Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Through the Looking Glass"

***1/2

Air date: 4/17/1995
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"I think you'll find that random and unprovoked executions will keep your work force alert and motivated." — Intendant Kira

In the awaited sequel to last season's extraordinary "Crossover," we again peek into the plight of the slave-driven Terrans and their rebellion to overthrow the alliance of the Bajorans, Cardassians and Klingons holding them captive. The result is easily the season's most colorful episode (though not the most substantial or best), with outstanding mirror-character moments and some gritty undertones that defy the entire ideology of the Star Trek universe.

Looking back at "Crossover," one should remember mirror-Sisko's betrayal of evil Intendant Kira to go off and start a rebellion in hopes of freeing the Terrans and their allies. This time around, mirror-O'Brien crosses over from the parallel universe and kidnaps "our" Sisko so he can take the place of mirror-Sisko, who was killed in a Cardassian attack. Upon kidnapping Sisko to the parallel universe, mirror-O'Brien (or, rather, "Smiley," as the mirror-Sisko called him) explains the situation.

The rebellion needs Sisko to carry out a special mission—convince a human scientist who currently works for the alliance to turn over to the rebels. This scientist happens to be Sisko's wife Jennifer (Felecia M. Bell), still alive in this universe, and working on a sensor array for the alliance. Simply put, if she completes this array, it will mean the end of the rebellion. "Unless you can persuade Professor Sisko to join our cause, we'll have no choice but to kill her," Smiley tells him. "I can't let her die," Sisko replies. "Not again."

With the plot set in motion, the story dives into the always interesting mirror-character moments, beginning with a scene at a rebel hideout as Smiley and Sisko walk in to everyone's surprise. Sisko masquerades as his counterpart, claiming he escaped and that rumors of his death were simply products of the Intendant's "propaganda machine." Among the rebels include familiar faces such as an embittered Rom, who wants to launch an attack on Terok Nor to avenge his brother's death. Tim Russ makes an appearance as Mirror-Tuvok, who is basically identical to the Tuvok we know on Voyager. (I suppose we can always count on Vulcans to be their usual selves regardless of the universe.)

Mirror-Bashir, with appropriately long hair and a scruffy look, is the outspoken number two of the particular group, and there's some obvious conflict between he and Sisko. Sisko shuts him up with a blow to the face at Smiley's suggestion, reaffirming that this universe is not a nice place but rather a chaotic one where violence dictates—the "heroes" fighting amongst each other as well as the alliance.

Then Mirror-Dax shows up. In this universe, she is Sisko's mistress, and this brings about a rather interesting scene where she leads him into the bedroom. At first I thought the writers were going to pull on this punch (Sisko's first reaction was "We have a lot of planning to do"). But for once, they allow Sisko to give in to an urge, rather than just avoiding it with a typical reference to duty or consequences.

Sisko and Dax sleeping together here is apparently an indication of something repressed in Sisko—an assertion I find quite interesting. The downside is that after it happens, the episode decides to ignore the emotional aftermath and press on with plot, leaving questions like "Will Sisko ever look at Dax the same way again?" completely up to us. If there's some sort of fallout from this incident in a future episode, I will be very impressed. But I seriously doubt that possibility.

The plot resumes as Sisko and Smiley take a ship to Terok Nor to rescue Jennifer, but are captured en route by alliance forces. Taken prisoner to the station, Intendant Kira meets them at the airlock door.

And boy, oh boy, does Nana Visitor recap the role of the evil Intendant with chilling authority. The way she swings from a sultry, pleasure-seeking persona to the malignant overseer who orders random executions is downright icy. Her patronizing, condescending greeting of "O'Brien the tinkerer" is an unforgettable display of her sugary venom, as is the scene where she quietly says to Jennifer, "You do believe me, don't you?" This character is probably DS9's most complex and memorable villain. She's self-important and living in the lap of luxury—yet not really happy with what she has because she lacks real companionship. She just wants to be loved, which may explain some of the bisexual and narcissistic overtones evident both here and in "Crossover." For this reason, she hesitates on killing Sisko, despite his prior betrayal of her, and considers giving him another chance to be with her at her side.

