Star Trek: The Original Series

"Mirror, Mirror"

4 stars

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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58 comments on this post

Fri, Jun 1, 2012, 1:10am (UTC -6)
I agree; as often happens, it's Spock who makes the episode. And I liked a Spock with a bit of an edge on him--something we only get to see rare glimpses of in TOS. He's completely bad-ass in his very calm, sensible way.
Wed, Jun 6, 2012, 9:29pm (UTC -6)
Overall great story (in unfair retrospect would have benefited from some more extreme set redressing to make the ISS Enterprise look more different from its counterpart...what are the odds two such wildly different societies would create almost identical ships, down to the control panels, signage and crews). Also, Kirk goes on a sensitive diplomatic mission and takes his doctor (in case he gets heartburn from the Halkans stubbornness); his ship's engineer (in case something needs fixing) and his comm officer (I guess to serve as a court reporter, taking notes). I guess the Federation couldn't afford diplomats...could you imagine the captain of a US battleship negotiating peace treaties with the Russians?
Mon, Jul 9, 2012, 10:17pm (UTC -6)
This was first episode I caught on TV as a kid...I thought this was the show. About a ship where the captain had to constantly keep from being killed and the Asian character was the villain (as in all the Japanese monster movies I was also watching at the same time). The next ep. I watched of course had Sulu and Kirk working together. I decided at the time the show made no sense and didn't watch again for two years.
Mon, Mar 4, 2013, 4:12pm (UTC -6)
Probably my favorite episode of TOS, though "Space Seed" and "The Enterprise Incident" are great, too. I always thought "City on the Edge of Forever" was overrated (though quite good).

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 -6)
in the mirror universe Sulu is straight. well, what do ya know.
Fri, Jun 7, 2013, 9:32pm (UTC -6)
This is a classic episode. But the ending I don't quite understand. Wouldn't the evil Kirk, Scotty, Bones and Uhura have to be in the transporter room of the "real" Enterprise at the same time their counterparts were being beamed from the mirror Enterprise?
Fri, Feb 28, 2014, 8:39pm (UTC -6)
Mirror, Mirror excels on so many levels. It so effectively uses each character it's almost like an ensemble of equals in a smart nicely paced adventure. Uhura FINALLY gets something to do and she gets bad-ASS. Scotty is brilliant, McCoy is the compassionate ethicist. Spock's resolute logic is used to rationalize evil empire dogma. and Sulu is straight!? Wow, how can you go wrong? It builds to a truly exciting and satisfying ending.
Fri, Apr 4, 2014, 7:18am (UTC -6)
Just got on this site this week n read many reviews n posts. One thing I notice about some people is they need every detail n blank filled in . I guess its good to ask questions, it makes good conversation, but sometimes ya need to do it for yourself. The writers left a lot out in TOS, if they did it under time constraint or deadline its understandable. If they did it to allow the audience a chance to think it thru 4 themselves, then those writers are geniuses.

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 -6)
Need another example?
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 -6)
Now lets get back to mirrorx2;
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 -6)
Given everything I have seen and learned about us and the leaders we have always chosen, I know where I stand. Look at our world today.

btw this is a 4 star episode. :)
Mon, Sep 8, 2014, 11:59pm (UTC -6)
Love this episode for a lot of reasons, and the biggest one is what Mike mentioned: FINALLY, Sulu and Uhura and Chekov get some meaty lines.

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 -6)
Forgot to add a comment after seeing this the other day. Top stuff, especially Spock-with-a-goatee. Loved the 'battle of the midriffs' between mirror Uhura and 'the captains women'. Think Uhura won that one. She was quite a stunner! Would have liked to have seen more of the 'other' Kirk and Co who ended up on the 'normal enterprise' but otherwise really enjoyed watching this...
Wed, Dec 17, 2014, 4:11pm (UTC -6)
Oh my goodness, I just love this episode! 4 stars, for sure. Uhura gets to be bad-ass (with her dealings with Sulu, with the phaser-taking from Marlena, just all around awesome), Evil "Scarface" Sulu and Evil Chekov are GREAT, and Spock isn't even evil in the Mirror universe, just a logical man trapped in a brutal, illogical empire.

