Reviewers Enjoy Looking 'In a Mirror, Darkly'

By Michelle
April 29, 2005 - 9:51 PM

See Also: 'In A Mirror, Darkly - Part I' Episode Guide

Most reviewers found a great deal to like in "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part One." Though there were quibbles about continuity and the difficulty of getting the gags for people who weren't fans of the original series, most of the actors were praised for the energy and enthusiasm they brought to these darker doubles and the new sets, costumes and special effects were all noted as guilty (or not-so-guilty) pleasures.

  • Star Trek Hypertext's Jammer gave "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part One" three stars, calling it garish but entertaining - a significant improvement on the one star he awarded the previous episode. "Last week's abysmal 'Bound' was a silly hour with a lame plot that treated women like objects," he noted. "Now here comes 'In a Mirror, Darkly,' which is also a silly hour that generally treats women like objects. The key difference, however, is that 'Bound' was a relentless bore and 'Mirror' is quite a bit of fun." He enjoyed the teaser from First Contact and loved the last act, in which the original series' Defiant escapes while the Tholians ensnare Enterprise in their web. "If only this sort of imagination serviced a story that wasn't so fundamentally silly and full of characters whose attitudes run counter to this very notion of self-referential Trek imagination, we might've had something really special here," he concluded.

  • The Great Link's Ian J. Slater rated the episode a four out of five, saying that he thinks continuity problems are inevitable in thinking about mirror universes and commending the writers on enabling the audience to suspend disbelief. "Once you have accepted the premise, it is enormous fun to watch 'dark' versions of our beloved characters snarling at each other and jockeying for power," he said. "The mirror universe stories really represent a situation no more implausible than the idealistic future envisioned by Roddenberry in Trek...I must admit, the fact that the power structure could change at any time, and that everyone had to watch their backs, made for a much more compelling hour of television."

  • Dr. Phlox of Save Enterprise called the episode "a perfect outing for the show" and awarded it a 10/10 rating. "'Mirror, Darkly' is definitely not for the uninitiated viewer," noted Phlox. "Extensive knowledge of TOS is required to fully comprehend the various nuances of the plot." Like many reviewers, high points were the teaser, the new theme music and credits and and twisted versions of familiar characters: "T'Pol and Archer's almost violent working relationship hearkens back to the first season of the show. And, (my favorite) T'Pol and Tucker's relationship is still grounded in the same primal nature as the one in the 'real' universe."

  • "Not your father's Star Trek, indeed!" noted Monkee at Monkee's Place, giving the episode a 9.5/10, up from the "generous" 8 she gave "Bound." While a bit sorry that there was no interaction between the "real" and Mirror universes - "Wouldn't it be interesting to see what our Hoshi thought of the fact that her alter ego slept her way to the top? Yikes!" - she enjoyed seeing most of the characters acting against type...except Archer:
    Honestly, he didn't seem all that different to me, and that's a sad commentary on the character! He fits right in! Not so much in his actions - he's behaved badly in the past, but usually under the direst of circumstances, with his back up against a wall. But no, the similarities are more in the character's tone. His belligerent attitude. His irritable delivery.
    Monkee also loved seeing the Defiant, and the new, growlier Porthos.

  • Despite some gripes about continuity and concerns that many reviewers noted about how the two universes haven't diverged more given their differences, The Star Trek LCARS Episode Database's John Patuto said he "loved the characterizations" and "truly enjoyed the storyline." He thought that, like "Mirror, Mirror", the episode "was a view into the dark side of Star Trek" and and allowed the actors to reveal their range in a way their constrained characters did not often permit. "My favorite mirror counterpart had to be Phlox, as the 'evil scientist' inside of him was finally let loose," he wrote. "I've long been a fan of John Billingsley acting abilities and he clearly didn't disappoint in this episode."

