Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Through the Looking Glass"

3.5 stars

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

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Previous episode: Distant Voices
Next episode: Improbable Cause

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61 comments on this review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But anyway, I think it would actually make sense for Tuvok to be around, since he had infiltrated the Maquis in Prime Universe, he'd actually be a freedom fighter in MU.
Jack
Thu, Feb 14, 2013, 10:55am (UTC -5)
The mirror universe episodes require assuming that the exact same sperm-egg combinations happen in both universes, creating the same people, even though entirely different lives are being led.

It's just a bridge way, way, way, way, way too far...
TDexter
Sun, Mar 3, 2013, 7:05pm (UTC -5)
So much overanalysis in this thread! I have always found the MU eps as Star Trek's excuse to indulge in a little space cowboy pulp fiction, as an homage to the roots of the genre. They are supposed to be y, ridiculous and over the top.
Kotas
Wed, Oct 23, 2013, 8:56am (UTC -5)
Not quite as good as the first parallel universe episode.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quarkissnyder, I had the same thoughts watching this one.

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

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

Well, we did get Tuvok though.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This reminds me a bit of Empire Strikes Back! haha

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

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

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

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

I need to rewatch this episode. All I remember of it is the appearance of Tuvok, who IIRC does very little in this episode. Guest character crossovers are so rare in Trek that each one should be celebrated. They shouldn't just be a face in a crowd with no impact on the story and no chance to interact with other Trek characters. What a waste.
Matt
Wed, Dec 7, 2016, 8:38pm (UTC -5)
Uh, are we really sure that Sisko slept with Dax and Kira? Both scenes show the actors fully clothed in the same outfits the scenes started with, hair unruffled, etc. In the scene with Dax, I got the impression that she was annoyed because Sisko started talking about ship deployments and whatnot. With Kira they talk about Sisko's fate. Again, fully clothed and unruffled in any way.

Honestly, I got the feeling that Sisko managed to get out of it in both scenes. Memory Alpha seems to indicate that the script indicates orherwise, but it just isn't that believable. Maybe it's just me.
NCC-1701-Z
Wed, Dec 7, 2016, 11:51pm (UTC -5)
I remember that in the next DS9 MU episode, Mirror Dax slapped Sisko and said "That's for making love to me under false pretenses!"
Robotmaria
Sun, Mar 26, 2017, 12:55pm (UTC -5)
Sisko sleeping with Dax is strange. Partly for reasons already stated above. I could almost get my head around Sisko going along with it as Dax seems to expect sex and he is pretending to be mirror-Sisko, except for Jennifer. Sisko seems to be not over her death yet up to this point, he was obviously very in love and given the chance to see a mirror-jennifer, would his feelings about that alter his approach to Dax? I think it would, unless he sleeps with Dax to shield against his feelings about seeing his dead wife again. Like when he became Gabriel Bell, Sisko seems to quickly pick up stepping into other roles, but I still found it a bit unbelievable. And real Dax is his friend. Did he ever tell her? Wish this had more consequences than a slap in the next MU outing.
pfk505
Fri, Jul 7, 2017, 1:57pm (UTC -5)
Having Sisko sleep with Dax is a huge misstep by the writers which should have at the very least had some repercussions for both characters.. I only sort of enjoyed the mirror episodes but I recognize that they were meant to be fun and became a sort of seasonal tradition. Yet it still bugs me because it seems so totally out of character. It also belies the fact that if you think too hard about these mirror universe episodes, the universe in which they exist becomes more and more ridiculous and improbable. Is Dax a joined Trill in the mirror universe? Assuming she had the same previous hosts, what were their lives like? Were Sisko and Curzon close friends? Because if so, its just unfathomable that he wouldn't find a way out of that encounter.

2/4
Dave
Sun, Sep 10, 2017, 2:47pm (UTC -5)
I wonder where the Borg are in this universe. I'm assuming that the Borg Queen is Kai Opaka.
Shawn Davis
Tue, Nov 21, 2017, 12:22am (UTC -5)
I’ve just watched this episode today (i’ve not seen any series of Star Trek in almost a decade). I’ve give this episode 3 stars instead of 3/12 stars. I agree with most of what jammer said about this episode. However, I’ve also agree with those who question the relationship between Sisko and mirror Dax and with those who stated that mirror Tuvok appearance is a waste of time since he is there only for show and I didn’t see him take part in any of the action scenes in the episodes.

