Star Trek: The Original Series
Air date: 10/6/1967
Written by Jerome Bixby
Directed by Marc Daniels
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
The embodiment of straightforward, downright entertaining TOS is supplied in "Mirror, Mirror," a high-concept outing in which Kirk, Bones, Scotty, and Uhura are beamed into a parallel universe where Starfleet is a barbaric organization in which murder is a common way of advancing in the ranks.
The mirror versions of the Enterprise characters are delightfully devious, especially a seriously deceitful Sulu. But what most shines in this episode is the brilliant way it envisions the mirror version of Spock. Aside from looking ultra-cool with a goatee, mirror-Spock's temperament is very much like that of the regular Spock. The way his intelligence and logic allow him to bring a calculated approach to volatile situations makes him every bit as fearsome as any other Starfleet barbarian ... yet he's a man who can be reasoned with when the situation warrants it.
Meanwhile, Kirk's approach to his end of the situation shows his ability to venture forward with prudent caution and a clever choice of words—although he gets to work his usual charms on the "captain's woman," Lt. Marlena Moreau (Barbara Luna). The ending highlights Kirk's adamant nature in trying to set things right by human standards—even when he's not in his own universe! Add that to a show where Scotty and Uhura are also effectively used, and you've got a classic.
Previous episode: The Changeling
Next episode: The Apple
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51 comments on this post
Fri, Jun 1, 2012, 1:10am (UTC -5)
Wed, Jun 6, 2012, 9:29pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jul 9, 2012, 10:17pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Mar 4, 2013, 4:12pm (UTC -5)
Really, the only thing about this episode that doesn't work stems around the transport in and out of the universe. Why do all the characters exchange clothes? How is it that the parallel versions of Kirk et. al get back to their universe?
It also is strange that McCoy, Scotty and Uhura make up the landing party. Maybe Sootty makes sense -- could he have been checking out the dilithium cyrstals? -- but McCoy and Uhura are really out of place. Chekov or Sulu would have been more logical, though mirror Sulu is fun to watch.
Thu, May 2, 2013, 6:43am (UTC -5)
Fri, Jun 7, 2013, 9:32pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 28, 2014, 8:39pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Apr 4, 2014, 7:18am (UTC -5)
Heres my take on mirrorx2;
Everything that happens there happens here. Enterprise goes to same places with same crew, different mission and different attitude but same outcome. Everyone who dies there dies here, just differently.
case in point; where no man has gone before... we know what happened here, but over in that universe there was a love triangle. Kirk n sally kellerman (kel) were getting it on way back when,.. remember that blond gary said he fixed kirk up with in academy? Yup thats kel.(dr dehner) Kirk almost married her but he didnt, she secretly resented his spurning. She knew gary from way back n they both had the commonality of being espers. Notice how she showed up on bridge just b4 hitting that electrical nebula? With kirk as capt n guess who as navigator? Gary. Yup the same guy that flew them to the place where only two espers would know to get godlike powers. Strange there were 7 other espers on the ship but they all died in the nebula storm. Coincidence? Nope. It was a setup by gary. Ni
just a reminder, were in the alternate universe here. Gary allows himself to get taken to planet vega#? He strangles kirks henchman kelso, unsuccessfuly elecrocutes kirk n spock, then bags ass. Notice how gary was 3d in command? Takes out 2 top dogs at same time? Kirk catches him but kel remembers love 4 kirk and zaps gary instead. Kirk kills kel cuz he loves power n green women.
Fri, Apr 4, 2014, 8:30am (UTC -5)
Here pike burns in training accident, there kirk tries to torch pike, doesnt kill him but goal is achieved. Meanwhile spock whacks #1 chapels sister and moves up to 2d in command. See how this works?
now I am going to prove my theory once n4 all;
Notice how so many redshirts die on away missions while main cast always lives? Biggest cliche huh?
Check this out...
in any drug gang, who dies, the top dog or his street dealers?
In the military who dies, the generals or the foot soldiers?
