Sunday, March 18, 2012

3-25. Facets.

Odo is possessed by Curzon,
Dax's previous host.


The time has come for Dax's zhian'tara, a ritual that allows a new Trill host to interact with his or her previous incarnations. Dax has put off returning to Trill for the ritual, so now a Guardian has come to bring the ritual to her. Dax has asked her each of her closest friends to participate, each one giving up his or her body for a few hours while a prior version of Dax inhabits it.

Meanwhile, Nog prepares for his own rite of passage: An entrance exam for Starfleet Academy. The young Ferengi has been spending practically every free waking second preparing for it. But his uncle Quark remains far from happy about Nog's chosen career path, and may just take steps of his own to sabotage it!


Commander Sisko/Joran: Sisko volunteers to take on the most challenging of Jadzia's hosts, the insane musician Joran. This allows Avery Brooks to do his best Hannibal Lecter impersonation - and he's pretty good, raising his voice a pitch to eerie effect. Once back to himself, Sisko continues to provide support to Jadzia, pushing her to confront her fears about her own worth by confronting Curzon.

Dax: The Joran scene not only gives the episode a dramatic jolt at the midpoint, it also crystallizes Jadzia's internal conflict for the episode. Though she has persuaded herself that Curzon washed her out of the initiate program in order to push her to re-apply and try harder, the experience has left her with lingering doubts. These doubts are only amplified by meeting her previous hosts: a famous legislator, a brilliant engineer, an Olympic gymnast. Even the unstable Joran was a great musician! Dax fears she doesn't measure up to them, fears Joran all-too-happily feeds as he dismisses her as being "a pretty girl," and nothing more. Terry Farrell remains an excellent nonverbal actress, and her physical reactions to Jadzia's encounters with her the earlier versions of Dax are fully convincing.

Odo/Curzon: For all the build-up given to Joran, the major external conflict of the episode is provided by Curzon, Sisko's friend and the man who has loomed over Jadzia as a larger-than-life figure from the very first episode. Finally seen in the flesh, the initial impression Curzon makes... really live up to all the mentions of him over the first three seasons. Like Avery Brooks, Rene Auberjonois takes the opportunity of playing a new character to go a bit over-the-top - which, combined with writing that makes Curzon into a boorish heavy drinker, results in a character who comes across as distressingly obnoxious. Fortunately, the last Curzon scene sees both Auberjonois and the script paring back, allowing some genuine emotion and thoughfulness to come through - which serves both actor and character far better.

Quark/Rom: Quark is not amused at the host Jadzia has chosen for him - the warm and maternal Audra, who spends her time chatting with Jadzia about motherhood while brushing the young woman's hair. He might have taken that parent's feelings about her children to heart before tampering with Nog's entrance exams. Then he might have been less startled by Rom's ferocity at his tinkering with Nog's entrance exams. "I will burn the bar to the ground!" he threatens, if Quark ever again tries to interfere with Nog's ambitions - and he means it, something Quark is smart enough to recognize.


Facets acts as a follow-up to two episodes: this season's Equilibrium, which introduced us to the Guardians and to Joran, and last season's Playing God, which dealt with Jadzia's past difficulties with Curzon. Cues from both of these stories are picked up here, with the incident in which Curzon washed Jadzia out of the Trill academy forming the central conflict of this story.

Thankfully, writer Rene Echevarria recognizes that meeting all the previous incarnations of Dax, with Jadzia wrestling her own feelings of inadequacy, is enough to propel the story.  This episode is entirely a character piece, with no attempt to shoehorn in some external threat. There is the plot complication of having Curzon try to remain in Odo's body. But it's presented as something Odo also wants, and is resolved in large part by Jadzia - and Curzon - overcoming their own character flaws, rather than through any kind of "action." This is the joy of watching a series that has confidence in both its characters and its audience: Not every episode has to have jeopardy; the characters themselves provide enough to keep us interested.

Facets is a good episode, and provides another opportunity for Terry Farrell (frequently sidelined this season) to show her steadily-growing range as an actress. Plus, it's always enjoyable to see the regulars getting to act out of character, something Avery Brooks particularly seems to relish.

I am left with a few questions, though. One thing I wondered about right away: What about Verad? He was a Dax host, however briefly. Shouldn't he be included? I'd have at least liked some mention as to why he didn't qualify. Also, I wondered why Curzon's revelation was such a surprise to Jadzia. Doesn't she have access to all of Curzon's memories? She certainly talks about events from her past lives often enough. Shouldn't that information be readily available to her at any time? The scene itself was good, with both Farrell and Auberjonois giving wonderful performances - but I couldn't escape the sense that everything Curzon was saying should have been information she already knew.

This is still a good episode, though. A fine character piece, with several good scenes and some fine performances. A worthy effort all around.

Overall Rating: 7/10

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