Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Air date: 4/22/1996
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Directed by James L. Conway
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"Captain Bashir, Captain O'Brien, Captain Sisko. We may not have enough troops or ships or weapons, but we have plenty of Captains." — "Smiley" O'Brien
Nutshell: Superficial action fun taken to the most relentless of extremes—and it works.
Once again, DS9 takes us to the mirror universe where we follow the rebellion and their struggle against the evil Alliance. Two seasons ago—the first time DS9 took us to this parallel universe in "Crossover"—the premise sported a dark, somewhat brooding attitude. Last season in "Through the Looking Glass," the dark undertones were significantly reduced, and an adventurous romp took center stage. With "Shattered Mirror," DS9 takes the premise yet another step into full-blown insanity. The episode has its semi-serious moments, but for the most part it's a completely over-the-top, superficial, comic book adventure—even more so than "Looking Glass" was.
I'd be lying if I said "Shattered Mirror" is a standout accomplishment in skilled writing or character development—it's not. But I'd also be lying if I said this show isn't a gleeful diversion. It's good comic book—big, dumb, sensationally simplistic, and fun.
The premise? Well, like any comic book, it's about good versus evil. More specifically, the mirror version of Jennifer Sisko comes to "our" side and kidnaps Jake to the mirror side. Sisko crosses over to retrieve his son, and finds himself kidnapped by the rebellion and enlisted to help them. "Smiley" O'Brien brings him up to date on current events (the rebels have driven the Alliance off of Terok Nor, claimed the station for themselves, and imprisoned Intendant Kira). O'Brien insists Sisko help them put some necessary finishing touches on the Defiant they have built (courtesy of some stolen schematics from DS9 on the other side).
Time is a big factor. In a matter of days the Alliance's reinforcements will reach the station, and if the rebellion doesn't have a reasonable weapon to defend themselves by then, they will surely be recaptured.
The plot (what little bit of it there is) takes a while to get fully underway, but when dealing with mirror characters, that's all the better. In all honesty, even if this show had nothing going for it other than its reversed role-playing, it would probably still be worth watching simply because of the opportunity to see the cast in neat costumes while delivering enjoyable dialogue.
The episode's first four acts center around the Preparation for the Battle between Good and Evil. Mired in here somewhere is a somewhat interesting angle involving Jake's fascination of meeting his "mother" and his kid-like misconception of realism. He gets caught up in this fantasy-like world, and seems blind to the dangers of it.
Meanwhile, Sisko assists in preparing the Defiant for combat as we again meet the other mirror characters, many of whom are not happy with Sisko's masquerading as their leader the last time he was in their universe. Bashir hits him in the face. ("I owed you that.") Dax slaps him in the face and pulls a knife on him. ("That's for making love to me under false pretenses.") Intendant Kira is, naturally, her same libidinous self, and believes that a Ben Sisko is a Ben Sisko. She considers supplying him with information about the Alliance in exchange for...you know. ("Why don't you lower this force field and join me in here—might help stimulate my thought process.")
At the same time, the Alliance's reinforcements continue steadily on their way to Terok Nor. They are commanded by (surprise!) Regent Worf, who is quite angry with Garak for his retreat from Terok Nor. The writers' portrayal of Worf as the villain is about as unsubtle as it gets. He puts a collar around Garak and attaches it to a chain which he uses to pull Garak around like a pet on a leash. Much of the subplot has little to do with advancing the plot, but the results are so often funny (and always laughable) that they're well worth the screen time. Such scenes wisely never show any hints of taking themselves seriously. Worf has some amusingly goofy lines to Garak. ("You are not my type" and "Make it so!" come to mind.) Garak, as always, is a fountain of clever wording worthy of a chuckle in just about every scene.
And Intendant Kira is as fun as usual with some memorable sound bites like "Violence is a precision instrument—it's a scalpel, not a club," and her amusing double-entendres. And when Nog breaks her out of prison she repays him like any villain would—she kills him. Still, one of my favorite lines in the show is her deadpan, ever-so-slightly annoyed delivery of "That was unfortunate," after she accidentally phasers Jennifer while aiming for Jake. Cold, yes; but still funny.
The show's final act is The Battle, when the Alliance fleet reaches Terok Nor and opens fire. Fortunately, the Defiant is ready just in time for the big fight (in which, naturally, they triumph, as Worf orders retreat as his ships are destroyed).
The battle supplies an absolutely beautiful special effects display featuring some very impressive motion photography work. (In fact, I bumped the rating up an extra half star because of it.) The scene uses the station as a battlefield where Birds of Prey and the Defiant weave in and out and around the architecture at breakneck speed, shooting at one another. Dan Curry and his crew have produced some of the most eye-pleasing action movements of probably any of Star Trek production. Then they outdo themselves just minutes later when the Defiant takes on Worf's battle cruiser (which is dozens of times the size of the Defiant) by getting in close to do some damage with moves surely inspired by the Millennium Falcon. In a word: Wow. These effects harbor even more speed and style than both "The Die is Cast" and "The Way of the Warrior" did.
The scene works on two levels. Aside from creating a sheer appreciation for the quality of the effects, the movements are fresh demonstrations of tactics. What should Sisko do when he's outgunned by a big ship? Why, take his little ship within inches of it and toy with their targeting, of course!
The only serious moments in "Shattered" are toward the end, where Jennifer's phaser wound results in her death, forcing Sisko and Jake to relive her death a second time. Her deathbed scene is nicely done, although it seems maybe a tad out of place considering how non-serious the rest of the episode feels. Not too bad in any case.
