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Season Two:
-30: "Catspaw"
-32: "Friday's Child"
-33: "Who Mourns for Adonais?"
-38: "The Apple"
-39: "Mirror, Mirror"
-43: "Bread and Circuses"
-45: "A Private Little War"
-46: "The Gamesters of Triskelion"
-49: "A Piece of the Action"
-52: "Patterns of Force"
-54: "The Omega Glory"
-55: "Assignment: Earth"
-Season 2 Rankings

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Mirror, Mirror

(Star Trek story #39 in production order)
  • written by Jerome Bixby
  • directed by Marc Daniels
  • music by Fred Steiner

Mirror, Mirror

And now we arrive at one of Star Trek's finest episodes, which we at first suspected might deserve to be included in both our Time Travel and Prime Directive articles for season two.

First to the Prime Directive question. The episode opens with Kirk and the rest of his landing party playing diplomat to a group of councillors on the planet Halka. Out of respect for their rights under his laws, Kirk must agree to continue a "hands off" policy with respect to trade. No actual mention of the non-interference or Prime Directive is actually made here; it's just a similar idea. It is perhaps at its most appropriate here because it is arrived at through consultation and agreement of both parties, with Kirk representing the Federation honestly, unlike many other tales where Starfleet comes to their decisions completely on their own and deceives local populations as to who they are and what they value.

Though all this is but background to contrast the Federation with the parallel Earth Empire seen later on, it remains one of the better examples of Starfleet being on top of its principles.

It isn't long, however, before Kirk, McCoy, Scotty, and Uhura trade places with their doubles in a parallel universe. As in "The Alternative Factor", the writer's thinking is fairly dualistic when it comes to postulating what kind of parallels might be out there, aiming for a type of archetypal opposite. Unseen here is the pluralistic thinking that leads to unlimited number of parallel universes such as seen in the show "Sliders". This would be necessary in order to accept the idea of around ten thousand new parallel universes branching out of a person's minute decisions each day, which makes nonsense out of the idea of changing history and cures bad time travel non-interference theory.

While this remains an excellent story, "Mirror, Mirror" doesn't really have the substance that it should to wake up its writers and fans to the folly of Star Trek's usual theories of time travel. In fact, the popularity of returning to this particular parallel universe while ignoring the many others that could equally be explored cements the dualistic thinking into place instead. But that's a sequel problem. "Mirror, Mirror" is to be commended for spearheading an excellent idea.

The selection of this particular landing party seems a bit contrived. We should have the personnel that best aid first contact and trade negotiations, yet these four seem better selected to give the audience an entertaining cross-section of the crew to watch as they interact with their doubles in a parallel universe, and to make sure they have enough of the right skills between them to get back again at the end. Uhura might be appropriate for a negotiation (her complete range of skills and duties remains vague at this point in the series), but it is unusual for her to be off the ship. Scotty's expertise seems wasted, because as he has said himself in "A Taste of Armageddon", "The best diplomat I know is a fully armed phaser bank." There isn't likely any use for his knowledge of dilithium usage until after the Halkans become open to the idea of trade. And McCoy is likely only there to rub Kirk's shoulders and give him a moral boost between rounds of negotiation. One does feel like one is stretching to justify these four as a landing party, but what the heck. The episode turns out so well anyway, this really is just a minor nit.

Kirk is probably right to quietly assess the situation of suddenly appearing in a parallel universe, and at first confide only to his own landing party. However, and especially in hindsight, were they right to slip so easily into the deceit of living in their doubles' shoes? There can be little doubt that this is where the bulk of the episode's tension and drama springs from. But what would have happened had they confided in Spock immediately after the first sickbay scene when they figure out what had happened to them? Perhaps most of the Enterprise and her crew would have been at their disposal (although probably not at their command), with the Halkan problem temporarily put aside, as they attempt to send our heroes home and get their own crew back. Yes, it would require most of the episode to be restructured to find tension and drama in different ways in other scenes, but it's still an interesting thought to follow through.

As the episode stands, honesty nicely does come out in the end, and remains crucial to the uplifting nature of the resolution of the plot. Well done. While taking the number three ranking in a 1991 Viewer's Choice Marathon poll, this episode beats its number two rival "The City on the Edge of Forever" by light years, and can proudly hold its ground as one of the very best original Star Trek episodes ever.

Read the next Star Trek review article:
Season Two and the Rise of the Prime Directive

"Mirror, Mirror" is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Click on the Amazon symbol for the desired disc format and location nearest you for pricing and availability:

Star Trek Season Two "Purist" Standard DVD Box Set:

Watch the legend continue to develop through its prime. Set contains all 26 episodes from the second season in their original wacky broadcast order, plus new bonus features.

As someone interested in researching how the episodes actually looked and sounded originally, and when and exactly how certain musical cues first debuted, this was the DVD set for me, and it remains the most untampered-with full-season collection of Star Trek out there. Unique extras include pure text commentaries on select episodes. Sadly, these sets are starting to become rare, and prices are now rising as these become collectors' items....


DVD Canada


Standard DVD Extras include:

  • To Boldly Go... Season Two featurette (20 min.)
  • Designing the Final Frontier featurette (22 min.)
  • Writer's Notebook: D.C. Fontana (8 min.)
  • Kirk, Spock, & Bones: Star Trek's Great Trio (7 min.)
  • Nichelle Nichols - Divine Diva (13 min.)
  • Life Beyond Trek: Leonard Nimoy (12 min.)
  • Text Commentaries on "Amok Time" and
    "The Trouble with Tribbles"
  • "Red Shirt Logs" Easter Eggs (8 min. total)
  • Production Art & Photo Log (still menus)
  • Original Trailers for every episode (1 min. each)

Standard DVD remastered with CGI:
Region 1, NTSC, U.S.
Region 1, NTSC, Canada
Region 2, PAL, U.K.

