Fri
Dec 27 2013 2:00pm

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “Through the Looking Glass”

Star Trek Deep Space Nine Through the Looking Glass “Through the Looking Glass”
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Season 3, Episode 19
Production episode 40512-466
Original air date: April 17, 1995
Stardate: unknown

Station log. After getting a report from Odo that Quark and Morn were going to run illegal vole fights (which Quark denies, unconvincingly insisting that he and Morn were painting numbers on them to count how many they’d caught), Sisko heads out intending to go to bed, only to be interrupted by O’Brien, who forces Sisko at phaserpoint onto the transporter pad. After waving a doohickey over the transporter console, the two of them beam away to a raider in the Mirror Universe.

“Smiley” O’Brien explains to Sisko that, in the year since Kira and Bashir visited the MU in “Crossover,” a rebellion against the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance has started. Sisko was the leader of the rebellion, but he was killed while in the midst of a mission. Smiley needs Sisko to pose as his counterpart to finish the mission he started: to convince his ex-wife Jennifer not to develop a trans-spectral sensor array for the Alliance. That array will enable the Alliance to detect ships in the Badlands, where the rebels have been hiding. Sisko needs to turn her and get her to join the rebellion—otherwise, the rebels will have to kill her. Sisko can’t let Jennifer die again, so he reluctantly agrees.

On Terok Nor, Intendant Kira informs Jennifer that her ex-husband is dead. Jennifer is not very emotionally moved, as she hasn’t even seen Sisko in five years. The Intendant later rips Gul Garak a new one for decreased productivity. She has three random Terrans executed in order to motivate the workforce. Garak notes that she’s been in a pissy mood since Sisko’s death was announced.

Star Trek Deep Space Nine Through the Looking Glass

Smiley’s raider arrives in the Badlands, and he and Sisko beam down to a meeting that includes the MU versions of Dax, Bashir, Rom, and Tuvok. Tuvok preaches caution and logic, while Rom preaches vengeance for Quark’s death. Everyone’s surprised to see Sisko, since the Alliance announced that he was killed. Dax kisses him and slaps him, and she makes it clear that his first duty upon returning is to screw Dax’s brains out.

Their post-coital conversation includes Dax wanting to give up the rebellion as a lost cause and just run away somewhere. Sisko says he isn’t ready to give up yet, and then he goes out to talk to the troops. Bashir starts ranting and raving about how unfit Sisko is to command, at which point Smiley tells Sisko to hit him, as it’s what the MU Sisko would do. That does the trick, as Bashir concedes Sisko’s authority. And then Smiley and Sisko both convince the others that Jennifer should be brought to their side, not just killed.

A short time later, Rom shows up on Terok Nor. He tells Garak and the Intendant that Sisko’s alive and the Ferengi is eager to give them more intelligence as well.

Star Trek Deep Space Nine Through the Looking Glass

Sisko and Smiley are captured and Sisko immediately kisses the Intendant. He basically bravados his way to the Intendant’s quarters, thus giving him his second booty call with someone he would never sleep with in the mainline universe. Their post-coital discussion is about what she should do with Sisko. Annoying Garak is enough reason to keep him alive (she promised Garak that Sisko would be killed), but she has to be careful.

Garak brings Jennifer to Sisko at the latter’s request (Garak leaves reluctantly, offering to beat the crap out of Sisko if she so desires on his way out the door). Jennifer doesn’t have anything to say to Sisko. She never thought much of him when they were together, and she views the rebellion as a fool’s errand that is only serving to get Terrans treated even worse.

Star Trek Deep Space Nine Through the Looking Glass

Sisko makes an impassioned plea to Jennifer to join the rebellion and fight for their people—to not let her fight with him color her reality so much that she insists on being on the opposite side of him no matter what. She finally agrees, but makes sure Sisko understands that she still hates him. “I know,” Sisko says in a hilarious reverse echo of Han Solo, and he signals Smiley with a subcutaneous communicator that he says is “courtesy the Ferengi.” Sisko takes out the guards while Smiley sabotages the security system.

Sisko, Jennifer, Smiley, and several workers Smiley has freed make it to Airlock 7 where they’re supposed to rendezvous with Rom. Instead, they find Rom impaled on the wall. Rom, it turns out, gave them up under Garak’s torture. Sisko and the others retreat to the ore processor where Sisko does something his counterpart could never have done, and that’s activate the station’s self-destruct and then change the access code.

Star Trek Deep Space Nine Through the Looking Glass

The Intendant and Garak get into ore processing, the former relieved to see Jennifer okay—but then the latter announces that she’s a Terran and she’s not finishing the sensor array. Sisko looks on her proudly and then announces that he will let the station explode unless the Intendant lets them go. He’ll transmit the new access code once they’re safely away from the station. The Intendant lets them go, but swears to hunt Sisko down.

Back at the base in the Badlands, Sisko walks in on Dax and Jennifer talking, and Dax telling Jennifer that “he’s all yours.” However, Jennifer has figured out that this isn’t her Sisko. He says his goodbyes, and then Smiley sends him home.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Whatever was done to transporters between “Mirror, Mirror” and “Crossover” to make it impossible to switch universes via transporter again can apparently be reversed by a cylinder that you wave over a console. Also Jennifer is such a great scientist that she’s the only person in the entire galaxy who can complete a trans-spectral array that she’s most of the way done with. Apparently the Alliance doesn’t have anyone else who can do science, or even read notes...