Between Kira's intention to "collect a debt" from Sisko for sparing his son's life, Worf's vow to return and destroy all the rebels, and Garak's plot to capture and punish Kira for her "treachery," I'd say the chances of the DS9 characters visiting the mirror universe again (or vice versa) are approximately 100 percent.
Previous episode: Hard Time
Next episode: The Muse
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49 comments on this post
Sat, Aug 22, 2009, 7:24pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Oct 6, 2009, 9:48pm (UTC -5)
First of all, it makes no sense. How could a parallel reality with such a different history have so many similarities to our own? The same ships, the characters all look alike (which suggests they have the same DNA even though they are completely different people) and worst of all, all the series regulars just HAPPEN to have a role to play in the plot.
On a related note, since the events of these episodes generally have no bearing on the happenings of "our" universe, once again the character's actions have no consquences I can relate to because I don't give a sh_t about these pretty nasty people.
I'll grant it that the action scenes near the end were very well executed, but unlike "The Die Is Cast" and "The Way of the Warrior", where my blood was boiling because the characters I love were in danger, it really didn't matter to me who won this battle because the story knows that next week all will be forgotten. That's probably the reason they kill off so many counterpart characters just for the benefit of an action scene (remember Garak's 'death' in "The Search, Part II"? Well that kind of thing happens at least twice in every mirror universe episode). Finally, Sisko's decision to stay aboard the Defiant seems completely out of character, and is a terribly contrived way of letting us see the Fight of Evil against Evil (as I like to call it). There really should be a "parallels" Prime Directive that prevents people from disrupting the flow of events in other universes.
Thu, Oct 29, 2009, 10:37am (UTC -5)
Sisko's amazing piloting skills seemed more contrived. If Tom Paris was piloting the Defiant like that, at least there would have been 30-40 episodes of Tom being praised as a pilot to back it up. But really, I thought the finale of this episode was a lot of fun and contained some of the best effects the series ever produced.
Also, this episode could have had consequences despite not being set in the regular universe. Sisko lost his wife again, and Jake happened to be there this time to witness it. Granted, nothing was done with this in later episodes, but just because there's an alternate reality episode doesn't mean it can't have consequences on the characters. I don't think these episodes were meant to be taken terribly seriously, any way. You have a lesbian Kira and a Worf who will quite happily stab someone to try and retrieve something they've eaten. I'm not going to look at this episode in the same manner as "In the Pale Moonlight".
Sun, Oct 16, 2011, 7:24pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Oct 29, 2011, 1:39pm (UTC -5)
Star Trek works on the "infinite universes" model. That means that there is a universe for every possibility. That means that, out there, there is a universe where everything is as it is in this universe, except you happen to have an ass for a face.
Sat, Nov 24, 2012, 3:04pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Oct 23, 2013, 6:10pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Dec 2, 2013, 7:16am (UTC -5)
The episode was irrelevant to the main story, but it would have been more enjoyable if the characters hadn't been simply evil charicatures, complete with metaphorical mustache twirling. While in the main universe, some characters are good, some are evil, with some inbetween, in the Mirror Universe, pretty much everyone is evil.
Killing off Jennifer seemed unnecessary. Seeing her die again should have given both Benjamin and Jake significant emotional distress, but it is of course forgotten by the next episode.
It may have been "big, dumb, sensationally simplistic", but that didn't make it all that much fun for me. YMMV, of course.
Wed, Jan 1, 2014, 9:40am (UTC -5)
Wed, Jan 29, 2014, 8:08pm (UTC -5)
Further, the notion that these barely literate, semi civilized rebels could somehow put together an exact duplicate of the USS Defiant in something under a millennium stretches credibility beyond reason.
A MUCH better story would have had rebels sneak aboard DS9, steal the Defiant (they would have had Smiley's DNA to get past the security, aka Tom RIker), take it to the other universe and require Sisko to go get it back. Higher stakes for the regular characters and a much more plausible story.
Wed, Jan 29, 2014, 8:11pm (UTC -5)
Since the episode was a giant reset button anyway, no retro impact to the character.
Fri, Feb 14, 2014, 5:23pm (UTC -5)
I suppose they needed for mirror Kira to escape and for mirror Jennifer to die, but that's the best way they could come up with?
Tue, Feb 18, 2014, 5:45am (UTC -5)
Mon, Feb 24, 2014, 11:43pm (UTC -5)
Admittedly though, since they've gone this far with it, it would have been nice to see an episode where the Terrans and other races involved get a chance to form a peaceful union of sorts. Maybe not necessarily like the Federation by any means but some sort of reaching a common ground. Getting a chance to learn from mistakes. The mere mention of the fact that MU Spock was able to at least start this process shows its possible. And I don't believe it was said anywhere how well these reforms worked and/or how long it was before the Alliance crashed that party so to speak. If they had at least two more episodes with that in mind they could have replaced it with the two unfortunate ones we got after this.
I also don't see anything to indicate whatsoever that this is a reset-button plot. Nothing here is "reset". The story takes place mainly in the MU. The episode ends. Lives continue in both realities.
Some explanation on how they were able to build the MU Defiant at Terok Nor would have been nice. I know that shuttlecraft can be built on a starship if needed. And I realize the station may have more raw materials readily available seeing as, in the MU, it's being utilized as the mining station that it is. But still...
