Sunday, July 17, 2011

3-04. Equilibrium.

Jadzia's hallucination.


After hearing a snatch of music, Jadzia finds herself distracted, unable to think of anything except the song that she can't quite place. After snapping at both Sisko and Kira, then suffering a hallucination, she goes to Dr. Bashir. He diagnoses a drop in her isoboramine levels, which keep the host and the symbiote in balance. He and Sisko insist on taking her to the Trill homeworld for treatment.

As the Trill doctor (Lisa Banes) focuses purely on the isoboramine levels, Sisko and Bashir follow other avenues of investigation. A Trill guardian, one of those who devotes his life to watching over the unjoined symbiotes, speculates that one of Dax's previous hosts was the issue. When Sisko and Bashir identify the composer of the music that was troubling Jadzia, Sisko begins to understand what is happening... even as the Trill doctor prepares to remove the symbiote from Jadzia's body - killing her in the process!


Commander Sisko: The teaser shows him cooking with evident skill and joy, and reveals that his grandfather ran a restaurant in New Orleans. Though he's developed a bond with Jadzia, he confesses that he still misses Curzon. When Jadzia is in danger, Sisko is relentless in his investigation and ruthless when he bargains for Jadzia's life. "I have no interest in revealing your secret," he tells the Trill doctor, bluntly adding: "You know my terms." There's no heavy-handed moralizing ala Picard here. Sisko wants to save the life of his friend and officer, and is coldly pragmatic in making that happen.

Dax: After her blowups at her friends and her first hallucination, she doesn't try to pretend she's fine. Instead, she does the smart thing and goes directly to Dr. Bashir to find out what's wrong with her. Terry Farrell is very good, playing Dax's fear, her confusion, and even her desire to go into denial about what is happening when she talks about wanting to show Sisko and Bashir the sights at one point. She also is not simply the "damsel-in-distress" here, actively participating in the investigation by guiding Sisko and Bashir to the guardians. By integrating yet another new personality into the composite that is Dax, the groundwork is laid for potential changes to her sometimes too-calm personality, though I have doubts as to whether the writers will actually make use of this.

Dr. Bashir: Became a doctor in order to have the knowledge that the seemingly all-knowing doctors had. As he went through his studies, he decided what he really wanted most was simply to help people. That he genuinely cares about Jadzia has been shown many times in the past. Freed of the boorish behavior of Season One Julian, he is far more likable simply acting as a good friend here.


Season Two of Deep Space 9 ended with a run of very good to excellent shows. Season Three has thus far extended that winning streak, with all four of the Season Four episodes I've reviewed thus far being good ones.

Equilibrium mixes a science fiction medical mystery with a conspiracy thriller, to very good effect. The made up science surrounding Jadzia's condition feels convincing, with just enough information imparted to make the Technobabble (Medobabble?) fit what we already know about the host/symbiote relationship. There is sufficient development of the medical scenes to sell that both Bashir and the Trill doctor genuinely want to stabilize Jadzia to keep the current joining viable. What we already know about Trill society also makes it believable that, when it comes to a choice, the symbiote is ultimately more valued than the host - a chilling thought, one that could make for a genuinely scary story if the show is ever interested in exploring that further.

The investigation into the past of the Dax symbiote also expands on the relationship between these two living beings, as we see Dax's past impacting Jadzia. Even in personality, as Dax's distress first manifests through uncharacteristically aggressive behavior by Jadzia. The secret at the heart of the mystery makes sense, and would be something worth revisiting in my opinion, along with the notion that past hosts' secrets can impact the current host.

The episode is well-directed by Cliff Bole, who draws a fair amount of atmosphere out of Jadzia's hallucinations and out of a scene late in the episode in which Jadzia literally embraces Dax's past. It's a shame the show's first visit to the Trill homeworld shows us so little of the planet, but given the need to get through the story and the limitations of the budget, that's hardly a major gripe.

Another good episode. I'd say Deep Space 9 has improved every bit as much between its first season and here as TNG improved between Seasons One and Three - and given how much a better a start Deep Space 9 had, that says something about how good a show it is by this point.

Overall Rating: 7/10

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