Star Trek Deep Space Nine Through the Looking Glass

The Sisko is of Bajor. Sisko dives into the role of his MU counterpart with the same gusto with which he dove into the role of Gabriel Bell in “Past Tense, Part II.” He has the same contempt for Garak that he had for B.C., though Garak sadly does not wear a hat for him to make fun of.

Don’t ask my opinion next time. Intendant Kira is still smitten with Sisko and is very disappointed that he went from being her favorite pirate to being a rebel—so much so that she abandons common sense in order to take him to her bed again, and leaves him alive long enough to turn his ex-wife. Not her finest hour...

The slug in your belly. It’s unclear whether or not Jadzia has a symbiont in the MU. On the one hand, Sisko calls her “Dax” and she responds to it, indicating that she’s joined. On the other hand, Trill would, it seems to me, be a subject world of the Alliance, based on her participation in the rebellion, and I just can’t see them allowing symbionts willy nilly.

Star Trek Deep Space Nine Through the Looking Glass

Plain, simple. Garak is more effective this time around than he was in “Crossover,” as he insists on killing Sisko from jump, and he’s the one who gets the truth out of Rom.

For Cardassia! Thanks to being allied with the Klingons, Cardassian ships also have cloaking devices in the MU. (At least, in this episode they do. Future MU episodes will have the Alliance without any cloaking technology.)

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. When we first see the Intendant, she’s lounging in the arms of a muscular human male, and also being affectionate with a busty human woman, while being fanned by two Vulcans. Later, she’s getting a massage while Rom is “betraying” Sisko to her. She also sleeps with Sisko, who earlier that day slept with Dax. Cha cha cha.

Star Trek Deep Space Nine Through the Looking Glass

Keep your ears open. “You know, you did pretty good back there. I don’t think anyone suspected you weren’t Captain Sisko. At least, not once you hit Bashir.” (Smiley complimenting Sisko on his command techniques.)

Welcome aboard. Andrew J. Robinson is back for the second episode in a row (and he’ll be in the next two as well!) as Gul Garak, and Felecia M. Bell returns for the first time since “Emissary,” this time as the MU version of Jennifer. In addition, Max Grodénchik makes his first and last appearance as the MU version of Rom, stunt coordinator Dennis Madalone once again plays one of Sisko’s people, and, most entertainingly of all, Tim Russ is on loan from Voyager as the MU version of Tuvok.

Trivial matters: This episode was filmed after the next episode, “Improbable Cause,” but when it was decided to expand that storyline to two parts, this episode was already in pre-production, so it was filmed between the halves of the two-parter, but aired first, with “The Die is Cast” filmed next.

Obviously, this episode serves as a sequel to “Crossover,” continuing the MU storyline that began in “Mirror, Mirror” on the original series. It will next be seen in “Shattered Mirror” in the fourth season.

Tuvok’s presence in the rebellion will be the basis of other MU storylines in both prose and comics. He appeared in “Enemies and Allies,” a backup story that ran in the 29th and 30th issues of Malibu’s DS9 comic, a story actor Tim Russ co-wrote with Mark Paniccia. In addition, Tuvok appears in a bunch of recent MU prose stories, starting with your humble rewatcher’s novel The Mirror-Scaled Serpent in Obsidian Alliances (in which Tuvok serves on a rebellion ship alongside Chakotay, Kathryn Janeway, Seska, Annika Hansen, and Harry Kim), the short stories “Bitter Fruit” by Susan Wright and “Empathy” by Christopher L. Bennett in Shards and Shadows, and the novel Rise Like Lions by David Mack.

Star Trek Deep Space Nine Through the Looking Glass

This is the only time a Mirror Universe episode has featured an MU counterpart from a different Trek show.

As Odo and Quark’s MU counterparts were killed in “Crossover,” they get a bit in the teaser so Rene Auberjonois and Armin Shimerman get at least one scene. They’re also the only main cast members we see the mainline versions of besides Sisko; everyone else is their MU counterpart. Meantime, mirror-Rom gets killed this time around.

Quark mentions that confiscating the voles will break Morn’s hearts, implying that Lurians, like Gallifreyans, have two hearts.

Walk with the Prophets. “I guess I’ll just have to—improvise.” One of the fun things about “Crossover” was the stark contrast. We didn’t have an MU counterpart for Bashir or Dax, which seemed fitting—a brilliant doctor and a joined Trill wouldn’t really fit into the oeuvre (the former demonstrated quite handily by Bashir in the episode itself)—and Kira, Quark, Sisko, and Odo were all magnificently twisted. (O’Brien not so much, but it’s fitting that O’Brien’s basically a good egg with a tinkering fetish in any universe.)

That contrast feels weaker this time. Part of it is the unexplained dropping of Bashir and Dax into the rebellion, which feels less like a story choice and more like a contractual obligation for Siddig el-Fadil and Terry Farrell to appear. Apparently Dax, at least, was part of Sisko’s crew all along, we just never saw her, but where did Bashir come from? Nobody recognized the mainline Bashir in “Crossover” after all, so how’d his counterpart get involved?

Having said that, Rom and Tuvok being part of Sisko’s rebellion works rather nicely, the former because he’s in it for revenge—Quark was killed in “Crossover,” after all, just for being a nice guy—the latter just because it’s a nice touch that’s done with remarkably little fanfare. Tim Russ does a nice job as the voice of reason while Bashir is ranting and raving before Sisko’s arrival, and it makes the episode feel more like it takes place in the larger Trek universe—which is good, as the Alliance feels like it only includes the Intendant and Garak this time ’round. In general, the scenes on Terok Nor are irritatingly empty, and the scenes there just don’t feel like the same horror show we saw in “Crossover.”

