Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “Afterimage”

“Afterimage”
Written by Rene Echevarria
Directed by Les Landau
Season 7, Episode 3
Production episode 40510-553
Original air date: October 14, 1998
Stardate: unknown

Station log: Dax stands overlooking the Promenade, weirded out by how familiar this station that she’s never set foot in is. She then goes to the temple where Jadzia was killed, which weirds her out even more, and has an awkward conversation with Kira. She then goes to Quark’s, where she turns down Quark’s offer of bloodwine, even though it was Jadzia’s favorite. Dax comments that Sisko and Quark are the only people who aren’t uncomfortable around her. As if to accentuate the point, Worf walks in, sees Dax, and turns around and walks out again, looking incredibly constipated as he does.

Dax goes to see Sisko—coming via the side door so she wouldn’t have to go through Ops and see Worf—and reaffirms that she’s not going to stay on the station. Too many memories are there, and she’s better off returning to her post on the Destiny.

Garak’s claustrophobia is acting up. The crowds in Quark’s cause him to snap, and he has an episode while in his shop talking to Odo. Even the wide-open spaces of his shop are constricting, as is the infirmary. He also needs to take a break from his work for Starfleet Intelligence decrypting Cardassian communications, as the claustrophobia makes it impossible for him to concentrate.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Afterimage

Sisko needs Garak back at work for the war effort, so he conscripts Dax to work with him as a counselor. Dax’s protests that she’s an assistant counselor, still in training, falls on deaf ears, as she now has 300 years of experience to add to her training. Her first session with Garak doesn’t go all that well—talking about it just makes Garak ill, and she mostly just comes up with blindingly obvious causes without any kind of therapy at all. However, Sisko surprises Dax by informing her that Garak is back to decrypting, and surprises her again by offering her the post of station counselor, complete with promotion to junior-grade lieutenant. But she isn’t comfortable staying on the station, mostly because of Worf.

Garak locks himself in an airlock trying to open it out to space. Bashir, Dax, and one of Odo’s deputies manage to get him out. Dax then takes Garak to the holosuite, bringing him to a tranquil mountain to meditate. Garak is having trouble forgetting that there’s a holosuite wall just ten feet away, but he does try to use the program to ease his claustrophobia. It doesn’t work, so he goes back to the shop to sew. He also rejects Dax’s help, as she can’t even help herself or figure out who she is, so how is she supposed to help him?

Worf makes it clear to Dax that he wants nothing to do with her, and then to make matters worse, he threatens Bashir and Quark, making it clear that they should have nothing to do with her, either. Bashir sends a peace offering of bloodwine via O’Brien, who points out that Bashir being friendly to Ezri isn’t what’s dishonoring Jadzia’s memory, it’s Worf treating her like crap that’s dishonoring Jadzia’s memory.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Afterimage

Dax tenders her resignation to Sisko because she can’t do her job, and does so while wallowing in self-pity. Sisko’s response is to tear her a new one and say she doesn’t deserve the Dax symbiont or to wear her uniform. She then goes to Garak to apologize and say she’s leaving. Garak knew that the Destiny was about to arrive, but Dax says she isn’t reporting there, but resigning and returning to Trill—the Destiny, instead, is going to Kalandra with the Seventh Fleet, a battle plan enacted based on Garak’s intelligence.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Afterimage

Garak then starts ranting and raving, which finally gets at the truth: Garak has believed that he’s been helping Cardassia by fighting the Dominion, but in truth he’s betrayed Cardassia. Cardassian lives will be lost because of his work with Starfleet. Garak collapses, but she gets him to the infirmary. He’s going to get back to work, and thanks Dax for her help. Dax, meanwhile, has decided to stay in Starfleet—luckily, Sisko was just rattling her cage, and never submitted her resignation in the first place. But she won’t stay on DS9.

As she’s packing, Worf comes to her cabin and apologizes, and also says she shouldn’t decline the post of DS9’s counselor on his account. So she accepts and Sisko promotes her in a big ceremony in the wardroom.

