Deep Space Nine: s02e23 – Crossover

Two for the price of one

Yes, well. I’d been warned ahead of time about this episode, as one who appreciates Nana Visitor, and I was not let down, visually at any rate.

I was disadvantaged, however, when the episode got under way, by my lack of knowledge of Star Trek as a whole, as a longer-term fan would have recognised that this was a riff on an episode from the Original Series without having to have the name brought up of a man named Kirk.

‘Crossover’ was, at a great distance, a sequel to the second season episode ‘Mirror, Mirror’, in which Kirk and several of his crew are accidentally projected into a parallel Universe of evil counterparts (and their evil counterparts are swapped into our universe). I have seen the original episode, decades ago, but the only thing I remember of it was Leonard Nimoy with a little black goatee beard.

Anyway, the same thing happens again, without the evil counterparts going in the opposite direction, only this time to Major Kira and Doctor Bashir, who are returning through the wormhole from the Gamma Quadrant. Julian’s being his usual, irritating, insensitive self, constantly talking whilst Kira is trying to ‘meditate’, when there’s a plasma leak that buggers up their warpdrive, leading to a crossover into the Mirror Universe. Where things are very different, and it’s all Kirk’s fault.

I won’t go into detail but, suffice to say, Kirk’s well-meaning intervention to spread the morals of mid-Fifties, mid-western America across the twenty-fourth century Universe (I have long since outgrown being impressed by the Original Series) has back-fired spectacularly, leading to a prevailing Klingon-Cardassian Alliance in which Bajor has a prominent role and Terrans are slaves.

In fact, Bajor has such a prominent role that the Intendant (i.e., Commander) of Deep Space Nine is a Bajoran, Kira Nerys. And boy does Nana Visitor enjoy hamming that part up, dressed in a fetchingly skin-tight (and I mean skin-tight especially around the nether regions) leather dominatrix outfit. It’s all good fun, and you wouldn’t find losing an eye as long as that left you with one with which to look.

(And there’s the bath scene, where the Intendant is showing off her naked back, not to mention the party scene with two of them in deep-plunge cleavage ball gowns.)

But enough of the shallowness (you can never have too much shallowness). The point of an episode like this is for everybody to play different. There’s the aggressive, prowling, cat-like Intendant, the sadistic mine-superintendant, Odo, the scared, beaten-down tinkerer, O’Brien and the louche, uncaring, pirate and intendant-shagger, Sisko, all playing against type.

Not to mention the dictatorial, machiavellian, station number two, Gul Garak.

The parallel is not too exact however. The Mirror universe Quark is still Quark, even if he’s never heard of latinum, and still a schemer (but out of the goodness of his heart), O’Brien is near enough O’Brien and there are no duplicate Bashirs and no Dax’s at all. And whilst the Intendant starts out all powerful and secure, I was surprised to find her losing it through the episode, until by the end Nana Visitor was playing her as a brittle, near-drunk on the fringes of hysteria, who – once the episode was over – was going to last about thirty seconds.

The endgame of the story – of all such versions of this story – is the escape of the travellers back to their status quo, leaving behind a determined knot of rebels who will work to overcome the tyranny that has oppressed them. Such it was, with the piratical Sisko in that dominant role, not that you expected much of that. The Doctor, in his mine-rags, and the Major, in her don’t-lean-too-far-forward ball-gown, escaped back to the wormhole where, as it always does, recreating exactly the circumstances of their first shift takes them back where they should be (instead of, say, dumping them in one of the infinite alternate possible Universes).

You’ll perhaps gather that I wasn’t ultimately that impressed, except with Nana Visitor’s alternate costumes. Oh, I enjoyed the episode, but I would have enjoyed it at least twice as much in 1994. It’s the same old thing I’ve been saying for weeks now, and I wish I could come up with a different tune, or at least tune this note out, but television, and particularly television writing has come on so far in the past twenty years that I cannot keep myself from seeing where every episode could be so much better. Which is completely unfair. But inescapable.