“The Emperor’s New Cloak”
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Directed by LeVar Burton
Season 7, Episode 12
Production episode 40510-562
Original air date: February 3, 1999
Station log: Ishka has told Rom that Zek has gone missing. He said he’d be back from a business opportunity in five days, and has been missing for twelve. Turns out he’s gone to the Mirror Universe—but was captured by the Alliance. The Alliance sends Ezri Tigan—whom Quark initially mistakes for this universe’s Dax doing a punk role-play or something—to deliver the ransom note from Zek: bring a cloaking device to the MU.
Quark and Rom sneak off with a cloaking device from the Rotarran. They’re almost caught by Sisko and Martok, but manage to get to Cargo Bay 14, where Tigan is waiting. Quark and Rom insist on accompanying Tigan to the MU—partly to make sure the Regent comes through on his end, partly because Martok has discovered the stolen cloaking device and they need to leg it.
However, before Tigan and her comrade—Fontaine—can get off Terok Nor with the cloak, Bashir and two others capture them, killing Fontaine in the process. Smiley and Bashir put Tigan, Quark, and Rom in a holding cell. Smiley gives the Ferengi two choices: go into Alliance territory on their own to rescue Zek without the cloak, or get sent back to the mainline universe (and into the unhappy arms of Sisko and Martok).
On the Regent’s flagship, Zek and Maihar’du are sharing a cell with the Intendant, who apparently brokered the deal with the Regent for the cloak. She goes from giving Zek oo-mox to almost beating the crap out of him and back again.
Tigan has a third ally: Brunt. He manages to get the cloak, break Tigan, Quark, and Rom out of their cell, and then head off in a ship to rendezvous with the Regent. Privately, Brunt admits to Quark that he sympathizes with the Rebellion, but he goes where Tigan goes. They’re partners, and he’s in love with her, though she doesn’t return the level of affection.
On the flagship, the Regent is discovering the joys of beetle snuff, and also tormenting Gul Garak. The latter wishes to have the Intendant killed now that they’ve finally captured her, but the Regent refuses to commit to that course of action, focused as he is on the Rebellion.
Brunt’s ship arrives, and Quark and Rom turn over the cloak. The Intendant walks freely onto the bridge, to Garak’s dismay, and plants a big kiss on Tigan. The deal the Intendant made was the cloak in exchange for her freedom—as for Tigan, she says she’s loyal to her friends.
The Regent locks Quark and Rom in a cell with Zek and Maihar’du. Turns out that Zek stole the plans for the multidimensional transporter from one of Rom’s padds when he came home to visit once. (O’Brien had given Rom the schematics to study.) He came to the MU to find new business opportunities. Quark and Rom point out how spectacularly stupid this is, and Zek shrugs and says it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Brunt’s conscience is bothering him, as he likes Quark and Rom and thinks they deserve better. When he appeals to the Intendant to let them live, the Intendant responds by killing Brunt right in front of Tigan.
The Alliance engineers are struggling with the installation of the cloak. Tigan mentions that Rom knew how it worked, prompting the Regent to ask, “Then why is he not here?”
Rom installs the cloak under Garak’s eye, and once there’s no use for him anymore, the Regent orders him and the others killed. Garak has a special poison that he was intending to use on the Intendant (ahem), but he’ll settle for Quark, Rom, Zek, and Maihar’du. But then Quark, Rom, and Zek start taunting him until the Regent deactivates the cloak. Rom’s sabotage kicks in then, and main power goes offline. The flagship is a sitting duck for the Defiant, which blows the crap out of the defenseless ship, forcing the Regent to surrender.
Tigan kills Garak before he can kill the Ferengi and Maihar’du. Tigan also lets the Intendant get away in an escape shuttle—“I owe her that much,” she says of the person who killed her best friend and partner.
The Regent is brought to Terok Nor in chains and Quark, Rom, Zek, and Maihar’du are free to go home. Zek makes noises about wanting to come back, but once Rom sees Tigan and Leeta flirt with each other, he says he wants to go home.
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? For reasons passing understanding, on a massively huge Klingon ship, the cloaking device is hooked up on the bridge.
Don’t ask my opinion next time: Garak indicates that the Intendant was only recently captured, and she manages her usual survival tricks.
The slug in your belly: Rom is surprised that Tigan is working for the Alliance, but it turns out that she’s a mercenary who will work for whoever pays. She did work for the Terran Rebellion for a while, but they never paid her, so she switched sides.
It’s also established that Jadzia was killed in a firefight.
There is no honor in being pummeled: The Regent is as temperamental as ever, and throws at least two temper tantrums, one of which involves ripping his command chair out of its housing and tossing it across the bridge.
Rules of Acquisition: Continuing with tradition (Quark in “Crossover,” Rom in “Through the Looking-Glass,” and Nog in “Shattered Mirror”), a Ferengi is killed when the MU is visited, in this case Brunt.
Ferengi apparently pray to the Blessed Exchequer, which, naturally, involves placing bribes in an idol. It’s unclear who, precisely, collects those bribes from the altars.
