I write these up, often trying to be as critical and dispassionate as possible, judging individual episodes on artistic and storytelling merits, and for the most part, I’d like to think I succeed there.
But on the other hand, I am only human.
Point being, there was a moment in this episode where my one thought was “Damn, Terry Farrell looks good in white.”
To be honest, that thought surprised me a little. Not because Farrell isn’t attractive. Heck, the show tends to play up that with how much Bashir moons over her, but Jadzia Dax’s defining characteristic is she’s up for anything. She’ll gamble with Ferengi (and win), take lessons in all kinds of disciplines and artforms, and generally try to experience as much as possible. It at times has made Dax a rather frustrating character for me. That comes in part from the fact the show has been (arguably deliberately) vague about how much it’s Jadzia talking and how much it’s Dax. Given how Sisko talks to her like she’s still the Dax symbiote’s previous host, that’s a little understandable.
The point is, I think the Trill as a race are not as well-defined as they could be given their essential dual nature. If I think Dax is vague, that’s because the series presents her that way. That’s not on Farrell. That would be hard for any actor to pull off. The series has improved that somewhat, and it’s helped Farrell with her performance as the character. I wouldn’t even say Dax is the only character when it comes to being vaguely defined. You could easily say the same about Bashir or Jake Sisko. But Bashir has that cocky edge to him rather than just being the person who goes along with everything, and Jake disappears for stretches. So, really, for a character that has been portrayed as centrally important as she has, Dax still seems hard to pin down in terms of personality.
Episodes like this one do and don’t help.
That’s largely due to what happens here: during a dinner party in Sisko’s quarters, Dax suddenly finds herself playing a musical instrument of Jake’s despite the fact she has no knowledge on how to play anything. Later, she has some weird visions about a masked figure, and then there are some mood swings. Bashir, taking a look into what’s wrong with her, finds there’s some history of a coma in a previous host for the Dax symbiote, so then it’s off to the Trill homeworld for Dax, Bashir, and Sisko.
Dax, for her part, initially suggests some sightseeing before Sisko has to remind her that they are there for other reasons. Now, had this episode shown Dax personally spearheading the investigation into her hallucinations, that might have been something. Instead, she lapses into a coma, and it becomes a job for Sisko and Bashir to find out what happened.
OK, the coma comes after she has a vision of guards restraining her after she had murdered someone, but the point stands. Dax hadn’t even found the evidence that caused that flashback. That had been Sisko and Bashir’s work. They got a name, did most of the legwork, and eventually learned the truth about the Trill: a lot more of them could be hosts than the ruling class tells them.
The general background on Trills that we’ve gotten so far is that only about one in every thousand can join with a symbiote. There aren’t that many symbiotes to begin with, so having strict criteria for who can and can’t get one makes sense. The Dax symbiote had a host for a period named Joran, a musician and composer. When a symbiote gets a bad host match, that can cause madness in the host. That happened here. Joran committed murder and had to be locked away. The symbiote came out, and all memories of Joran were forcibly blocked. They were leaking out a bit, hence the reason for Dax’s hallucinations.
So, that’s some good stuff there in theory. It would have been nicer if Dax found this herself, but the episode ends with Dax getting access to Joran’s memories restored, and that means a trip to the spawning pools with Dax dressed in white and see my thoughts at the top of this article.
But there was one other thing…apparently, while that “bad host” thing is legitimate, it seems a lot more people could get a symbiote than the Trill government would allow them to believe. It’s actually more of one in every two Trills as opposed to one in every thousand. That suggests that there should be a lot more hosts, but that number is suppressed to prevent violence. Considering we saw what one Trill would do to become a host, there might be something to that. But that also suggests that…Joran wasn’t that big a risk in the grand scheme of things if there was a 50-50 chance it would have worked out.
That it didn’t, well…that’s why the Trill can be a little frustrating as alien races on this show can go.
However, that whole Joran thing will be kept secret by Dax, Sisko, and Bashir…for now at least.