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December 7, 2012

Star Trek: DS9 - Ep 7 - Dax

One of the cornerstones of human morality is that one must accept the consequences of his or her actions. But what does this mean to a being that inhabits different hosts at various times in its life? Is the current host of this being responsible for the actions of previous hosts? Just how far does responsibility go? To the death of the current host? Or does it extend through the lifetime of the being itself?

These questions are addressed in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode called “Dax.” They are addressed, but they are not answered. Instead, we learn a lot of interesting information about the Trill, the symbiotic race of slugs that inhabit various hosts throughout their long lifetimes. We learn about the joining process and how hosts are chosen. But do we really learn that much? Not really. While the information is interesting, it isn’t really enough, and we never do get the answers to the questions the episode actually asks, as these answers are conveniently avoided by a timely entrance. Thus, a possibly very interesting episode becomes mildly entertaining, and some questionable guest acting draws it down that little bit more.

We open with Dr. Julian Bashir (Siddig El Fadil) once again pursuing a romantic relationship with Dax (Terry Farrell). As she shoots him down once again, she heads off to her quarters, only to be assaulted by three strangers. Bashir tries to come to her rescue, but is knocked out. Once he wakes up, he reports the kidnapping to Ops and a security lockdown is implemented. Commander Sisko (Avery Brooks) and the rest of the crew show that they have watched previous Trek episodes and are resolved not to be as useless in these situations as Starfleet officers usually are, and they actually manage to capture the assailants.

Their leader, Ilon Tandro (Gregory Itzin), presents a warrant for Dax’s arrest and extradition to Klaestron IV for treason and murder from 30 years ago. Dax refuses to defend herself and Sisko must try everything he can to prevent it, buying time for Odo to figure out what really happened. Sisko tries to stall by claiming that Jadzia Dax cannot be held responsible for something that happened when Curzon Dax was alive. But will he be able to defend her when she won’t help him at all?

Surprisingly, I enjoyed this episode a lot more then I remembered. Oh, sure, it was still very iffy and I found myself rolling my eyes at times. However, there was something about the episode that held my attention. Maybe it was the acting of Richard Linebeck playing the Trill expert, Selin Peers. Or should I say, “lack of acting?” Was he even alive? I’m not sure, but my wife looked over from where she was working and said “Why does he remind me of an undertaker?” It looked like Linebeck was trying to go for calm and sedate, but he overshot. Instead, he was almost comatose.

Or maybe it was the always fun Anne Haney, who played the Bajoran judge Renora. She looked like she was having a hoot. Most of the time, so was I when she was on the screen, though she sometimes overplayed it. As she said, she’s 100 years old and doesn’t want to waste time with semantics. She was the perfect cranky but competent old lady, and it was a marked departure from her role in Next Generation's “The Survivors.” I really did enjoy her, and she pretty much made the episode for me as the only guest star that was any good. Sure, Fionnula Flanagan (another “old home week” guest star, as she played Data’s mother in Next Generation’s “Inheritance”) wasn’t too bad as the former wife of the murdered general with a secret to protect. She had her good moments and her bad moments, but was mostly just there.

The acting of the regulars was pretty decent, with only one real problem, and that’s Farrell. She has her good moments in this episode (the final scene between Dax and Sisko in her quarters as he tries desperately to understand what she’s protecting is very well done), she often came across as flat. She was going for serene, but she just didn’t quite pull it off. Thankfully, though, she has more good scenes then bad here, and it looks like she’s slowly growing into the role. She still doesn’t play “300 years old in a 28-year old body” that well, but she’s getting there. Her final scene with Flanagan is also incredibly touching, though part of that is Flanagan’s strength (it’s a good scene for her, too).

The place where the episode really fell down, however, was the story. There were a number of niggling little things that bothered me. First, the Klaestrons’ knowledge of the station is explained by them being allies with the Cardassians. That would help with the layout of the station, but the security protocols? Surely Starfleet would have insisted that Odo (Rene Auberjonois) have those replaced by this time, to prevent the Cardassians from doing something similar to what actually happens in this episode?

Then there’s the arbitrary jurisdictional issue that I brought up in ”Past Prologue." In that episode, I questioned why a Bajoran had to request asylum on a Bajoran station because the episode seemed to imply that it was a Starfleet station. This time around, Sisko uses the fact that it’s a Bajoran station to keep Dax there while Odo has time to do his magic. Hopefully, they’ll start being consistent on this issue, because this back and forth is really becoming annoying.

The episode’s biggest crime, however, is bringing up all these fascinating issues, and then dropping them with an audible thud on its toe. What was the point of all this philosophy? Is Jadzia responsible for any crimes committed by Curzon? How far back does a host’s responsibility go for something that the slug remembers? That question is never answered, as the episode shies away from it. Instead, we get some information on the Trill that could have been told in many different ways that didn’t involved bringing up questions they had no intention of answering. It doesn’t bother me when viewers are left to make up their own minds, but at least give us some clue to where you’re going, please?

All in all, this was a fairly middle of the road episode, with some good parts and some bad. It’s funny, but my memory of this episode told me it was going to be another 2-star episode. Watching it again, however, I was entertained enough to bring it up to three. What a waste, though. It should have been even greater.

Memorable Quote:

“You Klaestrons were allies with the Cardassians. Your knowledge of the station confirms that. They must have given you the layout. Which not only compromises Bajoran security, but also…annoys us.” Kira, in her wonderfully direct way.

3 Stars


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