This gives Ben enough freedom to talk to Jennifer in hopes of turning her. The scene in which the two meet is skillfully performed by Brooks, who has to pull off an emotionally-affected but simultaneously mission-bound Sisko. Felecia Bell's character really hates her husband, which does not help Sisko's situation. She may be alive in this universe, but she's not the loving person Ben knew. She has good reason to be bitter. Mirror-Ben wasn't much of a husband, and the dialogue effectively gives us enough backstory in one scene to define their destroyed marriage and what it means to both this episode and this universe.

Jennifer has sincere intentions but is naive, as we discover that the only reason she's helping the alliance is so the rebellion and alliance will stop fighting and put an end to the death. Ben reminds her that Terrans are slaves, and it's freedom that they're fighting for. A quick speech persuades Jennifer to turn, which leads to the final part of the episode—the escape from Terok Nor.

Sisko has a plan, which he quickly sets in motion. O'Brien gathers a group of Terran miners and meets up with Sisko. Then it becomes a sprint for the docking ring.

This escape sequence features a terrific phaser battle (perhaps the best yet on any of the Trek series) with convincing special effects and stunts (though Chattaway's typical orchestrations do little more than underscore the sequence). It's reminiscent of the final act of The Empire Strikes Back, as the outnumbered heroes flee through the corridors to escape the villains closing in on them. Kudos to Winrich Kolbe for his atmospheric direction over the lustrous action sequences, as well as the person who thought of giving Sisko a phaser in each hand—a rather amusing action-hero inspiration which brought to mind such phrases as "Two-gun Sisko" and "The Sisko Kid." Also, don't forget about the often overlooked special effects team and editors.

Kira and Garak leading the pursuit also proves to be a manic delight here, nevermind that their actions are predefined from the book of standard cinema villains. Both Visitor and Robinson bring a great deal of intimidation to the roles with their lively performances, turning stock villain lines into colorful bits of dialogue. The use of low-angle shots to photograph Visitor is an effective way of conveying the character's authority.

The inevitable showdown between Sisko and Kira is equally satisfying. While Sisko's ability to access the computer and arm the auto-destruct program to bargain for their release may be just a tad too neat and convenient, it does make for one of the series' most gratifying triumphs of the hero over the villain. Intendant Kira has such a flare of silent fury in her eyes over losing this round that it becomes evident that a revisit to this universe in a future episode is quite possible.

Kira: "This isn't over, Benjamin. I'll hunt you down. I swear it."
Sisko: "You're welcome to try."

"Looking Glass" provides a continuing look into the dark yet colorful anti-Roddenberry universe, while also giving Sisko a good action-adventure story. This episode does have its flaws, the most notable being that Sisko meeting his mirror-wife is not milked for all the emotional pathos it's worth, and ends up upstaged by the Sisko/Kira showdown and the action scenes. And, yes, it's true that "Looking Glass" depends mostly on its glimmering surface, because the superficial qualities disguise a number of basically standard plot developments. It's pretty much a fantastically over-the-top "comic book" adventure. But even if this isn't the most substantial episode, it is a downright entertaining one to watch, with a great deal of screen presence.

