The Emperor's New Cloak (*)
Well, when you put it like all that...
You make great points. I personally disagree about Zek; I like him. I find him funny (of course, YMMV), but I also find him compelling. Zek began the show as you describe: representing the worst excesses of Ferengi society. But he also presided over the greatest set of reforms in Ferengi history since the publication of the Rules of Acquisition. And he supports it, too. It's crazy, but it happens in real life, too (and it's crazy then, too). I find those stories compelling, partly because they give me hope that, someday, older generations will not be such opponents of basic, common-sense progressivism.
The points about sexuality in the μniverse are certainly valid. I give them credit for making the characters flinch only at the weirdness of seeing people they know so well be so different, and not at their sexuality itself. That actually is progressive. But the issues remain about evil gay characters. (Though, to be fair: Kira is evil, Ezri is ambiguous, but eventually redeems herself [so, not evil], and Leeta is, by the evidence we have, good. So it could've been worse.) And it's unclear to me how much having the gay characters was for shock-value and how much was for legitimate story-telling. So that's problematic.
Brief side note: what's the biggest difference between Ezri prime and μEzri? The presence of Dax. In all seriousness, is it possible that Ezri Tigan prime generally preferred the company of women and that Ezri Dax prime generally preferred the company of men, presumably due in some way to the joining/presence of Dax? I know the novels establish that Ezri was in some sort of relationship with a male before joining, but I don't think anything's been established in canon. We've been told that joining can change your handedness; why couldn't it have an effect on sexuality?
I guess the biggest thing for me about this episode is that I don't mind my Trek being a bit comic book-ish, at times. (For example, most people hate Peter David's novel, Before Dishonor
, for this same reason, but I think it's great, one of my favorite Trek novels, actually.) Okay, so the plot falls apart if you look too closely. So you have two choices: a) have fun filling in details that make it work, or b) have fun and just sit back and enjoy the ride.
So the writers decide to go play in the sandbox of the μniverse. Okay. Works for me.
(Also, as noted on MA and in the Companion
, Ira Steven Behr is on record as saying,
[Through Rom, w]e finally got to question the whole lunatic idea of the mirror universe.
So the whole thing may've been a bit tongue-in-cheek. I'm fine with that, too.)
With all that said, I am sympathetic to the view expressed here:
The μniverse has had a sad journey on DS9. It started out as a genuinely twisted and sinister take on DS9, with characters that served as an interesting parallel to those in the prime universe. But it soon became a place to have comic-book adventures without fear of serious repercussions, and the attempt to salvage the concept into something meaningful in Resurrection resulted in a somewhat dull distraction to DS9's more interesting storylines. Now the μniverse must suffer the ultimate indignity, relegated to being the setting for a Ferengi comedy episode. What an inglorious way to go.
I'm not as harsh on Ferengi comedies as you are, but I agree that there were real story opportunities missed here.
You gave The Emperor's New Cloak six stars too many, if you ask me. I consider it the absolute worst episode of DS9, and it was the only episode I just couldn't bear to rewatch on my rewatch a while ago. I rewatched LEt he Who is Without Sin..., Meridian, The Muse, Prodigal Daughter, If Wishes Were Horses, Melora, Second Sight, The Reckoning, Valiant, and Time's Orphan, but I couldn't bring myself to watch The Emperor's New Cloak again, and I'd rather watch a marathon of all those other episodes I mentioned than watch The Emperor's New Cloak once.
Good heavens, I'd watch TENC multiple times before re-watching The Muse, Meridian or Melora! Wow...