Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Facets"

***

Air date: 6/12/1995
Written by Rene Echevarria
Directed by Cliff Bole

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Well, if we tested you where you practiced, it wouldn't exactly be stressful, now would it?" — O'Brien to Nog, before beginning the "stress reaction" test

Dax finally makes plans to undergo her Zhian'tara, the Trill Rite of Closure, in which she has the chance to actually meet her previous hosts by temporarily transferring each one's memories from the symbiont into the minds of each of her friends.

A good but far-from-great installment, "Facets," like "Equilibrium," delves into Trill intrigue with some success at using the connection between host and symbiont as a story springboard for Dax's underutilized character. "Equilibrium" was a pretty good episode, save some overplotting and somewhat unnecessary life-threatening jeopardy. "Facets," finds a more direct approach, with fewer plot distractions.

However, there's a major implausibility with this episode that goes against the grain of established Trill lore. The story centers around the fact that Jadzia hopes to learn quite a bit about herself from talking with the previous hosts. But from what we know of Trills, doesn't a new host get the entire sum of the previous hosts' memories from the symbiont? This leaves some important portions of the show basically unexplainable, particularly the "revelation," which I'll get to momentarily.

Apparently, Jadzia has been putting off her Zhian'tara because she fears what she will hear from the previous hosts. In particular, she doesn't want to face Curzon, who washed her out of the Trill initiation program.

This is another episode in which the DS9 players masquerade as other personalities. (The other episode this season was "Distant Voices.") Dax gets everyone's agreement to let her borrow their bodies for a few hours each.

The premise is a good idea—I was genuinely interested to see Dax's previous personalities in a literal sense. The cast, for the most part, did a believable job of appearing to be "under the influence." Unfortunately, little is done with many of these personalities, who basically show up to tell Jadzia, "Hello, I did such-and-such when I was alive and that seems to be characteristic of you."

This rush-through of the personalities is apparently a factor of limited time, since the story really focuses more on Jadzia's confrontations with Joran and Curzon.

If you don't recall Joran, he's the crazy doctor-killing musician from "Equilibrium" who had the Dax symbiont for six months. Sisko volunteers to let Joran inhabit him. Joran flat-out tells Jadzia she can't compare with any of the other hosts and isn't worthy of being joined. Then he tries to break out of his cell and attack her. This is good for a little bit of excitement, but it's ultimately disappointing. From what we learned in "Equilibrium," this guy was just temperamental and a little imbalanced, not a serial strangler. Here, Joran comes across completely over-the-edge by trying to choke Jadzia to death.

The Curzon scenes, however, make a lot of sense. Someone's good judgment at the writers' meeting decided that Curzon should borrow Odo's body. Because of Odo's shapeshifter properties, Curzon's consciousness merges with Odo's, creating a combined Odo/Curzon personality. The combination is unique to say the least. Curzon is a lively character, brought to life by Rene Auberjonois, who is wonderful as usual. You've gotta love this fun-loving guy. Between messing with Quark's mind, drinking with Sisko, and morphing into a new change of clothes, Odo/Curzon practically makes the episode.

What this episode rides on is Jadzia facing up to Curzon—and this is the part that works. Jadzia wants to know why he washed her out of the program and then let her coast through the second time around. He tells her that he didn't think she had what it takes the first time, then felt sorry for her the second time. Then he tells her that he wants to stay joined with Odo rather than returning to the Dax symbiont.

Naturally this is troubling to Jadzia, and Sisko gives her the reliable Commander's Pep Speech, telling her how stubborn and downright wrong Curzon can be. When Jadzia works up the nerve to confront Curzon again, we get the episode's aforementioned "revelation," in which Curzon reveals that he washed Jadzia out of the program because he was in love with her and couldn't handle the pressure of the situation. I like the revelation, and I also like the way Curzon and Jadzia come to terms with the situation, ending with Curzon accepting his rightful place inside the Dax symbiont.

This could have been a terrific episode had the execution been better. Unfortunately, there isn't enough important material in the opening acts, and the episode chooses not to address a very relevant question: How could Jadzia not know that Curzon was in love with her? This one question brings up a host of others involving how Trill joining works. This oversight isn't enough to sabotage the episode, but it's plenty enough to make me question some of the plot handling.

Previous episode: Shakaar
Next episode: The Adversary

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59 comments on this review

Deathcrow
Thu, Dec 6, 2007, 7:54am (UTC -6)
"From what we learned in "Equilibrium," this guy was just temperamental and a little imbalanced, not a serial strangler. Here, Joran comes across completely over-the-edge by trying to choke Jadzia to death."

Everytime i watch this episode this scene annoys me a lot. WHY?! This could have been interesting. But they turn the interesting persona of Joran into a sterotypical maniac. This does not fit how his brother described him and it doesn't make a lot of sense.

"How could Jadzia not know that Curzon was in love with her?"
There may be a possible explanation for that: It seems that joined Trills can subconsciously supress memories of their previous hosts (we've seen that with the memories of Joran). And of course the Curzon part of Dax would try to hide these feelings from Jadzia.
But i agree that the writers should have given some kind of explanation and not let us guess.
Anthony2816
Mon, Mar 17, 2008, 8:20pm (UTC -6)
How come Odo/Curzon was able to drink in the bar? Odo has made it very clear in the past he doesn't have the anatomy to allow eating and drinking.
Aaron
Sun, Aug 3, 2008, 11:04pm (UTC -6)
Odo had mentioned that he was able to eat and drink and that he had tried it before, however he preferred not to because the process was "messy." No doubt since he doesn't have a digestive system. After he ate the food he would then simply store it in a space created inside him and later 'extract' it. Ewww.
Brian
Wed, Aug 20, 2008, 6:05pm (UTC -6)
One flaw in this episode is that each host character was a combination of their own personality plus the previous hosts. Take one specific host out on it's own surely it won't be exactly the same as people remember them, in particular curzon who Sisko knew well, presumably as a personality made of all previous hosts and the symbiant.
Rita
Sun, Aug 31, 2008, 11:10am (UTC -6)
Lost in the shuffle of the Dax-host vignettes is a nice scene where Rom finally stands up to Quark over the issue of Nog joining Starfleet ("My son's happiness is more important to me than anything, even latinum!").

Rom hasn't been a particularly sympathetic or memorable character up to this point in the series, so seeing him show a little backbone here was a pleasant surprise.
JD
Mon, Feb 9, 2009, 3:58pm (UTC -6)
""Odo had mentioned that he was able to eat and drink and that he had tried it before, however he preferred not to because the process was "messy." No doubt since he doesn't have a digestive system. After he ate the food he would then simply store it in a space created inside him and later 'extract' it. Ewww. ""

The writers have contradicted themselves on many occasions regarding Odo. In "The Adversary", Odo indicated that when a shapeshifter is impersonating something, scans will detect that something. The exact quote was "If you scan me when I'm a rock, you'll detect a rock". Now if you are for all intents and purposes a rock, then presumably when Odo is a humanopid, he should presumably scan as a humanoid (externally and internally) if we take this comment at face value.

However, a year later, in "Broken Link", after Odo was actually transformed into a humanoid by the Founders, Bashir noted (apparently for the first time) that he was reading Odo as having "a heart, lungs, a liver", etc.

Sloppy writing, but then what are you going to do? An early episode of DS9 suggested that Joseph Sisko was dead, but later we found out otherwise.
Destructor
Wed, Jul 8, 2009, 8:18pm (UTC -6)
JD,

I think it was implicit that Odo was not very good at mimicing humainoids (wheras the Founders are), and so didn't bother going to the trouble of creating internal organs for himself. A rock would be a bit simpler.