On its own level, this is a wonderfully enjoyable episode with some hilarious dialogue and amazing choreography to boot. Well done.
Sat, Mar 8, 2014, 1:07am (UTC -5)
Wed, Jun 25, 2014, 12:39am (UTC -5)
Wed, Aug 6, 2014, 11:39am (UTC -5)
But other than that, this DS9 mirror stuff just gets old.
2.5 stars because I got to see Felicia Bell again and again I got to dream of her playing Cassidy instead of Penny Johnson.
Tue, Mar 10, 2015, 10:01pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Sep 24, 2015, 3:26pm (UTC -5)
That being said, the mirror universe, itself, is a hard swallow for me. Even in TOS. The "butterfly effect" may be a bit exaggerated, but certainly a universe with THAT much different about it would produce entirely different people altogether. Space stations, tech advances, etc etc would be so entirely different. I guess that doesn't make good for using the same actors, though. I like the idea of a parallel universe (within the ST universe) but the idea that generations of families would still have children at the same exact points in time is just... a little much for me to my suspend disbelief for.
Thu, Sep 24, 2015, 3:27pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Sep 24, 2015, 5:31pm (UTC -5)
Personally, I thought "the" mirror universe worked well as a one-off, when it was just a chance 'closeness' between it and the Prime that allowed Kirk, Spock, et al., to get traded over. It never made much sense that Sisko, Kira & co. should routinely transition to *that same* alternate reality. If that is what's happening.
Mon, Sep 28, 2015, 12:36am (UTC -5)
Tue, Oct 6, 2015, 5:04am (UTC -5)
Mirror Universe episodes - just like Holodeck episodes and Dream Sequence episodes and Travel To The 20th century episodes - are basically an admittance that the writers don't want to deal with the limitations set up by the actual established universe and just wanna have some fun. It's a cop out.
If I wanted a cartoonish Sci-Fi show, I'd watch one.
If I wanted to see everybody out of make-up working at a newspaper, I'd watch a show like this.
I'm watching DS9 precisely for everything they chose to cast aside and trample on here.
Mon, Nov 2, 2015, 3:58pm (UTC -5)
This one just dragged. I think I enjoyed it a bit more the first time I saw it (when I was less jaded by modern special effects), but I'm pretty sure I never thought it was a great episode. Mirror-Bashir & Mirror-Kira were somewhat fun, but this episode kept losing my attention on this re-watch. It's mostly just a long set up for the battle at the end.
The only real character notes to make concern Jake. Here he's trying to turn back time. We see him trying to recreate his previous relationships with both his mother & Nog with their mirror universe counterparts, hoping to go back to the way things were.
This is not a new characterization for Jake, as it's exactly what the character was doing in "The Visitor" early this season. Our Jake wouldn't remember that, although his father may have told him what happened. This also relates to his academic career; he's accepted into a prestigious academy, but delays his entry to stay on DS9 longer.
This isn't a consistent characterization for Jake, as he was the one who introduced his father to his new girlfriend. It's certainly believable that a person that age flip-flops between wanting change and fearing it.
I'm unsure if the writer's wanted this to be a defining characteristic for Jake; I'll have to see if I notice anything else in later episodes.
Thu, Nov 26, 2015, 3:10pm (UTC -5)
The big emotional core of this episode is Jake and how the Mirror Universe taps into his nostalgia and grief. The episode opens with Jake missing Nog, only for have an even more importnt person who is even more permanently gone from his life reenter it through the mirorr. I like how his eventual encounter with Mirror Nog is unpleasant and Mirror-Nog is absolutely insistent on breaking any of Jake's sentimental desire to recreate his friendship with the real Nog with this guy. Depending on one's perspective, this could either establish the way in which Jake's close bond with Jennifer really is a Real Thing, since it is not automatically true that Jake will get along with mirror versions of his loved ones; or it could be the commentary on what the truth of Jake and Jennifer is, under it all, and Jake is able to see clearly how Mirror-Nog is *not* Nog because Mirror-Nog, unlike (Mirror) Jennifer, has no interest in deceiving him. The parallel between M-Nog and M-Jennifer is strengthened by having these be the (only) two people gunned down by the Intendant in this episode, as if the Intendant were intent on, ahem, shattering Jake's illusions, whether they are idealized or not. It's something of a statement against the MU as a place for wish fulfillment, which plays in with Jake's material in "The Visitor" (as methane pointed out) where Jake destroys himself to restore his father, as well as commenting on Sisko's fantasy role-playing his dead wife as alive again in "Through the Looking Glass." The death of Nog is mostly a comic beat, playing off Quark and Rom's deaths in the last two MU eps (I'm surprised Ishka or Gaila weren't offed next to ensure that the one-Quark-family-member-dies-per-episode pattern remained), but Jennifer's death is played out as tragedy. To some degree, it feels like inevitable quasi-punishment for the Siskos for wanting to play house with her; their wanting to slot Jennifer in to where our universe's Jennifer had been, and MU Jennifer wanting to slip into another convenient identity, leads directly to the encounter with the Intendant and her recognition that Jennifer's death can be a message to Sisko, though what that message is who can say. ("I'm evil," presumably.)
