“Change of Heart”
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Directed by David Livingston
Season 6, Episode 16
Production episode 40510-540
Original air date: February 28, 1998
Station log: Worf and O’Brien are watching Quark, Dax, and some other Ferengi play tongo. They bet a bottle of booze (bloodwine versus Scotch) over whether or not Dax or Quark will win. Quark winds up winning (his 207th game in a row), but Worf tells Dax that he’d rather lose on her than win on someone else, which is very goopy, and leads to a night of happy fun times for the two of them.
Unfortunately, their cohabitational bliss is interrupted by Kira, who has a mission for them. A Cardassian named Lasaran has been feeding info to Starfleet Intelligence and has requested a face-to-face meet. SI has repeatedly emphasized the importance of this operative, and assigns DS9 to arrange the meet, which starts with coordinates being sent to the Badlands. Only one runabout is available, the Shenandoah, so Worf and Dax take it to the Badlands.
En route, they discuss honeymoon options. Dax nixes Vulcan’s Forge and anything else involving suffering or pain. Instead, she goes for Casperia Prime, which is even more hedonistic than Risa. Worf actually agrees to it, which leads to an amusing discussion of how much Worf has changed since he married her, with Worf dinging her on how routine-based she is.
They arrive at the Badlands, and Lasaran contacts them. He has information about how many Founders there are in the Alpha Quadrant and where they are—but he requires extraction. He’s being sent from Cardassia Prime to the Dominion base on Soukara in three days, and he’ll rendezvous with the pair of them in the jungles there. They just have to get the Shenandoah behind enemy lines…
Back on the station, O’Brien has decided that he wants to be the one who breaks Quark’s winning streak. But he’s only played tongo once, so he needs to brush up, for which he enlists Bashir. Of course, the genetically enhanced Bashir is already better at it having just learned it than O’Brien could ever be, so O’Brien hits on the notion of Bashir being the one to break the streak. Bashir actually plays very well until Quark starts getting in Bashir’s head on the subject of Dax and how they both missed their chance at her, losing her to “Commander Boring.” It distracts Bashir enough that he loses (though between them, Quark and Bashir drove all the other Ferengi out of the game).
The Shenandoah arrives at Soukara, coming in through an asteroid field that masks them from Dominion sensors, then lands in the jungle a couple of days’ hike from the rendezvous point. They spend a difficult several days hacking through foliage and avoiding snakes and other fun stuff, with Dax hating the hot days and Worf hating the cold nights.
Worf then notices someone coming (gotta love those hunter’s instincts) and they quickly hide, just as a trio of Jem’Hadar show up. Worf and Dax ambush them, and they’re successful—but Dax is badly wounded. No vital organs were hit, but the blast had an anti-coagulant, which means she’ll keep bleeding. But they have to keep moving, as staying still will just leave them sitting ducks for whoever comes looking for the three dead Jem’Hadar.
They keep going, but after a while, Dax’s blood pressure gets too low and she can’t continue. Dax insists that he leave her behind, and Worf agrees to at first—but after a certain point, he finds that he can’t continue, and goes back for her. He finds her unconscious, and so carries her all the way back to the runabout.
Back at the station, Sisko comes to see Worf, who is waiting in the infirmary for Dax to get out of surgery, telling Worf that Lasaran is dead, his valuable intelligence that could have saved millions of lives lost forever.
Dax wakes up to find out that he didn’t make the rendezvous, and she apologizes—but Worf won’t accept it. All that matters is her. They declare their love for each other, and all’s right with the galaxy.
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Worf and Dax link the Dominion sensors to their tricorders so that their life signs will be masked. The bad news is that the tricorders are then useless, which is one reason why three Jem’Hadar almost get the drop on them.
The Sisko is of Bajor: As a captain, Sisko says that Worf made the wrong decision to save Dax, and while no charges will be filed (the mission was too covert), it will go in Worf’s service record and he likely won’t receive a command of his own after this. As a person who had a wife, Sisko adds that if it was Jennifer, he would’ve done the exact same thing.
The slug in your belly: Dax apparently brushes her hair with exactly fifty strokes before going to bed each night. She always sleeps on the same side of the bed, and she always has the same breakfast.
There is no honor in being pummeled: Worf tells Dax about going camping the Ural Mountains with his father and his brother Nikolai when he was a boy, which awakened his nascent Klingon hunting instinct.
Rules of Acquisition: Quark insists that his tongo game is Ferengi only, with Dax being the only exception, but Bashir and O’Brien talk their way into it. After Quark beats Bashir, the former says that the doctor is welcome to play any time. (He did help Quark clean out the other Ferengi.)
What happens on the holosuite, stays on the holosuite: Bashir is all set to do the secret-agent program with O’Brien—he’s even wearing a tux—but O’Brien would rather brush up on tongo.
For Cardassia! Lasaran is not at all thrilled with entrusting his well being to a Klingon—I’m guessing he holds a grudge after the Klingon-Cardassian war.
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Dax starts to mention that the Sutherland will be coming to the station. That’s the ship that has the fire-twirling Lieutenant Atoa on board. However, Dax thinks better of finishing the thought, belatedly remembering that Worf probably wouldn’t go for a threesome. Then she jumps him. Wah-HEY!
