DS9 Episode 1.8: Dax

In which Dax could tell you a lot, but it’s not in a gentleman’s code; make it one for Fionnula Flanagan and one more for the road.

Memory Alpha says: New evidence reopens a thirty-year-old murder case, and Dax’s previous host Curzon is now the prime suspect. (Please click the Memory Alpha link for detailed information.)

My Review
I’m reverting to bullet-point form, because it’s quick and I’m lazy. I’m doing this one at my parents’ place, because they have decent broadband and are sympathetic to my internet-deprived plight (connecting the line at my new flat is not going smoothly, I’m waiting on a technician, they might have it working on Monday, it’s all a bit unnecessary). I have to admit that, while I’m really enjoying revisiting the early TNG episodes that I haven’t watched for ages, because everything is half-remembered and goofy and adorable and weird, since I first watched DS9 right through back in May 2010, getting through Season One again is a bit of a slog, so I want to keep this thing moving and not get bogged down. (The only thing I can remember being outstandingly good in Season One is ‘Duet,’ but at least ‘Move Along Home’ is so cracky it really deserves to be an early TNG episode.)

Right; this episode is important because it begins to explore the consequences for Jadzia of living with Dax’s past, something to which her storylines (and Ezri’s, but Ezri is rather boring) will return a few times, sometimes with awesome two-lady kissing. I do like the fact that, in the Star Trek universe, the legal system has to deal with questions like ‘Does Data have human rights?’ and ‘Is Jadzia liable for things Curzon did (if indeed he did them)?’ that are quite outside the kind of courtroom dramas you can do in a less fantastic setting. I persist in believing that something like Law & Order: UFP would be kind of a fun spin-off. The usual assumption is that Captain Picard will be some kind of ambassador when he retires from Starfleet, but why not a crusading silver-fox DA, I ask you? Why not indeed. If you like Law & Order and ridiculous/cool things, go and look at These Are Their Stories; I’ll wait for you. There are Kate Beaton drawings.

