Retro Review: FacetsPosted by Michelle - 25/01/13 at 07:01 pm
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season: 03 Episode: 25 (s03e25)
Original US airdate: 06/12/1995
Jadzia asks her friends to take on the personalities of Dax’s past hosts for a Trill rite of closure, but once Odo gets Curzon inside him, he doesn’t want the ritual to end.
Plot Summary: Dax asks the crew and some friends to assist in her zhian’tara, a Trill ceremony in which the current host “meets” the previous hosts by having their memories transferred into another body. A Trill Guardian arrives to facilitate the transfer of Lela’s witty memories into Kira, Tobin’s quiet scientific interests into O’Brien, Audrid’s maternal instincts into Quark, Emony’s athleticism into Leeta, and Torias’s regrets into Bashir. An encounter with the murderer Joran embodied by Sisko leaves Jadzia unnerved since he insists that she is a weak, unworthy host. She resolves to ask Curzon why he originally had her removed from the symbiont program, but once Curzon’s memories are joined with Odo’s, Curzon is far more interested in enjoying corporeal life and resuming his friendship with Sisko than he is in discussing Dax’s past. When Curzon claims that he supported her readmission to the initiate program only because he felt sorry for her, Jadzia says she doesn’t know how to reintegrate his memories without losing her self-esteem. Curzon tells her not to worry about that because he doesn’t intend to reintegrate with Dax, since he and Odo are much happier joined together and plan to stay that way. Meanwhile, Nog fails a crucial test for admission into a Starfleet Academy training program, but Rom realizes that Quark rigged the holosuite so that Nog wouldn’t pass and would remain on the station. While Nog retakes the test, Sisko convinces Jadzia to confront Curzon, who reluctantly admits that he forced her out of the initiate program because he was i love with her. He does not want to reintegrate and share his feelings of shame, but she insists that they are meant to be together and share love through Dax. A newly confident Jadzia goes to the party celebrating Nog’s admission to the Academy preparatory program, where Odo apologizes to Dax for his behavior as Curzon.
Analysis: “Facets” is an episode that’s enormous fun to watch and provides some delightful glimpses at all the series regulars playing alternate personalities, though it’s kind of a shame that Jadzia gets so little to do by comparison in a story centered on Dax and that in the end we don’t learn anything new about this host’s priorities and values. It’s not the first time she’s credited her scientific nerdiness to Tobin even though Jadzia had several advanced degrees before she was a joined Trill, nor the first time she’s fretted over what it means that Curzon initially rejected her from the symbiont program, so I’m completely confused at this point how Trill joining is supposed to work. When we met Odan on Picard’s Enterprise, he led Crusher to believe that the symbiont’s personality overwhelmed that of the host to such a degree that Odan stayed in love with Crusher despite being transferred first to Riker, then to Kareel (who sought to maintain a romantic relationship with Crusher despite the not-yet-explained rule against rejoining). Now we’re told that symbionts are so completely separate from their hosts that Dax was able to hide Curzon’s secrets from Jadzia. Does this suggest that Dax is, in fact, less integrated with the symbiont than, say, Joran was, since the symbiont apparently maintains even Joran’s worst characteristics? And how come Jadzia doesn’t need to include Verad, who briefly stole and joined with the symbiont, in her zhian’tara? Every time there’s a Dax episode it becomes clear that the writers don’t have Trill society nearly as well thought out as that of Romulans, Klingons, Vulcans, Ferengi, Bajorans, et al, which is a shame now that they have a Trill series regular. It’s flabbergasting to discover that Curzon has managed to hide such a huge secret from Jadzia from beyond the grave considering that he’s the previous host whose memories seem most present to her; she and Sisko reminisce all the time about what Curzon thought.
I’d expect Sisko to want to be Curzon for the zhian’tara, but what a pleasure instead to see him give full rein to the aggressive, manipulative side we so rarely get to see. I’m not sure whether Joran is scary or if he’s only capable of such inspiring such fear because he can use Sisko’s voice, even his sense of humor, to create the sense that they’re one and the same. This Joran is nothing like the one with whom Dax made peace on Trill, so I wish there had been more discussion of how Jadzia copes with having such a violent personality as part of her. Cackling Kira, nail-biting O’Brien, melancholy Bashir, and ambitious Leeta aren’t nearly as much of a stretch, though watching Quark alternate between Audrid’s cuddly grandmothering and his own spluttering embarrassment is pretty hilarious. I understand the writers need a gimmick to show us the previous Dax personalities, though the same-faces-different-people scheme was already used in “Distant Voices”; even if Terry Farrell has the range to become a skittish engineer and a bouncy gymnast, it would probably get boring to see her keep switching characters (though how entertaining would it be to see Sisko interacting with a beautiful young woman who has Curzon’s shameless, lecherous personality, especially since we know from “Fascination” that some aspect of Dax’s personality has a crush on Sisko?). On the other hand, that would deprive us of the really emotional aspect of the episode. I’m sure the writers think it’s all about the tragedy of Curzon’s destructive love for Jadzia – his terrible behavior gets excused because things turned out all right in the end when she was readmitted to the initiate program – but that focus on Curzon takes away the other tragedy playing out, Odo’s desperate wish to experience joining. Merging his personality with Curzon’s may not be like the Great Link, but it allows him to enjoy feeling fully humanoid, to relish wine, women and tongo as well as to appreciate the sensation of shapeshifting from the perspective of someone who’s never been able to do it before.
What Odo thinks of as a curse, a mark of his difference, is a source of great enjoyment for the sensualist Curzon. Who can blame Dax’s last host for not wanting to dwell on the past but to imagine a future joined with Odo, delving into pleasures of the flesh not possible in his own lifetime? (And who can blame his old friend Sisko for thinking this is a terrible idea for a long list of reasons?) Rene Auberjonois appears to be having a grand time acting drunk and changing his clothes Q-style, and if it’s hard to see much of Odo with Curzon’s personality coming to the fore, that doesn’t mean Odo isn’t experiencing just as much delight. But it’s troubling that neither Jadzia nor the Guardian guesses that a changeling might be particularly vulnerable to joining with a host, and that it’s the forceful Curzon rather than, say, the timid Tobin chosen for Odo to embody. Since Quark proves that a host’s gender is irrelevant, think how much fun the gymnast Emony would have had in a form without physical limitations. It seems odd that Dax would choose newcomer Leeta – a friendship established in a single expository sentence, since we’ve never actually seen them become friends – and a shame that Rom is busy elsewhere, because how much fun would he have had taking on another personality, getting to relish the ways he’s not a conventional Ferengi instead of being made to feel ashamed of them? If any character has a life-changing moment in “Facets,” it’s not Dax but Rom, who is finally pushed into standing up to his brother when he realizes that Quark has tried to sabotage Nog’s chances of getting into Starfleet Academy and threatens to burn down the bar if Quark tries anything like that again. Sure, it’s a big deal for Nog to get a step closer to the Starfleet career he wants, but it’s an even bigger deal for Rom to stand up to Quark like that. So all the major players arrive at a satisfying conclusion except Odo, who finds himself alone once again.
Tags: Retro Review