Dax (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 1, Episode 7) Jadzia Dax faces the legal consequences of Curzon Dax’s actions

Rewatching ST:DS9

Dax is apprehended for the allegedly criminal actions of a previous host.

Bashir is unsuccessfully trying to escort Dax to her quarters when he witnesses people attaching her. Instead of calling for backup, he tries to be a hero and gets knocked out.

The station manages to catch the baddies’ getaway ship, and we learn Klaestron Four has a warrant to arrest Curzon Dax for treason and murder. The humanoid Curzon is dead, but the sentient slug Dax lives on inside the willing new host Jadzia. But Jadzia Dax, for reasons she won’t explain, declines Sisko’s offer to intervene.

Kira follows Sisko’s lead, and insists that Bajor wouldn’t release Dax without a formal hearing.

There is isn’t really a good in-world explanation for why the hearing has to take place at Quark’s casino, but that’s what happens. (Obviously the producers wanted to reuse the set.)

Presiding is a stately, elegant, no-nonsense woman who could easily star in a Bajoran “Judge Judy” spinoff.

This being an ensemble TV series, of course the other members of the cast don’t follow Dax’s request to leave her alone.

We get a lot of background that explores the symbiotic relationship between the 400-year-old worm Dax and its most recent humanoid hosts. We see courtroom scenes interspersed with investigations, and we see Sisko becoming increasingly frustrated that Dax seems to have no interest in defending herself – or that is, defending her previous host.

We get to leave the station briefly for a interview scene set on another planet; that interview of course could have been a Zoom call, but it’s still kind of nice to do some random traveling in an episode devoted to world building.

My memories of watching DS9 for the first time do include Sisko playfully calling Jadzia “Old Man,” but I don’t recall much about the Sisko/Curzon friendship, so if the later seasons kept developing it, it made no impression on me.

Because a major theme in the series involves Sisko struggling with the a complex role he plays within the Bajoran faith he himself doesn’t share, it is interesting to see Sisko trying to mediate a legal dispute involving two alien cultures, because Sisko doesn’t actually mediate — he just tries to enforce a Federation-normative interpretation of events, though the episode is carefully designed, at this stage in the development of post-Roddenberry Star Trek, to suggest that the Federation mainstream has much to learn from diverse cultures.

Of course everything works out in the end, with a surprisingly conventional explanation for Jadzia’s refusal to defend Curzon’s actions. I presume she was following a director’s guidance, but Terry Farrell seemed notably blank in this episode. The cinematography focused on Sisko’s frustration with Dax’s lack of response, rather than Dax making some kind of reasonable effort to call in the “friendship” card or the “my business is my own,” or otherwise convince Sisko that she really does intend not to defend herself.  

While this episode does a good job exploring a sci-fi question about the moral culpability of joined species who change host bodies, that’s a pretty niche topic; I don’t think it’s as engaging as the TOS exploration of Spock’s human side, the TOS exploration of Data’s personhood, or the similar VOY exploration of the holographic doctor.