  • Sisko’s opening narration informs me, to my sorrow, that I’ll get no O’Brien goodness this week; he’s taken Keiko home to Earth for her mum’s 100th birthday. Now I absolutely agree that this is an important occasion which no not-horribly-estranged daughter would want to miss, but it does raise the question of how the hell old Mrs Ishikawa was when she popped out Keiko, who looks to be in her late thirties or early forties. I can buy human lifespans getting longer, but I’m not so sure about human reproductive viability being extended too. I suppose this is a sign that the worst of the station’s teething troubles are over, since I doubt O’Brien would be allowed to take a week off for this if they were still having rampant problems with the steampunk cogwheel doors and dodgy replicators and so on.
  • On the other hand, it’s still kind of a piece of shit so Jadzia and Julian have to try and keep it running. I am not sure why any of this should fall to Julian, other than the fact that he has blue shoulders, or the fact that he is still in his puppyish Jadzia-following phase, and keeps giving her the old Jersey cow eyes. She is all business, though.
  • Siddig El Fadil’s delivery of the first use (afaik) of the word ‘raktajino’ is oddly over-emphatic. From a linguistic point of view, I would love to know whether the word is actually a portmanteau of some Klingon word and ‘cappuccino,’ meaning the Klingons were influenced by Italian coffee in coming up with it, or if it’s just parallel evolution (or, I know, just writers being silly). I know you didn’t ask, but ‘cappuccino’ means ‘Capuchin,’ as in the monk, not the monkey, because the topping of steamed milk resembles a monk’s hood, at least if you are an imaginative/bored barista. I am just imagining some Klingons sitting down for coffee in Italy, maybe in one of those horribly overpriced but beautiful cafés on the Piazza San Marco, and being like ‘This! This is the shit! We need to do some fusion stuff with this!’ and it’s making me happy.
  • Jadzia remains completely impervious to Julian’s lameness and he looks very dejected; I am glad because Dejected Julian is always cuter than Smarmy Julian.
  • Yeah those dudes watching them can’t be up to any good.
  • I do enjoy seeing her smilingly shut him down. But how much of a creep is he? He offered to walk her home and she politely said ‘That’s not necessary, Julian.’ After she leaves he mimics ‘That’s not necessary, Julian’ then makes an extremely icky smile and says ‘But not forbidden either’ and takes off after her. STOP IT YOU WAZZOCK. Girls like it when you’re keen, not when you’re grotesquely persistent.
  • Of course, it’s fortunate that he does, I guess, since he witnesses her getting kidnapped by some hoodies, and does some hilariously inept fighting. My favourite part – he actually hurts himself hitting someone, since he can’t pull up after landing the blow and his momentum carries him on into the wall of the corridor. Then he gets beaten up by a chick. Good times. But you know, for my feelings about Julian’s personality, I would have been happier if his reason for following Jadzia was that he noticed she’d left something behind in the replimat and was trying to return it to her. You could still play that like ‘oh, I can score some points by being helpful’ without making him into such a goddamn stalker.
  • The leader of the hoodie kidnappers is a total 1990s TV Hey It’s That Guy, and I am hoping I can place him without resorting to actually, you know, looking up his name.
  • Sisko seems to have some engineery knowledge. That’s actually pretty cool. I like it when the command people show some practical nous. (Yet I do not like it when Riker flies the whole ship using a joystick, because that is ridiculous.)
  • Mr El Fadil does good ‘I was hit on the head’ acting.
  • I find it interesting that their person-locating technology relies on commbadges, because that seems awfully easy to lose (or steal, or swap, when people are up to no good). On one hand, I am not crazy about intrusive tracking of individuals, but on the other, there are so many times in these shows when it’s important to know where someone is right away, not to mention whether they are, say, Data or Lore wearing Data’s things, that you’d think they’d come up with something harder to trick, like my cats’ microchips. On a third, notional hand, I realise that if this plan were put into place O’Brien’s plan in ‘Captive Pursuit’ wouldn’t have worked, not without some self-harm, and since I am on O’Brien’s side always I will stop now.
  • These people clearly did their homework! DS9’s security is clearly shit! Seriously, Odo, how did this happen? Did you not think to change the locks after the Cardies left?
  • Hoodies away. Fortunately, Useful Sisko is Useful and makes a tractor beam work!
  • My parents’ friend Bob just phoned and I answered and Bob is awful to talk to  on the phone because at first he only repeats back what you’re saying and doesn’t identify himself – ‘Good evening,’ ‘Good evening.’ (silence) ‘Hello?’ ‘Hello.’ Now do you remember I earlier mentioned a TVNZ Gloss character called Panic because he didn’t? That actor and Bob are friends. I tell you this only to illustrate the profound smallness of New Zealand. The actor plays a fisherman in the New Zealand-shot but Scottish-set film The Water Horse, based on a book by Dick King-Smith, and Dick King-Smith died this week, and I am so bummed. King-Smith also wrote The Sheep-Pig which was filmed as Babe and starred James Cromwell who was Zephram Cochrane in Star Trek: First Contact. Me, my parents, Bob, Panic, Dick King-Smith, James Cromwell, Star Trek. Is that six degrees or seven? I am really trying to drive my degrees of Star Trek down. It’s still pretty good for someone who lives in New Zealand and doesn’t work in film, television or theatre.
  • That was an awfully clandestine extradition. I’m just saying. I’m also saying it doesn’t seem terribly ethical or sensible to have an officer investigate the murder of his own father.
