Enterprise Review: “In a Mirror, Darkly, Part 1”

Is the theme song gone for good? Doubt it.

In a Mirror, Darkly, Part One

Cast & Crew

Director: James L. Conway
Written By: Michael Sussman

Starring
Scott Bakula as Jonathan Archer
Connor Trinneer as Charles "Trip" Tucker III
Jolene Blalock as T’Pol
Dominic Keating as Malcolm Reed
Anthony Montgomery as Travis Mayweather
Linda Park as Hoshi Sato
John Billingsley as Dr. Phlox

Guest Cast
Vaughn Armstrong as Captain Maximilian Forrest
Franc Ross as Grizzled Human

Episode Information

Originally Aired: April 22, 2004
Season: Four
Episode: Eighteen
Production: 094

What Happened

In an alternate universe, an amoral, imperialistic version of the Enterprise crew, led by Captain Forrest with Archer as his treacherous first officer, makes an astonishing discovery during a mission into enemy alien territory.

While a power-hungry Archer schemes against Captain Forrest, his lover Hoshi, and loyal slave T’Pol, so he can lay full claim to the discovery. Later, Phlox happily tortures a captured Tholian for information requested by Archer.

Review

Well, I have to admit to being surpised off the get-go, including the opening credits. No cross-over, no mixed up crews, just a solo story with the alternate universe version of Enterprise. Capping it off was the perfect tie-in with “The Tholian Web.”

High Points

  1. I was bummed to see Adm. Forrest go the first time. It’s neat to see Vaughn back in action.
  2. I’ve always thought the cast of DS9 was very cool doing alternate universe versions of their tried-and-true selves. Looks like the Enterprise crew is no different.

Low Points

  1. T’Pol’s over-explaining how she got Trip to sabotage the ship.
  2. The pre-credits stuff was a little mismatched. It was obvious what was new and what was recycled from “First Contact”

The Scores

Originality: Alternate universe eps have been done a lot, but never as a solo story. 4 out of 6.

Effects: Awesome effects, including the updated Tholian web. 5 out of 6.

Story: The writers are having fun and are bringing us along for the ride. 4 out of 6.

Acting: The cast is going all out to have fun with this one. Billingsly, maybe a little too much? 5 out of 6.

Emotional Response: Some good laughs and a fair share of drama. 4 out of 6.

Production: Yes, it’s probably the set from “Relics” but it’s a great set. Kudos for going so far as to position the bodies on the bridge just as they were left from TOS episode. 5 out of 6

Overall: A fun episode that doesn’t drive us forward, but still respects the past. 4 out of 6.

Total: 25 out of 42

Enterprise’s Final Episodes

The schedule as of writing:

  • In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II (04.29.2005)
  • Demons (05.06.2005)
  • Terra Prime (05.13.2005)
  • These are the Voyages… (05.20.2005)

Next Week on Enterprise (April 29, 2005)

In a Mirror, Darkly, Part 2

In the mirror universe, Archer commandeers the 23rd-century Defiant from the Tholians and uses it in a nefarious power grab.

Additional Notes and Comments

If you’re interested in what’s in TheAngryMob’s review queue, check out my What’s Coming page.

TheAngrymob

21 replies on “Enterprise Review: “In a Mirror, Darkly, Part 1””

  1. max_quordlepleen says:

    best ep?
    I saw this last week and I think this could be Enterprise’s shining moment.
    Everything about this episode was executed just about perfectly. And I loved the
    credits. :)

    • Timeshredder says:

      Re: best ep?

      The theme song is gone for two weeks, many nods are made to the show’s history, and the cast does a pretty good job. I still don’t see how the same people could exist in the Mirror Universe, given the radically different paths their lives follow, but we have to take that one with a dash of handwavium.

      • Trekkie says:

        Re: best ep?

        The theme song is gone for two weeks, many nods are made to the show’s
        history, and the cast does a pretty good job. I still don’t see how the same
        people could exist in the Mirror Universe, given the radically different paths their
        lives follow, but we have to take that one with a dash of handwavium.

        It’s the first time I didn’t jump to fast forward through the credits since the show
        started. I was so excited too bad it won’t stay that way and we go back to the
        whiney rob stewart wannabe credits next week.

    • rune says:

      Re: best ep?

      And I loved the credits. :)

      For a moment there I thought it was JAG starting.

