Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “Shadows and Symbols”

“Shadows and Symbols”
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Directed by Allan Kroeker
Season 7, Episode 2
Production episode 40510-552
Original air date: October 7, 1998
Stardate: 52152.6

Station log: After a summary of “Tears of the Prophets” and “Image in the Sand,” we pick up with Ensign Ezri Dax entering the restaurant and babbling a mile a minute. She was on board the ship the Dax symbiont was being transported on and was forced to be implanted to save Dax’s life—but she wasn’t prepared for joining and she’s having trouble adjusting. She’s taken a leave of absence from her post as assistant counselor on the Destiny and came to Sisko’s hoping her old friend Benjamin can help out. So she joins the planned expedition to Tyree.

On the Rotarran, Worf leads a service to dedicate the upcoming battle to Jadzia so that she may enter Sto-Vo-Kor. O’Brien and Bashir are there alongside the Klingons, and Quark surprises everyone by showing up to join the mission because he loved Jadzia too.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Shadows and Symbols

Ever since being joined, Dax has been subject to spacesickness, as the Sisko family learns to their regret (and the regret of the puke-covered control panel). Jake is glad she’s come along, even though she’s rather scattered, because her presence makes Sisko happier.

Ross informs Kira that the Federation Council has sent a protest to the Romulan government’s placing of weapons on Derna. Kira is unimpressed with the back-office jockeying that isn’t actually accomplishing anything, but Ross says his hands are tied. Kira’s, though, aren’t and she intends to blockade Derna to keep the weapons from being activated (the launch sequencers still have to be delivered to the moon). Ross, showing a spectacular lack of understanding of who, exactly, he’s talking to, says that Kira will have a fight on her hands, one that she can’t win. Kira takes command of the blockade—which consists only of a dozen impulse raiders—herself, and Odo insists on going along, because he’s all in love and stuff.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Shadows and Symbols

The runabout arrives at Tyree. Before they beam down, Sisko hears a page for Dr. Wykhoff to report to Isolation Ward 4, but only he hears it. Dax and all three Siskos (even Joseph, despite Sisko worrying about how the old man will hold up in the desert) beam down to find the Orb of the Emissary. Sisko sets a brisk pace, which Joseph has trouble keeping up with.

On Cardassia, Damar is showing off Dominion battle plans to a woman he met at a party. Weyoun kicks the woman out so he can discuss the need for the Monac shipyards to increase production by 15% so they can drive the allies out of Chin’toka.

Sisko arrives at what he thinks might be the spot he saw in his vision (he also hears the page for Dr. Wykhoff again). He starts playing with his baseball, which Dax takes from his hand and tosses aside. Sisko, remembering that the baseball fell to the floor before his vision, digs in the very spot where the ball landed.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Shadows and Symbols

Ross and Cretak inform Kira that several warbirds are en route to deliver medical supplies. Both Ross and Kira agree that warbirds are overkill to say the least, and Kira fully intends to fire on any ship that tries to run the blockade. Ross’s attempts to broker a compromise are met by the twin brick walls of Cretak’s arrogant assuredness of superior firepower and Kira’s willingness to defend Bajoran territory with her life. Cretak also thinks that Kira is bluffing.

Worf is initially cranky on the subject of O’Brien, Bashir, and especially Quark’s presence, as he wants to get Jadzia into Sto-Vo-Kor by himself. Martok reminds him that there’s a ship full of Klingons helping him, including Martok himself, and Worf eventually apologizes saying that he wasn’t all that thrilled with sharing Jadzia’s affections with others, and thanks them for coming along to help him.

Sisko digs up an Orb container that looks just like all the others. But just as he’s about to open it, he’s back to being Benny Russell—who’s in a mental institution, under the care of Dr. Wykhoff (who looks a lot like Damar) writing on the walls because they won’t give him any paper. Wykhoff wants him to stop writing, but Russell still has stories to tell. Wykhoff insists that he needs to stop for his own mental health. On Tyree, Sisko is in a fugue state holding the box—Jake tries to open the box himself, but he’s hit with an electrical charge. In the vision, Wykhoff hands Russell a roller covered in white paint, urging him to paint over the wall, cover the story, wipe out his “mistakes.” On Tyree at the same time, Sisko starts to re-bury the box. Dax tries to stop him, reminding him that he promised Jadzia he’d make things right. Russell drops the roller and keeps writing, and Sisko opens the box—which also reopens the wormhole.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Shadows and Symbols

The Rotarran approaches the sun the Monac shipyards are orbiting. O’Brien and Worf have devised a plan to use an EMP to cause a massive solar flare that will destroy the shipyards. But it requires getting very close to the sun and calculating the exact trajectory of the flare. In a very seriously baked ship, Worf gives the order to fire, but the first EMP doesn’t work. O’Brien has to recalculate before the three Jem’Hadar ships that detected them when they decloaked show up and destroy them. The second EMP works—also destroying the three ships attacking them—and Worf welcomes Jadzia to Sto-Vo-Kor.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Shadows and Symbols