Also Quark gets Bashir to admit that he’s still carrying a torch for Dax.
Keep your ears open: “Worf, you’re practically easygoing. What’s next, a sense of humor?”
“I have a sense of humor! On the Enterprise, I was considered to be quite amusing.”
“That must have been one dull ship.”
“That is a joke! I get it! It is not funny, but I get it.”
Dax and Worf on Worf’s post-marriage mellowing.
Welcome aboard: The only guest is Todd Waring, who is gleefully obnoxious as Lasaran.
Trivial matters: By the time this episode was written, Terry Farrell had already decided to leave the show after the sixth season, and she lobbied for Jadzia to die in this episode, but with Worf succeeding in the mission to extract Lasaran. Instead, Jadzia will be killed in “Tears of the Prophets.”
This episode was partly inspired by the movie The Green Berets which starred John Wayne, as well as George “Sulu” Takei.
The original B-story was to involve Rom, Nog, Leeta, and Prinadora, Rom’s first wife, with the latter trying to win Rom back, but it’s eventually revealed that she’s trying to fleece him again. Max Grodénchik, Aron Eisenberg, Chase Masterson, and script coordinator Loita Fatjo (playing Prinadora) have acted out this B-plot on stage at conventions.
Worf’s brother Nikolai is mentioned for only the third time on screen, besides his first reference in “Heart of Glory” and his appearance in “Homeward.” Your humble rewatcher made use of Worf’s trips to the Ural Mountains during a mind-meld between Spock and Worf in The Brave and the Bold Book 2.
The Sutherland last docked at the station in “You Are Cordially Invited…”
Because of Sisko’s declaration that Worf will never receive a command, he’s initially reluctant to take on the post of first officer of the Enterprise (following Riker’s promotion and Data’s death in Star Trek Nemesis) in the novel Resistance by J.M. Dillard. However, he changes his mind by the novel’s end, and he has remained in that role in all of the post-Nemesis TNG fiction, even being offered a command in the Cold Equations trilogy by David Mack (which takes place ten years after this episode, a period that includes being a war hero and four years of diplomatic service on Worf’s part, mitigating what happened in this episode) and turning it down.
Casperia Prime will be mentioned again in “Inquisition,” as well as in the Starfleet Corps of Engineers novellas The Future Begins by Steve Mollmann & Michael Schuster and Ghost by Ilsa J. Bick, the DS9 novel This Gray Spirit by Heather Jarman, and Star Trek Online.
Walk with the Prophets: “You could say, ‘Thank you for saving my life’.” It’s “Rules of Engagement” all over again!
Just like “RoE,” this episode provides us with a situation that never ever ever would have happened. The minute that Dax and Worf got married—well, honestly, they should’ve been assigned to different posts, but even if we suspend our disbelief and let them serve at the same post, there’s no way they would ever be assigned to any mission together for reasons that this episode amply demonstrates. (Dax shouldn’t have been assigned to the Defiant in “Waltz,” either.)
So why did they get the assignment in the first place? It makes no sense, none, for them to be given this assignment except that the script said it had to be them so Worf should have to make a difficult choice. But he shouldn’t have had to make it!
Because of the abject stupidity of the episode’s entire premise, I’d never actually watched the episode since its initial airing, because it actively pissed me off so much. As a result, I’d forgotten how absolutely magnificent Michael Dorn and Terry Farrell are here. Their banter is relaxed and funny and believable and fun. Dorn in particular does an excellent job of showing us a Worf who still has many of the aspects of the “Klingon glacier” (as one of his previous par’Mach’kai called him), but is actually mellowing and compromising, and trying to be a better husband to Dax.
Of course, that doesn’t stop his overdeveloped sense of duty from taking over after Dax is hurt. He blames his indulging in witty banter as they gather around a blanket for not noticing the Jem’Hadar coming soon enough, but he heard them a lot sooner than Dax did, and surviving a couple of Jem’Hadar who outnumber you 3-2 is nothing to sneeze at.
But then we come back to the absurdity of the whole thing when Sisko decides now that Worf and Dax shouldn’t go on missions together. This is the sort of things that military organizations have to deal with now, and have rules and regulations in place for, and it’s hilariously absurd that the writers of this show believe that those will be forgotten in four hundred years. Hell, forget four centuries, how about a couple of years since Picard went through this exact same thing?
On top of that, they had a much better tale to tell if they’d gone with Farrell’s recommendation, and have this be the episode in which Jadzia is killed. Then the one justification for putting Worf on a mission with Dax—that of all people, Worf would put duty ahead of what he desires—would work, and he’d have to pay the worst possible price for it. That, to my mind, would’ve made for a stronger story.
I went into this expecting to give it a 1—it pissed me off that much, seriously—but the performances of Farrell and Dorn were sufficiently strong that I’m willing to bump it up a bit. But it really makes you sad for what might have been if Farrell had stayed for the final season…
Warp factor rating: 3
Keith R.A. DeCandido’s newest novel is Sleepy Hollow: Children of the Revolution, based on the FOX show that just started its second season. The book is one sale now, and you can order from Sleepy Reads or find in your local bookstore. Read a review of the book right here on Tor.com.