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 -6)
Quite possibly my favourite TOS episode. I can watch this stuff over and over again. I remember watching this as a kid, the uniforms, the brutality, the deviousness, the fact that in all the Star Trek universes, Captain Pike is really Starfleet's bitch. As the "real" Spock says at the end, it was all quite refreshing. The scene where the "real" Spock throws evil Kirk in the brig is priceless. The ISS Enterprise may have been a dangerous place to be, but much fun to be had if you get in the swing of things.
Dark Kirk
Tue, Jan 26, 2016, 10:44pm (UTC -6)
Anyone who loves this episode should find and read Diane Duane's Dark Mirror novel. It is the TNG crew after this episode, and it was written before DS9 messed up the Mirror Universe. Duane's novel is awesome.
Thu, Sep 1, 2016, 2:51pm (UTC -6)
I wonder if this was the show that started the "evil twin from another universe always sports a beard" meme?
Thu, Oct 13, 2016, 9:34am (UTC -6)
Of course it was!
Thu, Feb 23, 2017, 3:20pm (UTC -6)
One of the more memorable episodes for me as we got to see some real acting from Sulu, Uhura, Scotty, Chekov. Spock with a goatee was decades ahead of its time and is an iconic look. It's a really fun episode with plenty going on, some unexpected turns and twists. But I also feel the episode is a tad over-rated.
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 -6)
I am obviously in the minority, but I don't think this episode is worth 4.0 stars.

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.
Trek fan
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 7:40pm (UTC -6)
One of the all-time best TOS episodes also reinforces something I'm realizing as I watch them all in order on DVD for the first time: The ensemble chemistry is turned up to 11 in Season Two in a way we didn't see in Season One. While Season One has some of the all-time classic Trek plots, the cast is really clicking together better in Season Two, and it's undeniably fun to watch in a way the ultra-serious Season One (Shore Leave excepted) was not. Together with "Tribbles" and several other episodes in this season, "Mirror Mirror" is one of the episodes where the supporting characters (Uhura, Sulu, Scotty, Kyle, and Chekov here) really come into their own personalities, and it's a 4-star show in any universe.

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.
Trek Guru
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 2:41pm (UTC -6)
In a mirror universe, shouldn't the inhabitants of the peaceful planet below be evil as well?

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?
Jason R.
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 2:53pm (UTC -6)
Maybe the peaceful people were assholes in the regular universe.
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 8:53am (UTC -6)
This is a surprisingly radical episode. We open with the Federation refusing to conquer a nation for resources, an act which contrasts starkly with the behavior of countless "benevolent, democratic" nations who couch Imperialism in moral rhetoric.

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.
Peter G.
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 11:19am (UTC -6)
To add to what Trent said, not only is the message idealistic, but within the terms of the episode it can be arrived at through pure logic. Even mirror Spock with his alternate set of values and training is unable to escape the inevitability of the truth of what Kirk says. It's not a matter of opinion or of political system: it's a stone cold fact that no one can change. Violent, oppressive rule will always be self-defeating in the long run. What's amazing about the message is that it's not merely utopian, which tends to imply that a thing *could* happen, but rather it implies that the final collapse of tyranny is an inescapable conclusion that is only a matter of when, not if.
Sat, Dec 16, 2017, 10:25pm (UTC -6)
Re-watched this ep for the first time in a long time. I am astounded at how well it holds up to this day! One of Trek's best "message" episodes, because it conveys the message in such a fun package.

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 -6)
Kirk "You would find me a formidable enemy."
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!!!
Steve o
Sun, Jan 14, 2018, 7:54pm (UTC -6)
I'm going through TOS on Netflix in order. Before this episode, my previous favourite was Balance of Terror, but this one supersedes it I think. Amazing episode. The only things I thought weren't great about it was the kind of untidy ending and the throw-away romance (which, in it's defence, did have a little bit of significance to the plot.)