I liked this episode a lot.
klyana
Wed, Oct 28, 2009, 1:05am (UTC -6)
"How could Jadzia not know that Curzon was in love with her? "

It was an easy choice to not write into the characterization because we were shown how subtle traits and feeling-memories show up in Jadzia unconsciously as actually her very own. If Curzon's romantic erotic feelings showed up in Jadzia it would've begged the question of was Jadzia secretly in love with herself, turned on and masturbating in the mirror endlessly due to hosting Curzon memories? O_o Sort of an extra turn on thinking of Jadzia that way singing Right Said Fred "I'm too Sexy".
JD
Sun, Dec 26, 2010, 12:43am (UTC -6)
@ Destructor,

If changelings don't mimic internal organs, then blood tests wouldn't be necessary...a quick tricorder scan would suffice.
JD
Sun, Dec 26, 2010, 12:53am (UTC -6)
Plus, the changeling would have to mimick the entire internal structure to be able to physiologically perform basic tasks (talking and walking for a huumanoid, flying for a bird, etc.) He can't do these things if his innards are just his liquid goo.
Half-Blood Time Lord
Wed, Dec 29, 2010, 9:02pm (UTC -6)
@ JD
I think you've misunderstood the point being made.
Odo hasn't created internal organs for himself because, for whatever reason(I like to assume its because when he first took humanoid form, it was purely external), but the Founders, when they mimic humanoids, they do go all out on detail.
Lets also not forget that Odo isn't as adept at shapeshifting as the Founders, and only after coming back from finding his people did he decide to spend his free time taking on other shapes.

As for the internal structure, well, he's a shapeshifting alien, he doesn't need the internal physiology to do anything.
Half-Blood Time Lord
Wed, Dec 29, 2010, 9:09pm (UTC -6)
As for the issue people seem to have regarding a Symbiont taking everything over to the next host - I think "Dax" makes a very strong episode reference here as its clear that Sisko points out that Curzon/Curzon Dax/Jadzia Dax/Jadzia are all different beings, so its very plausible that the symbiont can only take memories/thoughts/feelings that either the host wishes them to take or that are specific to blended being, ie if Curzon, not Curzon Dax, had feelings for Jadzia then Curzon would retain them and they would be stored in a pocket of the Dax's subconscious that other hosts could not access.
JD
Tue, Dec 27, 2011, 1:07pm (UTC -6)
Talking is a physiological process involving vocal cords, exhalation of air, and muscular movements of the mouth and lips. Without these internal structures, Odo or any other shapeshifter couldn't use spoken language.
Jay
Thu, Feb 23, 2012, 4:01pm (UTC -6)
So in the era before they made first contact with other species, presumably the Zhin'tara would be partaken with fellow Trill. That would make things confusing, with the participants in the Zhin'tara having their own collection of former host memories, unless only unjoined Trill were used.
BennyRussel
Sun, Feb 26, 2012, 2:26pm (UTC -6)
To add to JD's last comment.

When humanoid, Odo also seems to "see" with his "eyes" and "hear" with his "ears". This would suggest he was able to shape those organs and make them function as designed.

I think it's safe to say that the technobabble behind how changelings really work is a bit underdeveloped. At some point, I just accepted it.

One thing I could not accept is how Odo's Bajoran communicator magically appears and disappears when he changes shape. Are we to believe that he has the ability to shape part of his body into a complex piece of equipment like a communicator?
BlightedSight
Sun, Feb 26, 2012, 4:22pm (UTC -6)
BennyRussel, is a communicator any more complex than a central nervous system - something we know that a Changeling can mimic because Bashir tells us when in humanoid form a changeling is indecipherable from a human.
We also have Odo telling us that when he is a rock, he is a rock.

I agree that he the abilities of a Changeling and how they function is underdeveloped but I don't question their ability to change themselves, or even part of themselves, into any think(living or not) that they come into contact with.
Late_to_Party
Fri, Jun 28, 2013, 3:59pm (UTC -6)
Great minds think alike -- I had exactly the same objection and reaction that you did, Jammer -- how could Jadzia NOT know that Curzon loved her? How could she NOT know everything that Curzon did in regard to her initiation, and why he did it.

Loved fun-loving Curzon/Odo. I wouldn't have objected to keeping them that way!

Cloud
Tue, Jul 30, 2013, 2:56am (UTC -6)
Rewatched this last night after reading the novel "Lives of Dax" and it gave me a new appreciation for it. It's quite interesting going back on the source material knowing more about those past lives (even if it's not strictly canon, but TBH, as the original Trek timeline has been thrown away now by JJ Abrams I consider them all canon personally - there's nothing to lose. If I'm wrong and the original timeline is resurrected one day, it'll be one of the happiest mistakes I've ever made anyway).
On that basis, the loosest connection was Audrid, who I think might've been a bit more solemn.

Anyway as a cap off for that novel I loved it, a charming look back through the perspective of the best DS9 Dax. I don't really understand the fuss about her memories or the nature of Odo - it's Star Trek, holes and contradictions appear all over the place (look at the original Trill from TNG - they had ridged foreheads, the symbiont had greater control and humans could become hosts) and as it's a sci-fi world if you put your imagination to work you can usually create an explanation for anything (as the books often do, it seems). You'll enjoy it far better when accepting that they didn't have time to explain every little inconsistency, and maybe even have a bit of fun filling in the gaps!

Even an individual can suppress his or her memories, or forget things, so why not the symbiont. I view this whole thing as a bit like being put into hypnosis to delve into your brain's more difficult-to-reach long term memories or something along those lines and that of course means repressed memories might come out too.

On the weaker side of things, and I seem to recall the other major DS9 reviewer (Tim Lynch) mentioning it: we have Jadzia doing the Ferengi equivalent of reaching down Quark's pants and stroking him off in the middle of the room, and basically implying he'll get more sexy fun times if he co-operates. Gross. Why so keen to get someone who doesn't want to help and just looks out for himself (some friend) anyway, but I guess DS9's writers did have a bit of a thing for the hilarity of Quark as a female, it happens a couple more times in the show's run.

Curdo (I'd forgotten there was a Tuvix before Tuvix!) would be a bit much in the long term I think unless he mellowed out a bit. "I'm Fun Odo! Fun fun fun! Yay, fun!", er no. It'd wear very thin. It works really well when he gets serious and confesses his feelings, though, and Odo was an inspired choice for this character in hindsight knowing what Odo was like when it comes to internalising matters of the heart.

Agreed on others' comments about Rom. I was proud of that guy when he stood up to Quark and said his son's happiness is more important than any latinum, it was very touching particularly coming from a Ferengi, who genuinely do tend to put profits before family.

A 3.5 for me in context, I just wish the time had been more evenly distributed between the past hosts, then it would've been a 4.
Kotas
Wed, Oct 23, 2013, 9:05am (UTC -6)

Another decent Dax episode.

5/10
Dusty
Sat, Feb 15, 2014, 1:18am (UTC -6)
"If you don't mind, I'd like to borrow your bodies for a few hours." That was just goofy, and the plot is just a thin premise for the writers to show us what Dax's previous forms were like. Still, it's an interesting idea that deserved some exploration. It was all worth it just to see Sisko as the creepy Joran and Odo as Curzon. Curzon not wanting to leave Odo's body was weird (so he's like a Paghwraith?), but I guess they needed some kind of conflict in the episode. It wasn't great, but I'd watch it again.
Yanks
Tue, Aug 5, 2014, 9:22am (UTC -6)
Odo/Curzon was the most interesting part of this one. I can see where both would like this merger.

The other's were fine and of course Quark,s was frellin halarious!

If you can take these out, why would anyone want to put Joran back in?

2.5 stars for me. Average episode.
Vii
Mon, Mar 9, 2015, 12:45am (UTC -6)
I didn't care for Joran's characterisation here either. Much like what they did to Dukat, the producers took a fascinating grey-shaded character and turned him into a psychotic maniac.

I wish they'd been able to hire Jeff Magnus McBride for 'Field of Fire', he made a much more charismatic Joran imo.

And as for the Odo-Curzon person, I found that one hilarious. It's going to take a long time for Quark to forget being kissed by Odo!
Teejay
Wed, Jun 24, 2015, 2:51am (UTC -6)
Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Dax have seven hosts before discovering Joran's memories? Making Joran the eighth? And what about Verad? Does he count as well? or was he not joined long enough?
Teejay
Wed, Jun 24, 2015, 2:57am (UTC -6)
Other than my questions above, I did enjoy the episode, although it further muddies my lack of understanding of the Trill as a species.
Robert
Wed, Jun 24, 2015, 7:36am (UTC -6)
@Teejay - Fanwank time! I think that Jadzia (based on a comment she made at the time) will always remember her time connected to Verad (because those hours are hours that Dax has memories of) BUT I think that if you remove the symbiont during the grace period where it won't kill the host yet that they haven't fully absorbed the persona.

