Oct 14, 2020
Star Trek: Enterprise “In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II”
Previously on Star Trek: Enterprise: The Mirror Universe! Exposed midriffs! The invention of the agony booth! The return of the USS Defiant! And a Tholian web that was this close to actually being a useful, practical weapon.
Part two of “In a Mirror, Darkly” picks up right where part one left off: The Enterprise has been destroyed by a Tholian web, while Archer’s team is aboard the Defiant watching it happen.
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Archer wants to make off with the Defiant, but it’s being held in place by “docking clamps”, and firing ship’s thrusters doesn’t help. T’Pol looks through Spock’s viewmaster, or rather, the Defiant science officer’s viewmaster, and sees Tholian ships moving toward them. Meanwhile, Trip struggles to get weapons online. Archer then looks at the viewscreen and sees that the Tholians have rapidly formed another web to block their escape from the asteroid spacedock.
It’s been a long time… No, wait, it’s the same Mirror Universe credits as the previous episode, thankfully. When we return, Trip and T’Pol continue to try to get weapons working, while Archer stalks around the bridge pouting. At long last, weapons are online, impulse engines are functional, and they’re able to get the ship free of the clamps.
Naturally, the Defiant’s weapons are far more powerful than anything seen at this point in the Mirror Universe, so they make quick work of destroying the Tholian ships, along with the whole asteroid spacedock. They then detect the Enterprise escape pods and prepare to bring all evacuees onboard.
In a Defiant briefing room, Archer says they need to get warp drive operational, but the engines have been torn apart and Trip doesn’t understands the tech well enough to put them back together. T’Pol suggests asking the “alien workers”, AKA those “13 bio-signs” detected in part one.
Archer then informs the gathered crew that they’re going to “rendezvous with the assault fleet” to join the battle against the rebellion. T’Pol thinks it would be more logical to take the Defiant to Earth to let Starfleet study it, but Archer says there’s no time, as the Empire could be defeated within weeks.
Archer dismisses everyone but T’Pol. He shoves a phaser rifle under her chin and threatens her, but even despite helping Captain Forrest escape from the brig, and despite Vulcans being a major part of the rebellion, he still needs her as his first officer for some reason.
Cut to the Defiant captain’s quarters. Hoshi enters and laughs when she sees Archer wearing a green TOS-style wraparound tunic from the captain’s closet. “These people had some strange ideas about uniforms,” she says, while wearing a quasi-military uniform with an exposed midriff.
Archer has done some digging into the Defiant’s databanks. He’s discovered the Empire doesn’t exist in the other universe, and humans have instead formed a peaceful interspecies alliance called the “United Federation of Planets”, which Archer finds preposterous.
He then pulls up the personnel record of Hoshi Sato from the regular universe and begins reading off some of her accomplishments. But since it’s from 100 years in the future, it even lists how Hoshi dies. Mirror Hoshi doesn’t want to hear any of this, even though none of it is actually about her.
According to Mike Sussman, the writer of these episodes, the bio he wrote for Hoshi states that she eventually dies in the massacre of the Tarsus IV colony, better known as the background events behind “The Conscience of the King” (a young James T. Kirk was one of the survivors). A lot of fans have taken this as canon, but if you zoom in on the computer display (in the HD version; please don’t strain your eyes trying to read the screenshot above), you’ll see the part of her bio mentioning her death never actually appears onscreen.
Hoshi then pulls up the file on our Archer, and laughingly reads off his career highlights and commendations, which totally makes Mirror Archer crazy. She reads, “Historians called him the greatest explorer of the 22nd Century!” Were those historians drunk and/or stoned when they called him that?
Archer cuts her off, and Scott Bakula chews up the scenery, yelling that the other Archer couldn’t possibly be a great man, because he sold out humankind to an interspecies alliance. “Great men are not peacekeepers! Great men are conquerors!” But Hoshi assures him that once the “Emperor” sees the Defiant, Archer will also come to be known as a great hero.
