Nathan Browne explores an unmade Star Trek: Enterprise episode.
The fourth and final season of Star Trek: Enterprise is my favourite of the show's run. There were multiple homages to previous Trek stories included, and one of the very best was the two-part return to the Mirror Universe. First seen in the classic Original Series episode Mirror, Mirror, it introduced us to the parallel universe concept, and became one of the most iconic stories from the shows original run.
When Enterprise successfully revisited the concept in 2005 it was not the original idea conceived. Executive Producer Manny Coto revealed that doing a mirror universe episode was something they'd considered for a while, but it was only after a lunch meeting between him, Brannon Braga, Rick Berman and William Shatner that the idea really took off.
Since the mid 1990s Shatner had been working with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens on a range of Star Trek novels, and the pair of writers had an idea for a mirror universe story which would see the return of Captain Tiberius, Kirk's alter-ego from Mirror, Mirror, and Shatner pitched the story to the trio of producers.
The story would've seen Enterprise happening upon a temporal/inter-dimensional penal colony, and
Tiberius is there. Tiberius wants to use the transporter on NX-01 to get back to his own universe, in his own time, but when he gets to the transporter and sets it to go back
to the mirror universe he discovers that the mirror universe doesn't exist.
Reason being, it hasn't
been created yet. Joining forces with a reluctant Captain Archer, the pair work together to figure out where the division
point is between the universes, and find the point that one split off into the
other. The resolve would've revealed that it was Tiberius and Archer meddling which resulted in the creation of the mirror universe.
The idea was initially well received by Coto, Braga and Berman. Manny Coto was especially interested as he had long wanted to bring Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens on board as writers for the series, being a fan of their work.
However, Rick Berman
went looking for alternate concepts and ideas to bring Shatner into the series in a way that he could actually portray Kirk rather than a mirror alter-ego. It was always going to be a difficult concept with the aged actor having already filmed his characters death scene over a decade earlier, but a sort-off workaround was developed.
Berman was keen on a treatment devised by
Mike Sussman, which was totally unrelated to the mirror universe concept and would've seen Shatner playing Enterprise's Chef. The character had never been seen or heard, only the lower half of his body had been briefly glimpsed in the episode The Catwalk. Sussman's plan was to reveal that he had been Shatner all along!
In the story temporal agent Daniels would recognise the similarities in appearance between Chef and James T. Kirk, and bring Chef into
the future to preserve the timeline by having him successfully pose as the now deceased
Kirk during an important event in history.
Alas, neither story was destined to be as Shatner and Paramount were
unable to reach an agreement before Enterprise was cancelled. Personally I think I prefer the mirror universe idea, as the Chef story is maybe a little too 'fan-boy' in concept, but either way it would've been nice to have had one last hurrah with the original Star Trek Captain.