Written by Michael Taylor
Directed by LeVar Burton
Season 6, Episode 8
Production number 40510-532
Original air date: November 17, 1997
Station log: Dax wants to have Kira over to dinner at her and Worf’s place, and she makes several suggestions for who Kira can bring as a date—Captain Boday, a three-eyed doctor, Odo—but Kira insists she’ll be alone.
The transporter is activated, and Bareil beams aboard, holding a disruptor on Kira when she tries to check on him. Using her as a hostage, he asks for a ship, and Sisko orders Odo to clear a path to a runabout landing pad. Bareil takes Kira to the pad on foot. He confirms that he’s from the Mirror Universe, and then Kira points out that the power cell on his disruptor is cracked and it’s useless as a weapon. Bareil tries to get away, but Kira takes him down in half a second and hands him over to Odo, who was waiting on the landing pad with his deputies.
Kira visits Bareil in his cell, revealing that his prime universe counterpart is dead. He also asks her to destroy the cylinder that enabled him to transfer to this universe, as he does not want to go back. He’s even willing to stay in prison, go to a labor camp, whatever, as long as he doesn’t have to go back. Kira is moved enough to not press charges and let him stay.
Bareil is a little weirded out by how many people are staring at him. Kira explains that his counterpart was a vedek, which weirds him out even more, as his life hasn’t exactly been spiritual. But he decides to join Kira for services, as he figures he needs all the help he can get making his new life.
Kira decides to invite Bareil to join her for dinner at Worf and Dax’s. Bareil tells a tale of escaping a Klingon prison by using a mek’leth he stole from one of his captors. Worf accuses him of making the story up, not believing that he could steal a warrior’s mek’leth—then he cuts the dessert cake with Worf’s mek’leth, which he had pocketed, earning Worf’s respect (well, respect for his thieving ability, anyhow).
Afterward, Kira invites him back to her quarters, and they stay up late talking, Bareil regaling her with stories of his past, culminating in them sleeping together. The next morning, Bashir contrives an excuse to come to Ops so he can be there when Kira arrives and he can get gossip (which Dax and Worf see right through), and her vague nonanswer confirms to everyone that she got laid.
Having read up on this universe’s Bajor, Bareil asks Kira if he can experience the Orb of Prophecy and Change. Vedek Ossan agrees, and Bareil says he finds the whole thing very humbling. He starts to tell Kira about it—he apparently saw the mainline Bareil—but she reminds him that Orb experiences are personal and not meant to be shared.
Bareil returns to his quarters to find the Intendant waiting for him. “You’re early,” he chides, and it turns out that the Intendant sent him to the mainline universe to get his hands on an Orb to bring back to the MU in order to restore her position of power. (The Intendant is also hugely curious as to what Bareil thinks of Kira.)
The next day, Bareil goes to drown his sorrows in Quark’s, fed up with the Intendant, his life, and every Bajoran staring at him funny. Then he goes to stand outside the shrine, which Quark interprets as him casing the joint for a robbery, though Kira wants to believe it’s a side-effect of his Orb experience.
Returning to his quarters, Bareil sees the Intendant in Kira’s uniform. He stole two combadges for the pair of them, and they go off to steal the Orb. The Intendant breaks into a cargo bay to alter the transporter so she and Bareil can go home while Bareil goes to the shrine to nab the Orb—where he’s caught by Kira. But then Kira is caught by the Intendant. However, she underestimates the effect the Orb experience had on Bareil, and he shoots her. He takes her unconscious form back to the MU, assuring Kira that he’ll be able to talk his way back into her good graces, as he’s done before.
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Apparently the Intendant has gotten her hands on two of the cylinders that can transit someone from one universe to another (the one Bareil uses and the one she uses). Are they mass producing the damn things, or what?
The Sisko is of Bajor: Sisko cautions Kira about falling into the trap of thinking it’s the same Bareil as hers, as he did with the alternate Jennifer in “Through the Looking-Glass” and “Shattered Mirror.”
Don’t ask my opinion next time: Kira’s willing to give Bareil a chance and eventually falls into bed with him at least in part because of who he looks like—since his actual introduction to her is to take her hostage, which is hardly a basis of trust—but she also sees him change from the Orb experience. Her assurances to Sisko and Quark notwithstanding, you can tell she’s expecting him to become more like her Bareil—or, at the very least, hoping for it.
The slug in your belly: Dax wants Kira over for dinner at her and Worf’s place now that she’s all married and stuff (Dax, not Kira).
