Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Field of Fire"

**1/2

Air date: 2/8/1999
Written by Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by Tony Dow

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"I don't know what you and Jadzia and Curzon all see in that man. He's so insufferable, so Starfleet. I'm surprised the killer hasn't targeted him." — Joran on Sisko

Note: This episodes was re-rated from 3 to 2.5 stars when the season recap was written. Below is the review as originally rated at 3 stars.

Nutshell: Some problem areas, but a good view overall.

I should probably admit a personal bias up front: I'm a sucker for a good homicide investigation. This might explain why I spend more time per week watching episodes of Homicide and Law & Order than I do watching Trek; there's just something about a good police/legal procedural and the analysis of the criminal mind that I find fascinating.

The Trekkian murder investigation is not a new thing, but it is a fairly rare occurrence, and even more rare for it to be done well. Look at some of the alternatives: DS9's "A Man Alone," a far-fetched mess; TNG's "Aquiel" and "Suspicions," both pretty bad; or Voyager's "Ex Post Facto," intolerable if not for the presence of Tim Russ. DS9's "Necessary Evil" and Voyager's "Meld" were murder investigations that came up with good results, although they were rooted more in character study than in investigative procedure.

"Field of Fire" is a solid murder investigation in a more traditional sense (that is, the focus is on catching the killer), and benefits from some neat sci-fi twists. And we finally get a meaty Ezri story that seems suited to her. This one works for the character, rather than simply thrusting Nicole deBoer into a story that tries to separate her from her usual cute-and-innocent self the way last week's dismal "Emperor's New Cloak" was intent on doing.

"Field of Fire" is a follow-up of sorts to third season's "Equilibrium," in which Jadzia learned that the Dax symbiont had previously and shortly been joined with Joran, a somewhat insane musician who had also killed people (although, in "Equilibrium," I thought he had only killed one person, opposed to the three that the dialog alleges this time; I could, however, be mistaken). With a killer now loose on the station, Ezri finds herself having to confront the demons within Dax, with her thoughts about the killing bringing down the walls of repression Dax has maintained around Joran.

There are some plot problems that "Field of Fire" introduces, although with effort many of them can probably be explained away through invented Trillian properties. I won't argue, because I've found the Trill episodes to be pretty interesting overall. I liked "Equilibrium" as well as "Facets," despite some of the head-scratching moments. And "Field" has its share of questionable moments but works in spite of them, thanks to a solid underlying plot.

The first victim is Lieutenant Ilario (Art Chudabala), a fresh young pilot we meet in the opening minutes. Chudabala turns a minor role into a surprisingly human figure whom we get to know within a few well-acted minutes. I liked him, and I felt sorry when he died—effective manipulation #1 in murder drama.

Ilario has been shot with a projectile firearm—not exactly standard in the Trek universe. Further investigation reveals that he was shot with a TR-116 rifle, an experimental Starfleet combat weapon that had been abandoned. Someone on the station has replicated one and killed Ilario for unknown reasons. Before long, there's another victim. And another.

In homicide investigations, the most elementary questions become the most important. How? When? Where? Who?

The episode's answer to "how" is rather ingenious. The TR-116 used by the killer had been modified, O'Brien hypothesizes, so that he could shoot the victim from elsewhere on the station. With the use of a special scanning sight and a small transporter, the bullet had been fired from the gun through a transporter beam. The bullet was beamed into the victim's quarters, where it continued its trajectory.

Plausible? Given Trek technology, I'm inclined to say yes. And the episode even provides us a demonstration: In one of the show's best scenes, O'Brien tests his hypothesis by shooting a melon from the other side of a wall, as Odo and Ezri unsuspectingly look on. (Before he fires, he tells them to step back just a little more. "I've only done this a couple of times." Colm Meaney: The master of the credible matter-of-fact line delivery.) This murder weapon pushes the envelope of Trek weapons in a way that proves interesting. (Even so, I'm a little uneasy about the scanning device that allows someone to look anywhere on the station—right through the bulkheads. How does that work? Never mind.)

To attempt answering the question of "who," Sisko enlists Ezri to use her forensic psychology skills to look for the "why." What's the connection between the deaths? Even before Ezri is put on the investigation, the murder is occupying her mind. Joran is in her somewhere—buried, repressed, often ignored. But the concept of murder brings him out, and Ezri finds herself having nightmares and with little choice but to deal with Joran.

Another of the show's highlights is an unexpected scene where Ezri and Worf talk on the darkened promenade. Ezri explains her frustration in being unable to track down the killer, and tells Worf that the next step she needs to take would be unpleasant. Worf's reassurance that Ezri will do what she has to ("You are Dax. It is your way") reveals an unexpectedly sympathetic Worf that we haven't seen since Jadzia's death. And I believe this is the first Worf/Ezri personal dialog we've seen since "Afterimage." Interesting.

The unpleasant next step for Ezri is in unleashing the intentionally buried Joran into her full consciousness. The episode invents Yet Another Trill Skill [TM] that allows Ezri to bring Joran into her mind as a separate voice that can give her psychological advice on finding the killer.

It's an interesting concept that also pushes the envelope of Trillian mental existence. Some viewers are likely to resist the idea.

Whether or not you accept Joran depends partially on how literally you choose to take him as a character. If you take it purely the way the actors stage it, you're likely to have some serious problems with elements of the plot. I don't take everything here exactly as it "looks," and I don't think Robert Hewitt Wolfe (scripting his first show since leaving the series at the end of season five) intended anybody to take it quite literally when he wrote it. It's more of a dramatic device than a realistic one. (However, I will admit that the nature of Joran can come across as a little implausible given some directing choices. Having Ezri actually talking to "nobody" when supposedly talking to Joran is really pushing it.) I see Joran as more symbolic than anything else, representing Ezri's struggle for control of the Dax psyche that she has been dealing with since she was joined.