In a jihad, who dies, the mastermind or the volunteer suicide bomber?
Like I said; whatever happens in that universe happens here. Theirs die defending tyranny, ours die on away missions. Either universe views their deaths as valiant, yet serving the mission.
Fri, Apr 4, 2014, 9:08am (UTC -5)
Our kirk is kind and benevolent towards a race that refuses to give starfleet (it wasnt a peace mission) a resource they needed from the hulkans.
the other universe needed same,.. that kirk was willing to deal at first but in the end would use military technology and might to take it.
the two main antagonists in the absence of bad kirk was a very bad asian and Russian, this was 1966 people. A bit of expose' ?
Now lets down to nitty grit;
An imperial fleet that takes what it wants thru military might, leaders who employ bodyguards, use of torture, backstabbing, subterfuge, even goatees,..
the million dollar question is this;...
Which one of these universes really is ours?
Fri, Apr 4, 2014, 9:19am (UTC -5)
btw this is a 4 star episode. :)
Mon, Sep 8, 2014, 11:59pm (UTC -5)
When they saw how well that worked, I don't know why the writers didn't throw those three (and the audience) a few more bones.
Mon, Nov 17, 2014, 9:20am (UTC -5)
Wed, Dec 17, 2014, 4:11pm (UTC -5)
I dig the goatee too - I guess they were thinking that would make Spock look more like the Devil, eh? Well, devilishly handsome, maybe.
I wonder if anyone on here had considered how the Mirror Universe came to be, and why it was so easily accessible? And is it truly a Mirror Universe, or just one where Earth, Starfleet and the UFP is upside down into an Imperial Earth bent? It's been noted that in later excursions into the Mirror Universe in DS9 etc. that alien cultures behave much the same as they otherwise would, only more aggressively towards a Terran Empire that is asking for a walloping.
My theory (which isn't really mine) is that the Mirror Universe came to be when McCoy stepped into The Guardian of Forever. The episode's events did put right the timeline of events for the "normal" universe that the USS Enterprise crew knows. But perhaps that other timeline, where the Nazis won WWII and conquered the world, still existed as the split-off Mirror Universe? It might explain why the Terran Empire incorporates a tradition of fascistic salutes, among other things. Anyway, it's just a possibility...
Mon, Mar 16, 2015, 10:29pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jan 26, 2016, 10:44pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Sep 1, 2016, 2:51pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Oct 13, 2016, 9:34am (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 23, 2017, 3:20pm (UTC -5)
It is hard to just overlook some of the things like a transporter malfunction connecting to a parallel universe and how the 4 get swapped (and their uniforms change) etc. It's a lot of hand-waving, but it does make for a good story. The fight scene with Spock against the 4 looked bad given Spock's stunt double had curly hair (watch closely). Looked as bad as the Kirk/Khan fight scene in "Space Seed" with the 2 completely different stunt doubles.
But this episode is really about the characters coming to life in their own special ways in the parallel universe. Sulu and Spock are terrific in this regard.
Kirk using his "I submit...illogical" speech at the end to Spock injects a bit of a morale to the story which is usually part of the course. Brutal empires on Earth have however lasted long enough unfortunately in some cases.
For me, this is 3.5/4 stars - an entertaining hour especially if you don't get hung up on details.
Thu, May 25, 2017, 9:51pm (UTC -5)
I agree with Rahul that it is a "tad overrated". I still think this is very good episode, worth 3.0 or maybe 3.5 stars. Nothing against this episode, but to me 4.0 stars has to be really, really good (The Doomsday Machine, The Immunity Syndrome, Balance of Terror). Still, a very good episode definitely worth one hour of your time.
