Deep Space Nine, Season 6Airdate: November 17, 1997
130 of 173 produced
130 of 173 aired
An unexpected visitor beams into Ops and takes Major Kira hostage - and he looks and sounds just like Vedek Bareil.
These mirror universe fleshlights look much more sinister...
Matthew: I'm feeling a strange sensation... I think it's me liking a DS9 mirror episode. For the most part, they have been terrible exercises in pointless stunt storytelling and credulity smashing. But this one actually works. Why? Because it tells an interesting character story that doesn't need the mirror universe conceit to make it work. What if you were dropped into a world where you resembled someone else, someone whose reputation might be nearly impossible to live up to? That's just interesting storytelling for a character, and I was involved from the outset. Were there some creaky storytelling devices? Sure. For one thing, I think the episode makes some pretty bold assumptions about how much we actually remember of the interminable Kira-Bareil storyline (whose only real good episode was its last). The jump cut from the prison cell to Kira arguing for his release with Sisko was a bit sudden, though it was a good scene for Sisko. There is overall a bit of a slow quality, too, but this can cut both ways. If you're invested in the story, it can work, because you enjoy the character drama. If not, then it's just a bit of a bore.
Kevin: I must confess to being slightly surprised you liked this one. I was expecting a full on rant about the absurdity and boredom surrounding the alternate universe stories. I've always remembered this episode as fairly boring, and almost feeling like some filler before getting back to the war arc. I agree with your points generally that for both Kira and Bareil, there's a bit of interesting character possibilities, and I'll say, the longer look we get at the relationship gives this version of "dead love returned" a little more teeth than the version we got with Sisko. To the extent the story works, it does so because Bareil appears both tempted to stay and try to go straight while having the self awareness to know he's not cut out for it. I still get annoyed that the thrust of the story is the politics of the alternate universe. I don't really care about the Intendant's machinations. I do find it interesting that the Orbs don't exist in her universe. There's an interesting story there.
Matthew: Once Mirror Kira arrived, I was less enamored of things. I find the character so foppish as to be ridiculous. That said, the basic plot, Mirror Kira's scheme vs. Kira's offer of love, works. It's not where I would have wanted the episode to go. I'd rather see a look at how, though people are superficially similar, there are incommensurable gaps and differences between them, based on the world in which they are inextricably enmeshed. This could have been a really interesting showcase for social construction of personality. Alas, it turned out to be a pretty standard love triangle.
Kevin: I like the Intendant in small doses, and by and large, the first episode she was in laregly worked for me for her character. That said, I agree, she's just too much to sustain a story. In power, she's can be a bit seductive and attractive at least as a means to an end. Out of power, her posturing just appears ridiculous.
Matthew: If I had been given this pitch, and I had been the editor in charge of breaking this episode, I would have had Kira destroy the doo-dad that could send him home. Then, I'd have them break up because they're just too different. I liked how Quark observed how different Mirror Bareil was from her previous beaus. I would have run with that. I really enjoyed the scenes of Bareil chafing against his counterpart's reputation. The other aspect of this setup that seems way too underdeveloped is the notion of the Prophets and how they might manifest in alternate realities. It sure seems like something they'd be keyed to... now, I would never ask for an actual prophet scene, but I would have pushed it to the point that it is clear to us that the Prophets could manifest in the mirror universe, but don't, because they dislike all the pricks there.
Kevin: I liked a few of the smaller notes of the episode. A look at the home life of Worf and Dax was good insofar as they are capable of showing them acting like an actual couple and not the leads in an opera. I also appreciated Quark being very good at being Quark and seeing through Bareil immediately. Bonus points for describing but not showing Bareil's orb experience. His sad line at the end describing it carries more punch than all the ethereal, over-exposed slow-motion acting could ever hope to accomplish.
Matthew: Philip Anglim was better here than his prior appearances, if you ask me. It seems likely to me that this role, despite whatever sci-fi weirdness it might contain, has more for an actor to sink their teeth into than "really chill priest dude with semi-political ambitions." His chemistry with Visitor was good, too, and I thought she did a nice job selling me on Kira's giving in to her feelings, however quick it may have seemed in the script. That said, I still don't like her Mirror Kira. It's just too over the top for me to take seriously.
Kevin: I think they should have pitched the original Bareil a little more in this direction. He did want to be Kai and almost succeeded, so he must have some innate political skill, and the actor has the chops for a little rougher edges. I probably would have cared more about the relationship if they had. I still can't completely dislike the Intendant. I appreciate Visitor for being game for anything and committing to whatever part she gets. I also want to single her out for praise for her physical acting. The way she loosely held herself when Bareil was dragging her was a nice touch. She's not helping him and she's leaving herself room to maneuver. Much like our praise for Gates McFadden's acting work on TNG, her training as a dancer really shows.
Matthew: The two other standout performances were bit scenes, but were quite effective. Avery Brooks did a great job relating Kira's experience to his with his dead wife. Armin Shimerman did really nicely at showing concern but still playing an angle. His observations came off as wise but self-serving, which is the perfect pitch.
Kevin: Agreed on both counts. Sisko's description was actually better than the episode it comes from. And Armin Shimerman can do no wrong. I really think of all the main cast, he "gets" the show. It helps that his character is the show's point personified, but Shimerman just knows how to read every line like a master.
Matthew: The major production value to note was the scene with both Kira's in the same room. It appears they used a few optical shots, which were seamless, and a few body double shots, which were surprisingly good. In other episodes, I've always been able to pick out the side of someone's face as being "not right." We're all so familiar with these characters from every angle, it's hard to cast a double well. Here, I almost had no idea when it was occurring, and I had to look at it again to even suspect that there was a double. So all around they did a great job selling the illusion.
Kevin: Ironically, LeVar Burton also directed "Second Chances," so it's fun to see how much his skill and the technology has grown in the years in between. I agree that the doubling was pretty much seamless. The only other prop of note is that gelatin dessert which was just a little on the nose as "somebody call props and get a future looking Klingon dessert."
Matthew: They should have called it K'flan.
Matthew: A good character story doesn't excuse a lack of ambition. They finally had a story angle that justified the existence of a new Mirror episode post-TOS, but didn't capitalize. Things are a bit slow and inconsequential as a result. Bareil should have stayed in our universe, if only to be a "one that got away" for Kira. This is a 3 for me, and could have been a lot more.
Kevin: Upon the rewatch and analysis, this episode is stronger on some merits than I recalled. I am going barely with a 3 for a total of six. It's not my favorite by any stretch, but there's enough basic character work to make this episode just inside the line of average, for a total of 6.