The next issue concerns Joran himself, as he offers a voice that constantly battles against Ezri's common sense. Joran is played by Leigh J. McCloskey in a performance that tends to go into excessive scenery-chewing. Sure Joran was a killer, but was he "ultimate evil"? There are moments here that will have us believe he killed for the sheer thrill and power, which I don't think was the intention back in "Equilibrium." Three-dimensional perspectives on murder are one thing, but Joran isn't permitted to be all that dimensional, which is a shame. An argument can be made that we're simply seeing Ezri's perception of Joran in her own biased view, but there's not enough evidence in the episode to support that claim.

Nevertheless, I appreciated some of Joran's comments on killing and his seductive attempts to appeal to Ezri's darker side. We see that the darker side does exist (she confesses to feeling "powerful" when putting an innocent officer in her rifle sights, for example), without the story having to resort to, say, mirror-universe stupidity in the process. This is credible and thoughtful analysis of Ezri as a joined Trill. I also enjoyed some of Joran's snide and sarcastic comments. McCloskey has an amusing way of saying things that makes us believe he thinks he's better than everyone else.

In the meantime, the plot actually works instead of falling apart like in "A Man Alone" or "Ex Post Facto." The investigation takes on some revelations that are plausible. The meaning behind the connection between the victim's laughing photos is executed with clarity, and the deduction that the killer is a deranged Vulcan is actually more believable than it might at first seem. Also, making assumptions the way Ezri does to narrow a field of suspects won't always lead one to the truth, but it is the most logical way to direct an investigation given limited evidence to follow.

The idea of a Vulcan as a killer pushes the boundaries of Trekkian morality, but I find it to be a reasonable idea. Vulcans bury and (as we've seen) bottle their feelings, but they do have them (look at Voyager's "Gravity" as very recent evidence). The idea of severe emotional trauma exploding into this sort of violence isn't at all beyond grasp. I've always found interesting the implications of the war bringing out the darker side of the Federation. "Field of Fire" is further evidence of that.

And as a psychologist, Ezri would know the possibility exists, so the plot actually comes off making quite a bit of sense as she digs through the suspect records. (Okay, so having the killer step onto the same turbolift as Ezri is a little contrived, but, hey, we've only got an hour to get through the investigation.) The technique of the plotting, especially Ezri searching for the killer through the rifle sight, worked on the suspense level, and Gregory Smith's score offered some refreshing understated atmospherics.

I also appreciated the ambivalence in the Vulcan's motives. "Because logic demanded it" is about as vague as explanations come, but if there's one thing I've learned watching contemporary crime stories, it's that the "why" can sometimes be the most unlikely thing to find in a murder investigation.

"Field of Fire" isn't perfect (Joran's ability for independent verbosity can be the most dubious). But it is a compelling investigation. And, who knows—we might even get some character repercussions out of it. Ezri's experience has brought Joran out, and there are indications he might not go away so easily.

Next week: Odo must make some tough choices.

Previous episode: The Emperor's New Cloak
Next review: Chimera

Season Index

57 comments on this review

Jakob M. Mokoru - Sun, Nov 25, 2007 - 3:52am (USA Central)
Oh,the people on the pictures are smiling! - It MUST be a Vulcan! Hmmm. Yea - I suppose so... WHY?? Am I the only one to find this deduction unbelievable?

One other tiny complaint: What are 900 Starfleet Officers doing on Deep Space Nine? First: In the beginning of the series it seemed that there was a Starfleet crew of about three dozends (look for example at "The Siege").
Second: Why should the Chief of Operations be an enlisted man, when there are Lt. Commanders running around the station. Or why is Lt.(JG) Dax a Senior Officer and that killed Lt. Commander isn't? Phil Farrand would definetely call this a "Changed Premise"
Brian - Tue, Sep 23, 2008 - 4:49am (USA Central)
The big issue I have here is that Jadzia had apparently come to terms with Joran previous to this (remember her embracing him?) so the whole idea that his memories are simply repressed is a bit fake to me.
Straha - Sun, Dec 21, 2008 - 4:36am (USA Central)
While some of the criticisms (especially Brian's) are definitely right, I think the episode, as seen on its own, still deserved the three stars it originally got.
Packa - Mon, Apr 13, 2009 - 8:12pm (USA Central)
A bit dull and unbelievable. Once it was known the vulcan had the rifle the correct thing to do would have been to call security. Shooting the gun itself would have been the next thing to do. Calling the infirmary without calling for security as well seemed illogical as well. 2 stars
Jayson - Wed, Jul 22, 2009 - 12:14pm (USA Central)
I actually really like this episode and aside from the murder mystery is that the writers avoided the obvious. The obvious being that I thought for sure that the killer was somehow going to be related to Joran, a kind of sub-conscience kind of think. I also feel the twist making a vulcan the killer was a big surprise.
Destructor - Sun, Jan 10, 2010 - 5:36pm (USA Central)
I liked this one too- a nice sci-fi meets murder-mystery fulcrum to swing on. It certainly deserved more stars than the execrable 'Prodigal Daughter'. That said, Ezri's final conclusion was pretty racist.
Marco P. - Thu, Aug 26, 2010 - 2:46am (USA Central)
I generally liked this episode, except for one tiny fact: the way Joran behaves as he "counsels" Ezri is more indicative of a serial killer than someone who killed a mere 3 people.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to devalue the life of 3 persons (within the story's context), but Joran evokes imagery such as the "hunt", "become the killer", "enjoy it" etc. while talking to Ezri, and this approach seems to contradict the character's backstory as he is presented to us in "Equilibrium" through Jadzia Dax. As Jammer says, we're far from the "ultimate evil" that "Field of Fire" wants us to imagine, and I too seem to remember that only one person was killed in "Equilibrium". Perhaps Joran had time to kill two more people during the time he was joined?