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 7:40pm (UTC -5)
While Season One established the Kirk-Spock dynamic and developed their characters strongly, it didn't do much for the others except occasionally McCoy, and the episode nature of TOS makes it hard to appreciate this fact if we watch the shows out of air date order as typically happens on TV reruns and Netflix binges where people start with "the best." We learned little about Sulu, Rand, Scotty, Uhura, and Chapel other than their professional demeaners. "Mirror Mirror" is so fun to watch because it allows us to watch them through the lens of their dark sides -- much as we learned about Kirk with his android/transporter/salt creature doubles in Season One. And I agree with Jammer: The analysis of bearded Spock is "fascinating."
And yet the Kirk-Spock dynamic remains central to Season Two -- see "A Piece of the Action" and the Nazi ep for classic interplay -- where it becomes buttressed by great moments for the other regular and semi-recurring characters. It's a subtle shift, but there's a far more proportionate amount of dialogue/screen time/plot relevance given to the ensemble cast in Season Two than in Season One where guest stars and extras ate it all up. It's really Season Two where TOS becomes the Trek we remember years later -- the "feature film Trek" of 7 regular cast members with two or three other semi-regulars -- who all employ their various personalities and gifts to succeed. And it's so much more fun, in many ways, to watch them do their thing in "Mirror Mirror" or "By Any Other Name" (love Scotty's "it's green" scene) than to watch the more self-serious plots of Season One. Season Two really shows the potential this show had if the network had allowed it to run five seasons and allowed the non-regular characters to develop more deeply. And I love this season for that.
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 2:41pm (UTC -5)
Given everything is flipped, it should be easy to destroy the evil people on the planet.
Why was only the ship evil, and not the planet?
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 2:53pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 8:53am (UTC -5)
To ram home the need for such altruism, the episode then leaps into THE DARKEST TIMELINE in which we see the cost of the Federation abandoning its values: naked, brutish, violent Imperialism. The episode then ends with a political challenge: violent rule is never sustainable, the oppressed always eventually wise up and fight back, revolutions are always around the corner, and change is inevitable. Such change may take a long time, it may cost millions of deaths, and require fermentation for hundreds of years, but it comes. And what's interesting is Kirk's question in regard to these historical assumptions: why wait for change. Why go through the growing pains, why require realization to come from countless million deaths and sufferings. Why not MAKE THE CHANGE NOW.
It's probably the most idealistic, utopian political message found in TOS.
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 11:19am (UTC -5)
Sat, Dec 16, 2017, 10:25pm (UTC -5)
Evil Chekov = best Chekov. Evil Sulu = best Sulu.
Star Trek Continues did a sequel to this episode a few years ago called "Fairest of them All"; it's well worth checking out.
Tue, Dec 19, 2017, 5:05am (UTC -5)
Spock "I am aware of that, Captain. I trust you are aware of the reverse..."
Spock to Sulu "I suggest you remember that my operatives would avenge my death. And some of them... are Vulcans..."
The most bad-ass Spock ever!!!
Sun, Jan 14, 2018, 7:54pm (UTC -5)
Sulu was so good as a bad guy. A refreshing change for him as I sometimes think that his usual character is often a little too meek. (Although, not, I should say, in balance of terror. He was great in that also.) The cinematography was great. Subtly darker and broody, and it made Sulu look really menacing in the sick bay scene. Great stuff!
Out of all the characters from the 'real' universe in this episode, the one that impressed me the most was Uhura. It was awesome that here, all the mirror characters were bad-ass, but the real Uhura was totally bad-ass and I loved that. A huge step forward for her character. Much better than the "Captain, I'm frightened." Uhura I've seen in past episodes. (Although, there was a momentary glimpse of that, I gotta say.)
But the character that the whole show balanced on was Spock. Wonderful and believable in his cold, quietly calculating but fantastically deadly alter-ego. That beard! Devilish! Brilliant and clever character writing, even if, perhaps some of the plot devices were a bit ham-fisted.
It was great to see the episode that started the mirror universe idea. I enjoyed some of the mirror journeys that we were treated to in DS9 and the idea was used, differently, but to good effect in TNG, but for me, this one tops the lot.