Also, I’ve a minor issue with the first act of the episode. When Smiley (mirror universe of O’brien of course) took Captain Sisko hostage, Odo and Quark sure have gone to the turbo lift rather quickly after Smiley said he wanted to talk to Sisko alone prior to both Odo and Quark being there. Also while Smiley was configuring the transporter to bring him and Sisko to his universe, some of the ops officers had the opportunity to tackle the man to the ground or to use their own phasers to stun him. Sisko wouldn’t had to go to the alternate universe in the first place or not go there as a hostage.

Even though I didn’t like these flaws, the pros of this episode more than outweight the cons and it was a good episode overalll.
Jeff
Tue, Jan 16, 2018, 4:55pm (UTC -5)
I just rewatched this episode last night and picked up on something I never noticed before. When Sisko first meets Mirror-Jadzia he calls her "Dax." He sure was taking a gamble there. How would he know that Jadzia was a joined Trill in the mirror universe?
Rahul
Sat, May 12, 2018, 10:00pm (UTC -5)
Wasn't a fan of "Crossover" and am not a fan of this episode which is little more than standard action/adventure with Mirror Kira's character, which while consistent with the Mirror Universe, was tiresome to watch again after her first act when Jennifer comes in. It's too over-the-top ridiculous. A cartoonish episode practically.

The ending with Sisko getting his freedom because he changed the command code to stop the self-destruct -- I guess Mirror Kira really believes he will transmit the command code once he's left the station because he's not Mirror Sisko. But I still think that ending was too simplistic. So her, Garak etc. are left watching the countdown waiting for Sisko to give them the command code...nice work Mirror Kira. How did that idiot get to be the Intendant? Is the Mirror Universe Alliance particularly stupid?

Sure, DS9 is working on a Mirror Universe arc and but this is all inconsequential and superficial, I feel. There's nothing profound here and I didn't find the phaser fight scene anything special. I almost think there's more substance in the better DSC Mirror Universe episodes.

The Mirror Kira seduction stuff went on a bit too long for me -- staggers me why she doesn't kill Sisko. This is the standard mistake all villains seem to make over and over again.

Barely 2.5 stars for "Through the Looking Glass" -- actually liked Avery Brooks' acting here (not the part when he gets tough with Mirror Bashir but more the part when talking with Jennifer). Standard rescue plot with typical action scenes but ultimately without any consequences -- the series can move on with its ongoing major arcs as usual. For successfully completing his mission, Sisko should have demanded of Smiley no more visits from the Mirror Universe to his universe (I would have demanded it!).
Iceman
Fri, Aug 17, 2018, 12:23pm (UTC -5)
I was a huge fan of "Crossover", which took the MU somewhat seriously, unlike "Through the Looking Glass", which is, as Jammer describes, all style and absolutely zero substance. It's relatively well executed, but it's still utter fluff. 2.5 stars.
grumpy_otter
Tue, Sep 25, 2018, 5:00pm (UTC -5)
After reading the review and the comments all I have to say is, "Seriously? We have to go to the mirror universe AGAIN after this?"

I am tempted to give up on the whole thing.
Elliott
Tue, Oct 16, 2018, 12:11pm (UTC -5)
SFDebris notes in some of his reviews that comedy outings often lead to the most disparate ratings by the audience. What is funny is perhaps more subjective that other affects attempted by Trek. And I have to agree that if something is mindless, but hilarious and entertaining, one can excuse the flaws—this is why I don't object to holodeck malfunction stories outright. However, “Mirror, Mirror” and “Crossover” have firmly established the MU to be a place to be taken seriously as far as the concepts and the characters are concerned. Yes, there is going to over-the-top goofiness—that's part of the charm—but we haven't been asked to turn our brains off. Both episodes are essentially Prime Directive stories which ask us to consider the effects of revolution, evolution and the human condition. Alright, let's get into this.

Teaser : ***, 5%

In a callback to “Playing God,” Odo has discovered a new vole infestation on the station. Quark had taken the economic opportunity to start staging vole fights, something the Cardassians used to do. On his way out of Ops, Sisko is greeted by O'Brien, dressed in civies and without his combadge. And sure enough, Miles pulls a gun on Sisko and orders him onto the transporter pad. Miles joins him him and waves another standard issue tech dildo over the controls before ordering the computer to energise.

The pair find themselves aboard a vessel and O'Brien says they've “stepped through the looking glass.” Good thing Terran slaves were taught the classics in those Bajoran mines, am I right?