Previous episode: Distant Voices
Next episode: Improbable Cause

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32 comments on this review

Gretchen
Sun, Nov 18, 2007, 3:52pm (UTC -5)
A nice, exciting episode with a wonderful performance from Avery Brooks. I've always wondered if he turned down his paycheck for this one since it gave him the chance to snog with both Nana Visitor & Terry Farrell (some guys have all the luck!).
Alain
Fri, May 29, 2009, 8:56am (UTC -5)
I just got the Star Trek Fan Collective Alternate Realities box set. One thing that struck me while watching the episode is that using Rom to be traitor to the resistance didn’t make much sense.
It seems that in the mirror reality that Rom is also adept at technology if not a genius at it as indicated by when Sisko told his wife that a certain Ferengi gave him the sub dermal communicator. You would think given the scarcity of technical talents in the resistance that Rom’ technological skills would be to valuable to risks on this sort of mission. Otherwise a very enjoyable show.
Masamune
Thu, Jul 2, 2009, 12:08pm (UTC -5)
Using Rom as the traitor was probably due to reputation. A Ferengi will sell his own mother if it's for a profit, so why not rebels? Him betraying them made more sense than anyone else, except maybe for Dax.
Jacob
Mon, Jul 20, 2009, 3:22pm (UTC -5)
Also, it was established that he was willing to take large risks out of grief for the death of Quark, so he would be willing to perform such a dangerous role.
Nic
Wed, Nov 11, 2009, 10:22pm (UTC -5)
The real reason is that a Ferengi had to die because every time we visit the mirror universe a Ferengi has to die.
Every single mirror universe ep has the same plot.
2.5 stars, but only because the actors are so good.
Elliott
Mon, Dec 13, 2010, 11:59pm (UTC -5)
WHAT??????

Just because Sisko keeps saying he's a starfleet officer doesn't make him one, "Oh, I can see my dead wife again, so fuck my duty and principals. Aren't I great?" enough of that let's find bisexual Kira...

Kira is barely tolerable as her usual self, this overacted mess of a character is just nauseating. I won't try to content she's not the best villan DS9 has offered, but that ain't saying much.

THe only thing which makes this episode WATCHABLE is Tim Russ.
Elliott
Tue, Dec 14, 2010, 12:05am (UTC -5)
Just watch the scene where Sisko's laying down the plans for the invasion of Tarak Nor--Dax just stands there, Bashir sounds like he's in a highschool production of Les Miserables and Sisko sounds like a Baptist preacher. It's funny. I mean it's stupid. Stupid is funny sometimes.
Stubb
Mon, Jun 27, 2011, 12:34pm (UTC -5)
First of all, just ogling Dax, Kira and Jennifer in their sultry alternate guises makes this episode worth watching. Then there's the odd Sisko discrepancy -- apparently the alternate Avery Brooks actually *can* act. But what I don't understand (jumping ahead to include the subsequent Crossover episodes) is alternate-Kira's propensity for suffering betrayal. Here she is, the ruthless Intendent of Terok Nor, getting taken in by every two-bit shyster who comes her way (male or female). Sisko smiles at her, Smiley lies to her, and next thing you know she's betrayed, everyone's escaped, and Kira is either pouting or lying unconscious on the floor. Without the masterly and cynical Garak by her side, this patsy wouldn't stand a chance. How on earth did such a sucker become the feared Intendent of Tarok Nor??
Captain Tripps
Wed, Sep 28, 2011, 12:36pm (UTC -5)
Being a sucker for affection is kind of the Intendents Achille's Heal, I imagine she got her place out of her inherent ruthlessness. She's also kind of...persuasive, as seen in future episodes where she avoids punishment for her failures. And again falls victim to someone claiming to love her.

It's consistent, at least.
Locke
Thu, Sep 6, 2012, 10:50am (UTC -5)
I just have to ask... why is Tuvok in this episode? it's so random =)
Patrick
Tue, Sep 25, 2012, 11:15pm (UTC -5)
After all these years, I still feel that this is the only worthwhile DS9-Mirror Universe episode. It's filled to the brim with twists and turns, some serious emotional gravity with bringing back Jennifer Sisko, and it's FUN! That was the one thing that the other DS9-MU lacked in spades. They were oppressively grim, and that's not what the MU was originally created for.
William
Sat, Sep 29, 2012, 12:41pm (UTC -5)
To Locke -- Yes, Tuvok's inclusion is seemingly random, until you stop to think about it.

Since this is a mirror universe, one is to assume most members of the crews of Next Gen and Voyager are also around. At the very least, each person born in Prime Universe seem to be born in MU.

I'd imagine Picard, Riker, Pulaski, Dr. Crusher, Janeway and Chakotay are all somewhere suffering under the yoke of the Alliance.