I personally think Dax (the symbiont) remembers everything that happened while it was connected to Verad but does not remember Verad's pre-joining childhood (to use an example), whereas I think that Dax knows everything Curzon ever knew.
William B
Mon, Sep 28, 2015, 3:55pm (UTC -6)
This episode has an odd structure: if we go act-by-act, a teaser and one act setting up the Zhintara, one act running through all the boring hosts, then a bit of time focused on Joran and the rest of the show on Curzo. And that is fine; that Jadzia might have something to learn from her past hosts pre-Joran makes sense, but we know little about them, and we find out little else. I guess we find out an origin story for why Jadzia puts her hands behind her back, or has original scientific thinking, or is physically active, or...uh, takes care of her hair?...or has a carpe diem attitude. The "OH THAT IS WHY I DID X" repetitive tone of the scenes is already old by the time she gets to Tobin, and I am not so sure about most of the performances -- Nana Visitor's OLD WOMAN face/voice is hilarious. And the Quark stuff is awful; Jadzia holding out the prospect of sexual favours to get him to agree seems to run counter to the way their friendship goes, in that she knows he has feelings for her and keeps a respectful sexual distance usually, until now when she wants something. Then after implying sexual gratitude she laughs at his discomfort playing a woman. Classy. Oh well, it's good that we got to learn that Andrew Wiles' Fermat's Last Theorem proof is now part of the Trek verse, contradicting "The Royale."

Having Brooks play a psycho is a reasonable choice, but I agree with what others have said above about Joran -- that he seemed to be an angry guy who became increasingly unbalanced as a result of his symbiont back in "Equilibrium," and this episode spins a brief, not very effective Hannibal Lector/Clarice Starling scene out of it. What it does do is solidify the emerging theme of (as my girlfriend put it) Impostor Syndrome for Jadzia -- does she deserve the Dax symbiont, and can she stand proud before the parade of hosts before her? Maybe Emony's saying "that's what I thought" about the idea of Jadzia not being much of an athlete pre-joining falls into the same category, but I doubt it. Joran, possibly projecting his own recognition that he has gone down in history as Unfit Host, launches the diatribe against Jadzia: she is unworthy of the Dax symbiont.

The episode basically *starts* here, and then becomes primarily about Jadzia confronting Curzon, with the twist that Curzon merges with Odo to become let's call him Curzo (as was suggested above). This is a really bizarre choice, for a number of reasons, but largely turns out to be one of the better things about the episode: Curzo starts *intensely* living it up. I like the idea that Curzon and Odo, despite never having met, join and are able to combine in a way that gives them both something they have been missing. Odo is a solitary, unhappy man who largely fails to understand human(oid) pleasures, whose tragedy comes down to his inability to connect to others, and here he is suddenly joined with another being (who is *not* a changeling), who has an understanding of fun and the pleasures of food and drink that somehow Odo can finally understand. Curzon, by contrast, was always hyperactive and continues to be, but given that he lived a very long time, his continuing to live large may have been his way of staving off the recognition of his inevitable mortality. Death in some ways is the ultimate form of stasis -- one's body rots, but the person one was has no more opportunities to change and grow. And now he suddenly can break out of the "box" of his set personality in the memories (of Dax, of Sisko) and even ooze around the room as Odo, untethered even to a specific form. Odo's having a full identity to build on and Curzon's having the opportunity to be free of the restriction that he remain a memory in a symbiont for the rest of his life satisfies them both, and briefly makes it seem hard to give it up. The episode's focus is more directly on the Curzon of it, especially since this is through Dax's POV (if the episode were focusing more heavily on Odo's side of things, there would have surely been a scene of Curzo talking to Kira about his new combined identity, rather than only the Quark scene). That we get to meet and spend time with Curzon (with a twist) at some point in the series is, I think, a good decision, since he looms so large over the series.

The episode does not exactly talk about the moral dilemma of whether Curzon continuing to exist within Odo would be ethical, which is probably for the best. (This is not actually "Tuvix.") What we quickly learn is that Curzon is largely seeking an escape from the guilt that he harbours over his treatment of Jadzia, which comes down to the fact that he loved her and so flunked her out of the program. And, well, that's fine, I guess. It is not that interesting a reveal. It is believable in some sense -- mentors do sometimes push people away because of their developing feelings for their proteges/pupils -- and it has the extra effect of reflecting on Odo's issues with intimacy. And people in the less powerful position (the pupils in question) sometimes go their lives feeling that it was their fault that they suffered some slight from a person in a more powerful position who merely was unable to deal with their feelings. So all that makes some sense. I further can see how Jadzia confronting Curzon would be *extremely* important for Jadzia's closure, particularly as much of her life really is in Curzon's shadow, particularly in the way her relationships with Ben and the Klingons and her love of tongo etc. grow out of her identity as Curzon. (One detail I liked: that Jadzia sits bored while Curzon plays tongo, because she is now missing Curzon's tongo skills. Cute.)

Still, I wish that we learned more about Jadzia (or even Jadzia Dax) in this episode, after all is said and done. Jadzia needs to prove that she can confront Curzon, which is partly about proving that she is still who she is even without the Curzon part of her, and that could be very interesting. However, the Jadzia Dax minus Curzon looks a lot like the Jadzia Dax minus all her other hosts earlier in the episode, which is Terry Farrell doing her "somewhat despondent" face. The emotional core of Jadzia confronting Curzon could/should hav been about Jadzia (re?)asserting her primacy; she is the Dax host alive now, and she should not be beholden to Curzon as a ghost, who lived a long life and is now dead. As I see it, the ancestral metaphors of the Dax material in the show suggest that Jadzia's rite of closure is equivalent to a person recognizing that they have considerable influence from their family members (living or dead) and owe a great deal to them, but that it is now their own decision to live their own life. Jadzia confronting Curzon does somewhat deal with that, but the reveal that Curzon was in love with her somewhat obscures that issue and brings up a new one. And I guess I really did not feel that Farrell was able to convey Jadia's insecurity and uncertainty.

That Curzon had romantic love for Jadzia and that was something that makes him afraid to remerge with her via Dax is an issue which does seem potentially very interesting -- is that an appropriate relationship for different hosts? is Curzon more like a family member, a lover, Jadzia herself? is one of her past hosts having romantic (sexual) feelings for her healthy, incestuous or masturbatory? and so on -- but is pretty easily dismissed. I liked Ben's advice to Jadzia about what confronting Curzon entails. So the Jadzia/Curzon stuff has some interesting elements, though the overall effect is a little muted.

I like the Nog subplot fine. Nog's moment of panic when he finds out hes' doing an Ops simulation instead of a Runabout one is fun. The big emotional fireworks of the episode center on the Quark/Rom conflict, once Rom realizes what Quark has done. I do genuinely believe that Quark is acting in what he considers Nog's best interests, though whether this is part of specific rejection of the Federation or a fear for Ferengi values is hard to say. Still, either way, Starfleet is a hard career path, with few of the rewards that Quark would appreciate, and a pretty significant chance of getting injured or dying in the line of duty. Had Quark succeeded, after all (SPOILER) Nog would not lose his leg, right? However, as before, Rom demonstrates his willingness to confront Quark when it has to do with his son, and it is an effective little scene; I like too that Rom recognizes what may have happened by recognizing his brother's behaviour. I enjoyed the subplot and I like how this material is being dealt with.

Overall, the main plot is probably worth 2 stars but with the subplot in the episode comes up to 2.5.
William B
Mon, Sep 28, 2015, 3:57pm (UTC -6)
The thematic link between the A- and B-plots, by the way, is that Jadzia moving past her past hosts, and finally Curzon, frees her to live her own life and make her own decisions (and her own mistakes), which is what Rom helps Nog to do here by blocking out Quark's interference.
Grumpy
Tue, Oct 6, 2015, 11:16pm (UTC -6)
So the Trill perfected mental possession. Call me crass, but their ancient ritual surely has some practical applications -- even tactical applications. A joined Trill is a whole squad in a nesting doll, able to override the conscious minds of others. Coulda come in handy during the war, eh?

But since it was only a gimmick for this episode, the ramifications went unexplored, just like every other aspect of Trill culture. Who are the Trill, apart from the symbionts? The vast majority of Trill are unjoined, we're told (unfortunately), but for all we learn about them, they're nothing but spotted humans.

Except for this Guardian guy, who can transfer minds more easily than a mountaintop full of Vulcan Masters.
Grumpy
Thu, Oct 8, 2015, 8:14pm (UTC -6)
To be fair, we do get some glimpses into broader Trill culture. For one, we hear some untranslated language (the UT must've been fritzing that day), though it sounds like standard Space Hebrew. Second, Kira-Dax mentions being the first female something-or-other, indicating that Trill were previously male chauvinists... just like humanity. How boring.

