Finally! I finally got a Dax episode where it actually is about her and Trill society! Not something where she lets other people discover stuff on her behalf or episodes that are equally about another character or an outright embarrassment.
Oh, and when you go Googling this episode for images, one of the suggestions is “Deep Space Nine Rejoined kiss”. Lots of pictures show that kiss, but I deliberately choose a different one for my banner image even though it’s the same scene and moment. It just seemed right that I do that.
OK, so, who is kissing whom? Short answer: Dax is kissing another woman. Keep in mind, this episode first aired in 1995. That sort of thing just didn’t happen back then. Today? Sure. I could point out that it is far more common to show two women as a couple rather than two men, but the point stands: you are far more likely to see two women kissing on TV than two men. That was actually one of the reasons I choose not to use a kiss pic for this article’s banner image. But still, this is 1995, and if one character on Deep Space Nine was going to be in a relationship with a member of the same sex while the show was airing, Dax makes the most sense. Yes, both Alexander Siddig and Andrew J Robinson have said as far as the two of them are concerned, Bashir and Garak were into each other, but that was never canon on the show while it was airing.
Dax, on the other hand, is as much a more fluid character, and I mean that literally. The Dax symbiote has been both men and women in the past, and she learned a lot from her past lives. This episode opens with her doing magic tricks for Quark and Bashir, something Bashir knows is basic sleight of hand but Quark is sure is more. Sisko then calls her to his office to let her know a Trill science team is coming to use the Defiant for some kind of experiments, and one of them is a woman named Lenara Kahn. Kahn is another joined Trill, and her symbiote was in a past life married to Dax in another past life. Trill society frowns upon symbiotes continuing relationships with past lives, so much so that if Dax and Kahn tried to resume, they would no longer be permitted within Trill society and their symbiotes would not be moving on to the next life.
That’s a heavy penalty. Sure, there’s an explanation for it. Trill symbiotes are supposed to constantly experience new stuff. Reliving old relationships with former spouses or even children is frowned upon as a result. That fits with everything that’s been said about Trill society so far. It has been a number of years since Dax and Kahn were married. They’ve each had multiple past lives. Are they going to be even tempted to rekindle the relationship? Everyone seems to think they will.
And..they don’t, but not for lack of trying. Hence the kiss. Dax is more willing to go for it than Kahn. After the experiment to create an artificial wormhole nearly gets them both killed, Kahn wants to go back to Trill Prime and think over things, but Dax knows if she leaves, she won’t be coming back.
I’d like to think that Dax watching Kahn leave is really her looking down on Worf, there to see Kahn off because, c’mon, I know Dax and Worf get married later.
In terms of plot, there isn’t much to this episode. Dax and Kahn meet again, hit it off, consider running away together despite Trill taboos, and then don’t. It didn’t seem likely that Kahn would be staying, and whether or not this counts as an LGBTQ+ relationship may depend on whether you count the outer form of the Trill more than the inner one. Like I said: this was 1995. There wasn’t much chance this was going to be any deeper than some kisses, and it’s great that the show wanted to go there, but at the same time, this was never going to go any further.
However, this episode did feature a really strong performance from Terry Farrell and guest star Susanna Thompson. There may not have been much plot, but the bond between the two women was well played and well written. So, if we are going to get more Dax-centered episodes, and we should, then having more like this episode will make me a lot happier.