Mark Watches ‘Deep Space Nine’: S07E12 – The Emperor’s New Cloak

In the twelfth episode of the seventh season of Deep Space Nine, this was a weird one. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek. 

Well, that happened? I don’t particularly care for this episode, and the more I think about it, the more I’m certain that writers from another parallel universe came in, wrote a Deep Space Nine episode that perfectly fits within their canon, and then slipped it into production here in our world. Of course, that theory absolves the writers of any responsibility for this mess of a story, so… maybe not.

The Grand Nagus Zek

The dude travels to a parallel universe – the means by which are so complicated and difficult that there is no way to sustain regular travel to said universe in any consistent way – in order to establish business contacts. He involves himself in a massive war and throws himself in with the clear oppressors because why not, then cheats on Moogie because why not, then does nothing to gain any profit because why not, then resolves at the end of the episode to come back to this parallel universe because why not.

It makes no fucking sense. None. We’re expected to accept this convoluted story but guess what? I won’t. I DON’T GET THIS AT ALL. There’s no consistency! Everything is shoved together for the sake of it, and I don’t understand it.

Quark’s Conscience

I’m confused about what this episode wants me to think of Quark. On the one hand, his infatuation with Ezri is a major character plot, despite that literally not a single member of the audience is at all interested in his obsession with Ezri Dax. They weren’t interested in his obsession with Jadzia, either. How do I know this? Because science. Also, I’ve honestly never seen a single positive comment in any of my reviews for past episodes concerning this terrible relationship. Everyone hates it! Why do they keep bringing it back up? Yet that seems like the best reason why Quark is so dedicated to this hot mess of a mission. Like, does he really care about Zek that much? If so, then this would be GENUINE CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT for him. It would have been such a cool story to explore! But it’s introduced, then discarded once Quark hits on Ezri again, and I’m tired.


Actually, there’s another dynamic here that irritated me. There’s no logic to anything we see on the screen. The Mirror Universes episodes are fun because it’s a glimpse into an “alternate” version of the main story, but that simple dynamic gets tired real quick. That’s why the story works better when the writers don’t focus much time on the “alternate” aspect of everyone. However, “The Emperor’s New Cloak” jams in so many moments whose only value is, “Well, isn’t that just weird? Everything is so wacky!” Okay, but why? Why does Ezri Dax become a pay-for-hire operative? Why would she betray Julian and Smiley? We’re never told that; she’s just the “opposite” of her normal character just for the sake of it. Vic Fontaine exists to die seconds later. No one’s allegiance to anyone else makes a lick of sense at this point because it’s all so jumbled and confusing, which is unfortunate because this alternate timeline used to be a hell of a lot more engaging. But it’s like these details don’t matter anymore, you know? It all exists for the sake of it, and sadly, that’s not enough.

The Kiss

Ugh, I swear I am not trying to be negative for the sake of it. I know that there’s a context for everything, that sometimes, writers really are trying their best. I imagine that the writers wanted to take their story to another level and not just tease us with a possibility. On the surface, the confirmation of a honest-to-god non-straight relationship between two “major” characters is a big deal, but y’all know that I care about more than what’s on the surface. Because as shocking and thrilling as that Ezri/Kira kiss was, there’s still a terrible stereotype attached to all of this. I believe I’ve addressed it before, but these characters are coded as villains; they’re not nice people; their dress denotes them as deviations from the “good” heroes of the normal timeline. Thus, that kiss comes off more as an edgy attempt to shock people than as a genuine attempt to represent non-straight relationships within the Star Trek universe.

For example: when Leeta flirts with Ezri, it’s immediately proceeded by a shitty comment by Zek, who twists the meaning. This alternate universe is interesting because of what it means to him as a straight character. A man finds two women flirting with each other to be titillating, despite that – and I promise you, this is true! – non-straight folks are not doing what they do so that you can get off thinking about them. REVOLUTIONARY CONCEPT, RIGHT. That’s what this feels like: it’s a bunch of straight men writing about women kissing and finding that hot.

I have no interest in that. I’m happy that bisexual/pansexual Kira exist, and PUNK ROCK LESBIAN EZRI is also now a thing that’s real, but my own personal love of these things doesn’t erase the stigma attached to the canon representation of these characters. It’s important to recognize that because intent, effect, and impact are all very, very different things.

The video for “The Emperor’s New Cloak” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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