In the third episode of the seventh season of Deep Space Nine, Ezri copes with the affect her presence has on the station. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
There was no way this wasn’t going to be one of the most challenging episodes of the series. After spending well over a hundred episodes with Terry Farrell as Jadzia Dax, it’s hard for anyone – the cast, the characters, and the audience – to adjust to someone who is, in some respects, a replacement. The nature of Trill and symbiont biology means that Ezri is Jadzia… sort of.
This is a complicated mess, and even if there are a few odd moments here and there, “Afterimage” does a respectable job of address just how weird it is for Ezri to be here. She’s got one advantage: throughout this episode, Sisko is her best friend. It’s such a consistent, believable choice. Why? Because he’s the only person on the station who already went through this process, back when Jadzia joined the crew six years prior. He knows how odd it is, and he knows that deep down, this is definitely his friend, Dax. That constant is a healing force throughout this journey, which felt endlessly difficult to watch. Within minutes of being back on DS9, things were awkward for Ezri, and it only got worse over the course of the episode!
I’ll also say upfront that I am not eager to watch a battle between Julian and Quark over Ezri. If there’s any misstep here, it’s in the writers thinking that this is at all interesting. I am not opposed to the idea of characters examining their feelings towards Ezri, given that they had lots of affection towards Jadzia. That’s realistic and necessary. It’s not easy to lose someone and then grieve that loss for three months, only to have that person sort of return to their lives. But y’all, let’s not treat a woman like a conquest to be won. That’s gross! Outside of that context, Ezri’s first conversation with Julian was raw, vulnerable, and painful, and that is what I’m actually interested in watching. How is Ezri supposed to deal with friends who look at her differently? Or, in Julian’s case, what about friends who don’t seem to be able to separate you from who you used to be?
Then there’s Worf, who refused to accept Ezri at all, who viewed her so completely separately from Jadzia that he wouldn’t talk to her, as if the very act would dishonor Jadzia and keep her out of Sto-Vo-Kor. It’s a typical display of Worf’s stubbornness, but thankfully, the writers don’t paint it as merely that. Look, I knew Worf would have the hardest time with this, and I was glad that the script was sympathetic about this. He lost his wife, and even if the Dax symbiont is in Ezri, he cannot be expected to treat this person as if she’s the same. He mourned his wife; he guaranteed her entry into Sto-Vo-Kor. He’s been doing his best to move on, and Ezri shows up, and she messes the whole thing up. What’s he supposed to do?
Well, “Afterimage” keeps Worf away from Ezri from most of the episode. What little interactions they do have are either full of painful silence or explicit rejections from Worf. This was to be expected, so I’m pleased that the resolution of this conflict doesn’t disrespect either party. Ezri gets to stay on DS9 as the station’s counselor (FINALLY, ANOTHER COUNSELOR), but she has to give Worf the space he needs to mourn Jadzia and get used to Ezri being around. EVERYONE WINS.
Sort of? See, here’s the thing: I am incredibly excited about there being a counselor on the ship. I also believe that eight lifetimes of experience DOES NOT EQUAL CERTIFICATION FOR BEING A THERAPIST. There are actual things you need to learn to conduct therapy properly and ethically. As far as I remember, she’s only trained for a few months? Maybe a few years? She had a lot more training and schooling to do to get her certification or whatever, and SHE SHOULD HAVE KEPT GOING WITH THAT. Let’s examine her interactions with Garak as a STUNNING example of how bad she is as a therapist. She interrupted him frequently; she told intensely personal stories, many of which were not actually analogous to what Garak was going through; she jumped to conclusions as soon as she thought she had a solution for him; and she triggered another bout of claustrophobia in him. Does she get better over the course of this episode? A little, but like… I really don’t think that’s enough. She has to be a better listener if she’s going to be a therapist!
So, a few rough patches here and there, but I ultimately liked this episode. Ezri’s got a lot to deal with but this is a good start.
The video for “Afterimage” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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