Equilibrium (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 3, Episode 4) Grumpy, newly musical Dax hallucinates about masks; Sisko discovers a Trill homeworld secret

Rewatching ST:DS9

Sisko is cooking for his staff. Jake is serving cheerfully. Bashir dislikes beets. Odo doesn’t eat but wants to stir; Kira calls him “cute.” Dax says none of her hosts ever had any musical ability, yet she starts to plunk out a tune on a keyboard, as if recalling a memory.

Later she’s humming the same tune while playing 2D chess with Sisko. She accuses Sisko of cheating and shoves the pieces off the board.

When Kira goes to check on her, instead of chatting expositionally, she threatens Kira. Later, she hallucinates about a figure with a mask under a mask.

In the infirmary, an apologetic Dax seems more like herself. When Bashir finds medical mumbojumbo problems with her plot contrivance particle levels, Sisko decides it’s time to take the Defiant to the Trill homeworld.

I appreciate that the show didn’t go into exhaustive detail about how, exactly, this stuff works. The quirky Jadzia is nobody’s manic pixie dreamgirl, because she’s also the sixth or seventh reincarnation of a wise 300-year-old worm. That’s all we really need to know to enjoy the story.

Bashir is in his pajamas reading when a worried Dax shows up at his cabin door, needing a friend. She talks about the stress she felt in the facility where she was screened as a potential host for a symbiont. It’s an adorable scene that suggests Bashir is coming to appreciate the platonic friendship she offers so willingly. There’s some amusing dialogue and blocking regarding the bunks, in which somebody put effort into designing and writing practical reading lights. But since Bashir was reading from a PADD, when he climbed into the top bunk he would have immediately shut off the reading light, rather than thoughtfully ask Jadzia if his light was keeping her up. (I do appreciate that 30 years ago this show normalized people reading from tablets in their downtime, but someone didn’t think how reading from a glowing tablet would change our bedtime lighting needs.)

On Trill, the hospital director Renhol is hopeful and prescribes a PCP treatment that seems to be working, but Dax hallucinates she’s being arrested by uniformed Trill officials.

Renhol suggests the hallucinations are manifestations of the anxiety Jadzia felt during her time in the facility, but a suspicious Dax suggests a visit to the caretakers of the unjoined symbionts.

In a cave (again with the caves) where unjoined symbionts frolic in milky pools, the helpful guardian Timor senses a problem with “balance” between host and symbiont; something could have gone wrong with any of Dax’s past hosts, not just the current host Jadzia.

Sisko says the computer identified the music Dax remembered, saying it was composed 86 years ago by the Trill composer Joran Belar. Dax has another hallucination, in which the masked figure stabs someone; under the mask is, of course, the musician we just saw on the computer screen, Joran.

In the hospital, Ranhol considers removing the Dax symbiont (which will kill Jadzia).

Sisko uses the computer on the bridge to search databases, look up Joran’s brother, and interview him in a videocall. There’s not a lot of action in this episode, so we get to watch Sisko go through all these steps in real time. (Remember when we were excited about looking things up online?)

Jorad is supposed to have been dropped from the symbiont screening process without ever hosting a symbiont, but SIsko suspects a coverup. Somehow the effects of Jorad’s brief (but complete) joining with Dax were blocked, yet the emergence of those memories apparently caused Dax’s plot contrivance particle problem.

Renhol would have preferred that Jadzia die rather than face a psychologically risky alternative that might harm the symbiont, too: unblock the unsuitable hosts’s hidden memories, so that his memories and personality becomes fully part of Dax’s history.

A return to the pool lets us see a touching moment of self-acceptance, and a final scene shows Dax thoughtfully, confidently playing Joran’s composition.

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