Star Trek Deep Space Nine Through the Looking Glass

But the biggest problem in this episode is that it’s unable to mask what “Emissary” managed to camouflage nicely, to wit, that Felecia M. Bell just isn’t very good as Jennifer. Her scenes with both Nana Visitor and Avery Brooks are limp to say the least. She gives no sense that Jennifer has any kind of emotional state at all. The Intendant says she’s angry at Sisko, but Bell herself provides no evidence of that anger, not even when she’s yelling at Sisko later on.

As a result, the main emotional content of the episode—Sisko getting in essence a second chance with his dead wife—falls flat because there’s nothing for him to play off of. His pleas with her to join the rebellion are remarkably similar to the ones Sisko made to Vin to recognize what’s happening in the Sanctuary Districts in “Past Tense, Part II,” and while Brooks plays it less broadly here, Bell is no Dick Miller when it comes to responding.

It’s, as always, fun to watch the actors play make-believe and be weird-ass versions of who they usually play (though Colm Meaney gets to do the least of that, for reasons given above, as does Andrew J. Robinson, who’s pretty much still a snot in either universe), but the material doesn’t really live up to it, and too much time is spent on a character interaction that fizzles.

Warp factor rating: 6


Keith R.A. DeCandido’s latest novel, Gryphon Precinct, is now on sale in trade paperback from the fine folks at Dark Quest Books, and also via Amazon or Barnes & Noble (Kindle and Nook editions to come soon). The audio edition is also available from Audible. This is the fifth book in the acclaimed “Precinct” series of fantasy police procedurals, following Dragon Precinct, Unicorn Precinct, Goblin Precinct, and Tales from Dragon Precinct.

37 comments
Christopher Bennett
1. ChristopherLBennett
Wow, I feel just the opposite about Felecia Bell's first two appearances. In "Emissary" I found her acting totally inept, and it always bothered me that they cast the love of the protagonist's life based solely, so it seemed, on how good she looked in a bikini. Whereas here, while she wasn't going to win any awards, at least she came off as a competent actress.

This was kind of a fun episode for the most part, but it's always deeply bothered me how much it objectifies the female characters. Sisko sleeps with the doubles of two of his closest coworkers and friends, which is frankly something of a violation, like getting to voyeurize them without their knowledge, only a great deal more intimately than peeping through a window. If either woman found out, they'd be justifiably upset (well, Jadzia might actually find it amusing on some level, but Kira would be very disturbed). Not to mention the enormous power imbalance created given that the two women in question are his direct subordinates, and that he now has intimate knowledge of them on a sexual level. Yet Sisko isn't shown feeling any remorse or hesitation, or any consideration for his friends whatsoever, and there are no consequences on his relationship with them. It's pure macho wish fulfillment on a very puerile and self-centered level, it's profoundly disrespectful of Kira and Dax, and I find it completely out of character that Sisko would be okay with it. I think that, out of consideration for his friends and colleagues, he should've made excuses to avoid sleeping with Mirror Jadzia and Kira; and if he'd had no way to avoid it, he should at least have been uncomfortable with it and had some guilt about it when faced with those women back in his own reality. I understand the wish-fulfillment aspects of the Mirror Universe episodes, but when it crosses into nonconsensual areas like this, it becomes inappropriate. And it's unworthy of the franchise to focus so exclusively on male wish fulfillment and completely ignore the rights and concerns of the women involved. (In TNG, Deanna and Beverly were outraged when they saw that Barclay had fantasy versions of them on the holodeck, and those fantasies didn't even seem particularly sexual. So we know the franchise can do better.)

And what's established here has a number of problems in the context of what's revealed later. You mentioned whether it makes sense for Jadzia to be joined here; the book tie-ins actually establish that she isn't, I think, creating a bit of a continuity glitch. And then there's Bashir. Given what we learn about him later on, it seems unlikely his counterpart would be so high-functioning. Granted, he does seem less intelligent than our Bashir, but not by that much.
James2
2. James2
Tim Russ' crossover appearance reminds me of something that's always bugged me about DS9's third season.

Does anyone else wish DS9 had acknowledged the disappearance of Voyager in the Badlands?

It always seemed like they should have given the station was the ship's last port of call before Team Janeway's deluxe, all expenses paid trip to Casa de Delta Quadrant.

Even a throwaway reference would have been nice. It would have been similar to SG-1's eighth season and the acknowledgment in episodes like "Zero Hour" and "Prometheus Unbound" that they hadn't restored contact with the Atlantis Expedition and didn't know what was happening on their side of the Gate.

Anyway, the lack of any reference has inspired my own fanfic efforts by to retell "Caretaker" from DS9's perspective. :)
Evan Langlinais
3. Skwid
Yeah, count me with ChristopherLBennet in finding the whole "mirror versions of my subordinates that I can have consequence-free sex with? Full speed ahead!" thing deeply creepy.
Christopher Bennett
4. ChristopherLBennett
@2: Malibu Comics, which had the DS9 tie-in license for its first four seasons, did a decent miniseries called The Maquis: Soldier of Peace in which Bashir got caught up with a group of Maquis who were searching for Chakotay's missing crew, believing them to be captive in a Cardassian prison. It was just the sort of thing you're talking about, an examination of how the disappearance looked from the Alpha Quadrant end of things.

