Deep Space Nine, Season 3
"Through The Looking Glass"
Airdate: April 17, 1995
65 of 173 produced
64 of 173 aired


Commander Sisko is drawn into a galaxy spanning conflict when he is kidnapped in Ops. The only problem is, it's not his galaxy, and his kidnapper isn't his Chief O'Brien. No, it's Smiley, back for more hilarious Mirror Universe hijinks!

Think he'll tell the Old Man back home about this one? 

Matthew: On the one hand, this is a much better episode than the previous Mirror outing in DS9. Where that episode lacked stakes for the prime universe characters, this one has a good emotional hook - how will Sisko deal with seeing his wife again? This story affords us some interesting looks at Sisko interacting with someone who looks like Jennifer. At the end of the day, though, I still don't quite get several aspects of this tale. Sisko is kidnapped by Mirror O'Brien, but then is given an out, told he can leave if he doesn't agree to the mission. Why does he stay? We are led to believe it is because of his overwhelming desire to see his wife again.  But then, she's not his wife. She is a completely different person with only superficial similarities. Also, he does the nasty with Mirror Dax, which seems to belie his intense desire to see Jennifer. In the end, it seems like he cares more about the Terran rebellion in the mirror universe, which is kind of hard to believe.

Kevin: I think it would have worked better if Jennifer were the rebellion operative who came to the station, and once realizing the connection, intentionally manipulating Sisko into helping. That would have added a fun element, and let the episode be anchored in pretty solid emotional ground, Sisko's grief over his wife's death. As it stands, it just doesn't make any sense that he would stay. I think this even rises to the level of a Prime Directive problem. Not only wouldn't he interfere, he knows that he can't. I also find it really annoying that what was treated in the Original Series as a one in a bajillion freak accident, can now apparently be done with ease. You could beam in to the prime universe with a huge bomb, travel to a much less defended Earth, Bajor, or DS9/Terok Nor, and beam the bomb back well behind enemy lines. It's just too powerful and universe altering a power, especially for a ragtag bunch of rebels.

Matthew: Having Bashir and Dax show up is just as problematic as it was in the previous show. Why are these people together at all? I get Kira being on a station that is orbiting her homeworld. I get Garak being there. But the human presence is pretty much untenable. I guess we're supposed to believe that these people are so special that they would naturally be at the forefront of any Terran rebellion, and that the forefront is on Terok Nor. Some people may be satisfied with this. I can kind of forget it during the show's run time. But it bugs me on some level. Anyway, it finally gives Sisko a chance to nail Dax. But then, there is no consequence to this pretty brazen act, so it's pretty much a wash.

Kevin: Even setting aside the idea that all these same iterations of DNA happened despite centuries of difference between the universes, this still has something I've seen in a lot of Star Trek fiction labeled by one critic as the "Small Universe Problem." It just doesn't make sense that all the characters I recognize and none I don't happen to populate a story. It would be weird in just the prime universe if events seemed to always involve a character known to me. It reeks of artificiality. As for Dax, it's almost weird. Could you sleep with an avatar of one of your closest friends despite ostensibly feeling no attraction to them? Would it have consequences? Sisko knows that if his cover is blown, he'll likely be killed, and sleeping with Mirror Dax is part of maintaining his cover. I brought this up in our review of First Contact, but I think we would have a harder time accepting a woman consenting to sex under those circumstances, so it kind of squicks me out whenever we see the writers casually assuming a man would. It was played for a light chuckle, and if you're going to do it, I think it would have been more appropriate to play for how upsetting that situation would actually be.

