Terra Incognita is the new Star Trek: The Next Generation series for IDW, following directly from the events in Through the Mirror.
To recap, Through the Mirror saw an evil-Mirror Universe version of the Enterprise crew beam down, cause some damage and scamper away, save for one person: Barclay. Mirror Barclay managed to stay on the Enterprise undetected and restrain his doppleganger, presumably to take his place among the crew.
That’s exactly where things start up, with Mirror Barclay explaining his motives to his good-guy counterpart. In his world, self-preservation and ruthlessness are the name of the game, and he’s trying to apply that to the more gentle Trek world we know. His plans aren’t all bad, though: he doesn’t want to kill Barclay, and even makes sure to feed Data’s cat. Mirror Barclay might not be the meanie he’s pretending to be.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Enterprise crew is working to repair the failed warp drive on the U.S.S. Hood, who are delivering a team of Vulcan embassadors to the Federation for talks. The plot in Terra Incognita feels more like a TNG episode: there’s a lot less action, and a lot more discussion of intergalatic politics between characters. Having Riker, Deanna and Dr. Crusher sit and discuss the previous conflicts with the Cardassians slows down the story in a good way, reminding the readers of the stakes an feeling true to the characters.
Mirror Barclay is struggling to fit in on the Enterprise. He tries to order a whiskey from Guinan, who immediately senses something suspicious is going on, and then is summond by an unimpressed LaForge. Barclay thought he could saunter into engineering and impress his way up the ranks, but it’s going to be a harder battle than that. Even though he knows how to fix the Hood’s warp drive, a common issue in his world, no one will listen.
Seeing how the Enterprise crew dismiss and make fun of Barclay makes it clear how long Mirror Barclay will be able to operate unnoticed. If it had been a more popular member of the crew, his unusual quirks might be clocked sooner. Terra Incognita is actually illuminating the flaws within our favourite characters, even if we didn’t notice it right away.
And that’s also how Barclay gets to set himself up as the big hero: when everything seems to be breaking, he runs in and fixes the warp drive in front of everyone and saves the day — making sure to let LaForge know he tried to explain it earlier. Picard is impressed, and Barclay couldn’t be happier.
But it makes you wonder what Mirror Barclay’s motives actually are — he doesn’t seem interested in making trouble, at least not yet. He really did fix the warp drive and wanted praise from Picard, even if he called him a stick in the mud later. Does Barclay want to move up the ranks, take on a ship of his own and start a new life? Or is he just gaining everyone’s trust to screw them over, or beam his Mirror counterparts back into this world?
Either way, he better not forget to feed the cat.
Star Trek: Terra Incognita #1 is now available from IDW Publishing.