  • I like how Sisko has the same faith in Curzon’s character that Kira had in Odo’s in ‘A Man Alone.’ (I’m not sure I like the fact that the writers went back to the ‘one of the team is suspected of murder’ well so quickly.) I also like the fact that Odo is still questioning everything, even if it makes him appear rather antagonistic.
  • I like how this scene is blocked with Sisko looking at Jadzia through shelves stacked with her mementoes – elements of her past lives.
  • Still no idea who this That Guy is, but I am pretty sure I remember him playing some assholes.
  • I really like Kira in this scene. ‘Which not only compromises Bajoran security but also… annoys us.’ I always enjoy her throwing her weight around and being defiantly sarcastic (as established with her ‘I am only a Bajoran in the pilot). It’s interesting that these Clystron (should I look up the spelling?) people have an extradition treaty with the Federation and are allies of the Cardassians. That must be a complicated diplomatic situation – and will only get more so in the next few years.
  • Oh good, some Odo and Quark! How weird is it that the only venue on DS9 where they could hold a hearing is a bar on the promenade? Don’t they have, like, a conference room? Did the Cardies never need to get a large group of people together? For some reason I imagine Dukat liking to call meetings that EVERYONE has to come to, PURELY so he can talk about some achievement of his that has nothing to do with their jobs, either that or nag them about productivity and the state of the break-room fridge.
  • Building codes which I am morally certain Odo just made up. I’m pretty sure Quark suspects it too, but has just enough doubt not to try to call him on it.
  • What was up with that horrible flickery light Odo passed? He paused as if it was significant.
  • MORN SPOTTED. Implication: even when the bar has been taken over for a legal hearing, you cannot get Morn out of there. He simply will not understand you asking him to go. It’s like telling a cat ‘Get down from there.’ Eventually you just have to lunge at him and clap your hands and he will run off looking startled and offended.
  • There is a huge amount of wasted space in there – there’s no way they actually need a room as big as the bar. The only people present are the senior officers, Hey It’s That Guy and his hoodies, the judge, and the aforementioned Quark and Morn who have no reason to be there beyond owning the place/curiosity/personal inertia. This could have been done in an empty apartment on the habitat ring! You could’ve done it at the O’Briens’ – they’re away all week! If you watered the plants while you were there, it would count as house-sitting.
  • Hey. Did the Bajoran lady arbiter just use the gavel-ball from The Undiscovered Country, the one from Kirk and McCoy’s show trial where Worf’s grampa tried and failed to defend them? Badass.
  • I like this arbiter, she’s a tough old chook. The teleplay for this episode was written by another tough old chook, DC Fontana, and was her final contribution to the Star Trek canon.
  • Why would the Federation have a mutual extradition treaty with a planet that uses the death penalty? Seriously? Are they just so confident that none of their people will commit a serious crime on or against Clystron that it will never be an issue? Did they learn nothing from all that plant-crushing bullcrap in ‘Justice’? (The Federation may still have had the death penalty for murder as late as TOS, though, judging by an argument used by Kirk in [if I’m remembering rightly, the one with Richard Daystrom] ‘The Ultimate Computer.’)
  • ‘Excuse me, sir, I don’t know that there is any medical evidence on that.’ ‘Assume there is, then find it.’ … ‘What if I find the answer is yes?’ ‘Then that answer is wrong.’ I like the fierce friendship and loyalty in Sisko that this shows, but Picard is yelling in the background ‘THE FIRST DUTY OF A STARFLEET OFFICER IS TO THE TRUTH.’ Further back, Kirk is saying ‘Yeah, balls to that, steal a starship if you have to, it’s BF<i>F</i> for a reason.’
  • Odo is a good, if grumpy and snotty, detective.
  • FIONNULA FLANAGAN ALERT. It’s a shame about the slightly too high alien hairline they’ve given her in this, because she’s so beautiful in a queenly elderly way. Now the first thing I ever saw Fionnula Flanagan in was The Others, and then Lost, and then the episode of TNG in which she turns up as Data’s mother (way out of sequence, obv’y). This means that I have a very similar reaction to a sighting of Fionnula Flanagan as to one of Ian Holm; equal parts ‘Oh, lovely Fionnula Flanagan!’ and ‘IT’S FIONNULA FLANAGAN DON’T TRUST HER. She’ll turn out to be a ghost or shoot you while gestating you.’ The name ‘Fionnula Flanagan’ is just impossible amounts of fun. Oh, and if they ever do make proper Discworld movies, not just Cosgrove Hall animations that get the colour of Magrat’s clothes wrong (as if she’d wear a red dress! as if Granny would let her!) or Sky movies that cast David Jason, in his seventies, as Rincewind, who is pretty canonically in his thirties to forties, I want her to play Granny Weatherwax. They need to hurry up and do this before all my favourite casting choices for the older characters die off (e.g. Brian Blessed for Ridcully).
  • This scene is a pleasure to me, even though it’s terribly exposition-heavy (you can’t really avoid that in a court-case story anyway), just because both actors are wonderfully charismatic and have great voices. And the change in her face as Odo tells her Curzon died is so beautifully shown. For some reason I like how Odo conducts himself through this – with a lot of decency but no sentiment.
  • The Trill witness has a really weird affect. Like he’s going for ‘wise and serene’ but it’s just a little bit dopey.