And if you look closely at Archer’s file, it retcons the planet Archer IV mentioned briefly in TNG’s “Yesterday’s Enterprise” as being named after Archer, also suggesting it was the first M-class planet discovered by the Enterprise, as seen in a first season episode. Also, according to Sussman, he wrote some text that describes Archer living long enough to see the launch of the NCC-1701 Enterprise, and dying the next day. He would’ve been about as old as McCoy in “Encounter at Farpoint”, so it’s technically possible, but that bit didn’t make it onscreen either, so this is basically all just fanon conjecture at this point.
Also on the subject of fanwank trivia, the Defiant’s computer voice is heard for the first time in this scene, and it’s provided by Majel Barrett Roddenberry, making her the only actor to have a role on all six Star Trek shows (she also provided the voice of the computer in the 2009 reboot). And with only four episodes of Enterprise left, she got in just under the wire.
Cut to Trip, who’s changed into a TOS-style red shirt (the idea being that everyone from the Enterprise who beamed over in spacesuits have nothing else to change into). He’s talking to a random ensign in a Jeffries tube, who’s reporting that the “plasma regulators” are suddenly missing.
Trip tells him to find the regulators, or else. After he’s gone, the ensign hears a noise and climbs up the tube to investigate. We get another silly monster movie moment where he’s shot from above in Predator-vision, followed immediately by him screaming and being pulled up into the ceiling.
Cut to Phlox on the bridge, explaining that he found “reptilian saliva” on the ensign’s corpse. T’Pol, now in a blue TOS-style miniskirt, notes that sensors are still offline, so they don’t know what attacked him. Trip says that without those plasma regulators, they’re stuck at impulse, and whoever took them knew exactly what to steal. Archer has one of the “slaves” AKA alien workers brought to the briefing room.
There, Mayweather beats a blue guy for info. At first, I thought this was a Bolian, but it’s actually an unidentified species that looks like the blue version of Lou Gossett in Enemy Mine.
Eventually, he admits that the plasma regulators were stolen by their “slave master”, named Slar, and he’s probably hiding somewhere warm because his kind likes it warm. He reveals Slar’s species is “Gorn”, which we know as a lizard-like race of humanoids first seen (and last seen) in the classic TOS episode “Arena”. Archer makes a face like this means something to him, so I guess Starfleet has already encountered the Gorn in this universe?
On the bridge, Reed has a diagram of the ship on the viewscreen, telling Archer that they’re having trouble finding the Gorn. Archer then turns and sees our Archer sitting on the captain’s chair, which is clearly a hallucination. Mirror Archer’s mental projection of our Archer says, “When my ship was in jeopardy, I didn’t let security handle the situation! I took care of it myself!” Yep, definitely a hallucination.
So Archer gets frustrated and makes plans to lead an assault team to find the Gorn. But first, they get contacted by the Gorn himself. And we get our first glimpse at this new, all-CGI Gorn, which is unfortunately just as dodgy as the CGI Tholian, as he demands a shuttlecraft in exchange for the plasma regulators. But Archer refuses to negotiate and it’s back to the assault team plan.
As Archer heads down in the turbolift, Hallucination Archer appears again, telling him to defeat the Gorn and get the “respect you finally deserve”. It’s a bit out of left field that Mirror Archer is suddenly prone to having these extremely vivid hallucinations. It really seems like something that should have been set up in the previous episode.
Soon, Archer and Reed and some MACOs split up to track the Gorn’s bio-sign. But Reed only finds a communicator rigged to give off a fake bio-sign, and turning it off causes a bomb to detonate, nearly killing Reed and the MACOs.
Archer finally hones in on the Gorn’s life signs. We see Archer and a MACO being watched in Predator-vision for a while, and finally, the Gorn attacks. Archer does some Shatner-esque grappling with the Gorn, which then goes after the MACO. Finally, the fight ends when Archer contacts the bridge to have them enhance “grav plating” underneath the Gorn, almost as if Archer knew ahead of time exactly where they’d end up fighting. The Gorn is pinned to the deck, Archer blasts him with a rifle, and that’s the end of that.