Probably the reason DS9 didn't address the events of VGR is because it was syndicated and the other was on UPN. So both shows wouldn't necessarily have been available in the same markets. Although Malibu's miniseries did a nice job of working as a DS9 story without requiring the readers to know anything about VGR. If you weren't familiar with the show, you'd just see a story about the Maquis searching for some lost comrades.
James2
5. Eugene R.
ChristopherLBennet (@1): Spot on. Even granting that Sisko is play-acting as the MU Sisko, the original should be somewhat hesitant. After all, it took "Smiley" O'Brien's prompting to get him to hit MU Bashir, so he's clearly not that into the role of MU Sisko. Save for the cha-cha-cha part. Sheesh. Guess that is what happens when the StarFleet sex suppression pills wear off.
James2
6. Lemaitre
"very puerile level"
Doesn't this nicely summarize the mirror episodes? Apparently the staff thought a comic adventure each season would be a nice change of pace for the actors. Unshaven rebels, gunfights, sex, starship battles, sadists, narcisstic killer lesbians, an evil empire ... the usual stuff from writers stuck in their puberty and some juvenile sexism naturally goes along with it.
James2
7. James2
@4: Thanks, CLB. I didn't know about this mini-series. I might have to check it out.

This is one reason I've loved the tie-in novels since they're able to explore areas or overlap that the shows couldn't due to network concerns.

For example, I've always loved KRAD's Brave and the Bold and how it answered how Tuvok infiltrated Chakotay's cell.
Christopher Bennett
8. ChristopherLBennett
@6: "Naturally?" That assumption that a male perspective is the default is exactly the problem. What would the wish fulfillment of female writers or audience members "naturally" be? Why should their perspective be so completely ignored? Is it right to target a story exclusively at the male audience, and thereby alienate all the women who love Star Trek too?

I don't think DS9 ever had a female staff writer or producer, but they generally did right by their female characters, excepting the passive first-season Dax. Here, though, they dropped the ball.
Keith DeCandido
9. krad
My short story in the anthology Distant Shores focused on the people left behind when Voyager fell down the rabbit hole in "Caretaker," with some of it taking place on DS9. The story was called "Letting Go."

--Keith R.A. DeCandido
James2
10. DougL
I skip the Mirror universe episodes in my rewatches and it's one of the many reasons I stopped reading comics, even when I was 12 I thought the whole idea was stupid.
James2
11. James2
You're right; I'd completley forgotten about "Letting Go."

It's been almost a decade since I read Distant Shores, but I remember it was one of my favorites from the anthology.
James2
12. Lemaitre
@8 Oh, you misunderstood my post, I was just shrugging at the boys' club fantasies embodied in these episodes, what else is there to expect? Since the writers staff was all male, it's not surprising to see this result.
Where I disagree with you is about DS9 "doing it right". There are many reasons to love Star Trek, but the progressive picture of women surely ain't one. TOS had sexy guest stars and a woman playing essentially a 23rd century secretary ("hailing frequency open"), TNG offered us soft, empathic women (literally so with Troi) and DS9 gave us two kick-ass action barbies. Yes, both characters were well written and developed, but there's an undercurrent of comic book heroines here. Dax is rather obviously a male projection, the tall, beautiful, promiscuous, fighting lady. And even Kira is to a certain degree subject to these fantasies which the mirror episodes bring out in the worst possible manner. I mean ... a lesbian narcisstic evil killer? Wasn't there any other more offensive stereotype around?
Say what you will about Voyager, but with B'Elanna and Janeway they really tried before the Borg babe in a form fitting suit came on board.
James2
13. Russell H
My big issue with the "mirror universe" episodes on DS9 was how they "demystified" the whole concept. In the original TOS episode, much was made of how incredibly unlikely the transition was; they had to be in just the right place at just the right instant for it to happen, which made the whole thing that much more shocking (along with the challenge of getting back). By the end of DS9, getting to and from the Mirror Universe seemed about as hard as catching a crosstown bus.
Christopher Bennett
14. ChristopherLBennett
@12: Your points are valid, but such backward attitudes shouldn't just be shrugged off and accepted as inevitable. We can't make progress unless we point out what's wrong with such things and insist that people do better.

Oh, and Keith, it was only Terran Empire/Alliance transporters that were modified to prevent crossovers, according to the Intendant in "Crossover." DS9's own transporter would have no such modifications. And presumably the Alliance obtained some nonstandard transporter tech without those particular modifications. I always took Smiley's device as something that replicated the effects of the original ion storm on the transporter equipment.
Rob Rater
15. Quasarmodo
Horndog Bashir must've been practically fuming when Sisko returned to regale him with his tales of sexual conquests amongst their female colleagues.
James2
16. Alright Then
What happens in the Mirror Universe stays in the Mirror Universe.
James2
17. RichF
The question of whether MU-Jadzia is joined is made more complicated by David Mack's (admittedly non-canon) novel "The Sorrows of Empire", which tells the story between "Mirror, Mirror" and "Crossover". Because of what happened to Trill (and later Curzon), it is astronomically unlikely that Jadzia is joined. But because the Dax symbiont is still alive, it is not impossible.
David Levinson
18. DemetriosX
They just went to the mirror universe well too often on DS9. Once was fine, but after that it never really feels right. These are some of my least favorite episodes.