  • Of course, his dialogue is an opportunity for the writers to lay out some ground rules of Trill joining, and clarify things that were only muddily suggested during the introduction of the Trills in TNG, stuff that you need to establish if you’re going to have a core character of this species rather than an alien-of-the-week, so I understand why they wanted to do this, it’s just a bit of an infodump.
  • A two hour recess, during which you will go to your rooms and think about what you’ve done!
  • Julian gets to do exposition too, now. He’s so pretty, and it’s so much nicer to see him acting like a trustworthy grown-up. Of course, I have to bear in mind that he really is only in his twenties here and the standard of ‘Star Trek Doctors’ that I’m measuring him against was established by actual, proper grown-ups like Leonard McCoy and Bev Crusher – not to mention his later, more complex, mature, less leg-humpy self who is fresher in my mind.
  • It’s the next day now, because it was getting late halfway through the episode.  After this I’m going for a swim, because it’s a beautiful hot sunny day, but I want to wait until it’s no longer prime sunburn time.  I still haven’t worked out who the actor playing the guy who wants to extradite Dax is – and I should just add that I haven’t learned his name, or his mum’s, or his dead dad’s.
  • I wonder if all Starfleet command officers secretly fantasise that at some stage they’ll get to do some law-talking. They do seem to take to it like they’ve been waiting for it.
  • Julian’s hair is looking a bit better, less fluffy. I like how when he says ‘Curzon and Jadzia are two unique individuals,’ on ‘and Jadzia’ he looks over and gives her a little eye-twinkle, and she just Sphinxes him. I also like how That Guy is following the lawyer’s maxim of ‘don’t ask a question in court to which you don’t already know the answer,’ backing Julian into a corner on his evidence – and Julian looks very petulant and embarrassed about it. Didn’t get to save the girl with your big brain after all, did you.
  • I just love how they’re doing all this with a backdrop of all Quark’s bottles of coloured liqueurs. It screams class.
  • I presume that Kira and Sisko have thoroughly rehearsed her questions and his answers.
  • Also interesting that Sisko gives so much credit for his sense of honour to Curzon’s influence, as if his own father’s influence was not that great. Now he’s using a metaphor involving salt and boiling water, though, so I guess his dad would be proud of that.
  • I know that Jadzia’s refusal to speak on her own behalf or try to explain herself to Benjamin is supposed to emphasise what an Enigma she is, but really, it’s frustrating and makes her seem somewhat… I don’t know. I never like it when, in a story, someone refuses to explain something in order to protect someone else, to the extent of taking it too far. Like in The Moonstone where the girl believes it was her fiancée who stole the cursed Indian diamond from her room, so she breaks off their engagement because she thinks he’s a terrible person but still loves him too much to tell on him, and there’s this huge long investigation that takes months and poor Rosanna commits suicide (oops Wilkie Collins spoiler) and honestly, your personal feelings of loyalty should not override finding a way to clear up a very nasty situation when you can do so quite simply. You can be too chivalrous.
  • Why does Odo have to turn into three-quarter profile to look at the communicator screen from wherever he is? That seems un-ergonomic.
  • The wife! The wife. Dun dun dun, cherchez la femme!
  • A nice matte painting. I wonder how many different alien planets it’s been?
  • And of course, Jadzia’s silence is useless because Odo has unpicked all of this. Fionnula Flanagan’s scenes with Rene Auberjonois are substantially better than her one with Terry Farrell later on.
  • And once again, Jadzia is just stubbornly silent, and the audience shares Sisko’s frustration, and – the part about the scar on Benjamin’s chin from Curzon’s ring is very, very sweet, although the way that Sisko is on one knee on front of her, guiding her hand to touch his face, makes it seem that the writers were keeping the option of a romance between the two of them open. Which I am glad they did not go for.
  • Finally we hear some of Jadzia’s own voice in this episode, and I suppose a big part of why this episode is called ‘Dax’ is that it really isn’t about Jadzia, it’s about Curzon’s shadow over her.
  • Jadzia has four degrees in various sciences; how has she had time to earn four degrees by the age of twenty-six (before Dax, two years ago)? How long does a Trill degree take to get? In its way this bothers me as much as Data having served over twenty years in Starfleet before TNG, but still… yeah, I’ve ranted on that before and probably will again, and I just think Data makes more sense if you assume that at the start of TNG he’s about eight and fairly newly qualified.
  • LOOK OUT IT’S FIONNULA FLANAGAN. Come to confess and put things right, and very noble of her it seems. I thought it was going to be that she sent the transmission because she couldn’t stand her apparently horrible husband any more, so it’s kind of lame that it’s just that the general was a traitor and she and Curzon decided to cover it up so people could Believe In Harvey Dent. The ending is quite sweet, but also somewhat bland. Apart from the reputation of a man we’ve never seen on a planet we don’t really care about, what was at stake all along?
  • Well, that was dull! I think my favourite part of the whole review was imagining Klingons in Italy. Next time it’s ‘The Passenger,’ and in fact I might just go straight on and start that now, to get it out of the way and then have some vaguely remembered TNG to look forward to. And that will be ‘Hide and Q,’ the one where Q offers Riker magic powers, and gosh, why would you. Oh man, I have some advanced lameness coming up soon, like ‘Angel One.’ On the other hand, not long till ‘Datalore,’ which has Problems but introduces my favourite and most underused TNG baddie.

