You know, a few months ago, just as I was beginning to think about this rewatch project, a screenshot of a Tumblr post appeared on my Twitter timeline that, after I stopped laughing at it, I took as a sign from the universe that I should definitely go ahead with this thing I was thinking about doing. I probably think about that post at least once a day ever since then. And given that this is the second episode in a row in which the station has had to be evacuated, each time for completely different reasons, I feel like this is a good time to share that post with you all.
STATION ON FIRE TRASH CAN, BITCH.
“You know he’s evil because his part is so straight”
That piece of wisdom comes from my mother, observing Verad, the Trill leader of the gang of mercenaries who’ve commandeered the station for their Dax heist. A few other notes on said gang:
- Actually, one of my notes just consists of “LOL KLINGONS”
- Every rewatch I spend part of the episode going “how do I know that Klingon” about T’Kar, the one who remains up in Ops, before I finally look it up and remember that he’s Tuvok
- I feel like there is not nearly enough mention of the fact that Mareel is incredibly friggin’ strong in a fight? Like, Kira fights off T’Kar without too much trouble, but Mareel takes her down pretty quickly.
- Mareel deserves better than Verad, tbqh!!! HIS TRIFLING ASS DOES NOT DESERVE YOUR LOYALTY, GIRL. I hope she dumps him soon after this episode.
While we’re on the topic of the bad guys, apparently Armin Shimerman, bless him, dislikes this episode because he thought Quark got off too light for his role in letting the pirates in. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:
┃┃╱╲ In this
Whole lotta nonsense about the greater good going on here
OK, let’s start with Verad’s line “What’s one girl’s life compared to eight lifetimes of knowledge and experience?” Leaving aside that Jadzia is a grown-ass woman, not a “girl”…you’re planning to go into hiding in the Gamma Quadrant, my guy. Since it doesn’t sound like you’ve made plans to get the symbiont back to the Trill homeworld when you die, that means Dax will die with you. This is not really a “greater good” thing. I mean, I guess he mostly just means it from a selfish perspective, that he’s willing to let Jadzia die so long as he gets what he wants, but in general, I feel like the utter selfishness of this is something that’s not really played up enough.
That said, I was struck by some of Jadzia’s remarks to Verad about how the Symbiosis Commission was “only looking out for your best interests” in rejecting him and how her unjoined family “lead happy and productive lives” definitely come off as more than a little patronizing. It’s interesting, from a worldbuilding perspective, in light of what we learn later about the Trill — that the Commission has lied about how many people are actually capable of being joined in an attempt to protect the symbionts and keep them from becoming commodities — and it makes sense that there’d be a lot of “chosen one” language around being joined. I think this incident is even cited as an example of why the Commission believes that the lie is necessary?
But I also wonder whether it was really the best approach to take. Like, I get that they don’t want to risk antagonizing the guy who’s holding them all hostage, but also, it wasn’t just Verad’s best interests the Commission was looking out for; they were looking out for Dax’s best interests, too. Not to mention that the symbiont gets a pretty significant choice in the matter, too — I almost feel like they might have gotten further if Jadzia had let Dax do more of the talking about why they chose Jadzia over him. I can see how that might’ve been hard to get across without coming off as taunting him, but again, I feel like the utter selfishness — hell, I’d call it entitlement — of Verad’s plan, his certainty that this woman is an interloper who deprived him of something that was rightfully his, that it couldn’t possibly be that she was more qualified, is an angle that they don’t really explore as fully as I’d like to have seen
Can’t imagine why, but for some reason, I feel like mentioning here that Deep Space Nine had the lowest percentage of episodes credited to female writers of any Star Trek series. Compare this one, for instance, to “Q-Less”, in which, amidst the general clownery that Q pulls, there is also a very real sense of how truly frightening he can be, how much damage he is capable of doing; I’m not sure it’s an accident that that one had a female writer, while this one didn’t.
(I suspect, also, that it’s not an accident, given how much attention Avery Brooks was paying to this kind of subtext, and how very aware he was of the fact that while the show was set in the 24th century it was very much a product of the 20th, that he plays Sisko as having little to no patience with Verad’s attempts to justify his actions.)
Another thought I kept having, that they never really touched on, was also buddy, you really think Dax is gonna let you live this down? Aside from a couple of specific rituals the Trill have, the symbiont isn’t really a separate voice in the host’s head, let alone each individual host, but even if they’re completely integrated, psychologically — something that takes time, as we later see with Ezri, though she admittedly had less preparation than Verad since she never even tried to become a host — it seems weird to me that Verad is so calm right off the bat, that Dax isn’t furious about this and that wouldn’t manifest in some kind of show of guilt or self-doubt. But, then, they also establish that the symbiont is pretty weak after the initial surgery; maybe it’s just something that would have happened in the longer term, as Dax recovered.
Some other things I liked
Writer Robert Hewitt Wolfe commented that this episode “showed a part of Bashir that we hadn’t seen before”, in reference to his toughness and willingness to stand up to the other Klingon, Yeto. I would quibble with it being the first time we’ve seen that — there’ve been incidents before where it became clear that when it comes to doing his job, Bashir a) is extremely competent, b) takes it really seriously, and c) has no patience for people getting in the way of his treating people. But I could see this being the first time it’s really been a major focal point in an episode, rather than a couple of lines or something mostly conveyed in Siddig’s performance.
I did also appreciate that they managed not to turn it into a weird Jadzia/Bashir romance thing? Julian kept it together and didn’t get weird and horny on Jadzia while she was in such a difficult, vulnerable position, and the emotional connection mostly seemed to have been initiated on her side, as she dealt with the feelings of fear and loneliness she was feeling in the sudden shock of the symbiont’s absence. Plus, to be fair, at this point they actually have gotten to be friends, so it’s totally reasonable for this to be a difficult thing for Bashir to do — even though Dax ultimately volunteered to save everyone, he’s still playing a role in her death by performing the operation.
Also, as pretty much always, I friggin’ love Sisko. The way he immediately picks up on Mareel as a potential point of vulnerability in the heist, and the delicacy with which he starts planting the seeds of doubt for her, so that even when she recognizes what he’s doing, he’s still gotten under her skin? The way he then proceeds to find a balance between trying to appeal to his friend, Dax, and knows the exact moment to shut that down and make it clear that he can’t be friends with Verad Dax? *chef’s kiss* I think Sisko is, in general, excellent at reading people and picking up on their strengths and weaknesses, and while the show is quite clear on how it makes him a good commander and great in a crisis, it also occasionally shows the ways that it can make him dangerous as hell, and this is an example of that. The Obsidian Order would be impressed by the way he played this situation, come on.
Given that there were some pretty intimate moments between Jadzia and Bashir, there was pleasantly little horniness in this one! Well done with keeping your shit together and being professional, Julian.
That said, when Sisko said “Don’t call me Benjamin”? SWOON. So, as is frequently the case, me for Sisko.