The warbirds show up early. Kira makes it clear to Ross and Cretak that she will not back down. (Cretak says she’d hate to see Kira throw her life away; Kira’s reply is that she’s not dead yet.) Emboldened by the wormhole reopening, Kira locks weapons on the warbirds. Cretak winds up blinking and backing down, promising to remove all weapons from Derna. Kira asks Ross what changed her mind, and he says that he said he’d remove them if she didn’t. “What changed your mind?” she then asks, and Ross smiles and says that Kira herself did.

Sisko meets with the Prophets, in the form of Sarah, who says that Kosst Amojan has been cast out of the temple—that is, apparently, the Pah-wraith who possessed Dukat—and also reveals that a Prophet possessed Sarah to ensure that “the Sisko” would be born to fulfill his destiny, part of which was to cast Kosst Amojan out of the wormhole.

Sisko returns to DS9 to great acclaim from every single Bajoran on the station, as well as his crew. Said crew is also rather shocked by the arrival of the all-new, all-different Dax…

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Shadows and Symbols

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? The method of causing a solar flare used by the Rotarran was also used by the Enterprise­-D in “Descent, Part II” against the Borg.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Shadows and Symbols

The Sisko is of Bajor: Sisko discovers that his birth was arranged by the Prophets. As existential crises go, it’s pretty major…

Also Joseph refuses every suggestion to go back to the runabout instead of traipsing through a brutal desert, because he says he owes it to his son to see it through. Plus he probably feels just a skosh guilty about not revealing his son’s true biological parentage…

Don’t ask my opinion next time: Do not play chicken with Kira. You’ll lose.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Shadows and Symbols

The slug in your belly: Dax is constantly remembering and/or feeling things from previous hosts: Curzon and Jadzia’s love of raktajino (which Ezri can’t stand), Torias’s final moments before he died in a shuttle crash, Emony’s emotionalism, and Audrid’s love of long walks.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Shadows and Symbols

There is no honor in being pummeled: Worf dedicates a battle to Jadzia’s memory, and even makes nice to Bashir, O’Brien, and Quark. And then when he meets Ezri Dax, his reaction is one of fury, causing him to walk away in disgust. As always, it pretty much sucks to be him.

Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps: Odo gives Kira a copy of Mickey Spillane’s 1952 Mike Hammer novel Kiss Me Deadly. O’Brien introduced Odo to Spillane’s work, and Odo figures Kira would appreciate Hammer’s attitude. (I can’t imagine Kira being all that receptive to the horrific sexism in Spillane’s work, though…)

Rules of Acquisition: Quark insists that he loved Jadzia as much as anyone—more or less—on the Rotarran, and insists on going along for the battle. He gets his hand sliced open for his trouble, and spends the entire time complaining.

Victory is life: The Dominion needs the shipyards on Monac to increase production by 15% in order to take Chin’toka back. Instead, their production is decreased by 100% thanks to the Rotarran blowing them up. Oops.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Shadows and Symbols

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Odo is all Mr. Supportive Guy for Kira, making sure that she knows what she’s doing and being her conscience, but also being behind her completely. It’s actually kind of adorable.

Keep your ears open: “Is it so hard to say thank you?”

“Don’t do this, Quark.”

“Do what? All I’m asking for is two little words.”

“Be quiet!”

“That’s two words, all right—just not the two I was hoping for.”

Quark bitching, O’Brien trying to get him to stop, Worf backhandedly fulfilling Quark’s request, and Quark bitching some more.

Welcome aboard: Back from “Image in the Sand” are Casey Biggs (doing double duty as Damar and Wykhoff), Megan Cole (Cretak), Jeffrey Combs (Weyoun), Deborah Lacey (actually credited this time as Sarah), J.G. Hertzler (Martok), Barry Jenner (Ross), and Brock Peters (making his final on-screen appearance as Joseph).

Trivial matters: The writing on the wall in Benny Russell’s cell is actual handwriting, chronicling the entirely of DS9 as painstakingly written by members of the entire art department. Michael Okuda used the episode summaries in an early draft of The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion by Terry J. Erdmann (which was being written as the series was in production) as the basis of the scrawlings, and they put up the descriptions of every episode in the first six seasons, so Benny really was writing the entire story of Deep Space Nine.

Just as with the previous Benny Russell story in “Far Beyond the Stars,” Casey Biggs’s appearance in a Russell vision marks his only Trek appearance without prosthetics or makeup.

