Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Shattered Mirror

Smiley: "Captain Bashir. Captain O'Brien. Captain Sisko. We may not have enough troops or ships or weapons, but we have plenty of Captains."

By nature I love brevity: As the heroes of the Mirror universe get more and more interesting, the villains devolve into brainless, ridiculous caricatures. Except Garak. Garak is always entertaining.

In this episode, DS9 is able to dig deep into its very core and explore what it was originally created to explore - the family relationship between Benjamin and Jake Sisko. That was the original pitch for the show - that it would be about a father and his son on a space station full of aliens and strange characters, and that they would have to navigate their relationship while dealing with standard Star Trek problems along the way. The show started to stray away from that very small focus in favor of bigger and grander things, but that core relationship of Ben and Jake is a very human one, and it's a delight whenever the show gets back to it.

In that context, Jennifer Sisko presents a golden opportunity. Here you have a character who's integral to Ben and Jake's relationship, but who is no longer around in our universe. Having explored Ben's side of this in 'Through the Looking Glass,' we now approach Jennifer from Jake's perspective. And it makes perfect sense that Jake would be fascinated by her and have a hard time separating her in his mind from his mother. What's less intuitive, but still very human, is Jennifer's reaction to Jake. She knew she could very easily manipulate him because she looked like his mother, but what she never accounted for was his influence on her. Though she was unhappy with her own version of Benjamin Sisko, and despised the man until his death, Jennifer did at one point fall in love with and marry him. That's not something you can throw away without any regrets at all; eventually you'll get to thinking about what might have been had it worked out. What Jake represents in Jennifer's mind is what might have been. At the same time, I suspect that she is seeing in our Ben Sisko the qualities that made her fall in love with her own Ben Sisko. With our Ben, however, those qualities are consistent, and consistency was never Mirror Ben's strong suit.

It is to Ben's credit that he avoids falling into the same trap. It must be agonizing for him, to have to live for a little while with his son and a woman who looks like his wife. It reminds him of what they were like when they were a family, and I'm sure Jake's childlike wonder at it all doesn't help. Throughout Avery Brooks' performance in this episode, we can see Sisko's struggle. He knows that he has a real life, with real commitments and real friends. But when he crosses over once again to the Mirror Universe here, he can see a fantasy life that he could have, and it looks enticing. Could he, Jake, and Jennifer really go off somewhere to be a family together? The possibility seems real. In the end, though, Ben has to go back and live in the real world. The fantasy may be interesting to contemplate, but it will never hold up for very long.

However, while this situation is very interesting and forms the core of the episode, it is not the only element. Unfortunately, those other elements are not nearly as nuanced or interesting. This is best seen in the far-fallen Intendant Kira, who has not exactly degraded from her previous appearance in 'Through the Looking Glass,' but in no way lives up to the heights of 'Crossover.' The Intendant of 'Crossover' was a fascinating study of a tyrant who believes they are the hero. In some ways, she was very similar to Dukat for that reason. The Intendant wielded her power in interesting ways, and though she was cruel, she seemed almost fair. That combined with Nana Visitor's performance was the best part of the phenomenal 'Crossover.' But since that episode, the character has been distilled into 'evil, scheming, bisexual villain lady.' These are now her only qualities, and none of the earlier nuance remains. While slight flashes of the earlier Intendant show up, they are few and far between. It's almost sad.

Regent Worf is slightly better, but still a far cry from the incredible villains of 'Crossover.' Our Worf has been stripped of everything that gave him honor and warrior status in Klingon society, but his personal strength and power give him these things in spades regardless of what the High Council says. Regent Worf is the opposite of this. The Regent has made himself the highest of highs, and he makes everyone bow down to and respect him. But within himself, he is nothing but a shallow coward. He needs his power to make himself feel like he is better than he is. This is a good foundation for a character, but it's not terribly original. Plus, they never do anything with him beyond this. That framework, though it has potential, is never built upon or expanded, and that's a shame.

This of course leaves Mirror Garak, who was never anything more than he appeared. He hasn't changed, and he's still a ton of fun to watch. Andrew Robinson is great. That's all I have to say about that.

All in all, this is an episode that's entertaining and fun. There's some deep stuff, and there's some hopelessly shallow stuff. All of it is at least diverting to watch for an hour, and very little actively annoys. That's good enough for me.

Strange New Worlds:

No planets in this one. We spent the entire time aboard DS9 or one of the starships.

New Life and New Civilizations:

Mirror Universe episodes don't often introduce new species, they just twist the ones we already know. As such, there are no new species in this episode.

Pensees:

-I love the moment where Sisko leaves the room with Jake and Jennifer in it, and he just stares at them as he walks out.

-I thought the inclusion of Nog as the bar owner was a good one, but I felt a little underwhelmed by his interactions with Jake. It seemed like they were setting it up to say something, but they never really did. Either say something interesting, or don't try. Also, he continues the trend of Ferengi appearing for one Mirror Universe episode and then dying.

-As of this episode, most the main and recurring cast have made appearances as Mirror characters. We haven't seen Jake, of course, because he's never been born, but most of the people we'd want to see in the MU have shown up. That won't stop them from coming up with more Mirror reveals, though.

-It was quite satisfying to see Mirror Dax slap Sisko for his actions last time around. That never sat well with me, so I liked seeing the consequences.

-Aron Eisenberg (Nog), is a trained martial artist and did all of his stunts for this episode.

Quotes:

Quark: "Poor kid. I suppose that's what you get for having friends."
Odo: "Meaning what?"
Quark: "Just when you think you can count on them, they go off and leave you. No. You're much better off without them."
Odo: "I imagine that's why you don't have any friends."
Quark: "Look who's talking."

Jennifer: "Oh, he'll get over me."
Sisko: "Maybe."
Jennifer: "I wish I could say the same."

Jennifer: "Ben? When we first met, there was a... a connection between us, and now, because of what I've done, it's gone, isn't it?"
Sisko: "I'm not sure it was real to begin with."

Sisko: "Evasive maneuvers, pattern delta."
*explosions*
Smiley: "Pattern delta, what's that?"

Jennifer: "I knew we were still connected."
Sisko: "Always."

4 out of 6 evasive patterns.

--
CoramDeo likes to talk to tomatoes.

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