And I have to say, this was a pretty pointless plot detour, especially since the Gorn is entirely forgotten after this. It seems the only real purpose of the last five or six scenes was to bring back the Gorn. But there really wasn’t enough money in the budget to do it justice, so why bother? I think it goes without saying that when you turn the Gorn into a cheesy man-sized CGI dinosaur, you’ve missed what made the original so memorable. I mean, that’s like changing Godzilla from a guy in a rubber suit into a big CGI dinosaur, and that would just be ridiculous.
The ship now has warp drive and is on its way to rendezvous with the assault fleet. T’Pol and Phlox dine in the mess hall, even eating some of those bright, multicolored cubes often seen on TOS. T’Pol asks if Reed will survive and Phlox responds with a funny, “Eh, he could go either way!”
It’s also revealed that Phlox has been doing his own research into the Defiant’s data banks, particularly into “classic literature”. He’s found that all the famous novels and plays in the other universe are essentially the same, except the characters are far more “weak”. That is, except for Shakespeare, whose plays are apparently “equally grim in both universes!”
T’Pol tells him to research something called the “Federation”, saying it’s an organization where humans, Vulcans, and Denobulans are all equals. Phlox thinks this kind of information could be dangerous, and that the Captain should restrict access to it.
We next find ourselves with the “assault fleet”, and after all that talk about the fleet in this episode and the last, it turns out the “assault fleet” has been reduced to a single NX-class ship called the Avenger. The ship is under attack by rebel ships, the captain has been killed, and so Admiral Black (Gregory Itzin) has taken command. And the ship’s second in command happens to be the Mirror version of Soval, a recurring Vulcan ambassador character played by Gary Graham. And in another nod to “Mirror, Mirror”, this version of Soval has a goatee.
The Defiant suddenly appears and quickly defeats all the rebel ships. Archer shows no mercy, destroying a Vulcan ship over T’Pol’s protests. But he does let an Andorian ship go, so that someone will live to tell the tale of what happened here.
Admiral Black comes aboard the Defiant and is incredibly impressed by the ship. Archer soon asks for a “battlefield promotion” and command of the Defiant, but Black refuses. As he speaks, Hallucination Archer reappears, warning Mirror Archer that he’ll never get the ship, and Black will get all the credit for this victory.
Eventually, Archer says, “You’re relieved, Admiral!” Mayweather takes out Black’s guard with a high kick and Archer uses his phaser to vaporize Admiral Black.
And now, Archer is over on the Avenger, addressing that ship’s crew. He gives a bizarre, hammy, overplayed speech that seems to be a crazy mix of Julius Caesar, Henry V, and George S. Patton, where he says their true enemy is not the rebels, but rather the corrupt officials who have allowed the Empire to be endangered. He says he won’t stand by and let them destroy an empire which “has endured for centuries!” This speech goes on and on, and in fact a chunk of it was cut.
The DVD contains an extended version where Bakula obliterates the scenery, popping blood vessels as he yells that “the die is now cast”, and the Avenger crew responds with a slow clap. Archer then takes his leave, whispering to Mayweather to shoot the first person who stops clapping. Yeah, so that was just a teeny tiny bit over the top. Reportedly, this scene was filmed on the day the cast and crew learned Enterprise had been cancelled, and Bakula definitely seems to be giving the performance of a man who no longer gives a shit.
T’Pol secretly meets up with Soval, even giving him the Vulcan salute, which Soval advises her against doing openly. She’s been inspired by reading up about the Federation, and wants to make something similar to it happen here, but Soval is skeptical. Then T’Pol, who I would assume is still Vulcan in the Mirror Universe, gets all angry and emotional as she tries to convince Soval that they need to stop Archer from overthrowing the Emperor.