Also, the device used by Ezri / the killer to see through walls is not only very convenient for the purposes of the story, but too good of a gimmick to only make its appearance as late as Season 7. I know I'm nitpicking, but a thing like that would have been useful in MANY of DS9's past reconnaissance missions.
Mr. Plow - Wed, Sep 22, 2010 - 7:39am (USA Central)
Nutshell: The Silence of the Trills. I always thought of Joran as more of an obsessed Trill than a psychotic killer.
Nic - Wed, Nov 17, 2010 - 9:23pm (USA Central)
I can't get over Joran's character assassination. In "Equilibrium", Joran was a troubled musician who had been joined and wasn't supposed to be, who killed the doctor who recommended he be removed from consideration for joining! And the way it was described seemed to describe it as second degree murder (as opposed to premeditated). Now suddenly he's a practiced serial killer who can identify other killers just by looking at their eyes! Wolfe is a great writer, but he doesn't seem to understand that not all killers are 'inherently evil', some just lost their self-control due to extenuating circumstances. And I agree with Destructor, Ezri's conclusion that the killer must be a Vulcan is far-fetched and racist. Between this and "Take Me Out to the Holosuite", Vulcans seem to have been singled out for species-bashing this season... truly the total antithesis of what Star Trek should be.
Elliott - Thu, Jan 13, 2011 - 10:25am (USA Central)
I suspect that the Vulcan-bashing has to do with the fact that Vulcans are the most Trekkian of aliens and therefore in the DS9 Universe must be destroyed...

I don't really see why your being a sucker for homicide investigations makes this episode any good. I'm not saying it's that bad, but why should anyone's personal tastes influence his take on a show's quality.

I suppose it was supposed to be a chance for Ezri to be anything other than bright, chipper and nauseating...eh 2 stars maybe?
Jay - Sun, Feb 6, 2011 - 12:24am (USA Central)
Yeah, the Joran characterization was the most blatant case of rewriting history Trek had until Star Trek: Nemesis came along and presented Picard as suddenly being everbald, even at 22.
Dizzle - Tue, Jun 7, 2011 - 2:40am (USA Central)
I agree with roughly half the previous comments. The Joran re-characterization was terrible, the anti-smiling Vulcan theory was laughable, and, as always, I wanted Nicole de Boer to stop talking. 1.5* at best.
Elliott - Mon, Oct 3, 2011 - 10:54pm (USA Central)
@Jay :

I agree that Nemesis was an atrocity and all but destroyed the TNG cast, but changing a character's coiffure of the past is not characterisation. Such minutiƦ are part and parcel of storytelling which lasts for so many years in the genre of television.
Jay - Sun, Oct 16, 2011 - 10:12am (USA Central)
@ Elliott

I didn't say it was a characterization change, I said it was a historical rewrite...
Jay - Sun, Oct 16, 2011 - 10:16am (USA Central)
@ Marco


Agreed, and in fact any episode which introduces a device for the sake of its own plot contrivance (like this stealth firearm) whose mere presence would actually have enormous repercussions in the greater universal setting beyond the one episode automatically has the effect of rendering said episode about a two and a half star ceiling.
Justin - Wed, May 2, 2012 - 3:50pm (USA Central)
@Elliott, that's right. With the Vulcans' violent history and connection to Romulans a Vulcan murderer is SO completely out of the realm of possibility that it's insulting. It's all part of the DS9 writers' insidious plan to systematically dismantle everything Star Trek stands for.

You REALLY need to get over it.
Elliott - Wed, May 2, 2012 - 6:34pm (USA Central)
In every other series (except ENT), Vulcan's and their culture are treated with respect, even awe by humans. In DS9, they are frequently ridiculed, at odds with members of the main cast and characterised as nothing but ignorant know-it-alls. I would call that enough of a trend to question its motivation. If it were here and nowhere else, an anomaly. In a series which is in many respects more careful than any of the others to be consistent in its continuity and purposeful with its plots, that's the best conclusion I can come up with--if you have a better one, let's hear it.
Karl - Sun, May 6, 2012 - 7:44pm (USA Central)
I hate ds9 take on Vulcans.
Garak - Thu, May 10, 2012 - 6:30pm (USA Central)
A boring filler
TMB - Tue, Aug 14, 2012 - 4:32pm (USA Central)
Elliot, I would offer Voyager as picking apart what we were led to believe about Vulcans. In the first episode, Tuvok is undercover as a Maquis. Chakotay challenges him on the Vulcans Can't Lie motif, but Tuvok basically says "it's okay because I was doing my job."

In a later episode Tuvok disobeys Janeway and helps Torres buy a device that might get them home. He explains that it was logical to disobey her. Janeway's comeback is "you can use logic to justify anything."

Enterprise of course took Archer's prejudice that all Vulcans are arrogant pricks and made it a racial trait.

I thought "Take Me Out..." took it a bit far with Starfleet allowing an all Vulcan crew led by an obviously racist Vulcan, but DS9 wasn't the only series to take exception with the TOS/TNG build up of the Vulcan culture.
Kristen - Thu, Sep 27, 2012 - 8:48pm (USA Central)
I actually like Ezri, but a THIRD Ezri episode in a row? Seriously?!

This episode creates so many new Star Trek truths and forgets so many more that it might as well be a Voyager episode.

Most of all being...um...why is Joran nothing like Joran?! We saw him in Equilibrium, when Jadzia hugged him. He had black hair and a round baby face. Then we heard him speak in Facets, when Sisko allows him to take over his body. He's got a distinct inflection; a high-pitched, lilting, musical, crazy-person way of talking. And that was a ridiculously chilling scene Avery Brooks treated us to! With Joran banging his head against the force field, all while smiling that wack-job smile. So, how in the world is this nearly-blond, angular, even-keeled, deep-and-mellow-voiced dude supposed to be Joran?!

