Director: Marc Daniels
Writer: Jerome Bixby
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Barbara Luna, James Doohan, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Vic Perrin, Walter Koenig, John Winston, Garth Pillsbury, and Pete Kellett
Composer: Fred Steiner
Air Date: 10/6/1967
Production #: 60339
After failing to obtain dilithium crystals from the Halkans, a landing party led by Captain Kirk attempts to beam aboard the Enterprise. However, the transporter malfunctions due to a violent ion storm, stranding Kirk, McCoy, Scotty, and Uhura in an alternate universe governed by the ruthless Terran Empire. Desperate to return his crew to their proper dimension, Kirk is forced to defend the Halkans from Spock—a goatee-sporting pirate in this reality—while searching frantically for a passage back to the prime universe.
A more nuanced study on the concept first explored in season one’s “The Enemy Within,” “Mirror, Mirror” utilizes science fiction as a vehicle for examining the human condition. In addition to emphasizing the need for balance in all things, this episode offers a brilliant commentary on the unsustainability of authoritarian systems.
Whereas “The Enemy Within” pitted Kirk against his evil half, “Mirror, Mirror” places the captain in conflict with a far more dangerous adversary. By opposing a sadistic but powerful empire in a remarkably cunning fashion, Kirk once again demonstrates his ability to navigate even the most challenging of circumstances. Likewise, prime universe crewmembers Uhura, Scotty, and McCoy prove that under Kirk’s guidance, any problem can be solved through a simple combination of teamwork and trust.
(Spoilers beyond this point)
While Kirk’s interactions with the ostensibly loyal Marlena (Barbara Luna) add an intriguing layer to the captain’s precarious situation, Spock’s bearded counterpart serves as the most important, albeit unpredictable, factor in determining the outcome of Jerome Bixby’s narrative. Torn between fondness for Kirk and allegiance to the Terran Empire, the “evil” Spock becomes the only wild card during a climactic showdown involving both Enterprise crews. Though an object of parody for nearly fifty years, the conflicted Vulcan plays a crucial role in the final scenes, at which point Spock embraces a humanistic perspective over totalitarian ideals. This change of heart happens almost suddenly, but delivers a powerful impact thanks to Leonard Nimoy’s exemplification of the subtle differences between both Spock characters.
By exploring complex character dynamics in a memorable science fiction setting, “Mirror, Mirror” earns its reputation as one of season two’s finest entries. Fans of hammy acting will be amused by William Shatner’s performance as yet another evil Captain Kirk, whereas Star Trek enthusiasts of a more serious inclination should appreciate Bixby’s penetrating analysis concerning two vastly different methods of governance.
Overall Quality: 10/10
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