Tue, Feb 27, 2018, 6:44pm (UTC -5)
One thing that strikes me here is McCoy's insistence on treating Mirror Spock after the fight in sickbay -- even being in this barbaric universe and with the urgency of the situation, McCoy holds onto his doctor obligations.
I think the dialog between Kirk and Mirror Marlena is so well written and acted. And the ending humorous scene when Marlena comes to the bridge is classic TOS -- that charming cap on the episode.
I have to upgrade my rating to 4 stars for "Mirror, Mirror" -- not nearly as shallow as I had initially thought. Mirror Sulu is terrific and Uhura shines in her playing of the situation. This is an masterclass in showing how to imply fear/tension as opposed to going for on-screen brutality (like in DSC).
"MIrror, Mirror" is a top 10 TOS episode but not top 5. What's curious for me is the 1st 10 episodes of TOS S2 -- 5 of them are 4* episodes, the other 5 are 2* or 1.5*. I do believe the period spanning late TOS S1 to early TOS S2 is the finest period for Star Trek (1967).
Fri, Mar 30, 2018, 2:09pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Mar 30, 2018, 2:13pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jul 31, 2018, 2:36am (UTC -5)
Tue, Apr 16, 2019, 2:24pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Apr 19, 2019, 6:32am (UTC -5)
Especially enjoyed the Sulu Uhura scene where she pulls a knife.
DS9 sorta ruined the mirror universe, but this was a great start. Shatner was very Shatner in his portrayal of mirror universe Kirk. Loved Spock all around.
Wed, May 1, 2019, 10:20am (UTC -5)
Thu, May 30, 2019, 10:55am (UTC -5)
I don't know if anyone who posts here is in law enforcement, but there has to be some way we can help her!
Thu, May 30, 2019, 10:57am (UTC -5)
Sat, Jun 1, 2019, 8:31pm (UTC -5)
Mirror Sulu, Uhura and Mirror Chekov. It showed what they would have been capable of if they had been given more chances.
They should have each had one episode per season that heavily featured them.
Sat, Sep 7, 2019, 2:21pm (UTC -5)
= = = =
Nimoy was a masterful actor. Didn't the director of this episode trust his acting capabilities enough to let him be the evil Spock without the crutch of the goatee? Did they think that the inability of Spock's character to "ham up the evil" would have made the differences harder for the audience to spot? Or did they give him the goatee to increase the shock of the moment we realize that Spock in both the universes is essentially the same person? I think it's the third one, and it works.
Given that TOS was produced on a tight budget and schedule, and almost no one was watching, I continue to be surprised how much thought and effort went into each episode. They hold up to deeper scrutiny to this day!
Sun, May 3, 2020, 1:34pm (UTC -5)
Again, really well done production by STC and the story is a good one with Mirror Spock carrying through with his one man against a ship and then an empire based on what Kirk implored of him at the end of MM.
The other crewmembers are a too quick to back Spock and his pacifist message given what they have known all their lives. Thus it really seems like Mirror Kirk is the only one who is truly representative of the Mirror Universe.
But this is nevertheless a reasonably well-crafted story that makes good use of a number of crewmembers and is better than any DS9 or DSC Mirror Universe episode. I'd give ENT's "In a Mirror, Darkly" Part I a slight edge over this STC episode, as I think the characters there acted more consistently as Mirror Universe beings.
As can be expected this episode is very much plot driven but the details work, the acting is decent. Vic Mignogna doesn't quite do the histrionics like Shatner, but he stepped up his game for this episode pretty well.
3 stars for "Fairest of Them All" -- if you like Mirror Universe episodes (and it would seem Jammer loved the DS9 ones) you should check this out. It didn't have the ticking time bomb of MM to add an extra sense of urgency, but it does maintain that TOS integrity of pushing for a better solution via Mirror Spock's mutiny.
Tue, Dec 15, 2020, 2:23am (UTC -5)
And every moment of it, enjoyable.
@mike, yes, I immediately thought the same thing. Amazing how the private life of the actor (George Takei) has so taken over the arc of the character.
