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Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II”


Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II”

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Rereads/Rewatches Star Trek: Enterprise

Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II”


Published on December 11, 2023


“In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II”
Written by Manny Coto and Mike Sussman
Directed by Marvin V. Rush
Season 4, Episode 19
Production episode 095
Original air date: April 29, 2005
Date: January 18, 2155

Captain’s star log. After a summary of Part I, we see Archer ordering T’Pol, Tucker, and Reed on the bridge of the Defiant, trying desperately to break free of the docking clamps in the Tholian dock. But once they accomplish that, the Tholians ensnare them in their web, and the Mirror Universe one engages way faster than the last one we saw

Tucker and T’Pol get weapons back online, at which point Defiant is able to blast its way out of the web. They make a run for it, picking up Enterprise’s escape pods along the way.

Archer tasks Tucker with fixing the warp drive, which they rather desperately need. At T’Pol’s suggestion, Tucker is to employ the slaves the Tholians had on board. Archer also makes it clear to T’Pol that he doesn’t trust her, and is only leaving her alive because he needs her help to get Defiant up and running. T’Pol assures him that she is loyal to him now with Forrest’s death. She also informs him that Forrest had ordered T’Pol to kill Archer while on this away mission.

Because the original away team came over in EVA suits, they all change into uniforms that are available on Defiant. Archer wears the green variant tunic for a captain, while T’Pol, Reed, Tucker, and Mayweather all wear Defiant uniforms as well (T’Pol in blue, the other three all in red). The remaining crew who were rescued from the escape pods stay in their Enterprise uniforms.

Sato comes to Archer in the captain’s quarters. Archer has summoned up the database from the Defiant’s native universe, and he taunts Sato with her counterpart’s history—including who she married and how she dies, which Sato expresses no interest in knowing. Sato in turn calls up Archer’s records, and is amused to see that the mainline Archer is way more successful, having actually gotten to captain the Enterprise. Sato says that the brass will have to give him a command now, and Archer points out that he has a command: Defiant.

Kelby discovers a bit of sabotage, and is then killed by a reptilian creature. After torturing one of the slaves, they discover that Kelby was killed by the slaves’ overseer: a Gorn named Slar.

A Gorn, a lizard-like alien in a screenshot from Star Trek: Enterprise
Image: CBS

They track Slar to a Jefferies tube, but the Gorn has laid a trap, which badly injures Reed and a MACO. Archer and another MACO are able to stop the Gorn, mostly by increasing the gravity where Slar is standing so he’s pinned. Archer then repeatedly shoots him.

Recovering the parts that Slar stole, Tucker is able to get the warp drive going, and—against T’Pol’s recommendation, as they are fewer than fifty people trying to crew a ship that’s meant to have a complement of over four hundred—rendezvouses with the assault fleet.

The flagship of said fleet, the I.S.S. Avenger, is under attack by rebels, a fleet of Vulcans, Andorians, and Tellarites. Defiant shows up and makes short work of the other ships. Archer pointedly destroys the Vulcan ship just to annoy T’Pol and then lets the Andorian ship go so they can tell their rebel friends about the Empire’s shiny new ship.

Admiral Black and his first mate, Soval (who, of course, has a goatée), come over to Defiant. Black is impressed and promises that Archer will get his own command for this. When Archer reminds him that he has a command, Black laughs derisively at his naïveté and says they’ll be taking Defiant back to Earth and tearing it to pieces so they can reverse-engineer it. Nobody will be commanding this ship.

Not liking that idea, and also concerned that Black will take credit for obtaining the Defiant, Archer kills Black. He then makes a rousing speech in Avenger’s shuttle bay making it clear that he’s going to use Defiant to engage in a coup against the emperor.

Mirror Universe Captain Archer threatens an Andoran in a screenshot from Star Trek: Enterprise
Image: CBS

T’Pol goes to Soval’s quarters to recruit him to her plan to oust Archer and destroy Defiant—but not until she’s downloaded the schematics so the rebels can build a new one. Soval reluctantly agrees.

Archer and Sato’s pillow talk includes her speculating about what it takes to be an emperor’s consort (and Archer saying she doing fine so far) and Archer deciding to expel all the aliens from Defiant (though Sato talks him into keeping Phlox).

T’Pol goes to the bridge to get Defiant’s schematics. Shortly after that, Archer has her put off the ship to Avenger (along, presumably, with other non-Denobulan aliens).

Phlox is later summoned to Avenger for a medical emergency, but it’s a ruse by Soval and T’Pol, who recruit Phlox to their cause. They both claim to be loyal to the Empire, but they don’t want to see Archer in charge. Phlox eventually agrees.

