Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Afterimage"

**1/2

Air date: 10/12/1998
Written by Rene Echevarria
Directed by Les Landau

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Now get out of here, before I say something unkind." — Garak

Nutshell: A quiet, pleasant, by-the-numbers character show.

There's nothing at all wrong with what we get from "Afterimage," a show that plays like an extended coda to the season's opening two episodes. The problem is, I'm also having trouble finding much to say in praise of this episode. It's diverting, it's a necessary piece, it's nicely acted overall, but it lacks punch and lasting significance.

This is basically an hour of "getting to know the new Dax," which I was actually looking forward to. I only wish it had contained a little more complexity and a little less of the expected.

The episode essentially picks up right where "Shadows and Symbols" left off—perhaps the following day. Dax is confused. She's not sure where she belongs—completely understandable given her situation. What makes it particularly difficult for Ezri is the Worf factor—and Worf isn't exactly making it easy for her. He's in pain over the fact that he has to deal with the memories of his dead wife floating around in another person, and Ezri is also paying the price for Worf's pain. He avoids her. When he bumps into her in the corridor, he refuses to say anything to her beyond, "I do not know you, nor do I wish to know you."

Dax doesn't intend to stay on the station because of the uneasiness that would arise between her and Worf, which is perhaps one of the predictable aspects of "Afterimage's" plot: How much would you bet that Dax will come to terms with Worf and everything else going on at the station before the episode's end? I'd lay pretty good odds on it.

Meanwhile, Quark reinitiates his pining for Dax all over again, saying to Bashir, "It's not every day you get a second chance." But Ezri's a completely different person, Bashir responds. Perhaps so, but she's still Dax.

That's sort of the point of the entire Trill condition: the same person in some ways, but different in many others. Unfortunately, I didn't feel that "Afterimage" got to the heart of this key Trill trait as much as it could've. Especially given that Ezri is not totally compatible with the Dax symbiont, I hoped maybe we'd get a bit more of a look into Ezri's mind—into the uneasy psychological imbalance. I'd hoped she would struggle with the forces inside her, which might have been an interesting challenge.

What we get instead is reasonable: a series of emotional obstacles for Dax as she rediscovers her old friends as a new person, struggling with the weight of things around her. Most of these little issues play themselves out in a fairly by-the-numbers fashion.

Take for example, the whole idea of Ezri proving herself as a competent counselor. A fine idea, but executed without the slightest hint that a formula wasn't somewhere behind the characterizations, flowing from A to B. Applied to most of "Afterimage" is a workable but unassuming formula that provides Dax with a reassurance, then a setback, and then ends by conquering the setback.

For example, there's the Garak angle. A perfectly reasonable idea, but also formulaic. Dax tries to counsel Garak, who's suffering from intense claustrophobic attacks. At first, she's helpful and Garak is able to resume work on translating Cardassian signals for the Federation. But then he realizes the psychobabble is just a sham, and in the episode's best scene, he gives Ezri a complete dress-down on why she is destined to be a failure of a host, and then says to her, "Now get out of here, before I say something unkind." (Garak can be one menacing guy.)

Dax gives up for a moment and is lost in misdirection. By the end of the episode, of course, Garak tells her he was wrong. She has even helped him face up to his intense repressed guilt for undermining Cardassia to thwart the Dominion, which proves interesting in some ways (Andrew Robinson's performance helps, as always), but kind of simplistic in others.

There's also the Sisko angle. Sisko tells Dax that she'll do fine. But when she fails with Garak and considers quitting, Sisko rattles her by essentially saying: "You're right. You won't measure up. You should quit." Dax finds herself lost in misdirection. By the end of the episode, she realizes that being rattled with the truth has helped her face up to reality. It's a reasonable tactic that makes for a good scene, but did anyone not see the turnaround coming?

The Worf angle also follows a calculated format. And while we're talking about Worf, I would like to gripe a little about his transparency. Now, I understand that Worf has always been one who lets his inner-anger get the best of him at the expense of other people's feelings, but here he doesn't do a great job as coming off as particularly interesting in the process. He got on my nerves just a little too much. One scene, where he threatens Bashir in the infirmary because Bashir had earlier talked to Dax, had me downright rooting for Bashir to come back with some sort of cutting remark to put Worf in his place. (Alas, it was not to be.)