If that were the worst thing about the episode, I wouldn't be complaining so much. But it's just the kind of lazy writing/casting that pisses me off so much I can't shut up about it. If there's any group in the world that you can't pull crap like that on, it's Star Trek fans.
Shite - Fri, Oct 5, 2012 - 8:58am (USA Central)
Upon rewatch, I've discovered why I can't stand Ezri. It's because she's being forced. A THIRD Ezri centric episode, not even halfway through the final season. We didn't even need another Dax, but forcing upon the viewer like this is annoying as hell.

That said, this episode is actually okay. The best Ezri episode by far IMO, but it would have been so much better if it Prodigal Daughter didn't exist (which was a completely unnecessary episode).
Angel - Sat, Nov 17, 2012 - 12:05pm (USA Central)
Whilst I enjoyed the scene where O'Brien demonstrates the rifle's abilities against that melon, each time I see it, I find it absurd that Odo puts on the saftey goggles. He's a shapeshifter, they're not real eyes! And if he needs protection, he can just morph his own goggles on =P
The Sisko - Fri, Jan 18, 2013 - 5:53pm (USA Central)
Meh... 2 stars. Maybe. I actually liked "Prodigal Daughter" better than this, believe it or not. Also, at this point the screen time really should have been used for something with more impact, instead of serving us yet another mediocre filler episode. Too bad.
William - Mon, Jan 21, 2013 - 7:12pm (USA Central)
Trek doesn't do murder mysteries all that well usually. So for a murder mystery, it was pretty good. Otherwise, very middle of the road.
Clark - Sun, Feb 3, 2013 - 4:09pm (USA Central)
I'd give this one two stars at most. The way she came to the conclusion that the murderer was a Vulcan was stupid. People tend to smile when taking a photo. How is that any kind of lead?

The episode was okay. Not good.
DavidK - Thu, Feb 7, 2013 - 3:57am (USA Central)
I actually enjoy this episode, as far as Trek murder mysteries go. One thing that bugs me is the way Joran "functions". If he's a projection of her subconscious, how does he look at a photo behind Ezri and say Bolian kids are ugly? As in, he's wandering the room behind her, looking at things she can't see and commenting on them. Not sure a projection does that.

Maybe that's too literal, maybe as a projection of her subconscious, Ezri did notice the photo as she walked in and Joran appearing to "examine" it was her subconscious mind taking note of a fleeting detail she glanced at. Sort of.

Also I'm not one to notice music much...not Trek music anyway, it's just this sort of blurry ambient horn sound that drones on in the background usually before rising before a commercial break, but in this episode I thought it was quite effective.

Two and a half seems accurate, very slightly above average.
JustinS - Thu, Apr 18, 2013 - 5:06am (USA Central)
Man, I can't believe people dislike Ezri so much!? I think she's a interesting take on the Dax character, and believably scattered considering she was never meant to be joined.

She has a very different personality from Jadzia--I dunno, to me the character is a refreshing change from most Trek characters, who (let's face it) are usually pretty sure of themselves.

That said, I agree with all the complaints about this episode. I enjoyed it, but the Vulcan deduction is a huge stretch.

And since I've never commented before, and probably won't again, I just want to say.... Jammer, this is my first time watching DS9, and I've really enjoyed reading your reviews after every episode.
Jammer - Thu, Apr 18, 2013 - 9:27am (USA Central)
The Ezri hate in the comments on this site is misleading. I do know that for a time there was a hater going from page to page -- using different names, no less; I know because I can see the IP addresses -- hating on Ezri just because. It was childish and annoying and the sort of thing that gives fanboys a bad name, but what you gonna do. So bear that in mind when you see it.
William B - Thu, Apr 18, 2013 - 9:53pm (USA Central)
@Jammer, wow, that really sucks!

@JustinS, I think that the deck was a little stacked against Ezri to begin with. Introducing a new character in the last season of a show rarely leads to that character being welcome. Ezri's job as counselor was also a position that didn't really *need* to be filled on the show (which had gone six years without one), and Ezri stories pretty much by necessity distracted from the main story arcs that fans were interested in. Plus because she was Dax she was measured against Jadzia, and Terry Farrell had had six years to get comfortable with that role.

I think I enjoyed Ezri well enough but didn't find her thrilling. Her speech about the Klingon Empire in "Tacking Into the Wind" was excellent and something that only she could really have given -- no one else was in a position to speak both with the authority of someone with real knowledge and experience with Klingons and with the view of a jaundiced outsider. The various relationship stories seemed fairly irrelevant though. I am by no means against Trek romances, but romances work best when they reveal new dimensions to characters (such as Odo/Kira in "Chimera," and I believe Worf/Dax generally did; Torres/Paris did on Voyager); Bashir and Ezri getting together didn't reveal anything about them because there was never any time to know what that relationship meant to them besides them liking each other (and the question of whether Julian's affections were transplanted directly from Jadzia to Ezri and the unexamined implications of that). So I think Ezri was fairly ill-served story-wise and came in at the wrong time in the show to find her own new niche.
Zefffphram Cokcreeng - Fri, May 17, 2013 - 2:19pm (USA Central)
Good episode. I don't get the Ezri hate, but then I didn't get all the Jadzia love either. She was a boring, badly-acted supergenius; DS9's Wesley Crusher.
Sean - Sun, Aug 4, 2013 - 3:39am (USA Central)
"I don't really see why your being a sucker for homicide investigations makes this episode any good. I'm not saying it's that bad, but why should anyone's personal tastes influence his take on a show's quality."