Act 1 : zero stars, 17%

So, now that he's been successfully kidnapped, NOW, Sisko The Fist pulls a little move and takes Smiley (Mirror O'Brien)'s gun off him. Sisko, thankfully, knows exactly where he is, so we don't have to sit through too much exposition. Smiley informs him that, since “Crossover,” the Terrans have started a rebellion against the Alliance. Also, M-Sisko has died, I assume from space-ghonorrea. Smiley wants P-Sisko to take his place, temporarily, to complete a vital mission. At first, Sisko refuses to interfere—thank the Prophets for small miracles. However, it turns out that in the MU, Jennifer Sisko (yes, Sisko) is an important Terran scientist who is close to completing a sensor array which will expose the resistance, who are amusingly hiding in the Badlands, just like the Maquis in the PU. M-Sisko was convinced he could turn her to the cause. Smiley pulls out Felicia Bell's headshot, because of course the Terrans have photographs, and the image of his dead wife hits Sisko like a ton of bricks. Smiley tells Sisko that unless he convinces Jennifer to turn, the resistance will have to kill her.



….....

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sisko, feckless blob of pseudo-Starfleet garbage that he is, insists that he can't let her die “again,” and so agrees to help Smiley. I won't go on another enormous Sisko rant here. I don't need to. But THIS is the moment; from THIS point forward, Sisko has absolutely no moral authority to fall back on, not when he berates Eddington, not when he chastises Dukat, not when he makes his deleted confession—at this point, Benjamin Sisko has proven himself to be a man who will do whatever he wants whenever he the fuck he feels like it, regulations, ethics, and basic human decency be damned. It's over. He's not a hero; he's a Starfleet officer in title only. I'm done.

Intendant Kira, meanwhile, is broadcasting her bisexuality, because, hey it's the Mirror Universe, so non-heteronormativity can be written off as moral corruption, right? Professor Jennifer Sisko delivers her report about the sensor thingy, but M-Kira just wants to let her know that her pirate husband has died. Felicia Bell's performance here isn't quite the dreck it was in “Emissary,” perhaps because the dialogue isn't so impossible, but it's still rather wooden. What we do learn from the scene is that Jennifer has agreed to create the sensor in order to prevent more Terran deaths, by giving the Alliance an advantage which will end the conflict.

Meanwhile, Smiley continues to update Sisko before beaming them both onto a Rebel base. Hoooooly fuck. Well, what do we find here among the flimsily disguised Star Wars props and standby Trek cave set but Alexander Siddig delivering his worst performance since “The Passenger”? M-Bashir's little tirade is mercifully cut short by comments from M-Rom and....M-Tuvok? Heh. I guess that's why the call it “Crossover!” Wait...

M-Bashir wants to assassinate the Intendant, which is a plan I can get behind. Blow up the whole damned Universe while you're at it. M-Tuvok is typically skeptical, but then Smiley and Sisko show up to try and upstage this little circus. Well, thankfully Smiley spent his time so far coaching Sisko on how to act like his counterpart, which means turning the dial up to 11 on the Avery-Brooks-is-really-bad-at-this metre. This scene drags on, and on, and on, with M-Tuvok and Smiley providing momentary respites of sanity amongst the painful dialogue and hokey acting. Oh, and I forogt M-Jadzia is here, too. She plants a big kiss on Sisko before slapping him and demanding he fuck her.

Um. I...

Act 2 : *, 17%

Whelp, I guess we're doing this thing. Sisko makes minimal effort to get out of sex with M-Jadzia before deciding that he's going to go through with this. So, the sight of his dead wife's face—even though he knows it isn't his Jennifer—is enough to convince Sisko that he just has to get involved here, but somehow, he has no compunctions, let alone personal reservations about fucking his best friend. What. An. Ass.

Meanwhile, the Intendant is berating Gworfrak about worker quotas or whatever. She has three Terrans randomly executed to keep the rest “motivated.” Grotesque. Apparently, M-Kira is upset by the death of her favourite concubine, which he notes, but promises that the completion of Jennifer's sensor array will CRUSH THE REBELLION. Oh...if only they let Robinson do a Peter Cushing impression. I bet he could handle it.

Anyway, post-coital M-Jadzia is a bit pessimistic. She notes that a year of resisting the Alliance hasn't accomplished much. She wants to run away with Sisko and give up on this little venture altogether. We are treated to another round of Sisko-on-the-pulpit as he demands better ideas from his people on how to infiltrate Terrak Nor. I don't know if this is Winrich Kolbe's fault, or if Brooks just insisted on this method and the rest of the cast felt they needed to dial everything up to match his energy or what, but I swear to god, N-Bashir's gravelly posturing makes the Ferengi in “The Last Outpost”--who acted like excitable gerbils, remember—look positively subtle. I'm not kidding. This is horrendous. Smiley tells Sisko hit M-Bashir in the face. Oh yeah, that's a stretch for our Sisko, isn't it? Oh, and Sisko calls M-Jadzia “Dax,” which I thought would expose him to these people as a fraud, but I guess, somehow, the Trill are still joining hosts and symbionts in this hellscape universe and Jadzia has *also* been given the Dax symbiont. Does that mean M-Curzon and M-Sisko were old friends, too? Because that adds a whole other layer of creepy to her relationship with Sisko, here. The only thing these people seem to agree on is that it would be a lot easier to just kill Jennifer than to capture and turn her. Only Smiley insists that it would be to their benefit to have a brilliant scientist on their side.