The episode feels a little more honest than "Through the Looking Glass," then, in suggesting that there are negative consequences to this kind of role playing. In both episodes Sisko plays pirate and gets to cozy up to a woman who looks just like his ex-wife, and here Sisko goes as far as to command the Defiant on a probably suicidal mission because, um, well, I guess he likes their cause, but I can't help but feel that Sisko could only possibly think he should risk his life for this MU Terran cause without even bothering to tell his son (who is right there) if on some level he accepts the MU is some sort of wacky fantasy land, as if Sisko actually has the metaknowledge that of course nothing bad is going to happen to him over there. That does hurt the tension in the episode and also hits the internal integrity of the story, when we know that Sisko is probably not actually behaving like he gets that this is ostensibly real, just in another universe. But the turnaround that Jennifer dies to teach Sisko (and Jake) a lesson somehow earns the episode's previous bloodlessness. The further you delve into fantasy, the worse the consequences emotionally; even if Sisko and Jake come away undamaged physically, they are hurt to the degree that they had invested in that world. The payback Sisko gets for punching Bashir and sleeping with Dax on his last visit is effective as foreshadowing of the final result (though Sisko's weird statement to Dax is pretty inappropriate; he should have been apologetic, or at least said that he had no choice as Smiley had kidnapped him).
As far as the episode's overall value, I agree with Easter's point that it's particularly ridiculous that the Terrans have taken over Terok Nor which is *still orbiting Alliance world Bajor* and holding it for who knows what reason; it is an illogical base, because the main strategic advantage to the station in the main universe is its proximity to the wormhole, and before that its main value was either in helping rebuild Bajor or in ore processing, neither of which are going on. The episode is a bit tedious, and the Jake-Jennifer stuff is sappy in practice even if there are some interesting things about the idea. What I do enjoy in this episode are the energetic performances on the Klingon ship, with a particularly great chemistry between Robinson and Dorn (the first Worf-Garak material is in the MU, huh?) and with a pretty good handling of The Intendant Mark 3. While the complex character from "Crossover" is basically gone, Visitor hits a better mixture of camp with seductiveness with glee to make the Intendant amusing while in her cage and believably dangerous when out. So overall I am not sold on this episode, but I like it better than "Through the Looking Glass," which makes it (to me) the only exception to the monotonic decrease in quality in MU stories from "Mirror, Mirror" through "The Emperor's New Cloak." 2.5 stars.
Sun, Jan 3, 2016, 8:48am (UTC -5)
On the other hand, the SFX work is marvellous and it never makes any real pretence to be anything other than big dumb fun. It's just not that good at it. "You are not my type" indeed. 2 stars.
Thu, Apr 14, 2016, 11:11pm (UTC -5)
The episode's plot doesn't really make that much sense either. Apparently the Terran rebels were able to (not only) go on a massive offensive, push the Alliance out of the Bajoran system, claim the station for their own and find the time to build a perfect replica of the Defiant from scratch, but they still need Sisko's help because.... .... .... .... reasons. So, they sort of kidnap his son - which doesn't end up being that big a deal since Sisko just shrugs it off after a few conversations with the evil doppelgangers. Yeah, this doesn't make much sense. Also, just what in the hell were the non-MU characters doing back on DS9 while their commanding officer was gone for four days? Do they mount some kind of rescue attempt? Are they even concerned that Sisko basically goes M.I.A.? Who cares?! We have the actors doing things differently than they usually do!
Speaking of the characters, I mentioned in "Through the Looking Glass" that the "good guys" are rather unlikable, and that continues apace. None of these characters are particularly praiseworthy. I mean, we've got one literally torturing a person and another kidnapping someone (apparently with every one else's consent)! And I said before, but I'll say it again - Mirror Bashir is just not an enjoyable character in any way. He's little more than a petty, vile, little tyrant - exactly what he accuses the Intendant of being. I honestly get the impression that if the rebels won he would be more than happy to simply reconstitute the Terran Empire and start enslaving people himself. So why should I root for these people? And the villains - well, they're all so absurdly over-the-top that, again, they just aren't enjoyable. Am I supposed to take these characters even remotely seriously? Good grief, they have Mirrors Garak and Worf literally engaging in homoerotic BDSM submission play, complete with a dog collar and chain around Mirror Garak's neck!
The only good thing about "Shattered Mirror" are the special effects. Jammer is absolutely right that they are amazing! So, I'll add a +1 bonus point to my score for that alone. But, even that speaks to one of the weaknesses of the episode. The battle around the station and the Regent's ship, while visually exciting, means exactly fuck all in the non-MU. I would have much rather they spent all that production money on something of more weight for the more important arcs of series - something involving the Klingons or the Dominion.
And, by the way, did the producers simply forget that in the MU the station is still orbiting Bajor? Because the planet appears a grand total of zero times in this episode. If I'm not mistaken when we return to the MU in "The Emperor's New Cloak" Bajor reappears. Talk about a huge continuity error!
Tue, Mar 28, 2017, 6:01am (UTC -5)
Sat, May 6, 2017, 5:39pm (UTC -5)
Apparently going back and forth between the two universes is so easy that Jennifer can just pop in for a visit.
Also, what is up with this streak of crap episodes?
Fri, Jun 9, 2017, 4:04pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jul 30, 2017, 10:44pm (UTC -5)
This episode was awful. From the glossing over of the captain's and Jakes kidnapping to the fact that the captain doesn't blink at the apparent theft of the defiant's plans. C'mon DS9, you can do better than this...
Sat, Aug 5, 2017, 7:41pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Aug 10, 2017, 6:27pm (UTC -5)
Yes, it's an episode taken to the limit but it's meaningless and silly for me. DS9 has a ton of episodes so I guess the producers can throw away a few episodes here and there and have the cast in totally different roles and wild battle scenes just for the fun of it.
