Written by Peter Allan Fields and Michael Piller
Directed by David Livingston
Season 2, Episode 23
Production episode 40512-443
Original air date: May 15, 1994
Station log. Kira and Bashir are returning from the New Bajor, the first Bajoran colony in the Gamma Quadrant, where they’ve set up a hospital. The conversation is awkward and ridiculous for a while, until they approach the wormhole. The runabout suffers a plasma leak; they enter the wormhole and there’s a flash of light—when they come out the other side, the station isn’t there. Kira finds it in orbit of Bajor. They’re intercepted by a Klingon ship. Two Klingon warriors board the runabout and point disruptors at them, but then turn into quivering masses of jello at the sight of Kira. They escort her back to the station, where they meet Intendant Kira, who’s in charge of Terok Nor (in orbit of Bajor) and her second in command, Gul Garak. Garak is surprised to see that a mere Terran like Bashir even knows Garak’s name, and Kira is particularly stunned to meet, in essence, herself.
Terok Nor is the Bajoran sector command post for the Klingon/Cardassian Alliance. Bashir is sent to the mines, while the Intendant takes Kira with her. En route, Telok, a Klingon, brings a Terran who was caught stowing away. Garak thinks he should be killed, but the Intendant sends him to the mines; however, Garak convinces her to let him interrogate him, since he probably had help.
Bashir is taken to an ore processor, where he’s introduced to the overseer, a shapechanger who looks just like Odo (but is never given a name). He is a brutal overseer, with “rules of obedience,” two of which Bashir breaks in fairly short order. Another slave in the room is O’Brien.
The Intendant brings Kira to her office and fills her in on the events of “Mirror, Mirror.” Then she reveals what happened next: bearded Spock rose to lead the Terran Empire, preaching reform, as prompted by the mainline universe’s Kirk, but his reforms left the empire vulnerable to the historic alliance between the Klingon Empire and the Cardassian Union. Since then, Terrans and Vulcans and other members of what we think of as Federation species are enslaved, and Bajor—which had been a subject world of the Terran Empire—is now an influential member of the Alliance.
There are also protocols in place in case another person crossed over from the mainline universe: they gimmicked the transporters so an accident like what happened in “Mirror, Mirror” can’t happen again, and anyone who comes from “the other side” is supposed to be killed. But the Intendant doesn’t want to kill Kira, and Kira plays on her vanity by saying that maybe the MU can influence the mainline universe this time, because her Bajor could use some influence from a Bajor that’s strong and powerful. She also tries to convince the Intendant not to kill Bashir—though she’s perfectly okay with him staying in ore processing for a while, as he’s arrogant and privileged and it would do him some good.
The Intendant has a Cardassian woman provide quarters for Kira, but she stops at ore processing along the way, and gets to talk to Bashir for a quick moment to fill him in (he’s already familiar with the Wikipedia entry for “Mirror Mirror” from the Academy). Then she goes to Quark’s Bar (now escorted inexplicably by a Klingon woman), and tries to see if he can get her a transporter. To Kira’s surprise, Quark’s price isn’t money, but the ability to send other people to her universe. Before they can finalize the deal, though, Garak enters and arrests him for assisting the Terran they caught earlier.
Then Sisko comes in with a ragtag crew, calling for the bartender. Upon learning that he’s been arrested, he smiles and says that drinks are on the house.
In ore processing, Bashir talks to mirror-O’Brien, who’s a tinkerer who keeps the machines running. Bashir tells him about his O’Brien, and then asks him about transporters. But O’Brien has no interest in helping Bashir.
O’Brien is then summoned to Quark’s by Sisko—who calls him “Smiley”—and he needs Smiley to fix his impulse engine. Sisko explains to Kira that he’s honored with a ship and a crew in exchange for collecting duties and tribute for the Intendant—who then summons him to her quarters to “report,” in truth for a booty call.
