pol looks a bit like Lara Croft
- That last moment when Reed kind of smirks at the Enterprise's destruction, reminds me of the end of Series 3 of Blake's 7, where Avon watches the destruction of the Liberator and grins. Very good :)
Sat, Dec 22, 2012, 8:23pm (UTC -5)
I really wouldn't mind a Mirror Darkly universe as primary for a new ST show which later ties into the main universe, maybe putting them in direct conflict.
Sun, Jan 6, 2013, 2:15am (UTC -5)
Why? Because it's not practical? You really think that evil empire of misogynistic, evil, sex obsessed warlords would care?
I actually really like this episode. Remember, this is mirror universe. It's not supposed to be clever or have emotional depth, it's just fun.
Wed, Jan 9, 2013, 1:35pm (UTC -5)
I'm not familiar with TOS (will turn to that after I'm done with Enterprise) so I didn't get any of those jokes. Is the insectoid species original to TOS? I guess I figured they made the alien a CGI insectoid so they could have it explode on screen. Even so, I felt really bad for it.
I didn't mind the women's uniforms, but I think it should have been a rule that if they are going to have provocatively dressed women, they have to have a shirtless or at least sleeveless Travis. They followed that rule in Bound, why not here?
Sat, Feb 9, 2013, 10:57pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 13, 2013, 2:40am (UTC -5)
Thu, Mar 7, 2013, 4:16am (UTC -5)
Sat, Jun 1, 2013, 8:32pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Aug 28, 2013, 3:16pm (UTC -5)
Such a shame... now I'm finishing my second round of ENT and seeing what it could have been had it been given the chance.
It really could have done what it set out to do: complete the circle and fill in provide us a lot of interesting background to TOS and the federation as a whole.
Really, really, really hope that it's not the last Trek series (have heard that thanks to the new movies it may not be), and that any future trek series learns the lessons from the mistakes of the 5 series 'till now.
In my opinion (to go off on a tangent) a good series would be the Federation leaving the Milky Way for the first time going to another galaxy where none of the aliens were humanoid (if we accept the premise of TNG's the chase that our galaxy was seeded by an ancient humanoid race). Kind of like a non-corny Voyager.
Tue, Sep 3, 2013, 8:35pm (UTC -5)
-- It would have been cool if after boarding the Defiant the Enterprise crew had played the last message the ship received -- and it was from Uhura, whom they could have depicted on a viewscreen using archival footage (and with Ms. Nichols's permission).
-- I would like to have seen Evil Archer find in the Federation database a reference to the first officer of the NCC-1701. He would have been like, "A human and a Vulcan reproduced? WTF?!"
Sun, Sep 22, 2013, 7:57pm (UTC -5)
@Burt - clearly you know nothing about women. It's true we like to look attractive, but we like respect even more, so we don't actually yearn to be objectified at the workplace. We do not sigh with sadness that our male colleagues will be looking at our eyes instead of our boobs because we couldn't wear the low cut body stocking we go clubbing in. We also know there are other ways to get male attention besides dressing provocatively.
Wed, Oct 16, 2013, 8:40am (UTC -5)
I'd say given that Hoshi becomes the EMPRESS there is little to complain about on the women's rights front.
Sat, Jun 7, 2014, 8:48pm (UTC -5)
Nice to know that yo mamma insults are still around in the future. In spite of myself, I laughed. Favorite line.
Probably my favorite mini-arc so far, with the Vulcan arc being close behind. Doesn't mean much, but it's fun. I liked that we got our first complete look at a Tholian, and that they made Porthos a Rottweiler.
Sat, Jun 7, 2014, 9:18pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jul 21, 2014, 12:45am (UTC -5)
Admiral Black, in the second part of this episode, also seemed to be a little calmer and more reserved... and in general less psychotic and blood-thirsty... than most of the other humans. I guess maybe to reach those higher command ranks, Starfleet needs officers who can be rational at least some of the time, heh.
Mon, Jul 21, 2014, 5:37am (UTC -5)
Mon, Jul 21, 2014, 9:40pm (UTC -5)
The opening sequence was so phenomenal and unexpected, I dragged both my husband and son into the room and made them watch it. The credits, too. And the credits really were a social commentary of their own -- yes, we've invented and explored, but yes, most of the tech has been used for warfare. Even landing on the moon was an outcome of the Cold War (I say this at the 45th anniversary of the walk on the moon.)
The rest was so over the top, there's not a lot there to even discuss. The best part by far were the TOS references, the Tholians, seeing a Tholian, the Tholian web, and the TOS BRIDGE!!! That thrilled my Trekkie heart.
Tue, Feb 17, 2015, 7:33pm (UTC -5)
I'm anxious to move onto the second episode now...I just smile the whole way through both these, enjoying the ride!
