★★★★★ October 6, 1967 Season 2 Episode 4
If you want to see where we are…and you missed a few…HERE is a list of the episodes in my index located at the top of my blog.
This show was written by Gene Roddenberry and Jerome Bixby
I do love time travel stories and I also love parallel universe stories which this one is a good one. An evil Star Trek crew… it also reminds me of the later Star Wars where the government is evil.
In the opening scene, a landing party which consists of Kirk, McCoy, Scotty, and Uhura are unsuccessfully negotiating with a race of pacifists; they refuse to allow dilithium crystals to be mined in case they are used violently. They state that the Enterprise could take them by force but Kirk states that they won’t do that. As they beam up there is an ion storm that affects the transporter… instead of finding themselves on the Enterprise they know they materialize on a ship that is almost exactly the same yet somehow totally different
An excellent episode! It is another 5-star in the 2nd season. Kirk, McCoy, Scott, and Uhura get thrust into an alternate reality where the Federation is an evil empire and their shipmates and friends are now malicious, dangerous adversaries. Now the four have to find a way to get back to their own reality without being discovered and killed.
This is a classic episode that serves to introduce us to the parallel universe… a universe that will be visited more than once in the later ‘Star Trek series. It is immediately apparent that the Star Fleet in the parallel universe is an organization with fascist tendencies which immediately raises the tension. The fact that the villains have familiar faces serves to make it even more interesting.
it is also interesting that this goateed Spock is just as logical as his ‘good’ counterpart. This is one of those can’t-miss episodes…if you haven’t seen it…give it a shot.
It took about a month to complete this particular episode. After filming had begun, BarBara Luna was diagnosed with strep throat. Since the script called for Capt. Kirk to kiss her, they had to postpone the kissing scene for three weeks until she was medically cleared, since they couldn’t risk William Shatner getting infected.
To further denote the inverted nature of the parallel universe, phasers are worn upside-down on the left hip.
This proved to be one of the more popular Star Trek segments in terms of follow-ups. The Mirror Universe would be depicted on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993) and Star Trek: Enterprise (2001), while several non-canonical Star Trek novels and comic book series featured sequel stories to the episode.
In Jerome Bixby’s original outline, the Mirror Universe Federation was not evil, but simply backwards in terms of some technology, notably phaser weapons. Initially, Mirror Kirk was to be married to a nurse on board the parallel Enterprise, and Mirror Spock was more Vulcan in temperament. In addition, McCoy’s counterpart, and not that of Spock, was to be bearded.
Star Trek was usually not allowed to show women’s navels, but Uhura’s navel is visible in the mirror universe. Reportedly, this was accomplished by filming while a PA took the Standards representative to lunch. This is a popular myth in Star Trek but it is untrue. By the fall of 1966, the networks had removed this prohibition from their standards. In fact, Star Trek had already done this, as seen at the end of season one’s “Shore Leave”, when McCoy shows up with two women by his side, both of whom had exposed navels. Besides, Uhura is seen several times with her bare midriff, and they would have never risked the problem of doing this if it meant re-shooting all of the scenes she appeared in.
As Mirror Sulu is the security chief as well as the helmsman, George Takei wears a red uniform in this episode. Since he normally wore gold, and had worn Science blue as an astrophysicist in Star Trek: Where No Man Has Gone Before (1966), this makes Takei the first Trek actor to wear all three uniform colours.
In the wake of this episode, a group of child fans started a neighborhood-wide letter campaign suggesting that the concept of a “Captain’s Woman” be carried over into the series as a whole, and requesting that Stefanie Powers be cast in that role. Eventually Gene Roddenberry’s assistant had to write to the group’s two “ringleaders”, telling them to ask their parents exactly what a “Captain’s Woman” was.
Actor Vic Perrin, who portrays Tharn, made his second appearance on Star Trek in as many weeks, having supplied the voice of Nomad in the previous episode Star Trek: The Changeling (1967).
First appearance of the emergency manual monitor set.
Jerome Bixby based this episode very loosely on his own short story “One Way Street”. In the original draft script, Kirk traveled to the parallel universe alone and the parallel universe Federation was battling a race called the Tharn. This name was later given to the leader of the Halkan Council, although it is not spoken on screen.
A modified brig makes its debut here. Its location on the set was in the short hallway leading to the Engineering set.
In the opening scene (prologue), the universe-switch shows the I.S.S. Enterprise orbits Planet Halkan right to left, in contrast to the U.S.S. Enterprise, which always orbits left to right (except in Star Trek: Shore Leave (1966)). By the beginning of Act I, however, it changes to orbiting from left to right. Note that in the re-mastered version, this error has been corrected, and the I.S.S. Enterprise orbits right-to-left.
In the original story outline, Captain Kirk was trapped in the Mirror Universe alone, and it was gradually rejecting him, treating him like he was an invading germ by poisoning his systems. Both ideas were dropped.
There is a second Vulcan serving on the ship. During the walk with Kirk, passing Chekov being tortured, you can see Spock’s security guard is Vulcan.
