Star Trek: Deep Space Nine


3 stars.

Air date: 10/17/1994
Teleplay by Rene Echevarria
Story by Christopher Teague
Directed by Cliff Bole

"If you want to know who you are, it's important to know who you've been." — Dax

Review Text

Dax experiences hallucinations and exhibits hostile behavior, leading to a routine life-jeopardizing medical mystery that pays off in the long run thanks to some new character development and other twists and turns.

In the most interesting Dax episode yet, the writers finally let her dark side out of the closet, something one would never know existed given the perpetually calm, cheerful demeanor Jadzia sports. Act one is entertaining and effective, proving Farrell can play Dax with an attitude. She accuses Sisko of cheating in a chess game and then dumps all the pieces to the floor. Kira tries to bring Dax to realize her recent abusive tone toward others, but Dax turns on her (hence Jadzia's once unthinkable line, "Get your hands off of me...before I do something I'll regret"). Dax finally winds up in the infirmary where Bashir uses medical technobabble to explain that her behavior is the result of an "imbalance" between host and symbiont. Further events put Jadzia's life in danger as she's rushed into emergency surgery.

Granted, the medical jeopardy plot is definitely not a new concept. It is, in fact, a Trek cliché. Through the seven years of TNG, how many times did Picard lie on the operating table with his life on the line? But "Equilibrium" is much more inquisitive than the previews make it out to be, and placing Jadzia's life in jeopardy is wisely used only as a device to launch other plot threads and explore more interesting character issues.

The mystery leads to Trek's first visit to the Trill Homeworld, where Dax is placed under special medical supervision by the symbiosis committee. One disappointing aspect here is a matte painting featuring what is supposed to be a beautiful world, but instead comes across as far too restrained by focusing mainly on a single building. Trill is also shot solely on two unremarkable sets. Is it strictly forbidden to shoot anything outdoors? Still, it's another addition to the Trek encyclopedia of worlds, and another chance to escape the station via the series' new Defiant.

The mystery grows somewhat plot- and dialogue-heavy but remains enduringly interesting in spite of some excesses, such as the slightly exorbitant notion that half the population of Trill is capable of symbiosis yet officials keep the fact under the rug to avoid anarchy over the limited number of symbionts. The conclusion reveals to Dax that one of her previous hosts—a violent-tempered musician who killed a doctor—was blocked from her memory. Jadzia allows the memories to be reintegrated into the Dax symbiont, adding to her own personality. Hopefully (but only if the writers permit it) this will profoundly change her currently underwhelming personality. Everyone needs a dark side, including Jadzia Dax.

Lastly, let's not forget the great character moments that make this one a winner. The cast works together like a well-oiled machine. The episode opens with the series' most amiable teaser yet when Sisko hosts dinner in his quarters for the senior staff. Some enjoyable tidbits include Sisko mentioning his grandfather's restaurant in New Orleans, Odo taking an interest in cooking and Kira telling the chef-apprentice shapeshifter that he looks so "cute" while mixing ingredients. Who says the DS9 crew can't be a big happy family?

Previous episode: House of Quark
Next episode: Second Skin

Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.

◄ Season Index

Comment Section

53 comments on this post

    I wonder what you'd give this episode now Jammer.

    Far too sterile, stilted and cliched for me. I remember liking it but now I find it mostly underwhelming.

    I agree with the review. This was a really nice episode, and my favorite Dax episode so far. Hopefully the new personality will make her a little bit edgier.

    Three comments? Doesn't anyone want to talk about this one? 'Equilibrium' and 'Blood Oath' are among my favorite Dax episodes. I was intrigued by the glimpses into Trill society, as well as Jadzia's anger and hallucinations, which were very frightening. The plot was fairly plausible, and Sisko's resolve when confronting the doctor was something to behold. A great show all around.

    Just finished watching this one again for the first time in a while. I always used to like Dax when I was younger when I first watched the series, and I find that even though Terry Farrell is probably the weakest of the main cast, I still have a soft spot for the character.

    In terms of the symbiant episodes Dax had, this is easily the best one. The music she constantly hears was haunting, and I enjoyed how crazy it made her behave with her friends. I liked that Sisko was going to go to any lengths to save her.

    Special marks go to the hilarious teaser with Odo taking an interest in cooking. Auberjonois's face is priceless as he moves the bowl around trying to whisk the souffle.

    The whole scene was a nice portrayal of the DS9 crew as a family.

    Got to agree with Dusty, a solid Dax episode, which is good, as the Dax character tends to be the first to get side-lined in an episode (shades of Cllr Troi in TNG here) . I dont think Farrell is a bad actor in the role: I like the way she stalks around, hands behind her back, like an old (male) academic ; also the young, flirtatious Jadzia , clearly discovering and enjoying her new younger body. She just didnt have that many good episodes written for her, until this one. A solid piece of Trill backstory and good acting from Brooks too.

    Agreed. She's not the best on the show, but most of the early issues with her were the fact that the writers had no idea what they were doing with her, not issues with Farrell. By S3 I really liked the way Dax turned out.

    Meh. I found it boring. Sure, there were some good plot implication, but I just couldn't care.

    Very interesting reveal about the politics of the Trill home world.

    The "Doctor" wouldn't hesitate to kill to protect their "little secret". Makes one wonder how many others have needlessly died over the years. Although I don’t really see the harm in everyone “knowing”. They still have an initiate process due to the number of Trills available.

    I thought this was one of Terry's best performances. I'll agree with Jammer in that it was nice to go to the Trill home world (what's it called anyways.... Trill Prime? :-) ) but it sure would have been nice to see a little more of it.

    I too loved Odo stirring the soufflé.

    3 stars for me.

    Ditto: This is my favorite Terry episode. It showed Dax had a little more depth. I always hated she was such a busybody and later how she shared hers and Worf's personal business to everyone she said was her friend. She never took into consideration that Worf was a very private person and it was offensive to him to have everybody knowing his plans. In spite of all of these character flaws, I always liked Dax, not only being very pretty she was very real smart.