I actually think this episode is mish-mash of a ton of stuff that doesn't fit too well together. One should feel the anguish of the Jennifer Sisko at the end but its juxtaposition after the starship battle scene doesn't work for me.
As for the battle scene, it was cool to see but it reminded me too much about Star Wars -- which is a bad thing. I also find it highly unrealistic that Capt. Sisko could fly so closely to a much larger starship with a ship like the Defiant (it's not a warplane for Pete's sake).
Anyhow, I'm not a fan of the premise for this episode and can't care about what's going on in the MU. To the episode's credit, there were some good lines and the actual story (albeit on steroids) does make for a watchable hour of Trek.
I think 2.5 stars is a fair rating here -- the MU provides a convenient excuse for exaggerated action, acting, and characters. But what's supposed to be touching or poignant fails to deliver for me. Just can't take "Shattered Mirror" seriously.
Sat, Aug 19, 2017, 5:28pm (UTC -5)
One thing I did not like was how naive Jake was-he shows this as well when DS9 is under Dominion occupation. He even says "she needs a doctor" to the woman who just shot the alternate version of his mother.
This to me implies he has no concept of either malice, or cruelty.
He seems like a young man without the slightest exposure to any cruelty, skullduggery, or betrayal.
This just doesn't make sense I mean isn't DS9 supposed to be the cynical trek?
Sun, Jul 1, 2018, 7:27am (UTC -5)
Deep Space Nine's writers don't seem to be putting their best work into these MU episodes. As a writer myself, this is the kind of stuff that I think up on the bus or wherever, enjoy thinking about it and then realize that it's not worth my time to write.
I turned the episode off about halfway through and picked up a few days later. I found it so boring that I watched it in four parts. Boring and tasteless. I didn't feel like mining Sisko's personal life for a good action story was particularly appropriate.
Definitely a big who cares for me. Starting to suspect that Terry Farrell had some major limits put into her acting contract, making the character inflexible and hard to write for. (I'd expect a mirror version of Dax to be tawdry and underdressed.)
One glaring error I found is that in an earlier MU episode Smiley seemed like an uneducated handyman and wasn't interested in Bashir's encouragement. Yet a couple of seasons later he's just become a ballsy version of O'Brien.
Sun, Jul 1, 2018, 10:02am (UTC -5)
I agree wholeheartedly that having Smiley pose as O'Brien would have made Hard Time a much better episode. The chief is too often made to look like a sucker, imo. It would have been perfect to have everyone see Miles acting even more weird after his punishment.
Forgot to mention, great review! I don't always love your reviews but this was really wonderful. I especially appreciated your comments about the Garak - Worf interaction, which was both bizarre, frightening and hilarious.
Sun, Jul 1, 2018, 4:14pm (UTC -5)
But that would ruin the whole concept that a long time in prison could change a loving and caring family man into an isolated nut job. The MU is already overused in this show, why just throw it in randomly to avoid developing aspects of the main cast?
Mon, Aug 20, 2018, 2:12am (UTC -5)
Mon, Dec 31, 2018, 8:16am (UTC -5)
Tue, Jan 8, 2019, 9:15am (UTC -5)
Storyline was engaging.
I don't want to continue to sound like a broken record, so I'm just going to say one last time that I think Brooks is a terrible actor, and if he's heavily involved in an ep, you can always assume I'm struggling to get past that, when it comes to enjoying an ep.
I'll no longer comment on Brooks unless it's to say something positive.
Thu, Feb 7, 2019, 12:01pm (UTC -5)
By the way, I like the next mirror universe episode as well featuring Quark and Nog, it was so laugh out loud funny. Still haven't seen the earlier mirror episodes.
Tue, Apr 2, 2019, 12:01pm (UTC -5)
We begin with a young man hanging out in the promenade...I feel like I've seen this guy before...oh, that's right! It's Jake Sisko, alleged main character. He explains to Odo who's passing by that he's searching for inspiration for a new story he's working on. Their conversation is surprisingly intimate for two these two characters; Jake confesses to missing his buddy Nog (who I assume is enjoying newfound popularity in the wake Red Squad being disbanded). Quark pops in to be hilarious:
QUARK: Poor kid. I suppose that's what you get for having friends.
ODO: Meaning what?
QUARK: Just that when you think you can count on them, they go off and leave you. No. You're much better off without them.
ODO: I imagine that's why you don't have any friends.
QUARK: Look who's talking.
Jake returns to his quarters and is greeted by an unexpected visitor. What is it with Jake and visitors? Besides Ben sits Jennifer, his long-dead mother. Twist!
Act 1 : *.5, 17%
Well of course, this is M-Jennifer. Ben told Jake all about his misadventure from last season, it seems. I assume he left out the part about fucking M-Jadzia under false pretences. Anyway, M-Jennifer says she's here to deliver “good news.” Uh-huh. When I'm in a desperate rebellion, my first instinct is to send a brilliant scientist across a dimensional threshold to deliver status reports. It's so natural and believable! Kind of like Felicia Bell's acting. Speaking of very believable character beats, Sisko doesn't have time for this boring parallel universe-the dead wife that I betrayed my uniform to help stuff, because he's got a meeting, you see. So, this totally not-suspicious visitor will be allowed to hang around with his son instead. I'm sorry Jennifer, how did you get here again? Why? You want to be alone with the one *other* person I would cross any lines for, you say? Okie-doke!