In the next scene, M-Rom—a double agent it turns out—reports to the Intendant that Captain Nobeard is alive and well. M-Kira can't help but be pleased with the news and determines to “get her hands on him.” [shudder]

Act 3 : **.5, 17%

Something is itching Smiley's scalp, and Sisko is really enjoying letting his inner asshole dangle about, all pink and naked in a Universe which expects this behaviour of him. The episode pretends to get serious for a moment, with Sisko admitting he has a lot of feelings going into this meeting with Jennifer. Yeah. Maybe he taped that photograph to the back of M-Dax' head when he was ploughing her yesterday. For the feels. We get a little more backstory on the MU—like the P-Bajorans, some Terrans are born to a privileged cast which allows them to hold positions of relative freedom by collaborating with the Alliance. We also learn than P-Jennifer was incredibly kind and caring. Yeah. That's informative, deep cut there, Sisko.

Their ship is met by a cloaked Klingon vessel which delivers the pair straight to Terrak Nor. Sisko locks lips with the Intendant immediately, presumably on Smiley's advice. I will say, Garworf's expression during their disgusting little display is priceless. M-Kira reminds Smiley of his own backstory, undoing the good will from the beginning of the episode by providing exposition to events we all already knew, presuming we didn't need the exposition to begin with. She sends him to ore-processing, which is damned lucky as I would expect her to have him killed immediately. Sisko, meanwhile, is quite certain he's off to go screw another lady and accompanies M-Kira to her quarters. M-Kira is surprisingly thoughtful in deciding how to deal with Sisko. Her ego clearly wants him to repent and pledge his loyalty and his penis to her, but, thankfully, there's a glimmer of shrewdness peaking through which reminds her she should probably just kill him.

For absolutely no reason, Jennifer is brought in to chat with Sisko, per his request. Yeah. That seems reasonable. She considers this rebellion just another fools' errand in a long string of self-serving M-Sisko adventures. So clearly, her opinion of her people's political future is clouded by her personal history with her husband. One thing I admit I like about this episode is the framing of Jennifer (performance issues aside). She is relatively privileged—still a slave, but comfortable. This privilege inoculates her against the natural dialectical necessity for her people to rebel against the established power. This is a paradigm we see all the time, where a small but influential middle class chastises the working classes for disrupting their routine in an effort to overthrow the ruling class. In some ways, the actions of this group are more reprehensible than the actual oppressors.

Act 4 : *, 17%

Anyway, Sisko wants Jennifer to join the cause, but she notes that he has no credibility to be making ethical arguments. Talk about ironic. Sisko tries the “I've changed” angle, which of course fails. Jennifer is certain he's just playing games but Sisko seems to want to make amends for his counterpart's mistakes, and for a moment, you forget how stupid this all is. Finally, Sisko is able to convince Jennifer that she has allowed her anger at her husband to cloud her judgement and blind her to the reality of her situation.

Sisko taps his ear, which gives Smiley an itch and he starts futzing with panels in the ore-processing centre. Sisko all too easily takes down the two Klingon guards outside his room and Jennifer agrees to join the rebellion. This unearned character evolution brought to you by Cliché Dialogue Formula #17:

JENNIFER: All right. But lets get one thing clear.
SISKO: What's that?
JENNIFER: I still hate you.

Blegh. Oh, did I say contrived? Well, not only did Sisko and Smiley end up being taken *exactly* where they wanted to be against all reason, not only was Jennifer brought alone to Sisko's quarters against all reason, but when Smiley is caught tinkering by a Cardassian guard, the guard not only doesn't shoot him (against all reason), but crouches down low so that Smiley can punch him in the face, steal his weapon and free all the slaves. Jesus Christ.

So, Sisko does his double-gunned Die Hard shtick through the corridors, until he, Jennifer and the other Terrans re-unite and head towards the airlock. Ah, but M-Rom—who was actually a triple agent, I guess—is found, stabbed to the door like the 99 Theses and the ship quite gone.

