In the twentieth episode of the fourth season ofÂ Deep Space Nine, Jake is surprised by the appearance of someone he thought heâ€™d never see again. Intrigued? Then itâ€™s time for Mark to watchÂ Star Trek.Â I enjoyed this episode and found it entertaining, but there are a number of perplexing writing choices along the way that I couldnâ€™t ignore. Letâ€™s talk about the complications behind liking something that is deeply flawed because THIS IS ONE OF THOSE EPISODES.
I can buy a lot from a story, and I often find that Iâ€™m less nitpicky if the story itself is pretty damn good. For the most part, the adventure provided by â€œShattered Mirrorâ€ is enough, but I couldnâ€™t getÂ over the leap of tricking Sisko to come to the mirror universe to fix theÂ Defiant. Yes, he helped construct it in some part, and yes, heâ€™s got some expertise in the area. But the kidnapping plot seems like such a stretch. If the group of rebels doesnâ€™t feel regretful about tricking people or doing what they see as necessary to get what they want, why not just kidnap Sisko by himself? Why drag his son into it? For a motivating factor? And even if thatâ€™s the case, all Sisko needed to do wasÂ tellÂ the rebels how to make theÂ DefiantÂ operational. I donâ€™t understand why he needed to do the work himself. Itâ€™s not like we see him managing a large group of workers; heâ€™s always by himself when on theÂ Defiant, so his contribution alone could not possibly have reduced the two-week workload down to three days.
Itâ€™s not the worst thing, I swear, but I couldnâ€™t wrap my head around it.
One of the most rewarding things about â€œShattered Mirrorâ€ is Jake Sisko, point blank. Watching this kid see his mother â€“ rather, a version of her, that is â€“ for the first time in nine years is a treat. AN ENDLESS TREAT. It is an emotionally challenging thing to watch because it was so easy for me to be torn between conflicting realities. I wanted Jake to experience this surreal phenomenon because he deserved it. He deserved to feel good and to see his mother. But JenniferÂ wasnâ€™tÂ his mother, despite being physically identical and having a similar characterization. I kept waiting for his disappointment to hit, and perhaps thatâ€™s one of the reasons I felt like the episode dropped the ball.
Look, I completely understood Jakeâ€™s excitement, and I donâ€™t think the show was coy about that. JakeÂ knewÂ this wasnâ€™t his mother, but when faced with the reality of how he came to the Mirror Universe, we learn that he accepts Jenniferâ€™s actionsâ€¦ through the mouth of Jennifer. No, that moment should have come from Jake himself. As the battle for Terok Nor commenced, Jake felt shoved off to the side, except when the show could utilize him for dramatic tension and tragedy. By that point, I felt like Jakeâ€™s role in the story had been reduced to a nonsensical level. Why wasnâ€™t he upset about practically anything? He barely seemed bothered by Jennifer dying, despite that the first half of the episode showed us how much he cared for this woman heâ€™d technically never met.
Ultimately, I thought that the opening of this episode promised me that this would be a Jake-centric story when it wasnâ€™t. I donâ€™t necessarily fault the writers for that because expectations shouldnâ€™t always dictate a story, but at the same timeâ€¦ MORE JAKE PLEASE.
A Glimpse of What Could Be
Parallel universe stories are fun because we get to see the What If element of characters we already know. (Or situations or histories or placesâ€¦ you get the idea.) IÂ doÂ love the Mirror Universe because itâ€™s like a version ofÂ Star TrekÂ thatâ€™s even grittier thanÂ Deep Space Nine, one where people fight for survival every day, where people betray one another right and left, where anyone is disposable based on shifting values and needs. All bets are off in the Mirror Universe, and I wonâ€™t deny how fun that is.
But then we get Kira hinting that she loves her masseuse (who is a woman) and Worf (!!!!! HE IS SO GREAT AS AN EVIL KING !!!!!!!) saying Garak is not his type and I am not exactly the biggest fan of sly references to these characters being ~not very straight~ in a parallel world where everything is wonky and surreal. Like, the whole point of the Mirror Universe is that itâ€™s the Federation Gone Wrong, where oppression is the modus operandi atÂ DS9, and it feels weird to couple that with any non-heterosexual expression. You shouldnâ€™t align those things!
Aside from this, I did find myself entertained by the morally ambiguous leanings of a rebellion determined to fight off their oppressors. The action sequences in â€œShattered Mirrorâ€ are a rare sight inÂ Deep Space. (Really,Â Star TrekÂ as a whole!) The pacing was great, the stakes were high, and in the end, I still enjoyed this episode. I wanted to explain how that was complicated, though, because itâ€™s rare that anyone just outright loves everything or downright hates everything. We exist in degrees, and my thoughts on this season, which are largely positive, also reflect the fact that I can still look critically at something I adore.
I just want more Jake Sisko, okay???
The video for â€œShattered Mirrorâ€ can be downloadedÂ here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
– I am now on Patreon! There are various levels of support, from $1 up to whatever you want! You’ll get to read a private blog, extra reviews, and other such rewards.
– IÂ will be at numerous conventions in 2016! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often.Â My next Double Features for Mark Watches have been announced here.
-Â Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook!Â I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!