Worf, fortunately, doesn't come off as a complete bad guy, because the episode manages to show why he's acting the way he is and lets us in on how he feels. But again, I could see it all coming several scenes in advance. Looking for subtlety in his character is tough—because there's none to be found. That's a shame, because Worf has a complex history. It's too bad that he's so transparent much of the time.

Turning back to Dax, while I wasn't as taken back here as I was by her exuberance in "Shadows and Symbols," I did empathize with Ezri's various hardships. While evidence here suggests that deBoer doesn't make a particularly good crier, she does convey bottled distress very well. And if you look under the surface, you can almost see a touch of Terry Farrell in deBoer's performance of Dax. I'm not sure how much studying deBoer did on Farrell's acting, but it's an interesting aspect to note. Some of the vocal inflections and body language are quite Jadzia-like.

What's strange about "Afterimage," though, is that I can't quite place my finger on exactly why I couldn't get wrapped up in the story. A lot of things about the it were logically conceived. I think it was a matter of every story piece falling into place at the most elementary level, even though there was much richer material beneath the surface that wasn't exploited by the possibilities inherent in the setting and what we know of Trills.

For what we got, "Afterimage" is a perfectly competent and watchable show. But by the end of the show I couldn't help but feel there should've been more challenge and struggle—and less of the inescapable feeling that Ezri Dax's obstacles are now behind her, rather than still ahead.

Next week: Deep Baseball Nine!

Previous episode: Shadows and Symbols
Next episode: Take Me Out to the Holosuite

Season Index

40 comments on this review

Masamune - Sun, Aug 9, 2009 - 12:00am (USA Central)
I liked Sisko's comment to Jake about her being "300 years too old for him." A pity, though. I think he would've been a better match for her.
Destructor - Mon, Dec 14, 2009 - 5:31pm (USA Central)
I really liked this one- thought it was nicely understated.
James - Fri, Mar 5, 2010 - 3:30am (USA Central)
Ezri had it coming, seeing how inept at counseling Garak she was, but man, he simply *destroyed* her (I think that might be the meanest thing one Trek character has ever said to another). It's lucky for her he was so close to cracking anyway, or I'm pretty sure she would've carried out her initial plan of leaving the station and would've regretted it later.

The first time I watched this episode I kinda thought of his abrupt turnaround as a deus ex machina kind of thing, but remembering "The Wire" and the fact that he used to be part of the Obsidian Order, it makes a little more sense. There is nothing so despised in Cardassian culture as a traitor, and coming from that background what he was being asked to do by Starfleet must have been nearly as trying to his convictions as what Sisko had to do in Pale Moonlight. And we know from Wire that when pushed enough, Garak can break down. An incredibly rare event, but it's consistent with the past and explains his actions without resorting to "luck" on Ezri's part.
Nic - Mon, Sep 13, 2010 - 8:58pm (USA Central)
Where did Counselor Telnorri go? You know, the one O'Brien had to consult with in "Hard Time"? If they had a counselor on the station back then (and they should considering there are 7,000 people aboard), why don't they already have one now?
Ken - Wed, Jan 26, 2011 - 9:42pm (USA Central)
This episode lays the groundwork for hating Ezri Dax as a character. The writers dug themselves in a huge hole that they never really could climb out of.
Adam - Tue, Jul 12, 2011 - 1:22pm (USA Central)
Although I can see how she's annoying, I really felt it was a shame Ezri only got one season on the show. Terry Farrell wasn't that great an actor (wasn't that clear when I watched it as a teenager but pretty obvious now!) and it would've been nice if they'd been able to do the whole "Dax/Worf-death of Jadzia" thing a little earlier and give Ezri more time. As it was she got about 3 episodes before the final DS9 wrap up arc began.