Mon, Apr 27, 2015, 2:01pm (UTC -5)
I am thinking that maybe the demise of the entire Star Trek franchise had less to do with poor writers, but with the poor decisions of their Marketing Overlords.
At this point in the season, there is definitely a lowering of thoughtful scripts, and a focus on target markets. Ill conceived, but very apparent.
Anyway, I agree that the female uniforms were pretty silly.
But also pretty freaking hot.
Damn you, male hormones! !
Tue, Aug 4, 2015, 12:46am (UTC -5)
Mon, Oct 12, 2015, 3:52pm (UTC -5)
If the Terran Empire had access to TOS technology 100 years prematurely then by the time Kirk and Co have their transporter accident the Terran empire would be at TNG or beyond levels of technology so, just like season 2's Regeneration, this makes zero sense but I guess it isn't supposed to.
Midriff revealing costumes for the girls?Well this is just a reference to Uhura's bare belly in the equivalent TOS episode-but a century later-now that is one prevalent fashion!
Mon, Oct 12, 2015, 10:02pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jan 16, 2016, 6:21am (UTC -5)
Tue, Jan 19, 2016, 5:46pm (UTC -5)
Bad craic guys....
Mon, Apr 25, 2016, 7:42pm (UTC -5)
Mon, May 16, 2016, 3:13pm (UTC -5)
On the plus side, Evil Phlox and Evil Reed make the most of their opportunities, and Evil Hoshi is very easy on the eye. Evil Archer doesn't really work though. But as a comic book romp this is pretty successful. 3 stars.
Tue, Jun 7, 2016, 4:25am (UTC -5)
I also love how as Enterpise started making references to and giving send ups to TOS the more indignant some viewers got.
Fri, Nov 18, 2016, 9:34am (UTC -5)
Fri, Jan 13, 2017, 9:11am (UTC -5)
Sun, Jan 22, 2017, 1:23pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Apr 25, 2017, 11:16am (UTC -5)
With only a few episodes left, I'm bummed that there's a part two to this.
Mon, Jun 26, 2017, 12:48pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jul 21, 2017, 3:23am (UTC -5)
Sorry, EPISODE, I meant episode...
Mon, Aug 7, 2017, 3:10pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Aug 17, 2017, 6:26am (UTC -5)
Sat, Aug 26, 2017, 11:36am (UTC -5)
I don't much care for the DS9 alternate universe episodes, find them too camp and self-indulgent with certain of the actors too partial to hamming it up. I thought this was better but so bleak and grim I didn't exactly enjoy it. I found the alt universe Phlox genuinely upsetting. A lot of care and thought and attention seemed to have gone into the Enterprise alt world and I appreciated that but I didn't really like watching it!
I am soooo disappointed the alt universe version of Porthos isn't a cat...
By the way Mr Jammer in the highly unlikely event that you are reading this I would just like to point out that people who like an episode you don't are not "delusional", they just have a DIFFERENT opinion from your own.
Mon, Aug 28, 2017, 3:27pm (UTC -5)
The opening initially threw me, but I'm glad it did. The scene from First Contact with Cochrane shooting the Vulcans and then no cheesy ENT introductory music -- already, I'm eager to see what's in store. If the episode is entirely about the mirror universe than start with it from the opening scene, I say.
I've read "In a Mirror, Darkly" is considered one of the best ENT episodes. That's great because the series has generally been a disappointment for me. I think the ENT edition of the mirror universe was better done than DS9's attempts.
The ending got good with the plot being the Tholians having created some kind of time / mirror universe rift and bringing back the Defiant from the future. It looks just like from the 60s which was very well done. But the part of Archer & Co. just beaming aboard and taking it over seemed too easy. Good scene as well with the Tholians getting their web going and destroying the Enterprise -- although they did it much quicker than in the 60s episode.
A strong 3 stars for Part I of this episode -- the ENT cast does well with their wacky alter-egos although I was not a fan of Hoshi's character. It's a decent plot too, plenty of back-stabbing with good pacing. At the very least this is what ENT should be doing with more episodes is fleshing out the backstory for TOS episodes. Or at least that's what I would have liked. Maybe Discovery will do this...
Thu, Oct 5, 2017, 2:50pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Oct 20, 2017, 12:42am (UTC -5)
Sat, Oct 21, 2017, 4:46am (UTC -5)
It's hilarious when you get on ENT the same details as TOS' evil guys: the salute, the lack of fabric on girls' uniforms, the sword&planet logo, the positions of dead Defiant's crew, the well-done Tholian, even the bearded Vulcans!
And then ENT's mirror has the twist about First Contact and special credits, what's not to love?
Thanks again for your warning about lowering my expectations, the script was just average.
But once you are ready for thar... watching such a game of thrones story with humour touches is pure joy!