@todayshorse, I think that might actually be the only way in which ENT actually exceeded TOS ;)
@redshirt28 asked, "Which one of these universes really is ours?" After the last few years, I really begin to wonder...
Sat, Apr 3, 2021, 3:06am (UTC -5)
Apart from one thing, the other shortcomings are minor: the ease with which Kirk disarmed ‘evil Sulu’ and Uhura the ‘Captain’s woman’; the switch of uniforms in the transporter, etc. The real difficulty is how the ISS crew got back at exactly the same time as “our” crew. Should we assume that “our” Spock worked it all out and got the “evil” crew on the transporter waiting for the precise moment to energise? It niggles me, but in the end does not take away from a brilliant bit of sci-fi.
Sat, Apr 3, 2021, 3:37am (UTC -5)
The episode may have been called Mirror Mirror, but it wasn’t actually a literal reversal. Spock was pretty consistent in both worlds, so why should the Halkanians be evil? They were scared, which was a big change from how they were in “our” universe - isn’t that enough?
To add - I am glad that Uhura gets a good portion of this episode. The moment where after teasing Sulu on the Bridge, she tucks the knife into her boot...
Tue, May 10, 2022, 7:23pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jun 19, 2022, 10:25pm (UTC -5)
To the question of how the parallel universe counterparts could get back to where they belonged as well if they weren't being transported at the same moment: Who cares?! More Nichelle Nichols please!
It can be fun to obsess over details, but brother, I've no time for such foolish self-defeating pursuits. I'm too busy being entertained. More than any episode of Star Trek I've yet seen, "Mirror, Mirror" had my rapt attention at every moment.
Make no mistake about it -- I love this episode.
I think @Trent and @Peter G nailed it. Amidst all the horror, the Agony Booth, the backstabbing, the comic-book lines and the nastiness of this Imperial Empire of a Federation, it actually contains one of the most hopeful messages in Star Trek. Sometimes only one person is needed to start the long process of a positive change, so why not start. And as the episode points out, logic can be used to justify mercy just as much as it can be twisted to justify an iron fist.
But enough of that. I want to talk about Uhura's scant costume and that smokeshow Moreau. Or how about the Evil Grins plastered on both Alt-Chekov and Alt-Sulu? There were no holds barred here, at least for 1960's television. This universe has pain-causing tasers, career advancement through assassination and sleeping your way to the top, and full-on "agony booths" wherein they torture you with painful rays and Nancy Pelosi speeches. For God's sake, Moreau disintegrates all of Alt-Sulu's henchmen in that later scene with her Big Brother death-ray system but *leaves him alone* so that Kirk himself can take him out, God bless her beautiful soul. The only sobering thought about all this is that this one hell of a warning for us -- as redshirt28 put it so eloquently, we just might be in the parallel universe ourselves.
Once again we see how Kirk is capable and adaptable in the face of sudden changes. He immediately can see that something is amiss in the parallel universe but still tries to walk the tightrope between preventing a whole slew of deaths on the alien planet and still maintaining his cover. Is his parallel-universe counterpart so competent and measured by comparison? Oh, funny you should ask, because McCoy's own question about that is like a song cue. We cut to The Shat himself, raging against those security officers, calling Spock a pig and lamenting how this universe of sanity, peace and uniforms with sleeves is driving him (more) insane. This scene wasn't even necessary, admittedly, but my God was it satisfying to see. As Spock explains to Kirk later, "It was far easier for you as civilized men to behave like barbarians than it was for them as barbarians to behave like civilized men."
Nichelle Nichols went on to play the memorable acid-tongued psychotic devil Dorinda in the movie Truck Turner -- I'll just say that in a way, she was training for that performance in this episode. She, George Takei, and of course William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy were sensational here.