The Sisko is of Bajor: Sisko is thrilled to learn from Dax that Worf is intimidated by him.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Afterimage

Don’t ask my opinion next time: Kira tries not to think about the fact that Jadzia was killed in the temple because otherwise she’d never be able to go there.

The slug in your belly: Dax tries standing on her head, because Emony did that to relax, but it just gives her a headache. She blames her space sickness on guilt over how Torias died, and we also learn that Tobin never disciplined his children and was a vegetarian.

There is no honor in being pummeled: Even though he’s gotten Jadzia into Sto-Vo-Kor, Worf is still in eighteen kinds of pain over her death, and treats Ezri like crap on her arrival. But he eventually comes around, even raising a mug in salute to her at her promotion.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Afterimage

Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps: Apparently during meals with Kira, Odo counts the number of times she chews. That’s probably not creepy.

Plain, simple: Garak is being used by Starfleet Intelligence to decrypt Cardassian communiqués, which makes sense, especially since he wrote a lot of the encryption protocols during his time in the Obsidian Order.

Rules of Acquisition: As far as Quark is concerned, Dax is Dax, only now he can’t possibly lose her to Worf, so he figures he has a do-over. At least, he thinks that until Worf threatens him…

What happens on the holosuite stays on the holosuite: Bashir, O’Brien, and Odo are planning to do a Davy Crockett scenario in the holosuite. O’Brien is Crockett (though Bashir offers Crockett to Garak in the hopes of getting costumes from him), Bashir is William Barret Travis, and Odo is General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Let’s see, Quark decides he’s going to go after Dax, Dax tells Bashir that Jadzia might have eventually gone for him if Worf hadn’t come along (which is a horrible thing to tell him, quite frankly), Jake thinks the new Dax is cute (prompting Sisko to say she’s 300 years too old for him), and Kira and Odo invite Dax to dinner while being all cute and couple-y. Quark also reports to the infirmary because his “tympanic tickle” led to an infection (Bashir starts to query Quark as to what, precisely, a tympanic tickle is, and then rather sensibly thinks better of it).

Oh, and Dax informs Worf that Jadzia loved him as much as he loved her, and Worf’s response is relief so great that he looks like he’s released a breath he’s been holding since she died.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Afterimage

Keep your ears open: “I want someone to help me get back to work. And you, my dear, are not up to this task. I mean, look at you—you’re pathetic. A confused child trying to live up to a legacy left by her predecessors. You’re not worthy of the name ‘Dax.’ I knew Jadzia. She was vital, alive. She owned herself, and you—you don’t even know who you are. How dare you presume to help me. You can’t even help yourself. Now, get out of here before I say something unkind.”

Garak criticizing Dax’s counseling techniques.

Welcome aboard: The only guest star this time ’round is Andrew J. Robinson as Garak.

Trivial matters: At the end of the episode, Dax is promoted to junior-grade lieutenant. This is the second time a Dax has been promoted on the show—Jadzia went from lieutenant to lieutenant commander between seasons three and four—and the fifth opening-credits regular to be advanced in rank, following Sisko in “The Adversary,” Bashir at the same time as Jadzia, and Kira prior to this season. (In addition, Nog was promoted from cadet to ensign in “Favor the Bold.”)

When O’Brien shows up with a bottle of bloodwine at Worf’s quarters, he says, “Not again.” O’Brien previously did that in “Image in the Sand,” when he got Worf drunk to find out that he wanted to get Jadzia into Sto-Vo-Kor.

Bashir tells Dax he’s surprised that Jadzia enjoyed Bashir’s flirting with her, even though she herself told Bashir that in “Starship Down.”

The Kalandra Sector where the Destiny is going to launch an offensive with the Seventh Fleet is the sector via which the Dominion conquered Betazed in “In the Pale Moonlight.” A major battle will occur there in “Once More Unto the Breach.”

The childhood incident mentioned by Garak when Enabran Tain locked him in a closet is dramatized in Andrew J. Robinson’s “autobiographical” Garak novel A Stitch in Time.

Walk with the Prophets: “These pronouns are going to drive me crazy.” This is almost a good episode. It certainly tries really hard, and starts out promising. Garak’s issues and Dax’s dovetail nicely—so much so that Dax even points it out in their first session—so it’s a natural fit.

