The Mirror Universe is one of the best known and arguably fun things that came out of the original series. I’ll bet it’s often fun for the actors, too. They get to play very different versions of their regular characters, and sometimes that means going over the top.
The point here is Kira and Bashir somehow find themselves in the Mirror Universe, things are bad there, and it’s sort of all Kirk and Spock’s fault.
Now, the original Mirror Universe trip happened when a transporter accident during a magnetic storm sent a few members of the Enterprise crew over, switching places with their alternate reality selves. That doesn’t happen this time as Kira and Bashir go through something weird in the wormhole and emerge somewhere where Klingon ships almost immediately surround them and bring the pair to the station, located closer to Bajor than it usually is. Likewise, they seem very deferential to Kira until they get there for a very good reason: Kira is the Intendent/administrator for the station with Garak as her very brutal head of security. There’s no switching places this time around, and Mirror Kira seems absolutely tickled to see another version of herself. She even knows where Kira and Bashir came from, so while the Intendent will hold onto Kira for her own amusement, Bashir is sent down to the refineries to do manual labor under taskmaster Odo.
For what it is worth, Nana Visitor seems to be having a ball hamming it up as an evil Kira, but that headband she has on looks absolutely ridiculous.
Apparently, in the Mirror Universe, Kirk’s words got through to Spock, and Spock went about reforming the Terran Empire. But then the Klingons and the Cardassians teamed up and conquered the Terrans. Bajor had been a part of the Terran Empire, and the Bajorans gladly joined the Klingon/Cardassian alliance. Hence the things we see here. Mirror Kira is a cackling madwoman. Odo slaps people around. Garak lives to torture people to death. Klingons and Cardassians roam the station while humans work until they drop.
As for the rest of the main cast, there’s no sign of a Mirror Bashir. Dax is missing. O’Brien, unmarried and childless, is a beaten, broken man working in the refinery. And Sisko has it pretty good as a collaborator, coming and going as he pleases and only really caring about the crew of his own ship. The Mirror Universe did something so there won’t be any more transporter accidents, so the only way out is for Kira and Bashir to somehow get back to their runabout and return to the wormhole, and the Mirror Universe people don’t really know that exists yet.
OK, good set up. I really like how the alternates behave, and you know a universe is terrible when A) Quark, assisting with some sort of underground railroad for humans even if it is for profit, is somehow the only decent being on the entire station and B) he gets killed when one of his escapees gets caught. That said, this was a quiet and subdued Quark, so really, everyone was behaving differently.
That is, until Bashir can somehow inspire O’Brien to help him out. Initially done for the promise of taking this O’Brien with them, and with the comedic moment of Bashir shooting Odo with a disruptor and watching the shapeshifter pop like a balloon, the two are caught, and the actions of the Intendent inspires Sisko to rebel, taking O’Brien and his crew and making a run for it to their own ship to start their own rebellion. That allows Kira and Bashir to escape back to their own reality with a really wild story to tell.
However, it was a little nice seeing the Intendent talk of Kirk, Kira showing she had no idea who he was, but Bashir recognizing the name immediately. If anything, it was a bit strange seeing Kira walk around this station and talk openly with Bashir, Quark, and anyone else without anyone getting herself in trouble. Just seemed a little odd and my only real complaint in an otherwise fantastic episode.
And, oddly enough, one I watched the same day as the TNG episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise”.