Sometimes I wonder if Elliott actually reads what he writes.
ProgHead777 - Sun, Aug 11, 2013 - 6:15am (USA Central)
I'm really not sure what the purpose of recasting Joran Dax from an effeminate late-20s creep to a 50-something Mitt Romney/Hannibal Lecter type was, but it didn't improve my impression of Nicole de Boer's Ezri Dax ONE. LITTLE. BIT. All this episode accomplished was to force me to compare Ms. de Boer to Jodie Foster and, if that was the intent, it was a really, really, REALLY bad idea. I'd bet serious money that Jodie Foster has had ingrown toenails excised that were more talented actors than Nicole de Boer.
JimmyDee - Sun, Aug 18, 2013 - 9:52am (USA Central)
It's really funny because I watched this something like 12 years ago and I remembered this as part of the episode where Kira's past enemy kills a bunch of her past associates.

And reading the comments of many here, it suddenly clicked.

Why are Ezri's memories inconsistent with Jadzia's?

Memory is easily distorted.

As much as I hated the previous episode, it's probably noteworthy that this Joran looks an awful lot like her brother, who was recently discovered to be a killer. Ezri probably never actually saw Joran and could easily have mixed the two.

How can the projection of Joran be able to process something that Ezri isn't looking at? He lives inside her memories. It's well known that the mind can see and capture images subconsciously far more comprehensively than the conscious mind can access them. They did studies on fighter pilots and their ability to identify planes when flashed an image in a tiny fraction of a second. I recently saw a documentary on robots that explored this and found that the eye can detect a single frame showing an animal of 100 pictures flashed in a second. This is because the brain processes 'important' images (animals and other perceived threats as well as human faces) with a special processor.

It's not really unrealistic to assume that as Ezri was wandering through and processing with her conscious, Joran was processing information as it passed into her memory.

It kinda fits.

Given the memorable nature of the weapon (the only thing I really remembered after 12 years) and some of the better moments (Worf), I quite enjoyed this one.
William B - Sun, Aug 18, 2013 - 12:38pm (USA Central)
@JimmyDee, I love the idea of Ezri projecting something of her brother-the-killer brother onto Joran. I don't know whether the episode bears this out, but it's a very clever and original take on the episode.
Kotas - Sat, Nov 9, 2013 - 10:52am (USA Central)

Far too much focus on the subpar character of Ezri Dax in season 7.

3/10
Dusty - Sun, Feb 16, 2014 - 4:11am (USA Central)
Funny. I thought the Ezri hate here seemed excessive, and now we know why. Thanks Jammer. xD

But on to the show! There are obvious problems with this one, even if you're watching for mere entertainment and not intellectual stimulation. For one thing, why does Sisko give Ezri the power to independently conduct a murder investigation? Why her and not someone who specializes in it? Why not have her simply assist Odo? If Sisko thought one of her previous hosts being a killer would give her an edge, he definitely should have said so. Another problem is Joran himself. I thought he killed in a fit of rage, not in the cold, calculated manner of a serial killer--but that would have limited his usefulness here. And Ezri can see Joran, but as far as anyone else on the station knows, she's just standing around talking to herself in public. Obviously they notice this (Quark, the Vulcan, a woman who walked by), so why doesn't anyone ask her about it? I guess they couldn't very well report it to the station counselor. :D

I can take all of these issues in stride, though, because quite frankly I love this episode. It might go down as one of my favorites. Ezri's investigation is interesting, and her violent assault and near-stabbing of a bigger, stronger suspect was refreshingly extreme, a sign of how Joran was getting to her. After that she begins to take better control of him, and by the end of the episode he's deferring to her instead of trying to take over. Another thing I didn't predict was that the Vulcan would target Ezri herself (don't ask me why, as she didn't fit his M.O. and he had no good reason to think she was on to him) forcing her to get him before he got her. Now that was a hell of an ending.

Like 'The Emperor's New Cloak', this episode also highlights that deBoer is a better actress when she's restrained and serious. After her mercenarial jaunt in the mirror universe, she said she wished she could play that character every week--and here she got another opportunity to explore her dark side.
Joran: "You won't be able to forget me, or bury me as deeply as Curzon and Jadzia did. I'm part of you now. As much as Audrid, Torias...any of them."
Ezri: "I'll have to be careful."
I hope she's not TOO careful. I like this side of Ezri.
Ric - Sun, Feb 23, 2014 - 11:12pm (USA Central)
Dumb premise, but not worse than usual Dax's episodes. Jadzia's included. In fact, that DS9 does not know how to portray Vulcans, it seems more than clear at this point.
Bravestarr - Wed, Apr 23, 2014 - 12:58pm (USA Central)
Was on the fence on this episode up until they both looked at each other through the x-ray sights. I would've loved to see an Oh Shit expression on the vulcan's face as he saw that Ezri was looking at him with the exact same gun. Can you imagine looking through a sniper rifle to see someone else looking at you as well?
Elliott - Tue, Jun 3, 2014 - 2:45pm (USA Central)
@ Justin :

As further evidence of what Vulcans mean to the franchise and why DS9's (and Abrams' later on) take on them is so subversive, check out the dialogue from the end of TNG's "Unification"--Spock points out how Vulcan-like Picard's behaviour is and in the end tells Picard that the Romulan people are on an "inexorable" path to a Vulcan philosophy. From the beginning, Vulcans have represented the ideal to which one must strive. Sela says she hates Vulcans for their logic and arrogance and I think the DS9 writing staff felt similarly. The Vulcan race was the embodiment of Gene's ideal philosophy, and those with different views inevitably mistake this for arrogance as it is a direct threat to a more conservative point of view. By making DS9's representative Vulcans (as I remember them) 1. a thief, 2. petty racists who hold grudge matches on the holodeck and finally, 3. a psychopathic murderer, this central ethos is effectively subverted.
eastwest101 - Thu, Jun 5, 2014 - 8:04pm (USA Central)
Imperfect but moderately diverting attempt at CSI:DS9, the premise is obviously lifted from the Farsight weapon in the N64 game "Perfect Dark" but was interesting enough. 2.5 stars out of 5 for me.