Act 5 : .5 stars, 17%

So the chase resumes until the Intendant corners the rebels. Jennifer suggest offering a trade; if she stays behind, maybe the rebels will be let go, but Sisko won't have it. Jennifer is incredulous, but no time for that, it's time for another unintentional bit of hilarity with Robinson's absurd “PURSUE!!!!!” command. Hoy boy...well it looks like the rebels have escaped into the garbage shoot, I mean the mines. So Sisko holds them all up in the mine, but Sisko has a brilliant scheme up his sleeve. We get another Star Wars line from Kira, until finally the Alliance forces storm inside and we get a rehash of the finale from “Crossover.” So, Sisko has been able to activate the station's self-destruct—get this—because the Cardassian architect in the PU used the exact same code here in the MU, and we all know that the architect is one who chooses military access codes. Well, under threat of imminent death, M-Kira agrees to let the Terrans escape.

That anti-climax out of the way, we find ourselves back at the rebel base where Jennifer and Dax are commiserating, a scene lifted straight out of “Conundrum.” Sisko says he's going to try and get the Romulans to help in the fight (just kill one of their senators), but Jennifer has figured out who Sisko really is. The expected beats of their goodbye drag on for a bit before Smiley sends Sisko home.

Episode as Functionary : .5 stars, 10%

That was one of the most unpleasant episodes of Star Trek I can remember sitting through in a while. I can mostly overlook the absurd plot contrivances and the unsubtle characterisation of the mirror characters, but there's very little about this story that is entertaining. The only good elements are 1. Smiley is well-realised and there seems to actually be a point in him existing in this universe, following through with his development in “Crossover,” 2. the brief appearance of M-Tuvok is just whimsical enough to feel right, and 3. the discussion of class dynamics between Jennifer and Ben hits on some good themes, although this is material we've already covered at length in episodes like “The Collaborator.”

Besides that, most of the scenes are excruciating to sit through, and, even for a character as morally-bankrupt as Sisko has already been shown to be, this is nothing less than character assassination. I don't look up to Sisko, and even I'm appalled by his behaviour here. I don't understand how anyone who actually looks up to him doesn't feel betrayed by this story. Sigh...if we had had any indication that Sisko had regrets about his relationship with P-Jennifer (besides the fact that she died), and/or Smiley had incentivised Sisko to act (kidnap Jake?), some of this could have been glossed over, but the episode is quite deliberate in its characterisation; we are meant to see Sisko as a man who will ignore his duties, his alleged principles, and basic morality (see issues with M-Dax) to get what he wants, which is a chance to chat with this wife's dopplgänger, I guess—although it's never really made clear *what* is motivating him. The episode doesn't even have the moral fibre to portray Sisko as someone reluctantly going along with this madness, doing a hard thing because he thinks he has to. Instead, he's portrayed as having a grand ol' time, punching Bashir, fucking Dax, messing with Kira and joking with Smiley. It's absolutely revolting.

Final Score : *
Chrome
Tue, Oct 16, 2018, 1:04pm (UTC -5)
@Elliott

“Sisko, feckless blob of pseudo-Starfleet garbage that he is, insists that he can't let her die “again,” and so agrees to help Smiley. I won't go on another enormous Sisko rant here. I don't need to. But THIS is the moment; from THIS point forward, Sisko has absolutely no moral authority to fall back on, not when he berates Eddington, not when he chastises Dukat, not when he makes his deleted confession—at this point, Benjamin Sisko has proven himself to be a man who will do whatever he wants whenever he the fuck he feels like it, regulations, ethics, and basic human decency be damned. It's over. He's not a hero; he's a Starfleet officer in title only. I'm done.”

What about this scene is so egregious to you? That Sisko’s not following the PD because he has some sentimental ties to his dead wife? I mean it’s not exactly a logical decision for Sisko but I guess it works on an emotional level. That said, it’s still a wonky plotline because we need to believe that Smiley somehow knows how to get to the PU and further *knows* that Sisko has the same wife AND that Sisko’s judgment will be clouded enough to help...which is, well, messy to say the least.
Elliott
Tue, Oct 16, 2018, 1:31pm (UTC -5)
@Chrome:

I thought I was pretty clear about this. The ground state for Starfleet officers is to always do the right thing. Now, sometimes morally grey issues arise and the right thing is in conflict with protocol, so a good officer might bend or even break the rules to follow his conscience. And sometimes, an officer might be so traumatised by an experience that he is unable to do the right thing. But in this episode, Sisko's only motivation for doing a blatantly unethical thing is that he wants to see Jennifer. On the one hand, the reasoning behind this is so wishy-washy that I'm still not clear what the intended line of thinking even was. Did he want to say goodbye? But, the only way to justify this behaviour is to say that Sisko is (suddenly) so broken up over Jennifer's death 5 years ago that he isn't fit to serve. But even this is completely undermined by Sisko's attitude throughout the episode which is basically, "Hey this is fun! Shooting things, making out with all the ladies!" Nothing about this reads like a man desperate for a reunion with this wife, which again, would only justify his actions on an emotional level, and *not* on a professional level.

