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Star Trek Deep Space Nine: The Emperor's New Cloak

"This is quite a fascinating place!"

Grand Nagus Zek has gone missing, and Quark and Rom have to go very far from home – while never leaving the station – to find him.

This is an interesting episode for me to review because it combines one of my favourite types of Deep Space Nine episode – a Mirror Universe episode – with one of my least favourite – a Ferengi episode.

After the disaster that was 'Profit and Lace,' Deep Space Nine moved away from their typical 'comedy' Ferengi episodes. Mirror Universe episodes also tend to be at least a little light-hearted, with their origin being in the original series "everyone is evil here!" basic concept – though Deep Space Nine used the Mirror Universe to do somewhat more serious episodes as well, particularly the episode featuring Professor Jennifer Sisko. So some Mirror Universe episodes play up campy comedy more than others. Here, they manage to walk that fine line, offering an episode with plenty of light-hearted moments, but not an all-out comedy romp.

You've gotta love that Quark and Rom, of course, end up working for the bad guys at first, albeit only because they have captured Zek. And you can't have a Deep Space Nine Mirror Universe episode without Intendant Kira. While, by season seven, Intendant Kira is reaching the point where her continued survival and involvement in Terok Nor's affairs despite multiple defeats is starting to stretch credulity, I don't care, because she's just so much fun to watch. Not that I don't like regular Kira, but the liveliness and energy of Intendant Kira injects every episode she appears in with a real sense of both fun and danger.

Mostly, though, this is a good episode for Nicole deBoer and Ezri. Rom spends quite some time trying to work out how similar or different each person is from their Mirror Universe counterpart, and of course it's true that the Ezri we see here is not our Ezri – she isn't even bonded with Dax so she is literally a different person.

But there's something nice about getting to know Ezri, even an alternate version of Ezri, outside of the Dax symbiont. I've always quite liked Ezri, but she and her actress had a really difficult job coming in. She was replacing the incredibly popular Jadzia, and had to try to fit in with the rest of the cast in the middle of the dramatic Dominion War arc. On top of that, she was a Counsellor, and Star Trek writers never really seemed to crack the combination of gentle therapist with military professional required of a Starfleet counsellor until Admiral Cornwell came along many years later in Discovery.

So Ezri had an uphill battle, and her slightly underwritten romance with Dr Bashir didn't help either. Seeing deBoer play Ezri Tigan shows off her range outside of slightly shy Ezri Dax. Highlighting her character also prevents the episode from feeling too repetitive alongside the other Mirror Universe episodes. The surviving Mirror Universe characters of Smiley and an even more miserable Mirror Bashir do appear, but the episode primarily features the new character of Ezri Tigan and the less frequently used Regent Worf alongside returning favourites Intendant Kira and Mirror Garak.

This keeps the story fresh and ensures that this last hurrah for the Deep Space Nine version of the Mirror Universe doesn't feel too stale. We're able to say goodbye to old favourites and enjoy some fresh storytelling at the same time – the perfect combination for a final season episode.

Bits and pieces

- Knowing this would be last Mirror Universe episode of Deep Space Nine, the writers were of course having some fun with callbacks and in jokes. Though I have to say, Vic Fontaine as a human just doesn't make any kind of sense, even in an alternate universe...

- Ezri Tigan is fairly obviously either gay or bisexual, continuing Deep Space Nine's admirable track record of including as much LGBTQ+ representation as they could get away with in 1990s Star Trek.


Rom: So who's President of the Federation? Gul Dukat?! (Rom trying to get to grips with the Mirror Universe)

Mirror Garak: I don't understand. Is this Garak of yours an assassin or a tailor?
Quark: Both!

Zek: Brunt's dead?
Rom: Sorry, wrong Brunt.

Final analysis: Good fun, a nice goodbye to the Mirror Universe Terok Nor, and a decent Ferengi episode. Three out of four evil counterparts of beloved characters.

1 comment:

  1. Not my favorite episode, although a lot better than Profit and Lace. I did like how they filmed Quark and Rom carrying the cloaking device, though.


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