Sunday, May 6, 2012

Closing Another Subplot: “The Emperor’s New Cloak” Ends The Tyranny Of The Mirror Universe!

The Good: Decent acting, Cool character aspects, Nice plot resolution.
The Bad: Repetitive, Very plot-focused
The Basics: “The Emperor’s New Cloak” is the final Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode that focuses on the Mirror Universe . . . and it combines the Ferengi subplot to do that!

As Star Trek: Deep Space Nine wound down, the Mirror Universe subplot was one that seemed to have been dropped. The prior installment in that subplot, “Resurrection,” seemed to go in a very different direction and “The Emperor’s New Cloak” ended the subplot in a more definitive and dramatic way than the prior episode in the arc. “The Emperor’s New Cloak” puts the least likely character set into the Mirror Universe and it provides a reset for the Mirror Universe that leaves the next star Trek generation with a place to pick it up that will actually be compelling.

For those unfamiliar with the Mirror Universe, in the original Star Trek, Captain Kirk and three others ended up in an alternate universe where humans were part of a vicious Empire. Picked up on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the Mirror Universe was a place where the Klingons and Cardassians unified in order to enslave the human race and Vulcans. With the Bajorans, the Klingon/Cardassian Alliance had been pretty effectively running down the human rebellion, whose only real victory has been to take Deep Space Nine from the Alliance. With their own Defiant, the Rebels have held Deep Space Nine for years. And there, “The Emperor’s New Cloak” picks up where the last trip to the Mirror Universe left off.

Pining over Ezri, Quark returns to his quarters where he is visited by a surprisingly angry Ezri. Quark realizes that the Ezri who has visited him in his quarters is the woman from the alternate universe. Ezri informs Quark that they have Grand Nagus Zek held hostage and Regent Worf will release him if only Quark can bring a cloaking device into the Mirror Universe in exchange. Stealing Martok’s ship’s cloaking device, Quark and Rom join Ezri in the Mirror Universe. There, they are captured by the Rebels.

Liberated by the mirror universe Brunt, Quark, Rom and Ezri deliver the cloaking device to the Regent, but Quark and Rom are quickly captured. Menaced by Garak and Regent Worf, Quark and Rom are reunited with Zek as Ezri is reunited with the liberated Intendant Kira. As Rom installs the cloaking device, the Terran Rebels face down the very real possibility of their extinction at the hands of the Alliance.

“The Emperor’s New Cloak” is another one of the seventh season episodes that gets a surprisingly bad rap among the fans of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Dealing with the Mirror Universe, “The Emperor’s New Cloak” provides Nicole de Boer with another chance to impress viewers with her acting abilities and she manages to pull it off as the alternate version of Ezri. Predictably, de Boer manages to keep Ezri as a more sexualized character than she has come across as, much like Kira and Intendant Kira before her. Nicole de Boer has a surprising amount of force as the mirror Ezri and she makes the role work.

Even better, “The Emperor’s New Cloak” once again cements Jeffrey Combs as one of the great character actors of all television. Combs has spent much of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine establishing himself as two of the more intriguing villains of the franchise. As Brunt, he has played a surprisingly ruthless Ferengi and as Weyoun, he has made one of the most cunning villains who makes diplomats cool. In “The Emperor’s New Cloak,” the Mirror Brunt is an entire new interpretation of the character and he is fascinating to watch.

What is somewhat irksome is Rom’s role in “The Emperor’s New Cloak.” Rom tries to reason his way around what the Mirror Universe is and it is initially amusing, but the longer “The Emperor’s New Cloak” goes on, the more tiresome his refrain of “it’s alternate!” wears thin. On the flip side, one of the very best of the Rom moments in the character’s history comes in “The Emperor’s New Cloak.” When Rom, Rom of all people!, stands up to the mirror universe Garak, it is a shining moment for the character and makes “The Emperor’s New Cloak” well worth watching. It is also a sterling moment for Max Grodenchik as he presents a likable character standing up to one of the most despicable characters in the multiverse.

But most of “The Emperor’s New Cloak” rides on the performance of Armin Shimerman. Shimerman’s Quark has been building up the up the idea that Ferengi are more worthwhile than the other major powers in the galaxy consider them. Quark expresses a strong sense of loyalty to Zek that helps to redefine what the Ferengi are and it works. Shimerman makes Quark a credible hero once again in “The Emperor’s New Cloak” and the episode becomes one where the viewer keeps rooting more and more for him.

Ultimately, though, the point of “The Emperor’s New Cloak” is to finish off the Mirror Universe subplot in a compelling way and it succeeds admirably. The usual bloodbath for this subplot, “The Emperor’s New Cloak” does what it sets out to do very well.

[Knowing that the season is a much better investment, it's worth looking into Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Complete Seventh Season on DVD, which provides the full story for the conclusion to the series. Read my review of the final season by clicking here!

For the rest of the Mirror Universe episodes, be sure to check out my reviews of:
“Mirror, Mirror” (Star Trek)
“Through The Looking Glass”
“Shattered Mirror”


For other Star Trek reviews, be sure to check out my Star Trek Review Index Page for an organized listing of all the episodes and movies I have reviewed.

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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