In the first of a new series here on Set The Tape, we look at five different Star Trek tales that add to or explore similar themes and ideas as those in the most recent episode of Star Trek: Discovery.
This week we begin with episode 11, ‘The Wolf Inside’. Please be wary of SPOILERS, sweetie… oops, wrong franchise!
The Enemy Within (The Original Series)
The security officer formally known as Ash Tyler finally confronted his true nature in ‘The Wolf Inside’ this week as he faced off against himself, encountering his Mirror Universe self in the form of Voq.
Star Trek has a long history of characters being split into two and presenting mirror images of themselves. In one of the earliest episodes of The Original Series, and one of its most iconic, a transporter accident splits Captain Kirk into two Kirk’s, one feral and aggressive and the other good and gentle. Like many episodes of The Original Series, this episode climaxes in a fist fight as the two Kirk’s clash. In Discovery, Tyler is so incensed by Voq’s human like traits that he is triggered and ends up in a losing battle with his other self.
Journey To Babel (The Original Series)
The Andorians and Tellarites make their debut in Discovery, joining forces alongside the Klingons and Sarek from Vulcan as they rebel against the Terran Empire.
The Andorians, Tellarites and Sarek himself all made their franchise debut over fifty years earlier in ‘Journey to Babel’. Unlike in ‘The Wolf Inside’, there is tension between these three races as they head for Federation talks to discuss admitting Coridan into the organisation. While the Mirror Universe is known for being an upside down reality, where good is evil, it is fascinating to compare the at times uneasy alliance portrayed in The Original Series with the band of rebels united in the Mirror Universe.
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Michael Burnham is sent on a mission in ‘The Wolf Inside’ to wipe out a rebel base, but when she discovers that it is led by Voq, she finds that in the Mirror Universe he considers fellow aliens to be his equal, unlike the man Burnham previously encountered.
She wants to find out how this is possible and if she can use this knowledge to help bring peace to her prime universe. Mirror Voq is also guided by Kahless and too believes in unity, this time the coming together of alien races in the face of Terran Empire aggression.
This journey to peace with the Klingons will take several decades but Burnham’s encounter with mirror Voq shows what it will take for the Klingon Empire to come together with other races. In The Undiscovered Country the Klingons face extinction following the destruction of Praxis, a key energy facility due to over mining. The Klingons have no choice under threat but to join with the Federation and to put decades of war, mistrust and aggression behind them to preserve their species and values of face extinction.
For The Uniform (Deep Space Nine)
As Ash Tyler reveals his wolf inside to Burnham, she joins an extensive list of Star Trek characters that have faced deception from a fellow officer.
In Deep Space Nine, no stranger itself to morally dubious characters, Michael Eddington, also a Federation chief of security, has betrayed his uniform, Captain Sisko and Starfleet for the Maquis rebellion. It remains to be seen what the consequences for the crew of the Discovery will be following Tyler’s exposure but in Deep Space Nine it drove Sisko close to madness as he chased down Eddington, taking his betrayal intensely personally.
Star Trek: Nemesis
“Look into the mirror and see your true self.”
The Next Generation crew never ventured into the Mirror Universe on screen but in episodes like ‘Second Chances’ and ‘Parallels’, we saw alternative realities or roads taken for our characters.
The final TNG movie, Nemesis, highlighted the moral and philosophical differences the same character takes when raised in different environments. Shinzon, a cloned version of Picard raised in slavery, under the lash of Romulans and darkness, eventually grew to want to wipe out the Federation. Picard, the face of Federation values, of better natures and bringing people together, must face off against him. It’s a potent commentary on how the same men from different worlds can grow to be enormously different people. Almost like a mirror image, in fact…
Star Trek Discovery is airing now on Netflix.