After said booty call, Kira is summoned to the Intendant’s quarters, where she’s having a post-coital milk bath. After dismissing Sisko, the Intendant asks Kira why she was looking for a transporter from Quark (he gave that up during his interrogation) and why she didn’t come to her for help. Garak and Telok then show up with Quark, who’s broken from torture. She sentences him to a quick death, as she doesn’t want him to suffer anymore. Then she squees like a schoolgirl about the party she’s throwing tonight and gives Kira a dress to wear.
Kira returns to her quarters with the dress, where Garak is waiting. He assures Kira that the Intendant will never let her leave, as she’s in love with Kira, her narcissism made flesh, as it were. He offers her a way home if she replaces the Intendant after Garak’s assassination of her that evening. Kira will spend a couple of weeks as Intendant to make it look good, then she’ll resign to explore her pagh (“or whatever”) and Garak will take over, leaving Kira and Bashir to go back home. Of course, if she declines, Garak will have the overseer kill Bashir.
Now Kira has to accelerate her plans. She goes to the ore processor to tell Bashir to get out by any means necessary and get to the runabout, as the wormhole is their only option, since nobody in the MU knows about it. Kira then goes to Sisko, exchanging the intelligence that Garak is going to kill the Intendant for his assistance in getting her off the station. But the intel is worthless to Sisko—Garak has been trying and failing to kill the Intendant since he arrived at the station.
So she tries to appeal to his better nature, but that doesn’t work out so well, either. He’s made the best of a bad situation for him and his crew, and he’s content with that.
The party starts that night. Kira shows up, looking very delicious (and very nervous) in her blue dress, to Garak’s admiration. One of Sisko’s crew accidentally bumps into Telok, who backhands him and spits in his face, but Sisko silently convinces him not to stir up trouble, or use the knife he unsheathes. Before the confrontation can go any further, the Intendant shows up in the same dress (albeit with her tiara and a combadge).
The overseer’s villainous monologue telling Bashir that it’s his last night in ore processing is interrupted by a thorium leak (something Smiley warned him about earlier in the episode). Bashir takes advantage of the confusion during the evacuation to grab a phaser—and, in self-defense, he has to shoot the overseer, who then explodes into a mass of goo. He runs and takes refuge in the service crawlways—only to run across Smiley making repairs. In exchange for taking him along, Smiley shows him the way to the runabout—but Telok stops them and brings them to the party.
The Intendant is furious over the death of the overseer—no one kept order in the ore processor better than him, and he was the only one of his kind—and she sees this as evidence that she’s too lenient on Terrans. She will have Bashir and Smiley killed on the Promenade. She also asks Smiley why he did this, and he says that Bashir told him about a world where Terrans could be doctors and chiefs of operations. That’s a world he wants to believe in, and it’s better than what he has now.
But before Garak can take them away to be executed, Sisko finally notices that his gilded cage is still a cage, and he frees Smiley and Bashir (Kira also gets the weapon away from her bodyguard), and locks everyone in Quark’s. Smiley goes with Sisko, talking about maybe stirring things up, and get Kira and Bashir to their runabout.
A Klingon cruiser fires on them, but they make it to the wormhole, and they come back through to the right universe. Sisko asks where the hell they’ve been, and Kira, despite probably never having read Lewis Carroll, says, “Through the looking glass.”
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? A runabout with a plasma leak going through the wormhole will send you through to the MU. Apparently. And the ion-storm-related alterations that were made to transporters in “Mirror, Mirror” apparently cannot be replicated thanks to changes made to transporter tech in the MU after that episode.
The Sisko is of Bajor. Mirror-Sisko is basically a pirate captain, a freewheeling, moody ne’er-do-well who obviously trades sexual favors for the illusion of freedom. The Intendant’s speech about how she’s too nice to Terrans obviously hits him below the belt (a place he’s used to her hitting, har har), and is the straw that breaks his back.
