Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “Dax”

“Dax”
Written by Peter Allan Fields and D.C. Fontana
Directed by David Carson
Season 1, Episode 7
Production episode 40511-408
Original air date: February 14, 1993
Stardate: 46910.1

Station log: Dax and Bashir are having dinner. Bashir is flirting aggressively, and Dax is studiously ignoring his advances. Dax excuses herself; Bashir offers to walk her to her quarters, which she says isn’t necessary. After she goes off, Bashir grins and rationalizes that not necessary means not forbidden, either, thus cementing his skills as a stalker.

He turns a corner to see Dax struggling with two thugs in hoods. Rather than call security, Bashir instead wades in, clubbing the thugs’ boss in the jaw and then getting his ass kicked by those same thugs. Dax does try to struggle free, and also tries to call for help, but it’s for naught. By the time Bashir comes to and it finally occurs to him to use the combadge that’s right there on his chest, Dax and the kidnappers are gone.

Sisko calls for a security alert, sealing off the station. He also discovers that they’ve disabled the station’s tractor beam. The kidnappers manage to get past every single security measure and escape in a ship, but Sisko manages to fix the tractor beam and bring their vessel in.

Odo takes the kidnappers into custody, but the leader identifies himself as Ilon Tandro—a name that Dax recognizes—from Klaestron IV. He has an extradition order to arrest Dax for treason and murder, the latter of his father. Sisko is less than impressed, given the manner in which they executed the warrant. The charge is actually against Curzon Dax who, according to the warrant, served as a Federation mediator during a civil war on Klaestron thirty years earlier. Sisko didn’t even known Dax had been on that world, but that was before Sisko met him.

However, Dax refuses to let Sisko help her, and is apparently willing to go along with the extradition order, even though the sentence for the charge is death.

Sisko, though, has another trick up his sleeve, and it’s an explanation why Tandro felt the need to be covert about executing his warrant: Deep Space 9 is a Bajoran station, technically, and Klaestron doesn’t have an extradition treaty with Bajor. The ease with which Tandro bypassed station security indicates that they got cooperation from the Cardassians, which, as Kira gleefully explains to Tandro, really annoys the Bajorans. If they want Dax, they need to make their case in an extradition hearing before a Bajoran arbiter.

Odo blackmails Quark into donating the use of the bar for the hearing, and then Sisko sends the constable to Klaestron IV to investigate on his own. A Bajoran arbiter comes to the station and hears the case. Tandro explains that it took three decades for him to go after Dax because the evidence was in classified military documents that were only recently unsealed. Sisko argues that the warrant is against Curzon, who doesn’t exist anymore, and that Jadzia wasn’t even born when the crimes occurred. To Sisko’s annoyance, Dax doesn’t seem to be pleased with Sisko’s arguments.

During a recess, Sisko instructs Bashir to find medical evidence that Trills are different people when they switch hosts, and Kira to find legal precedent that subsequent hosts are not responsible for the actions of previous ones. Odo then contacts Sisko from Klaestron. The man Dax is accused of murdering is General Ardelon Tandro, and Odo has learned a) that he is a national hero on Klaestron, with his death spurring his troops to win a civil war, and b) he and Curzon were the best of friends. Odo’s off to see Tandro’s widow, who might shed some light on the situation.

Enina Tandro is appalled at the notion that Curzon might’ve killed her husband. She dismisses her son’s extradition order as the obsession of a son who never knew his father. But General Tandro was betrayed by someone who gave away the route he took from the capital to the front, enabling him to be ambushed and killed; of the five people who knew that route, the only one who doesn’t have an alibi is Curzon. Enina also didn’t know that Curzon died two years earlier.

A Trill minister—who earlier found Dax for Tandro—is called as a witness in the hearing. He claims to have been sent by Trill’s government to observe the proceedings. Tandro’s questions are designed to make it clear that all the symbiont’s memories and feelings carry forth to subsequent hosts. Sisko’s follow-ups are designed to establish that the hosts all have distinct personalities—they don’t even join until they’re in their 20s. It’s a blending, with neither being dominant.

Bashir testifies that Solomon’s solution won’t work—they can’t send the symbiont to Klaestron to stand trial and leave Jadzia on DS9 because neither can survive more than 93 hours separated. Bashir also submits that the brainwave patterns of Curzon and Jadzia, which establishes them as unique individuals. Tandro gets Bashir to admit that the brainwave patterns of the symbiont haven’t changed.

