Shadows and Symbols

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 12:40 PM GMT

See Also: 'Image in the Sand' Episode Guide

Ezri Dax explains to Sisko, his father and son that she never wanted to be joined, but the symbiont nearly died on the Destiny and she was the only Trill aboard. Once joined, Dax could not be removed, so Ezri - a Starfleet assistant ship's counselor - was given a brief initiation to replace the years of training a joined Trill receives. She came searching for Sisko because she knew he would help her, though she is embarrassed at her inability to control the conflicting impulses of Ezri and Dax, and the fact that she becomes space-sick.

The Sisko family arrives at Tyree, where Sisko begins to hear a voice paging a doctor to Ward Four. He leads his suffering father along with the others on a trek through the desert and up a mountain, claiming he can find the Orb even though Dax can't get any readings on her tricorder which would indicate its presence. When she angrily takes his baseball from him and tosses it to make him pay attention to her, he remembers the baseball falling in his hallucination at the piano in his father's restaurant, and decides that the spot where it landed is where he's meant to start digging. He finds the Orb case, but when he moves to open it, he envisions a pencil in his hand...

Suddenly Benjamin Sisko is Benny Russell, the writer from the 1950's whose life he once shared in a vision. He is in a mental ward, scrawling his story on the walls because he has been denied paper. The doctor tells him that his belief in Sisko and his universe is the cause of his madness, which will vanish if he stops writing. Then he hands Benny a paint roller and tells him that if he wipes out the story, he will be free, and can walk away from all the damage he's done. Benny holds the roller; Benjamin starts to bury the Orb, but Dax stops him, insisting that he must do what he came to do.

Meanwhile, Kira tells Admiral Ross that the Bajorans are not going to stand for the weapons the Romulans have placed on the moon Durna, and insists that she will blockade any Romulan ships approaching the moon, since they could be carrying launch sequencers for the incomplete torpedos. The admiral tells her that Starfleet won't help her fight the Romulans, and she can't win without help. Odo goes with Kira to the blockade, but is not as confident as she that the Romulans won't fire and jeopardize their alliance with the Federation. In a tense standoff, Romulan Senator Pretek and Ross expect Kira to back down and let a convoy of warbirds through since the Bajorans can't possibly win in a battle, but Kira's not bluffing.

At the same time, Weyoun is concerned about the need for more ships, telling a drunk, horny Damar that they need to get the shipyards producing more efficiently. Ironically, these are the same shipyards which Worf and Martok - along with Bashir, O'Brien, and, surprisingly, Quark - have chosen to destroy in order to protect the alliance and honor Jadzia's memory in order to get her into Sto-Vo-Kor. The mission requires that they fly directly into a star and fire weapons to cause a magnetic explosion. The tactic fails the first time and Jem'Hadar ships fire on the Rotaran, but O'Brien makes adjustments which enable the plan to succeed. As the shipyards explode, Worf chants prayers for Jadzia's spirit in Sto-Vo-Kor.

On Tyree, Dax's words finally get through to Sisko. In his vision, Benny picks up his pencil and writes that Sisko opens the Orb case, which Sisko then does. Finding himself back in his father's restaurant, he has a vision of Sarah, the woman he now knows to be his mother. She explains that he has fulfilled the destiny for which he was born, and he realizes that the Bajoran Prophet speaking through Sarah's form took over the actual physical body of his biological mother in order to ensure his own birth. Sisko is angry that the Prophet used and then abandoned his mother, but when he asks "Why me?", the Prophet responds that it could be no one else.

At that precise instant, the wormhole opens, and the red energy of the pagh-wraith is released and dissipated. Odo interrupts Kira's showdown with the Romulans to tell her that the Celestial Temple has returned. Kira orders her ships to stand ready to fire, but Ross contacts her to inform her that the Romulans will remove their weapons from Durna. Kira asks what changed Senator Pretek's mind; Ross admits that he did. Then Kira asks what changed the Admiral's mind. "You did. Remind me never to play poker with you, Colonel."

On Deep Space Nine, Bajorans embrace the Emissary as he walks through his station. Kira thanks him for bringing the Prophets back. Ezri greets everyone and tells Worf that they need to talk; when Worf asks who she is, Sisko replies dryly, "Dax."


A deeply satisfying conclusion to the Emissary arc, this episode also introduced Ezri Dax in the smartest possible way: by showing her in action, interacting with the person Dax knows best. Next week we get an episode focusing entirely on how she interacts with her crewmates, deals with Worf, and recalls Jadzia's death; this week we see her acting a little like Jadzia and also rather not-like Jadzia, which is a very smooth way to get used to her. Nicole DeBoer appears to have done her homework, borrowing just enough of Terry Farrell's vocal inflections to sound like Dax at critical moments while remaining convincing as a very young Trill who was totally unprepared for her unexpected joining with a symbiont. I hope she won't always be quite this breathless and perky, but it's easy to accept right now as part of Ezri's adjustment to having multiple personalities controlling her thoughts and desires.

"Shadows and Symbols" is primarily a Sisko episode - and one of the best - in which we finally learn of his history and destiny as the Emissary. I hope this isn't the last time we hear about Sarah Sisko - I'd like to think Benjamin will want to learn about his mother, now that he knows who and what she was. Their confrontation was very moving, and I was quite relieved that only one Prophet rather than the whole crowd appeared to explain his past to him; that made it much more poignant. I also liked both Jake's and Joseph's protectiveness of their respective father and son in the face of what others might consider madness; the contrast with institutionalized Benny Russell was striking. The use of Russell as the butterfly dreaming he's a philosopher was stunning here, with just enough of the racist overtones of "Far Beyond the Stars" to add chilling resonance. I'm not positive, but I think Casey Biggs, the actor who plays Damar, played the horrible doctor.

Sisko episode or not, however, Kira RULED! RULED! RULED! (Have I mentioned I love Kira?) I was so glad she didn't back down, putting both the Romulans and Starfleet in their place. THIS is who should be running Bajor's transitional government - not her ex-boyfriend Shakaar, not her ex-boyfriend Bareil - and from what we could tell in this episode, Kira essentially IS running things, since she made the decision for the military to attack a much stronger Romulan fleet, without checking with anyone on Bajor during the standoff. Odo was a perfect first officer, offering both criticism and advice, but standing by her when she made her decisions. And he was also the perfect lover in that his support never wavered even when he was concerned with her choices. (Have I mentioned that I love this pairing?) The standoff was very nicely paced, and the surprising crossing of the storylines enhanced the tension. What a lovely little war.

The Klingon plot was least interesting for me, but then Klingon plots rarely are interesting for me. Attempts to use Quark to lighten the mood by having him complain about bloody rituals and bad gagh fell flat; Worf was too temperamental to be a real figure of sympathy; and we didn't get to see any of the others for long enough to identify with their plight on this potentially deadly mission for an already-dead comrade. But considering the amount of action packed into this episode, the emotional intensity was still high, and the three different storylines converged nicely.

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.