Hell, Wesley Crusher is probably running around loose somwhere, except instead of being a pesky boy genius, he's probably a dumb-as-bag-of-rocks guy getting a lot of ass. Might make a good additional to MU Kira's stable. Or maybe he's off nailing his homosexual lover, the Traveler.

Hell, MU means another chance for Tasha Yar to be reborn. And in the MU, Troi probably runs around emotionally raping people while Yar is all girly and scared.

Neelix and Kes would have to be still stuck in the Delta quadrant. Neelix and the Talaxians probably terrorize the Kazon in MU.

But anyway, I think it would actually make sense for Tuvok to be around, since he had infiltrated the Maquis in Prime Universe, he'd actually be a freedom fighter in MU.

Jack
Thu, Feb 14, 2013, 10:55am (UTC -5)
The mirror universe episodes require assuming that the exact same sperm-egg combinations happen in both universes, creating the same people, even though entirely different lives are being led.

It's just a bridge way, way, way, way, way too far...
TDexter
Sun, Mar 3, 2013, 7:05pm (UTC -5)
So much overanalysis in this thread! I have always found the MU eps as Star Trek's excuse to indulge in a little space cowboy pulp fiction, as an homage to the roots of the genre. They are supposed to be y, ridiculous and over the top.
Kotas
Wed, Oct 23, 2013, 8:56am (UTC -5)

Not quite as good as the first parallel universe episode.

5.5/10
Elliott
Thu, Dec 26, 2013, 2:18pm (UTC -5)
I agree with TDexter that the purpose of the mirror universe is purely indulgence, but there is an underlying logic (however contrived) to it which, in this manifestation, begins to become offensive.

Pansexuality is ONlY to be found (and appropriately seen as nothing extraordinary) amongst the evil mirror characters; this unfortunately highlights the homophobic blemish which colours all of the Trek incarnations.

Regarding the effectiveness of the mirror characters, I'd say it's mostly a matter of taste. To me, Bashir is absolutely awful. The other characters are okay. Tuvok, Garak and Smily are fairly enjoyable. Jennifer seems human (because, this is the MU).

My problem is with the real Sisko. Placed into this madhouse dimension, his true colours are revealed to us. He is self-serving, emotional, duplicitous, deceitful and aggressive. As I've said before, keeping these episodes in mind when viewing "In the Pale Moonlight" both helps explain Sisko's actions in that plot and undermine the dramatic impact of Sisko "compromising his ethics," when one realises his actions in that episode are perfectly in keeping with his established moral code.
Vylora
Fri, Feb 21, 2014, 11:27pm (UTC -5)
All of the MU episodes (including TOS "Mirror, Mirror") has required of me a rather large suspension of disbelief. Namely for the very reason Jack stated above. In my mind this pushes it more to the realm of fantasy than science fiction.

As far as the character of Sisko goes - I don't see any supposed "true colors" showing. What I see is him doing what he can to be like mirror Sisko. I assume, hopefully correctly, that he learned more from Smiley about MU Sisko off-screen that enabled him to do just that. Basically Sisko was 'faking it' and, in that sense, doesn't say anything about anything concerning his moral code. I would say helping the rebels against an evil, brutal regime is a good thing.

I'm also unsure of interfering with the affairs of an alternate universe is the same matter as interfering with a sovereign government or pre-warp civilization. After all, the ones wanting help here already know about the other universe.

Otherwise, yes, this is really damned entertaining and on that note...

3.5 stars

Quarkissnyder
Thu, Jul 10, 2014, 10:21pm (UTC -5)
Sisko had sex with Dax while fooling her into believing he was someone else who she would actually want to have sex with. In other words, he raped her.
Robert
Fri, Jul 11, 2014, 8:45am (UTC -5)
@Quark - In a technical sense of the word, yes. But spys (which is kind of what he was being) do this sort of thing all the time.
Quarkissnyder
Fri, Jul 11, 2014, 10:06pm (UTC -5)
That may be, but Sisko is not a spy. If he made compromises for the sake of playing the role, there should be fallout or consequences -- but he never feels any remorse. That's out of character for him and poor writing for the show.
Yanks
Fri, Aug 1, 2014, 12:53pm (UTC -5)
Eeesh, how do mirror episodes go from the quality of 'Mirror, mirror' in TOS to this... (slaps forehead)

All these episodes do is allow cast members that normally wouldn't f#$%#$k each other to do so.

