By Robert Ring, Tue, 11/30/2010 – 08:08
Okay, we’re back to the good with “Dax.” This isn’t a great episode, but it’s pretty interesting, and it’s a lot better than the three that come before it. “Dax” focuses on the two halves of Jadzia Dax — Jadzia the human and Dax the symbiont living inside of her. While it feels more like a disguised explanation of who/what Jadzia, Dax, and Jadzia Dax are than a story-based episode, “Dax” is engaging enough to satisfy.
“Dax” starts off with a group of Klaesrons attempting to abduct Dax. The Deep Space Nine crew pulls them back in via tractor beam just in time, though, and we learn that they are not actually kidnapping her. They are taking her into their custody to be tried and executed for the murder of a war hero. It’s not Jadzia who did it, though; it’s the symbiont’s former host, Curzon. Sisko, who was close friends with Curzon Dax, naturally does not want to let her go. So, they have an informal trial on DS9. At the center of the trial is the attempt to determine who Jadzia Dax is. Is she purely Jadzia, playing host to a passive life form? Obviously not. Is she Dax, exercising complete control over the host, Jadzia? Maybe. Or is she a combination of the two, a new entity comprised of the minds of both individual organisms. Ding ding ding!
All the episode has going for it, really, is this search for the true identity of Jadzia Dax. If she’s Dax, the logic goes, she needs to go with the Klaesrons and be punished for her crimes. If she’s not only Dax, or if she’s a new combination of both minds, either half or all of her is innocent of the crime and thus doesn’t deserve to be punished. There’s a lot of back-and-forth between Sisko, who is essentially defending Jadzia, and Klaesron, who wants to arrest her. It is for the most part fun hearing them argue about who/what Jadzia is/isn’t, based on her current personality and the memories and traits she retains from the symbiont’s former hosts. It is this sort of questioning that ultimately leads us to ask what makes anyone who they are, not just symbiotic amalgams. In the end, we discover that when a symbiont bonds with a new host, even though it retains all its older memories, it becomes a new entity, melding its mind with the host for the duration of their life together.
I’m just sayin’, I’m really glad human heads didn’t evolve this way.
What may be even more interesting than the identity questioning here is Sisko’s overall response to the matter. He basically makes it clear that he wants to keep Jadzia from being arrested no matter what. Even if past legal cases of the same nature offer the precedent that current host/symbiont entities should be held responsible for a symbiont’s past actions, Sisko says that he has to figure out a way for her to be deemed innocent. Does Sisko’s loyalty to his friends outweigh his obligation to uphold justice? I don’t know yet, but the question hadn’t crossed my mind until this episode.
I’m disappointed in the way the episode ends, however. After all the debating, testifying, and expert opinion, we find out that Curzon Dax was never responsible for the crime in the first place. This was Deep Space Nine’s chance to allow its characters to come to a possibly controversial decision regarding the nature of symbiont/host identity, but they squeezed their way out of it. The worst part is that I’m not even sure why. The conclusion that everyone except the Klaestrons was definitely leaning toward would have meant that Jadzia Dax shouldn’t be held responsible for the events, so whatever the consequences, they would have been minor. By allowing Curzon Dax to have been innocent, though, the episode avoids carrying any moral consequence at all. Just to be safe next time, the Federation should probably come up with some laws regarding these things. I wonder why they hadn’t already.
So, an upswing in quality, but not an enormous upswing. “Dax” primarily works as a way to tell everyone just what and who Jadzia Dax is. It has some aesthetic merits, but it’s mainly exposition. I can deal with that. It’s nothing I’d probably care to go back and watch again, though.