But the resolution is a confused mess—very much like Ezri Dax, in fact. Her actual counseling work is simply horrendous, for reasons outlined very clearly by both Garak and Sisko. The fact that Garak was an emotional mess and Sisko was messing with her is irrelevant to the fact that they were both right. For starters, the notion that Garak had childhood trauma is pretty obvious given who his father was—and that’s something Dax would know, since I can’t imagine that Garak’s parentage remained a secret after “In Purgatgory’s Shadow”/“By Inferno’s Light.” So Dax treating it like some kind of major revelation that his claustrophobia has its origin in being raised by Enabran Tain doesn’t really speak all that well for her.

Garak’s catharsis itself is actually quite convincing—he’s collaborating with the enemy of his people, and for all that he’s fighting to save Cardassia, he’s doing so in such a way that will lead to the deaths of flipping great wodges of Cardassians. To make matters worse, he knows that Cardassian casualties will be even worse because the Dominion will insist that Cardassians give their lives in service to their new masters, and now Garak is facilitating that. He can only be a patriot by being a traitor, and it is eating him alive.

What isn’t convincing is Dax’s subsequent catharsis. Garak only stumbled into it because of an accident of how the conversation between her and Garak turned. It certainly wasn’t due to anything she did as a counselor. Now, to be fair, this kind of therapy isn’t instantaneous and would take many sessions, what Dax does are preliminary steps, but they’re halting ones that are sabotaged by her own adjustment to being joined. Sisko somehow convinces Starfleet Medical that becoming joined will make up for her incomplete training, and I’m wondering how the hell he convinced a single medical professional of that. (For what it’s worth, scripter Rene Echevarria has said that he was told by several therapists after the episode aired that what he wrote was hokum. Would that he had consulted one or two before writing the script…)

Also, Dax spends the entire episode explaining why it’s a bad idea for her to be reassigned to DS9, and nothing in the episode convinces me that she’s wrong. Sisko just seems to want to have a Dax around, which is understandable, but it’s a crappy reason to have her do a job that she’s demonstrated very little skill in so far, and the other reasons are never really addressed, especially the one about her being assigned to the same station as a previous host’s husband.

When I first watched this season a decade and a half ago, I absolutely hated Ezri Dax as a character. I was pissed at Terry Farrell’s departure, and found the attempts to sledgehammer this new Dax into the ensemble to be lame at best. Since then, I’ve actually written the character a couple of times—once in a novel taking place a year after this episode, another taking place several years later when Dax is the captain of the U.S.S. Aventine—and I’m a bit more predisposed to the character, but I’m finding that that’s mostly due to the work that fiction writers like me, S.D. Perry, David Mack, Andy Mangels & Michael A. Martin, and others have done in the prose fiction moving her past where she was in this season. But in the seventh season itself, Dax is a mess and one that still feels as unwelcome as Worf says she is at the top of the episode.

What we wind up with is a story constructed to bring us to a result that is preordained by virtue of Nicole deBoer’s place in the opening credits. Ultimately, though, Echevarria’s script does nothing to hide the strings of this particular manipulation.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Afterimage

 

Warp factor rating: 3


Keith R.A. DeCandido’s got a bunch of things due out in 2015, including the novels Mermaid Precinct, the fifth novel in his series of fantasy police procedurals, and Stargate SG-1: Kali’s Wrath; the short stories “Back in El Paso My Life Would be Worthless” in The X-Files Volume 1: The Truth is Out There, “Streets of Fire” in V-Wars Volume 3, and “Down to the Waterline” in Buzzy Mag Online; and the short story collection Without a License: The Fantastic Worlds of Keith R.A. DeCandido.

60 Comments

Subscribe to this thread

Post a Comment

All comments must meet the community standards outlined in Tor.com's Moderation Policy or be subject to moderation. Thank you for keeping the discussion, and our community, civil and respectful.

Hate the CAPTCHA? Tor.com members can edit comments, skip the preview, and never have to prove they're not robots. Join now!