Written by Rene Echevarria
Directed by Cliff Bole
Season 3, Episode 25
Production episode 40512-471
Original air date: June 12, 1995
Station log: Nog is doing a simulation of a stress reaction test in a runabout, part of his prep for a summer class that will help him get into Starfleet Academy. Jake interrupts because they were supposed to meet half an hour earlier, leading Nog to end the program before he gets up from the shuttlecraft chair, which means he falls on his ass. Remember kids, always stand up before you end a holosuite program.
After getting encouragement from Jake and a lecture from Quark, Nog goes off to fetch Rom from the storage room to run the bar, as Quark has to go to the wardroom. Dax has asked him, Sisko, Bashir, Odo, Kira, O’Brien, and Leeta to meet with her there. Dax is going to undergo the zhian’tara ritual—the Trill ritual of closure—which allows hosts to meet all the previous hosts of their symbionts. She wishes to “borrow” the seven of them—or, more accurately, their bodies—to channel her seven previous hosts so she can speak to them for a couple of hours.
Everyone readily agrees, except for Quark who needs convincing—said convincing being Dax playing with his ears and telling him that it means she and he will grow closer. (She neglects to mention that the host she wants him to channel is female.) Bashir expresses concern about Joran, but Sisko has already agreed to be the one to channel the murderer in her past, with precautions being taken.
O’Brien is proctoring Nog for his exams on the holosuite, staring with the stress reaction test—which is in Ops, not a runabout like he practiced. O’Brien points out that if they tested him on what he practiced, it wouldn’t be much of a stress reaction test, now would it? Downstairs, Rom is so worried about how Nog will do that he’s distracting Quark from doing the books.
The guardian arrives from Trill, and he reveals that the symbiosis commission has been bugging Jadzia to come home to Trill to do the ritual for months now, and they finally gave up and sent the guardian to DS9. He does the ritual with Kira first, as she channels Lela, Dax’s first host. Jadzia realizes that she got her habit of keeping her hands behind her back from Lela. She was one of the first female councilors, and she tended to gesture emphatically while talking, which was off-putting to her male colleagues, so she got in the habit of keeping her hands behind her back.
O’Brien channels Tobin, who’s a bit of a nebbish. Jadzia points out that O’Brien probably won’t appreciate Tobin biting the chief’s nails.
Emony is channeled by Leeta, who shows off some gymnastic moves, and then Quark channels Audrid, who waxes rhapsodic about childbearing and brushes Jadzia’s hair. As for Torias, he uses Bashir’s body to eat a lot, feeling that life is too short to deny yourself the good things in life—and while Torias never did deny himself such things, his life was too short because of the shuttle accident that killed him.
Odo places Sisko in a holding cell for channeling Joran. He asks if she’s practicing her music, and then belittles her, calling her unworthy of the symbiont. Then he places both hands on the force field and bangs his head on it to hurt Sisko. The commander manages to take control of the body, but when Jadzia lowers the force field, Joran reasserts control and tries to strangle her.
Belying Joran’s claim that she’s just a pretty girl with no other claim to fame besides the Dax symbiont, Jadzia then beats the crap out of Sisko until Joran again loses control to the body’s owner.
Dax admits to Sisko that the main reason why she’d been putting off the zhian’tara was because she feared that Joran was right, that she wasn’t worthy to be joined. Sisko reminds her that she has a golden opportunity to ask Curzon for his reasons for rejecting her and eventually letting her back in.
Odo channels Curzon, and to everyone’s surprise, his shapeshifting nature means that Odo’s hair changes to Curzon’s style, his face is less smooth, and he has Trill spots. It turns out to be more of a melding than the others—he’s both Curzon and Odo at the same time. He goes to talk to Sisko and catch up with him. (I’m going to refer to him as Curzon for simplicity’s sake.) They go to Quark’s, where Curzon messes with the bartender’s head, and then Jadzia shows up. Sisko goes off to do Nog’s evaluations, leaving Curzon and Jadzia to chew the fat. Curzon reveals that he got Tobin drunk during his zhian’tara—but when Jadzia brings up her time as an initiate, Curzon recognizes a tongo hustler from Odo’s bulletins, and says they should get a game going.
After Quark kicks them out following hours of tongo, Jadzia again tries to confront Curzon about her time as an initiate, this time over a bottle of something Odo confiscated from a smuggler. He claims that he didn’t object to her reapplying because he felt sorry for her, which confirms her worst fears: that she doesn’t have Curzon’s approval or respect. When Curzon’s reintegrated into her, she won’t respect herself. But that apparently won’t be a problem, because both Curzon and Odo are quite happy with this new person they’ve become, and they’re staying that way.