Matthew: See, I read it as Sisko acting on "latent desire." Why not? A woman who looks like Terry Farrell expects you to bone her, you're otherwise unattached... it seems quite a "male" thing to do. But is there a Mirror Symbiont? Mirror Curzon? The mind reels. Anyway, lazy writing abounds in this show. The mechanism for sending Sisko to the Mirror universe is far, far, far too easy. There seems to be no reason why incursions wouldn't be happening all the time, given the ease of simply programming a transporter (also, how do they know where they're landing? Can their sensors scan the entirety of another universe?). It is utterly ridiculous that Sisko could activate the station's destruct sequence using the code from the prime universe, especially since it has a Greek letter in it. It was lazy writing, and could have been rectified by 5 seconds of technobabble. Kira's characterization veers ever further into bisexual vamp territory. I just don't see what story purpose this is serving, and it feels cheap. It appears that this episode intentionally leaves open the possibility of a sequel. Oh, Joy.

Kevin: Had they just used numbers or colors, or had him key in the code or speak Cardassian, I could have handled it. I did like the way Kira quickly repeated the code indicating he was correct. I won't really be bothered by Kira's shtick until The Emperor's New Cloak, and at least she had some life.


Matthew: For this installment's "Off the Rails" award, I'd like to nominate Siddig El Fadil's "Arr, Matey!" Julain Bashir. God, how painful. It's like watching someone who has taken three or four acting lessons being told to pitch his character "darker." Nana Visitor comes in a close second in this category. I feel like Andrew Robinson even checks out a tad, perhaps knowing that this character doesn't really matter. All of these performances lack subtlety, which makes this seem less like an alternate universe than an alternate, more poorly acted, television show.

Kevin: I enjoy Mirror Kira on a camp level. The hand gesture telling the guards to go around or the way she repeats the access code quickly, knowing she's caught always make me chuckle. I agree on Robinson, and he's on record as being thrilled when Mirror Garak bites it, so I can see why.

Matthew: Without the script telling him to be evil for 40 minutes, Avery Brooks is much better as regular Sisko. Even his impersonation of Mirror Sisko was more restrained this time around. Colm Meaney was similarly restrained. I liked Max Grodenchik quite a bit here - pitching the dumbness down a few notches really adds something to the character.

Kevin: For lack of a better way to describe it, IRA O'Brien was a lot of fun. He's clearly the same basically good-hearted man we know, but forced by circumstance to make some awful choices, and he pitches those moments well. He'll do what needs to be done, but portrays a man who doesn't necessarily enjoy it.

Matthew: Funnily enough, this is Felicia Bell's best turn as Jennifer, probably because she doesn't have to be a stupid prophet illusion. I really bought into her emotional story. Tim Russ is great. I've loved him in everything he's played, and I can't wait to start Voyager, so I can sing his praises there, too.

Kevin: I enjoyed her portrayal overall, though her chemistry with Avery Brooks isn't the best in the world. I bought her subjective good faith that preventing violence was the best way forward. The rest of the guest cast was good. I enjoy seeing Rom be more competent, too.

Production Values

Matthew: O'Brien's ship was a pretty obvious and lame redress of the Defiant sets. I'd much rather see them use a different standing set, something more run down. The various shots of the station as a slave labor camp looked fine, yet again. The secret base planetary matte was quite good. The hideout caves were acceptable, nothing more.

Kevin: I remember thinking "Defiant transporter room!" every time they showed it. Normally they do a better job of disguising reuses. The wrench or whatever that was sticking out of Rom's chest was pretty well done. It still freaks me out.


Matthew: While it's not as bad as the previous mirror show, it's not much better. Characters' motivations fail to cohere, and no real interesting story ground it broached. Married to a pair of atrocious performances, this ends up being a 2 yet again. One more episode to the good stuff... 
One more episode to the good stuff...

Kevin: Sadly, we are going to have this problem clean into Enterprise's offering, In a Mirror, Darkly, and that one will work because they dispense with needing to involve our prime characters at all. That would have been a fun episode. IRA O'Brien and Scientist Jennifer have to deal with the fallout of Mirror Sisko's death, everyone could have fun letting themselves go in a standalone story. But, I am sadly forced to agree with Matt on a 2 for a total of 4.