As to your second point, actually Smiley didn't realise P-Sisko was married to or even knew P-Jennifer. He just wanted SIsko to take M-Sisko's place and pretend.
Chrome
Tue, Oct 16, 2018, 2:43pm (UTC -5)
@Elliott

Okay, I see your point. It’s true that we’re missing a framing device for this episode that motivates the protagonist (Sisko). For example, it could’ve been his 20th wedding anniversary or Sisko could’ve had a dream showing us how he failed Jennifer at some time in the past and has remaining guilt. One of the great things about “Mirror, Mirror” is theat the episode was framed in diplomatic negotiations where Kirk could’ve used force on a technologically weak race.

Sorry I messed up the details but I still think Smiley’s plan was a bit sketchy. Like, there could have been a reason Smiley thought Sisko would help him freely after he heard their plan. Actually, Smiley not even knowing about P-Sisko’s relationship to Jennifer just makes his plan come off weaker.
William B
Tue, Oct 16, 2018, 6:14pm (UTC -5)
@Elliott, I think the one thing that's arguably missing from your analysis is establishing definitively that what Sisko did was "what was wrong." Now don't get me wrong, I think I agree with you. But I think the thing is, it's possible that the intent of the episode was more along the lines of this:

If it were Kirk, rather than Sisko, and he was dropped into another universe where humans are slaves to tyrannical masters, and he stumbled upon a sexy lady scientist who was about to help build the Death Star to wipe out the rebels or whatever, because she believed that this would help prevent death in the long term, he might well convince her that she's wrong and help her join the rebel cause. It's against the Prime Directive, but Kirk often followed his instincts in these matters, including obviously in Mirror, Mirror. Bashir, who is a relatively low-ranked officer, more interested in compassionate treatment of whoever his "patient" is than larger issues, immediately tried to awaken Smiley's sense of dignity in Crossover. So arguably, the actual act of helping the rebels turn Jennifer is not necessarily something that Our Heroes would always tag as *wrong*.

In that sense, it's *possible* that part of the intent is that Sisko basically believes that the cause Smiley recruits him for is good, and that it's justified to break the PD under this case because of the good that he can do by helping the rebels. Now this is a big buy for various reasons, but again, I think it would track if it were Kirk, and I'm not sure it doesn't track with Sisko.

And not only that, but the thing is, to paraphrase Janeway in Caretaker, to some degree Sisko *is* involved. Kirk's actions created the crisis the Terrans face, and it was Sisko's officers that changed things further in Crossover. The damage has already been done by interference, so it's not clear that it is automatically correct to refrain from acting.

The problem is that Sisko doesn't appear to make his choice based on broader moral inclinations at all -- it seems to be just about Jennifer. But here's the way in which it could work: what if the idea is that Sisko's reluctance to act in this universe isn't because of the Prime Directive, but because it is not really his fight? What Smiley is asking of him is to risk his life. Even if it is morally acceptable and laudable to run into a burning building to save someone, people generally aren't morally obligated to do so, if doing so would, you know, likely kill them. And of course there's also that Sisko is going to naturally *in general* be defiant about someone who tries to force him to do something through kidnapping and intimidation (c.f. Paradise). So what if he basically sees Smiley's cause as good, and would even see helping Smiley to be justifiable, but that he isn't going to be kidnapped into it, and it's obviously maybe going to kill him. However, once he sees M-Jennifer is on the line, then he recalculates what interference is worth to him personally.

In this scenario, helping and not helping are *both* morally reasonable acts. Helping the rebels is fine because they are already in the thick of it -- the fate of the Terrans is already tied up with prime universe's actions. Not helping is fine because Sisko doesn't have to put his life on the line because of the actions of Kirk, Kira or Bashir. So Jennifer persuades him to act.

---

Do I buy this? I don't know. Probably not. I think this is maybe close to the intent -- except that what we actually see in the dialogue is that Sisko says that he's not going to interfere, and the implication of that statement is mostly that it's a PD issue. It's only when Jennifer is mentioned that he moves into "I can't let her die again," and agrees to act. The way in which Sisko's participation *as such* doesn't have to hurt him morally is if his original position was actually not that he is *forbidden* from interfering, but that he cannot be *compelled* to interfere, which is really a different issue. However, given how strongly established the PD is, it is really a problem for the episode not to spell out why exactly Sisko would be talking about whether he is *compelled* to act, as opposed to whether he is *forbidden* from acting.

