The year was 2267, and the USS Enterprise, captained by James T. Kirk, had entered a parallel universe where people and places had opposing characteristics from their prime universe version. No longer was Earth demonstrating the best in humanity but much rather, the malignant side we see all too frequently throughout the world today. The Mirror Universe has been a meager part of the Star Trek franchise, a place with endless possibilities to the adventurous spirit of the origins of the show, but one that never truly got fleshed out fully.
With Star Trek: Discovery, that could all be about to change.
Star Trek: Discovery has been coquetting the idea since L.t. Stamets mixed his DNA with that of the giant tardigrade known as ‘Ripper’. In episode five, “Choose Your Pain”, when Stamet walks away from a mirror he was gazing into, his reflection appears to continue looking back at him for a moment after. With Stamets now connected to the mycelium network, the microscopic web spanning the cosmos that intergalactic tardigrades like Ripper would use to cross vast distances, his Mirror Universe version might now be connected to him. The mycelium network’s ability to connect to other universes was near enough confirmed in the latest episode, “Into the Forest I Go”, Captain Lorca shows L.t. Stamets the data he has collected from the spore drive jumps, revealing its potential capabilities to find new dimensions entirely.
The mid-season finale of Star Trek: Discovery might well leave some of the disgruntled Star Trek fans with a little hope. Much criticism has been made about the series not going boldly where nobody has gone before, instead focusing on a war with the Klingons and character development. A rather languorous argument, one which failed to recognize the possibilities of the mycelium network and the obvious adventures that would unfold. Now that the USS Discovery has found itself somewhere unknown to the Federation, the Star Trek that fans are much more accustomed to might be about to take off. However, it is where the USS Discovery has found itself that is most curious.
If it is the Mirror Universe, then expect an uncomfortable plot to unfold; the bubbly xenophilia of the Federation wouldn’t exist. In the Mirror Universe, the first Vulcans to set foot on Earth were killed by an incredibly xenophobic version of humanity. Humans took a very different approach to their new warp capabilities and formed the Terran Empire, becoming the dominant power in the Alpha Quadrant; a Klingon-Cardassian alliance would eventually defeat the Terran Empire, freeing all the species it had enslaved. The USS Discovery would find itself in an increasingly hostile environment, especially as it is likely that, should it be in the Mirror Universe, its current position would be in the Terran territory.
The Mirror Universe remains just one of many possibilities (albeit a very likely one). A scarier scenario would have the USS Discovery teleported to the Delta Quadrant. Whilst not infeasible, it would ignore much of the original Star Trek series as rumors of the Borg had only reached the Alpha Quadrant by the 2350s, let alone knowledge of them. With Star Trek: Discovery taking place before the original series, the existence of the Borg would certainly be unknown; this assuming that should the series take the Delta Quadrant course, that the USS Discovery finds itself back in the Alpha Quadrant by the end.
The more boring possibility would have the USS Discovery time travel to the future, with the wreckages they find themselves around being the debris left behind from the war with the Klingons. Time travel has been too frequent in Star Trek as it is, especially with the latest films using it to justify the destruction of the planet Vulcan. Time travel is used so frequently, perhaps that would be a way to appease much of the Star Trek fandom (who often appear they are adverse to change).
For what it’s worth, the Mirror Universe would be the boldest scenario, and one which would certainly push Star Trek back to its founding principles of going where nobody has gone before. For all the criticism Star Trek: Discovery has received, it has done a fantastic job of setting the scene for the second chapter. The war with the Klingons was always the prologue before the true journey begins, with the mycelium network feeling like a game of Hero Quest. At this current moment, the USS Discovery is in a world completely alien, L’Rell is on the ship to open up the truth about Ash Tyler, and we still don’t know how Saru will truly influence the series. All that is to come, and for this Star Trek fan, the countdown begins for the second chapter.