Inspired the name of the progressive/alternative rock band Spock’s Beard.
This is listed as one of the “Ten Essential Episodes” of TOS in the 2008 reference book “Star Trek 101” by Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann.
The only time in the series when someone replies to Doctor McCoy’s “I’m a doctor…” line. McCoy says “I’m a doctor, not an engineer.” Scotty answers, “Now, you’re an engineer.”
The Star Trek books ‘Spectre’, ‘Dark Victory’, and ‘Preserver’, all written by William Shatner, are about the mirror universe. They take place in the 24th Century at around the same time as the Next Generation movies, and give a 100-year history of events in the mirror universe starting after this episode.
In the late 1980s, the pop band Information Society sampled Kirk’s line “It is useless to resist us”, at the very beginning of their song “Walking Away”, as well as “In every revolution, there’s one man with a vision”, in “Over the Sea”.
This is also the only episode in which Uhura is seen in a moving turbolift.
The Mirror Universe was the subject of a Star Trek graphic novel in 1991, written by Mike W. Barr, and published by DC Comics.
This episode was a primary inspiration for Blake’s 7 (1978).
The mirror universe Sulu wears a rank badge of a real-life ARVN (Army Republic Viet Nam) Captain. George Takei plays the role of an ARVN Captain in The Green Berets (1968) and in fact was unable to appear in Star Trek: The Gamesters of Triskelion (1968) due to his commitment to that film.
In the mirror universe, the male computer explains that James Kirk became Captain by murdering his predecessor Christopher Pike, a character played in previous installments by Jeffrey Hunter and Sean Kenney. This is possibly the only time in TOS where Pike is mentioned but does not appear.
This is the only time in TOS where Scotty addresses Captain Kirk as “Jim”. He did it twice in the movies: in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), while en route to the refitted Enterprise, and in Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), when he tries to convince Kirk not to take the 72 torpedoes on board the Enterprise. In fact, he does NOT address Kirk as “Jim” in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).
Ronald D. Moore (a prime writer and producer of the later Trek series) once cited this episode as one of his favourite installments of the original Star Trek series.
This title of this episode is said to be influenced by Disney’s Snow White where the wicked queen invokes the power of her mirror by saying ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is fairest of them all’. However, the wicked queen actually says: ‘Magic Mirror on the wall, who is fairest of them all’. The line is often misquoted as ‘Mirror, mirror…’.
This show was nominated for science fiction’s Hugo Award.
There are physical changes in the “Enterprise” sets, to emphasize the difference between the parallel universes, one of which is the Empire’s symbol of a planet bisected with a sword, which accents its barbaric principles. Another difference is that Kirk’s command chair is given a higher back, to make it look more like a throne, in line with the idea that the alternate Federation is an empire. (This chair would be seen later in the season as Commodore Wesley’s in “The Ultimate Computer”.)
The voice of the computer on the alternate Enterprise was James Doohan’s.
This takes place in 2267.
The line from McCoy, “What kind of people are we?” was sampled in the song “Still Here” on Information Society’s 1992 album “Peace and Love Inc.”
Nurse Chapel (Majel Barrett) is the only major cast member not accounted for either in the beamed up landing party or among the crew of the Mirror Enterprise.
George Takei and BarBara Luna had previously appeared together in Hawaiian Eye: Sword of the Samurai (1960).
South Park: Spookyfish (1998) is a parody of this episode, where a portal is opened to the mirror universe, and the mirror version of Cartman has a goatee.
While beaming back to the Enterprise during an ion storm, Kirk, McCoy, Scotty and Uhura materialize aboard an Enterprise in a parallel universe. Here, the Federation has been replaced by the Empire and its inhabitants are violent and cruel. Members of the crew advance in rank by killing their superiors and Kirk is constantly a target. Their only hope is to artificially reproduce the effects of the storm to facilitate a return to their own universe. Spock also realizes that all is not as it should be and uses the Vulcan mind meld on Dr. McCoy to learn the truth.
William Shatner … Captain James Tiberius ‘Jim’ Kirk
Leonard Nimoy … Mister Spock
DeForest Kelley … Doctor Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy
BarBara Luna … Marlena (as Barbara Luna)
James Doohan … Lieutenant Commander Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott
George Takei … Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu
Nichelle Nichols … Lieutenant Nyota Uhura
Vic Perrin … Tharn
Walter Koenig … Ensign Pavel Chekov
John Winston … Lieutenant Kyle
Garth Pillsbury … Wilson
Pete Kellett … Kirk’s Henchman
Bobby Bass … Chekov’s Helper in Mirror Universe (uncredited)
Bill Blackburn … Lieutenant Hadley (uncredited)
Bobby Clark … Chekov’s Guard #2 (uncredited)
Roger Holloway … Lt. Lemli (uncredited)
Johnny Mandell … Sulu’s Guard (uncredited)
Eddie Paskey … Lieutenant Leslie (uncredited)
Russ Peek … Spock’s Vulcan Guard (uncredited)
Paul Prokop … Phaser Control Guard (uncredited)