Too bad the Chronicles of Dax never had enough time to breathe. The concept could've been spread over multiple episodes, the prior hosts handled like visiting relatives. Or this: some psychic mishap causes Dax to go schizoid, manifesting one host's personality at a time. Like, permanently. Assuming her condition didn't jeopardize her job (read: role in the cast), that would've made the character actually, y'know, interesting.
Easter
Fri, Oct 9, 2015, 1:07pm (UTC -6)
@Grumpy

I think they made a point that it isn't a proper override and can be fought against by the host so you couldn't use it to possess enemy soldiers and convert them. Also, yes, you could split a trill with dozens of soldiers' memories among a dozen newly enlisted privates. But the main host now lacks the combined force of all that experience so you're trading one supersoldier for a dozen normal ones and if any of those privates dies in battle you lose the memory with them so you're giving up 80 or so years of experience each time making it of limited tactical value AND requiring one Symbiont to have been a soldier for centuries to use even once.

The idea in your second post is an awesome one that I wish they'd explored. I really wanted to get to know the other Dax's better and that would have been a great way to let us do that and make the Dax character more than just a relatively normal person with a disproportionately long backstory.
Diamond Dave
Sat, Dec 5, 2015, 9:51am (UTC -6)
Intriguing concept, but not really given enough room to breathe to let it all hang together. What we get is a series of little vignettes, a nice creepy turn from Joran/Sisko, and what amounts to a less than dramatic conclusion from Curzon/Odo. The highlights are really in the performances rather than the setup.

Probably the best scene though is Rom laying out the score to Quark again. 2.5 stars.
bhbor
Fri, Jan 22, 2016, 5:22am (UTC -6)
Its... its... its... TUVIX
Andrew
Thu, Feb 18, 2016, 8:56am (UTC -6)
Brooks/Sisko as Joran was my favorite part of the episode, even if it was inconsistent with "Equilibrium," and I was disappointed that him escaping didn't become the focus of the episode.
Luke
Tue, Mar 22, 2016, 4:16am (UTC -6)
"Facets", probably more so than any other episode, highlights why I do not like the character of Jadzia Dax. I've said it before but I'll say it again - I find her to be manipulative, arrogant, supremely self-absorbed and generally distasteful. She can be used to good effect and can even have good episodes which center on her. However, those episodes are very few and far between.

If you doubt that she's any of those things, then just look at how she manipulates Quark into agreeing to be part in the zhian'tara. I couldn't say it any better than William B has, so I'll just quote him - "The Quark stuff is awful; Jadzia holding out the prospect of sexual favors to get him to agree seems to run counter to the way their friendship goes, in that she knows he has feelings for her and keeps a respectful sexual distance usually, until now when she wants something. Then after implying sexual gratitude she laughs at his discomfort playing a woman. Classy." Very "classy" indeed. When Quark refuses to take part she gives him the Ferengi equivalent of a hand-job and plays on her knowledge of his romantic feelings toward her in order to get something she wants out of him. If that isn't manipulative and highly egotistical I don't know what is.

Then there's the Curzon material. Leaving aside the fact that it would be impossible for Jadzia not to know he was in love with her when she carries all of his memories, the fact that he was in love with her leads to some truly disturbing character traits for Jadzia once they are rejoined. Here we have a person who already had a severely inflated ego and sense of her own self-worth who now harbors another person's romantic and sexual feelings for her within her own mind. Ladies and gentlemen, that means that Jadzia Dax is now, literally, romantically in love.... WITH HERSELF!!!! How did the writers not realize what they were doing here?! There's having a huge ego and then there's this! William B asked if Jadzia carrying Curzon's love was "healthy, incestuous or masturbatory." I don't know if it would be considered incestuous or masturbatory, but it sure as hell isn't healthy! God-damn, this woman is going to need massive amounts of therapy, ASAP. Otherwise, her already distorted sense of self-worth is going to go through the roof, enter the Wormhole and land on the Founders' new homeworld. Maybe it would indeed have been much better if Curzon's memories were not reunited with Jadzia. But, of course, the episode just brushes all of that aside because, apparently, we can't have any criticism of Jadzia this episode; it has to be saved entirely for Curzon.

As for the rest of the episode, Jammer is absolutely right that it really doesn't give us anything of substance. We have yet another Trill centered episode and, lo and behold, it's about the joining. The one note nature of the Trill remains untarnished. All of the hosts previous to Joran are given such laughably short scenes that it makes me wonder what the point was. We're not even told the name of the host Leeta embodies (it's Emony, if anyone is curious - something I only know through the process of elimination). This could have been an excellent opportunity to give us some information on Jadzia (for instance, do you realize we're never once - in the entire run of the series - told what Jadzia's last name was pre-joining!) but nope, we get nothing.

I do disagree with Jammer about the Joran scene, however. It is true that it's a departure from how he was presented in "Equilibrium", but Avery Brooks plays the character with an very effective air of menace and the music really works well to convey that menace. His and Farrell's body language throughout the scene also do a wonderful job of making Joran intimidating.

Meanwhile, while all of this is going on, over in the B-plot Nog is taking his pre-Entrance Exams for the Academy. I like this story. Quark may have been in the wrong to do what he did in fudging Nog's exams (Rom was absolutely in the right to call him on that one, unlike when he confronted Quark in "Family Business"), but I do think he (Quark) was doing it out of a sense of protection for Nog and not just his own selfish reasons. Starfleet is a military (despite what some fans want to think) and therefore a very dangerous occupation and despite his cold exterior and protestations of cultural disapproval he ultimately doesn't want his only nephew to get hurt. It's a case of doing the wrong thing for the right reasons.

4/10

Del_Duio
Tue, Mar 22, 2016, 10:29am (UTC -6)
@ Luke

Don't forget she also giggled after Sisko deployed WMDs on the Marquis planet too!
Luke
Tue, Mar 22, 2016, 3:59pm (UTC -6)
Oh, believe me, I'll be addressing that point when I get to it.
Skeptical
Tue, Mar 22, 2016, 8:11pm (UTC -6)
In defense of Dax's treatment of Quark (to both Luke and William):

One thing that has been consistent about Jadzia's character is that she is always very comfortable around anyone else. And this makes sense as a member of a joined species, since half of her has lived multiple lifetimes. She has the ability to view situations from other people's perspectives, because she has other people's perspectives inside her. For example, she doesn't mind hanging out with Bashir or Quark despite knowing both of them look at her, at least in part, as a sex object, because she used to be Curzon and thus knows what it's like to look at others as sex objects.

As such, she is the ultimate "tolerant" character. She has no qualms about treating other people the way they wish to be treated, rather than simply focusing on the human (er, Trill) point of view. When flirting with Worf was getting her nowhere, she picked up a bat'leth and goes at him in the Klingon manner.

Meanwhile, Ferengi aren't exactly known for being careful when it comes to love. It seems pretty customary for Ferengi to try to exploit people for sex, and pay for sex, and basically treat it as any other commodity.

So what does Jadzia do? She wants Quark to participate in this ritual because he is her friend, but he initially refuses. Again, remember that when Jadzia's approached Worf as a Trill and that failed, she quickly switched to approaching Worf as a Klingon to get his attention. And that's exactly what she does here! She goes into full Ferengi mode, trading something she has that Quark values for something Quark has that she values. And, like a good Ferengi, she cheats him out of the full deal (a closer relationship) since he didn't behave like a good Ferengi and read the contract close enough. She screwed him over, just like a good Ferengi would.

You may see that as manipulative, but I think it works perfectly fine as Jadzia understanding Ferengi well enough to treat them as they are used to being treated. Oh, and as for her providing some light torment to Quark by making him be a woman? Well, why not? He was the only one not willing to do this for her, why not rub it in a bit? After all, someone was going to have be the transgender volunteer, why not make it be the person who probably deserves it most? Besides, if you are going to criticize Jadzia for smiling at Quark's uncomfortableness, you have to criticize Sisko too. He did the same thing.

