[ENT] Jammer's Review: "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II"

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Jamahl Epsicokhan

May 3, 2005, 2:19:29 AM5/3/05
Note: This review contains significant spoilers.

In brief: Sort of fun in its heedless recklessness, but ultimately it's
hollow, exaggerated irrelevance.

Plot description: With the advanced technology of the Defiant at his
command, Archer hatches an ambitious plan to take over the Terran Empire.

Star Trek: Enterprise - "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II"

Airdate: 4/29/2005 (USA)
Teleplay by Mike Sussman
Story by Manny Coto
Directed by Marvin V. Rush

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
Rating out of 4: **1/2

"I'm surprised you aren't more exhausted from all the beds you've been
jumping into recently." -- T'Pol to Sato

"In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II" is a show about nothing, using the props of
the original series. It's a cardboard farce. It's proud of the fact that
it's a cardboard farce. That's its mission. Should I give it a pass because
it achieves what it sets out to do? After all, the production designers, for
starters, deserve high praise for recreating the original series' universe
so well.

I'm a little conflicted here. As an hour of hopelessly inane mirror-evil,
it's admittedly kind of fun, and I love the sets. But it goes so far over
the top that it comes back around and kicks itself in its own ass. It's
overplayed, overacted, and over-goofy. Is that the point? I guess. This
isn't in a mirror, darkly. It's in a mirror, cartoonishly.

For me, this story peaked when the bridge of the Defiant lit up at the end
of part one. My hope was that part two would be an inventive and fun revisit
to TOS lore. It's something of a disappointment that the show can never
really break free into something great. Oh, sure, it breaks free into
something loony, but that's ultimately the problem. It's too much madness,
and not enough whimsy.

The plot is simply that evil Archer now has the all-powerful Defiant at his
command, and intends to put down the rebellion and take over the Terran
Empire. Unlimited power and unlimited ambition is a recipe for unlimited
corruption. (Wasn't that the theme of the Augments trilogy?) Since the
Empire is so corrupt as it is, Archer would simply be a corruption of that
corruption. My question is whether the Defiant could really be this
invincible. If Starfleet sent a dozen ships after the Defiant, I don't care
if it's from a century in the future; it's weapons are not so much more
advanced that this one ship could go up against an army and win. If so, the
engineers of the Temporal Cold War should've just sent a starship back in
time and called it a day.

The closest this episode gets to character development is via Archer's
review of the Defiant's historical database, which gives him insight into
his counterpart's accomplishments. Evil Archer is owned by his insecurities
and feelings of inadequacy, and he begins having an internal dialog with his
conception of his mirror-self, which taunts his shortcomings. This drives
Archer into a rage that pushes him to act on his delusions of grandeur.

But first we have the isolated and completely unrelated adventure with the
Gorn, which is irrelevant to the story and exists only to channel the
original series with an updated take on action and special effects. The
Gorn, famous from TOS's "Arena" (a classic episode that I always felt was
overrated) has been upgraded from a guy in a bad rubber suit to an animated
CG creation. This lacks the charm that made the Gorn so fun to snicker at.
Now instead of a cheesy rubber suit we get to watch cheesy CGI.

After the Gorn is dispatched, the Defiant comes to the rescue of the
Avenger, under attack by rebel forces. It doesn't take long for Archer to
decide to vaporize the Avenger's commander, Admiral Black (Gregory Itzin),
and turn the Avenger over to Soval, who wears a goatee in keeping with the
tradition of Vulcan males in alternate universes. Archer's lack of trust in
non-humans prompts him to expel them all from the Defiant to the Avenger.
This leads T'Pol, Soval, and Phlox to begin plotting against Archer out of
fear that their roles in Archer's future reign will be even more bleak than
they are now.

For this episode, Scott Bakula has abandoned all intentions of remaining on
any level of reality whatsoever. He overacts to such heights that it becomes
a parody of a self-parody. He's not the only one overacting. Jolene Blalock
is almost equally bananas, turning T'Pol into a stylized caricature. Is this
a bad thing? I confess that I do not know. At the very least, it's not
boring. But it's extremely silly-looking. To watch "In a Mirror, Darkly,
Part II" followed an hour later by "Battlestar Galactica's" "Act of
Contrition" could result for the viewer in potentially fatal tone whiplash.

One thing I did like about this episode was its ruthless last act, in which
the bad guys kill everybody and win. If you're going to do an evil comic
book, then the least you can do is take all the respectable characters and
blow them up without mercy or compassion. Poor Soval: reluctantly roped into
an act of defiance in the name of freedom, and he gets blown to bits as a

I was even somewhat willing to go along with the twist, in which Sato
poisons Archer and announces her plans to become empress. Archer, with a
boundless ego and unlimited arrogance, deserves what he gets. As for the
evil, scheming version of Sato, let's put it this way: She puts the "ho" in
Hoshi. It can be said that Hoshi literally sleeps her way to the top of the
Terran Empire. Even T'Pol has a line acknowledging the fact. Is this female
empowerment? Don't bet on it.

I'm glad they tried doing this mirror universe thing. It's a neat idea. I
just think it's a shame that the show's nods to the original series run
counter to the tone of the episode itself. This is a show about
unadulterated anarchy and vile characters. That these people are running
around the sets of the original series doesn't really fit. The people who
deserve to be walking on these sets should be explorers whose attitudes are
rooted in actual Star Trek, not the mirrored version.

Next week: Peter Weller guest stars in an episode that looks like it might
be about actual ideas instead of just silliness.

Copyright 2005, Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved.
Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this article is prohibited.

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Jamahl Epsicokhan - jam...@st-hypertext.com

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