    I can't quite put my finger on why, but I'm just not a fan of this episode. Maybe It's because i just don't get the Trill as a species. If the symbionts can live and communicate in their little pools, why do they need to be joined? Why do the humanoid hosts treat the symbionts with such reverence? And along with that, with the symbionts being held in such high regards, why would the hosts put them at risk by joining? (by risk, I mean all the differnt medical rules that go along with the joining, like the risk for rejection, the whole 93 hour transfer rule, etc.)

    One other little nitpick about this episode: It sure is a good thing the Dominion didn't decide to attack while the Defiant was being used for a trip that seemingly could've been handled by a runabout. And they sure fixed the Defiant rather quickly, didn't they?

    I liked this one...and yet I wanted to like it even more. It could have been sharper, with some sections trimmed, leaving space for more story.

    I would have been interested in exploring more what the killer Dax had been like; they also could have added a "B story" by taking the opportunity to introduce someone who knew Jadzia before her joining.

    Eh, I don't get the Trill. So Dax is the symbiont and Jadzia is the host -- OK. So who is Kurzon Dax -- the former host? And when the former host dies, does part of who he was become a part of the symbiont, and thus a part of the new host?

    Sisko refers to Jadzia as "old man" whom I guess refers to the former -- wait, I don't know. Former host or symbiont or both?

    So do symbionts ever die? And why are they so special that they get new bodies?

    I didn't understand a lot of the episode, I guess because of my lack of knowledge regarding the race. Plus I was sleepy and DS9 has a rather deliberate pacing, not that that's bad. It's...relaxing, I suppose. That's good.


    The Trill are a humonoid species. A small percentage of them are selected to be "joined" with slug like symbionts that are also native to their planet.

    When a joined Trill dies or is about to die, the symbiont is surgically removed and implanted in to the next host, who has been chosen through an intensive screening process.

    All of the memories from all prior hosts live on in the symbiont and are transferred to the new host. Because of this and the selection process, joined Trills tend to be very, high achievers.

    "Dax" is the name of the symbiont slug inside of Jadzia. The hosts take the symbiont's name as their last name.

    The Dax symbiont had several hosts prior to Jadzia. The most recent host was Curzon Dax who was a close friend and mentor to Benjamin Sisko. That is why Sisko affectionately calls Jadzia "Old Man".

    Good question about whether the symbionts ever die naturally. They can be killed and can live hundreds of years (Dax is over 300) but I am not sure what the limits of their natural lifespan might be.

    More comments to come but before I forget: in the scene where Dax trashes the chess set and storms out of Sisko's office, you can spot a second, fully-set up chess set in the background on Sisko's desk just as Dax is leaving. I presume it is a gaffe, and that multiple boards were set up to reduce waiting times between takes, but in universe it looks like not only has Sisko asked Dax to play a game of (2D, bizarrely) chess in his office but has set up multiple boards for the occasion.

    The Trill host selection process looks worse and worse with each passing Trill-focused episode. In this episode we learn that unsuitable hosts are *supposed to* reject the symbiont to the point of death, but that this is a lie by the Symbiosis Commission to prevent "chaos," i.e. for them to maintain control by telling anyone they decide to blackball that they would *die* if they joined. This seems to contradict "Invasive Procedures," in which Jadzia says that an improper joining could cause permanent PSYCHOLOGICAL damage to host and symbiont, and "Playing God," in which it seemed like the big risk was not that Arjin would die if he misjoined but that he would be overwhelmed by his symbiont. I do find it funny to imagine, though, that the Symbiosis Commission's weeding through candidates, presumably with the scientific methodology akin to Jadzia's "weird vibes" feelings in "Playing God" is meant to be their determination of whether or not someone will die if they get a symbiont. Anyway, retcon or not, the basic philosophy seems to fit with the impression I got from those two season two episodes, which is that the Trill symbiocracy is unstable, placing JOINING as a kind of ultimate fulfillment goal to the point where their whole society seems to be built around it, while making excuses why most people just AREN'T GOOD ENOUGH in order to justify the vast majority of their population being left out. Here, the Symbiosis Commission is willing to kill Jadzia in order to cover up not even the fact that they have a killer skeleton in their closet, but the fundamental idea that just because someone is successfully joined does not mean they are a psychologically stable, or even non-murderous, person -- which to me seems once again about power and influence. If there is no *physical* guarantee that people who are joined are Good People, then not only are more people going to be banging down the doors demanding to be Joined, but -- perhaps even worse! -- joined Trills might actually be deeply flawed individuals who don't automatically earn awed hushes wherever they walk, and the Symbiosis Commission no longer holds sway over the whole planet.

    As in most previous Dax episodes, Jadzia herself is sidelined partway through the episode, which is especially frustrating here; the big reveal about the Symbiosis Commission's essentially being willing to kill in order to hide their secret ends with them *still* keeping their secret anyway, so any changes in the Trill have to happen on the individual level, in the one Trill we know well. Jadzia does dominate the first few acts, but soon is comatose. The question of what it actually means to have the memories of a cold-blooded, psychotic murderer living inside oneself is largely ignored, or, generously, left to future episodes; and, yes, it is brought up again, though I'm not so sure if "Field of Fire" is a worthwhile exploration of this. The initial mystery is interesting, though, and the impact is something between a repressed memory coming to light and the revelation of a dark secret in one's family tree. Since Joran is A Part Of Jadzia but also a family member of sorts, maybe the best analogy is for someone to discover that they have a particular mental illness, which has largely laid dormant, and which has caused previous family members to violent tendencies and breaks from reality -- a genuinely scary idea, which this episode gets to a little bit in its early acts and weird masked dreams. But it's an incomplete idea, and there is no real discussion of what Jadzia does before taking her trauma-relieving pool visit, nor do I think Jadzia humming a lot and accusing Ben of cheating at their 2D chess game constitutes murderousness.