I agree with Dusty's comments about Nicole DeBoer in 'The Emperors New Cloak' - she looked a lot more comfortable out of character in the mirror universe than in character.
Grumpy - Thu, Jun 5, 2014 - 10:06pm (USA Central)
@eastwest101: It rips off a game that wasn't released until the following year? That's futurism!

@Elliott: Are imperfect Vulcans subversive? Or an embodiment of the "infinite diversity" they, the Vulcans, supposedly value most? If anything, it's a repudiation of the species essentialism that is rampant throughout Trek.

Also, your list of DS9's defective Vulcans omits the Saratoga captain seen in "Emissary," who was probably, like, a registered sex offender or compulsive gambler or something.
Paul M. - Sun, Jun 8, 2014 - 8:22pm (USA Central)
Vulcans the embodiment of Gene's ideal philosophy? Where does that interpretation come from? Certainly not from the Original Trek where we're bludgeoned again and again with the message that the ideal towards which the humanity ought to strive is neither uber-logic (Spock) nor uber-emotion (McCoy) but rather a synthesis of both (Kirk).

In TNG that approach got somewhat modified because the show wasn't as allegorical as TOS which really relished the morality play setup. But even in TNG Vulcans were hardly given the position of some "ideal humans" we're all evolve into down the line. Let's be honest, Vulcans were barely present in TNG.
Crackers - Wed, Jul 16, 2014 - 10:39pm (USA Central)
"Silence of the trill"
Yanks - Fri, Aug 22, 2014 - 1:25pm (USA Central)
I'nora, ja'kala vok 'za Ezri. Zhian'tara rek pora'al Zheem Dax tanas rhem Joran. 'za Ezri tanas rhem Joran. Vok Ezri, Joran tanas rhem.Tu Dax noh zhian 'vok j'zui. Joran rhem tanas Ezri.

(burp)

I guess that the "Zhian'tara" or the Guardian isn't needed anymore.

(burp)

Vulan's smiling

(burp)

Zero Stars.
zzybaloobah - Mon, Oct 20, 2014 - 11:14pm (USA Central)
TR-116: Prototype, then ABANDONDED? Yeah, right. What a weapon! Can you say "assasination?" Fire from concealment, no energy discharge? And range limited by transporter? (Why is being on Bajor -- the guy Ezri almost stabbed -- an alibi?) The defensive advantage of firing while completely concealed gives it a huge advantage over a phaser in a straight-up firefight. Maybe Section 31 forced it to be "abandonded".

Um... I like Ezri, and I liked this episode. But, given where the series is, can we focus on someone other than Ezri for a while?

@Elliott
So, all other Trek (execept ENT) treat Vulcans with awe, so DS9 must be the anomaly? ENT and DS9 represent (by series) 40% of Trek. And, as pointed out above, Kirk (human) is the ideal of TOS. So, we've got:
2 series Vulcans thumbs up (TNG, Voy)
1 series Vulcans neutral (TOS)
2 series Vulcans thumbs down (ENT, DS9)
(though I hated what ENT did to Vulcans)
Hardly evidence to consider DS9 "subversive", or to say that Vulcans were Gene's ideal.
(BTW, who gives a flying f**** what's Gene's vision was? For a fairly obvious agnostic, when did Gene become god?)
One REAL fault with Trek is that other species are pretty one-dimensional: Ferengi are greedy, Klingons war like, Romulans treacherous, and Vulcans logical. It's an improvement to see some non-logical Vulcans for a change. Why does DS9 focus on the non-logical Vulcans? It makes good TV.

Robert - Tue, Oct 21, 2014 - 8:55am (USA Central)
My 2 cents about Vulcans on DS9

1) I liked Sakonna and Quark from "The Maquis" episodes. Voyager made it painfully clear that nobody considers a Vulcan maquis to be weird (else Starfleet's choice of putting Tuvok undercover on Chakotay's ship would be the stupidest undercover operation in Trek history), so I don't actually think Sakonna is subversive unless Voyager is as well. And she's a thief? So what? As DS9 makes clear "freedom fighters" do illegal things for good reasons. We're meant to side with the Bajoran resistance and against the Maquis, but they both see themselves as freedom fighters.

2) The Vulcan captain from "Take Me Out" was a Vulcan supremacist. The idea of a Vulcan who thinks Vulcans are superior is really not that weird given the cannon material. This episode would have played less racistly weird if he was not in Starfleet though. I liked the episode but it bothered me that Starfleet allows an all Vulcan crew like that. I'd have preferred a different backstory than meeting at the academy and a Vulcan science ship or something. It would have been more palatable to me.

3) I think this episode was kind of sucky, we really didn't need the can of worms this gun opens up, the extra Ezri episode, the out-of-character take on Joran, etc. But the Vulcan wasn't really a problem. Vulcans can experience PTSD and Vulcans can certainly go nuts and have emotions (see every third Tuvok episode :P).

I can see how Vulcan villains being a pattern on DS9 might seem intentional, but I think 3 in over 150 episodes may just be coincidental. Although there were 2 this season. But scratching this episode would have helped a great number of issues this season, so I'm in favor.
Grumpy - Tue, Oct 21, 2014 - 10:09am (USA Central)
Robert: "...it bothered me that Starfleet allows an all Vulcan crew like that."

When an all-Vulcan crew on a Starfleet ship was first mentioned in TOS "The Immunity Syndrome," I figured it was some sort of subcontracting or whatnot. Like, Russia is a partner in the ISS, but Russia could still fly all-Russian crews. Or, more directly parallel, NASA could borrow a Soyuz to fly an all-American crew.
Robert - Tue, Oct 21, 2014 - 10:52am (USA Central)
@Grumpy - That makes sense, but Solok was in the Academy with Sisko and is definitely an officer. So there's no subcontracting from the Vulcans there. Unless he's in charge of a subcontracted Vulcan ship?
Elliott - Wed, Oct 22, 2014 - 12:37pm (USA Central)
@zzybaloobah, et al.:

The S7 Vulcan baddies weren't portrayed as villains who happened to be Vulcan, but villains *because* they were Vulcan. The animosity in the writing stemmed directly from what the Vulcan people, as an analogy for a type of human (which you pointed out is true of basically all Trek aliens. More on that in a moment), represent.

