|Mirror Garak ingratiates himself with Regent Worf.|
Sisko receives an extremely welcome visitor from the Mirror Universe: Jennifer (Felecia M. Bell), that universe's version of his late wife. Jennifer fills him in on a recent victory the Terrans scored over the Alliance of Klingons, Bajorans, and Cardassians. The humans have taken control of Terok Nor, their equivalent to Deep Space 9. But this isn't purely a social call, and when Sisko is called away for a meeting, Jennifer takes Jake to her universe - leaving a transport device behind as an invitation to Sisko.
The captain accepts, grimly determined to recover his son. Jennifer and "Smiley" O'Brien greet him with a deal: His help in exchange for Jake. O'Brien downloaded the schematics for the Defiant during his brief visit to Sisko's universe, but he can't quite make the ship work. The very problem Sisko overcame with the ship's power being too much for her hull is presenting itself here. They need Sisko to solve this problem within four days.
If he can't get the ship online by then, Regent Worf will arrive with his Alliance battle fleet to retake the station. And if that happens, the Terrans promise, then Sisko and Jake will be taken right along with the rest of them!
Capt. Sisko: Fiercely devoted to his son's welfare, and looks ready to tear "Smiley O'Brien" and Jennifer apart with his bare hands when he arrives at Terok Nor. But he is quickly talked down when shown that Jake is well and, in fact, enjoying himself. He is up to the challenge of getting the Defiant into shape, and he is not as immune to Jennifer's appearance as he pretends to be. He surprises himself when he insists on commanding Defiant in the final combat, something which was not part of the arrangement. Avery Brooks is on fine form, and he and "Smiley" make as engaging a team here as they did in Through the Looking Glass.
Kira, The Intendant: Nana Visitor's silky, sexually predatory Intendant remains hypnotic any time she's on screen. This episode plays her almost as a Hannibal Lecter figure. Captured by the rebels, she shows no hint of being cowed by them. She laughs at them as if they were a collective joke. She barters with Sisko for information that will help in the coming battle - All the while plotting to further her own agenda. This is the most powerless we've seen her to date, and yet she is still the most formidable of the villains here. By some distance.
Jake: Is captivated by Jennifer, marveling at just how much she is like the mother he remembers. His absolute love and faith may well push Jennifer to be more and better than she would have been in other circumstances. Mostly, Jake acts as an observer, the one person here who has not seen the Mirror Universe before. He is overjoyed to see not only his mother again, but also Nog - though in the latter case, he's in for a rude awakening as to how starkly different Mirror Nog is from his much-missed best friend.
Worf: Mirror universe Worf actually has much of what our Worf always wanted. He is a pure Klingon, commanding his own ship and his own Klingon crew. He not only keeps Garak prisoner for his failure to defend Terok Nor, he actually keeps him on a chain leash, yanking the leash any time Garak says something that displeases him. He has all the Klingon bloodlust, with none of our Worf's restraint. He commands with an iron fist, and even barks out, "Make it so!" in a fun TNG reference. Michael Dorn seems to be having a grand time playing a near-operatic villain, even if Mirror Worf isn't even close to being as formidable as the Intendant.
Hot Parallel Space Babe of the Week: Felecia Bell returns as Jennifer Sisko... and has apparently taken some acting lessons. She's still noticeably weaker than Avery Brooks or Colm Meaney (or even Cirroc Lofton, for that matter), but she does acquit herself with a reasonable performance that's on par with what you'd expect of a Trek guest actress. It goes without saying that she bonds completely with Jake, and in an effective emotional scene she tells Sisko how hard it is for her to be with the boy. "My Ben Sisko is dead. I look at Jake and all I see is the son that I'll never have."
Garak: Mirror Garak has, in previous episodes, been portrayed as a purely ruthless and dangerous opponent. This episode brings his characterization more into line with the normal Garak - which is a good thing, since his silver tongue and healthy sense of self-preservation are far more entertaining to watch. One of Deep Space 9's strengths is its willingness to create new character pairs. This episode pairs Garak and Worf, to enormously good effect. Their scenes together are darkly hilarious, and I hope to see them revisited in future Mirror Universe installments.
Deep Space 9 makes its annual visit to the mirror universe, and delivers another hugely enjoyable piece. Shattered Mirror is a direct sequel to Through the Looking Glass, and it's a good one. It carries that episode's plot forward, moving the Terran/Alliance conflict forward. The sense of momentum is raised even higher than it was in last year's episode, with a rousing battle scene at the climax.
This is a Sisko-heavy episode, and Avery Brooks delivers as expected. Still, reflecting the strengths of the core series, it is also an excellent ensemble piece. There's something here for all of our regulars. Mirror Julian, who was a one-dimensional sneer in Through the Looking Glass, is developed into an effective action man - which is achieved without compromising on the unpleasantness we saw in the previous episode. He's still belligerent and possibly a sadist, but he is also clever and courageous, justifying his (possibly self-bestowed) rank of "captain." He clearly enjoys the loyalty of Mirror Dax, who insists on accompanying him on a possible suicide mission and threatens Sisko with a knife if he ever dares touch her again.
The episode has virtually no dead space, and its 45 minutes breeze by so quickly that it's actually disappointing to see the end credits arrive. The annual Mirror-verse episode had the potential to become a tiresome gimmick, but Deep Space 9 has applied the same sensibilities to the parallel universe that it applies to the core universe. Each episode has stood alone, with its own strong narrative. At the same time, each episode has moved the mirror universe forward.
What Deep Space 9 has done with its mirror episodes is to create an entertaining, even compelling arc. It's impressive stuff, and I look forward to the next mirror episode advancing that even further.
Overall Rating: 9/10.
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