Another problem from this is the mere suggestion that something called a trans-spectral sensor array will help find ships in the Badlands. Tossing this idea out to Dax, O'Brien and the combined research facilities of the entire Federation never resulted in Starfleet coming up with something similar? It certainly would have come in handy over the next few years.
Adrian J.
19. LightningStorm
**Note this post contains a spoiler for future episode "Doctor Bashir, I Presume"**

So far all of the 'continuity glitches' mentioned here are the fault of things that came after this episode, not this specific episode. The cloaking devices, Jadzia's joining with Dax, and Bashir's intelligence.

This episode was first to establish that the Alliance had cloaks, later episodes came along and were the ones who decided to ignore that. Jadzia in this episode (due to the dialogue) does have the Dax symbiont, if the books came along later and established that she doesn't they're at fault for the inconsistency. And Bashir's intellilgence wasn't established as being due to genetic manipulation until next season and the level of his disability was also established later. So at the time of this episode Bashir was just a normal man who in the 'real' universe was just highly educated and accomplished and in the MU he wasn't, but wasn't completely inept or mentally disabled. The fact that he later became genetically enhanced and the "normal" version of him made to be mentally handicapped is the fault of the later story for not recognizing they already showed a version of him without the genetic enhancements and then suddenly changing it.
James2
20. Ed7
**Note this post contains spoilers for the 5th season episode "For the Uniform" and the 6th season episode "In the Pale Moonlight"**

@1 To be fair, Sisko is the same guy who was willing to render a Maquis planet uninhabitable (although there would be enough time for the inhabitants to flee) in order to catch one traitor. Sisko is also the same guy who was consciously willing to (1) lie, (2) bribe, and (3) hand out dangerous controlled substances to shady people in order to save the Alpha Quadrant (and possibly subconsciously willing to murder multiple people). Given that, Sisko's willingness to sleep with mirror-universe counterparts of lower-ranking officers in order to ensure the survival of his dead wife's mirror-universe counterpart is unsurprising. (In case you're wondering, I tend to agree with Sisko's actions in the 2nd case, but the 1st case is a little more murky.)

@12 Aside from the admittedly problematic mirror universe episodes, how could the female characters in DS9 have been changed so that DS9 would be "doing it right"? You mention that Dax is "a male projection, the tall, beautiful, promiscuous, fighting lady". I think everybody on the show (hell,most TV shows) is relatively tall. Should Dax have been changed so that she did not enjoy having sex? Does that not open up a can of worms of its own, implying that a female heroine must be pure as the driven snow? As for her being a fighter, it seems that the alternative would be that she was cast in a stereotypically female caring and nurturing role, you know, like Beverly Crusher. It's true that Dax is conventionally attractive, but I would point out that Janeway and Torres were not ugly either. Heck, most of the cast on all of the series was not ugly. I suppose it is the case that a single token male character can be weird-looking or even *gasp* balding (VOY: the EMH, DS9: Odo) but all the female characters have to be conventionally attractive.
Christopher Bennett
21. ChristopherLBennett
@19: The inconsistency with cloaks is no greater than the many others we've had in the franchise. In "Balance of Terror," cloaks were detectable by "motion sensors," but by "The Enterprise Incident" they no longer were. In The Search for Spock, cloaks had a visible gravity-lensing effect, but they never did again. In The Undiscovered Country, Spock found a way to detect a cloaked ship, but in the 24th-century shows there was no such way.

The fix to all these apparent errors is quite simple, though. You just have to realize that there would be a constant arms race between cloaks and sensors, stealth and detection. Every cloaking technology is eventually penetrated and rendered obsolete, and then a new cloaking technology has to be invented to replace it. That's how cloaks could be a new technology in later Mirror Universe episodes when they already have them here: They're two different types of cloaking device, the first of which was rendered obsolete sometime between episodes.

As for the Dax symbiont issue, this episode isn't really unambiguous about it. Sisko addressed Jadzia as "Dax" and she looks at him, but maybe she looked because she could tell he was looking at her, and was confused about what he was calling her. The only other person who calls her "Dax" is Jennifer, who only knew her through Sisko, so she could've picked it up from him. It's possible he was calling her by the wrong name and nobody ever corrected him.