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 -6)
I've seen this episode a million times but just caught it yesterday and I couldn't believe how much I appreciated it, couldn't stop watching -- just quality writing, acting, plot mechanics, and a late injection of Trekkian values. After seeing the mess DSC made of the MU, "Mirror, Mirror" was so refreshing (and it's not just the mess DSC made of the MU, DS9/ENT wasn't so great either).

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 -6)
I love the mirror universe, and this episode is perfect. But every time the franchise revisits it, the more problematic it gets. It's obvious its storytelling purpose is to play with reversals of characters and situations. which is fine. But it doesn't work as any kind of permanent stable multiverse thing. How can all that death and murder result in parallel development? It can't hold together. Particularly over multiple generations (just consider all the problems with family trees alone). All that is forgiven just because it's so much damn fun and interesting, but nothing tops the original.
Fri, Mar 30, 2018, 2:13pm (UTC -6)
...Though I suppose there could be (probably would have to be) an infinite number of mirror universes.
Tue, Jul 31, 2018, 2:36am (UTC -6)
Ihis is one of the best transporter-malfunction stories in the series. It was intriguing to see how "our" Kirk and Co. handled things in the mirror universe, and conversely how the mirror-Enterprise crew fared in ours---a sharp contrast indeed. And the point where the situation was resolved---when the mirror-Spock, whose life had been saved by Dr. McCoy, suddenly sat bolt upright, grabbed the doctor's arm and practically snapped at him "Why did the captain let me live?", we all knew something would happen, and it did, in the form of a rapid-fire mind-meld which revealed the transporter screw-up. I liked Captain Kirk's observation that Spock was a man of integrity in both universes---and the latter's promise to consider carefully what the captain told him about making changes where he could.
Other Chris
Tue, Apr 16, 2019, 2:24pm (UTC -6)
Interesting to me that the mirror universe episode is one of the most progressive in TOS (I'm running through them in order for the first time). The Marlena character and Kirk's expression that she should want for more really impressed me, and I barely hear about them when this one is mentioned. A great hour in a middling batch.
Fri, Apr 19, 2019, 6:32am (UTC -6)
A good one! Nice to see more of Scotty, Uhura, and Sulu.

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.

A classic.
Bobbington Mc Bob
Wed, May 1, 2019, 10:20am (UTC -6)
A great story device for an episode, a tortured (no pun intended) concept to drag out over several episodes (ENT), or even... a series. By the end of STD season one, I thought I had been placed in an agonizer booth too.
Dave in MN
Thu, May 30, 2019, 10:55am (UTC -6)
I wasn't sure where to post this, but I am VERY worried about Nichelle Nichols being abused by her son. Both Shatner and Chase Masterson have been tweeting about their concerns.

I don't know if anyone who posts here is in law enforcement, but there has to be some way we can help her!
Dave in MN
Thu, May 30, 2019, 10:57am (UTC -6)
Chase's Tweet has footage of her being verbally abused that's kind of disturbing, FYI.
Sarjenka's Brother
Sat, Jun 1, 2019, 8:31pm (UTC -6)
There are a lot of reasons I love this episode, but at the top:

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 -6)
It is heavily indicated that mirror Spock and true Spock are essentially the same person - albeit in different situations. Then what if this is true of everybody? What if mirror Sulu is exactly our Sulu, but shaped by a different history and in a different situation? This episode plays with the mind-numbing possibility that the difference between a reviled villain and a good Samaritan may just be how they grew up.

= = = =

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 -6)
Thoughts on Star Trek Continues "Fairest of Them All" -- cool that this episode picks up right where MM left off, but of course in the Mirror Universe. Certainly sews the seeds for human subjugation under the command of a transformed Mirror Spock by the time the MU is revisited in DS9.

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 -6)
Probably the most memorable of all TOS episodes.

