Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Crossover"

4 stars

Air date: 5/16/1994
Teleplay by Peter Allan Fields and Michael Piller
Story by Peter Allan Fields
Directed by David Livingston

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Kira and Bashir cross into a parallel universe (the same one that Kirk crossed into in the TOS outing "Mirror, Mirror") to find humanity enslaved by the allied Klingons, Cardassians, and Bajorans—ironically enough, because Kirk led the "Terrans" to give up their violent ways, thus leaving them defenseless to the chaos of their neighbors. Kira finds herself face to face with her own counterpart, the evil Intendant Kira, who commands the station.

"Crossover" is a superb episode of unique style and attitude. The extremely neat-looking sets and lighting are dark and brooding. And David Livingston's first-rate direction utilizes freedom with some fresh perspectives; canted camera and low-angle shots add a welcome sense of unreality.

The characterizations can best be described as "brilliant." Nana Visitor's take on the mirror Kira creates a sexy, venomous persona with a healthy dose of narcissism and an intriguing subtext of lesbianism. She's spoiled, ruthless, and fearsome, but still has a respect for life and no love for violence. Meanwhile, Garak is the station's first officer—vindictive and power-hungry. Odo is absolutely hateful and brutal (with "Rules of Obedience" that can earn one a slap in the face for disobeying). Quark turns out to be noble (!), but is executed for helping Terrans escape the slave station. Then there's Avery Brooks' astounding performance as the alternate Sisko—an apathetic, self-serving, charismatic scumbag of a pirate who curries favor with the Intendant by running errands for her (among other things). Mirror Sisko is so watchable for all the wrong reasons; he's truly an antithesis of the real Sisko.

The plot to "Crossover" is fairly simple (Kira and Bashir must escape this universe before they're destroyed by its chaos), with a few interesting plots twists. It's meaty and involving, plunging humanity into the depths of despair. The mirror O'Brien gives the episode a full sense of credibility with a scene that says it all: If history had been just a little bit different, how would he—and all of humanity—have turned out?

That's what makes "Crossover" a real winner. Ask yourself: Based on the way the characters are played in this episode, isn't it possible that the real DS9 characters we know could've been capable of what their counterparts are here—provided history gave them the unlucky draw?

Previous episode: The Wire
Next episode: The Collaborator

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86 comments on this review

John
Fri, Jun 29, 2012, 10:28am (UTC -5)
I always wanted to like this episode more than I do.

A bit too ott and silly. A decent romp and a nice homage to the original series but not much more.

2.5 or 3.
ian
Tue, Jul 24, 2012, 1:52am (UTC -5)
Eh...So whatever happened to Spock and the Tantalus Field Generator?

This entire episode does not make sense.

The Terran Empire in TOS (and Ent, by the way) were pictured to be Nazis (or even Eugenic Supermen, like Khan, it was suggested in some fiction).
Now they are beaten down and a slave race?
LastDawnOfMan
Fri, Aug 10, 2012, 12:34pm (UTC -5)
I couldn't tell who the bad guys were because no one was wearing a goatee. I like to think of an evil twin universe where even the women and babies are all sporting goatees.
Patrick
Sat, Dec 22, 2012, 8:37pm (UTC -5)
You know what made the Mirror Universe work in TOS and even ENT? The alternate universe was *really* DIFFERENT!

The Mirror Universe of DS9 wasn't really that stark a contrast. It's filled with terrorism, war, and political chicanery; while the regular universe of Deep Space Nine was filled with... terrorism, war, and political chicanery.

If they truly wanted a Mirror Universe of DS9, they should should a group of individuals banded together to explore space and improve the cause of the human race...basically TOS and TNG.
Grumpy
Sun, Dec 23, 2012, 7:32am (UTC -5)
Without endorsing your DS9-bashing, Patrick, I'll just observe that we never really saw the mirror-DS9, as you envision it. The universe was always mirror-TOS, given a DS9 twist in this episode. That is, the TOS episode ended on a hopeful note, which is undercut here.

In another sense, TOS saw the Mirror universe as a literal reflection whereas DS9 treated it as a more conventional alternate history (except when they wanted the characters to act freaky for freaky's sake).
Patrick
Sun, Dec 23, 2012, 9:55am (UTC -5)
I didn't think I was bashing, just criticizing. I think DS9 was a fine show from a writing/directing/acting standpoint.

I see your point in saying that DS9's version of the MU was alternate rather than mirror (which Jammer himself criticizes in his "Emperor's New Cloak" review"). And frankly as an alternate universe, it's still not that alternate. In "Shattered Mirror" Sisko and Co. are fighting the Klingons--as opposed to what they were doing in Season 4? Not exactly mind blowing.

But you bring up something interesting about undercutting something from past Treks. In fact that was DS9's M.O--undercutting and deconstructing established Trek history.
Enrique
Fri, Feb 15, 2013, 9:54am (UTC -5)
I just watched this episode for probably the 5th or 6th time. I've always enjoyed it, but one nitpicky thing caught my attention. At the end of the episode, Kira says they've been "through the looking glass". In the opening scene, it was established she wasn't well versed in human idioms, as she didn't know what "burying the hatchet" meant. It's not particularly important, but it struck me as a little farfetched that she's read or is at all familiar with Lewis Carrol.
T'Paul
Mon, Mar 4, 2013, 8:55pm (UTC -5)
True, Enrique, I thought that about through the looking glass too...

Have to say I enjoyed the undertones of mirror/alternate Sisko in this episode, and the understated O'Brien too.
Sarah
Sat, May 18, 2013, 10:25pm (UTC -5)
I think this entire episode was designed so that Kira could strut around in black leather and be a sexy bisexual dominatrix. It feels very...um..."fan-powered"
ProgHead777
Sat, Jul 13, 2013, 5:49am (UTC -5)
Upon embarking on my third complete viewing of DS9 (after watching it during its initial run and rewatching it again some years later) this was one of the episodes of the first three seasons that stuck in my mind and I anticipated seeing again. I can't really add anything to Jammer's excellent review... except one minor thing. The scene where mirror-Odo is destroyed by phaser fire is one of the most startling and striking visual effects in the history of Star Trek. I would love to know exactly how they accomplished it. It was quite convincing... and, as I said, startling. Besides that slight addendum, I can't think of anything substantive to add to this review.
Kotas
Tue, Oct 22, 2013, 4:57pm (UTC -5)
A fun episode, albeit a bit over the top.

6/10
the
Wed, Dec 11, 2013, 8:04am (UTC -5)
the real winner in the acting stakes here is colm meaney, who shows a truly broken and defeated man with hardly an atom of effort
Nissa
Tue, Feb 4, 2014, 10:01pm (UTC -5)
This was fun, but not great. I never bought alternate Kira as a powerful, dangerous woman. She kept undercutting herself by showing mercy for no reason. It would have been more fun if she were outright demented, and showed mercy only when it suited her selfish purposes.

Other than that, I don't like how this episode weakens the message of the original Mirror, Mirror, and makes it so that goodness is weakness instead of strength. Plato would be disappointed. If they had used that as a theme instead of a dismissal of TOS, the episode would have been better.

That said, I love where alt Kira mourns alt Odo. It's a great parallel to what eventually happens to Odo and Kira, and very fun.
Jay
Thu, Feb 20, 2014, 12:38pm (UTC -5)
Interesting that in the mirror universe, phaser fire makes Odo explode like the Stay-Puft marshamllow man, but in Apocolypse Rising, phaser fire makes a changeling explode like a bag of sand.
Rivus
Wed, Apr 16, 2014, 12:54am (UTC -5)
I think the best Trek episodes are ones like these that make you think. Speaking of Plato, I could imagine Picard shaking his head at all this. But that's a lot of DS9. Sisko says it best in The Maquis... The heart of the federation is all up in the clouds with their saints and philosophies, but the same doesn't hold true for the rest of the galaxy. In a way, the mirror universe takes this idea, and exponentiates it.

Now, looking at what Mirror Kira said about the terrans... Sure, there was probably high hopes initially, but look at what they faced here. First off, trying to make peace when all around you is much more chaotic, never mind the likelihood that mirror terrans would be ill-equipped to actually enact change in the way the Federation did... Klingons are no help, neither are the Bajorans, in fact here they seemed to have become Cardassians.

Another parallel I see here would have to be the prime directive (Yeah, I know, I know...). Much like how TNG gets all preachy with developing worlds, tampering with the course of natural history... Where here, 'natural history' throughout the galaxy seems to be one of chaotic order. All Kirk did would not be dissimilar to taking a pail of septic sludge and an eyedropper to drop a tiny droplet of pure water. At first, perhaps for an instant, the drop will appear to make a tiny portion of sludge look like cloudy water, but corruption is inevitable.

Granted, I still have yet to see "Mirror, Mirror", or for that matter the remainder of DS9... But this is how it looks to me.
Yanks
Tue, Jul 1, 2014, 10:40am (UTC -5)
Wow Jammer... gushing in some DS9 are we?

Jammer: "an intriguing subtext of lesbianism" - wasn't mirror Sisko called up to her place? If anything it's a "bi" subtext.

Jammer: "Mirror Sisko is so watchable for all the wrong reasons" - yeah, his acting is worse here.

Odo is just what he would want to be if it weren't for those "Federation" rules and regs.

Jammer: "Based on the way the characters are played in this episode, isn't it possible that the real DS9 characters we know could've been capable of what their counterparts are here—provided history gave them the unlucky draw?"

Let's examine.

Quark: What makes you think he would be "heroic" or "noble"? What would have to change to make that happen?

Odo: As I said, not really much change at all. Odo was already working for the Cardassians during the occupation so it's obvious he has no scruples as to who he will work for. The Bajorians (Kira) thought he was fair. Did we see any behavior in this episode that indicated he wasn't "fair" in the MU? More direct maybe and disciplinarian, but unfair? The only real "opposite" was that he carried a phasor.

Garak: Are you indicating that Garak was an angel working for the Obsidian Order, especially ascending to the hieghts he achieved? Again, the MU character isn't far off from what he was. Cardassian interigations and all. The plan he hatched to ascend to Intendant was VERY Garak like.

Sisko: This one I'll give you. I won't concede this was a brilliant acting performance by any stretch. It actually came off very forced and hammy.

Obrien: Probably the best and most believable performance of the episode. Still has the "fixer of things" talent, but as circumstances as they are he's just a slave with a talent they need.

Intendant: The most hosed character in the MU. Why does she respect for life and have no love for violence? Isn't that where the Kira character is progressing to? Isn't that what Bajoran’s believe now? They should have made her something other than the Intendant. A prostitute for whomever the Intendant was or something. Or maybe some anti-religious type character.

Bashir: I don't even remember what he was in the MU.

A fun episode? Sure, but 4 stars? ... Really?

This was DS9's best MU episode. The worst part is they go back time and time again.

The "what if things were a little different" pales in comparison to:

"KIRK: If change is inevitable, predictable, beneficial, doesn't logic demand that you be a part of it?
SPOCK: One man cannot summon the future.
KIRK: But one man can change the present. Be the captain of this Enterprise, Mister Spock. Find a logical reason for sparing the Halkans and make it stick. Push till it gives. You can defend yourself better than any man in the fleet.
SCOTT: Captain, get in the chamber!
KIRK: What about it, Spock?
SPOCK: A man must also have the power.
KIRK: In my cabin is a device that will make you invincible.
SPOCK: Indeed?
KIRK: What will it be? Past or future? Tyranny or freedom? It's up to you.
SPOCK: It is time.
KIRK: In every revolution, there's one man with a vision.
SPOCK: Captain Kirk, I shall consider it."

