There’s a moment in this episode when O’Brien comes to see Worf with a bottle of bloodwine, and Worf’s reaction is a literal “Oh no, not again!” The Chief has made this move exactly once before, and while it did get the desired result, it was nice to see Worf A) remembered it, and B) knew what was going on but C) the Chief’s plan also still worked because O’Brien, thanks to their shared time on the Enterprise, has the longest history with Worf and knows how to get through to him.
But as for the rest of the episode…
After doing a pair of episodes that shined the spotlight on most of the cast, this time around the focus is very clearly on Ezri Dax and the effect she may be able to have on the station as a whole. Given how much Counselor Troi was a featured character on Next Generation, it is a little surprising that Deep Space Nine waited until its final season to get a regular ship’s (or station’s) counselor. There was talk of one in the past, some character off-screen for the most part, but there wasn’t someone on the command deck or anything along those lines who filled that role all that much, and unlike the generally calmer and more close-knit bunch on Next Generation, the more fractious and morally complex characters of Deep Space Nine arguably needed
As for Voyager…well, I can just assume the ship had one but said person was one of the many casualties to die in the pilot when the ship was yanked to the Delta Quadrant, and the survivors didn’t include anyone who could legitimately hold that position.
But Deep Space Nine, the station if not the show, arguably needed one just for the many times that O’Brien went through a lot of general anguish. Now here’s Ezri Dax, a counselor (well, an assistant to one since she’s still just an ensign at the start of the episode), and she’s been thrust into a situation where she’s not overly comfortable. Sisko is treating her like nothing happened, but he’s had experience with a new Dax before. Quark is too, but for more nefarious reasons as he’s still hot for some Trill. The others not so much, especially Worf.
Worf’s reasoning, as explained to O’Brien, also make sense. He knows she is and isn’t his wife, but he’s not sure how he should treat the new Dax while mourning the previous Dax until O’Brien just recommends asking Ezri, and while the two aren’t fast friends or anything, it is clear that they can at least have a working relationship to start with. Considering Worf told Ezri he wanted nothing to do with her and then told Bashir and Quark to stay away from her, knowing what was up was certainly a good thing because no one wants an inconsistent Klingon.
Likewise, Bashir learned Jadzia liked his early season flirting. So, um, yay?
But the main issue for Ezri is a complete lack of confidence as she’s not even sure she wants to stay in Starfleet (something Ben Sisko would hate no matter what given how he reveres the uniform), but before she can go, she needs to fix on small problem in the form of Garak’s suddenly much more intense claustrophobia, something that is keeping the former spy-turned-tailor from decoding more Cardassian secret messages. That’s important for the war effort, and if Garak can’t, then literally no one can. What could be causing those panic attacks, ones that at one point have him pounding on an airlock and demanding to be let out?
To be honest, Ezri’s initial diagnosis (father issues) seemed too easy. It came too early in the episode, and given this is Garak, a man famous around the station for all the things he only implies at best, to have him give such a basic answer (and for Ezri to accept it) felt off. The point where Ezri’s prodding got Garak to shout, that his real fear is knowing his work is getting other Cardassians killed, that was obviously the real answer, and one more in keeping with Garak’s character given how much of a patriot he is even if he isn’t allowed to go home.
Basically, getting through to Garak proved to Ezri how good she was and changed her mind about leaving. Were there clichés here? Yes, there were. Sisko’s never sending Ezri’s resignation letter comes to mind. But getting Garak to break, that’s something that the character hasn’t really done before, and they did it in-character, so I can’t complain.
Next time, let’s see about a little baseball.