Been rewatching the entire series from the beginning for a few months now. Not sure what I'll do when it's over! :(
Penny - Wed, Apr 25, 2012 - 7:40pm (USA Central)
I hate ezri, she's a useless and unworthu character and a bad councelor. The only thing i like in that episode was Garak's line about how Jadzia owned herself and that prety mach she was awesome and that ezri was unworthy of the Dax symbiont.
Krog - Sun, Apr 29, 2012 - 10:42pm (USA Central)
Adam nails it. It's the final season. We should be closing loose ends and building for the finale, not introducing new characters. I understand why Dax died in season 6 (the actor had to leave the show), but there is no reason to reintroduce Dax. Even though we've been with Dax for six seasons she still feels like a brand new character that I don't care about.
spock - Fri, May 4, 2012 - 6:27pm (USA Central)
Ezri sucked, she ruined the final season
Jan - Tue, May 8, 2012 - 3:58am (USA Central)
Ezri Dax must be one of the worst counselors I've ever seen. They should never allowed her stay on ds9
Vylora - Sat, May 12, 2012 - 11:54pm (USA Central)
As I stated in my post for "Tears of the Prophets", I really wish that Terry could have finished the season. And I am still of the belief that season 7 stories have been affected by her departure. But that does not mean I don't like the character of Ezri Dax. In fact I really like her. Her performances as a very confused newly joined Trill were quite good.

As far as this ep is concerned I would almost give it three stars. Lightweight yes but rather well done all around. I do strongly agree with what we learned of Trill society there wasn't more exploited in terms of storytelling. But this ep is what it is and did it well. Yeah...three stars.
Vylora - Sun, May 13, 2012 - 12:09am (USA Central)
I meant to say Terry should have finished the series but whatevs.

Anyway one sidenote...the one-two punch scenes between Garak/Ezri then Sisko/Ezri were very harsh and very well played out. Actually got a lump in my throat. Nicely done.
Van - Tue, May 15, 2012 - 7:21am (USA Central)
Another boring Ezri episode. I never cared for her, she's a crap character
Robau - Sun, May 27, 2012 - 7:48pm (USA Central)
I find Ezri super annoying too. The writers dropped the ball by bring her to the series.
Raider - Wed, Jun 6, 2012 - 4:07pm (USA Central)
Ezri is the most pointless and useless character of any star trek series, yes worse than Wesley and that's not easy.
TMB - Tue, Aug 14, 2012 - 3:33pm (USA Central)
Ezri had no business counseling Garak. She has a truckload of her own personal problems, and professionally she has the presence of a psychology STUDENT rather than someone with a medical license. Garak wiped the floor with her, and just to add insult to injury, Vic Fontaine showed her up a couple episodes later. When a hologram does a better job giving therapy than the therapist does (and her only comeback was "but you're just a hologram!"), it's time to hang it up.
Cindi - Wed, Aug 15, 2012 - 2:50am (USA Central)
Raider - oh c'mon now, there's a huuuge competition there, especially Voyager is chock full of boring and pointless characters. I really don't think Ezri is the worst of the bunch. Compared with such memorable bores like Kim, Chakotay, Torres, Neelix, both Crushers, pretty much the whole crew of NX01 except the doctor...at least she's pretty.
Frank - Sat, Aug 25, 2012 - 8:03am (USA Central)
Ezri can't figure out who she is and she's trying to counsel Garak? I loved it when he wipped the floor with her face!
Jock Strapp - Tue, Sep 18, 2012 - 11:26pm (USA Central)
Some of you are out of your friggin' minds. Leeta is the worst and most useless character on DS9 by far. It's not even close.
Spoon-head - Mon, Oct 1, 2012 - 2:01pm (USA Central)
Look at her. She's pathetic. A confused child, trying to live up to a legacy left by her predecessors. She's not worthy of the name, "Dax." We knew Jadzia. She was vital, alive, she owned herself. And Ezri, she doesn't even know who she is. How dare she presume to help Garak. She can't even help herself.

Score: 1.5

Now, get out of here before I say something unkind.
John (the younger) - Sat, Oct 20, 2012 - 3:34am (USA Central)
I think Ezri is quite good and breathed some much needed life into the old DS9 crew.

This episode is quite an excellent introduction for her.

And the scene where she and Sisko are discussing Worf being intimidated by him was awesome.
Arachnea - Fri, Nov 30, 2012 - 6:11am (USA Central)
Wow, there is a lot of hate in here.

Had the roles been reversed, the hate would have been the same because the fans are used to 6 seasons of Jadzia. Do you remember Jadzia in her first season ? Boring, monotonous, no life, very wise-ish ?