1 1/2 stars because Odo blowing up was cool. But to think for a second this episode had any real meaning or thoughtful writing is nuts.
Grumpy
Thu, Jul 17, 2014, 1:26am (UTC -5)
Upon re-viewing, I notice bits I hadn't appreciated before. In Kira's first dialog with her double, I believe she is totally sincere in her envy of Mirror Bajor's power and influence. Also, her disdain for Bashir's Federation arrogance is likewise sincere. Later, Bashir shows subtle awareness of his privilege when he gives away a plate of food; he knows he's better fed than any Terran.

Nissa complained that this show "makes it so that goodness is weakness instead of strength," but that's not so. Our heroes awaken the goodness in Mirror Sisko and Mirror O'Brien, just as Kirk stirred Mirror Spock. Now, you might complain that this episode resets the conclusion of the OS show in order to traverse the same arc, but reset is not the same as subvert. It ultimately doesn't even deconstruct "Mirror, Mirror." Despite the implicit criticism of Kirk's meddling, our heroes do as he did, launching a new revolution. Bashir goes beyond Kirk in one way: whereas Kirk refuses Moreau's request to leave the MU, Bashir says "the hell with rules" when O'Brien asks to come along. Unlike the original MU visit, this episode uses shadow to reveal the fully-rounded shapes of the regular characters.

Except Dax, who has only a line or two at the end.
LongKahn
Fri, Jul 25, 2014, 1:48am (UTC -5)
I would have liked it if the writers had used the mirror universe in the dominion arc. They could do it in many ways. Maybe as a way to escape in a grave situation like when the dominion took over the station. Or maybe they could have gone to the gamma quadrant in the mirror universe to get the cure for Odo. Oh well. Almost every mirror episode had the other side using our characters for their advantage. Once the station was taken over by smiley they should have gone there for something. I mean there was a whole universe that the dominion didn't have access to. Just a thought
MsV
Mon, Feb 16, 2015, 7:43pm (UTC -5)
@ Nissa This was fun, but not great. I never bought alternate Kira as a powerful, dangerous woman. She kept undercutting herself by showing mercy for no reason. It would have been more fun if she were outright demented, and showed mercy only when it suited her selfish purposes.

She was demented but not excessively cruel. She was extremely self-centered and wanted worship and praise.
Vii
Sun, Mar 8, 2015, 10:15am (UTC -5)
@MsV: "She was demented but not excessively cruel. She was extremely self-centered and wanted worship and praise."

Sounds a lot like Dukat to be honest, something that the major probably would not have appreciated.

Can't really say much about this episode - it was fun, not particularly memorable except for the fact that it was one of the mirror universe episodes. I liked the scene where Bashir was first brought to the ore processor and kept being slapped by Odo for being sassy, it made me laugh.
Nathan B.
Sat, Jul 18, 2015, 1:37pm (UTC -5)
For some reason, I've never warmed much to alternate universe episodes in post-TOS Trek (I haven't seen many of the TOS episodes in recent history, so I can't comment on them). The only alternate universe episode I can say that I really enjoyed was TNG's "Parallels," though I hated the ending for its cruelty towards the Riker who didn't want to go back to face the Borg. I know these alternate universe episodes are a chance for the actors to "ham it up" and take on roles they don't normally portray, but none of it seems believable enough for me, and I just imagine the scriptwriters and actors saying, "wouldn't this be fun to do." In other words, I can't see the story itself, only the mechanics of the writing, directing, and acting.

I also thought that the Mirror Universe is far too dark, although I get the sense from watching other episodes within DS9 that it, like the DS9 in our first season in this universe, improves.
Nathan B.
Sat, Jul 18, 2015, 1:39pm (UTC -5)
I guess I should mention that while "Tapestry" isn't an alternate universe show per se, I do love it. But I appreciate that Q is the explanation for Picard's ability to make other choices....until he gets tired of them.
William B
Fri, Aug 14, 2015, 9:20am (UTC -5)
Wow, this is one episode that I think I will have to rewatch before deciding on. I think this is the first DS9 episode that has left me genuinely unsure of how I feel about it, on this rewatch.

I'll say this for now: "Crossover" is the hinge between the MU as portrayed in "Mirror, Mirror" -- primal, terrible, but also a vehicle for commentary on human nature and centrally about getting Kirk to reach mirror-Spock -- and the MU as portrayed in the rest of DS9 -- *maybe* has some social commentary, but mostly adventurey OTT funhouse and opportunity for actors to give wacky performances. I haven't seen the Enterprise eps, but I think that from "Mirror, Mirror" to "The Emperor's New Cloak" the MU episodes are essentially monotonically decreasing in quality (though "Shattered Mirror" might be better than "Through the Looking Glass"), from franchise high to franchise low points. Still, the quality-space between "Mirror, Mirror" and "Through the Looking Glass" (or "Shattered Mirror") is big enough to accommodate a wide range of evaluations of "Crossover."

So here are two possible capsule write-ups of "Crossover":

1. The Negative One: "Crossover" pins much of its running time on Visitor's Intendant Kira, who becomes more and more annoying with each instalment and who is already over-the-top here. It is hard to take Visitor seriously in the role, as she fails to sell quite the level of menace this woman is supposed to have. More than that, though, what relationship does Mirror-Kira have to our Kira? It's not even that her traits are inverted, because while M-Quark insists that both Kiras have a temper, the Intendant's key quality is an extreme narcissism (manifesting in her romantic/sexual attraction to her alternate self), which for Kira's flaws doesn't seem to be a big problem Our Kira has, nor does it seem to teach us much of anything about Our Kira. This focus means that Kira learns little as the episode goes on. The removal of the subterfuge element from the original "M,M" also gives the regular Kira and Bashir very little to *do* for most of the running time, and that Kira and Bashir get away with the conversations they do have is particularly implausible given the oppressive world this is supposed to be. As with Kira, mirror-Garak's thuggishness doesn't really seem to reflect much on Our Garak (it's not that he's evil, but that he's Not Clever), and while his plot to kill the Intendant is meant perhaps to recall the series of assassinations in "M,M," and is supposed to create a Moral Dilemma for our Kira, it never goes anywhere, another piece of nowhere plotting junking up the works. That life sure would be different if the whole universe were different, which O'Brien more or less repeats in flashing neon, "THIS IS THE THEME" signs, is so obvious as to be banal. Sisko's mounting a resistance from, like, one ship is a crazy ending. And while the episode subverts the ending to "Mirror, Mirror" by revealing that Mirror-Spock's actions led to the Terrans (and other people of the Federation) becoming slaves, it's a subversion that only appears to make progress, since it *also* is just there mostly to set-up how the Mirror Universe is all dark and evil and main characters are Worse in this universe. 2 stars or less.

2. The Positive One: "Crossover" takes the basic idea of "Mirror, Mirror" of an alternate and darker universe, but puts it through a DS9 lens to reveal something very specific. Kira's frustration with Bashir's privilege is the opening note of the episode and the whole episode could be viewed as a big inversion of that, with Bashir forced into labour and suffering like Kira and Kira discovering a life of privilege in another world and how this turns her into a monster. Vii pointed it out above, and so did Abigail Nussbaum at wrongquestions.blogspot.com, and it's worth pointing out again: with her narcissism, extraction of sexual favours from her "lessers," and insistence that her downfall is her kindness of her withholding her Fullest Cruelty, Mirror-Kira is unsettlingly like Dukat, and since some of these elements (in particular, the sleeping with the oppressed people) are not revealed in Dukat yet, it even forms a kind of foreshadowing, and may mark some of what allows Kira to reluctantly understand a little bit of the monster whose child she comes to foster. Odo's desire for order leading him to pure fascist authority and casual cruelty further undermines the idea of Odo's desire for order as a purely good thing, as well as suggesting how much influence Mora truly had on Odo (who was not this cruel, we gather, during the Cardassian Occupation). Meaney is excellent as the beaten O'Brien, whose personality is kept essentially intact but who is depicted as broken and sad, unable to live up to his full potential. Sisko's maniacal-pirate, covering up his rage at his victimhood as the Intendant's pet with aggression and egotism, seems surprisingly believable as a reaction of Sisko under these bizarre circumstances, and while I don't talk about this often, Brooks' race *does* make Sisko's willing resignation to his status as slave, and later revolt, gain a shocking kick. The Intendant's attempted seduction of Our Kira leads to Kira's identification with this Sisko and attempt to free him, and also gives Kira the germ of ability to have sympathy for collaborators, whether it's Opaka or her mother or *herself." It all comes to a head at the impressive party scene, where the Intendant casts her and Kira as mirror images, in love with the idea of someone else who could understand *and forgive her*, demonstrating a loneliness at being thrust into "leadership" and cruelty which she does not actually want, but which comes with perks which she is entirely unwilling to give up, until the series of betrayals leads the Intendant, rather than sympathizing with a moral version of her, accepting cruelty as the inevitable defence of one's right to other beings. 4 stars would seem appropriate.

So you see my problem! :) It may be that the weaknesses I see in this episode might not be too severe, and it may be that the strengths I see in this episode are somewhat illusory. I think I'll average to 3 stars for now, BUT I will probably come back and rewatch this episode in a few weeks and see how I feel then. Really, the biggest swing factor is how believable Visitor's performance as the Intendant is, and I found myself not really convinced this viewing, but I know that I found the character (in "Crossover," mind you, not necessarily future instalments) effective in previous viewings. If I could find a real handle on how this Kira matches up with our Kira, that would do a lot to help me get fully on board with this episode, which certainly has a lot to recommend it. And if I find that she really is totally unbelievable again on my next viewing, well, that's a pretty huge chunk of this episode and so I wouldn't feel I could recommend it.
David
Fri, Oct 16, 2015, 10:16pm (UTC -5)
I completely disagree with this review. I couldn't even finish watching this episode, it is so bad and so full of logical inconsistencies. For starters, if the history of this parallel Universe were so radically different, what are all the same characters doing somehow wound up on DS9? Unless the Federation had been conquered by the "Alliance" only very recently - but that doesn't seem to be the case. There is really no plot and the mirror characters are almost completely implausible, with the exception of Garak and O'Brien. Absolute rubbish that doesn't add anything to the series.
Diamond Dave
Sun, Nov 15, 2015, 4:06pm (UTC -5)
Another example of something that perhaps doesn't stand too much heavy scrutiny but romps along on the sheer verve and zest of its performances. Yes, I've always been a sucker for "what it?" type stories, and that's what we get here in spades.

Everyone seems to be having great fun with this, particular the portrayal of the unhinged Intendant, but also the also seemingly unhinged Sisko, and the beaten down everyman O'Brien. The downbeat, altruistic Quark is also a joy.

And we get evil Odo pimp-slapping Bashir repeatedly and getting blasted to pieces by a phaser. What's not to like? A big dumb fun 3.5 stars.
Ross
Tue, Dec 1, 2015, 4:59pm (UTC -5)
This is one of those episodes that makes me ache for DS9 in HD. The production design and cinematography are off the charts. I'd love to see it remastered! Sigh. Alas.