    Aside: the pool stuff with the symbionts is interesting, but wow, Trill don't even let the Guardians go out and see the sun? Also, given that the electrical impulses are symbionts communicating with each other, how exactly is Jadzia Dax having some electrical zaps supposed to help relieve her trauma -- are other symbionts who talked to Dax about the whole Joran thing between joinings present there to remind Dax about it or something? ("Hey Dax! It's me, Odan. I heard they told you about the whole Joran thing. Sorry bro, they told us not to say anything." "It's cool, dude.")

    Sisko and Bashir doing everything they can for Jadzia is good to see -- particularly evidence of Bashir's being a good friend to her, and whom she can trust, without pressing to sleep with her or trying to take advantage of her vulnerability. Thankfully he's not that much of a jerk, but it occurs to me that Jadzia might not have known beforehand exactly how much he cares about her *absent* the lust. That said, it's hard to imagine what could have possessed them to take their WARSHIP over to Trill, seemingly with more people milling about on the bridge than there were during their Gamma Quadrant trip, and who presumably weren't doing anything. Take a Runabout! What is wrong with you? Were you planning on blowing up the Symbiosis Commission if you didn't like what you heard?

    The episode isn't bad exactly, but Jadzia's emotional arc is stunted and the revelations about the Trill rely on retconned information and don't go anywhere, either. 2 stars.

    I should say, Sisko articulating how much he cares for Jadzia as opposed to Curzon is another moment that works for me, and also emphasizes that hosts are not truly replaceable; they are a part of each other, on a continuum, but Joran being a killer does not make Jadzia a killer any more than Sisko having lost Curzon means he is prepared to lose Jadzia.

    There have been five Dax episodes up to this point -- "Dax," "Invasive Procedures," "Playing God," "Blood Oath" and "Equilibrium." "Dax" and "Blood Oath" dealt specifically with Jadzia's tricky relationship to actions and oaths taken by Curzon and were pretty successful; the other three have left me somewhat cold, I think, because they keep trying to clarify what the Trill joining is like and what it means, and yet somehow don't quite do so. Where is Dax in Verad Dax, and why was he so willing to let Jadzia die? What qualities does a potential host really have to have to be successfully joined, and if it is mostly a matter of having one's own well-defined personality, what does the symbiont actually add there anyway? What is it like to have a killer as one of one's past lives and how much does that change one's personality in the present?

    It's possible I'm just wanting something from these episodes that is not really that reasonable to ask. The joining is hard to pin down because it's a difficult idea to get across. That being the case, it may be that I'm underrating all three of these episodes -- I could, I suppose, see going up to 2.5 for this and for "IP," and up to 2 for "Playing God" (which still has the ridiculous subplot to deal with). Overall, I think I am going to say this episode maybe earns a 2.5 stars, since it's a mystery with a good clip and forward momentum even if I find it incomplete and frustrating.

    I think this is the first episode where you really see the crew coming together. It had been in development for some time, with Bashir-Miles's friendship and Odo repudiating the Changelings in The Search Part 2. Now you see they have really developed into a team reminiscent of TNG.

    I would have liked to have seen more of the Trill homeworld but that is only a minor point.

    Ultimately something of a disappointment. We have the guts of a good Dax episode here, but unfortunately she drops out of the episode as Bashir and Sisko solve the mystery. Given that there is no B-story this is also fairly slow moving, and it wraps itself up fairly quickly in a less than satisfying resolution.

    Full marks for Odo's souffle preparation though. 2.5 stars.

    Point #1 - the Defiant. Why is the Defiant being used in this episode. Remember the Dominion threat? Wasn't the ship sent to DS9 specifically to guard the Wormhole against that threat? Instead it's being used to shuttle people around the Alpha Quadrant. Need to send three people off to the Trill homeworld? That sounds like a perfect job for a run-about. Nah, instead let's use the Defiant. After all, they paid to have all those new sets built so I guess they needed to get some use out of them.

    Point #2 - the Trill. As a species, the Trill really are a one trick pony, aren't they? Every single episode thus far that has focused on Dax or the Trill has been about the fact that they are a joined species in one way or another (even the Klingon-heavy "Blood Oath"). I, quite frankly, am getting sick and tired of it. I get it - some Trills have a slug in their guts. Tell me something new! Given that this very episode says that the official line is that only 1 in 1,000 Trill are capable of joining that leaves a lot of their stories untold. And remember, not everyone who qualifies for joining actually gets joined. That means that every time we've focused on the Trill as a culture, we've focused on less than 0.1% of their population. For perspective, that's like focusing on humanity, as a whole, in a show and only showing people who live in the Congo! Can't we please get some stories that focus on the mass of unjoined Trills? What's Trill culture like? Their politics? Anything? Even the few unjoined Trills we've spent any time with (Verad in "Invasive Procedures" and the Guardian here) are completely dedicated to the Symbionts . If I'm not mistaken, the episode in Season Seven that focuses on Ezri's family is the only time we'll ever see unjoined Trills who aren't trying to get a slug of their own. God!!!!

    Point #3 - the cover-up. Holy shit! The Trill government must really have a low opinion of their own people if they think that 99.9% of the population will instantly start treating the Symbionts (who are sapient beings, remember) like they're little more than commodities if the truth is revealed. I honestly get the feeling that the writers share that view about people in general. And that really leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I'm of the opinion that people are generally good. Sure, there most likely would be some who would treat the Symbionts like that, but not the overwhelming majority. Have a little more faith in humanity there writers!

    Point #4 - the joining itself. How the hell did this stuff ever get started in the first place? Given that the Symbionts live in underground pools of semen, why would any unjoined Trill ever get it into his head to put one of them into his stomach? You know, on second thought, maybe it's a good thing they never reveal that much about Trill culture. They seem kind of fucked up.

    All of that being said, however, I still think "Equilibrium" is a fairly decent episode. I really do not like the character of Jadzia Dax, as I've made no secret of, but I do admire Terry Farrell as an actress and she does a splendid job here, raising the episode to slightly above average. Running the gamut of emotions from exhaustion to uncontrolled anger to terror to shock to determined hostility, she does a wonderful job. And, I should point out, the music really sells the atmosphere here. All those people who complain about Trek music never being anything but bland, generic elevator music should watch this.