So while I don't necessarily condone her behavior in getting Quark to do what she wants, I think it's understandable given her comfortableness and understanding of different cultures, including Ferengi cultures. Besides, this is DS9. Odo's a fascist, Garak is KGB, and Kira's a terrorist, yet everyone loves those aspects of their characters as making the show better and more realistic. So why is Dax's ability to treat a Ferengi like a Ferengi so much worse?
William B
Tue, Mar 22, 2016, 8:48pm (UTC -6)
@Skeptical, well, I certainly do criticize Sisko for that :), though I haven't mentioned it. (I have explicitly mentioned how Sisko treats Quark elsewhere!)

It is a very good point that Jadzia's tolerance and cultural relativism is on a similar level to other character flaws. To my mind, my satisfaction with these characters is mostly how well I think the show paid off these traits. Garak - best (though he gets away with a lot, the show does spend time his unsettling he is), Odo - good, in that his authoritarian disposition is linked (ha) to the Founders and he grows, but several plots are dropped, Kira - okay, in that sometimes the pros/cons of her reflexes are examined and sometimes she acts like a crazy person with no consequences, implied criticism within the show, or regard to character development.

On that basis, Jadzia's openness and relativism IS the subject of several episodes, and is a major sticking point between her and Worf. It's not forgotten. But I don't know how much it pays off. That said, it doesn't have to exactly. It's actually a much less significant flaw than other characters', as you say. I think it's more that with some flaws I can tell that there is thought put into that flaw, and sometimes it doesn't seem like it. Here it registered as a dumb joke at the expense of Jadzia and Quark's characters, rather than an organic part of her character, and it also read like the writers thought this was appropriate behaviour because it's Quark rather than being idiosyncratically Jadzia in a way we don't have to "approve of." And as I said at the time, it read as off because I generally viewed her as keeping a certain distance from Quark, knowing his feelings for her, so it seemed like out of character behaviour written without seeing how it made her look bad. I would not mind if I thought it was meant to be a flat. It's an interesting idea that it plays into her overall perspective and I will ponder it.

One thing that occurred to me rereading my words is that Jadzia manipulating Quark (at least in the sense of "using her hands on") is a pretty Curzon thing to do -- Curzon later kisses Quark (not sexually, but he uses this affection as a way of embarrassing Quark for laughs), and Sisko talks within the episode about how manipulative Curzon could be. So it may be that we are looking at a specific trait, to be examined in episode.
William B
Tue, Mar 22, 2016, 9:17pm (UTC -6)
*a certain distance from Quark romantically.

Hm, I am really considering how her treatment of him fits in with Ferengi philosophy and Quark's (at least in the past, c. s1) in particular. I mean, Quark put "must perform sexual favours" in a contract in season 1. And indeed for Jadzia to be friends with Quark while he openly espouses sexist ideas she would have to have a sense of humour about it, which she does. What's interesting is that Jadzia actually genuinely, most of the time, seems to respect Quark even if she is skeptical about him, and I kind of thought she knew he had Deep Feelings rather than simply exploitative ones, and steered clear of them. But I'm not so sure whether that is true, and even if it is, why must it always be thus? And if Quark can so readily separate sex and love normally, why not now? So I see your point, but I'm not sure....
Skeptical
Wed, Mar 23, 2016, 5:46pm (UTC -6)
Well, I suppose the question (or two questions, really) is: A) when did Quark start to develop Deep Feelings for Jadzia and B) when did Jadzia realize it? If either of these events were after Facets, then it makes sense that she wouldn't take it into account when "manipulating" him.

Luke's reviews have done a good job of pointing out just how much the writers like to dump on Quark, and have practically made treating Quark badly to be the expected outcome for every Starfleet and Bajoran personnel. It's all part of the grand anti-Ferengi stance Trek has had ever since they epically failed in making them reasonable villains. So it wouldn't surprise me if the intent of the writers was what you and Luke pointed out, to simply have Jadzia manipulate Quark and treat him poorly as a cheap laugh, just like practically every other character has done in the past three seasons.

The problem with that, though, is that Jadzia is the ONLY character in the show (besides Rom) that actually likes Quark (well, Garak probably doesn't mind him either). So while it is perhaps consistent for Sisko or Kira or Odo to ruin Quark's day by acting like jerks, it isn't really consistent for Jadzia's character. I'd say there's three options here: A) it's just bad, inconsistent writing, B) Jadzia really is the stuck up, prissy sorority-girl female-dog who only cares about herself that Luke has interpreted the character to be, or C) Jadzia is simply comfortable enough around Ferengi to act like a Ferengi around them that I have interpreted the character to be. The answer is undoubtedly A, but that's too boring of an answer, so I choose C.
William B
Wed, Mar 23, 2016, 6:50pm (UTC -6)
Right. My original contention was basically A -- I considered it "awful" because I didn't see this as being Jadzia's way of treating Quark. I think that B is possible; I think that Luke is right to a point about Jadzia. I disagree with Luke about how much Jadzia was deliberately toying with Bashir or other conquests (see discussion on Playing God), though I think some of that is because the writing is unclear. Some of the problem with both Jadzia/Quark and Jadzia/Julian is, as you point out, many people simply wouldn't be friends with Quark and circa s1-2 Julian the way they treat her -- their sexualized take on her and persistence would make many people uncomfortable. So one take is that she isn't bothered by it and moves past it, which is what I mostly take, so that scenes like the one with Quark are bad writing (A); one is that she accepts them as they are, and tries to play on their level, which is something like your point C; one is that she really loves their worship as a kind of narcissistic supply and doesn't care about their feelings, which is something like Luke's case or B.
William B
Wed, Mar 23, 2016, 6:59pm (UTC -6)
To explain a bit more: I said some of where I disagreed with Luke already, so where Luke and I seem to agree on Jadzia is a) that she is really awful in certain episodes and moments, b) that the writing often fails to call her out on it, and c) that, in general, she has a bit of a tendency toward self-absorption, especially in her pursuit of fun. On (c), I don't mind that so much *in general* because I think that the show does point it out -- there are moments like Sisko snapping at her that nobody's laughing in The Ship, or where Worf grimly indicates that she's a little hard to handle, or in Children of Time where Jadzia blames herself for dooming everyone with her insatiable curiosity, or Sisko telling her she's being too stubborn in You Are Cordially Invited. I know that these are actually quite different issues, but I think they come down in part to Jadzia's tendency toward drama and fast living sometimes alienating people, and a certain egoism.
Luke
Wed, Mar 23, 2016, 7:30pm (UTC -6)
To make my own stance a little clearer, I don't think the writers were intentionally setting out to make Jadzia a "stuck up, prissy sorority-girl female-dog who only cares about herself". But, she does come across like that quite often. She does get called out on her excesses sometimes, as William B has pointed out, but there are a lot of times when she doesn't. For example, the stunt she pulls in "Explorers" during the introduction of Leeta. She knows that Bashir either has feelings for her or at least "had" those feelings and deliberately uses them to try to scuttle his first encounter with another woman. I really don't know how else to read that scene other than Dax intentionally trying to screw over Bashir. It's the same thing she does to Quark in "Facets" - use his feelings toward her for her own benefit. The only difference is that Bashir in that instance, unlike Quark, immediately saw what she was doing and put an end to it, literally handing her a padd with with GO AWAY written on it. Bashir may have seen through her nonsense and told her to piss off but I don't think the writers were inviting us to condemn her, certainly not harshly, for her actions. It's just another attempt at cheap laughs, this time at Bashir's expense, which damages Dax's character.

Given that she is called on the carpet sometimes ("The Ship", "You Are Cordially Invited", etc.), I'm willing to chalk it up to Skeptical's point A - it's just bad, inconsistent writing. My problem is that this form of bad writing crops up surprisingly often, thereby making the character seem like she is actually a stuck up, prissy sorority-girl and therefore rather unpleasant on the whole.

Addressing William B's last post - your three points there sum up my feelings on Dax almost perfectly. 1.) "a) that she is really awful in certain episodes and moments." Indeed, it is only in certain episodes and moments that she's unbearable. She's not always horrible. In "The Visitor", for example, there's a moment when old Jake fails to save Sisko in the Defiant's engineering room and she comforts him when he breaks into tears. In "The Ship", she goes to comfort O'Brien when his friend dies and only doesn't because Sisko holds her back. 2.) "b) that the writing often fails to call her out on it." Yes again, the writers only call her out on certain occasions and on others let her get away with some truly disturbing things. 3.) "c) that, in general, she has a bit of a tendency toward self-absorption, especially in her pursuit of fun." Now that I don't think anybody can argue with. Even when the writers aren't being sloppy and harming the character she is presented as being rather self-absorbed.
Andy's Friend
Thu, Mar 24, 2016, 4:14pm (UTC -6)
@Skeptical
@William B
@Luke

Very good analysis, Skeptical. Very good. I completely concur.