The steep camera angles when the Klingons beam onto the runabout in the teaser are very dynamic (for Trek, especially). Everything about the camera in "Crossover" is slightly tilted, slightly off, much like the Mirror Universe itself. Also loved the tracking shot following Bashir through the access tube. It accentuated the urgency of the situation.

The lighting also gives the 'other side' a subtly different look ... somewhat like the 'noir' look in "Necessary Evil" but with more color, perhaps (more nefarious reds and such). It never felt like a copy of the Occupied Terok Nor. It felt like its own universe.

And, as mentioned above, Odo's 'explosion' was a visceral piece of FX.

Story-wise, I love the performances, even though nothing much happens. Kira and Bashir show up, everyone reacts to them, and they leave. But it's still very entertaining. Evil Odo slapping Bashir and Bashir talking back. Mirror Kira is unhinged but there's an air of menace about her (unlike her following appearances). And I just love Trek doing sequels to past series' episodes. Makes the franchise feel even more interconnected.

Four stars, in my book. Great all around, but the real winner here is the production team. They really sell the setting.
Niall
Thu, Dec 3, 2015, 1:45pm (UTC -5)
Just want to say how much I always enjoy reading William B's erudite comments on Jammer's review - you're a great writer and critic William, I hope you get to use these talents not just on here!
William B
Sun, Dec 6, 2015, 3:14pm (UTC -5)
Why thank you Niall :)
JC
Fri, Feb 12, 2016, 12:10am (UTC -5)
@David It sounds like you would not have enjoyed "Mirror, Mirror" or much of TOS in general. If the characters didn't all end up on the station in the MU then there would be no story to tell.

--

I really enjoyed the scene where Garak was discussing his takeover plans with PU Kira. It caught me by surprise how much I enjoyed it. I think the reason was that the advance-by-assassination plan gave, to me at least, an unexpected feeling of connection with "Mirror, Mirror".

I couldn't actually make sense of MU Kiras explanation with Kirk and Spock at first, though. I think it's because it was a long time since I saw the TOS episode. I had to go back and rewatch it to put two and two together here.
Luke
Sat, Mar 5, 2016, 11:02am (UTC -5)
I'll admit I've never understood the level of rebuke/criticism/outright hate the DS9 Mirror Universe episodes receive. Are they over-the-top? Certainly. Though it's much more noticeable in later installments; this one is played more or less straight. Are they sometimes rather silly? Again, yes. And, again yes, it's much more noticeable as time goes on. Is it a valid criticism to say that the only place in Trek where homosexuality can be explored is in an evil parallel universe? No. Just look at my comments on "Rules of Acquisition". I've always kind of liked the Mirror Universe episodes. They're fun and enjoyable, up to a point. Believe me, I fully agree that some of them cross the line with their over-the-top shenanigans. But, "Crossover" certainly does not cross that line. I'm certainly not as big a fan of it as Jammer appears to be. Four stars? That's pushing it even for me.

The characterizations are indeed rather clever. Mirror Kira and Mirror O'Brien are the real stand-outs, as Jammer points out. I agree that a lot of these alternate characters are conceivable as replacements for our usual ones with just a slight change of history. Take Mirror Quark for instance - he's the most noble Mirror person we meet in this episode. That's not all that out of character for him. Sure, our Quark is a scoundrel, but we have seen him have his softer side before this. We know that during the Occupation he was aiding the Bajorans by giving them jobs and selling them food for just above cost (which for a Ferengi is rather generous). We've also seen that he is willing to set aside his greed for something he fells is more important. He does have that rogue's "heart of gold." For him to be so noble as to risk his life to help the Terrans in this universe isn't that startling.

But what I really love about "Crossover" is that it takes the central conceit of TOS: "Mirror, Mirror" and turns it on its head. Now, I love "Mirror, Mirror". It's one of the absolute best episodes of TOS. However, you can't just sweep into a situation, give a little speech and completely alter an entire civilization. To do something like that takes work. It takes a lot of time. When Christianity was first preached it didn't instantaneously transform Roman society. It took several hundred, rather painful, years. St. Paul didn't just show up, do some preaching and then everything was a-okay. But that's exactly what "Mirror, Mirror" asks us to believe about Kirk. He just pops in, gives Mirror Spock a speech and then everything turns out for the best. Not only is that rather unrealistic but it ignores the realities of the situation in the Mirror Universe. Having Mirror Spock completely disarm and pacify the Empire was indeed a huge mistake. These people live in a universe where the barbarians are literally at the gates. You can't just invite them in! And yet, while flipping the ending of "Mirror, Mirror" 180 degrees around, it still retains the positive message that change for the better is possible, even in this dark, cruel world. Mirror Sisko and his men say they're going to "stir things up on this side." In other words, they're going to change things for the better but it will take time.

8/10
Robert
Sat, Mar 5, 2016, 1:32pm (UTC -5)
@Luke - Agree. 1 was pointless but not bad, 1 was so God awful that it nearly ruins the entire concept but 3 of them are actually pretty fun and one of those 3 was excellent.
Luke
Sun, Mar 6, 2016, 7:58am (UTC -5)
I'd say both "Crossover" and "Resurrection" are really good. "Through the Looking Glass" and "Shattered Mirror" are pretty average. And "The Emperor's New Cloak" is terrible. But, who knows, my opinions might change once I re-watch them.
Chrome
Sun, Mar 6, 2016, 11:54am (UTC -5)
Really Luke, "Resurrection"?

It's pretty much a bottle show with another tragic Kira-Bareil love story. It's formatted so much different than the other Mirror shows that you may as well exclude it from the collection.

But maybe you'll change your mind on your rewatch.
Luke
Sun, Mar 6, 2016, 12:52pm (UTC -5)
One of "Resurrection's" strengths, in my opinion, is that it takes place entirely in the normal universe, thereby not becoming victim to the over-the-top nature of the MU. Mirror Bareil and the Intendant are the only MU characters in it and she doesn't even show up until at least half-way through the episode - that helps a lot as well.
Robert
Mon, Mar 7, 2016, 1:57pm (UTC -5)
My favorite is Shattered Mirror. It's a little campy of course but Lofton and Brooks do really good work and it's probably the most meaningful of the bunch.
Shawn Davis
Wed, Apr 20, 2016, 12:53pm (UTC -5)
I agree with Both Jammer and Luke about this episode. That is also what I like about Star Trek DS9 in general. TNG did some good work with making references to the original series. However, DS9 did a better job with following up to the TOS such as the Mirror Universe episodes, some of the characters from TOS such as Kor, Kang, and Koloth in the episode "Blood Oath", and some other episodes such as "Trials and Tribilations (sp?)" from the 5 season.

Anyway, I give this show either 4 stars or at least 3 1/2 stars also.
Chris
Fri, Aug 19, 2016, 5:58pm (UTC -5)
I always skip the time travel and mirror universe episodes. Bleh.
Welchie!!!!!
Tue, Mar 7, 2017, 12:04pm (UTC -5)
This episode is so well executed, acted and written. Evil Odo's death was so easy the best moment in this episode.
Gooz
Fri, Apr 14, 2017, 11:33am (UTC -5)
Ugh. Horrible. At least parallel Kira didn't have a goatee.
Rahul
Thu, May 18, 2017, 4:22pm (UTC -5)
The episode on its own is ok - but certainly not worthy of 4 stars -- Jammer's review is overly positive. Yes there are some good technical aspects but this episode is hardly on the same level as TOS "Mirror, Mirror". TOS's version is a classic - this new twist fails where the TOS episode succeeded.
Intendant Kira is ridiculous - she's a contradiction in herself. How could she possibly be the leader of the station showing so much mercy, fear etc.
Sisko's character does feel odd - one just can't take him seriously as a pirate or any kind of dishonorable person. His acting does feel forced.
O'Brien is the one person in the alternate/mirror who adds value to the story - showing the hopelessness of the situation and wondering how history could have different - that scene with Bashir and him was good - but too short.
Yes it is a somewhat fun episode but a poor version of TOS' "Mirror, Mirror".
The solution of escape to the vessel with the warp problem and going through the wormhole is too easy. TOS MM had a much better plot to plan the escape. I gave MM 3.5/4 stars. "Crossover" gets 2.5/4 stars for me.
I really enjoy reading Jammer's reviews - most of them I agree with but I couldn't disagree more here and with his rating.
Atu
Tue, Jun 20, 2017, 6:15pm (UTC -5)
I wish Quark was yelling something like "you will never crush our spirits, the hope will live on until the day your evil tyranny comes to an end!" when the Klingons were taking him away.
Steve
Sat, Aug 5, 2017, 5:50am (UTC -5)
Am I the only one who hates the mirror episodes of DS9 and thinks that they detract from the series?
Peter G.
Sat, Aug 5, 2017, 9:28am (UTC -5)
@ Steve,

On the contrary, I seem to be the only one who really likes them.
Robert
Mon, Aug 7, 2017, 10:52am (UTC -5)
I liked them a lot during the initial viewing. Once a year didn't feel like overkill and the Intendant character didn't get "old" for me until "Resurrection". But even that, it was nice to see Bareil again, so I didn't care much. The last one was awful though. On repeat viewings I find that I basically enjoy them in viewing order. The first one is fun, the second and third ones are decent and then it's pretty much downhill.
Chrome
Mon, Aug 7, 2017, 1:58pm (UTC -5)
I loved Mirror shows when I was young because it was a nice chance to see the characters branch out a little and do completely different things. I still think they're okay, even "The Emperor's New Cloak" has its moments in terms of actually progressing the MU's story of Terran independence.

"Resurrection" actually falls flat for me because it doesn't feel like a Mirror show, but more like a postmortem of Kira and Bareil's relationship. And Bareil is just too vanilla to carry an entire episode of late DS9. I'll take Shakaar over Bareil any day.
Peter G.
Mon, Aug 7, 2017, 2:24pm (UTC -5)
What I like best about the mirror episodes, other than the fact that I think the actors are having lots of fun, is that they show part of the character of the real versions that are suppressed but still present. I consider the alternate versions to be different aspects of the real ones having been brought out, but that it's the same person in terms of potential. So if mirror Sisko acts like an animal it's because our Sisko has that in him too, even if it's been tempered by experience and discipline and rarely shows itself. And if alternate Odo is a fascist, and alternate Kira goes more off of emotion than cold reason, those traits are somehow present in the real versions as well. It might stretch credulity to also suggest that certain details - such as the Intendant's sexual predilections - are mirrored as well, but overall I like that the mirror episodes let us see part of the inner truth of our characters that they were prefer to keep under wraps in the prime universe.
grumpy_otter
Tue, Aug 15, 2017, 8:05pm (UTC -5)
I'm with Nathan B. -- this is fun, nothing more. It gives the actors a chance to do some hamming it up and that's about it. I didn't find it made me think at all--it was just a pretty-typical action story, albeit an enjoyable one.

Unlike others, I enjoyed Mirror Sisko and thought his acting was, for the most part, much better than his acting as Original Sisko. I believed in MS more than OS, anyway.

It sure didn't really seem like much of a Mirror universe though--most people were just slightly different from their counterparts and I totally didn't get Mirror Kira--very confusing portrayal.

Mirror Miles almost made me cry--he wasn't different from Original Miles at all--just ground down. Colm Meany is a real actor--I have loved him long in the Irish movies he did before DS 9. I'd venture to say he's the best actor on the whole show.

They missed a humor chance with the last scene--have the runabout dock and be met by the others--and then Kira and Bashir come out looking the way they did, the others look on in shock, then Bashir says, "I need a shower," and Kira says, "Me, too."

