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Star Trek: Discovery 505 “Mirrors” Review: Navigating Reflections

Star Trek: Discovery "Mirrors" Review: Navigating Reflections
Photo credit: Paramount+

Review: Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 Episode 5 “Mirrors”

Star Trek: Discovery picks up immediately where “Face the Strange” left off, as our protagonists track their quarry’s ship to a hidden, interdimensional pocket of space that holds a few surprises for them and the audience.

Thanks to some sciencing from Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman), Captain Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) has a way to find where Moll (Eve Harlow) and L’ak (Elias Toufexis) are. Apparently, there’s a wormhole hiding in plain sight near where Discovery lost track of the criminals’ warp signature.

This wormhole is too small for a Crossfield-class ship to fit through, so Burnham and Cleveland Booker (David Ajala) – the latter of whom is on a mission to rehabilitate Moll, if possible – take a shuttle and see what’s on the other side of the wormhole’s aperture. Find a surprise, they do indeed, as the I.S.S. Enterprise, the evil version of the heroic Starfleet ship, is nestled in the wormhole – albeit without its crew, which apparently evacuated the vessel at some point. It’s beaten to hell and serves as a refuge for Moll and L’ak, whose own ship was destroyed by the interdimensional pocket of space’s destructive environment.

Eve Harlow as Moll in Star Trek: Discovery, episode 5, season 5, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: John Medland/Paramount+

Discovery writers sure can be sneaky! They’ve been foreshadowing the appearance of a Constitution­-class for the last two episodes; remember when Gen Rhys (Patrick Kwok-Choon) and Commander Rayner (Callum Keith Rennie) both remarked the Connie was their favorite ship? As we’ll see, this isn’t the last bit of foreshadowing that comes true in this episode.

“How did it end up in interdimensional space?”

“I don’t know. Must be one hell of a story.”

– Book and Burnham upon seeing the I.S.S. Enterprise

Astute viewers will recognize an often-used cost-saving measure in the annals of Star Trek history: the reuse of sets from another concurrent show. (Seriously, rewatch TNG, DS9, and Voyager and you’ll be surprised how often props and sets are reused between those shows.) As Burnham and Book explore various halls and rooms, including the bridge and sickbay, the familiar surroundings seen in Strange New Worlds are subtly transformed by Mirror Universe iconography. While nods to the iconic starship Enterprise are always appreciated, our initial reaction to this surprise location—admittedly tinged with pessimism—is that it’s of course it’s the Enterprise. A practical move, perhaps, to keep expenses in check. By Grabthar’s hammer… what a savings.

Finding the ship deserted sure is strange, and Burnham and Book ascertain Moll and L’ak are in sickbay, presumably with the next clue in the Progenitor puzzle. But first, the pair check out the transporter room, which holds some strange items, such as blankets, children’s toys, and a locket that holds a picture of two people, which Burnham inexplicably decides to take with her. Moreover, the dedication plaque of the I.S.S Enterprise tells the story of the ship and its crew: the Terran Universe emperor seemingly tried to make changes to the way things were done in that evil universe, and the Enterprise escaped and picked up refugees who were trying to flee the Terran Universe and enter the Prime Universe.

One of the leaders among those on the Enterprise was a Kelpien, who Burnham deduces must have been the Mirror Universe version of Saru, and that the crew must have fled the Enterprise once it got stuck in the interdimensional pocket of space. Is it just us, or does this sound like a potential episode of Strange New Worlds?

L-R Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham Elias Toufexis as L’ak in Star Trek: Discovery, episode 5, season 5, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: John Medland/Paramount+

Burnham, Book, Moll, and L’ak face off in sickbay, where Burnham makes a startling connection between L’ak and a particular dilemma he is facing. The criminal pair hope to use the Progenitor treasure to clear L’ak’s Breen blood bounty. Yes, L’ak is Breen, that enigmatic and masked species from Deep Space Nine. Neato!

The rest of the episode bounces between what’s happening on the Enterprise, and flashing back to how Moll and L’ak first met and became romantically involved. Moll, the courier, would do business on the Breen space station on which L’ak, a member of a royal Breen family, was posted. The two connected over L’ak’s recent demotion and efforts to fight the embarrassment that came with it.

Over some time, the two became nearly inseparable, and L’ak even took the bold step with Moll by showing her his face – a big deal in Breen culture, as keeping their masks on allows them to retain their true, semi-transparent form, and not the solidified appearance we’ve seen on L’ak. Their relationship is tested when L’ak’s superior (and uncle), Primarch Ruhn (Tony Nappo) decides to interrupt their courtship. L’ak doesn’t take kindly to being asked to kill Moll, so the Breen turns on his own people, earns a Breen blood bounty, and flees with Moll. The pair now share a goal: earn enough latinum to retire on an (unnamed) fabled planet somewhere in the Gamma Quadrant, free from the trials and hardships of the courier life.

Suffice it to say, “Mirrors” is most memorable because it casts a welcome light on the shadowed backstory of this season’s main villains. Moll and L’ak are now a relatable pair, star-crossed lovers who are hell-bent on earning themselves a happy ending. As much as we don’t want to see the Progenitors’ tech get into the wrong hands, who now doesn’t want to see everything work out for Moll and L’ak?