  2. Kaki says:

    I liked it.
    Since this is a throw away universe, they let big stuff happen. That was nice. Also, trying to figure out the various motives and drives for each person being ruthless and mean in their own way was fun.

  3. TechnoGirl says:

    The Ultimate Corruption of the Star Trek Dream…
    Hey I’ve got a stunning idea for a spin off series: “Star Trek – The Nazi Years”.

    There were so many things wrong with the execution of this episode it’s difficult to enumerate them all. Let’s list just a few:

    1. The acting was all stilted all around. Every one of the characters was a one-dimensional jerk with no redeeming qualities at all – including *especially* intelligence or guile. Grade school writing – blech!

    2. No good guys. Everyone was a stupid bad guy. So who cares what happens to any of them ? From the “Doom 2” game school of writing no doubt. Welcome to the franchise.

    3. Time travel again? WTF !!

    4. These guys inherit a ship from a hundred years in their future…a ship normally crewed by 400 I believe…and those guys handle it like a pro. Fix the warp drive ? No problem…just give me a few hours…. Hell ! If I took an ’88 Corvette back in time just 10 years the best engineer in the world isn’t gonna be able to tune the damn thing …but not these guys….

    This episode was just an excuse to redo some old sets from the TOS era…possible the idiots even thought they were doing some sort of “tribute” to the die-hard fandom. Uggghh…hardly. I coulsn;t be more repulsed by this blatent corruption of the dream that Rodenberry’s TOS stood for.

    And,after just viewing part 2 this evening, I’m not giving *anything* away by saying that not only will it suck *worse* then part one but the ending will be a overtly racist (yeah – I’m talking about *this* universe, Baby).

    Good going B&B – LAST week you managed to offend any thinking woman in the world and THIS week you’ll do it again to Black people.

    God…I wish this series would end…

    • max_quordlepleen says:

      Re: The Ultimate Corruption of the Star Trek Dream…

      Good going B&B – LAST week you managed to offend any thinking woman in
      the world and THIS week you’ll do it again to Black people.

      God…I wish this series would end…

      I’ve read your comments attached to a number of Enterprise reviews
      over the past few years. One of your overall points seems to be that the
      corporatization of Trek has ruined it. I can’t disagree with you there.

      I do think that there was something special and magical about the
      original series that has not been recaptured since. I think that using *real*
      science fiction writers (Gerrold, Ellison) to tell good science fiction stories
      within the context of Roddenberry’s fictional universe, was a unique event
      and not likely to be repeated by Paramount. Also, using science fiction as a
      means of social criticism was a brand new idea, at least for television. I think
      of Star Trek as the first “mature” science fiction TV.

      And yet, corporate Trek is still capable of producing fun entertainment in
      a familiar and engaging universe. Sometimes, when they don’t shoot
      themselves in the foot, they are capable of holding a mirror up to what was
      great about 1960s Trek and catch some of that reflected glory. I think this
      episode is possibly the best example of that from Enterprise’s run.

      I guess I am interested in the reason why you are so vitriolic about this
      stuff. If it stops being fun for you, why pay attention to it? I remember
      tuning out of “Voyager” about a year into it’s run because I simply wasn’t
      having any fun watching it. But I was not any more angry about “Voyager”
      being crappy than I am about the general quality of what’s on television.
      Watch an episode of “The Apprentice” if you really want to get angry :)

      I am truly curious why Enterprise being bad (and it has indeed been bad,
      I’ve enjoyed about a third of the shows) makes you so angry?

      • TechnoGirl says:

        Re: The Ultimate Corruption of the Star Trek Dream…
        <BLOCKQUOTE TYPE="cite">
        <p>I am truly curious why Enterprise being bad (and it has indeed been bad,
        I’ve enjoyed about a third of the shows) makes you so angry? </p>
        </BLOCKQUOTE>

        Iy’s just my style of writing about these things. I’m not nearly as angry as I appear. :) I very much agree about using a variety of writers as having had a remarkable effect on TOS and I unfortunately agree about it unlikely to happen again in the near future. Probably because the studios are run by a bunch of half-wit corporate bean counter half-assed hacks who— opps….

        I do disagree about this episode being a good reflection of the glory of TOS. TOS was as much about a dream of the future as it was about entertainment. It was a seasons long morality play about the times. By contrast, this episode was a shoot-em-up (see part 2) episode of DOOM 3 and there was NO lesson or reflection of society other than "it’s fun to be bad sometimes". The dream has been corrupted by hacks with no ore social concious then those pandering assholes (opps) who put out ever more violent video games – which Enterprise just became.

