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Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Through the Looking Glass

Intendant Kira: "You must have loved him very much, to be so angry with him; to become so cold."

Sisko gets to spend some time with a version of the love of his life, his deceased wife Jennifer, and have some naked time with Jadzia.

Warning: I must admit I’m biased against the episodes that take place in the mirror universe. I acknowledge that the idea of a multiverse is based in some interesting scientific theories, and that building on the initial Star Trek: TOS episode, “Mirror, Mirror,” has some merit. I can see why the writers do it, because the ruse allows them to explore other relationships. The actors get to play different versions of their personae, which has got to be fun (Nana Visitor’s two different versions of Kira are especially good). The writers can bring back characters who are dead (Jennifer Sisko) or use characters who should be somewhere else (Tuvok, who in “our” story-verse, is lost in the Delta Quadrant), without overly impacting our story-verse.

The problem is that lack of impact, the sense that little matters. Characters die in the mirror universe, but because they’re not our characters, I don’t much care. It feels as if the writers are inserting filler into the season. Maybe the writers didn’t have enough arc stories for the season and so the mirror stories are necessary. Everything feels manufactured. I try to reason with myself: isn’t the rest of the story of Deep Space Nine manufactured, too? Yet I invest in my Deep Space Nine, and not in mirror Deep Space Nine, and harbor some resentment for the waste of time, because I know that my characters, when they get back to the “real” Deep Space Nine, will only be slightly affected by their experiences, and the writers will hit the reset button. The reset button is pushed too often on Star Trek – something I don’t like – and that’s why you find me reviewing Deep Space Nine and not the other series.

However, despite my overall reaction to the mirror universe stories, some moments make an impression. First, in the mirror universe, Sisko goes to bed with Jadzia. Part of this is to have a liaison between Jadzia and Sisko, something that is (mostly) off-limits in our story-verse, and it’s a little titillating to see the actors together (they make a striking couple). But the most telling thing is that Sisko goes along with it. We’ve seen several instances where Sisko is not, say, like Picard. For example, when Sisko and Q have a boxing match, Sisko punches Q (in “Q-Less”) – Q implies that Picard would never have hit him! I don’t think Picard would have gone so quickly to bed with Jadzia, either, but Sisko barely hesitates. Is it wrong? Probably. I’m not sure that today, two decades later, with the increased awareness that we now have with respect to the importance of making sure that all parties in a sexual encounter are truly consenting. Mirror Jadzia certainly seems willing, but she thinks she’s going to bed with someone else, so is it really consenting? But Sisko demonstrates, over the series, that he has priorities, and sometimes principles give way. For Sisko, the ends do justify the means, at least sometimes. As his life and mirror Jennifer’s life depend on him successfully taking on the role of mirror Sisko, I bet he would go ahead. (I expect mirror Jadzia to take out her irritation by slapping Smiley, but without the make-up sex.)

Second, we know that Sisko is still attached to his Jennifer, and so meeting mirror Jennifer has an impact on him. And although the mirror Jennifer may be artificial, or at least not the woman with whom he was married, he tries to act as if they do have a relationship (of course, that’s his assignment). The question is interesting: how would we react to clones of our deceased loved ones? Nowadays when you can shell out $50,000 and clone your dog, human cloning may not be far behind (if it has not already happened, although given the long childhood of humans, it’s not a practical way to continue a romantic relationship, but I could see a grief-stricken parent cloning a deceased child, or some rich guy cloning himself). So the question is not so theoretical.

Third, I was moved when Jennifer asked what happened to her husband. I was also relieved to see this. It strains credibility that any woman would not know whether a man was her husband or not. Of course, she likes our Sisko more.

The rest of the episode makes little impression. Kira is sexy, and there’s some excitement as our heroes get into trouble, then escape. Sisko saves the day by manipulating the station codes, which are conveniently the same as the codes on our station.

Title musings: “Through the Looking Glass” is a reference to the second of the Alice books by Lewis Carroll. Looking glass, of course, is an expression for mirror. But it’s like one of those mirrors in a fun house (a references beginning to feel so archaic). Also, and perhaps this is a stretch, Alice Through the Looking Glass is based loosely on a chess game, where the main opponent is the Red Queen (although there’s no showdown). Sisko ends up matching wits with Intendant Kira, who could (loosely) be viewed as the station’s Red Queen.

Bits and pieces

Sisko calls Looking glass Jadzia “Dax,” but there’s no indication that she’s joined, so she should probably just be Jadzia.

Interesting how they make Bashir the main challenger to Sisko. The creators nearly made Alexander Siddig the captain of DS9, but then decided that he was just too young and gave the role to Avery Brooks instead. Thank goodness.

The writers kill off another Ferengi. Because this took place in the mirror universe I did not care. I also don’t like how they treat Ferengi in general, so that’s another issue with this episode.


Odo: I found 27 voles in his storeroom.
Quark: Vole infestations are not uncommon on this station. If you don't believe me, ask Chief O'Brien.
Odo: When I came in, he and Morn were painting numbers on the voles' backs.
Quark: We were just... counting them, to see how many we'd caught.
Commander Sisko: You were getting ready to stage a vole fight.
Quark: A vole fight? I'm appalled. Do you really think that was what Morn was up to?
Commander Sisko: Constable, I want the voles confiscated and removed from the station.
Quark: You can't confiscate Morn's voles, they're like his pets!
Commander Sisko: I'll see if I can get him some goldfish.

Jadzia: (kisses Sisko) That's to let you know I missed you. (slaps Sisko) And that's for letting me think you were dead!

Intendant Kira: I'm afraid I can never trust you again. Which means... that I will have to dispose of you eventually. The question is... should it be sooner, or later?
Commander Sisko: Do I get a vote?
Intendant Kira: Of course, you do. It just doesn't count.

Commander Sisko: Jennifer, there's so much I want to tell you. I just don't know where to start.
Jennifer Sisko: Why don't you start by telling me what happened to my husband?

Overall rating

It’s not the fault of the actors, but the story did little for me. One and a half voles out of four.

Victoria Grossack loves birds, math, Greek mythology, Jane Austen and great storytelling in many forms.

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