And poor Cirroc Lofton...it's been, what, seven years since P-Jennifer died? And here Jake is, supposed to convincingly portray the emotions of a teenager struggling with very confusing memories and mixed reactions. This was one of my biggest problems with “The Visitor,” too—the demands being placed on the actor are extreme. Unless you have someone of the calibre of Patrick Stewart of René Auberjonois or Kate Mulgrew, the interplay is going to read as flat and unconvincing.
Well, try not to act surprised, but when Sisko returns to his quarters from his meeting, M-Jennifer and Jake are missing, but have left behind a calling card, the metallic fleshlight thingy that Smiley used in “Through the Looking Glass” to transport Sisko to the Mirror Universe. The senior staff put these piece together like Pakleds chewing on a Rubik's Cube, and Sisko dusts off his Father of the Year award before beaming himself, Miles and Kira to the MU. Well, he tries to anyway, but it seems Smiley has rigged the device to prevent anyone but Sisko from transporting. And of course, our O'Brien wouldn't have the technical knowledge of a liberated slave enough to check for such booby traps. No no no. Just beam in blind! After all, we have every reason to trust these assholes, it's only the third time they've kidnapped one of us. So in the MU ops, Sisko is disarmed by Smiley and the dramatic chords swell.
Act 2 : **, 17%
Smiley has taken command of Terrak Nor and gets Sisko fully up to speed on the past year's developments in his office. Smiley is nothing like the man we saw last time, which was a highlight of that abysmal episode, so there had better be a good explanation for his radical character shift coming. So we get the set-up. Smiley and the Rebellion want Sisko to help them with their own Defiant, the specs for which he downloaded on his last visit. He figures the best way to keep the Alliance fleet at bay is with some dick-measuring guns. I guess Smiley didn't access the updated specs because they're having the same sorts of issues we were told the Defiant had in “The Search,” and that O'Brien has subsequently resolved. We were never told how they managed this Very Important plot device:
SISKO: We had to overhaul the structural integrity field grids.
SMILEY: How long did it take?
SISKO: Two weeks.
Ah. Well that was worth the two-year build-up. Smiley, now a hard-ass rebel, tells Sisko that he and Jake will die or be enslaved along with the rest of them if he doesn't help with the overhaul and manage it in a few days. I'll give “Shattered Mirror” this over its prequel; Sisko (easily-duped though he was) has a more sympathetic motivation this time. I know asking him to actually weigh the moral dilemma is too much for this show, but it's not as asinine to assist the rebels in order to save himself and his son. We had better see him trying to escape before this becomes the only option, however.
M-Bashir lets himself in, Siddig failing to act menacingly again. He repays Sisko's punch *while* explaining to Sisko why he's punching him. Now there's some deft exposition, Ira Behr.
“I'm punching you, see, because there was a previous episode where you punched me. You probably don't remember it, but it's important for us, the characters within this story, to remind each other that things happened in the past and that now we are following up on those past events. Am I speaking in sufficiently constipated tones to convey the fact that I am in fact not the same Julian Bashir that you interact with week to week? I thought perhaps maintaining this five-o'clock shadow and silly wig weren't enough.”
Meanwhile, M-Jennifer has introduced Jake to M-Nog, because...anyway, M-Nog is basically everything P-Nog would have been if not for his envy of the Siskos and desire to see himself rise above his own father's legacy; he's lecherous, lazy, crude and prejudiced. He's an adult version of S1 Nog, but without the maturity or depth. Seems about right. Sisko shows up, looking less like a man trying to keep his son from being slaughtered by Klingons than a peeved 90s sitcom dad angry at his son for looking at boobs. Cirroc does more of his patented gesticulation as he explains that he inherited his father's inability to resist M-Jennifer's needs and agreed to come to the MU quite willingly. Wait, really? I assumed she drugged him or stunned him. This...this is fucking stupid. I mean fuck. If Jake were still 13 years old then maybe, MAYBE I could buy that he'd be so enthralled by the possibility of seeing another dimension that he'd risk his and his father's lives for the chance to see it, but we've been told repeatedly that Jake is this gifted writer and very mature (that's why he likes older women, right?), so why is he acting like Kenickie Murdoch?
In private, M-Jennifer confesses that she concocted this manipulation herself.
SISKO: All right, I'm here and I'm going to help you. But I want you to leave my son alone.
JENNIFER: I can't.
SISKO: Why not?
JENNIFER: Because he won't leave me alone.
Then Jake beckons her to join him back at the bar. I'm sorry, was that supposed to be a convincing argument?
“Ben, I lied to you because we are in a desperate situation. This is no time to cry over feelings, we have a cause to uphold and lives to save! But look at that punim face! I can't just not talk to your son! Think about his feelings!”
We cut to a fanfic I'm pretty sure I've read once or twice, with Garak being dragged in chains aboard a giant Klingon vessel and made to kiss the boots of one Regent Worf. Now THIS is my kink! The Worf/Garak stuff leans into the original “Mirror, Mirror” over-the-top hamming that gave that story its charm. I really wish the writers would drop the pretence that these tales are connected to “Crossover” in any way save the superficial because this is sort of fun, in a mindless way.
Act 3 : **.5, 17%
Aboard the M-Defiant, Sisko and co. work swiftly on the overhaul. The set-designers have tried to give the M-Defiant a more lived-in, seat-of-the-pants feel, but the LCARS displays in optimistic purple and gold kind of ruin the illusion. M-Jadzia pops in to remind us she's still around and slaps him.