        Have you seen the second episode? What comes to mind after the closing scene fades? The first thing that came to my mund was "so what?". These guys were a bunch of one-dimensional jerks (not unlike B&B – opps) and I really didn’t give a hoot about what happenned to any of them.

        And THAT’S the ultimate corruption/corportization of the Star Trek dream. "Let’s use the characters and the genre to plow shit up (opps) and if we throw in a back-lighted naked sex scene (part 2) then we’ll get that 15-25 demographic".

        Fuckers (opps)

        • joe__gee says:

          Re: The Ultimate Corruption of the Star Trek Dream…

          Fuckers (opps)

          Don’t hold back, tell us what you *really* think. :)))

          I thoroughly respect your opinion. I *do* understand where you’re coming from. I guess after all of Bermaga’s fuxed up “ideas” this just doesn’t seem so bad. Gene may have spun around in his grave (or puffed up in a big cloud in his urn), but it seemed to me like the writers were having fun, the cast was having fun, and I actually did kind of like a few of the alternate universe characters. Ambassador S’val’s alter, T’Pol’s alter, and strangely enough Doctor Phlox. The sad part, for me, was watching the “good”, i.e. less corrupt people die …

          Of course, for me, being a male (although gay, and 39, not quite their demographic), that was also the enjoyable part. This was *anti-Trek* through and through, which was what the alternate universe *has always been*, even in TOS. With the redone credits (anyone else notice the very first “Enterprise” caption going from white to negative?) I had the feeling we were watching an episode of Star Trek *made* in the alternate universe. I almost wish they had thrown in a few faux commercials a la SNL, just to add to the effect. (The Personal Agonizer Gun: advance your career, impress your friends, torment your enemies.) :)

          I’m pretty sure that the point of these two episodes was to completely contradict all of the things Trek has always stood for: freedom, equality, humanity, and social responsibility. This was *intended* to be exactly the show your comments described. Taken how it was intended to be, if you don’t appreciate that kind of entertainment, it sucked, but I suspect for those of us who enjoy seeing convention completely upended every once in a while — with a heavy dollop of socially-unacceptable political incorrectness added just because — it was a hoot. :)

          I wouldn’t want to watch this every week though. After a short period of time it would become “Passions” in space, with new characters every three episodes. I couldn’t stand all the subterfuge, and I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the cast changes.

          -Joe

        • babasyzygy says:

          Re: The Ultimate Corruption of the Star Trek Dream…

          Have you seen the second episode? What comes to mind after the closing
          scene fades?

          “That was fun.”

          I think the last season has been mostly great, and will buy the 4th season
          DVDs (but not the pre-Coto ones).

          Have you seen the original show recently? It certainly had its share
          of stupidity, people tend to forget the real stinkers in favor of the shining
          moments that were there. Even Harlan Ellison’s episode was only shown in its
          lobotimized form.

          • TechnoGirl says:

            Re: The Ultimate Corruption of the Star Trek Dream…

            Have you seen the second episode? What comes to mind after the closing
            scene fades?

            I think the last season has been mostly great, and will buy the 4th season
            DVDs

            Rick Berman’s mom – I TOLD you never to come here!

            But seriously folks {g}

            You, of course are right in that TOS wasn’t exactly a font of wonderous writing, but taking into consideration the times in which it originally was written…it wasn’t bad really – for the times.

            Enterprise could be so much better but Hollywood is largely incapable of producing anything of substance unless there’s a strong idealist at the helm – ie. B5 and Joe S….and even then it’s a constant war.

            I just find it immensly disturbing that, in these times when the American government has killed 100,000 (yes, that’s a hundred thousand!) civilians fighting an Orwellian war…that we are given a bunch of pseudo-Nazi’s on a rampage….for our entertainment “pleasure”.

            Deeply disturbing.

            • max_quordlepleen says:

              Re: The Ultimate Corruption of the Star Trek Dream…

              I think the “mirror universe” Trek has always been an effort to show the dark
              side of human nature, in much the same way that Trek in general has attempted
              to show the strong and good side of humanity. At the end of the day, neither is
              a realistic presentation of what people really are, but both are “mirror images” of
              one another. I find the concept of the Trek universe and it’s dark mirror very
              intriguing.

