Written by Rene Echevarria & Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Avery Brooks
Season 4, Episode 5
Production episode 40514-478
Original air date: October 30, 1995
Station log: Dax does a sleight of hand trick for Quark and Bashir, then reports to Sisko’s office. A team of Trill scientists are coming to DS9 and studying the wormhole by way of figuring out ways of creating more artificial wormholes. But the team leader is Dr. Lenara Kahn—Torias Dax and Nilani Kahn were married, and since joined Trills aren’t supposed to associate with people from their hosts’ past lives, Sisko gives Dax the option of taking some leave while Kahn’s team is on the station. But she decides to stick around because she’s a rebel and she won’t be hemmed in by squares.
A lengthy expository passage among Quark, Bashir, and Kira explains much of this, including why joined Trills are discouraged from reassociation—to the point that they’re exiled from the Trill homeworld and not allowed to rejoin after the current host dies. (It’s leavened by Quark’s hilarious attempts to figure things out and Kira’s outrage at the taboo against reassociation.)
Sisko holds a reception for the scientists. Things are awkward at first, but Kahn and Dax start having a very hilarious conversation about how everyone’s staring at them and wondering how they’ll react to each other. They joke about putting on a show—either getting into a huge argument or smooching each other—but they both agree to be responsible adults and behave like professionals. This sounds very convincing right until they exchange longing looks from across the room.
In the Defiant engine room, the Trill scientists talk technobabble with Dax, O’Brien, and Eddington, and then Dax and Kahn go to the bridge to download some data. Dax hits a nerve with a comment that’s very similar to something Torias used to say to Nilani, and after some more awkwardness, Dax admits that Torias was stupid to take the shuttle that killed him out and she apologizes for Torias not listening to Nilani on the subject of the shuttle’s readiness.
Dax then asks Kahn to join her and Bashir for dinner. Only then does she ask Bashir along. He agrees to play chaperone as a favor to Dax—which he later regrets, as Dax and Kahn spend the entire time telling stories about past hosts. They even realize that Jadzia and Lenara have more in common than Torias and Nilani ever did. (At one point, Bashir, whose eyes have glazed over, is called away for a medical emergency, and the two Trill barely notice him beat the hastiest of retreats.) At the end of dinner, they wind up holding hands, to the dismay of one of the other Trill scientists sitting elsewhere in Quark’s.
The Defiant makes the first attempt to create an artificial wormhole. (One of the scientists complains about Dax and Kahn to the other scientist, who’s also Lenara’s brother.) The first stage succeeds perfectly, and everyone’s happy. Kahn and her brother have dinner at the replimat, and her brother is not happy at the fraternizing between her and Dax. She assures him, though, that there’s nothing going on.
Kahn comes to Dax’s quarters, agitated about her conversation with her brother, especially since he may be right. They both still have feelings for each other, exacerbated by Nilani losing Torias so suddenly, and they kiss, thus guaranteeing that the episode (or at least the scene) won’t be shown in several southern U.S. markets.
Dax goes to Sisko. He thinks she shouldn’t pursue restarting things with Kahn because the risks are too great. But he also admits that in her place, he’d also seriously consider throwing away everything he believes in if he loved the other person enough. In the end, he says he’ll back her no matter what she does, because he’s her friend and he’s there for her.
The second stage happens on the Defiant, as they create another wormhole and send a probe through. But the wormhole fluctuates and does damage to the engine room—where Kahn and Eddington are. Dax leads a damage control team there to find a plasma fire. Eddington’s hurt but functioning—Kahn’s on the other side of the plasma fire. Dax creates an angled forcefield and literally walks down it to rescue Kahn before they have to vent the engine room to put the fire out. Each was afraid they’d lose the other.
Kahn is recovering in her quarters. Her brother is actually willing to leave her alone with Dax—mostly out of gratitude for Dax saving Kahn’s life, though he still thinks she should go back to Trill immediately and forget Dax—and Dax gives Kahn some Risian perfume. Kahn figures she has her work cut out for her when she goes back to Trill—but then Dax invites her to stay on the station and work on the wormhole project with her. But she can’t do it. She can’t risk exile, not even for Dax.
The next day, Kahn gets on the transport with her brother and the other scientist. She and Dax exchange one last longing look across the Promenade and off she goes. Dax watches her go, looking very much like a puppy dog with Trill spots.
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? We gotcher tensor matrixes, we gotcher probes, we gotcher target drones, we gotcher subspace, we gotcher stable artificial wormholes, and we got all the technobabble! But the coolest thing is when Dax creates a forcefield over the plasma fire that she can actually walk on in order to get to Kahn. That’s just cool.
The Sisko is of Bajor: Sisko planned Curzon’s 100th birthday party, and it took him three months to plan it—so the fact that Curzon was late for it annoyed the hell out of him.
Don’t ask my opinion next time: Kira thinks the taboo against reassociation is stupid and that Dax and Kahn should be able to pursue a relationship if they damn well feel like it.
The slug in your belly: Torias was, like most pilots, a risk-taker. The live-for-now philosophy we saw in him when Bashir channeled him in “Facets” has a downside, as he left a widow behind who never got over his loss.
We also learn that Tobin was a magician, that Curzon was always late for everything (a trait that Jadzia inherited), and that Curzon also hated research.
There is no honor in being pummeled: Worf gets his first command since reporting to the station, as he’s in command of the Defiant for the wormhole tests.