I think I'd rank this about a 2.5--I can imagine enjoying it again.
Startrekwatcher
Sun, Sep 17, 2017, 11:21pm (UTC -5)
3 stars. Entertaining!

The alternate characters were fair enough but nothing you wouldn't expect of alternates of the DS9 cast--evil doppelgängers, quark good guy And the plot wasn't anything special either--wasn't very intriguing or ambitious just pretty standard alternate universe plotting with lots of machinations and scheming. But what was done was done well just nothing exceptional

The thing I love best about this episode is the mood and atmosphere. It just resonated with me. It's dark. It's dystopic. It's surreal. That's what really held my attention.
Omar
Sun, Feb 25, 2018, 3:15pm (UTC -5)
This episode confirmed that Nana Visitor was a very attractive woman and DS9 shamefully hid her body throughout most of the series. Oh, and the effect that was used to show evil Odo die was really cool.
Lupe
Mon, May 7, 2018, 5:02pm (UTC -5)
After a run of excellent episodes - particularly last week's 'The Wire', I got bored two thirds of the way through this ep on re-watch, anf skipped it. I'll probably do the same with the other Mirror eps. The whole concept leaves me uninterested and unmoved. I find it a pointless distraction, and don't care about the 'characters'.
Latex Zebra
Wed, Jul 4, 2018, 4:55am (UTC -5)
Just read the script to this.
This was supposed to have Worf in it.

http://www.st-minutiae.com/resources/scripts/443.txt
Iceman
Fri, Jul 27, 2018, 9:37pm (UTC -5)
DS9 revisited the Mirror Universe again and again after this episode, to varying degrees of success, but never as successful as this episode. The reason for that isn't concept-there are certainly more stories to be told in the MU, but in tone-the MU episodes after this one fully embrace camp, while "Crossover" takes the concept somewhat seriously, and ends up striking the perfect balance. The inherent brilliance of the MU, mixed with the proper tone, a well constructed plot, and sharp characterizations, make for a stirring and wildly entertaining episode.

3.5 stars.
Dark Kirk
Sat, Aug 11, 2018, 10:10am (UTC -5)
The best depiction of the Mirror Universe was actually Diane Duane's novel Dark Mirror - TNG in the Mirror Universe.
Elliott
Fri, Aug 24, 2018, 6:52pm (UTC -5)
As with “The Maquis,” we need to contextualise a little backstory here. Here are the relevant observations from “Mirror, Mirror.”

1. The presence of the Hulkans is incredibly important to the story; their consistency between both universes confirms the nature of the parallelism (much like the other tidbits regarding the Enterprise being so similar): the MU characters differ from those in the Prime Universe because of specific circumstances which changed history. In effect, they show how tenuous the benevolent nature of the Federation is. This theme is reinforced by the Hulkans' nature itself. They would rather be exterminated than sacrifice who they are as a people by surrendering their dilithium to the Terran Empire. In the PU, Kirk and co. are annoyed by Hulkans' moral inflexibility. Surely, the Federation has proved its preference for peace? Perhaps, but bearing witness to the MU reminds Kirk that humanity must never be complacent, no matter how evolved it becomes.

2. Continuing this theme, consider Spock's line “It was far easier for you as civilised men to behave like barbarians than it was for them as barbarians to behave like civilised men.” The suggestion here is also cautionary—once you fall off the wagon as it were, it's much more difficult to get back on.

3. Finally, we must consider Kirk's choice to rouse Spock to revolt against the status quo. It wasn't necessary for his and his officers' escape back to the PU, but he chose, seemingly, to violate the spirit of the Prime Directive. Why? We should look no further than the episode's title. The MU is a haunted house, a kind of gothic distortion of the reality we know. A funhouse mirror does not invent a new image, it takes the existing image and twists it just enough to make it ugly, but that image you see is still yourself. Kirk feels a responsibility to the soul of mankind, in any universe, and assumes the imperative to safeguard it wherever he can.

Teaser : ***, 5%

So, after his little character makeover last time in “The Wire,” Bashir has been allowed on an away mission alone with Kira in the vein hope that his charms won't provoke her into an homicidal rage. I wonder if Quark has a betting pool on this one...So how's it going? Oh...Kira wants to meditate to clear her head (all religious people meditate in fiction). Of course, the easiest way to meditate is with a skirt-chasing brat prattling on in your ear, so Bashir obliges her. In seriousness, Bashir is still aggravating as hell, but he is *less* grating than he was in similar conversations with Dax in season 1, so I'm going to go ahead and call this character development...provided the inevitable space anomaly or enemy weapons fire doesn't happen soon enough to shut him up already. After another gruelling couple of minutes (as a quick aside, I don't buy the argument that Bashir was an effective avatar for the way the DS9 characters would see TNG's starfleet. Neither Kirk nor Riker were ever this tactless in their flirtations, and even Wesley wasn't this annoying)--after a gruelling couple of minutes we get a little tech problem. With goofy science happening during their trip through the wormhole, Bashir and Kira find themselves victim to nonstop Dutch angles. When they emerge, DS9 has apparently moved back to its old orbit around Bajor. A Klingon vessel intercepts them and boards the runabout. The Klingons recognise Kira and flee from her in terror.

When they arrive on DS9, Garak, in Cardassian military uniform, and another Kira are there to greet them. Dun dun dunn...

*For those who don't know, Garak was supposed to be Worf in this story, so I'm going to pretend that this is actually what we got. It would have been fun to have Michael Dorn in this role—and Robinson, as I've made clear, is an excellent performer—but what we get from “Garak” in this episode doesn't reveal anything about his normal character. I'm willing to cut slack for studio nonsense that interferes with production—like the giant gap of time without Moriarty on TNG, or the changes in airing schedule on Voyager, or the Season 3 cliffhanger on Enterprise.

Act 1 : ***.5, 17%

We quickly discover that the station (going by its old Cardassian name, Terrak Nor) is under the control of “the Alliance,” a group composed of at least Cardassians, Klingons and Bajorans—but definitely not humans. The native Kira seems to be in charge. She's quick on the uptake, already suspicious of our heroes' identities. She sends Bashir off “to the mines” and keeps our Kira with herself.

The episode continues to be very efficient with the exposition: Kira's rank here is Intendant, and all aboard report to her. Terrans are slaves to the ruling class of the Alliance (and are assigned numbers and castes). The Terrans have begun attempting (and occasionally succeeding) to escape Terrak Nor. Garak/Worf is Intendant Kira's strongman.

When Bashir is delivered to the mines, we meet the alternative Odo and O'Brien. This Odo is in charge of keeping order, doesn't abide contradiction to his authority, is sarcastic as hell, and racially profiles people. So, the same as regular Odo, except this one is cruel and needlessly violent. He roughs Bashir up a bit before putting him to work. Alt-O'Brien observes incredulously.

In a really attractive redress of the command deck, Intendant Kira questions her counterpart. She puts the pieces together for our Kira, and for us: after the events of “Mirror, Mirror,” M-Spock, heeding Kirk's advice, enacted a series of reforms which transformed the Terran Empire into something much closer to our Federation, one must assume. Except...unlike the real Federation, which had Vulcan guides from the before its inception, the Terran Empire had a history of, well, imperialism. Much like our Cardassians, the Terrans had occupied Bajor before the Reform. It's quite likely that M-Starfleet's military aggressiveness led to a much more intense arms race with the Klingons, meaning that when the Terrans disarmed, they found themselves at a disadvantage with an enemy to whom they had doubtless never shone the kind of courage or honour of the Enterprise C crew. Thus, when the M-Klingons and M-Cardassians united, the Terrans became an easy target. One of the most attractive features of “Crossover” is the invitation, for any fan, to speculate on the intriguing tangental histories created by Kirk's adventure in the Mirror Universe.

But of course, for DS9, we must consider alternative history for the local societies, Bajor and Cardassia. M-Bajor has gained a position of influence. Intendant Kira is legally bound to execute other interlopers from the PU, lest they meddle in their affairs again, but is very uneasy about using violence—or so she says. Kira is reminded of her own history with the resistance, and all of that “necessary” violence. Kira leverages with her counterpart. She proposes wanting to learn the Intendant's methods to help strengthen Bajor Prime. Kira even manages to buy Bashir some time, letting him suffer the fate of his unprivileged Terran brothers and thereby learn a lesson in humility. This policy doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Why would the Alliance be bitter about an event which turned the dreaded Terran Empire into slaves of their mighty Alliance? The substance of the two Kira's conversation is quite interesting, but unfortunately, Nana Visitor can't deliver on the Intendant. It took at least half a season for her to get a handle on regular Kira, and the performance here is distractingly over-played. To be fair, Shatner had the same problem with his counterpart, but that guy barely had any lines.

Act 2 : ***.5, 17%

Kira continues to leverage her Bajoran status to gain access to Bashir. Being a human, all he needs to hear are the words “James Kirk” and he's figured out where they are. The history with transporter accidents leads Bashir to believe that old transporter chief Miles O'Brien might be their best bet to get home. Of course, in the MU, Miles never served on any starship, so I guess his knowledge is some sort of genetic memory. The man was born to tinker with transporters, damn it.

And then we meet M-Quark, who's still running a bar. Kira assumes M-Quark is as capable of smuggling as his counterpart and almost immediately (probably too quickly) asks him for access to a transporter. Quark starts negotiating, but he has no interest in latinum—he wants to send MU refugees to the other side. But before that can go further, Garak/Worf shows up and proclaims that his interrogations have revealed Quark to be responsible for smuggling Terrans off the station, which fits right in with what we just learned. Quark seems to be his old dissembling self, but in a truly shocking moment, whips out a phaser rifle and attempts a little coup. Quark is dragged off to be executed while M-Sisko makes his entrance. Avery Brooks delivers a truly awful performance, going for some sort of Christian Bale Batman growl...thing.

Meanwhile, Bashir hits up M-O'Brien. Miles has some interest in his alternate's history, but flat out refuses to help Bashir escape, and insists Bashir is not his friend. So again, not much different from our O'Brien.

It seems that, for a Terran, Sisko also has some latitude as he is able to call for O'Brien. He also runs a merry band of pirates. Oh, and he “amuses” the Intendant. Mhm. Sisko calls O'Brien “Smiley,” so I shall do the same. It's a darkly sad nickname for the never-happy M-O'Brien. The Intendant calls Captain Nobeard to her quarters for, ahem, debriefing.

Act 3 : ***.5, 17%

The Intendant is being bathed by some Vulcans while M-Sisko is just sort of wallowing in his shame. Kira comes clean herself, admitting that she has been looking for a transporter to get home. The Intendant informs her that, in keeping with the Alliance's very strange laws, transportation technology was redesigned to prevent further crossovers. This is kind of stupid in myriad. First, the Enterprise's transporter wasn't *designed* to teleport people into alternate dimensions, it was affected by an ion storm. So, I don't think any measure of redesign is going to prevent such accidents, unless the fundamental theory behind the technology has changed. Second, if a universal design change really can prevent crossovers, I would think a gifted tinkerer could un-re-design one back to transdimensional status. Third, WHY is the Alliance so keen to keep PU visitors out? Whatever.