              Although, I do agree with you TechnoGirl, I think that Enterprise has
              watered-down the overall Trek message of optimism and faith in humanity, to
              its detriment. I think a lot of us are happy because at least some of the missed
              opportunity that Enterprise represents has been realized in Season 4.

    • fmaxwell says:

      Re: The Ultimate Corruption of the Star Trek Dream…

      There were so many things wrong with the execution of this episode it’s difficult to enumerate them all.

      Reading all of the positive reviews on this episode, I thought that I had slipped into an alternate universe. Thank you, Technogirl, for a damned good review/rant.

      If Paramount ever doubted their decision to cancel Star Trek: Enterprise, this two part episode should put those doubts to rest.

      In Miror, Mirror from TOS, there was actual tension and concern because they put four crewmembers that we gave a damn about into the alternate universe. Would they survive? Would they be able to return to their universe? Could Kirk reach out to the alternate universe Spock and effect a change for the better? As Technogirl says of this episode, “everyone was a stupid bad guy.” Who cares if they live or die?

      This was just an excuse to recreate TOS sets in a feeble attempt at a feel-good episode (for those who think that Star Trek is defined by how the spaceships and uniforms look.) It was just the opposite. It was just a senseless series of torture scenes, murders, and betrayals. And an excuse to show Blalock’s nude midriff. Big deal. I’m a grown-up and can buy actual porn if I want it.

      As always, the writers on Enterprise show zero concern for how their episode-du-jour fits into the timeline. If, in the alternate universe, they got a ship from 100 years in the future, why isn’t the technology in the alternate universe drastically more advanced when Kirk & co. arrive there in Mirror, Mirror? (I know that someone will claim that this is a alternate alternate universe, but we all know that it’s not and was never intended to be.)

      • babasyzygy says:

        Re: The Ultimate Corruption of the Star Trek Dream…

        As always, the writers on Enterprise show zero concern for how their
        episode-du-jour fits into the timeline. If, in the alternate universe, they got a
        ship from 100 years in the future, why isn’t the technology in the alternate
        universe drastically more advanced when Kirk & co. arrive there in Mirror,
        Mirror
        ? (I know that someone will claim that this is a alternate alternate
        universe, but we all know that it’s not and was never intended to be.)

        You seriously missed the boat on this one.

        The real question was, how did the oppressive Empire keep up in
        technological development? A totalitarian, politically repressive regime is not
        going to be able to develop technology very quickly – its basic research will
        not be allowed to work on topics that don’t have an immediate payoff. Its
        technology is going to lag substantially behind that of a society bases upon
        cooperation and the free sharing of information. Further, its economy is
        goinig to constantly be suffering setbacks due to near-collapses caused by
        successive war efforts – they won’t have the luxury of far-ranging research.

        This episode answered the question of how the mirror-universe Empire kept
        up: the Empire never developed its own
        technology, beyond the agony booth. The Enterprise-era Empire Starfleet got
        its technology from the gullible Vulcans (and then the other nearby races they
        conquered), and TOS-era Empire Starfleet got its
        technology from the Defiant. Further development of that
        technology was minimal, because Empire engineers and scientists didn’t
        understand the principles behind it – they were trapped copying the
        Federation universe’s technology.

        I thought it was brilliant.

        • fmaxwell says:

          Re: The Ultimate Corruption of the Star Trek Dream…

          You seriously missed the boat on this one.

          The real question was, how did the oppressive Empire keep up in technological development? A totalitarian, politically repressive regime is not going to be able to develop technology very quickly – its basic research will
          not be allowed to work on topics that don’t have an immediate payoff. Its technology is going to lag substantially behind that of a society bases upon
          cooperation and the free sharing of information. Further, its economy is goinig to constantly be suffering setbacks due to near-collapses caused by successive war efforts – they won’t have the luxury of far-ranging research.

          You’re kidding, aren’t you?

          Do you know anything about history? Nazi Germany did more for the development of airplanes and rocketry during World War II than had been done in decades prior. They developed the V2. They developed the ME163 Komet rocket-powered plane. They developed the ME262 jet. Ever hear of the USSR? They managed to put satellites and men into space before we did. Totalitarian, politically repressive regimes are extremely adept at developing technology — especially technology with military applications. Wars provide growth-spurts for technology which often lags in peace-time.

