2.23: “Crossover”

Another extremely busy week at work, so once again I may not be able to give this episode quite the attention it deserves. Very rude of anyone to ask me to do anything besides talk about Star Trek, in my book, but no one seems to care what I think on the matter. If you know any billionaires who are looking for things to spend their money on, maybe suggest they start funding this blog after they end world hunger.

For some reason it always seems strange to me that this was the first mention of the mirror universe since the original series. I suspect it’s a combination of the fact A) that there are several DS9 episodes involving the mirror universe and it’s a huge part of Discovery‘s first season, and B) there’s a lot of TNG that I haven’t watched since I was a young child, so I tend to assume that I’m just forgetting things related to it. (Plus TNG did do other stuff with alternate timelines/universes, just not the mirror universe.)

Speaking of Discovery, I feel like what happens there fits well with what we learn from Intendant Kira about the mirror universe’s history following the initial crossing by the Enterprise crew: in TOS, Mirror Spock acknowledges that he doesn’t expect the Empire to last much longer; Intendant Kira confirms that, indeed, soon after, he was able to take power himself and begin implementing major reforms. Given that Discovery‘s sojourn into the mirror universe ends with both the emperor and her heir missing/presumed dead, not to mention who knows how many high-ranking officials killed either in the course of an attempted coup or in the destruction of the imperial flagship/palace, it’s easy to imagine the Empire being thrown into chaos, and still unstable ten years later, when “Mirror, Mirror” takes place. I wonder how much of the Empire’s “weakness”, which Intendant Kira attributes to Spock’s reforms, was in fact just continued instability following the events of Discovery (albeit, perhaps, exacerbated by Spock’s reforms).

(I also feel like Spock’s doomed attempt makes for an interesting parallel to the Cardassian dissident movement, who briefly manage to end military rule and restore the Detapa Council until Dukat’s Dominion-backed coup brings their reforms to an end.)

What is the mirror universe for if not putting Our Heroes in ridiculous costumes?

I do appreciate the continuation of the tradition of weird over-the-top costumes for the mirror universe, though I really could have done with Kira’s being less skintight. (Honestly, apart from everything else, it just looks absolutely miserable to have been wearing for hours on end; I just grimace on Visitor’s behalf every time I see it.)

Apparently the response by the show’s costume designer to discussion of how much more seductive Mirror Kira was than Kira Prime was that the costume doesn’t actually show any more skin than Kira’s usual uniform, and it’s primarily Visitor’s performance that makes her seem so much sexier. Which…sure, okay, in “Dramatis Personae” we did see a bit of a preview of Intendant Kira, I could definitely buy that she was doing most of the work. But “it doesn’t actually show any more skin” is more than a little disingenuous, because sure, technically, that’s true, but it is significantly tighter and shinier, and her heels are higher. If the costume wasn’t what was really making the difference, then why put her in a pleather catsuit in the first place? Why not, as with Odo, just make a charcoal-gray version of her regular uniform, and maybe keep the weird tiara thing?

Basically, Discovery‘s mirror universe costumes remain my favorite; perhaps not surprisingly, that show’s costume designer is a woman.

“If you don’t love me, who can?”

Visitor’s scenery-chewing as the Intendant is a lot of fun, honestly. But there are some really interesting moments here, too — Kira Prime’s admitting that she’s a little afraid of the Intendant is striking. As I’ve mentioned before, Kira’s personal growth, her struggle to move forward after the Occupation, is a really moving arc for me. To externalize it by ltierally making her afraid of herself is, as with many of my favorite Trek moments, both a bit corny in how on-the-nose it is and nonetheless really enjoyable and effective.

I really enjoyed the opening scene in the runabout, as well — Bashir is back to being more than a little annoying, but once Shit Gets Real he becomes significantly less so.

Also: I have never really been into Kira/Sisko — both of them strike me as way too aware of the ways in which their relationship is complicated enough without adding romance into the bargain — and it’s interesting to watch Mirror Sisko’s interactions with both Kiras and realize that oh, that’s probably deliberate on the actors’ parts. This episode convinces me that if they’d wanted to, Brooks and Visitor could definitely have done some bananas sexual tension and/or pining.

Of course, Intendant Kira’s horniness for Sisko is also of a piece with her being, essentially, Gul Dukat. Which adds another layer to Kira Prime’s discomfort with him — on top of everything else, she also has the question haunting her of “how much — or little — would it take for me to become this person?”

(It also makes me sorry that, in DS9’s various mirror universe adventures — by their last episode dealing with it, characters are basically popping back and forth between universes with less trouble than it takes me to go to the store when I’m in the middle of cooking and realize I’m out of milk — we never actually see Mirror Dukat, who I assume is part of some underground movement that was working with Mirror Quark to help Terrans escape, and is far too busy with resistance work to be horny.)

(…sorry, now I’m just picturing Kira Prime and Mirror Dukat being deeply confused by and suspicious of one another, and also deeply in denial about the fact that each of them is kind of into the version of the other who isn’t an unspeakably horny war criminal.)

(Mirror Kira and Dukat Prime: also deeply confused, but mostly because they don’t understand why their counterparts don’t want to have group sex, ugh, what a couple of buzzkills, is there a Sisko nearby they can have a threesome with instead?)

Other notes

  • Mirror Odo’s Rules of Obedience made me snort.
  • I LOVE MIRROR QUARK SO MUCH, I’M SO SAD THEY KILLED HIM 🙁
  • I really liked that Kira had never even heard the name Kirk — why would she? How many major Bajoran historical figures could most of the Starfleet officers she works around name? Hell, in TNG’s “Ensign Ro”, Picard doesn’t even realize that Bajorans have the family name first and the personal name second; why would she be familiar with Starfleet figures who’ve been dead (well, presumed dead, anyway) for years? It just seemed pretty realistic, and helps make the world of Star Trek seem a little bit bigger.