Jadzia is content to let it lie, because she looks up to Curzon, but Sisko convinces her to confront him. Curzon was always a manipulative bastard, and sometimes he crossed the line with Sisko, and Sisko confronted him with it. Every time Sisko stood up to him, he backed off—not always happily, but he did.
Nog is upset because he failed his spatial recognition exam. Quark is unusually sympathetic, reassuring Nog that he always has a place in the bar no matter what. This makes Rom suspicious, so he investigates. Quark changed the holosuite parameters so that Nog would fail the spatial orientation test. Rom has already told Sisko, and Nog will take the test again, and Rom furiously informs Quark that if he ever hurts his son again, he’ll burn the bar to the ground. (How exactly he’ll do that to a bar in the middle of a space station is left to the viewer’s imagination, but Rom’s pissed enough that Quark’s in no position to ask.)
Jadzia confronts Curzon in Odo’s quarters. Curzon tries to belittle her and intimidate her, but it doesn’t work this time, and Curzon finally admits the truth: he fell in love with her. He couldn’t let on how he felt, given the docent-initiate relationship, and he washed her out for that reason. He not only didn’t object when she reapplied, he was relieved, as it got him off the hook. Jadzia convinces him to let her have her memories back, and allow Curzon and Jadzia to be together the way they were meant to: through Dax.
Nog has passed his intensives, and he’s ready to take the Starfleet Academy entrance exam, to the joy of everyone except for Quark. Nog then goes to the bar and orders a root beer, as that’s an Earth drink, and Quark shakes his head, declaring it to the be the end of Ferengi civilization.
Odo comes into the bar and joins Dax, apologizing for his behavior when he was melded with Curzon. Dax says there’s no need to apologize. They both learned a lot from it: Dax now knows how much joy Odo takes in being a changeling, and Odo understands the joys of eating, drinking, and staying up all night playing tongo.
The Sisko is of Bajor: Apparently they had to reshoot the scene with Joran because in the first take Avery Brooks was too creepy….
Don’t ask my opinion next time: Lela turns out to be a tough old broad with a wide smile and a feisty attitude. Nothing at all like Kira, but Nana Visitor plays her magnificently.
The slug in your belly: We get to meet versions of all of the previous hosts of the Dax symbiont (with the exception of Verad from “Invasive Procedures,” which is never explained, though he was joined for so brief a period there may not be enough for it to work): the already-named Lela, Tobin, Torias, Joran, and Curzon, and the established-here-for-the-first-time Emony and Audrid.
Preservation of matter and energy is for wimps: The melding of Curzon and Odo proves enjoyable for both. Curzon in particular finds being in a liquid state to be liberating, and Odo gets to drink, erm, a lot.
Rules of Acquisition: In the midst of channeling Audrid, Quark re-takes control of his body long enough to bitch and moan and make Dax promise never to tell anyone about this ever.
Plain, simple: Rom had Garak make a cadet’s uniform for Nog that cost him five strips of latinum. Quark points out the foolishness of this, as they’ll issue him a uniform if he gets in. However, it gives Nog something to wear in the bar when he passes the tests (though Sisko points out it’s premature; Nog apologetically says that it was for his dad, and Sisko understands).
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Curzon reveals to Jadzia that he was in love with her, and he also waggles his eyebrows at Sisko regarding Kasidy Yates (to Jake’s glee and Sisko’s dismay).
What happens on the holosuite stays on the holosuite: They have to use Quark’s holosuite to administer Nog’s tests, which is an issue insofar as Quark owns them and can manipulate the programs for his own ends—like keeping Nog out of Starfleet.
Keep your ears open: “It just occurred to me—as soon as that kid graduates from the Academy, I’m going to have to call him ‘sir’.”
O’Brien with a disquieting revelation about Nog.
Welcome aboard: Chase Masterson is established as a recurring character with her reappearance as Leeta, following “Explorers”; she’ll be back in “Bar Association” next season. Max Grodénchik and Aron Eisenberg are back as Rom and Nog, and Jeffrey Alan Chandler plays the guardian.
Trivial matters: It had already been established how many male and female hosts Dax had, which was a problem, as there were three female hosts and only one other female regular in Kira. They decided to go for the comedy of Quark channeling a second female host. Originally writer Rene Echevarria wanted to use Keiko for the third, but Rosalind Chao was unavailable, so they brought back Leeta.
This episode’s story was inspired in part by the TV movie Sybil. Echevarria’s first draft had Jadzia channeling each host, but that didn’t give Jadzia the chance to interact with her past hosts directly, so he switched it to the crew “hosting” them.