Being an expat myself for most of my life, I have observed this to be true: the longer you are among an alien culture, the more you either get to loathe that culture completely, entrenching yourself in your native customs and values, ultimately becoming some sordid, chauvinist type... or the more you simply learn to accept and perhaps love that alien culture in spite of what seemed as “flaws” from your initial perspective, many of which you then stop regarding as flaws and simply see as idiosyncrasies, perhaps even assimilating some of them yourself. “Live and let live” then becomes your mantra.

The latter is what we generally observe in Dax. To quote Skeptical: "As such, she is the ultimate "tolerant" character."

There is nothing wrong, unethical, or unfair in using one’s knowledge of a culture, of the values and norms of a people, to one’s advantage when dealing with that culture and that people. It is quite the contrary: it is doing them justice. It is simply treating them on their own terms. Everyone else in their culture does it.

So you speak to them as they like to be spoken to, you treat them as they like to be treated, you negotiate with them the way they are accostumed to negotiate. Of course you do that. This happens here on Earth today. And this is what Dax does. This is not a character flaw. This is simply an variation of the old adage: “When in Rome, do as the Romans.”

And of course, no one would be better suited for this than a joined Trill, especially a former ambassador, with decades of experience of other cultures. So it baffles me that anyone would consider this a character flaw in Dax. It’s simply baffling: it’s the exact opposite.

What Dax exhibits is simply the philosophy of IDIC that Star Trek espouses. Dax is able to adopt various aspects of other cultures when dealing with them, truly accepting them and virtually becoming one of their kind while with them.

This is why Dax likes Quark. She is able to see him for what he is, and appreciate the man within his own context. For Quark is a great man. He is, within the logic of his species, not just an honourable man, but a kind man, too. He exploits―to a limit. Quark is a Ferengi with a conscience. Much like Worf among Klingons, Quark embodies the best of his species: he is a better Ferengi than the Ferengi.

Is it any wonder that Dax, of all people, a Trill among humans, should grow fond of Worf, and Quark?

And time and again, we see this: Dax generally accepts other cultures on their own terms, and judges the individual, not the culture. In this aspect, she is a role model of Trek values. One can only wish that more people were like her―in Star Trek, and in real life.

What those who criticize Dax here exhibit, on the other hand, is ethnocentric myopia. It’s that sort of myopia I have come to expect in a large segment of Star Trek fandom, even if I find it odd, as it goes against the underlying message of Star Trek itself. “To explore the unknown possibilities of existence,“ one of the main points of Star Trek and science-fiction in general, seems to be lost on them.

It’s curious, and sad: Jammer’s has taught me that even Star Trek fans still have that deeply ingrained mindset of the Christian West, and of the Muslim Middle East. It is a dream of universal unity and fraternity *on our terms*, a utopia that is essentially monotheistically monocultural. It may even be a strange sort of atheist monotheism. It is the belief that “our way” is “the best way” and should ultimately become “the only way.”

And this is, deep down, what we see in the criticism of Dax. Surprising, I should think, in a science-fiction forum.

As for Jadzia Dax, I agree that she is often not well-written. But that is because the authors fail to give due credit to her extraordinary nature.

In human nature, we all have different humours. But ultimately, who we become, and who we are is the result of our choices in life. Each choice we make in life leads to change and to new conditions, and new choices. And in the end, we are the result not merely of our humours, and our choices: we are the product of our memories.

We know that the symbionts are regarded as much more important in Trill society than the hosts, and rightly so. But if the Trill are any similar to humans, Dax, with so many lives and accumulated memories, would all but obliterate the personality of Jadzia. What I mean to say is that we are not speaking of *Jadzia* Dax: we are speaking of Jadzia *Dax*.

And in this episode, Dax is completely in character. But most here seem to be missing the point. Consider this:

WILLIAM B: “...where Luke and I seem to agree on Jadzia is a) that she is really awful in certain episodes and moments, b) that the writing often fails to call her out on it, and c) that, in general, she has a bit of a tendency toward self-absorption, especially in her pursuit of fun.”

You point c) is of course true, but it seems completely in character. You try to live more than three hundred years, and tell me that you still care much for rules and protocols and the niceties of society. Hell, try living half a century, and then tell me you wouldn't seize the opportunity for some fun whenever it presented itself! No: call it self-absorption, call it pursuit of fun, call it what you will: if you're a symbiote with three centuries of memories, it's seems rather natural that you would want to experience new things, and that you would be somewhat irreverent of the social conventions of the short-lived.

(One could of course just as easily argue the opposite: that one would become a venerable and most dignified elder, and most respectuous of protocol. Both options make sense; the writers simply gave us the former instead of the latter.)

But your points a) and b) are absurd, William. With all due respect―I know you’re a smart fellow―they are myopic.

What people must understand is the true nature of Jadzia Dax. We are talking of a superior being. I know that this offends the egalitarian notions of many a Westerner, but it is important to understand: *Dax is a superior being.*

Dax has lived more than 300 years in the bodies of nine people. And Dax may live 300 years more in the bodies of another nine. Dax has no reason to care much for the sensibilities of little people such as humans or ordinary Trill: we are all like children to such a being, destined to grow old and die long before it does. What would you think of individuals who, in human terms, only grew to the state of an 11-year old? What would you think of being on a space station surrounded by 6-7-8-9-year olds? The analogy isn't perfect, but I trust it makes the point clear.

This is one of the major flaws of the joined Trill as we meet them in Star Trek: the writers failed to portray them as the sage beings their old age would make them be, unlike the way Star Wars for instance (the originals, of course) succeeded in portraying Yoda.

But the limited talent of the writers should not limit us. It is absurd to expect such a being to exhibit the same behaviour or adhere to the same ethics as us―particularly as Dax isn't even an earthling to begin with. Why on Earth should she obey our cultural norms, anymore than say, a Tellarite, or an Andorian should?

So William B’s point a) that Jadzia is “really awful in certain episodes” is precisely that ethnocentric myopia I speak of; if this is being really awful, William, I wonder what you would term what *I* would deem as that. And your point that the writers “fail to call her out on it” is more of the same. Perhaps the writers do understand, after all, that this is a very different being, with very different ethics. Who are we to judge? What do we know?

I mean, seriously, people: in Earth terms, this is a being that was around during the American Revolution. And the French one. And the Napoleonic Wars. And the American Civil War. And the Great War. This is a being that saw the first steam engines. The first steam trains, and ships. The first telegraphs, and telephones. The first everything. In Earth terms, this is a living museum of humanity.

Given the extreme rarity of the symbionts, this is a being who, in Earth terms, and had the writers been competent, would have occupied the most important positions in the history of our planet since the year 1700. Dax could have been any nine great men and women of the last three centuries you can think of―in one person, standing right before you.

Think of it. And I really mean *think of it.* And finally we arrive at the main problem with our perception of Dax: we have no real idea of who “legislator Lela Dax“ and “ambassador Curzon Dax“ were. But what if this was James Watt, and James Madison? Or James Cook, and James Monroe? Or James Wilson, and James Joyce? Or all of them―in one?

See what I mean? Dax is potentially nine huge figures in Trill history. Now imagine nine great men and women of the past three centuries on Earth, all in one body―and imagine yourselves standing before that being. And finally, remember that Dax, born sometime around the year 1700, will likely live to the year 2300. Imagine that. I mean, just imagine it. This is a being that is already ancient: and it will see things that we never will.

This is what I mean: this is a superior being. The way some of you speak of Dax is incredible. You are not taking the character seriously at all. I can partially understand that, because the writers themselves rarely do. But you must be better than that. Just because the writing is sloppy doesn’t mean your thinking should be. In real life, we would all stand in awe before such rare and extraordinary beings. You seriously believe that organizations such as Starfleet wouldn't give such beings incredible leeway? In a federation spanning so many worlds, you seriously would expect such beings to conform to *your* particular notions of correct behaviour?