Spock, Sarek, Tuvok and the reformist Vulcans from ENT S4 were never portrayed as arrogant the way Solok was. Arrogance, recall, is an emotion. Non-Vulcan characters have often mistaken Vulcan logic for arrogance (Bones, Neelix). Perrin remarks in "Sarek" that she is impressed that Picard does not make this mistake, a condonation of his attitude and perspective. In "Unification," Spock comments to Data that Picard is himself remarkably Vulcan-like. And recall that Robert also made the mistake of considering his brother to be arrogant in "Family."

In the transition from the TOS era to the TNG, the writers very carefully carved out a place for the Vulcan philosophy as a kind of benchmark of humanoid progress (TMP being the Apollo to TWoK's Dionysus). This benchmark sits right alongside the idealism of the non-religious, non-capitalist society humanity is supposed to have achieved by the 24th century. DS9 was in the habit of wiping its ass with this idealism, and that practice goes hand in hand with its treatment of Vulcans.

As for Paul M.'s "[T]he ideal towards which the humanity ought to strive is neither uber-logic (Spock) nor uber-emotion (McCoy) but rather a synthesis of both (Kirk)," I find this rather dubious. If by "synthesis," he means dialectical synthesis, Spock is himself a synthesis of two antithetical philosophies, is he not? And most of the time, Spock's perspective is clearly in the right; Bones has to be handled by Kirk as a kind of mediator, but it's rare that Spock's logic fails him where Bones' emotions do not. If by "synthesis," he means the more common "combination," one cannot combine two elements if they are "uber," that is, entirely. I think it's unfair to judge Spock or McCoy as being extremists in their positions as logical or emotional. All the Big Three showed nuance and temperament in their approaches.

TOS' overarching narrative relies heavily on exploiting Kirk's flaws, so how can he be the "ideal human"?

As for your proportioning out thumbs up or down based on series percentiles, I can't say much more than it's incredibly reductionist and inaccurate, if for no other reason than the shows ran for different lengths of time. AND the shows had vastly differing references to Vulcans or Vulcan characters.

DS9 had its own agenda, but given episodes like "In the Cards," "Rapture," "The Siege of AR3.14...," "Covenant," "In the Hands of the Prophets" and others, it's reasonable to extrapolate an over-arching anti-Trek philosophy which emerges. These Vulcan episodes fit right with that.
Elliott - Wed, Oct 22, 2014 - 12:46pm (USA Central)
Races/species in Star Trek are "hat races" on purpose because aliens were always meant to represent different facets of humanity, politically, ethically, historically. "Bad guys" (Klingons, Romulans, the Borg, Cardassians) possess, as a people, qualities which should be repudiated, whereas the "good guys" (Vulcans) possess, again as a people, qualities which should be emulated. The majority of Trek races are given this one note, usually bad, to stage the Morality Play. A few, like the Klingons and the Vulcans, are given enough development to explore the issues in more complex ways. There are indeed good and bad sides to Honour and Logic which are worth exploring.
Robert - Wed, Oct 22, 2014 - 12:50pm (USA Central)
@Elliott - The one in Field of Fire was a villain because he was Vulcan, but he was also suffering from some kind of extreme PTSD. VOY made it clear that Vulcans HAVE emotions, they just suppress them well. And Tuvok has made it very, very clear that if he ever lost control the result would be intense. I don't like Field of Fire, but given what I would imagine Tuvok with PTSD to look like it doesn't seem like a negative portrayal of Vulcans.

Likewise Sakonna, as I said, is a villain that just HAPPENS to be Vulcan. And she's only a villain because we're supposed to be for the Bajoran resistance but against the Maquis. I always felt that, prior to Eddington, the Maquis were grey villains, as opposed to black ones.

You have a point with Solok of course, but... I don't know. I guess I just don't see it as being as subversive as you think it is. Yes, Solok is arrogant. In my post above I said specifically that a Vulcan who thinks Vulcans are superior would not be particularly problematic in cannon. A Vulcan experience arrogance as an emotion? I could see that being problematic. The all Vulcan crew on a Starfleet ship strikes me as a poor idea too. The fact that I liked nearly everything else about the episode lets me largely overlook it, but I think this episode is problematic.

That said, a young Tuvok experiences emotions (love) and needs to go train with a master to "fix it". The problem with Solok is that without much of a backstory or getting to know the character he just seems to be a Vulcan that is too emotional. Which isn't great, but it's not as bad as the all Vulcan ship.
$G - Wed, Oct 22, 2014 - 3:02pm (USA Central)
Elliott:

"Races/species in Star Trek are "hat races" on purpose because aliens were always meant to represent different facets of humanity, politically, ethically, historically. "Bad guys" (Klingons, Romulans, the Borg, Cardassians) possess, as a people, qualities which should be repudiated, whereas the "good guys" (Vulcans) possess, again as a people, qualities which should be emulated. The majority of Trek races are given this one note, usually bad, to stage the Morality Play. A few, like the Klingons and the Vulcans, are given enough development to explore the issues in more complex ways. There are indeed good and bad sides to Honour and Logic which are worth exploring."