Trip's bitter jokes, Archer as Macbeth but with exxagerated bed scenes, Hoshi as evil mastermind, Reed and Tucker still faithful to their jobs somehow, and the end twist... it was so much fun!
Mon, Oct 23, 2017, 5:40pm (UTC -5)
I love it.
3 1/2 stars
Thu, Jan 11, 2018, 11:28am (UTC -5)
I actually think Scott Bakula was pretty good in this. I believed he was a bad guy and his motivations made sense for a mirror universe character. There are some interesting atmospheric touches that make the MU quite frightening, and I enjoyed seeing the Tholians. And hey, there's the Defiant, which is apparently what links this episode to DSC's MU arc.
The problem is, and I'll get to it more in the next episode review, is that it's really hard to relate to these MU characters. Besides the obvious TOS homages, what does this have to do with the Prime Universe and why are we invested in these evil versions of the heroes?
One other thing that bothered me was the cheap cash-in on "First Contact". The clip even used the exact same music and stock footage of James Cromwell meeting the Vulcans without actually hiring the actor back. While I'm on the subject, It's also pretty dubious that bunch of post-apocalyptic humans could get the jump on the Vulcans, not only on their ship, but on the rest of the more advanced Vulcan society. Like, really, the humans used a Vulcan scout ship to subjugate the Vulcans? Riiight.
But hey, it was entertaining, so I'll give this one a little slack. 2.5 stars.
Sat, Jan 20, 2018, 7:55am (UTC -5)
Tue, Jan 23, 2018, 3:25am (UTC -5)
Him and the other actors all agreed on a minimal appearance fee for reusing the footage. Imagine hiring them back, rebuilding the set (they were lucky enough to be able to get the bottom of the Vulcan ship from someone) would have taken a decent slice of the budget from quite an FX heavy couple of episodes.
Sat, Jan 27, 2018, 9:10am (UTC -5)
Mon, Jun 4, 2018, 8:03pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Oct 27, 2018, 5:03pm (UTC -5)
The opening titles were clever, but after that it was just a pointlessly nasty, unpleasant experience. I skipped the DS9 mirror universe eps last time I watched it, and they were better than this.
And yeah, calling your readers delusional - not cool.
Thu, Nov 15, 2018, 2:20am (UTC -5)
Luckily for me, I watched parts 1 and 2 consecutively before going to Jammer’s review and reader/watcher comments. I, too, picked up on the irony of the line from Jammer’s Part 1 review — the line you cited in your spoiler post.
(Yes,I’m being deliberately vague in an attempt to avoid repeating a spoiler.)
Sat, Dec 1, 2018, 9:15am (UTC -5)
Fri, Mar 15, 2019, 6:01pm (UTC -5)
This one struggled twintwin my attention ruin through most of it. Like a lot of ENT episodes it had a “ been there done that” feel with it covering the same ground as “Mirror, Mirror” with agony booths, constant plotting, a captain’s mistress etc. there’s a fine line between homage and recycled. Here it definitely falls into recycled category.
The only moments that felt fresh and had me involved in the episode were the teaser, anything involving the Tholians and the arrival onboard the Defiant.
Thu, Apr 11, 2019, 12:11am (UTC -5)
I had trouble with the overacting, the weird close talking, with people's face 3 inches from someone, even when angry and shouting. Scott Bakula was difficult to watch for me, fuming, pacing, clenching - he seemed uncomfortable like he was coming off of meds or in withdrawal or something.
I give them props for trying something daring, but I did not enjoy the mirror universe in DS9, and this episode was average for me. 2/4
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 11:55pm (UTC -5)
AND, at the risk of sounding sexist, Mirror Darkly revived the belly baring uniforms for the female officers. I will admit I enjoyed seeing Hoshi and Tpols’ belly buttons plus 10 to 12 inches of bare tummy around them. The two actresses are beautiful after all. Yes the uniforms are sexist, but that’s the point. The mirror universe is a violent and treacherous place, so the people there are Violent and treacherous and also racist and misogynistic.
Sat, Apr 4, 2020, 2:12pm (UTC -5)
I like this universe, but they need to not make them seem so evil just more balls and less PC correctness. If a ship is trying to kill you feel free to kill them, because if you don't they are going to kills other innocents people and that will be on your weak hands.
Thu, Apr 23, 2020, 2:31am (UTC -5)
Wed, May 6, 2020, 3:57pm (UTC -5)
What's ironic is that Picard and Discovery seem to take the gloom, violence and anti-Trek ideals of these mirror universe episodes, and builds whole new series out of them, while modern audiences bay for more violence, more twisted storylines, basically more Game of Thrones style horror and pessimism. In the Trek universe? Really? Where humans are supposed to have outgrown the mess that we are today?