So I guess I'm not 100% sure that Sisko's participating in Smiley's plan, as such, is necessarily the completely morally wrong course of action, but it seems hard for me to escape the episode's presentation that Sisko's choice is made on really flimsy grounds.
Elliott
Tue, Oct 16, 2018, 6:52pm (UTC -5)
@William B

I think I agree with you as well—

I don’t have a problem patching up an episode when it messes up details or plays fast and loose with continuity (as I think I’ve proven in these reviews). It’s just that this episode in no way purchases that effort from me. Either something more clear cut about motivation/justification needed to be spelled out in act 1 (this could even have been Smiley convincing Sisko that the Terran cause was worth violating the PD, but instead, it’s *only* the Jennifer issue which moves him), or Sisko needed to proceed through the episode displaying an emotional state other than elation while larping about the MU. If he showed some regret or mixed feelings instead of enjoying the afterglow with Dax or being all yippee ki yay in act 5, I would be willing to cobble together some sort of excuse for his behaviour—at least partially. But the episode makes no effort in this regard. The audience is expected not to even consider the morality, I guess.
Peter G.
Tue, Oct 16, 2018, 9:37pm (UTC -5)
In general I think William B's analysis is on point.

I'll just add that I don't think Sisko has to be the philosopher Picard is to be a good person. It's fine to aspire to great things and to try to stick to Federation principles, but I distinctly think it *is not* the case that to be a good person you have to abide by the rules to a fault, as Picard sometimes appears to do. Kirk certainly never did and Sisko is, I think, supposed to be a compromise between enlightened principles and being a "primal human" in the sense of feeling the burning spirit of desire. I think both are needed in a truly enlightened person, which is why I think to an extent that Riker is in some ways the real paragon of TNG, and not Picard. It goes back and forth a little bit, where the man of action must sit studiously at the knee of the philosopher, but vice versa as well.

In Sisko's case he has clear principles, but one of them (which is unstated) is that people are worth more than vague ideas are. He doesn't like it when good people are trampled, just like Kirk didn't. I can see moral debate here and I agree with Elliott that the episode certainly didn't take pains to spell out what Sisko's inner thinking is. My explanation of that this that these mirror episodes are mostly romps - high flying adventure in the Trek world that are "resets" (until the next mirror episode. In effect it's the same principle governing Voyager; to have a random adventure that's fun and has no care for continuity. This can be good or bad; as I like this episode's fun factor I call it good, but I can understand the opposite reaction.

Getting back to 'people matter more than ideas', I think William is right that Jennifer is the turning point here. It may well be that he can't stand to see a Jennifer that's a bad person and needs to convert her, more so even than he needs to help the rebels. It's hard to tell whether it's this, or confusion on his part, or secretly wanting to help the rebels even though he is intent on protesting at first. He is, after all, very antagonistic to being pushed around. But despite their flaws maybe he wants to help them on some level but can't quite justify it, and maybe getting a chance to help their Jennifer feels like 'a sign' or something that he has a real purpose here. Who knows. I think it's evident that he just decides to roll with it at one point, and after that the story can progress without needing to continually dial it back to his initial objection and make sure everything is kosher. That would certainly have killed the momentum.

But I agree that it would have been nice to get a word or two from Sisko here and there to show he's aware of the implications of what he's doing.
Elliott
Tue, Oct 16, 2018, 9:56pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G :

As I said in my Functionary section, I would have been fine if the writers had glossed over this point in any of the ways you and William B, suggested--all of those are fine options (not perfect, but acceptable). But they boxed themselves into a corner here, where the only way to arrive at such conclusions is to ignore the text of the episode:

SISKO: I'm sorry, but you're going to have to find someone else. I don't belong here and I'm not about to interfere with events going on in this universe.

... O'Brien explains the premise about Jennifer ...

O'BRIEN: Unless you can persuade Professor Sisko to join our cause, we'll have no choice but to kill her.
SISKO: Kill her?
O'BRIEN: We cannot let her finish the sensor array. It'd mean the end of the rebellion.
SISKO: I can't let her die. Not again.