Don’t ask my opinion next time. The Intendant is sleek and sexy and mercurial and tyrannical and a joy to watch. Kira, to her credit, wastes no time in adapting to the new circumstances, and plays on the Intendant’s vanity and her own situation to try to get her freedom. (And there’s some truth in it. I like the fact that Kira finds the notion of a powerful Bajor appealing, even if it is wrapped in this awful universe.)
Rules of Acquisition. Quark is actually a nice guy in this universe, an altruist who tries to aid the Terran slaves. He’s caught and executed.
Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps. Odo’s counterpart has no name, and is a brutal, vicious overlord who has “rules of obedience,” an entertaining play on the Rules of Acquisition.
For Cardassia! In the MU, the Cardassians and the Klingons have formed an Alliance, which appears to now be the major power in the quadrant after conquering the Terran Empire that we saw in “Mirror, Mirror.”
Plain, simple. Gul Garak has similar charm to his counterpart, but none of the intelligence—indeed, his inability to make good on his ambition against the Intendant bespeaks an officer with the very lack of imagination that the mainline Garak has often accused members of Central Command of having.
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. Kira and Sisko obviously have a much different relationship in the MU, and the Intendant has no problem using seduction as a tool (she even uses it on Kira, kinda).
Keep your ears open. “Benjamin—did I hurt your feelings?”
“I never had any to hurt, Intendant.”
The Intendant and mirror-Sisko summing up their relationship.
Welcome aboard. Andrew J. Robinson returns as Gul Garak. John Cothran Jr. makes his second appearance as a Klingon as Telok, having previously played Nu’Daq in TNG’s “The Chase”; he’ll also appear in Enterprise’s “The Shipment” and the Star Trek: Borg CD-ROM. Stunt coordinator Dennis Mandalone makes a rare credited appearance as the member of mirror-Sisko’s crew who gets on Telok’s bad side; he’ll show up in most of the other MU episodes as well.
Trivial matters: This episode is, obviously, a sequel to the original series episode “Mirror, Mirror.” Except for the fifth season, each subsequent season of DS9 will have an MU episode. In addition, Enterprise will show some of the MU’s origins in the two-part episode “In a Mirror, Darkly.”
We don’t see mirror versions of Dax, Bashir, or Jake. The former two will show up in the next MU episode, “Through the Looking-Glass,” and “Shattered Mirror” will firmly establish that Jake doesn’t exist in the MU.
There were a couple of tie-in fiction follow-ups to “Mirror, Mirror” in the years between it and this episode of DS9: issues #9-16 of the monthly DC comic book in a storyline entitled “New Frontiers” (and collected in the trade paperback The Mirror Universe Saga) written by Mike W. Barr and the Diane Duane novel Dark Mirror, which featured an MU version of Captain Picard and the Enterprise-D. Both were superseded by “Crossover.” In the wake of this and subsequent MU episode, tons of MU fiction was created: the backup story “Enemies and Allies” in issues #29-30 of Malibu’s DS9 comic written by Tim Russ and Mark Paniccia; Marvel’s Mirror Mirror one-shot comic written by Tom DeFalco; Spectre, Dark Victory, and Preserver, one of the trilogies in the “Shatnerverse” series of Kirk-focused 24th-century novels by William Shatner and Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens; the Dark Passions novel duology by Susan Wright; the Stargazer novel Three by Michael Jan Friedman; IDW’s Mirror Images comic book miniseres written by Scott & David Tipton; the Mirror Universe trade paperbacks Glass Empires, Obsidian Alliances, and Shards and Shadows, which included six short novels and a dozen short stories by a variety of authors (including your humble rewatcher’s Voyager novel The Mirror-Scaled Serpent and Klingon/Cardassian short story “Family Matters”); the post-finale DS9 novels Olympus Descending by David R. George III (in Worlds of DS9 Vol. 3), Warpath by David Mack, Fearful Symmetry by Olivia Woods, and The Soul Key by Woods; the New Frontier comic book Turnaround written by Peter David; and finally the MU novels The Sorrows of Empire and Rise Like Lions by Mack. The “Abramsverse” version of the MU is seen in a two-part story in issue #15-16 of the ongoing Star Trek comic from IDW, written by Mike Johnson.