Her plan is to give all the data about the Defiant to the rebels, and then destroy the Defiant, but she needs his help. Soval protests, saying he’s “too old to become a revolutionary”, but he comes around when she warns him that a potential Emperor Archer will make it his mission to destroy Vulcan.
In Archer’s quarters, he makes out with Hoshi in silhouette, and also talks about how his crew doesn’t trust him, mainly T’Pol. Hoshi thinks it’s time to get rid of T’Pol, and Archer hits on the idea of getting rid of all non-Terrans on the ship. Except for Phlox, because Phlox is cool. They continue to make out while Hoshi breathlessly gasps, “I’ve never been a consort of an emperor before!”
On the bridge, T’Pol downloads data about the Defiant onto one of those TOS-style cards. But then Archer shows up and has her escorted off the bridge, saying her services are no longer required.
After she’s gone, a crazy old man appears on the viewscreen yelling at Archer. Apparently, this is not your drunk grandpa, but rather Fleet Admiral Gardner. His regular universe counterpart has been mentioned a few times on the show before, but this is the first time we’re seeing him, or at least, his Mirror Universe version. It seems Archer sent a message to Starfleet demanding their “unconditional surrender”, and Gardner thinks Archer is out of his mind.
Archer replies that they’re on their way to Earth, and advises them to stand down all defense forces. Gardner tells him not to approach Earth and shuts off the transmission.
Phlox is soon asked to beam over to the Avenger for a “medical emergency”, which turns out to be a ruse by T’Pol (who I guess has been reassigned here) and Soval. They want to sabotage the Defiant, and Phlox, as the last non-Terran left on the ship, is the only one who can do it. Phlox says he’s loyal to the Empire, and thinks maybe Archer should be emperor, but he changes his mind after they spend roughly ten seconds talking him into it, and promising that if he saves the Emperor’s life, he’ll have “as many concubines as you like”.
Next, T’Pol is calmly strolling through the corridors of the Avenger. There’s no clue where she’s going, but she’s suddenly confronted by Hoshi and a MACO. They know she downloaded the Defiant’s “schematics” and they’re putting her under arrest. But T’Pol fights back, taking out the MACO. Hoshi whips out a dagger, leading to the completely expected catfight between the only two women on the show where they more or less call each other whores. I don’t know when Mirror Universe episodes became synonymous with “blatant fanservice”, but here you go. T’Pol knocks out Hoshi, but the MACO comes around and shoots her.
There’s a brief bit of Phlox on his sabotage mission on the Defiant. Originally, this scene was scripted to take place in Engineering, but then they found out there wasn’t enough money to build a TOS-style Engineering set. And so, Phlox is in some random corridor, pulling glowing tubes out of their sockets.
Elsewhere on the Defiant, Archer interrogates T’Pol, asking who she’s working for. But she denies working for anyone, telling him, “The Federation is our future!” And then in the only real callback (callforward?) to the Deep Space Nine Mirror Universe episodes, she warns, “It may take centuries, but humanity will pay for its arrogance!”, foreshadowing the downfall of the Terran Empire (and the rise of the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance) prior to “Crossover”.
On the bridge, Trip detects Phlox’s sabotage attempt and goes down to handle it. He arrives just as Phlox finishes the job, and the whole ship shudders and the lights flicker. Phlox is about to beam out, but Trip attacks and they get into a fight.
Archer gets to the bridge and learns all their systems are offline, and the Avenger begins firing on the Defiant and causing serious damage. But then Trip defeats Phlox, screws the fluorescent light bulbs back into their sockets, and everything is back to normal. Archer orders Mayweather to fire photon torpedoes, and Soval screams as the Avenger is blown apart.
And so ends the whole “sabotage the Defiant” plotline. And much like the Gorn subplot, it really came to nothing except filling up time (and providing more fanservice, of course).
Cut to Archer and Hoshi having some post-blowing-up-a-ship sex. He tells her that she should erase the Defiant’s historical database, which presumably happens at some point, explaining why no one has any knowledge of an alternate universe by the time of “Mirror, Mirror”. Though, it doesn’t quite explain how all the Mirror Universe starships are still at the same technological level as the Defiant a hundred years later.
