In which Bashir is a terrible man to have on a road trip but a pretty good one to have in an evil empire.
Bashir and Kira have just opened a hostpital on New Bajor, which is the first colony in the Gamma Quadrant. Kira is super tired and looking to get some peace and quiet in, and boy did she pick the wrong shuttle companion for that. Julian is still insufferable. He has a brief moment of not being insufferable, but then back to oh god shut your face Julian. Thankfully, the warp field locks open as they hit the wormhole and they die, sparing them from any further awkwardness.
I’m kidding, but there’s a weird energy surve that I’m sure has nothing to do with how the station isn’t there anymore. It’s back in orbit of Bajor, and a Klingon battleship intercepts them instead. The Klingon boarding party seems upset and alarmed and apologetic when they see Kira, whose interactions with Klingons as far as we know have been limited to asking Odo to do something about Lursa, B’Etor, Kang, Kor, and Kodos. The Klingons respectfully withdraw and escort Kira and Bashir back to the station, where they are reporting to Garak. Garak believes Kira to be an imposer. Shortly thereafter, Kira shows up wearing slinky leather pants to ask who Kira is. A return to form if ever I’ve seen one.
Bashir has questions. Garak explains that this is Terrok’nor, center of authority for the Alliance, and after moments Leather Kira seems to figure out what’s going on. She sends Bashir, the Terran, to the labor detail, and escorts Kira out onto the promenade which is hung with flags depicting the Cardassian and Klingon emblems. Those, at least, don’t seem to have changed in this universe.
Leather Kira is the Intendent, and appears to be in charge of the Terran population, and rules with a relatively soft touch, compared to Garak, who plays Gul Darheel in this Everett branch.
Meanwhile, Mirror O’Brien slowly and carefully explains to Mirror Odo that something mechanical is going to break before being interrupted by Bashir’s entry. Things do not go particularly well for him.
Meanwhile, Intendent Kira has a delightfully lascivious interrogation with Major Kira. Leather Kira is just like that. But she also knows a little more of wider history than Major Kira does. Leather Kira knows about Kirk, one of the most famous people in history for exchanging places with her Kirk and changed the course of the Terran Empire. You’ll recall he influenced Spock into reforming the entire empire, turning it from a war powerhouse into a model of the Federation. At which point is was mercilessly crushed by the rest of the galaxy, which had banded together to hold them off. How you say? Womp womp. Bajor had been Occupied by the Terran Empire, and was freed by the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
The really important thing is, the Mirror Universe now has a protocol. A sort of Prime Directive, if you will, to keep further Mirror Travelers from interfering. I’m guessing it involves murder. And I was right. Major Kira’s counteroffer is that Leather Kira (it’s mostly that I just don’t like spelling Intendent – spell checker doesn’t recognize it and I’m too drunk to be confident of teaching it new words) can influence the Prime universe and put Major Kira in charge of Bajor.
Leather Kira is also just tickled that Major Kira would try to manipulate her. The audacity is sufficient to make an impression and keep the party going, at least. Kira gets the chance to compare notes with Bashir, who, wonder of wonders, has actually studied all the weird nonsense Kirk got up to. Literally all Kira has to say is ‘Kirk’ and Bashir gets it. I guess he’s good for something. Plus, they have the mirror copy of a transporter expert, which is how the original crossver happened in the first place.
Mirror Quark is not doing particularly well, and doesn’t recognize gold-pressed latinum. The favor he wants is the ability to send people over. There’s a hint that his personality is another thing that’s mirrored on this side. Like him running the underground railroad that tried to help that Terran earlier. Also, Sisko’s here, and he seems to be one of the few humans with any kind of status on this side, given that he can just brush past Garak.
Bashir tries to befriend Mirror O’Brien, who has a bit of transporter experience on this side as well, and also still Sisko’s errand-boy. Sisko on this side is a bounty hunter and probably Leather Kira’s boy-toy. A therapist could probably have a field day with all the various dysfunctions Sisko is displaying here. He’s also definitely not a fan of being called to warm Leather Kira’s bed, no matter what he likes to pretend.
On this side, all transporters have been redesigned to make future crossovers impossible, and a therapist could also have a field day with Kira here.
There are broader concerns, of course. So many of the major players are the same, but in radically different roles. The Mirror Universe clearly isn’t the Parallels Everett Branch that’s ‘closest’ to Prime, because in that one the major difference was that Worf got a surprise party. Even back in Kirk’s time, the main things the two universes had in common was that Kirk happened to be in the same place at the same time, because nothing else about them is as similar as one of Worf’s Everett branches. We would have to postulate some sort of resonance effect from the original Crossover event, and yes, that link is going to be broken for a while. Deal with it. I already linked to “Mirror, Mirror” upstream. Anyway, the original crossover event must have left some trace that links these two universes in a way that Worf’s Anomaly didn’t. Don’t ask me, I’m an archivist, not a quantum astrophysicist.
Garak is in Major Kira’s quarters, spreading intrigues. It looks like Garak wants to work with Kira Prime, because she has the trust of Leather Kira and Garak wants to correct things. His plan is to replace Leather Kira with Major Kira, be his figurehead, and leave Garak in charge of the station. And has a pretty effective carrot-stick combo to make sure that happens.
Kira’s running around putting the pieces together for an escape. So far, nobody is impressed. Garak tries to kill Kira regularly, and Sisko doesn’t even care if he succeeds. All Sisko cares about is that he’s taken himself and a few of his friends out of the mines. Kira’s glorious speech about freedom falls on deaf ears.
That night at the party, we are treated to a few snippets of conversation that tell us Lursa and B’etor… probably haven’t changed all that much. It’d be hard to make them worse. The Intendent shows up wearing the same dress as Kira, just also the crown. However, since time is short, the Event that’s been on the wall since the second act finally happens. The boiler O’Brien has been whining about needing to fix finally explodes. Then Odo does too. Bashir knows what Evil Odo is capable of.
During this escape, I want to revisit the similarities between the two universes, but I’ll just take the time to point out that the maintenance ducts are nowhere near as atmospherically Dark and Dingy as the living areas of the station. Anyway, the very convenient-for-the-casting-department way in which the two universes correlate seems to indicate that the Star Trek Universe almost necessarily operates via the Great Person theory of history, rather than history being more of a conflux of pressures. It implies that whatever the universe, our main cast will always be Important in some fundamental way, which really sucks when you consider all those nameless ensigns who get killed just to make a point.
During the escape, Bashir picks up O’Brien and they’re off to get immediately captured, and absolutely ruin the party. The Intendent suffers a bit of a mental breakdown and embraces the villain within. And the thing about villains is they they eventually inspire heroes to take them down. Or at least, it’s nice to think so. Sisko takes the moment, as the only band of armed Terrans, to escape and start a resistance with O’Brien. Kira and Bashir get the runabout, and fortunately everyone was trapped in the bar formerly known as Quark’s so nobody grabs them with the tractor beam. They get intercepted by a Klingon cruiser, and it follows them to the wormhole, but only Kira and Bashir actually cross universes. It’ll be interesting to follow up with the other side at some point, though, to see how they handle knowledge of the wormhole.