Quarkissnyder, I had the same thoughts watching this one.

Just horrible, and most of the acting is just.... well bad.

The intendant is inept, Bashir's acting is not watchable...

Well, we did get Tuvok though.

So 1 star for Tuvok.
Domi
Sat, Sep 13, 2014, 10:49pm (UTC -5)
If this is a 3.5-star episode I should just quit watching DS9 right now. I find the whole mirror universe storyline to be incredibly contrived, and this episode full of cliches. The mirror universe Kira was a character on par with that of Doctor Chaotica from the Voyager holodeck, and by that I mean a caricature more appropriate for a comedy episode. The only redeeming quality of this installment is the interaction between Sisko and Jennifer which lasts all of four minutes.
MsVa
Thu, Feb 19, 2015, 2:45pm (UTC -5)
I am just finished DS9 since I found it last October or November on Netflix. This is a great episode and if I were the original commentator I would rate it a 4. I looked at all of the characters and even the score, which I rarely do and I found superb acting ability from all of the actors except Andrew Robinson, he was not as good in this role as the DS9 Garak. The Character Andy plays has good writing and is not really that complex most of the time. The Wire was the best I saw him play. I just wished they could have brought Jennifer into the DS9 timeline and kept her there for Ben and Jake.
Andrew
Sat, Jun 13, 2015, 11:21am (UTC -5)
I thought this episode was a pretty big letdown after "Crossover," in particular the Intendant came off a lot more cartoony and Sisko seemed a little too comfortable too quickly being in the universe and playing his alternate self.
methane
Fri, Aug 14, 2015, 7:01pm (UTC -5)
"It's reminiscent of the final act of The Empire Strikes Back, as the outnumbered heroes flee through the corridors to escape the villains closing in on them"

I thought this episode was written more with the original Star Wars in mind, with Sisko playing Han Solo:

-travels to a space station held by the evil empire
-a hero pretends to be a prisoner to free the captured princess (even if she doesn't believe she's captured in this version)
-R2D2/O'Brien fiddles with door controls to get them to open/close
-when they get cornered by the evil empire they descend to the trash compactor/ore processing
-the evil space station is threatened with destruction, although here they don't actually go through with it.

In character development, this does what that forgettable episode with the psychically projecting woman failed to do: show that Sisko is finally ready to move on in the dating world.
William B
Fri, Sep 25, 2015, 3:06pm (UTC -5)
So, as methane pointed out, this episode seems particularly patterned on Star Wars (1977), with the rescue of a princess at the centre of the story; Sisko gets to play Han to Jennifer's Leia, or possibly Luke, with the incestuous vibes displaced onto the plot where Sisko sleeps with his Old Man mistress. As far as that goes, the episode is okay -- it's not Star Wars quality, but that's certainly to be expected.

I do agree with Elliott's basic complaint about the episode, though, that Sisko's actions here are bizarre and frustrating. After he starts his day dealing with banalities like preventing vole fights on the station, he is whisked into an alternate Anything Goes universe where he is asked to pretend to be a pirate. And he...does. He gets involved in another universe's revolution, which surely goes against the Prime Directive. Of course, most of our officers have broken the Prime Directive from time to time, given a compelling moral reason. In fact, Kirk and Bashir both advocated for revolution, in different settings: Kirk told Spock to bring about a revolution of peace, which, let's note here, led to the mass enslavement of humans (showing that interference in another universe can have negative effects); Bashir convinced O'Brien to rebel partly because Bashir needed to escape with his life, but more fundamentally because Bashir is a humanist who found the treatment of the Terrnas appalling. Kira is not bound by the same Starfleet codes that Kirk and Bashir were; but her encouraging Sisko to resist was both advantageous to her -- she needed out of this universe -- and reflected her deeply felt convictions. What I find annoying about Sisko in this episode is that he does not seem to be acting out of a deely felt anything but a desire to see his wife again. Kirk, Kira and Bashir made quick judgments on a situation larger and more complex than they could hope to understand, and that myopia may well be a flaw, but at the very least they all relied on their observations of this world and their own convictions. Sisko gets marching orders from "Smiley" and agrees to them immediately. He has reason to believe that this O'Brien is a decent guy from Kira and Bashir's report, no doubt, but come on: he has very little reason to trust this man, *especially* when O'Brien more or less tells him that Sisko has to help him or else he will assassinate this universe's version of his wife.