L-R Elias Toufexis as L’ak and Eve Harlow as Moll in Star Trek: Discovery, episode 5, season 5, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: John Medland/Paramount+

Anyway, the quartet still need to get off the Enterprise, but the shuttle on which Burnham and Book arrived is destroyed by the turbulent pocket of space. With mere minutes to spare before the Enterprise is destroyed by the wormhole’s tiny aperture, Book and Moll share some last-minute words about their shared relationship with the late Cleveland Booker, and how Book hopes Moll makes the right choices regarding her quest for the Progenitor tech. Burnham, meanwhile, engages in a melee with L’ak, and the Breen ends up injured and inadvertently relinquishes control to Burnham of the next map piece in the Progenitor puzzle. The courier and disgraced Breen end up escaping the ship in a convenient Terran warp pod, leaving the chase between our heroes and enemies for another day.

“If we hit it precisely with a sequential hexagonal pattern, it should stay open for approximately sixty seconds. But once it collapses, it’s gone for good.”

“Why hexagonal?”

“Doesn’t matter… it’ll work.”

– Adira (Blu del Barrio), Rayner, and Stamets as the crew finds a way to get the wormhole aperture bigger. We think this line from Stamets is reflective of the evolving working relationship between the results-orientated Rayner and the crew, and how this relationship is getting better the longer Rayner is first officer.

Burnham devises a novel way to signal her first officer for help in getting the Enterprise through the aperture: a pulsing tractor beam emitting from the Enterprise, shot through the wormhole’s opening, in a numerical sequence featured in a famous play from Kellerun culture. Rayner is then able to lead his crew to devise a way to pull the Enterprise into normal space.

The sequence where Rayner is faced with command of a ship tasked with the near-impossible rescue of his captain is the best of the episode. It’s no secret Rayner was knocked down a few pegs after his demotion and reassignment to Discovery, but that lack of confidence and inner angst is demolished thanks to Rayner listening and working with his bridge crew to save the Enterprise. Plenty of lesser-known bridge officers get a say in how Discovery could help the Mirror ship, and lightning-fast decision-making shows Rayner back on his game.

The last element to note about this episode is some emotional trouble Doctor Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz) is having. Tilly provides an outlet for this angst. Culber explains the experiences he’s had in the last few years – namely dying, coming back to life, and being a Trill host – really put into perspective the intellectual journey he is on in the face of the Progenitor’s quest. Tilly helps him realize he isn’t only experiencing an intellectual quest, but a spiritual one. This conversation is just another instance of Discovery setting up some wild expectations for what the crew might ultimately discover at the end of the season – something beyond the bounds of science, perhaps?

Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham in Star Trek: Discovery, episode 5, season 5, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: John Medland/Paramount+

Even though their prey gets away again, Burnham and her crew have the next clue in the Progenitor puzzle, and it is hiding in the I.S.S. Enterprise’s sickbay. Hidden in the map piece Burnham grabbed from L’ak is a vial, which Stamets will analyze soon. Burnham learns the crew who escaped from the I.S.S. Enterprise ended up in the Prime Universe and were able to start new lives. A Terran scientist aboard the Enterprise, Dr. Cho, ended up being a branch admiral, and we’re meant to assume she was one of the scientists on Dr. Vellek’s team hundreds of years ago as they studied the Progenitor tech. Dr. Cho then hid her piece of the Progenitor puzzle aboard her old ship as a symbolic gesture of her ability to find freedom in a new universe.

Discovery continues its final season with another thumbs-up episode that serves an important lore-building role in the franchise. Seeing the Breen again is a joy, especially since we were staring at one the whole time and never knew it. And how striking was that Breen space station where L’ak was based? Another important note for Star Trek historians is that now the Mirror Universe Enterprise is in the 32nd century, and stationed near Earth thanks to Joann Owosekun and Keyla Detmer piloting the ship back to Federation space. Will we see that ship again this season?

As the Progenitor puzzle deepens, so do the emotional stakes for our crew, exemplified by Culber’s introspective journey, the subtle reignition of Book and Burnham’s relationship, and Rayner’s triumphant return to leadership. We’re now at the halfway point in this season, so there’s still plenty of time for surprises, emotional consequences, and expectation-setting for this eagerly awaited treasure.  

Stray Thoughts:

  • Hopefully, you’re watching this episode with subtitles on, because goodness is it hard to hear what masked Breen says.

  • The Mirror Universe version of the U.S.S. Enterprise was last seen in the Original Series episode “Mirror, Mirror,” albeit this wasn’t the Strange New Worlds version of the ship. Likewise, the Terran version of Spock, whom Booker asks if Burnham ever met, was in that same episode.

  • How did Adira conclude they were the one who brought the time bug aboard Discovery?

  • Why didn’t Burnham and Book try talking down Moll and L’ak before diving into the room with the holo-projected doubles?

New episodes of Star Trek: Discovery stream Thursdays on Paramount+, this season stars Sonequa Martin-Green (Captain Michael Burnham), Doug Jones (Saru), Anthony Rapp (Paul Stamets), Mary Wiseman (Sylvia Tilly), Wilson Cruz (Dr. Hugh Culber), David Ajala (Cleveland “Book” Booker), Blu del Barrio (Adira) and Callum Keith Rennie (Rayner). Season five also features recurring guest stars Elias Toufexis (L’ak) and Eve Harlow (Moll).


Stay tuned to TrekNews.net for all the latest news on Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Prodigy, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Star Trek: Lower Decks, and more.

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Written By

Kyle Hadyniak has been a lifelong Star Trek fan, and isn't ashamed to admit that Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Star Trek: Nemesis are his favorite Star Trek movies. You can follow Kyle on Twitter @khady93.

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