There is no honor in being pummeled: Worf is amusingly conspiratorial with Dax when the two of them and Bashir are gossiping about Kira in Ops. Maybe marriage will mellow him…
Preservation of matter and energy is for wimps: When Dax suggests Kira invite Odo to dinner with her and Worf, Kira backs off as fast as possible, saying they’re nowhere near ready for that.
Rules of Acquisition: Quark tries to convince Bareil to dress up in vedek robes, and go in with him on a scam to let people “meet” Vedek Bareil. Bareil does not go for it.
Victory is life: No one told the Intendant that there’s a war on in the mainline universe, so she’s caught off guard by having to give an access code just to enter a cargo bay.
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Bareil, already one of the Intendant’s lovers, gets to sleep with her lookalike. Meanwhile, the Intendant gets to use her womanly charms on the cargo bay’s security guard, getting him to give her a massage so she can elbow him in the solar plexus.
Keep your ears open: “You are so obsessed with appearances.”
“And sometimes your taste in men frightens me.”
“I’ll make sure to tell Worf you said so.”
Dax and Kira in a rare failure for them to pass the Bechdel test.
Welcome aboard: Philip Anglim makes a triumphant return as the mirror version of Bareil, while John Towey plays Ossan and Nana Visitor does double duty as Kira and the Intendant.
Trivial matters: This is the only one of the televised Mirror Universe stories that takes place primarily in the prime universe rather than the MU.
The short novel Saturn’s Children by “Sarah Shaw” (a pseudonym for David Mack) in the MU trade paperback Obsidian Alliances establishes that Bareil joins the Terran Rebellion after this episode.
For the first time, we see the inside of the Bajoran temple on the station, and actually observe part of a service.
The script called for the episode to open with Dax and Kira in the latter’s quarters looking at Ziyal’s artwork, with Kira admitting to missing Ziyal, but also saying she’d get over it, as she and Death are old friends. Dax then tells her to invite Death over for dinner. The bit was cut for timing, and the episode commenced with Kira and Dax in the corridor.
Ira Steven Behr and Hans Beimler did an uncredited page-one rewrite of the script.
Now that he and Dax are married, Worf has moved off the Defiant. Worf’s trophy from winning the bat’leth competition in TNG’s “Parallels” can be seen on a shelf in their shared quarters.
Walk with the Prophets: “I’m not Vedek Bareil.” This episode is a triumph of acting over script, and I honestly never thought I’d say that about a DS9 episode that guest stars Philip Anglim. But as stiff and lifeless as he was playing Vedek Bareil, he’s actually subtle and interesting here as Thief And Con Artist Bareil. His transformation is very nicely handled, with perhaps the finest moment being his, “Oh the hell with it” sigh right before he shoots the Intendant.
Most impressive, though, is Nana Visitor. Every MU episode has impressed with her playing of the narcissistic Intendant, but the contrast between her and the mainline Kira is the sharpest we’ve seen it since “Crossover,” especially since the Intendant is dropped in late in the episode. Best of all is seeing the Intendant in Kira’s uniform, where Bareil’s words that he can’t tell the two apart are belied by Visitor’s body language, which is 180 degrees from how she plays Kira. There’s absolutely no doubt at any point whether or not we’re seeing the Intendant or Kira and it’s a superlative performance.
Also worth noting is how recent events have affected the character interactions, from small things like Worf and Dax having people to dinner and Worf’s more relaxed affect, to bigger things like Quark going to Kira and giving her advice about Bareil. Prior to the Dominion occupation of the station, Quark would never have dreamed about talking to Kira about this sort of thing—at least not unless it was a prelude to trying to get into her pants himself—and Kira would never have listened to anything Quark had to say. But these two went through hell together, and it’s created a new bond, so much so that Kira is willing to listen to Quark when he says that he didn’t see a man on a spiritual journey, he saw a thief casing a joint.
Having said that, the episode itself is kinda meh. I remember when I first saw the previews for this episode seventeen years ago, my first thought was, “Because nobody demanded it, the return of Bareil!” And while Anglim is light-years better here than he was previously, it doesn’t change the fact that this is a reunion the show doesn’t need and wasn’t crying out for. To make matters worse, Kira falling into bed with Bareil is just oogy, and speaks very poorly for a character who’s generally been pretty sensible about—well, everything, truly.
The performances elevate it, but that it needs elevating is the major problem.
Warp factor rating: 5
Keith R.A. DeCandido reminds everyone that his Sleepy Hollow novel Children of the Revolution will be out this month, just in time for season 2 of the FOX TV show on which it’s based to debut. You can preorder the novel from the SleepyReads web site.