Sisko then calls himself to the stand, since he actually knew Curzon. Kira directs questions to him, as he describes Curzon as a freewheeling, womanizing drunk, but also as someone who took a young Sisko under his wing and taught him about art and science and diplomacy, and that whatever sense of honor Sisko has, it was nurtured by Curzon.

Tandro and Sisko go back and forth, but ultimately the arbiter gets fed up and announces that they’re taking a one-hour recess, after which Dax herself will get on the stand. Complicating matters is Odo turning up evidence that Curzon and Enina Tandro had an affair. He confronts Enina with this, and she admits to it—but she also makes it clear that her husband was not the hero in life that he became in death. She has lived with being a legend’s wife for thirty years, because no one wants to hear the truth. Odo says that maybe now it’s time people did.

Sisko confronts Dax with this new knowledge, and recognizes that she won’t defend herself in order to protect Enina. Even now that Sisko knows, she insists that Sisko do nothing and let the Klaestrons take her away.

Dax testifies to her accomplishments before being joined, including premiere distinctions in exobiology, zoology, astrophysics, and exoarchaeology. Before Tandro can complete his questioning of Dax, Odo escorts Enina into the hearing, and she testifies that Curzon was in her bed when the transmission in question was sent. The arbiter tartly says that Ilon should reconsider his extradition request.

Enina and Dax take a walk, and we find out that Curzon swore to keep two secrets: the affair, and also that Ardelon Tandro was the one who sent that transmission. The rebels killed him for his betrayal, thus turning him into a martyr and a hero. Dax stayed quiet, not just to protect Enina’s reputation, but also to protect the legend of the great hero General Tandro.

The Sisko is of Bajor: Sisko considers Curzon to be his mentor and dear friend, and he also values the new friendship he’s developing with Jadzia. According to Jadzia, Curzon always warned him that his temper would get him in trouble.

Don’t ask my opinion next time: Kira skewers Ilon Tandro magnificently in the scene where she and Sisko make it clear that they won’t release Dax without a hearing presided over by a Bajoran arbiter. Tandro tries to dismiss Kira as unimportant, and that just makes things worse for him.

The slug in your belly: We get some fleshing out of Curzon Dax, building on what Sisko told Bashir in “A Man Alone”: he was freewheeling, a bit of a wild guy, but still a fundamentally good man. He was also a womanizer, and he slept with another man’s wife—but loved Enina, enough to keep her secrets, both for her own good and the good of the Klaestron people.

Rules of Acquisition: Quark doesn’t want to close the bar for the hearing, not even for Dax’s sake, saying it’s just business. So Odo decides to throw a bunch of new Bajoran building codes at him, restrictions that would inconvenience Quark a great deal. When Quark accuses Odo of blackmailing him, Odo says it’s just business. Only then does Quark allow the hearing to take place in the bar.

For Cardassia!: The Klaestron government has a treaty with the Cardassians, and Ilon Tandro uses that connection to get information on the station that allows them to bypass security and kidnap Dax.

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Bashir’s aggressive flirting with Dax is met with an obvious lack of interest on Dax’s part. Bashir’s inability to take disinterest for an answer allows him to get hit really hard by Spice Williams-Crosby, but also alert everyone to Dax’s kidnapping.

Keep your ears open: “I am one hundred years old. I do not have time to squander listening to superfluous language. In short, I intend to be here until supper, not senility.”

Els Renora, the Bajoran arbiter, laying down the law.

Welcome aboard: A slew of familiar guest stars in this one.

Gregory Itzin plays Ilon Tandro, his first Trek appearance, but far from his last: he’ll be back as Hain in “Who Mourns for Morn?” as Dr. Dysek in Voyager’s “Critical Care,” and twice on Enterprise as Captain Sopek in “Shadows of P’Jem” and Admiral Black in “In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II.”

The late Anne Haney, having previously been brilliant as the re-creation of Rishon Uxbridge in TNG’s “The Survivors,” is equally brilliant as the Bajoran arbiter.

Richard Lineback is the Trill minister, having appeared on TNG’s “Symbiosis” as Romas. He’ll be back on Enterprise as Kessick in “The Xindi.”

