Star Trek Has Finally Revealed the Evil Enterprise's Weird Fate

Watch out for any goatees.

Star Trek
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Today, everyone knows what a multiverse is. But back in 1967, parallel universe stories weren’t nearly as common as they are now, even within the sci-fi genre. A classic Star Trek episode, Jerome Bixby’s “Mirror, Mirror,” helped popularize the alternate universe trope, complete with meaner versions of yourself who may rock an evil little goatee like Mirror Spock.

Star Trek’s Mirror Universe also gave us an alternate version of the USS Enterprise in the ISS Enterprise, a ship that served the Imperial Terran Empire, not the United Federation of Planets. Now, in the Discovery Season 5 episode “Mirrors,” the evil ISS Enterprise is back... as a force for good. Here’s what it all means. Spoilers ahead.

The ISS Enterprise returns

Captain Burnham watches the ISS Enterprise warp to Federation HQ.


While pursuing the thieves Moll and L’ak, Book and Burnham take a shuttlecraft into an unstable wormhole and discover the floating, pseudo-derelict ISS Enterprise. One of the clues to the Progenitor’s tech has been hidden on it, but for Burnham, it’s kind of like a bizzaro universe homecoming. Burnham spent a decent amount of time in the Mirror Universe in Discovery Season 1, and in Season 2 she found herself on the Enterprise with her brother Spock just before jumping from the 23rd century to the 32nd century.

In “Mirrors,” Burnham notes that “crossing between universes has been impossible for centuries,” which means the ISS Enterprise must have crossed over into the Prime Universe well before the 32nd century. Burnham is referencing the events of Discovery Season 3, when we learned that Philippa Georgiou, a resident of the Mirror Universe, couldn’t go back to her home universe because those dimensions had drifted apart. But the ISS Enterprise, which was previously captained by an evil Kirk, crossed over into the Prime Universe well before that moment, and Discovery has now added details connecting The Original Series, Deep Space Nine, and Discovery Season 3.

How evil Spock became good

Spock talking with Kirk in “Mirror, Mirror.”


In the Deep Space Nine episode “Crossover” we learn that after Kirk talked to Mirror Spock and encouraged him to try making the Terran Empire a peaceful power, Mirror Spock did just that. But as Mirror Kira explained, Mirror Spock’s idealism didn’t work out the way he’d hoped:

“Spock rose to Commander in Chief of the Empire by preaching reforms, disarmament, peace. It was quite a remarkable turnabout for his people. Unfortunately for them, when Spock had completed all these reforms, his empire was no longer in any position to defend itself against us [the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance].”

Discovery appears to be referencing this exact event, even if Spock isn’t named outright. When Book learns the ISS Enterprise became a refugee ship for people who’d turned against the Empire, he says, “The Terran High Chancellor was killed for trying to make reforms.”

This likely references Spock, but adds the twist that he was perhaps betrayed by other people within the Terran Empire, even if Earth adopted his reforms. Now, by the end of “Mirrors,” the 23rd-century ISS Enterprise has been moved to the Prime Universe and the 32nd century. It’s an antique by modern standards, but it’s a contemporary of the USS Discovery, so it’s still serviceable. This means that by the end of Discovery Season 5 there will still be a version of the classic Enterprise floating around Federation headquarters, so when the Starfleet Academy series debuts, 32nd-century Starfleet cadets will have access to the classic version of the most famous Enterprise. It may technically be an evil twin, but its historic adventures aren’t over just yet.

Star Trek: Discovery and The Original Series stream on Paramount+.

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