I don't think the episode really interrogates whether there's any possibility that Jennifer is right, that her principled collaboration is anything but folly, let alone good for Terrans in the long-run. And maybe that is fair; that the Alliance can threaten to crush the Terrans and their allies under their power because of the rebellion indicates that they can make the same threats under normal circumstances, and it seems hard to believe there is any restraint. Still, *Jennifer* at least is supposed to believe that working for the Alliance is the best thing for Terrans, and at no point does Ben consider that this woman whom he sees as a version of his wife might have just as much as this alternate O'Brien. He argues with Jennifer as if certain that his side, which is O'Brien's side, is right, and then quickly starts suggesting that the reason Jennifer has taken on this massive project which will seriously impact Terrans is because of her and the MU Sisko's marital problems. Given how quickly Jennifer agrees to go with Sisko once she believes that he is *not* "her" Sisko, it seems as if he was right; all she needed was a version of her husband who was a grown-up for her to swing around to his way of thinking. More generously, we could say that Jennifer came around to the rebels because she saw that there was "good leadership" and "honour" or whatever in this Sisko, which suggests that there is more to this rebellion than her ex playing pirate. If it is the case that she mostly thinks the rebellion is doomed and came about from her Sisko's negative qualities, I do have to wonder if she felt she were responsible for saving the Terrans from her estranged husband's mistakes. In any case, that the MU Sisko was a lunatic and that this rebellion is his brainchild further makes it seem like Sisko's delivering Jennifer to Smiley is maybe not such a good idea: how does he know that Mirror-Bashir or Mirror-Dax, *or Smiley* whom again he does not know, won't kill her for treason in a kangaroo court, given how assassination was their stated plan B? Has Sisko asked around enough to know whether the terrorist organization his psycho pirate doppelganger founded is primarily attacking *military* targets, or is in the process of blowing up schools and hospitals and this is part of why Jennifer is helping?

The point here is not to say that Sisko was definitely wrong to agree to work with Smiley and to bring Jennifer to her cause, but there are no indications of Sisko asking around or doing his own investigating to confirm that what Smiley told him was accurate, or of bringing any of his own decision-making into the situation at all. Compare this to something like Troi in "Face of the Enemy," where after a period of uncertainty she eventually she more or less takes over the project from N'Vek and starts making the calls, even while she recognizes that the man's intentions are good. Sisko does...SORT OF do this, in that he gives Jennifer the choice of whether to come with him or not (...without mentioning that O'Brien et al. are going to assassinate her), but he seems pretty disinterested overall in understanding the broader implications of what Smiley wants him to do and whether he should really be doing this.

And Sisko being put in this quasi-spy situation raises other problems. Does Sisko feel bad about sleeping with mirror-Dax, pretending to be her lover (which I agree is rape), and then leaving her to experience his death all over again, with the last time she spent with Sisko being with *him* rather than with her Sisko? More to the point, what is the EFFECT ON SISKO on sleeping with Dax, given how he reacted with shock and discomfort when Dax came onto him in "Fascination"? How about punching Bashir? (Well maybe I can see why he wouldn't feel bad about that.) How about all those people who were part of Smiley's plan, relying on him being Their Sisko and lying to them? How about all those people who will wait indefinitely for him to come back from the Romulans, or will word soon be let out that Sisko died on the way to the Romulan border or some such?