  • Lower Decks' Diesel Micky Dolenz gave the episode a 6 out of 10, saying he liked the nods to the original series better than those in "Divergence" but saying that "gaping holes in logic throughout the episode" brought down the story for him. "I wasn't crazy about the T&A aspect of the show, but it wasn't a major detriment to me," he wrote, but he felt that Tucker and T'Pol's relationship was given the short shrift in favor of pheremones and he found Archer's actions in leaving men guarding the Orion women painfully stupid. He had a list of other nitpicks from the plan to tether a ship at warp to Kelby being unguarded when D'Nesh visited.

  • Entil of Entil'zha rated "In a Mirror, Darkly" a 9/10, a big step up from the 5/10 given "Bound" the week before. "It should come as no surprise that this episode was received more favorably," he wrote. If the previous episode was an homage to episodes of the original series like 'Mudd’s Women', firmly entrenched in the sexual mores of the previous generation, then this is a direct homage to 'Mirror, Mirror'...if the tone sometimes veers dangerously close to silliness, it's still entirely consistent with the tone of 'Mirror, Mirror', which makes it easier to forgive." Entil found T'Pol, Sato and even Mayweather more interesting in this universe, and enjoyed the spirit of fun visible in the performances and directing.

  • "It was outstanding," wrote TailSlate's Michael Sheridan, who enjoyed the immersion in Star Trek lore and all the fun details to entertain a "Trek geek" from the Defiant to the Tholian web, though he felt the pacing was a little slow. He gave three popcorns to "In a Mirror, Darkly", the same as he gave previous episodes"Bound" and "Divergence", the last new episode.

  • Chris of Xenoclone admitted to not being a big fan of the Mirror universe concept and wondered why spend so much time looking at characters who aren't part of the real Trek universe:
    I assume that if you're reading this review:
    • A- You're nerdy enough to remember the TOS episode 'The Tholian Web'
    • B- You're nerdy enough to remember the Mirror Universe
    • C- You joined me in attempting to grow a goatee last week in honor of Evil Spock
    However, he enjoyed the fun of watching the writers do things they would not normally be allowed to do on Star Trek without a reset button.

  • Sci Fi Pulse's Bill Gordon stated that "In A Mirror, Darkly" is, "without question, Enterprise's finest hour. It is not without its problems...[but] there is so much right about this episode, that it seems nitpicky and somewhat anal to probe its weaknesses." He found the writing "dead-on and taut", the pacing "relentless" and the energetic performances of the actors made him lament that the "real" characters weren't more like their counterparts.

  • "Well it was great wasn't it? Best Enterprise ever probably?" wrote Guy Gardener at TrekPulse. He was expecting to find it cliched, considering that he'd just watched a similar mirror character episode of Charmed, "but: Nothing is cooler than a Constitution Class Star Ship warming up to kick ass." He was one of many reviewers who thought the show might have been saved had it always been set in the Mirror universe, praising the straightforward sex, the edgy Forrest and how "Dominic could win gold at the Olympics for smirking."

  • At Sci Fi Universe, David J. Nixon said "we'd have all been chanting: '7 more years' after 'Broken Bow' had the writers started off with 'In a Mirror Darkly Part 1'...it’s ridiculous how now at the end Enterprise has become so good." He thought this level of sex and tension could have sustained the show from the beginning: "We would actually be desiring to learn more about these characters because they are rich in background information. We wouldn’t have any complaints about two dimensional characters who never get any things to do." He also loved the CGI, particularly "the orgasmic inspiring use of the Tholian Web."

  • Television Without Pity's Keckler was disappointed at the lack of facial hair in the mirror universe but otherwise adored the episode, particularly the new, improved opening credits and theme song, though in her recap she noted that Archer "is still a sanctimonious ramrodded muncher."

In other reviewing news, Hercules of Ain't It Cool News said that he prefers the "evil theme song" far above "Faith of the Heart" in the Mirror episodes, and added that he had seen the finale, "These are the Voyages...", and found it "NOT appalling. In fact, the never-disappointing Jolene Blalock, who called the episode 'appalling,' is one of the best things about it." He revealed that the footage included some surprises that he had not seen reported anywhere, and that he found it a better ending for Star Trek in general and Next Gen in particular than "that flaccid, feculent, insulting Nemesis feature."

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.