    Luke: "Point #2 - the Trill. As a species, the Trill really are a one trick pony, aren't they?"

    One could say the same for the Vulcans and their logic gimmick, but there really is no comparison. As you say, the symbiosis thing affects so few Trill that it's bizarre that it became their planet-defining "hat."

    Better if DS9 had stuck with the implication of TNG's "The Host" that all Trills were symbiotic, immortal minds in disposable bodies.

    Re: DS9 S3: Equilibrium


    "Point #2 - the Trill. [...] For perspective, that's like focusing on humanity, as a whole, in a show and only showing people who live in the Congo! Can't we please get some stories that focus on the mass of unjoined Trills? What's Trill culture like? Their politics? Anything? [...]"

    Yes, it would be nice to have had one or two episodes examining Trill society. But regarding the unjoined Trill, you seem to fail to grasp the consequences of the joining. That's quite understandable, though: I believe the writers who originally thought of the joined Trill failed to consider them themselves. But your "Congo perspective" is inaccurate: it is not a matter of geography, it is a matter of hierarchy.

    The truth is, that unless very specific legislation regarding the joined Trill is passed curtailing their individual rights and liberties -- such as limiting their access to key positions in society, and controlling the whole selection process of hosts and symbionts *and* marriages and procreation between joined Trill at a multi-generational level; in other words, by careful social engineering designed to limit the possibilities of the joined Trill -- the unjoined Trill are utterly and totally irrelevant:

    Unless such legislation is passed, the joined Trill are the equivalent of a hereditary noble caste on Earth -- elevated to the Nth degree. They would *completely* dominate Trill society, as a hyper-elite the highest castes of India centuries ago could only dream of.

    Yes, those 0.1%, with memories going back centuries of years, are an elite unimaginable. In Earth terms, you would be dealing with say, an ambassador who might have known Washington, Voltaire, *and* Newton. You would be dealing with a minister who might have known Metternich, Bach, and Bernini. I don't recall how old symbionts can become. In theory, you could perhaps be dealing with a scientist who had known Richelieu, Michelangelo, and Columbus.

    Even if they had not met all these figures personally, they would have lived in those times -- and be "alive" today. But consider also this: they might actually have *BEEN* any of those persons -- and still be "alive" today.

    I am a naval historian: and I would be virtually out of a job in such a society. My role would be drastically diminished. How could I ever possibly contradict men today who once *were* Nelson, or Drake -- or Columbus?

    Which unjoined politician would ever stand an electoral chance against a man or woman who once *was* Bismarck, or Gladstone, or Cavour -- and possibly, later, Dollfuß -- or Stauning?

    How could men and women with accummulated generations of knowledge and experience, and perhaps also sheer iconic status, fail to reach all the top positions in society over and over again, generation after generation?

    I wrote of this somewhere here on Jammer's, a year or two ago: in time, it would be impossible for the joined Trill not to have shared ancestors. They would thus become a hyper-aristocracy *carrying the living memories of their own ancestors.*

    This is truly extraordinary. I find it difficult to imagine a society that would not naturally evolve to revere such beings as demi-gods of sorts.

    This what the writers of Star Trek created. Even if they probably didn't think of it.

    If we imagine a Trill population of say, 10 billion, that would mean some 10 million joined Trill. Let's say two million just decide to live happy, simple lives as housewifes and farmers, or whatever. I find the notion silly, but I'll accept it for the sake of argument. That still leaves 8 million hyper-elite individuals to run a wold, to control a civilization, to rule a species.

    Top Starfleet and Federation personnel would likely never meet unjoined Trill in any other capacity other than secondary positions: they would be dealing with the joined hyper-elite. Unjoined Trill would find it exceedingly difficult to ever reach positions such as minister, supreme court judge, ambassador, etc. How does one compete with someone with centuries of experience in top positions?

    If anything, Star Trek does a very bad job of depicting realistic joined Trills -- which clearly shows that the writers, much like with the Vulcans, never took their writing to its logical conclusion. It's a pity -- it's actually bad science-fiction -- that so many defining ideas were treated as "neat ideas" and not as the truly fundamental, civilization-shaping premises they are.

    I can somewhat understand it if you, from a sociologic or "Trillopologic" perspective, are interested in the unjoined Trill. But in truth, they are only interesting as a function, and reflection of a society fundamentally different from that of Earth. Other than that, they offer only mild interest: it is the joined Trill who represent an extraordinary, biological feature that *should* have been further explored, to reveal a society devastatingly different from Federation-Earth egalitarian ideals.

    ...and how the Federation had accepted such a fundamentally and thoroughly elitist society as a member world could have provided a fantastic episode of true science-fiction...

    ...but alas! as nearly always on Star Trek, instead of exploring the profound differences, we were shown the improbable similarities. Enter Jadzia end Ezri Dax, almost as human as human can be. So much for IDIC, I guess.

    But I don't complain. I like Star Trek. It's a better world than ours.


    "As you [Luke] say, the symbiosis thing affects so few Trill that it's bizarre that it became their planet-defining "hat."

    It is not a matter of how few it affects, but how profoundly it affects them. Read my reply to Luke. Considerig the colossal implications of 0.1% of the population joining, it is not bizarre at all. It was just never taken seriously by the writers, which is a shame.

    @Andy's Friend - "...and how the Federation had accepted such a fundamentally and thoroughly elitist society as a member world could have provided a fantastic episode of true science-fiction... "

    Exactly my point. Everything you just said is precisely why I have such problems with how the Trill are presented. That dynamic would have made for a fascinating run of episodes, or even just one episode. Show us the differences between the joined and unjoined. Instead, the writers never bothered to dig in and show us what Trill society is actually like, leaving us to speculate.

    "But your "Congo perspective" is inaccurate: it is not a matter of geography, it is a matter of hierarchy."