The two have a champagne toast to the “reign of Emperor Jonathan Archer”, and Archer lies back in bed and pours champagne all over his face for some stupid reason. He finds himself getting groggy, and he falls to the floor.
Instead of helping him, Hoshi runs to the door and lets in Mayweather. And to seal the deal, Hoshi kisses him, revealing that they’ve been conspiring this whole time, and Hoshi has poisoned Archer. Which would seem to be a bit of a meta-joke, in that the two most inconsequential characters in the regular universe are now the ones taking over.
Archer collapses, and the Defiant finally arrives in Earth orbit. Hoshi opens a channel to Admiral Gardner, ordering his surrender, or they will “target your cities”. Drunk Grandpa demands to know who she is and where Archer is. Hoshi replies, “You’re speaking with Empress Sato! Prepare to receive instructions.”
And that’s the end of the episode, and the end of the Mirror Universe as seen on TV. According to Mike Sussman, there were plans to return to the Mirror Universe in future seasons of Enterprise, similar to Deep Space Nine’s annual visit, but obviously that never happened.
Unlike part one, which was entirely focused on finding the Defiant and taking us on a fast-paced ride to get there, part two sort of languishes, giving us a series of random unconnected subplots with no real payoff. Hoshi’s scheme to overthrow Archer would have unfolded exactly the same if we didn’t have the Gorn hunt, or T’Pol plotting against Archer. Instead of running around chasing the Gorn for 10 or 15 minutes, why not foreshadow Hoshi and Mayweather’s conspiracy, at least a little bit?
And after two episodes, the one-note, mustache-twirling performances from the entire cast have pretty much worn out their welcome. It would appear Mirror Universe episodes really need at least a couple of the regular universe characters to cross over, to counterbalance all the cartoonish evil on display. And after seeing Scott Bakula’s excruciating attempt at playing an over-the-top bad guy in these episodes, I’m almost nostalgic for the whiny, petulant man-baby Archer of seasons one and two.
But as I said in the previous recap, “In a Mirror, Darkly” captures the tone of the TOS Mirror Universe a lot better than Deep Space Nine, which mostly turned it into a bleak, depressing place to be. At the same time, these episodes feel a lot like glorified fan films (a feeling only compounded by how they used props from actual fan films to create the TOS-style bridge set), in that most of the events seem to happen just to set up fannish connections to other, more famous episodes.
When I started writing about these episodes, I said that “Mirror, Mirror” was an interesting Twilight Zone-esque “what if” scenario that probably didn’t need a follow-up. Hopefully, the eight recaps I’ve written since then have proven the point. The deeper we delve into the Mirror Universe, the less sense it makes. There’s the matter of every character’s Mirror counterpart somehow being in exactly the same place at the same time, of course, but also, if this is a Starfleet where it’s perfectly acceptable to move up in rank through assassination, why isn’t everyone constantly trying to kill everyone else all the time? “In a Mirror, Darkly” spends a lot of time coming up with various rationales for why Forrest doesn’t just kill Archer, Archer doesn’t just kill T’Pol, etc., and it really slows things down.
When it comes to the Mirror Universe episodes, the only ones that really make much of an impact are the first one, part one of “In a Mirror, Darkly”, and maybe “Crossover”. The rest are pretty much disposable. They’re diverting enough while you’re watching them, but they’re ultimately the kind of episodes you can skip over during a rewatch without missing much.
I won’t say I’m completely done with the Mirror Universe, since there are still some Mirror Universe appearances in other media I might want to look at someday, but that’s it for now. In the future, I may do another inter-series look at some specific subset of Star Trek episodes, but next time, I’ll make sure not to take three years to do it. And it definitely won’t be Ferengi episodes. Sorry, I just can’t.
…And that’s how I met your mother (and named a website).