    Ka kite till then.


    9 Responses to “DS9 Episode 1.8: Dax”

    1. acrimonyastraea Says:

      >Why does the federation have an unrestricted extradition treaty with a planet that has the death penalty? They have shitty negotiators!

    2. acrimonyastraea Says:

      >I commented before I finished the whole post. I FELT SO SMART.I SEE YOU ARE SMART TOO!Still reading. And damn blogger makes commenting a pain in the ass.

    3. Picardigan Says:

      >It really does! You can't directly reply to anything. I never know if commenters know I responded to what they said.WE ARE SMART TOGETHER!

    4. acrimonyastraea Says:

      >It's like a 13 step process! Blogger, why so difficult? Maybe if I use a different account it won't be so bad. I will try!ok, google is easier but it wants to announce my full name.

    5. Picardigan Says:

      >This is why I have multiple fake identities with Gmail.Including Dr Jan Itor, but I've forgotten the password.

    6. Curuchamion Says:

      * “Did you not think to change the locks after the Cardies left?” – Huh. I’m working on a pre-series story-ish-thing about the two weeks between the Cardies and the ‘Fleet, so this is a Pertinent Question. I find I don’t have an answer for it. *considers*

      * Probably Dukat held his giant mandatory meetings in Ops. There’s plenty of room, it’s right outside his office, and it’s well laid out for one guy making speeches to his staff. It’s not so well laid out for the multiple focus points of a trial setting. Plus, what if we have to stop the trial for an alert of some sort – we don’t want to be worrying about clearing all these guest-stars out of Ops.

