Sunday, September 14, 2014

Star Trek: Mirror, Mirror

It is time for the next episode of Star Trek. Today it is Mirror, Mirror.
Mirror, Mirror takes Kirk, McCoy, Uhura and Scotty to an alternate Enterprise in a parallel universe, commonly called the "Mirror Universe," where the Federation is an evil empire and our familiar characters have transformed along with it.
The whole concept was popular enough to spawn several Mirror Universe episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space 9 (which I didn't especially like), an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise (which was quite good) and an episode from the fan-produced Star Trek Continues (more on that later in this post).

I am totally down with the concept of a parallel universe or even that the Many Worlds theory of branching universes which could lead to something sort of like what is portrayed in this episode but it is clear that the audience needs to check their brains at the door and just go with it.
McCoy: "That spot, I spilt acid there a year ago."
The Mirror Universe Enterprise and the standard (normal?) universe have diverged significantly, so to expect the Enterprise of both universes to be crewed by the same people who have been doing the same things, like McCoy's having spilled acid in sick bay in the same place in both universes, is silly.
Yet here we are. The crew of the Enterprise of both universes is paying a visit to the Halkans to see about getting dilithium crystals. An ion storm in both universes hits just as both landing parties are beaming up from the planet surface, causing each group to transpose universes.
Just like sliding down the Bat Pole, everyone changes their clothes during the beam up.
They've been cast into an alternate Enterprise where officers keep a personal guard, crew members advance in rank through assassination, torture is used to discipline the crew, and Spock has a beard.  

A beard!

I wont go into all the details but there's a lot of jockeying for position as Kirk refuses to annihilate the Halakans. Chekov and his entourage tries to assassinate Kirk. Later Spock tells Kirk, "I am ordered to kill you and to proceed against the Halkans as the new captain of the Enterprise."
Interestingly enough, that warning from Spock was the dramatic sendoff before a commercial break. When the action resumes, it's with Kirk narrating a Captain's log saying in part, "We are trapped in a savage, parallel universe from which we must escape within four hours, or I will face a death sentence at Mister Spock's hands." Yet, the resulting scene is of him having a casual drink with Marlena, the 'captain's woman' in this parallel universe. Kirk doesn't seem too worried, does he?
Speaking of Marlena, played by the lovely Barbara Luna, back in the day her outfits generated some angry letters from viewers as they were considered by some to be too revealing. 
Anyway, Kirk and the gang have figured out that they can use the ship to get back to their home universe. Alas, Spock is on to them and a big fight breaks out in Sickbay. Uhura gives the Captain one of those skulls that I mentioned in my Amok Time blog post and they take Spock down with a skull to his skull.
With no visible damage to Spock at all, McCoy is convinced that he'll die if he doesn't get immediate medical treatment. Sulu shows up with his goons to kill them all, but Marlena saves the day with an alien device introduced earlier that I'm not going bother with here. Everyone but McCoy flees to the transporter room to prepare their escape and then Spock exhibits a sudden, remarkable complete recovery. Fastest near-death turn around ever. He then mind melds with the good doctor, learning that the four of them are from another universe.
Marlena shows up in the transporter room to foil the escape plans but Uhura saves the day. The time left to make the return to their universe is growing short when Spock enters with McCoy, telling them, "You must return to your universe. I must have my captain back."
Which gives Kirk the opportunity to give us a dramatic sendoff:
"The illogic of waste, Mister Spock. The waste of lives, potential, resources, time. I submit to you that your Empire is illogical because it cannot endure. I submit that you are illogical to be a willing part of it...If change is inevitable, predictable, beneficial, doesn't logic demand that you be a part of it?...Be the captain of this Enterprise, Mister Spock. Find a logical reason for sparing the Halkans and make it stick. Push till it gives...What will it be? Past or future? Tyranny or freedom? It's up to you...In every revolution, there's one man with a vision."
It's Kirk doing what Kirk and Trek does best, giving us hope for the future--even in an evil alternate universe. Kirk, et al. return to their home universe, where Spock had placed the alternate Kirk, McCoy, Uhura, and Scotty in the brig. Strangely, upon their return Spock tells them that he assumes that "they returned to their Enterprise at the same time you appeared here." Gee, maybe somebody should check that out.
If you want to see if Kirk's challenge to Mirror Spock made a difference, then be sure to watch The Fairest Of Them All from Star Trek Continues. It is a worthy sequel to Mirror, Mirror that follows the events in the Mirror Universe right after this TOS episode. I wont give any details here, as you should watch it for yourself. I will say that Star Trek Continues is producing new episodes that look and feel like classic Trek. They've only produced three so far, but they are very good.

Returning to Mirror, Mirror, veteran composer Fred Steiner returned to the Trek universe to compose about 14 minutes of new music for this episode. Strangely he reused his Romulan theme from Balance of Terror as the 'Blackship theme' used here to represent the alternate, evil universe. There's a slow, romantic version of it too written for Marlena. Steiner always delivered good music for Trek and this is no exception.

That's it for Mirror, Mirror. Next up is The Deadly Years.

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