What follows is a pretty good confrontation between the Kiras that is seriously undermined by a production failure: P-Kira is lit on her left and so is M-Kira, meaning that when they face each other, it's obvious that we are witnessing a green-screen effect and not two women standing in the same room. It's a shame, because they did a much better job of it in TNG's first season with “Datalore.” It's especially unfortunate because the following exchange is a key part of this story:

INTENDANT: You don't trust me.
KIRA: I guess I am a little afraid of you.
INTENDANT: Then you fear yourself. I don't want your fear. I want your love. If you can't love me, who can? Don't be in such a hurry to go. I'm glad you're here. There is so much we can learn from one another.

This indicates that a principle theme from “Mirror, Mirror” (“A funhouse mirror does not invent a new image, it takes the existing image and twists it just enough to make it ugly, but that image you see is still yourself.”) still applies. “Crossover” may be fun, but it takes the message from TOS seriously.

Garak/Worf brings in a brutalised Quark, having extracted his confession. The Intendant grants him “a quick death.”

When a thoroughly shaken Kira returns to her quarters, she finds Garak/Worf there (“I do admire a well-tailored gown.”--ha!) Garorf is certain that Kira won't ever be allowed to leave. The Intendant is spoiled, and Kira is the perfect new toy. Worak wants Kira to betray the Intendant. He has a rather convoluted plan to have Kira take her place—temporarily--until Gworfak can assume power. It's like something straight out of a comic book, but it's very reminiscent of Sulu and Chekov's shallow scheming in MM, so I'm thoroughly amused.

Act 4 : ***, 17%

Kira makes her way to Bashir again and lets him know they need to make their escape soon. Obviously, she doesn't trust Gwofak. So, instead, Kira tries to get some help from M-Sisko. Sisko thinks the threat against the Intendant is rather empty, but mostly, he just doesn't give a shit.

KIRA: The Benjamin Sisko I know would never sell his soul and allow himself to become a part of this tyranny against his own people.
SISKO: Terrans don't have souls. We don't believe in them.

Now THERE'S an interesting line. Humans in the MU are atheists just like in the PU, but instead filling this very human spiritual void with the Federation pursuit of bettering oneself, the post-Empire Terrans are just apathetic cynics...or slaves.

During the ensuing banquet, we get a little fan service, with one of the Klingons name-dropping the House of Duras. This line probably would have gone to Worf himself originally, showing that in the MU, he works for the family which shamed him in our Universe. The Intendant arrives, dressed identically to Kira, which is...weird.

Down in the mines, Odo taunts the now exhausted Bashir, only to be caught off guard by a malfunction. Bashir takes the initiative and escapes—oh and bursts Odo like a pimple with a phaser. Well, that's fun.

Act 5 : **.5, 17%

During his escape, Bashir runs into Smiley. Sidenote, I love the attention to detail—putting the Alliance logo on all the equipment, even in the Jeffries tubes, or whatever they're called. Bashir is disgusted by Smiley's initial refusal to stand up for humanity. But, unlike in our Universe, Bashir is able to convince Miles of something with a little speech, and so they're off!

Of course, seconds into their mutual escape, a Klingon—whom I'm only now recognising as the guy who gave himself a concussion on Data's skull in “The Chase”--captures them. The Intendant is outraged—and suffering the ill-effects of another bad green-screen process shot. She gives Bashir the business. And then goes into a little speech about the lost M-Odo, which is a little script-outliney for my tastes. It's like the writers forgot to flesh this sentiment out with dialogue and just put the notes into the Intendant's mouth.

In the wake of Visitor's awful little rant, Colm Meaney gives a truly moving speech, explaining why he finally decided to attempt escape. He reveals that he was inspired by Bashir's profession and confidence, which is as amusing to consider as it is tragic. Before Worrak can execute the Intendant's command, Sisko and his pirates decide to mutiny and rescue our heroes and Smiley. Almost unbelievably easily, they're back in the wormhole and back home. Kira tells Sisko that they've been “through the looking glass,” because, even if you're Bajoran, you're going to reference Lewis Carroll whenever you can.

Episode as Functionary : ***.5, 10%

Despite the fact that this episode turns Kirk's grand gesture and signature speech into a catalyst for human suffering and enslavement, I find the message of the episode very Trekkian (and realise who this is coming from)! What “Crossover” insists upon even more so than its predecessor is that enlightenment is a *social* phenomenon, not a personal one. The core of every mirror character hardly distinguishable from their prime selves, but the social conditions are very different, leading to:

—Kira is a zealot and a nationalist because her pride and ruthlessness, rather than being subsumed into the sacrifice of a resistance fighter, have flowered into an ego, sexual narcissism, and wonton cruelty which rival her nemesis, Dukat (credit William B). While the Bajorans allegorise the European Jews in the occupied lands the Third Reich, M-Bajor is essentially modern-day Israel, a small hub of power and influence among the Superpowers.

—Odo is full-on Gestapo. His desire for order and disdain for most other forms of life are the same, but the fact that the Alliance doesn't subjugate him the way the Cardassians did in the Prime Universe means that he never developed sympathy for the oppressed (Bajorans in the PU, Terrans in the MU). And of course, without a Federation exerting its influence over his behaviour, these worst qualities festered and transformed him into a monster.

—O'Brien cultivates his identity through his accomplishments, be they his skill as an engineer or his family. In a society in which the latter isn't really possible and the former is treated as an eccentricity which makes him ever so slightly more valuable than his fellow humans, he latches hard onto the *work*. But this is hardly different from our O'Brien. Ours is hardly ambitious; he just wants to work hard and enjoy his life. His circumstances are more limited in the MU (to borrow a phrase from “The Handmaid's Tale”), but his modus operandi is the same. In the end, Smiley ends up having a greater purpose than his counterpart, deciding against having a comfortable life in favour of helping Sisko with the revolution.

—Sisko is a disillusioned opportunist. Really, the only thing which makes M-Sisko seem so different is the performance, which is manic. Without Starfleet and his own family, Sisko-the-Pirate is an almost too-obvious transposition.

—Quark innately values freedom and dignity. P-Ferengi society, with its hyper-Objectivist Libertarian values makes his own tendencies manifest as greed and miserliness, well most of the time. We have seen how P-Quark, when pushed, displays genuine virtue...eh...sometimes (no, I haven't forgotten about how he almost got Jadzia murdered for latinum). Without Ferengi culture instilling selfishness and materialism in him, Quark discovers a deep empathy with the oppressed, and uses his dissembling conversational skills to disguise his courageousness.

***

Then consider M-Spock. According to the Intendant, he enacted sweeping reforms with great urgency. Now, we know from “Mirror, Mirror” that M-Spock is cunning and observant like our Spock, but again, our Spock's enlightenment is the product of social evolution, not innate altruism. We don't know anything about M-Vulcan, but obviously, M-Spock's (human) yearning to better his own life overshadowed the logical demand to consider the broader tempo of reforms. He disarmed the empire, but did he make the kind of intensive peace overtures to the Klingons or Bajorans the way we saw him do with the Romulans in the PU? Doubtful. He ended the militaristic Starfleet, but did he replace it with one to give humanity a purpose? Exploration? Discovery? I think not, given M-Sisko's total pessimism. Indeed, the problem with Kirk's original line about “one man” starting a revolution is that M-Spock did not possess the cultural context to translate this idea into a genuine revolution where all of mankind unites in common purpose. He imposed reforms from the top. He needed to plant them at the bottom.

***

Finally, this is a classic Prime Directive episode, without being one. Kirk gave in to his human impulses and inspired a revolution, and it backfired. True, what the 23rd Century Terrans were doing was a horrible state for humanity, being enslaved isn't exactly better. And that's exactly why the PD insists upon not interfering with other cultures, even with the best of intentions, even if that culture is a transdimensional reflection of your own.

On the production side, there's a lot of ambition here, and the sets look wonderful. I like the camera work, the music isn't bad and the reliable Shimmerman, Auberjonois and Robinson deliver. Brooks and Visitor, however, frequently take me out of the moment with their poor performances. And the glitchy work with the two Kiras could have been executed a lot better.

Bashir is essentially a prop, a human who knows the backstory, can be held ransom by Grwofrak and the Intendant, and inspire Smiley to escape. Since he doesn't meet his doppelgänger nor reflects on the status of humanity, he doesn't really develop here.

Overall, I find the concept of the MU as interesting and engaging here as in the original, sometimes even more so, and the spirit of Trek is conveyed, albeit darkly. Only a few production issues hold it back.

“It made me start thinking how each of us might have turned out if history had been just a little different.”

Final Score : ***
Chrome
Fri, Aug 24, 2018, 10:04pm (UTC -5)
I’m actually a little dissatisfied they took Kirk’s message of hope and optimism from “Mirror, Mirror” and turned it into the Achilles’ Heel of the Terran Empire. It’s yet another subversion of TOS/TNG values, albeit dressed up in an interesting turn story. I think Elliot’s take makes sense, that the TE lacked some fundamental values to become a new Federation - but to go as far as to say becoming peaceful left the TE ripe for the conquering practically means that the TE was better off being barbaric, but rich conquerers.

Yet I do like this one, save for that little nit. As others have expressed, there’s enough intrigue among the MU DS9 players to make this story stand alone on its own.
Peter H
Sat, Aug 25, 2018, 5:59pm (UTC -5)
Well what a surprise! I nearly skipped over this one, having less than fond memories of MU episodes. Most notably I hated the recent arc in Discovery, finding it far too long and very far fetched.

The beauty of this episode is that it efficiently packs a lot of interesting characters and entertaining sights into a small space of time, and then resolves itself before you can think though how totally improbable it all is (seriously, such a radically altered timeline could never churn out a set of parallel characters in the MU for each and every one of Trek's shows that features it) Very little space wasted here. Thoroughly entertainining all round.
tempeh
Fri, Nov 30, 2018, 1:53pm (UTC -5)
It seems that people either hate the mirror episodes or love them. I for one hate them, and so does my wife I personally can't get past the premise. It's passable on TOS because the show always had hokey premises, but on DS9, nope. If there was an alternate universe, the characters from Deep Space Nine would NOT be on the station, perhaps they would not be born at all. The dialog between Kira and Kira is unbearable to listen too. Necessary Evil did a much better job of showing the dark side of DS9. No mirror universe needed.
Springy
Fri, Dec 7, 2018, 10:29am (UTC -5)
Suspenseful story.

Biggest pluses: Never a dull moment, great Kirky references, those unrecognizably cowed Klingons at the very beginning.

Biggest minuses: Some truly first-order, open- mouthed, teeth-grinding, scenery chewing. I could almost feel the spittle coming my way. No attempt to really sell Sisko2's 180 degree turnaround, but the big Sisko2-swivel and simplistic reset-technobabble was needed for a quick wrap up, so acceptable, as always.

Good, solid ep.
Springy
Fri, Dec 7, 2018, 12:58pm (UTC -5)
With Voyager, I quickly decided I'd make a final comment on how bewildering I found some of the criticisms, and then just drop it, with the idea that I might add a few thoughts at series end, which I tried to do.

I like this site because there's lots of smart interesting reviews and comments, so I wanted to stick with it. The bewildering nitpicking happened almost every ep, so it was pointless to constantly bring it up.

So I'm doing that here with DS9, too. One final comment on how bewildering I find some of the gushy praise. It's hard to wrap my mind around. I don't see huge quality differences in the various Treks, though I do see different strengths and weaknesses.

I'll try to remember to comment on this again at series end. Maybe there's something ahead that will enlighten me.