Besides the Sisko material: the three major characters who carry over from "Crossover" into this episode are (using their monikers to distinguish them from Our Universe) Smiley, the Intendant, and Mirror-Garak. Of the three, Mirror-Garak seems to be the least changed. Smiley is *much* more confident and together than the somewhat beaten man back in "Crossover." This development is meant to follow from his emancipation and role of leadership within the rebellion, and that would account for some of it, if not quite the full transition from fear and hesitency to being comfortable in universe-hopping to pull the puppet-strings of a double of a guy he knew. It also makes me feel a bit like some of what distinguished the O'Briens and thus makes the mirror version interesting to spend time with has somewhat vanished. The real change, though, is with the Intendant. Mirror-Kira in "Crossover" was *privately* entertained by brigand Sisko who had never betrayed her; she made some indications that she was attracted to herself; she was secure in the idea that Terrans had far less right to live than she did. She was evil by most standards, certainly. But she was also interesting because she seemed pretty genuinely to care about treating her Terran slaves in an ethical and kind manner, or at least the type of person who would care about such things. When Odo died and O'Brien had escaped and she flew off into a pique of rage and agreed to start massacring Terrans to make a point, she seemed to feel the sting of actual grief and betrayal which was made more effective by how genuinely blind she was to what was wrong with her position; for her, this whole drama was one of her kindness and generosity being exploited. This episode's version of her, which is the version which continues through the rest of the MU episodes in the series, has the narcissism the "Crossover" version had ramped up so that all other qualities disappear; she has several sex slaves around her in her quarters and flaunts them rather than having "comfort men" as a private vice; she regards Sisko as a sex/fetish object even while she talks of how she will kill him soon; she orders the random executions of Terran workers to increase productivity, which is especially stupid since she says out loud that the executions are random, which surely defeats part of the point (to make people think that it had something to do with the behaviour of the people who were killed, thus making the others become more productive). Given that the Intendant in "Crossover" may have been modeled on Dukat, the Intendant's quick change may foreshadow the flattening from Dukat from fascinating to cardboard villain.

I know that the whole of the MU is an indulgence and is essentially impossible at every step along the way -- as people have noted before, what are the odds of that egg and that sperm still combining for all those individuals, in a universe where everything else is upside down and odd? Even so, the idea that the password for security access built into Terok Nor is the same in both universes and that Sisko makes a life-and-death bet on this is ridiculous.

The episode has a certain appeal, but it loses so much of what made the MU interesting and offers a very frustrating protrayal of Sisko. I'd give it 2 stars.
Diamond Dave
Sun, Nov 29, 2015, 1:37pm (UTC -5)
I think the episode survives much better if you treat it as a romp rather than something worthy of a university dissertation. Essentially these are designed to be comic book capers, and this delivers in spades. I'd much rather see the cast play off character in this way - ie madly chewing the scenery - than the highbrow rubbish in Distant Voices. For heaven's sake, Rom gets staked to a door!

And if there is a finer delivery of a word than Garak's "Pursue!" in the whole of Trek than I've yet to hear it. 3 stars.

PS I'm not sure why anyone would have a problem with the unlikely nature of the mirror universe taking the form it has when "Parallels" clearly shows that every possible combination of events is being played out in an infinite number of universes. It then becomes a certainty that this mirror universe HAS to exist in the form it does. It might be a story-writing cop out, but it seems internally consistent to me.
Spindles
Sat, Jan 16, 2016, 3:41am (UTC -5)
It's just dumb fun!
Luke
Sat, Mar 19, 2016, 3:25pm (UTC -5)
You know what comes to my mind whenever I think about DS9's Mirror Universe episodes? The law of diminishing returns. With each subsequent trip into the MU we get less and less. By the time we get to "The Emperor's New Cloak" in Season Seven the well will have effectively run completely dry. There's one exception to this rule, which I'll cover when I finally get to it, but for the most part this analogy seems to hold up. "Crossover" was a really, really good episode. "Through the Looking Glass", not so much.

