The Problem with the Mirror Universe

Posted Monday, December 31st, 2012 12:25 pm GMT -4 by 0

So, I’m about to confess to something that will get me almost universally reviled on the internet: I hate the Mirror Universe (hitherto known as the Mirrorverse).

Where does that put me with my Trekkie friends? Not in terribly good standing, to be sure.

Still, I’m tired of being quiet about it, and since I have a keyboard and an opinion (no matter how inconsequential and useless it may be) you get to hear about it.

But first, a quick rundown for those of you who may or not be informed on the matter:

The Mirror Universe is an alternate timeline where humans are more interesting in kicking ass and taking names than they are in peaceful exploration. Girls wear sluttier uniforms and gold belts are the order of the day. Also, you generally get a beard if you are more evil than your mirrorverse counterpart.

Or, in the case of Enterprise, slutty uniforms for the woman are still a go, but men get have to lower their voices and speak gruffly… or Batman-in-a-Christopher-Nolan-movie-ly.

The first time we see the Mirrorverse is in The Original Series, where Kirk tries to make some sort of positive difference by appealing to Spock’s vulcanity (humanity done Vulcan-style). Ironically, it actually makes life suck even more in the Mirrorverse than it did before because the humans are viewed as weak and they immediately lose the empire and become slaves, which I find absolutely hilarious. Way to go Captain Kirk.

We also see the mirrorverse in an almost completely pointless two-part Enterprise episode, “In a Mirror, Darkly”. The place where the Mirrorverse has the most story, though, is Deep Space Nine, and therefore I’ll shall focus on that proportionately.

300 Years of Death, and Somehow the Appropriate Breeders Survive:

The two timelines of the Star Trek reality and the Mirrorverse reality diverged around 300 years before Deep Space Nine. Keep in mind that is 300 years of completely different timelines, which means different wars, different people dying, and different planets being explored/colonized because there was no such thing as the Prime Directive. It also means people getting enslaved and sent to different places.

You may be wondering what my point is in all this, so I’ll spell it out for you.

I’d really like to know how, by the time DS9 accidentally stumbles into the Mirrorverse, there is a Sisko, a Kira, a Garak or an O’Brien. The likelihood of any of these people’s ancestors still meeting up and having sexy times diminishes with every generation in such a hugely divergent timeline, especially after decades and decades of interstellar war and enslavement.

It’s just that I find it hard to believe in the case of the humans, that all the Star Trek lineages stayed intact.

Now, they do try to address this by having the miraculous non-birth of Jake Sisko in Deep Space Nine, but really… they think a good three hundreds years of impossible lineages can be lamp-shaded by the non-existence of one character? I am no fool, sirs!

Furthermore, even if some of the characters were born, what is the likelihood that they would all end up in the same place, and by this I mean, how is it possible that O’Brien happens to get enslaved and sent to Terok Nor, which is the same place Bashir and Sisko also happen to play pirate?

Now,  a lot of unlikely and coincidental things happen Star Trek that I’m willing to suspend my disbelief for, but for some reason this really gets to me… which is weird considering how willing I am to suspend my disbelief on a daily basis.

Gender Roles:

If indeed the point of divergence was Zefram Cochrane, it’s interesting to note that the writers of the Mirrorverse think that women’s rights have been set back to the dark ages..

… or at the least the dark ages of what sci-fi writers in the 1960s think women should be.

And some would argue that means they get to be sexually liberated, and that’s a good thing! Of course it is… You know… If it’s the 1960s. Only problem is that it’s 2012 and we can see the uniforms women are supposed to wear for what they are: marginalizers. They force the women of the Enterprise in both The Original Series and Enterprise into using largely sexual tactics (though props to T’pol for using a gun once). Which, I suppose if you have that weapon in your arsenal, you should use it… but the hypersexualization of all women in the mirrorverse when they share so much of our past is somewhat unnerving.

That being said, in the Star Trek verse, there is the Eugenics War in the 1990s, and World War III in 2020sish, so maybe something happened then, and I just have to accept that all the female role models I looked up to in normal Star Trek don’t get to be interestingly evil, quirky, or what have you because of some unspecified happening in Earth’s past that stuck women on the lower rung yet again. No. They just have lots of sex.

Now, if I were to address this hermeneutically and accept that context of which the stories were written, this would be less of a problem. After all, Deep Space Nine is not so guilty of the hypersexualiztion. Enterprise, however, is. Contextually, I would have to recognize that it was because they had to set up what happens in “Mirror, Mirror” and it would be inconsistent to suggest that women were more or less equal partners with men on their own merits.

But… I can argue that very little of Enterprise is actually consistent with The Original Series.

Nature versus Nurture:

I’m a firm believer that nature and nurture are both complicit in making a person’s reactions to situations. And strangely–and take note of this, because I rarely cite The Original Series as being the an example of excellence– TOS is the only series to properly do the Mirrorverse in this respect.

This is because I believe that Kirk can be a barbarian jackass who kills at the drop of a hat. That really is not out of realm of possibility for me. Also, Spock’s character is actually rather unchanged when it comes to his personality, though I do question his existence seeing that at this time in the Mirrorverse humans believe all other races were subhuman, so his mixed heritage is a bit dubious.

But Enterprise, Hoshi Sato goes from a shy girl who is terrified of going into space and turns into the biggest sexual predator to ever take over an empire. One would think that violent world would make a shy girl even more shy, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in the world of Star Trek. Ezri, of course, is another example of shy girl turned aggressive (who also likes lots of inappropriate sex with inappropriate people to get places).

It’s basically the actors not playing their own characters, and it’s frustrating. Yes, I can see Sisko turning to a badass jerk if he somehow existed 300 years later though I don’t think he’d be quite so rapey and pillagey and I can see Archer being that paranoid military man if circumstances were different enough… and I guess I can even sort of see Kira as a dominatrix.

But Ezri goes mercenary? Garak goes sycophant? Hoshi goes sex-crazed empress-in-the-making? Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope.

Okay, I’m getting a little down on it. There’s like what? Five or so characters I think would never happen no matter what nurturing they received?

To summarize:

I almost universally skip Mirrorverse episodes unless it’s TOS: “Mirror, Mirror”. So sue me.

  • Schneckenmann

    While I agree with points 1 and 2 (although 1 doesn’t bother me, I guess my suspension of disbelief is extraordinarily hard to break) I’m not so sure about this nature vs nurture thing. I’m not the greatest Trek connoisseur but I always assumed that in the Mirrorverse it’s not a matter of ‘same characters, different circumstances’. I think their nature is altered as well. It’s not an alternative timeline with a clear diverging point, be it Cochrane and the Borg invasion, or with McCoy going back in time in The City at the Edge of Forever, I’ve heard all these theories, but I think the alternative reality didn’t sprout from our own at any time. I think they truly are parallel and both have always existed. Literally a mirror of each other. I remember somewhere (I think Enterprise, but I’m not sure) they talk about how historical authors have been different in both universes, going as back as Shakespeare. Also, why would an alteration of Earth history also make the Cardassians ally with Bajorans, or make the Ferengi a honest and altruistic kind, or make that hologram singer a non-hologram (OK, that one is hard to rationalize with any logic; better just accept it as a joke)