Curzon’s rejection of Jadzia her first time through the initiate program was established in “Playing God.”
Makeup designer Michael Westmore digitally morphed a photo of Frank Owen Smith, who played Curzon in “Emissary,” onto Odo’s makeup when he was channeling Curzon.
Curzon orders tranya from Quark, a drink first seen in “The Corbomite Maneuver” on the original series.
Back in TNG’s “The Royale,” which aired in 1989, Picard muses on Fermat’s Last Theorem, which, he said, had gone unsolved for 800 years. In 1995, Andrew Wiles provided a proof for the theorem, and Jadzia makes reference to Wiles’s proof when chatting with Tobin, as a sort of shout-out and apology for the TNG reference that was superseded by reality.
All the hosts established here get stories about them told in the anthology The Lives of Dax, which includes one story each for Lela, Tobin, Emony, Audrid, Torias, Joran, Curzon, Jadzia, and Ezri. Tobin also has appeared in several Enterprise novels, including the Romulan War duology by Michael A. Martin and the Rise of the Federation books by Christopher L. Bennett.
Walk with the Prophets: “I’d like to borrow your bodies for a few hours.” Okay, before we start, I have to say that I’ve got a bit of a hard time taking the name of the ritual Dax undergoes in this episode entirely seriously, because I keep hearing “The Foeman Bares His Steel” from The Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert & Sullivan. (“When the foeman bares his steel / zhian’tara, zhian’tara / We uncomfortable feel / zhian’tara”—okay, maybe it’s just me…)
Anyhow, leaving that aside, this is a nice quiet little episode that provides some interesting insights into all the different hosts of the Dax symbiont, with the added bonus of giving the actors a chance to play around a little bit. Unfortunately, only Nana Visitor, Avery Brooks, and Rene Auberjonois really are able to do anything. The former two get entire scenes, and the latter gets most of the episode’s final two acts, leaving the rest only to do quickie vignettes. Sadly, this makes Tobin, Audrid, and Torias come across as caricatures, and Emony is totally undifferentiated from Leeta.
But it’s worth it for those three. Visitor does such a wonderful job with Lela, who is very obviously a strong woman, from an earlier time when strong women weren’t as appreciated in Trill society. Brooks is incredibly creepy as Joran, and the moment when he attacks Jadzia after she lowers the force field makes you wonder if the episode is going to be a rerun of “The Passenger,” with the crew chasing Sisko down. Luckily, Joran’s claim of her just being a pretty little girl proves quite wrong—but then Joran doesn’t know about Curzon’s affinity for Klingons and Klingon martial arts, one that Jadzia has shared.
Joran’s taunting of Jadzia is useful in other ways, as Curzon tries a similar tactic—more patronizing, less threatening, but with more or less the same language—and it doesn’t work.
In general, the episode is about people overcoming obstacles, whether self-imposed or not. Lela had to overcome societal sexism, Tobin had to overcome his poor social skills, Emony had to overcome her fear that joining would ruin her career, and Jadzia had to overcome Curzon’s rejection of her application.
Not to mention the B-plot, which is about Nog overcoming his fears and his uncle’s sabotage. For the second time in three episodes, we get to see Rom lose his temper and stand up to his brother. Max Grodénchik is superb in this episode, worrying about Nog, buying him the uniform, fussing over him after he passes—and, most importantly, figuring out what Quark did and confronting him over it.
Ultimately, the second biggest problem this episode has is that it doesn’t have room to really do everything it needs to do to be effective. The scenes with Tobin, Emony, Audrid, and Torias just aren’t long enough, and we don’t get nearly enough of Curzon. The first thing Curzon does is go see Sisko, and there needed to be more of that—we’ve been hearing about Sisko’s relationship with the “old man” for three seasons now, it needed more of an airing than what we got. Plus, Curzon really comes across pretty one-dimensionally. He’s often been described as a hedonist, but that was only one aspect of his character—yet that’s all we really see here.
Having said that, Auberjonois plays it beautifully, with just enough of Odo’s mannerisms and tone to make it a convincing melding of two characters.
But that leads us to the biggest problem, which is that the entire episode hinges on Jadzia not knowing why Curzon washed her out of the program, and, well, why doesn’t she know that answer already? She has all of Curzon’s memories. This is stuff she should just know. The central conflict of the episode is one that makes absolutely no sense based on what we’ve seen of Dax to date. She remembers all kinds of other stuff, including some really significant things from Curzon’s life (like the emotional attachment to the blood oath she took with Kor, Kang, and Koloth), so why is this hidden from her?
The episode is still enjoyable despite this rather major logical flaw, but it’s still a pretty big flaw….
Warp factor rating: 6