Plain, simple: Gul Garak has no idea how to interrogate or torture anyone, which disappoints the heck out of Quark and Rom.
Tough little ship: The Defiant is able to pound the daylights out of the Regent’s flagship once it’s defenseless.
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Quark is annoyed that Bashir is flirting with Dax. Meanwhile, Brunt is in love with Tigan, who’s got the hots for the Intendant. The Intendant continues to use sex as a weapon, with Tigan, with the Regent, and with Zek.
Oh, and Tigan thinks Leeta is hot, according to an embarrassment of a snicker-snicker-tee-hee closing scene that reads as if it was written by a couple of not-too-bright twelve-year-old boys, and is the latest bit of evidence that DS9 really needed a woman or three on the writing staff.
Keep your ears open: “Would you stop looking at me like that? You’re making me feel like an idiot.”
“I hope so.”
Quark being annoyed at Tigan, and Tigan being unrepentant.
Welcome aboard: All the guests are recurring regulars, some in their usual roles—Max Grodénchik as Rom, Wallace Shawn as Zek, J.G. Hertzler as Martok, and Tiny Ron as Maihar’du—and others as their MU counterparts—Andrew J. Robinson as Garak, Chase Masterson as Leeta, Jeffrey Combs as Brunt, and an uncredited James Darren as a non-holographic Fontaine.
Trivial matters: This episode was dedicated to the memory of Jerome Bixby, who died shortly before it was aired. Bixby wrote several episodes of the original series, including “Mirror, Mirror,” which introduced the MU.
This is chronologically the last onscreen MU episode, following “Mirror, Mirror” and the previous DS9 episodes “Crossover,” “Through the Looking-Glass,” “Shattered Mirror,” and “Resurrection.” It’ll be seen again in the 22nd century in Enterprise’s two-parter “In a Mirror, Darkly.”
The 24th-century MU story is continued in the tie-in fiction, both in the post-finale DS9 fiction (particularly Olympus Descending by David R. George III in Worlds of DS9 Volume 3, Warpath by David Mack, and Fearful Symmetry and The Soul Key by Olivia Woods) and in the Mirror Universe books (Saturn’s Children by Mack writing as “Sarah Shaw” in Obsidian Alliances, several stories in the Shards and Shadows anthology, and the novel Rise Like Lions by Mack).
This is the final episode of DS9 directed by LeVar Burton, though he would continue to direct episodes of Voyager and also direct episodes of Enterprise. The previous DS9 episode he helmed was the previous MU episode, “Resurrection.”
The title of the episode is a play on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Emperor’s New Clothes.
This episode has a major continuity error, as Alliance ships are shown to have cloaks in “Through the Looking-Glass,” which pretty much torpedoes the entire plot of this episode…
Walk with the Prophets: “I’m really beginning to hate this universe.” The real problem with the Mirror Universe is that it’s kind of a one-note joke. Hey look, it’s the people we know, except they’re evil! Or, at least, different. Bashir’s a snot, Ezri is a punk mercenary, Brunt is sweet, Garak is a thug, Worf is a lunatic, and O’Brien—well, O’Brien’s still O’Brien.
But at this point, the joke has worn thin, and it’s impossible to care about anything that happens in the episode. Zek’s plan to open up business opportunities in the MU is so spectacularly stupid that the script even cops to it.
And that’s not the only stupidity that draws attention to itself. Apparently, the fact that Gul Garak is less impressive than his mainline counterpart is something that a joke needs to be made out of, one that goes on way too long, and then we have Rom constantly pointing out how absurd the MU is, which doesn’t help the episode’s case.
The other beats are all depressingly predictable. We know Worf is going to rant and rave, we know the Intendant is going to flirt with everyone and slink to an unconvincing last-minute escape, we know that a Ferengi’s going to get killed (though Jeffrey Combs does superbly as Nice Guy Brunt).
Plus, of course, the entire plot is predicated on writers Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler forgetting that the Alliance was established as having cloaking technology back in “Through the Looking-Glass.” If only the show-runners had been able to backstop them—oh, wait, Behr is the show-runner!
Yeah. It’s impossible to take this episode at all seriously when it’s done in by its premise, and just in general, the novelty of the MU has worn off and it has outstayed its welcome. We have no emotional investment in the MU versions of any of these characters, mostly because they’re just caricatures, anyhow. And then the cherry on top, we see a real version of Fontaine—which makes no sense on any possible level—because apparently Behr’s lounge-music fetish is worse than we thought.
I will say this much: Quark and Rom carrying the cloaked cloak (and then trying to find it and pick it up again) is a magnificent bit of physical comedy, hilariously and perfectly executed by Armin Shimerman and Max Grodénchik (who apparently spent three days rehearsing their tandem fake-carry).
Warp factor rating: 1
Keith R.A. DeCandido got to write two Mirror Universe stories, the short novel The Mirror-Scaled Serpent in the trade paperback Obsidian Alliances, which focused on the MU versions of the Voyager crew, and “Family Matters” in the Shards and Shadows anthology, which told a story of the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance.