by Gavin Edwards

Like so many plot twists on Star Trek, it began with a transporter accident: Kirk and his away team beamed onto an alternate Enterprise, an imperial starship where crewmembers strap on daggers and are punished for betrayals in the Agony Booth. "Our" Kirk and cohorts outwitted the savage mirror-reflection counterparts of the Enterprise crew and returned home—as always. Since that original "Mirror, Mirror" episode, the universes have overlapped several more times: in the Next Generation novel Dark Mirror, Picard must repel an invasion from the mirror universe's ISS 1701-D Enterprise, while three episodes of Deep Space Nine have made crossovers between the two continuums an annual tradition. Talk about Trek! The mirror universe is supposed to be a moral inversion of the Trek world we know: good characters turn ruthless, while the profiteering Quark turns into a philanthropist smuggling humanitarian aid. By looking at the mirror, we can obtain a sharper picture of the original.

The mirror universe actually might better be called the sexy universe, or the pirate universe. The characters strut around, wiggling their hips, wearing glittery outfits and revealing a lot of skin. And the list of sexual liaisons on the other side of the mirror reads like a table of contents for a slash-fiction compilation: Sulu and Uhura, Sisko and Dax, Sisko and Kira, Troi and Riker, even Picard and Crusher (Beverly Crusher, that is. No pedophilic angles are explored, even over there.)

When Kirk returns to his own ship, Spock reports on the savage counterparts who beamed into our universe: "brutal, savage, unprincipled, uncivilized, treacherous... in every way, splendid examples of homo sapiens; the very flower of humanity." Identical in name and physique, the counterparts are sufficiently similar in personality to point out the ruthless qualities of our own crews. Our favorite Starfleet personnel are all fascinated by their evil reflection, not unlike a cat that keeps attacking its analogue in the mirror. If the other side is home to the Trek crews' opposites, then what are the moral underpinnings of our heroes in the Trek universe? Flip the coin: They're peace-loving, they're trustworthy, they don't get laid much, they wear dorky uniforms. On such pillars is Gene Roddenberry's vision of a future intergalactic civilization built.

The most provocative scene in any of the doppelganger encounters is when Major Kira is captured by her own equivalent, the Intendant who ruthlessly rules over DS9. Intendant Kira is fascinated by Kira and delighted to have a new toy; her interest is clearly sexual. This corresponds nicely with the Lacanian "mirror phase" of development, where the infant first learns of its own reflection; initially it will consider it a fragmented piece of itself, later it will absorb it into its own worldview. The phase corresponds with Freud's auto-erotic stage of infancy: hence the Intendant's interest in her own reflected self. But while the mirror universe's inhabitants consistently want to find some way to join the universes and travel back and forth between them, our heroes are trapped in an earlier stage of development and can barely acknowledge their twins' connection to themselves.

Those connections are deep and unexplained. Although interstellar civilizations rise and fall in both universes, somehow our characters remain close to the same part of the galaxy as their counterparts. Humans are a slave race, yet Sisko, O'Brien, and Bashir all end up in the same far-flung corner of the Alpha Quadrant. Who dreamed who, anyway?   </end>

Photos of Major Kira Nerys and Lietenant Commander Geordi LaForge © 1996 Paramount Pictures Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

GAVIN EDWARDS is the author of 'Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy and Other Misheard Lyrics.
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