Kevin G. Summers would write a fantastic sequel to the Prophet vision in this story, “Isolation Ward 4,” for Strange New Worlds IV, a story of sufficient power and impressiveness that it made the preliminary ballot for the 2002 Nebula Awards. It did not make the final ballot, because the Nebulas tend to view tie-in writing as akin to the sputum on one’s shoe, so it didn’t really stand a snowball’s chance in hell of even making the final ballot.

The story of Ezri Tigan being implanted with the Dax symbiont while on the U.S.S. Destiny was told in the stories “Second Star to the Right…” and “…And Straight on Till Morning” by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens in the anthology The Lives of Dax, with another version in Strange New Worlds III in the story “Ninety-three Hours” by Kim Sheard.

Walk with the Prophets: “You have definitely gotten stranger.” This is a much stronger episode than its predecessor, mainly because all three plots come to definitive conclusions. Two of them are even good ones.

Kira’s plotline is pretty straightforward, but it’s worth it just to watch Kira totally own both Cretak and Ross. My favorite is early on when Ross says that it’s a battle Kira can’t win, and you expect Kira to grab him by the lapels and say, “Excuse me, but are you actually aware of the recent history of the planet of my birth and the role I played in liberating it from the evil empire?” Seriously, Kira spent her entire life up until six years earlier fighting a fight she couldn’t win and winning it. And we see how as she goes up against a mess of Romulan warbirds and two interstellar governments with the interplanetary equivalent of a bunch of pop guns and, again, wins. It’s a great moment for a great character.

Worf’s plotline is even more straightforward. There’s a technobabble thing, it goes wrong, there’s a battle, O’Brien fixes the technobabble in the nick of time, gobby gobby gobby. It’s perfunctory as hell, and it’s especially frustrating in that Quark and Bashir—the two outsiders who have the closest connection to Jadzia—don’t actually do anything remotely useful on the mission. O’Brien’s the one who pulls the technobabble trick, but he’s only there out of solidarity with Bashir.

But what makes this plotline worthwhile is Worf’s apology to Bashir, O’Brien, and Quark, because it’s a lovely callback to one of Worf’s earliest scenes of substance. Waaaaaaay back in TNG’s first season, Worf and Wes Crusher had a conversation in “Coming of Age” about the psych test that was part of the unnecessarily complicated Starfleet Academy entrance exam. Worf described his “enemy” as being unable to rely on others, and despite the fact that he was a bridge officer on a starship, that inability was still his enemy.

And based on the speech he gives on the Rotarran, it still is. He wanted to do this all by himself—but of course he couldn’t, any more than he could only rely on himself as one of Picard’s bridge officers. But he finally admits that he appreciates the help. It’s a small thing, and for all I know, Ira Steven Behr and Hans Beimler didn’t even remember that bit in “Coming of Age,” but dammit, it works. Worf’s character progression has been one of the strongest aspects of modern Trek, and this is a great example of it.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Shadows and Symbols

Finally, we come to Sisko’s plot, which gives us only one good thing: more Benny Russell! The scene in Isolation Ward 4 with Russell and Wykhoff is tremendous fun, a natural continuation of what happened to Russell at the end of “Far Beyond the Stars,” and a nice way to seed doubt in Sisko’s mind to keep him from opening the box with the Orb.

Sadly, that entire plotline is just—silly. I won’t beat the dead horse of how the wormhole aliens have been made into supernatural beings of plot movement. Since the Prophets’ relationship with time is weird anyhow, the idea that they went All You Zombies on Sisko and made themselves responsible for his birth so he could introduce themselves to him to do things and—blarg. Head hurts.

I will say it’s a good introduction for the new Dax. The idea that Ezri wasn’t prepared to be joined makes for some entertaining character work, giving us a Dax who is, at once, exactly the same—particularly when she urges Sisko to open the box and not re-bury it—yet completely different from Jadzia.

Warp factor rating: 6

Rewatcher’s note: Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, there will be no DS9 Rewatch on Friday the 28th of November. We’ll be back in a week with “Afterimage.”

Keith R.A. DeCandido has short stories out in several anthologies right now: “Fish Out of Water” in Out of Tune, a Jonathan Maberry-edited anthology of stories based on old ballads; “Time Keeps on Slippin’” in the Stargate SG-1/Atlantis anthology Far Horizons; “Stone Cold Whodunit” in the superhero anthology With Great Power; and “Undine the Boardwalk” in the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology It’s Elemental. Two stories coming in 2015 are “Back in El Paso My Life Would be Worthless” in The X-Files anthology The Truth is Out There and “Streets of Fire” in V-Wars Volume 3, plus Keith has a short story collection due out from Dark Quest Books called Without a License: The Fantastic Worlds of Keith R.A. DeCandido. Oh, and he just signed the contract to write a Stargate SG-1 novel called Kali’s Wrath.


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