The problem here is that the goofiness the Mirror Universe is well-known for is already being injected into the mix. For instance, Mirror Garak is not a very well thought out character anymore. He is essentially little more than a cartoon villain, with his constant shouting, lame threats and evil-grinning (why not just give him a mustache to twirl?). The Intendant's bisexuality, which was only in the subtext back in "Crossover", begins to come to forefront like a baseball bat to the face. And, both of these points are only going to get worse with the passage of time, I'm afraid. And, of course, there's Mirror Tuvok. Let me put on my Simpson's Comic Book Guy voice here for a second - Worst Character Crossover Ever! Seriously, was there even a point in having Mirror Tuvok appear here? He does absolutely nothing to advance the story and just stands there in a couple of scenes. But, it does add to the zaniness, I suppose.

Then there's the rather unsettling aspects of the story. First off, the "good guys" in this universe, the Terran rebels and their allies, really don't come across as nice people. Aside from Smiley, who in this merry little rebel band comes across as a likeable person? Nobody that I can see. Mirror Sisko is said to have been a horrible leader who just liked to fight. Mirror Rom only seems to be in the fight for revenge. And Mirror Bashir comes across as little more than a whiny, petty, little tyrant wanna-be. I honestly get the impression that if these people were able to overthrow the Alliance they would just reconstitute the Terran Empire and start enslaving people again. If we're supposed to root for these people, then give us some reason to. Second, there's the fact that Sisko sleeps with both Mirror Dax and the Intendant. Someone in the previous comments said that means he raped them. Well, I don't agree with that. If you're going to make that argument you have to deny that Mirror Dax and Mirror Kira have any agency of their own, which I doubt you want to do. Still, it is kind of disturbing that Sisko, without any apparent moral qualms, slept with carbon copies of his First and Second Officers. If this had ever been addressed, even in later episodes, I wouldn't be so upset by it. Third, Mirror Jennifer comes across as unbelievably naive and easily manipulated. So, she thinks the brutal, totalitarian regime she's working for will simply stop the slaughter if she helps them utterly destroy the rebellion? Huh? But then it only takes one small (rather unemotional) speech from the man she supposedly hates to sway her to the rebellion? Huh?

However, at the end of the day, "Through the Looking Glass" isn't that bad of an episode. It's still a respectable action-adventure story with some good chase scenes and fist-fights. And it gives us a memorable, if fairly convenient, resolution. Jammer is right that it's a nicely gratifying triumph of the hero over the villain.

4/10
Skywalker
Tue, May 24, 2016, 1:07pm (UTC -5)
JENNIFER: "I still hate you."
BEN: "I know."

This reminds me a bit of Empire Strikes Back! haha

Go Sisko! Both Dax and Kira? Nicely done. No reunion, exactly, with Jennifer, but by then I'm sure he was tired. When Jake complains to his father a couple episodes later in "Explorers" that Ben hasn't been on a date in over a year, he had this look on his face: "True, if you don't count mirror-Jadzia and mirror-Nerys. I need some time to get over that weirdness."

I love seeing Tuvok! Haha. Too bad he didn't have a goatee and act like mirror-Spock.

"PURSUE!!!!!!" That's right up there with, "It's a faaaaake!" / "It's real!"
Paul Allen
Sun, Aug 14, 2016, 8:54am (UTC -5)
"Quarkissnyder
Sisko had sex with Dax while fooling her into believing he was someone else who she would actually want to have sex with. In other words, he raped her."

That belittles the word rape.
NoPoet
Fri, Sep 9, 2016, 5:32am (UTC -5)
@ Paul Allen - what on earth does your comment mean? The appropriate use of the word rape is demeaning to the word rape? The offended brigade are encroaching on Star Trek.

I need to rewatch this episode. All I remember of it is the appearance of Tuvok, who IIRC does very little in this episode. Guest character crossovers are so rare in Trek that each one should be celebrated. They shouldn't just be a face in a crowd with no impact on the story and no chance to interact with other Trek characters. What a waste.

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