Mark Watches ‘Enterprise’: S04E19 – In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II

In the nineteenth episode of the fourth season of Enterprise, Archer tries to take over the Terran Empire. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek. 

Oh, Enterprise.

I wasn’t sure how this was being expanded into a two-parter (and there was a part of me that wondered if we would get another trilogy arc!), and suffice to say, the “In a Mirror, Darkly” story is mostly an aesthetic adventure rather than a substantive one. Oh, these sets are gorgeous, and much credit must be given to the production staff for faithfully replicating The Original Series, from the colors to the console boards to those uniforms! There’s obviously a lot of thought that went into making the Defiant set as stunning as possible. That’s great!

As for the story… this is weird, absurd, and frustrating, and it’s not always a good thing that this is the case. There’s little momentum in this story because the entire two-parter jumps from one conflict to the next. The first act of “Part II” is devoted to tracking down and killing a Gorn who was hiding aboard the Defiant. That’s the whole story, and once it’s resolved, the episode just moves on to something else. Is this about the rebellion? Or the inevitability of the Terran Empire? I feel like I am supposed to think of the latter, given that we knew the Empire appeared in other Mirror Universe episodes, but there’s just not the right amount of tension to pull this off.

I know that one of the boundaries in the way of that comes in characterization. For as much time as there is spent on the look of this episode, I never got the sense that anyone aside from T’Pol was a full character. Even Mirror Archer comes off as something closer to a parody than a person. The show flips a switch on the rules and lore of Enterprise, sure, but is it enough to just make these characters opposites of themselves?

I don’t know. Travis and Malcolm don’t even get developed characteristics aside from supporting Archer. Tucker is just… angry a lot? Even with nearly ninety minutes of screentime, the characters here still fall flat. I did enjoy the story of T’Pol and Phlox, one of whom takes a huge risk to support the rebellion against the Empire, and the other who initially supports it until he realizes that rebellion is possible. Hell, even Soval’s inclusion here is way more intriguing than most of the main staff.

I think if “In a Mirror, Darkly” had leaned harder on this story, even with the inevitability of that ending, I believe that I would have enjoyed this arc a whole lot more. That was the coolest part of this script, but instead, this comes off as a missed opportunity.

The video for “In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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