Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “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

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