M-DAX: That's for making love to me under false pretences. I was suspicious of you from the start.
SISKO: You hid it well.
Yeah, that makes up for the rape. Totally. This fun in interrupted by the sound of the Intendant being tortured by M-Bashir in the corridor because, why the hell not? For a moment, I forget how stupid this all is:
SISKO: There's a difference between interrogation and torture.
BASHIR: The Alliance never made that distinction.
SISKO: But you should.
The Intendant makes an off-handed remark to remind us that, because the MU is full of degenerates, she's allowed to be bisexual. Then we cut to Regent Worf's ship where Garak is still being held like Princess Leia in Jabba's palace so M-Worf can remind us that, because the MU is full of degenerates, he too is allowed to be bisexual. I LOVE feeling included.
Back on Terrak Nor, Jake has made dinner for himself and M-Jennifer. Sisko enters, exhausted, so we can get this ham-fisted nuclear family signalling. Jake made dinner for mom and dad; mom gives dad a shoulder rub after his long day at the office, etc....Jennifer expresses some regret over fooling Ben like she did. And Sisko naturally takes the initiative to try and get her to help them escape...oh, wait, no he doesn't. Of course.
Act 4 : *.5, 17%
There's some really uncomfortable bullshit in Engineering where we learn that M-Bashir and M-Jadzia are a cringey couple because fan service. Sisko and Smiley devise a plan to stall Worf by using Intendant Kira. Seemingly because she can't resist the Sisko D (I'm not kidding), she agrees to expose a weakness in the Alliance fleet; the targeting systems can be fooled.
Worf and Garak continue their whole BDSM thing; the key to his collar is missing. Because of course, it's a collar, and why use a sci-fi lock when something medieval will do? Garak ends up being stabbed, but Worf doesn't want him to die yet. Can't fuck a corpse right? Eh, I wouldn't put it past him actually. Well, then the battle begins with Bashir's ship providing warp-shadow targets.
Meanwhile, Sisko and M-Jennifer are still working on the Defiant and taking the opportunity to discuss Jake. Because even the writers do not have faith in Lofton's ability to deliver, it is Jennifer who explains that Jake forgave her for her deception off camera at some point. This is a crucial emotional beat for the story they're trying to tell, so naturally, we don't get to see it or anything. Well, finally, Jennifer agrees to send Jake back to the Prime Universe on his own, before the project is complete, trusting Sisko to complete his work on the Defiant. Now, because Sisko is such a moral pragmatist, I'm sure he will sabotage his work and extricate himself from culpability as soon as Jake is safe, right?
Jake is in his usual spot in the Promenade, which is a nice touch. M-Nog joins him.
M-NOG: What's so funny?
JAKE: Where I come from, it's you and I that would hang out here, and it's your uncle that would chase us away.
Ah, the talented Ira Stephen Behr. Why show instead of telling when you can show AND tell. So *subtle*.
Nog, for some reason, manages to break the Intendant out of her cell. The reasoning for this is supposed to be that since she killed Quark and Rom, Nog gets to own the bar. Because M-Nog is super selfish, which is exactly why he felt the need to repay an unspoken debt of gratitude to M-Kira. Oh yeah. QED.
Anyway, the Alliance fleet begins its assault. Sisko, because he's a piece of shit chauvinistic dick-measuring hothead, can't resist the allure of taking his mirror baby into battle, however. And so kicks Smiley out of the Defiant's captain chair to begin the defence on his own. Admirable stuff.
M-Kira kills Nog, because that's how she rolls and ends up running into M-Jennifer and Jake as they make their way to Ops (I assume). Dun dun dun...
Act 5 : **, 17%
There's some space-fighting...
Jennifer takes a phaser blast from M-Kira to save Jake and dies. Jake calls her his mother, which, because the writers want us to know there will be yet another sequel, causes M-Kira to spare Jake's own life (“that's a debt I intend to collect.” because I'm the Intendant. Get it?)
There's more space-fighting...Bashir gives a “YEAH” that's supposed to be some Han Solo bullshit. More fighting...[yawn................................]
Whatever. They win. Jennifer isn't dead yet, so the Siskos can say “goodbye,” because we really cared about her, I guess.
Episode as Functionary : **, 10%
I don't want to be too harsh here—the moment, in a vacuum, where M-Jennifer expires, with the DS9/Sisko theme quietly lamenting in the background, is poignant. Here they are once again, in the wake of a major battle, saying goodbye to her, just as in “Emissary.” But this moment was not earned by this story. And that's generally my feeling about this tale. There are moments, like this one, like Sisko's comment about being better than your enemy, like Nog's cynicism, that flirt with the philosophical content present in “Mirror, Mirror” and “Crossover,” but the story abandons them in favour of the more unbelievable and middling comic book action material that characterised “Through the Looking Glass.”