Onward!
William B
Fri, Dec 7, 2018, 1:57pm (UTC -5)
@Springy: while overall I prefer DS9 to Voyager, I do also find myself thinking that the quality difference is not as great as most commenters here (and Jammer himself) argues. Going forward, there are some big problems I have with DS9, while it also boasts some of my favourite things in Trek.

For what it's worth, my impression (from talking to people IRL, lots of things I've read online) is that this is not unique to this site, and indeed may even reflect some of the behind-the-scenes stuff. There's a famous Ron Moore interview when he moved from DS9 to Voyager and he trashed Voyager. There are some interviews where the writers who went from TNG to DS9 really indicated they felt like they were doing better work on DS9.

On the other hand, I *also* had the impression from talking to people IRL that a lot of people gave up on DS9 very early or dismissed it, and that it was less watched than TNG (for sure) and Voyager (maybe). DS9 I think had worse ratings. So I think that there's also some underdog feeling, that DS9 was a little underground. To some extent I think that the feeling on this site anyway that Voyager is the underdog is maybe part of why it seems to me that it's being "reassessed" a little.

As I said, I like DS9 a lot, but I think that its reputation is somewhat inflated. Sometimes I find the behind-the-scenes indications of writerly dissatisfaction with the TNG days a little sad, because I love TNG and don't like the idea that the writers felt straitjacketed by it.
Peter G.
Fri, Dec 7, 2018, 2:29pm (UTC -5)
@ Springy & William B,

I'll give a few reflections from back when I was a teenager and both were on the air at once.

I used to watch TNG on Saturdays, then when DS9 came on I'd watch both back to back (the glory days). My reaction to DS9 the first time it aired was that it was a little boring, and this stayed true more or less for the first two seasons. It worked primarily because of how much it was a sister-show to TNG and worked in the same universe, so it was sort of like a TNG-spinoff rather than a brand new Trek show. This is partly what kept the show relevant to me, and is also why I disagree so strongly with those who think it was trying to distance itself from TNG and to even bash it. The two worked like a team, showing different aspects of that era. But DS9 definitely got better and by S3 and on I was quite happy with it, but not nearly as much as I would come to appreciate it as an adult. And I think this is a strong proviso: it's not as good a show for kids and young adults, or for anyone who likes action. It's a slow show, where the waves and crests happen long-term. It's also a show for people who like nuanced relationships rather than simple character bibles (like TNG had).

When Voyager came on I was very happy to be able to continue by 2-Trek Saturday nights, and wasn't too put off by the middling strength of the pilot. I did inherently find some of its premises questionable and wondered why they'd so some of the stuff they did that was so uninteresting, like for instance how they designed the Kazon. Going even into S2 anytime they appeared onscreen was so bad you wanted to turn the TV off. I liked some aspects of VOY and it didn't materially hurt my "Sat night fun". However I felt soon enough the show began to go downhill. Many people agreed with me that S1 was to an extent it's strong point and then derailed. Everyone knows about the S4 ratings stunt (and boost) and this worked for me to an extent as well. But by S5 or so my attention had flagged so much that I began to occasionally miss episodes and not care (which you don't understand how insane that was at the time), and by the end of S5 I think I had stopped watching altogether. My general conclusion was that the show-running was a mess and the show all over the place, usually disappointing.

Having tried to review VOY since then and give it another chance, I find myself actually even more critical of it than I was at the time. Since I don't get that excited about action, that removes an enormous amount of its content was qualifying as interesting. I hate to this day alien of the week episodes, which almost defines the series. TOS episodes with new aliens almost always used them to tell an important social or philosophical message. In TNG I think a lot of eps involving aliens were more about their distinctions from the TNG crew, but even then honestly the TNG crew didn't have that many encounters with aliens species compared to TOS. It was more meeting up with Federation colonies or people. The exception of course is the Klingons, Romulans, and other regular races, which I don't count as alien of the week (nor would the Kazon count in VOY).

Overall my rating of VOY has degraded over time, largely because much of what the show is about isn't for me. For those who claim it wanted to be Nu-TNG I say it failed if that's true, because TNG is my most-rewatched show and VOY my least (along with ENT, which barely counts as Trek). DS9 still has its weak spots and although at times I've called it my favorite show it's not perfect. But the older I get the more VOY looks bad and DS9 looks good, and I wonder whether others share that trend.
Circus Man
Fri, Dec 7, 2018, 2:36pm (UTC -5)
It's a persistent idea that Voyager's ratings were better than DS9's. Check this chart: https://i.stack.imgur.com/JebhO.jpg. If it's accurate (and I think it basically is but can't vouch for every detail), DS9's ratings were slightly better in absolute terms with only occasional exceptions. Perhaps Voyager fared better in reruns. It's quite obvious that TNG was way, way more successful in ratings terms.
Peter G.
Fri, Dec 7, 2018, 3:20pm (UTC -5)
@ Circus Man,

Not sure if your comment was addressed to me but I wasn't trying to comment on the relative popularity of the shows. I knew DS9 didn't have stunning ratings but I believe VOY didn't either. By contrast, I think B5 had less of a market share than either and yet I would call it a far more successful show in basically all categories.
William B
Fri, Dec 7, 2018, 3:29pm (UTC -5)
I guess I'd say that my experience is a bit different from Peter's. The thing is, I did really enjoy DS9 when I was a teenager/young adult, and still enjoy it, but I'd say that it's diminished a little in my eyes since then. A lot of the long-term arcs don't seem to me to hold together as well, some of the character stories don't really gel. I definitely would say that its pleasures are more geared toward complexity, but I think in spite of (or because of) its high ambitions it doesn't always succeed. I feel like it would take some time (and future episodes) to get into it. I still like it a lot -- well, I love it! -- but I feel like there are enough (IMO) botched or dropped plots that I noticed more recently than I did when I was younger, when I think I was more awed by the fact that the show did manage to have over character and story arcs, go to darker and more complex places, etc. And to be clear, I do love DS9 and it has some of my favourite character arcs, episodes, stories in Trek.

Voyager I actually didn't particularly like as a teenager. To be honest, I appreciated it more watching it recently. I think that some of the appreciation is simply by accepting it for what it was -- that it had relatively little overt continuity, that some of its characters were to some extent dead ends, that it was somewhat constricted by formulas from episode to episode, and so on. I feel like Seven of Nine is a great place to start talking about Voyager's strengths and weaknesses. IMO, she is absolutely wonderfully performed and is generally well-written. Some of the same notes as are hit with Data and other characters are hit with her, but for the most part there is a strong underlying internal coherence in her character, which admittedly (IMO) starts to lose structural integrity close to the series' end. She's also put in that stupid ratings-stunt outfit to appeal to the lowest common denominator and to emphasize her, er, superficial attractive qualities, so much so that it is often genuinely distracting from what is more interesting about the character. It takes a bit of effort to get past the surface superficiality to get to the depth, and it's sometimes distracting because the show is actually pretty overt about the somewhat tacky superficial qualities. But I don't know that the depth isn't there. Now, given comments by people like Ron Moore, it might be that even the writers were not really in tune with this potential depth, in which case it's possible it either arose semi-organically from week to week or was genuinely partly constructed by me (and my wife, and other people who enjoy it) watching the show. It's sort of hard to say. Mostly though I think that the show was often ambitious in its characterization, more than it's given credit for, and in particular stories surrounding Janeway, Seven, B'Elanna and the Doctor deal with trauma, depression, loss of identity, self-hatred and other not-for-kiddies stuff, but with a deceptively light touch. I don't know that the writing was entirely consistent on these points, but they hit some of these notes often enough that I'd say they're intentional. I honestly go back and forth on how successful it is on these points. I'd say as an adult I think it was more successful than I did when I was younger, oddly.

I guess what I'm saying is that I think that a lot about Voyager's self-presentation maybe makes it read as shallower than it is -- or, at least, than it sometimes is. I think that my ability to appreciate it this latest rewatch is partly because I *did* know that it was never going to consistently be exactly the show I fully wanted it to be, but that also made it easier to appreciate the times when it really was that show. For random examples of episodes that mean a lot to me: Meld, Latent Image, Lineage, Living Witness, the Seven material in Dark Frontier even if I'm not sold on the whole episode, Counterpoint, Timeless, Pathfinder, Prey, The Year of Hell.... I don't really want to harp on it especially because I know there are lots of problems people have with many of those episodes, but what those episodes are, on some level, "about" are generally things like isolation, guilt, breakdown of trust, difficulties with emotional containment, the impossible task of moving forward in one's life when it's already apparently permanently broken.... For all its flaws, and it has a lot, Voyager does actually seem to me to be engaging with the Trek tradition of addressing big ideas, and it tends to do so from an emotional perspective (though not wholly without intellectual weight), and as such is sometimes, to me, pretty moving. And I don't know. There's one ep in that list in particular that I liked when I was younger but I "get it" on a bone-deep level now that I'm older, in a way that I don't really even want to talk about too directly because it's personal. So your mileage may vary.
William B
Fri, Dec 7, 2018, 3:33pm (UTC -5)
I should add -- I wasn't really trying to say, with my Voyager-deals-with-adult-topics thing, that the other shows *don't*. And as I've said, I do still mostly like DS9 better than Voyager, so, don't really take any of what I said as an indication that Voyager is "better" than DS9 (or TOS or TNG). It's more that I do actually, underneath it, often like the show, and there are big aspects I actually liked much more when I rewatched it as an adult than when I watched it as a teenager. (There are also eps I liked less.)
Circus Man
Fri, Dec 7, 2018, 3:36pm (UTC -5)
Just adding information. Without seeing the books it would be hard to tell which show was more profitable. First-run syndicated shows (as both DS9 and B5 were) tend to have a lower overhead than network shows (which Voyager was, albeit of an odd sort). One advantage TNG had was that it operated relatively unopposed in the field of "episode SF series" -- its own success led to its offshoots struggling for a share of a more crowded market. As always, it's sort of an "apple-oranges" situation.

It's impossible to measure but I would tend to say that Voyager has proved to have more "cultural footprint" than DS9. That's not a judgment on the quality of either show, of course, but I would tend to imagine more people in the general public (rather than Star Trek fans specifically) could name Janeway or Seven than any DS9 character.
Chrome
Fri, Dec 7, 2018, 3:48pm (UTC -5)
I don't think DS9 and VOY's ratings tell the whole story, because VOY was part of a promotion to push the UPN network while DS9 existed in syndication. Check out the wikia and various other sources and you'll see VOY received much more promotional advertising and press than DS9. That DS9 still performed better than VOY in ratings overall really says something, I think.

My viewing experience is similar to Peter G's. Moreover, admittedly I don't really like the whole idea of a ship being stranded in the DQ away from what I consider the interesting Trekverse. Additionally, the publicity stunts and trailers for VOY made me feel like it was B-movie material. I'm glad I revisited some of the better Voyager episodes later, but I've always been skeptical of the show and thus try not to comment too much on it.
Springy
Fri, Dec 7, 2018, 4:44pm (UTC -5)
@William B
@Circus Man
@Peter G

Thanks, gentlemen, for all the interesting info and comments.

Ratings and writers and behind-the-scenes intrigue! All interesting, but in the end, for the viewer, it's all about what makes it to the screen.

Voyager "spoke to me" in a lot of ways that had zero to do with "action." Voyager's whole premise meant constant movement - DS9's is the exact opposite.

