Well, I knew this episode was coming. I’m watching this show, what, nearly thirty years after the original broadcast? Even at the time I knew the show recast Dax for the final season when Terry Farrell left the show after six seasons. But with that in mind, well, was Jadzia’s departure any good?
And I would have to say, not really.
Now, I don’t generally do much research when I look into these episodes, limited mostly to reading over whatever Wikipedia has to say, and even then it’s mostly to make sure I spell names correctly. As such, I do know roughly what happened behind the scenes that led to Jadzia’s sudden departure. Apparently, Terry Farrell was looking to get herself a new contract that would essentially make her more of a reoccurring supporting actor, appearing fairly often but not in every episode, something along the lines of the way characters like Martok or Garek, characters that appear often enough but aren’t in every episode. At the least, she may have been hoping for a contract similar to Colm Meaney’s that would allow her to take an episode off here and there to make a movie.
Insert comment about Farrell’s film career here.
Regardless, the producers decided instead to just kill Jadzia off and fire Farrell. As a Trill, the Dax character could be brought back in a new body easily enough, but the fact remains that Jadzia, the host Farrell played, was killed off. Still, the death could have at least been done well, something heroic or exciting, something that reminded the audience what it was about Jadzia Dax that made them love her. If anything, in the episode when Quark fell in with a weapons dealer, the biggest clue that he was going well beyond his usual bad behavior was because Dax was angry with him. When has Dax ever been that angry with anyone?
I would argue the episode fails to do that on so many levels, going for a more generic response. Admittedly, it took me a while to get a feel for Dax. She mostly seemed to be this serene figure who was sort of friends with Sisko for the longest time and…that was about it. Bashir was smitten with her, and she largely humored him. Eventually, I figure the character out: Dax was the outgoing, fun girl who could be very stubborn, had a mind of her own, and she was basically everyone’s friend who wanted to experience as many things as possible. That she would marry Worf may seem a little odd, but I actually like seeing Worf get romantic, and he even does that a little here when he leaves on the Defiant while Dax stays behind to command the station.
Now that I think about it, leaving Dax behind just seems really weird. I mean, Sisko obviously went, and I mentioned Worf, plus since it was a joint operation with the Romulans and the Klingons, Martok also went, but onboard the Defiant are Sisko, Kira, O’Brien, and Worf for the command crew, Garek manning a station, Nog at the helm, and Jake observing as a journalist. Really, it seems like almost everyone went aside from Dax and Bashir. Oh sure, Odo and Quark are probably still there, but that’s beside the point. Since when did Dax (or Bashir for that matter) not go on a mission like that?
Instead of something in-character or heroic, the episode seems to revert Dax back to what she was in season one: an object of desire for the menfolk. Her big moment is a reveal that she and Worf have decided to have a baby together, something that is maybe a minor problem because of comparability issues between Klingon and Trill DNA, but even that is more or less settled off-screen somewhere. And that…if more or less what Dax does for most of the episode, namely dream of having Worf’s baby. In fact, that’s what she’s doing when Dukat, possessed by a Pah-Wraith, beams in and more or less effortlessly kills her with some kind of energy blast. Bashir is able to keep her alive long enough for Worf to return and for Sisko to mourn her, but it was such a lame way to go out. Dukat beamed in and she barely had time to react as she stood in front of one of the Orbs of the Prophets because at some point Dukat learned about the Prophets and the Pah-Wratihs and decided that the thing to do was attack the Prophets to somehow reopen the wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant.
I will say there was a highlight for this episode in the form of Weyoun and Damar, reacting to Dukat’s plan, and with Weyoun even offering Damar rare praise for successfully pulling off a trap for the invading armada’s fleet.
As for the battle itself, I don’t recall Star Trek ever doing large scale space battles with dozen of ships before, and I am not sure how well they pulled it off. That said, it makes me want to rewatch Babylon 5 even more to see how well their space battles held up in comparison with their early CGI effects. Too bad I am more or less waiting for Jimmy on that one…
But really, even with the attack on the wormhole and Sisko going on a perhaps permanent leave of absence back to Earth after the wormhole’s seeming destruction, this episode is basically a farewell to Dax, and such a halfassed one at that. Bashir even regresses a little as he and Quark take to Vic Fontaine’s place to mope over the fact that if Dax is having Worf’s baby, she is never going to be one of theirs. OK, Quark I get, but Bashir? He hasn’t been mooning over Dax since season two at the latest, and he’s had other relationships. You mean he was still pining for her all this time?
Anyway, Dax had an anticlimactic end that for all I know was the producers’ revenge on Farrell for not being a good girl and just signing a contract she wasn’t looking to do. It’s a bit of a black mark on this series, but that doesn’t mean the series won’t still go out on a high note.