Sato discovers T’Pol’s downloading of the schematics, and beams over to Avenger to take her into custody, which she does after the Obligatory Catfight.

Soval takes over Avenger’s bridge, aided by an Andorian and an Orion. Soval also talks Phlox through Defiant’s sabotage. However, Tucker catches Phlox in the act and stops him, reversing the sabotage, enabling Defiant to destroy Avenger.

Archer continues to Earth, where he informs Admiral Gardner that there’s a new sheriff in town, as it were. Later, Archer and Sato have a post-coital conversation where he tells her to wipe out the database of the other universe, as it’s too tempting a target to the rebels or to someone like T’Pol. Archer then drinks from the glass Sato has handed him, only to belatedly realize that it contains some rather nasty pharmaceuticals. As he loses consciousness, he sees Sato and Mayweather—his trusted bodyguard—kissing.

Sato then goes to the bridge as they enter orbit of Earth, and she announces herself to Gardner as Empress Hoshi Sato and for them to await further instructions.

Mirror Universe Sato and Mayweather take command; screenshot from Star Trek: Enterprise
Image: CBS

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Slar steals two parts from Kelby, without which Tucker can’t repair the warp drive.

The gazelle speech. After seeing the service record of the mainline Archer, the captain continues to hallucinate the NX-01 captain, who regularly taunts him and goads him to bolder actions, including killing Black and leading the team to search for Slar himself.

I’ve been trained to tolerate offensive situations. Despite her words to Archer that Forrest’s orders are no longer valid, she spends pretty much the entire episode trying to carry them out…

Florida Man. Florida Man Is A Miracle Worker In Any Universe!

Optimism, Captain! Phlox isn’t interested in helping T’Pol and Soval foment rebellion until he realizes he may get rewarded for it by the emperor with many concubines. Wah-HEY!

 No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. Archer and Sato spend a good chunk of the episode in bed together, only to discover at the end that she and Mayweather are plotting behind his back. Also during the Obligatory Catfight between T’Pol and Sato, they each make pointed comments about the others’ sexual conquests, Sato about Tucker, T’Pol about Archer.

The Vulcan Science Directorate has determined… Like Spock before him and Sarek after him, the MU version of Soval has a goatée. Tradition!

More on this later… T’Pol comments that, while it may take centuries, humans will pay for their arrogance—we already know from DS9’s “Crossover” (and that show’s subsequent MU episodes) that she’s right.

I’ve got faith…

“Perhaps it was a pet owned by the original crew.”

“Unless one of them owned a velociraptor, I find it extremely unlikely.”

–Archer and Phlox speculating about who or what killed Kelby.

Mirror Universe Soval in a screenshot from Star Trek: Enterprise
Image: CBS

Welcome aboard. Recurring regulars Gary Graham and Derek Magyar are back as the MU versions of Soval and Kelby, respectively; both will return as their mainline selves in “Terra Prime.”

John Mahon plays the MU version of Gardner. While the mainline version has been mentioned several times—in passing in “Shadows of P’Jem” and “First Flight,” and then being established as Forrest’s replacement as Commander, Starfleet following the latter’s death in “The Forge”—only his MU counterpart has ever been seen onscreen.

The late great character actor Gregory Itzin plays the last of his five Trek roles as Black, having previously appeared in “Shadows of P’Jem” as a Vulcan captain, twice on DS9 as a Klaestron politician in “Dax” and as a thief in “Who Mourns for Morn?” and on Voyager as a Dinaali doctor in “Critical Care.”

Finally, for the first time on Enterprise, Majel Barrett lent her voice to the Defiant computer, using the same vocal style she did on the original series when she voiced the Enterprise computer. With this appearance, she voiced Starfleet computers on all the Trek TV shows that aired in her lifetime.

Trivial matters: This, obviously, continues from “In a Mirror, Darkly,” and also serves as both a prequel to the original series’ “Mirror, Mirror” and a sequel to the original series’ “The Tholian Web.”

It was during production of this episode that the cast and crew learned that UPN would not be renewing the show for a fifth season.

Part of why the episode was two parts was to amortize the cost of re-creating the Defiant over two episodes’ budgets.

This is the only episode of the show called Enterprise in which no scenes take place on a ship called Enterprise.

Phlox at one point comments that Earth’s literature is different in the mainline universe from what he’s read in the MU, indicating that the MU has been parallel but nastier going back centuries. Writer Mike Sussman has credited a similar conversation in the TNG novel Dark Mirror by Diane Duane, in which the Enterprise-D crew travelled to the MU, as the inspiration for that.

