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In episodes 18 and 19 of the 4th series of Star Trek Enterprise ("In a Mirror, Darkly") the characters exist in a dark mirror universe where Star Fleet is the military arm of an aggressive terran empire.

All the normal characters exist but as evil versions of their normal characters in the series. But we seem to see occasional flashes of what looks like a normal version of Archer, making suggestions to his evil mirror image.

No explanation is given for why we are watching a mirror universe or how it relates to the normal universe of the show. Nor is it clear why Archer is talking to himself.

Did I miss something? Is there an in-universe explanation for the two episodes?

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These two episodes of Enterprise takes place, chronologically in the Mirror Universe, in between the Original Series episodes "The Tholian Web" and "Mirror, Mirror".

In "The Tholian Web", the Enterprise encounters a ship, the USS Defiant trapped in a "dimensional rift", which eventually disappears. Kirk is aboard the Defiant when this happens, and is trapped "between dimensions" until, eventually, Spock is able to rescue him. They are hampered by a race of beings called Tholians, who claim that region of space as their own.

In "Mirror, Mirror", we are introduced to the "mirror" universe, which is an alternative-history version of the main universe. It contains "opposite" versions of all of the characters (all the heroic characters are evil, Starfleet is warmongering, etc).

These two episodes of Enterprise connect those two episode of the Original Series. First, we see the Vulcan first contact event, and a much more violent and aggressive humanity, leading to the very war-like Starfleet of the mirror universe. Later, Archer wants to go on a mission to capture an advanced starship from the future -- this is actually the Defiant from the main universe, having been sent into the mirror universe and the past by whatever dimensional rift it got trapped in. This means going into Tholian space to get it.

The "other Archer" that Archer sees is just a hallucination. While on the Defiant, Archer and Sato read through the ship's records. Mirror Archer is shown main-universe Archer's service record, including how important main-universe Archer was in forming the Federation of Planets. Mirror Archer then begins to hallucinate this "other version", with the hallucination constantly berating him for being a failure.

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    So the series "Enterprise" just expects all it viewers to know this? Are there any actual clues inside the episode? – matt_black Nov 18 '16 at 8:18
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    @matt_black yes, I think so. The "mirror universe" has been a major thing in Star Trek for many years. Here are all the episodes that visit it. Also, the mirror universe isn't entirely populated by purely evil characters - there is a mirror (somewhat) Federation-like alliance founded by the mirror Klingons and Cardassians and incorporating several other races. – Robert Columbia Nov 18 '16 at 15:30
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    @matt_black also, it's worth mentioning that the episode title you mentioned, "In a Mirror, Darkly", is a Biblical reference to 1 Corinthians 13:12, which is about how unclear things will become clearer with time. The broader chapter discusses the ramifications of someone who lacks love, which is an apt description of most Mirror Universe humans under the Terran Empire. – Robert Columbia Nov 19 '16 at 13:00
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Watch the TOS episode "Mirror Mirror" and all will be clearer:

"Mirror, Mirror" is an episode of the science fiction television series, Star Trek (The Original Series).

The episode involves a transporter malfunction that swaps Captain Kirk and his companions with their evil counterparts in a parallel universe. In the so-called Mirror Universe, the Enterprise is a ship of the Terran Empire, an organization as evil as the United Federation of Planets is benevolent.

Mirror Mirror on Wikipedia

  • That doesn't explain the main question, what's with the hallucination. – cde Nov 18 '16 at 0:40
  • So the series Enterprise expects us to be familiar with several episodes in other series to be able to make sense of some of its own episodes? – matt_black Nov 18 '16 at 8:17

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