Actor Tim Russ is best known to Star Trek fans for his portrayal of the Vulcan Tuvok on Voyager. However, he pops up in this episode as a Klingon, and that wasn’t his only other appearance on a Trek series without his pointy Vulcan ears.
But that’s all I am going to say about that.
No, we once again have a Dax-centered episode that, again, tells me very little about Jadzia Dax. Instead, we do learn a bit more about Trill culture, and that was rather worth a look since the Trill right now are such a vaguely defined race that learning anything at all makes me a happier camper.
As it is, this episode also plays like a bottle episode since aside from four guest stars, the cast is limited to the main cast (minus Jake) and everything is set on the station. There’s a plasma storm ripping through space, and the station was evacuated except for a skeleton crew and Quark who is up to no good since he usually is. After answering an SOS, the crew is taken hostage by two Klingon pirates who think their Empire is currently run by wimps, a former prostitute, and a Trill named Verad, played by all-around slimy guy character actor John Glover. Verad wants a symbiote of his own. He studied and prepared for years to have one before being rejected. So, he’s come to Deep Space Nine to claim Dax’s for himself. With Odo locked in a trap in Bashir’s store room and O’Brien wounded, it sure does seem as if there aren’t a lot of options. Heck, Quark got double-crossed since he was just looking to make a black market sale before the Klingons double crossed him.
So, here we go. I could question why, of all the Trills in the galaxy, Verad chose Dax. Surely there were some out there that he could have taken care of much more easily. You know, one that doesn’t work for Starfleet. Sure, part of the plan is to escape through the Wormhole afterwards, but I think the point stands. As it is, Dax surrenders and Bashir very reluctantly does the symbiote transplant despite the fact that, once bonded, a Trill host will die within hours without the symbiote. Jadzia is young and healthy, so she won’t necessary go out right away, but it does mean once again we have a Dax-based episode that doesn’t ask Terry Farrell to do a damn thing but lie there on a table and not say much.
That said, we do get some interesting tidbits on Trill culture. For one, only about 10% of Trills get a symbiote, and it’s no shame to not get one. Jadzia has a couple sisters and her parents who never got one. For another, I do have to wonder how many Trills are out there like Verad, bitter over a lifetime’s worth of work that was ultimately rejected. I mean, I had something similar happen to me in a Ph.D program, but I got over it in a couple hours because I got what I really wanted in the end anyway, but that’s not quite the same thing.
And here’s another thing: after the transplant, Sisko talks to the new Dax and learns the symbiote…has no problem with what happened. New Dax is an asshole. Maybe symbiotes don’t as a rule care for their hosts since a portion of every host will always live on, but Sisko, he’s not like that. He’ll tell the symbiote-through-Vared off and think nothing of it. Besides, his better plan was his other one. Rather than focus on Vared, he works his way with Vared’s companion Mareel, a former prostitute who is a bit in love with Vared and loyal to the end…of the episode because, as Sisko accurately pointed out, Vared won’t be the same person once he has the symbiote.
Kudos to Glover for showing a subtle difference between pre-op and post-op Vared, by the by.
So, who can save the day in a situation like this when Dax, the character the episode is about, spends most of it lying unconscious on a table? We expect Sisko to. Kira can kick ass with the best of them. But then Quark saves the day. He proves a good distraction by faking an injury to help Bashir sedate one of the two Klingons, and then uses his giant Ferengi ears to pick the lock on the trap holding Odo. Quark, though odious in many ways, doesn’t generally want people dying because of him. He’d rather just earn a profit than anything else, and dead folks can’t buy things, or maybe he is little more than a petty minor criminal than anything else.
The episode ends with Jadzia getting the symbiote back, as expected. She knows she’ll be feeling Vared in her for the rest of her life and in however many incarnations the symbiote will have in the future while he feels empty even if he got Mareel to take care of him. It might be nice to get some sort of notice on what happened to the guy afterwards, but for now, can we get a Dax episode that actually tells us something about the science officer next time?