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In a Mirror, Darkly, Part 2

4-19 In a Mirror, Darkly, Part 2

reviewed by Kevin Thomas Riley

The first mirror episode was rather fun and the second part of In a Mirror, Darkly didn't disappoint either. For an old original series fan such as myself, this was a real treat. We got to see much more of the original Enterprise's sister ship, the U.S.S. Defiant, now commandeered by Evil Archer and his crew. Well, it wasn't like they had any choice. The mirror NX-01 blew up at the end of the first part. Seeing the old Constitution class in action again, this time with all the marbles of modern computer generated graphics really pandered to the inner fanboy in me.

Too be frank, it was more the visuals than the story that was compelling in this episode. They have very faithfully re-created the interior sets of the old 60s series and it didn't look that cheesy. Sure the colours were a bit loud, but making the lighting on the sets darker compensated for that. While the interior might look a bit sterile, and the instruments lacking in advanced graphic displays, it is not to hard to convince yourself that it is more a matter of design style. For all we know, the 23rd century just had that look, for whatever reason. It doesn't automatically mean that it is less advanced. On the contrary, the more simple instruments could just be a testament to more user-friendliness and more automatic systems. And all the little trademark chirps and beeps were there too. While an entire show featuring this design might get tiresome for the modern viewer, it works well for a two-parter. They even showed interiors we never got to see on the original Connie, for example where the Jeffries' tube leads.

The exterior shots of the Defiant were just beautiful. It is just such a graceful ship, arguably the best starship design in all of Trek. You can't beat the original. It's white smooth surface does look more futuristic than the clunkier, grey plated NX-01. I for one have never bought the criticism that the NX-01 looks too advanced for its time. And to finally see the Connie in combat action was great. These were scenes they could never do in the 60s. Canonatics will of course criticize that the Defiant shouldn't have aft phasers but it stands to reason that they should have. If ships a hundred years earlier had those, then why shouldn't the Constitution class?

Another "fanwank" was having the crew wear the original series uniforms - raided from the closets by those boarding the ship in EV suits. And yes, Mirror T'Pol donned the old miniskirt. She did look great (but then again, Jolene would look great in a potato sack) but I actually preferred the midriff uniform. At least we got to see her midriff often. Unfortunately the camera work was such that the scenes with her wearing the miniskirt very rarely allowed us to glimpse her fabulous legs. It's a shame really, because in my book that is the main raison d'Ítre for the miniskirts. Oh well...

Archer got to wear the Captain's green wraparound tunic while Tucker, Reed and Mayweather got redshirts. Predictably enough Reed suffered the customary redshirt fate. (Or did he? At the end it was uncertain if he lived or died from that explosion.) Mirror Hoshi didn't get a miniskirt, but she compensated for that with a very skimpy negligee :eek:! Soval got to grow the mirror universe's evil goatee, even if his character was far from evil in this episode.

We had been teased to the possibility of a Gorn (from the original Arena) appearance in this part. But thankfully it wasn't a man in a rubber suit with disco ball eyes. It was a nicely done computer generated image that looked a heck of a lot more convincing than the original Gorn. But of course, canonatics have screamed foul at this. Its neck was all wrong, where were the compound eyes and why did it move so fast etc. Sigh, you can never win with some! Admittedly, the Gorn story had very little to do with the plot. It was more of an excuse to see the Gorn again. But I'm not complaining. I loved it!

There was a nice touch when Mirror Archer and Mirror Hoshi read the biographies of the real universe counterparts. "Real" Archer's accomplishments really played against Mirror Archer's insecurities and pushed him further along the dark path. But we could've done without the Harvey-esque appearances of Real Archer. They were distracting and frankly, the editing was terrible. We already knew that Mirror Archer is crazed and power hungry.

If Mirror T'Pol did come off as somewhat sympathetic in part one, there was no question about who was the good guy (or should I say gal) in part two. She was really disturbed by the way her fellow Vulcans and other aliens were treated, especially by bigoted Archer. They really hate each other in the mirror universe! It didn't help her perception after she read the Defiant's historical database and learned of the real Federation where all species are equal.

It was no surprise when she incited a rebellion against Archer, whom she probably correctly assumed would eventually take the Defiant's superior weapons against Vulcan. Unfortunately it was a foregone conclusion that her rebellion would fail. Too bad though, because if the story had had her somewhat successful, it would have tied in nicely with the original Mirror, Mirror where Mirror Spock and the Vulcans were held in much higher regard in the Empire. What she should've done in order to succeed was to try and enlist the aid of some disgruntled Humans. I'm sure there are enough of them that are sick of Archer's madman leadership style. If only she had reconciled things with her pon farr buddy Trip!

But instead we got a surprise ending that no one (except the spoiled ones) saw coming. Mirror Hoshi conspires with Mirror Travis, poisons Archer and proclaims herself Empress Sato and issues an ultimatum to Starfleet. This was a revenge of the underused secondary characters if ever there was one. It was a bit of fun but ultimately I didn't find it that satisfying. Maybe it's because I'm biased against T'Pol and the Vulcans but I think that would have been a much more interesting storyline than the WTF ending we now got. Oh well, at least it was left ambiguous if the other characters lived or died. That's because executive producer Manny Coto wanted an opening for further Mirror Universe stories had Enterprise been given a fifth season. Alas, the cancellation message came halfway through shooting this episode.

When comparing part one and two I find that story-wise I like the first part better. It gave us more "feel" of the Mirror Universe. Part two was more of a visual fanboyish love fest. Not that I don't appreciate that but I wished that the story had been a little different, especially the ending. All in all the first part nudges ahead over the second part, the latter which I give an 8.

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