Thursday, 7 August 2014

Dax written by D.C Fontana and directed by David Carson


What’s it about: Jadzia is accused of a murder committed in another lifetime

Single Father: By having an episode that focuses on a misdemeanour on Curzon’s part you have a story that says more about Sisko than Dax no matter whose name grabs the title. Sisko talks about Curzon with such affection that it is a shame that we never got to see the relationship at its height because it sounds to me like he had a lot of character with his crazy cavalier attitude towards life. A flashback to Sisko as a callow youth being taken under the wing of this carefree Trill would have been very welcome. Curzon is what a young Federation officer needs to stop him becoming as arrogant as Picard. Sisko’s attempts to save his new friends life is very touching and would see the foundations build for an equally strong friendship with Jadzia. Until the moment of her death it would be another very strong character pairing that this show casually flaunts. Sisko makes an extremely strong public speaker during the courtroom scenes and it is great to see Avery Brooks attacking the material with such passion. Curzon took a raw young ensign under his wing and taught him to appreciate life in ways he had never thought about – whatever sense of honour Sisko has Curzon nurtured. 

Nine Lives: At this stage in her development Dax is still walking around with her hands behind her back like a serene holy woman at a pilgrimage. By the end of the next season you simply wouldn’t recognise the woman that she is here anymore, as Curzon and the others start to influence her behaviour more. Although it takes you the entire episode to realise the truth Dax’s silence initially makes you want to shake her and force some kind of admission of innocence. Dax’s quarters are full of some truly wonderful items – the set designers have really gone to town. Curzon drank too much and had an eye for the ladies and it won't be too long before Jadzia follows suit. There is a gorgeously nuanced scene between Sisko and Dax that sees him confronting her for not defending herself that develops into the two of them laughing together, her stroking his face and him holding her hand – why can’t all Trek series be this well played? There is a lot of subtle touching and warmth between the characters on this show, supposedly the most dysfunctional crew in the galaxy. The revelation of why she hasn’t defended herself is a lovely spot of development for this character; she is so protective of her past lives and honours her mistakes to the point that she will risk dying for them.

Tasty Terrorist: Kira is so much fun in this episode. I love her cheeky dialogue with Tandro in Sisko’s office and she makes a surprisingly good investigator. Odo should be headhunting. It is nice to see Kira engaged in something other than letting off steam about the political situation on Bajor and showing some humour. 

GE: Bashir is trying to get into Dax’s knickers once again and laying on the sleazy chat up lines. He can think of ways of keeping her up all night, apparently, and they have nothing to do with drinking Klingon coffee. Thanks goodness he is such a slime ball and starts stalking her on her way to her quarters otherwise they wouldn’t have found out Dax was kidnapped until it was too late.

Sparkling Dialogue: ‘Fugitive Dax is charged with treason…and the murder of my father.’
‘Which not only compromises Bajoran security but also…annoys us.’
‘No its just business…and business is business.’
‘I intend to be here until supper not senility, understood?’
‘When one of my kind stumbles it is a shame that lasts forever.’
‘I know where Curzon was at the exact time that that transmission was sent. He was in my bed.’
‘Live, Jadzia Dax. Live a long, fresh and wonderful life.’

The Good: The first five minutes sees an impressive cat and mouse game between the Klystrons and Ops which allows both sides to appear competent and out manoeuvre the other.
Odo slams shut the airlocks (but they have an override), Kira erects force fields (again they have the correct codes to get through them) before Sisko finally activates the tractor beam that snatches hold of their departing ship and drags them back to make an account for themselves. It's such a little thing but I love the framing of the moment when Dax realises why they have tried to kidnap her - as the camera pans in on her Sisko turns to face her and then Odo. A great moment. Gregory Itzin is a fine American character actor who turns up in all sorts of shows (he has just had a guest spot in Desperate Housewives) and he brings Tandro alive with some real fury. Can we have a Judge Renora spin off series please? She’s just marvellous and treats Tandro like a naughty schoolboy and Sisko like a minor inconvenience (her ‘the penalty for these crimes on your planet is death and that is rather permanent’ made me howl with laughter). It's great to have a character this cynical in Star Trek, we should arrange a sitcom with her and Mullibok from Progress and they can candidly discuss all the issues with the Star Trek universe. The courtroom scenes that discuss the nature of the Trill are well written and interesting and utilises an old Trek standby, the metaphor (this time salt and water standing in for host and symbiont). Klystron is gorgeously brought to life with some superb matte paintings and some subtle lighting suggests day and night in Enina’s quarters. Unlike a good handful of the episodes I have seen so far across the various Trek series the revelation that puts this episode to rest that Curzon and Enina were having an affair springs naturally from the characters and that makes it a very satisfying conclusion. It gives a new dimension to Curzon and Jadzia (who kept her silence) and allows us to view the situation from a completely different angle (the General himself was responsible for the transmission).

The Bad: Whilst it gives the courtroom scenes a memorable look you would have thought there would be a place on the station where they could have held this courtroom other than the local saloon. The ward room is needed, stat. 

Teaser-tastic: Not bad actually. Bashir beaten up and Dax kidnapped…that should get most people interested fairly early on. 

Moment To Watch Out For: The final scene is beautifully acted and caps off a delicately handled episode very nicely.

Only DS9: A new section of the reviews to highlight those moments that DS9 dared to tread where there other series failed to do so. Maybe Meaney was off doing a film or maybe O’Brien simply wasn’t needed in this episode – either way a simple line of dialogue excuses his absence from the episode nicely instead of a pointless cameo. When people are hit in DS9 they like to show that it really hurts and Bashir gets several frightening punches in the teaser. What I particularly like is the question of sexuality that the Trill species throws into the Trek mix. Because a host can skip from male to female it leaves a balanced individual that can find either sex attractive and whilst this isn’t dealt with in this episode (although the expert who admits his first host was a woman has a touch of femininity about him) DS9 would take the brave step towards exploring homosexuality in episodes such as Rejoined and Let He Who is Without Sin both of which see Dax clearly attracted towards women. Whilst you shouldn’t need an excuse for gay characters in Star Trek (and Bashir and O’Brien are the closest we will ever get to a male romance – they clearly dig each other in later seasons) it is great to see this series tapping into this subject in a way that TNG deliberately (some might say insultingly) shied away from.

Myth Building: D.C Fontana is the only writer to have contributed scripts to three Star Trek series (four if you include the Animated Series) and it is great to see her depart on such a memorable piece.

Result: How wonderful to see the character dynamics on this show coming together so effectively and quickly and even if Dax didn’t have a rock solid plot at its heart (which it does) it would be bolstered by some fantastic individual moments. Kira is feisty and fun, Odo blackmails Quark, Sisko builds a firm friendship with Dax, Bashir shows some depth and Odo proves what he is made of plus you also get some fascinating insight into Trill society. Both Tandro and (the wonderful) Judge Renora stand out and despite very few scenes even Enina Tandro makes a great impression. The story has a real drive to it and paints a strong picture of Klystron society and the major players in its most dramatic days without ever actually showing us the events. With outstanding performances all round, superb dialogue and characterisation and an ending that hits all the right notes this is one of the strongest Trek courtroom episodes and another huge win for director David Carson: 9/10

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