Horniness rankings

  1. Mirror Kira being, essentially, Gul Dukat, she clearly gets the top spot on the list.
  2. Mirror Sisko for Kira Prime.
  3. Honestly, everyone is pretty horny for Kira Prime, let’s be real.
  4. …okay, really, everyone in general is just pretty horny. Except Mirror O’Brien.

2 thoughts on “2.23: “Crossover”

  1. So I was surprised by how mixed my feelings were about this episode. I had remembered it as being much more fun and less Serious Business, but I think I had it mixed up with later Mirror Universe episodes on DS9 where it was basically just slapstick (to the point where it got dumb, in my late teenaged opinion). But although this one offered some weighty themes, I ultimately found it kind of unsatisfying on rewatch? It was like a one-off comic book kind of episode that tried to serve up a message along with a bunch of wacky stuff, but ultimately the wacky moments overwhelmed it and the message moments fell kind of flat.

    What I liked were Mirror Sisko and his turn at the end (although I couldn’t have said it was all that surprising), Kira’s fascination with the prospect of a strong Bajor that had emerged as a major power and influence in the Quadrant (one of the messages, probably the one that worked best), and Garak, who channeled unchecked evil in a way that was really effective. (“Quuuuuuuuuaaark!” And the later “She. Will. Be. GONE.” speech, prefaced by: “I do admire a well-tailored dress.”) On Kira vs. Kira, the most interesting note I think it hit was Prime Kira’s disturbing revelation that having been given power and influence by the Alliance, Mirror Kira was a tyrant (essentially Gul Dukat, you’re right). Is the implication that in the same situation, Prime Kira could also have become that? That certainly has to frighten her.

    The bonkers scene of Bashir splattering Mirror Odo all over the place was surprisingly hilarious to me, I think because it comes out of nowhere and goes for total broke with visual shock. And although Bashir clearly isn’t all that bothered by it (which is a little weird considering he vaporized a sentient being – so far as I can remember, the first and maybe only? time he does that in the entire show), the follow-up scene where Mirror Kira seems genuinely distraught over his death is really quite good. She certainly is most lamenting the fact that “no one kept order among the workers as he did” and that he ran the ore processing unit to maximum efficiency (with maximum cruelty), but she also knows that “he was the only one of his kind.” A note the writers didn’t have to have her hit.

    What didn’t work as well for me was the Mirror O’Brien storyline, with the end message scene that, naturally, gives him a big speech that ostensibly changes Mirror Sisko’s mind. It just didn’t ring true to me. Mirror O’Brien came off much better in later episodes (I particularly think in “Shattered Mirror” he was hilarious) and I get that they had to start with him at this point, and it’s not like I could think of a character I felt would have made more sense in the role? I just didn’t think it was very affecting drama.

    It’s also kind of a shame that the heavier themes here (particularly Kira grappling with the idea that a powerful Bajor could coexist with a Bajor at the apex of a cruel system of oppression) aren’t ever really revisited later in the series. Subsequent Mirror Universe episodes just don’t even try for it, as far as I can remember, and the whole experience seems to disappear after this episode, reinforcing how much of a one-off it seemed like. A missed opportunity.

    BTW, I found it kind of nuts that Bashir would have read about the events of “Mirror, Mirror” at the Academy. As much as I thought the Discovery season one explanation for *why* Starfleet classified knowledge of the Mirror Universe was kind of lame (people would want to go there to find their dead loved ones?), I found it completely realistic that they *would* have classified it, and I think that would have still been the case 10 years later after “Mirror, Mirror.” (Maybe Uhura put in a FOIA for it so she could include in her memoirs the scene where she completely owned Mirror Sulu.) In this episode it felt like a cheap rhetorical shortcut to avoid having to repeat the conversation that Kira and Kira had. This is a very petty thing to be annoyed by, though. (BTW, I love your theory that Lorca’s rebellion and Discovery’s destruction of the Charon were factors in destabilizing the Empire that helped it fall apart after Spock’s reforms – very plausible.)

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    1. I get what you mean — at some points, this episode can’t quite decide whether it just wants to just embrace the camp potential of the mirror universe (which, admittedly, there is lots of!) or really delve into the potential creepiness. So while I like it, it definitely isn’t as great as it could be.

      Mirror Odo’s death is a great example — the visual is just…so weird, bordering on funny? But the fact that Bashir doesn’t seem remotely bothered that not only has he just straight-up killed someone, but that it was a person who looks like someone he knows seems odd, given how, you know, even at his most irritating his redeeming quality was that he took his job as a doctor really friggin’ seriously.

      And, yeah — I felt like there was just too much focus on Mirror O’Brien without giving us enough information about him to be invested, maybe? Like…they were expecting the fact that he’s O’Brien to be enough for us to be invested in him, but given that it’s the mirror universe and they’ve spent a decent amount of time showing me how some major characters’ counterparts are dramatically different from the versions we know, telling me to suddenly take it for granted that this guy is pretty similar to the O’Brien I know and like is just kind of a lazy choice. We don’t ever meet Mirror Keiko, do we? Maybe even just, like, a line about how she was involved in a failed revolt, and having to watch her execution broke his spirit or something.

      (Maybe Uhura put in a FOIA for it so she could include in her memoirs the scene where she completely owned Mirror Sulu.)

      YES. I LOVE IT. THIS IS NOW CANON.

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