Spice Williams-Crosby makes an uncredited appearance as one of the kidnappers. She’s probably best known for her stunt work (she’ll serve as a stunt double on both DS9 and Voyager after this, most notably doubling Jeri Ryan on the latter show), but she also appeared as the Klingon Vixis in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

Finally, the ever-delightful Fionnula Flanagan makes her first Trek appearance as well, as Enina Tandro. She’ll be back in TNG’s final season as Juliana Tainer in “Inheritance,” and will also be in Enterprise’s “Fallen Hero” as Ambassador V’Lar.

Trivial matters: This episode formally breaks with what was established about the Trill in TNG’s “The Host” regarding the relationship between host and symbiont. In the TNG episode, the Odan symbiont was dominant through three hosts, one of whom was Riker; the final host was obviously tabula rasa before being joined. This episode drops that in favor of a blending, and establishing that each host is a different person. It does not, however, answer the question of whether or not a Trill is responsible for the actions of previous hosts.

It’s also established in this episode that not all Trills are joined, that the competition among young Trills to become joined is fierce.

Curzon’s occupation as a diplomat is established here, as is the fact that Sisko met him when he was assigned to be his adjutant as an ensign. That first meeting between Sisko and Curzon was chronicled in the short story “The Music Between the Notes” by Steven Barnes in The Lives of Dax.

This is the only DS9 credit, and the last official Trek credit, for longtime Trek scribe D.C. Fontana. She’s best known for her extensive writing on the original series (from “Charlie X” in season 1 to “Journey to Babel” in season 2 to “The Enterprise Incident” in season 3, plus writing the seminal “Yesteryear” for the animated series), and she helped develop TNG, co-writing “Encounter at Farpoint,” and contributing to several first-season episodes before quitting in disgust. She has since written stories for a bunch of Trek videogames, as well as the “To Serve All My Days” episode of the Star Trek: New Voyages fan film series.

Colm Meaney didn’t appear in this or the next two episodes in order to film The Snapper, in which he had the top-billed role, reprising his supporting role from The Commitments (he would later also appear in The Van, thus covering the adaptations of all three of Roddy Doyle’s Barrytown trilogy of novels). The story reason given is that the O’Brien family is visiting Earth for Keiko’s mother’s hundredth birthday.

At one point, the government on Dax’s homeworld is referred to as the “Trillian government.” This is the only time that adjective is used, possibly because it makes it sound like the government is run by a character from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It soon went the way of Vulcanian, Bajora, and Kling.

Walk with the Prophets: “Live.” I haven’t rewatched this particular episode in ages, and I remember disliking it when it first aired. My main issue with it then was that it was an episode that supposedly focused on Dax, going so far as to be called “Dax,” and yet Terry Farrell does almost nothing in the episode except sit around and frown a lot. Indeed, the show had given Farrell almost nothing to do so far (a problem that wouldn’t really be solved until the second season), and there was serious concern that the character wasn’t going to work at all.

And that’s still true, but watching it now from the perspective of two decades—and knowing that the character of Jadzia Dax and the acting of Terry Farrell would both improve tremendously as the show progressed—makes this a lot better, and also makes it easier to deal with Dax’s silence as a plot point (trying to keep the Tandro family skeletons safely closeted) rather than a way to avoid making ex-model Farrell try too hard to have to act. While the questions raised by this episode about accountability of a joined Trill for the actions of previous hosts would be better answered in “Blood Oath” and “Rejoined,” it’s still an interesting philosophical issue. I especially admire the way the script doesn’t take sides, allowing both Sisko and Tandro to make strong arguments.

The episode also benefits from three strong guest turns. Gregory Itzin’s obsessed passion is well played, and Fionnula Flanagan’s intense feelings turn what could’ve been an awful cliché into a strong character whom you believe Curzon could’ve fallen for.

 

But what makes the episode shine is the acid turn by Anne Haney as the arbiter, who cuts through the crap superbly. Credit must also go to Avery Brooks, whose frustration and anger and devotion to both Curzon and Jadzia lends a quiet strength to his performance here. More than Kirk, and certainly more than Picard, Sisko is a commanding officer character who wears his emotions on his sleeve, and he makes it clear that Dax is too important to him to just give up without a fight.

Ultimately, the episode works nicely as a Perry Mason story, with Kira in the Della Street role of assistant in the courtroom and Odo in the Paul Drake role of investigator, turning up facts in the field to help the case. And it cements the work the show would be doing with the Trill, including separating them from what was established in “The Host.”

 

Warp factor rating: 7


Keith R.A. DeCandido will have a review of Star Trek Into Darkness on this very site on Monday. Hide the kids…

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