The Original Series Remastered Sets

The re-mastered Star Trek set for season two, like that of season three, seems destined to be obsolete in very short order. Its content is easily surpassed by the more respectful presentation on Blu-ray, and unlike the "purist" DVD release listed above, appears to have none of its own exclusive content. Add to that the very gimmicky, awkward packaging that is prone to damage both during shipping and with light usage, and I'd have to recommend that all devoted Trekkers should consider other options for their ideal TOS season two product.

Season Two - Blu Ray

  26 episodes @ 51 minutes
Star Trek sets are now available on Blu Ray. Picture and sound quality restoration has gone up yet another notch since the remastered version, as have the liberties taken with "upgrading" the episodes. Once again, even newer CGI effects and optical shots have replaced many space scenes, matte paintings, and phaser effects.... but this time the upgrades have the same respect and user-functionality applied to select Doctor Who DVD releases since 2002, as the CGI effects can now be turned off to see the original effects. Good show. It seems that the music has still been tampered with too much for my liking though.

Blu-ray U.S.

Blu-ray Canada

Blu-ray U.K.

Blu-ray features add:

  • option to watch original or new CGI effects.
  • Audio commentary on "The Trouble with Tribbles"
    by writer David Gerrold.
  • Starfleet Access - Okuda interactive trivia plus picture-in-picture interviews on 2 episodes:
    • "Amok Time"
    • "The Trouble With Tribbles".
  • Behind-the-scenes 8mm home movies part 2 (HD, 12 min.) from Billy Blackburn (Lt. Hadley / DeForest Kelley stand-in)
  • Star Trek TOS on Blu-ray (HD, 10 min.) restoration and upgrade featurette.
  • Star Trek's Favorite Moments (SD, 17 min.)
  • Mobile-Blu Content-To-Go Exclusives: "Creating Chekov", "Listening to the Actors" "Writing Spock" "Spock's Mother"
  • "More Tribbles, More Troubles" with commentary from the animated "Season 4" DVD box set.
  • "Trials and Tribble-ations" in HD this time, with
    two featurettes from the DS9 season 5 DVD box set.
  • plus all documentaries, featurettes, and episode promos from the "purist" standard DVD set listed far above.

"Mirror, Mirror" is also available together with 3 of its best Deep Space Nine sequels
in the following themed DVD box set.
Click on the Amazon symbol for the desired disc format and location nearest you for pricing and availability:

Star Trek Fan Collective:
Alternate Realities

Region 1, NTSC, U.S.
Region 1, NTSC, Canada
Region 2, PAL, U.K.

A series of "Fan Collective" DVD Sets are also on the market, offering a sampling of episodes from across all Star Trek series and spinoffs. "Alternate Realities" is apparently the first of those to offer the remastered versions of original Star Trek episodes, with the upgraded special effects. Those who are dubious about this process may wish to try this less-expensive-than-a-full-season set to see what all the fuss is about.

We also get some long-awaited audio commentaries on a few of the episodes, a welcome rarity for Star Trek's live-action TV shows, although some British fans have complained that the audio commentaries are missing from the Region 2 version.

20 episodes @ 43-51 minutes each:
  • Mirror Universe
    • TOS: "Mirror, Mirror"
    • DS9: "Crossover" (with director's audio commentary)
    • DS9: "Through the Looking Glass"
    • DS9: "Shattered Mirror"
    • Ent: "In a Mirror, Darkly (Part 1)"
    • Ent: "In a Mirror, Darkly (Part 2)"
  • Parallel Dimensions
    • TOS: "The Alternative Factor"
    • TNG: "Parallels" (with writer's audio commentary)
  • Twisted Realities
    • TOS: "The Enemy Within" (with audio commentary)
    • TOS: "Turnabout Intruder"
    • TNG: "Frame of Mind"
    • Voy: "Shattered"
  • Alternate Lives
    • TNG: "Yesterday's Enterprise" (with director's audio commentary)
    • TNG: "The Inner Light"
    • DS9: "The Visitor"
    • Voy: "Before and After"
    • Voy: "Timeless"
    • Voy: "Course: Oblivion"
    • Ent: "Twilight" (with writer's audio commentary)
    • Ent: "E2"
  • Special Features
    • Mirror Universe: Part 1
    • Mirror Universe: Part 2
    • Parallel Dimensions
    • Twisted Realities
    • Alternate Lives: Part 1
    • Alternate Lives: Part 2
  • Audio Options (may vary according to region)
    • English
    • Español
    • Portugues

Review written by Martin Izsak. Comments are welcome. You may contact the author from this page:

Contact page

If you liked this article, or simply enjoy the parallel universe theme in science-fiction, be sure to check out the 1995-1999 TV series "Sliders" by Robert K. Weiss and Star Trek the Next Generation writer Tracy Tormé, and read our continuing series of in-depth Sliders episode reviews, best accessed from our SLIDERS Episode Guide Catalogue.

You may also be interested in: Doctor Who #54: "Inferno" or Doctor Who #176: "Rise of the Cybermen"


Read the next Star Trek review article:
Season Two and the Rise of the Prime Directive

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