So Voyager developed not its surroundings, but it's theme: the journey, the isolation, the costs of devotion to a goal, the value of the destination itself.

Voyager had the only kind of continuity it could have: thematic and character continuity. I loved it's mournful yet hopeful opening music, which I thought said it all.

So far, I'm not seeing any real general quality difference between the two shows, but certainly, I'm seeing a difference in them.

Anyhow, thanks again for the info and your thoughts. I have many more thoughts but will stick to my plan to wait until I finish the series to assess in full.
Thomas
Sat, Dec 8, 2018, 12:15am (UTC -5)
Re: Voyager being "all about the journey"

Voyager was only "about the journey" on the surface. It didn't take very long until every episode was groundhog day and it ended up being not about the journey at all. Funnily enough even though DS9 was set in a static location, it was far more about a journey than Voyager ever was. And Babylon 5 even more so. Somehow a static location lends itself far better to developing storylines and a sense of progression than a constantly on-the-move starship trying to get home.
Thomas
Sat, Dec 8, 2018, 12:20am (UTC -5)
I would have liked Voyager to develop its characters. They had a great opportunity to show that the real journey in life is internal, and not about going from place A to place B. And yet, by the end of the series, naive ensign Harry Kim was still a naive ensign, angry half-Klingon Torres was still an angry half-Klingon. Barely anything had changed at all.
Springy
Sat, Dec 8, 2018, 12:27pm (UTC -5)
@Thomas

I definitely disagree with your assessments of Voyager, and feel they did explore the "real" internal journey, for which the external journey was a well-used metaphor. Harry Kim did grow as a character, though not enough, I agree there. B'Ellana grew A LOT. The fits and starts and backtracking were perfectly realistic. If she'd been "all better" in 7 years, after 20+ years of problems, that would have been a true cheat.

I'm not claiming Voyager was perfect, just that I was bewildered by (what strikes me right between the eyes as) relentless nitpicking and exaggeration of real and imagined flaws, all while ignoring, dismissing, or minimizing real virtues. And I see the opposite with DS9.

Anyhow, I broke my promise to let this topic go until the end of DS9 -
but I will now "lock the vault," as Elaine used to say on Seinfeld -
and just relax and enjoy DS9 (and the many smart and interesting comments and reviews here on the site) and whatever it has to offer from here.
William B
Sat, Dec 8, 2018, 12:49pm (UTC -5)
@Springy, well, to be fair, I and others responded, so elaborating more was fair game on your part. (Of course, with Elaine, too many people know the combination to that vault -- peach schnapps.) (And as I suggested before, I agree, especially about B'Elanna FWIW.)
Jason R.
Sat, Dec 8, 2018, 5:57pm (UTC -5)
I find it hard sometimes to put myself back in the frame of mind I was in when these shows were on the air and I was in my teens. Certainly I realize I was very forgiving back then. As bad as TNG season 1 seems to my adult eyes, to my eyes as a child it was still worth watching religiously. Of course by Season 3 and Best of Both Worlds there was no question - I was hooked. Saturday nights were TNG nights and I am certain I watched the entire series as it aired, perhaps with a few exceptions where I simply couldn't watch it or tape it.

Reflecting on DS9 and Voyager it's hard now to summon memory of more than an overall impression. DS9 was boring to me when I watched it and I feel I must have skipped most of its original airing. Voyager I probably watched more of, ironically, in its original airing. It was OK.

But going into my twenties there is little doubt as I caught up on both these series that Voyager's star certainly fell as DS9's rose. The characters on Voyager never really clicked for me. And by that point in my life, strictly episodic TV without a grander story was just no longer good enough. Shows like Babylon 5 and DS9 (after a couple seasons) spoiled me in that way. Even TNG seemed behind the times in this regard, although in retrospect, the amazing actors and characters (chiefly Stewart) elevated it even as Voyager just sunk like lead in my eyes with its bland characters, ridiculous technobabble reliance, and lazy reset switch forgettable plots.

For me, Voyager was the moment when Trek started to go wrong. With the exception of maybe Scorpion it was the first Trek show that lacked truly compelling can't miss episodes.

By Enterprise my patience was just not what it was. I watched maybe four episodes and that was that.
wolfstar
Sat, Dec 8, 2018, 6:51pm (UTC -5)
It's an interesting discussion. I loved TNG as a kid (I must have been about 7 when season 1 of TNG was airing, and it really captured my imagination) and I absolutely adored and was obsessed with DS9 as a teenager. I liked Voyager too, but stopped watching near the end of S5 (more out of apathy and life circumstances than active dislike, and I quit Enterprise after about 10 episodes (out of active dislike). I didn't watch the last 2.5 seasons of Voy and the last 3.5 seasons of Enterprise until the 2010s. I was shocked how bad S6 of Voyager was but happy that it improved a lot again in S7. The first two and a half seasons of ENT are awful, and the final, very fan-servicey season, while it had its heart in the right place, isn't as good as fans often give it credit for. I'll always argue that the main drop-off in quality occurred not between DS9 and VOY but between VOY and ENT. VOY was still putting out great thought-provoking, emotionally involving episodes like Imperfection, Critical Care, Lineage, Author Author, Workforce and Flesh And Blood in its final season. Whereas ENT S1+2 were a deadly-dull train wreck. For me, Voyager is nowhere near as good as DS9, but Enterprise never produced anything remotely on the level of The Thaw, Counterpoint, Resistance, Year Of Hell, Retrospect, Meld, Relativity, Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy, Warlord, Mortal Coil, Remember, Jetrel, State Of Flux, etc. When Voyager was at its best, it was as good or better than TNG - the problem was just that it wasn't at its best nearly enough of the time.
Elliott
Mon, Dec 10, 2018, 2:37pm (UTC -5)
@wolfstar

It's a shame you were so needlessly hostile and dismissive of me as we seem to have pretty similar feelings about the shows.

@Springy and the rest

When you get down to it, I think the 3 90s-era Treks are more or less of equal quality. They each have strengths and weaknesses; one's impression of how they rank depends a great deal on which qualities one values more. I admire DS9's revolutionary storytelling for its time, but I find much of its philosophical content wanting, and I actively dislike several of the characters who are meant to be sympathetic. I consider myself a Voyager fan, but a weird one. I don't get drippy over the episodes that most fans seem to love like "Coda," "The Cloud" or "Dark Frontier." For me, the best of the series are shows like "The Thaw," "Course Oblivion" and "Workforce." I also think the best of DS9 is "Far Beyond the Stars" and "Chimera," while "In the Pale Moonlight" and "Rocks and Shoals" are somewhat lacking.

I have to agree that there's a bit of an inferiority complex with DS9 in that it was objectively less supported by the powers that be than any of the other series. But it's a double-edged sword. The fact that the suits were less involved is exactly what allowed the writers to get away with many of the things which DS9 fans love so much about the show.
William B
Mon, Dec 10, 2018, 2:53pm (UTC -5)
@Elliott, I can see Dark Frontier (and I really liked the Seven stuff therein), but I didn't know that The Cloud or (especially) Coda were episodes a lot of fans really valued.
Peter G.
Mon, Dec 10, 2018, 2:55pm (UTC -5)
@ Elliott,

I think I would agree that the productions *as product* may be said to be of equal quality. The more specific we get about which part of the production we mean the less that's true, I think. For instance I think TNG is superior in cast cohesion, as clearly they were so close to each other off-camera that all of caring and fun just showed all over the episodes. Watching TNG often feels like 'coming home' in some sense. DS9 had a cohesion in the writing team that I think is unparalleled in the other series, so that fans of conceptual writing will have a lot to like in DS9. But on the other hand the cast seems to have been overworked, especially in the later seasons, so that the pure joy found in TNG is often lacking in DS9. Bill Mumy remarked at how when he came on set to work with them for "The Siege of etc" they were like corpses from overwork.

Voyager, on the other hand, seems to have had a leg up on the other series is having a polished and slick presentation and increased values in editing and pacing compared to previous Treks. Although this may be a sign of the times (sharp editing having a larger factor in final product) VOY certainly had its behind the scenes team at a high level.

For me, though, the clincher always comes down to what happens with the actors on camera. I'm not going to be happy with everything being at a high level if the acting is only so-so, with the actors not challenging themselves, and also where the story is told less through script and more through dollars. This isn't a slight against VOY per se, but actually against where a lot of TV in general was going, with less emphasis on the human storytelling and more on other elements. It's not that those are "bad" but they're not as much for me.
Elliott
Mon, Dec 10, 2018, 3:09pm (UTC -5)
@William B

I've recently begun travelling a great deal between New York and San Francisco, so have started listening to the TrekFM podcasts to pass the time. The casts are led by people who interact with the fan community boards on a regular basis. I was pretty shocked to find that some of my favourites like "The Muse" were dismissed by the fanbase, while anything hinting at the Janeway/Chakotay "love story" gets high praise. It's been an interesting experience. I think "Dark Frontier" is quite good, I just don't think Voyager's action-heavy stories are its best even though they got the most attention from the producers.

@Peter G

I think I agree with you about the actors thing. TNG always had that albatross called Marina Sirtis dragging things down, and Garret Wang struggled some of the time, but I find the overall quality of DS9's principal cast to be a notch lower than the other series (except Enterprise--that's mostly garbage). Terry Ferrel and Nicole DeBoer were only ever okay, Cirroc Lofton was quite bad, and Avery Brooks took a loooong time to figure out how to act in front of TV cameras.

Anyway, like I said, I'm kind of a weird fan. I'm not crazy about Wrath of Kahn, which is considered to be the best thing ever by much of Trekdom. I don't think Troi improved when she put the uniform on. I think Voyager is actually quite a dark series, despite its rosy veneer.
William B
Mon, Dec 10, 2018, 3:29pm (UTC -5)
@Elliott, ohhhhhh, right. Well, shipping is a huge part of a lot of fandom, and I just sort of forget about that with Voyager because while I actually do kind of dig the planetside stuff in Resolutions (and I prefer them to Seven/Chakotay, ha), Janeway/Chakotay wasn't ever much of a focus for me. I sort of forget that there's all that J/C interaction in Coda at the beginning. I like Muse a lot too and am always a bit surprised that it's sometimes dismissed. (I think I remember quickly perusing the IMDb episode ratings one time and Muse was *very* low.)

I am fond of Dark Frontier, too, though for some reason the premise of the Fort Knox mission is hard for me to get past, even though I kind of see what they were going for.

---

(You know, I'm going to take a guess that Peter wasn't actually saying that he thought that the DS9 cast was weaker than Voyager's cast.)
Peter G.
Mon, Dec 10, 2018, 4:59pm (UTC -5)
@ William B & Elliott,

"You know, I'm going to take a guess that Peter wasn't actually saying that he thought that the DS9 cast was weaker than Voyager's cast."