The badass comic book cracks are off the scale:
- "Captain, you've put yourself in a most grave position. This conduct must be reported." "You're at liberty to do so, Mr. Spock." (Alt-Spock & Kirk)
- "Not on my ship." (Kirk)
- "I am frankly content to be a lesser target ... However, I will not allow your aberrations to justify my position." (Alt-Spock)
- "My operatives would avenge my death, and some of them are Vulcans." (Alt-Spock)
- "I'll be a Captain's Woman again if I have to go through every officer in the fleet." "You could." (Moreau & Kirk)
- "So do you, Mister." (Uhura)
"Mirror Mirror" shows off the teamwork of Kirk and his quick-thinking crew, the opportunity for the cast members to cut loose and embrace their inner psychopath, and manages to make a few statements about logic and better natures in the face of ruthlessness while closing with a nice little scene between Kirk, Spock and McCoy ("I'm not sure but I think we were just insulted." "I'm sure.") I can see why folks regard this one as a classic.
I hate to admit it, but there were a few times here when I thought, "Damn, every Star Trek episode should take place there," because this was one campy, madcap time in front of the TV set.
Kirk -- "You would find me a formidable enemy."
Alt-Spock -- "I'm aware of that, Captain. I trust that you are aware of the reverse."
My Grade: A
Sat, Jul 9, 2022, 10:38am (UTC -5)
Question: what are the best "ensemble" episodes of Trek? Episodes that really give everyone on the show a moment in the spotlight. Voyager's "Workforce" two-parter is the first one that springs to mind. What are some others?
Mon, Aug 1, 2022, 6:44am (UTC -5)
Watching the series in 2022, I paid no mind to the fact that a black woman was serving as the communications officer on the Enterprise. For me, it was a non-issue. And this is largely because of Nichelle Nichols. Back in 1966, it really was a big deal to show a competent, powerful black woman in an important role on the Enterprise. She probably created consternation in the minds of many people, but also inspired thousands more. Acting as part of an ensemble is not without its dregs, and for a while there she wanted to leave when her role started to become nothing more than window dressing. But a certain civil rights leader met her at a function, and convinced her that just her presence alone was important. He feared that should she leave, the role would be reassigned to just another white man, frankly. She was convinced to stay on, and we're so glad she did.
She had a fine career as an actress even beyond Star Trek (her turn as Dorinda in Truck Turner is a devilish delight), but she was also dedicated to paving the way for minorities to secure better representation. Because of her influence as a spokesperson for NASA, the disenfranchised listened to her to the point that the number of aspiring minority astronauts rose from 35 to over 1,000 out of 8,000 recruits by the time she was done. That's an accomplishment more noteworthy than any Emmy award.
Nichelle Nichols was a beautiful lady in every sense of the term. To quote Lt. LaMarr from the Orville episode "Majority Rule," Nichols "got up, she got out, and she did what's what." Science fiction is richer for her contributions, and it's comforting that such a cultural staple as Star Trek will keep her memory alive for years. I'd like to think that somewhere now, she's singing a sultry song as Leonard Nimoy accompanies her on the harp, and as DeForest Kelley and James Doohan are looking on and smiling.
Sun, Dec 4, 2022, 8:26am (UTC -5)
Mon, Jan 9, 2023, 4:36pm (UTC -5)
Fortunately for us, quirky transporters can swap landing parties between worlds. Taking the regular cast out of their usual environment is a great way to give them a chance to show their mettle, and they do. A good story and good execution adds to a fun adventure. As for why Chekov wasn't with the landing party, someone needed to scream in the Agony Booth, and screaming is a frequent Chekov assignment (here, The Deadly Years, The Way to Eden, The Wrath of Khan, and others).
The Star Trek Continues ep "Fairest of Them All" (youtube) is a superb depiction of what happens in the Evil world after the landing parties transport back to their respective Enterprises. If you like Mirror, Mirror, then Fairest of Them All is a must see. If grouped with TOS, I'd put it within the top 10 eps.
Sun, Mar 26, 2023, 8:11pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Mar 28, 2023, 7:01pm (UTC -5)
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