There is only one reason why Sisko chooses to stay, and that's to save mirror-Jennifer. I didn't write this show, and I don't go looking for reasons to hate on Sisko. I'd really prefer to be presented an episode where he isn't written like a complete douchebag, frankly. It hasn't really happened this season.
methane
Tue, Oct 16, 2018, 10:38pm (UTC -5)
While I won't argue what's driving Sisko, I'm not sure the Prime Directive compels him to stay out of it. The central plot of the mirror universe stories in DS9 is that Kirk and crew have already deeply interfered with this society. It could be argued that the original interference created an obligation to help deal with the consequences, although how and to what extent is debatable. It certainly doesn't appear Starfleet has issued any directives on this particular issue.
Springy
Tue, Dec 18, 2018, 9:26am (UTC -5)
Watching and commenting:

--We start off talking about substituting goldfish for voles, and the next thing we know, we've got substitute O'Brien. Looking Glass Universe seems like.

-Looking Glass (LG) O'Brien making quite a pitch to Sisko.

--Oh no. LG-Kira. Just over the top. Talks so slow, acts so so smirky and slinky.

--Brooks is so hard to watch. Julian looking all tough. Tuvok! A spy in this universe, too, I assume?

--Oh, no, Jadzia and Ben. Ben takes one for the team. This is all just way, way over the top.

-- These performances are mostly wince-worthy, with the exceptions of Tim Russ, Colm Meany, and Robinson.

--Cheesy, cheesy, cheesy, cheesy. The story isn't bad at all. The story is good. But the performances and dialogue are so dripping with melted cheese that I just can't ignore the smell.

-- I hope we don't get too many more LG Universe episodes in this series.
Springy
Tue, Dec 18, 2018, 10:12am (UTC -5)
After reading commentary:

--Wide disagreement on ep, I see. I thought the concept was good: Sisko goes through the Looking Glass to save LG-Jennifer and help the Terran rebellion. Lots of potential there. The execution (dialogue and performances) was truly awful.

--OK. I'm not a hetero man, so maybe I'm not seeing this realistically, but yes, the sex with Jadzia is rape, yet I saw it as Ben "playing his role," no different than when he slugged Bashir (so hard he bloodied his nose). The violation was greater for Jadzia, but it served the same purpose.

The question is, as it often is on Trek, do the ends justify the means?

Let's role reverse: If this had been our- Jadzia, giving in to sex with LG-Sisko to "keep up pretenses" and keep him from getting suspicious, how would we be seeing it? Yes, it's rape of Ben, i.e, it's sex without consent. She's willing to violate Ben and fool him in the most intimate way possible, to keep herself safe and continue with her cause.

I think it's easier to see a woman in this situation as "making a sacrifice for her cause," and a man as "taking advantage to get his rocks off," but the ep itself gave us little go on, there. We don't get much in the way of what's going on in Ben's mind, just his pants.

The decking of Bashir may have been to suggest the sex with Jadzia was also all about protecting himself and his noble cause - he's willing to hurt and violate a stranger rather than risk exposure and failure. But who knows.

--So I see in the comments above that we're going to see more through this Looking Glass in the future. Too bad, I much prefer our usual characters.
Iceman
Tue, Dec 18, 2018, 6:24pm (UTC -5)
@Springy-

I wouldn't worry too much. Out of the 111 episodes remaining, only 3 return to the MU. One of them is decent, one of them is mediocre, and the third is atrocious.
Mike
Sun, Mar 31, 2019, 10:35pm (UTC -5)
Great ep! I like Mirror-Dax way better than real Dax, ultra gorgeous! And Sisko has to take one for team and have sex with her, the poor guy!
BTW where do they get the ore from and why do they process it on Terok Nor? A space station seems like inefficient location for a smelter.
Jackson
Tue, Apr 2, 2019, 7:17pm (UTC -5)
"Their ship is met by a cloaked Klingon vessel"

A technology that would somehow disappear later from the Mirror Universe for plot purposes.
RandomThoughts
Thu, Apr 18, 2019, 10:44pm (UTC -5)
Hello Everyone!

@Mike

While they never really say (that I can recall), I have thought perhaps if they were mining asteroids, then a space station would be a good place to break it down. But not if the mining was on a planet or a moon (unless the atmosphere was totally hostile).

Regards... RT
CaptainEddieD
Sun, May 12, 2019, 8:08pm (UTC -5)
Could barely even watch this one

(also I just saw a dead body on the street!)

(when someone reads this months from now, they will be like wow, I wonder what the story with that was)

- Captain Eddie D
Dave in MN
Sun, May 12, 2019, 8:21pm (UTC -5)
^

Um, what? Are you being serious?
Yanks
Mon, May 13, 2019, 9:41am (UTC -5)
^^

I'm sure he was... this episode was horrible.
Harris
Mon, May 13, 2019, 9:59am (UTC -5)
Maybe Eddie’s that kid from The Sixth Sense.

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