Correct! But there are mitigating circumstances to consider as well. Meaney, who I think is a stronger actor than anyone on VOY (and his career shows it), was transplanted from TNG, so it may not be fair to give full points to that. Mind you they did have the vision to increase his role in the franchise, but let's set him aside. Dorn wasn't THE best but was generally strong, and I won't count him for the same reason. Some of the DS9 cast came in with sort of a wishy-washy character bible, especially Dax and Bashir. I mean, look at what Farell is trying to do in the pilot! It's actually fascinating and I wish they could have turned that into something, but ultimately they didn't really, other than to turn her into Curzon. But coming out of the gate her character sort of had no definition. And then Bashir, who I'll remind the jury was originally named Dr. Amoros (the love-doctor), so we can see what Berman had planned for him (and yes, this was Berman's doing):

From Memory Alpha:

"As Alexander Siddig pointed out in 2002, "He was a completely blank canvas, no one knew anything about him." He believes that the only reason the character was created was because the producers knew there had to be a doctor on the show, but beyond the fact that he was a doctor, "they were all scratching their heads." (Crew Dossier: Julian Bashir, DS9 Season 6 DVD special features)"

Damn, this is a tough spot to bounce back from as an actor. Siddig mentions having added some traits to him (like cockiness) but ultimately there has to be agreement on this sort of thing, and although the writers did go with the actors' instincts they were probably not the best long-term idea. But the fact that Siddig and Farell came up with anything specific at all is pretty good. Not stellar, but pretty good. I think in VOY Wang was in a similar position but didn't manage to do anything with it. I think Visitor and Auberjonois were stellar right out of the gate and remained so, and that's probably in part because (a) they had significant backstories that led to real behavior, and (b) because especially in Odo's case they had a real veteran to work with who was endlessly inventive. Which leaves Brooks: to be honest I thought his work was excellent for the pilot but after that they left him hanging; much like Picard, actually, except that Steward can make lemonade out of dirt and so didn't (always) come out looking bad as a result. But otherwise it seemed he was just "the commander" until his material got more specific. That's a writing problem, and in S1-2 DS9 was in the wrong hands, I think, in terms of show-runner and writing staff. When Berman and then Pillar left it alone it improved drastically.

In short, DS9 seemed to have issues with character definition early on in the cases of some principals (notably Bashir, Dax and Sisko). But the actors were overall really strong and tried their best, finally to some good effect when the writing began to line up with how much the actors were willing to work. And we could also begin to see the challenges mount, with the advent of the "torture O'Brien" tradition, Kira being given increasingly complex scenes to play, and Odo's arc always going towards more and more nuance and fragility. Bashir never took off as a character but then again if you read what Berman was trying to do there (his plan was literally to create an unlikable character and then screw with it over time) I don't see how Siddig could really counteract that.

VOY is funny in comparison, because the definition of the characters was a lot more fixed. I think Mulgrew nailed it out of the gate, and despite the writers trying to rewrite her all the time she mostly kept it all together. As far as the rest of the regulars, it seems like everyone was satisfied from day 1 how they came off and left it that way, for better or worse. Doc morphed over time, but not really the others (except Seven, later). This made characters like B'elanna striking quickly, but she had little place to go from there. For a comparison: both she and Kira came out of the gate swinging with fury, but Torres was never given anyplace else to go (like regretting her past, or having to learn new ways) other learning not to punch engineers. Tom Paris came already-assembled, batteries included, as a copy-paste of Nic Locarno. They wanted that and it's what they got: strong early, and a done deal with no need to change it. Tuvok could have done better on the show if Russ hadn't been so screwed over by the hiring of Ryan, who basically supplanted him. Kes also could have stood a lot more development (especially since she was supposedly aging quickly) but she basically got sidelined into weird episodes and Neelix stuff, along with being Doc's nurse, and then fired. It looked like she was never fostered, which she really needed as a newbie. I thought she could have been good, *if* they had cared to help her. And let's not even address Chakotay...

But the difference here is pretty clear: they had more clarified character bibles for Voyager and so the definition we see in Caretaker isn't all that different from when the series ends. The actors sort of did their thing consistently but were never pushed, and from the looks of it were content not to be pushed. No one 'rebelled' against the writing except for Beltran, and occasionally Mulgrew who drew a line in the sand. But the DS9 actors were deeply entrenched in discussions about the characters because they really wanted them to go somewhere, and I think this came as a result of the atmosphere on set and in the writing room. They hired people on DS9 with potential that could only be realized if the writing matched (sort of like Kes, only a more advanced version, since for instance Siddig is otherwise a very competent actor), whereas on Voyager they didn't really need potential since the finished product was there coming out of the audition as well. And I've experienced exactly this difference myself when doing casting: some people need to be worked with but have a high ceiling, while others will never do anything better than what they did in the audition, but at least you can be sure they're capable of it since they did it for you already. The latter type are typically a disappointment to me, but I can see how for a high-stakes network show they might feel the opposite. DS9 surprised us by not doing that, and by hiring for *long-term* potential, even though it wouldn't be realized (aside from Odo, Kira, and Quark) until the writing leveled-up.

So that's what I meant. I mean, duh! No, jk, but seriously I respect the DS9 cast the best even though there are serious bumps in S1-2, and even though Bashir got taken through the meat grinder later. I can really see the actors working on that show, and it's awesome at times even if the stories took time to ramp up.
Iceman
Thu, Dec 13, 2018, 5:35pm (UTC -5)
@Springy-

I'm a bit late, but this was an interesting discussion. I'm a DS9 person all the way. It's easily my favorite Trek series and one of my all time favorites. That being said, I don't see *that* big of a gap in objective quality between DS9 and TNG (which is also one of my all time favorites). They just have different ways of telling their stories. TNG is very cerebral and intelligent, and it possibly has more all time classics than DS9 (though not by much). DS9 was undoubtedly better at character work (though TNG had some great stuff with Picard, Data and Worf), which I personally gravitate towards more. I will also say that the first two seasons of DS9 are definitely its weakest. You may feel differently by the end of the run. I must disagree with you on Voyager, however (We probably agree on Enterprise though-it was mostly awful). Though I wish it had committed itself to delivering on the potential that its premise suggested like DS9 did, I can accept that it didn't need to in order to achieve greatness. That said, I just don't think it had the characters or consistency necessary. Its first season was pretty good in my opinion, but the second and third were mostly disasters. Its fourth and fifth were its best, but even then, those would still only count as mid-tier TNG seasons. Its sixth and seventh just ran out of steam. If you want to read more about this, I recommend sfdebris's reviews or Darren Mooney's on them0vieblog. They explain why I and many others feel Voyager was a disappointment in a way far beyond nitpicking (though I must say, I think Jammer explained himself very well). I must admit though, I do get a little irritated when people say how overrated DS9 is. Yes, on this one particular site, the reviewer thought DS9 was better than Voyager. However, he's clearly not the majority. Most people would say TOS, TNG, or VOY before they'd say DS9. Even on this website, there are many, many commenters (Yanks, Elliott, William B, Patrick, Trent) who feel that DS9 is on par or worse than the other Trek series, and overrated by Jammer (This isn't a slight on you guys btw-even though I disagree, I enjoy reading your comments, and you seem like nice people).

@William B-Don't be sad. Though I believe what Rene Echevarria said about TNG w/r/t DS9 was accurate, it should just make you all the more impressed that TNG so often managed to thrive under those conditions.
William B
Thu, Dec 13, 2018, 10:35pm (UTC -5)
@Iceman,

"Don't be sad. Though I believe what Rene Echevarria said about TNG w/r/t DS9 was accurate, it should just make you all the more impressed that TNG so often managed to thrive under those conditions."

Yeah, that's a good point, and I do think that too. It reminds me about Piller's pride about getting stories to work within the Roddenberry box. And part of my love for TNG is that the constraint was to find ways to make the characters and situations feel real and believable while trying to show humans behaving generally better than 1) they do now, and 2) than they often behave in fiction, because of the various pragmatic requirements of what makes stories entertaining. It's not easy to do that. I do feel a bit less happy with the implications that the writers were overall sometimes unhappy with their creation, but even there I get that it's mostly a relative thing. I can see how writing for DS9 -- which, to be clear, I still think is a very good show, even though I can be down on it some of the time -- would be more rewarding and that's not really a slight against TNG.
Startrekwatcher
Mon, Apr 29, 2019, 11:46pm (UTC -5)
I do think DS9 is definitely overrated online. TNG is my favorite. I think TNG did best at balancing character and plot as well as taking full advantage of the space setting. I also liked that it was an action adventure series and that most stories had an immediate urgency to them with the problem of the week

Early DS9 did a better job at capturing that sort of TNG feel and balance mostly thanks to Michael Piller still being heavily involved.

But I didn’t care for a lot of Ira Behr’s storytelling style—with the exception of his handling of the Dominion War which I really liked. Instead of taking advantage of the space setting the way TOS and TNG did, he basically told stories that we had seen before on contemporary dramas with weddings, pregnancies, romance, dating issues, daddy issues, love triangles etc. there’s not much new you can do with those so they felt pretty mundane. And there were also times that war cliches were things he fell back on that didn’t feel particularly fresh

I also didn’t like how a lot of times we just had a character or two headlining a DS9 episode. I missed the camaraderie constantly displayed in TNG where the entire cast was involved each week in the story.
Startrekwatcher
Tue, Apr 30, 2019, 12:30am (UTC -5)
I also think TNG benefitted from having an open submission policy allowing a lot of good story ideas to come in. The writing staff were good writers when they had someone else’s story to work from. I just don’t think on average with the exceptions between Michael Piller or Brannon Braga that the TNG staff were idea people.

A large part of the decline I feel in the last two TNG seasons besides Michael Piller stepping back had to do with the staff generating not only the scripts but the story ideas themselves. I just didn’t think Ron Moore or Rene were good at coming up with ideas and for me this was brought home on DS9 where they wrote their own storiesmodt of the time leading to lackluster outings.

. But when they did an uncredited rewrite on like The Visitor, Visionary, Destiny, In the Pale Moonlight the episode was great. Or when again they were working from somebody else’s idea like Children of Time they did a better job

I think that’s the same problem for VOY. Not only was Jeri Taylor not a good show runner but they relieetoo much on the writing staff to generate episode ideas. And write them. Let’s face it Lisa Klink, Ken Biller, JoeMenosky, Jeri Taylor. Again about the only on staff writer with good ideas was Brannon in my opinion

If you look at TNG seasons 3-5 most episodes were stories from someone else that a staff writer wrote. And most story contributors contributed one story and no more. I think that helped TNG and why those seasons are usually the ones highly praised.
Gaius Maximus
Thu, May 16, 2019, 10:23pm (UTC -5)
@Startrekwatcher -

I'm surprised that you think the whole cast was more involved on TNG than DS9. I feel like there were plenty of TNG episodes where Troi or Crusher or La Forge got maybe two lines in one scene. It doesn't seem to me that there was a whole lot of difference between the two shows in that regard.

Also, the open submission policy lasted all the way through DS9 and VOY and was only stopped with ENT, so I don't think that can explain any difference in quality between the shows.
Bobbington Mc Bob
Fri, Jun 7, 2019, 10:48am (UTC -5)
I nearly skipped this, as thanks to ENT and and DSC I was sick to the bone of mirror universe stuff. However I am glad I watched this one, as it immediately applied a different formula. Everyone, even the bar staff, knew who they were. No skulking around, "will they find out" plot (thankfully). The lack of agony booths was also a relief, as by this point they are an extremely tired concept, as, to be honest they were after even their first showing on TOS.

Its a shame they didn't develop the "teaching Kira to be Bajor's leader" idea any further, if this was even Kira's true intent. Mirror Kira was much less of a one dimensional tyrant such as those we see in other trek incarnations, even if obviously psychotic, and this was pleasing to see. Another flat 'evil sulu', or 'evil georgiou', or evil who the hell ever, and I would have been diving for the little "next episode" icon in netflix.

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