The details of Sato and Archer’s lives in the mainline universe were created for the screen graphic, and parts of them were visible in high-def if you pause and squint. Archer in particular is listed as having gone on to serve as an admiral, as Starfleet’s Chief of Staff, as Earth’s ambassador to Andoria, as a member of the Federation Council, and eventually Federation President.

Sussman had a notion for a fifth-season MU episode, had the show been renewed. He collaborated with Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore for a novel version of it, Age of the Empress, which appeared in the Mirror Universe: Glass Empires trade paperback, and which picked up right from this episode, with Empress Sato consolidating her power. An additional followup story, “Nobunaga” by David Stern, appeared in the Mirror Universe: Shards and Shadows anthology.

Because there was still a hope when writing this of a fifth season, Sussman left the final fates of Reed, Phlox, and Archer vague so they might be available for a later episode.

The presence of the Defiant in the MU will be a plot point when the U.S.S. Discovery visits the MU in its first season, which takes place a century after this.

Captain Archer and Mirror Universe Archer Mirror Universe Soval in a screenshot from Star Trek: Enterprise
Image: CBS

It’s been a long road… “One day, humanity will pay for its arrogance.” Parts of this episode are enjoyable as hell. And parts of it are just awful.

Among the enjoyable parts: Archer manipulating the artificial gravity to stop the Gorn, which is one of those “why don’t they do this more often?” things. Phlox’s discourse on the less brutal nature of Earth literature in the mainline universe is a delight, with the additional amusing comment that Shakespeare is just as dreary in both universes. Sato’s takeover at the end from a gobsmacked Archer is beautifully played, with a scene that director Marvin V. Rush lensed very similarly to the scene in the “Queen of Heaven” episode of I, Claudius when Castor dies of poison and watches his wife Livilla kiss Sejanus (played by Sir Patrick Stewart).

And Gregory Itzin oozes corrupt menace as Black. It’s funny, I remembered his part as being much larger from the times I watched this episode previously (both when it first aired in 2005 and when I was rewatching episodes in preparation for my own MU fiction), but he’s only really in two scenes, which is a pity, as the episode could’ve used more of him.

It certainly could’ve used less of John Mahon’s unsubtle performance as Gardner, which is one of the awful bits. So is the CGI Gorn, which just comes across as fan-service filler, with the added lack-of-bonus of reminding us all of the mediocre state of CGI in 2005. (At the time, CGI was absolutely horrible at conveying mass. It worked for things that were light and airy or ethereal, like Species 8472 on Voyager or the Kaminoans in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, but not for things that needed to convey physically threatening menace. See also the 2003 Hulk movie.)

Also the story ends just as it’s getting good. Sato making her move makes for a fine twist, but it makes for a lousy ending, because it’s by far the most interesting thing that’s happened in the episode, and it begs for a followup. (At least we got one in the Glass Empires trade paperback…) On the one hand, it seems to be a belated apology for how little screen time Sato and Mayweather have gotten by having them be on top in the end. On the other hand, it’s not the real Sato and Mayweather, and it doesn’t happen until the end. So while it’s an attempt to make up for their being marginalized, they wind up still being marginalized…

However, the worst thing about this episode is the same as the worst thing about the last one: Scott Bakula is just horrible as the sneering MU Archer. The script leans into it a little bit, as he’s very obviously batshit and out of his depth here, but even so, it’s just painful to watch him. Bakula comes across like a teenager who’s never been on stage before try to act but not quite getting it right.

The two-parter is a fun diversion, and it’s nifty to see the re-creation of the Constitution-class ships as a nostalgia hit, but it doesn’t really hold together, and, as with the first part, loses a lot on rewatching.

Warp factor rating: 5

This is the final Enterprise Rewatch entry for 2023. We’ll be taking the holidays off, then be back on the 8th of January 2024 with “Demons.” Here’s hoping everyone has a safe and wonderful holiday and a joyous new year.

Keith R.A. DeCandido urges everyone to pick up Star Trek Explorer #9, which has, among other things, Keith’s new Discovery short story “Work Worth Doing,” which explores the backstory of Federation President Laira Rillak. It’s the first Discovery story to appear in the magazine.

About the Author

Keith R.A. DeCandido


Keith R.A. DeCandido has been writing about popular culture for this site since 2011, primarily but not exclusively writing about Star Trek and screen adaptations of superhero comics. He is also the author of more than 60 novels, more than 100 short stories, and around 50 comic books, both in a variety of licensed universes from Alien to Zorro, as well as in worlds of his own creation. Read his blog, follow him on Facebook, The Site Formerly Known As Twitter, Instagram, Threads, and Blue Sky, and follow him on YouTube and Patreon.
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