@20: I don't think that analogy works, because in those cases, Sisko was clearly shown to be conflicted and uneasy with the choices he had to make. But this wasn't presented as an uncomfortable situation that he was stuck with and had to play along with. There was no indication that he gave the slightest thought to the ethics of it or was conflicted in any way. It was played as pure masculine wish fulfillment.
James2
22. Lemaitre
@20 I'm in the uncomfortable position to defend a pretty schematic feminist line of argument. However Star Trek unfortunately warrants such an approach.
You're arguing that Dax should be pure or motherly caring to fit my parameters. Hell, no. That's what the TNG women were. And that's exactly my point, the DS9 women are in a away a mirror to TNG's ladies. Troi and Crusher were quiet, sensitive, caring, motherly; Kira and Dax are tough action barbies. In both cases we have a one-sided imagination of women at work, the first is essentially an outgrowth of the mother/whore polarity, the second an adolescent fantasy of how women should be which is essentially being like a man in behaviour plus looking gorgeus and being available (note however that Kira and her antetype Ro Laren were well developed beyond that cliche).
Ezri Dax - whatever the huge shortcomings were to introuduce her as late - was a pretty normal character, she was caring but also quirky and disoriented. And indeed Jadzia in the first season as the wise owl was an intriguing concept if a failed one. Basically I'd like to see normal female characters as leads with their indiviual strengths and vices, though in a Star Trek (well, most) series they have to be obviously good cookies. They should not be reduced to being gentle, motherly, caring or looking hot and available or being tough action heroes with boobs.
Now Terry Farrell is obviously not just attractive, she was positively stunningly beautiful. There's always the danger with extremely attractive actors and actresses that people watching them start to ignore the role and the acting and just stare if the actor/actress aren't given enough to do. While Farrell and the creative staff found a way to make Dax a hugely entertaining presence and avoid this trap to a certain degree, they in essence made her Wonder Woman. The lady is a brillant scientist, very open minded and friendly to everyone, a tough action heroine, a witty, fun loving trader of one liners and sexy beyond words. She's such a positive role, it's unreal.
Christopher Bennett
23. ChristopherLBennett
@22: I don't see how writing a character as impressive and capable is sexist. I mean, Spock was better at everything than anyone else, but that wasn't gendered, was it? Tons of fictional characters of both sexes are idealized and larger than life. In Dax's case, it makes perfect sense that a person with the memories of 300 years of life as multiple different people would have greater wisdom and personal balance than most people and a wider range of skills and hobbies than most people -- and that someone who was carefully selected to be the best possible host for the symbiont would be an exceptional individual. The way Jadzia was written was a logical outgrowth of the premise of the character as a joined Trill.

And first you're saying the female characters were one-dimensional, but then you talk about how multifaceted Jadzia was, how many aspects of her personal and professional life were developed, and condemn that as well. It's like you're determined to disapprove of her no matter what her actual qualities are.

I don't think it's at all true that Jadzia was a "tough girl" or an "action Barbie." Yes, she had a history with the Klingons and thus had fighting skills which occasionally came into play, but that was never the dominant or overriding trait of her personality; it was just one of her many surprising and contradictory facets. After all, it wasn't even established until the late second season. From the start, Jadzia was portrayed as a very different character than the ex-terrorist Kira, less aggressive and more fun-loving. You're trying to reduce these two very different women to a single stereotype and it just doesn't work.

And what's so wrong with being gentle and caring? I hate the way our society assumes there's something wrong with that, that it's somehow an inferior role to being strong and aggressive. The world would be a far better place if more people of both sexes were gentle and caring and fewer people were tough and eager for a fight.
James2
24. Lemaitre
@23 As I already said - my line of argument can lead to a pretty blind stance on characters judging them from a purely ideological viewpoint. It's usually not a way of thinking I prefer to pursue.
However most of human culture in general and Star Trek in particular have treated women pretty badly. And while nothing what you say is itself wrong, in the larger scheme of things the DS9 women are problematic to me. Because of these general problems I'm not surprised that the writers could pull the awful "killer lesbian" cliche out of the hat for Kira.
My whole point is that female characters should be drawn as normal people not as projections of male fantasies. Is there anything wrong with being caring and gentle? Obviously no. But if you put these characteristics on the female characters and mark it as ideal behaviour for them, it reduces them. Usually alternative behaviour is then shown as bad, this is embodied in the old madonna-whore duality concept in arts. Remember the Troi episode ("Man of the People") where she is used as a dumping ground for bad emotions by an alien and immediately gets evil AND sexy? Exactly the same is at play with Kira in the mirror episode, she is not only evil-narcisstic, but also a sex hungry lesbian.
Yes, it makes perfect sense for a Trill to be like Dax is and one can argue that she indeed is multi-faceted, but curiously this doesn't mean that she isn't one-dimensional at the same time. She is outstanding in every departement. O'Brien is a good ingenieur and a decent man, Sisko a strong commander and a good father, Kira a tough girl, but all these characters have certain limitations, while I can see Dax doing literally everything. She's the best lover, friend, scientist, fighter, companion one can imagine. Just a bit too good to be true. Spock by the way isn't, he has considerable problems with his dual nature and as "Galileo Seven" shows not necessarily the best commanding officer.
Now usually feminists argue very much in favour of strong female characters, but to idealize women as more gentle, sensitive, intelligent, communicative and so on is just the reverse side of the coin. In both cases women aren't seen as real characters, but as male projections. There's a very similar case and that's the portrayal of Indians who were shown first as savages and then as noble creatures doomed for extinction. "Dances with Wolves" is a nice example of not showing real Indians but instead imaginations of a noble race living in communion with nature. Looks like a compliment but in reality isn't interested at all in Indians but in the projected visions of the white filmmakers. Heaven forbid one had to deal with real indians or real women on screen.
Christopher Bennett
25. ChristopherLBennett
All fictional characters are fantasies. I don't think it's fair to writers to assume that just because they're male and their characters are female, they must therefore automatically be objectifying the characters. Certainly that does happen, and it's something to watch out for, but if you're too quick to hurl accusations and assume the worst, you end up damning people who don't deserve it and alienating people who could be allies. It's contradictory to say you're against prejudice and in favor of fairness and acceptance when you're quick to assume the worst about other people. Fairness begins within oneself.

What I hear from you is circular reasoning: You assume they're going to be sexist and so you're unable to perceive anything else in the show. Which is a prejudice in and of itself and therefore a lousy way to fight prejudice. Your perception of Dax is very far removed from anything I've ever seen in the character. She's as capable as you'd expect of someone with her background, sure, but I wouldn't call her infallible. She had her share of inner conflicts and bad decisions and dilemmas she struggled with. She had deep insecurities about Curzon's initial rejection of her as a host. She fell impetuously in love and made stupid choices as a result. She was afraid and lost when Verad stole her symbiont. She wrestled with the conflict between Curzon's blood oath and her own regard for life. She was given nuances and vulnerabilities as much as any other character.