    Just FYI, I didn't mean that to be a reference to geography. I only used the Congo since approximately 0.1% of the world's population live in that country. I could have just as easily used the Pearl River Delta area of China.

    Andy's Friend:

    While it's certainly possible that Trill society would turn into either A) a class-based system with symbiotes at the top and the unjoined at the bottom or B) a totalitarian soft fascism designed to maintain order to prevent the first system from occurring, I think there's another possibility. As far as I know, there is no evidence that the symbiotes are, for lack of a better word, ambitious. After all, apparently they evolved to do nothing but muck around in a slime pit all day. What need do they have of trying to rule others or collecting wealth?

    In contrast, humans evolved to muck around all day on the African savannah, where there was nothing but starvation, disease, pain, and death. Ambition was a nice and useful thing for us to have back then, which explains why people want to accumulate wealth or power or influence. It kept away the starvation and the death. But what use would that be in the slime pit?

    Look at Jadzia. She's super smart, and now has 300 years of experience. She could conceivably put herself on the fast track for a captaincy or admiralcy. She seemed to take to being in command of the Defiant pretty easily when Sisko became Ross' assistant. And yet she didn't seem to care while on Deep Space 9. And why would she want anything else? On Deep Space Nine, she gets to date a Klingon, play games with a Ferengi, gossip with a Bajoran, and work with humans. That seems to be all the ambition that Dax has. The only positions of authority we ever saw a joined trill be in was ambassador, which is more of a "service" position anyway.

    Thus, maybe the Trill society is similar to later-stage England, with the joined Trills something akin to upper class noblemen. They pursue leisurely desires, perhaps the arts or sciences. But when it comes to business (Ezri's parents were in business, right?), politics, engineering, etc., the unjoined, who have more ambition and thus desire these aspects, lead. And perhaps that's the real reason for a harsh selection process for being joined. It's to weed out the applicants who do have more ambition, so as to not create a superman (much like human's ban on genetic engineering).

    Mere speculation, of course, but no reason why it might not be the case.

    Oh, and Luke, as for Trek only focusing on the elites in Trill society? Well, to be fair, it certainly seems like they do the same thing with humans too, what with everyone being children of ambassadors and nobility and Starfleet admirals and whatnot. We never get to see what life is like for the people who aren't super smart and getting into Starfleet academy. Trek can be very classist at times.

    @Jammer, why not film outside? Haha, because every single time they do film outside, I say to myself, "Oh look! another planet that looks exactly like Southern California. Wow. It's like the galaxy is a Beach Boys song of planets!"

    Skeptical: "As far as I know, there is no evidence that the symbiotes are, for lack of a better word, ambitious. After all, apparently they evolved to do nothing but muck around in a slime pit all day."

    Well, they *did* apparently take over the entire meaning and existence of the (much more numerous) humanoids of their world, turning them into servants to their needs, and vehicles for their exploration of the world--the galaxy--beyond the slime pits.

    Maybe there *are no* stories to be told of unjoined Trill, that don't revolve around the slugs one way or another. The dominance is absolute, and the most dramatic of ambitions for an expansion of possibilities has long since been realized...for the master race of Trill.

    I thought this was a great episode and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Jeff Magnus McBride as Joran Dax. S7's Field of Fire should have brought him back to reprise the role, not the weirdo they ended up recasting.

    As Andy's Friend and Yanks have mentioned above this episodes paints a very chilling portrait of the Trill socio-political backdrop. Once again we have a society which is willing to sacrifice individuals to maintain general order. Remind you of any other home worlds? And the fact that the Trills hide this cold ruthlessness and disregard of life, behind a smiling, kumbaya Federation mask somehow makes it even more unsettling. At least the Cardassians and the Dominion were direct about it.

    All in all I can say for sure that Trill is not a place I would want to live in. They seem to produce a higher-than-usual ratio of repressed maniacs - off the top of my head there's Verad, Joran and Ezri's younger brother.

    First time getting to see the Trill society - hosts/symbionts etc. It's hard to really get to care about some cover up on some alien world that one is introduced to for the 1st time - or may be the writing for this episode is lacking.
    I had always thought Jazdia Dax was a particularly bland character among the DS9 crew and it was good to see her angry side at the start and hopefully setting her up for more passionate acting going forward. But ultimately, I don't think this is a real character building episode for Dax. It's more that for Sisko and Bashir who work effectively as a team, show they care for Dax etc.
    I'm not sure what to think of the host/symbiont relationship on the Trill world - it didn't come across as anything compelling or convincing.
    This does seem to be one of a fair number of similar Trek episodes about distant memories screwing with castmembers - I don't think this is one of the better ones.
    I'd give this 2 stars out of 4 - slow paced, an ending that wraps up very quickly and conveniently and leaves a few questions unanswered.

    2.5 stars

    Pretty decent mystery at first and creepy atmosphere with the haunting music and the hallucinations with the masked figure. The mumbo jumbo with that trill pool didn't much care much for that. I liked the sweet moment with Bashir and Dax in his room onboard the Defiant when she couldn't sleep
    The mystery ultimately didn't go anywhere particularly interesting didn't do much for me. The Trill world wasn't that interesting. The teaser was good though.

    Now now, I'm sure most of us here wouldn't mind being in that Trill pool with Jadzia haha.

    I liked this one right up to the ending, when Jadzia's problem was solved by getting shocked in the milky pool. Really? First, why did she have to hang out with unrelated symbionts to get to know her own? And second--that's all it took? I assumed there'd be a bit more exploration of coming to terms with an unsavory host from the past.

    But still enjoyable--just wrapped up too neatly.

    Jammer can't use 'character.moments' in anymore reviews..Boring episode, plot is way too transparent and stop with the stupid toy piano variations in Trek. 2 stars. At most.

    I just want to tell this community... I was in a motorcycle accident three weeks ago. In my recovery I’ve binge watched all of TNG and this far in DS9. After each episode I love reading this review and the comments. I have so much respect for the cordial discourse and dialogue that occurs here. Sometimes people don’t agree, but they don’t resort to ad hominem assault. I find the discussions intellectually stimulating. Thanks for being here! Keep on Trekking!

