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July 15 2024


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In a Mirror, Darkly Part Two

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at May 1, 2005 - 2:06 AM GMT

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

Plot Summary: With the ISS Enterprise destroyed, the Tholians begin to build a web around Defiant, but Tucker gets tactical systems online and Archer orders the ships and spacedock destroyed before they can complete it. Despite Tucker's success in the battle, Archer is annoyed to learn that it will take Tucker three days to reconstruct the warp drive and threatens to find a new chief engineer in twelve hours. Defiant rescues Enterprise's escape pods and sets out to rendezvous with the fleet, determined to put down the rebellion before the rebels destroy Starfleet. Sato enjoys reading about their counterparts in the alternate universe via Defiant's database, but Archer loathes the idea that his counterpart was a peacemaker and explorer who sold out Earth's future to sub-human species.

When Kelby is attacked and killed while searching for missing plasma regulators, Archer realizes that there is an intruder aboard and discovers from torturing a prisoner that it is a Gorn. After being goaded by a taunting double of himself, he manages to trap and kill the Gorn, through Reed is seriously injured and several crewmembers are killed beforehand. With the missing components installed, Defiant heads to rendezvous with the fleet. Archer blows up several Andorian and Vulcan ships and protects the NX-class ship Avenger, commanded by Admiral Black with Soval as his first officer. But when Black refuses to give Archer an immediate field promotion and turn Defiant over to him, Archer begins to hallucinate his alter ego criticizing his weaknesses and kills the admiral. He then tells the Avenger's crew that Starfleet Command has betrayed all the people of Earth by allowing the Empire to become weak and promises to overthrow the admirals. Privately T'Pol asks Soval whether he has read Defiant's historical files, which describe a universe in which Vulcans and Humans are equals, and asks him to help her stop Archer by destroying Enterprise.

Meanwhile, Archer is hatching a plan to rid Defiant of all non-Terrans, though he says he has nothing against Phlox whose people aren't rebels. He contacts Admiral Gardner and demands Starfleet's unconditional surrender and tells T'Pol that her service is no longer required. On Avenger with Soval, she recruits Phlox to help destroy Archer in the name of loyalty to the Emperor. Sato discovers her plans to sabotage Defiant and turns her over to Archer, but not before she, Soval and Phlox have hatched a plan to disable Defiant's main power. Though Tucker discovers Phlox's meddling and knocks him out, Avenger damages Defiant before Tucker restores shields and Archer orders the destruction of Avenger. He celebrates with Sato, gloating that soon he will be Emperor Jonathan Archer, but she has drugged his champagne, and celebrates her own victory in the arms of Mayweather before contacting Admiral Gardner to demand immediate surrender. When he asks who the hell she is, she identifies herself as Empress Sato.

Analysis: Though there are many enjoyable moments in "In a Mirror, Darkly Part Two", it feels a bit like a joke stretched too thin, and I can't help wondering what people who haven't seen the original series and don't know anything about the Gorn, the Tholians, the Mirror Vulcans and all the rest think about all these clever but ultimately pointless allusions. The fight with the Gorn felt particularly gratuitous to me; they were a neat species in "Arena" but we hardly know anything about them in the canonical Kirk's universe, let alone the alternate universe, and I didn't particularly enjoy watching a big dinosaur take a bite out of a MACO before being killed by Archer who didn't even get to test the "disintegrate" setting on it. I figured maybe Reed was going to die and the Gorn was as good a way to get rid of him as any, but I can't even recall whether we heard if he recovered; the implication from Phlox was that no one would mourn if he didn't save the creep, but the issue ultimately became irrelevant.

And really I could say the same for the entire episode. Does Sato want to get rid of Archer so she can sieze power herself, being the same sort of megalomaniac who will probably later be killed by a jealous underling, or does she actually have issues with the idea of dismissing the "inferior species" no matter how much she resents T'Pol personally? Vulcans seem to be doing somewhat better by Kirk's era in the Mirror universe - Sulu seems afraid when Spock threatens him with his Vulcan henchmen, and Spock is certainly not Kirk's slave. Then again I wonder why Soval has such a high rank on Admiral Black's ship, taking command without much of a struggle when Black dies, obeyed by Orions and Andorians who don't appear to be plotting to take his position. There are a lot of little niggling inconsistencies and unanswered questions like these, which make the episode less fun as a romp, and therefore more disturbing as a guilty pleasure.

A one-hour "Mirror" would have made more sense in terms of the pacing and for Enterprise as a whole. We don't really need to see a catfight between Sato and T'Pol; we don't really need to see Mirror Phlox's incompetence as an engineer. It would have been nice to see more of what made Tucker tick, perhaps, but we didn't get that even over the course of two hours; I thought he was covering for Phlox when he went down to engineering and given his enjoyment of T'Pol's assets I thought he might throw in his lot with the Vulcans to save her. The biggest thing we didn't need, though, was a delusional Archer. What's so scary about bigoted people is that so many of them aren't completely crazy; they have convinced themselves, quite logically, that their race, gender, religion, etc. is so much better than everyone else's that they have the right and obligation to rule over or even exterminate anyone who isn't like them. They don't hear voices and argue with themselves. I thought at first that perhaps "In a Mirror, Darkly" was supposed to connect thematically with the arc leading up to Enterprise's finale, in which the Earth-first group Terra Prime will reportedly espouse xenophobic ideals, but the Mirror Archer is so over-the-top that it's hard to take him seriously as a threat.

So there's no lesson to be learned, and at the same time this second installment doesn't have the gleeful fun of "In a Mirror, Darkly Part One." The emotional T'Pol is quite interesting - frightened, passionate, angry - and as a result it's rather upsetting to watch her brought down and tortured, minus even the sleazy innuendo with Tucker which suggests that he, at least, does not have a problem serving with non-Terrans. Even the sex is less fun, as Sato simpers and pretends to be worried that she doesn't know all there is to know about pleasing an Emperor. There's nothing deeply offensive about the gratuitous sexuality - at least not with "Bound" as a benchmark - but it just isn't terribly entertaining to watch Jonathan and Hoshi make out in the dark, spending more time plotting than enjoying themselves.

So yes, it's a real treat to see Defiant decked out just like Kirk's Enterprise, right down to the Lite Brite consoles and the garishly painted Jeffries tubes. And it's fun to see Reed take on the role of a redshirt quite literally. And it's interesting to see a Gorn in the era of CGI (I wasn't impressed by the raptorish design, I missed the old stiff Gorn-walk). And perhaps some people find it amusing to watch a phaser set to disintegrate used to kill an admiral. But T'Pol's token mention of how humans will pay for their arrogance and xenophobia doesn't make this feel like Star Trek, and this second hour isn't entertaining enough to love as homage to the original series. I'm sorry that Enterprise spent one of its final hours stretching a clever idea too thin.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.

Michelle Erica Green is a news writer for the Trek Nation. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.

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