Sure, the shows made some bad choices, like the evil-lesbian stereotype of the Intendant, but that shouldn't damn the entire show. A television series is not a single entity but many stories by many hands. Individual mistakes can be exceptions and outliers. Certainly it would be grossly unfair to hold up "Man of the People" as representative of TNG as a whole; you might as well hold up "The Alternative Factor" or "And the Children Shall Lead" as typical of TOS. Cherrypicking is unfair argument.
Dante Hopkins
26. DanteHopkins
Well this is a rare occurence. CLB, I completely disagree with you on Sisko sleeping with MU Dax and MU Kira. Sisko didn't schtoop the two women to fulfill a fantasy, he was acting as his dead MU counterpart would have. The lives of every person in the rebellion depended on no one doubting this was their Captain Sisko, to say nothing of the Alliance and Intendent Kira, and most importantly, MU Jennifer. I am totally certain Benjamin felt completely weird schtooping the MU versions of his First Officer and Science Officer, but a, these women aren't the Dax and Kira we know, but two very different people, and b, lives were at stake, perhaps the entire rebellion itself was at stake. They look like our Kira and Dax, but that's where the similarities end. So Sisko put what I'm sure was extreme awkwardness aside and focused on saving MU Jennifer and the rebellion to get back to his own universe.
Christopher Bennett
27. ChristopherLBennett
@26: Again, I'm not talking about the fact that the event happened, I'm talking about the way the writers and director portrayed it. I can certainly believe that Sisko would've gone ahead and slept with them to maintain his cover, but I cannot believe that he would've been comfortable and untroubled with it. But the episode didn't show him being uncomfortable or troubled or guilty or weirded out. It didn't portray it as a difficult moral compromise that he was forced into by circumstance; it portrayed it as a sophomoric wish-fulfillment fantasy in which the male hero got to screw the hot babes with no consequences.

Sure, I want to believe as you do, that inside Sisko's mind he felt terrible about this and bit the bullet and tried very hard not to let it affect his relationships with Kira and Dax afterward -- and maybe even had the guts to be honest with them about what happened and apologize to them, because frankly they both had a right to know. But none of that was in the actual episode. It's stuff we have to make up after the fact to rationalize and excuse what's in the episode. And that means that what's in the episode is flawed.
James2
28. Rancho Unicorno
Regarding Sisko's actions and motivations, I think one of the challenges was the medium. I think as a novel, we would have had a better opportunity to see the conflict. But, as a show, when would he have had time to show his discomfort? I believe he was always accompanied by somebody for whom he had to put on an MU face. At no point could be admit to his internal conflict. He might have shown that discomfort in following weeks, as he worked with normal Dax/Kira. But, since the writers forgot about this episode as soon as it was shot, it never happen - but it wasn't a failing of the episode.

Regarding Dax and her personality, I think te character makes sense. She's young - and from what I remember of her description of Jadzia, rather shy and introverted. I might even call her the stereotypical scientist, but with a bit of wide-eyed adventurism thrown in. That exists in conflict with the personalities of Dax and the previous hosts. I don't see a preference for either being shown, but an opportunity for the creators and writers to show internal conflict much more easily by showing and not telling.

As for MU Kira, I stick to my position that she wasn't portrayed as the evil lesbian, but the childish narcissist. She wanted immediate gratification, and that took priority over anything else, including business or the needs of others. Be it male, female, both or neither, if it satisfied her base desire for gratification, good enough. Compare it to Kira, who would sacrifice that which she wanted or desired for the greater good of Bajor or those she cares about. I see calls toward reconciling her terrorist past with growth towards a Gandhian philosophy of applying base desires towards loftier goals.
Christopher Bennett
29. ChristopherLBennett
@28: Your first paragraph is based on the assumption that this is simply what happened and the writers just couldn't find time to cope with it. But that doesn't work, because the only reason it happened at all was because the writers chose to put it in there. And by the same token, they could've chosen not to. If they couldn't deal with the consequences in a tasteful and non-sophomoric way, then they shouldn't have written the sex scenes into the episode at all.

So yes, it is absolutely a failing of the episode, because it didn't need to happen at all. If it wasn't going to serve any story or character purpose other than superficial titillation, then including it at all was gratuitous. Now, I'm not against a degree of titillation for its own sake, but not when it's at the expense of characters' dignity or integrity.

I mean, this was a story about Ben Sisko getting a second chance with his wife, essentially. So shouldn't the focus have been on his relationship with Jennifer? If he was going to sleep with anyone, it should've been her. Maybe the Intendant can be justified because we know Mirror Sisko was her lover before. But why Dax? What purpose does that serve in the story at all? Really, it would make more sense to pair Mirror Dax with Mirror Bashir, because of the contrast with their relationship in the Prime universe. Or better yet, portray Mirror Dax in terms that aren't about being someone's sex partner. Sure, the MU is all about the indulgence and titillation, but we've already got the Intendant for that.
James2
30. Rancho Unicorno
@29 I can't disagree with what you wrote. From the perspective of "why didn't they show the aftermath", I think it was a failure of arc planning. From the perspective of "it isn't going to reboot like TNG, but we don't track growth and development like B5", they should have known better than to introduce a complication like this that would never get addressed.

