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A Brief History of STAR TREK’s Mirror Universe

A Brief History of STAR TREK’s Mirror Universe

On the mid season finale of Star Trek: Discovery, Captain Lorca (Jason Isaacs) initiated a daring move to defeat the Klingons with their experimental “spore drive.” The maneuver helped bring an end to the Klingon war, but also propelled the show’s titular ship someplace far, far away. How far? Current speculation from much of the fanbase has it that the Discovery has been thrust not to the other side of the galaxy, but into a parallel universe.

In fact, many fans theorize that the series might have been taking place in a parallel universe from that in the original Star Trek TV series timeline all along, which maybe explains how Spock never once mentioned he had an adopted sister named Michael. However, due to recent comments made at various conventions by cast members, the popular theory is that the Discovery is now stranded in the legendary Mirror Universe.

Alternate universes and parallel timelines have been a subject of Star Trek stories from the word go, most recently showing up in th form of J.J. Abrams‘ movies’ Kelvin Timeline. But the best known parallel timeline in Star Trek lore is the so-called Mirror Universe, introduced 50 years ago in the beloved original series episode “Mirror, Mirror,” which aired on October 6, 1967.

Written by Jerome Bixby, “Mirror, Mirror” introduced to mainstream television viewers the concept of alternate parallel universes, ones where everything is basically the opposite from what you know. In this episode, Captain Kirk and his landing party are accidentally transported to an alternate universe, where instead of a benevolent Federation, we instead have an evil Terran Empire in its place. Stories like this had already been staples of sci-fi novels and comic books, but this episode propelled the idea into everyone’s living room… as well as the concept that your evil counterpart will no doubt have a goatee, and probably wear a sash for some reason.

Although the original crew of the Enterprise never revisited the Mirror Universe in any episode, it nevertheless became a favorite for non-canon spin-off material, like the comics and the novels for the next several decades. Rumors persisted it would be the subject of a feature film for the original crew, but such never came to be. Nevertheless, in the ’80s, when DC Comics acquired the Star Trek license, they printed several issues that took place in the revisited Mirror Universe. There were also a series of paperback novels dedicated to that universe, and William Shatner himself wrote a whole trilogy in the late ’90s set within that framework.

Sadly, The Mirror Universe never made an in-canon return appearance on Star Trek: The Next Generation either, despite many writers pitching the concept over the years. (Can you image Pirate Picard? We were robbed!) The closest fans ever got was a non-canon novel called Dark Mirror.

However, the Mirror Universe concept finally came back for real in Deep Space Nine‘s second season episode “Crossover,” and that series made visits to the Mirror universe every subsequent season thereafter. On those many episodes, we learned that the events of the original series’ “Mirror, Mirror” forever altered its universe, leading to humankind being conquered by a Klingon/Cardassian alliance.

While the Mirror Universe never showed up on Voyager, it did come into play in the final season of the prequel series Enterprise. There, we actually learned the origin of the Mirror Universe, as well as that this particular timeline “went bad” during the events of the movie Star Trek: First Contact, when humanity first made formal contact with the Vulcans in the year 2063. Instead of initiating peace, in this quantum reality, these humans killed the Vulcans and used the new tech they stole from them to eventually become the Terran Empire.

Most recently, publisher IDW Comics has been doing Mirror Universe stories, and fans are finally getting to see Picard and the Enterprise crew’s evil, alternate versions in a new comic book series. It’s very unlikely any of these comics will have any impact on whatever Discovery is planning to do with the Mirror Universe, but there are too many hints that something is up regarding that beloved staple of Star Trek history to ignore.

Could the actual discovery that Discovery does be an in-depth exploration of this alternate universe, or even better, several different mirror universes? We’ll know for sure when Discovery returns in 2018, but it seems one thing is for sure: Star Trek isn’t done with this wicked little corner of their mythology, and we might now be poised to see more than ever before.

Are you excited for a potential return to the Mirror Universe on Star Trek: Discovery? Be sure to let us know your thoughts down below in the comments.

Images: CBS / IDW Comics 

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