This is a pretty succinct explanation of why alien races (and the stories based on them) in most of Trek are simplistic slush. DS9 is the strongest show overall because it recognizes and avoids these storytelling gaffes.
Robert - Wed, Oct 22, 2014 - 4:12pm (USA Central)
Solok's fixation on humiliating Sisko is illogical though.
William B - Thu, Oct 23, 2014 - 4:27pm (USA Central)
I dunno. I wouldn't describe Spock and Sarek as arrogant. However, TOS does portray them at times in negative lights as being stubborn and pigheaded. "Journey to Babel," after all, is Sarek's only appearance in TOS proper, and we learn that he essentially cut off contact with Spock for choosing Starfleet. There are quite a few elements of the Vulcans in TOS that were taken from a certain old-school Jewish culture, as Nimoy has attested at length, and this story has a lot in common with the "The Jazz Singer" (or, if you prefer, The Simpsons' "Like Father, Like Clown")-type story of a rabbi's son choosing a profession he deems unworthy of him and thus cutting off contact. This is not strictly logical, though Sarek frames it as such: his son has disappointed him, and therefore until his son redeems himself in his eyes it is proper parenting to shun him; or, rather, it is logical in that it follows from Sarek's core assumptions, but those assumptions override what should be bigger axioms: that his son doing good in the world is something to be applauded rather than shunned.

Spock does go out of his way to make fun of his human costars pretty often, in what I think goes beyond "yes I think that emotionalism is a poor way of making decisions" and into the occasional pettiness. I think in Spock's case, it's really because his proximity to humans makes it difficult for him to fully separate from them, and his difficulty reconciling his human side makes him want to point out his differences as often as possible. That said, I do think Spock is shown to be more frequently in the right than McCoy is, and less frequently led astray. I think Spock's biggest weaknesses are an occasional lack of imagination in comparison to Kirk and, especially, poor PR. Spock doesn't manage his image well when he's in command, which fails to induce confidence in his officers. This failing is only a problem when one is dealing with other emotional races, however.

I guess to continue: while Enterprise and the Abrams films (well, 2009 anyway, I haven't seen Into Darkness still) really do go to extremes in terms of portraying Vulcans as closed-minded and bigoted, there is a little more original series-era justification. Star Trek: The Animated Series is generally considered not to be canon, but "Yesteryear," Dorothy Fontana's Spock time travel story, is a pretty big influence I think, one which gets a canon name-drop in "Unification" IIRC. I know this because when I was younger I had the Star Trek Encyclopedia and it considered that episode canon and no others, because, you know, huge dork. But anyway, the episode does have the other Vulcan children ostracizing Spock pretty heavily, even though it's TOS era. Fontana is basically the expert on TOS Vulcans -- maybe the biggest creative voice besides Nimoy's in terms of fleshing out Spock from Roddenberry's very rough original conception.

None of that means that Solok or the "Field of Fire" guy are really particularly precedented, which they aren't. Spock was meant to be a hero and is ultimately both TOS' arguably biggest breakout character and is also someone whose qualities are much more frequently admirable than not.

The thing is, Vulcans being unethical do have TOS precedent, in T'Pring's chessmaster maneuvering in "Amok Time," which Spock compliments at the end as flawlessly logical. While she breaks no laws, T'Pring's use of Spock's emotional frenzy and Vulcan rituals to get the lover she wants is some coldblooded calculation playing with life and death. It also is something that would be unnecessary if it weren't for the extreme ritualistic nature of Vulcan marriage, bonding etc., which apparently does not permit escape, partly because of the intense, overwhelming mating urge which Vulcan ritual just barely holds in.

So, you know, I do think a Vulcan either acting as genius chessmaster, letting people die for personal gain, is precedented, as is Vulcans in emotional amok mode when their defenses shut down. I think in that sense the Vulcan killer in "Field of Fire" sort of almost works. He is coldly logical in his approach and attack and emotional in his motivations -- PTSD as Robert said.

However, I do think the episode places the blame on his Vulcanness. He wanted to kill people because he hates emotion!!!! Really? Rather than showing complexity in a race, this takes one trait associated with the race and magnifies it out of proportion, moving from disdain for personal emotion to killing happy people. Because logic demanded it, is his reasoning, because Vulcans like logic, right? It's not the main point of the episode so whatever, I guess.
$G - Sun, Oct 26, 2014 - 7:40pm (USA Central)
Just watched this one. It worked, I suppose, but I didn't find it all that compelling either as a mystery or as an(other) Ezri episode. Not sure we need more of her at this point anyway.

I'm with Jammer in that I thought Joran had only killed his teacher, not two others. In "Facets" Joran was played as a crazy man, so I guess with this episode the Crazy-Joran evidence outnumbers the Eccentric-Joran from "Equilibrium".

I wasn't big on the episode's solution either. The jump to determining the killer was Vulcan seemed contrived in that This-Alien-Race-Represents-This kind of way. Painfully obvious but ultimately nothing is even done with it outside of TV show motivations. And why did that ensign hit Ezri? Isn't it better to just go with Odo and let them find you innocent (which they do) instead of risking court martial by striking another officer? They aren't on Cardassia ffs. Ugh.

I did like the scene on the darkened promenade with Worf and Ezri. He seems protective in a way. Some could read it as creepy but I think we know Worf well enough that that isn't the case.

2-1/2 stars. The extra star being there just because it's all forgettable rather than terrible. I don't recommend this one but I won't actively suggest skipping it, either.
Elliott - Sun, Nov 9, 2014 - 2:06am (USA Central)
@$G :

"This is a pretty succinct explanation of why alien races (and the stories based on them) in most of Trek are simplistic slush. DS9 is the strongest show overall because it recognizes and avoids these storytelling gaffes."

Mmmm..no, I don't think so. That "simplistic slush" is actually the way myths are told (I've gone on before about how Trek is really a kind of TV mythology more than it is your standard Sci-fi). In myths, different supernatural creatures or gods are metaphorical representations of facets of human psychology, precisely because myth is the ancient method of arresting human nature. Trek is very similar in its handling of alien races--the names of the original Trek aliens (Vulcans and Romulans) should be a clue as to the thinking here.

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