The problem is that the writers didn't have enough time to make her character grow, so they had to make it way too fast. The premise is interesting: Ezri didn't mean to be joined. In the Trill lore, it is often said that the symbiont can overcome the host if not prepared and that's exactly what's happening. I personally would have liked more than one episode to resolve the struggle, there was material for a good "self-search who Ezri Dax is" arc.
It was very much in character for Garak to undermine her; clearly she was not ready to do her job. But the fault is Sisko's who shouldn't have pushed her on the front line (with Garak no less!). Anyone should have seen that she needed time and help instead and, the further undermining from Sisko was very unwelcome (would have been right for Jadzia, not for Ezri). In a situation like this, with an already confused person, you don't add confusion. It's only the plot contrivance that makes it work. Oh, and by the way, 8 lifetimes make you experienced, not a counsellor. It's a real job that needs to be learned and assimilated, with all the subtelties that go with it. Again, the captain got it wrong by willingly erasing the right of Ezri to study, just to have Dax at his side.

What I'm trying to say, it's a shame because Ezri could have been a great character if better thought.
William - Sun, Jan 13, 2013 - 6:08pm (USA Central)
A definite minority on this one -- I'm touched and intrigued by Ezri. She had NO plans to become joined. Of course she's rattled and unprepared. Not every character needs to be confident and daring.
DavidK - Wed, Jan 30, 2013 - 3:49am (USA Central)
I gotta agree with William, Ezri is intriguing specifically because she's not your typical god-like Starfleet officer. She actually makes mistakes, which is really refreshing. They're not Gaius Baltar-level mistakes but they're interesting enough missteps.

Take the scene with Bashir, where she says "if not for Worf, it would have been you". I just rewatched the episode for the first time in years and it was as horrific a moment as I remembered. I was thinking: On jeez, on what planet is that a good thing to say? Ezri, Ezri. Seriously. That's such a bad decision it hurts just watching it.

But I like my characters to be magnificently flawed. I think I've said horribly inappropriate things like that at one time or another. Also since Garak voices an opinion almost exactly like what is being said here, I'd say the creators made her like that specifically, and then addressed it. Her nervous, awkward, uncertain nature is the whole idea of her character.

I'll agree about Ezri's free promotion though, that was insulting to counsellors everywhere.
Late_to_Party - Sat, Jun 29, 2013 - 2:58pm (USA Central)
Receiving DAX should have made Ezri into a confident, capable person -- that's the established trill lore, and that's how it worked with that guy who stole the Dax symbiont for a few hours in 'Invasive Procedures'. Now it appears that the writers forgot everything they established about how trills and symbionts work.

Ezri pretty much ruined season 7 for me -- Jadzia Dax was one of my favorite characters, so it was tough to see her go, then there were so many episodes in season 7 featuring this dingbat Dax.

I haven't counted, but it does feel to me like there were more Ezri-centered episodes in one season than there were Jadzia-centered episodes in 6 seasons. And I cringed at all of them. Dax simply should never have been presented as existing within a goofy dingbat! A pathetic excuse for a counselor and starfleet officer.

No way would I ever go to Ezri for counseling. I agree with Garak.

JimmyDee - Mon, Jul 22, 2013 - 8:04am (USA Central)
yeah, you Ezri-bashers are full of crap.

She is good because she is weak. She can't cry worth a damn, but I liked almost everything else she did.

Characters that fail are almost always more interesting than characters that win at everything.

deBoer did a great job of capturing a hint of Terry's persona as if it were a portion of a mix of personalities inside her, jostling around for dominance - a bit like the penultimate scene in Terminator 2. Every once in a while, it does pop through, just a little bit.

As to her competence as a counselor, I think that's reasonable and Sisko is rolling on the fact that he's quite sure she'll roll into it somewhat naturally, albeit with a few bumps here and there.

Counseling isn't exactly a hard science you know. Any time I have been to counseling, the emphasis has always been on letting the client do most of the work and giving them a chance to air out the dirty laundry.

That's probably a fairly believable reason that few counselors stay long on DS9. It's a pretty rough and risky place to hang out if your professional skillset involves getting people to open up and cry a bit.

Given the fact that the Feds are at war with a fairly powerful alliance for most of the last few seasons and DS9 is the most strategic point, that's not a particularly strong set of skills for dealing with a militant invasion.