The Sorrows of Empire is notable for its reconciliation of the notion that Spock would allow the empire to grow weak enough to be conquered with the notion that Spock isn’t an idiot and should’ve seen that coming, especially since he saw the empire’s fall coming if things stayed as they were. Mack shows the fall of the Terran Empire as part of Spock’s audacious and long-term plan to bring about a true democratic and peaceful quadrant, which finally comes to fruition a century after his death in Rise Like Lions.
An early draft of the script had Worf in the episode, but Michael Dorn’s shooting schedule for the TNG finale “All Good Things...” made him unavailable. His lines were given to Garak, and the lines that Garak had in the script were given to Telok, who was created as a substitute for Worf. Ironically, Worf would appear in later MU episodes after Dorn joined the cast of DS9 in the fourth season as the Regent in command of the Klingon/Cardassian Alliance.
Director David Livingston cited the 1949 movie The Third Man as an inspiration for how he shot the episode.
This episode establishes that Bajor has set up a colony in the Gamma Quadrant, called New Bajor.
Rarely does an MU episode go by without a regular character’s counterpart being killed. This time ’round, it’s Odo and Quark.
Walk with the Prophets. “There’s got to be something better than this.” Ah, the once-a-year-thing episode. Some shows have bunches of these, where the crew goes to a particular place or a particular guest star makes an annual appearance. TNG had the yearly Q episode, the yearly Lwaxana episode, and the yearly Barclay episode. DS9 has already set up the yearly Zek episode, and now we start the trend of the yearly MU episode.
Like “Mirror, Mirror,” and pretty much every other “evil-universe” story (from Doctor Who’s “Inferno” to the comedy show Quark’s “The Good, the Bad, and the Ficus”), the notion that everyone would be in exactly the same place in a parallel timeline where everything’s evil strains credulity—and does so more here. In “Mirror, Mirror,” there’s some historical parallel development between the Federation and the Terran Empire, but there’s so much divergence here it’s hard to credit that the MU versions of Sisko, Garak, Quark, and O’Brien would all wind up at the same station (Kira and Odo’s counterparts’ presence actually makes sense).
But that’s the trope, and it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun to watch if the episode wasn’t filled with familiar faces. And man, everyone is having so much fun it’s hard to care too much about silly little things like making sense, or the trashing of the hopeful ending of “Mirror, Mirror,” or the fact that nobody can seem to agree on how to pronounce the word “Terran.”
Most of the changes here are basic opposite-day type stuff: Quark is an altruist, Odo’s a total bastard (and man, does Rene Auberjonois have fun with it, as the only thing missing is a mustache to twirl), and Garak is a boor. In an amusing touch, O’Brien’s pretty much the same guy, only more beaten down.
Where the episode shines is in its two leads: Avery Brooks tackles the role of pirate captain with gusto as someone who is generally batshit crazy. Brooks hasn’t been this entertaining since Spenser: For Hire went off the air. And Nana Visitor is superb. The only person who has to play both versions for an extended period, Visitor does an amazing job playing off herself. This is the second time Visitor’s gotten to go all sex-kitten on us, the last time being “Dramatis Personae,” and it’s fascinating to see how much of the Intendant there was in the role Kira played in that first-season episode. The Intendant is a magnificent villain, one whose appearances are always a welcome diversion.
Yes, the plot’s straightforward, but the point of episodes like this is to give the actors a chance to play around a bit, and this cast is more than up to the job.
Warp factor rating: 7
Keith R.A. DeCandido’s next foray into Trek fiction will be The Klingon Art of War, out next spring (first look here at StarTrek.com). His latest work is Ragnarok and Roll: Tales of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet, a collection of urban fantasy short stories (read an excerpt from one story right here on Tor.com).