Rules of Acquisition: Both Dax and Bashir pull a piece of latinum out of Quark’s ear at different stages. Bashir threatens that the next thing they’ll take out of his ear is a bunny rabbit (which would be awesome).
Tough little ship: The Defiant is used to test the artificial wormhole, and it’s badly damaged by graviton waves during the second stage. A plasma fire starts in engineering, there’s hull damage, and O’Brien will need two weeks to fix it all.
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Kahn and Dax are awkward around each other at first, but the sparks fly fast and furious the moment they start actually talking to each other.
Keep your ears open: “What do Klingons dream about?”
“Things that would send cold chills down your spine, and wake you in the middle of the night. No, it is better that you do not know. Excuse me.”
“I can never tell when he’s joking.”
Kira trying to get to know Worf better.
Welcome aboard: Susanna Thompson—who can currently be seen as Moira Queen on Arrow—makes her third Trek appearance as Kahn, having played a Romulan in TNG’s “The Next Phase” and a mental patient in TNG’s “Frame of Mind.” She’ll play the Borg Queen on Voyager several times.
Kenneth Marshall is back as Eddington, and Tim Ryan and James Noah play the other two Trill scientists.
Trivial matters: The original story as written by Rene Echevarria has Kahn as a man. It was co-scripter Ronald D. Moore who suggested it be a woman. This resulted in the first (and so far only) same-sex kiss in Star Trek.
While this is Kahn’s only appearance, her work will be utilized by Dax in “In Purgatory’s Shadow,” and is also mentioned in the Dominion War novel Behind Enemy Lines by John Vornholt and the Q-Continuum trilogy by Greg Cox. Kahn herself appears in the comic book miniseries Divided We Fall, written by John J. Ordover & David Mack.
According to producer Steve Oster, someone called the Paramount switchboard and complained, “You’re ruining my kids by making them watch two women kiss like that.” The production assistant who took the call apparently asked if the man would’ve been okay with his kids seeing one woman shoot the other. When the man said he would be okay with that, the PA said, “You should reconsider who’s messing up your kids.”
During the reception, we see Kira wearing a Bajoran dress uniform, the first time such has been seen (Kira wore her regular uniform for the first contact in “Move Along Home”).
Walk with the Prophets: “I don’t have a little Curzon inside me telling me to be impulsive!” One of the things that gets lost in the hugger mugger about this episode following in the steps of “Plato’s Stepchildren”—which gave us television’s first interracial kiss—is that this is, at its heart, a tragic love story, and it’s rather a good one. The dialogue gets a little histrionic and tiresome toward the end, but it’s saved by simply superb performances by Terry Farrell and Susanna Thompson.
I’ve said it many times in both the TNG and DS9 rewatches: romance-in-an-hour storylines depend entirely upon the guest character, and this time ’round they struck gold. The chemistry between the two is perfect, as every scene they have together just sparkles. Probably the best is their first, as they awkwardly circle each other at the reception, noticing everyone looking at them, and as soon as they start actually talking to each other, they instantly fall into a routine as if they’d known each other all their lives—which they haven’t, exactly, but the memory of such is strong in both of them.
But of course all anybody could talk about when the episode aired was the kiss, to the point that this is generally described as “the episode with the lesbian kiss.” Except it isn’t, exactly—nor is it a heterosexual kiss. That’s what’s so great about it, and why this episode is so successful where other Trek message episodes have failed (like say the aggressively unsubtle “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” or the abject failure that was “The Outcast”). It shines a light on an inadequacy in our own culture via an alien culture, but in this case it muddies the waters a bit because the taboo actually makes sense on the face of it. Bele and Lokai’s hatred for each other was arbitrary, shining a light on the arbitrariness of racism, but here at least there’s a strong argument to be made for joined Trill who were involved during past lives getting involved again. But as with far too many taboos, it goes blindly accepted and often unexamined and the consequences are too extreme.
The episode—the first collaboration between Moore and Echevarria, two of the best writers of modern Trek, both pulled off the slushpile by Michael Piller in TNG’s third season—is well structured, if a bit too predictable. It’s a pretty standard set of beats, and we’ve seen them bunches of times before, down to the love-interest-in-danger climax (cf. “Lessons” on TNG, which tracks structurally with this episode very closely), but we also get the taboo set up right off the bat, with Sisko offering Dax leave before we even know why he’s offering it to her. I also love using Quark’s confused inability to keep all the hosts straight while talking to Kira and Bashir as a vehicle for humorous exposition.
But the best part of all is that this is a love story, and the sexes of the participants is utterly irrelevant. The fact that the Kahn and Dax are both female has nothing to do with the story, which is as it should be. The love they share is strong—and it really does help that Farrell and Thompson sell it because that’s what gives the episode its heart and its message.
The 2014 television landscape is filled with people of the same gender being in love with each other and/or being in lust with each other, and I’m sure people watch “Rejoined” now and wonder what the fuss was about. But in 1995, this was still sadly very radical (though unlike “Plato’s Stepchildren,” DS9 did not pioneer the televised woman-on-woman kiss), and Paramount got a lot of flack for airing it.
Which is too bad, because the message here is important: that love shouldn’t be restrained by real-world consequences, but that it very often is.
Warp factor rating: 8
Keith R.A. DeCandido is running a Kickstarter for a new story in the Dragon Precinct universe, featuring the characters of Gan Brightblade and his friends from that novel. He hopes you’ll support it—just two bucks will get you a copy of the story itself! Details can be found here.