    Thanks for your touching and considered comment Nolan, and all the best for your continued recovery. That's what's great about Star Trek - it'll always be there for you.

    Nolan Campbell, get well soon!!

    At least you have a bunch of trek to keep you busy. :-)

    Another Dax episode that doesn't work. Though I agree with Jammer about the character moments, they're really the only bright spot in a poorly executed episode.

    2 stars.

    Teaser : **, 5%

    Sisko is doing a Riker and preparing a meal for the senior staff, which gives him the chance to add to his backstory a bit. His father owns a restaurant and taught him to cook. Odo is tasked with whisking the soufflé base and Kira finds this “cute.” Dax has had a long day. Jake has a toy piano that he can't play. Bashir doesn't care for beets. Overall, it's a great big symphony of DBI.

    Dax claims that none of her previous hosts had any musical ability, but immediately starts playing a tune on the keyboard (as impossibly as on Darren's roll-out baby grand in “Lessons”). She's weirdly obsessive about remembering a specific piece, not to mention a bit irritable with her colleagues. Not exactly the most riveting of teasers...

    Act 1 : **, 17%

    In Sisko's office, Dax and Sisko are talking about why they haven't had time to destroy the wormhole and...oh, no, actually, apparently, there's so little to do that they're playing a game of chess. Jadzia is humming that same damned tune and Sisko finds it distracting. When her wandering mind gives Sisko and opening to check, she becomes very short with him, accusing him of cheating. No Dax, Sisko only cheats at his job, not board games. She knocks the board clean and storms out.

    Dax continues to behave very oddly, threatening Kira, and eventually starts hallucinating the image of a stranger who wears a mask...under his mask.

    Act 2 : **, 17%

    Jadzia has the sense to check herself into the infirmary and seems to realise how oddly she had been behaving. Sisko suggests she might get some answers by inputting that tune into the computer. We get a little backstory on Dax' host before Curzon, Torias, who was injured in a shuttle accident, became comatose and was euthanised to save the Dax symbiont. The medical condition which led to this sacrifice was a lack of a hormone which regulates the synapses between the host and the worm, and this same condition seems to be affecting Jadzia now. Julian's suggestion is to take her back to Trill, so they're off in the Defiant.

    On the bridge, Bashir and Sisko have a pointless conversation where they let each other know they don't want Jadzia to die. Oh, really? You don't want her to die. Riveting stuff. Insightful.

    Dax pays Julian a midnight visit. Together, the pair retcon Trill biology (as William B already pointed out). Unsuitable joining will lead not to psychological damage, but to death. Considering the botched character re-boot for Sisko in “The Search,” we shall see if this change is good for Dax' character moving forward.

    Sigh...we learn that Dax is afraid of doctors...and heights. Julian offers to let her bunk with her. All in all this is coma-inducing triviality.

    Finally, they arrive on Trill and meet Dr Renhol, who has begun a treatment regimen. And just as quickly, we're back on the Defiant so Jadzia can hallucinate again. We hear the music, see the masked figure. But this time, two Trill men attack her before she snaps out of it. Have I mentioned how boring this all is?

    Act 3 : **.5, 17%

    Back on Trill, Dr Renhol explains the presence of the Trill men in her hallucination as “latent anxieties,” even though the uniforms they wore were from another generation—well before Jadzia was alive. Jadzia isn't satisfied with this explanation and decides to visit The Mcguffins, I mean the Guardians, unjoined Trill who look after the worms.

    Next thing you know, we're in the Star Trek cave set with pools of semen where the worms apparently breed. One of the guardians appears, testing the pH or whatever of the semen pools. The guardians don't get to go outside it seems. Why? Fuck if I know. Well, this worm-whisperer dude puts his hand on Jadzia's belly and determines immediately that her hallucinations are actually memories. He believes that one Dax' hosts “isn't playing fair.”

    Later on, Sisko has discovered the identity of the tune's composer, Jay Chattaway. When they pull up a picture, it triggers another hallucination, an old man being stabbed this time by the masked figure who is revealed to have the face of Jay Chattaway. In the real world, Jadzia has a seizure and collapses.

    Act 4 : *.5, 17%

    They take her back to Trill. Her condition is worsening and if it gets too much worse, they will have to remove the symbiont, killing Jadzia. Back in the caves, worm-whisperer is a lot less certain and forthcoming than he was the last time. Because the writers are very lazy this week, Bashir and Sisko flat out tell us that someone has obviously instructed or threatened this dude into keeping silent, because deriving this conclusion organically would take time away from cooking lessons and talking about doctors.

    They investigate the record of Jay Chattaway, which has been purged of most of its data. Comparing it to Dax', they discover that his day of death coincides precisely with Torias'. They manage to discover a relative and establish a com link with an old man, Jay's brother. Both men were composers but Jay was also a host candidate. This old fart believes the Symbiosis Commission's claim that his brother killed a doctor, but not that he was never joined. Jay Chattaway claimed that he *was* joined, and have you figured it out yet, boys and girls at home? Dax was clearly joined to Jay before Curzon.

    Act 5 : *.5, 17%

    On Trill, Renhol has decided to remove Dax from Jadzia. Sisko isn't about to let that happen, though. He lays out the conspiracy plainly: Dax was given to an unsuitable host, the murdering composer, Jay Chattaway. The Symbiosis Commission blocked Dax' memory of that host and purged the database. Why? Because of that retconned backstory, of course. It turns out the retcon itself was a lie! Trills won't die if an unsuitable host is joined. And what exactly does “unsuitable” mean, anyway? Well, the episode isn't interested in discussing any of that. Whatever it means, at least half of all Trills are capable of being joined, even murdering composers. Sisko won't let Jadzia be sacrificed for the sake of maintaining this royal lie, which is good. But he is willing to let the lie go unchallenged in perpetuity so long as his friend gets to live. That's our Sisko!