Might as well change the Counselor's uniform to a clean, bright red shirt.

Naw, her character fits and she did a good job (again, except for the crying - couldn't they have just killed a kitten in front of her or something???).

Oh, and the character in Invasive Procedures was a personality that was quite well suited and well prepared for joining, but had a psychotic streak. Ezri is a personality that is simply not suited for it and was never prepared for joining. I think the difference in the characters matches what was shown on screen.
ProgHead777 - Wed, Aug 7, 2013 - 5:03am (USA Central)
@JimmyDee, I'd say the crying scene is completely in line with the rest of her performance. She was pretty consistent with the whole "After School Special actress" routine.
Take it easy - Thu, Sep 5, 2013 - 9:18pm (USA Central)
Totally agree with Arachnea and William. I feel sorry for the haters.
Kotas - Mon, Nov 4, 2013 - 9:25pm (USA Central)

Not a good episode. It is impossible for a new character to replace one with 6 seasons of development. So far I'm left wishing they just continued the series with one less main character. She's not that good and they are wasting time trying to build her up when there's much more interesting things to be done.

3/10
Aaron - Mon, Nov 11, 2013 - 11:30pm (USA Central)
I have to agree with those that think Ezri has potential.

Personally I never really liked Jadzia. Didn't like the character much - seemed like she was a kind of female Kurazon - all adventurousness, arrogance, smugness, and a know-it-all. Not much heart. I usually found her annoying and predictable - like Deanna Troi but worse. Hotness was what she had going for her.

Compounding the problem was the fact that Terry Farrell was probably the worst actress of the regular ensemble. She had 2 or 3 "looks" that she always used and not much else, generally very bad at emotion and no depth.

From this episode it's clear Nicole de Boer is a couple steps above Farrell as far as acting skill. Terry Farrell is not working as an actress anymore and I think we know why. Nicole de Boer still gets okay roles.

I also like the Ezri character - that she's vulnerable. Compared to Jadzia who seemed to never make a mistake and was oh-so in control, she's a breath of fresh air. Plus, she's attractive but not the same kind of model-hot that Jadzia was.
Ric - Sat, Jan 4, 2014 - 3:32am (USA Central)
I am one of the few that, at this point, actually like Ezri portrayal. I think acting got a million better than when we got Jadzia. The character is much more dimensional and feels alive.

The problem is, in line with what Jammer has pointed in the review, that the episode is just too shallow and predictable. And as Kotas has mentioned above, developing such a character to substitute a 6-seasons-old one seems like a lost battle. And in the last season, it seems to have been quite a waste of time.
Dusty - Sat, Feb 15, 2014 - 4:19am (USA Central)
I think this was a very interesting episode. I miss Jadzia, but I don't let that stop me from liking Ezri too. Far from a waste of time, developing Ezri's character during the season was essential. Look at it this way: if they hadn't focused on her, we'd be complaining that she was just a cardboard cutout with Dax's name. THAT would have been the real insult. The writers also knew they had to make her different from Jadzia, just as Jadzia was different from Curzon--not just because they are different people, but because Jadzia trained all her life to be joined and Ezri was not prepared at all.

As for Ezri's appointment as counselor: no, it was not ideal. Evidently the old counselor who helped O'Brien was unavailable, and as an assistant counselor before her joining, Ezri was the best they had, and Sisko nudged her into the position before she was ready. Her first attempts to counsel Garak were a disaster. Anyone could see she was so distracted by the other hosts' memories that she forgot everything she learned about psychology and made a hash of it. She got Garak to open up the third time by coaxing information out of him, then standing back and listening.

I liked her interactions with Worf and Quark the best. Quark takes the change in stride better than anyone, and Worf shows that he can begin to move on. I'm still not a big fan of Bashir, but they played off each other pretty well.

Count me in as an Ezri fan, too. Terry Farrell as Jadzia had undeniable presence, physicality, and charm. But Nicole de Boer was a natural and versatile actress who brought more life and humanity to her own 'Dax', and I'm happy that we got to see it--if only for one season.
Bravestarr - Mon, Apr 14, 2014 - 2:12pm (USA Central)
"If it wasn't Worf it'd been you." Screw you writers, Jazdia had three years/seasons to do something about Bashir and all of sudden you say she had actually liked Julian but Worf came into the picture? I call bullshit.
eastwest101 - Sun, May 4, 2014 - 5:14pm (USA Central)
A necessary episode given the introduction of a new/replaced character, so the scriptwriters sort of had to do it. But did they have to make it so twee and predictable? Very average.

