With its killer high concept, "Mirror" has been a perennial top ten classic Trek episode ever since newspapers, magazines, and books began to rank them. The premise is so ahead of its time, it could have debuted in Star Trek TNG and still been mindblowing. (To think that just as television was pioneering the "evil twin" concept, Star Trek was already doing the "evil twin universe"!)
The beauty of the idea is how "made-for-TV" it is. Much of the original series has a literary quality to it, owing to the contributions of some of the great science fiction writers of the time. "Mirror", on the other hand, is the first Star Trek episode to take advantage of the visual medium, with new costumes and literally dozens of creative touches helping to tell and sell its story.
It's mostly a Kirk episode, with the captain having his life threatened literally just before every commercial break. The deliciousness, however, is in the world around him, from the new look of the interior of the Enterprise to the crazy recharactizations from the other castmembers. George Takai and Walter Koenig are able to cut loose, and Nimoy is able to up his awesomeness by playing it more cool than usual and (in the episode's most genius touch) adding a beard. Yet it's Barbara Luna who steals the show as the captain's mysterious woman, Marlena. First appearing about halfway through, she immediately changes the timbre of the episode with an understated performance that's all the more dramatic for being set against all the overacting going on elsewhere. And while Kirk enjoys his share of seductive ladies throughout his adventures, only Marlena has the courage to show off her evening wear with a casual remark that she's been "oiling her (I'm guessing the network censor didn't understand the line when he or she let it through; it was, however, cut from Star Trek's syndicated run in the 70s and
There's also a B story where our Mr. Spock deals with the evil counterparts of Kirk and company that have ended up in our mirror universe by mistake; but it's short and only there to complete the story. And taken as a whole, the episode's framework itself is so strong, it even makes up for the episode's flaws and less than clever ideas. (Even on an old VHS tape, it's easy to see the faces of the stunt doubles when Spock and the rest fight at the climax. And what's with the silly idea that evil-Kirk stole a device from an alien that includes a magic death button? Come on, just give Marlena a normal surveillance system and let her pick up a phaser when she needs
"Mirror, Mirror" went on to be nominated for the 1968 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation and through the years has removed one of the Star Trek's franchise's most unique offerings, spawning prequels and sequels. Most importantly, it takes a show that was never conceived as an ensemble piece and breaks the mold, using the entire cast so memorably that many fans remember the series for using its background players more than it actually does.
The mirror universe returns in DS9's second season episode "Crossover". Later, the series Enterprise does its own version, with a sci fi twist allowing "In a Mirror, Darkly" to simultaneously serve as a prequel to "Mirror, Mirror" and a sequel to "The Tholian Web".
The Remastered Version (2006): There aren't a lot of exterior shots of the Enterprise in the original, but there is a memorable bit at the beginning where we get several shots of the ship in one universe and then the other. The new version is able to better differentiate the two ships and create a more exciting montage. (And yes, the . Enterprise actually says . Enterprise"!) Then there's the alien planet sphere, originally a pink tinted version of the Operation--Annihilate planet. The new version is more Earth-like and features the . Enterprise in a reverse orbit. CBS Digital also adds some minor touches, adding some sparks to the "agonziers" and turning Chekov's trip to the agony booth into a scarier looking visual than the original (which just had some blinking lights).
Fairest of Them All: 8
In the mirror universe, bearded Spock confronts the evil Captain Kirk and attempts to move the Terran Empire towards peace.
Vic Mignogna and company are at it again, with another episode of Star Trek Continues in the style of The Original Series. This time they do a "Part II" of sorts, reenacting the mirror universe's final scene from "Mirror, Mirror" and going forth from there from mirror-Spock's perspective. It's a great idea, because Kirk's final speech to mirror-Spock perfectly sets up a sequel.
Anime voice-over artist Todd Haberkorn dons the goatee, taking over Spock from Leonard Nimoy. No one, of course, can truly replace the great one, and Haberkorn is a clear step down; but as Spocks go, Haberkorn is satisfactory, playing the part with enough talent to be in the ballpark and enough respect to avoid parody.
Much like its prequel, the premise of "Fairest" gives the cast a chance to let their hair down and have some fun, with several of the actors getting the opportunity to define their characters (with the mirror versions of Kirk, McCoy, Scotty, and Uhura largely absent from "Mirror, Mirror"). Meanwhile, Asia DeMarcos oils her traps in place of Barbara Luna, looking the part and giving a fine performance of her own. Acting wise, she's probably not on Luna's level, but the script wisely doesn't ask for any more than she has to give. (It helps that DeMarcos doesn't try to match the intensity of the other actors, probably because she's studied Luna's original performance and understands that Luna created Marlena as a counterpoint to Shatner, responding to his overacting with
Meanwhile, Michael Dorn serves as the voice of the ship's computer, and there are even a couple of original series veterans making appearances. Bobby Clark, TOS stuntman and extra, takes over the part of the Halkan council leader, looking about 100 years old. Upstaging him and everyone else, the original Galileo shuttlecraft returns after a forty year plus hiatus, looking just as good as the day it was first shot in "The Galileo Seven". (The shuttle, after the original series was cancelled, had been donated to a school for the blind before being sold to a collector. Over the years, it changed hands many times and was in terrible shape by the 21st century, having been kept outdoors much of its life. But it was bought by a fan in 2012 and meticulously restored the following year, opening the door for Mignogna and company to bring a real piece of Star Trek to their series. It was an invitation they couldn't
As the plot winds its way through the madness, it plays out in the same way you would expect a 1960s version to go, with all the exciting action and dramatic cliffhangers of the original series. The visual effects are similar to the remastered effects by CBS Digital, though the Halkan homeworld appears to be a hybrid between the original and upgraded version.
"Fairest of Them All" is free to watch online. Simply search for it on youtube, or find it through yahoo, google, or your favorite search engine.