DS9 Spoiler: Lynch's Spoiler Review - "Crossover"

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Tim Lynch

May 24, 1994, 10:23:09 AM5/24/94
[DS9] Lynch's Spoiler Review: "Crossover"

WARNING: Spoilers from DS9's "Crossover" are approaching rapidly. Do *not*
proceed further without proper preparation.

In brief: Wow.

"Crossover" might have a moment or two that I could nitpick given half a
chance, but that is absolutely *all* I could do to it. It was, quite simply,
a phenomenal episode on a great many levels.

First, the nitpicks, just so we can get them out of the way. "Crossover",
like virtually any alternate-universe idea (the original "Mirror, Mirror" and
"Yesterday's Enterprise" coming to mind for filmed Trek), suffers ever so
slightly from the convenience of having most every character who is in the
area in *our* universe also be in the same region in the alternate one. Such
a setup is completely unavoidable, though; as evidence, given that DS9
*avoided* showing two regulars, Bashir and Dax, on the other side of the
looking-glass, I both thought it was interesting to not show them and
amazingly frustrating not to get to *see* what had happened to them. This is
a no-win setup, and they did a fine job. Other than that, my only nitpick is
that the opening teaser scene in the runabout went on a little bit too long
-- I realize it was necessary as the only light-hearted scene in the entire
show, but it dragged a bit. That's it.

Once that teaser was over, "Crossover" turned grim, and was in many ways a
far more frightening picture of the mirror-universe than the original
"Mirror, Mirror" ever was -- and I say this as someone who ranks "Mirror,
Mirror" as one of TOS's best achievements. "Mirror, Mirror" was an excellent
show, but it never made my skin crawl or the hair on the back of my neck
stand up the way "Crossover" did. Every change, every nuance suggested a
great deal of "there but for the grace of God go we" -- and the combined
effect was absolutely phenomenal.

The first kick-in-the-teeth moment of the show had to come when mirror-Kira
asked Kira if she'd heard of "a human named Kirk". Kirk? Pardon me? I
mean, I knew this was a sequel _of sorts_ to "Mirror, Mirror", but I had
absolutely no idea going in that it was going to be that direct! Kira's
story was interesting enough anyway, but suddenly hearing that reference made
my ears perk up in a major, _major_ way. This is at least the third
"whatever happened to the mirror universe" story I've seen in some way, and
all three are interesting in their own right. (All three are also mutually
exclusive, but that's not surprising. And for the record, the other two are
_The Mirror Universe Saga_, a lengthy storyline in the DC comic for the
original cast that came out about a decade ago, and Diane Duane's recent
novel _Dark Mirror_. Both are well worth reading.)

And the eventual fate of the universe we last saw a hundred years or so ago
was, to put it mildly, somewhat chilling. Some stories have had mirror-Spock
change his mind and throw his lot in with the barbarians again; some have had
him try to change things and fail. This one was the creepiest yet: he
tried, and he succeeded -- and yet, *that* was the worst fate of all for
humanity. (And no, I don't consider this, as I know some do, evidence for
DS9's writers arguing a single-minded "disarmament is stupid" stance. There
are times when you can do exactly the right thing and suffer horrible
consequences for it. If you don't believe me, go watch "City on the Edge of
Forever" and ask Edith Keeler. Peace was a good idea -- but right then, it
would have led to exactly the wrong result.)

In this universe, much as we've seen in many cases in the real world, as soon
as the oppressed have rid themselves of their oppression, they decide to turn
right around and impose the same fate on their one-time masters. Bajor would
probably do it to the Cardassians in the regular Trek universe if they could
-- and here, everyone did it to the Terrans. Very realistic (regrettably),
and very disturbing.

All the changes were extremely interesting. First, the universe changes:
the Alliance symbol, a combination of Klingon and Cardassian (and Bajoran)
symbols; the fact that the station is still named "Terak Noor", the revamping
of the transporters to avoid a repeat of "the first crossover", the fact that
*no one* knows about the wormhole (more about that later), a possible
implication that the Duras family is high up in the Klingon Empire (at least,
the Klingon who seemed high up on the station refers to them as being
powerful) ... that's a lot of changes to put forth in a single show, and
there are probably several that I've missed. And again, every single one
opens the door to speculation and makes you get the feeling that you've
missed something important.

Then, there are the character changes. Quark probably changed the least,
which isn't too surprising. If anything, he may have gotten the least
effective use this time around, as he was primarily there to get arrested and
used as cannon fodder. It'll do, though.

Odo, on the other hand, was a thug through and through. Yes, he still had
his shifting abilities (of course), and still "ran a tight ship", running the
mines as efficiently as he tries to run security in the regular universe --
but here, he has no shreds of conscience, or of concern, or of anything else
that keeps him from being a nightmare given form. And, just as if we weren't
disturbed enough by him, he gets to swipe one of Quark's motifs by citing
"Rule of Obedience #14" when slapping Bashir around. Brr.

That leaves the "big five" characters of the show: Kira (both of her),
Bashir, O'Brien, Garak, and Sisko. Bashir's easy to take care of, since he is
mostly the innocent trapped in a world gone horribly wrong. He does keep his
eyes open, and he *is* the one who convinces O'Brien to help them, but his
role in the plot is very much secondary to Kira's.