As far as relationships, you bring up a really good point - for all this was supposed to be about the Siskos, it was his other trysts that stood out. I hadn't considered how much it disregarded Dax's value to reduce her to a 300 yo groupie, which is more or less all she was. I would have thought that the Trill (assuming she was joined) could provide significant tactical expertise which was wasted here.
James2
31. Thomas B
I'm apparently in the rare minority of fans of intelligent and hard sci fi who also really enjoy the MU episodes.

I'll grant that the weaker DS9 ones were adventure romps. But the reason I like them is that throughout Trek, you're interacting with all these wild phenomena and crazy situations, then never playing out the consequences over time.

In TOS, McCoy generates a serum that lets everyone move faster than any adversaries can see. Just never comes up. Peoples minds are constantly taken over by hostile aliens before everyone just goes on about their day. (Starfleet Command was taken over by crazy psychotic slugs we never see again!) Crew independently discover time travel so often it's surprising ensigns aren't mentioned in passing as, "Oh Johnny? Yeah, lost in time last week. Shame." There are half a dozen episodes where someone gets a transporter double, but then they just erase the double at the end of the hour and never mention it again. (Notable exception being Thomas Riker, who I also really enjoy because of its nod towards "crazy stuff sometimes has longer term consequences.")
James2
32. Russell H
@31 Re the issue in TOS of "amnesia" about any given episode's major scientific breakthrough, mind-boggling discovery or traumatic events by the next episode (also known as "pushing the reset button"), I think a lot of that had to do with the realities of TV production in the 1960s.

As I understand it, the producers were under pressure to make each episode "stand alone" as much as possible so that audience members who didn't watch every single episode wouldn't get confused. Also, with TV series only being renewed one season at a time, it would be difficult to develop any kind of long-term story-arcs or significant character development.

Finally, there was the economic reality of TV syndication at that time. Selling a series to syndication meant that stations who bought the shows could re-run the episodes in any order they pleased, or even leave out episodes, and so complicated continuity issues, such as story-arcs, references to past episodes' events, etc. were discouraged.
Christopher Bennett
33. ChristopherLBennett
@32: Actually I think it was more about the networks wanting the freedom to rearrange episodes in first run. NBC aired TOS's episodes in a very different order than they were produced in, partly because of production logistics (some episodes' special effects took a lot more time to complete than others), and sometimes because the network wanted to favor certain types of episode for premieres or prime ratings periods or whatever. (They chose an Outer Limits-esque monster episode to open the series because that fit their expectations for SFTV, and they chose Spock-centric episodes to open seasons 2 & 3 because Spock was the breakout star.)

In my experience, at least in the '80s and '90s, syndicators tended to run the episodes in production order by default. And not just for ST, but for other shows as well -- which was problematical for M*A*S*H, because it meant the episode where BJ was already there and Col. Potter first arrived was always rerun before the episode where BJ first joined the staff and Potter wasn't there yet. Sometimes episodes that are meant to air in a particular story order get produced out of sequence for logistical reasons, and syndicators' tendency to just run the episodes in order by production number, the simplest possible arrangement, resulted in such story-order glitches.

Although I don't think TOS reruns were in production order in the mid-'70s. I know my first Trek episode, which I saw in early 1974, was "The Corbomite Maneuver," the first episode produced in the first season, but I'm fairly certain I saw my first Chekov episode not long thereafter. And I think it only aired weekly back then.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
34. Lisamarie
Yes, I was also surprised to see the nonchalance with which Sisko goes along with sleeping with two of his crewmember's MU counterparts. I expected to at least see some kind of resistance/this is weird kind of reaction. I agree that while it can be explained to make sense in the story and possibly even as necessary, it's inclusion by the writers (who made a conscious choice to have something like this happen in the episode)/manner of portrayal was more about the wish fufillment aspect of taking these attractive, strong women and turning them into sex conquests that our main character (supposedly our perspective) gets to indulge in.

My biggest beef with the MU episodes is that it is increasingly hard to swallow that this unverise is so different, yet all the characters just happen to be there, with the same names and even similar relationships (Sisko having married Jennifer, for example, even though they are different people with different histories and personalities in the MU). I know Star Trek is full of technobabble, but this strains credibility/storytelling, at least for me.

As for women in Trek...I agree that the portrayal of the 'evil' versions of characters ends up sexing them up is problematic (not just in Trek, but otherwise) but I don't agree that Crusher and Troi are bad examples or one-dimensional female characters just because they are motherly or empathic or gentle or whatever. There are many ways to be a strong woman, and I find Crusher, Troi, Dax and Kira all to be equally valid and admirable characters, for their own reasons.
James2
35. James2
@34. Your second paragrap is why I always liked the second Shatnerverse trilogy -- speficially, the Reeves-Stevens' clever explanation for the Mirror Universe's history and why elements of their Prime Realiy counterparts were present (ex. Sisko and Jennifer). It made a lot of sense, even though it got wiped out by ENT's MU duology.
Christopher Bennett
36. ChristopherLBennett
@34: I agree with your third paragraph. I think it takes a hell of a lot more strength and courage to be a nurturer or a caregiver than it does to go around hitting or shooting people.
S. C. Nerland
37. Zillah
When Sisko called Mirror Jadzia "Dax", she looked like she was thinking "what was that he called me?" and I thought she'd suspect him of being Not The Right Sisko. While that didn't happen, I still think it's a shown clue as to her not being joined in the mirror universe.

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