What was I saying...? Oh, yes: great analysis, Skeptical. I wholly concur.
William B
Thu, Mar 24, 2016, 4:42pm (UTC -6)
Well, I will certainly attempt to avoid polluting the boards with my regressive myopia. I can only hope that centuries from now my foolish, chauvinistic and Neanderthalic attempt to describe my interpretation that 20th century sci fi writers failed sometimes to portray their character as intended will be wiped away when at last my bones turn to dust; a shame I have to live the rest of my life in shame as a result.
William B
Thu, Mar 24, 2016, 4:51pm (UTC -6)
In all seriousness, by "awful" I was speaking hyperbolically. On point c I did not indicate that her self absorption was intrinsically a bad thing. But in any case I know that feeling miffed is a regressive and immature reaction so I will bow out to my private myopia and wait until the human race has passed the likes of me behind.
Andy's Friend
Thu, Mar 24, 2016, 6:58pm (UTC -6)
@William B
@Chrome (quoted)

Not regressive, William: ethnocentric. Actually, I don’t think it’s that noticeable in your comments; Luke is much worse than you, and so are many others. But you have to admit that most commenters here are rather ethnocentric.

And this is only natural, and to be expected somewhat. Still, what we see here corresponds to what one might expect in say, a literary circle devoted to Romanticism―not science-fiction. The vast majority of commenters here expect virtually all aliens to conform not even to human, but to specific Western standards of behaviour and ethics; and they are quick to judge when they do not.

But Star Trek itself instills this in the viewers; and in this, you are absolutely correct: the writing of Star Trek is often lacking. In fact, the more attention I pay, the more I see Star Trek as the opposite of what it preaches.

My favourite in particular, TNG, failed miserably. It is not enough to show token Betazoids, Vulcans, or Bolians among the crew: there is little multiculturalism in a barber that is simply blue. And we see alien crewmembers make changes to accommodate to Earth standards. But in what way has Starfleet changed to accommodate the philosophies and practices of other member worlds? In what way can Starfleet be said to represent the Federation, and not merely Earth?

An excellent example is Mordock, the Benzite in “Coming of Age.” Good writing would have let Picard of course know in advance of the particular command and decision-making procedures of the Benzite culture, and then give Mordock such an assignment as to make best use of his particular skills― some high-volume quantitative analysis, perhaps―showing Starfleet as a truly multicultural organization. But no. Instead we see Mordock fail because he does things in the way that is natural to his culture. In other words, his culture fails. And instead we see Mordock having to do things our way. It is the alien that must adapt, and ultimately become us.

And even when every once in a great while we see true multiculturalism, and Starfleet making best use of specific characteristics of alien Federation citizens, it is sadly all too often simply a plot necessity. One good example of this are the Bynars in “11001001”, where the pretext to feature them was that they were chosen to help with the computer upgrade because of their unique nature. In other words, a plot convenience: not a wish to depict multiculturalism.

And the same goes for entire worlds. For a franchise that is about seeking out “new worlds, and new civilizations,” this is failing somewhat. And judging by the thousands of comments here on Jammer’s I’ve read through the years, it also fails miserably in instilling a mentality of true, Dax-like acceptance of diversity in the viewers. Consider Chrome the other day, on DS9’s “Heart of Stone”:

CHROME: “However, if you want to talk about some real progress and moral character development, the Ferengi are DS9's shining stars.”

No, they are not, Chrome: they simply cease being Ferengi, and become humans with big ears.

And that is the bottom line. Chrome's comment is typical of that ethnocentrism that we can find everywhere on Jammer's: the “other guys” only become “good guys” when they cease being whatever they were and become like us.

And the scary part is that this is wholly inarticulate and implicit: it is shown, not told, and most commenters here are problably not even aware that they are being ethnocentric. Eddington was right, in more ways than the writers imagined: it is not the Federation that is insidious, it is Star Trek itself: it assimilates people, and they don't even know it.

So I partially understand why so many commenters are so ethnocentric: much of it is the fault of the writing. But as I also wrote: just because the writing often is sloppy, doesn’t meant that our thinking should be, too.
Chrome
Thu, Mar 24, 2016, 8:53pm (UTC -6)
@Andy's Friend

Can you be more specific? I'm not sure that Quark being more heroic and respectful towards women and employees as the series progresses necessarily represents any particular country. As with all Star Trek, it's an ideal, one that even the US has trouble reaching at times.
Chrome
Thu, Mar 24, 2016, 9:02pm (UTC -6)
Also, as a side, please don't assume that me or others take anything the writers of Star Trek say as the truth. Yes, their characterization of Quark worked for me, but if you read any of my Voyager reviews you'd see how often I disagree with how the writers humanize the Borg and others.
William B
Thu, Mar 24, 2016, 9:52pm (UTC -6)
All right, ethnocentric I can understand. I overreacted earlier. But you must understand -- this may or may not be an ethnocentric response -- but I find that several paragraphs dedicated to my personal myopia (or, my myopia as the epitome of general traits of the boards) do not make responding particularly easy, at least not for a time. I admit that I fall into laziness at times and sometimes when I criticize an episode I do not read it generously. In those times I tend to believe that the episodes are the result of blind spots on the part of the writers, rather than on my part. But that is sometimes easy. My biggest problem with Deep Space Nine in general is that it seems to me many issues are transplanted from 20th century Earth (and particularly 20th century America) into situations where they no longer seem to fit. Bajoran spirituality is built up of analogues to Judeo-Christian Earth religions despite their Gods being observable entities, the Dominion war is linked to 20th century style conflicts, etc. Now, recently, I criticized Take Me Out to the Holosuite, mostly because I could not really understand why an all-Vulcan senior staff would fixate on a centuries-old human sport for the purposes of, apparently, the captain's singular grudge against a human who had baseball as a hobby. However, it may also be that I was simply failing to note the almost archaeological cross-cultural interest that people take across cultures, or I maybe also simply failed to note that truly alien species are inscrutable. As something to keep at the back of one's mind, this is surely helpful, but it can be a bit limiting in discussion to assume that all decisions are wholly justified in-story (as well as the converse).

I will not entirely belabour what I was attempting to say. In actuality, I quite agreed with what Skeptical wrote, but did not want to repudiate my earlier comment entirely. Further, I don't always agree with Luke, so while I pointed out some differences in our takes on Jadzia, I wanted to make the point that we agree on other points out of fairness and friendliness. I was sloppy in saying "awful" when I meant, really, that there are times when Jadzia's behaviour does not match up with EITHER my personal (perhaps ethnocentric) view OR with what I believe the writers are attempting with the character. In fact, even from my own personal/ethnocentric stance, Jadzia's worst actions are still far less disturbing or awful than others in the series, including from human characters. (Sisko is the prime example -- and, note, I am not going to say that he is awful, only that I find his behaviour more objectionable on a whole than Jadzia's according to my code.)

When Jadzia laughs at Sisko's poisoning a planet in For the Uniform, for example, and says that she likes it when the bad guy wins -- it is less objectionable than Sisko actually poisoning the planet, by my ethnocentric standards, but even then I find it offputting. My instinct would be to say that I don't think it fits with Jadzia's broad mindedness to be so cavalier about that level of destruction and risk. I would ascribe this to poor writing, in this instance. However, I acknowledge there are limitations here: 1) several generations have imprinted onto Jadzia the importance of personal relationships and with accepting those people as they are -- so she laughs at Sisko's actions regardless of whether she would find them appropriate for herself, or for that matter from Quark or Worf or Bashir or Kira; 2) while I find the poisoning shortsighted, cruel and seemingly motivated by Sisko's own vendetta, as a being with greater lifetimes of experience Jadzia might see, immediately, either the positive impact of the action, or its necessity, or, indeed, take a perfectly hands-off attitude toward almost any actions over which she does not have direct control. The only time I can think of she attempts to affect change by withholding her approval outside her relationship with Worf was with Quark in Business as Usual, and Sisko had already completed his actions anyway. So my interpretation that it was sloppy writing may have been the result of overly narrow thinking, or it may be something else.