Kira, on the other hand, was riveting. Nana Visitor, in addition to setting
a great many people's hormones into overdrive this week, did a double-duty
turn that might be the equal of Brent Spiner's trips into Loredom. While
most of the attention probably goes (and rightly so) to mirror-Kira, who
seemed about a tenth of a step away from outright insanity while still
remaining dangerously in control of everything and everyone, the regular Kira
shouldn't be left out; it was her reactions more than any other that helped
lay out just how vile a place to inhabit this world was. For Bashir it was
easy to be repulsed: he was immediately enslaved. Kira, though, was given a
lot of freedom and offered a pivotal role -- and the fact that she found it
equally frightening was a strong point. (Her early point that maybe Bajor
could learn a thing or two from this universe was also quite in character,
and quite worrying to boot.)

Mirror-Kira's definite attraction to the regular Kira was an eye-opener as
well. While Garak put it well ("the perfect gift for the girl who has
everything"), there was some major sexual tension happening throughout the
entire show. From mirror-Kira's instruction to "get this ... *attractive*
young woman some quarters", to her joy at finding someone who could
manipulate her, to her "I don't want your fear, I want your love!" quote in
her own quarters, to her behaving almost like a jilted lover after Kira turns
against her ... this all definitely suggested something, though I think
whether we're talking lesbianism or simply a somewhat extended form of
narcissism is up for debate. :-) In any case, it lent another sense of
eeriness to the episode that was more than welcome.

(Another thought: the "I don't want your fear, I want your love!" could be
taken as mirror-Kira talking to *herself*, too. This Kira seems desperately
alone despite all her power, and it appeared that even she may not have been
entirely happy with her position. Perhaps she's hoping to find someone,
anyone, who can convince her to love herself?)

Garak, probably the most-seen recurring character DS9 has had so far (well,
maybe Dukat has been on more; it's a near thing, and they're both wonderful),
also took a very different turn. Garak may have been given somewhat short
shrift, too, in that most of his complexities and mysteries that we see in
the regular universe have been left by the wayside here, where he *is* in a
position of power. That was pretty much made up for, however, by his one
line to Kira about how well she's dressed. "I do admire a well-tailored
gown." Eeeeeeeep.

O'Brien, while changing little in terms of basic abilities, was a very
different man in his outlook on the world. Our O'Brien, while prone to a lot
of grumbling, is still a pretty optimistic guy on the whole. This one most
definitely is not. His refusal to help Bashir, while depressing, was
absolutely on target for a man this broken -- and his protest that "I *AM* a
decent man!" simply hurt to hear. That, combined with his speech to
mirror-Kira about why he helped Bashir in the first place, made O'Brien a
much larger character than the screen time he got might have suggested.

That leaves Sisko. *YOW*, but that leaves Sisko. This character was
probably at least as complex and multi-faceted as the regular Sisko has
become in two seasons, and it's amazing how well this one was both written
and (especially) acted. Although Sisko talked a good game, two moments in
particular made it pretty obvious how subservient he had made himself and
just how badly he hated it: the look in his eyes when he answered
mirror-Kira's call to her quarters, and his growled "ma'am!" to the regular
Kira when she tried to get him to help. The latter, in particular, almost
suggested a slave talking to his mistress -- which I'm sure is exactly what
was intended. His "go ahead" to Kira, which we've heard about a zillion
times in the past, took on a whole new meaning here as well, and Avery Brooks
got to be orders of magnitude more off-putting, more devilish, and more
outright *creepy* to watch than he's ever been. That laugh of his nearly
kept me awake after watching the show; while I wouldn't want to get on either
Sisko's bad side, I wouldn't want to get *near* this one even if he liked me.
Major, major chills -- and a lot of applause.

"Crossover" can definitely be classified as an unqualified success for DS9.
There may have been some minor glitches here and there, but there's
absolutely nothing which distracted me from the story and from the people
involved while I was watching the show -- and that is a sure sign of a
quality effort. Well, well done. (Peter Allan Fields, by having
responsibility for this, "Duet", and "Necessary Evil", not to mention TNG's
"The Inner Light", definitely needs a raise.)

On to some shorter points:

-- When Bashir told O'Brien that the two were best friends on the other side,
I said out loud "well, at least Bashir lies well." Lisa then informed me
that I was wrong, and that Bashir probably thought he was telling the
absolute truth. Makes sense to me. :-)

-- One wonders if the wormhole was an alternate, or if it is somehow constant
across the dimensions. I'd guess the latter, which would make it easy to
explain why there was no problem with the hole's inhabitants on the mirror

-- More importantly, there's a major consequence brewing. Not only are
mirror-Sisko and company going to try to brew up trouble on their side of the
wormhole, but the mirror universe now *knows* about the wormhole. This could
suggest that they may try to expand into the Gamma Quadrant, *and* it might
suggest that they could make it into "our" universe given the right
circumstances. I smell sequel potential...

-- Okay, making Odo explode was a bit of a conceit, but what the hey; we'll
never get to see it anywhere else.

That's about it. "Crossover" is a show to keep around to watch several
times; you'll pick up different things each time, I'm sure. Try it.

So, summing up:

Plot: Riveting. A few conceits that are part and parcel of a
universe-switching story, but nothing to worry about.
Plot Handling: Yes, like that. :-)
Characterization: Oh, heavens yes. Lots of it, and good stuff too.

OVERALL: An easy 10. Superb.


Bareil makes a return; but does he have a Cardassian plot in his past?

Tim Lynch (Harvard-Westlake School, Science Dept.)
BITNET: tlynch@citjulie
INTERNET: tly...@juliet.caltech.edu
UUCP: ...!ucbvax!tlynch%juliet.ca...@hamlet.caltech.edu
"Have you lost your mind?"
"No. I just ... *changed* it."
-- mirror-Kira and mirror-Sisko
Copyright 1994, Timothy W. Lynch. All rights reserved, but feel free to ask...

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