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The Trek Nation - Field of Fire

Field of Fire

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 12:45 PM GMT

See Also: 'The Emperor's New Cloak' Episode Guide

At a party in Quark's, a new pilot is celebrated for helping defeat the Jem'Hadar. Minutes after Ezri walks him to his quarters, however, he is murdered with a tritanium bullet which Sisko believes came from an experimental Starfleet weapon, but O'Brien and Odo can find no trace of powder on the body although the trajectory from the weapon appears to have been very short. Only a Starfleet officer could have accessed the specs on the projectile weapon, but there are still over 900 suspects on the station.

Bashir reflects that it's hard to imagine why someone would murder, but Ezri notes that it's not incomprehensible to her - she has the memories of a murderer inside her. Later she imagines finding the young pilot's killer, but hallucinates that the man himself turns out to be the killer...and that she has blood on her hands. Joran Dax's voice tells her that he is a part of her, and vice versa. He suggests that if she performs the Rite of Emergence, he can help her, but she refuses to consider it until Sisko calls her to tell her that there's been another murder.

Though she has a background in forensic psychology, Ezri can find nothing in common between the pilot and the new victim, a lieutenant commander. Bashir reflects on the legend of Davy Crockett and wonders whether the choice of weapon might be important, since Crockett always named his weapons and allegedly could bounce bullets off of frying pans. O'Brien realizes that their killer has done something similar, which is why there are no traces of powder on the victims, and demonstrates his theory to Dax and Odo: the killer used a micro-transporter for a site to site transport of the bullet as it left the weapon. This means that the killer could have committed murder from anywhere on the station.

Late at night Ezri hears suspicious noises upstairs at Quark's, but discovers that it's just Worf trailing her to protect her. He says that Dax will do whatever is necessary to solve the problem. Returning to her quarters, Ezri performs the Trill rite to separate Joran from the rest of the previous symbiont hosts, seeing him as her reflection in the mirror and then as a free-standing individual. He encourages her to think like a killer; she holds the same type of weapon in her hand, and tests the targeting device. But when Joran suggests that she pull the trigger as she surveys a crewman's quarters so she can truly feel what it is to be a murderer, she rejects him, even though the gun is not loaded. Still, Joran has made her realize that the killer is cold, methodical - maybe a scientist - and distanced from his actions.

The next day Ezri is in Quark's when Odo shouts for security to catch a fleeing officer. She pins down the man and very nearly stabs him with a knife before Odo disarms her. Ezri explains to Sisko that she overreacted in order to catch the killer, but Sisko tells her that the officer did not kill anyone: he was wanted on an illegal weapons charge, but was on Bajor at the time of the first murder. Joran privately scoffs at the captain, leading Ezri to attempt to reabsorb him, but Odo interrupts to summon her. There has been another murder, this time a Bolian, meaning that the killer doesn't target only humans. Joran remarks that the victim had ugly children, and Ezri suddenly realizes what all three dead officers had in common: they were all laughing in photographs of themselves in their quarters.

Hypothesizing that the killer must be someone unemotional who had lost all control - a Vulcan - the past and present Dax hosts research Vulcans on the station who have suffered personal losses. They narrow the list to 28, then end up in a turbolift with a Vulcan whom Joran identifies at once as the killer by the look in his eyes. The man is science officer Chu'lak, who was one of six survivors when hundreds of his crewmates were killed in battle with the Dominion. Learning that he has gone to his quarters, Ezri retrieves the test weapon, watching through the targeting device as Chu'lak reads her personnel file, retrieves his own weapon and gets her in his sights. Ezri arms her gun and shoots the Vulcan moments before a bullet rips through the bulkhead near herself and Joran.

Ezri finds Chu'lak wounded but alive on the floor of his quarters, and Joran encourages her to give him what he deserves. The Vulcan insists that logic demanded his actions. Joran tells Ezri to finish what she started. But Ezri calls Bashir to request an emergency medical team, then completes the rite to reabsorb Joran. He tells her that he is part of her now - she can't suppress him as Curzon and Jadzia did. Ezri says that she knows.

Analysis:

This analysis will be divided into two rants. Please be forwarned.

RANT #1: STOP THE RACIST TREATMENT OF VULCANS ON STAR TREK. I said this in my review of Voyager last week, I will say it again here this week: I am sick and tired of the demeaning Vulcan-bashing that goes on virtually all the time on Trek nowadays. I don't give a crap if the Vulcans are fictional; this constant need to select a scapegoat and condemn them for all the ways in which they're not like the majority group (in this case Earthers) is damned offensive. Vulcans are NOT psychotic, repressed snobs with secret designs to displace Human control of the Federation, though one might wonder why not given the stupidity of humans through much of the series. They are genetically and socially DIFFERENT from humans, with different values and different means of exploring and fostering those values. In general the ridiculing of non-Human cultures (Klingon, Ferengi, anyone with religion) is annoying; with Vulcans it's frightening. Vampires on Buffy are treated with more respect and understanding. Do the current crop of Trek writers hate Leonard Nimoy or resent Spock's enduring popularity as a symbol of Star Trek? Race-baiting is supposed to be the OPPOSITE of what Trek stands for.

RANT #2: ENOUGH WITH EZRI ALREADY. Don't get me wrong: I like Nicole DeBoer, and I have always liked Dax. But we have now seen three episodes in a row focusing on her in one universe or another, while we haven't seen Kira or Odo do a competent thing for most of the season. Odo is supposed to be in charge of security on DS9, and there was no reason he couldn't have investigated this week's murder; he has more experience, and he HAS committed murder, at least in the eyes of his own people. Ezri has had the Dax symbiont for less than a year, and she's already conjuring up a past host who was so dangerous, the Sybiosis Commission decided for Jadzia to repress it because they did not believe that she - a fully-trained host, unlike Ezri who received no preparation at all for joining - could handle having the memories of a murderer. It demeans Trill beliefs and rituals to have them used the way they were used in this episode, with no explanation or discussion about how they work. Jadzia was murdered as well as having the memories of a murderer...how easy could it have been for Ezri, who shuddered at those memories mere weeks ago, to become a murderer now?

Moreover, I don't think Ezri's any great shakes as a detective even with Joran's help. He caught a killer by looking in the guy's eyes...and if he'd been wrong, the real killer could have been shooting away while Dax was taking target practice. My first thought when O'Brien mentioned a microtransporter was that the killer was probably on a ship docked at the station - turned out to be incorrect, but it was possible, so why didn't Ezri think of that? There's a war going on. Terrorism is always great for demoralizing an enemy. It's a real shame this episode was too engaged with Starfleet's latest form of race-baiting to deal with that issue.

I don't have much else to say; the detective story had holes (experimental weapons just sitting around in lockers, deadly murder technology undetectable by ship's sensors), the five-second appearances by most of the regulars appeared to have been phoned in, the directing was acceptable but as bottle shows go, this one had nothing to recommend it. If I have to sit through one more episode where good old wonderful human emotion is celebrated in relief against nasty cold Vulcan calculated logic, I'll shut the TV.

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.