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The Trek Nation - Change of Heart

Change of Heart

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 12:32 PM GMT

See Also: 'Honor Among Thieves' Episode Guide

Worf and O'Brien watch Dax play tonga against Quark; Worf bets on his wife, and loses. He has a romantic evening with her nonetheless, but the two are awakened early by Kira. She tells them that a Cardassian secretly working for Starfleet Intelligence is hiding in the Badlands with information, and since most of the crew is on the Defiant doing drills, she's sending the two of them to retrieve it.

On the runabout, Dax and Worf discuss honeymoon plans and argue about whether or not Worf has a sense of humor. They are contacted by the Cardassian, who is disgusted to find a Klingon in command of his rescue mission. He tells them that he has learned how many Founders are in the Alpha Quadrant, but will only give them that information in person: he wishes to defect, and escape Cardassia. He tells them that they must land the runabout on the planet where he's stationed because transporters won't work, and sends them information about how to avoid detection. Dax pilots the ship through an asteroid field to avoid detection by the Dominion and sets down 20 kilometers from the base, thus necessitating that they walk through the jungle to rendezvous with the Cardassian.

Back on the station, O'Brien practices tonga and misses a game in a holosuite with Bashir. The doctor comes looking for the Chief, who tells him that he's determined to beat Quark. Then he realizes that Bashir, with his enhanced intelligence, is far better equipped to do so even though he just learned the game. When Bashir challenges Quark, the Ferengi talks about Dax, and how she could have been Bashir's one chance at true happiness if she hadn't married Worf instead. Bashir gets distracted and loses the game, much to O'Brien's chagrin.

The object of their attentions is evading snakes and lizards, then snuggling with Worf at night. The two discuss bird mating calls, then Worf realizes that the birds are fleeing: something is coming which their altered tricorders can't pick up. It's Jem'Hadar soldiers, who shoot Dax before Worf kills the leader with a Klingon knife. Dax is badly injured and hemmorhaging, but insists that she'd be safer walking with him instead of lying in wait for the troops who will undoubtedly come looking for the dead soldiers. They still have twelve kilometers to go.

In the morning, Dax is faltering badly, finally becoming unable to stand. Worf takes readings and discovers that she needs surgery. She tells him that he must go on without her; they're Starfleet officers, they took an oath to put duty first, and the information which the Cardassian possesses is too important to risk. He leaves, but can't escape the sound of her heartbeat, and finally he gives up the mission and goes back to save her.

At the station, Sisko informs Worf that the Cardassian is dead, killed trying to sneak back onto the base after Worf failed to meet him. The captain demands that the commander explain himself. Worf says that for the first time, he understood the story from the Klingon wedding ceremony about how two hearts, once united, cannot work apart, and says that he could not stand against his own heart. Sisko coldly announces that Worf made the wrong choice: while there won't be a formal courtmartial because that would expose Starfleet's covert intelligence operations, Worf will never be promoted to command. Moreover, Worf and Dax will never be allowed on another mission alone together. Benjamin then adds that as a man who's been married, if it had been himself and Jennifer in the situation, he wouldn't have left her, either.

When Dax asks if he's in trouble, Worf tells her that she comes before his career, and that he'd do the same thing again. Dax doesn't know what to say. Worf tells her that she could thank him and say she'd do the same for him. She jokes that she doesn't know, her career is pretty important to her. He adds that she could say she loves him, which she does, and he repeats back to her.

Analysis:

I liked this episode much, much more than I ever expected to; the previews looked like mediocre hurt/comfort, and from the title, I expected Worf to make the typical decision about Klingon and Starfleet honor and decide that Jadzia's importance in his life has been overstated. I found his betrayal of his duty very moving, and completely believable given the Worf we knew on TNG for seven years before he started making honor the only thing he could ever talk about.

Worf grew up human, not Klingon, as he reminds us in this episode with a story about his human father and brother. One gets the feeling that he had to do all that macho abusive posturing with Dax to prove his Klingonness, not his masculinity, because in this episode - even though he's in command of the mission - he repeatedly defers to her, from his permitting her to decide to meet the Cardassian on the planet to his allowing her to decide to keep walking when her wounds were slowing him down and jeopardizing the mission as well as her own life.

I'm with Sisko: I think Worf made a huge mistake. I'm also glad he made it. Admittedly, if they'd done this episode in reverse, with Dax deciding to follow her heart over her duty, I would have been throwing up: that's the cliche about women, that they put sentiment above all else, and I wouldn't want to see it on DS9. Coming from Worf, however, the same reaction takes on a whole different tone. It's pretty astonishing that a Klingon, a Starfleet officer, a man, put his wife above his duty and his honor. And I can't find it in me to complain, even if we later learn that innocent lives were lost because he didn't get the information the Cardassian was supposed to deliver.

I do think Starfleet should have been harder on Worf in punishment - of COURSE he should never be permitted to command, after this. Despite what Sisko said, we've seen him leave Jennifer for dead, in the first episode of this series. That's what a captain has to do. On the other hand, we've seen Janeway repeatedly risk her ship to save one crewmember, and Kirk repeatedly risk his ship for one person. That's something a captain has to do as well - decide when the one life is worth the risk to the mission. And of course personal feelings get caught up in such decisions. I wouldn't want to serve under anyone who didn't have such feelings.

The setup of "Change of Heart" was cheap--I don't see why they both went to meet the Cardassian, thus leaving the shuttle alone and defenseless when they needed it to get off the planet. I REALLY don't get why Dax braved the jungle in a tank top, and I think Worf made a stupid decision not ordering her to stop and putting her behind a protective barricade right after she got injured, before she was near-death. One might even question Kira's decision to send two commanders on such a mission together considering that they're husband and wife: this was not a situation which called for a science officer, so Dax wasn't particularly vital to its success, though of late she has shown herself to be a terrific pilot.

I still don't like what's been done to Dax in the name of pairing her with Worf. I do, however, like Worf, really for the first time ever.

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Michelle Erica Green reviews 'Enterprise' episodes for the Trek Nation, for which she is also a news writer. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.