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 -6)
Yes, there are a few shortcomings, but overall this is a 4 star brilliant episode, one of the best in the whole Trek franchise. The consistency of the 2 Spocks - a ‘logical’ plot device; the barbaric Sulu; the Nazi salutes; the Tantalus device; and the urgent but civilised pleading of “our “ Kirk with the “other “ Spock to logically act to preserve Starfleet in the long run by not destroying the planet (a Roddenberry plea to our own 1960s world to ‘shape up’?).

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.

4 stars.
Sat, Apr 3, 2021, 3:37am (UTC -6)
@Trek Guru
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 -6)
One of my favourite episodes ever, and it really held up on re-viewing. It's cunning and it gets all the characters so well. As someone said above, Evil Sulu is the Best Sulu. Mad admiration for Uhura here-- she kicks butt, but also my goodness, those abs! Always kind of wanted to grow up to be this version of her.
Proud Capitalist Pig
Sun, Jun 19, 2022, 10:25pm (UTC -6)
Who gives a damn about the bizarrely perfect clothing exchange in the transporter? Not me!

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.

Best Line:
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 -6)
I love the fact that all of the cast got something to do in this episode. I think it's my favorite aspect of this classic.

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?
Proud Capitalist Pig
Mon, Aug 1, 2022, 6:44am (UTC -6)
Before I get to reviewing "Metamorphosis," which I should finally be getting to later today, I wanted to take a moment to share my thoughts about the lovely Nichelle Nichols. This seemed to be as good a thread to praise her achievements in as any, since her performance in "Mirror Mirror" was a particular pleasure. But ever since she won my heart with her singing talents back in "Charlie X," any chance to see her on Star Trek is always welcome.

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 -6)
One of the best episodes. I like that evil Spock's bodyguard is a Vulcan.
Mon, Jan 9, 2023, 4:36pm (UTC -6)
Though not depicted in such fashion, I like the idea of the transporter being mysterious ancient alien tech that the Federation had stumbled upon. Even if scientists don't fully understand how it works, transporter tech was far too useful to be ignored. So, transporters got installed everywhere, and because the units are enigmatic, they tend to be cranky, and to do strange things from time to time.

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.
Mr. Jimmy
Sun, Mar 26, 2023, 8:11pm (UTC -6)
One of the very best in all the various Star Trek series. Lt Marlena Moreau is absolutely beautiful. Lt Uhura is awesome in this episode, and she is stunningly gorgeous as well.
Tue, Mar 28, 2023, 7:01pm (UTC -6)
I really like this one. Good story and character development. Yes, holes can be poked in how mirrored the parallel universe actually is, but hey, it's Sci fi star trek. I think that I actually married the original agonizer.
Mon, Jun 26, 2023, 10:00pm (UTC -6)
This is definitely a full on classic, top 10-20 easily. So iconic, so creative, so fun, and with a pretty big dose of big ideas. This might be a bit confusing as a first episode for someone just getting into TOS, especially if they happened to see Enemy Within too, but it’s definitely a must watch.

I think what I appreciate about this episode the most is just how subversive the ultimate message is, which I took to be that authority isn’t absolute or sacred, it’s up to the individual to decide what’s right and to do what needs to be done to make a better society a reality. I find that a fairly radical notion to pitch on national television, especially in the midst of the social upheavals of the 1960s. However, one component of this idea that I think got messed up by later Trek series is the idea that the ‘mirror universe’ is made up of inherently evil counterparts to the, what? “Good” universe? I don’t see Mirror Mirror as setting that idea forward so much as the “evil” versions of our crew are products of different, much uglier circumstances. Mirror Sulu for example isn’t intrinsically evil, but rather has been made villainous by the world he’s been brought up in. I think this is a crucial point because it states that the difference between a “good” person and a “bad” person can come down to the luck of the draw. Living a comfortable life in picturesque 1960s suburbia versus being bombed in a village in Southeast Asia is in many ways a matter of chance and good fortune. And the line between a benevolent federation and an imperialist monstrosity is much thinner than one might imagine. Later treatments of the mirror universe concept like in DS9 or DISC undercut that whole idea and, while making it kinda fun at times, at least for the actors, also made it a shallow waste. Kirk’s appeal to Spock at the end of Mirror only works if it’s even possible for that world of the Terran empire to change, but if the whole place is just “evil” then Kirk is wasting his breath. I prefer instead the idea that we ultimately decide the nature of our society, and that process begins with individuals choosing to resist the darker parts of our nature, which is what I got out of Mirror Mirror.

