On the Web – Star Trek Continues – Episode 3 “Fairest of Them All”
In the absence of any official Star Trek entries appearing on TV and a less than frequent release schedule for movies a number of fan productions have sprung up in an attempt to fill the Star Trek sized hole in the lives of fans.
These productions come in all shapes in sizes, cover different time periods and different characters but this one returns to what started it all, Captain James T Kirk and the crew of his U.S.S. Enterprise. It’s well documented that this series was cancelled at the end of season three which means they only completed three out of five years in their five year mission so this series seeks to finish this off.
Prior to this one there have been two episodes -“Pilgrim of Eternity” and “Lolani”- that have received generally positive reception. I know that I really liked them and may review them at some future point when I have the time but for now I’ll stick to the current events.
If you ask any fan of Star Trek what their top five favourite episodes of The Original Series were then chances are “Mirror, Mirror” will be on that list. For decades fans have been fascinated by the brutal and amoral alternate universe that Kirk, McCoy, Uhura and Scotty stumbled into. Deep Space Nine and Enterprise have both done episodes dealing with this universe but the events following the original incursion were only spoke about -Unless you read the various short stories and novels that detail these events.
This episode serves as a direct sequel to “Mirror, Mirror”, picking up seconds after the end of that episode. Taking a leaf out of Enterprise’s storytelling methodology this episode is set entirely in the alternate universe with no crossover from the universe that we’re familiar with other than the recreation of the scene where Kirk inspires the alternate Spock to start a revolution. The story involves Spock’s campaign to overthrow Kirk and show the crew that there is a better way.
I have to say that I absolutely loved this episode. Unfortunately I’m unable to find information on who wrote this episode but whoever it was deserves lots of credit as the story here was incredibly tight. The pace of the plot remained frantic throughout and the characters were effectively realised. One advantage of doing an episode like this is that many of the characters are essentially a blank slate, we don’t get much of an idea of what Kirk, Spock, Uhura and Scotty’s alternate versions are like from their single scene appearance in “Mirror, Mirror” so those characters can be developed easily since there are no constraints on them.
That being said, I thought that Spock was very well done here, he was idealistic and determined but still possessing a large degree of intelligence and cunning so never came across as naive in sticking to the ideals that have only recently become clear to him. He still knows how this universe -and most importantly his Captain- works and knows he has to operate within the framework of the organisation that he’s a part of. His plan to take over the Enterprise was -for want of a better word- logical and it’s easy to see why people on the crew would switch allegiances and work for him since Kirk rules with an iron fist. I don’t think that Spock seemed different enough to be an alternate version, at times I had to mentally remind myself that it was the alternate version, it might have been better if he’d been more ruthless and more visibly fighting the desire to use the methodology that had no doubt got him so far in his career. In terms of acting I actually thought Todd Haberkorn did a really good job, I could see shades of Nimoy in his performance but he still managed to put a little of his own stamp on the character, possibly aided by the fact that he’s playing an alternate version of the character.
On the other end of the spectrum Vic Mignogna’s Kirk was really good in this episode. He came across as a man who greatly enjoys all the terrible things a Captain in the Terran Empire has to do to further the cause of the empire as well as their own interests. Mignogna plays him with high levels of paranoia in every scene showing how terrified he is of losing the feeling of terror he instils in the crew. It’s clear that he’s always aware that if those under his command lose their fear of him then he will quickly lose his command. The character is also performed with a villainous sneer and it’s obvious that Mignogna’s having a blast playing this dark and over the top version of the character.
Chris Doohan -son of the original Scotty, James Doohan- plays Scotty in this series. Again, this is an alternate version with a blank slate but I didn’t see too many differences between the alternate Scotty and the main universe version. In the context of the narrative this makes sense given that he’s very quick to join Spock’s cause. He didn’t have an awful lot to do in the episode other than do some engineering stuff and tell Kirk that what he has asked for is impossible but the performance is natural enough and seems to nicely channel the original actor. There’s no better replacement for the original than his son, that’s for sure.
Asia DeMarcos takes on the role of the Captain’s woman Marlena Moreau, after the events of the original episode her head is full of what could be and what she could achieve, It’s obvious that she’d join Spock’s cause and DeMarcos plays her with a constant sense of trepidation which makes sense since she knows better than anyone what happens to Kirk’s enemies. Couldn’t really fault her acting as she very capably evoked the character from the classic episode.
The rest of the cast all do their jobs nicely. Chuck Huber’s McCoy is brutally uncaring, Kim Stinger’s Uhura is played with a nice sense of vulnerability to show that the life she lives isn’t one that she really enjoys. Grant Imahara’s Sulu has a fun villainous attitude. Wyatt Lenhart’s Checkov hardly appears as does Michele Speckt’s Elise McKenna -a new character created for this series.
Going back to the story, I’ve mentioned that I thought it was nicely paced and clearly structured. I also thought that the style of writing very much evoked an episode of the series, if this had been produced in the 60s then it would have fit right into the series. Between the dialogue and style of the scenes I really felt like I was watching an old school episode of Star Trek and I absolutely loved it. Some of the scenes were pretty cheesy but that’s how it was back then, I like that a conscious decision seems to have been made to preserve the fun and positive outlook of the series without trying to make it relevant by making it dark and gritty like everything else seems to be going. I also appreciated that it didn’t need to have a long and unnecessary space battle to pad out the story, there was more than enough to interest the audience through the character interactions and well paced story. Also, there’s a great Michael Dorn cameo where he voices the alternate Enterprise computer.
A really strong episode with lots of exciting moments. It’s always fun to venture into the mirror universe and explore the insanity that exists here. Aside from some contrivances and the fact that some of the characters didn’t feel all that different from their prime universe counterparts this episode was lots of fun and I look forward to the production team returning to the prime universe for another story set there. I’ll take this over the high budget Abrams movies any day. I’m very glad these are allowed to exist and that they’re created with such loving reverence to the show that we all love so much.