    So, we sidestep all of the interesting moral dilemmas and make the conclusion about saving Jadzia instead. She has to undergo a “dangerous” procedure of re-integrating Jay Chattaway's memories into her symbiont through a magical dip in the pools of semen (I assume the other worms can undo the memory block somehow). The image of Jadzia embracing herself is visually effective, but what does any of this mean? Well, as far as “Equilibrium” is concerned, it means Jadzia is going to spend a few days staring out the window and playing Jake's toy piano. Truly riveting television, this is.

    Episode as Functionary : *.5, 10%

    I want to like this episode—the world-building with Trill is interesting, and the moral dilemma presented by the conspiracy is rife with potential, as are the character opportunities with Dax, but all of them are horribly wasted here. Sisko continues to be a morally-rotten leader, having no compunctions about letting a planet-wide deception continue if it means getting what he wants for himself, namely the continued company of his friend. I can't even engage with whatever dark pragmatic logic the writers might be trying to imply this week, because they couldn't even be bothered to have the ethical debate on screen. It's just sort of dropped. In some ways, this is far worse than being subversive of the Trek ethos; this week we are just too lazy to be unethical.

    Because the re-integration of the eighth host happens in the final act, we don't actually get any character development for Jadzia. The “character growth” is just a plot device. Maybe we will see how this affects Jadzia in the future, but for now we haven't actually learned anything new about her, unless we are to assume that some of her behaviour—like morning drinking and gambling—come from a host other than Curzon. Even if that's true, this actually adds nothing to the character.

    We technically get a little bit of backstory for Bashir and Sisko, but it's not what you'd call compelling. In fact, this might be the episodes greatest failure—being incredibly boring. Sisko's dinner party, the conversation in Bashir's bunk, the pointless cameos from the main cast—all of it is eyelid-dropping padding, saturated in banality with all the depth of a sitcom. The hallucinations are better, but still rather repetitive. And ironically, the score, despite having a single leitmotif for the errant host, is as bland as ever in the wallpaper-era of Trek.

    The story should have been condensed into three or three and a half acts, expunging all the tedious padding and having the Jadzia re-integrated well before the finale. The final act should have been about he ethical dilemma posed by Trill's Noble Lie, and definitely should have had the newly whole Dax participate in this conversation, whatever the conclusion ended up being. And the coda should have included something beyond Dax playing the piano. After all, she already demonstrated that ability in the teaser, when the memories were causing her harm. So, now that she has achieved equilibrium, how does this behaviour signal a change? Yeah, this episode fails on pretty much every level, save some acceptable acting and some small insight into Trill society.

    Final Score : **

    "Sisko continues to be a morally-rotten leader, having no compunctions about letting a planet-wide deception continue if it means getting what he wants for himself, namely the continued company of his friend. I can't even engage with whatever dark pragmatic logic the writers might be trying to imply this week, because they couldn't even be bothered to have the ethical debate on screen. It's just sort of dropped. In some ways, this is far worse than being subversive of the Trek ethos; this week we are just too lazy to be unethical."

    I tend to agree, but in particular because Trill is, I believe, a Federation planet. In Sins of the Father or whatever, there was a greater Prime Directive indication of why not to expose a state secret. Now, there are reasons I could imagine for Sisko not to expose the Symbiosis Commission's corruption, but as you say there's no real discussion of it. It's also unclear how much power the Symbiosis Commission is supposed to have.

    Also, even if Trill were not a Federation planet and/or the internal mechanisms of Trill were fully off limits non-Trill, there's still Jadzia. I get that "at death's door" isn't the easiest time to blow the whistle, but I feel like finding out about the Church's, I mean, Symbiosis Commission's massive deception and cover-up would put her in a position to consider doing something about it. Again, I can think of reasons not to, but I feel like the retconned massive lie is so big that it warrants greater attention, and could be addressed through Jadzia who is a particular victim of it.

    To elaborate some more, Jadzia seemingly chose to become a host under the assumption that Dax didn't have any wildly unstable, murderous previous hosts, and gave up her individual life on that basis. I'm not saying she should dwell on the betrayal forever, but a bit more on what discovering the Symbiosis Commission lied about joining in general and her symbiont in particular, and that she made life-altering decisions as a result, means for her would be nice.

    @Nolan Campbell

    I’m six months late but I hope everything went alright in your recovery. Careful out there we need you living long and prospering

    This is very slow moving and dull, with a compilation of our worst actors front and center.

    The story is not badly presented, but it just isn't that interesting. The big reveal is a yawner: More people can handle a host than the Commission lets on.


    Jesus Christ, here we have an episode that's about as exciting aa watching porridge harden into cement. I'd rather try to watch a BBC news report without busting blood vessels from rage.

    Dax's acting is pretty bad, the pacing is extremely slow, the dialogue is full of technobabble. Why do the Trills sacrifice themselves for the symbionts? Why do they apparently let the symbionts turn them into different people and dominate every aspect of their lives? I've always found it incredibly creepy - the Trill race is basically enslaved to their slugs and seem to get nothing out of it, they are subservient and second-rate by comparison. There is nothing mystical or exciting to learn here, nothing really to see, just a bunch of staid performances.

    That said, Julian yet again proves himself to be a genuinely nice bloke, offering friendship and support to Dax despite him having feelings for her, and her apparently trying to bait him by turning up in her nightclothes. Boo Dax, learn to treat men with respect maybe?

    And the scene with the masked figure is terrifying. How can an episode that gets so much wrong have a classic moment?

    Harve Bennett said in "Star Trek Movie Memories" that when he went to binge the Original Series prior to making Star Trek II, he said the episodes were 1/3 really good, 1/3 just ok, and 1/3 "ugh," and by "ugh," he specifically meant "very very bad."


    May as well say it up front: this one is a budget-buster. More than half the main cast is relegated to only the opening game, and after the strangely-already-repaired Defiant's trip to Trill (I guess the Dominion sent over a text saying "We're doing the Great Link thing today, say hi to Odo, no attacks rn, smell ya later"), we get Siddig, Brooks and Farrell talking their way through 3/4 of an episode with almost no lines from any of the other actors (who also aren't very good). Were they paying these people by the line? :| Ugh.