Some additional thoughts:
- I like imagining our Spock seeing the mirror crew step off the transporter pad and just being like “Nope! Fuck this. Security!!”
- This is definitely one of Uhura’s finest hours.
- I think it was pretty smart not to spend time on the real Enterprise dealing with the mirror Kirk and such, it would have just cluttered up a really well paced outing.

3.75 sinister goatees
Peter G.
Mon, Jun 26, 2023, 10:06pm (UTC -6)
I personally take the mirror universe characters, including mirror-Spock, to be delivering the message to us that the Trek concept of correct values is objective and not relational to some particular society. I'm not sure I get a read that we have something to learn about what makes a mirror-Sulu or mirror-Checkhov, but more that even in a Sodom and Gomorrah society the same values would be the logically correct ones as in a utopian society, and that a truly logical person even in that society would be obliged to recognize this. Therefore there is really only one set of best values, and failure to recognize this isn't a difference of opinion but actual error.
Mon, Jun 26, 2023, 10:19pm (UTC -6)
@peter g

That’s a fair interpretation, although I think the logic connection could be seen as a special appeal to Spock, rather than an episode-wide statement. Also, the idea of an objective set of values that logically lead to the best possible society doesn’t really jive with the mirror universe-as-inherently evil concept either, or at least the two notions are incongruous: one is a serious philosophical consideration and the other is a goofy bit of fluff.
Peter G.
Mon, Jun 26, 2023, 10:37pm (UTC -6)
@ Idh2023,

For me, the reason why Kirk's trust in mirror-Spock is touching is that he trusts Spock will be honest in appraising Kirk's words. Most people stuck in their ways, raised in a different kind of empire, could not possibly see the logic of giving up their oppressive power, their ability to overcome others through force and guile, and to basically open themselves up to weakness. It takes an un-strategic person more interested in the truth than in power to give up a seeming advantage to pursue a greater good. I don't personally think the mirror universe is portrayed as inherently evil per se, but just as a random other setup with different backstory, in which logic is still logic regardless of how history happened to turn out.
Tue, Jun 27, 2023, 8:30am (UTC -6)
@peter g

I think you might have misunderstood me, I’m not saying Mirror Mirror says the mirror universe is inherently evil, quite the opposite. I find this episode very smart and well crafted. Im saying later Trek iterations of the MU are treated with a more dulled paint job of “everybody is the evil version of their real world counterpart”. As though evil in the MU is some sort of genetically transferable condition or default setting. I find those takes(DS9, DISC, etc.) to be much less creatively and intellectually fulfilling. In Mirror Mirror Kirk is able to reach Spock because he’s *not* just evil, he’s still the same core man, driven by the needs of a more brutal society.
Michael Miller
Sat, Sep 30, 2023, 10:01am (UTC -6)
Why didn't they just tell Spock what happened immediately when they realized. Since Spock was OK with them going back after finding out from the mind meld, then why couldn't they have just told them they weren't from their universe to begin with? Instead of sneaking around looking all suspicious, risking being assassinated, agonized..etc.
Thu, Oct 26, 2023, 8:33am (UTC -6)
@mike @Mal

I know that your comments on Sulu's sexuality were years ago, but just to toss in a lilttle more info:

I remember reading when the "reboot" movies portrayed the Sulu character as gay that George Takei did not think that was the best decision. Roddenberry had created the character straight, and Takei had played him as a straight man. As himself a gay man, he thought that having a gay character could be good, but he would have preferred it not be Sulu.

I wonder if from his point of view, that decision was throwing away his own hard work in playing a character that was, like most characters that most actors play, different from himself.

But then, the reboot movies basically threw away the Trek we had known, in so many ways.

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