          This episode answered the question of how the mirror-universe Empire kept up: the Empire never developed its own technology, beyond the agony booth. The Enterprise-era Empire Starfleet got its technology from the gullible Vulcans (and then the other nearby races they
          conquered)

          Nice theory, except that the Vulcans were visiting Earth because Earth had developed warp drive. The idea that the alternate universe Earthlings could eventually subjugate the much more technologically advanced Vulcan race into slavery by simply capturing one of their ships is ludicrous.

          and TOS-era Empire Starfleet got its
          technology from the Defiant. Further development of that technology was minimal, because Empire engineers and scientists didn’t understand the principles behind it – they were trapped copying the Federation universe’s technology.

          A crew of 40 takes over a ship designed to be operated by over 400. In a matter of hours, they effect repairs on major systems, including the warp drive and weapons systems, master the comm systems, navigation, and sensors, and you claim that they don’t understand the basic principles behind the technology?

          I thought it was brilliant.

          So did the people who created it — which is why Enterprise is being canceled.

  4. obiwan says:

    Another high point
    Alas it’s kinda spoilerific, so I’m blacking it out:

    Seeing the USS Defiant. They somehow managed to make it look plausibly “more futuristic” than the NX01, albeit in a retro kind of way. In TOS the ships look grainy and cheesy but here it looks kinda cool. I wish they’d had not had B&B from the get-go and someone who respected the older series more (like Manny Coto), perhaps the design of NX01 would reflect the design lineage from current Earth-ships to TOS and still look cool.

  5. Psion says:

    Sums Check
    Theangrymob, I enjoy your reviews, but shouldn’t the total for this week’s review be 31 instead of 25?

    • Drew1Down says:

      omg, i think i like it?
      If you have read my posts in the past you would know I hate enterprise with a passion!

      But…. this episode was very good, it closes the unexplained disappearance of the (original) USS Defiant from the original series and lest us look back at the empire era of the alt universe.

      Only one complaint. This proves my point again that B&B are softcore porn producers/directors. They over sexed the episode a little too much, now I know why blalock was pissed in her interview when asked about the last episodes;

      “I am appalled” – blalock

      • Babbster says:

        Re: omg, i think i like it?
        As I recall, she was referring to THE last episode when she claimed to be appalled. There’s certainly no reason to feel like this particular two-parter was “over sexed.” Even the TOS foray had the sex thing going on, and the DS9 episodes took it to even more depraved places. The original mirror universe concept, the one they embraced here, seemed to be that of humanity embracing the baser [animal] instincts. It shows up most prominently in the violence and is evident sexually as well.

  6. is says:

    one last good fling
    The mirror darkly episodes were all about a cancelled show and having fun. On an entertainment level, they were so-so… And thats the best they have. The characters were mean just to be mean. Too much sex, too much pointless killing… The only thing I saw in the way of a motive was Archer’s ambition, and even that was only noticable in #2. I did like the end of #2, although it was a bit predictable.

    Basically, the show is over and the crew wanted to do some crap they would have never been able to do. So we got crap. Slightly entertaining crap, but crap nonetheless.

    • vanyel says:

      Re: one last good fling
      I rather liked it as simply a view of the other side, and I *do* think it was a chance to pay homage to the original series with the spiffy rebuilt sets and costumes (see part 2). The ending left me hanging for a moment, but then I realized, they couldn’t have a real ending, because it’s a hundred years before Good Kirk gets a chance to have any influence.

      I did like the ending from the point of view of way to go Hoshi! ;-)

      As for a morality play, it really gives you a more extended view of what a backstabbing world like that would be like; the original Mirror, Mirror really only showed some minor lower level backstabbing, this one carried it all the way. If you had the slightest inclination towards that sort of behavior, you’d have to ask yourself, "is this *really* the sort of world I want to live in?" On the other hand, I suppose that sort of person always believes *they" will be the ones to hold control, or they don’t care how long they have it. It would have been a lot better if they’d done something like tieing it to gang life or something though.

      I suppose the other question it makes one ask is "why is playing/watching evil so much fun?" I have to wonder if it isn’t tugging at some deeply rooted survival-of-the-fittest instincts…

      On another note entirely, I was going to start reviewing Lost this week, but "my landlord ate the cable." Actually, he just put a staple through one of the satellite dish cables (rehanging them after doing some painting), so my Tivo could only record one of the two shows, and it picked Smallville. Pulling the staple out fixed it, though I need to seal up the hole before it rains much, so I should be able to get this week’s show. I’m told the episode was a clip show, rather than a "tie it all together" show as I thought it was, so I guess I didn’t miss much…

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