Two stars.
Nick P. - Fri, May 9, 2014 - 3:07pm (USA Central)
OMG, she is BRUTAL!!! This is hard to watch. This is my first time watching season 7 DS9, and I am so glad for dvds, because I cannot watch entire scenes with her. Farrel was a terrible actress, but at least she was hot, this actress is ugly and a bad actress, how did she even get this part.
Dave in NC - Sun, May 11, 2014 - 11:15am (USA Central)
The Dax character should have been killed off . . . it made little sense to recast the role with one season left. Besides, it would have reinforced the whole notion of the Dominion war being a dangerous thing (and not just for offscreen fleets of starships).

The actress who plays Ezri is almost cringe-worthy in her performances (especially this episode and the one where she and Worf are held captive on the Breen ship). I'd rate this episode a charitable half star- don't watch unless you have literally run out of any other Star Trek and you are very VERY bored.

(PS- after viewing Ms De Boer's terrible acting throughout the last saason, I'm not really sure why she ended up getting a prominent role on The Dead Zone series).

Dave in NC - Sun, May 11, 2014 - 11:25am (USA Central)
And if any future Star Trek pproducers/writers are watching . . .

Please don't have a character scream/cry unless they can do believably. My first urge shouldn't be to laugh when we're in the middle of a serious moment.

Case in point: Ezri's tears, Kes's screams, Troi being mentally overwhelmed, etc.
DavidK - Thu, May 15, 2014 - 10:39am (USA Central)
@Dave in NC
I thought she was at least passable in Dead Zone. I agree with you, for the most part, about DS9 though.

The thing with Star Trek is, I don't know if it's the directors or what, but the acting on Star Trek often...comes across differently. It's certainly not naturalistic, put it that way. It has a very specific cadence, a bit of a slow and laboured ring. Realisations are over-emphasised, laughs are never quite convincing.

I mean I still love it, but I don't quite believe the events in front of my eyes because of it. Even Bashir and O'Brien, who have one of the more believable-looking relationships in Trek, get stung by it. In that scene in Explorers where they get drunk, it's a pretty good scene but it has this air of forced "ho ho look at this mateship!" to it.

Hopefully someone knows what I'm talking about. I've been a Trek fan for most of my 33 years...by that I mean more than 20 of them, and it still has a really special place in my heart. But yeah, looking back, I think the actors were actually discouraged from inserting any sort of natural rhythm, inserting "uh"s, stumbling slightly on words, all that sort of thing. That's one thing I think Battlestar did well, for the most part.
Dave in NC - Sat, May 17, 2014 - 12:35pm (USA Central)
@ DDavid K

It's the people running the shows.

They told the actors not to "over-emote", they told the composers to "tone it down" and they told the writers not to write too much interpersonal drama. Mix in some technobabble, an over-reliance on time travel, deux ex machinas and a lack of episodic/character continuity and you get the disjointed result that we have: wonderfully interesting shows that could have been much much better.
Yanks - Thu, Aug 21, 2014 - 11:06am (USA Central)
Poor Ezri... not only is she going to get it from the "fans" because she will be seen as replacing Jadzia, but Sisko sends her to the wolves right off the bat.

lol .... her first assignment on DS9 is GARAK!!! How's that for a lucky draw? :-)

...and she did fine didn't she, she got Garak to come clean and realize what was hurting him didn't she?

Garak does destroy her... but does she leave? Nope. Pretty strong kid here I think. Garak himself says she deserve credit at the end.

This episode starts at 3 stars simply because Garak plays such a large role. Just how awesome was his performance in this one! This is truly epic stuff here!

"EZRI: You can be very charming. You want to know something? If Worf hadn't come along, it would have been you."

lol .... damn.... glad she wasn't counseling Bashir :-)

Sisko goes from telling star fleet she can't hack it to promoting her to LTjg all in one episode? I guess she gets bonus points for straightening Garak out :-)

3 stars, not higher because Worf seems like a whiny little Klingon in this one.

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