The episode wants us to take things seriously, so that the Siskos' family drama reads as authentic, but asks us to make too many leaps to get there. Why is Smiley suddenly this grizzled leader of men? Why is Sisko interested in the Rebels' cause? Why does Jake's allegedly intense longing for his mother manifest as a series of scenes that we DON'T GET TO SEE? Think about it; Jennifer and Sisko have a conversation in his quarters over coffee off camera. Then Jake interrupts and Sisko goes to his meeting. Something happens in the interim that convinces Jake to go to another dimension. Then Sisko finds them at the bar where Jennifer tells Ben (and us) that Jake has become attached to her. Cut to next scene. Then we see Jake and Jennifer finishing their dinner together as Sisko and Jennifer once again have the real conversation while Jake does the dishes. Then she takes a bullet for him and he calls her mommy (????). Then she waits for Sisko to return from the battle so she can say goodbye to him—and not to her, erm. “son.” Now, in place of these important conversations we get the BDSM Garak/Worf stuff and the overlong battle sequences. These are amusing in their own ways (I'm being generous about the battle, but I know a lot of fans like the lasers and 'splosions), but reveal that the intent of this episode is really just to be a spectacle. And from that perspective, the Sisko drama feels like dead weight keeping the story from taking off and being a really fun ride. This isn't nearly as unpleasant to sit through as the last MU tale, but I'm really done with this whole subplot.
Final Score : **
Tue, Apr 2, 2019, 12:33pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jul 7, 2019, 2:14pm (UTC -5)
Not this one. It was straight back to everything I cannot stand about MU episodes. Derivative, boring characters. Terrible acting, particularly from Bashir and his god awful mockney accent. Kira's "me so horny can I torture you" personality here just grates, and the icing on the cake is having to include worf, because of course, worf is now a series regular. To be honest, it looked like Dorn was trying not to laugh in every scene he had the bad luck to be in.
The entire way the idea of "Just visiting" a universe of liars, cheats and torturers was presented as a jolly family trip really felt wrong, and like the scriptwriters had not watched what went before, with a comparable elevator pitch being "Picard and Wesley decide to have a jolly old time-travel to Auschwitz in 1942". If Sisko seriously thought it was ok for Jennifer to just cruise on over whenever she wanted, you have to doubt his judgement as an officer. There should have been an armed contingent at her door from the get go and Odo posing as a well armed lamp.
What I would love to see is some exploration of WHY everyone in this universe is so despicable, what fundamental events or genetic turns failed to take place that made everyone in it possess the mindset of reptiles. Some exploration of exactly how a civilization can come to value good above evil, the steps that are needed. How did the Federation ever stand a hope in hell, beyond vague allusions to WWIII and destruction simply shocking everyone into revising their views? This has happened repeatedly in the MU, so why have they not similarly been shocked into change? And why does Bashir suddenly sound like he comes from Peckham instead of the Home Counties? Is it the terrible wig constricting his scalp?
Instead what we get is bad, bad, bad, and a shame because the other MU outings have been excellent.
Wed, Jan 1, 2020, 7:16pm (UTC -5)
It's easy to see why DS9 enjoyed producing these - after all, it's a chance for the cast to ham things up, and it also lets the writers blow things up without affecting the main storyline.
Sadly, the MU concept gets weaker with each iteration.
We're meant to buy into the idea that a bunch of untrained rebels with no resources are able to build an exact duplicate of the Defiant based on plans "borrowed" from the prime universe. And that Worf is the regent of the Klingon empire. And that MU Kira has been held in captivity for months but still looks fabulous in her perfectly fitting PVC outfit. And that MU Jennifer is an exception to the "everyone in the MU is warped" rule. And that an untested copy of the Defiant with an untrained and inexperienced crew is somehow able to take on an entire fleet of enemy vessels, including a Klingon cruiser which looks to be about the same size as a Star Wars star destroyer.
And so on.
Still, it's fairly enjoyable fluff, and the actors generally do a great job of chewing the scenery, while the CGI battle scenes are pretty well done, even if - as with the cruiser - they feel more like Star Wars than Star Trek...
Sun, Jun 28, 2020, 1:15pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Oct 28, 2020, 6:22pm (UTC -5)
But while an Evil Worf, a vampy Kira, and Sisko's climactic space battle are fun, it's the episode's quieter moments which linger. Scenes in which Jake wistfully longs for Nog at their favorite spot on the promenade, or in which Sisko quietly talks with his Mirror Wife, elevate the episode above mere lark.
My favorite thing about the episode, though, is Mirror Dax, who's virtually identical to Normal Dax. Both Daxs sleep around, have a wicked streak and a snarky sense of humor, such that there's almost no telling them apart.
What's interesting too is how DS9's Mirror Universe is just as dark as its Normal Universe. Same battles, infiltration, rebellions and wars, just different costumes and alliances. And Mirror Sisko's not much sleazier than normal Sisko, who rapes-by-deception Dax in "Through the Looking Glass".
Incidentally, this episode introduces a piece of technology which seems a bit incredulous; a kind of handheld device which "beams" people back and forth from Universe to Universe. If Smiley and the gang want help fixing the Defiant, why doesn't Sisko beam a bunch of Federation officers over to help them? The more help he has, the more likely he and Jake survive, and the quicker the Defiant is fixed.
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 3:29pm (UTC -5)
Only redeeming part is the Defiant tearing up a squadron of Klingnons/ Cardassians (yet somehow gets the bejesus kicked out of it in '' the search'').
Sat, Sep 3, 2022, 10:50am (UTC -5)
Just her being on made this one a pleasure to watch.
Sassy short-haired Jaxie wadn't hard on the eyes either!
Beyond that, this is one of those "put your brain on idle, kick back, and enjoy" kind of eppies. You don't think, you don't try to make sense of the plot, you don't worry about continuity and all that jazz... - you just enjoy the action. The final battle sequence was ridiculous but it's red meat to a guy like me.
Very nice. Three and a half indeed.
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