Now beyond what I said into what I am thinking about now and back to this episode in particular: I like the idea that Jadzia is abiding by Ferengi rules and traditions in Facets, but it is hard for me to process it for a few reasons. One is that the series depicts two almost entirely separate rules for women & sexuality when it comes to Quark -- his treatment of non-Ferengi females and his treatment of Ferengi females. There is some overlap, of course. But here I think it is important to note that the exploitative way Quark treats female employees (in season one and then Profit and Lace forcing them to agree to sex as part of their contract) is distinct from how Ferengi are expected to treat Ferengi women -- they seem to be exploitative of Ferengi women, yes, but women are not permitted to have jobs or sign contracts. Whether Ferengi are permitted to buy and sell sex from women within their culture is an open question, but I suspect not because if they comoddify sex sufficiently, then it would count as women doing business. Of course, that leaves open the question of whether Ferengi men can exchange sex with each other for profit, which the series does not depict. On that level, it may be that Jadzia offering Quark sexual favours in exchange for his participation in her ritual is consistent with his personal ethics, but it is hard to say how it fits into Ferengi society. It doesn't need to; pluralistic or not, Jadzia places great emphasis on her personal relationships and so could very well base her actions around Quark's personal code, such as it is. It didn't really occur to me to think about it that way before Skeptical's comment.
William B
Thu, Mar 24, 2016, 10:10pm (UTC -6)
All right, I will attempt to be more precise: I do not truly mean "you have to understand"; I cannot and do not wish to make any imposition on you. "I hope you understand..." is closer to what I intend to say.
William B
Thu, Mar 24, 2016, 10:27pm (UTC -6)
I will further specify that I agree that TNG (and all the series) is also very much at fault in its depiction of truly alien societies. I only mentioned DS9 because it's been on my mind lately, since I'm watching it....
Chrome
Mon, May 9, 2016, 10:09am (UTC -6)
So what's the deal with Root Beer? DS9 seems to be the only Trek to mention it's a hit beverage of the Federation. Were the writers really fond of Root Beer? Was A&W a brand sponsor?

The reason why I ask is that this Federation love for root beer (an American drink) seems weird in a 24th century collection of planets that represent billions of species. Has American culture become Federation culture? Are we supposed to end DS9 thinking that the Federation is just like 20th century USA where the majority of the population watches baseball and drinks root beer?

Just totally bizarre. I'd be interested in seeing if an answer has been given on this.
Robert
Mon, May 9, 2016, 10:55am (UTC -6)
@Chrome - I don't think we're necessarily meant to think that root beer is necessarily widely beloved in the Federation. If you track root beer mentions they nearly all seem to come from the same place.

The first mention is Nog ordering it (to Quark's dismay) because it's popular at Starfleet Academy (which is located in what was America). I've never really seen anything imply that it's popular outside of the Academy.

In Ascent and Way of the Warrior we see Quark stocking the stuff (and that Nog has become addicted to it). But that all has Nog as the source of it's introduction to Quark's Bar.

There are a few other references, but I always sort of imagined that it was popular at Starfleet and so officers finding it on a menu at a Ferengi bar probably just order it out of nostalgia. I'm doubting it's a staple of the Federation diet.
Chrome
Mon, May 9, 2016, 11:25am (UTC -6)
@Robert

I'm not sure Root Beer is beloved in the Federation per se, but it's certainly become synonymous with the Federation. In "Facets", Quark sees Nog drinking it, and then comments that this is "the end of Ferengi civilization". If it was just another Earth drink like prune juice, would Quark still be up in arms over it?

Also, in "Way of the Warrior", Garak and Quark use Root Beer to metaphorically describe the Federation in drink form. So, I mean, I think the writers are implying some strong connection between the drink and the people the Federation. And I don't ever recall them limiting the metaphor to the academy or saying only students drink it. Indeed, Rom becomes fond of it too.

Also, in "Rapture", Quark predicts that when Bajor joins the Federation, Root Beer sales will mutiply by 5! Further, it's not just Ferengi who mock and connect it with humans. In "Sons and Daughters", the Klingons on the ship Alexander is serving suggest he have a human drink such as Root Beer.
Robert
Mon, May 9, 2016, 11:46am (UTC -6)
@Chrome - I get what you're saying about the metaphor scene, but it was so soon after Nog introduced the drink because of the academy connection that I assumed that's why Quark was drinking it. I think the heart of that conversation is the idea that other cultures wouldn't make happy bubbly things :)

And Rom drinks it because Nog does I think. You do have a point about the Root Beer Float comment with the Klingons, I had forgotten about that and my "Nog disseminates a popular academy beverage around the station by being the nephew of the barkeep" theory loses ground if a random Klingon is aware of root beer.

Of course perhaps they visited the station while Quark was advertising it... but still it seems a stretch perhaps.
Chrome
Mon, May 9, 2016, 4:32pm (UTC -6)
@Robert

Yes, I think that if the writers intended root beer to be some fad Nog picked up, they should have shown more cadets or even kids drinking it. We had the whole "Valiant" episode where Captain Watters could've washed away his pain with root beer instead of stimulants or whatever he was taking.

Anyway, none of this would be a big deal, really, if root beer was mentioned in another Trek. In other Treks, *Synthehol* seems to be the beverage of choice for Starfleet. My theory is that due to the early time slot of DS9, they didn't want to show Nog getting into even phony booze so they went with root beer.
Skywalker
Thu, May 26, 2016, 9:34pm (UTC -6)
What a lively the discussion the past couple months! I wasn't expecting this when I came to read the comments for this episode.

I tend to side with the interpretation of Skeptical and Andy's Friend regarding Dax, while agreeing completely with Luke and William B at the same time: she is manipulative, but those traits are in line with her capricious, chameleon-like character. So I like that dichotomy. While I defend Dax's actions in this episode and others (like how she was trying to cock-block Bashir for fun in "Explorers" -- haven't you had a female friend who did that? Dax is mischievous; it fits her), I never was such a huge fan of her. She's too impulsive, and I rarely felt drawn to her like some of the male characters in the show were (I'm more of a Kira [or even Leeta] kind of guy).

@Andy's Friend, that said, I caution against a world-view that promotes multiculturalism. I believe multiculturalism, while well-intentioned, has generated many great evils in the modern world (notably the permissive attitude of the Belgian police to the enclaves of Muslim immigrants there, allowing lawlessness or even Sharia Law itself to reign). Socialism is another similar institution that, while well-intentioned, has been responsible for the lion's share of 20th century atrocities (outweighing even those of Fascism).

As this applies to Star Trek, the characters in all the series sometimes struggle with moral issues of right versus wrong. The writers are expressing their own struggle with such tough issues, knowing there is a difference between right and wrong, just like Starfleet officers have clear morality. They force themselves and their characters to confront and balance their assumptions with their gut.

Chrome made an interesting connexion with the root beer, and the obvious American-centric nature of DS9 and Star Trek in general. And you're all absolutely right there. There are complaints above that the writers don't depict truly "alien" societies. Well, how can they? They have chosen human actors to portray virtually all the sentient races encountered. Moreover, Star Trek has always been about taking familiar topics for its viewers and giving them a mouthpiece in various situations in the galaxy. That's where the "ethnocentrism" comes in — think of the audience. The majority are U.S. Americans (heh). And the actors are mostly Americans (I always find it entertaining when an alien like Dukat sounds more American than a human like O'Brien).

So the "ethnocentrism" is twofold: 1) it is the limit of the human actors who are American (along with the American writers); 2) it is by design, since we human audience members are meant to connect and relate to these characters. That's what makes it good TV.
methane
Sun, Aug 7, 2016, 7:10pm (UTC -6)
Why wouldn't alien wonder about root beer? You drink water to live. You drink milk or juice for believed health benefits (even if current research doesn't support that for juice). You drink alcohol to get drunk. All this Quark (and the other aliens on the station) would understand.

But root beer? Why drink root beer? Even if you think it tastes good, why take empty calories from a liquid when you could do it from a food, which has the benefit of filling you up?

To be fair, we could say the same thing about Coca Cola or another "soft drink", but root beer has the benefit of being recognizable (at least to Americans) without having a brand name attached. The fact that it has "beer" in the name without actually having alcohol in it also helps it seem pointless.

I'm sure a writer was having similar thoughts when he stuck root beer in whatever 1st script it appeared in, and then other writers took the idea and used it as an ongoing metaphor for human influence, much like people use Coca Cola or McDonalds as a metaphor for US influence on today's Earth. I wouldn't take it as the writers saying they like root beer (since the conversation actually makes more sense if you don't like the drink).

The Ferengi wondering about root beer may be undermined by the fact that they have something called Slug-o-Cola, which sounds like the Ferengi version of a soft drink. But a) I'm not sure if that's been introduced yet at this point in the series, and b) it contains 43% live algae, so it may in fact be healthy for you.

(I'm not ashamed to say I just looked up Slug-o-Cola at Memory Alpha to find the correct spelling, and, hey, the algae percentage is in the article).

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