Long before Patrick Stewart was trekking across the stars, one of his most noteworthy roles was as Sejanus in the BBC adaptation of I, Claudius. Prefect of the Praetorian Guard, Sejanus was someone who rose to a position of power and influence over the Roman Empire, before his aspirations of ruling saw his ultimate downfall.
Sejanus has some similarities to the ‘Mirror Universe’ Jean-Luc Picard we see in Star Trek: The Mirror War, as he too has a lust for control. This dark version of Picard sees himself as supplanting the current head of the Terran Empire, rising to the highest office, and ruling supreme. There is a quote from the historian Cassius Dio about Sejanus, which would appear to apply equally well to this alternate Picard: “Sejanus was so great a person by reason both of his excessive haughtiness and of his vast power, that, to put it briefly, he himself seemed to be the emperor”
Picard, however, appears to be setting up his own downfall and ending up with a rather similar fate to Sejanus, as plans are afoot behind the scenes to move against him. Scott and David Tipton have set in motion a chain of events which are moving towards a potentially explosive finale, in this latest issue of their IDW event series, with Picard in danger of just unravelling as his paranoia starts to get the better of him. It seems, however, that some of his suspicion is justified.
Whilst some of the Tiptons’ characterisations of the various doppelgänger variants of The Next Generation’s crew has, at times, felt to be somewhat one-note and broad, here we see some depth and fleshing out. Court intrigues arise, with his closest and – in some cases – most trusted cohorts teaming to formulate a strategy against the Captain. As anyone who has ever watched the Star Trek episode ‘Mirror, Mirror’ will well know, loyalty in the ‘Mirror Universe’ is something that can shift so easily.
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There is no better evidence of this than an attempted ‘palace coup’ which takes place aboard the ISS Enterprise-D early in the issue. Readers of the series will be unsurprised to find the identity of the ringleader, given their machinations earlier in the story. The outcome of the uprising helps to reinforce that life in the Terran Empire can be nasty, brutish and short, with the lesson here being that those who live by the sword can be likely to die by it too – or worse.
With a war building up on more than one front, and enemies from within starting to rise, Jean-Luc needs to be careful not to end up hoist by his own Picard. The forthcoming climax of The Mirror War has been neatly positioned by the Tiptons to be something potentially rather special, so hopefully the big finale will live up to that promise.
Star Trek: The Mirror War #7 is out now from IDW Publishing.