Wed, May 13, 2020, 7:20pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jul 16, 2020, 12:09pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Dec 29, 2020, 7:06am (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 24, 2021, 2:32pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Mar 2, 2021, 11:28am (UTC -5)
Sat, May 29, 2021, 3:03pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jun 26, 2021, 5:43pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jul 20, 2021, 9:22pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Dec 3, 2021, 6:06pm (UTC -5)
So what makes this work so well? ENT's strength has always been its production values and action sequences. If you can create an episode that leads with these things, and doesn't hinge on actual continuity, plot logic, and characterization (all of which ENT routinely fails at) you arrive at somewhat of a winning formula.
And you know what the best part is? The icing on the cake is that these episodes *don't* actually jettison plot logic and continuity. Within the confines of this mirror universe, it actually all hangs together really well. Plus, there is even inter-series continuity that is better than usual! The TOS-era elements are incorporated seamlessly and organically into the plot ("Tholian Web" mystery explained!), and are implemented with the utmost care and respect for the source material. The sets, sound effects, and VFX are so on point and so authentic, that it's kind of amazing. This is not merely fan service, it's a seriously good homage, one that makes the TOS era feel like an alive and relevant part of the ongoing saga of Trek stories we're witnessing. I loved the update/facelift to the Gorn and Tholians as well, although the Gorn's facial shape didn't seem quite right, and I thought they could have made it a bit closer to the original. I'd love to see both of these species reimagined using 2020s CGI!
The fact that the Defiant weapon VFX and sounds, in particular, are so faithful to the TOS originals, and yet work so well/plausibly as *more* advanced tech in this context, make it all the more frustrating that the usual ENT weaponry VFX and sounds are basically just carbon copies of the TNG-era ones from 200 years later. No creativity was exerted in Season 1 to try to make the NX-01 technology seem distinctly 22nd-century. This underscores how much better it would have been if, from the get go, ENT as a series had decided to forgo beam weapons, photon torpedoes, and transporters altogether in favour of dumb ballistic weaponry. It would have fit continuity better, and would have made finding the goldmine of tech represented by the Constitution-class U.S.S. Defiant in this episode even more impactful. The supposed use of nuclear weapons in the Earth-Romulan War (referenced in TOS) would have also made much more sense. The showrunners should have made it so that, in the (prime universe) 2150s, the *Vulcans* are only just starting to develop shields, tractor beams, transporters, etc., and Earth Starfleet doesn't have them at all.
But the VFX thing is a tangent. Getting back to "In a Mirror, Darkly": I've said that this two-parter doesn't actually do a bad job at plot logic and continuity. But what about that third element I alluded to, that ENT routinely fails at: characterization? Welp, the characterization is no better here than in most of ENT, and is arguably (deliberately) worse. The characters are over the top caricatures. The actors chew the scenery with gusto. Many of the usual mirror-universe tropes/archetypes are on display. E.g. Mirror Reed and Phlox both remind me a lot of mirror-universe Elim Garak: the sadistic torturer. Mirror Trip reminds me a lot of "Smiley" (Mirror O'Brien) in nature, albeit with a much harder edge to him. He's a man just trying to get through the day, who's sacrificed a lot, and will serve whatever master he must in order to remain alive. None of these people is depicted as a plausible functional adult, let alone as a military officer. By extension (as Jammer pointed out), with all the backstabbing and lack of discipline, it's unclear how mirror-Earth could even run a military, much less an empire. Then again, in the prime universe's Klingon Defense Force, it's canonical that "advancement" works in much the same way as shown here (by assassination, for example). And we accept *that* without question. So...meh?
I enjoyed T'Pols statement (from part 2 I think), that although it may take centuries, the Terrans would eventually pay for their arrogance. The nod to the DS9 mirror universe episodes is obvious. But *any* nod to DS9 is extremely welcome.
These episodes both get 4/4 from me. I'd watch them again, even though I'm inclined to put all of the rest of ENT on the "skip" list.
Mon, Oct 24, 2022, 6:16am (UTC -5)
"Chekov in agony" scene in 60's trek either. So I have to tell myself that it's just another take on The Pit and the Pendulum, to get through it all.
It was particularly difficult for me to watch "inverse Phlox" since I always depended on his beneficent rationality (even in the worst of episodes). Malcolm was always borderline "inverse" so that wasn't a shock. Just look at how he abused poor Major Hayes, now sadly, long-lamented.
Fri, May 19, 2023, 5:38am (UTC -5)
But drewsg asks the right question - and effectively gives the answer.
The sexist powers that be managed to get Seven into a tight body suit but the rest of the women on the crew were mostly allowed to keep their dignity.
Most of the guys writing this crap would be embarrassed to have their shirts off in public.
It makes you appreciate James T. Kirk willing to slut himself out time and time again as sex object. Archer is shirtless enough but lacks any of the charm that is necessary to pull it off. Trip is the only one who really delivered for the men.
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