      * …Me, I think Odo’s Bajoran building codes are probably real and quite accurate. Especially this early in the series, he’s extremely careful about speaking the literal truth, even in scenes where he’s hiding something – and it wouldn’t be impossible for Quark to fact-check him here, which would be a serious setback to Odo’s rep if he was fibbing.

      (I may also be amused by the idea of Odo knowing building codes, since I used to work in home repair and thus have a head full of them myself…)

      * Odo is an excellent detective. My favorite thing on the show is Odo being detective-y. (Well, except for the rare occasions when he is sweet with small children.) And his “decency without sentiment” conduct is lovely.

      * FIONNULA FLANAGAN FOR GRANNY WEATHERWAX. BRIAN BLESSED FOR THE RIDCULLY BROTHERS (they’re twins, right?) This is necessary. And David Jason should not be Rincewind ever. *la la la*

      * “Fionnula Flanagan’s scenes with Rene Auberjonois are substantially better than her one with Terry Farrell later on.” – René Auberjonois has (as do Patrick Stewart and John de Lancie) the amazing gift of making anyone playing opposite him seem like a better actor. When the other person already is a great actor (see: Armin Shimerman, or for an extreme example the Q and Picard feedback spiral), that’s some pretty high-quality awesomeness.

      • picardigan Says:

        – I could understand if there were SO MANY things to fix that changing the locks became a low priority, but you’d think O’Brien would have attended to it within the first couple of weeks, or even that Odo would have taken care of on his own. It’s such a glaring gap in their security, given that the former tenants were well-known jerks. You don’t want them to be able to let themselves back in.
        – Yes, this is much more likely. And he strutted back and forth at the top of his little flight of steps. And made everyone look at PowerPoints about how great he was.
        – I can’t remember whether Mustrum and, um, damn I’ve forgotten the name of his brother who’s the High Priest of Blind Io, but yeah, I can’t remember whether they are twins. Hughnon! Thank you, Google. I actually went to the L-Space Web wiki and found that this has been given considerable thought:

        We learn in The Last Hero from an aside to one his underlings that, unlike his brother Mustrum, Hughnon is married. (Faced with a long emergency debate in Synod, he sends a lowly deacon off to inform his wife that he may not be home tonight, and could she please have the kindness to pack him an overnight bag). So evidently priests, unlike wizards, may marry. The name, and indeed further details, concerning Mrs Ridcully are unknown, nor is it known if there are any children. However, we know enough about the Ridcully family to know that they are well-to-do country landowners with wide estates – indeed, Mustrum retired from active Wizarding for a long time in order to manage the family estates. (This implies that there are no other siblings and that Father may not be alive). It is also known from an exchange between the brothers in Reaper Man that Mother is still alive, and vexed that she doesn’t get letters from Mustrum as often as she could.

        Therefore as typical representatives of the upper classes, one of the Ridcully brothers must have been taxed with producing heirs who may inherit the family wealth. So it is more than likely that there are younger Ridcullies: children of Hughnon and nephews/nieces to Mustrum. This is a most interesting prospect!

        And at least in the British upper classes, there is still an axiom that where there is more than one son, the eldest (heir) inherits: the younger (the spare) are packed off into the professions, ie the military, the law, academia, and (for perceived idiot sons who are otherwise unemployable) the Church…

        The thought of Uncle Mustrum dandling his nieces and nephews on his knees is tooth-hurtingly cute. And yes, he absolutely must be Brian Blessed. This needs to hurry up and happen before all the good older actors get too MUCH older.

        If only we had nabbed him when he was younger, Siddig El Fadil would’ve made a lovely Pteppic.

        • Curuchamion Says:

          Oh my gosh, SIDDIG EL FADIL AS PTEPPIC… I just died of the awesome. Wow. 😎 I think this is headcanon now.

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