    There's very little here in the way of drama or excitement other than the impending doom of Jadzia Dax, who seems to take it all in with all the emotional depth of a steel wool scouring pad. Farrell got better at the role as time went on, but this ep falls squarely in the 'still finding her feet' section. There's just not much that happens here; the biggest action sequences are the hallucinations Jadzia is having, and they have that unforunate implication that all 'dream sequences' in shows have, where they end and it's like "Oh, it was all a dream." Ugh. Ugh.

    In the sum of it, it becomes a locked door mystery, with the reveal being that after Jadzia's host before Curzon died, his symbiont was stolen by a music-writing coo-coo whose name I've already forgotten. The actor who plays him has like 4 lines. The only guest actor who says much of anything is Doctor ObsructiveBearocrat who gives a big bs sob story about how there aren't enough symbionts to go around on Trill so they have to lie to their people and tell them only 0.1% of them are 'suitable.'

    Is this something to do with the college admissions process or something? Why did they write this? What's the commentary? What's the drama? I don't want Jadzia to die either but the stakes seem remarkably low and anticlimactic.

    Then when Sisko basically blackmails Doctor O.B. into compliance (woohoo, what a hero), she presses two buttons, wakes Jadzia up (who doesn't so much as complain of being hungry despite being near rejection/death), and the solution turns out to be her taking off a robe to reveal another robe (boy that writer's room must've been really hard up) and taking a dip in a magic pool full of Symbionts, one of which is neighborly enough to zap her into remembering Music Man, who then hugs her and pushes the magic reset button.

    Except now Jadzia can play the piano.

    ... Ugh.

    0.5 Stars out of 4. This one sucked.

    I found this to be a watchable but ultimately mediocre episode.

    Still, there are two great scenes here: Dax and Julian chatting in the cramped quarters of the Defiant, and the opening scenes in which the crew gather to eat with Sisko and Jake, Odo stirring a pot like a rubber-necked madman.

    The Trill planet also had a nice aesthetic, with the slick, modern, above-ground facilities clashing with the more primitive, below-ground pools and caves. Yeah, it's a bit cheap looking, but it's a nice juxtaposition.

    I feel the "Dax is possessed by a crazy past host" storyline was unnecessary. I'd rather a full episode dedicated to exploring the Trill homeworld, culture, and the ethical ramifications this episode skirts over: a Federation member planet lying to its populace.

    Surely, upon learning that the Trill have been misleading everyone, Sisko should immediately contact an admiral and ask for orders. Should he expose the Trill lies? Should the Federation stay out of their affairs? IMO this sort of stuff is more interesting than the psychodrama the episode ultimately offered.

    I actually really liked the matte painting. Best Dax episode yet, definitely.

    “Sometimes a host will be sacrificed to save the symbiont.” A bug-like creature that already has lived several lifetimes and can’t function on its own. How’s that fair? It has always… bugged me (pun intended) - those ST bugs are just a more benign version of the Stargate goauls (I forgot how those were spelled), but still parasitic in that way. Users.

    "It has always… bugged me (pun intended) - those ST bugs are just a more benign version of the Stargate goauls (I forgot how those were spelled), but still parasitic in that way. Users. "

    I don't think that's a fair comparison. Goulds are completely distinct individuals who take over the person's body and suppress the human mind completely.

    Trill symbiotes appear to have no consciousness of their own. Instead, they simply retain the memories of a host, and transfer those memories to their new hosts, creating an ever growing collective consciousness.

    A better comparison might be with the good-guy-Borg collective from Voyager.

    The Trill parasite thing was probably my least favorite part of DS9.

    One of the most boring episodes of the entire series . Truly dislike this one .

    Overall, I enjoyed this episode. I liked the character interplay, the chance to see Trill, the medical drama of what was happening to Dax because of the suppressed memories, etc. I too was disappointed that we didn't get to see more of Trill.

    One thing that didn't add up was the secret that half of Trill society was compatible with joining, and that they just discovered this as of Joran Dax. So there was no time in Trill history when random people didn't covet the symbionts and try to haphazardly steal one for themselves? Before Dax, there has literally never been one example of an unapproved Trill successfully joining, ever? I found that hard to believe. Anyway, it's a minor grievance.

    What I didn't like about the episode was its conclusion. There was much hubbub about whether or not Jadzia would be able to integrate Joran without her or the symbiont becoming seriously destabilized. But then, the integration scene in the symbiont pool was milquetoast and lasted for all of 30 seconds. A warm embrace and then whoosh... Joran was integrated (mostly) and the medical emergency was over! Besides the brief epilogue by Jadzia about needing time to "make sense of things", it seemed like the danger of reintegration ended up being a big nothingburger.

    @MidshipmanNorris, 3 years late to read and respond to your comment, but had to mention how much it tickled me.

    "We're doing the Great Link thing today, say hi to Odo, no attacks rn, smell ya later"

    As much as I find this episode to be one of the most skippable due to second-half pacing and overall writing choices, there are two things that stand out as memorable. First is the frequently-mentioned opening dinner scene, which is charming and has a nice "early season" feel to it that would be rarely felt once the action picked up in subsequent seasons (at least in my memory). The other is the plot point of symbiotic joining being available to many more Trill than we previously were led to believe because it makes Dax's survival by joining with Ezri in the final season more sensible. It would have strained credulity well past the breaking point to ask the audience to accept that an approved Trill host candidate, one of those lucky 0.1% of the Trill species, just happened to be nearby when the Dax symbiont needed an emergency joining after the last host died. It's much easier to accept that Dax found a new host when you recall the plot point that what was established in this episode -- that the selection process isn't truly that narrow. The writers could never have guessed what a break they were giving themselves when they wrote this episode, well before they knew they would need to recast the Dax character after Farrell's departure.

    Submit a comment

    ◄ Season Index